Sunday, October 02, 2005

Arutz-7 News: Sunday, October 2, 2005

PFLP Leadership Moving From Syria to Gaza
Syrian terrorist leader Ahmed Jibril is likely to enter Gaza via Rafiah, granting what at least one member says will be "renewed momentum" to the PFLP terror organization.

 1. PFLP Leadership Moving From Syria to Gaza
 2. Despite Warnings, Dozens of Israelis Enter Sinai
 3. Open Letter from the Youth - and Rabbi´s Response
 4. Sharon Softening Stance on Hamas
 5. Gov't Getting Rich on Fuel Price Hikes; Inflation Soars
 6. Teaching Values in the Army
 7. Growing Economy Sets Stage for Holiday Shopping Spree

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1. PFLP Leadership Moving From Syria to Gaza
By Hillel Fendel

Syrian terrorist leader Ahmed Jibril is likely to enter Gaza via Rafiah, granting what at least one member says will be "renewed momentum" to the PFLP terror organization.

Jibril, 77, is the founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine/General Command (PFLP-GC), which has staged numerous attacks against Israeli and other targets, both military and civilian.

The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quotes Dr. Adal Al-Hakim, a member of the PFLP's diplomatic office, as saying that Jibril is expected to arrive in Gaza - though he did not specify a time frame. Al-Hakim says that leading PFLP figures will arrive first in Gaza to investigate and shore up the organization's infrastructure and prepare for the leader's entry. Jibril's move will alleviate world pressure on Syria to get rid of Palestinian terror bases.

In Al-Hakim's evaluation, Jibril's arrival in Gaza will grant "renewed momentum" to the organization's activity in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.

Jibril, like PLO Oslo-opponent Farouk Kaddoumi, has refused to enter the PA-controlled areas until now, so as not to have to receive Israeli permission. With the opening of the Rafiah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, Jibril will not have to face this issue.

Among the PFLP's attacks are the Nahariya/Avivim school bus attack (May 1970) along Israel's northern border in which nine children and three adults were murdered; the massacre of 18 people in a Kiryat Shmonah apartment building (April 1974), half of them children; the bombing of a Swiss Air plane (Feb. 1970), killing 47 people; and the hang glider attack from Lebanon (Nov. 1987) in which six Israeli soldiers were killed.

The most destructive attack attributed to the PFLP was apparently the infamous Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. The plane was downed over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988, killing 270 people. Much cumulative evidence linked the PFLP to the attack, including the finding of explosive devices similar to the one presumably used against the Pan Am plane in the possession of a PFLP cell captured in West Germany.

In fact, only seven weeks before the Pan Am explosion, a terrorist cell of 16 members and supporters of Jibril’s gang was arrested in Germany, amidst evidence that they were planning a series of mid-air attacks on five international aircraft. The Germans, however, released most of the arrestees after a short period.

In May 2001, Jibril claimed responsibility for sending a boat filled with weapons to Gaza; the Israeli Navy found and seized the ship in the Haifa port. Jibril said at the time that it wasn't the first of its kind, nor would it be the last. A year later, Jibril's son, the head of the PFLP-GC's military wing, was killed in a car bombing in Beirut. The Arabs blamed Israel, but it was known that the Jibrils had many enemies in Lebanon.

Although the PFLP-GC has lost importance over the years in proportion to the rise of Hamas, Jibril's gang has long been on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

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2. Despite Warnings, Dozens of Israelis Enter Sinai
By Hillel Fendel

In spite of solid warnings that terrorists are planning to kidnap Israelis in Sinai, dozens of Israelis refused to give up their travel plans and traversed the Taba Crossing into Sinai this morning.

The Anti-Terrorism Task Force, working under the auspices of the Prime Minister's Office, issues travel warnings to areas under terrorist threats. Its latest declaration is against travel to Sinai, because of what it calls "specific and well-based intelligence" indicating plans to kidnap vacationing Israelis there. The body also called upon tourists already in Sinai to return home at once.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 Israelis were estimated to have been in Sinai over the weekend, and some 30,000 have made plans to vacation there over the coming holidays. Several dozen Israels returned home today, but it is not yet clear how many will heed the warning and return in the coming days.

