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Author Topic: Prophecy and End Time Series. - Israel  (Read 51619 times)
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« Reply #510 on: June 24, 2006, 09:24:27 PM »

Gaza homemade rockets fired into Israel

By STEVE WEIZMAN, Associated Press Writer Fri Jun 23, 2:53 PM ET

JERUSALEM - Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired three homemade rockets into Israel on Friday after the Israeli prime minister pledged to push forward with airstrikes against the militants despite a series of civilian casualties.

The Israeli army said there were no injuries or damage. But the attack prompted one Israeli lawmaker to call for the army to launch a military offensive into the densely populated Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apologized twice Thursday for civilian deaths in recent airstrikes in Gaza. But he added, "Israel will continue to carry out targeted attacks against terrorists and those who try to harm Israeli citizens."

One apology came after an informal meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan, the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in more than a year.

Abbas was headed to Gaza for talks with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the hard-line Islamic group Hamas. The two leaders have been trying to reach a power-sharing agreement that would ease growing tensions between the rival parties and bring the sides away from the brink of civil war.

"We hope to reach a deal soon because our people are waiting for such a deal," Abbas said from his office in Ramallah.

Haniyeh said the sides had made progress in their negotiations, and only small differences remained.

Tensions between Abbas' Fatah Party and Hamas have been rising since the Islamic group won a January parliamentary election. Most of the differences have been about control of the security forces, and the tensions have at times spilled over into outright violence.

At least 22 Palestinians, including civilians, have been killed in the factional fighting.

Israeli lawmakers, meanwhile, debated whether the army was dealing properly with the constant threat of Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza.

Yuval Steinitz, former chairman of the Israeli parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, accused Palestinian authorities of failing to prevent rocket fire. He said Israel must now take further steps to protect itself.

"I call on the government of Israel to wait no further, but to launch a comprehensive ground operation in Gaza for several weeks, to strike at the very foundations of the terrorist infrastructure," the lawmaker from the hard-line Likud Party told Israel Radio.

But Haim Ramon, a Cabinet minister in the ruling Kadima Party, warned such an offensive could cost many lives on both sides and leave Israeli forces bogged down in a reoccupation of the territory, first captured in the 1967 Mideast War. "Those 'few weeks' will turn into 40 years," he told Israel Radio.

Meanwhile, the Gaza-Egypt Rafah border crossing was briefly reopened but an Israeli security alert prevented it from operating at full capacity. The border has been closed for most of the past three days due to the Israeli security alert, leaving hundreds of Palestinians stranded on either side and waiting on the asphalt in the hot sun.

The crossing has recently been used to smuggle millions of dollars of cash into Gaza. Cabinet ministers in the Hamas-led government have brought money in suitcases into Gaza to bypass an international boycott that has made it impossible for the Palestinian Authority to pay three months of salaries to some 165,000 employees.

Israel, the United States and other Western countries have said they will not lift the sanctions unless Hamas recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accepts past peace agreements. Hamas has so far rejected the demands.

Despite repeated airstrikes and artillery fire by the Israeli army, Palestinian militants have fired rockets toward Israel almost daily since the Jewish state completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last September.

The Israeli airstrikes have killed dozens of militants. But three recent air force raids also killed 13 Palestinian civilians, drawing international condemnation.

Senior military officers have said they are prepared to send troops back into Gaza but would only do so as a last resort.

Gaza homemade rockets fired into Israel
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« Reply #511 on: June 24, 2006, 09:26:16 PM »

Abbas urges Rice to press Israel to show military restraint
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas urged U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday to pressure Israel into showing restraint so as not to allow the security situation in Gaza to deteriorate, according to Army Radio.

Abbas conferred with Rice in a Friday night telephone conversation which the Secretary of State initiated.

Abbas' aide, Nabil Abu-Rudeineh, said that Rice promised the chairman that she would act on the matter, Army Radio reported.

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During their conversation, the chairman also updated Rice on the economic state of the PA, according to Army Radio.

Qassams land in southern Israel
Palestinians continued firing Qassam rockets into southern Israel on Friday, a day after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to continue the Israel Defense Forces' policy of targeting rocket-launching cells despite the growing number of Palestinian civilian casualties.

On Friday noon a mortar shell landed near the Kerem Shalom community on the southern Gaza Strip border, Israel Radio reported. No casualties or damage were reported.

Earlier, Gaza militants fired three Qassam rockets at the Sderot area, causing no injuries.

