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Friday, September 19, 2014

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Ariel Sharon responsive, son says

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is responsive and has gained weight, his son told the New York Times. Sharon, who has been in a coma since suffering a stroke nearly six years ago, moves his fingers when requested and looks at people when he is awake, Gilad Sharon told the newspaper on Oct. 20, in advance of the release of his biography of his father, Sharon: The Life of a Leader, set to be released in Hebrew and English on Oct. 26. Ariel Sharon, 83, remains in a hospital near Tel Aviv following a brief stay at his ranch in southern Israel. Gilad Sharon wrote in his book that he gave his father the idea of unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza, according to the Times. His accounts of his father’s dealings with current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are unflattering to Netanyahu. Gilad Sharon, a member of his father’s Kadima party, is said to be interested in entering politics.

Egypt gas line fixed

Egypt has renewed pumping gas to Israel through a pipeline that has been attacked six times in less than a year. It is the first time that gas has flowed to Israel through the pipeline since July. The return of Egyptian gas began last Sunday. Gas flow was also renewed to Jordan, which recently agreed to pay a higher price for its gas, Reuters reported. Egypt is expected to demand that Israel agree to a price hike as well. Egypt supplies Israel with more than 40 per cent of its natural gas needs to produce electricity. Electricity prices have risen by more than 10 per cent in Israel since the attacks began. The most recent attack came in late September, when three men fired on the pipeline at a pumping station in the northern Sinai. Selling gas to Israel has been unpopular on the Egyptian street since the opening of the pipeline in 2008. Former President Hosni Mubarak has been accused of giving Israel a sweetheart deal on the gas.

Suspicious forest fires

More than 40 fires broke out across northern Israel over the weekend, many of which are suspected arson attacks. While some of the forest fires are being considered the result of negligence, many are being investigated as arson attacks due to their multiple sources of ignition, according to Ha’aretz. Dozens of people in the western Galilee were evacuated from their homes and hundreds of acres of forests were destroyed, according to reports. Hot dry winds and warm temperatures caused the fires to spread quickly. Fire trucks and firefighter aircrafts were called in to control the blazes. An out-of-control fire in the Carmel Forest last December led to 44 deaths. In addition, 250 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, 17,000 people were forced to evacuate, more than 12,000 acres were burned and an estimated five million trees were lost.

Urging children to become martyrs

A failed Palestinian suicide bomber freed in the swap for Gilad Schalit told Gaza schoolchildren that she hoped they would follow in her footsteps. “I hope you will walk the same path we took and, God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs,” Wafa al-Biss told children who had gathered at her home last Thursday, a day after she was released along with 477 Palestinian prisoners in the first part of a deal to secure the release of the captured Israeli soldier, Reuters reported. Biss was serving a 12-year term for planning to blow herself up. She was arrested in 2005 when Israeli soldiers noticed she was walking strangely and found 22 pounds of explosives sewn into her underwear. A member of the Al Awsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of the Fatah party, Biss was traveling to a Be’er Sheva Hospital at the time for medical treatments. Biss told Reuters that she had planned to blow herself up at the checkpoint, but her detonator had malfunctioned. The children reportedly chanted in response, “We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, Palestine.”
 – JTA

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