Thursday, March 03, 2005

Kassam Rockets Discovered in Northern Samaria

From Israel National News 3/3/05

The IDF discovered a Kassam rocket factory near Jenin Wednesday night. The rockets were to be aimed at Afula, underscoring security experts' fears about the impending withdrawal from the Shomron.

The weapons factory was discovered by IDF forces during an operation in the Arab-populated town of Yamoun, northwest of Jenin. The factory was hidden in a secret room 15 feet below a metal works shop and contained seven pipe bombs, chemicals and explosives, as well as parts for building rifles.The most alarming aspect of the discovery, however, was the find of a completed Kassam rocket, as well as others in various stages of preparation. Such rockets in that region would place the nearby city of Afula and the major Afula-Hadera highway within striking range of terrorists. Security experts have warned that Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement from the northern Shomron is likely to be even more dangerous than that from Gaza. The Shomron area slated to come under full PA control is some 700 square kilometers (270 square miles), approximately double that of the entire Gaza Strip. General Security Service Chief Avi Dichter has said that the area will become "Fatah-land," and it is warned that the withdrawal will even impair Israel's water economy.Territorial contiguity over such a large area, which will connect cities such as Jenin, Shechem and Tubas, will allow the terrorists to freely manufacture and transport Kassam rockets. As Gush Katif communities are endangered by terrorist rockets today, so will be Beit She'an, Afula and the Jezre'el Valley in the near future, experts warn.Yamoun and Arab towns in the Jenin/Shechem region are slated to be handed over to Palestinian Authority control under the terms of the unilateral withdrawal. The four Jewish communities in the region are scheduled for uprooting, along with 21 communities in Gaza, this coming summer.On Monday, IDF troops intercepted a truck-bomb containing nearly half a ton of explosives in the same region.It was released for publication Tuesday that a Hamas cell in northern Samaria has been planning to carry out numerous rocket and mortar shell attacks on cities in northern Israel.

World Jewry Celebrates Talmud Study

From Israel National News 3/3/05

Untold numbers of people around the world, up to hundreds of thousands, celebrated the completion of the daily study of the Babylonian Talmud this week. Another 7.5-year cycle is beginning today.

The Babylonian Talmud, 2,711 pages long and divided into 36 books, or tractates, makes up the base of Judaism's Oral Law. In 1923, Rabbi Meir Shapira initiated the idea of study groups around the world studying the same daily page, known as the Daf Yomi – the Daily Page (or Folio; the page comprises both sides). Last night, the 11th such round was completed, and was celebrated in Yad Eliyahu Stadium in Tel Aviv, the Binyanei HaUmah Convention Center in Jerusalem, Madison Square Garden in New York, and in many large and small forums around the world. Another celebration, in English and Russian, will be held in at Binyanei HaUmah tonight.Overhead screens in Madison Square Garden flashed the names of some of the cities in which similar celebrations were taking place, including around the U.S., Canada, South America, Europe and elsewhere. The event in New York, which, like all the others, featured an explanation of the last passage of the last page of the Talmud, was broadcast by satellite to 70 North American cities. In Hevron this week, dozens of men gathered at the Machpelah Cave of the Patriarchs to complete the Talmud. A daily Daf Yomi class has been held there for several years. A similar event was held in Beit El – where six different Daf Yomi classes are given throughout the day – with the participation of Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl of the Old City.Another Daf Yomi concluding event will be held in N'vei Dekalim in Gush Katif tomorrow night, with the participation of rabbis and amateur scholars from all over the country.The 73rd and final volume of a complete English translation of the entire Talmud is being published this month by Mesorah; it is known as the Schottenstein Artscroll edition. Artscroll is also about halfway through a new Hebrew edition of its commentary, seven volumes into a French translation and commentary, and is getting started on a similar English work on the Jerusalem Talmud.The Jerusalem Talmud has its own study cycle. Currently nearing the end of its seventh round, this shorter Talmud is also studied around the world in rounds that take only 4.5 years. Interest in studying the Jerusalem Talmud is on the upswing in Israel, and a new edition of the tractate of Taanit was recently published by the Institute for Study of the Yerushalmi of the Harry Fischel-Ariel Institute in Jerusalem. The work includes both a line-by-line explanation and a more in-depth commentary.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Arabs' Berlin Wall has crumbled

By Mark Steyn
(Filed: 01/03/2005)

Three years ago - April 6 2002, if you want to rummage through the old Spectators in the attic - I wrote: "The stability junkies in the EU, UN and elsewhere have, as usual, missed the point. The Middle East is too stable. So, if you had to pick only one regime to topple, why not Iraq? Once you've got rid of the ruling gang, it's the West's best shot at incubating a reasonably non-insane polity. That's why the unravelling of the Middle East has to start not in the West Bank but in Baghdad."

