Thursday, January 12, 2006

A7news: IDF Demolishes House in Gush Etzion

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IDF Demolitions in Gush Etzion ´Settlement Bloc´
Severe violence in Gush Etzion, as IDF forces tear-gassed a home they were about to destroy, pepper-sprayed protestors, & punched and dragged those who interfered. 12 children were hurt by tear gas.
Full Story Below

 1. IDF Demolitions in Gush Etzion ´Settlement Bloc´
 2. Gush Katif Youth at Risk
 3. Four Party Primaries, and Other Election News
 4. Security Chief: 3000 Rifles a Month, Explosives, Flow into Gaza
 5. Thwarted: Attempt to Form Terrorist Kidnapping-Cell
 6. New Glass-&-Archaeology "Chain of Generations" Exhibit
 7. Fundamentally Freund: The Growing Al-Qaeda Threat
 8. On A7radio: From Destruction to Rebirth

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Editor: Hillel Fendel
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
11 Tevet 5766
Beit Orot


1. IDF Demolitions in Gush Etzion ´Settlement Bloc´
By Ezra HaLevi and Hillel Fendel

Severe violence in Gush Etzion, as IDF forces tear-gassed a home they were about to destroy, pepper-sprayed protestors, & punched and dragged those who interfered. 12 children were hurt by tear gas.

Arutz-7's Ezra HaLevi reported from the scene at about 3:30 PM:
"The soldiers have just fired tear gas into the house here in Sde Boaz [just north of N'vei Daniel] in order to get people out, and there is serious violence going on here. The soldiers are just hitting anyone who's near the house or the soldiers; they push them, throw them down, hit them... Now I see them taking belongings out of the house, in preparation for the demolition."

At 4:00 PM, the house was totally razed, and the soldiers - and protestors - turned their attention to the foundations of another home, painstakingly built over the past weeks by a young man who had just become engaged.

"The scene now is tremendously emotional and charged," HaLevi said, over the background of yelling and outcries. "The youths are locking arms and refusing to move, even though they face a strongly violent response. I don't know if it's the memories of the expulsion from Gush Katif, or maybe these are people who are seeing this for the first time, but the feelings here [over the destruction of Jewish property in the Land of Israel by Israeli soldiers] are very intense."

Asked earlier if the violence was mutual, HaLevi said, "The protestors were told in advance by the leaders here that violence is not our way, and the like... But there are certainly verbal provocations, and the soldiers just seem to be losing it [i.e., control of themselves]. They arrested the person who was serving as the leader, and then when someone else took over, they arrested him as well."

Asked how many people were present to protest, HaLevi said, "There have been hundreds throughout the day, and right now I would say that there are about 250. The weather has been totally crazy - first it was sunny, then rainy and windy and foggy, then it cleared up again, and now it has begun hailing very heavily. We're atop the highest point in Gush Etzion..."

There are more than 100 soldiers, he reported, but no females, "so many girls have been dragged by male soldiers."

At the same time, IDF forces are also preparing to destroy houses in the Binyamin community of Amona next week, as well as in Hevron. The Amona destruction has been put on hold, however, at least until after a Supreme Court hearing on the issue next week. In Hevron, eleven families fear a forced evacuation from their homes near the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Land of Israel supporters from around the country have been asked to arrive at these two spots, in order to prevent the expulsions - both of which are seen to be test-cases in the expected battles over many Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in the future.

HaLevi filed this report earlier:

Without warning, a small community in the consensus region of Gush Etzion has become the center of the government's demolition efforts. Demolition forces face unexpected opposition.

Residents of the community of Sde Boaz, 20 minutes south of Jerusalem, received less than 24 hours' notice that Civil Administration officials, accompanied by soldiers, were on its way over, on orders from the government. Their goal: to destroy a newly built house, the foundations of a large home and a large stable that were built over the summer.

Border Guard police, accompanied by a bulldozer and Civil Administration officials, arrived at the Gush Etzion outpost community of Sde Boaz early Wednesday morning, but were met by friends of the residents and Land of Israel activists who stopped them in their tracks.

