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Writing "Kahane was Right" Can be Costly

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court levied a NIS 800 fine on right wing activist Itamar Ben-Gavir, who was found guilty of spray painting "Kahane was Right" graffiti. The court rejected a police request to impose a higher fine and probation on Ben-Gavir.


Two Dead in Israeli Strike on Gaza City

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem) & Ha'aretz

Israeli attack helicopters Tuesday fired missiles at targets in Gaza City, killing at least two people. The raids came just hours after Israel's security cabinet approved a military response to a double suicide bombing in the port of Ashdod on Sunday.

Palestinian witnesses said that the Israeli helicopters fired on an apartment building and at least two cars in the northern section of Gaza City. Ambulances and Palestinian security forces rushed to the area to give help to the wounded.

The IAF helicopter gunship fired air-to-surface missiles at a one-story building occupied by the Islamic Jihad operatives who were, according to the Israel Defense Forces, involved in attacks on Israeli targets. The two casualties were named as Hosni Salfiti and Nasser Yassin. Fourteen Palestinians were wounded in the air strike, and at least one is in serious condition.

According to Palestinian sources, there are three children among the casualties in the air strike on Gaza City's northern Nasser neighborhood, known as a militant stronghold. The target of the IAF strike was Muhammad Haroubi, a senior Islamic Jihad operative.

Haroubi was apparently not killed in the missile strike, but it is not clear whether we was wounded or managed to flee the scene unharmed. The Islamic Jihad on Tuesday night said Haroubi escaped unharmed, while the Hamas website reported he was in fact killed in the Gaza missile strike.

The raids came after Israel's security Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the Israeli army to launch strikes against Palestinian armed groups inside the territory. In a brief statement issued by his office Tuesday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said several modes of action by the defense establishment were decided upon.

The Israeli Cabinet took the decision despite a last minute appeal by the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who warned Israel against taking military actions inside Gaza. "This will lead to a real human disaster. This will add to the complexities. The consequences of this will be disastrous not [only] in terms of the human casualties but also in the whole aspects of those efforts being made to revive the peace process."

Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the military actions are aimed at destroying the infrastructure of terrorist groups and killing the leaders of Hamas, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. These groups, both listed by the State Department as terrorist organizations, claimed joint responsibility for the attack against Ashdod.

Hamas has carried out frequent suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is the armed wing of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction. Some Palestinian ministers urged Arafat to take action against the group to avoid Israeli retaliation, but he refused.

More tragedy has struck the Marciano family of Ashdod. On Monday evening, a cousin of terror victim Mazal Marciano disappeared from her home. The 19-year-old IDF soldier did not return home and her parents decided to call police. Early Tuesday morning, her lifeless body was found near the family home.

The soldier, a first cousin of Mazal, took her own life. In the suicide note, she wrote, "if I had been killed in the terror attack, it would be easier to mourn for me." Lachish district police indicated they did not feel Sunday's attack and the suicide are connected.


Port Bombers Likely Entered Israel Through Gaza Tunnel

By Ha'aretz

The two suicide bombers who carried out the attack at the Ashdod port on Sunday in which 10 people were killed, most likely made their way from the Gaza Strip into Israel via an underground tunnel.

That was the main working assumption among security officials, who believe that the tunnels were dug by diggers from the southern Gaza town of Rafah, where arms and drugs are smuggled into the Strip, from Egypt, via subterranean routes.

The police and officials at the Ashdod port, meanwhile, traded accusations over who was responsible for security there. Shin Bet and Israel Defense Forces' officials were also investigating other possible methods the two bombers might have used to infiltrate into Israel to carry out what was the first attack here emanating from the Gaza Strip since the start of the intifada in September 2000.

Other possibilities being looked into include whether the two had managed to get through the fence that surrounds the Strip; whether they had entered Egypt via the Rafah tunnels and then entered Israel through the Negev Desert, as well as a scenario in which the bombers were ferreted into Israel through the Kissufim crossing in an Israeli vehicle.

The first scenario, that the two entered Israel via a tunnel in northern Gaza, was strengthened by an interview given to the Associated Press by a Fatah leader in Gaza, known as "Abu Kusai," who said that the bombers had used a tunnel to get into Israel and planned to carry out a "mega attack" by blowing themselves up next to fuel tanks.

The Israel Defense Forces has been unable to find any incident in their Gaza logbooks that might provide a clue suggesting that the bombers might have breached the fence. Nevertheless, this possibility has not been ruled out.

Another question being asked by the investigators concerns the identity of the person who transported the bombers to their target. The two, aged 18, had little knowledge of Israel, and therefore seem to have been aided by meticulous intelligence gathering in Ashdod, an extensive briefing and a driver who dropped them off nearby. As of Monday, no such driver had been found, and the police had no leads on a car leaving the scene of the attack.

In Ashdod, the working assumption of the police and port officials was that the bomber, who managed to get inside the port, did so by climbing over the perimeter fence. The fence, which is 2.5-3 meters high, was built 30 years ago and can be easily scaled. No holes in the fence were found during an inspection Monday. The second bomber blew himself up outside the fence.

"Based on the proximity of the two attacks, we can estimate that... one [of the bombers] helped the other to get over the fence," said Nissim Mor, police commander of the Lachish district.

Police officials said that an inspection was needed to ascertain whether their instructions regarding the frequency of patrols along the port's perimeter fence had been followed, as well as whether the security cameras focused on the fence had been operating continuously.

"We are not security experts and we don't act on our own volition," port director Shaul Rotem said. "We take directives from the security forces. Teams from the police and the Shin Bet are familiar with every corner and every fence in the port. If they had said something to us about the fence, we would have dealt with it."