Olmert apologized "from the depths of my being" for civilian deaths in the recent airstrikes, but said in his closing speech at the Caesarea economic conference in Jerusalem on Thursday that "pinpoint preventions" of terror attacks would continue anyway.

"Israel will continue to carry out targeted attacks against terrorists and those who try to harm Israeli citizens," Olmert said. "I value the lives and the welfare of the residents of Sderot as much as, if not more than, those of the residents of Gaza."

Abbas urges Rice to press Israel to show military restraint
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« Reply #512 on: June 26, 2006, 12:19:47 AM »

Al-Aksa claims biological, chemical capabilities
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST    Jun. 25, 2006

The Aksa Martyrs Brigades announced on Sunday that its members have succeeded in manufacturing chemical and biological weapons.

In a leaflet distributed in the Gaza Strip, the group, which belongs to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party, said the weapons were the result of a three-year effort.

According to the statement, the first of its kind, the group has managed to manufacture and develop at least 20 different types of biological and chemical weapons.

The group said its members would not hesitate to add the new weapons to Kassam rockets that are being fired at Israeli communities almost every day. It also threatened to use the weapons against IDF soldiers if Israel carried out its threats to invade the Gaza Strip.

"We want to tell [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert and [Defense Minister Amir] Peretz that your threats don't frighten us," the leaflet said.

"We will surprise you with our new weapons the moment the first soldier sets foot in the Gaza Strip."

Al-Aksa claims biological, chemical capabilities
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« Reply #513 on: June 26, 2006, 12:34:05 AM »

 Hamas Says They Are Holding an IDF Soldier and Body Parts
14:14 Jun 25, '06 / 29 Sivan 5766

(IsraelNN.com) Spokesmen for the Hamas claim to be holding an Israeli soldier and body parts of other soldiers killed in the early morning Palestinian Authority attack on an IDF base near southern Gaza. Two soldiers were killed, with a third missing and possibly also killed in the initial attack.

The spokesmen, representing the Izz A-Din Al-Kassam sub-group of Hamas, said that no information about the missing soldier would be released without something in exchange from Israel.

Hamas Says They Are Holding an IDF Soldier and Body Parts
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« Reply #514 on: June 26, 2006, 12:36:48 AM »

25/06/2006            
Shin Bet warned IDF of militant plan to attack, abduct soldiers
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

The defense establishment had received a specific warning that Palestinian militants were intending to kidnap Israel Defense Forces soldiers on the Israel-Gaza border through the use of a tunnel, security officials told Haaretz on Wednesday.

After Palestinian militants attacked an IDF post inside Israel early Sunday, killing two soldiers and abducting another, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said at a cabinet meeting Sunday that he had been aware of warnings of militant infiltrations.

However, sources from the Shin Bet security service told Haaretz that the defense ministry had in its possession far more details than IDF officers implied in a press conference on Sunday.

The sources said the entire defense establishment had received a specific warning, both written and verbal, that militants intended to use a tunnel to abduct soldiers on the crossings situated on the southern part of the Israel-Gaza border. They added that they could not explain why the army minimized the severity of the warning.

The Shin Bet sources also said that the gravity of the warning was the reason that a special IDF force entered the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning and arrested two Hamas militants east of Rafah.

The raid on Saturday marked the first IDF arrest operation inside the Gaza Strip since last summer's disengagement.

Brothers Mustafa and Osama Ma'amar, Hamas members who security services said were planning to carry out a large terrorist attack against Israel, were arrested.

"They [the two arrested militants] were involved in something that was supposed to happen very soon," an IDF spokesman said on Saturday without offering further details.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the two were not members of the group, but local activists confirmed them as sons of a prominent local Hamas leader and known to be members.

Family members said that one of the brothers was a doctor who trained in Saudi Arabia and worked in Sudan, which is considered a cauldron of international jihadist activity.

Israeli ground forces have entered Gaza a total of three times since Israel completed its unilateral withdrawal from the area last September, but yesterday marked the first time troops arrested militants.

In the other incursions, troops cleared explosives near the border, and briefly entered Gaza to kill three militants who were launching rockets.

Shin Bet warned IDF of militant plan to attack, abduct soldiers
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« Reply #515 on: June 26, 2006, 12:40:23 AM »

Olmert: ‘Response Will Be Mighty’
22:30 Jun 25, '06 / 29 Sivan 5766

(IsraelNN.com) Israel will respond with great force to the terrorist attack on an IDF outpost that took two lives, injured four and resulted in the capture of one soldier early Sunday morning.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a meeting of the Security Cabinet held Sunday evening at the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv that Israel’s response to the attack would be powerful. “We will respond and the response will be mighty,” he told ministers at the meeting. “It won’t be an operation of one or two days. A line has been crossed,” he said.

