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Sharon (in the past): 'The Fate of Netzarim is the Fate of Tel Aviv'


"The fate of Netzarim is the fate of Tel Aviv" - activists of the National Home organization plan to actualize that statement, made by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when he was running for re-election against the Labor Party's Amram Mitzna, who proposed uprooting Netzarim in the central Gaza region.

The National Home activists said they plan to close roads in Tel Aviv every Monday and Wednesday at 5 p.m. until Gush Katif is no longer closed. Gush Katif, in the Gaza region, was closed by military fiat today to non-residents, ahead of the implementation of the government's Disengagement Plan to uproot all the Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip and in northern Samaria.

Sharon Vows to Target Islamic Jihad Leaders as Death Toll Rises

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed to target the leaders of the extremist group, Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for Tuesday's suicide bombing in the coastal city of Netanya that killed four people and injured dozens more. Israel has already responded to the bombing by closing off the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Sharon told reporters he's ordered security forces to step up operations against Islamic Jihad and "hit the leadership." The comment would signal a return to Israel's controversial policy of targeted assassinations of militant leaders - a practice it suspended following a truce with the Palestinians concluded in early February.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the decision is justified. Islamic Jihad, he said, made a strategic decision to commit a terrorist attack. Israel, he said, is going to act at any place, at any time against Islamic Jihad.

Shortly after Tuesday evening's bombing, Israel sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip and security forces moved back into Tulkarem, re-occupying the West Bank city they had turned over to Palestinian control just four months ago. Troops rounded up a number of Islamic Jihad militants and the military said the security sweep could last several days.

Speaking on Israel Radio, Yuval Steinitz, head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee in Israel's parliament said Tuesday's suicide attack should come as no surprise and he put the blame on Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen. "Well, unfortunately this was forthcoming, taking into account that Abu Mazen was doing and is doing nothing to disarm the terrorists," said Steinitz.

Palestinian leaders were quick to condemn the Netanya bombing and Abbas has vowed to track down those responsible. Palestinian government spokesman, Samir Hilleleh said action against the militants was imminent. Speaking on Palestinian radio, Hilleleh said it would soon be very clear that there is one (Palestinian) Authority and one gun. He said this would be implemented soon and without exception or excuses.

Abbas spoke of "one Authority - one weapon" when he took office in January. It was to be a signal to the various militant groups that only the Palestinian Authority would be in charge and only its forces would be allowed to carry weapons. But, Abbas has avoided going up directly against the militants, opting instead for a dialogue to coax them into a truce with Israel and try to bring them into the political process. Tuesday's Netanya bombing has increased the pressure on Abbas to move more aggressively.

U.S. Says Syria Gives Safe Harbor to Palestinian Terrorists

By David Gollust (VOA-State Department)

The United States is stepping up criticism of Syria for allowing the group responsible for Tuesday's suicide bombing in Israel to operate on its territory. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said such support should end immediately.

The Bush administration is not accusing Syria of direct complicity in the deadly suicide attack at an Israeli shopping mall in the coastal town of Netanya. But U.S. officials do accuse Damascus of allowing the group blamed for the attack, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or PIJ, to operate freely on its territory as it tries to torpedo progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's attack, the United States condemned the bombing and urged the Palestinian Authority to take immediate action to find those responsible and bring them to justice. The Syrian connection was raised later by Rice, who in a written statement from the South Korean capital, Seoul, said it is essential that Syria end its support for terrorist organizations, particularly those like PIJ, which she said are headquartered and harbored in Damascus. She said Syria should immediately stop letting its territory be used for insurgent activities and actions that she said frustrate the aspirations of the Lebanese, Iraqi and Palestinian people.

Security Forces Turn Away 1,000 Israelis from Gaza

By Ha'aretz

Security forces turned away more than 1,000 Israelis from the Kissufim crossing and other checkpoints leading to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the first day of an Israel Defense Forces closure of Gaza settlements.

