Will Israel Survive America's Muslim President


-- American Christians Encouraging Iranian Jews to Move to Israel
-- Israel covering up Temple Mount destruction
-- Muslims solidifying Temple Mount takeover
-- Israeli voices say Olmert too weak
-- Israel Says It Would Accept NATO-Led Force
-- Olmert: Eliminate Hamas, Hezbollah
-- Israel Appeals to Lebanon to Join Forces Against Hizballah
-- Israel Considers Hizballah TV Station Legitimate Target
-- Al Aqsa official: Jewish temples existed
-- Israel's 1967 attack on USS Liberty was accidental according to Declassified documents

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 American Christians Encouraging Iranian Jews to Move to Israel

December 26, 2007    By Julie Stahl    CNSNews.com Jerusalem Bureau Chief

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Israel for the first time is publicly urging the entire Iranian Jewish community to immigrate to Israel -- and American Christians are providing the financial incentives for them to do so.

Forty new immigrants from Iran arrived in Israel on Tuesday, the largest single group of Iranian Jews to move here in decades.

Some 200 Iranian Jews have immigrated to Israel in 2007, up from just 65 in 2006. But this is the first time that their arrival has been such a public occasion.

Michael Jankelowitz, a spokesman for the Jewish Agency, the quasi-governmental organization responsible for Jewish immigration to Israel, told Cybercast News Service that the Jewish Agency went public with the immigration story at this time for two reasons: to send a message to the Iranian Jews that world Jewry wants to help them; and to let the Iranian regime know that its Jewish citizens are not alone.

"God-willing" all the Iranian Jews will come to Israel, Jankelowitz said.

Many Iranian Jews have a high standard of living and must abandon homes, businesses and possessions when they come to Israel. That is why they are being offered an additional financial incentive to come here.

Each Iranian Jew who moves to Israel receives a $10,000 grant provided by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said Jankelowitz.

The amount given to each Jewish immigrant could enable a family of five or six to buy a home or get settled in Israel, IFCJ spokeswoman Anat Shavit-Malz said.

The IFCJ, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, was established in 1983 to promote understanding between Jews and Christians. The group raises money (primarily from Evangelical Christians in the U.S. and Canada) for various projects to help Israel and the Jewish people.

(Evangelical Christians view the modern state of Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and therefore they do all they can to bring Jews to the promised land.)

Shavit-Malz said publicity surrounding the immigration of the Iranian Jews to Israel may encourage others in Iran to do the same thing. Shavit compared Iranian Jews to those in pre-World War II Germany who also failed to see the signs of coming trouble.

Navid, who immigrated to Israel from Iran in 2000 when he was 15, agreed. "Those who are in Iran simply don't understand the threat around them," Navid said in a radio interview. "Those who are outside the country really understand what is going to happen."

Navid said his family immigrated to Israel because his father was one of 13 Jews arrested in 1999 and accused of spying for Israel and the U.S. The case drew international condemnation and there was fear at the time that the 13 Jews might be executed.

Three of the original 13 were acquitted at their trials in 2000 and the other 10 were given sentences of between four to 13 years. Eventually all of them were freed.

Family members outside of Iran try to convince those on the inside to leave, Navid said. Seven years after his arrival, he went to the airport on Tuesday to welcome his aunt and her family from Iran.

Iranian Affairs expert Menashe Amir said it was "very wrong" for Israel to publicize the arrival of the 40 Iranian Jews, although their names and other details were not released.

It could make life more difficult for the Jews who remain in Iran, Amir told Cybercast News Service.

Iran, with an estimated 28,000 Jews, has the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel.

Following the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, tens of thousands of Jews left the country. Many settled in the Los Angeles area. More than 76,000 Iranian Jews have immigrated to Israel since it became a state in 1948.

In the past, Jews have had a relative degree of religious freedom in Iran, but that may be changing.

Jankelowitz said that Jewish schools have been closed down; Iranian Jews are not allowed to study Hebrew (the language of the Jewish prayer book); and children are forced to attend school even on the most solemn Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur.

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 Israel covering up Temple Mount destruction

Archaeologists accuse government of 'major crime,' allowing Muslim authorities to pulverize antiquities

October 22, 2007    By Aaron Klein    © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

Possible carved stone from Jewish Temple-era antiquity exposed by digging at Temple Mount in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM – Prominent Temple archeologists here accused the Israeli government today of attempting to cover up its alleged failure to properly supervise a dig in which Islamic Authorities were accused of destroying Temple Mount antiquities.

Experts believe the discoveries included a wall from the Second Jewish Temple.

The archaeologists claim the government's release this week of some First Temple-period relics it says were found during the Islamic dig was part of the purported cover-up. The government's move followed a Supreme Court case charging Israel failed to stop massive destruction of Temple antiquities.

"The [Israeli government] Antiquities Authority clearly and obviously allowed the destruction of antiquities," charged third-generation Temple Mount archaeologist Eilat Mazar, speaking to WND. "What they did is the exact opposite of any proper archaeological supervision, and now they are showing what they say are important finds. They are covering up a major crime."

The Antiquities Authority yesterday released antiquities discovered by its archaeologists during what it said was an excavation coordinated with the Waqf, the Temple Mount's Islamic custodians. The released discoveries included fragments of bowl rims, bases and body shards, the base of a juglet used for the ladling of oil, the handle of a small juglet and the rim of a storage jar.

It was the first time archeological remains from the First Temple period have been found on the Mount.

"The layer is a closed, sealed archeological layer that has been untouched since as early as the eighth century BCE," said Yuval Baruch, the Jerusalem District archeologist for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Waqf authorities denied any Israeli government excavation was conducted during their dig.

WND visited the site of the Waqf dig a number of times and found the Waqf operating bulldozers but saw no evidence of Israeli excavations.

Mazar and other leading archaeologists speaking to WND today said they were "dumbfounded" the Antiquities Authority claimed any excavation was done during the Islamic dig.

"Perhaps finds were discovered in between the teeth of the Waqf bulldozers, but it's ridiculous to say the Antiquities Authority supervised or conducted any proper dig," said Mazar of Hebrew University. "No proper excavation is conducted with bulldozers. No one saw or reported any excavation. How can an excavation be conducted in secret? Such work is a big job. They are trying to hide their failure to stop the Islamic destruction."

Mazar is also a fellow at Israel's Shalem Center and a member of the Public Committee for Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on Temple Mount. Her much-discussed discovery in the City of David, a neighborhood just south of Jerusalem's Old City Walls, is a massive building dating to the 10th century B.C. It is believed to be the remains of the palace of biblical King David, the second leader of a united kingdom of Israel, who ruled from around 1005 to 965 B.C.