Israeli officials explained that they could not close the Taba Crossing and forbid Israeli entry, because of the peace agreement with Egypt that stipulates "open borders."

A year ago, on the Sukkot holiday, a car bomb at the Taba Hilton Hotel and a simultaneous double bombing nearby killed over 30 people, including 12 Israelis. Three months ago, some 90 people, including one Israeli - an Arab - were killed in another terror bombing at Sharm el-Sheikh.

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3. Open Letter from the Youth - and Rabbi´s Response
By Hillel Fendel

The youth who struggled valiantly this summer have not yet fully recovered from the abandonment of Gush Katif/Shomron and the expulsion of the Jews therein - and some of them have surprising claims.

The following open letter by one of these youths expresses the pain and shock of the disengagement and that which followed. The letter, and a response to it from a leading rabbi, were published in Hebrew in the weekly Torah sheet distributed by Jerusalem's Meir Institute [Machon Meir] over the past two weeks.

The letter was written by a yeshiva student who recently graduated one of the high school yeshivot in the south, and the response was penned by Rabbi Elisha Aviner, rabbi of the Maaleh Adumim neighborhood of Mitzpeh Nevo.

The letter:

"We are the youth of Summer 5765 (2005),
who instead of hiking in the rivers of the Golan Heights, cut across thorn fields in the Negev in the middle of the night,
who instead of working during our summer vacation, stood at intersections day and night.
We are the youth who planted and built, and added goodness,
and saw how all this was crudely trampled.
We are the youth that wanted to enlist in the elite units,
and saw black-uniformed IDF soldiers dragging out mothers and hitting boys and girls.
We are the youth who sat behind bars - and no, not on drug-related or criminal charges.
We are the youth whom the rabbis confused, and yet still we walked between the drops.
We are the youth who tore their cloths and recited the blessing, "Blessed is the True Judge" well before [the others].
We are the youth who, instead of laughing with our friends, cried together bitter tears.
They spit on us, they crushed us. We are broken.
We want to cry, we want to feel the pain, we want to be angry - and in truth, sometimes we want to hate.
We are "purely righteous," but allow us to complain about the evil [a play on Rabbi Kook's famous teaching, 'The purely righteous do not complain about evil, but rather add goodness'].

We are the youth of Summer 5765 (2005),
we gave our souls,
and after we were expelled, without any delay
you immediately began reminding us from every possible stage
that "we have not abandoned the State"
and that "let's remember and not get confused - this is our State of Israel."
You were busy with discussions about the "day after,"
even while the heroes among us were busy dismantling hothouses and gathering ruins and paying the so-heavy price
of having the Paradise they knew engraved in their memory as a pile of ruins.

Our Rabbis!
Instead of helping us cure our still-bleeding sores,
you are busy 'saving souls' so that Heaven forbid, may it not come to pass,
we won't stop saying Hallel [prayer of praise and thanksgiving] for the State,
or go off the path [of religious-Zionism].
From your standpoint, the main thing is that we not go to the hilltops, or become street-youth, or to a hareidi yeshiva -
but you care not about our wounded souls.
But excuse us - you are mistaken. The loss is greater than the gain.
Perhaps you will succeed, and we will continue to say the Prayer for the State of the Israel
But we will know that you care only about the knitted skullcaps on our heads
and not about the person underneath.
We will continue holding the flag, but we'll have a scratch in our hearts.

Our Rabbis!
Embrace us without calculations
and help us cry and wipe away the tears.

RESPONSE, from Rabbi Elisha Aviner:
You are right. Now is not the time for speeches and exalted ideologies. "Everything has its time," King Solomon teaches us in Kohelet [Ecclesiastes]. Now it is "time to cry." With G-d's help, we will reach the "time to heal," but we must not skip over the crying stage. Our Torah relates to crying to teach us that this is an important and even necessary response to difficult and sad events. We cry over the harm done to individuals, and all the more so over the general destruction. Our heart weeps.

"A time to cry" - but we must be careful not to fill ourselves with the atmosphere of "time to eulogize," of eulogizing our beliefs, our spiritual philosophy and our outlook. Nor is it a "time to throw stones" on our State.

