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« Reply #45 on: December 15, 2007, 11:12:19 PM »

Hamas: We'll never recognize Israel

Khaled Abu Toameh
THE JERUSALEM POST
Dec. 15, 2007

Hamas on Saturday marked its 20th anniversary by vowing to continue the "jihad" against Israel and never recognize its right to exist.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians participated in a main rally organized by Hamas in the center of Gaza City in what was seen as one of the movement's biggest shows of force.

Shouting, "We won't recognize Israel," the Hamas supporters burned Israeli flags and chanted slogans against the US.

The rally was held in the same square where thousands of Fatah supporters attended a memorial for Yasser Arafat last month. Hamas officials estimated that nearly 250,000 Palestinians participated in the rally as opposed to less than 50,000 who showed up for the Arafat event.

Fatah representatives claimed that the Hamas rally was a "failure" because of the "small" number of participants.

"This is Hamas's poorest performance since 1997," said Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazzal. "Hamas threatened to cut off the salary [of] and beat any activist who does not bring his family members to the rally. Despite that, they were unable to fill the square, and there were many empty chairs."

The rally came amid increased tensions between Hamas and Fatah following the arrest of two senior Fatah figures in the Gaza Strip.

One of them, Omar Ghul, is a special adviser to PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. He was arrested shortly after returning to the Gaza Strip from Ramallah to participate in the funeral of his mother-in-law.

Hamas said Ghul was arrested after he entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing in disguise. The second man who was arrested was Ismail Abu Naja, a former deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament. Abu Naja was arrested after holding a press conference in Gaza City at which he accused Hamas of killing three Palestinians during a funeral on Friday.

The three were killed by an explosive device that apparently went off accidentally during the funeral of Islamic Jihad members who had been killed a day earlier in an Israeli attack.

Abu Naja and many Fatah officials in Ramallah were quick to blame Hamas for the explosion, saying it was a deliberate attack on civilians.

The Palestinian security forces in the West Bank banned Hamas celebrations by deploying hundreds of policemen in main cities and removing all Hamas-affiliated graffiti and flags.

Several Hamas figures were summoned to the Palestinian security forces and warned not to hold any events marking the Hamas anniversary. Hamas said 26 of its followers were arrested over the weekend in the West Bank by Fatah-controlled forces.

"The IDF's withdrawal from Gaza will be nothing like its invasion, the Strip will become a graveyard for its troops," Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri warned Saturday in his chilling opening address at the Gaza rally.

"Jews... we have already dug your graves," exclaimed Masri.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said his movement would pursue the "resistance" as the only option to "liberate Palestine." He said the large turnout was an indication of the increased number of Palestinians who believed in Hamas and didn't accept Israel's right to exist.

Haniyeh pointed out that those who believe in the "resistance" and the concept that "Islam is the solution" have scored a number of victories over the past few years: the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the abduction of IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit in 2006 and the beginning of the "defeat" of the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan this year.

Haniyeh said that "Whoever insists on not recognizing Israel, clings to Allah and doesn't surrender in the face of the Israeli and US blockade, his popularity grows despite American hostility." "As long as the Israeli oppression grows, so will his popularity."

Top Hamas official Osama al-Mazini told the crowd that Israel was afraid to invade the Gaza Strip to stop the rocket and mortar attacks on its cities.

"Had they not been afraid of your resistance, the Israelis would have invaded the Gaza Strip a long time ago," he said. "But the Israeli enemy are cowards and the only language they understand is the language of force." He said Hamas had chosen jihad (holy war) as its strategy and would not change its policy under any circumstances.

Referring to the case of Gilad Schalit, the Hamas official said the soldier would "never see the light until all Palestinian prisoners are released from Israeli jails." Mazini said Hamas would never recognize Israel or give up Palestinian rights, including the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees.

The Hamas official launched a scathing attack on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction, accusing them of "selling themselves to the Americans and agreeing to serve as guards for Israeli occupation." However, he reiterated Hamas's readiness to engage in dialogue with Fatah to solve the current crisis. Hamas, he added, "never thought of opening fire at Fatah." He said that, in any case, Hamas would not allow Fatah to bring anarchy and lawlessness back to the Gaza Strip.

Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal threatened during a televised speech to launch a "third and fourth intifada" against Israel. He added that his movement had a lot of patience "despite the ongoing conspiracies and the blockade against the Gaza Strip." He, too, said one of Hamas's biggest achievements was to "expel" Israel from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Mashaal claimed that Israel was using the recent peace conference in Annapolis as a cover for launching a "massive aggression" against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. He also claimed that the US-sponsored conference had given Abbas a green light to "dismantle resistance groups in the West Bank."

