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So Far, No Bird Flu in Israel


Despite reports that the Asian bird flu has spread from Romania to nearby Turkey, officials at the Ministry of Agriculture said Israelis are safe for now. Dr. Shimon Pokamonski, head of the chicken branch at the Ministry, said that the bird flu virus does not exist in Israel, at least for now. Pokamonski said samples were tested over the weekend following reports of possible contamination, and all results were negative. The Health Ministry has nonetheless requested more than 100,000 NIS to purchase flu vaccine and is bracing for the worst. The World Health Organization has warned that seven million people could die from the virus this year. "All attempts to bring it under control in Southeast Asia have failed," said Shigeru Omi, WHO director in the Western Pacific region.

Israel Kills Jihad Leader, Palestinians Kill 3 Settlers in West Bank

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Terrorists from the Palestinian Authority have fired on hitchhikers on Route 60 in Gush Etzion in the direction of Kiryat Arba, killing three and wounding five. Israeli army authorities said they would soon enter the town of Bethlehem, near where the shootings took place, to try to find the attackers. Eyewitnesses reported seeing backpacks strewn with victims' blood at the intersection where the attack occurred.

"A Palestinian passed by in a car, let off a burst of fire, and struck down people standing at the hitchhiking post," said Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Municipal Council, on Israel radio.

Shortly after the attack in Gush Etzion, Arab terrorists driving a Hyundai opened fire on Jewish pedestrians walking on the highway between Eli and Shiloh in Samaria. One person, wounded in his upper leg, has been evacuated to the hospital. According to police, Arabs fired from a passing car on Jews waiting for rides at the Gush Etzion hitching post. Two vehicles also were hit in the attack. The Arabs were driving a vehicle identified as a Subaru. The terrorists have not been apprehended.

The Gush Etzion intersection where the attack occurred is located only a short distance from Bethlehem, an Arab populated city controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Police suspect that the perpetrators have already fled to Bethlehem.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has ties to the ruling Fatah Party of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, claimed responsibility for both incidents. David Baker a spokesman in the Israeli prime minister's office condemned the shootings, saying Palestinian militants had taken advantage of an easing of restrictions on the movement of Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan.

Raanan Gissin, a senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told VOA recently that it would be difficult for Israeli authorities to hand over more authority to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, if Palestinian security officials do not do more to control militants in their territory. "The fact is that it is not just the terrorists themselves, which are a threat, but anyone who supports terrorism," said Gissin. "Anyone who gives shelter to terrorism is also guilty of the same crime. Therefore, we want to make sure that when we hand over to the Palestinians authority for security responsibility, and when we give them measures to ease the daily lives of the Palestinian people, they will be in full control to take advantage of that situation."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas travels to the United States for a meeting with President Bush on Thursday. A planned meeting last week between the Palestinian leader and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was postponed, after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators failed to reach agreement on a common agenda for the meeting. Among Abbas' demands for the summit were for Israel to approve arming the PA with more rifles and armored personnel carriers. Senior IDF officials reportedly were in favor of approving Abbas' demand. Abbas also demanded that IDF troops withdraw from Ramallah and Shechem, opening the way for PA forces to control these Arab-populated cities, much in the same way that the PA controls, Jericho, Bethlehem, and Tulkarem in Judea and Samaria.

Meanwhile, in the northern West Bank, Israeli troops shot and killed an Islamic Jihad military commander during an attempt to arrest him. Israeli forces say Nehad Abu Ghanem was killed after he opened fire on Israeli troops south of the town of Jenin. The violence was the worst since Israel completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last month. In June, two Israeli teenagers were shot and killed in a drive-by shooting near Hebron.

Terror Group Aligned with PA Vows to Liberate the Galilee


A terrorist group aligned with the Palestinian Authority, the Al Aqsa Brigades has vowed to continue the armed struggle against Israel until it liberates "Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and the Galilee."

The declaration was made in response to an interview given by IDF Chief-of-Staff, Lt.Gen. Dan Halutz, to a French newspaper. Halutz told the paper that the IDF was no longer targeting members of that terror group because it had joined up with the PA's armed forces and was no longer involved in attacks against Israel. Calling the Galilee, "occupied territory," a spokesman for the Brigades said the organization would continue the armed struggle to liberate it.

