Friday, August 19, 2005

Islamic body defends its incitement to hatred

From a press release issued by the Islamic Development Centre of Australia (IDCA) in repsonse to artcles in the Australian and elsewhere (Sydney, Monday 18 July 2005 )...

It has come to our attention on the 18 July 2005 that particular newspaper(s) have made false and delusive comments about the materials propagated in the IDCA Bookshop...that promotes terrorism and spreads hatred. ... We refuse to accept such claims ....

....IDCA is a proud Australian Muslim Organization. It promotes social harmony and righteous values. We condemn all evil acts and will never accept Terrorism in our country, Australia, or in any part of the world....

In an open letter to the IDCA, the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission (19 August 2005) responds ...

I am writing to convey my shock upon reading your media release in response to the discovery and accusations of hateful books sold in your shop.

You write regarding one of the books discovered, The Ideological Attack: “It educates Muslims on how they can protect their minds from radical threatening ideologies (i.e. communism etc)” ...You neglect to mention the book’s listing of the other ideologies which you consider “radical and threatening” namely the ideologies of: the Christians, Jews, secularists, and atheists. In fact, the ideologies of everyone outside of Islam. To describe non-Muslim religions as radical and threatening is a form of religious intolerance that has no place in Australia.

I quote the ... the book...:

  • “The Muslims today face a barbaric onslaught from their enemies - the jews, christians, atheists, secularists and others…Supported by a demonic global plan as well as unlimited financial backing, this attack aims at domination and hegemony over the Islamic world.”
  • “O you who believe! Do not take as intimate friends and advisors those outside of your Religion, for they will not spare any efforts to corrupt you! They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has appeared from their mouths, but what their hearts conceal is far worse.”
  • “Likewise, when we have the ability, it is obligatory to fight the jews until they enter into Islam, or until they give the jizyah” (special tax)

It is unacceptable to promote and sell such bigoted books in the first place. However, rather than recognise and take action against the distribution of such hateful material, your organisation actually seeks to justify The Ideological Attack by white-washing and lying about its contents. This makes your actions even worse, for you did not merely err in carrying these books, but in fact carried them intentionally and seek to defend their contents.

You say that your organisation “promotes social harmony and righteous values” - The Ideological Attack does none of that. Rather than demanding an apology from the newspapers, you should act to eliminate the religious intolerance that this book promotes. Australia has developed into a peaceful nation where members of various faith communities live in harmony with one another. Organisations such as yours that distribute and justify hate material operate in direct conflict with the values that Australia espouses.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Open Letter to President Bush

The following is from an open letter to President Bush, co-signed by Isi Liebler. The full version is on American Values - Israel Letter: (posted 18/8/05) ...

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500 August 1, 2005

Mr. President:
We write to you jointly from the vantage of a committed American Christian and a committed Israeli Jew, respectful of the courage and determination which you are displaying in the war against international terror. Equally we admire your principled approach to the complexities of the Middle East problem,...We write out of a sense of foreboding arising from recent statements by members of your Administration on this matter, most particularly that of Secretary of State Rice who on her visit last week complimented PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for having taken 'important steps' against terrorism. This statement is not borne out by the facts as we know them.

....Certainly Mr. Abbas is more diplomatically astute than was Arafat, but in reality they are birds of a feather. Never at any time has Abbas declared his objection to terror on moral grounds. He repeats the mantra that terror is counter to Palestinian interests and at the same time unequivocally declares that he has no intention of dismantling the terrorist infrastructure, including even elements of Fatah, the terrorist subsidiary of his own organization. Just a few days ago one such member, an armed suicide bomber, was caught red-handed en route to Tel Aviv.

To this day, the official Palestinian media continue to highlight interviews with mothers of suicide bombers proudly expressing the hope that their other children will follow in the footsteps of their older shaheed siblings.