I don't like to say I told you so. But, actually, I do like to say I told you so. What I don't like to do is the obligatory false self-deprecatory thing to mitigate against the insufferableness of my saying I told you so. But nevertheless I did.

Consider just the past couple of days' news: not the ever more desperate depravity of the floundering "insurgency", but the real popular Arab resistance the car-bombers and the head-hackers are flailing against: the Saudi foreign minister, who by remarkable coincidence goes by the name of Prince Saud, told Newsweek that women would be voting in the next Saudi election. "That is going to be good for the election," he said, "because I think women are more sensible voters than men."

Four-time Egyptian election winner - and with 90 per cent of the vote! - President Mubarak announced that next polling day he wouldn't mind an opponent. Ordering his stenographer to change the constitution to permit the first multi-choice presidential elections in Egyptian history, His Excellency said the country would benefit from "more freedom and democracy". The state-run TV network hailed the president's speech as a "historical decision in the nation's 7,000-year-old march toward democracy". After 7,000 years on the march, they're barely out of the parking lot, so Mubarak's move is, as they say, a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile in Damascus, Boy Assad, having badly overplayed his hand in Lebanon and after months of denying that he was harbouring any refugee Saddamites, suddenly discovered that - wouldja believe it? - Saddam's brother and 29 other bigshot Baghdad Baathists were holed up in north-eastern Syria, and promptly handed them over to the Iraqi government.

And, for perhaps the most remarkable development, consider this report from Mohammed Ballas of Associated Press: "Palestinians expressed anger on Saturday at an overnight suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed four Israelis and threatened a fragile truce, a departure from former times when they welcomed attacks on their Israeli foes."

No disrespect to Associated Press, but I was disinclined to take their word for it. However, Charles Johnson, whose Little Green Footballs website has done an invaluable job these past three years presenting the ugly truth about Palestinian death-cultism, reported that he went hunting around the internet for the usual photographs of deliriously happy Gazans dancing in the street and handing out sweets to celebrate the latest addition to the pile of Jew corpses - and, to his surprise, couldn't find any.

Why is all this happening? Answer: January 30. Don't take my word for it, listen to Walid Jumblatt, big-time Lebanese Druze leader and a man of impeccable anti-American credentials: "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."

Just so. Left to their own devices, the House of Saud - which demanded all US female air-traffic controllers be stood down for Crown Prince Abdullah's flight to the Bush ranch in Crawford - would stick to their traditional line that Wahhabi women have no place in a voting booth; instead, they have to dress like a voting booth - a big black impenetrable curtain with a little slot to drop your ballot through. Likewise, Hosni Mubarak has no desire to take part in campaign debates with Hosno Name-Recognition. Boy Assad has no desire to hand over his co-Baathists to the Great Satan's puppets in Baghdad.

But none of them has much of a choice. In the space of a month, the Iraq election has become the prism through which all other events in the region are seen.

Assad's regime knocks off a troublemaker in Lebanon. Big deal. They've done it a gazillion times. But this time the streets are full of demonstrators demanding an end to Syrian occupation.

A suicide bomber kills four Jews. So what's new? But this time the Palestinians decline to celebrate. And some even question whether being a delivery system for plastic explosives is really all life has to offer, even on the West Bank.

Mubarak announces the arrest of an opposition leader. Like, who cares? The jails are full of 'em. But this time Condi Rice cancels her visit and the Egyptian government notices that its annual cheque from Washington is a month late.

Three years ago, those of us in favour of destabilising the Middle East didn't have to be far-sighted geniuses: it was a win/win proposition. As Sam Goldwyn said, I'm sick of the old clichés, bring me some new clichés. The old clichés - Pan-Arabism, Baathism, Islamism, Arafatism - brought us the sewer that led to September 11. The new clichés could hardly be worse. Even if the old thug-for-life had merely been replaced by a new thug-for-life, the latter would come to power in the wake of the cautionary tale of the former.

But some of us - notably US deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz - thought things would go a lot better than that. Wolfowitz was right, and so was Bush, and the Left, who were wrong about the Berlin Wall, were wrong again, the only difference being that this time they were joined in the dunce's corner of history by far too many British Tories. No surprise there. The EU's political establishment doesn't trust its own people, so why would they trust anybody else's? Bush trusts the American people, and he's happy to extend the same courtesy to the Iraqi people, the Syrian people, the Iranian people, etc.

