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Women In Green: Put Sharon on Trial


Nadia Matar, just months after the stormy response she received for accusing the government of acting like the "Judenrat," has called for putting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on trial for "cooperating with the enemy." Matar, leader of the Women in Green organization, said she and other activists would file a police complaint against Sharon Sunday. She compared Disengagement Authority head Yonaton Bassi, an orthodox Kibbutznik, to the Judenrat, Jewish councils during the Holocaust acted as intermediaries with the Nazis, carrying out the their increasingly oppressive dictates, such as helping transfer their fellow Jews into ghettos, and eventually even delivering Jews directly to the trains bound for the death camps.

Israel Releases 159 Palestinian Prisoners as Part of Deal with Egypt

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Israel released 159 Palestinian prisoners Monday as a goodwill gesture to the new Palestinian leadership and to Egypt, which earlier this month released Azzam Azzam, an Israeli man who had served eight years in an Egyptian prison on spy charges. In exchange, Israel released six Egyptian students who had crossed the border illegally and were accused of planning to carry out attacks against Israel. Also as part of the deal, Israeli authorities agreed to release some Palestinian prisoners.

Israel holds an estimated 7,000 Palestinian prisoners and Monday's release is also intended as a goodwill gesture to the new interim Palestinian leadership, headed by former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

One of those released at the Beitunia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah, gave his name only as Abdullah. He said he hoped more prisoners would be released in the future. He said the Palestinian leadership must keep up the pressure on the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to release more Palestinian prisoners. Another prisoner, Hussein, said many more Palestinians are suffering in Israeli jails. He said they too should be released.

There is definitely pressure on Abbas to make the release of prisoners a central issue with the Israelis. Abbas is favored to win in the January 9 elections to succeed Yasir Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority. He kicked off his campaign, calling on Israel to release all Palestinian prisoners, including prominent terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences on charges of terrorism.

Among the prisoners are around 50 illegal residents and the rest are inmates whose prison terms were almost up and who do not have "blood on their hands," meaning they were not involved in attacks against Israelis. Included was a senior Fatah party leader in Hebron. Fatah is the PLO's terrorist organization founded by Arafat.

President Moshe Katzav, who agreed to pardon the prisoners, refused to grant release to only four members of the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Tanzim terrorist organizations.

Spokesman for the Terror Victims Association, Uriah Bachrach, denounced the release of the terrorists. He said, "Contrary to all media reports, this release has nothing to do with Azzam Azzam. It is a 'gesture' that, based on past experience, will cost Israel Jewish blood. In every other release of terrorists who attempted, but were not successful, in murdering Jews, many of the convicts went right back to try again. In essence, the State of Israel is simply granting a second chance to terrorists who missed their target."

As Toll Mounts, Fears Grow for Israelis Missing in SE Asia

By Ha'aretz

As the death toll in the Southeast Asian earthquake and tsunami catastrophe passed the 24,000 mark, fears grew Monday for the fate of some 100 Israelis still missing and unaccounted for.

The Foreign Ministry said Monday night that 29 Israelis had been injured in South Asia, four of them seriously. The four were in Thailand: two on Phi Phi Island and two on Phuket. Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman, David Saranga, told Israel Radio that the four will be flown to Bangkok on Tuesday for further treatment and it will then be decided whether they were well enough to fly home to Israel.

Channel 2 news reported Monday evening that the Foreign Ministry was checking reports that six Israeli had been swept out to sea by the tsunamis. Ministry figures updated Monday showed that around 100 Israelis traveling in Southeast Asia have not been located since the devastating earthquake and tsunamis struck. More than 500 Israelis have, however, been found. Foreign Ministry representatives on Monday began contacting the families of Israelis who have been safely located in the region.

Between seven and 14 Israelis were injured in Thailand's Phuket Island by the earthquake and subsequent massive tidal waves, the Foreign Ministry said. According to local reports, all 107 Israelis that were in the Andaman Islands at the time of the disaster have been located and are unharmed. Israeli medical teams were dispatched to Sri Lanka and Thailand on Monday. A Health Ministry contingent left for Thailand to aid in the rescue efforts there after around 1,000 people, including tourists, were killed on the once-idyllic islands of Phuket and Phi Phi. The contingent includes doctors, nurses and four members of the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Radio reported.

Another team landed in Sri Lanka on Monday night. Four doctors - all from Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in Jerusalem - head the Israeli mission. The team is carrying medicine and baby food. The doctors, who specialize in rescue operations, trauma and pediatrics, will also be checking the viability of establishing a field hospital in the area. That decision will come at a later time from the Ministry of Defense.

"It is possible... we will advise Israel and the Foreign Ministry... to send something more massive," said Dr. Avi Rivkind, director of Hadassah's trauma unit. "We will try to use our... broad experience in dealing with terror attacks and rescuing masses to help in this disaster as well."

Another contingent, this one made up of IDF members, will leave for Sri Lanka on Tuesday morning, Israel Radio reported. Sri Lanka was one of the hardest hit countries, with over 10,000 people killed, including 200 foreign tourists. Israel has also offered its assistance to India -- a search and rescue team from the Home Front Command, as well as consignments of food and medicines.

In a parallel move, the Latet (Hebrew for "to give") organization will send a plane with aid to Sri Lanka on Tuesday. The aid, comprising tens of thousands of blankets donated by the IDF, as well as tents, nylon sheets, and water tanks, was sent request of the authority in the stricken areas.

Holocaust Survivor Sisters Moving to Israel


A unique pair of sisters is among over 200 immigrants arriving in Israel Wednesday from North America. The flight carrying the new immigrants is the fourth such El Al flight from North America chartered by Nefesh B'Nefesh organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel this year. Over 3,000 Jews emigrated from North America through that program thus far.

While Nefesh B'Nefesh immigrants are generally young families and professionals, this week's flight includes two special seniors: Irma Haas, 97, and sister Hilde Meyer, 94, who both survived the Holocaust. Born in Germany, they fled to Holland during World War II, but were ultimately deported to the death camp at Bergen-Belsen. Miraculously, both sisters survived, although their husbands perished. Following the war, the two relocated to America, living the past 50 years in Manhattan and Englewood, NJ. This Wednesday, they are delighted to realize their lifelong dream of living in Jerusalem.

The 2004 olim (newcomers) come from 33 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces. Of the 1,600 immigrants on Nefesh B'Nefesh's premiere flights in 2002-03, 99% remain in Israel. 93% of the families have one or both spouses employed, 95 children were born to the new olim and 18 weddings were celebrated.

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