Three More Kassams as Sderot Prepares for Funeral

No damage in latest attack... 100 educators visit besieged city... Poll results show support for more military force against Gaza...

  1. Three More Kassams as Sderot Prepares for Funeral
  2. Woman Killed by Kassam Rocket in Sderot
  3. Ambassador Apologizes, But Storm Just Increases
  4. Calls to Re-settle Gush Katif
  5. Lebanese Cut Power and Water, Then Shell 'Palestinian Camp'
  6. Clear Message from Israel, Mixed Messages from Gaza
  7. College and University Students End 5-Week Strike

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1. Three More Kassams as Sderot Prepares for Funeral

by Hillel Fendel

With Kassams continuing to rain down upon Sderot and environs - three more were fired Tuesday morning, causing no damage - it appears that the public is just as confused about what to do as the government is.

In a poll taken this week for the Knesset TV Channel, 78% of the public opined that the government was not responding forcefully enough to the Kassam-firing terrorists in Gaza. However, at the same time, a majority of the respondents still feel that ground forces should not be sent in.

It should be noted that the poll was carried out before the Kassam-caused death of Shir'el Friedman  of Sderot Monday night.

Kassam Victim's Funeral at Noon
Shir'el, who was born in Sderot and is survived by her parents and two older brothers, is to be laid to rest in the Sderot cemetery at noon today (Tuesday).

Shir'el was Israel's ninth fatal casualty of a Kassam rocket. Mordechai Yosifov, 49, and Afik Zahavi, a 3.5 year old on his way to nursery, were killed in June 2004. Three months later, two young cousins - Dorit Aniso, 2, and Yuval Abebeh, 4 - were killed just before the onset of the Sukkot holiday. Four months later, Ella Abukasis, 17, was killed by a Kassam rocket as she was walking home; she jumped to protect her brother when the Red Dawn rocket warning alert sounded. In July 2005, Dana Gelkowitz, 22, was killed in a Kassam attack at Netiv HaAsarah - the only non-Sderot Kassam casualty among Israelis. Last summer, in July 2006, Moshe Shlomo, 52, died of a heart attack he suffered after a Kassam rocket landed near his home a few days earlier. Last November, Fatima Slutzker, a Moslem woman married to a Russian Jew, was killed by a Kassam that landed in downtown Sderot.

In addition, three foreign workers were killed in a Kassam attack in Gush Katif in 2005, and two Bedouin were killed when they moved a previously-unexploded Kassam in a field.

Hear two hours of LIVE broadcast from Sderot, with Yishai Fleisher and Tamar Yonah:
Hour 1      Hour 2

Wheat Fields About to be Harvested Go Up in Flames
In terms of monetary damage caused by the rockets, it is not limited to an apartment or a car here and there. Wheat fields in at least two agricultural communities in the western Negev, nearly ready for harvest after months of work, have gone up in flames when rockets hit them. "I sat and cried this morning when I saw it," said one member of Kibbutz Nir-Am, just outside Sderot.

"This is our harvest season," Betty Gavri of Nir-Am told Ynet. "When you hear on the radio 'no one was hurt and there was no damage' - when our wheat fields go up in flames on the eve of Shavuot, that's not damage?"

The holiday of Shavuot, which begins tonight (Tuesday night and Wednesday), is known as the Festival of Harvest (Exodus 23,16).

As opposed to the city of Sderot, the nearby agricultural communities have a more earthy connection to the land; barely any of the 350 residents of Kibbutz Nir-Am, for instance, have left. "Our imbibed values are that our very presence here determines the State's borders. This is an agricultural tradition, that says that the land is our roots and our sustenance. If everyone would get up and leave, we could just close the entire country."

Rabbis and Educators Call for Social, Military Help
A group of some 100 rabbis and educators, many of them representing hesder yeshivot and yeshiva high schools around the country, descended upon the Yeshivat Hesder of Sderot on Monday to show their solidarity with the city residents.

