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Pensioner Party Calls for Retiree Basic Law

By IsraelNationalNews.com

During their meeting with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday, leaders of the Pensioner Party called for the legislation of a Basic Retiree Law that would protect the basic rights of the nation's senior citizens. The party is also calling for an immediate 25% increase in the monthly retirement benefits paid to senior citizens, and doubling the national health basket for pharmaceuticals to NIS 400 million.


Attacks and Arrests as IDF Admits PA Involved in Rockets

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Attempted terror attacks, the firing of Kassam rockets and an attempted kidnapping marked the last 24 hours. The IDF killed a wanted terrorist and arrested several other wanted men and infiltrators.

A Kassam rocket was fired from southern Gaza toward the western Negev Sunday evening. The rocket landed in the area of the security fence near Nir-Oz. Two more rockets were fired Monday – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

The IDF has gone public with the fact that the Palestinian Authority's security forces are taking an active role in the firing of rockets at Ashkelon and the western Negev.

"PA security forces moved into the evacuated territories, including evacuated areas in the northern Gaza Strip, and set up numerous posts in these areas," an IDF statement read. "Nonetheless, projectile rocket launchings from these areas, at times right by security forces' posts, has continued unabated. [On] March 30, 2006, the IDF warned Palestinian security forces located both in and near projectile rocket launching grounds to stay clear of the launching sites.

"The IDF has notified the head of Palestinian National Security of this decision, and has warned him to remove his forces from the areas in question. The IDF will not be responsible for Palestinian security personnel who are harmed as a result of an IDF response to Palestinian rocket-fire in these areas. It is important to note that, although this warning is also obviously directed towards Palestinian civilians, civilians are not present in these areas, which are mainly used by Palestinian security forces and terror cells."

The IDF killed a senior terrorist leader of the Tanzim terror group in Bethlehem Sunday night. The terrorist, Ra'ad Abiat, was responsible for numerous shooting attacks in the area south of Jerusalem, including the murder of Israelis Avi Boaz and Moshe Dayan in 2002. He was wearing an explosive belt when IDF troops caught up with him. Tanzim operates under the sponsorship of Yasir Arafat's Fatah terror group, now headed by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. A second terrorist was also killed during the Bethlehem operation.

Elsewhere in Judea and Samaria, 13 terrorists were taken into custody. They were handed over to security authorities for interrogation. An Arab male was arrested at the IDF's Kalandia Checkpoint on Jerusalem's northern border on Monday morning after he was found to be concealing a knife.


And in Samaria, security forces found three pipe bombs between the communities of Itamar and Yitzhar. They were detonated without incident in controlled explosions. Terrorists opened fire at IDF soldiers east of Bethlehem Monday afternoon, failing to inflict injury.

Sunday night, a car-jacking and attempted kidnapping took place on the Husan bypass road in Gush Etzion, according to beeper messages sent out by Judea and Samaria Police. A motorist told the IDF that three Arab males ran onto the road, entered his vehicle and forced him to drive from the location. Near the village of Nakhlin, the driver jumped out of the car and ran on foot in the direction of the Tunnels Road checkpoint.

Police and IDF arrived at the scene but failed to locate the car or the thieves. Police have declined to provide any further information on the case or about the driver. The Gush Etzion security headquarters had no further information on the incident, but stressed that the only evidence supporting the fact that there was an attempted kidnapping was the word of the motorist himself. They said that the only information they have on the incident was received from the IDF.

The IDF apprehended four Arab men who infiltrated into Israel from Egypt through the northern Negev border. The four men are being interrogated by security forces. IDF troops also arrested five PA Arabs who had snuck past the northern Gaza border fence. They were turned over to security authorities. Another Arab man was caught sneaking in south Gaza's Kissufim Crossing.

Canadian security officials decided to move former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon from his Toronto hotel due to the threat of an attack on the retired general a few days ago. Ya'alon was moved to another, undisclosed hotel in the Canadian city.

Meanwhile, Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of the Policy and Political Military Bureau of the Ministry of Defense has downplayed the firing of a Katyusha missile from Gaza. Gilad told Israel Radio Sunday that the Katyushas in Gaza are not significant, despite their impressive 12.5 mile range, due to the low number of such missiles present in Gaza. Gilad declined to outline how he is certain of such an assessment due to Israel's absence along the Egypt-Gaza border since the Disengagement and long periods of unfettered transfer of goods across that border.


Sharon to undergo surgery

By YnetNews.com

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo surgery on Tuesday afternoon to close a hole doctors made in his head during previous operations, hospital officials said. The purpose of the surgery is to allow the transfer of Sharon, comatose since a January 4 stroke, to a rehabilitation department.

After the operation, Sharon will most likely be transferred to the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv, as demanded by his family members.

Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef the head of Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem, where Sharon has been hospitalized since the stroke, already said in the past that the prime minister would be taken to a rehabilitation center after the elections. The hospital refused to name the surgeons who would perform the surgery.



Prior to January's massive stroke Sharon suffered a mild stroke in December, after which doctors discovered a hole in his heart and recommended an angioplasty to close the hole. One day before the scheduled operation Sharon suffered a massive stroke, and he has been in a coma since.

Sharon underwent a number of emergency operations after the stroke, mainly to stop brain hemorrhages. A large section of his digestive system was removed in a separate surgery after doctors identified damage in his intestines. Doctors failed to rouse Sharon from a medically induced coma and have described his condition as serious but stable.

