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Jews to Make Up 70% of Population by 2025

By Ha'aretz

Israel's population will reach 9.3 million in 2025, an increase of 45 percent compared to 6.4 million at the end of 2000, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported. Seventy percent, or 6.5 million, of Israel's residents in 2025 will be Jewish. The average annual population growth rate in 2001-2025 will be 1.5 percent, compared to 1.8 percent in 2001-2005, and 2.6 percent in 1995-2000. According to the forecast, the Jewish population will grow in 2001-2025 by 1.1 percent annually, or 60,000 people. The Arab population is expected to reach 2.3 million, or 25 percent, of Israel's population in 2025, compared to 19 percent, or 1.2 million, today.

High Alert Amid Warnings of Temple Mount Attack

By Ha'aretz

The Shin Bet security service has raised the level of alert in Jerusalem amid indications that extremist Jews are planning to carry out an attack on the mosques of the Temple Mount, and on the basis of new intelligence has beefed up police and security around the site in the heart of the Old City.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Movement's northern branch, which has made protection of the Al-Aqsa mosque the centerpiece of its activities, has called on Israeli Arab Muslims to flock to the Old City site to protect it from Jewish extremists.

Police on Wednesday announced plans to close the Temple Mount compound to Jews on Sunday, when a right-wing extremist group called Revava was planning to hold a mass rally there. Police fear the activists could clash with Muslim worshipers. Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra and Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi have approved an operational plan meant to prevent Revava activists from holding the event. Police will prevent Jews from ascending to the mount Sunday, and will work to prevent any friction between Jews and Muslims in the Old City's alleys.

Jerusalem's police chief, Ilan Franco, announced several days ago that Revava activists would not be allowed to enter the Temple Mount compound. The statement came after reports in the Arab media expressed dismay at intentions of Israeli authorities to grant the right-wing activists permission to approach the compound, revered as holy by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

Channel One reported Wednesday night that these security concerns have been made known to the political echelon. The radical rightists apparently aim to attack the mosques in the hope that will disrupt the execution of the disengagement plan.

The secret service created a ranking from 1-10 with 10 being the highest security risk. Three months ago, the Shin Bet was ranking the security threat at 7, meaning that "there are signs of planning for an attack," and that there are activists "talking about what to do and as soon as possible." Now, however, the ranking has moved to an 8 - and it is based on much more solid information.

Security sources confirmed that there is information about several groups of extremists, though it is not certain to what extent they are in contact with one another. Lately there has been some progress made in the inquiry, but a gag order has been slapped on its details.

A senior security source said recently that the mosques of the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram el Sharif, have become a "hot topic" among radicals, on the assumption that an attack on the mosques would shock the Muslim world, drag Israel into a new war and prevent the disengagement. The source defined the chances of the threat against the mount being actualized as greater than the threat to the prime minister's life, where the security risk remains stable at 6, largely because of the difficulty of protecting the mount.

In response to the Revava plans, the Al-Aqsa Association of the Islamic Movement's northern branch has called on its followers several times in the past few days to remain at the mosque around the clock. The association said that in light of the threats to the mosque by Jewish extremists, it calls on Muslims in Israel to go to the Haram el Sharif and hold all five daily Muslim prayers there and stay there. And it called on East Jerusalem Muslims to go to Al-Aqsa instead of their neighborhood mosques. The association said Wednesday that it is sending buses full of believers daily to Jerusalem and that it intends to pick up the pace ahead of Sunday.

Knesset member Abdel Malik Dehamshe, of the United Arab List, wrote to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this week asking him to do whatever is necessary to protect the mosques. "I emphasize that in light of the tangible danger to the mosques in Jerusalem, unusual steps must be taken," the MK wrote.

The northern branch of the Islamic Movement has been very active over the past several years in dealing with the Al-Aqsa mosque. Israeli Arabs have much more freedom of movement than West Bankers and Gazans, which enables them to pray in large numbers on the mount every Friday and Saturday. In the announcement issued Wednesday, the association emphasized that people were being called upon to only hold prayers on the mount.

Serious Differences Remain Between US, Israel over Settlements

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)

A senior Israeli official says there are serious differences between Israel and the United States over the expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas. Israeli Justice Minister Tsipi Livni said in an interview on Israel Radio that there is, what she termed, a debate over whether Israel can expand the boundaries of the existing settlements.

Livni said let there be no misunderstanding, there apparently will be disputes with the Americans over this. The differences between the two governments are substantial. Last month Israeli officials confirmed they have plans to build 3,600 new homes in the sprawling West Bank Jerusalem suburb of Maaleh Adumim.

On Tuesday, President Bush said the internationally backed "road map" peace plan prohibits further expansion of Jewish settlements and called for a freeze on construction. Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed Bush's statement, urging the American leader to exert every possible effort to stop settlement activities and to maintain his vision of a two state solution.

Maaleh Adumim's physical location raises a significant issue. Should the new construction spread to the west it could link the settlement up with Jerusalem and separate the Arab neighborhoods there from the rest of the West Bank, making it untenable to make east Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state as the Palestinians hope. But despite the differences between the U.S. and Israeli positions on the settlement issue, Tzipi Livni said she does not expect there to be any particular problems when Bush and Sharon meet next week in Texas.

