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300,000 Watch Massive Fireworks on Tel Aviv Beachfront

By Ha'aretz

An estimated 300,000 people packed the Tel Aviv beachfront Tuesday night to watch a massive offshore fireworks display orchestrated by a French production company specializing in pyrotechnics. Five tons of fireworks were launched from a raft located 400 meters off the coast over the course of 28 minutes - making this the largest pyrotechnic display in Israel's history. A computer was programmed to synchronize the musical beats with the fireworks.

Key Israeli Bank Cuts Ties with Palestinians

By VOA News

Israel's third largest bank said it is cutting ties with financial institutions operating in the Palestinian territories - a new blow to the embattled Palestinian government.

Officials at the Israel Discount Bank said Tuesday the decision results from ongoing concern that doing business with the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority would violate Israel's anti-terrorism laws. Hamas, which came to power in January, has called for the destruction of the Jewish state.

A second bank authorized to deal with the Palestinian Authority under 1993 peace accords - Bank Hapoalim - announced in February it was cutting ties with the Palestinians by early July. Officials say the Discount Bank cut-off will occur by November.

The Palestinian Authority does its local business in the Israeli currency, the shekel. Meanwhile Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is urging the European Union to restore funding to his government.

In an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg Tuesday, Abbas said the recent European aid cut-off threatens to make the deteriorating economic and social situation in the territories even worse.

Hamas: ´No Peace, Ever, Without Return of Millions of Arabs´


While worldwide attempts continue in an effort to moderate Hamas and have it agree to negotiate with Israel, Hamas issues a bellicose "Nakba Day" proclamation rendering all such efforts moot.

The Arabs of the Palestinian Authority commemorate May 15 - the date of the end of the British Mandate in 1948, which made room for the formation of the State of Israel - as their "Nakba Day," or Day of Catastrophe. The Hamas terrorist movement, which now controls the Palestinian Authority after an overwhelming popular election victory earlier this year, issued its Nakba Day proclamation, effectively putting to rest any chances for peace with Israel.

The proclamation said in part: "The right of the return of the Palestinian refugees and the refusal to negotiate it is something that we must not retreat from, no matter what the circumstances. All talk of an agreement or negotiations is not acceptable as long as the return of the refugees has not occurred...

"Sons of our Palestinian nation, the commemoration of the Nakba and its grave consequences teach us that we must adhere even more strongly to the Jihad, to resistance, to the strong stand, and to the non-concession of the right of return, self-definition and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem. Without all this, there will never be peace or security in the entire region."

The Hamas announcement emphasized the justness of terrorism against Israel, as well as the unyielding nature of its demand for the return of millions of Arabs to Israel. It repeated, several times, the claim that the Arabs were cruelly thrown out of their homes by Israel in 1948 - when in fact the largest number of Arab refugees fled only at the urging of their own leaders, who promised them a swift victory over the fledgling Jewish state and a quick return to their homes.

Arab League Secretary-General Habib Issa said in June 1951 that his predecessor Azzam Pasha had "assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and of Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade ... and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean."

In addition, the Research Group for European Migration Problems found in 1957 that "as early as the first months of 1948, the Arab League issued orders exhorting the people to seek a temporary refuge in neighboring countries, later to return to their abodes ... and obtain their share of abandoned Jewish property."

Mahmoud Abbas himself - now the chairman of the Palestinian Authority - wrote in 1976, "The Arab states succeeded in scattering the Palestinian people and in destroying their unity. They did not recognize them as a unified people until the states of the world did so, and this is regrettable."

Time Magazine, on May 3, 1948, described the Arab flight from Haifa: "The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by order of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city.... By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa."

Monsignor George Hakim, the Greek Catholic Bishop of Galilee, said in 1949 that the Arabs of Haifa "fled in spite of the fact that the Jewish authorities guaranteed their safety and rights as citizens of Israel."

Even a British police commander in Haifa said in April 1948, "Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and businesses open and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe."

Israeli-Palestinian Couple Fights to Live Together

By Reuters

Jasmin Avissar and Osama Zatar fell in love, got married and hoped to live happily ever after -- but she's an Israeli Jew and he's a Palestinian Muslim and now they have nowhere to call home.

The couple's "Romeo and Juliet" struggle to live together is a rare tale of cross-border love in a land driven by years of violence between Israel and Palestinians.

