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Published:January 25th, 2008 09:42 EST
Palestinians Destroy more of Egyptian Border Fence

Palestinians Destroy more of Egyptian Border Fence

By SOP newswire

Palestinians in Gaza have torn down even more of the Egyptian border fence and confrontations are escalating as Egyptian riot police attempt to rein in an angry mob.
The New York Times reported on January 25, 2008: "Egyptian officials estimated that about 120,000 Palestinian had crossed into Egypt since the border was toppled by Hamas militants on Wednesday, but other estimates have put the number much higher." (See New York Times story below.)
Fence destruction began when large parts of the Gaza Strip plunged into darkness (See Reuters story below) when its main power plant shut down after Israel blocked fuel supplies and shut the border to the Hamas-run territory.
Israel said the blockade was in response to rocket attacks from Gaza and that "everything would go back to normal" if militants stopped firing missiles, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said.
Israel also had cut down the amount of gas being provided to the Palestinian area until they stop the cowardly firing of deadly rockets across the border.
Available for Talk Show interviews on this subject is author/scholar DR. JAMES HUTCHENS, former U. S. Army Brigadier General and Military Chaplain, President of the JerUSAlem Connection and Regional Director of Christians United for Israel.
Dr. Hutchens contends that there will the current peace attempts will continue to fail since Palestinians do not want peace. He gives a litany of reasons during your interview.

CONTACT: To schedule an interview, call Special Guests: Dale Snellbaker, (919) 676-9080.