Prof Glenn Reynolds, America's Instapundit, observes that "democratisation is a process, not an event". Far too often, it's treated like an event: ship in the monitors, hold the election, get it approved by Jimmy Carter and the UN, and that's it. Doesn't work like that. What's happening in the Middle East is the start of a long-delayed process. Eight million Iraqis did more for the Arab world on January 30 than 7,000 years of Mubarak-pace marching.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Fifth Victim of Tel Aviv Terror Attack Dies of Wounds

From Israel National News, 1/3/05

26-year-old Odelia Hubara from Jerusalem succumbed to her wounds last night, becoming the fifth person killed by the Arab terror attack in Tel Aviv Friday night.

Odelia suffered serious head, chest and internal injuries in the bomb attack at the Stage nightclub just off the Tel Aviv beachfront and never regained consciousness. She will be buried in Jerusalem on Tuesday at 4 PM.Of the more than 50 people wounded in the attack, 22 are still hospitalized, including one in serious condition.The four others murdered in the attack - Yitzhak Buzaglo, 40, of Mishmar HaYarden, Aryeh Nagar, 37, of Kfar Saba, Ronen Rubinov, 30, of Tel Aviv, and Yael Auerbach, 28, of Rehovot - were laid to rest yesterday. Yael's father, Yisrael Auerbach, said at his daughter's funeral that he had served in the same elite Ramon reconnaissance unit of the IDF with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Mossad chief Meir Dagan. He called upon them to avenge his daughter's death. “If her blood is not avenged, I will do it myself,” Auerbach declared, “in a way not yet seen." Yael's father said that she was a direct descendent of King David from both her father and mother. She was about to hand out invitations to her upcoming wedding when the Arab terrorist blew himself up. Her fiancי is being treated at the Sheba Medical center in Tel Aviv for moderate to serious injuries suffered in the attack.Twenty-five Israelis have been murdered since Yasser Arafat died, an average of approximately one every four days. Last night, Arab attackers threw stones at Jews praying at the ancient tomb of Simon the Just (Shimon HaTzaddik) in Jerusalem, injuring a 14-year-old boy. The youth was treated on the spot and transported to a hospital, where his condition was reported as light. Border Guardsmen conducted a search for the attackers with the assistance of some of the worshippers. No arrests were reported. Israeli motorists were targeted by gunfire on the trans-Samaria highway last night. Though cars were struck by bullets and damaged, nobody was injured.IDF sappers discovered a 100-pound bomb in a greenhouse near the Gush Katif community of Netzer Hazani this morning. It was disarmed without injury. A barrage of stones was hurled at the vehicles of residents of the northern Samarian community of Homesh this morning, as well. No injuries were reported, but the vehicles were damaged.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Following Murderous Attack, Sharon Warns PA