Hamas: We'll never recognize Israel
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« Reply #46 on: December 16, 2007, 05:29:50 PM »

Israel allows Gazan pilgrims through border

Sun Dec 16, 12:29 PM ET

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel is allowing hundreds of Palestinians from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to cross Israeli territory on their way to the annual haj pilgrimage to Mecca, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Sunday.

About 490 Palestinians traveled in 10 buses under Israeli police escort from Gaza's Erez crossing to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where they were to enter Jordan and continue on to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi authorities have agreed to allow 7,500 Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank to make the pilgrimage this year, the same number as in 2006, a Palestinian official said.

Colonel Nir Press, head of the Israeli military's liaison office for the Gaza Strip, said in addition to the 491 pilgrims that crossed on Sunday, up to 409 more Palestinians from the territory would use the same route on Monday.

He said Israel, which pulled its troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 but maintains control of the area's borders, regards the pilgrimage as a "humanitarian issue" for the coastal area's 1.5 million people.

Israel has tightened border restrictions on the Gaza Strip since Hamas Islamists violently took over the territory in June.

Earlier this month, about 2,200 Palestinian pilgrims heading for Mecca crossed from Gaza into Egypt through the Rafah border terminal, which has been largely closed since Hamas's takeover.

Israel allows Gazan pilgrims through border
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« Reply #47 on: December 17, 2007, 04:11:02 PM »

Countries promise $7.4 billion for Palestinians

The world rallied to the support of the Palestinian government Monday, pledging $7.4 billion in aid over the next three years at a donors' conference - a sum that tops the Palestinians' own expectations.

"The real winner today is the Palestinian state," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a news conference after the gathering of nearly 90 countries and international organizations.

"We wanted $5.6 billion, we have $7.4 billion - not bad," he said.

World leaders at the conference also urged Israel to ease restrictions on movement in the West Bank and Gaza to make a recovery of the Palestinian economy possible.

"Our feeling is great, this is generous. It is a vote of confidence for the program, and a sign of solidarity on the Palestinian question," Palestinian Planning Minister Samir Abdullah told The Associated Press.

He confirmed the overall figure and said the pledges include $2.9 billion for 2008.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pledged $555 million for 2008. However, the money includes about $400 million that the White House announced but has not been approved by Congress.

For renewed peace efforts to succeed, she said, "the continued and unwavering support of the international community is absolutely vital. That is why we are here today, and not a moment too soon."

Rice called the U.S. pledge "a significant increase" from earlier pledges.

"The Palestinian Authority is experiencing a serious budgetary crisis," Rice said. "This conference is literally the government's last hope to avoid bankruptcy."

Referring to renewed Middle East peace efforts stemming from the U.S.-sponsored conference in Annapolis, Md., last month, Rice said, "This is the most promising opportunity to seek peace that we have had in nearly seven years. And we need to seize it."

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the pledges amounted to "an endorsement."

He called it part of the process for "establishing an independent Palestine."

The sum raised Monday was substantial even compared to the more than $10 billion that donor countries have given to the Palestinians in the past decade, according to the World Bank. Officials have said the Palestinians have received more international aid on a per capita basis than any other nation or group of people in the postwar period.

From international Mideast envoy Tony Blair to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, participants called for urgent action, saying a new chance for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal must not be missed. Peace talks resumed last week after seven years of diplomatic deadlock, and international aid is seen as key to making the process work.

"We will not rest until we have that two-state solution a reality in this region of the world," Blair, a co-sponsor of the conference, told the conference.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the donors must "invest now, invest generously, and remain steadfast in their financial commitments over the next 36 months."

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the conference was "very constructive" and had "created a momentum to continue the good start we had in Annapolis."

The EU said it would give $650 million in 2008 and Norway pledged $140 million a year for three years. Britain, France and Germany announced a combined $1.08 billion for three years.

Western donors have urged Arab states to do more. Since 2002, Arab League members have been promising the Palestinians $55 million a month but have not always paid in full.

Two key issues dominated the conference: the need for Israel to ease restrictions on Palestinians while not compromising on its security, and the fate of Gaza, which has been virtually cut off from the world since the Islamic militant Hamas seized control by force in June.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the Paris conference "a declaration of war against the Hamas movement." Last weekend, Hamas leaders told tens of thousands of supporters at a rally that Hamas will not recognize Israel or renounce violence.
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« Reply #48 on: December 19, 2007, 05:27:43 PM »

Israel Has Video Evidence Egypt Helping Hamas
December 18, '07

(IsraelNN.com) Israel has dispatched video evidence that Egyptian police are assisting Hamas terrorists to the US.

