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Two More Pilots Sign Rebellious Letter


Two more air force pilots have joined the group of rebellious personnel, a major in the reserves, a former fighter pilot who today is a senior pilot in a civilian company as well as another major who is an inactive chopper pilot. At present, there are 29 signatories to the letter.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced earlier this week that any person who signed the letter and expresses remorse may come forward, indicating they will be forgiven. Those who are unwilling to change their position have already been suspended and may be thrown out of the military.

Sharon Presses on with Security Fence

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is pressing ahead with plans to build a West Bank security fence that includes major Jewish settlements, despite U.S. objections. Sharon says the next phase of the barrier, which is meant to prevent Palestinian attackers from entering Israel, should also protect at least two Jewish settlements. They are the large community of Ariel, near the Palestinian city of Nablus in the north of the West Bank, and a smaller one known as Kedumim.

The Palestinians oppose the barrier outright, describing it as an apartheid wall. The U.S. administration also objects to the fence, particularly if it includes Jewish settlements and because of its likely impact on ordinary Palestinians. Sharon said he is willing to discuss the issue further with U.S. officials if the matter turns into a serious dispute.

But Israeli cabinet minister Uzi Landau said that while the government values its relationship with the United States, the project must go ahead. "When it comes to the very basic physical security of our citizens, it is the Israeli government that must make the decision, and show the commitment to our people, with all the respect to our American friends," he said.

Landau is a member of Sharon's ruling Likud Party, which met to discuss its position on the route of the security fence. Sharon's cabinet is to meet Wednesday to approve plans for another section of the barrier. The fence eventually will stretch for hundreds of miles and will vary in different sections, from trenches and razor wire to concrete walls.

The Palestinian leadership claims that Israel intends to use the fence to seize more land in the West Bank and unilaterally determine the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. Israel denies that the fence is intended to mark a political border and argues that it can be removed later, if a lasting peace is reached with the Palestinians.

U.N. Investigator Calls Israel's Security Wall an 'Act of Conquest'

By Lisa Schlein (VOA-Geneva)

A U.N. special investigator is calling Israel's construction of a security wall in the West Bank and East Jerusalem an act of conquest. The investigator is urging the international community to condemn the wall as an unlawful act of annexation.

In his report, U.N. investigator John Dugard said the international community should condemn the security wall as an unlawful act of annexation in the same way that Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights has been condemned as unlawful. He said the barrier cuts deep into Palestinian territory, thereby cutting off more than 210,000 Palestinians who live between the wall and the so-called Green Line from their farmlands and workplaces. The Green Line refers to the 1967 boundary between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

A U.N. human rights spokesman, Jose Dias, said the special investigator noted there was strong evidence that Israel is determined to create facts on the ground amounting to de facto annexation.

"He says the wall has all the features of a permanent structure. And, he says, the fact that it will incorporate half of the settler population in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem suggests that it is designed to further entrench the position of the settlers and the settlements," he said. "The fact that there appears to be a measure of annexation is of great concern to the rapporteur."

The U.N. special investigator accused Israel of using excessive force against the Palestinians. He acknowledged that Israel has legitimate security concerns, but said there must be some limit to the extent to which human rights may be violated in the name of counter-terrorism.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Yaakov Levy, described the report as one-sided and politically biased. He said it emanates from a fundamentally flawed mandate.

Israeli Troops Destroy Home of Palestinian Militant

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli troops on Tuesday blew up the home of an Islamic Jihad gunman they said shot dead two Israelis in the West Bank on the eve of the Jewish New Year. One of the victims was a seven-month-old baby.

The Israeli soldiers arrived at the home of Mahmoud Hamdan, 22, before sunrise. They used dynamite to destroy his house in the village of Dura, near the West Bank city of Hebron. Israeli authorities said Hamdan infiltrated the Jewish settlement of Negohot as Israelis sat down Friday for holiday dinners marking Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

He knocked on the door of a trailer and shot a man who opened it, then killed a baby girl inside. Security guards at the settlement shot and killed Hamdan, a member of the Islamic Jihad, a group that has carried out frequent attacks against Israelis, including suicide bombings. Israeli forces decided that his family should also be punished for his crimes and destroyed the house he had shared with his mother. Human rights groups have condemned such actions as a form of collective punishment. Israel said the demolitions are intended to discourage Palestinians from carrying out more attacks.

Meanwhile, three Arab citizens of Israel were charged with the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli soldier two-months ago. The charges are based on the confession of one of the three Arabs, who later retracted his statement, saying it had made under pressure from interrogators with Israel's secret police, the Shin Bet.

In a separate development, three members of a Jewish terror cell were given sentences ranging from 12 to 15 years. The three were convicted earlier this month of trying to set off a bomb last year at a Palestinian girls' school in east Jerusalem. The plot failed when Israeli police arrested some of the suspects in the cell.

Arafat and 13 PA Leaders Sponsor Soccer Tournament Honoring Terrorists

By Palestine Media Watch

A major soccer tournament glorifying arch terrorists is underway in the Palestinian Authority. While terrorist glorification is not unusual in the PA, this tournament is striking because it is sponsored very prominently by the heads of the PA, including Yasir Arafat; Saab Erekat; Jibril Rajoub; the Minister of Sport - Abdul Fatach Hamal; the Mufti of the PA Ikrama Sabri; and 10 other senior PA officials.

Each of the 24 soccer teams is named for a terrorist or other Shahid [the term of supreme honor designating "Martyrs" - those who died in the combat with Israel] including some of the most infamous murderers. Presenting terrorists as heroes and role models is common practice in the PA. In January, PMW reported on the soccer tournament for 12- year- old boys named after Abd Al Baset Odeh, the suicide terrorist who killed 30 at the Passover Seder in April 2002.

As stated, this event is significant as Yasir Arafat and 13 PA leaders have prominently put their names behind this. In addition, it is at the very time the PA is actively courting world leaders to continue promoting the Road Map, based on the premise that the PA has reformed and now rejects terrorism.

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