The forces succeeded in bulldozing a large stable, which Sde Boaz residents had built over the summer for their horses and donkeys. When the forces tried to bulldoze the home, protestors surrounded the building and declared that they would not budge. Civil Administration officials, who had claimed that the home was not populated and could therefore be destroyed without approval from a senior officer, entered the home to find a comfortable bachelor's "pad," replete with breakfast set out on the kitchen table.

They then turned their attention to the foundations of a home, built by a recently married resident of the community who serves as a company commander in the IDF reserves. Hundreds of local residents who had flocked to the community through fields and vineyards - police had blocked the main access road - stood atop the foundations and refused to move, locking arms. Police responded with severe violence, but were soon ordered to stand down after commanders noticed the large number of press photographers on the scene.

Sde Boaz is a unique community. It is an environmentally friendly, agricultural community established by religious and non-observant Jews who sought to create an example of what the State of Israel can aspire to be – a home where Jews from diverse backgrounds and outlooks can come together to build and assist one another.

The community is also unique in that it is built entirely through Avoda Ivrit, Jewish Labor. The residents not only refuse to use local Palestinian workers for cheap, and often shoddy, building, but believe that the reconnection of the Jewish people with their land after a 2,000-year estrangement necessitates getting one's hands dirty with its soil. Though the place is populated by professionals – a medical student, a doctor of physics, a dentist, a veterinarian, a security guard, three teachers, an auto mechanic, an organic farmer and two journalists – most of the residents engage in agricultural projects on the side. Fields of wheat, chickpeas, clover (for the animals), peas, chard and beets, as well as olive and fruit orchards surround the community.

Even before its establishment over three years ago, the founders would trek to the future site and work the state lands situated there, keeping them from being claimed by Arab squatters, who receive stipends from the Palestinian Authority to plant far and wide. Agricultural activity is a way of acquiring land under Ottoman and British Mandate law, which is still applied in Judea and Samaria.

Sde Boaz is located less than a mile north of N'vei Daniel and Efrat, the heart of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. PM Ariel Sharon said in the past that U.S. President George W. Bush guaranteed him that Gush Etzion would remain in Jewish hands, in return for the destruction of Jewish towns in Gaza.

The community sits on a high point between the Efrat/N'vei Daniel bloc and the city of Betar Illit, with a view of the entire region. After residents move in, the IDF situated an advanced surveillance camera there which can see clear to Tel Aviv and the coastal plain, even at night.

Residents were divided on the extent of active opposition to the destruction, but outside activists soon flooded the small community. Any preference for organized opposition was rendered moot as crowds, singing and dancing in the rain and hail, blocked the bulldozers.

"This isn't just one person's little home and this isn't just our community's small building – this is a Jewish home, built completely by Jews on land that was paid for before the State was even founded, by Jews around the world who donated money to purchase land in Israel through the Jewish National Fund," a Sde Boaz spokesperson told the media. "Such a thing cannot be destroyed due to an arbitrary piece of paper declaring it illegal."

"The Jewish people must wake up to the fact that they have been lied to. The so-called settlement blocs were talked about merely in order to ease us in to the fact that we are being forced to retreat by non-democratic forces, no matter how many times we reject them at the ballot box."

Another resident, a reporter for the weekly Makor Rishon, said that the local Palestinians have been building terraces and digging wells under the nose of the Civil Administration for years. He added that there has been a steep increase in illegal building activity in recent months, funded by the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia, in hopes of slicing Gush Etzion in half and inducing the Supreme Court to influence the route of the Partition Wall.

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2. Gush Katif Youth at Risk
By Hillel Fendel

A compelling report shows grave consequences of the disengagement, including higher drop-out rates, increasing use of alcohol/drugs, and lack of professional solutions for these and other problems.

Compiled by the Gush Katif-L'maan Acheinu Task Force, the report states that out of 1,000 high school youths among the Gush Katif expellees, 50 have dropped out of school totally, and another 50-100 are registered but barely show up. No solution has been offered for those at risk of dropping out.