Beyond this Abbas has pleaded with the ghouls who organize suicide bombings –Hamas and Islamic Jihad - to partake in his government and has even invited Hamas terrorists to join his security forces. Mr. President – could you visualize authorizing your Administration to negotiate with a leader who was trying to enroll Bin Laden's killers to join his army?

...the fact of the matter is that the PA today remains one of the world's greatest breeding grounds for transforming human beings into lethal weapons.

...the United States provides substantial grants to the PA and recently authorized a major portion of the $3 billion annual package being provided by the G8 of industrialized nations. We were dismayed that these grants were not accompanied by a caveat that the PA first be obliged to dismantle the terror infrastructure, end the incitement, and ensure that these funds be monitored in a transparent manner to guarantee that they will not once more be funneled toward terror activities or into the secret bank accounts of corrupt Palestinian officials.

We therefore urge you, Mr. President, to ensure that the provision of these funds is made conditional on the PA undertaking corrective measures to curtail terror.

...the reality is that today, on the very eve of the unilateral withdrawals from Gaza and Northern Samaria, terrorism is again escalating. Israeli civilians are being subjected to daily mortar and rocket attacks, and increasing numbers of suicide bombers are being dispatched to commit carnage and create mayhem. Under such circumstances, the creation of what could only be described as a terror state controlled by virtual warlords would only send a message to terrorists the world over that terror does indeed pay.

In his efforts to reassure the Israeli public Prime Minister Sharon has been quoting your statement that Israel should be entitled to retain the major settlement blocs in the context of a final settlement. However Secretary of State Rice has recently been giving particular emphasis to the fact that this would depend on Palestinian consent, which will undoubtedly not be forthcoming. Might we therefore appeal to you Mr. President, to voice unqualified support for Israel's retention of these settlement blocs which are of existential importance to the Jewish state's very future? Such an endorsement would be fully consistent with the UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967.

...Mr. Abbas and his associates continue to ...(demand) ..."The right of return" (which) is in fact a prescription for the demographic destruction of the Jewish state. It would therefore be highly constructive if your Administration would at this time explicitly restate that there is no validity to the Palestinian demand for the right of return.

In the same context this would surely now also be an appropriate occasion to reiterate recognition of the historic links between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount of Jerusalem.....

...You are aware of the enormous domestic pain and turmoil Israel is going through at this time, because of the displacement of thousands of Israeli citizens from their homes as a consequence of the current disengagement plan. Yet there are increasing statements emanating from members of your Administration which might imply a return to the former discredited policies of moral equivalency whereby the distinction between the terrorists and their victims are often obfuscated. ...speak out and convey words of reassurance to the Israeli public. ...send a message to the world reiterating that the United States is holding fast and will never come to terms with those who have still to learn that the appeasement of evil and terror is a prescription for disaster.


Gary Bauer Isi Leibler

For the full letter go to

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Letter to the West Australian

Copy of a letter to the West Australian 17/8/2005 ....

"Zionist dream ends in tears..." is not an appropriate caption for your front-page picture of the Gaza disengagement by Israel. The Zionist dream of a Jewish homeland, a free nation living in peace with its neighbours, has far from ended.

What has ended, for now, is the dream that Israel can achieve a reconciliation with its neighbours in the short term. It's happening because Israel loves life and seeks to protect its farmers and soldiers.

Free nations, that respect the rule of law and the human rights of all people, don't need to "disengage". On the contrary, they enagage with eachother, they welcome their neighbours and work with them for mutual benefit. Israel has held out its hand in peace year after year, only to be met with hatred, repeated wars, and terrorism.

This disengagament is the very sad result of decades of this hatred. The terrorists and murderers who celebrate this unilateral Israeli action as a "victory" of terror, are simply demonstrating their total absence of respect for their fellow human beings and their lack of understanding of reality. Like the death-cult leaders before them, those who always attacked the weak and innocent, from the biblical Amalek to Stalin, Hitler and Saddam Hussein, who believed they could dominate the world at the point of a sword, they are doomed to historic extinction.