In a step seen as a watershed moment in his disengagement plan, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered Gaza closed to non-resident Israelis on Wednesday morning, declaring it a closed military zone in a bid to blunt plans by anti-pullout activists to flood the Strip with protesters.

The order effectively closes off the Strip until the end of the disengagement, and comes after a temporary closure imposed two weeks ago to allow Israeli security forces to evacuate a hotel in which anti-pullout activists had barricaded themselves. However, the Israel Defense Forces will be issuing temporary visitors' permits to settlers' guests, as long as they do not appear on the army's blacklist.

Senior police officials said Wednesday night they were satisfied with what they termed the relative quiet at the Kissufim crossing. However, a short time later several dozen Gaza settlers held a rally at Kissufim to protest the Gaza closure. They refused to identify themselves to police officers.

The IDF will be flexible in issuing the guest permits - which will be valid for either 24 or 72 hours - during the first phase of the closure. But if the army discovers that anti-pullout activists are entering the Strip, it will tighten restrictions, to the point of keeping even close family members from visiting their relatives in Gaza settlements.

Several right-wing activists have been placed on a blacklist compiled by the Shin Bet security service and the police, and will not be allowed visitor permits. The closure order also grants GOC Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh the authority to determine the exact date of declaring the northern West Bank a sealed military zone ahead of the evacuation of four settlements under the disengagement.

"This is the first time in history that a Jewish prime minister has blockaded Jewish communities and declared a part of Israel free of Jews," the Yesha Council of settlements said in a statement. "This is yet another of the prime minister's achievements in tearing the nation apart and trampling the values of democracy and Zionism as well as the residents' human rights."

"We have been blockaded, so there is no reason why the government should not also be in the same situation," a Kfar Darom resident told Israel Radio.

Knesset member Ran Cohen (Meretz-Yahad) congratulated Sharon on deciding to close off the Strip. "This is a very logical and correct decision in face of the provocation of settlers and their supporters to thwart the disengagement," he said. "There is no other way of stopping these provocateurs from disrupting life in this country."

Gaza settlers will be issued permanent magnetic permits to be used with an automated verification system, aimed at reducing to a minimum the waiting time at the crossings, the IDF said Wednesday. The approximately 1,000 Israelis who work in Gaza settlements but don't live there will also be issued permanent permits. All other non-residents will be required to present temporary permits issued by the IDF, which is establishing an authorization center for the purpose. The army said it would respond to Gaza settlers' requests for permits within eight hours.

Hundreds of cars were backed up about for 2.5 miles from the entrance to Gush Katif Wednesday evening. Police used force in an effort to clear the entrance of vehicles. Police have prevented non-residents from entering, and many residents refuse to show their identification cards. One woman said she has been living in Ne've Dekalim for 20 years and "this is the first time I had to show an identity card in order to go home." She said police directed her through a field so she could get home.

IDF Soldiers Refuse Gush Katif Closure Orders


Six IDF soldiers from the prestigious Givati brigade refused to carry out orders to bar Jews from entering Gaza's Jewish communities Wednesday. The soldiers, part of the "Rotem" unit, announced in front of their fellow soldiers that they refuse to take part in the closure of Gush Katif, calling the order illegal and immoral. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon signed an order declaring the region closed to non-residents Wednesday morning.

IDF Southern Commander Maj. Gen. Dan Harel told reporters that the soldiers would be punished. He brushed off suggestions of a looming refusal movement. "We will handle those six soldiers in the exact same way as we handled the 30 others who have refused orders recently. We will implement our policy, which does not accept either right-wing or left-wing insubordination," he said.

More than 30,000 active duty and reserve soldiers and officers have signed a petition declaring they will refuse orders to implement the Disengagement Plan, according to the Homat Magen ("Defensive Shield") refusal movement. "These heroes of the IDF are salvaging the army's honor," Homat Magen announced. "The wave of refusals will become a tsunami that will wash away the blatantly illegal expulsion order." The Rotem unit is made up of soldiers who were drafted one year ago and includes many yeshiva students.

