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'Israel's Walter Cronkite' Retires


Veteran Israeli newscaster Haim Yavin has retired. Yavin, who became known as "Israel's Walter Cronkite" over his four decades of anchoring the Channel 1 television news, delivered his final broadcast Tuesday before a studio converted to accommodate scores of friends and relatives.

Yavin, 74, said he would continue working on independent TV projects, such as a recent documentary about settlers that roiled many right-wingers in Israel. Channel 1 began airing news in 1968 and was long Israel's premier media outlet, but its status has dropped in recent years because of budget cuts and competition from private stations.

Israeli Leaders Approve Reinforcing Barrier on Israel-Egypt Border

By VOA News

An Israeli spokesman said on Wednesday that the country's top leaders have approved construction of a reinforced barrier on the border with Egypt, to prevent infiltration by Palestinian terrorists.

Officials said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his foreign and defense ministers agreed on the barrier plan during a meeting Wednesday. Israel's full Cabinet will have to authorize the project before construction of the partial 142-mile-long Israel-Egypt border fence can begin.

Israeli authorities fear that Gaza-based Palestinian terrorists who entered Egypt during a recent border breach would try to enter Israel through its relatively open boundary with Egypt.

In violence Wednesday, a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza struck a home in southern Israel, wounding two young children. An Israeli air strike in Gaza wounded at least three Palestinians. The Israeli military also said it carried out air raids against what it described as an arms depot and a weapons manufacturing facility in Gaza.

Palestinians blew open the Gaza-Egypt border on January 23, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to cross before Egypt sealed the boundary last Sunday.

Israeli leaders originally proposed reinforcing Israel's barrier with Egypt several years ago, but the plan was dropped because of the high cost, estimated then at more than $270 million.

Hamas: More Suicide Attacks on Israel to Come

By Ha'aretz

Hamas' representative in Iran, Dr. Abu Osama Abd al-Moti, said on Wednesday that the group's armed wing has renewed its suicide bombings inside Israel, and that Israel should expect additional bombings.

Hamas claimed responsibility for its first suicide attack since 2004 on Monday, after a bombing in the southern town of Dimona on Monday, which killed one woman.

"For more than a year, we stopped [attacks] but the Zionist enemy continued in its aggression and degraded the ceasefire on the part of the resistance. The message of the operation in Dimona is that Izz al-Din al-Qassam [Hamas' military wing] declared the renewal of suicide operations, and the enemy should expect additional operations."

Earlier on Wednesday, a Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck Kibbutz Be'eri in the western Negev, lightly wounding two young girls. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

The girls aged two and 12, were wounded by shrapnel from the rocket, which struck a playground. The "Red Color" rocket alert system did not go off before the strike. They were taken to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.

An 83-year-old woman was asleep in her home next to the site of the strike. The impact of the rocket shattered her window, with the shards falling on her body. She was not hurt.

Later Wednesday evening, an Israel Air Force strike wounded three Palestinian terrorists in the northern Gaza Strip as they tried to launch Kassams into Israel, Hamas and medical officials said. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman confirmed the strike on Palestinian gunmen near the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.

Earlier, four civilians were wounded by two air strikes on an unoccupied metal workshop and a caravan located outside a Hamas security position, the officials said. The spokesman said the army carried out two attacks on a weapons depot and a weapons manufacturing facility in the central Gaza Strip.

Soon after, another rocket directly struck a house in the western Negev town of Sderot, sending several people into shock. That rocket was the eighth to be fired by Palestinians from Gaza on Wednesday. Earlier, Hamas said it had fired a total of 31 rockets into Israel since Tuesday, when the Israel Defense Forces killed nine Hamas terrorists in two separate operations.

In response, government spokesman Mark Regev said, "These rockets are being fired indiscriminately into civilian population centers. We are obliged as a government to take the necessary steps to protect our people and we will continue to do so. Those extremists shooting rockets are a legitimate target and we will act surgically to strike against hardcore terrorist cells."

Lawmakers in Gaza canceled a session of the Hamas-dominated legislature on Wednesday, fearing an Israeli attack. A day earlier, a senior member of Olmert's Kadima party urged Israel to assassinate Hamas' political leaders.

Gaza militants said the Israel Air Force responded to the rocket salvos with several missile strikes on Gaza overnight, but the military confirmed striking only once at militants who had just launched rockets. Hamas said four of its men were moderately wounded.

Israel indicated that it would not let up in its attacks. "We need to understand there is a war in the south," Vice Premier Haim Ramon told Israel Radio. "The war against Hamas has to be fought on all fronts. Israel will continue to use the economic weapon against the Gaza Strip."

Israel cut off virtually all shipments into Gaza three weeks ago, following a surge in Kassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip against southern Israel.

On Wednesday, Abbas condemned the militants' rocket fire, but urged Israel to let supplies into Gaza. "These rockets that are being fired at Israel must stop. It's pointless," he said at a news conference with Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik. "At the same time, Israel should not use these rockets as a pretext for collective punishment on Palestinians in Gaza. Israel must always allow humanitarian supplies and other needs to be provided to Gaza."

