Sunday, January 01, 2006

A7news: Terrorists Succeed in Rocketing Jezreel Valley

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Islamic Jihad: We're Back
As of today, the "period of calm" to which Islamic Jihad agreed to several months ago is officially over. Israeli forces are on alert. Hamas is remaining quiet, for the meanwhile.
Full Story Below

 1. Islamic Jihad: We're Back
 2. Terrorists Succeed in Rocketing Jezreel Valley
 3. Feiglin Withdraws Knesset Candidacy
 4. Sharon to Undergo Heart Procedure on Thursday
 5. Symbolic Candle-Lighting Ceremonies
 6. Peres Challenges Sharon´s One-Man Rule
 7. Two-Thirds of PA Arabs Support Al Qaeda Attacks
 8. Israel’s Economic Growth Highest in Western World
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Editor: Hillel Fendel
Sunday, January 01, 2006
1 Tevet 5766


1. Islamic Jihad: We're Back
By Hillel Fendel

As of today, the "period of calm" to which Islamic Jihad agreed to several months ago is officially over. Israeli forces are on alert. Hamas is remaining quiet, for the meanwhile.

Known as a "tahadiye," it began in March 2005, at a meeting of terrorist leaders in Cairo. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the time that the agreement was an "important first step." Some said the agreement was downright dangerous for Israel, however. Hisham Abdel Rezak, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, explained at the time that as opposed to a "hudna," which remains in effect until one of the sides feels it can defeat the other, a tahadiye is even less binding, and is really only a "calming" of the situation that allows the sides to easily "get down from the ladder."

In fact, during the nearly nine months since the tahadiye was agreed upon, Palestinian terrorism and warfare claimed no fewer than 35 victims. These included 5 victims of Kassam rockets and mortar shells, 11 murdered in shooting and stabbing attacks, and 16 people killed in three suicide attacks.

A spokesman for Islamic Jihad announced last night that the tahadiye would not be renewed "because Israel has continued its operations in the territories and has not released security prisoners [terrorists - ed.]."

Other terrorist organizations, such as the Popular Resistance Committees, the PFLP, and most of the armed gangs of Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigades, joined the Islamic Jihad's declaration. Blatantly missing from this list is Hamas, which is running for office in the upcoming Palestinian Authority elections. The Israeli defense evaluation is that Hamas will refrain from attacking Israel at least until the PA elections, currently scheduled for late January.

IDF forces killed two Palestinian terrorists attempting to fire a Kassam rocket from northern Gaza last night. This was the first IDF success since it announced Operation Blue Skies, in which anyone seen walking around areas from which rockets are launched at Ashkelon and environs is fired upon. Operation Blue Skies began last Wednesday.

Earlier yesterday, terrorists fired a Kassam rocket towards the western Negev. It exploded in an open area on the northern edge of the city of Sderot, causing no injuries or damage.

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2. Terrorists Succeed in Rocketing Jezreel Valley
By Hillel Fendel

Confirmed: A rocket was fired at a town near Afula, in the Jezreel Valley of Israel-proper, 3 weeks ago. Three Kassam rockets were fired at Sderot and environs today, causing no casualties/damages.

pictured: a previous bombing in Afula

It was reported today that a Kassam rocket had landed near an Israeli community near Afula three weeks ago. it was the first time a rocket fired from the Shomron had hit a target in Israel-proper.

Security experts had long warned that the unilateral withdrawal from northern Samaria would allow terrorists to develop Kassam-rocket capabilities against central Israel.

Gilboa Regional Council chief Danny Atar complained that he had not been informed of the attack in real-time, and was forced to learn of it today via the media. However, the news item actually appeared three weeks ago on Arutz-7, which reported on Dec. 12, "Fatah said it fired a Kassam rocket last night at a town near Afula in the Jezreel Valley... The Al-Aksa Brigades, the military arm of Fatah, released an announcement that on Sunday evening, a Jenin-1 Kassam rocket was fired towards an Israeli community west of Jenin."

It is an open secret that the Palestinian terrorist organizations have been working feverishly over the past number of years to build rocket-firing infrastructures in the northern Shomron. Hamas terrorists Kayis Adwan and Said Awad built a rocket factory in Shechem four years ago, and succeeded in firing two rockets from Tul Karem. Their efforts were laid to waste during Israel's Operation Defensive Shield of May 2002, when the two terrorists and many others were killed and the manufacturing infrastructure was destroyed.