Echoing Mazar's comments, a leading Israeli archaeologist charged the Israeli government was attempting to use the released Temple-era fragments as a "smokescreen" to "draw attention away from its incomprehensible failure to halt Muslim destruction" on the Temple Mount.

The expert and Mazar both said a Supreme Court case they brought against the government "prompted" the Antiquities Authority to release its finds.

This summer, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office agreed to allow bulldozers and other heavy equipment to dig a massive trench on the Temple Mount. The holy sites' Islamic Wafq custodians claimed the work was necessary to replace electrical cables outside mosques on the site. The dig, which extended to most of the periphery of the Mount, was protected by the Israeli police and was supposed to be supervised by the Israeli government's Antiquities Authority.

Allowing the use of bulldozers at any sensitive archaeological site is extremely unusual, particularly at the Temple Mount, which experts say contains sealed layers of artifacts as shallow as two to three feet below the surface. The Mount has never been properly excavated. Heavy equipment could easily damage any existing artifacts, say experts, who assert the area should be excavated slowly and carefully by hand.

In September, after bulldozers dug a trench 1,300 feet long and five feet deep, the Muslim diggers came across a wall Israeli archaeologists believe may be remains of an area of the Second Jewish Temple known as the woman's courtyard.

Israel, though, blocked leading archeologists from surveying the massive damage Islamic authorities are accused of causing to the purported wall. It refused to allow up Mazar and other prominent archaologists during many attempts by the experts to inspect the Muslim dig.

Earlier this month, Mazar and other archaeologists filed a Supreme Court case, in part using WND's reporting, to ensure a halt to the Islamic dig on the Mount. Mazar and the other experts were asked by the judge to leave the court while he deliberated with Antiquities Authority officials. Afterwards, the judge ruled based on undisclosed information provided by the officials he was convinced the Antiquities Authority had done it's job to protect the Mount.

"The Authority convinced the court it conducted proper excavations, which is ridiculous to everyone that watched the Islamic destruction," stated Mazar.

During the Muslim dig, the Waqf barred WND from inspecting and filming their massive trench.

The confrontation was captured on video by InfoLive.tv, an Internet-based television network broadcasting in four languages.

WND and the InfoLive.tv camera crew ascended the Mount to obtain footage of the trench, but Waqf guards backed up by the Israeli police stopped the news agencies from approaching open sections of the trench. The guards told WND only closed areas of the trench could be filmed. Sections of the massive trench were being closed up with dirt today before archeologists were able to inspect the site.

After persisting, one Waqf guard asked WND to shut off the camera and vacate the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of Israel's Temple Institute, was among those on the Mount this summer. He told WND he attempted to take pictures of the damage the bulldozers were allegedly wrecking on the wall, but his digital camera was confiscated by Israeli police at the direction of Waqf officials.

"If Israel was building a shopping mall and they found what may be an ancient Buddhist structure, the government would stop the construction and have archaeologists go over the area with a fine tooth comb," Richman said. "Here, the holiest site in Judaism is being damaged, a Temple wall was found, and Israel is actively blocking experts from inspecting the site while allowing the destruction to continue."

Richman charged the Waqf was "trying to erase Jewish vestiges from the Temple Mount."

History of destruction

The last time the Waqf conducted a large dig on the Temple Mount – during construction 10 years ago of a massive mosque at an area referred to as Solomon's Stables – the Wafq reportedly disposed truckloads of dirt containing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods.

After media reported the disposals, Israeli authorities froze the construction permit given to the Wafq, and the dirt was transferred to Israeli archaeologists for analysis. The Israeli authorities found scores of Jewish Temple relics in the nearly disposed dirt, including coins with Hebrew writing referencing the Temple, part of a Hasmonean lamp, several other Second Temple lamps, Temple-period pottery with Jewish markings, a marble pillar shaft and other Temple period artifacts. The Waqf was widely accused of attempting to hide evidence of the existence of the Jewish Temples.

Temples 'never existed'

Most Palestinian leaders routinely deny well-documented Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.

Speaking to WND in a recent interview, Waqf official and chief Palestinian Justice Taysir Tamimi claimed the Jewish Temples "never existed."

"About these so-called two Temples, they never existed, certainly not at the Haram Al- Sharif (Temple Mount)," said Tamimi, who is considered the second most important Palestinian cleric after Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

"Israel started since 1967 making archaeological digs to show Jewish signs to prove the relationship between Judaism and the city, and they found nothing. There is no Jewish connection to Israel before the Jews invaded in the 1880s," said Tamimi.

The Palestinian cleric denied the validity of dozens of digs verified by experts worldwide revealing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temples, tunnels that snake under the Temple Mount and more than 100 ritual immersion pools believed to have been used by Jewish priests to cleanse themselves before services. The cleansing process is detailed in the Torah.

Asked about the Western Wall, Tamimi said the structure was a tying post for Muhammad's horse and that it is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque, even though the wall predates the mosque by more than 1,000 years.

"The Western Wall is the western wall of the Al Aqsa Mosque," he said. "It's where Prophet Muhammad tied his animal which took him from Mecca to Jerusalem to receive the revelations of Allah."

The Palestinian media also regularly claim the Jewish Temples never existed.

Judaism's holiest site

While the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, Muslims say it is their third holiest site.

The First Jewish Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515 B.C. after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. It was expanded by King Herod in 19 B.C. shortly before the birth of Jesus. That temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in A.D. 70. Each temple stood for a period of about four centuries.

The Jewish Temple was the center of religious Jewish worship. It housed the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and was said to be the area upon which God's "presence" dwelt. The Dome of the Rock now sits on the site and the Al Aqsa Mosque is adjacent.

The temple served as the primary location for the offering of sacrifices and was the main gathering place in Israel during Jewish holidays.

The Temple Mount compound has remained a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. Jews worldwide pray facing toward the Western Wall, a portion of an outer courtyard of the Temple left intact.

The Al Aqsa Mosque was constructed around A.D. 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al Aqsa was meant to mark where Muslims came to believe Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven.

Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran. Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night from "a sacred mosque" – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to "the farthest mosque" and from a rock there ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque later became associated with Jerusalem.

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 Muslims solidifying Temple Mount takeover

Olmert OKs Islamic prayer tower, but denies Jewish plans for synagogue

February 18, 2007    By Aaron Klein    © 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's reported decision to allow Muslims to construct a massive minaret on the Temple Mount will "serve to solidify Islam's take over of Judaism's holiest site," a leading Israeli archaeologist charged in a WND interview.


Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Hebrew University's Eilat Mazor said Muslims are turning the Temple Mount into a "giant mosque for Islam only," and that the new minaret will "serve as a prize to the Muslims, who have been erasing Jewish ties to the site by openly discarding Jewish artifacts they find."