Hopefully the Palestinians in Gaza will take this opportunity to demonsrate to the world what sort of nation they hope to build. They will have total control of Gaza, their own port and a border with Egypt, free of any Israeli checkpoint.

Will they build a constructive society prepared to take its place among the free nations, or will they squander their resources on importing weapons, inciting hatred and attempting to subjugate their own consituents and their neighbours?

The ball is in their court...

Steve Lieblich

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Arabs call for further pullout

(By AFP)

Arab governments expressed the hope that Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip will be followed by the evacuation of other occupied Palestinian lands and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas acknowledged the "historic and important" nature of the Israeli pullout from Gaza after 38 years but denounced an Israeli insistance it would keep hold of its West Bank settlement blocs.

Saudi Arabia "looks forward to the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip being a step followed by other steps toward withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian territories so the Palestinian people can build their state, with Jerusalem as its capital," said a statement issued after the weekly meeting of the Saudi cabinet in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

"The cabinet affirmed the kingdom's commitment to the peace initiative put forward by ... King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to the Arab summit held in Beirut in 2002 and adopted by the summit, thus becoming an Arab peace initiative," said the statement, carried by the official SPA news agency.

Lebanon: victory for 'resistance'

The Beirut meeting of Arab heads of state endorsed a blueprint, proposed by then Crown Prince Abdullah, offering Israel peace and normal ties in return for its withdrawal from occupied Arab lands.

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud "hoped the withdrawal from Gaza constitutes the beginning of the recovery of all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people", the ANI state news agency quoted him as telling Abbas in a telephone conversation.

For their part, the two Lebanese Shiite groups, Amal and Hizbullah, issued a joint statement saying "the routing of the Israeli enemy of Gaza is a high point in the long struggle of the Palestinian resistance".

They said the withdrawal "proves the effectiveness of resistance."

Jordan: Palestinians should 'pull together'

Jordan's King Abdullah reacted by urging Palestinians to pull together to prevent anyone from "hampering" Israel's withdrawal, an official statement quoted him as saying to Abbas.

The king also gave his "support to Palestinian Authority efforts to impose its authority on territory evacuated by Israel" calling the withdrawal "a positive step which must lead to a withdrawal from the West Bank".

Kuwait: hope for pullout

In Kuwait, the cabinet voiced hope the Gaza pullout would be "the first step by Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and will be followed by other steps in compliance with relevant UN resolutions".

A statement cited by the official KUNA news agency said Kuwait also looked forward to the Gaza withdrawal leading to the revival of peace efforts on the basis of the internationally-backed "roadmap."

Bahrain's King Hamad congratulated Abbas in a telephone call on the Gaza pullout, saying he hoped it was "a step on the road to the establishment of a Palestinian state" with Jerusalem as its capital, the BNA news agency reported.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh similarly expressed hope that Israel will evacuate all occupied Palestinian and Arab territories and that an independent Palestinian state will be set up, Yemen's SABA news agency said.

Heart-rending scenes in Gush Katif

From Arutz Sheva - Israel National News: 15:43 Aug 15, '05 / 10 Av 5765 By Hillel Fendel ...

A woman in Morag threatens to employ violence against herself and her children -and Noga Cohen of Kfar Darom, three of whose children lost their legs in a terrorist attack, attempted to mollify her.

The woman, named Ofrah, a 17-year veteran of Morag in southern Gush Katif, screamed at an army officer who arrived to deliver the expulsion notices: 'By what right do you come and throw me out of my house? Did I hurt anyone? Did I do something? ...I even have one child named Ariel and one named Sharon..."

".... If I have to shoot myself and my children, I will." She then turned around and walked to the house.

