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Posts tagged ‘Hamas’

Israel Unveils ‘Iron Beam’ Laser Defense System.


Israel yesterday unveiled its anticipated missile shield known as Iron Beam that uses a laser to “superheat” the warheads of short-range rockets, mortar bombs, and drones and blow them up in flight.

The first-of-its-kind system was shown off for the first time at the annual Singapore Air Show, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

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Israel-based developer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said Iron Beam will be operational next year.

Iron Beam is designed to handle threats that fly on too small a trajectory for longer-range Iron Dome, the Rafael-developed interceptor credited with an 80 percent success rate against rockets fired by Palestinian militants, The Jerusalem Post reported.

With its maximum interception range of 4.5 miles, Iron Beam would intercept rockets, mortar and artillery shells, and drones coming from Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon — a vital capability for the security of vulnerable towns and kibbutz settlements along the border, the Free Beacon noted.

American funding was involved, the newspaper said, and has been tested successfully.

Advantages for Iron Beam are that it can be mounted on a single truck operating with another truck carrying the radar equipment, and that each laser blast costs several hundred dollars compared with Iron Dome anti-rockets that cost tens of thousands of dollars each, the Free Beacon reported.

Israel is also developing an interceptor known as David’s Sling for medium-range rockets, and the Arrow System against ballistic missiles like those in Iran’s arsenal, the Free Beacon reported.

The U.S. Navy has announced a laser system will be installed this year on a transport vessel, the USS Ponce, for testing. A spokesman for the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, Chris Johnson, told the Free Beacon if the Navy moves forward on the project “the first operational weapons could enter the fleet between 2017 and 2021.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Cathy Burke

Muslim Brotherhood Delegates Given Security Bypass at JFK.


The State Department gave special VIP treatment at New York’s JFK Airport to visiting delegates of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, allowing them to enter the United States without a routine security screening.

The New York Post reports that the expedited entry, known as “port courtesy,” was given to the officials between March and April in 2012, according to newly released documents confirming an Investigative Project on Terrorism report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The perk, which is normally reserved for high-ranking foreign dignitaries, took place before the Brotherhood had won control of the Egyptian government in June 2012 with its candidate Mohammed Morsi elected as president.

However, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party had already won a plurality of seats in parliamentary elections.

One member of the Brotherhood delegation had been linked to a child pornography investigation in the United States years earlier, and likely would have been subjected to extra screening, according to The Algemeiner website.

Another delegate, Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, was escorted through security checkpoints at Minneapolis and JFK. And an official said, “We did not hear anything further from the [Muslim Brotherhood] so we assume the departure went smoothly.”

The report said Dardery was allowed to dodge a “secondary inspection,” which allows agents to search baggage and electronic equipment of passengers who might be considered security risks, says the Post.

Algemeiner noted that the Muslim Brotherhood has close ties with Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, which would usually have resulted in a secondary inspection for the delegation.

Morsi was overthrown in a military-backed coup in July 2013.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Drew MacKenzie

Israel, World Dignitaries, Honor Sharon at State Funeral.


Image: Israel, World Dignitaries, Honor Sharon at State FuneralTony Blair eulogizes Ariel Sharon during a state memorial service at the Knesset in Jerusalem on Jan. 13.

JERUSALEM — Israel said its last farewell to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday with a state ceremony outside the parliament building before his flag-draped coffin was taken on a cross-country procession to its final resting place at his family farm in the country’s south.With a high-powered crowd of VIPs and international dignitaries on hand, Sharon was eulogized as a fearless warrior and bold leader who devoted his life to protecting Israel’s security. Vice President Joe Biden and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair headed the long list of visitors.

In a heartfelt address, Biden talked about a decades-long friendship with Sharon, saying the death felt “like a death in the family.”

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When the two discussed Israel’s security, Biden said understood how Sharon earned the nickname “The Bulldozer,” explaining how Sharon would pull out maps and repeatedly make the same points to drive them home.

“He was indomitable,” Biden said. “But like all historic leaders, all real leaders, he had a north star that guided him. A north star from which he never, in my observation, never deviated. His north star was the survival of the state of Israel and the Jewish people wherever they resided,” Biden said.

Sharon died on Saturday, eight years after a devastating stroke left him in a coma from which he never recovered. He was 85.

One of Israel’s greatest and most divisive figures, Sharon rose through the ranks of the military, moving into politics and overcoming scandal and controversy to become prime minister at the time of his stroke.

