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Haifa Terrorist Crossed Security Fence


Not all the details are yet being allowed for publication, but the little that's known indicates that the security fence was unable to stop the woman terrorist who wiped out three families and seven other people in Haifa on Saturday. Arutz Sheva reported that the terrorist murderer - a woman lawyer from Jenin - was able to leave her city, even though the fence encloses it, and travel the 30 miles to Haifa. Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz confirmed Wednesday that she arrived in Haifa in an Israeli-licensed car, supporting the hypothesis that her accomplices were Israeli-Arabs.

Israel Increases Security, Citing New Threats

By VOA News &

Israel has sent additional troops to the West Bank and Gaza Strip and is considering calling up reserves because of warnings about planned terror attacks. The IDF said it was likely that a number of battalions in the Central and Southern Commands would be called up following the weeklong Sukkot holiday.

The recent significant escalation in terror warnings accompanied with an obvious increase in attacks has forced the deployment of reservists alongside standing army forces. The army has already cancelled classroom training and military exercises to maximize the number of compulsory service troops available for Yesha (Judea, Samaria & Gaza) duty but the current situation demands a more sizable force.

Earlier this week, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz approved the call-up of reservists for Yesha duty, realizing the situation was deteriorating. Earlier Wednesday, the army announced Arab motorists would be banned from Yesha roads in the Shomron during the coming days; another move intended to prevent attacks against Israelis.

Ha'aretz reported that the army has information about five separate terror groups trying to send suicide bombers into Israel. Israel also indefinitely extended a full closure of the Palestinian territories, saying it must protect Israelis from attacks during the upcoming Sukkot holiday that begins Friday at sundown and ends Oct. 18.

Israel locked down the West Bank and Gaza Strip last Friday to protect against terror attacks during Yom Kippur, but a suicide bomber managed to blow herself up and kill 19 others in Haifa on Saturday.

Meanwhile, new Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has offered to negotiate a ceasefire with Israel. Israeli Labor Minister Zevulun Orlev, speaking on behalf of his government, turned down the offer. He said Qureia must first prove himself with deeds and not words.

Israel is demanding that the Palestinian prime minister fight the Palestinian Islamic groups that have carried out terror attacks. Israel's deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said that the first step toward halting such attacks is reform of the Palestinian security forces.

"All the [Palestinian] security organizations will be under one control and the [Palestinian] government will start to act vigorously against terror," he said. "That's what they [the Palestinians] will have to do and we will wait patiently to see if they are doing it."

Qureia, who says he has no intention of launching a crackdown against Palestinian militants, has in turn rejected Israel's demands. He said he prefers a truce that is binding on both Israel and the Palestinians.

In Lebanon, Israeli warplanes broke the sound barrier Wednesday - two days after cross-border shooting killed an Israeli soldier and a Lebanese boy. And Reuters news agency reported that Syria's ambassador to Spain threatened retaliation if Israeli forces carry out more attacks in Syria. On Sunday, Israel fired missiles at what it called a Palestinian militant training camp near Damascus. Syria said the target was a civilian site.

New Book Recalls 2002 Bethlehem Siege

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Washington)

One of the most dramatic incidents in the Palestinian uprising, the Intifada, during the past three years was the siege at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002. Newsweek magazine correspondent Josh Hammer has written a book, A Season in Bethlehem that describes the events surrounding the incident as a microcosm for the rest of the West Bank and Gaza.

Hammer's book provides a detailed description of Israel's 39-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem in April 2002. Israeli troops had surrounded the church, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, when 200 Palestinian fighters took refuge inside, along with some innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire.

Israel's military had moved into Bethlehem as part of Operation Defensive Shield. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had launched the military campaign in the West Bank after a bloody wave of suicide bombings in Israel. Hammer tells what happened when the Israeli troops came into Bethlehem.

"The tanks and troops entered the Old City, which had never been before in previous Israeli incursions. Basically, after a brief but intense battle they chased all the militants into Manger Square and then across Manger Square into the Church of the Nativity where they took refuge," the author explained. "And Israel then proceeded to besiege the church for fear of causing damage to it. Rather than invading the church they decided to wait out the gunmen holed up inside."

Palestinian gunmen finally emerged after a compromise was brokered with American help. Most were expelled to Gaza. Thirteen were deported to Cyprus and several other European countries that had agreed to take them in.

During his frequent reporting trips into the West Bank before and after the incident, Hammer had come to know several of the people caught up in the chaos. They included Bethlehem's beleaguered governor who disapproved of the Intifada, the commander of one of the town's most-feared gangs and an Israeli reservist who found himself battling the Palestinian fighters that day.

For many of the young fighters, he says, a deep sense of despair and unfulfilled dreams could drive them to carry out suicide missions. "There are a few themes that seem to unite some of them," Hammer pointed out. "A lot of the militants were in their late 20s. As teenagers in the late 1980s most of them had gotten involved in the first Intifada, which basically consisted of throwing rocks and stones and firebombs occasionally at Israeli troops. Many of them had been jailed and served several years in the Israeli prisons in the late 1980s and 1990s. And that seems to have been a very formative experience for most of them. They were beaten, sometimes tortured, and harshly interrogated, deprived of schooling and left there filled with if not an outward rage a buried rage waiting to express itself."

Hammer says the Palestinian Authority was not able or willing to curb the violence or control the surge of gangs that created what he described as a lawless zone. Eighteen months later, the Intifada has died down but, Hammer cautions, not the undercurrent of violence. "It's petered out although the groups are still in the West Bank. They've been driven underground. They still exist in some form."

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