The Galilee district, located in Israel's north, has an Arab majority. Not unlike Judea and Samaria, it is dotted with dozens of Arab villages and densely populated cities, many located adjacent to small Jewish communities. It was the focal point for riots and violent disturbances against the Israeli government when the Oslo War broke out in September 2001.

The PA has repeatedly called for Israel to evacuate Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem, in order to establish a Palestinian state in these areas, but generally makes no reference to regions, such as the Galilee, that make up Israel's pre-1967 boundaries.

Under the Oslo accords, the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized Israel's pre-1967 borders, except for Jerusalem. The PLO and Fatah, its largest faction, rule territories ceded by Israel under the Oslo accords via the Palestinian Authority. The PA apparently has accepted the Al Aqsa Brigades into its armed forces despite that fact that it does not recognize Israel's right to exist in its pre-1967 borders.

Terrorist groups that often stand in opposition to the PA, declare their intent to "liberate" all of Israel and annihilate the Jewish state. The Al Aqsa Brigades has accused Israel and the United States of plotting to dismantle the group. They also claim that senior officials of the PA are collaborating with the U.S. and Israel on this issue. The Brigades has announced its intention to run candidates for the Palestinian legislature in elections scheduled for January 2006.

The Al Aqsa Brigades were established shortly after the onset of the Oslo War in September 2000 in response to Ariel Sharon's tour of the Temple Mount as Israel's opposition leader. The group takes its name from the Al Aqsa mosque located on the Mount, and effectively functions as the Fatah's military wing.

A year and a half after the outbreak of the war (February 2002), Israel declared the group to be a terrorist organization. The United States and the European Community subsequently followed. The Brigades recently signed a "Pact of Honor" with other terrorist groups operating out of the Palestinian Authority. The pact sets forth the relations between the various groups and their stand regarding the war against the Jewish state. The pact states in its first paragraph that the "Zionist occupation of Palestinian lands is ongoing" and that the armed struggle "will continue as a legitimate, natural response."

Bush Tells PA: 'Don't Worry, I'll Sway Israel'


The New York-based Bloomberg News reported that President Bush summoned Palestinian Authority officials to a 30-minute unscheduled meeting following complaints conveyed by Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. She told the president that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey regard his support for a new Arab state in Israel as an empty slogan.

When the PA delegation complained to Bush that expanding Jewish communities, such as the city of Ma'aleh Adumim, might make a new Arab state unacceptable, he eased their fears and said, "Don't worry. I have some political sway with Israel and will use it if need be."

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is in Jordan and on a tour to Egypt, Vatican, France and Spain before flying to Washington to meet President Bush on Thursday, and the White House meeting was aimed to ease PA worries. Israel has maintained that no further concessions can be granted to the PA until it takes measures to stop incitement and disarm terrorists.

One example of the PA's "revolving door" policy of arresting and releasing terrorists was described in the New York Times on Friday. It reported that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked Abbas at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit in February to inform Israeli authorities of the address of Arab terrorist Hasan al-Madhoun, a former member of the PA security forces who helped organize the suicide bombing at Ashdod in March 2004.

Abbas promised he would arrest the terrorist within 48 hours. After the time expired, the Prime Minister raised the issue with the American government, and the PA arrested al-Madhoun and then released him the following day. Later, the same terrorist was behind the attempted suicide bombing of a Be'er Sheva hospital by a woman.

Sharon and Abbas canceled a planned meeting this past week after aides told Abbas that Israel would refuse to commit itself to PA demands for the release of jailed Arab terrorists and IDF withdrawals from more cities. "It was only Washington that wanted the meeting," the Times reported. At the impromptu White House meeting with PA officials, Bush assured them that he would pressure Israel to open up the Gaza region, according to the Post.

Russian 'Military Advisers' Land in the Gaza Strip


The Egyptians and Palestinians deliberately opened the Rafah border crossing from Sinai to Gaza on Yom Kippur Thursday, Oct. 13 - this time not just for illicit Palestinian and weapons traffic - but to let in 15 Russian intelligence officers. Officially described as "military advisers" to train Palestinian security forces, their arrival floored Israel.

