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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Israeli media have portrayed the assassinated planner of this month’s Jerusalem shooting massacre as a member of the Islamic Jihad terror group – yet he is a well-known activist from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization.

Muhammad Shehadi was identified by security officials here as the planner of the terrorist shooting in which eight yeshiva students were murdered.

Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s leading daily, identified Shehadi as “an Islamic Jihad operative,” who planned the shooting. Haaretz reported that Shehadi was “the commander of Islamic Jihad in the Bethlehem area,” and was killed along with “two other Islamic Jihad members.” Israel’s Channel 2 also identified Shehadi as Islamic Jihad.

None of the Israeli media reports described Shehadi as working for Fatah.

While Shehadi temporarily worked for Islamic Jihad, he is a known Fatah member who ran unsuccessfully in the 2006 Palestinian elections as a local Fatah legislator from Bethlehem.

According to senior security officials speaking to WorldNetDaily, Shehadi was killed after the Israeli military received intelligence he was scheduled to attend a Fatah congress planning session in Bethlehem. Shehadi was killed along with Ahmed Dalbul, a Bethlehem-area leader of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s declared military wing.

According to Palestinian security officials, Shehadi worked for Islamic Jihad for about six months after losing the 2006 election as a Fatah leader. He later switched back to Fatah.

Palestinian Authority minister and Fatah Legislative Council member Qadura Fares told WND in an interview that “of course he was Fatah. We were even in jail together as Fatah members.”

Fares was among a delegation of nine Fatah members who visited the Shehadi family’s mourning tent in Bethlehem. Others included Kamal Hassouneh, the PA economic minister, and Azzam el-Ahmad, a PA parliament member and a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council. Fadwa Barghouti, wife of imprisoned Fatah leader and intifada architect Marwan Barghouti, was also present.

According to a Fatah source in the mourning tent, the Fatah delegation promised to rebuild the Shehadi family home after Israel bulldozed the house immediately following the Jerusalem shooting attack.

Prime Minister Olmert’s government has been holding regular negotiations with Abbas’s officials, in line with last November’s U.S.-backed Annapolis Summit, which seeks to create a Fatah-led Palestinian state by the end of 2008.

U.S. Weapons Used Against Israel

A Hamas official told WND that the group had used U.S. weapons against the Israeli military this past weekend. The weapons were seized last June when Hamas took complete control of the Gaza Strip, overtaking all U.S.-backed security compounds in the territory associated with Abbas’s Fatah party.

“We fired at incoming Israeli helicopters using the seized weapons. We will continue to balance the equilibrium of terror with the Zionists,” said Hamas spokesman Abu Oubeida.

Last Friday, Hamas gunmen used mounted heavy machine guns to fire at Israeli helicopters that were attacking a cell of terrorists attempting to launch Kassam rockets into Israel. Hamas claimed they struck one helicopter.

The IDF confirmed that a helicopter was fired at on Friday and returned to its base outside the Gaza Strip, but the army would not state whether the chopper was hit or whether it sustained any damage.

The U.S. has reportedly transferred large quantities of weaponry to Fatah forces in order to bolster Fatah against rival Hamas. Hamas officials repeatedly told WND that they intended to seize the American weapons.

Yosef Son Breaks Ranks

In unprecedented criticism of his father, the son of the spiritual leader of the Shas party demanded that the party immediately leave the government amid media reports that the division of Jerusalem is up for negotiation.

Shas is a major coalition partner in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government. Rabbi Jacob Yosef accused the ultra-Orthodox Shas party of “selling Jerusalem” for 478 million Israeli shekels, or $138 million.

Yosef’s father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, serves as the spiritual leader of Shas, where he is also considered the party’s more important and revered figure.

Earlier this month, the Knesset’s Finance Committee approved $138 million in government funds to Shas’s educational institutions as part of the party’s coalition agreement with Olmert.

“How dare you sell out Jerusalem for 478 million shekels. Jerusalem is worth more than all monies in the world,” exclaimed Jacob Yosef, rabbi of the Givat Mordechai neighborhood in Jerusalem, addressing his father’s party.

The Israeli Shas party has stated it would bolt the prime minister’s coalition if it becomes clear the Israeli government is negotiating to cede of any part of Jerusalem.

Abbas, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated that Jerusalem is being negotiated, while Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has said that “all core issues” are being discussed.

Yosef accused his father’s party of staying in the government until a formal announcement regarding dividing Jerusalem is made – by which time, the rabbi said, it will be too late.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief  for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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