Israel in the News Jan/Feb 2005

How Blind Can You Get?
As Palestinian mortar shells and rockets continued to pound the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif at the rate of over three per day, destroying homes and sending people to the hospital, an American delegation of Presbyterians met in Lebanon with leaders of the global terrorist group Hezbollah and declared, “Relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders.”

Anti-Defamation League Director Abraham Foxman called it “irresponsible” and “deeply disturbing” that Presbyterians would seek to meet “members of a terrorist organization that is directly responsible for attacks against both Americans and Israelis and that has repeatedly denounced America and Israel as enemies of Islam.”

Foxman objected to comments by Rev. Ronald Stone, a retired social ethics professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, who also was quoted on Hezbollah’s satellite TV network as saying, “We treasure the precious words of Hezbollah and your expression of good will towards the American people,” the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, Arutz-7 reported that Arab terrorists fired an anti-tank missile recently at an Israeli school bus in the Gaza region. In what was described as a “miracle,” the missile totally missed the bus. Simultaneous with the missile strike, the terrorists opened fire with automatic weapons. No Israelis were injured.

Fence Working
THE INTERNATIONAL JERUSALEM POST—There has been an 84 percent decrease in the number of Israelis killed in terror attacks since the completion of the first portion of the security fence in August last year, according to a Shin Bet report released in October.

The report revealed that since the completion of the 134-km.-long [83.5 miles] portion of the fence between Elkana and Salem, terrorist organizations operating in Samaria carried out six suicide bomb attacks in Israel, killing 30 Israelis, com-pared with 73 such attacks and 293 deaths since the outbreak of violence in September 2000.

A total of 1,107 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in terror attacks in the past four years.

More Mosques
THE INTERNATIONAL JERUSALEM POST—Jordanian Waqf officials plan to build a fifth minaret on the Temple Mount, and Israel has not objected, a senior Jordanian official said recently.

Dr. Raief Najim, vice president of the Jordanian Construction Committee, who is overseeing the renovation of the southern and eastern Temple Mount walls, said the planned minaret was the brainchild of Jordanian King Abdullah II and would be constructed near the eastern wall of the Temple Mount this year. Three minarets exist near the Western Wall and one near the northern wall.

Najim said construction is estimated to cost $350,000.

Leading Israeli archaeologists, who have been decrying the lack of archaeological supervision at the site for the past four years, lambasted the plan.

Dr. Eilat Mazar, a Temple Mount expert, said, “In the past, Waqf requests for small structural changes on the Temple Mount were actually an excuse for large-scale Islamization of the site, which caused massive antiquities damage.”

Figuring out Israel
THE INTERNATIONAL JERUSALEM POST—According to the latest figures, there are 13 million Jews living worldwide, including 5.2 million in Israel.

According to Jewish Agency figures, 5.6 million live in North America, 1.2 million in Europe, 413,000 in the former Soviet Union, 401,000 in South America, 84,000 in Africa, 107,000 in Australia and New Zealand, and 19,000 in Asia.

Meanwhile, Israel’s 5.2 million Jews and some 287,000 immigrants and their families not registered as Jews make up 81 percent of the country’s 6.8 million population, while the Arabs comprise 19 percent.

During 2003 the Arab minority grew at a rate of 3 percent compared to the 1.4 percent among the Jewish majority. The median age of the Jewish population is 30.4, while the Arab median is 19.7.

Hamas Makes Weapons in Gaza
Jerusalem Post Internet Edition—In the first admission of its kind, a senior Hamas official has admitted that the movement has a number of factories in the Gaza Strip for manufacturing.
Nizar Rayyan, a Hamas leader from Jabalya refugee camp, said the factories were busy manufacturing different types of mortars and rockets to be used against Israel.

Although he is considered one of the prominent political leaders of Hamas, Rayyan was seen wearing military fatigues and armed with a rifle during a recent 17-day Israel Defense Forces operation against Kassam rocket squads in the northern Gaza Strip.

“Thank God, the weapons of the Hamas fighters are manufactured locally,” Rayyan said. “For several years now we have had our own weapons factories and we are working round the clock to improve the fighting capabilities of our fighters. We first made hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rockets and their launchers, and then Kassam and Yassin rockets.”

In another development, Hamas gunmen killed a Palestinian suspected of helping Israel in the assassination of the movement’s Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

The man, Hassan Mohammed Musallam, 28, was kidnapped from his home in the Tal Al Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City. His bullet-riddled body was found near a garbage dump in the city.

‘Hatikvah’ on Way to Officialdom
ARUTZ-7—Fifty-six years after the establishment of the State of Israel, it will soon have its own official national anthem.

The Knesset Interior Committee has approved legislation amending the Flag and Symbol Law, according to which “HaTikvah”—popularly assumed to be Israel’s national anthem—would in fact officially receive this status. The law, which passed its first reading two years ago after being submitted by MKs Michael Kleiner and Zevulun Orlev, has lain dormant since then. MK Michael Nudelman (National Union) resubmitted it, and it is now on its way to the Knesset for its final readings.

Previous governments did not see a need to legislate the fact that “HaTikvah” is Israel’s anthem, given its wide popularity and general acceptance as such. The situation changed, as Kleiner and Orlev explained at the time, when certain left-wing elements proposed that the anthem be changed to reflect Israel’s Arab population.

Though the history of the song is not totally clear, it is accepted that the words were written in 1886 by Naphtali Hertz Imber, an English poet originally from Bohemia, and the melody is by Samuel Cohen, an immigrant from Moldavia. The words of the first and most well-known stanza are:

As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope—the two-thousand-year-old hope—will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

No Pain, More Gain
THE INTERNATIONAL JERUSALEM POST—A portable device that uses ultrasound to painlessly deliver medications, including local anesthesia, through microscopic pores in the skin, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and put on the market.

Developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sonoprep offers future applications for continuous and painless testing of blood sugar in diabetics, speedy administration of pain medications to cancer patients, and influenza vaccines to the general public. It could eliminate needles from medical practice by applying ultrasound waves to the skin for 15 seconds, disrupting a protective membrane to allow fluids to enter or exit.

Israel Developing Airborne Car
ARUTZ-7—An Israeli pilot, who is also an aeronautics engineer, has developed an aircraft called the X-Hawk that is able to land in places currently impossible for both helicopters and airplanes.

The Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot reported that Dr. Raffi Yoeli’s aircraft has no wings. This, together with the lack of exposed propellers, will enable the X-Hawk to get close to the windows of skyscrapers and fly low in populated areas without endangering either passengers or bystanders. Its appearance is that of a car.

The X-Hawk is causing excitement in law enforcement and rescue forces circles as it promises to revolutionize many existing methods. Some of the new prospects include enabling rescue from high-rise buildings and aerial police pursuit of ground targets.

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