Newsletter : 6fax0727.txt
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Late News: Nine Israeli soldiers were killed in southern Lebanon, and 27 others were
believed to be wounded in fighting in Bint Jbeil, a town in southern Lebanon that military
officials had described as being under almost total Israeli control. China asked the U.N.
Security Council to condemn Israel's killing of four U.N. peacekeepers. Israel said the
attack was an accident and promised to investigate. The U.S. will honor its commitment to
provide Israel with precision-guided missiles, President Bush said when asked about a
report in The New York Times that the U.S. was rushing Israel a standing order so that
Israel could more effectively strike Hizbullah targets in Lebanon.
Nine IDF Soldiers Killed in Bitter South Lebanon Fighting
Nine Israel Defense Forces soldiers died Wednesday and 27 others were injured in the
hardest day of fighting in southern Lebanon since the war began two weeks ago. Five of the
injured soldiers are in serious condition. The IDF believes that Hizbullah lost 15 of its
fighters in Wednesday's fighting.
Eight of the IDF dead - five soldiers and three officers - were from the Golani
Brigade; they were killed in fighting in the town of Bint Jbail. The ninth soldier, a
paratrooper, was killed Tuesday night in Maroun Ras.
The IDF began its operation against Bint Jbail on Monday morning. By Tuesday evening,
troops from the Golani and Paratroops Brigades had taken up positions on the outskirts of
the town, and Golani soldiers had also entered some of the homes.
According to initial reports, the terrorists managed to ambush the IDF forces as they
approached several homes on the outskirts of the town. Many of the Golani casualties
occurred during this initial encounter, which took place at very close range.
The initial battle raged for about an hour. During the next three hours, other platoons
entered the area in an attempt to extricate the force that was pinned down. Hizbullah
forces fired antitank missiles and threw grenades at the force it had caught in its
ambush, and it also used mortars to attack the supporting IDF units.
A total of 22 soldiers suffered injuries, including two platoon commanders. Three of
the casualties were seriously wounded, four were moderately hurt and 15 had light wounds.
The evacuation of the injured was particularly difficult because of the heavy fire in the
The IDF's Northern Command was initially reluctant to deploy attack helicopters in the
battle, due to concerns that Hizbullah might succeed in shooting down one of them.
However, the delay in the evacuation of the wounded led to a decision to deploy the
The evacuation, which was finally accomplished only six hours after the start of the
battle, utilized four Blackhawk helicopters that landed two kilometers from the scene of
the fighting. The soldiers carried their injured comrades on foot to the improvised
While the operation was being carried out, Bint Jbail was subjected to heavy and
sustained fire, and the helicopter landing area was covered in smoke in order to conceal
the choppers' presence from Hizbullah snipers and missiles. The helicopters stayed on the
ground no more than a minute each before evacuating the wounded to Rambam Medical Center
The fighting in the town continued into the evening, and included aerial attacks on the
center of the town by the Israel Air Force.
Later in the evening, in the nearby town of Maroun Ras, Hizbullah terrorists fired an
antitank missile at a force of paratroopers, killing one and seriously wounding two
others. Another paratrooper suffered moderate injuries and two others were lightly hurt.
All were evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, the GOC Northern Command, said Wednesday that "the soldiers
displayed sangfroid, bravery and professionalism after they came under fire, and they
succeeded in killing many terrorists. In the IDF, we estimate that at least 15 Hizbullah
were killed in the village. There are also assessments that put the number of casualties
on the Lebanese side at 40 to 50 dead fighters."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plans to meet with the security cabinet Thursday morning to
discuss the possibility of expanding the IDF operation in southern Lebanon.
Olmert convened a late-night meeting Wednesday with the group of seven ministers who
are part of the security cabinet to discuss options and exchange views about the
continuation of the operation in view of the rising casualties in battles against
Hizbullah and the continued Katyusha rocket attacks against northern Israel.
It appears that the army is gradually moving away from its previous tactic of raids
targeting specific positions along the border, in favor of one of capturing and
temporarily holding a security zone whose aim would be to push the rocket launchers
further north. This strategy will not completely prevent the rocket attacks, but it will
limit the scope of the threat against northern Israel.
At Thursday's cabinet meeting, a number of ministers are expected to express bitter
criticism of the handling of the war in the north, including its aims and the nature of
the ground operations particularly following the heavy casualties in Wednesday's
23 Reported Dead in Israeli Strikes on Gaza
IDF tank, artillery and air force units killed at least 11 Arab terrorists in the Gaza
region Wednesday. Twelve others also died in the raids as the IDF intensified efforts to
find Cpl. Gilad Shalit, whom Hamas terrorists kidnapped last month.
Among the killed terrorists were from the Hamas organization, one from Islamic Jihad
and one from the Popular Resistance Committee. No IDF casualties have been reported.
In all, some 200 Hamas terrorists in Gaza have been killed so far in the past weeks of
anti-terror warfare. Israel Air Force aircraft attacked terrorist stockrooms in Gaza City.
No breakthrough in the destruction of the terrorist infrastructures in Gaza has been
reported, but a gradual decrease in their capabilities has been noted.
Lt.Col. Guy Biton told Ynet, "The fighting is very complex. Terrorists are firing
anti-tank rockets at us. They come to within 100 meters in order to hit our vehicles and
Three Kassam rockets were fired from Gaza and hit the community of Netiv HaAsarah
Wednesday afternoon. Earlier, a Kassam was fired towards Ashkelon, and another one towards
the western Negev; no damage or casualties were reported. Two Kassams were fired on
Tuesday, lightly wounding one person, and several others were launched on Monday.