Mazor was referring to Muslim excavations near a new mosque constructed at the Temple Mount's Solomon's Stables. During the excavations, the Waqf, or Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount, reportedly disposed truckloads of dirt containing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods. After the media reported this, Israeli authorities froze the construction permit given to the Waqf.

Mazor, a third-generation Israeli Temple Mount archaeologist, is the discoverer and lead archaeologist of Israel's City of David, believed to be the palace of the biblical King David, the second leader of a united Kingdom of Israel, who ruled from around 1005 to 965 B.C. She is also a fellow at Israel's Shalem Center and serves on the Israeli government's Public Committee for Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on Temple Mount.

Earlier this month, WND first reported Olmert granted permission to Jordan to construct a large minaret at a site on the Temple Mount where Jewish groups here had petitioned to build a synagogue.

A minaret is a tower usually attached to a mosque from which Muslims are called to the five Islamic daily prayers.

There are four minarets on the Temple Mount. The new minaret will be the largest one yet. It will be the first built on the Temple Mount in more than 600 years and is slated to tower over the walls of Jerusalem's old city. It will reside next to the Al-Marwani Mosque, located at the site of Solomon's Stables.

Aryeh Eldad, a Knesset member from Israel's National Union party, last year drew up plans with Jewish groups to build a synagogue near the Marwani Mosque. The synagogue was to be built in accordance with rulings from several prominent rabbis, who said Jews can ascend the Mount at certain areas.

A top leader of the Waqf told WND Olmert's granting of permission to build the minaret in the synagogue's place "confirms 100 percent the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) belongs to Muslims."

"This proves Jewish conspiracies for a synagogue will never succeed and solidifies our presence here. It will make Muslims worldwide more secure that the Jews will never take over the Haram al-Sharif," the Waqf official said.

Sources in the Jordanian monarchy and the Waqf told WND Olmert last month gave Jordan's King Abdullah official permission to build the minaret. The sources said the minaret will rise 130 feet above the ancient walls of Jerusalem.

A senior Olmert adviser confirmed to WND the Israeli prime minister told Abdullah he will allow the minaret's construction.

The adviser said he could not speak on the record because Israel has been waiting for an "opportune time" to officially announce permission for the new minaret.

Mazar slammed Olmert's decision to allow the minaret, which has not yet been officially announced.

"This needs to be discussed on wide scale and not just given as a manner of any gesture to anyone," Mazar said.

She accused the Israeli government of "completely neglecting" the Temple Mount.

"Jews are only allowed up there at certain hours. Muslims can construct and destroy Jewish artifacts and we don't hear any contempt for these actions coming from the government. It's disgusting," Mazar told WND.

"But the Muslims are very loud about anything related to the Temple Mount," she said.

The past few weeks, Muslim leaders worldwide have been criticizing Israeli renovation work near the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem to replace a ramp that provides access to a gate leading to the Mount. Muslim leaders claim Israel is trying to weaken the foundations of the Mount. The Israeli government contends the work, taking place in the Jewish Quarter outside the Temple Mount, poses no threat whatsoever to the Mount, but the mayor of Jerusalem yesterday postponed construction of the new gate.

In October, King Abdullah announced plans to build the fifth minaret, although at the time the Jordanians reportedly did not have Israel's permission to commence construction. Abdullah said the minaret would bear the symbol of the Jordanian monarchy.

The Temple Mount's first minaret was constructed on the southwest corner in 1278, the second was built in 1297 by order of a Mameluke king, the third by a governor of Jerusalem in 1329 and the last in 1367.

Prominent Israeli archaeologist Gabi Barkai of Tel Aviv University slammed the new minaret plans.

"I am against any change in the status quo on the Temple Mount. If the status quo is being changed, then it should not just be the addition of Muslim structures at the site," Barkai said.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the international department at Israel's Temple Institute, told WND Olmert's decision to allow the minaret "is repugnant to anyone who knows what it is to be a Jew."

"The decision and Israel's general attitude toward the Temple Mount is the manifestation of spiritual bankruptcy in the country's leadership. Olmert is turning his back on our Jewish heritage while the rest of the world looks at us with amazement at how we can be so insensitive to our own spiritual legacy."

Al Aqsa mosque built by angels?

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. Muslims now claim it as their third holiest site.

The First Jewish Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515 B.C. after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. That temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in A.D. 70. Each temple stood for a period of about four centuries.

The Jewish Temple was the center of religious Jewish worship. It housed the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and was said to be the area upon which God's "presence" dwelt. The Al Aqsa Mosque now sits on the site.

The temple served as the primary location for the offering of sacrifices and was the main gathering place in Israel during annual holidays.

The Temple Mount compound has remained a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. Jews worldwide pray facing toward the Western Wall, a portion of an outer courtyard of the Temple left intact.

The Al Aqsa Mosque was constructed around A.D. 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al Aqsa was meant to mark the place where Muslims came to believe Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven.

Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran. Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night from "a sacred mosque" – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to "the farthest mosque," and from a rock there ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque later became associated with Jerusalem.

Most Waqf officials deny Israelite temples ever existed in spite of what many call overwhelming archaeological evidence, including the discovery of Temple-era artifacts linked to worship, tunnels that snake under the Temple Mount and over 100 ritual immersion pools believed to have been used by priests to cleanse themselves before services. The cleansing process is detailed in the Torah.

According to the website of the Palestinian Authority's Office for Religious Affairs, the Temple Mount is Muslim property. The site claims the Western Wall, which it refers to as the Al-Boraq Wall, previously was a docking station for horses. It states Muhammad tied his horse, named Boraq, to the wall before ascending to heaven.

In an interview with WND, Kamal Hatib, vice-chairman of the Islamic Movement, which will take part in the podium installation ceremonies, claimed the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built by angels and that a Jewish Temple may have existed, but not in Jerusalem. The Movement, which works closely with the Waqf, is the Muslim group in Israel most identified with the Temple Mount.

"When the First Temple was built by Solomon – God bless him – Al Aqsa was already built. We don't believe that a prophet like Solomon would have built the Temple at a place where a mosque existed," said Hatib.

"And all the historical and archaeological facts deny any relation between the temples and the location of Al Aqsa," he continued. "We must know that Jerusalem was occupied and that people left many things, coins and other things everywhere. This does not mean in any way that there is a link between the people who left these things and the place where these things were left."

Al Aqsa official: Jewish temples existed

Last June, in a widely circulated WND interview, a former senior leader of the Waqf contradicted his colleagues, saying he has come to believe the first and second Jewish Temples existed and stood at the current location of the Al Aqsa Mosque.