In March of this year, the IDF and the Shabak (General Security Service) discovered another Kassam manufacturing operation, in the Jenin region. The Hamas facility was hidden in a secret room 15 feet below a metal works shop, and contained seven pipe bombs, chemicals and explosives - and a completed Kassam rocket, as well as others in various stages of preparation. The factory was located in a village that came under full PA control after Israel's unilateral withdrawal last summer.

Security experts warned throughout the months before Sharon implemented his Disengagement Plan that the northern Shomron was likely to become even more dangerous than Gaza. General Security Service Chief Avi Dichter - who has since joined Sharon's Kadima party - said that the area would become “Fatah-land." The Shomron area that has now come under full PA control is some 700 square kilometers (270 square miles), approximately double that of the entire Gaza Strip.

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3. Feiglin Withdraws Knesset Candidacy
By Hillel Fendel

Moshe Feiglin, head of the Likud's Jewish Leadersip faction, announced that he would not run for a spot on the party's list of Knesset candidates - if the party "koshers" his anti-Olso conviction.

Feiglin said that his decision not to run is contingent upon a ruling by Likud Elections Committee Chairman Judge Tzvi Cohen that the anti-Oslo crimes of which he was convicted do not bear a "badge of shame."

The party's Central Committee will vote today to accept a proposal to bar from Knesset candidacy anyone who was sentenced to at least three months in prison for a "shame-bearing" crime. This proposal, initiated by party leader Binyamin Netanyahu's as an anti-corruption gesture, was originally meant to be aimed at Feiglin.

Feiglin was sentenced in the past to six months in prison (but performed public service works instead) for having organized anti-Oslo activities against the Rabin government. However, the proposal's "shame" clause was inserted later, and would likely have enabled Feiglin to run.

"Why then did you quit?" Arutz-7 asked Feiglin.

"For reasons that had to do with what we felt would be better for our movement," he explained. "Freed of all sorts of political and factional obligations, I will be much better able to dedicate my time to building Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership). Don't forget, our goal is not necessarily to be in the Knesset, but to take leadership. We have come quite far - I received 12.5% of the vote for party leader, which is only 40-something-thousand votes less than Netanyahu received."

Feiglin explained to Arutz-7 that all talk of "heavy pressure" upon him by Netanyahu and other Likud elements was groundless. "I didn't succumb to pressure to quit during the race for party leader," he said, "so why would I give in this time?" He acknowledged that some senior party members had requested that he withdraw, and that these requests were taken into consideration.

Feiglin said that the #2 man in Manhigut Yehudit, Michael Fuah, would be running for Knesset. "He will be a better parliamentarian than I would be," Feiglin said. Asked to estimate Fuah's chances of being elected to a realistic spot on the list, Feiglin said, "About 50-50. But once again, don't forget our goal - leadership, not the Knesset."

Netanyahu and Feiglin did not meet directly to discuss the issues, Feiglin clarified.

He explained that he wished to be in the Knesset only as head of the Likud: "The sovereign body in this country is not the people, but rather the Supreme Court, which turns every government more to the left... I fear that if I become just a regular Knesset Member, I will undergo the same process that all the other right-wing and religious parties did, and become part of the problem, giving a democratic veil to 'enlightened Israeli dictatorship.'"

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4. Sharon to Undergo Heart Procedure on Thursday
By Scott Shiloh

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 78, Israel’s aging leader who was hospitalized two weeks ago with a minor stroke, is scheduled to undergo a heart catheterization on Thursday.

The procedure, to take place at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Karem in Jerusalem, is designed to repair a birth defect that was discovered in the prime minister’s heart while he was being treated at the hospital for his Dec. 18 stroke.

Sharon’s doctors believe that the defect, a small hole in the wall between the upper chambers of his heart, allowed a blood clot to travel to his brain, causing the minor stroke. Doctors will use a catheter to plant a device in the heart to seal the hole, which is less than an inch wide.

Prof. Chaim Lotan, chief cardiologist at Hadassah, will oversee the operation to be performed by the hospital’s top cardiologists. Sharon will not be conscious during the procedure.

The Prime Minister’s Office has yet to announce who will be in charge of the government while Sharon is undergoing the catheterization, a procedure that normally takes only a few hours. The prime minister’s hospital stay is not expected to exceed 24 hours.