The aim of the evidence is to induce pressure upon Egypt to crack down on weapons smuggling to Gaza via the US Congress. The footage reportedly shows Egyptian police assisting Hamas terrorists in smuggling.

The 2008 Foreign Aid Bill includes a stipulation holding back $100 million of $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt unless US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice confirms that Egypt is fighting against the weapons smuggling. The bill is weaker than an initial proposal that would have withheld $200 million and also allows Rice to cancel the stipulation based on an assessment that it would harm relations with Egypt.

Israel Has Video Evidence Egypt Helping Hamas
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« Reply #49 on: December 19, 2007, 05:29:18 PM »

Gaza Pilgrims to Mecca Will Head to Iran
Written by The Media Line Staff
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2007
   
Israeli intelligence sources assess that among hundreds of Palestinians, who left Gaza to participate in the ubgone86 festival in Saudi Arabia, some will head to Iran to receive military training, the Israeli radio Kol Yisrael reported.
 
Approximately 1,400 Gazans have left the Gaza Strip without obtaining the required entry permit to Mecca, an Israeli security source added. The source explained some of them were Hamas members, who infiltrated Egypt through illegal tunnels.
 
Today is the first day of the Festival of Sacrifice (‘Id Al-A’dha). Millions of Muslims from around the world have gathered in Mecca to celebrate the festival, which is the highlight of the ubgone86 season.
 
The Hamas movement is receiving funds from Iran and is using them to develop both its social services and its terrorist activity.
 
An Israeli intelligence report issued on Sunday indicated that the security threat emanating from the Gaza Strip would no doubt worsen in the coming year. The terror organizations in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are improving their ability to store rockets for longer periods of time, and to extend their range.
 
The report also indicated that Hamas was preparing for an Israeli attack on Gaza, through the development of a well-organized military force. Also, there is a marked improvement of the net of tunnels, that is being used to smuggle weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip.

Gaza Pilgrims to Mecca Will Head to Iran
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« Reply #50 on: December 19, 2007, 05:31:28 PM »

Quote
Israeli intelligence sources assess that among hundreds of Palestinians, who left Gaza to participate in the ubgone86 festival in Saudi Arabia, some will head to Iran to receive military training

But ours is a peaceful religion (insert sarcasm here). Grin
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« Reply #51 on: December 22, 2007, 01:34:52 AM »

Peres: No ‘peace until Qassams cease

Hamas offers ceasefire but Israel declines. Israeli President Peres explains: 'We don’t need negotiations, we need to stop rocket attacks'

Aviram Zino
Published: 12.21.07, 15:15
Israel News

On a Friday visit to the Arab-Israeli village of Kfar Kassem, President Shimon Peres said that “there will be no peace talks with the Palestinians until Qassam attacks on Israel cease.”

Referring to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Peres said: “Once the incessant Qassam attacks stop, we might be inclined to negotiate with him.”

In keeping with the political line delineated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Peres reiterated that “negotiations with Hamas will only take place once they meet the three conditions set by the Quartet (UN, Britain, Russia and the US): That is cessation of Qassam fire, official recognition of Israel’s right to exist, and abiding by existing peace accords.”

Israel’s president furthermore noted that: “All Middle-Eastern countries want peace. No one wants Iranian hegemony in the region.”

Referencing the Gaza pullout, Peres noted that “there isn’t a single Israeli soldier or civilian left in Gaza, so why is there still rocket fire? It is imperative that the Qassam fire cease before all else.

“We are not (the Palestinians’ ) enemy. We do not want to conquer Gaza. We are merely acting in self-defense. Before there is even talk of a ‘hudna’ the Qassams must cease,” said Peres.

'No formal peace talks necessary'

Several new agencies reported Thursday that Israel was considering a formal ceasefire with Hamas. Prime Minister Olmert categorically denied these reports.

Talk of a ceasefire has been circulating the entire week. President Peres commented on these rumors Wednesday saying : “This is a pathetic attempt to toss sand in the worlds’ eyes and distract them from the heinous crimes perpetrated by Hamas as well as Islamic Jihad."

Others within the government have cautiously contemplated a ceasefire with Hamas.

Transportation Minister and former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz said Wednesday: “Once Hamas and Islamic Jihad stop bombarding our citizens, our women and children, then Israel will immediately ceasefire. In essence, then, no formal peace negotiations are necessary.”