This exchange was recorded on the air of Army Radio. The anchor, Yael Dan, was somewhat shaken up by the threats, and quickly reached the woman and put her on the air. At the same time, she also put Noga Cohen, mother of three amputee terror victims, on the air. Noga said, "Ofrah, I'm with you in pain; we are all crying. But Ofrah, let's not do more to ourselves than they are doing to us. They're taking our homes, they're taking our communities, let's not go even further than them..." Noga said, "I also am not able to leave here. I'm not leaving, and we have not packed. But when the soldiers come to get me, I'll get up and go - it's not their fault, and I have no interest in fighting with them."

Ofrah did not withdraw her threats, but sounded somewhat more calm. She said, "I never expected myself to react this way - but who knows how I'll react on Wednesday when they actually come to forcibly evict me?"Asked about her children, Noga Cohen said, "I have asked them many times if they want to stay here until the end, and do they want the soldiers to actually take them out? And they said yes; they want to talk to the soldiers face-to-face; they feel that they will be able to change their minds. They have a need to fulfill their mission until the end."
Q. "What, they feel that they are on a mission?"
A. "Of course they do! What, do you think they feel that they lost their legs for nothing? The problem is that this mission is falling apart in front of their eyes - and we have to make sure that they realize that it is not falling apart. The immediate goal won't be fulfilled, but we know that not one soldier killed here lost his life for nothing ...."

Dr. Nitza Kalish, a social worker in Gush Katif, said that there have been "many" others who have threatened to take their lives as a result of the situation. "We are going from house to house wherever there are these threats," she said, "with a psychologist when necessary, and try to deal with them." She said that what is absolutely necessary at present is that the communities remain together...."

In speech of his life, Sharon looks to convey hope

From Haaretz - Israel News: 00:36 16/08/2005 Analysis: By Aluf Benn, Haaretz correspondent ...

In a blue-striped tie, his eyes having difficulty getting accustomed to the teleprompter, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon recorded his address Monday to the nation about the disengagement plan.
It was the speech of his life, the decisive evening in his turbulent career, the blast off to a complex operation he had planned and organized for two years. But even at such a moment, Sharon had difficulty producing inspiring rhetoric. Only toward the end he loosened up a little and sounded like the familiar Arik.

....Reuven Adler, Sharon's good friend and political strategist, says that hope is more important to the Israeli voters than security, peace and corruption issues.

On Channel Two, Sharon's rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned of the terrorism expected after the pullout, and presented his opposing platform: A demand for reciprocity and keeping security matters in Israel's hands, adding "Don't give them a port." Sharon's aides commented that Netanyahu voted for the disengagement four times, and was partner to the decision to build the port in February.

Sharon displayed understanding for the suffering of the Palestinians crowded in the refugee camps in Gaza "in greenhouses of growing hatred." His statements were reminiscent of Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan's eulogy to Ro'i Rotberg, the security officer of Kibbutz Nahal Oz who was murdered in 1956 in a field bordering the Gaza Strip."How can we complain of their intense hatred of us?" Dayan said. "For eight years now, they have been sitting in the refugee camps of Gaza, while before their very eyes we are expropriating their lands and villages, where they and their forefathers previously dwelled... Let us not flinch from seeing the animosity inflaming and filling the lives of hundreds of thousands Arabs living around us... That is the bane of our generation."At that time, Sharon was commander of the paratroopers who departed to carry out retaliations in the Gaza Strip, and a key figure in the attack army that Dayan had formed. There is no doubt that he is familiar with his former commander's speech, and perhaps he looked at it again before his appearance Monday.

Abbas: Gaza withdrawal only 1st step

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Aug. 15, 2005 19:39 Updated Aug. 15, 2005 21:13 By KHALED ABU TOAMEH ...

The Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank is the first step toward a withdrawal from all the territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in his office in Gaza City on Monday.
.... 'The withdrawal should not be only from the Gaza Strip, but also from the entire West Bank, including Jerusalem. ....'

Abbas's remarks came as thousand of Palestinians took to the streets in various parts of the Gaza Strip to celebrate the beginning of the disengagement. Most of the celebrations were organized by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

Abbas, who received phone calls from several Arab presidents and monarchs congratulating him on the beginning of the pullout, chaired a meeting of the PLO executive committee on Monday to discuss the latest developments surrounding the disengagement.