The leader, who was dismissed from his Waqf position after he quietly made his beliefs known, said Al Aqsa custodians passed down stories for centuries from generation to generation indicating the mosque was built at the site of the former Jewish temples.

He said the Muslim world's widespread denial of the existence of the Jewish temples is political in nature and not rooted in facts.

"Prophet Solomon built his famous Temple at the same place that later the Al Aqsa Mosque was built. It cannot be a coincidence that these different holy sites were built at the same place. The Jewish Temple Mount existed," said the former senior Waqf leader, speaking to WND from an apartment in an obscure alley in Jerusalem's Old City.

The former leader, who is well known to Al Aqsa scholars and Waqf officials, spoke on condition his name be withheld, claiming an on-the-record interview would endanger his life.

He told WND "true" Islamic tradition relates the Jewish temples once stood at the site of the Al Aqsa Mosque.

"[The existence of the Jewish Temple at the site is obvious] according to studies, researches and archaeological signs that we were also exposed to. But especially according to the history that passed from one generation to another – we believe Al Aqsa was built on the same place were the Temple of the Jews – the first monotheistic religion – existed."

He cited samples of some stories he said were related orally by Islamic leaders:

"We learned that the Christians, especially those who believed that Jesus was crucified by the Jews, used to throw their garbage at the Temple Mount site. They used to throw the pieces of cotton and other material Christian women used in cleaning the blood of their monthly cycle. Doing so, they believed that they were humiliating, insulting and harming the Jews at their holiest site. This way they are hurting them like Jews hurt Christians when crucifying Jesus.

"It is known also that most of the first guards of Al Aqsa when it was built were Jews. The Muslims knew at that time that they could not find any more loyal and faithful than the Jews to guard the mosque and its compound. They knew that the Jews have a special relation with this place."

Temple Mount: No-prayer zone

Currently, even though the Jewish state controls Jerusalem, the Waqf serve as the custodians of the Temple Mount under a deal made with the Israeli government that restricts non-Muslim prayer at the site.

The Temple Mount was opened to the general public until September 2000, when the Palestinians started their intifada by throwing stones at Jewish worshippers after then-candidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the area.

Following the onset of violence, the new Sharon government closed the Mount to non-Muslims, using checkpoints to control all pedestrian traffic for fear of further clashes with the Palestinians.

The Temple Mount was reopened to non-Muslims in August 2003. It still is open, but only Sundays through Thursdays 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and not on any Christian, Jewish or Muslim holidays or other days considered "sensitive" by the Waqf.

During "open" days, Jews and Christian are allowed to ascend the Mount, usually through organized tours and only if they conform first to a strict set of guidelines, which includes demands that they not pray or bring any "holy objects" to the site. Visitors are banned from entering any of the mosques without direct Waqf permission. Rules are enforced by Waqf agents, who watch tours closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any breaking of their guidelines.

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 Israeli voices say Olmert too weak

Analysts, commentators contend Lebanon strategy 'not working'

July 29, 2006    by Aaron Sichel    © 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

Israel's current strategy for countering Hezbollah activity in southern Lebanon is not working and should be immediately changed, warned intelligence officials, analysts and commentators, some charging domestic politics was holding back what they said was a much-needed massive ground assault.

"I hope our strategy is going to change, [and] that our government will take the Hezbollah situation with the seriousness it demands," Moshe Marzook, a professor at the Interdisciplinary Center University near Tel Aviv and a reserve military intelligence officer, told WND.

The officer's remarks echoed sentiments expressed by a growing number of military sources and analysts following a week that saw the loss in one battle of eight Israeli soldiers to a Hezbollah ambush and a record number of Hezbollah rockets – 130 in a day – slamming into the Jewish state from Lebanon.

"Right now there are a lot of discussions about what to do. … There's an endless debate about whether or not to use [Israel's military] power," said Marzook.

In a cabinet meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government voted against expanding Israel's ground assault in Lebanon while approving the call-up of an additional 15,000 reserve soldiers in part to replace some of the current brigades fighting in Lebanon.

Military officials had publicly petitioned for the approval of a massive ground assault, complaining the current troop levels fighting Hezbollah are not enough to overwhelm the well-trained Lebanese terror group. Top military leaders also complained they were being asked by politicians to send ground troops into certain villages when the air force can do the job.

"Look, at this point we've already lost one opportunity to destroy Hezbollah, and that's because we didn't go in using all of our forces," said Marzook. "In [Hezbollah stronghold] Bint Jbail the army was using some artillery guns. But it's not enough. Instead, we needed to be using air power after we warned the Lebanese [civilians] to get out.


"Only after a massive aerial bombing should we have sent ground troops in for mopping-up operations In Israel we're a democracy, and the army is totally subordinate to the political echelon, so we do the most we can with what the politicians give us."

Politicians out of their league?

Michael Widlanski, a professor and frequent adviser to Israeli security and foreign policy agencies, told WND Israel's current strategy is a non-starter for defeating Hezbollah.

"The problem for the military is that they're not being allowed to do what the country knows they need to do – and there are already a lot of rumblings both in and out of government about this war being mishandled by Olmert and [Defense Minister Amir] Peretz," said Widlanski.

"Instead of attacking Hezbollah at, say, four points simultaneously, and forcing them to reveal their capabilities and intentions and throwing them off balance, the army now is striking Hezbollah at a single point, and then falling back, and then assessing that battle, and then they start discussing where to go next.

"It's slow, it's disordered and it's not very effective," said the analyst.

Marzook says Hezbollah strongholds "like Bint Jbail need to be demolished. They need to be hit without any ambiguity at all, so that Hezbollah clearly understands" that Israel will not permit them further shelter in Lebanon.

"I think we need to do it, or there will be more and more casualties in this fight," said Marzook.

In a biting analysis in Thursday's Jerusalem Post, Israel Air Force (IAF) Col. (res.) Dr. Shmuel Gordon describes the Olmert administration as "ignorant" about counterterrorism.


Throughout military history, there have been gaps between doctrine and reality. In the current case, the gap is particularly large, created by the [Israeli] government's ignorance of the appropriate strategy. The cabinet is ignoring, or simply doesn't understand, the principles of modern counterterrorism, especially those relating to air power.
Gordon claims the IAF’s current operations "do not even come close to conforming" to proper strategy, and advises the IDF General Staff to "acquaint" Israeli politicians with the nature of air power.

Even Israel's dovish Ha'aretz newspaper asserted Friday the "the IDF must act with greater force" in Lebanon, and complained that Israeli politicians and senior military commanders "look as if they have been frozen in a huge ice cube."

"The political failures are continuing," asserts Marzook. "I hope the politicians will accept that this is a war we must win. That message is coming now from the media, from the society, and even from some politicians."

Caught between PR and the people?