He spent most of his life battling Arab enemies and promoting Jewish settlement on war-won lands. But in a surprising about-face, he led a historic withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, uprooting all soldiers and settlers from the territory after a 38-year presence in a move he said was necessary to ensure Israel’s security.

His backers called him a war hero. His detractors, first and foremost the Palestinians, considered him a war criminal and held him responsible for years of bloodshed.

The speakers at Monday’s ceremony outside parliament largely glossed over the controversy, and instead focused on his leadership and personality.

“Arik was a man of the land,” President Shimon Peres, a longtime friend and sometimes rival, said in his eulogy. “He defended this land like a lion and he taught its children to swing a scythe. He was a military legend in his lifetime and then turned his gaze to the day Israel would dwell in safety, when our children would return to our borders and peace would grace the Promised Land.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who resigned from Sharon’s Cabinet to protest the Gaza withdrawal, said that he and Sharon didn’t always agree with each other. Nonetheless, he called Sharon “one of the big warriors” for the nation of Israel.

“Arik was a man of actions, pragmatic, and his pragmatism was rooted in deep emotion, deep emotion for the country and deep emotion for the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said.

Nearly 10 years on, the withdrawal from Gaza remains hotly debated in Israeli society. Supporters say Israel is better off not being bogged down in the crowded territory, which is now home to 1.7 million Palestinians.

Critics say the pullout has only brought more violence. Two years after the withdrawal, Hamas militants seized control of Gaza and stepped up rocket fire on Israel.

In a reminder of the precarious security situation, Palestinian militants on Monday fired two rockets from the Gaza Strip. Sharon’s ranch in southern Israel, where his body was being laid to rest, is within range of such projectiles, though but Monday’s missiles did not hit Israel. No injuries or damage were reported.

Biden praised Sharon’s determination in carrying out the Gaza pullout, which bitterly divided the nation.

“The political courage it took, whether you agreed with him or not, when he told 10,000 Israelis to leave their homes in Gaza, in order from his perspective to strengthen Israel … I can’t think of a more difficult and controversial decision he made. But he believed it and he did it. The security of his people was always Arik’s unwavering mission.”

Blair, who is now an international envoy to the Middle East, said Sharon’s “strategic objective” never changed. “The same iron determination he took to the field of war he took to the chamber of diplomacy. Bold. Unorthodox. Unyielding,” he said.

Sharon’s coffin lay in state at the Knesset’s outdoor plaza where Israelis from all walks of life paid respects throughout Sunday.

In addition to Biden and Blair, the prime minister of the Czech Republic, and foreign ministers of Australia and Germany were among those in attendance at Monday’s ceremony.

Even Egypt, the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, sent a low-level diplomat, its embassy said.

After the ceremony ended, the closed coffin, draped in a blue and white Israeli flag, was placed in a military vehicle and driven in a police-escorted convoy toward Sharon’s ranch in southern Israel.

Crowds stood along the roadside and on bridges, snapping pictures and getting a final glimpse of the coffin as the procession of vehicles left Jerusalem and snaked down the highway outside the city’s picturesque hills.

The convoy made a brief stop at Latrun, the site of a bloody battle where Sharon was wounded during Israel’s war of independence in 1948, for a brief military ceremony before continuing south. His coffin was lowered into the ground in a military funeral at the family farm in southern Israel.

At Sharon’s graveside, his son Gilad remembered his father for overcoming the odds, whether it was battling a Palestinian uprising after becoming prime minister in 2001 or clinging to life in his final days even after his kidneys had stopped functioning.

“Again and again you turned the impossible to reality. That’s how legends are made. That’s how an ethos of a nation is created,” he said.

Sharon’s life will be remembered for its three distinct stages: First, was his eventful and contentious time in uniform, including leading a deadly raid in the West Bank that killed 69 Arabs, as well as his heroics in the 1973 Mideast war.

Then came his years as a vociferous political operator who helped create Israel’s settlement movement and masterminded the divisive Lebanon invasion in 1982. He was branded as indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps outside Beirut when his troops allowed allied Lebanese militias into the camps. An uproar over the massacre cost him his job.

Yet ultimately he transformed himself into a prime minister and statesman, capped by the dramatic Gaza withdrawal. Sharon appeared to be cruising toward re-election when he suffered the second, devastating stroke in January 2006.

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© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dead.


