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Newsletter : 4fax0930.txt

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To Our Readers:
Thursday is the first day of the eight-day Sukkot/Simchat Torah holiday (nine days outside of Israel), and we wish the entire House of Israel a happy and meaningful festival. May we soon celebrate all together in rebuilt Jerusalem. (Israel Faxx has not been published since Monday because of Hurricane Jeanne's appropriation of our electricity.)

6 Palestinians, 2 Israeli Children Killed, as Bethlehem Christians Plea for Help

By BosNewsLife & VOA News

Christians in Bethlehem, considered to be Jesus' birthplace, pleaded for help in a radio report Wednesday as Israeli soldiers pounded alleged militant positions killing at least six Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian terrorists eluding the army crackdown killed two Israeli children in a rocket attack from Gaza in the midst of the Israeli incursion, designed to stop such attacks. The deaths were seen as a major blow for the Israeli government, which has pledged "to fight terrorism" and to prevent terrorist organizations of portraying a planned pullout of settlers from Gaza next year as a victory.

Wednesday's gun battle came amid Palestinian anger over a car bomb planted by Israeli security forces in the Syrian capital Damascus, which killed a senior member of the Palestinian militant group Hamas Sunday. Palestinian sources in Damascus said Izz el-Deen al-Sheikh Khalil, a leader in Hamas' military wing, was killed while starting his car. Hamas immediately blamed Israel for the attack and vowed revenge.

Amid rising tensions, Israel continued the construction of a controversial security wall, a project it says is needed to prevent, or at least "dramatically reduce", suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis. But Bethlehem Christians said their biblical town and the neighboring Christian villages of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour would soon be "surrounded" by the wall, and warned it will "only make things worse."

Nearly 3,000 Christians alone have already fled the area in the past four years. Palestinians Christians, who once dominated the so-called Christian triangle of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, today reportedly account for less than one third of the inhabitants.

The security wall soon will restrict access to Bethlehem, a popular tourist destination. At the entrance to the city, taxi drivers wait for the elusive customer. They sit quietly in the shade of an Israeli security wall under construction there.

Abu Katona says he is lucky if he gets one customer a day. "We come here in the morning," said Abu Katona. "We are out here 50 meters before the wall. And we try to make a living. I have family; I have children and no business. All my life I work with tourism. And you see they come one bus, two buses. They go to the church of the nativity for mass and they're here for one hour and back to Jerusalem. So we have no work."

Bethlehem's hotels are empty. So are the tourist shops. Tourism has steadily dropped since the Palestinian uprising four years ago that enflamed the West Bank and since a month-long Israeli military siege of Bethlehem two years ago, when Palestinian terrorists hid inside the Church of the Nativity.

Two Young Israeli Children Killed as Qassam Strikes Sderot

By Ha'aretz

Two young children were killed and 31 others were wounded when two Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip struck the Negev town of Sderot on Wednesday evening. The two children were later identified as two-year-old Dorit Aniso and four-year-old Yuval Abebeh, both members of the same family. Both children were wounded in the strike and died of their injuries shortly afterward.

The rocket landed in an alley between two buildings in a residential area of the town. Two other rockets were fired at the same time, Army Radio reported.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the strike, which came on a day in which at least four Palestinians were reported killed during an Israel Defense Forces raid in the northern Gaza Strip aimed at preventing the firing of the Qassam rockets.

The wounded were taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon and Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, where one person was treated for serious injuries, 14 for light-to-moderate wounds and the remainder for shock. After the strike, Sderot residents gathered in the area where the Qassam fell, some shouting, "Death to Arabs."

A local man, Ronen Edri, reached the site of the attack immediately after the rockets fell. He said that he saw a boy with head and body wounds lying in the street and tried to give him first aid. "There was a great deal of hysteria all around," he said. "People were screaming and crying from shock. I tried to stem the boy's bleeding, and then Magen David Adom personnel arrived and took him away."