"In reality," says Widlanski, "Olmert isn't yet able to admit that disengagement didn't work. That's why rockets flew into Israel from Gaza for 10 months without Olmert stopping them. In Lebanon, Hezbollah's been fortifying itself since the IDF withdrew six years ago.

"In both cases, a strong military response would have been seen as a de facto admission that withdrawal is an unfruitful strategy.

"Now Olmert's sent in the IDF, but only when Hezbollah forced him to – and he hasn't gone in [with] full force, and the army isn't happy about that.

"[Olmert's] Kadima Party was founded last year for a purpose: to further the withdrawal platform of Ariel Sharon. If that platform is no longer usable, then Kadima has no clear raison d'etre."

David Bedein, an Israeli journalist, commented, "There is a general problem that has gotten worse since the late '90s and [former Prime Minister Ehud] Barak's tenure. There's a wider gap now between the citizenry and the leadership, and there's often a feeling that policy is driven by advertising professionals – that some leaders base national security decisions on the advice of their PR team. In a crisis like this, those feelings will come home to roost."

Agreeing with those sentiments is Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, who wrote yesterday:

"The Olmert government insists that Israel can separate itself from terror and jihad and live a 'normal life' by [unilaterally withdrawing], building a big fence and hiding behind it. The government knows that nothing will prove to the public the emptiness of its political rhetoric better than a serious ground invasion of southern Lebanon.

"And so, rather than shed its hallucinatory agenda, it clings to it with all the fervor of a Communist true-believer in Stalin's gulag. ... Our political leadership insists on paralyzing the campaign in favor of its narrow political and ideological interests."

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 Israel Says It Would Accept NATO-Led Force

Jul 23 10:39    By Sam F. Ghattas


BEIRUT, Lebanon

Israeli warplanes struck a minibus carrying people fleeing the fighting Sunday in southern Lebanon, killing three people, Lebanese security officials said, and Israel said it would accept a NATO-led international force to keep the peace along the border.

Hezbollah rockets killed two civilians in northern Israel, and a member of the U.N. observer team in south Lebanon was wounded by guerrilla fire. A Lebanese photographer became the first journalist to die in the fighting when an Israeli missile hit near her taxi in southern Lebanon.

The top U.N. humanitarian official, touring Beirut, said billions of dollars will be needed to repair damage from 12 days of warfare.

Israeli troops continued to hold a Lebanese border village that they battled their way into the day before, but did not appear to be advancing, Lebanese security officials said. Its warplanes and artillery, meanwhile, were battering areas across the south.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Cabinet that the current offensive is not an invasion of Lebanon, but rather a series of limited raids into the area.

Peretz also said that Israel would accept a temporary international force, preferably headed by NATO, deployed along the Lebanese border to keep Hezbollah guerrillas away from Israel, according to officials in Peretz's office.

Israel also hit the southern port of Sidon for the first time in its campaign, destroying a religious complex linked to Hezbollah and wounding four people. More than 35,000 people streaming north from the heart of the war zone had swamped the city, which is teetering under the weight of refugees.

Israel also bombed a textile factory in the border town of al-Manara, killing one person and wounding two, Mayor Ali Rahal told The Associated Press.

The stricken minibus was carrying 16 people fleeing the village of Tairi, working their way through the mountains for the southern port city of Tyre. A missile hit the bus near the village of Yaatar, killing three and wounding the rest, security officials said. The wounded were taken to hospitals in Tyre.

On Saturday, the Israeli military told residents of Taire and 12 other nearby villages to evacuate by 4 p.m.

At least four other people were killed by strikes in the south, Lebanese television said, but the deaths were not confirmed by security officials. About 45 people were wounded in Israeli air raids that targeted villages and towns around Tyre, security and hospital officials said.

The three deaths in the minibus brought to at least 375 the official death toll provided by Lebanese authorities. Israel's death toll stands at 36, with 17 people killed by Hezbollah rockets and 19 soldiers killed in fighting.

A photographer working for a Lebanese magazine was killed when an Israeli missile exploded near her taxi, security officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Layal Nejim, 23, worked for the Lebanese magazine Al-Jaras, the officials said. Her driver survived.

A U.N. observer was wounded by Hezbollah gunfire during fighting with Israeli troops in south Lebanon, said U.N. spokesman Milos Strugar. The Italian chiefs of staff office identified the wounded U.N. official as Italian Capt. Roberto Punzo, saying he was flown by helicopter to a civilian hospital in Haifa and adding that his life was not in danger.

He was the second member of the U.N. monitoring team injured in 12 days of fighting. Several U.N. positions on the border have taken hits from Israeli shells, and Israel said earlier this week that a U.N. post on its side was hit by a Hezbollah missile _ although the observer team said it was a stray Israeli shell.

Israeli warplanes and helicopters bombed Nabi Sheet, near the eastern Bekaa Valley town of Baalbek, wounding five people, witnesses said. In Baalbek, strikes leveled an agricultural compound belonging to Hezbollah. Raids also targeted a factory producing prefabricated houses near the main highway linking Beirut to the Syrian capital of Damascus, witnesses said.

Two civilians died in early morning air raids on border villages, witnesses said. A 15-year-old boy was killed at Meis al-Jabal, and a man was killed at Blida.

Hezbollah rockets badly damaged a house and slammed into a major road in Haifa, Israel's third-largest city, killing two people, and at least 13 others were wounded across northern Israel.

Peretz said the 12-day-old offensive in Lebanon would continue as Israel tries to push Hezbollah guerrillas away from the border.

"The army's ground operation in Lebanon is focused on limited entrances, and we are not talking about an invasion of Lebanon. We are beginning to see the army's successes opposite Hezbollah," he told the Cabinet, according to a participant in the meeting.

Peretz also met with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, one of a series of diplomatic meetings aimed at ending the fighting. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy was also scheduled to meet with Israeli officials, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was headed to the region as well.

"The goal is to create a situation in which we have as broad a space for diplomatic movement as possible," Peretz said after meeting Steinmeier. "The goals we set for ourselves will be achieved. We certainly see a combination of a military operation that is fulfilling its role plus broad international activity to complete the process."

In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel had "pushed the button of its own destruction" by attacking Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

He didn't elaborate, but suggested Islamic nations and others could somehow isolate Israel and its main backers led by the United States. On Saturday, the chairman of Iran's armed forced joint chiefs, Maj. Gen. Sayyed Hassan Firuzabadi, said Iran would never join the current Middle East fighting.

U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland, meanwhile, inspected the destruction wrought by Israeli air raids on south Beirut as he began a relief mission to Lebanon.

Making his way around piles of rubble, he stressed the need for a halt to the hostilities.

"If it continues like this, there will be more and more civilian casualties," he told reporters.

