Newsdesk September 9, 2005

Protester Kills Himself

An American-born Israeli who set himself on fire to protest Gaza withdrawal has died.

Baruch Ben-Menachem, a recent American immigrant, doused himself in lighter fluid and then ignited himself at his Hebrew-language learning center in Jerusalem last week. He succumbed to his injuries Tuesday. Medics who arrived to treat Ben-Menachem quoted him as saying that he had acted “in memory of Gush Katif,” a reference to the main Gaza settlement bloc that had just been evacuated. Last month, as the withdrawal got under way, a West Bank settler set herself on fire at a police checkpoint outside Gaza. The woman, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, also died within days.

Report: Victims Unarmed

Ha’aretz accused the army of killing five unarmed Palestinians during a West Bank raid.

According to Wednesday’s exposé in Ha’aretz, the army gave a false account when it said undercover troops who raided Tulkarm town last month shot five terrorists who had opened fire. Ha’aretz said that two of the dead Palestinians were indeed on Israel’s wanted list but were unarmed at the time of the incident, while the other three fatalities were teenagers with no connection to terrorism. Responding to the report, Israel’s military chief of staff, Dan Halutz, vowed to mount an investigation.

Rabbi Blames Blacks

Former Israeli chief rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, blamed Hurricane Katrina on the disengagement plan and on the fact that blacks do not study Torah, according to a report on the English Web site of Yediot Aharonot.

“There was a tsunami and there are terrible natural disasters, because there isn’t enough Torah study,” Yosef reportedly said in his weekly sermon. “Black people reside [in New Orleans]. Blacks will study the Torah? [God said] let’s bring a tsunami and drown them.”

Yosef concluded: “Where can evil escape to from God? Its time will come, and it will be slapped on the head.”

Mesic Backs Zagreb Rabbi

Croatian President Stipe Mesic compared the firing of Zagreb’s rabbi with the Nazi deportation of Jews during World War II.

According to local media reports, Mesic called the Jewish community’s decision not to renew the contract of Rabbi Kotel Dadon “harassment.” The president was quoted Monday as saying that a “group of people in the Zagreb Jewish community act as Nazis did in World War II. They are expelling the rabbi out of the country according to the same principle by which the Nazis drove away Jews to concentration camps.”

A Jewish community spokesman called Mesic’s comments “over the top.”

At a meeting May 31, Croatia’s Jewish Community Council voted 13-11 not to renew Israeli-born Dadon’s annual contract. The decision split the community. Last week, in a secret ballot, the council confirmed its decision by a 14-5 vote, with one abstention and one voided ballot.

Arafat Nephew Killed

Palestinians assassinated Yasser Arafat’s nephew, Moussa Arafat, a Gaza strongman. The Popular Resistance Committees, a coalition of Palestinian terrorist splinter groups, claimed responsibility for the killing of Arafat in his Gaza City home on Wednesday morning.

Arafat, recently was deposed as Gaza security chief after several armed factions accused him of corruption, but he continued to wield influence on the street. His son also was abducted in the predawn attack. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is under pressure to demonstrate that he can rein in chaos in Gaza as Israel completes its withdrawal from the territory, vowed to bring the assassins to justice.

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Newsdesk September 9, 2005

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