You are right, we cannot just continue as usual after all that has happened. Our soul is wounded. Our hearts are filled with anger, and sometimes we feel an inner need to scream and even to kick out. But we must not allow our feelings of fury and frustration to gather up and turn into a solid ideology of despair, estrangement, inward-turning and escapism.

Your criticism must be directed also towards those who, the day after the expulsion, and even before we had a chance to absorb what had happened, already began spitting on the flag. It must be directed at those who immediately resolved that our path ever since the establishment of the State had failed or had come to its end, and that we must turn our back on Israeli society, and that "face to face" campaigns are a waste of time. [They] wish to tear the Nation of Israel into little pieces.

We do not rule on capital cases while in the midst of a storm of emotion; study requires prayer. Matters of such great import for our nation can be judged only with calmness, clarity of mind and moderation. As is written in the Ethics of the Fathers, "Be moderate in judgment."

May this coming year be one of a "time to plant, a time to build, a time to laugh, and a time to dance." May the year and its curses end, may the new year and its blessings begin.

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4. Sharon Softening Stance on Hamas
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The Sharon government, under U.S. pressure, is planning to ease up on Hamas, and a Likud minister and Condoleezza Rice said the gang might be politically acceptable if its terrorists disarm.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon plans to meet with government and IDF officials on Thursday to reconsider Israel’s policy of targeted killings against Hamas terrorists, according to Israel government Radio. Israel will continue to liquidate "ticking bombs," terrorists on the way to commit acts of murder.

Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit (Likud) said Saturday that if Hamas disarms, there is no reason to stop the terrorist organization from participating in the January PA (Palestinian Authority) legislative elections.

The government is under pressure from the international community, including the United States, to make a goodwill gesture toward the PA by not acting against Hamas terrorists, according to the Hebrew news web site News First Class. It said that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) will ask the U.S. to pressure Israel to stay out of PA-controlled areas and refrain from interfering with the January elections. Sharon has warned that Israel will obstruct the vote if Hamas fields candidates.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that Hamas "eventually" will be disarmed but did not state that the terrorist group should be banned from running in the elections. The U.S. has outlawed Hamas, and one of its principles is the destruction of the State of Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state.

Rice, in a major address, told a questioner that it is clear that Hamas "stands for the destruction of Israel...and is a real detriment and block to further peace." But she used the Sinn Fein party, linked to the Irish Republican Army terrorist group, as an example of terrorists agreeing to disarm in order to win political acceptance. "We do, I think, need to give the Palestinians some space to try and reconcile their national politics," she explained.

President George W. Bush has scheduled an October 20 meeting with Abbas, whom the U.S. has been praising for declaring that terrorists may not carry arms in the streets. However, Hamas terrorists control several areas in the Gaza region, including Rafiah, a source of smuggling on the Egyptian border, Middle East Newsline reported.

The PA's ruling Fatah party declared a major victory over Hamas in the third stage of Thursday's local elections, in which Fatah took control of 65 of 104 village councils. Hamas' main strength, however, is in large cities, including Shechem, Jenin, Tulkarm, Ramallah, and Hevron, where the PA postponed the elections because of fear that Hamas would win a majority.

Fatah won a bare majority of 53 percent the votes despite its being unopposed in several towns. Hamas won 26 percent of the ballots and most of the remaining support went to other terrorist organizations, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine which received five percent of the votes.

Hamas spokesmen pointed out that Israel prevented its candidates from winning more votes by arresting about 20 terrorists who were running for office, as well more than 200 supporters.

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5. Gov't Getting Rich on Fuel Price Hikes; Inflation Soars
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Another increase in the price of gasoline and natural gas Saturday night is enriching the government, which collects a 16.5 percent VAT tax. Prices at the pump have jumped 30 percent this year.

Motorists now have to pay 6.23 shekels a liter ($5.13 a gallon) for 95 octane unleaded gas. Most self-service stations offer a discount of 15 agorot. The Value Added Tax (VAT) is approximately 88 agorot a liter, and this year's fuel pump hikes of about 1.50 shekels have given the government an unexpected bonus of approximately 25 agorot a liter.