Egeland also planned to travel to Israel for further coordination on opening aid corridors. The number of displaced people has grown to 600,000, according to the World Health Organization.

Egeland said Saturday it would take more than $100 million to help the displaced. He said he would make an appeal "urging, begging" the international community for aid.

Evacuees in Sidon were stretching supplies of fuel, food and some medicines that already were tight for its own population of 100,000 and nearly impossible to replenish.

"There are no supplies reaching us, not from other nations, nor from the Lebanese government," said Mayor Abdul-Rahman al-Bizri, whose city was so packed that Palestinian refugees were taking in Lebanese refugees.

Sidon was only one face of the mounting humanitarian crisis across Lebanon amid an Israeli blockade and bombardment that has made roads unusable or too dangerous to distribute supplies to the south.

The Israeli military has announced that humanitarian aid could enter through Beirut's port and determined a coastal to Tripoli as a land corridor for aid. But it did not define a safe passage route to the south _ where the bombardment is heaviest.

Aid supplies arrived Friday and Saturday on ships carrying Europeans fleeing the country. The exodus of foreigners continues, with tens of thousands _ including 7,500 Americans _ taken out by sea the past week.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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 Olmert: Eliminate Hamas, Hezbollah

July 17, 2006    © 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

Declares 'Enough!' to terror threats, Israel 'at a national moment of truth'

After six days of war, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset and the world today he will fight until the terrorist threats of Hamas and Hezbollah are eliminated.

Emphasizing Israel did not ask for the conflict, Olmert said the Jewish state, nevertheless, will not back down from fighting.

"We stand at a national moment of truth. Will we agree to live under this evil threat or will we fight. … There is no more just struggle than that we are now engaged in," Olmert said, according to Israel National News.

"Citizens of Israel, there are moments in the life of a nation, when it is compelled to look directly into the face of reality and say: Enough," he said.

"And I say to everyone: Enough is enough. Israel will not be held hostage – not by terror gangs or by a terrorist authority or by any sovereign state."

"There is nothing we want more than peace on all of our borders," Olmert told the Knesset. But, he said, "Israel will not agree to live with rockets fired on its citizens. Only a nation that can protect its freedom deserves it."

The prime minister once again affirmed Israel's refusal to negotiate with Hezbollah and Hamas over kidnapped soldiers.

"It is of regional and international interest to control and dismantle the terror organizations and remove this threat from the Middle East," he said. "We intend to do so."

Olmert invoked the names of the grandmother and grandchild killed in a missile attack in Har Meron, 50-year-old Andrea Zeidman and teenager Ella Abouksis.

"Our enemies were mistaken to think that our desire to show restraint was a sign of weakness," Olmert declared.

The prime minister offered condolences to families of the soldiers and civilians killed in the last week.

A terrorist attack last Wednesday on an IDF patrol along the northern border killed eight soldiers and resulted in the kidnapping of two others. The current crisis began with the capture June 25 of soldier Gilad Shalit.

Since Wednesday, Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets on northern Israel, including the third-largest city of Haifa, killing at least 12 civilians and wounding hundreds more. Israel has responded with bombardment of Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon and the Beirut area, killing more than 200.

"I want to offer a big hug to the families of the kidnapped and to the sons themselves," Olmert said.

The prime minister accused Iran and Syria of using Hezbollah and Hamas to wage war, saying the terrorist groups "are nothing but emissaries, sent and supplied by enemies of peace in Tehran and Damascus."

Olmert said that even if Lebanon had not direct involvement in last Wednesday's attack, "it holds full responsibility for the attack launched from its sovereign territory and the same goes for the [Palestinian Authority] with regard to the [June 25] attack.

"Opposite the Palestinians we will fight until terrorism ceases, Gilad Shalit is brought home and the Qassam rockets stop," Olmert said. "We will attack every terrorist staging area, destroy every terrorist base and liquidate members of the terror groups. Israel will not agree to live in the shadow of the threat of missiles and rockets on its citizens."

During his speech, Olmert recited a Jewish prayer for divine protection.

"I am more proud today than any other day in my life to be a citizen of the state of Israel," Olmert concluded. "We will not surrender and we will not back down." *end*

Editor's note: Want to go deep inside some of the most dangerous terror organizations on the planet? How about knowing the news before it becomes news? Would you like to tap into some of the most comprehensive information streams from intelligence organizations in the Middle East and from throughout the world and be privy to the latest behind the scenes moves of global decision makers?

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 Israel Appeals to Lebanon to Join Forces Against Hizballah

July 14, 2006    CNSNews.com Jerusalem Bureau Chief    By Julie Stahl

Tiberias, Israel (CNSNews.com) - Israeli Air Force jets bombed two buildings in the Beirut compound of Hizballah on Friday while more than 90 Katyusha rockets slammed into some 20 Israeli communities.

Reports from Beirut said that Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's home and office were destroyed in the raid but he was unharmed.

A grandmother and her five-year-old grandson were killed in one attack. Ten more people were wounded in that attack when a rocket crashed into the home in the northern Israeli community of Merom on Friday evening as the family celebrated the Sabbath.

Two Israelis died on Thursday from rocket attacks, and in Lebanon some 55 people are reported dead.

"[We have] two [more] innocent Israeli victims of murderous terror pouring out of Lebanon. Israel is compelled to take necessary steps and do what is necessary to allow Israelis to live in peace in our homes and communities," David Baker, official from the Prime Minister's office said.

Meanwhile, the situation seemed to be spiraling out of control while some members of the international community were pressuring Israel to stop its attacks on Lebanon.

Earlier on Friday, Israel bombed Beirut's international airport for the second time. Another rocket fired at an Israeli naval vessel blockading Lebanon. The vessel was lightly damaged.

Israeli officials have said that they want to eradicate Hizballah. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, said to Lebanon during a U.N. Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East on Friday that Lebanon would be the real beneficiary of Israel's actions against Hizballah.

"You know, deep down, that if you could, you would add your voice to those of your brave countrymen. You know, deep down in your heart, that you should really be sitting here, next to me, voicing the same opinion," said Gillerman.

"You know that what we are doing is right, and, if we succeed, your country will be the real beneficiary. I am sure many of our colleagues around this table and in this chamber, including many or our neighbours, share this sentiment," Gillerman added.

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 Israel Considers Hizballah TV Station Legitimate Target

July 14, 2006    By Patrick Goodenough    CNSNews.com International Editor

(CNSNews.com) - Media rights campaigners have criticized Israel for firing missiles at a Beirut-based television station, but Israel and other critics say the broadcaster serves a function far more dangerous than disseminating news.