In addition, a gap of approximately one school-year has been created between Katif students and others. This is because of the many months of political struggle against the dsg, and another four months of this year in which many of them were not in a proper school framework.

Many junior high school students are reported to be lacking in motivation to go to school. "The educational system did not prepare to deal with the emotional and behavioral problems that resulted from the uprooting," the report states. The problem is especially acute at this age because their performance in 7th and 8th grades affects their chances of being accepted to quality high schools.

The report, published on the website, notes cases of drug and alcohol use - "problems that were not known in Gush Katif, but which are now increasing... More and more expressions of despair and feelings of 'no way out' are being registered, and we have even been shocked and dismayed to experience suicide attempts amongst our youth."

The report states that extra-curricular activities for youth are paid for only by donations.

Hagit Yaron, of the N'vei Dekalim secretariat, told Arutz-7's Moshe Priel:
"Our goal is to stabilize the communities, and for this we need physical places to have activities on all levels - for adults, youth and children. We have turned to all the government offices, and everyone tells us how important it is, etc., but the bottom line is that we receive nothing. As an example, take Nitzan, where there are seven different communities, yet we have received only two clubhouses - and one of them was already taken for something else, and one is apparently going to be used for youth at risk, such that there is nothing for normative youth. And what about younger children at risk? - There is no informal framework for them. When they come home from school, there is nowhere for them to go, except for1.5 playgrounds for little children, and nothing else; for older children - nothing."

The report further states that youth workers and counselors have been told to prepare farewell activities. This is in light of a letter from the Education Ministry Youth and Society Administration informing us of a halt to all activities as of this month, because of the lack of budget.

"The State is ignoring the true needs of the expellees in terms of social aid," the report states. "The youths have difficulty communicating with outside social workers who did not work in Gush Katif before the evacuation. It is hard to receiv advice and treatment from unfamiliar people, and the problem of lack of trust is more acute for youth. The State does not recognize the need to budget social workers who are familiar to the youth from their Gush Katif days."

Hearings are held on these matters in the Knesset, but they are moving very slowly, and the "long bureaucratic process prevents the necessary help from arriving immediately."

"Following the ideological crisis regarding the State and the army that they underwent," the report continues, "the youth display lack of trust in all types of leadership - religious, military, communal, and governmental." The report emphasizes that many youths continue to enlist in the IDF and even to volunteer for elite combat units.

"Parental authority has been totally eroded in all sectors. The numbers of divorces and destruction of the family cell have increased - damaging even more the sense of stability among the youth."

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3. Four Party Primaries, and Other Election News
By Hillel Fendel

Four political parties will choose their Knesset candidates Thursday: The Likud, Shinui, the National Religious Party, and Moledet (a member party of the National Union).

In the Likud primaries, to be held at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds, the first two spots have already been chosen: Party Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, respectively. Anti-expulsion candidates such as Ruby Rivlin, Uzi Landau, Gideon Saar, Yisrael Katz and others are expected to win high places, as are MKs Michael Eitan and Yuval Shteinitz. The 22 incumbent MKs are vying for only 16 spots, numbers 3-18, because the other places are reserved for non-MKs representing various geographical sectors.

The anti-religious Shinui party, headed by MK Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, is currently expected to do very poorly in the election, dropping from 15 seats to possibly as low as 4-5. The competition for the small number of available seats is therefore very high. Despite some polls showing that the party would do better without Lapid than with him, he is expected to be elected handily to the first spot.

Competition is even fiercer in the National Religious Party, which will choose its Knesset candidates at Yeshivat Nachalim Thursday afternoon and evening. Over two dozen candidates are vying for what might turn out to be only 3-4 Knesset seats, based on preliminary survey results. To make things more tense, the first spot has been reserved for party leader Zevulun Orlev.

