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Ships That Go Bump in the Night

By Israel Faxx News Services

An Israeli naval ship collided with a boat carrying activists and journalists attempting to reach Gaza. The boat, owned and operated by the International Solidarity Movement, which was also carrying more than three tons of medical aid, docked instead in Tyre, Lebanon, with a hole in its hull.

Free Gaza Movement activists aboard the aid boat, which did not respond to radio contact from the Israeli navy saying it was entering a closed military zone, claim that the navy ship fired on the small cabin cruiser, Reuters reported. The Israeli Foreign Ministry told Reuters that its ship did not fire any weapons.

Rocket Attack on Beersheva: Government Says No to Ceasefire

By &

Tuesday evening saw a first Grad rocket fired from the Gaza Strip land in Beersheva, 37 kilometers (23 miles) from the Gaza Strip. The missile hit an empty kindergarten, causing damage to the building and to a nearby house. Thirty-four people were treated for shock at the Soroka Medical Center in the city.

Beersheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich told Ynet following the rocket attack, "We are part of the country and I call on the residents to prepare and not to panic. Sderot is being hit by rockets for eight years now, and we too will be patient. As the operations in the Gaza Strip were widened we estimated that the rockets would also reach Beersheva. I'm glad it ended without any casualties."

The Beersheva Municipality announced Tuesday night that the southern city's schools would not be opened Wednesday morning. The decision was made following a consultation with security officials, the Home Front Command and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai. Some 43,000 children and youths are expected to stay at home in light of the decision.

A state official said Tuesday night that "Israel mustn't talk of a ceasefire for humanitarian needs. This expression is unacceptable to us, as medications, blood and basic commodities have already been transferred to the Gaza Strip."

The official spoke after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert placed an embargo on the resolutions of his four-hour meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin and other defense officials on ways to continue the military operation in Gaza.

Sources in Jerusalem made it clear after the meeting that the French definition for the ceasefire, as suggested by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Defense Minister Barak, was unacceptable. They added, however, that a ceasefire would be possible if Hamas were to stop firing rockets towards Israel. "At the end of the day, the operation is aimed at restoring peace in the south. If this is honored, we will consider how to proceed," a state official said.

Some 40 Kassam rockets and Grad missiles were fired at the western Negev communities throughout Tuesday. Two people were lightly hurt by shrapnel and about 60 suffered shock.

Hamas gunmen have fired 180 rockets and dozens of mortar shells into Israel since the start of the operation. About 75 percent of the rockets and mortars hit open areas. One of the most significant achievements was the destruction of two-thirds of the launching pits, where Hamas tried to hide the rocket launchers.

Sources in the defense establishment estimate that Hamas still has more than 2,000 rockets of all types, including dozens of long-range rockets which could reach Ashdod, Beersheva and even further communities.

Earlier Tuesday, government ministers approved the draft of 2,500 reserve soldiers, in addition to the enlistment of 6,700 reservists which was approved earlier this week, in order to expand the fighting units ahead of a possible ground incursion in Gaza. The move was aimed at signaling that Israel's plans to possibly enter the Strip in order to oppress the Palestinian rocket fire still stand.

Defense officials clarified that Israel's ground incursion may be avoided due to the harsh weather conditions expected in the next 48 hours. However, the IDF is prepared to defend the home front if it realizes that there is no other way to stop the rocket and mortar fire.

The National Union party warned Tuesday against a ceasefire in the fighting against Hamas, saying that "whoever ceases the fire after Beersheva was targeted will wake up to missiles on Dimona and Tel Aviv." Dimona is home to Israel's main nuclear research facility. It is located southeast of Beersheva.

Terrorists Promise 'Surprises' for Israel


Speaking during exclusive WND interviews Tuesday, leaders of Hamas and an allied terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip claimed they have "surprises" in store for Israel as the Jewish state continues its aerial bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza.

The threats come as information from Israeli defense officials indicates Gaza-based terrorists have long-range rockets capable of reaching just outside Tel Aviv if launched from the northern Gaza Strip.

"This war is a war for elections and therefore we promise to send them (Israelis) surprises," stated Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' so-called military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades.

Abu Abdullah claimed to WND that if Israeli ground troops entered Gaza, his terror group is ready to engage. "This will be the day of al-Hasher - the day where believers and nonbelievers will be fighting face to face, and we will get rid of them and Allah will win for the Muslims and the believers," he said.

