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Newsletter : 5fax0408.txt

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Calls to Come to the Mount to Stop the Jews


Calls were heard throughout Palestinian Authority autonomous areas on Thursday, seeking to draw the masses to make their way to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Friday, to sleep on the Mount to prevent Jews from taking part in a prayer service on Sunday. While police plan to restrict the number of Islamic worshipers permitted on the Mount for Friday's Islamic prayer services, tens of thousands of Islamic worshipers are planning to remain on the Mount through Sunday to act as human shields to prevent Jews from making their way onto the Mount.

Special Command will Oversee Elite Pullout Units

By Ha'aretz

(Israel News Faxx editor's note: This "news story" appears to be slanted. However in this journalist's opinion, it offers an illuminating view into the mindset of various governmental elected officials.))

The Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police have recently set up a special command to coordinate the activities of the select units that will take part in implementing the disengagement plan. Teams from the select units will be deployed close to the settlements slated for evacuation, and will serve as "intervention forces" to deal with possible violent opposition to the pullout, including the use of live weapons.

Brig. Gen. Amos Ben-Avraham, who has extensive experience in overseeing the operations of small, elite forces, will head the special command. Ben-Avraham, who now heads the IDF's Leadership and High Command School, spent a large portion of his military service in the General Staff's elite commando unit, heading the unit in the early 1990s. In 2002, he served as commander of the IDF's Judea Division, which was responsible for the areas of Bethlehem and Hebron for a few months.

Ben-Avraham's command will oversee teams from a number of elite units, including the Police Special Anti-Terror unit, the Naval Commando, the Israel Air Force's Shaldag unit, the Prisons Service's Massada unit, and the Eilat District's Anti-Terror unit, which is made up of reservists. If necessary, the inclusion of additional units will be considered.

The units chosen for the task have extensive experience in dealing with complex situations that arise in small areas; for example, tackling armed individuals who are holed up in homes and take hostages. In this regard, it appears that the Police Special Anti-Terror unit and the Prisons Service Massada unit are the best trained and experienced.

A senior security source told Ha'aretz that members of the "intervention teams" would not be deployed in the settlements themselves, so as not to stir up extra tension. Instead, they will be deployed near the settlements, and will be called into action only if required. In such an event, Ben-Avraham's special command will take responsibility for dealing with the crisis.

The soldiers and police who participate in the pullout will be unarmed, with only the members of the special units allowed to carry arms in the area slated for evacuation.

The rules of engagement for the operation have yet to be determined, but they are likely to be restricted to extreme cases in which the lives of the security forces are at risk. Both the IDF and Israel Police are preparing for various "horror scenarios," including possible attempts to reconstruct the "bunker" set up by Kach members during the evacuation of Yamit in Sinai in 1982, when those holed up there threatened to blow themselves up.

The special units assigned to the pullout mission will soon begin specific training exercises in preparation for dealing with possible developments during the evacuation operation. The units will be instructed to use discretion and minimal force, but they will also be prepared to storm a building or home in the event that such action is required.

The defense establishment has various assessments with regard to the intensity of the expected opposition to the evacuation. On one hand, following the approval of the state budget, security officials are sensing erosion in the opposition of the central stream of the Gush Katif residents and increased willingness to enter into talks on an orderly pullout. On the other hand, right-wing extremists, most of whom are not Gush Katif residents, seem to be stepping up their actions.

In recent weeks, a number of settler leaders, politicians and rabbis have been holding behind-the-scenes talks with IDF and police officers in an effort to ensure that the evacuation does not deteriorate into bloodshed. One issue under discussion is for the settlers to give up their arms a day or two before the evacuation begins, so as to prevent the possibility of shooting incidents.

Former Chief Rabbis Renew Call to Disobey Pullout Orders

By Ha'aretz

The Rabbis' Union for the People and Land of Israel, headed by former chief Rabbis Mordechai Eliyahu and Avraham Shapira, Thursday reiterated its call to security forces to refuse orders to evacuate settlements under the disengagement plan.

Speaking in Jerusalem at a convention of some 2,000 yeshiva students from around the country, Shapira called for help in the anti-pullout campaign of the Gush Katif and northern West Bank residents. "We all have to support and maintain strong ties with the Katif and Samaria residents, and to act with daring and courage, without flinching," Shapira urged. "This plan goes against Jewish law and the Torah, and we must not be accomplices to a crime. ... We must put into practice the true way of the people of Israel, the way of the Torah."

Black Minister: Israelis and African-Americans Natural Allies


Pastor Glenn Plummer, previous chairman of the National Religious Broadcasters Association and an influential American minister spoke at this month's Christian Allies caucus meeting in Jerusalem.

Plummer proposed measures to begin repairing relations between African-American communities and the State of Israel. "The African-American and Jewish communities should be natural allies. In a recent poll, 62 percent of African-Americans said they had read from their Bibles within the previous seven days. They certainly know the difference between Isaac and Ishmael. We get it."

Plummer urged Jews to remind black Americans of the past alliances with the Jewish community during the Civil Rights era. He also said two other issues elicit a strong pro-Israeli sentiment among American blacks. One, he said, is the common experience of slavery in countries that still exist today. The other is the rescue and resettlement of thousands of black Jews from Ethiopia. The pastor said he was unaware of the existence of black Jews until his trip to Israel last summer. "There has never been a people of color brought out of a country of oppression to freedom-you did that," he said. "That story needs to be told."

Lasek Surgery Disqualifies Pilots from Training Program


If you are one of many who underwent Lasek laser surgery for the removal of eyeglasses, perhaps in the hope of becoming eligible to apply for the Air Force's pilot training program, you may as well begin looking for an alternative military career.

The IDF's weekly BaMahane magazine reported that people who underwent Lasek surgery are not eligible to apply for the pilot training program under regulations established by the air force's medical board. Those who wear eyeglasses or had the surgery are ineligible to apply.

The decision was handed down last week after Air Force medical experts consulted with ophthalmologists, admitting data and long-term studies and patient follow-up are not available. Lt. Col. Dr. Bella Azzariya admits data is limited, adding the air force is unable to determine how altitude, lack of oxygen and other factors will impact a person who underwent the surgery, so the medical experts are compelled to take a hard-line approach in the matter.

Azzariya added pilots who underwent the surgery will be permitted to continue flying, but will be compelled to undergo periodical examinations to monitor the situation.

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