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Arab Repairmen Stab Four Jews


Two Arab repairmen arrived to fix a heater on a sixth-floor apartment in Modiin Illit on Monday morning, and proceeded to stab the occupants of the home. The father is in serious condition, and others were more lightly hurt.

The Arabs then ran down to the street and stabbed two passersby using a sharp instrument, and punched and kicked a third person. One of the terrorists was shot by a passerby and is listed in moderate-to-serious condition. The second terrorist has not yet been caught. The hareidi-religious city of Modiin Illit, formerly known as Kiryat Sefer, is the largest Jewish town in Judea and Samaria.

Attacks Continue, Rockets Reach Ofakim

By, Reuters, & VOA News

Attacks from Gaza continued on Monday night. Terrorists hit the cities of Yavne and Ofakim for the first time. Military experts said the cities lie at the outer reach of Hamas' rocket range.

One man was moderately wounded in the Ofakim strike, and six suffered shock. Rockets hit Sderot and Netivot as well, but did not cause injury. Explosions were heard in Ashkelon, and at least two mortar shells were fired at towns in the Eshkol region.

Approximately 90 rockets hit southern Israel on Monday. Three people were killed: Hani Elmahadi was killed in Ashkelon in the morning, Irit Sheetrit was killed in Ashdod at night and an as of yet unidentified soldier was killed in Nahal Oz. Two people were badly wounded in rocket attacks over the course of the day, six were moderately wounded and 23 were lightly wounded.

Israel continued to attack targets in Gaza, blasting buildings near the Hamas parliament in Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday night to discuss the situation. Following the meeting Olmert did not detail the government's plans, but said, "We're not talking about an exit strategy anymore, but working to obtain our goals in the Gaza operation. We're continuing according to the original plan. As Gaza terrorists continue their attacks, Israel's strikes on Hamas will become more aggressive."

The army is "ready to go all the way," Israel's Air Force chief said Monday night, as operation "Cast Lead" entered its fourth day. IDF officials are waiting for the green light to embark on a ground incursion, which may be unavoidable in light of the latest escalation in fighting.

Gaza terrorists expressed confidence in an interview with Ynet on Monday night, saying they have the public's backing. Israel's attempts to win Gaza residents over by sending messages blaming Hamas and other terrorist groups for the situation in the area will fail, said one group's spokesman. "They don't hear the cries of 'Allah is great' coming forth from the homes as rockets are fired," he said.

While planning Israel's attack strategy, Barak also authorized the continued transfer of aid and supplies to Gaza via Israeli crossings in the Negev. Approximately 100 trucks carrying food, medicine and other supplies will enter Gaza on Tuesday, as will five ambulances donated by Turkey.

Scattered groups of Arab Israelis took part in riots and violent attacks throughout the day in protest of operations in Gaza. In Jerusalem, hundreds rioted and attacked police while others set fires, threw stones, and firebombed a local hospital. On Monday night attacks escalated, with a terrorist opening fire on police officers stationed in Abu Dis. The officers were unhurt.

The air force attacked Palestinian targets across the Gaza Strip overnight, with eyewitnesses reporting that fighter jets dropped at least 16 bombs on Hamas government buildings and security compounds, destroying them completely. At least 10 people were reportedly killed in the strikes and more than 40 were injured.

Large infantry and armored forces are already deployed near Gaza and await the order to march in. "We have an orderly plan, with objectives and targets, and it will ultimately secure its goals," a military official said. The winter weather in the region may postpone the IDF's plans, but military officials said the army has solutions even if weather conditions remain unstable.

Ten months have passed since IDF ground forces operated deep within Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip. The last large-scale ground operation was "Warm Winter," which was followed by several smaller operations, before a relative lull went into effect. However, military officials hinted that the upcoming ground operation may include a deep and broad incursion.

Addressing pilots at a southern military base Monday evening, Air Force Chief Ido Nehushtan said the army must not be complacent at this time. "Hamas is still able to fire rockets at the State of Israel, and our goal is to prevent it," he said. "Hamas must understand that we are ready to go all the way. Southern residents feel that we are doing something for them."

The Home Front ordered Beersheva to prepare for Katyusha rockets and to open 250 public bomb shelters, bringing back memories of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 when families slept in shelters during Egyptian attacks.

Circulars are being distributed throughout the city, the country's seventh largest, advising residents that they will have one minute to run for cover in the event of a rocket attack. A wailing siren will sound for 90 seconds, and people are advised to remain in the shelters for at least five minutes before an all-clear signal.

Hamas has threatened it would surprise Israel with longer-range rockets and with more powerful explosives than used in the past. Yuval Diskin, head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), warned the Cabinet last week that Hamas could strike Ashdod and Beersheva.

The city is known as the "Capital of the Negev Desert" and is home to nearly 200,000 people. However, its shopping centers attract tens of thousands others, mostly Bedouins, from outlying communities. It also is the home to the sprawling Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center, which often treats Arabs from Gaza.