Avissar, a 25-year-old classical dancer, met Zatar, 26, when they both worked at an isolated animal shelter on the border between Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. They wed two years ago, but Israel has not granted them permission to live in the Jewish state. So they live in the West Bank city of Ramallah but on borrowed time -- Avissar's Israeli army-issued permit to cross into the Palestinian-run city is temporary.

Israel denies residence permits to virtually all Palestinian men under-35 under a law, passed during a five-year-old Palestinian revolt, aimed at tightening security and preventing suicide bombings. The Israeli military also generally bars Israelis from Palestinian-ruled territory.

It is rare for Jews to marry Arabs either in Israel or the occupied territories, and the few who do tend to keep quiet about a union frowned upon by many Israelis and Palestinians.

"We're in a Kafka-esque situation. All we want is the right to live together as a married couple," said Avissar, who crosses an Israeli checkpoint almost daily to work as a waitress in Jerusalem. "The authorities are constantly trying to keep us apart", said Zatar, a sculptor who sports a dark pony tail. "We love each other and plan a future together, if we can have one".

That "if" rings through their lives -- their uncertain situation makes talking about buying a house, or having children impossible. The couple has appealed to Israel's High Court to force the government to allow them to live together indefinitely, either in Israel or in the Palestinian territories. Their chances of success are uncertain.

On Sunday, Israel's High Court narrowly upheld a law that denies Israeli residency to many Palestinians who marry Israelis, rejecting appeals against a statute that critics say violates human rights and is racist.

In the couple's separate petition, lawyer Michael Sfard quotes from Shakespeare's tragic romance, comparing the feud between the Montague and Capulet families to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"Being held a foe, he may not have access to breathe such vows as lovers used to swear; And she as much in love, her means much less to meet her new-beloved anywhere", Sfard writes, quoting from Shakespeare's play.

Sfard argues that under the United Nations declaration on human rights and international law "the appellants have the basic right to live a family life and free choice of spouse".

Sabine Hadad, a spokeswoman for Israel's Interior Ministry, said that under Israeli law Zatar was ineligible to apply for Israeli residency. Few exceptions were made, she added. The law was drafted after security officials argued that an earlier policy of granting citizenship or residency to most Palestinians married to Israelis could help suicide bombers enter Israel.

Most of those affected are Israeli Arabs who tend to be more likely than Jews to marry Palestinians from the West Bank. Human rights groups estimate more than 25,000 such families often live apart when Israel denies residency to one or more members. "The state has the right not give everyone citizenship, but the way the system works today is racist and harmful", said Sharon Abraham Weiss, a lawyer for the Israeli Association for Civil Rights.

Israel grants citizenship to anyone who can prove that at least one of his or her grandparents was Jewish. A fifth of Israeli citizens are Arabs.

Weiss accused Israel of restricting visas to Palestinians to limit the number of Arabs who live in the Jewish state, an allegation officials deny.

With their lives on hold, Avissar and Zatar have struggled to make a decent living in Ramallah. Zatar has been unable to find regular work, a common problem for many Palestinians in the West Bank's weak economy, even before a U.S.-led boycott on foreign funds to a Palestinian government led by the terrorist Hamas group.

The couple's main income now comes from what Avissar makes serving tables at the Jerusalem coffee shop. But the couple still dream of a happily ever after.

Avissar hopes to open a ballet school for Palestinians -- if Israel ever grants her a long-term permit to stay in the West Bank. Her family in Israel has accepted her marriage. Some of Zatar's relatives had accused him of betraying his people by marrying an Israeli; now they accept her.

Hamas Publishes Hate Comics for Kids


The Hamas terrorist organization, ruler of the Palestinian Authority, has been publishing comics educating Arab children to hate the State of Israel and support terrorism against the Jewish State.

For years, Hamas has been investing substantial resources to ensure that its hatred of Jews and Israel is successfully passed on to the younger generation. Much of that money has been devoted to devising educational programs, beginning in nursery school, to teach children to aspire to kill Jews and destroy the Jewish State.

Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, evidently has decided that comics provide an effective way of inculcating its core values into school children.

Palestinian Media Watch (, in an effort to bring the Hamas' hate comics to the attention of the world media, has translated two comic strips, one of which is reproduced below. The original comics can also be viewed directly on the Hamas website.

The first comic is a story called "Dangerous Games." Two children find toys in the street. But the toys are actually bombs planted by the "evil Zionists."

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