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JNF Plans a Tree for Every Jew on Earth


The Jewish National Fund, Sunday, at a Jerusalem conference attended by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and JNF representatives from around the world, announced that the JNF was embarking on a new project that would involve planting 15 million trees in Israel—one for each Jew alive.

JNF World Chairman Effie Stenzler said "This campaign has a message that's even more important than the ecological message."

Hamas Rocket Nearly Hits Busload of Students in Sderot


Following a weekend of over 20 mortar shells and rockets, Hamas fired a rocket Sunday afternoon that narrowly missed a busload of students in the parking lot of Sapir College in Sderot. A car was damaged. Earlier this year, student Roni Yichye was killed by a Hamas-fired rocket in the same parking lot.

A second rocket fell in an open area in the western Negev, causing a fire and sending a man driving nearby into shock. Hamas terrorists also fired two mortar shells late Sunday, north and northeast of Gaza, causing no damage.

Over the weekend, terrorists in Gaza fired 22 Kassams and five mortar shells at Israel's western Negev areas. The tally: One man was killed by a shell on Friday night, two people were lightly wounded by shrapnel, others were treated for shock, and a house suffered a direct hit.

Over the course of Friday night, five Hamas terrorists were killed in an Israel Air Force anti-terrorist operation. In other security-related news, Arabs in Gaza fired at an IDF unit near Kisufim late Sunday afternoon; no word on casualties.

Israel Considers Truce Offer from Hamas

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

A Middle East ceasefire could be in the offing during a week of high diplomacy. But Israel has mixed feelings. Israel is considering a truce offer from the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

The proposal will be presented by Egyptian intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, who is due to visit Israel on Monday. It calls for an end to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli border communities, while Israel would halt all military action in Gaza and lift its crippling blockade of the territory.

Israel is sending mixed signals about the truce offer. Spokesman Arieh Mekel says Israel would welcome a halt to the daily rocket attacks. "The ball is in Hamas' court. If they were to stop these attacks, Israel will have no reason to react and there will be peace and quiet," said Mekel.

But some Israeli officials, as well as the army, strongly oppose a ceasefire. They say Hamas would use a truce to regroup and rearm for the next round of violence.

"Therefore, it is inevitable with the acquisition of weapons by Hamas, based on its creed of warfare against Israel, based on its training in Iran, based on its jihadic war effort and ethos, that fighting will continue," said Israeli analyst Mordechai Nissan.

Hamas is seeking a ceasefire because it has been hit hard by Israeli sanctions and military incursions. But Palestinian activist Hanna Siniora believes a truce serves the interests of both sides. "What is needed, and I think what Hamas and all Palestinians are saying [is], 'It is time to sit down and talk instead of to fight and have civilians killed," said Siniora.

The moderate Palestinian government in the West Bank believes a truce would create a positive atmosphere for peace talks when President Bush visits the region later this week.

Despite Junta's Ban, an Israeli Aid Crew Lands in Myanmar


A small Israeli rescue team has managed to enter Myanmar (Burma), the cyclone-stricken country, despite a government ban. "The residents are waiting for help," said Josh Krieger of the Latet organization

Talking to Ynet, Josh Krieger of the Latet organization reported of the difficult sights and the great damage caused by the storm, as well as of the difficulties posed by the authorities. "You see a chaos which is only now being treated. Trees on the roads, destructed houses, roofless houses, water and fuel shortages."

Krieger is one of the only volunteers who managed to enter Myanmar, after the ruling junta refused to allow aid teams to enter its territory. Many international aid crews, including United Nations organizations, have been waiting In Thailand for days in hopes of receiving an approval to enter the country.

On Saturday morning, Krieger managed to reach the capital of Yangon, which has hardly seen any foreigners on its destructed streets. "We have not seen one white person since our arrival," he said. "We are among the few people here. There is very little international aid here. The city is empty," he added.

According to Krieger, media outlets were prohibited to send representatives to the country, and journalists attempting to infiltrate Myanmar and hide their cameras were expelled.

Despite the media blackout, the residents are willing to talk to those who approach them. "They say the situation is terrible, that it's very difficult. They are waiting for someone to come help them, but you won't hear them complain about the junta," Krieger said.

Krieger arrived in Myanmar with Dana Manor, who is responsible for the organization's emergency aid activities abroad. The two met over the past few days with members of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a joint meeting of the humanitarian organizations held in Bangkok.

They later managed to enter Myanmar together, becoming one of the first to do so since the cyclone hit the country. The two said that the reports from Myanmar regarding the number of casualties are vague. An official statement claimed that 23,000 people have perished in the disaster, but sources in the country fear the number will rise, reaching up to 60,000 people.

According to Krieger and Manor, the cyclone hit an area called Irrawaddy, which sustained most of the damage, and continued to Yangon and Thailand. "The delta area sustained the heaviest damage. There are reports of bodies floating there. Our work could take years. Everything here has been completely destroyed," Krieger said, adding that it was hard to estimate the extent of the damage, as the authorities have removed some of the damage in the capital.

Ark of the Covenant Altar Found in Sheba's Palace


The queen of Sheba's palace at Axum in Ethiopia, purported to once have been the home of the Ark of the Covenant, has been found, archaeologists from the University of Hamburg report.