Israeli missiles on Thursday targeted a transmission antenna of the al-Manar television network in the Lebanese capital. The station, which is run by the Shi'ite terrorist organization Hizballah, said in a statement that three employees were lightly hurt and two floors of the facility badly damaged.

Israel also struck two al-Manar transmitters elsewhere in the country.

The strike was part of Israel's military response to Wednesday's cross-border raid by Hizballah, during which eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two more kidnapped.

News of the abduction was first broken by al-Manar, which said the soldiers' capture was in line with Hizballah's "pledge to liberate the prisoners." Hizballah wants to exchange the two Israelis for Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.

After the missile attack, al-Manar urged national and international bodies to "adopt a clear stance regarding the Israeli brutal aggression and to protect the freedom of journalism."

Later Thursday, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called on Israel to explain the attack on the TV station.

"The Geneva Conventions prohibit attacks on civilian targets unless they are used for military purposes," it said.

"While al-Manar may serve a propaganda function for Hizballah, it does not appear, based on a monitoring of its broadcasts today, to be serving any discernible military function."

Another media freedom group, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, also included a reference to the al-Manar attack in a statement expressing concern for the safety of Lebanese journalists.

Amnesty International, in a statement calling on Israel, Lebanon and Hizballah to end attacks against civilians and civilian targets, appeared to draw a distinction between "civilian objects" like Beirut airport and bridges, and "Hizballah targets" like al-Manar.

Israel's foreign ministry does not consider the broadcaster to be a conventional media outlet.

"The al-Manar station has for many years served as the main tool for propaganda and incitement by Hizballah, and has also helped the organization recruit people into its ranks," it said in a statement.

Hizballah, the ministry added, constitution "a severe terror threat" to Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Washington Institute for Near East Policy director of terrorism studies Matthew Levitt told a House International Relations Committee hearing last year that al-Manar (the name means The Beacon) was "used by Hizballah and Iran to radicalize Muslim youth and glorify violence, especially in the contexts of Israel and Iraq."

"Al-Manar glorifies suicide bombings, calls for attacks targeting Israel, coalition forces in Iraq, and the United States, and seeks to create a radicalized constituency that is as likely to seek out terrorist groups themselves to join their ranks as they are to be sought after and recruited by these groups."

Levitt cited a video broadcast by the network showing Koranic verses scrolling across the screen against background footage of the aftermath of suicide bombings, burning Israeli and American flags, and similar images.

Another al-Manar video, focusing on Iraq, stated: "Down with the mother of terrorism! America threatens in vain, an occupying army of invaders. Nothing remains but rifles and suicide bombers."

"The video ends with an image of a suicide bomber's belt detonating," Levitt told the lawmakers.

In late 2004, the French government came under fire after it authorized the use of a French satellite network for al-Manar to beam its programs into millions of Muslims' homes across Europe.

Accusing the station of spreading a message of hatred and anti-Semitism, a French Jewish group organized a petition which was signed by tens of thousands of people, including the leaders of France's four largest political parties.

Organizations in the U.S. and Israel also protested the decision.

It emerged that just four days after the French broadcasting authority had given the go-ahead - based on an Al-Manar undertaking not to air programs that might incite hatred based on race, religion or nationality - the station had broadcast a report in which Jews were accused of deliberately spreading AIDS in Arab countries.

Weeks later, the government relented, saying its license would be revoked because it spread hatred and violence.

Al-Manar said the ban was the result of pressure by "the Zionist lobby" and was an attack on freedom of expression.

On its website Thursday, Hizballah said Israel had fired missiles at the station "for fear of the free voice it represents."

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 Al Aqsa official: Jewish temples existed, Proof passed down over the centuries by mosque custodians

June 14, 2006    By Aaron Klein©     WorldNetDaily.com

JERUSALEM – Contradicting most of his colleagues, a former senior leader of the Waqf, the Islamic custodians of the Temple Mount, told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview he has come to believe the first and second Jewish Temples existed and stood at the current location of the Al Aqsa Mosque.

The leader, who was dismissed from his Waqf position after he quietly made his beliefs known, said Al Aqsa custodians passed down stories for centuries from generation to generation indicating the mosque was built at the site of the former Jewish temples.

He said the Muslim world's widespread denial of the existence of the Jewish temples is political in nature and is not rooted in facts.

"Prophet Solomon built his famous Temple at the same place that later the Al Aqsa Mosque was built. It cannot be a coincidence that these different holy sites were built at the same place. The Jewish Temple Mount existed," said the former senior Waqf leader, speaking to WorldNetDaily from an apartment in an obscure alley in Jerusalem's Old City.


The former leader, who is well known to Al Aqsa scholars and Waqf officials, spoke on condition his name be withheld, claiming an on-the-record interview would endanger his life.

While the Islamic leader's statements may seem elementary to many in the West, especially in light of overwhelming archaeological evidence documenting the history of the Jewish temples and description of services there in the Torah, his words break with mainstream thinking in much of the Muslim world, which believes the Jewish temples never existed.

"I am mentioning historical facts," said the former leader. "I know that the traditional denial about the temple existing at the same place as Al Aqsa is more a political denial. Unfortunately our religious and political leaders chose the option of denial to fight the Jewish position and demands regarding Al Aqsa and taking back the Temple Mount compound. In my opinion we should admit the truth and abandon our traditional position."

The leader said his conclusion that the Jewish temples existed does not forfeit what he calls "Islamic rights" to the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque.

"Yes, the temple existed. But now it is the place of the mosque of the religious who came to complete the divine religion [that started with Judaism] and to improve humanity," said the leader.

"We believe that Islam is the third and last religion. It came to complete the monotheistic message. The mosque is here at the place of the temple to serve for the same purpose, for the work Allah"

Al Aqsa Mosque built by angels?

The First Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515 B.C. after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. That temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in A.D. 70. Each temple stood for a period of about four centuries.

The Jewish Temple was the center of religious Jewish worship. It housed the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and was said to be the area upon which God's "presence" dwelt.

The temple served as the primary location for the offering of sacrifices and was the main gathering place in Israel during Jewish holidays.

The Temple Mount compound has remained a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. Jews worldwide pray facing toward the Western Wall, a portion of an outer courtyard of the Temple left in tact.

The Al Aqsa Mosque was constructed in about 709 to serve as a shrine near another nearby shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al Aqsa was meant to mark what Muslims came to believe may have been the place at which Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven during a dream to receive revelations from Allah.

Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran. Islamic tradition states Mohammed took a journey in a single night from "a sacred mosque" – believed to in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to "the farthest mosque" and from a rock there ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque later became associated with Jerusalem.

Muslims worldwide deny the Jewish temples ever existed in spite of what many call overwhelming archaeological evidence, including the discovery of Temple-era artifacts linked to worship, tunnels that snake under the Temple Mount and over 100 ritual immersion pools believed to have been used by Jewish priests to cleanse themselves before services. The cleansing process is detailed in the Torah.

