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Israeli Immigration Authorities Raid Dead Sea Hotels


Immigration police rounded up dozens of illegal Sudanese workers in a massive raid along the hotel strip at the southern tip of the Dead Sea at daybreak Sunday.

Hundreds of refugees from the Sudan who infiltrated into the country from Egypt in the past year had been hired "off the books" by the hotels at the Dead Sea, said a source. "They do hard work for less money and they are very strong," she explained.

Iran Has Enough Uranium to Build Bomb

By & VOA News

The top U.S. military official said Sunday he believes Iran has enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Islamic Republic is a long way from having a bomb.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency revised its assessment of Iran's nuclear capabilities, saying it was wrong in earlier reports about Iran's ability to enrich enough uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, "We think they do, quite frankly," when asked Sunday about Iran's capacity. "Iran having a nuclear weapon I've believed for a long time is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world." He told Fox News Sunday that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a "very bad outcome" for the world.

But Gates said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the Iranians are "not close to a stockpile, they're not close to a weapon at this point and so there is some time," when asked if Tehran could be deterred from pursuing its weapons effort.

Mullen said that the U.S. is also watching North Korea closely, but no decisions have been made on whether to respond to their preparations for a test missile launch. "The president's made no decision. Secretary Gates and I have made no recommendations. But it's -- it's an area that we watch with great concern. And I would hope that North Korea would not be provocative," he said.

Iran said its nuclear work is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity. An Iranian foreign ministry official, Hossein Sheikh al Islam, said Sunday that Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushehr will be fully operation in September. Iranian and Russian experts began testing the plant last Wednesday after years of delays.

The Obama administration has said it will seek to end Iran's nuclear ambitions, preferably through diplomacy.

US to Pledge $900 Million to Palestinians

By VOA News

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will pledge a total of $900 million in U.S. support for Palestinians at a donors' conference Monday, with $300 million of that amount earmarked for aid in the Gaza Strip.

Clinton is among representatives of 70 countries meeting in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh for an international conference to raise money to rebuild Gaza after Israel's military offensive earlier this year. The Palestinian Authority says it needs to raise $2.8 billion to reconstruct Gaza.

A spokesman for Clinton said Sunday $600 million would go to the Palestinian Authority to cover budget shortfalls, institutional reforms and economic development. Clinton has said none of the U.S. money would be transferred to Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and was not invited to the donors' conference.

After the gathering, Clinton intends to head to Jerusalem and the West Bank for separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

On Sunday, Israel again threatened to retaliate for ongoing rocket attacks by Gaza terrorists. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet that Israel would not tolerate the rocket fire. Israel's military said 110 rockets and mortars have hit the country since January 18, when it ended a three-week assault on Hamas murderers that control Gaza. Hamas also declared a cease-fire in January.

Olmert warned that if the rocket fire continues, there would be "a painful, harsh, and strong response" against Hamas.

In another development, Gaza medics say five Palestinians were killed Sunday when a smuggling tunnel collapsed under Gaza's border with Egypt. Smugglers have been using a network of cross-border tunnels to bring goods and weapons into Gaza.

Israeli analyst Yoni Ben Menachem said Israel failed to defeat Hamas so another round of conflict is inevitable. "The Hamas infrastructure is still there, the rockets are still arriving from the other side (of the border), the (weapons) smuggling continues. And I think definitely we are going to another round. This is obvious," he said.

20 Percent of Sderot's Population Under Psychiatric Care


Hamas terrorists attacked Sderot again Sunday night with a Kassam rocket that hit the porch and back yard of a home. Media reported "there were no injuries" to people inside the house, but eight years of attacks have placed 20 percent of the town's population under mental care.

Five other rockets also exploded in the city and in Sdot Negev and Eshkol regions. No damage was reported.

"Four thousand people in Sderot are under psychiatric care in some form," according to David Bedein, an investigative journalist who also has a masters degree in social work and works in the field.

More than 70 rockets and mortars have hit Sderot and the adjacent Sha'ar HaNegev area since the end of Operation Cast Lead, which the Olmert administration declared returned peace and quiet to southern Israel. More than 30 others have exploded in other areas, including Ashkelon.

"People are suffering from anxiety" from the attacks, Bedein said. Noting that the media have downplayed rocket attacks that "cause no injuries or damage," Bedein explained, "It is difficult to report miracles."

He noted that when covering the Gulf War in 1991 for CNN radio, his superiors turned down a headline story on a Scud rocket that destroyed a street and leveled homes. "CNN asked how many people were killed, and they were not interested when I said there were no fatalities," Bedein told Israel National News.

Students in Ashkelon regarded the Sabbath morning attack on their school as a miracle and recited Psalms Sunday morning. "I don't want to think what would have happened if the rocket hit in the middle of the week when pupils were in school," said Amit school principal Yitzchak Abrijel. "It was a miracle that it happened on the Sabbath when the school is closed."

The rocket that hit the school on the Sabbath was more powerful than previous models and blasted through heavy fortification designed to protect from students and teachers from injuries.

