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Terrorists Begin Nakba Day with Kassam Rocket, Firebombs

By, VOA News & Ha'aretz

Arab terrorists attacked southern Israel with a Kassam rocket early Tuesday and attacked Jews in the Hebron area with two firebombs overnight as "Nakba Day" began. No one was injured.

The rocket, fired from northern Gaza, exploded in an open area near Sderot, and the firebombs were hurled at IDF soldiers stationed at the village of El-Aroub, located less than one mile south of the Gush Etzion junction on Highway 60 leading to Kiryat Arba-Hebron.

Palestinians observe "Nakba," which means "catastrophe," with demonstrations every year on May 15, the day after the anniversary of Israel's creation. Israel uses the Hebrew calendar and therefore celebrated its 64th anniversary on April 26 this year.

More than 700,000 Palestinians are estimated to have voluntarily fled or been forced to leave their homes during the war that followed Israel's declaration of statehood in 1948.

The government may have prevented some violence on Tuesday by signing an agreement with Palestinian Authority prisoners to end their hunger strike, which has been gaining international sympathy. The agreement was seen by Israel as another concession to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who has demanded that Israel release all terrorists and security prisoners.

Israeli-Arab lawmakers lined up to incite against Israel on Tuesday saying the creation of the Jewish state was the "equivalent to the destruction of the First and Second [Jewish] Temples."

Attending an event held in Aljoun near Umm al-Fahm, the Arab Knesset members were joined by the leader of the Islamic Movement's Northern Branch, Raed Salah, and the head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, Mohammed Zidan.

"I feel an atmosphere of victory," MK Jamal Zahalka said, referring to the end of a mass hunger strike by Arab security prisoners in Israeli prisons... "They won a battle for their rights and we succeeded in introducing the Nakba in the public discourse."

"We won't forgive and won't forget," he added, aping internal Israeli Jewish political discourse.

MK Ahmad Tibi said, "Empathy towards another people's suffering is a sublime human value on the way to reconciliation. The collective memory of a people who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 will not be quashed by erasing 530 villages."

Tibi, PLO arch-terrorist Yasir Arafat's former spokesman and confidant, has infamously praised "shahids" (suicide terrorists) and led angry crowed marching in Jerusalem's Old City chanting "With blood and fire, we will redeem Palestine!"

MK Tala El-Sana said that "the denial of the Nakba is as much as a crime than the Nakba itself. Israel has a duty to recognize the Nakba." He added, "Any attempt to deny the Nakba will advance the next flare-up while recognition will promote reconciliation."

"As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the Nakba is equivalent to the Destruction of the First and Second Temples," he claimed. "It's a traumatic event that transformed the Palestinian people from a people living in their homeland to refugees longing for the right to return to their homeland."

Israeli MI Head Visited U.S. for Secret Talks on Iran, Syria

By Israel Faxx News Services

Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi made a secret visit two weeks ago to Washington and to UN headquarters in New York, where he discussed the Iranian nuclear program, the Syria crisis and Hizbullah's increasing power in Lebanon, a senior Israeli official has said.

Kochavi met in Washington with senior White House and State Department officials, as well as senior officials in the Defense Department Intelligence agency and the CIA.

According to the senior Israeli official, the Iran issue was a central focus of Kochavi's talks in Washington, where he discussed the progress of Iran's nuclear program and the status of the talks Iran is holding with the P5 +1 nations about the program's future.

In New York, Kochavi briefed several ambassadors from UN Security Council member states. These discussions also dealt with Iran, but primarily focused on the situation in Syria and Lebanon.

A European diplomat who was briefed on the content of Kochavi's talks in New York said that according to Kochavi the Israeli intelligence community has changed its stance on the future of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Until a few months ago Israel believed preserving the regime would serve Israel's interests, but now it believes Israel would be better served by Assad's removal from office.

Kochavi said Israel believes Assad's fate is sealed, and the only question is how long it will be before his regime is toppled, according to the diplomat.

A senior Israeli official who is also familiar with the details of Kochavi's meetings in New York said the MI chief had also met with senior officials in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Forces, which is responsible for the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon.