It was not clear when or how such a response would be carried out, inasmuch as Olmert asked the Cabinet members to delay a response for the time being, until the 19-year-old hostage, Corporal Gilad Shalit, is returned by the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government.

The Cabinet has asked the IDF to prepare plans for a wide-range operation, reportedly to be implemented later.

Olmert: ‘Response Will Be Mighty’
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« Reply #516 on: June 26, 2006, 12:44:02 AM »

 Olmert: No Talks With PA on Soldier’s Release
19:15 Jun 25, '06 / 29 Sivan 5766

(IsraelNN.com) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday evening that the government will not negotiate with the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority for the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier captured during a terror attack early Sunday at Kerem Shalom.

The 19 year old soldier was taken hostage after terrorists fired a missile at his tank, scoring a direct hit. Two of his comrades died in the explosion and another was wounded. Shalit was also injured and forced to walk away with his captors.

IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz told reporters on Sunday said Israel holds Hamas and all other terrorists completely responsible for the attack and for the safety and health of its IDF captive. Defense Minister Amir Peretz added that if anyone harmed Shalit, they would pay with their lives.

Olmert: No Talks With PA on Soldier’s Release
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« Reply #517 on: June 26, 2006, 12:45:50 AM »

 Five Thousand Pray at Western Wall for Shalit
22:00 Jun 25, '06 / 29 Sivan 5766

(IsraelNN.com) Five thousand worshippers showed up at the Western Wall on Sunday evening in response to a call from Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger to pray for Corporal Gilad Shalit.

Leading the five thousand worshippers were former Chief Rabbis Eliyahu and Shapira, as well as Rabbi Dov Lior, Chairman of the Yesha Rabbinical Council, along with other rabbinic leaders.

Shalit was taken hostage early in the day after terrorists attacked an IDF outpost at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with southern Gaza. Two IDF soldiers were killed and four wounded in the attack.

The 19-year-old soldier suffered stomach wounds but according to Arab diplomats was treated by medical professionals and is now in good condition.

Five Thousand Pray at Western Wall for Shalit
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« Reply #518 on: June 28, 2006, 02:43:24 AM »

Israel issues 48-hour ultimatum to Palestine

Tuesday 27 June 2006  15:11 
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has issued an ultimatum this morning, demanding the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier within 48 hours, and ordered the military to prepare for a “broad and on-going” offensive.

If the nineteen-year old soldier, who was abducted on Sunday when several Palestinian militants attacked an Israeli border post, is not returned safely, Israeli forces threaten to block the entry of food and fuel into Gaza, prior to potential military operations.

While US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked all parties “to try and calm the situation”, Mr Olmert stated yesterday that “there will be no negotiations, no bargaining, no agreements” and that the entire Palestinian leadership would be held responsible for the outcome of the crisis.

Several militant groups, among them the armed wing of Hamas, had demanded the release of all female and under-age Palestinian inmates from Israeli prisons in exchange for providing information about the abducted soldier.

The Palestinian government denies any knowledge of the location of the hostage, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly urged Hamas Prime Minister Haniya to intensify efforts to free the Israeli.

Israel issues 48-hour ultimatum to Palestine
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« Reply #519 on: June 29, 2006, 06:56:52 PM »

28/06/2006            
Annan: Release of Shalit would defuse tensions between Israel, PA
By News Agencies

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday urged Hamas militants to release unharmed captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit from the Gaza Strip border on Sunday in order to defuse Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Annan said he discussed by telephone with Prime Minister Ehud Omert the military raid he ordered into Gaza, saying that unilateral action would not resolve the situation.

"It is important that the two leaders (Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas) work together to calm the situation," Annan told reporters.

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He said Olmert promised "maximum restraint" in the use of force while Israeli troops and tanks have entered Gaza.

Annan said he also talked to Abbas, who said he was discussing with Palestinian factions ways to bring the violence under control.

"I hope they will allow time for a diplomatic solution," Annan said. "I hope no action will be taken to harm him (the Israeli soldier) and that he would be returned alive."

U.S. blames Hamas for escalation
The Bush administration on Wednesday blamed the Hamas movement for the recent escalation sparked by the kidnapping of Shalit.