Peres: No ‘peace’ until Qassams cease
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« Reply #52 on: December 22, 2007, 09:46:36 PM »

Barak: Talks with Hamas only after it acknowledges Israel

Published: 12.23.07, 00:14
Israel News

Defense Minister Ehud Barak will brief the cabinet ministers on the recent developments in Gaza in their Sunday meeting.

Barak's stands to update the ministers on the IDF's triumphs in the fight in terror, including the elimination of 270 terrorists since last may. As for Hamas' offer of a truce, Barak said any negotiation will depend of the organization's willingness to recognize Israel's right to exist and the ceasing of all terror acts.

Barak: Talks with Hamas only after it acknowledges Israel
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« Reply #53 on: December 22, 2007, 09:47:25 PM »

In Fatah map all of Israel is Palestine
Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST    Dec. 22, 2007

Fatah is planning to mark its 43rd anniversary this year with a new poster that presents all of Israel as Palestine.

Designed specifically for the occasion by Abdel Mun'em Ibrahim, the poster features a map of Israel that is entirely draped with a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf.

It also carries a drawing of a rifle as a symbol of the "armed struggle" against Israel.

The poster, which has been endorsed by the Fatah leadership, has already been posted on a number of Fatah-affiliated Web sites.

The underlying message of the poster is that Fatah, like Hamas, does not recognize Israel's existence.

The emblem is in violation of Fatah's declared policy, which envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside, and not instead of, Israel.

By including a rifle in the poster, Fatah is sending a message to the Palestinian public that it has not abandoned the option of "armed resistance," despite current peace talks with Israel.

Founded in 1965, Fatah has celebrated its anniversary over the past 14 years with major rallies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But it's not clear at this stage if Hamas would allow Fatah to hold a big rally in the Gaza Strip.

Last week, Fatah banned Hamas from holding rallies in the West Bank to mark the 20th anniversary of the Islamist movement. Hamas officials have threatened to retaliate by barring Fatah rallies in the Gaza Strip.

In Fatah map all of Israel is Palestine
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« Reply #54 on: December 26, 2007, 03:50:01 PM »

Numbskulls at the Wall Street Journal


Earlier this week I pointed out the annual Christmas tradition of distortions by my "colleagues" in the media, who descend upon Bethlehem to ignore rampant Muslim intimidation of Christians and instead blast Israel – often with completely inaccurate information – for ruining Bethlehem's Christmas and for the drastic decline of Christianity in one of the holiest cities for that religion.

I highlighted well-circulated articles the past few days that paint misleading pictures of life in Bethlehem, disseminate discredited anti-Israel Palestinian propaganda as fact and fail to tell readers one of the main reasons Christians are fleeing.

Now an opinion piece published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal has taken the cake as the most defamatory piece of disinformation written about Bethlehem this season.

Titled "The Plight of Bethlehem: Why Christians can't visit the holy shrines in Jerusalem," Newsweek editor and contributing Journal writer Kenneth L. Woodward starts off by stating Israel has been barring Bethlehem's Palestinian Christians from visiting holy shrines in neighboring Jerusalem during this month's holiday.

"Israel's security wall, its restrictive exit permit system, roadblocks and military checkpoints now make it impossible for most Holy Land Christians to visit the shrines that, for all Christians, make the Holy Land holy," begins Woodward.

"Temporary exit visas to go from one to the other to worship – or see a doctor or even visit relatives – are hard to come by, of brief duration even when granted, and always subject to the whims of Israeli soldiers," Woodward states.

This is false.

As was widely reported last week, the Israeli government granted 8,000 Christian Palestinians from Bethlehem special travel permits to visit family or nearby holy shrines over the holiday – amounting to Israeli permits for the vast majority of Bethlehem's Christians. Israel also gave 42 Palestinian tour guides special permission to lead groups of Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem on religious pilgrimage tours, including to Jerusalem churches.

Woodward continues by admitting he hasn't visited Bethlehem in seven years so I don't know why the Journal deems him qualified to publish such a piece.

He states Israeli isolation of Bethlehem strangled the cities economy and laments foreign tourists visiting Bethlehem are afraid to walk around but doesn't tell us why.

"When buses do arrive, tourists are routinely whisked in and out without time to shop," he states.

As someone who travels to Bethlehem regularly, including twice this week alone, I can attest to the poor security situation there which is prompting most tourists to get in and out as quickly as possible.

What Woodward fails to tell readers is that Israel doesn't control Bethlehem. Palestinians security forces do. They are responsible for the current state of anarchy in the holy city.

The Jewish state evacuated Bethlehem in 1995 as part of the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords which handed strategic territory to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. As soon as Arafat got his grimy hands on it, terrorist groups, including Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas, set up shop in Bethlehem and formed one of the most active terror infrastructures in the West Bank.