"I saw one little child without his legs. We tried to help the other one but it was too late," said neighbor Haviv Ben Abbo, who rushed to the scene when he heard the boom. "All our town is crying."

Shortly after the rocket hit the Negev town, an Israel Air Force helicopter fired a missile close to the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza. Army Radio reported earlier that the rocket fire had originated from the camp. Two people were wounded in the strike, witnesses said. Army Radio said that the helicopter had fired at a group of terrorists in the Jabalya region, who were trying to launch more Qassam rockets.

U.S. Volunteers Escorting Palestinian Children Attacked

By Ha'aretz

Unidentified assailants attacked two American Christian volunteers who were escorting Palestinian schoolchildren on Wednesday morning near the settlement of Maon in the southern Hebron Hills area of the West Bank. The assailants beat the volunteers and robbed them. The two were evacuated by Israeli ambulance to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.

The attackers, numbering four or five, were dressed in black and wore masks. They spoke English and were carrying chains and clubs. They did not attack the schoolchildren, who quickly fled the scene, but stole a bag belonging to female volunteer Kim Lamberty, 44, and broke her arm. The bag contained her passport, money and cellular phone. The assailants beat the second volunteer, Chris Brown, 39, with chains. He suffered a punctured lung and external bleeding.

Both volunteers are affiliated with the Christian Peacemakers Teams, which escorts Palestinian schoolchildren living with their families in caves in the village of Tuba to their primary school in the village of Al-Tuwani, an approximately half-hour walk. The road along which the volunteers and schoolchildren pass is used by settlers and is forbidden to Palestinian vehicular traffic. Palestinian pedestrians, however, are permitted to use the road. However, the schoolchildren are afraid to pass unescorted through the area because of what they describe as harassment by area Jewish settlers.

Asked about Wednesday's attack on the U.S. activists, Josh Hasten, a spokesman for the settlers' Yesha Council, said: "We know nothing of this specific incident but are opposed to any violation of the law."

Sharon: Synagogues to be Transferred


Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told interviewer Yossi Elituv of the religious weekly Mishpacha Magazine that he plans to physically transfer the synagogues from Gush Katif to new locations in Israel. "I've heard all this talk about synagogues becoming mosques," Sharon said, "so let me assure you: They will be dismantled and transferred. Not one synagogue will remain there. Every synagogue will be moved." Sharon also said that the Arabs of Gaza would not live in the homes built by the Jews: "I want to say that in these homes, refugees will not live. They need high-rise buildings, not villas."

Sharon was also asked about the cemetery in Gush Katif, and said, "In the past, we have transferred bodies. There is Torah law how to do this. We have appointed the best possible people to deal with these matters, people who are connected to religion and are religious. These issues will be handled exactly how they're supposed to be."

Two Religious Films Win Israeli 'Oscars'


The Israeli Film Academy awarded its annual prizes Tuesday, and two films dealing with religious issues and produced by religious Jews won a total of six of them.

Yosef Cider's "Medora HaShevet" - Tribal Bonfire - won prizes for best film, best director, best screenplay, best editing, and best supporting actress. A Hareidi-produced movie, "HaUshpizin" - The Sukkot Guests - won a prize, known affectionately as an Israeli Oscar, for best actor, awarded to Shuli Rand. Some 36 Israeli movies, including 13 documentaries were nominated for prizes, and 14 prizes were awarded to nine films.

In his acceptance speech, Rand, who also wrote the film, said he first wished to thank "the Holy One, Blessed be He, in Whose honor I made the film." He also mentioned the saintly 18th-century Rabbi Nachman of Breslav and his own Yeshiva head, Rabbi Shalom Harosh of Jerusalem. He further thanked his director Gidi Dar, and his wife Michal who, like Shuli, is a recent returnee to observant Judaism, and who was the film's co-star.

On the other hand, one of the awardees actually dedicated his prize to "my friend, Tali Fahima" - the Israeli Jewess who is under house arrest for her role in aiding her boyfriend and arch-terrorist Zakarias Zubeidi of Jenin.