Vying for the remaining seats are MKs Nissan Slomiansky, Gila Finkelstein and Sha'ul Yahalom, as well as wannabes such as Youth Wing leader Chaim Falk, former MK Shmaryahu Ben-Tzur, and others. The choice will be made by the party's 1,000-strong Central Committee. A merger between the NPR and the National Union does not appear likely, but has still not been totally ruled out.

Moledet, the party founded by the late Rehavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi, realistically appears to have only two Knesset seats to fill. MK Aryeh Eldad, the party's likely #2 choice - MK Rabbi Benny Elon is first - refuses to accept that position. This is because the party's second slot is currently slated to be the 6th spot on the National Union list - much too low for Eldad's taste.

The National Union is a joint list comprising Moledet, Tekumah (MKs Tzvi Hendel and Uri Ariel) and Religious Zionist Renewal (MKs Effie Eitam and Yitzchak Levy). Eldad, a non-observant Jew, said, "The Moledet party was never parochial, but its joining with Tekumah gives it a religious image; therefore, someone without a kippah [skullcap] must be in a more central place on the list in order to make it attractive to the secular public." One possibility is that Elon will agree to trade places with Eldad.

In other political news, Likud member Atty. Yossi Fuchs has filed suit in the Supreme Court against the apparent intention to allow Ehud Olmert to fill the Prime Minister's chair. The background is as follows:

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is likely to determine in the coming days that Prime Minister Sharon is "permanently unable to fulfill his duties," and that the government must therefore, in accordance with the law, choose someone from Sharon's faction - Kadima - to fill his place.

However, Fuchs claims that the correct interpretation of this law is that the new Prime Minister must come from the faction "on behalf of which the original Prime Minister was elected" - namely, the Likud. "His mandate belongs to Likud," Fuchs maintains, "and to choose a Prime Minister from a different party is akin to replacing the regime without elections."

The Kadima Party has been widely criticized for considering placing Ariel Sharon at the top of its Knesset list, even if he is incapacitated. MK Avraham Poraz (Shinui) called it "blatantly unethical," and criticism was also expressed in the Likud, Labor, and by political commentators.

In a surprising move, Shimon Peres will fill Kadima's #2 slot. Party officials said that this is in accordance with an agreement reached between Peres and Ariel Sharon. Following Peres will be Justice Minister Tzippy Livny.

Labor Party leader Amir Peretz called on his apparent opponents in the race for Prime Minister - Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert - to join him in a series of face-to-face meetings with the public around the country.

Labor MK Sofa Landver, who joined the Knesset just a few days ago following the resignation of MK Avraham "Beige" Shochat, has now announced that she is leaving Labor. An immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Landver apparently believes that she has a better chance of being elected to the next Knesset on Avigdor Lieberman's right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party, a party for Russian-speaking immigrants.

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4. Security Chief: 3000 Rifles a Month, Explosives, Flow into Gaza
By Scott Shiloh

Yuval Diskin, head of Israel’s clandestine security agency, presented a sobering appraisal of Israeli’s post-disengagement security situation to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Since the disengagement last August, Israel’s security in relation to the Palestinian Authority, in particular the Gaza district, has been disintegrating.

“The smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza has jumped by hundreds of percent in comparison to the period before the disengagement,” Diskin told the committee. “If before the disengagement, 200-300 rifles were smuggled in per month, now, we’re talking about 3000” per month.

Terrorist attacks and attempts to carry out such attacks are also on the rise since the disengagement. Diskin said that in October there were 48 such incidents, as compared to 277 in December.

Diskin said that the terrorists were utilizing the relative quiet of the past few months to rebuild their military infrastructure and expand the range of Kassam rockets.

Currently, the terrorists’ rockets have range of 10-40 kilometers, enough to hit Ashkelon on the southern coastal plain, Sderot, and other Israeli towns in the western Negev. These communities have in fact been hit a number of times since the Gaza withdrawal, causing only minor damage thus far.

But with some technological assistance from the outside, Diskin said, the terrorists could, within a few months, significantly improve the rockets’ range. He added that the terrorists are attempting to independently manufacture weapons in Judea and Samaria, including Kassams.