...The committee ...said the Palestinian leadership wanted the celebrations to serve as a strong incentive for the international community to put more pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Jerusalem.

....Dahlan said the PA had set up eight committees to run the settlements after the disengagement to assure that they will serve the public interest and all other sectors.

Dahlan lashed out at Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, who was quoted on Monday as saying that Israel would retain control over major settlements in the West Bank. "Israel's policy is to ignore the basic legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. We have the right to live in our territories that Israeli occupied in 1967 and to have Jerusalem as our capital," he added. "The settlements, refugees, Jerusalem, water and borders are final status issues and will be resolved through negotiations."

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said in a message to the Palestinians that the disengagement was the first step toward "liberating Jerusalem and achieving the right of return for all refugees."
In an interview with the Gaza-based Voice of Al-Aksa radio station, Mashaal, who is based in Syria, said: "Jerusalem is next, the right of return is next. This land cannot exist unless it's under Islamic and Arab rule. Patience is the only way to achieve our goals." Mashaal said Hamas would not lay its weapons after the disengagement, saying his movement did not trust Israel. "In the past, Israel has returned to areas it withdrew from," he added.

... The celebrations have worried some Palestinians, who argue that they are diverting attention from Israel's measures in the West Bank and Jerusalem. One of the critics is Ali Jarbawi, professor of political science at Bir Zeit University, who wrote in the Ramallah- based Al-Ayyam newspaper against the "slide in the Palestinian official and popular agenda which emphasizes with utmost exaggeration the Gaza Strip while relegating Jerusalem and the West Bank to a secondary status." ...."Our slogan should be 'Jerusalem and the West Bank First', rather than Gaza First." ....

Reality interrupted settlement dream ...

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Aug. 15, 2005 1:56 Updated Aug. 15, 2005 22:51 By HERB KEINON ...

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a brief speech Monday night to an anxious and torn country, said that while he had hoped Israel could keep the Gaza settlements forever, reality simply intervened.

...Sitting behind the desk of his Jerusalem office, in front of the national flag and bookcases graced with three pictures of his grandchildren, Sharon said that 'Gaza cannot be held onto forever. Over one million Palestinians live there, and they double their numbers with every generation. They live in incredibly cramped refugee camps, in poverty and squalor, in hotbeds of ever-increasing hatred, with no hope whatsoever on the horizon.' ... the disengagement plan, which he unveiled some 19 months ago, 'is the Israeli answer to this reality.'

'It is out of strength and not weakness that we are taking this step,' he said...there were risks involved in the plan, but said it also held out 'a ray of hope for all of us.' ....'We are reducing the day-to-day friction and its victims on both sides. The IDF will redeploy on defensive

"They must fight terror organizations, dismantle its infrastructure and show sincere intentions of peace in order to sit with us at the negotiating table," Sharon said. "The world awaits the Palestinian response – a hand offered in peace or continued terrorist fire. To a hand offered in peace, we will respond with an olive branch. But if they chose fire, we will respond with fire, more severe than ever.

As anticipated, Sharon did not proffer an apology to the settlers who are to be evacuated, as President Moshe Katsav did last week. Rather, he praised the settlers for their years of sacrifice "....Your pain and your tears are an inseparable part of the history of this country. Whatever disagreements we have, we will not abandon you, and following the evacuation, we will do everything in our power to rebuild your lives and communities."

Sharon also addressed the soldiers and policemen who were to carry out the evacuation orders, reminding them that "it's not an enemy you face, rather your brothers and sisters. Sensitivity and patience are the order of the hour. I am certain that this is how you will behave. I want you to know the entire nation stands behind you and is proud of you."

Acknowledging that his plan has "caused severe wounds, bitter hatred between brothers and severe statements and actions," Sharon said that he understood "the feelings, the pain and the cries of those who object. However, we are one nation even when fighting and arguing."