Muslim terrorists roam freely in Bethlehem under Palestinian control. Last year I visited Bethlehem's main shopping area with U.S. radio host Rusty Humphries when suddenly hundreds of armed, mostly masked Fatah gunmen stormed the streets outside the Church of the Nativity, the believed birthplace of Jesus, firing their rifles in the air after the city's Al Aqsa Brigades leader, Raid Abiat, was killed when he shot at Israeli soldiers.

Later that day, Humphries and I conducted a radio interview with the newly appointed Brigades commander in Bethlehem, Abu Philistine, who also walked around the city quite openly.

Woodward soon gets to the crux of his article, blasting Israel for a "concrete wall" he claims has devastated Bethlehem's Christian population.

"For example, the wall is being completed around Beit Jala, separating this Christian village from 70% of its lands, which are mostly owned by Christian families. ... In Bethlehem itself, the wall severs the city from nearly three-fourths of its western villages' remaining agricultural lands, as well as water resources that have served the region since Roman times."

If Woodward had bothered to actually visit Bethlehem since construction began on Israel's barrier in 2002 he would know he is completely wrong about the information he presented to Journal readers.

No wall encircles Bethlehem or Beit Jala. Israel started building a fence five years ago in the area where northern Bethlehem interfaces with Jerusalem. A tiny segment of that barrier, facing a major Israeli roadway, is a concrete wall that Israel says is meant to prevent gunmen from shooting at Israeli motorists.

The fence was constructed after the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada, or terror war, launched after Arafat in 2000 turned down an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state, returning to the Middle East to liberate Palestine with violence.

Scores of deadly suicide bombings and shooting attacks against Israelis were planned in Bethlehem and carried out by Bethlehem-area terrorists.

At one point during the period of just 30 days in 2002, at least 14 shootings were perpetuated by Bethlehem cells of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorists, killing two Israelis and wounding six.

Many times Muslim gunmen in the Bethlehem area reportedly took positions in civilian homes in the hilltops of Christian Beit Jala, which straddles Bethlehem. Beit Jala afforded the terrorists a clear firing line at southern sections of Jerusalem and at a major Israeli highway down below, drawing Israeli military raids and the eventual building of the security barrier there which Woodward now laments. Again, contrary to his claims, only the portion of the barrier that borders a highway is a concrete wall.

Is this barrier prompting Bethlehem Christians to flee?

Simple demographic facts will answer this question. Israel built the barrier five years ago. But Bethlehem's Christian population started to decline drastically in 1995, the very year Arafat's Palestinian Authority took over the holy Christian city in line with the U.S.-backed Oslo Accords.

Bethlehem consisted of upwards of 80 percent Christians when Israel was founded in 1948, but since Arafat took over, the city's Christian population plummeted to its current 23 percent. And that statistic is considered generous since it includes the satellite towns of Beit Sahour and Beit Jala. Some estimates place Bethlehem's actual Christian population as low as 12 percent, with hundreds of Christians emigrating per year.

As soon as he took over Bethlehem, Arafat unilaterally fired the city's Christian politicians and replaced them with Muslim cronies. He appointed a Muslim governor, Muhammed Rashad A-Jabar and changed Bethlehem's city council, which had nine Christians and two Muslims, reducing the number of Christians councilors to an almost 50-50 split.

cont'd
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« Reply #55 on: December 26, 2007, 03:50:24 PM »

Arafat then converted a Greek Orthodox monastery next to the Church of Nativity, the believed birthplace of Jesus, into his official Bethlehem residence.

Suddenly, after the Palestinians gained the territory, reports of Christian intimidation by Muslims began to surface.

Christian leaders and residents told me they regularly face an atmosphere of hostility. They said Palestinian armed groups stir tension by holding militant demonstrations and marches in the streets. They spokes of instances in which Christian shopkeepers' stores were ransacked and Christian homes attacked.

They said in the past, Palestinian gunmen fired at Israelis from Christian hilltop communities, drawing Israeli anti-terror raids to their towns.

In 2002, dozens of terrorists holed up inside the Church of the Nativity for 39 days while fleeing a massive Israeli anti-terror operation. Israel surrounded the church area but refused to storm the structure. Gunmen inside included wanted senior Hamas, Tanzim and Brigades terrorists reportedly involved in suicide bombings and shooting attacks. More than 200 nuns and priests were trapped in the church after Israeli hostage negotiators failed to secure their release.

But Woodward failed to address any of this in his piece. Incredibly, he even states, "Bethlehem has historically been one place where Muslim-Christian relations have been remarkably friendly."