The Golani brigade, which was originally slated to take a direct role in the expulsion of the Jews of Gaza, was recently reassigned due to widespread concern among officers of mass refusal. Bumper stickers have appeared on vehicles around Israel, reading: "My Golani Does Not Expel Jews. Respect!"

A ceremony will take place next Sunday opposite the IDF enlistment office in Haifa, during which IDF officers plan on returning their ranks to the IDF. The officer claim that by closing Gush Katif and taking part in the forced removal of Jewish residents from their homes, the IDF is betraying its code of ethics and the basic tenets upon which it was created.

Western Media and the "T word'

By Alan D. Abbey (Commentary)

If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and blows itself up in the midst of a crowded London train station causing mass casualties, it is likely a terrorist. But if that same "duck" blows itself up on a crowded street in Netanya, it is a "militant" carrying out an "attack." At least according to the U.S. and British media, who still make a distinction between what happens here, and what has recently happened in London.

It seems that the news media have finally unwrapped the word terrorist from its hermetically sealed cocoon and let it spread its wings in their newspapers and websites in the wake of last Thursday's suicide terror attacks in London. "The Times " of London Online Style Guide has this entry: "Remember, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

So, I guess British Islamic militants who blow themselves up are the Times' kind of terrorists. Here's a part of their latest story on the incident: "Four friends from northern England have changed the face of terrorism by carrying out the suicide bombings that brought carnage to London last week. Three of the men lived in Leeds and the immediate fear is that members of a terrorist cell linked to the city are planning further strikes."

London's "Independent " newspaper, notorious for its slanted coverage about Israel, posted this headline on its website Wednesday: "The police's nightmare: home-grown terrorists." The BBC, usually known for its reserve, has a heading on its website: "What happened: How the key incidents unfolded on London's day of terror."

Despite what seemed clear to us in Israel within the first few minutes of hearing what was happening in London, those news agencies had to be dragged kicking and screaming, as it were, into acknowledging that the four coordinated attacks last Thursday were in fact something other than a "power surge." An air of disbelief hung over those news organizations' early reports.

Nonetheless, by mid-week, with the attackers widely believed to be British citizens of Pakistani descent, the terms "terror" and "terrorist" were popping up in unusual places on those sites.

Even the U.S. media have gotten into the act. USA Today, in a dispatch from London, said: "In a breakthrough in their investigation, police arrested a man Tuesday in connection with last week's terrorist bombings." The New York Times led its website with this headline on Wednesday: "4 From Britain Carried Out Terror Blasts, Police Say."

Not so in their coverage of the latest suicide bombing in Israel, which has left at least four Israelis dead as of Wednesday. "The Guardian " reported that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas "will be urged by the Israelis to show that he is cracking down on militants." The BBC said: "Tuesday's attack in the Israeli town of Netanya was claimed by Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad."

USA Today wrote: "A Palestinian suicide bomber killed three women and injured at least 30 other people in the coastal city of Netanya on Tuesday evening in an attack that ended five months of relative calm in the region. In response, Israeli forces raided the Palestinian town of Tulkarm early Wednesday, killing one police officer who fired on troops hunting down Islamic Jihad militants believed responsible for the bombing..."

The New York Times also did its best not to use the T-word: "A Palestinian suicide bomber set off his explosives Tuesday evening at a busy intersection outside a shopping mall here, killing himself and two women and wounding more than 50 people, the Israeli police said."

Fellas, try this definition of terrorism from "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition," on for size: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

It seems pretty simple to me: If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and employs the unlawful use of force or violence against people with the intention of intimidating societies, it is a terrorist, whether it is quacking in London, New York, Madrid or Netanya.

(Alan D. Abbey is Editor and Managing Director of

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