"The responsibility for the future of Israel rests on my shoulders," he said. "I initiated the plan because I concluded that this action was vital for Israel. Believe me, the extent of pain that I feel at this act is equal only to the measure of resolved recognition that it was something that had to be done."

Following the broadcast of the speech, both Channel 1 and 2 gave equal time to Binyamin Netanyahu, Sharon's main political rival. In the Channel 2 interview, Netanyahu said that disengagement would lead to a terror base in Gaza. Netanyahu said that Israel must now make it clear to the Arabs and the world that disengagement represented a departure from Israel's policy, and that "we will not return to this path, we will not give something for nothing."

Netanyahu said that the pain of those evacuated from Yamit in 1982 was offset by the fact that Israel got something in return from the Egyptians. "We receive a peace agreement, security arrangements with the Egyptians. We got something. Here you are giving for nothing, and in return we will get terror. That is a double tragedy."

Shinui head Yosef Lapid criticized Sharon's speech, saying it contained nothing new and was void of the pathos that the moment demanded. "The prime minister didn't say anything new, didn't apologize, and stood behind his positions," Lapid said in an Israel Radio interview. "....Perhaps he could have expressed a little more emotion. ......"

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Rabbi Shapira Issues Ruling Against Expulsion

From Arutz Sheva - Israel National News: 18:12 Aug 09, '05 / 4 Av 5765 By Ezra HaLevi and Yishai Fleisher ...

In response to requests from students, and public confusion on the status of the Disengagement Plan according to Jewish Law, former Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira has issued a ruling.

Rabbi Shapira, former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel and the head of the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva, has written a complete Halakhic responsa (legal ruling) regarding 'the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, in order to hand a part of the land to non-Jews.'

To read the responsa in full (in English), go to the full article on ...

Islamic Jihad Threatens Increased Terror

From Arutz Sheva - Israel National News: 15:40 Aug 11, '05 / 6 Av 5765 By Hillel Fendel ...

Ramadan Shalah, Islamic Jihad terrorist organization chief, says Israel's withdrawal from Gaza stems directly from Palestinian terrorism - and that more of the same can be expected all over Israel.

'We will intensify the attacks even within the Green Line,' Shalah told Al Manar Television last night. He said, however, that the attacks would resume only after Israel had completed destroying all the Jewish communities in Gaza and north Shomron.

Shalah said that terrorism is the only way to 'liberate Palestinian land' from Israel.

At a rally in Gaza yesterday, another leading Islamic Jihad terrorist said, "The Israelis understand only force. Because of our force, Israel ran away from Lebanon, and because of our force, we are succeeding in getting rid of Israel from the Gaza Strip... There is no room here for the State of Israel. We are continuing forward until our dream is fulfilled."

Shalah's remarks confirm that which other terrorist leaders told Palestinian Authority chief Abu Mazen earlier this week. Abu Mazen delivered a speech, broadcast over the PA media, calling upon his local terrorist groups to refrain from attacks during the disengagement process. He explained that they could thus prove to the world that "the Palestinians are a cultured nation."

In response, however, the terrorists said that they would not cease terrorism, because Ariel Sharon's retreat plan proves the value of terrorism to the Arab cause. "Without the Kassams, Israel would not have thought of leaving Israel," they told Abu Mazen.Signs at the Gaza rally repeated the theme mentioned last week by PA bigwig Abu Ala: "Today - Gaza, tomorrow - the West Bank and Jerusalem."

PA Message: Diplomacy ---or Terror

From Arutz Sheva - Israel National News: 01:12 Aug 14, '05 / 9 Av 5765 By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu ...

PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters in London that Arabs view Israel's unilateral expulsion as proof that terrorism works. He told Israeli TV the PA is proving its diplomacy won out.

Erekat told the Totally Jewish web site in England that many Arabs see the planned pullout as a victory for terrorism. 'Israel failed to weigh the consequences of its actions in not negotiating with us,' he said.

The chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority (PA) explained that Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists 'will claim they got you out like Hezbollah got you out from South Lebanon, kicking you in the ass' with suicide and rocket attacks.

If further negotiations for a new Arab state do not follow the planned expulsion, there will be more violence, Erekat warned.

However, Erekat told Israeli Channel One television this week that the PA is telling its public that "cooperation and coordination, not Kassam" rockets made Israel withdraw from Arab cities in Judea and Samaria and agree to the expulsion of Jewish residents from northern Samaria and the Gaza region.

He added that a meeting this week between armed Hamas terrorists and PA chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) "was a direct challenge" to the PA.

The London-based Al-Quds Arabic newspaper quoted Erekat as saying that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned Abu Mazen during their last meeting that the PA leader would meet the same fate as Arafat if he did not stop terrorism during the planned expulsion. During the Oslo War, Israel bombarded Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah, where he was confined until shortly before his death last year.

Thousands flock to Jerusalem on Tisha b'Av

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Aug. 12, 2005 4:41 Updated Aug. 13, 2005 21:51 By JUDY SIEGEL ITZKOVICH AND JPOST STAFF ...

Traditional observances of Tisha Be'av, which will begin after Shabbat, are expected to take on an added sense of loss for some this year, coming as they do just ahead of the planned evacuation of thousands of settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria.

Thousands of Jews, even more than in previous years - are expected to arrive at the Western Wall later Saturday. This year's Tisha Be'av observance has taken special significance as it coincides with the final hours before the initiation of the evacuation of Jewish settlements from Gaza.

...Police have positioned thousands of officers throughout the Old City and limited the age of Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount in an attempt to prevent conflict between Jewish and Moslem worshipers, a police spokesman said.

Muslim clerics have called on their followers to go to Jerusalem to protect the mosques. As a result, police decided to limit the age of Muslim worshippers to men over 45, said Shmuel Ben-Ruby, Jerusalem police spokesman. Women of all ages will be allowed to attend prayer services in the Al-Aksa mosque, he added ...

...Thousands will go to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the remnant of the outer wall of the Second Temple, and sit on the floor to read the Book of Lamentations and recite dirges. Many people are expected to be at the Wall throughout the duration of the fast, which culminates with the evening service on Sunday night ...

Temple Mount shut to non-Muslims for Tisha Be'av

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Aug. 14, 2005 1:52 By ETGAR LEFKOVITS ...

Citing concerns of renewed violence on the eve of Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem police announced Saturday that the Temple Mount will be shut to non-Muslims on Sunday as the nation marks Tisha Be'av and the destruction of the two ancient temples at the site.

The widely expected move, which was taken by Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. Ilan Franco and approved by Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra, was made due to fears that Jewish ultra-nationalists, who might enter the site as part of a last-minute attempt to thwart the disengagement plan, could provoke clashes between Arabs and Jews.

Concern over Arab disturbances has also prompted police to once again bar all Muslim men under the age of 45 from entering the ancient compound ...

Hamas stages armed exercise

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: "Aug. 12, 2005 20:27 Updated Aug. 13, 2005 15:42 By ASSOCIATED PRESS GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip ...

Tens of thousands of Palestinians crowded into Gaza City's small fishing harbor Friday to celebrate the impending Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, waving flags and hearing promises from their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, that the West Bank and Jerusalem will be next.

Meanwhile, in Gaza early Friday, about 1,000 armed and masked Hamas combatants staged a training exercise in which they practiced infiltrating and attacking Jewish settlements. For the first time Hamas invited TV cameramen to film about 1,000 gunmen training ahead of the pullout. It wasn't clear whether this signaled an intent by the terrorist group to attack settlements during the impending pullout.

...The celebrators chanted anti-Israel slogans, burned Israeli flags and fired off rounds of ammunition into the air.

Surrounded by security guards, Abbas spoke briefly to the crowd: "From here, from this place, our nation and our masses are walking toward the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," Abbas said....