Meanwhile Christian leaders tell me the most significant problem facing Christians in Bethlehem is the rampant confiscation of land by Muslim gangs.

"There are many cases where Christians have their land stolen by the [Muslim] mafia," said Samir Qumsiyeh, a Bethlehem Christian leader and owner of the Beit Sahour-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station.

"It is a regular phenomenon in Bethlehem. They go to a poor Christian person with a forged power of attorney document, then they say we have papers proving you're living on our land. If you confront them, many times the Christian is beaten. You can't do anything about it. The Christian loses, and he runs away," Qumsiyeh told me, speaking from his hilltop television station during a recent interview.

Qumsiyeh himself said he was targeted by Islamic gangs. He said his home was firebombed after he returned from a trip abroad during which he gave public speeches outlining the plight of Bethlehem's Christian population.

One Christian Bethlehem resident said her friend recently fled Bethlehem after being accused by Muslims of selling property to Jews, a crime punishable by death in some Palestinian cities. The resident said a good deal of the intimidation comes from gunmen associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization.

A February Jerusalem Post article cited the case of Faud and Georgette Lama, Christian residents of Bethlehem who said their land was stolen by local Muslims and when they tried to do something about it, Faud was beaten by gunmen.

In a complete reversal, though, Woodward outrageously says it is Israel that is stealing Christian land!

Repeating Palestinian propaganda as fact, Woodward tells readers Israel has been confiscating Christian properties to build its "wall" in Beit Jala.

"Some of the families are attempting to contest the confiscations in court, but construction – -and the confiscation – goes on," he states.

Once again, wrong. Israel does not unilaterally confiscate Christian land. If a proposed route of the security fence impacts Palestinian land, the Palestinian family can and usually does contest the proposed route in court.

Either the family agrees to compensation or the fence changes course. Israel's Supreme Court has dozens of times altered the route of the barrier in the West Bank so as not to affect Palestinian land, many times changing the fence in a way that compromises Israel's security, according to Israel Defense Forces estimates.

But Woodward writes, "many Christians in the Holy Land have no legal recourse to this absorption of their lands and property."

After blasting Israel for most of the piece, Woodward finally in one sentence allows that the Jewish state "must protect its security," but he fails to mention the Palestinian terrorism that prompted the security barrier in the first place.

The Journal should be ashamed of itself for allowing such defamatory information to be printed on its well-respected pages. It should be compelled to issue an immediate retraction and an apology to the Israeli government and to the persecuted Christians of Bethlehem whose true plight Woodward failed to address.

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America is calling on readers to write letters to the Journal or comment by clicking on the "respond to this article" icon on the upper right of Woodward's shoddy piece.

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« Reply #56 on: December 27, 2007, 08:33:50 PM »

IAF missile strike kills senior Islamic Jihad member

Mohammad Abu Murshud, head of organization's armed wing in central Strip, killed by missile launched from Israeli aircraft. At least eight Hamas, Islamic Jihad members killed in IDF strikes throughout the day

Ali Waked
Published: 12.27.07, 22:35
Israel News

A series of attacks launched by the IDF in Gaza Thursday has claimed the lives of at least eight militants, including Mohammad Abu Murshud, head of Islamic Jihad's armed wing in the central Gaza Strip.

According to Palestinian sources, Murshud was killed when the car he was traveling in north of al-Mugarka (near the former Israeli settlement of Netzarim) was struck by a missile fired by Israeli aircraft. Two other Jihad members were killed and a number of others were injured in the attack, which was the IDF's third of the evening.

Five Palestinians were killed in two attacks in Gaza earlier in the day: Two Hamas members and two Islamic Jihad gunmen were shot dead by Israeli soldiers operating south of Khan Younis in the southern Strip, while two more Jihad gunmen were killed near the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.
 
Meanwhile, Hamas has announced that one of its members was killed in a training accident.

Last week the IDF killed a number of Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, including Majed Harazin, who headed Jihad's Qassam rocket-launching unit.

Thursday night, Palestinian sources reported that one Hamas member was killed and several others injured after an Israeli aircraft fired on a Hamas look-out cell near Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. However, about an hour later Palestinian sources said the Hamas man was only was only injured in the strike. 

IAF missile strike kills senior Islamic Jihad member
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« Reply #57 on: December 29, 2007, 06:57:19 PM »

PA premier Fayyad says suspects in killings of 2 Israelis caught by PA
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, The Associated Press and Haaretz Service
29/12/2007     

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Saturday that his security forces had arrested an unspecified number of suspects in Friday's killing of two Israeli hikers in the West Bank, and had passed to Israel weapons taken from the dead men by their Palestinian attackers.