Israel insists on an end to violence before it implements any peace agreement, but Abbas has had no control over Gaza since Hamas seized control there last June. Monday's bombers came from the West Bank, not Gaza, giving greater weight to Israel's demand that Abbas take stronger action against militants in the West Bank, too.

IDF Butts to the Rescue

By B. Michael (Commentary)

The army is in tumult. Some soldiers took off their pants and shook their rear ends in the face of their occupied subjects. What a humiliation. What a shame. Who would have thought that our children, our best sons, the cream of the crop, were capable of such abominable acts?

For many years we have not seen commanders so angry at their subordinates. The investigation was completed with uncharacteristic speed, and the owners of the butts in question were identified, tried, and sent to 21 days in military prison. In jail--in the slammer.

Several weeks ago, a police officer was convicted of gravely wounding a civilian. He shot him. Just like that. Both the court and the Police Investigation Unit decisively ruled that the police officer had no reason to shoot the civilian and cripple him for the rest of his life. The court convicted the policeman and handed down a six-month suspended sentence. From court, the police officer went straight home like a free bird. Not to jail.

Had this policeman really been cruel to his victim and exposed his butt to him (instead of just shooting him,) there is no doubt that he would be going straight to jail. For 21 days at least. Yet this merciful cop did not unleash his butt at the victim. He merely shot him. Therefore, there was certainly room to go easy on him.

(The man shot by the policeman happened to be Arab, by the way, but I have no doubt in my mind that this fact had no effect on the sentence.)

This will not be the first time I find myself at the margins of the camp, but for some reason I am not fully shocked by the exposure of IDF buttocks. When examining the plethora of IDF actions in the West Bank, it appears to me that this rectal gesture is among the lesser incidents. I feel it is so minor that it would be a good idea to actually encourage this lovely gesture and issue orders to that effect. I think it should become an official and legal IDF substitute for a long and embarrassing list of other military deeds.

Butts instead of shots. Rear ends instead of blows. Rectums instead of a bat. Behinds instead of a gunship, humiliation, and ruin. What's wrong with that?

In my pinkish dream, I am already listening to a morning news report informing us that an elite unit raided the Kalandiya refugee camp late at night. The fighters reached the center of the camp, took off their pants, and shook their butts in all directions. All our troops returned to their bases fully dressed. What's wrong with that?

I was still dreaming when an excited military correspondent reported that a Palestinian shepherd told him that a team of the elite "Rectum Reconnaissance Unit" did not fire at him, even though he was holding a stick, but rather, launched a pale and shiny buttock in his direction. What's wrong with that?

When I also saw in my dream cells belonging to Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hizbullah pulling open their jackets in public, and instead of explosive belts there was nothing there aside from naked flesh – I knew that I'm truly dreaming about the days of the Messiah.

Yet now that the dream is over, we must say something serious too: If there is something which I find outrageous about this entire buttocks story, it's not the act itself, but rather, the commotion that followed it. I am not annoyed by the soldiers who did the deed, but rather, by the grave faces of their commanders and the shocked facial expressions of self-righteous critics.

Because the various types of occupation workers – the army, Shin Bet, and police – engage in acts that are much more shameful, disgraceful, and painful on a daily basis. Yet somehow the critics don't see all that. They know very well how to look the other way. The only thing they see is an exposed butt. And that's bad, and shameful.

Broadcast Workers Raise Funds for Mezuzot


Workers for the Israel Broadcasting Authority have raised funds by themselves to affix mezuzot in studios and workrooms after the IBA did not comply with requests by employees, according to the Chabad website. The mezuzah is required by Jewish law and is found in every government room and on almost every store and home in the country.

There was no explanation from the IBA why its rooms lacked the mezuzah. Channel One television reporter Uri Revach, whose office is an informal synagogue, initiated the fundraising to buy 40 mezuzot.

However, dozens of IBA studios and workroom lack a mezuzah. "A kosher mezuzah affects the room to which it is affixed, and a kosher mezuzah at an office where it is decided what is broadcast will only help to create a positive influence," he said. Revach added that there still are IBA doorposts without mezuzot and that many of those which have been affixed are not kosher.

Paris Spotlights Moroccan Judaism

By Israel Faxx News Services

The king of Morocco is sponsoring a series in Paris highlighting Moroccan Judaism past and present.

"The Moroccan Jewish Journey," two weeks of conferences, films and concerts, was organized by two French Jewish centers, the Community Center of Paris and the Rambam Center. Other organizers include Fathallah Sijilmassi, the Moroccan ambassador in Paris, and Andre Azoulay, a leading adviser to King Mohammed VI.

In Paris Sunday, the opening night of the series, Sijilmassi earned long applause when he said, "Moroccan Judaism cannot be disassociated from overall Moroccan identity."

Israeli labor leader Amir Peretz, a native of the beleaguered city Sderot, offered, "Today, Moroccan Jews can hold their heads high in Israel, which was not always the case."

In the 1940s, some 350,000 Jews lived in Morocco, the largest Jewish population in the Arab world. Some 4,000 now live in the country, nearly all in Casablanca.

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