Except for the Yom Kippur War, when Egyptian tanks rolled over the Sinai border, Beersheva was spared from terrorist attacks until the year 2004, the fourth year of the Oslo War, when 16 people were killed in twin suicide bombings on local buses. Hamas took responsibility for the attacks.

Senior Jihad Man, 14 Others Die in IDF Strikes


Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck two targets in northern Gaza, both near the home of one of Hamas' senior military wing operatives. A strike in the Northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya hit the home of a senior member of the group's recruiting branch; and a third took out a truck carrying Grad rockets in the northern Gaza neighborhood of Jabalya. According to the IDF, the truck was either headed towards a hiding place or to launching pads.

According to the Palestinian, none of the Hamas operatives were in their homes during the strikes.

Earlier Monday, Ziad Abu-Tir, 35, a senior member of the Islamic Jihad's military wing was among five people killed in an IAF strike in the Khan Younis area. His brother, nephew and two other people died in the attack as well. Five people were injured and the area sustained heavy damage.

A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad's military wing said that "this is another massacre and crime" and that Israel must wait for the organization's response. A source in one of the organizations warned that gunmen in Gaza were well prepared for a ground offensive. "We'll kidnap soldiers, and it will equal all of this destruction," he told Ynet.

The armed Palestinian organizations reported that they were completing their preparations for Israel's expected ground offensive. A Palestinian source told Ynet that "the Israeli side must wait for a united Strip under the ground and for hundreds of car bombs and hundreds of suicide bombers."

Another senior source in the groups said that all of the organizations were preparing to abduct soldiers. "If the kidnapping plan proves successful it will compare to all the destruction Israel had caused."

A Hamas source rejected the reports suggesting that the rocket fire at Ashdod, as well as the reports of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was hurt, are evident of the organization's distress. "We have sent messages that we can fire to longer distances that the Israelis are used to and that the Israeli soldier is held in the Strip," he said. The source refused to elaborate on Shalit's condition.

The terrorist Islamist group Hamas wrested control of Gaza away from the more moderate mainstream Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over a year ago. There have been sporadic rocket attacks into Israel but these increased after a six-month cease-fire between Israel and Hamas expired December 19.

Speaking in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas said he would consult with rival factions to try to end the bloodshed. He said he would invite all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad for consultations to stop what he called the aggression against the Palestinian people.

Iran Clerics Enlist Volunteers to Fight 'Zionist Regime' in Gaza

By Reuters

A group of Iranian hard-line clerics is signing up volunteers to fight in the Gaza Strip in response to Israel's air strikes that have killed at least 300 Palestinians, a news agency reported on Monday.

"From Monday the Combatant Clergy Society has activated its Web site for a week to register volunteers to fight against the Zionist regime (Israel) in either the military, financial or propaganda fields," the semi-official Fars news agency said.

The hard-line group, which is headed by some leading clergy, said it has no affiliation with the government and was formed shortly after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious decree to Muslims around the world on Sunday, ordering them to defend Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli attacks "in any way possible".

A religious decree is an official statement by a high-ranking religious leader that commands Muslims to carry out its message. While there is no religious and legal force behind it, Khamenei is respected by many Iranian and non-Iranian Shi'ites.

Iran refuses to recognize Israel, which accuses Tehran of supplying Hamas Islamists with weapons. Iran denies the claim, saying it only provides moral support to the group. Fars said the hard-line group provided volunteers with a registration document called "Registration form for dispatching volunteers to Gaza". It said more than 1,100 people so far had registered for military service against Israel. Khamenei said on Sunday that whoever was killed in the fight to defend Palestinians was "considered a martyr."

Palestinian Girl Loses Sister, Blames Hamas


A Palestinian girl who said she lost a 4-year old sister Sunday during Israel's air strikes in the Gaza Strip squarely placed the blame for the violence on Hamas, making her statements live on the terrorist group's official television network.

"We were sleeping seven girls in the room. We were asleep and didn't know what was happening. In the morning all the bricks were on top of my head, and the heads of all my sisters. My 4-year-old sister next to me was dead," the girl said, talking to Hamas' Al Aqsa TV.

"How many were you?" the Hamas interviewer asked the girl. The girl responded: "Seven. In the other room were my mother, my father, my younger brother and another sister, who is 13 days old. "I say, Hamas is the cause, in the first place, of all wars," she declared.

The interview was translated from Arabic by the Israeli-based Palestinian Media Watch organization.

IMRA Sponsors Golan Video Contest


IMRA, the Independent Media Review Analysis, is sponsoring a contest to make a movie addressing the security ramifications of leaving the Golan. The winning entry will receive a prize of NIS 1,000.

The instructions for the contest explain that preference will be given to videos that simulate scenarios of what may occur after Israel would withdraw from the Golan. Video entries should be uploaded to YouTube and the url of the video should be sent to, along with contact details for the entrant.

The contest has four rules: The video must be in Hebrew or at least have Hebrew subtitles; The video should be suitable for general audiences; The presentation can be animations, slide shows, live action or any combination; The deadline for submissions is Jan. 15, 2009.

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