JERUSALEM — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the trailblazing warrior-statesman who transformed the region and was reviled by Arab foes, died on Saturday at the age of 85 and after eight years in a coma caused by a stroke.

The Sheba Medical Center that has been treating Sharon said last week that his health has been declining. Sharon had been suffered from failure vital organs including his kidneys shortly before his death.

The Associated Press reported that his son, Gilad Sharon, said: “He has gone. He went when he decided to go.”

Sharon’s nurse, Marina Lifschitz, said he had not suffered while lying comatose, though he had at times given basic responses to stimuli. She recalled at one point holding up a picture of his late wife, Lily, for him to view.”And suddenly I saw a tear simply rolling out of his eye. That is very difficult to forget,” Lifschitz told reporters.

A maverick in war and politics, Sharon reshaped the Middle East in a career marked by adventurism and disgrace, dramatic reversals and stunning rebounds.

“Arik was a valorous soldier and a bold statesman who contributed much to the security and building up of the State of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, a former political ally of Sharon and, with the ex-premier’s death, the last of the Jewish state’s founders still in public life.

“Arik loved his people, and his people loved him,” Peres said, using the nickname of Sharon, a famously burly and blunt figure with a prizefighter’s rolling gait.
“He knew no fear and never feared pursuing a vision.”
Officials said Sharon, who took power in 2001 soon after the start of a second Palestinian uprising that raged until 2005, would be given a state funeral.

One official said Sharon’s remains would lie in state in parliament in Jerusalem on Sunday. A memorial service will be held there on Monday morning, followed by an afternoon funeral near Sycamore Farm, Sharon’s residence in southern Israel.Among foreign dignitaries expected to attend are U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former British prime minister Tony Blair, the official said.

Loathed by many Arabs and a divisive figure within Israel, Sharon left his mark on the region as perhaps no other through military invasion, Jewish settlement building on captured land and a shock decision to pull out of Gaza.
“The nation of Israel has today lost a dear man, a great leader and a bold warrior,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment on the death from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Sharon’s Likud party successor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been holding U.S.-sponsored peace talks.
But in Gaza, the Hamas Islamists whose political fortunes rose with the Israeli withdrawal savored Sharon’s demise.
“We have become more confident in victory with the departure of this tyrant,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zurhi, whose movement preaches the destruction of the Jewish state.
“Our people today feel extreme happiness at the death and departure of this criminal whose hands were smeared with the blood of our people and the blood of our leaders here and in exile.”
A commander in the army from the birth of Israel in 1948, he went on to hold many of the top offices of state, surviving fierce debate over his role in refugee camp massacres in the 1982 Lebanon war to be elected prime minister in 2001.
Famously overweight, he suffered a stroke that put him into a coma in 2006, when he was at the height of his power, and died on Saturday without ever apparently regaining consciousness.
Some diplomats believed that had he remained in good health, he would have secured peace with the Palestinians after overcoming domestic critics to force through the withdrawal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
“As one who fought in all of Israel’s wars, and learned from personal experience that without proper force, we do not have a chance of surviving in this region . . . I have also learned from experience that the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land,” Sharon said in 2004, explaining his move.
But critics said the unilateralism he favored helped discredit diplomacy and embolden ideological hardliners.
As prime minister, Sharon presided over some of the most turbulent times in Israeli-Palestinian history, a Palestinian uprising that erupted in 2000 and an Israeli military crackdown after peace talks collapsed. As Israel’s leader, he besieged his arch-nemesis Yasser Arafat with tanks after suicide bombers flooded Israel from the occupied West Bank.
Long a champion of Jewish settlement on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, Sharon, serving in 1998 as foreign minister, urged settlers in the West Bank to “run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours.”
He said the contested decision to quit the Gaza Strip, which pulled apart his Likud party and persuaded him to form a new political force, would enable Israel to strengthen its hold over “territory which is essential to our existence.”
It was a reference to the West Bank, where his government began the construction of a massive barrier during the Palestinian uprising. Israel called it a security measure – Palestinians condemned the project as a land grab.
Sharon dominated Israel to a degree not seen since the era of its founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.
Like many native Israeli leaders, Sharon, born in British-mandated Palestine, grew up in a farming community. He later lived in a sprawling ranch in southern Israel, and was often photographed lumbering through its fields.
Sharon joined the pre-state Haganah Jewish underground at the age of 14.
Wounded as a young officer in the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, he went on to lead key commando units and crafted a policy of reprisals – even at the cost of innocent lives – for cross-border Palestinian guerrilla raids.
Along with a reputation in the military for recklessness and disobeying orders, Sharon was hailed for daring operations that brought victories on the battlefield. He retired a major-general.
“It was he who set out the principle that no one who attacked our troops or civilians would be immune, no matter where they were,” said ex-Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai.
Passed over for chief-of-staff, Sharon left the military in the summer of 1973. Three months after he quit, he was back as a reservist-general, commanding troops that launched a counter-offensive that helped rout Egyptian forces in the Yom Kippur 1973 Middle East war.
A photo of Sharon in the desert, in battle fatigues and with his head bandaged, became an iconic image of the conflict.
He helped form the Likud party, which courted Israel’s underclass of Jews of Middle Eastern descent and rose to power in the 1977 election, ending the dominance of the “European” Labor Party.
Appointed agriculture minister, Sharon used that post and his chairmanship of a ministerial settlements committee to break ground on new settlements – helping to earn him the nickname “Bulldozer.”
As defense minister under Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Sharon masterminded the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, one of Israel’s most divisive campaigns.
What started as a stab against Palestinian guerrillas on the border evolved into a murky and costly bid to install a government more friendly to Israel in Beirut.
Arab hatred of Sharon crested with the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila by Israeli-allied Christian militiamen.