Rev. James M. Hutchens, Ph.D., a retired US Army Chaplain with the rank of Brigadier General, is President of The JerUSAlem Connection, International and editor of the foremost Christian Zionist magazine in America, The JerUSAlem Connection. 
Dr. James M. Hutchens is a Christian Zionist on a mission for Israel – a mission to make God’s purposes for Israel and the Jewish people an unavoidable issue. He is President and Chairman of the Board of The JerUSAlem Connection, International and Editor of the magazine “The JerUSAlem Connection.” Dr. Hutchens also serves as the Washington DC Regional Director of Christians United for Israel. He is on the forward edge in the battle area of informing, educating and activating America’s Christian community on issues related to Israel from a Biblical perspective
     From his military experience, Dr. Hutchens is well acquainted with the concept of “Mission.” He came to faith in Christ as an enlisted paratrooper under the ministry of his unit chaplain. After college and seminary, he returned to the Army as a chaplain. Dr. Hutchens was decorated for personal bravery in Viet Nam, including the Purple Heart, as the first chaplain wounded in Viet Nam.  He served with the famous 173rd Airborne Brigade, and later with the celebrated “Green Berets.” Dr. Hutchens retired from active duty in 1994 with the rank of Brigadier General. His personal account of service in Viet Nam, “Beyond Combat,” tells of his experience as a combat chaplain in Viet Nam.
     Dr. Hutchens was ordained to the ministry in 1962 and has served, concurrent with his chaplain duties, as a church planter and senior pastor for over 24 years. His wife, Patty, is an exhibiting artist and professor at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Northern Virginia Community College system. The Hutchens have three married children and twelve grand children. The Hutchens tell their fascinating story of a life-long love for Israel in their book “Guilty: Keeping God’s Covenant of Love with Israel.” The “General” now brings his military leadership skills and pastoral devotion to duty to accomplish the mission of The Jerusalem Connection International.(TJCI)
     TJCI is an advocate of Christian Zionism. We are one with Christians world-wide who stand in agreement with what God’s Word says about Israel. As Christian Zionists, we support the modern State of Israel as the partial fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to provide homeland of the Jewish people. Through its “Operation Aliyah,” TJCI has helped bring over 80,000 Jews out of the former Soviet Union back to Israel.  While still involved with Aliyah efforts in the FSU, we believe God’s future focus will be on the 6.2 million Jews in the Americas. TJCI’s  Elisha Fund brings food, shelter and medicine to countless impoverished Israelis – its Operation Life for Israel provides aid and comfort to victims of terror and supports sanctity of human life endeavors throughout Israel. Taking bombed out Bus # 19 around the USA served to confront anti-Semitism of Islamic terrorism.
     Rather than “replacing” or “superseding” Israel and the Jews, Dr. Hutchens sees Christians as having been “engrafted” into the family of God and thus joint-heirs of the covenant promises of God. He believes TJCI is called to restore an appreciation of the Hebrew roots of Christianity. He seeks to encourage all believers to wait with expectation “for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” These projects and purposes are carried out with an attitude of extending mercy because of the mercy we have received in Christ. [Romans 11:30-31].
     The JerUSAlem Connection. Int’l  is bold to believe we follow in the distinguished tradition of the “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” We believe a Christian’s perspective on what God is doing in Israel is a vital key to seeing the big picture of God’s plan and how he is operating in the world today. With this perspective, Christians have a sense of urgency to be used by God as never before. TJCI encourages you to be a part of living out that sense of urgency as a result of having a Biblical perspective on Israel.
     Under Dr. Hutchens’ leadership, The JerUSAlem Connection’ In’l stays current on all the issues regarding the Middle East and Israel on a daily basis and keeps an ongoing update through “The JerUSAlem Connection” magazine. The “General’s” passion is to share the mission and vision of this ministry which has been raised up “for such a time as this.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES/ January 26, 2008
Tensions High at Gaza Crossing
RAFAH, Egypt — Tensions rose at the breached border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Friday, as Egypt trucked in security forces and soldiers and riot police tried to block Palestinians from entering, while the Palestinians broke another part of the border barrier.
The border guards had formed a human chain along most of the length of the border at Rafah, but were sill allowing the Palestinians to leave with the goods they had purchased in Egypt. For some time, they were able to stop people who still wanted to cross from Gaza but increasing numbers got through.
Egyptian security forces announced to the crowd of Palestinians over loudspeakers that the border would close at 3 p.m. local time, although a similar announcement was made on Thursday and the border still stayed open, Reuters reported.
Egyptian officials estimated that about 120,000 Palestinian had crossed into Egypt since the border was toppled by Hamas militants on Wednesday, but other estimates have put the number much higher. Over the three days since then, Palestinians have been returning with a cornucopia of consumer goods that have been in short supply since Israel moved to close its own border with Gaza last week — everything from cigarettes to televisions, generators, washing machines, milk, cheese, sheep, goats, cows, diesel fuel and gasoline.
As the Palestinians continued to cross back on Friday, there were scuffles at the border with Egyptian police officers and with troops, who had brought out water cannons and other heavy equipment that had not been visible in the past few days. There were some reports of gunfire.
On Thursday, the second day of the breach, tens of thousands more Palestinians had flooded across the border crossing. Already by then, many more Egyptian police officers were at various ruptures in the barrier at Rafah, more of them in riot gear and some using batons with small electric charges to keep the huge, pushing crowds in some form of order.
And more members of Hamas security forces were visible on the Gaza side, maintaining calm and doing random checks for weapons possibly being smuggled in for Fatah, the rival faction Hamas forced out of Gaza in June.
But neither group tried to stop the shoppers and businessmen restocking their wares in Egypt, nor did Hamas make any visible effort to control or tax the goods coming into Gaza.
On Thursday, Hamas gunmen could be seen quietly taking delivery of hundreds of bags of cement. Israel has sharply restricted cement imports to Gaza, even for aid projects, because it says Hamas diverts the supply to build fortified tunnels and emplacements for use against any major Israeli military action.
As the crowds flooded into Egypt, exchange rates and prices rose, as did the amounts Gazans were buying, with the clear intent to resell in Gaza. So intense was the trading that even some Palestinians worried that there would be a backlash from impoverished Egyptians in Rafah.
