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28-Day Jail Term for Soldier Who Called for Refusal of Orders


IDF soldier Yossi Pilent was sentenced to 28 days in jail after he called on soldiers to disobey orders during the removal of two caravans in Yitzhar earlier this week. Pilent was arrested during the operation to remove the unauthorized caravans from his home community of Yitzhar. He requested he be court-martialed before a military court, not tried in a civilian court. The army decided he would stand trial before an officer. He was tried and sentenced Wednesday by an officer with the rank of colonel.

Twelve IDF Troops Hurt by Qassam Attack Near Gaza Border

By Ha'aretz

At least 12 Israel Defense Forces troops were wounded Wednesday, two moderately to seriously, when Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket at an IDF base near the Gaza-Israel border. The troops were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva.

Also Wednesday, Palestinians fired two Qassam rockets at the western Negev and mortar shells at Gaza Strip settlements, in a continuation of ongoing mortar and rocket fire that the IDF has been attempting to bring to an end in recent weeks. There were no injuries in those attacks. An armed Palestinian opened fire early Wednesday on IDF troops at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza, where Palestinians were about to cross at the beginning of an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the IDF said. Troops returned fire, killing the militant.

The IDF said the Palestinian also set off an explosive charge and threw grenades at an IDF officer, who shot and killed him. Soldiers exchanged fire with armed Palestinians, and three Palestinian police officers were wounded. The IDF said they were being treated at an Israeli clinic. Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades released a joint statement claiming responsibility for the attack. Palestinian security officials said the exchange of fire took place, as Palestinians were about to cross through the checkpoint to travel to Mecca for the Islamic hajj pilgrimage.

Israelis Watching Outcome of Palestinian Elections

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinians are preparing to elect a new president this coming Sunday and many of them, along with many Israelis view the vote as a potentially important opening toward peace. But, rising violence in the Gaza Strip and increasingly tough campaign speeches by front-runner Mahmoud Abbas have some Israelis wondering if anything will change at all.

When Yasir Arafat died last November, Israeli officials did not hide their relief or their hopes for a new era in relations with Palestinians. Many viewed Arafat as an obstacle to peace and after his death there was a renewed emphasis on peace efforts. President Bush said he saw new hopes for peace and sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region to show Washington's commitment. Britain's Tony Blair came here too, as did senior diplomats from several countries.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom spoke of that optimism again just days before Palestinians go to the polls to elect a successor to Arafat. "I was thinking for a very long time that if Arafat won't be with us here, it will be much easier for a new, moderate Palestinian leadership to emerge," he said.

But, the peace euphoria has dimmed somewhat in recent weeks largely because of the campaign rhetoric of the leading contender for the Palestinian presidency, Mahmoud Abbas. In campaign speeches in Gaza this week, Abbas, who is also widely known as Abu Mazen, praised Palestinian militants and vowed to protect them. In one speech, after an Israeli tank shell killed seven Palestinians in a Gaza raid, he referred to Israel as the "Zionist enemy.

A growing Israeli pessimism about. Abbas is nowhere more clear cut than in the Israeli town of Sderot which sits near the Gaza Strip and is the frequent target of Palestinian missile strikes. Sderot Mayor Eli Moyell put it bluntly. "Right after I heard what Mr. Abu Mazen said in Rafah, well he's worse than Arafat, if you ask me," he said.

But, aides close to Abbas blame the tough rhetoric on the campaign and on the need for Abbas to shed the image many Palestinian voters have of him, that of a non-descript businessman who will be "soft" on Israel. Those close to his campaign say while he will not be a "pushover" for Israeli demands, he is ready to talk peace.

Israeli officials said they would await the outcome of Sunday's elections and they warned that whatever Palestinian government is put in place, it will have to stop the militant attacks - otherwise they said there will be no peace to talk about.

World's Top Leaders (Except from the U.S. and UK) to Attend Jan. 27 Auschwitz Anniversary

By Reuters

World leaders including the Russian, German and French presidents will gather in Poland later this month to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the biggest Nazi death camp Auschwitz, the Polish government said.

The January 27 commemoration will take place at the site of the camp near the southern Polish city of Oswiecim (Auschwitz). The camp's barracks were preserved after World War Two as a memorial to its estimated 1.5 million victims, mostly European Jews. "About 30 heads of state have declared their participation, as well as a dozen or so foreign ministers," Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld told reporters on Wednesday.

President Moshe Katsav, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Germany's Horst Koehler, France's Jacques Chirac are due to join their Polish counterpart for the Auschwitz ceremonies. However, incoming (but not confirmed) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is likely to represent the United States while Britain will send Prince Edward.

German forces occupying Poland set up Auschwitz in 1940 as a labor camp for Polish prisoners, gradually expanding it into a vast labor and death camp for Jews shipped there from around Europe in cattle trains. The scale of the killing in the camp's gas chambers was hidden to the outside world during the war, with reports of Polish resistance describing the horror treated with disbelief by the anti-Nazi Allies. The camp was liberated in January 1945 by the advancing Red Army, whose stunned soldiers freed the remaining 7,000 half-starved inmates.

Israeli Technology to Secure U.S. Youth Chat Rooms

By ( (c) 2004)

One of the growing fears of parents is the possibility that their children will encounter inappropriate material while surfing the Internet, particularly in chat rooms. But a unique American initiative, called I-Safe America, is utilizing Israeli-developed authentication technology in a nationwide effort to create secure chat rooms for children and adolescents.

I-Safe, founded in 1998, provides Internet safety information and knowledge to students, parents and other community members. Using Tel Aviv-based Aladdin's secure eToken USB keys, the age and identity of participants in chat rooms can be confirmed in order to block out pedophiles and other sexual predators posing as youngsters. Aladdin's eToken is a fully portable USB authentication device the size of an average house key, which offers a cost-effective method for user authentication when accessing a network, and for securing electronic business applications.

According to Aladdin's VP for Business Development Avishai Ziv, parents and teachers have great difficulty blocking problematic Web sites, since new ones are being created continuously. "A major concern for i-SAFE is how to distribute the tokens to American households. They want free distribution through the school system, but each token costs upwards of $50. Although many parents have expressed willingness to pay that amount, i-SAFE wants it to be distributed free of charge.

"Congress has provided initial allocations of $4 million, and AOL and Microsoft will also contribute. They're also looking for sponsorships from corporate America - for instance the idea of having McDonalds put their brand on the eToken and distributing them through their stores through some promotion."

Whatever distribution method is chosen, American parents will have the option of enabling their children to use the Internet safely. And that's what the i-SAFE project is all about. And Ziv is proud of the fact that Aladdin and Israel can play a part in bringing the dream to reality.

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