"We have suspects in custody already," he said. "We are cooperating and coordinating with the Israeli security services, weapons have already been returned to Israeli security in connection with this particular incident."

Sharing a podium with President Shimon Peres at an economic conference in Herzliya, Fayyad also expressed condolences to the families of the two off-duty soldiers killed while hiking near Hebron in the West Bank.
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Fayyad did not give further details and the Israel Defense Forces had no immediate confirmation of his comments.

Fayyad said Saturday the arrests were proof of his government's determination to rein in Palestinian militant groups and impose law and order in the areas under its control and investigation of Friday's gunfight in which the Israelis killed a Palestinian gunman before they were fatally wounded would be thorough.

"It will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law, he said. So it's not only strong words of condemnation," it's action.

Earlier, in Nablus, Fayyad acknowledged that the shooting attack near Hebron took place on territory for which the Palestinian Authority is responsible. He said that the PA would fulfill all of its security commitments, according to Ma'an, an independent Palestinian news agency.

On Friday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki on Friday vowed a "harsh" response to the attack, in which one of the militants responsible for the shooting was killed in ensuing gunfire.

"As we condemn all Israeli assassination operations... in Gaza and West Bank, we cannot accept such operations carried out by armed groups," said al-Malki.

He said the aim of the group who carried out the attack was to disrupt peace talks and Palestinian security plans, and promised "to take harsh measures" against them.

The victims of the drive-by shooting attack, named as David Rubin and Ahikam Amihai, both in their 20s, were hiking in the area of the West Bank settlements of Talam and Adura with a female resident of Kiryat Arba when a group of four Palestinian terrorists opened fire on them from a Jeep.

The IDF Central Command said that the three Israelis entered Area B of the West Bank, which is under Palestinian civilian control, despite warnings not to do so.

Rubin and Amihai, who were soldiers on leave from the Israel Defense Forces, managed to return fire and reportedly killed one of the terrorists.

They later died from their wounds, while the woman who accompanied them managed to hide and was not harmed.

IDF troops arrested early Saturday six Palestinians from Hebron in connection with the attack.

On Friday, Palestinian sources stated that IDF troops raided a hospital in Hebron searching for a gunman believed to have been wounded in the attack. The IDF has not confirmed the report.

Meanwhile, Israel sent a letter of protest over the attack to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and to the president of the Security Council, Israel Radio reported Saturday.

Both Islamic Jihad and an armed wing of Fatah claimed responsibility for the shooting. The top Palestinian security official said on Saturday the Palestinian Authority was dismantling militant groups, including Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

Israel has recently killed several of Islamic Jihad's militants in the Gaza Strip, including some senior commanders.

Israeli envoy to the United Nations Dan Gillerman emphasized that the Palestinian Authority has still not proven its desire to fight terror, and that Islamic Jihad receives finance and cover from UN member states.

Both Rubin and Amihai were in elite units of the IDF, with Rubin serving as a sergeant in the Israeli Naval commandos and Amihai as a corporal in the Israel Air Force's equivalent unit.

The terrorists then escaped and the woman called the emergency center in Kiryat Arba. However, the rescue team had trouble locating her because she did not know their whereabouts.

Israel Defense Forces and paramedics were called in to help with the search, and managed to reach the bodies of the two men. The woman, who suffered from shock, was taken to a Kiryat Arba clinic nearby.

The group had threatened to retaliate for the Gaza attacks, saying the Israeli actions would "not go unpunished".

An Israel police spokesman called Friday's shooting a "terrorist attack" and said police and the army had searched the area for the attackers.

The shooting attack came hours after IDF troops killed a bodyguard of the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiatator, Ahmed Qureia,in Ramallah.

Also Friday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a Qassam rocket at the western Negev. No injuries or damages were reported.

Amihai and Reuben were laid to rest on Saturday evening. Their funeral procession passed from Kiryat Arba to the military cemetery of Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Rubin is the son of Rabbi Mishael Rubin of Hebron and his brother is the acting rabbi of "Shavei Hebron" yeshiva in Beit Romano.

Amihai, who served in the elite Shayetet 13 Naval commandos unit, is the son of Rabbi Yehuda Amihai, head of the Land and Torah center that was formerly based in Kfar Darom in Gush Katif and was moved to Ashkelon after the disengagement in 2005.

Ahikam's mother Esther is the daughter of Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Nariya, known to many as "the father of the kippot srugot," referring to the knit skullcaps popular with the settler movement.