Surging oil prices threaten to wreck the government economic program, which is based on an inflation rate of between one and three percent a year. Consumers enjoyed a near-zero inflation rate in the beginning of 2005, but the consumer price index recently has been rising more than three percent following oil price rises.

The fuel price increase along with the additional consumer demand in pre-holiday spending will boost the August rate even further. More price increases also are expected for electricity and for products which have petroleum ingredients. Israelis depending on kerosene and solar fuel to heat their houses for the winter face steeper bills.

The price of gas has soared 38 percent following the Katrina hurricane disaster.

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6. Teaching Values in the Army
By Hillel Fendel

An IDF commander giving a session on "values" ordered a religious soldier to trample, without looking, on the contents of a bag - which turned out to be a prayer shawl.

The soldier was taking part in a discussion during a course at a military police training base last week. Voice of Israel military correspondent Carmela Menashe reported that at one point, the officer handed the soldier two bags, and told him not to look at them, but to pour their contents onto the floor and step on them. The soldier fulfilled the order, and then saw that he had stepped on a tallit.

The soldier reportedly went into a state of shock, refused to talk, and later asked for psychological counseling. Soldiers who witnessed the incident said they were stunned, and did not understand what the educational message was supposed to be.

The soldier's father later said, "Is this the message the IDF gives its soldiers who come and give it their soul for three years? Is the message that they should trample on a tallit? Woe unto us for having such an army. All religious people should hear that the Israel Defense Forces ordered a soldier to trample on a tallit. Is this logical? The boy innocently followed an order, and then it turns out it was a tallit. He caused him to step on his soul."

It was reported that the commander later apologized to the soldier. The IDF said the matter would be investigated.

Arutz-7 called the IDF Spokesman's office this morning to find out what the investigation had turned up, why such an order was given, and what steps would be taken to ensure that similar incidents do not recur. The response, delivered several hours later, was this:
"On the face of it, the incident appears to be a grave one. An investigation is underway, headed by the commander of the military police training base, and its findings will be presented to the Chief Military Police Officer."

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7. Growing Economy Sets Stage for Holiday Shopping Spree
By Scott Shiloh

The Israeli public gears up for a holiday shopping spree as economic growth spurs imports of cars and electric appliances.

Imports of consumer goods, particularly motor vehicles, rose dramatically in September 2005, reflecting a healthy economy that is growing at a five percent annual rate.

Imports of private cars were up by 40% over September last year, and by 4.3%, since the beginning 2005. But the ongoing holiday shopping spree is in no way limited just to cars. Imports of most consumer goods rose significantly last month, as compared to September 2004.

Leading the way were washing machines, up by 78%, followed by dish washers, up by 72%, dryers, by 62%, and television sets, by 33%. Imports of DVD players, a standard appliance in most Israeli homes, were down by 7.5%, perhaps due to market saturation.

Although imports of old technology VCR players also dropped by 14%, imports of home entertainment systems jumped by 37%.

September 2004, apparently, was a particularly bad month for imports, so the figures are less dramatic when measured in annual terms. Since the start of 2005, imports of private vehicles are up by 4.3% (103,592 cars) and imports of electrical appliances are up by 4%.

The improving economic outlook, probably serves as the best explanation for a dramatic 30% rise in commercial vehicle imports since the start of the year.

Another reliable indicator of economic expansion, imports of materials to be invested and used in output and production, rose by a 15.6% annual rate (excluding ships and planes) during the June-August 2005 period.

In that same period, proceeds from retail businesses rose at a 7.1% annual rate, with chain stores pulling in 5.6% more business. From January to August, the amount of credit card transactions registered by private consumers rose by a healthy 8.8%.

Perhaps the brightest economic picture appeared in the hotel industry, with overnight stays up by an annualized 12.9% from June to August, after rising 74% in May and over 100% from February to April.

In other good economic news, “Institutional Investor” magazine, improved Israel’s credit risk rating, moving the country up three places to number 44 on its international rankings list. On a scale of 100, Israel scored 64.4.

On the downside of recent economic news, Israel fell from 19th to 27th place in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of global competitiveness, though ahead of China and India which were rated 49th and 50th, respectively.

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