Among the participants were Rabbis Chaim Druckman, Chanan Porat, Tsomet Institute head Yisrael Rosenne, Yigal Kaminetzky of Gush Katif, Elisha Vishlitzky, David Fendel of Sderot, and Eliezer Sheinvald of Modiin, as well as Col. (ret.) Geva Rapp of the 'Face to Face' outreach organization.

The rabbis resolved to continue activities such as hosting Sderot residents in their towns and schools, further visits to Sderot, offering economic and social help to needy families, special Sabbath and other events around the country dedicated to Sderot, and more.

In addition, the educators called "upon the Government of Israel to end this national disgrace of the abandonment of Jewish lives in Sderot and the area, by embarking on another Operation Defensive Shield [i.e., a massive military anti-terror offensive] in order to restore the self-respect and the security of the residents of Sderot.

To this end, the group resolved to embark on a campaign, including billboards, bumper stickers, rallies, and the like to garner public support for the cause.

Other visitors to Sderot on Monday included Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzippy Livny, the European Union's Javier Solana, and Britain's Ambassador to Israel Tom Phillips. 

The Home Front Command distributed pamphlets to many communities in the Sderot-Ashkelon area, advising the residents how to protect themselves during Kassam attacks. Among those who received them were 500 expellee families from Gush Katif, currently living in Nitzan, just north of Ashkelon.

For more information on Sderot, see the Yeshivat Sderot and Sderotmedia websites.

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2. Woman Killed by Kassam Rocket in Sderot

by Hana Levi Julian

Palestinian Authority terrorists murdered 32-year-old Shirel Feldman in Sderot Monday night with a Kassam rocket attack that scored a direct hit on her car as she stood next to it near a bakery in the center of town. Ms. Feldman was pronounced dead on arrival at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon after suffering severe injuries to her chest and stomach. She bled to death as Magen David Adom paramedics raced to the hospital in a desperate attempt to save her life. One man suffered shrapnel wounds and was listed in fair condition, another suffered light injuries and 12 people were treated for shock in the same attack. 


The rocket, one of a barrage of five aimed at the western Negev, slammed into the commercial shopping area in the center of town shortly before 8:00 p.m. while business owners were meeting to discuss the situation. Most businesses were closed as a result, minimizing what might otherwise have become a mammoth disaster.

The Color Red missile alert system failed to sound the warning that rockets were on the way.

Hear two hours of LIVE broadcast from Sderot, with Yishai Fleisher and Tamar Yonah:
Hour 1      Hour 2

Two other Kassams landed south of Ashkelon and the other two exploded in open areas the western Negev. By 10:30 p.m., another five rockets had been fired. Two slammed into an area next to a western Negev kibbut. The others fell in various open areas around the region.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana were meeting in Sderot at the time of the attack.  Neither one was hurt.  Ms. Livni told reporters at a news conference in the besieged town that a ceasefire with Hamas is not an option, as far as Israel is concerned. The foreign minister noted that Hamas considers a ceasefire an opportunity to rearm and upgrade weapons supplies and terrorists training in anticipation of the next conflict.

Three terror organizations rushed to take the credit for this attack: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Salah al-Din Brigades terror group, part of the Popular Resistance Committees terrorist organization.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had harsh words in a statement issued following the attack. "We will take whatever steps are necessary to stop the Kassam attacks," he warned, but did not elaborate on what those steps might be. The security cabinet gave a green light yesterday for the IDF to resume targeted assassinations, and government officials warned that Hamas Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and Hamas politburo chief and arch-terrorist Khaled Mashaal would not be immune from the attacks.

By midnight, a total of 25 rockets had rained down on the western Negev. Two more Kassams had exploded in Sderot, one in the industrial area and the other in the center of town, causing some damage but no injuries. Earlier in the evening, a rocket exploded among the fields near several farms in the region. The explosion ignited a pile of weeds and started a fire, but no damage or injuries were reported. A rocket landed near a gas station, another hit a greenhouse, setting it ablaze. Another slammed into a kibbutz south of Sderot.

