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Hundred of Artifacts Found in Temple Mount Rubble


Archaeologists have discovered hundreds of coins and artifacts in Temple Mount rubble removed by Arabs who are building a huge underground mosque.

Among the finds are a seal that was used to close sacks of silver at the time of the prophet Jeremiah, shortly before the destruction of the First Temple. The seal bears a name that suggests the owner may have been a brother of a priest named in Jeremiah's writings, according to Bar Ilan University Prof. Gabriel Barkai.

Also found was an iron arrowhead with a shaft used by the Romans in their attack on the Second Temple almost 2,000 years ago. Other finds date back to the Middle Ages and "testify to large attendance at the Temple Mount during the Christian conquest and rule during the 11th to 15th centuries," Barkai added.

Palestinian Gunmen Attempt Gaza-Egypt Border Break

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Egyptian border police fired warning shots late Wednesday to prevent Palestinians from cutting through a fence that divides Egypt from the Gaza Strip. The incident occurred after a day of growing anarchy and violence in the southern Gaza Strip. A mob of Palestinians had rushed the border fence and tried to cross into Egypt after Palestinian terrorists used two stolen bulldozers to smash through concrete barriers at the Rafah border crossing.

Earlier, the terrorists placed explosives at the border crossing and occupied several Palestinian government buildings in Rafah. The gunmen, who are affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade are seeking the release of one of their leaders who has been linked to the kidnapping of British aid worker Kate Burton and her parents last week. The three hostages were freed unharmed after being held for several days.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz warned Egypt Wednesday evening that Israel may have to return to the Gaza area to patrol the border if Egypt does not stop anarchy and chaos. According to an agreement with Israel, Egypt is supposed to man the border and prevent passage of terrorists and smuggling weapons.

Meanwhile, gunmen broke into a house in Rafah and attempted to kidnap the parents of Rachel Corrie a young U.S. woman who was killed in 2003 when she tried to stop an Israeli bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian house in Rafah. Corrie's parents are frequent visitors to Rafah and the gunmen left after being told who they were.

Mohammed Dawwas, an independent Palestinian journalist working in Gaza said the growing violence and chaos is especially acute in the Rafah area because Palestinian security officials have less control there than elsewhere in the Gaza Strip. "The southern Gaza Strip is different from the northern or the middle area of the Gaza Strip. This area is close to the Egyptian border and there are more guns in that area than anywhere else in the whole Gaza Strip."

Much of the growing violence in Gaza is being blamed on terrorists who belong to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a violent militia affiliated with the ruling Fatah Party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The group is cited by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

Abbas has condemned the violence, but Palestinian security officials said they were unable to contain it. In recent days senior Palestinian security officials have said it would be virtually impossible to provide security throughout much of the Gaza Strip for scheduled Palestinian legislative elections on January 25.

Kassams Fired at Sderot and Ashkelon, Just Miss Gas Station

By &

Five Kassam rockets struck Sderot and two landed near Ashkelon, injuring two on Wednesday evening, despite the creation of a security zone on the site of destroyed Jewish towns in northern Gaza.

The Kassams that struck Sderot fell very close to a gas station on Road #34. Police said a direct hit could have detonated underground gas storage tanks and would have been devastating. Three rockets were also fired Tuesday night, one of them impacting near the same gas station.

Sderot residents ran for cover as the Red Dawn early warning system sounded its sirens several times throughout the night Tuesday and again Wednesday evening, alerting residents of an incoming missile and giving them less than a minute to find cover.

Dozens of rockets have been fired as Sderot in the past week. IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz told the Knesset Defense Committee that the security zone created in northern Gaza was only designed to protect Ashkelon's power station, and not the residents of Sderot and the western Negev. Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the Kassam fire on Israel's southern region.

Immigrant Fights for Her Jewishness and now Her health

By Ha'aretz

Galina Kasimov, 71, is confined to her bed in her daughter's home in the Be'er Sheva suburb of Omer. A stroke she recently suffered has left her paralyzed on her left side and affected her speech.