Hamas vows to continue fight

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Aug. 13, 2005 15:04 Updated Aug. 13, 2005 18:41 By ASSOCIATED PRESS GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip ...

In a show of force, Hamas founders and political leaders appeared Saturday on a stage together for the first time in 10 years to tell the Palestinian people that the militant group's armed struggle will go on after Israel's impending withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

In a direct challenge to the Palestinian Authority, the Hamas leadership positioned itself in front of the group's logo and a green Islamic flag to send a message that they have the right to possess weapons and to claim responsibility for pushing Israel out of the Gaza Strip.

Flanked by four Hamas founders, Ismail Haniyye, a top Hamas leader told reporters in a Gaza city restaurant that the group will not lay down their guns. "Hamas remains committed to the choice of resistance as a strategic choice. Hamas remains committed to its military wing and its right to possess weapons," Haniyye said.

The Hamas news conference comes just a day after the Palestinian Authority held its first official celebration - in the attendance of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas - of Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements. Speakers at Friday's event made clear that all celebrations of the withdrawal would take place under the official Palestinian banner - the red, black, green and white flag - a warning to Hamas, which is planning military-style celebrations of its own.

Tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are heating up in the days just before Israel begins its withdrawal, with each trying to claim victory for Israel's evacuation of 25 settlements.

On Saturday, Hamas made clear that although it does not plan to battle with the Palestinian Authority, but will not accept Abbas' Fatah movement as the sole decision-making body in the government ...

Thousands to flock to J'lem as fast marks dual loss

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Aug. 12, 2005 4:41 Updated Aug. 13, 2005 18:49 By JUDY SIEGEL ITZKOVICH AND JPOST STAFF ...

Traditional observances of Tisha Be'av, which will begin after Shabbat, are expected to take on an added sense of loss for some this year, coming as they do just ahead of the planned evacuation of thousands of settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. Thousands of Jews even more than in previous years - are expected to arrive at the Western Wall later Saturday. This year's Tisha Be'av observance has taken special significance as it coincides with the final hours before the initiation of the evacuation of Jewish settlements from Gaza.

Turnout at the Western Wall this year is expected to be higher than usual, as opponents of the disengagement – which is scheduled to begin on Monday – view it as their last chance for heavenly supplication before settlers are evacuated. Security will be even tighter than usual.
Police have positioned thousands of officers throughout the Old City and limited the age of Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount in an attempt to prevent conflict between Jewish and Moslem worshipers, a police spokesman said.

Muslim clerics have called on their followers to go to Jerusalem to protect the mosques. As a result, police decided to limit the age of Muslim worshippers to men over 45, said Shmuel Ben-Ruby, Jerusalem police spokesman. Women of all ages will be allowed to attend prayer services in the Al-Aksa mosque, he added.

As is customary on Tisha Be'av, observant Jews will refrain from eating and drinking from 10 minutes before sunset on Saturday until 7:52 p.m. (in Jerusalem) on Sunday. On Saturday night, worshipers will walk to synagogue for the evening service in slippers or other footwear not made from leather, as a signof mourning.

Thousands will go to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the remnant of the outer wall of the Second Temple, and sit on the floorto read the Book of Lamentations and recite dirges. Many people are expected to be at the Wall throughout the duration of the fast, whichculminates with the evening service on Sunday night, after which light refreshments will be available.

Magen David Adom ambulances and medics will be on hand in large numbers to treat people who faint or feel unwell.

On Sunday, government offices, banks and other facilities – especially those in Jerusalem and other cities and towns with many observant workers – will have reduced operations or be closed.

After Tisha Be'av, though, many religious families who have observed a three-week period of ritual mourning for the Temple are expected to go on vacation, with whole hotels at the Dead Sea, in Tiberias and other locations reserved for the religious sector. However, some national-religious families who oppose the disengagement plan reportedly are canceling their post-Tisha Be'av vacation plans out of sympathy for the evacuees.