DEBKAfile's military sources said this was a landmark, the first Russian military presence in a Palestinian war zone against Israel. It also represented another flagrant Egyptian violation of its commitments under the new military protocols it signed with Israel to bar the Philadelphi border crossing to foreign military personnel. Their arrival was approved a day earlier, Oct. 12, in Ramallah between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Russian Middle East envoy for the Peace Process Alexander Kalugin.

Israel has not reacted to the violation because since its pullout from the Gazan-Egyptian border region a month ago, it has lost all control of the unbridled activity permitted by Cairo in defiance of all the accords it signed with Jerusalem. However the insertion of Russian military advisers to a Palestinian-Israeli flashpoint zone undoubtedly came up in the talks Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held in Moscow Saturday, Oct. 15.

DEBKAfile's military sources added that: the Russian officers were flown in directly from Moscow to Cairo and then overland to the Egyptian side of Rafah where Egyptian military intelligence officers welcomed them. No notice was received in Jerusalem.

Moscow is clearly in mid-momentum of a fresh Middle East initiative. Putin has promised the Palestinian Authority in Gaza 1,000 armored personnel carriers. He is also going through with the sale of the state of the art Iskander SS-26 surface missiles, as first disclosed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 224 on September 30. The Kalugin talks in Ramallah came on the heels of a visit by senior US official David Welch to wind up details of the Abbas White House visit. The Palestinian leader kept word of the Russian gambit close to his chest.

George, It All Comes Back to Israel,

By Steve Sharon (Commentary)

The Bush Administration is on the verge of political collapse. Fresh from its great political success with the appointment of John Roberts to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, out of a fit of weakness and foolishness it appointed the very politically weak choice of Harriet Miers. It signified a political instability of an administration that needed its most fervent supporters to stick with it, even though on so many other subjects they have felt kicked to the curb. This was their last straw because they have bit their lips for a long time, particularly while watching this administration emasculate Israel while playing every politically correct card in the deck when dealing with anything or anyone Muslim.

The Fundamentalist Christians who make up the backbone of the Conservative movement which twice elected George W. Bush President are the same people who have kept alive a dwindling tourism business in Israel, believe Jerusalem is the non-negotiable capital of the Jews, and are sick and tired of hearing how Islam is a peace loving religion hijacked by just a few evil-doers. These Christians are smart enough to know that the president has it backwards: Islam is a murderous religion exemplified by a few hijackers and limitless evildoers.

Finally, after years of being wrongly accused of creating and mistreating refugees, the Bush Administration succeeded in forcing Israel into committing these exact immoralities. Unfortunately, the people Israel turned into homeless refugees were its own people: Jews forced from their homes by fellow Jews, leaving their old homes to groups of savages who gladly took over and tore up their remnants. The pictures from Gaza did not play well with Israel's friends in the evangelical community, of which there are many, most of whom understand that it was with the state department's 'urging' that this took place.

The forced evacuation significantly weakened America's presence in the region, because it has now given Hamas and other terrorists a base from which to operate not as outsiders, but as bureaucrats. The United States now has to fend off another landmass run by Arabs who wish to dismantle everything in the region near and dear to it, including the free flow of oil, not to mention the destruction of Israel, Lebanon, and the new government of Iraq.

Placating Arabs instead of supporting Israel has prevented the administration from taking any sort of stance against $60 a barrel oil, making Arab millionaires into billionaires, and filling the pockets of those who wish to fund the Iraqi insurgency. What the president should have done is told the Saudis, Kuwaitis, and the rest that the day oil hits $50 will be the day he would move the embassy to Jerusalem.

Instead, the oil cartel has been allowed to fleece the American people by the billions every week, making any economic policy sheer folly because oil is the lubricant, which allows the American economy to run smoothly. Meanwhile, nervous that oil could become more scarce and expensive, it was decided to continue to push Israel into making fatal concessions to its neighbors. It seemed the more the price of oil increased, the more the government punished Israel.

A wise president 200 years ago said that fate ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. He certainly did not say Muslims. Only a 180-degree turnaround of its present policies that unfortunately mirror those of its predecessors and likely successors, one that incorporates those two statements into its moral compass will save this Administration from a total unraveling and failure.

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