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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

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Security forces acting on orders from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week destroyed a synagogue used by Jews to worship near Joseph’s Tomb, Judaism’s third holiest site and the believed burial place of the biblical patriarch Joseph. Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, which granted nearby strategic territory to the Palestinians, Joseph’s Tomb was supposed to be accessible to Jews and Christians.

But following repeated attacks against Jewish worshippers at the holy site by gunmen associated with then-PLO leader Yasir Arafat’s militias, Prime Minister Ehud Barak in October 2000 ordered an Israeli unilateral retreat under fire from the area.

Currently, Jewish pilgrimage to Joseph’s Tomb is legal only several times per year in convoys protected by the Israel Defense Forces. Still, some Jews regularly attempt clandestine visits to the holy site.

Jewish students last year built a structure on the West Bank’s Mount Gerizim, which is just outside the tomb area. The structure was used as a synagogue and was constructed on the Mount so Jews can pray and study Torah as close to the tomb site as possible. Dozens of Jewish students congregated daily at the makeshift synagogue.

But Olmert’s office and Israeli government officials deemed the structure – which they refused to call a synagogue – illegal since it was built without a government permit. While Jewish construction projects deemed illegal in Jewish cities in the West Bank are regularly bulldozed by the government, Olmert’s office has taken no action against hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in illegal outposts in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

This column previously exposed the fact that the Israeli government has allowed Palestinians and the United Nations to build illegally on hundreds of acres of Jewish-owned lands in Jerusalem purchased by the Jewish National Fund using Jewish donor funds solicited for the purpose of Jewish settlement.

In addition, the city of Jerusalem, under orders from Olmert, deleted files documenting hundreds of illegal Arab building projects throughout eastern sections of Jerusalem, housing tens of thousands of Palestinians, according to a report by the Jerusalem Forum.

More Amnesty?

Most members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group granted amnesty by the prime minister last month have not turned in their weapons, despite media reports to the contrary. Some haven’t even signed their amnesty contracts, WND has learned.

Part of the amnesty deal required the 178 terrorists – all of whom are members of the Brigades, the declared “military wing” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization – to disarm and to sign a document stating they would not carry out terror attacks.

A widely circulated Associated Press article this week quoted a senior Palestinian security official stating that “all but three Al Aksa members have surrendered their weapons and sworn off violence, as part of the arrangement.”

But calls this week to the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades members granted amnesty yielded a different story.

Abu Yousuf, a senior leader of the Brigades in Ramallah, told WorldNetDaily that most Brigades members turned in one of several pieces of weaponry they possess.

He said most Brigades members have two to three guns, including one to two personal weapons and one assault rifle issued by the Palestinian Authority – since the majority of Brigades members are also members of Fatah’s security forces.

The Brigades’ failure to keep their side of the amnesty deal is well-known to the Israeli security apparatus. But according to senior Palestinian officials, Olmert officials said the prime minister would strongly consider also granting amnesty to 206 Fatah fighters – mostly Brigades members – who haven’t yet officially received amnesty.

Christian Professor Forced to Accept Islam

Hamas-linked militants kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam a female Christian professor in the Gaza Strip, according to the professor’s family and Fatah officials.

Hamas members denied the accusations, accusing rival Fatah of spreading lies.

The professor, Sana al-Sayegh, is the head of Gaza City’s Palestine International University. She failed to show up at work on June 24. According to sources close to her family, about five days after she disappeared Sayegh called her parents to say she was being held against her will in order to marry a Muslim man, who was also a professor at the university.

A few days later, the family said it received a copy of a conversion document, which was signed by known Islamic terror group sympathizers. Fatah officials say Hamas assisted in kidnapping Sayegh, whose family stated she would “never” convert willingly to Islam.

Sayegh’s family and Gaza-based Christian leaders attempted to meet with Ismail Haniyeh, former prime minister of the Hamas-led PA, but Haniyeh declined a personal meeting. Instead, according to the sources, a delegation of Hamas militants was sent to the Sayegh household to inform them the professor had converted “willingly” and that Sayegh no longer wanted to associate with her family unless they all converted to Islam.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for  WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs.

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About the Author: Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m (CHANGE TO 7-9 p.m.). His website is KleinOnline.com


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