Sharon denied wrongdoing but was eventually forced to resign as defense chief in 1983 after an Israeli probe said he bore “personal responsibility” for not preventing the bloodshed.

Sharon described those findings as a “mark of Cain”, and many thought that his political career was finished. But after holding a series of cabinet posts, he was elected as the head of the Likud in 1999 and prime minister in 2001, serving until his stroke five years later.
As a cabinet minister, he visited Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound in 2000, the third holiest place in Islam, which is also revered by Jews as the site of the Biblical Jewish Temples.
The visit, in a part of Jerusalem that Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed in a move that has never won international recognition, was widely seen as a spark for the second Palestinian uprising.
During the subsequent tsunami of violence, the respected Palestinian-American academic Edward Said called Sharon a “homicidal prime minister” who deployed “systematic barbarity” against the Palestinians throughout his career.
“Isn’t it clear that Sharon is bent not only on breaking the Palestinians but on trying to eliminate them as a people with national institutions?” Said wrote in The Nation newspaper in 2002, a year before his death.
Known in Israel by his popular nickname “Arik”, Sharon could charm with a grandfatherly glint in his eye and a jocular laugh. He could also flash disapproval with a cold, steely stare. He had a penchant for Broadway musicals and copious amounts of food.
Sharon was married twice. His first wife, Margalit, died in a car accident in 1962. They had one son, who was killed in 1967 when a friend accidentally shot him while playing with a rifle. In 1963, Sharon married Margalit’s sister, Lily, who died of cancer in 2000. They had two sons.
“Sharon was a mass of contradictions – a peerless cynic and a proven patriot, a man who built up the Likud and then walked out on it, who mixed up Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank while pulling out of Gaza,” said Uzi Benziman, author of “Sharon: An Israeli Caesar.”
He noted the varying theories about what motivated the Gaza withdrawal, including that it aimed to distract from corruption allegations at the time that dogged Sharon and his sons.
“Whatever the truth, it cannot be denied that Sharon’s legacy was to convey to Israelis that holding on to all of the (Palestinian) territories would not last,” Benziman said. “He was the last of the real leaders.”

© 2014 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

By Newsmax Wires

Passenger Vigilance Foils Terror Attack on Bus Near Tel Aviv.


Israeli bomb
Israeli police explosive experts survey a damaged bus at the scene of an explosion in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam December 22, 2013. A bomb hidden in a bag exploded on a bus near Tel Aviv on Sunday after passengers were evacuated from the vehicle, and no one was hurt in the blast, a police spokesman says. (Nir Elias/Reuters)

A potentially devastating terror attack was averted in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam on Sunday, thanks to the vigilance of the passengers aboard Dan bus No. 240. Several passengers noticed a suspicious bag that was left in the rear portion of the bus and alerted the driver, who immediately stopped the vehicle. The passengers disembarked from the bus minutes before a bomb concealed in the bag exploded.

One police sapper suffered a light blast injury and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Police officials believe the explosion was a Palestinian terrorist act. It is unknown at this time whether the attack was the work of a major terror group or a lone terrorist.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, said in a statement that the blast was a “heroic action” in response to what he called Israel’s “continued crimes against the Palestinians.”