After five days in Be'er Sheva's Soroka Medical Center, her daughter, Natalya Greenberg, decided to release her on her own volition, as she was unable to afford the hospitalization expenses, which came to NIS 18,000. Now Kasimov is in need of costly rehabilitation therapy, at NIS 20,000 per month, to minimize the physical damage caused by the stroke.

Kasimov's family is unable to pay for her therapy, and so she is in need of government assistance. She has been living in Israel for six years without civil rights - a new immigrant's certificate and Israeli citizenship - because the Interior Ministry refuses to acknowledge that she is entitled to citizenship through the Law of Return (which grants automatic citizenship to anyone with a Jewish grandparent), despite the detailed documentation she presented, and in spite of the fact that the rabbinical court in Be'er Sheva decided three years ago that she is Jewish.

In light of Kasimov's serious health situation, attorney Hila Naftali of the Israel Religious Action Center petitioned the High Court of Justice in her name. The petition requests the Interior Ministry be instructed to recognize Kasimov's right to Israeli citizenship, because of the detailed papers documenting her Jewish origin that were submitted to the Interior Ministry and to the liaison office in the Prime Minister's Office, whose job it is to confirm the right to aliyah of immigrants from the former U.S.S.R..

In order to enable the elderly patient to receive the essential health care as soon as possible, the High Court was asked to instruct the Interior Ministry, in the interim, to grant Kasimov the status of a resident of the country, which would immediately entitle her to health insurance.

The High Court instructed the Interior Ministry to reply within two weeks concerning its position regarding Kasimov, "while taking into account the special problem of medical care, which is implied in the petition."

Tracing Kasimov's personal history, which is revealed in the documents gathered by her daughter from archives in the C.I.S. (the successor to the U.S.S.R.), is likely to provide an answer to the question: Why is the old woman fighting such a stubborn war for recognition of her origin, and why is she willing to undergo great physical suffering, if only the country would acknowledge that she belongs to the Jewish people.

According to the petition, Kasimov was born in 1934 to a family of rabbis from Ukraine. When she was a child, a year before the outbreak of World War II, her parents fled their home in Lithuania to the territories of the U.S.S.R. When the Jewish refugees arrived there, Stalin's regime exiled them to distant areas in Uzbekistan and Siberia. Kasimov's mother arrived in Samarkand with her husband and her two children, was imprisoned with her husband, and later apparently died in prison or was executed.

Kasimov and her little brother were brought to an orphanage in Samarkand, and she is the only member of her family who survived the harsh conditions. Kasimov's daughter said that when her mother was 17 years old, she received a new birth certificate, like all the Jewish orphans, in which she was identified as "Galina daughter of Josef [Stalin]. Mother said they told all the children in the orphanage - your parents are traitors, and therefore Stalin is your real father."

Her daughter, Natalya Greenberg, 45, immigrated with her husband and her three children from Uzbekistan with the first waves of aliyah from the former Soviet Union, in the early 1990s, according to the Law of Return. After her aliyah she received an Israeli ID card as a new immigrant, and during all her years in Israel, the authorities never questioned the documents she presented.

Surprisingly, however, after she submitted a request in her mother's name to recognize her as a new immigrant as well, about five years ago, a few months later Greenberg received a notice from the liaison office to the effect that her Israeli citizenship was about to be revoked. The reason: "Her mother did not succeed in proving her entitlement according to the Law of Return." The liaison office claimed after the fact, six years after examining the reliability of her aliyah papers, that Greenberg had also falsified her Jewish origin.

According to the liaison office: "The papers presented by Mrs. Kasimov turned out to be forged, after an examination in the archives in Uzbekistan, and therefore we recommended to the Interior Ministry to reject her request for Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return."

In response to the refusal to accept the decision to confirm Jewishness, which was taken by the rabbinical court in Be'er Sheva, it was noted: "The decision of the rabbinate does not bind us, and we are not required to recommend to the Interior Ministry that they change the `nationality' in the Population Registry."