Cider's "Tribal Bonfire" centers around three religious women and their day-to-day problems. "The Sukkot Guests," a first in mainstream films in that it features a Hareidi star and a Hareidi plot, centers around a young and destitute yeshiva couple living in Me'ah She'arim whose prayers are answered when they are suddenly blessed with a windfall of charity money - as well as unexpected guests for the holiday: two old friends whom he hasn't seen since they sat in prison together years before. The movie received very positive reviews.

Waiting to Bomb Iran

By Aluf Benn (Commentary)

While the debate in Israel was focused on the disengagement plan, an entirely different discussion was developing in the international media. They have become convinced in recent weeks that Israel is planning an aerial attack on Iran's nuclear installations, should it conclude that Iran is proceeding apace toward the development of an atomic bomb, and the diplomatic effort to stop it has failed.

This discussion is not taking place on remote Internet sites, but in learned analyses by the most important newspapers in the world, which are describing the anticipated Israeli bombing as a political fact that is influencing decision makers in Washington and Europe. Everyone knows that Israel considers the Iranian bomb the most serious threat to its existence and its regional status.

The newspaper articles recall the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reaction in 1981 as an example of what awaits the Iranians. They analyze the ability of the Israel Air Force to carry out such an operation, and warn that it will lead to terrible repercussions in the Middle East.

There is no question that the bombing of Iran will be much more complicated than the attack on the Iraqi reactor. The flight range is greater, the Iranian installations are scattered and protected, and Iran is capable of retaliating. But the interesting difference between Iraq and Iran is that at the time, the Iraqi operation was planned in secret and was carried out by surprise, and this time the ostensible preparations are being conducted almost in the open.

The belief that Israel's patience is running out have increased since July, when the British Sunday Times reported - based on Israeli sources - on the advanced preparations for bombing the reactor in Bushehr. The article, which was widely quoted all over the world and aroused Iranian counter-threats, seems to be Israeli psychological warfare.

The British papers are a well-known target of such deliberate leaks, but no investigation was begun in Israel about presumed revelations of operational secrets, and at the time, Iran seemed to be evading diplomatic pressure. Afterward came the tests of the Israel Arrow missile and the Iranian Shihab, and more belligerent declarations from Teheran, and additional articles about the anticipated operation.

Judging by an analysis of the articles, Israel has decided to sharpen the sense of urgency in the international community, in order to increase diplomatic pressure on Teheran to cease its enrichment of uranium. This goal has been achieved, at least in the declarations being heard from the United States and Europe, and in the decisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

It is possible that factors in the West, doubtful about the success of the diplomatic effort, prefer to have Israel act in their place. There are signs of that: Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who met with many of his colleagues at the UN General Assembly, heard a great deal of understanding from them about the Iranian danger, and serious doubts as to the chances of diplomacy. Nobody asked Israel to refrain from a belligerent act.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says that Israel is not planning a military operation in Iran, and speaks of developing improved means of defense and deterrence. But the foreign media were more interested in the threats against the Iranians by senior members of the Israel Defense Forces. "We will not rely only on others" (Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon), "We will rely on others until we have to rely on ourselves" (his deputy, Dan Halutz), "The operational capability of the air force has increased significantly since the bombing of the Iraqi reactor" (Commander of the Israel Air Force, Eliezer Shkedi).

Sharon is disturbed by the growing acceptance, particularly in Europe, of Iran's impending membership in the nuclear club. Meanwhile he is carefully walking on the edge, and is exploiting his tough-guy image to arouse international attention. But nor should we forget that the present political-military leadership - Sharon, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Ya'alon, Halutz - has few inhibitions about exercising military might. Operations that were once considered taboo, such as attacks on Damascus and assassinations of Hamas leaders, now seem self-evident.

A possible attack on Iran will be much more complex and risky, and therefore we would do well not to ignore the threats, and to conduct a public debate on the question of whether this course of action is desirable for Israel.

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