According to a report from the Palestinian Maan news agency, an Islamic Jihad official lauded the attack, saying he hoped it “could usher the resumption of suicide attacks.”

“[This is] a sign that the Palestinian people no longer accept that Israeli attacks [against the Palestinians] continue without any real response,” he says.

Israeli security forces have formed a joint task force to investigate the attack and apprehend the perpetrators, Army Radio reported Monday. Following the attack, the search for the perpetrators focused on roads in southern Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces troops operating in Judea and Samaria overnight apprehended 12 wanted Palestinians. The men were turned over to security forces for questioning.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says there were no civilian injuries in the blast. The explosion blew windows out of the bus and charred the sides of the vehicle.

“Based on the findings at the scene by bomb disposal experts, it was a terrorist attack,” Rosenfeld says. “We’re continuing to search the area for suspects.”

He says the nature of the target and the nature of the device led authorities to determine that terrorists, not criminals, were behind the bombing.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino held a security assessment following the incident and ordered to bolster police presence on the ground in all major cities and main bus stations nationwide. The police further urged the public to remain vigilant and alert security forces to any suspicious objects of individuals.

“The incident in Bat Yam proves that the threat of terror is always in the background, especially now, when [Israel] is trying to advance the peace process,” Danino says.

‘I’m No Hero’

The incident took place around 2:30 p.m., when the bus, which travels through Tel Aviv on its way from Bnei Brak to Bat Yam, was approaching a stop on Katznelson Street in Bat Yam.

David Pappo, 40, a resident of Bat Yam who was aboard the bus, noticed that a bag placed near the rear of the bus had a wire coming out of it and decided to look inside.

“It nearly cost me my life, but at least I helped find the bomb,” Pappo said Sunday.

Pappo says a 15-year-old passenger sitting next to him alerted him to the bag.

“I didn’t think twice—I looked inside and immediately realized what it was,” Pappo says. “I shouted to the driver to stop and get people off the bus. I know it was a mistake to touch it, because it could have exploded, but at least I helped save lives.”

Bus driver Michael Yoger, 59, has been praised by authorities for reacting quickly and ensuring his passengers’ safety.

“I’m no hero. I just did what needed to be done,” he said Sunday evening. “A passenger said there was a bag with wires near the rear door. I made sure that everyone was off the bus and away from it. I was the last one to get off the bus, only after I made sure all of the passengers were safe.”

President Shimon Peres later phoned Yoger and thanked him and the passenger who discovered the explosive, saying their actions saved lives.

“The nation owes you a debt of gratitude, and I would like to personally congratulate you for this act of bravery,” the president said.

According to Eitan Fixman, a spokesman for the Dan bus company, there were 12 passengers on the bus when the bomb was discovered.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced the attack in a post on his Facebook page, saying that it served as a reminder that the terror that threatens Israel “never rests.”

“The ‘quiet periods’ that we enjoy are the result of the important preemptive measures and work done all the time by the security services, and not because the terrorists have taken a time out because of the diplomatic negotiations or any other reason,” Lieberman wrote.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki issued a statement condemning the attack.

“We strongly condemn the bombing of a bus near Tel Aviv today,” Psaki said. “Violent acts targeting civilians are deplorable. We reaffirm our unshakable bond with Israel and our solidarity with the Israeli people. Our thoughts are with those affected and with the Israeli people at this time.”

Meanwhile, three other security incidents took place on Sunday. A rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip late Sunday night exploded on a road in the Ashkelon region, causing no harm. Warning sirens sounded in the area before the explosion. Police sappers canvassed the area in the early hours of Monday morning and found the rocket’s remnants.

The second incident took place at the Mishor Adumim junction near Jerusalem, around noon Sunday, when three Palestinians attempted to attack policemen stationed at the junction’s checkpoint.

The three arrived at the checkpoint in a taxi and exited the vehicle. The policemen noticed that one of the men approaching them had drawn a knife and proceeded to restrain him. The three were arrested and turned over to security forces for questioning.

In another incident, boulders that were placed on train tracks running between the southern cities of Dimona and Beersheba caused a minor accident, which left no injuries but damaged a train engine. Israel Railways suspended all train traffic in the area for a few hours following the incident to ensure the tracks’ safety.