'The Passion' Actor Caviezel Meets Pope

By Reuters & Daily Variety

"Christ" has met the Vicar of Christ, so to speak. James Caviezel, the actor who plays Jesus in Mel Gibson's controversial blockbuster film "The Passion of The Christ," has met the pope, the Vatican confirmed on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old actor met the 83-year-old pope, who is known as the Vicar of Christ, briefly at the Vatican on Monday morning. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Caviezel said he was moved by the meeting -- which was also attended by members of his family -- but would not say what they discussed. Gibson's film has been a huge success in the United States.

According to studio estimates the gory take on the last 12 hours of Christ's life has reaped more than $250 million since its Feb. 25 opening. The film has outraged some Jewish groups, who say it pins the blame for Jesus' demise on them.

The pope saw the film in the December but the Vatican denied reports that he had endorsed it.

"It is as it was" may not be the way the pope would like it to be. Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, one of Pope John Paul II's closest friends, told the Catholic News Service recently that his boss never offered that 11-letter endorsement of Mel Gibson's film. "The Holy Father told no one his opinion of this film," he said.

Peggy Noonan initially reported the pope's positive pronouncement on "Passion" in a Dec. 17 column on the Wall Street Journal's Web site. The journey of the short, blurb-ready phrase was circuitous.

According to the column, Dziwisz first reported the pope's reaction to the film to Steve McEveety and Jan Michelini, a producer and an assistant director on the picture, in a meeting at the Vatican. McEveety, in turn, recounted his conversation with Dziwisz to Noonan.

A source close to the situation said McEveety had asked for and received Vatican officials' permission to repeat the "It is as it was" statement before speaking to Noonan.

The "It is as it was" papal remark was also reported on Dec. 17 by the National Catholic Reporter, an independent weekly paper covering the Church, also using an anonymous Vatican source. Previous attempts by news orgs to confirm the pontiff's quote have had mixed results. The day after the Wall Street Journal's report, on Dec. 18, Reuters cited an anonymous "Vatican official" who confirmed the Pope had seen and approved of "Passion."

A week later, the Catholic News Service quoted its own anonymous "senior Vatican official" who said, "The Holy Father saw it, but he made no comment. He watched in silence."

Amidst all the back and forth, The National Catholic Reporter reopened its story and said its source stood by the Pope's quote, adding new details such as the viewing took place in the dining room of his living quarters, on a large-screen TV with a "European-format VHS videocassette."

But in his most recent interview, Dziwisz, who is considered the second most powerful official of the Catholic Church because of his close relationship with the Pope, was adamant in his denial of a papal endorsement of "Passion."


Gadhafi's Son: Libya Sought WMDs to Fight Israel

By Ha'aretz

Libya sought weapons of mass destruction to prepare for war with Israel, the son of Libya's leader Muammar Gadhafi implied in an interview recently published by the London-based Arab daily Al-hayat.

Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, who is considered to be Gadhafi's future successor, was asked why Libya decided to relinquish its chemical and biological weapons, to halt its nuclear program and to renew diplomatic ties with the United States in Britain.

In his answer, he stated several reasons, but said, "the main reason is that we developed weapons for a battle against an enemy. We saw that the Palestinians' armed struggle, which lasted 50 years, did not bring the results that were achieved in five years of negotiations. They [the Palestinians] told the commander [Colonel Gadhafi] that they relinquished the gun, chose the path of negotiations and achieved what they couldn't achieve in 50 years from Beirut through Tunis to Amman."

According to al-Islam, "the commander was hurt by several Arab statement, that made him feel as if the Arabs were taking advantage of him, laughing at him and threatening him."

In the interview, Gadhafi's son revealed that the secret talks with the U.S. and Britain on abandoning weapons of mass destruction began and concluded before the Iraq war in April 2003, contradicting estimates that the agreement between the sides was reached only at the end of 2003, and was spurred by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's downfall.

Al-Salam added that Libya will renew its diplomatic ties with the U.S. and Britain in several months, and that the American Energy Minister and Assistant Secretary of State For Near Eastern Affairs William Burns are expected to visit Libya soon. He said that American oil companies Marathon, Occidental and Conoco renewed operations in Libya recently.


Hitler Returns to the Heart of Berlin - in Wax

By Reuters

A life-size wax figure of Adolf Hitler has gone on display in the heart of Berlin in what museum officials said was the first such public exhibition of the Nazi dictator in post-war Germany.

"Provided it's all just art, it's permitted," a Culture Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, when asked if the Hitler waxwork was breaking Germany's tough anti-fascist laws banning the use of Nazi symbols and insignia.

Hitler shares a room at the "Galerie Art'el" museum with his World War Two adversaries Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, overlooking the former Cold War border crossing Checkpoint Charlie in the once-divided German capital.

Museum director Inna Vollstaedt said Hitler would soon be reunited with his former Nazi henchmen Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels in the waxwork displays. "Until now there has never been a wax figure of Hitler displayed in Germany. We have these men to thank for the Berlin Wall. We want them all," she said, referring to the Cold War barrier.

Although it has been nearly 60 years since Hitler and his top deputies killed themselves at the end of the Third Reich, artists must be mindful of the anti-fascist laws. German authorities have long been at pains to distance the country from Hitler's legacy. The remains of the Fuehrer's bunker in central Berlin have been sealed off to prevent neo-Nazis from turning it into a shrine.

In the museum an unusually placid-looking Hitler stands conservatively attired in a grey jacket by a window, while seated figures of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former Beatle Paul McCartney drink tea nearby.



































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