(Kassams fired from Judea and Samaria with a 10-40 kilometer range could strike at Israel’s heavily populated coastal plain. Among the targets in that range is Ben Gurion Airport).

The PA Elections

Regarding the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on January 25 in the Palestinian Authority, Diskin said the ruling Fatah party will likely win the elections by a margin of 10%. But he expects the Hamas to make a very strong showing in certain localities.

Diskin said the Hamas will resume terror attacks after the PA election. He emphasized that the Shin Bet opposed Hamas participation in the PA election. “The State of Israel must forcefully demand that the terrorist organizations be dismantled,” he said, “and if this doesn’t happen, the Shin Bet recommends not to carry out a dialogue or continue contacts with the (Palestinian) Authority.”

“It’s like a time bomb, if they get to keep their weapons,” he added.

MK Ran Cohen (Meretz-Yahad) Calls for Shooting Jewish Residents in the Legs

The issue of cutting down olive trees in Samaria also came up at the committee meeting. Though recent reports show the issue to be a scam perpetrated by local Arabs, Diskin said that the Shin Bet knows the Jewish residents who are responsible for allegedly chopping down the trees. He said they have not been arrested due to problems in enforcing the law.

MK Ran Cohn (Meretz-Yahad) said the Shin Bet should ambush the Jewish residents “and shoot them in the legs.” Cohen’s words caused a storm among right wing Knesset members. They demanded that he retract his words, but Cohen refused.

IDF regulations in use until this day against Arab terrorists in Judea and Samaria prohibit opening fire on suspects, unless they subject others to an immediate life-threatening situation.

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5. Thwarted: Attempt to Form Terrorist Kidnapping-Cell
By Hillel Fendel

A Gaza terrorist has been arrested on his way to carry out a mission for Hamas: the formation of a military cell in Judea and Samaria that would kidnap Israeli soldiers and citizens.

It was released for publication on Tuesday night that Shadi Halawe of Gaza was arrested a month ago in a joint Shabak (General Security Service)-IDF-police operation. He had entered Israel via the Sinai Desert, assigned by the Hamas terror organization with the mission of forming a cell to abduct Israelis. The goal was to use them as hostages for the release of Arab terrorists held in Israeli jails.

Halawe, 26, admitted under interrogation that he had taken part in a wide range of terrorist activities against Israel over the past several years, as a member of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

He joined Islamic Jihad in 2002, and became involved in planning and perpetrating various types of attacks against IDF forces, involving shootings, bombs, grenades, and rockets. Halawe admitted to having recruited one of the three terrorists who killed four soldiers in the Erez Industrial Zone in June 2003.

In 2004, Halawe joined Hamas, on behalf of which he fired RPG shells and placed bombs in many attacks against IDF forces in Gaza. He also took part in dozens of shooting and shelling attacks against Jewish towns in and out of Gaza.

Just a month before the IDF quit Gaza, he was involved in planning a joint shooting-bombing attack against IDF soldiers in Erez, in northern Gaza. The plan was thwarted when IDF forces discovered the bomb in time.

Halawe told his interrogators that he was asked by Hamas operative Mahmoud
Shambari to undertake the mission of forming the kidnapping cell in Judea and Samaria. Shortly after this contact, Halawe left Gaza for Egypt, entering Israel from the Sinai Desert. His agreement with Shambari was that he would receive money once he entered the PA-controlled areas.

Halawe left Gaza twice. The first time occurred shortly after the IDF left Gaza, when the Gaza-Egyptian border was left unsupervised and mobs of Arabs crossed into Egypt. He returned to Gaza, however, for fear of being arrested by Egypt. He later requested a PA permit to leave for medical reasons, which he received easily. Once in Sinai, he hired a smuggler to get him into Israel for $1,000 - but he was arrested soon afterwards, together with other illegal infiltrators, by Israeli forces.

