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Islamic Jihad Promises Unprecedented Wave of Terror


A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad terror organization in Gaza, Abu Abdullah, has promised to confront Israel with an unprecedented wave of terror, after a senior Jihad leader, Loie Sa'ada was killed early Monday by IDF troops in Tulare." The response to this crime will be unprecedented," said Abdullah. Abu Al Kassam, a leader of the radical Islamic terror group said, "our response will be in accordance with the level of fire. The Israelis will pay a steep price."

Israeli Troops Kill Senior Palestinian Terrorist in West Bank

By VOA News &

Palestinian terrorists have fired rockets at Israel after Israeli troops killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander. The rockets caused no casualties. A short time later Israeli forces fired artillery at the area in Gaza the militants used to launch the rockets. Islamic Jihad had vowed to avenge the killing earlier Monday of Sa'ada and his deputy in the West Bank. Israel says Sa'ada was behind several attacks that have killed at least 10 Israelis since February.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority said it plans to immediately disarm members of another militant group in the West Bank, the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade. The chief of police in the West Bank, Taher Zaid, said most members of the terrorist group would be trained to join Palestinian security forces. But leading al-Aksa commanders said they doubted their men would turn in their weapons until Israel leaves the West Bank.

The senior Islamic Jihad commander, Loie Sa'ada, was the number-one most wanted terrorist in Judea and Samaria. Three terrorists were killed in the battle, including Sa'ada, who was responsible for killing 12 Israelis and wounding 150 others. Specifically, he directed the murderous attacks at the Stage Club in Tel Aviv in February of this year and outside the HaSharon Mall in Netanya three months ago.

A terrorist cell under his command was preparing to carry out another attack during the next few days, IDF Ephraim Region Commander Col. Aharon Haliwa said Monday. "The killing of Sa'ada prevented a sad holiday week for Israel," Haliwa said, adding that Sa'ada was also responsible for smuggling terrorists to Jerusalem, as well as other attacks. He was originally arrested in 1999, but was freed from prison in January 2004 when Israel exchanged 400 terrorists for the release of Elchanan Tenenbaum and three soldiers' bodies.

The battle began when an IDF force encountered a car carrying armed Arabs and ordered the driver to stop. The terrorists fled to a nearby building, shooting at the soldiers along the way. As exchanges of fire raged, an IDF engineering unit arrived and destroyed the building atop the terrorists. An explosives vest, Kalachnikov rifle and a pistol were later found on Sa'ada's body. Col. Haliwa said that they did not know with certainty that Sa'ada was in the car at first, "though we knew that top Islamic Jihad leaders were meeting in the area, and we took action."

The Islamic Jihad terror organization appeared particularly angered by Sa'ada's killing, and its threats of revenge caused the IDF to increase its level of alert in the Gaza region. Additional forces have not been deployed, but it is feared that Sderot and environs will be targeted with mortar shells and Kassam rockets. Some Jihad spokesmen even promised a "series of attacks."

Haliwa said that the IDF has been operating against the terrorist infrastructures in Tulare for several months: "This is the most complex terror group in all of Shomron, with more Israeli blood on its hands than any other."

Palestinian Authority Plans to Disarm Militants

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

The Palestinian Authority said it would immediately begin disarming members of the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah Movement. The announcement follows a visit to Washington last week by Mahmud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

The disarmament plan was announced following a meeting of the Palestinian National Security council. It is the first attempt to disarm members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade in the West Bank, following a dramatic escalation of violence recently between Palestinian factions. A similar agreement was reached in principle between the Palestinian Authority and al-Aksa militants in the Gaza Strip, following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last month.

The Palestinian Authority Chief of Police in the West Bank, Taher Zaid, said the disarmament plan would begin in the town of Nablus, which has a long history of violence. Zaid said training camps would be set up for al-Aksa militia members in a move to eventually incorporate all or most of them into the Palestinian security forces. He said any who resist surrendering their weapons would face punitive measures.

A leading al-Aksa commander in the West Bank expressed skepticism about the plan, saying his men would not surrender their weapons as long as Israel maintains its presence in the West Bank. Members of the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade belong to the ruling Fatah Party. They have been blamed for much of the violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The disarmament announcement follows a visit to Washington by Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas. During his visit with President Bush, Abbas pledged to bring violence in the Palestinian territories under control. But he also called for immediate implementation of the Roadmap international peace plan - which calls for an end to Palestinian terrorism and the dismantling of Israeli settlements.

Jewish Cemeteries Desecrated in Ethiopia

By Ha'aretz

Warteo Shai Sisa returned about a year ago for a visit to Belobokha, the village where his family is buried, and was informed by locals that the Jewish cemetery had been vandalized once again. It had recently been restored at a cost of some NIS 200,000, but now some bones of the deceased were scattered and the land was being used for agricultural purposes.

Sisa has made several such visits to Ethiopia in the course of his 18 months as chairman of the forum of Ethiopian Jews for cemetery preservation - one of the most delicate positions in Israel's Ethiopian community today. When he got to the graveyard, Sisa had trouble identifying his grandfather's grave, because the tree that had sheltered the grave had been burned and the tombstone shattered. Broken bones were scattered in every direction.

"The local residents believe that Jews' bones can heal medical ailments and bring good luck, so they even trade them," he said. "I asked the residents why they dig, but they did not answer. This isn't a cemetery, it looks like a garbage dump." The newly built fence was also destroyed. "The Christians told me that the people who built the fence were threatened that unless they destroyed it, they wouldn't be allowed into church," Sisa said. The grave of the Ethiopian chief rabbi, Kes Meherat Tayim, was also desecrated.

Sisa documented the scene with video and stills cameras, adding to the growing collection of findings. "The community weeps when it sees the tapes. My parents feel like their parents were murdered, instead of dying of natural causes," he said.

Ethiopia has more than 200 Jewish cemeteries in various provinces. Over the past six years, 32 of these cemeteries (some 2,000 graves) have been desecrated by locals, especially in the north of the country (Tigray, Gondar and Welo). Israeli and Ethiopian officials say that the desecration is perpetrated for agricultural purposes, not out of anti-Semitism.

In recent years, Israel's Ethiopian community has managed to raise more than $9 million from its members. Each donated between NIS 250 and NIS 500. "We received no help from any institutional body. We went to every Ethiopian home in Israel and raised money," Sisa said.

The money paid for hiring local workers, building walls around the cemeteries, gathering bones, reinterring remains and covering expenses for a delegation of six to eight people. However, the recurrent desecrations led activists to approach Israeli officials about making the Ethiopian government responsible for preserving the graves. Israel's ambassador to Ethiopia, Yaacov Amitai, submitted an official protest, and the Ethiopian ambassador to Israel will be summoned to the Foreign Ministry next month to offer clarifications on the matter.

Cemetery preservation activists protest their disdainful treatment by the Ethiopian embassy in Israel, which has not helped them resolve the situation despite the film footage and other findings they submitted. Furthermore, Israeli delegations have found that embassy-issued permits for cooperation have no value in the provinces. In many villages, the delegations barely escaped being murdered. Gangs tried to rob them, and village and provincial chieftains demanded money in return for their cooperation. In some villages, the Israelis had to pay policemen NIS 30 a day to accompany them several times the average wage.

The Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee convened last February to discuss the matter, and the chair, Colette Avital (Labor) demanded that the Foreign Ministry take action. If it fails to do so, Sisa promises a big demonstration. "I expect the Israeli government to act in the face of the community's pain the way it acts when cemeteries in Europe are desecrated," he said. The Ethiopian embassy declined to respond to this article.

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