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3. Ambassador Apologizes, But Storm Just Increases

by Hillel Fendel

US Ambassador Richard Jones has apologized for his statements about Jonathan Pollard.  Pollard supporters, however, have a series of demands: They want a full retraction from Jones, as well as immediate action by Prime Minister Olmert to demand a pardon from US President Bush.  They also say they won't let Israel get away with low-level Foreign Ministry talk of a release on "humanitarian" grounds.

The story began at Bar Ilan University on Monday morning, when Ambassador Jones told an audience that Pollard "took money for what he did [and] sold out his country."  Even more controversial was his comment, "The fact that [Pollard] wasn't executed is the mercy that Jonathan Pollard will receive."

Pollard's wife Esther called the remarks "malicious incitement" in that they implied that Jonathan had committed treason.  Later in the day, Jones apologized, saying his words reflected neither his personal views nor those of the Bush administration. Saying his remarks were "misinformed and misleading," Jones added, "I certainly do not personally believe that Mr. Pollard should have received capital punishment and I was appalled to learn that I had given that impression."

The statement of apology was emailed by Stewart Tuttle, the press attaché of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to, among others, Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice-Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. The email included the comment, "I personally thank you for helping us through this difficulty."

Esther Pollard said that without a full retraction, Jones's apology is inadequate: "Ambassador Jones falsely accused my husband of treason, falsely accused my husband of spying for money, and falsely accused him of harming the United States. He suggested that Jonathan ought to have been executed, reinforcing the false charge of treason. All of these false charges made by Richard Jones against Jonathan Pollard are still out in the public domain and doing damage. Unless and until Jones takes retracts these egregious lies and corrects the record, his apology is at best incomplete, and at worst insincere."

MK Uri Ariel, head of the Knesset Lobby for Pollard, said, "It's nice that [Jones] said he's sorry, but now the time has come to release Pollard, not just to apologize. The Prime Minister must turn immediately to US President Bush, demand an end to this disgrace, and have Pollard freed immediately."

Esther Pollard on Foreign Ministry Position
It was widely reported that after Jones's original speech, the Foreign Ministry had asked him for Pollard's release for "humanitarian reasons."  Arutz-7 has learned, however, that what actually occurred was that Foreign Ministry official Yoram Ben-Ze'ev spoke with Jones and "reiterated the Ministry's well-known position on Pollard." Asked to explain what this "well-known" position actually includes, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev told Arutz-7, "Israel has apologized for its mistakes in the Pollard affair and believes that he should be released on humanitarian grounds." 

It could not be ascertained what Ben-Ze'ev actually told Jones - but Mrs. Pollard said it doesn't matter: "The whole thing just shows how not seriously Israel is taking this issue. It is not the place of a minor Foreign Ministry official to tell the Ambassador that it 'believes Pollard should be released'; this is something the Prime Minister of Israel must bring up directly with the President of the United States, who is the only one who can pardon Pollard. The Prime Minister is in constant contact with the White House. Official agents are not released just as a 'favor' on humanitarian grounds."

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4. Calls to Re-settle Gush Katif

by Hillel Fendel
With every crash of a Kassam rocket in the Negev, increasingly more voices are calling for a return to Gaza - for different reasons.

Respected journalists from Yediot Acharonot and Haaretz have written that re-occupying Gaza is the only solution - lending an air of "political correctness" to the simultaneous ideological call by settlement leaders and Gush Katif expellees to return to Gush Katif.

The reasons advanced for reoccupation by the various elements are, to be sure, not identical. Military affairs correspondent Ron Ben-Yishai, writing for Yediot Acharonot last week (May 17), explained that it is based solely on security considerations:

"Israel's key problem at this point in time is the violent anarchy reigning in the Palestinian arena," Ben-Yishai wrote. "Even if Israel chooses to undertake drastic measures such as cutting off electricity and water from Gaza residents, while indiscriminately bombing launch sites, there would still be no one on the Palestinian side able to stop the Kassam attacks. The only thing that will happen is that Israel will face condemnation and be isolated in international public opinion."

