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>PD Jan. 25, 1995, V3, #17

Israelis React to Sunday's Bombing

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israel has launched a crackdown on militant Islamic organizations in the occupied territories, arresting more than 50 people and closing at least one Islamic organization it says is a front for the radicals. The moves are in response to a bombing Sunday near Tel Aviv, which killed 19 people.

Israeli police and soldiers swept through the West Bank during the past two days, arresting several prominent radicals and many others suspected of supporting the two main terrorist organizations -- Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Sunday's bombing.

In a village near the West Bank town of Ramallah, not far from Jerusalem, local Islamic officials said Israeli troops ransacked a mosque, apparently searching for evidence against alleged radicals. Reporters said the mosque was littered with broken cabinets and copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

The troops also searched and then closed offices in Hebron of a group called the League of Islamic Scholars in Palestine.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government was considering a proposal to build a fence around Israel's pre-1967 borders, plus East Jerusalem, its suburbs and other settlements along the old border. Some officials supported the idea as a way to fight terrorist infiltration, but others were concerned such a move might hurt peace talks. One Palestinian official said security can come only from real peace, not from fences.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says Israel and the Palestinians need "physical separation and economic cooperation." And he called on the Palestinian Autonomy Authority leader, Yasir Arafat, to do more to fight the terrorist groups. "I would expect him to make a more obvious and visible effort to stop the acts of terror and the acts of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. We don't ask, from Arafat, 100 percent success, but we do ask 100 percent effort so people will see that he is really trying very hard."

Peres complained that Hamas and Islamic Jihad openly hold rallies in Gaza without any reaction from Palestinian police, and he noted that in the eight months of Palestinian autonomy there have been no arrests or trials of members of terrorist organizations.

He said Israel cannot allow a terrorist base to be created in its midst. He indicated this thought is prominent in his mind as negotiations continue toward expanding the Palestinian Autonomous area.
The Palestinian Authority has detained many people for short periods following terrorist attacks, but has not charged any of them with serious crimes. On Tuesday, the Palestinian Police detained the spokesman for Islamic Jihad in Gaza, but, as in similar cases in the past, released him after questioning. Palestinian officials have condemned the continuing terrorism and have promised to launch a more effective campaign to stop it.

So far, the top leaders on both sides continue to say they will not allow terrorism or other problems such as Israeli settlement construction to stop their effort to further implement their peace accord. But they admit the problems make their effort more difficult and could bring it to a halt if they are not solved.

Senator Tells Rabin Don't Lose Faith

By Jim Malone (U.S. Senate)

US Sen. Patrick Leahy said Tuesday he hopes Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin will not be forced to resign from office in the wake of Sunday's terrorist bombing which killed 18 Israeli soldiers and one civilian. Leahy also complained about recent lobbying efforts in Congress by Israeli opponents of the Rabin government.

In a brief speech on the Senate floor, Leahy said he shares the grief of all Israelis in the wake of the recent bombing but adds that bringing peace to the region will not be easy. He praised the efforts of Rabin and urged Americans not to lose focus on the ultimate goal of peace in the Middle East despite the latest act of terror.

Leahy, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate subcommittee which oversees foreign aid, also complained about what he called some interesting activity on Capitol Hill in recent months. He said Israelis opposed to Rabin's government have been urging members of Congress to oppose the idea of using American peacekeeping troops as part of a peace-monitoring force on the Golan Heights should Israel and Syria reach a peace agreement.

"They say they are doing us a service of helping us figure out what American interests are. Frankly, I think that was what I was elected for, that is what I am paid for and I will try to make that determination without somebody from another country coming and telling me what our interests are. Because I am referring here to those Israelis who are waging a campaign to have Congress in advance forbid American participation in any eventual peace monitoring force in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria."

Leahy says lawmakers should be free to consider the idea of US peacekeepers in the Golan Heights if and when Israel and Syria reach an agreement and should not foreclose any options despite the pressure from Israeli groups which are opposed to the idea.

The most prominent US lawmaker to oppose the possible use of American peacekeepers so far is Sen. Jesse Helms, the new Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Auschwitz Liberation Celebrated at Holocaust Museum

By Judith Latham (Washington)

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. One camp in particular, Auschwitz-Birkenau in the vicinity of Krakow,

Poland, has become the symbol of suffering and death during the second World War, when millions of Jews, hundreds of thousands of gypsies and others, perished throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.

Fifty years ago -- on Jan. 27, 1945 -- Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. With the Soviet army advancing from the east, German Commandant Rudolf Hess ordered the evacuation of the camp on Jan. 18. Thus began the death march of more than 60,000 weary prisoners.

Although only one of several camps, Auschwitz owes its prominence to its special role as both a death camp for Jews and gypsies and as the headquarters of a network of slave labor camps. Miles Lerman, chairman of the US Holocaust Memorial Council, says it remains the symbol of man's inhumanity to his fellow creatures.

"About one-and-a-half million human beings were murdered in Auschwitz. Over 90 percent of these victims were Jews. As Elie Wiesel has often stated, 'While all Jews were Hitler's victims, not all victims were Jews.' Tens of thousands of Poles were brutalized, interrogated, and murdered at Auschwitz. More than 23,000 gypsies were gassed and cremated there. Of the 16,000 Soviet prisoners-of-war that were in Auschwitz, only 96 survived. Political patriots of all the occupied countries were shipped to Auschwitz, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and even German labor leaders who dared to speak up against the Nazi regime."

Lerman says that Auschwitz has become the world's most powerful symbol of genocide and cruelty. Today, its crumbling barracks and crematoria stand as a reminder and a warning.

During the ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, members of the Holocaust Memorial Council -- representing Jews, gypsies, Poles, Russians and others -- lit a candle in memory of the victims of Auschwitz and the other camps.

This traditional gesture of remembrance and light linked the generation that perished to the survivors, to the "righteous among the nations" who helped them, and to their descendants. All those who attended joined in placing a single red rose at the Flame of Remembrance in the hall.

Tree Day Symbolizes Jewish Ties to the Land

In honor of Tu Bishvat, the Jewish Holiday of the trees, more that just the usual JNF tree planting ceremonies took place. In an effort to reaffirm the Jewish People's ties to and love of the Land of Israel, bus loads of people from all over Israel joined together in a convoy that participated in a series of tree planting ceremonies in 10 communities while other communities held their own ceremonies throughout Judea Samaria and Gaza.

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