While hospitalized for his stroke, Sharon temporarily lost the ability to speak. Sharon’s capacity did not return to normal until just before he was released the following day. Doctors say, however, that Sharon suffered no lasting damage from his stroke.

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5. Symbolic Candle-Lighting Ceremonies
By Hillel Fendel

Candle-lighting ceremonies on behalf of northern Gaza, the abandoned Shomron communities, and at the murder site of terror victim Yossi Shok are being held as the 8-day Chanukah holiday winds down.

At the site where Yossi Shok was shot to death by drive-by terrorists two weeks ago, south of Hevron, his family and friends lit Chanukah candles each night of the holiday. A menorah was set up at the site, and each night members of another of the neighboring communities - Beit Haggai, Otniel, Carmel, etc. - took part.

Tonight's ceremony is expected to be particularly large, with participants from all over the country.

Shok was murdered as he was driving home to Beit Haggai on Friday, Dec. 16. He is survived by his wife and five orphans, aged one month to nine years, and served as a member of the town secretariat and commander of the local emergency response team.

Northern Gaza
At 4 PM, a convoy of vehicles carrying former Gush Katif residents, rabbis and other public figures will arrive at a spot overlooking the ruins of the three demolished northern Gaza communities - Elei Sinai, Dugit and Nisanit - and will prepare to light eight Chanukah candles. Under the theme, "The light will emerge victorious over the darkness," the group will call upon the government to physically retake the area of northern Gaza.

"The three communities in this area," said Avi Farhan, a leader of the initiative and an expellee from Elei Sinai, "never should have been destroyed. There is simply no logic to it. These were state-owned lands, not near any Arabs; we didn't displace anyone, and we didn't bother anyone. The government had built a 70-million shekel fence around them - and then simply gave it all away. We call upon the government to recognize its mistake and rectify it - not by taking control of its air space [as in Operation Blue Skies - ed.], but by sending the IDF physically in and rebuilding the area."

The rabbi of the three communities, Rabbi Yishai Bar-Hen, will also be on hand. The rabbi is currently living in the temporary pre-fab community of Nitzan, together with several hundred of the expelled families. "We are willing to give up all the compensation that the government said it would give us," he said, "as long as they simply return us to the ruins that were our homes, and we'll build them from scratch."

Aware that this is not a very realistic option, Rabbi Bar-Hen said, "The problem is that much of the public is no longer aware of our plight; the problem has dropped from the public eye. The public is willing to let Sharon take responsibility, while it is interested in other things. But this won't make us give in - we are like the Maccabees, the few against the many, and as long as we can breathe and act, that's what we will do. Here in Nitzan, for instance, we have set up a Torah study program during the morning and evening hours for the unemployed farmers; we don't receive government money, and are trying to do it ourselves."

Some 15 former residents of northern Shomron and other supporters snuck back into the destroyed communities of Homesh and Sa-Nur during the Chanukah holiday, and lit candles there as well. Miriam Adler, one of the expellees, said, "We were thrown out, but we have not abandoned Sa-Nur, and we will continue to go back there until we are able to return for good."

Sa-Nur was found to be totally destroyed. "The Arabs continue to return here and destroy what they can," Adler said. "They looted and burnt walls, and cut down trees for firewood. Aside from the mountain of sand covering the synagogue [by the soldiers before they left] and the paved roads, nothing is left."

Yossi Dagan of Radio Kol Chai reported that the candle-lighters were in Sa-Nur for three full hours before being detected by Israeli security forces. "If they were able to sneak past all the roadblocks without being detected," Dagan noted, "this does not bode well for our security control of the area.

Dagan also noted that a group of army reservists in the area also made their way into Chomesh, where they lit candles in honor of the Jewish presence in the area.

Miriam Adler summed up, "Israel's return to northern Shomron is more than possible; it all depends on the public's determination."

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6. Peres Challenges Sharon´s One-Man Rule
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Shimon Peres, the 82-year-old long-time Labor Party leader who recently joined the Kadima party, criticized PM Sharon's decision to decide single-handedly the new party's slate of MKs.

Peres, speaking on the Israeli television program Meet the Press, said he would have chosen candidates differently, and that it was not necessary for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to decide alone who will represent the Kadima party. Every other party holds primaries or designates its central committee to nominate candidates.

Peres's aides later denied that he asked the Prime Minister to place him in the top 10 list of candidates. Peres refused to tell the television program which candidates have been nominated, but Channel Two television reported that Peres is in the first ten on the list.