"Under current circumstances," Ben-Yishai continued, "one consideration must guide the Israeli government: How do we prevent casualties among western Negev residents as a result of Kassam attacks, and how do we thwart the digging of tunnels by the Palestinians and a worse situation in the future as a result of Hamas' rapid strengthening? The most effective and virtually only modus operandi to achieve these objectives is an occupation of wide sections of the Gaza Strip."

"Once the IDF controls most Gaza territory, it will be able, in conjunction with the General Security Service (Shabak), to gather intelligence information and apply it in anti-terror operations while proceeding to destroy terror infrastructures. Meanwhile, the digging of a seawater tunnel would curb the smuggling through Gaza's Philadelphi route."

Ben-Yishai added that limited aerial and ground operations would not curb Kassam rockets, would draw terrorist fire and endanger Israeli troops, and would end with international pressure upon Israel. Instead, "a very large military force [is] required to stay in the Strip for many months... The question is whether the Olmert government will continue to deal with political survival and endless 'assessment sessions,' or whether it will finally start to act practically."

Similarly, on the same day, correspondent Avi Issacharoff penned a piece for Haaretz entitled, "No Other Solution For Gazans But Israeli Occupation." Explaining that Fatah has been left without strong leadership and is headed for a military defeat at the hands of Hamas, "the Gazans are repeating one clear message: only Israeli occupation will save them. There is no other solution on the horizon."

These calls were somewhat encouraging to people like Adi Mintz, a former Director of the Yesha Council [Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza], who was in the midst of publicizing his own call for a return to Gaza.

Mintz, a resident of Dolev in the Binyamin region of the Shomron, wrote in the most recent edition of B'Sheva:
"...Jacob was unable to be comforted for the loss of his son Joseph, because one cannot be comforted for the loss of someone who is actually alive... We, too, are unable to be comforted over the loss of Gush Katif for two reasons: Because we know that we will return, and also - just like in the case of Jacob and Joseph - because the crime was committed against us by our own brothers.

"For 19 years, the survivors of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion [destroyed and captured by the Jordanians in 1948 - ed.] would go up to a hilltop overlooking Gush Etzion, and see the lone oak tree there. That tree became a symbol of the longed-for return... and Kfar Etzion became the first town to be rebuilt by Israel after the liberation of Judea and Samaria during the Six Day War...

"More and more journalists and former IDF generals who supported the Disengagement now regret it, and admit that it was a strategic mistake - the rotten fruits of which we ate in the war in Gaza and in Lebanon. A strategic mistake can be rectified only by another strategic move: Returning to Gush Katif.

"Such a move might seem, at present, detached from reality. However, with the IDF apparently preparing for a major offensive in Gaza, and with the government seemingly waiting only for Kassam deaths before acting, the return to Gush Katif is the only answer."
This will show the Arabs, Mintz explained, that "they cannot defeat us, that this is our land, and that only we have the rights to it."

Mintz emphasized the fact that the Jewish towns in Gush Katif and northern Gaza were not built on Arab land, and that the State of Israel's "terrible act of throwing out its sons" can still be rectified:
"The public is still in the throes of the earthquake of last summer's war, and is open to new conceptions. The call and demand to return to Gush Katif is moral and just, on the one hand, and is a strategic necessity, on the other hand...

"Together with the 'Homesh First' people [who are leading a campaign to return to the Disengagement-destroyed town of Homesh in the Shomron - ed.], we must broaden the scope of the struggle to include also a struggle to win over the public's soul. This is the time to join forces and to wage a campaign that will keep the idea of a return to both Homesh and Gush Katif in the public consciousness. Even if we don't succeed in the short run, this type of struggle has supreme importance for the long run."
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5. Lebanese Cut Power and Water, Then Shell 'Palestinian Camp'

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

In the wake of clashes with a Syrian-affiliated terrorist organization operating in Lebanon, Fatah Al-Islam, the Lebanese government ordered services cut to the northern town the terrorists are using as their base of operations. The Lebanese army also shelled the town, which is designated by Lebanon as a "Palestinian refugee camp."