Muhammad Abdel-Al, spokesman and leader of the Hamas-allied Popular Resistance Committees terror group in Gaza, also claimed his organization has "surprises" in store for Israel. "We will keep fighting the Zionists until Israel will evacuate Ashdod and Ashkelon and Yavne," he added, referring to several Israeli towns.

Israel Monday took out a Popular Resistance Committees target, killing 10 of Abdel-Al's commanders. Also Monday, five of Abu Abdullah's direct cousins from Hamas were eliminated during air raids.

Sources inside Hamas and the Committees hinted to WND the "surprises" they have in store for Israel include the ability to hit Tel Aviv with rockets from Gaza, a claim that may be grounded in some truth.

Avital Lebovich, a spokeswoman for the IDF, did not deny Palestinians may be capable of firing at Tel Aviv. "Hamas can have variety of capabilities," she told WND when asked whether Gaza rockets can strike Tel Aviv.

IDF Opens YouTube Channel


The IDF Spokesman's Unit joined the popular YouTube video sharing website this week, opening a channel to let viewers see footage from the "Cast Lead" operation in Gaza. The footage showed humanitarian aid entering Gaza via Israeli crossings and Israeli strikes on Hamas targets.

Supporters of Hamas-led Gaza quickly began reporting the IDF videos in an attempt to get them removed from the website. Some of the most popular videos were taken down, but not before being viewed by thousands.

One of the videos removed showed terrorists loading Grad missiles into a truck near a residential area. The terrorists were then taken out in an IAF strike. The video was picked up by the LiveLeak website.

IDF spokesmen altered the IDF channel homepage to say, "We are saddened that YouTube has taken down some of our exclusive footage showing the IDF's operational success in operation Cast Lead against Hamas extremists in the Gaza Strip.

"As the State of Israel again faces those who would see it destroyed, it is imperative that we in the IDF show the world the inhumanity directed against us and our efforts to stop it. It is also worth noting that one of the videos removed had the highest number of hits (over 10,000) at the time of its removal."

Iranian Jews Forced to Stage Pro-Palestinian Rally

By Ha'aretz

Members of Iran's small Jewish community staged a demonstration outside of the United Nations' office in Tehran, to protest the Israel Defense Forces' operation in the Gaza Strip.

The official Iranian news agency, IRNA, reported that community members, alongside Jewish parliamentarian Siamak Mara-Sedq, urged Israel to do its part to return quiet and security to the region.

The chairman of Iran's Jewish Union, Rahmatullah Raafi, said the community had come out in support of the Palestinian people. "We are here to express out support and sympathy for the Palestinian nation," he said, adding that Muslim nations could rise up as a single large force against Israel. He also said that the victors of the current conflict were the residents of Gaza.

Israeli sources familiar with the Iranian Jewish community suspect that the demonstration was organized by the government in Tehran, and does not represent that actual stance of Iranian Jews.

Some 25,000 Jews still live in Iran. Many have visited Israel, where a large percentage of the community has immigrated in the past 30 years. Still, others prefer to remain in Iran. There are rarely reports of the community suffering from antagonism or aggression from their neighbors or from the government.

Oldest Holtzberg Son Passes Away


In the quiet hours when Jerusalem was waiting for the dawn, the oldest child of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg joined his martyred parents in death.

Four-year-old Dov Ber Holtzberg died of a genetic disease in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday after a long, serious illness in a Jerusalem hospital. The funeral was held at midday in Jerusalem.

Dov Ber was laid to rest in the cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, just one day before the end of the 30-day mourning period for his parents next to his parents and older brother. His brother died of the same disease two years ago. The child had been living in a long-term care facility in Jerusalem.

The Holtzbergs were slaughtered along with four other Jews in an Islamist terrorist attack on their Chabad House in Mumbai, India. Nearly 200 other people were murdered and hundreds of others were wounded in the three-day killing spree by 10 terrorists which struck the city formerly known as Bombay.

The ceremony to set the marker stones on to graves of the Holtzberg couple is scheduled to be held on Thursday, the day after the conclusion of the mourning period.

Dov Ber's sole surviving immediate family member is his little brother, Moishe Tzvi, who escaped the Mumbai massacre in the arms of his Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel.

Israel News Faxx Does Not Expect to publish tomorrow, New Year's Day

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