“This is not so good for the Palestinian people,” said Ahmed Shawa, a Gaza engineer who entered Egypt on Thursday. “Prices are becoming very high while people in Egyptian Rafah don’t have bread. If I go to your country and buy everything and you don’t have bread, you’re going to hate me.”
Hamas officials said they took action to open the Egyptian border after Israel decided last week to stop nearly all shipments into Gaza, including industrial diesel fuel needed to run Gaza’s main power plant and gasoline, in an effort to push Gazan militants to stop firing rockets at Israeli towns and farms.
Under severe international criticism, Israel relented, but only temporarily. It agreed to supply a week’s worth of fuel, but limited supplies again after the border breach.
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt considered his options. But Egyptian officials made it clear on Thursday that while Egypt would not hinder Palestinians seeking food and other goods, it would not accept a lawless border, open to arms traffic and unregulated travel of gunmen and political extremists.
Israel and the United States said it was Egypt’s responsibility to bring the border situation under control.
Gen. Ahmed Abdel Hamid, the governor of northern Sinai, estimated that as many as 120,000 Palestinians were in Egypt, but he said they were not being allowed to travel beyond El Arish, which lies slightly west of Rafah. He said on Thursday that he thought the border might stay open for another “four or five days” and then be closed pending another agreement on what to do.
“You have to see where this problem came from,” he said. “Before the dispute between Hamas and Fatah, the border was open every day with no problem. Since the dispute, the border has been closed.”
In fact, before the fighting between the Palestinian factions over the summer the Rafah crossing was closed more often than it was open. But General Abdel Hamid emphasized that Egypt was not favoring one faction or another, saying, “Egypt is with the legitimate authority,” presumably the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
Mr. Mubarak’s officials said Egypt would not accept responsibility for supplying Gaza and let Israel off the hook, as some Israeli officials hope.
“This is a wrong assumption,” said Hossam Zaki, the spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry. “The current situation is only an exception and for temporary reasons. The border will go back to normal.”
But the definition of normal was left unclear. When Israel pulled its settlers and troops out of Gaza in 2005, the Rafah crossing was opened with great fanfare to allow people in and out of Gaza. European Union supervisors were put in place, and Israeli video cameras monitored the traffic. But for security reasons, the crossing was often closed, and it has been shut completely since Hamas took over Gaza.
It will be difficult politically now for Mr. Mubarak to reseal the border completely, shutting off any outlet for Gaza. Egypt, with a strong opposition element from the Muslim Brotherhood, does not want to offend its Palestinian wing, Hamas. But Mr. Mubarak would prefer to work out an arrangement with the legal authority, President Abbas. In addition, Mr. Mubarak has promised Israel that Egypt will coordinate its actions on the Gaza border to preserve security interests of both countries.
In a speech on Thursday, Mr. Mubarak said that “peace efforts cannot endure any other failure, and Egypt will not allow the starving of Palestinians in Gaza or that the situation in the strip turns into a humanitarian crisis.”
He called on Palestinian factions to work together and said, “No one can outbid Egypt in its support for this silent nation and their just cause.”
Egypt, he said, “is doing its utmost in its movements and contacts to end their suffering and to lift the Israeli measures of collective punishment and to bring back the supply of fuel and electricity and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.”
Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York and Nadim Audi from Al Arish, Egypt.
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
Lights out in Gaza after Israel blocks fuel
Palestinian children hold candles during a protest against fuel cuts
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Middle East conflict
Hizbollah taunts Israel
Israel says it carried out 'successful' missile test
GAZA - Large parts of the Gaza Strip plunged into darkness overnight when its main power plant shut down after Israel blocked fuel supplies and shut the border to the Hamas-run territory.
Israel said the blockade was in response to rocket attacks from Gaza and that "everything would go back to normal" if militants stopped firing missiles, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said.
Israel has also reduced the flow of petrol used in cars, as well as diesel, but not fuel oil and cooking gas, he said.
Lines formed at bakeries on Sunday as Palestinians stockpiled food and factories and petrol stations were closed after Gaza's electricity generating station turned off the second of its two turbines.
"At least 800,000 people are now in darkness," said Derar Abu Sissi, general director of the plant. "The catastrophe will affect hospitals, medical clinics, water wells, houses, factories, all aspects of life."
Mekel questioned whether the complete shutdown of the generating plant was necessary, suggesting Hamas Islamists had a political interest in exaggerating the impact of the Israeli measures.
According to Israeli and Palestinian officials, Gazans ordinarily consume 200 megawatts of electricity, of which 65 are produced by the local power plant. The rest comes from Israel, which was continuing supply, and Egypt.
Israel tightened its cordon around Gaza on Friday by shutting all border crossings, cutting fuel supplies and even stopping UN humanitarian supplies, except in exceptional circumstances.
Officials of the European Union, which funds fuel for the plant, confirmed Sunday's shipment was blocked and that reserves had dried up.
The United Nations on Friday condemned the closures and warned Israel against imposing illegal "collective punishment" against Gaza's 1.5 million residents.
"This is how Israel wants Gaza: a sea of darkness. The civilised world is watching in complete silence," said Gaza store owner Abu Mohammad Osama.
An Israeli air strike killed at least one Palestinian on Sunday. The Jewish state has killed dozens of people in the past week in a stepped-up campaign it says targets militants who have attacked border towns with some 230 rockets.
The Palestinians have called Israel's offensive, which included bombing the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza, a "slap in the face" to U.S.-backed peace efforts.
"The darkness in Gaza City tonight is a clear evidence ... of just how desperate the situation has become here now," John Ging, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, told a news conference in the enclave.
Hamas, which refuses to renounce violence and recognise Israel, vowed no let up in its fight against the Jewish state. Official Sami Abu Zuhri called on Egypt to reopen its own border with Gaza, which has mostly been closed since the June takeover, and warned of an "explosion" if the closure continued.
Abbas, who is pursuing a U.S.-backed peace deal with Israel, urged the Jewish state to open crossings to Gaza and allow fuel into the territory, but urged Palestinians not to give Israel "the justification it needs to pursue its aggression and siege".
He called on Arab countries and the international community to intervene.
The number of rocket attacks fired from Gaza dropped off sharply on Sunday. Only four rockets and one mortar round were launched at Israel during the day, compared with more than 45 on Friday and Saturday, an Israeli army spokesman said.