A number of leading coma specialists were invited to Jerusalem to advice on how best to treat Sharon, but the team of surgeons treating the prime minister refused to reveal the recommendation they had been given.


Lawsuit: Coca Cola Drinks May Cause Cancer

By YnetNews.com

A request to file a NIS 200 million ($43 million) class action lawsuit against the Central Bottling Company (Coca Cola Israel) was submitted to the Tel Aviv District Court.

The plaintiff, Yaakov Huri, who filed the request through his lawyer Yochi Geva, alleges that the Central Bottling Company misled consumers of its Fanta brand soft drinks because the drinks are not suitable for human consumption. The plaintiff claims that the Fanta drinks contain a combination of two ingredients—sodium preservatives and acerbic acid—that together create Benzene, which is believed to be a cancer-causing ingredient in humans.

The plaintiff additionally claims that the quantity of these ingredients in a Fanta bottle are eight times more than the acceptable, or the recommended amount in drinking water, and it should be applied soft drinks as well.

He said that he used to trust the company's approval and the labels on the bottles stating that the product does not risk one's health and that obviously there are no ingredients that in combination could produce cancer causing elements. Additionally, Huri claims that the company was fully aware of the health risks it subjected the public to.

Coca Cola said in response that it didn't receive the lawsuit yet and that their products are safe for drinking and undergo a strict quality assurance process as part of a quality assurance system which is one of the most advanced in the world.

"Products stand the requirement of not only the global Coca Cola company but also all the strict norms and standards of the Health Ministry and the Standards Institution of Israel," the company said in a statement.

The company explained that a combination of the ingredients exists in two Fanta products and both were analyzed by the company's global laboratory in Europe. The findings also support the claims that the amount of Benzene is drastically lower than the Israeli standard and the World Health Organization standard for drinking water. Therefore, Coca Cola said, "it's important to stress that Fanta products carry no health risks."

Environmental Scientist Re-examines Israel's Exodus from Egypt

By Planetsave.com

ABC-TV anticipates the Jewish Passover on April 10 and 11 with a lavish new two-part miniseries, "The Ten Commandments," which dramatizes Moses' story from birth through Mount Sinai.

For thousands of years, Jews have commemorated the liberation from Egypt led by Moses, fulfilling the Bible's command: "You shall observe this as an institution for all time, for you and for your descendants."

ABC's version closely follows the Bible's Book of Exodus, regarding which there's perennial debate. The latest example is a chapter in "The Natural History of the Bible: An Environmental Exploration of the Hebrew Scriptures" (Columbia University Press) by Daniel Hillel, professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Massachusetts.

The Bible is the earliest effort to "describe a people's history as a continuous progression of events," Hillel writes, and the Exodus is pivotal for that story.

This scientist is a middle-of-the-roader, neither accepting everything as literally true nor dismissing Exodus as a fable. Historical proof or disproof ` "is not easy, and perhaps not possible, to resolve entirely," he said, since archaeological finds are chancy, much has been wiped away and the lack of remains doesn't confirm anything.

Outside the Bible, there's no hard proof of Israel's sojourn in Egypt and escape. But Hillel figures if the accounts "were entirely contrived, they could hardly have had such lasting power" and "there appears to be a believable core of authenticity."

He considers it unlikely that "a nation would ascribe to itself so humble and humiliating a national beginning as slavery, unless it had some basis in truth." There are no surviving Egyptian accounts; perhaps the event seemed unimportant, or too embarrassing.

Hillel thinks "whoever wrote the story of the Israelites in Egypt must have known the country very well, either must have lived there or must have received the information from others who had. The background is believable, the names seem authentic and the entire atmosphere and sense of place appear genuine."

For instance: Nomadic farmers indeed entered Egypt's eastern Nile delta during severe droughts in their traditional grazing grounds. Egyptian records back to the 18th century B.C. tell of numerous "Asiatic" slaves. One inscription specifies that a group named Israel lived in Canaan around the time of the Exodus.

Credible biblical themes include: centralized authority under the pharaoh, drought contingency planning, grain storage, emergency food distribution, sharecropping, taxation, independent priesthood, visiting nomads with high birthrates and resulting resentment, slavery and grand public works projects.

Then there's brick-making. To this day, he says, Egyptians make bricks by kneading clay with straw, pressing it into molds and baking it in the sun or ovens (Exodus 5:10-19).

Turning directly to his specialty of ecology, Hillel said the biblical author obviously knew about Egypt's ``mostly regular but occasionally anomalous water supply."

The Nile was both a source of drinking water and a waste disposal, raising constant danger of pollution and especially during times of low flow. That could produce massive fish kills, proliferation of frogs that thrive in stagnant water and scourges of insects, just like the Exodus "plagues."

Then, too, the freak hailstorms and eerie darkness (an eclipse of the sun? a dust storm?) were natural phenomena in Egypt that would have left a lasting impression, he thinks.

Even the parting of the Red Sea, better translated the "reed sea," which he assumes was a marsh, might have referred to a natural occurrence. Those who escaped could hide in the delta's reeds while heavily laden troops with chariots got bogged down in the mud and mire. And the pillar of cloud could have been one of the familiar dust devils that reach considerable heights in the region's deserts.


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