According to the senior official, Kochavi warned against Hizbullah's increasing strength in south Lebanon, stressing that the combination of increasing internal tension in Lebanon and Syria's instability increases the risk of escalation.

Kochavi's talks with the Department of Peacekeeping Forces were also held in the context of the change earlier this year at the helm of UNIFIL. The former UNIFIL commander, Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas of Spain, ended his tour of duty at the end of January. He was replaced by Italian Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra.

Israel is worried about changes that have taken place recently in the makeup of UNIFIL's forces. Nearly half of the force's soldiers, some 6,000 of 13,000, come from large European countries - France, Spain and Italy. But in recent months, because of the economic crisis in Europe, these countries have started to cut their defense budgets and have reduced the number of their soldiers in UNIFIL.

The European soldiers are increasingly being replaced by soldiers from Muslim countries such as Indonesia, and Israel fears these soldiers won't take action as needed against Hizbullah.

A year ago Kochavi made a similar trip to Washington and New York, in which Syria was the main focus of discussion. On that visit he warned envoys of Security Council member states that if Assad's regime were to fall the Syrian army's advanced weapons could fall into the hands of Hizbullah.

Shalom: Israel will Never Cede the Golan


Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom Tuesday toured the Golan Heights and said Israel would never cede the Golan Heights. "We have been in the Golan Heights forever and shall remain eternally," Shalom, who is also Minister of Negev and Galilee Development, said during a wine opening at the Lane School. "There has been an almost continual Jewish presence in the Golan Heights for thousands of years and we will never leave," he added.

Shalom told those present that the Golan needed investment to nurture and develop the excellent soil so Israel could build "a luxurious wine empire." He also noted, "The Golan Heights is a magnet for immigrants from around the world, and in Israel, young people and families, and we will continue to invest in the region to strengthen Jewish settlement." "Our vision is to bring 300,000 more residents to Galilee in the next decade," he added.

Government OKs Golan Heights Oil Exploration


Two decades after diplomatic considerations led to a decision not to explore for oil on the Golan Heights, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau has decided to renew drilling permits, Yediot Aharonot reported

After the Golan Heights Law was passed some 30 years ago, it was determined that it applied to the Petroleum Law as well – meaning that oil exploration could be carried out in the area.

In those days, oil exploration rested in the hands of government entities. In the 1990s the Energy and Water Ministry licensed Israel Oil Exploration Ltd. to drill on the Golan Heights. The Rabin government's attempts to negotiate with Syria put the licenses on hold, but in 1996, the government – under Binyamin Netanyahu – declared that drilling would be renewed.

Syria quickly condemned the decision, Israel issued official denials, and the exploration never resumed.

By law, the National Infrastructures Minster may – after consultation with the Petroleum Council – decide which areas to open and which to close to oil exploration. In recent weeks, Landau decided to reopen the Golan Heights for oil exploration, a decision that was approved in secret.

The decision could have far-reaching political ramifications, and those in Landau's inner circle do not deny that his political beliefs played a part in the decision. A source close to the minister said: "His view that (the country) must take advantage of every possibility for oil exploration in Israel – to free itself from dependence of Arab oil – is known."

Past experience has shown that the decision to resume drilling could garner condemnation by Syria and affect future negotiations between Syria and Israel. But is there actually any oil on the Golan? It is possible, but the area is covered by basalt, which makes it difficult to conduct geological surveys.

If, in fact, drilling proceeds, and oil or gas is discovered, there could be a massive international outcry and a dispute about sovereignty over the areas containing the reserves.

Meanwhile, Landau has also decided to "close" Israel's coast and stop issuing new permits for oil and gas exploration; citing that the drilling that has already been authorized and is due to be conducted in the next few years will supply information about the gas and oil potential in the area that will assist in granting future licenses.

Sources close to Landau said that the minister had taken the decision to "allow the market to stabilize and internalize the regulatory guidelines outlined in recent years."

According to Syria's official news agency, Damascus was livid to learn of the drilling prospects, saying: "The Zionist entity is stealing oil from the occupied territories of the Golan Heights. This is a blatant violation of international law and a complete disregard of the United Nations and the decisions made by the UN Security Council."

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