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Newsletter : 8fax0204.txt

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Diskin: Long Range Rockets Moved into Gaza


Shabak chief Yuval Diskin told the government Sunday that large amounts of weapons were brought into Gaza over the Egyptian border in the past few days, including long range rockets, anti-tank weapons and chemicals that assist in preparation of rockets.

Ha'aretz reported that Diskin also told the ministers that the Gaza terror organizations had used the open border to place dozens of their operatives in Sinai. The Shabak has identified about 30 routes through which terrorists could penetrate the Negev, an about 20 of them are used by terrorists, he said.

Egypt Seals Border with Gaza after 11 Days

By Challiss McDonough (VOA-Cairo)

Egypt has closed the border with the Gaza Strip, ending 11 days of unrestricted movement for Palestinians. Egyptian security forces used barbed wire and metal barricades to seal the last remaining gaps in the barricade along the border.

Egyptians who were in Gaza are being allowed to return home, and Palestinians on the Egyptian side of the border are still able to go back to Gaza. But no new crossings are being permitted.

Hamas-affiliated terrorists on the Gaza side of the border have been turning people back and telling them it is closed. There were reports of scuffles with Gazans who still wanted to cross into Egypt, but most reports said the situation remained fairly calm.

A senior Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, said there had been an agreement between Egypt and Hamas to control the border, and suggested that the closure might be temporary. Egyptian officials have not commented on the existence of any deal with Hamas, but have repeatedly vowed to regain full control of the situation at the border.

Local resident Ibrahim Mohammed Ahmed owns a small grocery shop in Rafah. He spoke to VOA by telephone from the nearby town of Sheikh Zuwayad. He said the situation is tight and controlled now. The government has closed the entire border in Rafah and all the roads. Every 100 meters there is a checkpoint.

The border closure ends 11 days of unrestricted movement across the Egypt-Gaza border. Gunmen in Gaza blew open sections of the border barricade on January 23rd, days after Israel began imposing a near-total blockade on the territory. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Egypt to buy food and other supplies that had become scarce or expensive in Gaza.

Egyptian security forces set up a cordon around the border town of Rafah, trying to keep Palestinians from moving further into Egypt. Egypt says at least 17 Palestinians have been arrested in Sinai carrying weapons and explosives since the crisis began.

The international community and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority have objected to any border deal involving Hamas, which violently seized control of Gaza in June. Egypt, however, views the open border as a serious security risk and has pressed Fatah to accept some kind of deal with Hamas in order to see that it remains under control.

Barak Withdraws Threat to Topple Government

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's government has survived a scathing report on the Lebanon War of 2006 and an about-face by a top Cabinet minister has given the government a new lease on life. Barak said last year that he would demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after an official inquiry commission issued its final report.

The commission criticized the government and army for "serious failings and flaws" that prevented Israel from achieving a victory over Hizbullah terrorists, despite a 34-day air and ground assault on Lebanon. But the report largely spared Olmert, saying he made reasonable decisions that he thought were in the best interests of the country.

Therefore, Barak said he would remain on the job. He told reporters he could do the most for the state of Israel not by toppling the government, but rather by working to fix the problems the report exposed.

Barak said Israel faces immense challenges including the Islamic terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and an Iran that is seeking nuclear capability.

If Barak pulled his Labor Party out of the government, Olmert would have been stripped of his parliamentary majority and probably forced to call elections about two years ahead of schedule. But in the wake of Barak's decision, the government remains firmly intact.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Olmert said he, too, would work to fix the mistakes exposed by the inquiry commission. He said the report is not a source of happiness, but it provides an opportunity to improve Israel's security and move the country forward diplomatically.

With a stable government, Olmert can push ahead with his goal of achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinians by the end of the year.

Britain Fears al-Qaida Retaliation


Britain's Secret Intelligence Service is warning Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the new security risk if President George Bush's "Son of Star Wars" missile-defense shield is situated in Britain.

The new warning from MI6 cites hard intelligence from agents in Moscow and Iran, and comes after a secret visit to London by Gen. Henry Obering, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, when he met with British defense chiefs.

His trip included visiting Menwith Hill, the spy station operated by the National Security Agency. It works closely with the Government Communications Headquarters and forms an important part of Britain's own services, including monitoring the activities of the suspected 2,000 al-Qaida operatives in the country. But MI6 analysts have said that "Star Wars" could make the United Kingdom a "first strike target" for an attack, either by Iran or another rogue Middle East state.

European Jewish leader: World Jews Should Have Say in Israeli Politics

By Ha'aretz

Israel should grant all of world Jewry the right to vote even on political issues, the president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, demanded on Monday.

Kantor spoke during the meetings of the Board of Governors of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Monday in Jerusalem. The question of the right of world Jewry to take part in the discussion over the future of Jerusalem was the major topic being discussed behind the scenes at the meetings.