The Ethiopian queen was the friend and ally of King Solomon of Israel in the 10th century before the Christian era.

According to the Bible, in 1 Kings 10, the Queen of Sheba journeyed to Jerusalem after hearing of King Solomon's wisdom to see if what she had heard was true. So impressed was she that she gave large quantities of gold, spices and precious stones to the king of Israel.

"It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom," she said. "However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men and happy are these, your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness."

The Bible makes no mention of Solomon and the queen of Sheba marrying or having a child.

Ethiopian tradition claims the Ark, which contained Moses' stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, was smuggled to Ethiopia by their son Menelek and is still in that country.

The university said scientists led by Helmut Ziegert had found remains of a 10th-century BCE palace at Axum-Dungur under the palace of a later Christian king. There was evidence the early palace had been torn down and realigned to the path of the star Sirius.

The team hypothesizes that Menelek had changed religion and become a worshiper of Sirius while keeping the Ark, described in the Bible as an acacia-wood chest covered with gold. Remains of sacrifices of bullocks were evident around the altar.

The research at Axum, which began in 1999, is aimed at documenting the origins of the Ethiopian state and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The discovery was made in the last 90 days.

"The results we have suggest that a cult of Sothis developed in Ethiopia with the arrival of Judaism and the Ark of the Covenant and continued until 600 CE," the announcement said. Sothis is the ancient Greek name for a star thought to be Sirius.

The team said evidence for this included Sirius symbols at the site, the debris of sacrifices and the alignment of sacred buildings to the rising-point of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

Nakba Cartoon Describes Jews as 'Enemies of Homeland'

By Reuters

Jewish fighters are shown shooting Palestinians and bombing their villages in an animated film by Gaza-based women marking 60 years since Israel was founded and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced.

"The Tale of a Key" describes the Jews as "enemies of the religion and enemies of the homeland" and is meant to highlight what the illustrators called the "holy" right of dispossessed Palestinians to return to land that is now part of Israel.

The women behind the film, who run a production company in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, said they are not politically aligned but want to teach Palestinian children and adults about the events that drove them from their homeland.

"It tells of the suffering, the killing and displacement," said Moamena Abu Hamda, director of the JohaToon Company in Gaza City. "It shows that the Palestinian people did not leave their land by their own will but they were forced to do it."

Hamas's Al-Aqsa Television drew Israeli and international censure last year for using cartoons and puppet-shows featuring Mickey Mouse and Lion King lookalikes to illustrate the Islamist movement's battle against Israel, which it does not recognize.

JohaToon plans to screen the 32-minute film, which it says is for adults as well as children, in Gaza this month and hopes to market it in other Arab countries and further afield.

Some 700,000 Palestinians fled from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948. About 4.5 million refugees and their descendents now live in squalid camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Most of the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million residents are either refugees or their descendants and live in eight densely populated camps and four cities.

Refugees cling to a "right of return" and their fate is one of the thorniest issues facing negotiators who are trying to reach a deal this year to create a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank -- land Israel occupied in 1967 Middle East war.

While Israel celebrates its 60th birthday with fireworks, parties and military display this month, Palestinians hold rallies to mourn the "Nakba," or "catastrophe" of displacement and to highlight the refugee problem.

Abu Hamda insisted "The Tale of the Key" - which refers to the keys many Palestinians carry as symbols of their lost homes - was not meant to incite violence against Israelis but to recount stories passed down from previous generations. "We have laid down facts as we heard them from our grandfathers and grandmothers," Abu Hamda told Reuters. "We told the tale as we heard and as people saw it."

`Israel at 60' High School Video Contest

By Israel Faxx News Services

As part of its yearlong celebration of "Israel at 60," Shalom TV is inviting high school students throughout America to participate in a special "Israel at 60 Video Contest."

Any 60-second video saluting Israeli history or Israel today is welcome, with possible themes ranging from "What Israel means to me," to "What Israel has meant for Jewish history" to "What I love about Israel today!" Funny or serious. Simple or profound. Whatever excites the imagination of high school students and helps Shalom TV viewers recognize "Israel at 60."

Winning videos, and those receiving honorable mention, will air nationally on Shalom TV to more than 16 million homes across the country. Additionally, in keeping with the theme, the first-prize winner will be awarded $600. Two second-place winners will each receive $160. And three third-place winners will receive $60. Videos may be produced by student groups, but only one prize will be awarded for each selected title.

In appreciation of American high school students who are commemorating this historic milestone through Shalom TV's "Israel at 60" contest, the Israeli Consulate in New York will host a ceremony honoring the top entries and showcasing the winning videos.

Submissions must be postmarked by Aug. 31, 2008, and should be mailed to Shalom TV, PO Box 1989, Fort Lee, New Jersey, 07024. Videos must be 60-seconds in length and recorded on an acceptable digital format [DVD, DVcam, DVpro, or mini-DV]. All entries become the property of Shalom TV and will not be returned.

An entry form and official contest rules are available on the Shalom TV Web site at by following the "Downloads" link from the network's home page.

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