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Police Set Restrictions on Friday Temple Mount Islamic Prayers


In an effort to avoid Islamic violence coinciding with Friday Temple Mount prayer services, police are imposing restrictions tomorrow. Male worshippers will be restricted to those 45 or older, and carrying Israeli identity cards. Males under 45 or with PA identity cards will not be permitted on the Mount. There are no restrictions for women. (Editor's Note: Please see article below.)

Rockets On Ashkelon


Yet another "milestone" in the Oslo process was passed Thursday: Four Kassam rockets were fired at the city of Ashkelon, about six miles north of the Gaza Strip. No one was hurt in the attack, of which only one rocket has so far been recovered. Israeli troops and bulldozers later entered northern Gaza and knocked down trees the militants had used as cover.

It should be noted, however, that in 1994, after the original "Gaza and Jericho first" agreement, then-Likud MK Ariel Sharon told the Knesset that it would only be a matter of time before the PA fires katyushas from Gaza onto Ashkelon; later, then-Labor party Minister Chaim Ramon mocked Sharon and said, "Where are the katyushas that you promised us?" Ramon's spokesman said that he was currently abroad and unavailable for comment.

Some Cabinet ministers responded sharply (albeit verbally) to the attack. Tourism Minister Benny Elon said that the Government of Israel "must liquidate the Palestinian Authority," and that the establishment of a Palestinian state is equivalent to "the implementation of a policy of rockets at Israeli cities." Education Minister Limor Livnat said that Israel must retaliate harshly.

The IDF said that 14 Kassams have been fired at areas near Gaza this week, and 24 have been fired since the end of the short-lived ceasefire (hudna) about nine days ago. Ashkelon Mayor Shabtai Tzur said that he is "concerned over this new threat," but that he "trusts the IDF to be able to prevent such attacks on Ashkelon." He said that the city's plans to expand its southern industrial zone, where the rockets fell, would continue nonetheless.

Palestinian Officials: Israeli Strike Kills Hamas Member

By VOA News

Palestinian officials said an Israeli helicopter gunship has fired missiles at a target in the Gaza Strip, killing a Hamas militant and wounding three other people. Palestinian security sources identified the dead man as Hamdi Kalkha, who they say was a member of Hamas' armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qasam Brigades. Israeli officials have not commented on the blast.

Officials of several Islamic charities in the Gaza Strip said they have had at least 39 of their bank accounts frozen by the Palestinian Authority, as part of reported efforts to crack down on Palestinian militant groups. The Islamic charities reported Thursday more of their bank accounts have been frozen than perhaps some had expected.

The move followed reports that the Palestinian Authority had issued warnings this week to 12 Islamic charity organizations operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that at least 30 of their accounts would be blocked. Banks in the territories received instructions from Palestinian officials not to allow transactions to organizations such as al-Mujma Al-Islami, one of the forces behind the establishment of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, in the 1980s.

Hamas, which frequently carries out suicide bombings, is also involved in providing welfare to the poor in Gaza and the West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinians attempting to pick up monthly welfare assistance checks were reportedly turned away Thursday by banks, which informed them the funds had been frozen.

The Palestinian Monetary Authority issued the orders, reportedly as part of a crackdown against groups such as Hamas, which was behind last week's suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem that left 21 Israelis dead and scores more injured.

The blocking move followed similar action in the United States. President Bush, responding to the bus bombing, announced that he was freezing funds of six senior Hamas figures and five charities that he accused of funding the militant organization.

Muslim Claim to Jerusalem Rests on Wobbly Verse


A commentator in the official Egyptian government weekly writes this week that the entire Muslim claim on Jerusalem and Al-Aksa is based on a mistaken reading of one chapter of the Quran.

Ahmed Mahmad Oufa wrote that the verse that mentions a night journey by Muhammed to a mosque has nothing to do with Jerusalem, as is generally claimed, but with a mosque near the holy Muslim city of Medina.

Prof. Moshe Sharon, Middle Eastern expert in the Hebrew University, told Arutz-7: "This is not a new claim. We must remember that Jerusalem is not mentioned at all in the Quran. The verse in question is in Sura [chapter] 17, which states that Muhammad was brought at night from one mosque to a "more distant" - aktsa, in Arabic - mosque. The first Muslim commentators did not explain this as referring to Jerusalem at all, of course, but rather as a miraculous night journey or night vision.

In the beginning of the 8th century, however, they began associating this with Jerusalem, because they had a need to start giving sanctity to Jerusalem, and so they started connecting this verse with Jerusalem. Originally, however, the Muslims recognized the area of the Dome of the Rock as holy because of the Jewish Temple of King Solomon."

It should be noted that the Al Aksa mosque was built on the Temple Mount 621 years after Mohammed's death. Shamir expressed great surprise at the fact that such an article would be published in Arabic and in an Arabic-speaking country.

How We Remember


A new fundamental rule governing memory was recently discovered by a team of scientists, headed by Prof. Yadin Dudai, at Rehovot's Weizmann Institute of Science. Mark Eisenberg, Tali Kobilo and Diego Berman were the other members of the research team.

As explained in a Weizmann Institute press release, every memory that we acquire undergoes a process called consolidation immediately after it is formed. Through this process, it becomes impervious to outside stimulation or drugs that would obliterate it. Evidence has lately come to light that a memory is open to disruption for a short period following each time this memory is recalled. However, experiments to test this hypothesis were inconclusive.

Dudai's group has identified a new principle guiding the activity of the brain's memory systems, which sheds light on how memories are recalled and stabilized, and which can explain the puzzling discrepancies in previous findings. This principle delineates the conditions in which the recalled memory again becomes sensitive to "erasure." The Weizmann team found that while many associated memories can be called up by a single stimulus, only the recalled memory that was dominant over the other associated memories was again made sensitive to being "forgotten" (or to intervention that would deliberately cause such "forgetfulness") before it was re-stored to long-term memory.

According to the Weizmann Institute, this discovery "is likely to assist in the future in developing new methods of wiping out unwanted memories, and thus of treating some kinds of psychological trauma." The results of the study were published Thursday in the scientific journal Science.

Moving to a 5-Day School Week


During the upcoming school year, the educational system will begin moving over to a 5-day school week. The shortened school week will begin in Jerusalem, Eilat, Be'er Sheva, Nazareth Illit and Omer. Three Tel Aviv schools will also be included in the new program.

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