According to the website of the Palestinian Authority's Office for Religious Affairs, the Temple Mount is Muslim property. The site claims the Western Wall, which it refers to as the Al-Boraq Wall, previously was a docking station for horses. It states Muhammed tied his horse, named Boraq, to the wall before ascending to heaven.

In a previous interview with WorldNetDaily, Kamal Hatib, vice-chairman of the Islamic Movement, claimed the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built by angels and that a Jewish Temple may have existed but not in Jerusalem. The Movement, which works closely with the Waqf, is the Muslim group in Israel most identified with the Temple Mount.

"When the First Temple was built by Solomon – God bless him – Al Aqsa was already built. We don't believe that a prophet like Solomon would have built the Temple at a place where a mosque existed," said Hatib.

"And all the historical and archaeological facts deny any relation between the temples and the location of Al Aqsa. We must know that Jerusalem was occupied and that people left many things, coins and other things everywhere. This does not mean in any way that there is a link between the people who left these things and the place where these things were left," Hatib said.

'True' Islamic tradition affirms temples

But the former senior Wafq leader told WND "true" Islamic tradition relates the Jewish temples once stood at the site of the Al Asa Mosque. He said Al Aqsa custodians passed down history over the centuries indicating the mosque was built at the site of the former Jewish temples.

"[The existence of the Jewish Temple at the site is obvious] according to studies, researches and archaeological signs that we were also exposed to. But especially according to the history that passed from one generation to another – we believe Al Aqsa was built on the same place were the Temple of the Jews – the first monotheistic religion – existed."

He cited samples of some stories he said were related orally by Islamic leaders:

"We learned that the Christians, especially those who believed that Jesus was crucified by the Jews, used to throw their garbage at the Temple Mount site. They used to throw the pieces of cotton and other material Christian women used in cleaning the blood of their monthly cycle. Doing so they believed that they were humiliating, insulting and harming the Jews at their holiest site. This way they are hurting them like Jews hurt Christians when crucifying Jesus.

"It is known also that most of the first guards of Al Aqsa when it was built were Jews. The Muslims knew at that time that they could not find any more loyal and faithful than the Jews to guard the mosque and its compound. They knew that the Jews have a special relation with this place."

Temple Mount: No-prayer zone

Currently, even though the Jewish state controls Jerusalem, the Waqf serve as the custodians of the Temple Mount under a deal made with the Israeli government that restricts non-Muslim prayer at the site.

The Temple Mount was opened to the general public until September 2000, when the Palestinians started their intifada by throwing stones at Jewish worshipers after then-candidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the area.

Following the onset of violence, the new Sharon government closed the Mount to non-Muslims, using checkpoints to control all pedestrian traffic for fear of further clashes with the Palestinians.

The Temple Mount was reopened to non-Muslims in August 2003. It still is open but only Sundays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and not on any Christian, Jewish or Muslim holidays or other days considered "sensitive" by the Waqf.

During "open" days, Jews and Christian are allowed to ascend the Mount, usually through organized tours and only if they conform first to a strict set of guidelines, which includes demands that they not pray or bring any "holy objects" to the site. Visitors are banned from entering any of the mosques without direct Waqf permission. Rules are enforced by Waqf agents, who watch tours closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any breaking of their guidelines.

The former senior Waqf leader said the Jewish temples have lost their purpose:

"As we are the religion who are here to correct everything that was before us there is no need for the Temple. Allah chose Islam as its final and favorite religion."

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 Israel's 1967 attack on USS Liberty was accidental according to Declassified documents

July 9, 2003    By Ellis Shuman

New documents released this week by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) prove that Israel's 1967 attack on the USS Liberty was accidental. The Israeli attack on the American surveillance ship during the Six Day War, which killed 34 U.S. servicemen and wounded 172, has been a controversial and disputed chapter in Israel's relations with the United States.

Last week, the NSA released additional information relative to the June 8, 1967 attack on the U.S.S. Liberty. The information included three audio recordings, transcripts (in English), three follow-up reports, and a U.S. Cryptologic History Report entitled "Attack on a Sigint Collector, the U.S.S. Liberty."

The documents, originally classified as "top secret," were made public according to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and at the request of Florida Federal Judge Jay Cristol, who has been investigating the Liberty incident for years and published a book on the subject last year, Haaretz reported.

The NSA stated that it did not have recorded communications from the Israeli Air Force jets or missile boats that were directly involved in the attack on the USS Liberty. The information released is voice conversations between two Israeli helicopter pilots and the control tower at Hatzor Airfield following the attack on the Liberty.

The helicopter pilots were summoned from their base to assess the damage caused to the unidentified ship off the Sinai coast. The transcript includes the following dialogue between the pilots:

"PAY ATTN: THERE WAS A SHIP THERE... A WARSHIP WHICH WE ATTACKED. PEOPLE JUMPED INTO THE WATER FROM IT. TRY TO PULL THEM OUT."

And a few minutes later:

"PAY ATTN: THE SHIP HAS NOW BEEN IDENTIFIED AS AN EGYPTIAN SHIP. YOU ARE NOW RETURNING HOME."

The information indicated, therefore, that the Israeli Air Force presumed the ship to be Egyptian, and that the attack did not deliberately target an American intelligence ship.

According to the NSA information, "the Israeli helicopter apparently informed the Hatzor on a different frequency that it had sighted an American flag on the ship. Hatzor then asked the helicopter to make another pass to check 'if this was really an American flag.'"

Conspiracy theorists have stated frequently that the USS Liberty was openly flying the American flag and the Israeli Air Force pilots knew this at the time of the attack.

In an article published in the Spring 2000 issue of Azure, author Michael B. Oren provided additional information, based on declassified Israeli military reports, that proved that the Israeli Mirage pilots did not see an American flag flying on the USS Liberty.

"The pilot then spoke with Air Force commander Gen. Motti Hod, who asked him repeatedly whether he could see a flag. The answer was 'Negative.' Nor were there any distinguishing marks other than some "black letters" painted on the hull."

According to Haaretz, the release of the tapes by the NSA last week was not the first time that they were made available to the public. The Israeli government presented them to the Thames television network in 1987. Conspiracy theorists charged, however, that Israel had doctored the tapes. This is the first time that the Americans have released information supporting Israel's claim that it had attacked a ship presumed to be Egyptian.

"It's the last piece of intelligence that remained classified, and every rational person that will read it will understand that there is no truth in these conspiracy theories against Israel," Cristol told Haaretz yesterday. "Those who hate Israel, who hate Jews, and those who believe in conspiracy will not be convinced by anything," he added.

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