Residents of the camp told reporters that many homes have been demolished and bodies were strewn in the streets.

By Monday morning, the clashes between  Fatah Al-Islam and the Lebanese military had led to the deaths of at least 22 soldiers, 25 Islamist terrorists and uncounted numbers of non-combatants in Nahr Al-Bard and Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest city, as well as in Beirut. Some estimates put the total death toll at 65.

The clashes between Lebanese security forces and the Fatah Al-Islam terrorists erupted in Tripoli, when soldiers raided a terrorist safe-house in pursuit of bank robbers on Sunday. "We traced them to an apartment in Tripoli, which turned out to be an office for Fatah Al-Islam," Interior Security Forces chief Ashraf Rifi said. The government troops were met by armed resistance, which quickly led to fierce clashes in Tripoli and in the Fatah Al-Islam home base of Nahr Al-Bard.

As an early tactic in their war against the Islamist group, the Lebanese authorities cut off electricity, water and communications in the Nahr Al-Bard camp. In response to a successful Fatah Al-Islam assault on nearby military outposts on Sunday, army tanks shelled the camp intermittently throughout the day. Army sources claimed the shells were aimed at Fatah Al-Islam headquarters, while residents of the camp told reporters that many homes in the camp have been randomly demolished and bodies were strewn in the streets. The shelling continued on Monday.

Within hours of the worst of Sunday's clashes, a car bomb exploded outside a shopping mall in a central-eastern Beirut neighborhood. One woman was killed and dozens were injured when a bomb placed under a car in the mall parking lot was detonated by unknown terrorists. The neighborhood is known to be majority Christian.

The Lebanese cabinet is meeting Monday to decide whether or not to send troops into Nahr Al-Bard.

Reactions Among Lebanese and in the Palestinian Authority
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said the fighting was a "dangerous attempt at harming Lebanese security."

Lebanese civilians have expressed to various media outlets their strong support for their military's assault against the Islamists in the Nahr Al-Bard camp. Pictures in several on-line newspapers show Lebanese citizens in the streets cheering on soldiers making their way through the streets of Tripoli.

Elias Bejjani, chairman of a Lebanese expatriate coalition in Canada, the Lebanese -Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC), issued a press release calling for the Lebanese military "to deal decisively and with military means with the situation in the Nahr El-Bared Camp once and for all, because not doing so will weaken the army and give the Lebanese opposition and those behind them in the Syrian regime a new impetus to repeat what happened several times in the past."

The LCCC further claimed, "The rulers in Damascus had brought in its mercenary fighters several months ago to the Palestinian Camps in Lebanon with the objective of stirring strife, creating an anarchy situation, obstructing the creation of the International Tribunal [on the assassination of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri -ed.] and, most importantly, prevent the rise of a strong self-reliant Lebanese State and institutions that would spread its control over every inch of Lebanese soil and disarm the militias and impose the rule of law."

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah organization denied any connection with Fatah Al-Islam and has condemned the current clashes in Lebanon. However, Fatah Al-Islam is an offshoot of factions that split with Yasser Arafat's Fatah in the 1980s. Lebanese security officials have linked Fatah Al-Islam variously to Al-Qaeda and to Syrian intelligence.

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6. Clear Message from Israel, Mixed Messages from Gaza

by Hana Levi Julian

Israeli missiles destroyed a Hamas weapons storage facility and an operations center of the Popular Resistance Committee in the hours before dawn Tuesday.


The sorties followed a day in which 25 rockets were fired at the western Negev, particularly at the town of Sderot. A 32-year-old woman was killed, several other people were wounded and more than a dozen suffered shock in attacks throughout the day.


