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Stunning Victory for Gush Katif and Nationalist Camp

By, Ha'aretz & VOA News

A moderate voter turnout in the Likud - but the victory of the opponents of the unilateral evacuation/expulsion plan was sweeping. The Channel One television prediction, based on exit polls and other information, indicated that the Prime Minister's plan was defeated by a staggering 62%-38% vote. Another prediction states that the margin is 58-59% against, 41-42%. Channel Two: 56%-44%.

The big winner in this election was Minister Uzi Landau, who was the most outspoken leader of the anti-retreat camp. He said Sunday night: "These are still just sample results, and even though the trend is clear, we still cannot be clear. But one thing is clear: we have succeeded in persuading, and the Likud has remained loyal to its principles. Despite all the obstacles, difficulties and pressures, the Likud people in the field acted against the entire mechanism, and we see that they are strong. I am proud to be part of these tens of thousands of people who have principles, and who have ideals, and who act according to the principles of clean politics."

The big loser was Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - who promoted the plan even more strongly than Sharon himself. Minister Gideon Ezra, who supported the plan said "The question is what to do tomorrow. This is not a simple question." Ezra said that the residents of Gush Katif were the driving force behind the plan's defeat. Justice Minister Tommy Lapid (Shinui) was critical of the results, saying that the Likud is becoming an "extremist right-wing" party and is losing the public, and that a a great gap is opening in the country.

Commentator Chanan Crystal said that Sharon may take out his anger on Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who did not actively support the plan. Moshe Feiglin, who heads the `Jewish Leadership' faction within the Likud had announced that, "upon hearing of a victory, let everyone make their way as close as possible to the Temple Mount – the heart of the Jewish nation – to offer thanks to God for bringing us to such a day."

Following the Likud referendum defeat, Olmert, who worked tirelessly to promote the prime minister's Gaza withdrawal plan, remained determined to remove Gaza's Jewish residents from their homes. He told reporters after the polls closed at 10 p.m. that one way or another, the unilateral Gaza disengagement plan would move ahead, perhaps in a national referendum, adding there is no future for the Gaza Jewish community and the prime minister's plan must be actualized for the good of the nation

Sharon in an initial response to the resounding defeat of his disengagement plan said he was disappointed with the results, but would respect them. "I know that much of the Israeli public supports my plan. I know that they feel, as I do, disappointment with the results of the referendum. We have difficult days before us where difficult decisions need to be made," he said in a statement.

Sharon said he would not resign, but would consult the Likud ministers, the Knessest faction and his coalition partners to decide what steps to take. Sharon is expected to respond publicly to the final results of the poll on Monday afternoon in a meeting of the Likud faction in the Knesset.

"One thing is clear to me," he said in the statement released Sunday night, "Israel did not elect me to sit and do nothing for four years. I was election to find a way to bring quiet, security and peace to this nation." He promised to continue to lead Israel.

Israeli Missile-Strike Hits Palestinian Radio Station

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

Israel has launched air-strikes at targets linked to the Islamic militant group Hamas in Gaza City, in response to the killing of a pregnant Jewish woman and her four daughters. Witnesses said several people were injured.

An Israeli military helicopter fired three missiles at a 14 story-building in Gaza City that houses a radio station associated with Hamas and a Palestinian newspaper. Palestinian witnesses said that an official of Hamas was being interviewed at the time the missiles were launched. Part of the building's roof collapsed and residents said some of the tenants could be seen screaming from balconies for help.

Israeli soldiers and rescue workers inspect the car of a Jewish settlers family after it was attacked by Palestinian militants Earlier, Palestinian gunmen ambushed a car on a road leading to the Jewish settlement in Gush Katif, killing an Israeli woman and her four children in a hail of gunfire.

Two Palestinian groups claimed responsibility, including the Islamic Jihad, listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization, and the Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella group responsible for other attacks in the Gaza Strip.

But Israeli officials have placed the blame on Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Hamas, another group that has carried out frequent suicide bombings and attacks that have killed dozens of Israelis.

Ranaan Gissin, a spokesman for Ariel Sharon, said the killing of the five Israelis was an attempt to sabotage the Israeli Prime Minister's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. "The fact that this attack was timed today clearly indicates that the terrorist organization, Hamas, which is actually implementing Arafat's strategy of terror, and Arafat, who is continuing with his strategy, really are fearful that this plan will go through because this plan is very good for Israel. It will allow us the degrees of freedom to fight against terrorism that we need and at the same time will prevent or will remove any excuse of not fighting terrorism of taking action against the terrorists."

The victims of the attack were identified as mother Tali Hatuel, 34, and her daughters Hila, 11, Hadar, 9, Roni, 7, and Merav, 2. Settlers said the family lived in the Katif settlement in central Gaza. The mother was in her sixth month of pregnancy, Israel Radio reported.

Police said the white Citroen station wagon spun off the road after the initial shooting, then the attackers approached the vehicle and shot the occupants at close range. Another Israeli civilian traveling in a separate car suffered moderate gunfire wounds in the attack near the Netzer Hazani settlement.IDF troops were called to the scene and killed the two terrorists. Two Givati Brigade infantrymen suffered serious and moderate wounds during the exchange of fire with the gunmen.

An explosive device was detonated near the site of the shooting while the IDF troops were chasing the terrorists, but it caused no injuries. The wounded were airlifted by air force helicopter to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva. Israeli tanks moved into the area following the attack, and army bulldozers reportedly destroyed a number of buildings near the road.

A resident of Gush Katif settlement Kfar Darom said the family was on its way to campaign against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. The attack took place the same day as the party referendum on the pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. The attack was the first to kill civilians in Gaza in more than a year.

CNN said the Palestinian terrorists opened fire on one of its film crews working near Gush Katif in Gaza. The film crew was not wounded because they were travelling in an armored vehicle, CNN said. The CNN crew also told Israel Radio that after fleeing the terrorists, they attempted to warn and stop unsuspecting Israeli civilian vehicles leaving Gush Katif in the direction of the terrorists. They did not successfully stop the mother and four daughters who drove past the armored CNN vehicle and were subsequently gunned down by the terrorists.

Is This What Islam Teaches?

By Naomi Ragen (Commentary)

Two Islamic "heroes" opened fire on a car carrying a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy, along with her four little girls. They opened fire on the car, and when it spun out of control, they walked towards it and shot the woman and her daughters one by one. A CNN crew, who was traveling in an armored vehicle and also were fired upon, claims it saw the woman go passed and "tried to warn her."

I'm trying to envision how such a warning could have been unsuccessful; I'm trying to envision how hard they tried. I'm trying to envision the kind of people that could shoot a pregnant woman and an 11, 9, 7 and 2. I'm trying. But all I come up with is Nazis. All I see are Auschwitz criminals. I guess that's Islam. I guess that's the way they honor their Prophet Mohammad. I guess that's the honor they bring to their Allah.

If that's what Islam teaches, it's not a religion. It's a sickness.

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