At the White House, press secretary Tony Snow said "the hostage-taking and the attacks by Hamas last weekend have precipitated the current events in Gaza," Snow said. "Israel has the right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens. ... Let's just point out, once again, you have the Israeli forces trying to reclaim somebody who was kidnapped and is being held hostage in Gaza. And they are doing what they can to return him."

Snow would not comment on any of the specific actions taken by Israel.

The U.S. Administration affirmed on Wednesday Israel's right to defend itself against acts of terror and called on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt to help resolve a crisis provoked by the abduction of Shalit.

The White House and State Department declined to take a position on Israel's pressure offensive in southern Gaza that has knocked out electricity and water supplies for some 700 thousand Palestinians living in Gaza.

"It's generally not our practice to go into the details of diplomatic conversations," said deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli.

At the same time, the spokesman stressed that "Israel has a right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens," while urging Israel "to ensure that innocent lives are not harmed."

Ereli urged Palestinian militants to release the soldier and Israel to "avoid the unnecessary destruction of property and infrastructure" as it tries to get him back.

Spokesmen said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. diplomats "continue to do everything we can... to bring this crisis to a peaceful resolution."

Abbas and the Egyptians "have contacts and have capabilities that can be useful in resolving this crisis," said Ereli.

Rice, who is traveling in South Asia, telephoned Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for a second time this week, Ereli said. He declined to say whether Israel was informing Rice and other U.S. officials about its military operations and whether the Bush administration was trying to influence Israel's strategy.

EU urges Israel, PA to resolve soldier crisis diplomatically
The European Union urged both Israel and the Palestinians on Wedndesday, to "step back from the brink" and allow diplomacy to resolve the crisis caused by the abduction of Gilad Shalit.

"All sides need to consider their responsibilities extremely carefully," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement on Wednesday, after IDF troops moved into the Gaza Strip, shelling targets and bombing power stations and a bridge.

"Both sides need to step back from the brink before this becomes a crisis that neither side can control," Ferrero-Waldner warned.

The IDF operation was aimed at pressuring militants to release IDF soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit, captured during a cross-border raid on Sunday. The militants have demanded that all Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails be set free.

Wednesday's EU statement demanded that the Palestinian militants immediately release Shalit, saying that keeping him would only make things worse for the Palestinian people.

"It is unacceptable to seek political goals by such means," Ferrero-Waldner said.

She reiterated a call for those holding Shalit to free him, and urged Israel to "act with prudence," in order to allow for the success of diplomatic efforts to secure his release.

Ferrero-Waldner expressed concern about the IDF shelling that had
disrupted electricity supplies in much of Gaza, saying vital services such as hospitals also had been affected.

"Everything must be done to prevent the humanitarian situation from worsening," she said.

Austria, the current president of the EU, also called for the IDF soldier's "immediate and unconditional release."

Austria urged "the Palestinian leadership to undertake all necessary efforts in this regard" and called on all parties to show restraint and to "avoid further escalation."

In his weekly House of Commons question session, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday that the IDF offensive in Gaza demonstrated the importance of restarting the peace process, "which is the only way to stop events like the terrible events of the last 24 hours."

"In the end, what is necessary obviously is to make sure that peace and calm is restored so that there's some possibility of getting negotiation going," he said.

Blair said he still wanted to return to the long-stalled road map peace plan drafted by the Quartet, which is made up of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

In Paris, France's Foreign Minister denounced the use of force by both sides saying the crisis could only be solved through a political dialogue.

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said he still believed it was possible to restart the stalled peace process, and pointed to the announcement Tuesday of a Palestinian plan that implicitly recognizes Israel. He described the plan, hammered out by rival Hamas and Fatah movements, as a "significant step forward."

In Tokyo, the government said it was reevaluating a trip by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the Middle East next month, following reports of the Israeli incursion into Gaza.

The Japanese leader was expected to visit Israel and the Palestinian
territories before attending the G8 summit of industrialized nations in
mid-July in Russia. But the recent spike in violence may alter those plans, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said.

"At this stage, we have not decided on what to do," Abe said. "In any case, various things occur in this region, so we need to constantly keep a close watch."

Annan: Release of Shalit would defuse tensions between Israel, PA
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« Reply #520 on: June 29, 2006, 07:05:23 PM »

Gaza attack nixed; Hamas offers up soldier

By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press Writer 59 minutes ago

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -  Israel called off a planned ground invasion of northern Gaza on Thursday, giving diplomacy another chance to free a 19-year-old soldier held by gunmen allied with the Palestinians' ruling Hamas group.