The spokeswoman of the Population Registry said that the position of the Interior Ministry would be presented to the High Court..

The Food of Coexistence

By Michal Palti (Ha'aretz Commentary)

What connects an American lottery, a mortar and pestle, and Chanukah? Jawdat Ibrahim believes the connection is clear: Since the owner of the Abu Ghosh Restaurant won the Illinois State Lottery in 1990, he has been holding conferences and workshops in his restaurant and initiating and supporting joint activities for Arabs and Jews.

Last week, 50 children and their parents filled the restaurant to attend a hummus workshop. Ibrahim and a staff of chefs in both languages patiently instructed the Arab and Jewish children.

After half an hour, the site looked like every other venue that attracts children during the Chanukah holidays: The place was in ruins. Bowls and pestles were abandoned on tables, along with empty cups and bottles, and balloons discarded by clowns who entertained the children.

Outside, dozens of children showed off the hummus they had prepared: studded with chickpeas, redolent of garlic, mashed to one extent or another, next to a pita or spread inside, accompanied by balls of falafel or straight up. There were 50 different versions of childish hummus, each catered to the taste of a particular family.

Chanukah vacation was in full swing and Ibrahim's workshop, advertised by a sign at the entrance to the restaurant and via word of mouth, attracted numerous 6- to 14-year-old cooks and their parents, who were happy to sit around tables while their offspring gleefully ran amok in the restaurant. Each participant received a white shirt and chef's toque, a mortar and pestle, and, after an hour and a half of grinding and mashing, a taste of the final product.

Manal Nofel and her three children arrived in a taxi from the Palestinian village of Shuafat. The children - Maram, 7; Majid, 10; and Zina, 2 - scrutinized the thick paste that they made. Their mother's sigh of relief was audible all the way down the street: Three contented children seated around a table and satisfied are not to be taken for granted at this stage in the vacation.

"My husband heard about the workshop, and I was happy to hear about it, too," she said. "It's a lovely idea. The children are interacting with others and tasting, and they are meeting children here who they would not have had an opportunity to meet elsewhere. And who doesn't love hummus?"

A busy group of teachers from the Givat Ram campus of the ORT Jerusalem Academic College sat at a table in one of the inner rooms. Majda Atamna, Ibrahim's sister, told her colleagues about the workshop, and they came to the meeting of hummus lovers, happy to take part and even happier to dive into a mountain of French fries with soda.

Esther Haviv, a member of the ORT group, brought her granddaughter, Tomer, age 10, and her grandson, Gal, age 6. "I like to cook, and I cook a lot at home as well," Tomer said. "I sort of knew how to make hummus but it's always good to get precise instructions, like a recipe."

Ibrahim conducted the workshop as he proudly walked about the topsy-turvy restaurant (with) pulled off tables, chickpeas underfoot and bottles of Coca-Cola chugging freely onto the floor? (The workshop, which included traditional Chanukah doughnuts, was free.) All of that pales compared to the sincere joy of the community activist who comes with a television camera team to document the event, including the large photograph of the restaurateur and King Hussein gracing the entrance.

Ibrahim's life was transformed 17 years ago: The emigrant who left Abu Ghosh to live in Chicago won a $23 million jackpot in the Illinois State Lottery. "The system there is smart: You get the money in incremental annual installments," Ibrahim explained. Ibrahim returned to Abu Ghosh, opened a restaurant, and, as he said, turned it into a center of coexistence.

He established the Abu Ghosh Foundation, which provides grants to Arab and Jewish students, organized joint trips, fostered connections with King Hussein, and regularly hosted emissaries for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "I'm on their itinerary," he explained.

According to Ibrahim, his model of activism comes from the Jewish community in the United States. "I would like to see the Arabs in Israel play a role like the Jews in America, based on initiative and involvement," he said. "I have relatives in Ramallah who tell me that their children have never met a Jewish child. And children are children. Activity at an early age is vital - that is where everything begins."

If one judges the impact of this project by the taste of the hummus, Jawdat Ibrahim found a common denominator with uniquely broad appeal.

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