Polish Rabbis: Aviner's Words Could Trigger Anti-Semitism


Statements made by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner in a recent interview to Ynet, in which he urged schools not to take their students to the Nazi death camps in Poland, continue to trigger heated controversy in Israel and abroad.

Rabbis in Poland are now concerned that Aviner's words could stir anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic responses in the country that would be directed against local Jews. They approached Aviner on the matter, and he agreed to publish a statement stressing that not all Poles should be accused of collaborating with the Nazis during World War II.

However, Aviner refused to recant on his stance that there is a halachic, moral and educational ban against visiting Auschwitz.

Aviner's words made it to the Polish press, and prompted officials in Warsaw to protest the comments to Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich. Schudrich asked Krakow's Israeli rabbi, Boaz Pash, to sort the matter vis-à-vis Aviner.

"With his remarks Rabbi Aviner essentially strengthens the same anti-Semitic trends that still exist in Poland and that we're fighting against," Pash told Ynet. "His words obviously aren't helping the Jewish communities here. They contained sweeping generalizations that are taken lightly in Israel, but that are met with high sensitivity in Poland; he's put us in a very difficult spot."

According to Pash, this was not the first time that Aviner has made such comments. "These are inaccurate statements that could backfire and hurt the Jewish communities. Rabbi Schudrich has already received very agitated appeals on the matter, and I know he's very hurt by this."

Pash said that the relations between the Poles and the Jewish people are complex, and that not all Poles collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust. "Most of the Righteous among the Nations were from Poland," he stated.

"Let's not forget that they suffered a lot as well. It was the Nazis who murdered the Jews. The Poles perhaps didn't want the Jews, but the same can be said about the Ukrainians, the Latvians, the French, the Dutch, and all the other nice ones from Europe."

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yossi Levy told Ynet in response to the affair: "The Foreign Ministry wholeheartedly rejects any sweeping remark claiming that the Polish people were allegedly party to the horrible crimes committed by Nazi Germany against the Jewish people in Poland.

"The historical and moral responsibility for the Holocaust does not lie with the Polish people, and this should be stated clearly. Israel values and cherishes the open and brave dialogue it has with her friends in Poland, including on painful issues of the past."

Story of King David Sets Base for New NBC Series

By Christian Post

A modern-day retelling of the biblical story of King David will be premiering on NBC March 15th as a network television series.

"Kings" centers on the drama surrounding David Shepherd, a young soldier in the war-torn country of Gilboa, who will rise to fame after inspiring the nation through his fearless rescue of the king's son.

Amid Shepherd's thrust toward destiny and peace for the kingdom, however, the country's power players will go to great lengths to see him fall, blurring the line between his allies and enemies.

It's "the new coming from the old," said creator Michael Green last year at the Comic-Con in San Diego, where the series was unveiled for the first time. "Taking an old story and retelling it in a way that's both familiar and very different," he told MovieWeb.

The series is expected to draw the religious and the non-religious – the latter because of epic style and dramatic feel, and the former because it is expected to stick closely to the Old Testament, which Green says provides enough material to shape at least several seasons.

The story of King David itself, as Green points out, is one that has transcended religion and has become a part of several different cultures. "There's something really compelling about it that's attracted people – secular and non-secular," said Green. "It's much more operatic than it is necessarily religious, even though the source material is, obviously."

Still, the show is expected to strike a chord among the nation's religious TV audience and with those familiar with the story of David, which has been of immense importance to Jewish and Christian culture.

The biblical King David, the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel, was an acclaimed warrior, musician and poet who is traditionally credited with the authorship of many of the psalms included in the Book of Psalms.

Among Jews, David's three-decade reign represents the formation of a coherent Jewish kingdom centered in Jerusalem. To Muslims, David is a prophet of Islam to whom the Zabur, or Psalms, were revealed by Allah. And for Christians, the life of the Old Testament king was a prelude to that of Jesus, whose earthly father, Joseph, was a direct descendent of David.

"[F]or the people who are very in tune with the Bible ... we have a lot of `Easter eggs' – or elements that they would sort of recognize and think `Oh my goodness, they're actually telling a story that's a really familiar event,'" Green told MovieWeb. "You don't have to know the story to like it, but it could make the story a little richer to get all the references."

The show will not likely be anything like NBC's earlier attempt at a religiously-rooted series – the short-lived "Book of Daniel," a show that featured a troubled Episcopal priest, his 23-year-old gay Republican son, his womanizing adopted Chinese son, and a rather unconventional Jesus, among other colorful characters.

Nor will it censor the Bible, according to Green. "Strangely enough, they've not yet asked us to censor the Bible," he said, referring to NBC, during a Q&A panel. "They tried, but then I've showed them what chapter it was from and they were like, `Oh, well I guess that's OK.'"

It will, though, star Susanna Thompson, who played the priest's wife in "The Book of Daniel," as Queen Rose Benjamin. But that's about the only tie to past NBC shortcomings revealed so far.

The premier episode "Kings" will air on Sunday, March 15, at 8 p.m. ET as a special two-hour event.

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