Egyptian President  Hosni Mubarak said militants agreed to a conditional release of the kidnapped soldier but that Israel had yet to accept their terms, which he did not specify. Israel said it was not familiar with any such offer.

Despite its postponement of a northern offensive, Israeli aircraft and artillery pounded sites across the coastal strip during the day, hitting suspected weapons factories, an electrical transformer and militant training camps. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported in any of the attacks since ground operation began early Wednesday in southern Gaza.

On Gaza's southern border, hundreds of Palestinian and Egyptian police formed human cordons to block Palestinians trying to escape into Egypt after militants blasted a hole in a cement wall near the crossing.

Israel also vowed to hunt down the killers of a kidnapped 18-year-old, whose body was found Thursday in the West Bank with a gunshot wound to the head. Hamas-linked militants said they killed him.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate, met with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and spoke twice with Mubarak to try to end the crisis, an Abbas aide said.

In remarks published Friday, Mubarak told the pro-government Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram that "Egyptian contacts with several Hamas leaders resulted in preliminary, positive results in the shape of a conditional agreement to hand over the Israeli soldier as soon as possible to avoid an escalation. But agreement on this has not yet been reached with the Israeli side."

Gideon Meir, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, said Israel did not know of such an offer and would have no comment until later Friday.

"The soldier will only be released unconditionally and there will be no negotiations with a gang of terrorists and criminals," Meir told The Associated Press. "There is nothing to talk with them about."

Earlier, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said significant diplomatic developments were possible, though he did not indicate there had been a breakthrough.

"Right now, our thoughts are focused on the unconditional liberation of the kidnapped soldier," he said in a speech to air force graduates. "The efforts to bring about his return are being carried out intensively through various channels."

Israel said the crisis will end when Cpl. Gilad Shalit is released.

"If the Palestinians act now to release Cpl. Shalit and hand him back to us ... we would immediately initiate a dramatic reduction in tension," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. "He is the primary issue, he is the primary reason for the crisis."

After previous diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Jordan, France and other nations failed, Israel sent thousands of soldiers into vacant areas of southern Gaza on Wednesday.

But on Thursday, Israel decided to delay a further offensive into northern Gaza at Egypt's request, an Israeli official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the diplomacy.

Israeli officials said the delay was also meant to defuse possible international criticism of a broad ground campaign in Gaza. In Moscow, foreign ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations called on the Palestinians to free the soldier and urged Israel to act with restraint.

Anger flared across the Middle East over Israel's assault, and many Arabs criticized their governments for not aiding the Palestinians. The Egyptian government's top rival, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, urged Egyptians to gather at pro-Palestinian demonstrations Friday, the Muslim Sabbath.

The request from Egypt came after Israel increased the stakes in the search for the soldier  by arresting more than one-third of the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet, including the deputy prime minister, in a series of early morning raids in the West Bank.

Israel hinted that the 64 Hamas officials were intended as bargaining chips for Shalit, but one official said the opportunity for preventing a blowup was slipping away.

"We are at the edge of a cliff here, and I would urge the Palestinian leadership to release Cpl. Shalit," Regev said.

Osama Hamdan, an exiled Hamas official based in Lebanon, declined to say whether the group would be willing to trade Shalit for its officials.

"It is premature to discuss this matter," he said. "If the Israelis want to trade them (the Hamas politicians) for the soldier, then let them say it frankly and then we will react."

There has been no sign of life from Shalit since his abduction Sunday. The Popular Resistance Committees — one of the groups holding him — did not confirm his condition in a statement Thursday, but insisted on swapping him for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Israel has rejected that demand.

The group also said it killed Eliahu Asheri, the 18-year-old West Bank settler whose body was discovered Thursday. The militants had said they would kill Asheri if the raid on Gaza did not stop, but an Israeli military official said he was shot in the head shortly after he was abducted Sunday.

Government spokesman Asaf Shariv said Asheri's killers would be arrested, and Israel would bring them to trial. "Their days as free people are numbered," he said.

The Israeli offensive into Gaza began three days after militants tunneled under a Gaza crossing and attacked an Israeli army post, killing two soldiers and abducting Shalit. Thousands of Israeli troops backed by tanks entered vacant areas in southern Gaza, where the military thinks Shalit is being held.

Israel bombed Gaza's power station, and much of the territory was receiving only intermittent electricity Thursday. Further artillery shelling knocked out two electricity transformers in northern Gaza, plunging towns there into darkness, Palestinian officials said. The army said it was targeting empty fields.