The Kiryat Arba council severely criticized the government following the attack. Zvi Katzover, head of the local council, said in response that "whoever lets off terrorists and supplies them with guns does not have to push the trigger in order to become an accomplice."

MK Uri Ariel (National Union-National Religious Party) added that the murder is "further proof of intensified terrorist attacks by Arabs, who take advantage of Israel's weakness and lenience." He stressed that the prime minister's recent declarations regarding the release of Palestinian prisoners and the freezing of building permits in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, were a "tail wind for terrorism."

The Almagor Terror Victims Association requested this week that the cabinet cancel its planned discussion on the easing of criteria for the release of prisoners. Instead, the association said in response to the murder that the cabinet should schedule a security discussion on replacing removed roadblocks and restrictions for Palestinian vehicles on central routes.

The chairman of the association, Meir Indor, said that the proposed discussion would "send out a clear message to the terrorist organizations that renewing terrorist attacks comes with a heavy price: in refusing to release prisoners and in hardening Israel's line regarding the Palestinians."

Last month, an Israeli resident of the Shavei Shomron community in the West Bank was shot and killed while driving to a nearby settlement by three Palestinians, members of the PA's security force.

The Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade took responsibility for that attack. A statement from the group said the shooting came in protest of the upcoming Annapolis peace summit and the "crimes of Israel against the Palestinians."

In a separate incident on Friday, a number of casualties were reported in clashes between Palestinian clans in the same area.

PA premier Fayyad says suspects in killings of 2 Israelis caught by PA
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« Reply #58 on: December 29, 2007, 07:09:09 PM »

PA to receive 50 armored vehicles from Russia next month
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST    Dec. 29, 2007

The much-publicized supply of 50 armored vehicles from Russia to the Palestinian Authority will be carried out next month, the PA said Saturday.

PA Interior Minister Abdel Razzak Yahya said that the vehicles would be used to maintain law and order in the West Bank.

Israel finally sanctioned the supply of the vehicles after the PA agreed not to fit them with machine guns.

PA to receive 50 armored vehicles from Russia next month
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« Reply #59 on: December 31, 2007, 04:35:47 PM »

Stranded Palestinians set fire to camps

By ASHRAF SWEILAM, Associated Press Writer 25 minutes ago

EL-ARISH, Egypt - Palestinian pilgrims broke windows and set mattresses ablaze at temporary camps in Egypt Monday as relatives rallied across the border in Gaza, demanding their kin be allowed to return through a crossing controlled by Hamas.

The pilgrims, who are returning from the ubgone86 pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and include some Hamas militants, have rejected Egypt's demands that they enter Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Aouja border crossing.

They want to return through Rafah, a direct crossing between Gaza and Egypt where Israel has no control.

The standoff is the latest conflict over efforts by Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority to isolate the Gaza Strip, which Hamas took over in June. Israel fears that if the pilgrims return through Rafah, Hamas members and smuggled cash could slip through.

Thousands of Hamas supporters and relatives of the pilgrims gathered at the Gaza-Egypt border in support of their family members. Youngsters threw stones at Egyptian soldiers on the other side, while other protesters chanted, "Open the borders, we want our families back!"

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the pilgrims' case "should be resolved immediately" and appealed to Egypt to let them through the Rafah terminal.

Most of the pilgrims are believed to be ordinary citizens, but there are at least 10 well-known Hamas figures among them.

Since Saturday, Egypt has put more than 1,100 pilgrims into camps set up around the Mediterranean coastal city of el-Arish.

In el-Arish's stadium, pilgrims set fire to mattresses and blankets in rooms set up for them, while in another camp in the city, protesters smashed windows. The pilgrims shouted angry slogans against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his government. Hundreds of riot police surrounded the protesters as the fires were extinguished.

A 67-year-old Palestinian woman, Khadra Mahmoud Mohammed Massoud, died of a heart attack during the turmoil. Several elderly Palestinians fainted from smoke inhalation and were taken to el-Arish hospital, said medical officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

As the violence ebbed, some pilgrims continued to protest by refusing to accept government-provided meals. But some agreed to return to Gaza through the Aouja crossing, known in Israel as Kerem Shalom, and Egypt is organizing their journey, said Palestinian officials in el-Arish, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

Under a U.S.-brokered agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, the Rafah crossing was operated by Egypt and the Palestinians, with EU monitors deployed on the Palestinian side. In the wake of Hamas' takeover in June, the Europeans fled and Hamas militiamen took over the terminal.

Stranded Palestinians set fire to camps
~!~~~~~~
They should be grateful, for what they have. You live in a glass house, don't be the first to throw rocks.
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