Exploding rockets also ignited fires around the region, damaged numerous structures and again prevented children from going to school and enjoying end-of-year activities.


Hamas Prime Minister Offers Ceasefire, Promises Annihilation

The ruling Palestinian Authority Hamas terror organization, which began the intense rocket barrages against Israel a week ago, is now offering to temporarily halt its attacks in return for a promise by Israel to stop counter-terrorism operations in Judea and Samaria.

We live in a world where when Christians kill Muslims, it's a crusade. When Jews kill Muslims, it's a massacre. When Muslims kill Muslims, it's the weather channel. Nobody cares.

This is not a new deal; the same terms were offered months ago while rockets continued to fly in violation of the first supposed ceasefire that was to end those attacks in return for an IDF withdrawal from Gaza.  More than 350 rockets were fired and dozens of bombs planted along the Gaza separation barrier since that first “ceasefire” was negotiated.


Now, even as Hamas PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is trying to negotiate a ceasefire with one side of his mouth, he has been vowing with the other to continue the battles until the state of Israel is wiped off the map.


“We will keep to the same path until we achieve one of two goals,” Haniyeh announced Monday, “victory or martyrdom.”  Abu Obeida, a spokesman for one of the Hamas terrorist gangs, promised to continue striking “the enemy anywhere in Palestine, whether with suicide attacks or operations against soldiers.”


Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh commented on Israel Radio Tuesday morning that offers by Hamas to negotiate a ceasefire were empty words.  He said it was important to pay attention to everything that is said - to the Arab population as well as to the Jews.


“When someone preaches that the State of Israel should be destroyed, he is not in the political echelon; he is a terrorist in a suit,” he pointed out. What does the political Hamas body do? It gives operational approval, if not actual ratification to those who are doing the fighting.”


Mr. Sneh warned that Israel is returning to its former policy of targeted assassinations, minus the kid gloves. “I’ll put it like this,” he told the interviewer. “There is no one who is in the circle of commanders and leaders in Hamas who is immune from a strike.”


Gillerman Insists IDF Withdrawal Was ‘Right Thing to Do’

This week’s intense attacks by Hamas are actually a sign of weakness, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman explained to pro-Israel advocates in New York on Monday.

"I really think that what we're seeing today is a weak Hamas," Gillerman said, postulating that Israel forced Hamas to join the Fatah faction by isolating it. He added, "Israel stands behind the fact that a withdrawal from Gaza was the right thing to do in spite of the consequences we see today."

Gillerman also accused moderate Muslims of an "eerie silence" by not trying to stop other Muslims from escalating terrorism around the world. He also charged world leaders with holding a double standard when judging Israel’s actions to defend itself.


"We live in a world where when Christians kill Muslims, it's a crusade. When Jews kill Muslims, it's a massacre. When Muslims kill Muslims, it's the weather channel. Nobody cares," Gillerman said.

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7. College and University Students End 5-Week Strike

by Hana Levi Julian
College and university students will be returning to their classrooms Thursday after the holiday of Shavuot.

The National Union of Israeli Students approved a compromise deal with the Prime Minister’s Office in a 62 percent majority vote.

Tuition fees will be frozen for one year and the findings of the Shochat Committee will not be presented to the government for approval until first being discussed with representatives of the student union. In addition, the government will return billions of shekels to higher education institutions over a four-year period in what is tantamount to restoration of budget cuts over the past several years.

The leaders of the student union were forced to meet under tight security to review the proposal. Hundreds of their constituents were chanting outside the building, urging the union to continue the strike. Student leader Etai Shonstein had to be escorted under heavy guard after the students accepted the accord. Some students said they would not accept the agreement.

Other students have been calling for an end to the strike in scattered protests around the country, usually small and quiet. Tel Aviv University students decided several days ago they would end their participation in the demonstrations, saying the ongoing walkout was no longer serving its purpose.

The semester will be extended by one month in order to allow the students to make up the studies they missed.
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Tuesday, May. 22 '07
5 Sivan 5767


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