Israeli warplanes also bombed militant camps, empty fields, roads and suspected weapons factories in southern Gaza, and gunboats fired at open areas in the north. An airstrike also targeted a car that witnesses said was carrying an Islamic Jihad activist, but the militant escaped.

Militants launched volleys of homemade rockets and four landed inside Israel, causing no damage or injuries, the army said. Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a militant group affiliated with Abbas' Fatah Party, claimed responsibility.

Palestinians who hoped for better times after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last year were bitterly disappointed by the conflict.

"I was very happy. I thought the beaches would be open. I thought I would travel and I expected more economic projects to enter Gaza," said Ismail el-Shaikh, 22, who works in a pizza parlor in the southern city of Khan Younis. "That didn't happen. Hamas came instead, and the situation is more difficult."

Gaza attack nixed; Hamas offers up soldier
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« Reply #521 on: June 29, 2006, 07:10:07 PM »

Israel delays north Gaza offensive after Hamas round-up

by Nasser Abu Bakr 20 minutes ago

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP) - Israel called a halt to a planned incursion into the northern Gaza Strip amid international appeals for diplomatic efforts to free a soldier captured by Palestinian militants.

The pause came after Israel seized Hamas ministers and launched an air strike on Gaza militants, intensifying the pressure on Palestinians over the capture of a soldier that has threatened to spiral into regional conflict.

The body of a Jewish settler kidnapped by gunmen was also found dumped in the West Bank, adding to the tensions in the worst crisis between Israel and the Palestinians since the radical Islamist movement took office in March.

"It is not a government, it is an organisation of killers with a leader in Damascus," charged Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, referring to Syrian-based Hamas political supremo Khaled Meshaal.

The sharp upsurge in hostilities over the fate of 19-year-old Gilad Shalit sparked renewed international concern and UN chief Kofi Annan led urgent calls for all sides to avoid further escalation.

Meeting in Moscow, foreign ministers of the G8 group of industrialized nations called on Israel to exercise the "utmost restraint".

"The detention of elected members of the Palestinian government and legislature raises particular concerns," the ministers said, adding that they also wanted to see "immediate measures to liberate the abducted Israeli soldier".

Israel, which on Wednesday launched its biggest military operation since pulling out of the  Gaza Strip in September, carried out an air strike on a car in Gaza City but the targeted Islamic Jihad militants managed to escape.

The army was also on high alert on its northern border after Israeli planes flew over Syria in a blunt warning to archfoe Damascus.

The multi-pronged action came after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned he was prepared to take "extreme measures" to bring back Shalit, seized in a raid by militants including Hamas fighters on the Gaza border on Sunday.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops rounded up more than 64 Hamas members, including eight ministers -- a third of the Palestinian cabinet -- and 24 lawmakers in a vast military sweep overnight.

Some were blindfolded and handcuffed as they were arrested, Palestinian sources said.

Hamas, boycotted by Israel and the West as a terrorist group, condemned the arrests as a declaration of "open war" aimed at destroying its government while Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas appealed for urgent international intervention.

Artillery units and gunboats shelled Gaza on and off throughout the day and more troops crossed into the south -- the area where Shalit is believed to be held -- where an air strike was also carried out on an uninhabited area.

There was no word on Shalit, although the group which claimed to have killed the settler issued another warning to Israel about the soldier's fate.

"Olmert and (Defence Minister) Amir Peretz will be entirely responsible for the life of the captured soldier if the aggression continues," Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Abir said.

Wednesday's rollout was the first major ground incursion into Gaza since Israel pulled out last year, ending a 38-year presence in a territory that is home to 1.4 million Palestinians.

Many parts of Gaza, already facing a dire humanitarian crisis because of a cut in Western aid since Hamas took office, are without electricity after Israeli war planes struck a power transformer.

But Peretz insisted Israel, which has a force of about 5,000 troops massed on the border, had no intention of retaking Gaza.

"We have no intention of getting bogged down any more in the swamps of this cursed territory," he said.

In a sign of the sharp deterioration in relations with the Palestinians, a meeting to prepare for a summit between Olmert and Abbas was cancelled.

It would have been their first formal meeting since the election of Hamas, which has long advocated the destruction of Israel although this week it signed up to a political initiative that implicitly recognizes the Jewish state.

Shalit's captors have vowed not to release him until all Palestinian women and children are freed from Israeli jails, a demand rejected by Olmert.

Annan telephoned regional leaders to appeal for restraint to ensure the conflict did not spread, a call echoed by Washington.