Rabbis and Kabbalists Lead Thousands In Prayer
Thousands of Jews turned out at prayer vigils on Tuesday to entreat the God of Israel
to protect and defend the Jewish State. Tuesday marked the eve of a new Hebrew month - the
month of Av - a day that is traditionally set aside for special prayer.
The massive attacks on Israel's civilian population and army along the Lebanese border
in the north and the border with Gaza in the south brought out Jews of all types to pour
out their hearts in supplication.
The main vigil was held at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, led by the Chief Rabbis of
the State of Israel and other leading rabbinic figures. Earlier at the Wall, Rabbi Daniel
Dov HaCohen Stavsky gathered together 400 worshippers to recite the special Tikun Hatzot
[Midnight Rectification] prayer.
Throughout the year, the Tikun Hatzot is recited exclusively after midnight, but
according to a tradition instituted by the father of modern Kabbalah, the late Rabbi
Yitzhak Luria of Tzfat, it is to be recited in the afternoon during the three weeks
leading up to the Ninth of Av. This day of traditional Jewish mourning commemorates the
destruction of the First and Second Temples. The 400 participants recited Tikun Hatzot
with their shoes removed and seated on low stools or on the ground, as is customary for
At nightfall, a large crowd participated in the traditional march around the former
gates to the Holy Temple in the Old City of Jerusalem, an event that is held near the eve
of a new Hebrew month.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Sharon Transferred to Intensive Care
By VOA News
Israeli medical officials said former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been transferred
to the intensive care unit of a Tel Aviv hospital for kidney dialysis.
The 78-year-old former political leader has been in a coma for six months, since
suffering a massive stroke on January 4.
A hospital spokesperson, Anat Dolev, said Sharon was taken to intensive care Wednesday
so doctors could remove excess fluids that have accumulated in his body as a result of
kidney failure. Earlier in the week, hospital officials said that Sharon's condition had
deteriorated, noting the accumulation of fluids and changes in his brain tissue.
Canadian-Israeli Professor Arrested on Suspicion of Spying for Hizbullah
A Canadian-Israeli professor has been held by Israeli authorities for 18 days without
access to a lawyer, on suspicion of spying for Hizbullah and Iranian intelligence agents.
A gag order on the case was lifted Wednesday after Ha'aretz appealed to Nazareth
Prof. Ghazi Falah was arrested while touring the Rosh Hanikra area, on July 8, four
days before the outbreak of the current conflict in Lebanon. He was approached by
individuals who identified themselves as security officials, and who instructed him to
stop photographing. Falah refused, and after an argument, was arrested.
Falah, a professor of geography at the University of Akron, said he had taken the
pictures as part of his academic research.
Before Wednesday, Falah had not been permitted to speak to his lawyer, Hussein Abu
Hussein. The police and the Shin Bet security service repeatedly refused to lift the gag
order placed on this case, despite wide publicity in media sources in Canada, the U.S. and
According to security officials, Falah is suspected of "spying for hostile sources,
with the goal of harming state security," apparently in reference to his alleged
connections with Hizbullah and Iranian intelligence.
They hinted that Falah was allegedly sent by these sources to photograph various
locations and to report where rockets have landed in Israel.
Security officials said Falah was photographing a military antenna in Rosh Hanikra. He
recently took a trip to Beirut, and two years before visited Iran.
Falah has denied all suspicions against him, claiming the purpose of his trip to Beirut
had to been to organize an international conference on geography in the Arab world. Falah
said his trip to Tehran had been in the company of Alex Murphy, former head of the
American Geography Association, and was solely for academic purposes.
"I am a geographer and an Academic researcher, and I have never made any connections
secret or illegal with intelligence or terror sources," Falah told Ha'aretz in a statement
given by his lawyer.
Falah said all the pictures he had taken along the length of the strip outside of
Nahariya were designated for his research, and the rest of the pictures were similar to
those he took during his visits in Lebanon from Tyre southward until Israel. Falah's
remand was extended Wednesday by four days. His lawyer, Hussein, has appealed to the Haifa
District Court against the extension.
Is Hizbullah Sending Text Messages to Israelis?
"Now Now Now ..Go out from your home Hizballah willing shelling of the area. Israel
Government cheating you and refuse recognition defeat," reads a text message received by
dozens of Orange cell phone service subscribers Wednesday. Dozens of Israeli customers of
the service provider received those unexpected SMS messages on their phones Wednesday
It was not yet clear whether Hizbullah operatives were in fact behind the messages of
intimidation, or whether the messages were no more than a joke in poor taste by other
Upon receiving the message, Shlomit Morad from Or Akiva next to Caesarea, told Ynet, "I
immediately understood that someone managed to break into the Orange database and that it
of course wasn't a personal message. This is their psychological warfare. The message came
from a foreign number and not a recognized number."
Hizbullah rockets have not hit the Or Akiva area, some distance south of Haifa,
although the terror organization has threatened to target areas south of Haifa such as
Netanya and Tel Aviv. "I immediately understood that it was related to the events here. My
daughter also got the same message to her cell phone. I called Orange to report it, and
they took all the details," Morad added.
Regarding how she felt upon receiving the message, Morad said, "I'm generally stressed
by the situation. But we can deal with this it's not as horrible as all the other
things happening in this war." But all the same, she did not completely disregard the
cautions. "Maybe now it is our turn. We're getting ready," she said.
Uri Goldberg, a resident of Herzliya near Tel Aviv also received the SMS. "I was
surprised by the message, a little amused, but not particularly frightened. I'm not taking
it seriously. I don't think someone would send would send me a little message to warn of
future bombardments. But I give them credit they really could be sending text
messages, it's not completely unrealistic."
Rani Rahav, a spokesperson for Orange, responded that the text messages were coming
from a small service provider "somewhere out there in the Pacific Ocean. We are working
right now to block the provider from transmitting further messages to Orange
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