from Israel National News

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said this morning that there would be no diplomatic progress unless the Palestinian Authority begins taking firm action against terrorism.
"The attack [on Friday night] was committed by Islamic Jihad," Sharon said in his introductory remarks at this morning's Cabinet meeting. "The orders were given by Islamic Jihad elements in Syria. We know this with certainty. But this fact does not at all exempt the Palestinian Authority from its responsibility for allowing the terrorist to leave on his mission, nor from its responsibility to take action against his accomplices. The PA's immediate test will be whether it takes firm action against the Islamic Jihad."Regarding the diplomatic front, Sharon said, "Israel is interested in making progress towards an agreement with the Palestinians, but there will be no diplomatic progress – I repeat, no diplomatic progress – until they take firm action to liquidate the terror organizations and their infrastructures. Of late, Israel has acted with restraint, in order to enable progress, but it's clear that if a firm Palestinian action against terrorism is not undertaken, Israel will have to intensify its military actions to protect itself." On Aug. 14, 2003, Arutz-7 reported: "Defense Ministry officials said today that Israel will not be continuing with any further diplomatic gestures towards the Palestinian Authority, at least until such time as the PA takes action against terrorist organizations operating from its jurisdiction. Prisoner releases will cease, and the PA will not be given control over any additional territories in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha), according to the officials." On Dec. 4, 2001, Minister Tzippy Livni told Arutz-7: "Until now, we said that the PA has to take action against terrorism, or we would declare it a terror-supporting entity. Now we have said that we do consider it a terror-supporting entity - unless it in fact takes action. The burden of proof is upon them." Israel's response thus far has included an announcement that preparations to transfer security control in cities such as Tul Karem and Jericho will be frozen – though they were mired in any event - and a ban on an Islamic Jihad representative from traveling to Egypt to meet with other terrorist leaders two days from now. The police in most of Israel are on the second-highest level of alert today.In addition, the IDF resumed arresting wanted terrorists in Judea and Samaria last night. Israel also plans to stop its "cease-fire" vis-a-vis the Islamic Jihad. Israel arrested two of the terrorist's brothers and four neighbors - including a Musleim cleric - in their village near Tul Karem. The PA said it arrested two terrorists in connection with the attack.PA chairman Abu Mazen, said to be very angry, called the attack an act of sabotage. "We will follow and track down those responsible and they will be punished accordingly," according to a statement he issued to reporters.Likud MK Yuval Shteinitz (pictured above), Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said today, "Abu Mazen is actually Arafat – maybe not the Arafat of the last few years who openly encouraged terrorism, but certainly the Arafat of the first years of Oslo – because though he is adhering to the hudna [temporary ceasefire], he has taken no forcible action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructures, to collect illegal weapons and to significantly punish those who organize terrorism."Shteinitz said that it doesn't matter whether the orders for the attack were given in Syria or in Ramallah. "The infrastructures are in Palestinian Authority territory," he said, "and it's the PA's responsibility to dismantle them."U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanded that Palestinian leaders find the culprits and "send a clear message that terror will not be tolerated." Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat expressed concerns that Israel would retaliate. "We are asking the international community to move immediately to ensure that Israel does not use this kind of operation as an excuse for aggressions against the Palestinian people," he said.Hamas terrorists blamed the attack on Israel, explaining that "Israeli aggressions and crimes are continuing even we as are observing this period of quiet."

Terrorists Kill Four in Tel Aviv Bomb Blast

from Israel National News

An Islamic Jihad suicide bomber Friday night killed three men and a woman and wounded more than 50 others at a Tel Aviv nightclub near the beach.
The four who were killed were to be buried in their hometowns today. They are: * Yitzchak Buzaglo, 40, from Moshav Mishmar HaYarden, whose wife Linda was hospitalized in serious condition; they have a 9-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.* Aryeh Nagar, 37, of Kfar Saba; never married, he is survived by his parents and five siblings.* Ronen Reuvenov, 30, of Tel Aviv; and * Yael Auerbach, 28 from Rehovot, who was to have been married in two weeks; her fiance is hospitalized in moderate condition. The attack occurred when a suicide terrorist blew himself up at the entrance to the Stage Club on the Tel Aviv boardwalk. The terrorist was killed in the blast, and police are searching for a second man seen with him before the attack. The Palestinian Authority (PA) blamed the attack on Hizbullah terrorists allied with Iran, but Israeli security sources said the terrorists came from an Islamic Jihad gang backed by Syrian terrorists. Islamic Jihad, in fact, claimed responsiblity, airing a video tape prepared before the attack and boasting that it was trying to derail the PA.Three of the wounded were initially listed in serious condition. Of the more than 50 people who were wounded, 29 are still hospitalized in four Tel Aviv hospitals – Sheba, Ichilov, Wolfson and Beilinson – including one in very critical condition and one in serious condition.Most of the victims belonged to an Israeli army reserve unit that was planning to celebrate the birthday of one of its officers at the nightclub. "It was a surprise party for our sergeant-major," said Eitan Hait, one if the reservists. "We were all standing outside laughing and smiling when suddenly I felt darkness sweep over me." Many unit members described themselves as a close "family" that would often get together socially. They were to have received wedding invitations to Ophir and Yael's wedding on Friday night."We're a small and very 'together' unit," later said Yaron Greivsky, whose 30th birthday was the reason for the suprise gathering. "We're the kind who smile when we're called up for reserve service. All of us have been in dangerous places, we've been in Lebanon, Gaza, Hevron, all over. No one was ever hurt. And then a terrorist comes to the middle of Tel Aviv, where it's supposed to be the safest, and destroys everything."The managers of the Stage Club said that they plan to be closed for the week of mourning, and will then resume their program of "Israeli music sing-alongs." "We will not cave in to terrorism," said owner Tzachi Cohen.The murderer was a 21-year-old terrorist from an area near Tul Karem, about five miles east of Tel Aviv. Tul Karem was slated to be one of the first cities whose security responsibility was to be handed over to the PA in the coming days. In reaction to the suicide bombing, Israel announced last night, among other things, that it was freezing the plan. Some analysts said that this was largely an announcement to calm the Israeli public, as the plan was mired in any event.