"We hope that Israel, in trying to retrieve its soldier, will practise restraint and that both sides will practise restraint in trying to lower the temperature and develop a sense of security in the future," said White House spokesman Tony Snow.

"There's pretty much unified international reaction, which is that Hamas needs to give back the Israeli soldier and needs to renounce terror and needs to do so immediately," he added.

New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch said the militants' attempts to use the captured soldier as a bargaining counter amounted to a "war crime."

But it added that Israel "must minimize the harm to Gaza's civilian population during any military operation to rescue the corporal, and that includes not destroying vital power plants."

Israel kept up the pressure on Syria, sending warplanes over the palace of President Bashar al-Assad before dawn Wednesday as the army went on high alert for possible strikes by Lebanon's Syrian-backed Hezbollah militia.

Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri said his country was ready to defend itself and expressed "surprise at the silence of the international community toward all these Israeli acts and daily aggressions."

Israel has issued direct threats against Hamas chiefs based in Syria, including Meshaal who escaped an attempt on his life in Jordan in 1997 by the Mossad overseas intelligence agency.

Israel delays north Gaza offensive after Hamas round-up
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« Reply #522 on: June 29, 2006, 08:46:25 PM »

Global community slams Gaza incursion
Prime Minister Olmert had assured 'world would understand'
Posted: June 29, 2006
12:08 p.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

KIBBUTZ NAHAL OZ – One of the major claims then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made to the Israeli public prior to implementing the country's historic withdrawal from the Gaza Strip 10 months ago was that if the Jewish state needed to re-enter the territory in response to Palestinian attacks the international community would understand and would support any Israeli action.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made similar claims regarding his proposed withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, mountainous terrain within rocket-firing range of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the country's international airport.

But with Israeli ground troops this week entering the Gaza Strip in response to an attack of an Israeli military station and the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, countries around the world have been urging restraint and are demanding an immediate Israeli retreat.

The ground troops so far have not conducted any operation other than to enter Gaza.

Since Israel last August evacuated its Jewish communities and military installations from the territory, more than 800 rockets have been launched from Gaza by Palestinian terrorists aimed at nearby Jewish communities. The Israeli town of Sderot, located about three miles from the Gaza border, has been hit with an average of 40 rockets per week the past four weeks.

Since the Gaza withdrawal, Hamas has been elected to power and both Israeli and Palestinian officials have stated al-Qaida has infiltrated the territory. Neighboring Egypt recently announced the terrorists who carried out April's deadly triple-bomb blasts in the Sinai resort town of Dahab trained for the operation in the Gaza Strip with local Palestinians. Israel's withdrawal has been threatening Egyptian security, Cairo said.

Israel has responded to the regular rocket-fire aimed at its communities largely with targeted aerial and artillery strikes at suspected missile launch sites, but the operations have failed to stop or even slow the rate of rocket attacks.

In what defense leaders here called a "stunning" and "well-orchestrated" operation, two Israeli soldiers were killed Sunday and another was kidnapped when Hamas and other Palestinian groups raided a major military station within Israeli territory near the Gaza Strip border.

Israeli defense officials maintain the abducted soldier, 19-year-old Israeli-French citizen Gilad Shalit, is being held in Khan Yunis, a large city in central Gaza.

A senior defense official told WorldNetDaily it was Israel's failure to respond forcefully to the Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza the past 10 months that led to Sunday's Hamas operation.

"Since August, the rockets have been regularly fired and attacks have been staged from Gaza," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. "The defense establishment has been calling for a harsh response, but not much has been ordered aside from surgical strikes. It was the loss of Israeli deterrence that emboldened the terror groups to perform their daring operation this week. Deterrence must be restored."

Olmert earlier this week ordered ground troops to enter southern Gaza to cut off the territory's border with Egypt for fear Shalit's captives will try to smuggle him into the Egyptian Sinai desert. The troops in Gaza have not been authorized to conduct any operation other than to remain at their positions.

The Israeli Air Forces Tuesday bombed an empty Hamas training camp and a bridge near Khan Yunis they feared Shalit's captors could use to transport the abducted soldier.

Defense Minister Amit Peretz today authorized the next stage of the army's foray into Gaza, accepting military leaders' recommendations of sending troops into northern Gaza to further isolate Shalit's kidnappers. The troops, like those already in southern Gaza, have been ordered only to enter the territory but not to conduct any anti-terror operations.

Already, the international community is demanding Israeli restraint.

The European Union urged both Israel and the Palestinians yesterday to "step back from the brink" and allow diplomacy to resolve the crisis.