The top candidate after the Prime Minister, according to Channel 2, is Finance Minister Ehud Olmert, followed by Justice Minister Tzippy Livny.

In fourth place is former security agency director Avi Dichter, followed by Minister Meir Sheetrit, Chaim Ramon, Peres, Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz, Tzachi HaNegbi and Minister Avraham Hirchson.

Kadima party officials responded, "The list is in the hands of the Prime Minister, and no final decision has been made on the matter."

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7. Two-Thirds of PA Arabs Support Al Qaeda Attacks
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

A Norwegian poll reveals that two-thirds of Palestinian Authority Arabs support Al Qaeda terrorist attacks, and 50 percent back suicide bombings.

The poll, which was originally not reported in Israel, was carried out by Fafo, an independent Norwegian research foundation that receives donations for Norway's trade union and Norwegian corporations.

Fafo headlined its press release by stating, "Palestinians support the cease-fire, but actions against Israel [are] still seen as legitimate."

However, the survey results buried toward the bottom of the release state, "Sixty-nine percent of Palestinians see violent action as a legitimate means in the current political situation and half of them believe that suicide attacks are necessary to force Israel to make political concessions."

The last survey figure shows that 65 percent of the respondents support Al Qaeda terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States, both of which recently have increased financial aid to the PA.

The respondents, while supporting the terrorist attacks, contradicted themselves, with 57 percent believing the Intifada should stop. In addition, 83 percent stated it is in their best interest to keep the "ceasefire" decided upon earlier this year. According to the pact, the PA was to stop incitement and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, while Israel promised to withdraw from Arab urban centers and release 900 prisoners, including jailed terrorists.

Shortly after the agreement, the Sharon government released the prisoners on provision that they do not engage in terrorist activities, but several have since been involved in terrorist attacks. The IDF has withdrawn from Jericho, east of Jerusalem, and in Tul Karem, in Samaria, where it has returned several times following suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. Incitement in the PA has reached record highs instead of coming to a halt.

Another result of the Fafo survey reveals that only 35 percent of Arabs in Judea and Samaria feel more secure following the IDF withdrawal from the Gaza and northern Samaria regions, which followed the expulsion of Jewish residents in the areas and the destruction of their homes. Only 42 percent reported an improvement in their economic situation. Results from the Gaza area were the opposite.

Contradictions also were evident in opinions of the PA, with a majority thinking their government is doing a good job, but with less than one quarter expressing confidence in the PA.

An overwhelming majority wants the legislative elections to take place as scheduled on January 25, with 38 percent saying they will vote for Fatah and only 17 percent for Hamas. Other opinion polls have showed far higher support of Hamas, which recently swept several municipal elections in Samaria.

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8. Israel’s Economic Growth Highest in Western World
By Scott Shiloh

Israel’s economic growth for 2005 was the highest in the western world. Gross domestic product rose by 5.2%, and per capita income jumped by a healthy 3.3%.

With the past year’s economic growth following GDP gains in 2004 of 4.4%, Israel produces nearly 10% more goods and services than it did just two years ago. Though not rising as fast as some developing countries, like those in the Far East, growth in Israel’s GDP now exceeds that of half the world’s industrialized nations.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, private consumption rose by 3.3%, and the country’s standard of living increased by 2.1% in 2005.

Israelis’ love of electrical products dampened significantly in 2005, despite the economic boom, with purchases of such items rising by only 1.6%. In 2004, purchases of electrical goods jumped by 12.3%.

Despite the efforts to cut government expenditures, public sector spending rose by 2.7% in 2005. Much of that increase was due to the costs of destroying 25 Jewish communities in Gaza and northern Samaria, and building the security barrier, roughly along the former 1967 border.

Money spent on security also rose substantially in 2005, by 5.5%. This increase is also attributed to the disengagement and the security barrier.

Not surprisingly, foreign investment, one of the major components of economic growth, set a record level this year, peaking at $11.5 billion. The level for 2005 exceeded the previous record set in 2000, just before the Oslo War sent the economy into deep recession. Other reasons for the drop in foreign investment were the high tech bubble, the crises on the Nasdaq securities exchange, and the global economic slowdown.

Foreign investment in Israel has been rising steadily since 2003, when it totaled $5.9 billion. In 2004, that number grew to $7.4 billion, and jumped to $11.5 billion in 2005. In 2002, when the slowdown was at its peak, foreign investment was only $3.4 billion.

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