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6. New Glass-&-Archaeology "Chain of Generations" Exhibit
By Hillel Fendel

Following seven years of design and work, a new exhibit of modern glass and archaeology has opened near the Western Wall, entitled, "The Chain of Generations."

The project was inspired by a story entitled "Story of a Paratrooper," written by one of the soldiers who took part in the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967. The story is about a simple Jew from Vilna, who dreams only of Jerusalem - even when dragged away to a concentration camp. One of his surviving students meets the paratrooper on the eve of what was to become the Six Day War, and asks him to remember that he will not be alone in the battle. "Together with you will be all the Jews of all the generations and all the Exiles," the man tells him - and the paratrooper, as he arrives at the Western Wall, truly feels them with him.

The story is told aloud to the visitors when they reach the last of the seven stations in the exhibit, the station entitled, "Hall of Light."

The previous six stations are the Chambers of:
Patriarchs; Nation in its Land; Destruction; Longing; Holocaust; and Revival.

Using archaeological finds discovered on the site, light rays, smoke, and 150 tons of modern sculpted glass, the exhibit will connect the visitors with cultural and historic roots that bind Jews all over the world.

A high point of the visit is in the Chamber of Longing. There, the visitors walk atop a transparent glass floor, with the remains of a Second Temple mikveh (ritual bath) below them. Above them towers the Pillar of Longing, nine meters (30 feet) high and made up of some 2,000 layers of glass. The pillar is reflected in the glass floor, creating the impression that it is sprouting up from the archaeological finds.

Advance reservations are required, at telephone (02) 627-1333. Entrance fees are 20 shekels for adults, 10 shekels for children. The exhibit is recommended for age 13 and up.

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7. Fundamentally Freund: The Growing Al-Qaeda Threat
By Michael Freund

If Osama Bin-Laden’s official representative in Iraq is to be believed, Al-Qaeda has now officially turned its sights on the Jewish state.

In an audio tape posted on an Islamist website, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed that 4 Katyusha rockets fired from southern Lebanon into northern Israel on December 27 were the work of the terrorist group and came at the instructions of its chieftain, bin Laden.

“The rocket firing at the ancestors of monkeys and pigs from the south of Lebanon was only the start of a blessed in-depth strike against the Zionist enemy”, al-Zarqawi declared, adding that “All that was on the instructions of the sheikh of the mujahedeen, Osama bin Laden”.

This comes just a few short weeks after UPI reported (December 7) that Al-Qaeda had forged an alliance with Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon to coordinate anti-Israel attacks.

The presence of Al-Qaeda in Lebanon is extremely significant, because it now means that the terror group has operatives in nearly all the countries surrounding Israel. Don’t forget that Al-Qaeda has carried out bombings in Amman, Jordan (in November 2004), and in the Egyptian-controlled Sinai (in October 2004) at Western and Israeli targets.

Hence, as ominous as it sounds, Al-Qaeda has the ability to target Israel from the west, the east and the north. And, as Israel’s head of Military Intelligence confirmed at the end of September, Osama bin-Laden’s thugs established a presence in Gaza as well in the wake of the Israeli retreat, giving them still another launching pad for attacks against the Jewish state.

All this underlines just how much Israel is on the front-lines of the global war on terror – and how essential it is that we stand firm and confront it. For some time now, I have been reporting on this blog about the growing threat posed by Al-Qaeda to Israel, particularly in light of the Gaza withdrawal and the vacuum it created in the area. It is crucial that we raise awareness about this issue, both in Israel and the West, and that we inform our communities, elected representatives and leaders about it.

I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but Al-Qaeda’s increased presence in the region clearly does not bode well for the future. It is time for Israel’s decision-makers to take this threat seriously, and to start taking concrete action to forestall a Middle Eastern 9/11 – before it is too late.


Special Note to Readers: This blog, Fundamentally Freund, has been nominated in two categories for the annual Jewish & Israel Blog Awards. Please be so kind as to go to the following two links and cast your ballot for "Fundamentally Freund". Thanks.



8. On A7radio: From Destruction to Rebirth
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