"All sides need to consider their responsibilities extremely carefully," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement.

"Both sides need to step back from the brink before this becomes a crisis that neither side can control," Ferrero-Waldner warned.

In his weekly House of Commons question session, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the IDF offensive in Gaza demonstrated the importance of restarting the peace process, "which is the only way to stop events like the terrible events of the last 24 hours."

In Paris, France's Foreign Minister denounced the use of force by "both sides," staying the crisis could only be solved through a political dialogue.

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said he still believed it was possible to restart the stalled peace process.

In Tokyo, the government said it was reevaluating a trip by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the Middle East next month, following reports of the Israeli incursion into Gaza.

Lebanese leaders slammed Olmert and demanded an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

While Israeli troops enter Gaza in response to attacks, Olmert is still attempting to push through his proposed Judea and Samaria withdrawal, stating the move will increase security for Israel.

"We must withdraw to defensible borders to ensure a Jewish majority and protect our security needs," Olmert said at a speech this week.

He stated his proposed evacuation would help win international support for the Jewish state, and has said if Israel needs to conduct anti-terror operations in Judea and Samaria following a withdrawal "the world would understand."

Both Egypt and Jordan have warned an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria could threaten their countries and Mideast stability.

About 200,000 Jews live in Judea and Samaria. Israel's security barrier, still under construction in certain areas, cordons off nearly 95 percent of the territory from Israel's pre-1967 borders. Olmert seeks to vacate the vast majority of Judea and Samaria – all areas that fall outside the barrier.

In a widely circulated WND article, leaders of every major Palestinian terror organization warned they will soon launch a massive violent campaign against Israel focused mainly on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

One senior terrorist said now that Olmert announced a Judea and Samaria withdrawal, terrorism against Israel must be stepped up "to prove we are chasing out the Israelis like we did in Gaza."
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« Reply #523 on: June 29, 2006, 08:48:34 PM »

Arab hackers shut down Israeli sites

1 hour, 38 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - Pro-Palestinian hackers shut down hundreds of Israeli Web sites as Israeli troops invaded southern Gaza after the abduction of an Israeli soldier, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.

The Jerusalem Post said about 700 Web sites were shut down early Wednesday morning in the campaign. Their home pages were replaced by the message, "Hacked by Team-Evil Arab hackers u KILL palestin people we KILL Israeli servers."

By early Friday, all the Web sites mentioned in the report were back in service. The report could not be independently confirmed.

Among the sites mentioned were Israel's largest bank, Bank Hapoalim, as well as a hospital in Haifa, BMW Israel, Subaru Israel and Citroen Israel.

The paper reported that the hacker team, with at least six members, is apparently based in Morocco and began attacking U.S. government Web sites in 2004.

Arab hackers shut down Israeli sites
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« Reply #524 on: June 30, 2006, 07:07:42 AM »

 Temple Mount Ramp to Be Removed
12:53 Jun 30, '06 / 4 Tammuz 5766
by Hana Levi Julian

      A ramp which leads from the Western Wall to the Temple Mount will be removed by the Israel Antiquities Authority soon, putting into action a plan that has been on the table for the past two years.


The Mugrabi ramp, located in one of the most politically, militarily and spiritually sensitive places in the world, was nonetheless deemed unstable in February 2004 after one of its supporting walls collapsed in the Western Wall plaza.

At the time, city engineers said the ramp, which is used by non-Muslim visitors to enter the Temple Mount, should be removed. The ramp is also used by security services to access the area during riots.

The plan was put on hold, however, due to political and security concerns. General Security Service representatives nixed the idea, as did the Prime Minister’s military secretary. Plans for archaeological excavations at the site were also held up for fear of Muslim riots.

“Now that the Palestinian Authority is paralyzed and incapable of resisting,” an unnamed source told the Haaretz news service, “it is an excellent opportunity to carry out the plan.”

Fears of bloodshed nonetheless haunt archaeologists. “Digging in this place goes way beyond the archaeological sphere,” warned archaeologist Meir Ben Dov on Thursday. “This place is far too sensitive and the price would be much too high,” he said.

The Western Wall Heritage Fund was given responsibility for the holiest area in the world in January 2005. The organization is linked with Jewish groups that actively settle areas in East Jerusalem.

Archaeologists also opposed a plan by the Fund to build a bridge in place of the ramp, saying the structure would severely damage the archaeological site south of the ramp. The Israeli government had contributed NIS 5 million to the plan at the time.

Temple Mount Ramp to Be Removed
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