Hebron's Jews Under Closure to Allow Terrorists to Return


"A declaration of war on the Jewish Community of Hebron," said spokesman David Wilder, as hundreds of security forces descended on the city to allow a terrorist family to enter "its" home. Wilder was referring to the army's decision to help the Sharabati family, which was involved in the massacre of 1929 against the Jews, return to a building adjacent to a Jewish neighborhood. The building was a part of the Jewish neighborhood until the Arabs massacred 67 Jews in 1929 and banished the remainder from the city for the next 40 years.

In the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, hundreds of Border Guard policemen, soldiers, policemen, and mounted policemen arrived in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood of Hebron, and declared the area a "closed military zone." They began towing away legally parked cars and erecting checkpoints, and are not allowing the Jewish residents out. "And all this," Wilder said, "is in order to allow the Sharabati family, members of which took part in the murder of Jews during the 1929 massacre, to rebuild their home next to our neighborhood." Wilder said that the army is planning to build a large wall around the Arab terrorists' home, "so that we won't bother them."

The Supreme Court approved the entry of the Arab family six months ago. The Jewish Community of Hebron said that the house in question, which has fallen into disrepair over the years, was part of the ancient Jewish Quarter of the city. The neighborhood was looted and destroyed by Arabs during the 1929 massacre, in which 67 Jews were brutally slaughtered in their homes by their Arab neighbors.

A Jewish protest of sorts is underway in other parts of Jewish Hebron, "but at this point, there is little we can do," Wilder said. Some violence has been recorded, including the violent arrest of some of the residents, and two women were detained for pelting security forces with eggs and rocks. A 10-year-old boy was also arrested, and an 8-month-pregnant woman fainted and was evacuated to a hospital.

Hebrew U. Veterinary School Saves Lion in Complicated Surgery


A lion named Samson from a zoo in Rishon LeTzion has been returned to his "home" after undergoing a complex brain operation at Jerusalem's Hebrew University Vet Hospital.

The lion had been very ill and would probably have died if a doctor from the Hebrew University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital had not heard about the case. Dr. Merav Shamir, a specialist in veterinary neurology and neurosurgery at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine of the Hebrew University Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, diagnosed Samson's medical problem and operated on him.

"Samson's illness was brought to my attention after symptoms of damage to his nervous system appeared," Shamir said. "I was asked to carry out a neurological examination. I saw that he stood on his legs with difficulty. When he tried to walk, he fell after a few steps. He also had no appetite and appeared generally to be in poor condition. I diagnosed that Samson was suffering from damage to the posterior portion of his skull, which applied pressure on his cerebellum and the upper sector of the spinal cord."

Shamir said the type of damage Samson had suffered is known to occur in lions living in captivity. It is expressed in abnormal skull growth, exerting pressure on the rear portion of the brain. Veterinary medicine literature states that this situation is caused due to a vitamin A deficiency.

Even though lions in captivity, including those at the Rishon LeTzion zoo, receive vitamin supplements in their daily food rations, the symptoms that Samson suffered are not totally unknown. In all previous cases of this type, the animal died due to the phenomenon, either because of a lack of proper medical treatment or because of imprecise diagnosis. In most of the cases, the nature of the problem was revealed with certainty only after death.

"We decided to carry out this operation that had never before been performed anywhere," said Dr. Shamir, "and in doing so we removed part of the thickened skull tissue, thus freeing the tremendous pressure on the rear portion of the brain." The operation lasted six hours.

After the operation, the lion was taken for recovery to his heated enclosure in the Rishon LeTzion zoo. Under the care of the zoo's veterinarian, Dr. Limor Miara, and the animal's caretaker, Samson was able, almost immediately, to again stand on his legs. Samson began to walk steadily and without stumbling, and traces of his previous illness were hard to discern. During the following ten days he received intensive care from the zoo staff, which included special food, antibiotic medicine, vitamin supplements and other "special treatment."

"The results as they look today are more than we could have expected," said Shamir. "Samson is walking around as a fully healthy lion, and our final worry is that the impressive mane which covered his head before the operation should return and cover any traces of our surgical work."

Government Officials Meet with Yamit Evacuees Ahead of Gaza Disengagement


The Forum of Government Directors-General headed by the Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office, Ilan Cohen, met with persons who were uprooted from their homes in Yamit.

Residents of Moshav Ein HaBasor, evicted from their homes in 1982 in the framework of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, met with the government officials. They discussed the lessons to be learned from the Sinai expulsion, including the psychological ramifications of being uprooted from one's home by the Government of Israel.

On Oct 24, 2004, one of the Jews evacuated from Yamit in the Sinai desert in 1982 led residents from the Gush Katif community of Elei Sinai on a march to Jerusalem. "Yamit will not fall a second time," said Avi Farchan, accompanied by his son and grandson. He said he would try to ask Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Knesset speaker Ruby Rivlin for permission to speak before the Knesset during a debate on the plan to uproot 25 Jewish communities from Gush Katif and northern Samaria.

Farchan made the same march in 1982 before the government dismantled the communities in and around Yamit and handed the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. He said he vowed the government would not uproot his home a second time.

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