The Beersheba police have launched an investigation into the incident. A police source says that several leads are being investigated, including the possibility of a nationalistically motivated attack.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

For the original article, visit israelhayom.com.

Israeli Civilian, Palestinian Girl Killed in Gaza Flare-Up.


GAZA CITY, Gaza — A Gaza sniper shot dead an Israeli civilian over the border Tuesday and Israel hit back with airstrikes on two Hamas training camps, which hospital officials said killed a Palestinian girl near one of the targets.

The Israeli man, who the military said was working on Israel’s security fence, was the first Israeli killed on the Gaza frontier in more than a year.

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His death, which drew a swift threat of retaliation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, came amid heightened tensions after two suspected Palestinian attacks — a bus bombing near Tel Aviv on Sunday that caused no casualties and the wounding of an Israeli policeman in a stabbing on Monday.

Officials from Hamas, the Islamic group which rules Gaza, and witnesses said Israeli aircraft bombed the group’s training camps in Khan Younis and al-Bureij. Witnesses said Israeli tanks fired shells east of Gaza city.

Gaza hospital officials said a girl, whom they estimated was two-years-old, was killed by shrapnel during the Israeli strike on the Bureij facility.

She was standing with other family members outside their home near the camp and two of her brothers were wounded, the officials said.

Earlier, a Palestinian was killed in a separate incident in northern Gaza, hospital officials said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said he was handling an explosive device near the security fence and that soldiers fired at him after warnings.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the sniper attack, which followed a Palestinian rocket strike on southern Israel on Sunday that caused no casualties.

“This is an extremely grave incident and we will not ignore it,” said Netanyahu, who was visiting the southern town of Sderot, about a kilometer [half a mile] from the Gaza border, at the time of the shooting.

“Our policy has been to thwart [Palestinian attacks] and to respond [to them] forcefully, and that is what we will do in this case,” he said, referring to the shooting, in a statement released by his office.

However, since an eight-day war in November 2012, both Israel and Gaza’s Hamas Islamist rulers have been wary of taking military action that could trigger widescale fighting.

No one was hurt in Sunday’s bomb blast on the bus, which had been evacuated after the explosives were spotted, and the wounded policeman was expected to recover.

But the incidents, which Israel blamed on Palestinian militants, fueled concerns of a new Palestinian uprising as peace talks show few signs of progress.

Hamas praised Sunday’s bus bombing — the first in Israel in more than a year — but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

Violence in the West Bank has increased in recent months. At least 19 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in the occupied territory since the U.S.-brokered talks on Palestinian statehood resumed in July after a three-year break.

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts 

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Christmas every day…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” 
-1 John 2:6

As I hear songs of the season playing on my radio and see Christmas lights going up on my neighbor’s homes, I remember a special Christmas Eve that I shared with Hour of Power viewers in the Holy Land in 1999. I was 18 years old. There were 500 people, Hour of Power viewers from all over the world all sitting on a hill above Bethlehem. It was nighttime in Shepherd’s Field, and the city of Bethlehem below was sparkling. As we sang beloved Christmas songs, we held these little lamps, and it was amazing. I stood up front with my grandpa. It was lightly raining, but when the service started, the rain ended. It was as if God stopped the rain and it was just beautiful.

Bethlehem was so beautiful and nice back then, but it doesn’t exist like that anymore. I went back to Bethlehem a number of years later and it had a wall around it now that Hamas was in control. All sorts of awful things have happened there since.

I remember when I went back to Bethlehem for a fourth time, I spoke to a man who said, “Bethlehem used to be mostly Christian, about 90%. Now, most of the Christians have left, fleeing for their lives.” This is still fresh in my mind because of everything that’s happening in Israel, even today. We’re praying for the peace of Israel and Palestine. And this is what I want you to walk away with:

The man said, “In Bethlehem, it’s Christmas every day. Not because Bethlehem is Christmas town, but because we believe that Jesus is born in the hearts of Christians in every moment. The ones of us that are left, the Christians that are still here support each other and love each other. I know that I see Jesus in my kids, I see Jesus in my neighbor, I see Jesus in my parents. Because of that, it gives me the strength to endure anything. I will never leave Bethlehem because I believe that Jesus is here with me in the physical bodies of other believers. That means that Christmas happens every day right here.” Christmas is every day.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to live every day as if it were Christmas. Each day I will worship you and your sacrifice through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Reflection: How could you celebrate Christmas, not just through this Christmas season, but every day?

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