"Israel's leadership should recognize that all the Jews in the world have the right to vote in Israel elections," Kantor told Ha'aretz. "If anyone with at least one Jewish grandfather or grandmother has the right to make Aliyah within the framework of the Law of Return, then we need to grant them equal rights."

The issue of world Jewry's involvement in Israeli politics, and in particular the issue of talks over the future of Jerusalem was not discussed officially, despite efforts of representatives of right wing parties to pass a resolution calling on the government of Israel not to divide Jerusalem.

The traditional WJC policy of not taking sides on Israeli political matters held, and only a declarative resolution calling on Jewish communities around the world to support Jerusalem passed. The WJC, at least in its own eyes is the most important Jewish organization in the world.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert canceled his appearance before the WJC after WJC president Ron Lauder published a letter three weeks ago calling on Olmert to take into account world Jewish opinion on Jerusalem.

Orthodox Rabbis Call For Day of Prayer to Save Israel


The hareidi-religious Council of Torah Sages in Israel and the United States has issued a call for a day of prayer and fasting Tuesday in response to the threats facing the Jewish people.

Addressed to "Our fellow Jews living in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) and to Jewish communities everywhere," the proclamation said, "The difficult situation of the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael fills us with trepidation. Nobody knows what the new day will bring. In our sins, we see the fulfillment of the posuk [Biblical verse] "Behold your enemies are in uproar and those who hate you have raised their heads. Against Your nation they deviously plot, and take counsel against those whom you protect." Our eyes are lifted in prayer to the Creator, that all of the goings-on in the world turn out for the good…

"We therefore call on members of Hashem's holy nation in all the places they reside, men, women and children, to gather in tefilla [prayer] on Tuesday, Erev Rosh Chodesh Adar Rishon, 5768, to recite chapters of Psalms and the liturgy of Yom Kippur Koton [the traditional minor day of repentance on the eve of every new Jewish month –ed.].

May Hashem hear our pleas, and turn His face to us so that we may be saved with a permanent salvation soon. And let us merit to see, quickly, the redemption of Yisrael, and gaze upon the building of the Beis HaMikdosh, quickly in our days, amen.

The proclamation is signed by the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (the hareidi-religious Council of Torah Sages), and the hareidi political parties Agudas Yisroel (Chassidic) and Degel HaTorah ("Flag of Torah") – together the United Torah Judaism party. It was joined by the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America.

Free Virtual Tour Offers Glimpse of Temple Mount


A virtual tour of the Temple Mount brings those who have never been upon Mt. Moriah on a tour of Judaism's holiest site.

Israel National Radio's Rabbi Chaim Richman, who heads the Temple Institute, has released a first-of-its-kind video that allows every Jew to experience a tour of the Temple Mount. (part 1:, part 2:, part 3:

Due to disagreements over the location of the area of the Holy Temple forbidden to be tread upon and, to a large extent, political and ideological factors, many Jews refrain from visiting the Temple Mount. Richman's video tour, filmed on the Mount in strict adherence with Jewish laws governing the ascent of Mt. Moriah in our time, has now been made available free of charge via the Internet in the hopes of providing all Jews with a connection to Judaism's holiest site.

The video gives a deep historical perspective on each part of the Temple Mount, beginning with an introduction regarding the various opinions as to where the Temple was located and which areas are permitted to visit today.

"The idea is that we are motivated to get as close as we can to the holiest place on earth," Richman said, "to be seen by G-d, to be seen by the Jewish people and even to be seen by our enemies – to let them know we have not forgotten about our Holy Temple."

Filmed in 2005, a heavy police presence is apparent, with members of Israel's police, as well as the Muslim Wakf religious trust keeping close supervision to make sure Richman or his compatriots not utter a prayer. "This is the one place on earth where, as a Jew, I am actually obligated to pray," Richman explained. "And it is the one place, where according to modern Israeli law, I am forbidden, as a Jew, from praying. One sees here how fearful the Muslims are of the power of Jewish prayer."

Three IDF troops Jailed for Mooning Palestinians

By Ha'aretz

Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers belonging to the Lavi Battalion of the Kfir Infantry Brigade were sentenced Sunday to 21 days in military prison after footage was discovered of them undressing and exposing themselves in front of Palestinian civilians near Hebron a few weeks ago. The three were caught on film by a peace activist who was in the area.

In the video, one of the soldiers can be seen shaking his bare buttocks at the Palestinians. The video also shows the soldiers making other obscene gestures towards the Palestinians.

The battalion commander decided that the three would not return to combat positions following their prison time. The IDF condemned the incident and an IDF spokesperson said it was an "embarrassing aberration that does not reflect the values and norms IDF soldiers are inculcated with."

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