Newsletter : 5fax0114.txt
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Abbas: Palestinians Ready for Peace 'Road Map'
By VOA News
Newly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians are ready to carry
out their commitments under the internationally backed "road map" peace plan. Speaking to
a group of local and international Christian clergymen in Ramallah Thursday, Abbas said
there are mutual obligations in the "road map," and that Palestinians are serious about
implementing their part. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is expected to meet with Abbas
within days, has stressed that peace negotiations cannot be revived unless Palestinians
crackdown on militants.
5 Israelis Killed in Palestinian Attack on Gaza Crossing
By Ha'aretz & IsraelNationalNews.com
Israel Air Force aircraft struck a Hamas-linked target in the Gaza Strip late Thursday
night, soon after Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Karni Crossing in
the Strip, killing five Israelis and wounding four others.
Two suicide bombers detonated a 330-pound bomb adjacent to a wall between the Israeli
and Palestinian sides of the commercial terminal at 10:50 p.m., then entered the Israeli
side and set off their explosive belts, killing themselves in the blast. Other
Palestinians subsequently opened fire on Israeli personnel at the crossing with mortars
and light arms. Three of the wounded Israelis were in serious condition and one was in
moderate condition, according to Magen David Adom ambulance teams. There have been reports
that as many as 15 Israelis were wounded.
The attack, which came just four days after the election of Mahmoud Abbas, could be
seen as a challenge to the new Palestinian Authority chairman, who has often condemned
suicide bombings as harmful to the Palestinian cause. Significantly, three militant groups
claimed joint responsibility for the attack, Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees, and
the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Abbas' Fatah movement.
Israel and Washington have said that the first test of Abbas as a leader will be his
willingness and ability to rein in terror groups. The Sharon government has set strong PA
action against terror as a pre-condition for resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace
Shortly after the bombing at Karni, witnesses said an Israeli helicopter fired missiles
at a medical center in Dir al-Balah refugee camp run by an Islamic charity, Al Salah, with
links to Hamas. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the air strike.
MDA teams managed to evacuate five casualties in armored ambulances but heavy exchanges
of gunfire between Palestinians and Israel Defense Forces soldiers prevented further
evacuations. The wounded were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.
The terminal, closed to Palestinian traffic at this hour, was relatively empty at the
time of the attack. However, there is a permanent presence of Israeli civilian border
authority personnel and a small IDF force permanently stationed at the crossing. The large
bomb used to demolish the dividing wall between the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the
crossing was apparently smuggled into Karni in a vehicle.
Expulsion-Refusal Spreads Within IDF
The phenomenon of IDF soldiers declaring their intention to refuse orders to expel Jews
from their homes continues to spread. IDF officers from the Adam military training
installation met with Commander of IDF Ground Forces, Maj.-Gen. Yiftah Ron-Tal, informing
him that many of the soldiers under their command would refuse to carry out orders to
expel Jews from their homes. This, according to a report in Thursday's Yediot Achronot
According to the report, one company commander from the Haruv battalion told Ron-Tal:
"I have many soldiers in my company who say point-blank that they are unable to carry out
an evacuation order." Ron-Tal reiterated that the IDF would not tolerate the phenomenon
of disobeying orders. "There is a political struggle and I understand that people want to
influence the political decisions, and in a democratic country that is fine. It must be
done, though, working within the law," he told reporters.
"The most important thing in my eyes is not to bring the IDF into this controversy,"
added Ron-Tal, "There are elements that are trying hard to bring the IDF into this, but we
will try with all our strength to make sure that it doesn't happen. Bringing the army into
this struggle could have a dramatic negative effect on the security of this country and we
will not lend support to such a thing."
Some of the 34 IDF officers who declared their opposition to soldiers being placed in
the position of having to choose between their moral and religious beliefs were relieved
of their posts last week. Kedumim Mayor Daniella Weiss, head of one of the largest
communities in Samaria, has openly called on soldiers to refuse expulsion orders, echoing
a call by leading religious-Zionist Rabbi Avraham Shapira, a former Chief Rabbi.
A soldier who called upon the members of his IDF unit to refuse to destroy two homes in
the Yesha community of Yitzhar last week was released from IDF jail Wednesday evening
after the Supreme Court ruled he had not received a fair trial. The soldier insisted that
the expulsion of Jews from their homes constituted an illegal order.
U.K.'s Prince Harry Apologizes for Wearing Nazi Costume
By Reuters and Ha'aretz
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, responding Thursday to British Prince Harry's wearing a
Nazi uniform to a party just two weeks before the 60th anniversary of the death camp's
liberation, said the use of Nazi symbols was intolerable.
The 20-year-old grandson of Queen Elizabeth has apologized for wearing a swastika
armband and an army shirt with Nazi regalia at a costume party on Saturday, but rights
groups and politicians said he should do more. Photographs of the younger son of the late
Princess Diana and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles in Nazi attire appeared in the Sun
newspaper in Britain, as well as in Israeli papers and on Web sites around the world.
In the latest of a string of gaffes, Harry, the 20-year-old grandson of Queen
Elizabeth, wore a red and black swastika armband and an army shirt with Nazi regalia at
the party at a friend's house on Saturday. The incident heaped more embarrassment on the
royal family and Harry, third in line to the British throne and due to train at the Royal
Military Academy Sandhurst this year.
Queen Elizabeth is due to host a reception for survivors of the Holocaust on January 27
before representing the nation at the Holocaust Memorial Day National Event. Harry said in
a statement that he was sorry if he had caused any offense. "It was a poor choice of
costume and I apologize," he said.
However, Shalom said, "I think anybody who tries to pass it off as bad taste must be
made aware that this can encourage others to think that perhaps that period was not as bad
as we teach the young generation in the free world."
Simon Wiesenthal Center Dean Marvin Hier urged Prince Harry on Thursday to go to
Auschwitz to learn about Nazi crimes. "This was a shameful act displaying insensitivity
for the victims, not just for those soldiers of his own country who gave their lives to
defeat Nazism but to the victims of the Holocaust" Hier said in a statement.
"We strongly urge Prince Harry to accompany the British delegation on January 27th to
the Auschwitz death camp to commemorate 60 years since liberation. There he will see the
results of the hated symbol he so foolishly and brazenly chose to wear."
Holocaust Memorial Day will be marked in Britain for the fifth time on January 27th.
Queen Elizabeth will attend main event at Westminster Hall in London while prince Edward
will head the British delegation to the ceremonies at Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in
Poland, marking the 60th anniversary for the liberation of the concentration and death
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