A7News: Sderot Mayor Resigns in Protest Over Kassams

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Sderot Mayor Resigns in Protest Over Kassams

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal responded to the heavy barrage of rockets on his city by announcing his resignation on live prime-time radio.

  1. Sderot Mayor Resigns in Protest Over Kassams
  2. Sderot Under Kassam Attack
  3. Israel Encourages Emigrants to Return Home
  4. Teachers’ Strike Over… Not!
  5. Support Sought for Temple Mount Synagogue
  6. Yesha Human Rights Group Publishes Report (Part One of Eight)
  7. Israel Celebrates Passage of its First UN Resolution
  8. Six Top Powers Discuss New Sanctions on Iran’s Military
  9. News Briefs

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1. Sderot Mayor Resigns in Protest Over Kassams

by Hillel Fendel

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal responded to the barrage of rockets on his city Wednesday morning by announcing his resignation in a live prime-time interview on public Voice of Israel radio. “I don’t want to be around when a rocket hits a kindergarten and kills 20 children,” he said with great emotion. “I have been losing sleep over such a scenario for years.”

The resignation was spurred on by the security cabinet’s decision just beforehand not to carry out a major offensive in Gaza to halt the Kassam rockets fired by Hamas terrorists.

Voice of Israel quickly dialed Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai for his reaction to Moyal’s dramatic announcement.  Vilnai explained that Israel has fought and continues to fight against the terrorist threat from Gaza.  “The army has greatly reduced the number of Kassams being fired from Gaza, though not enough,” Vilnai said. Moyal, asked for his reaction to Vilnai’s words, said, “I am no longer the mayor, so I need not respond.”

Moyal has been the mayor of Sderot for just over nine years, and the city has been battered by an estimated 6,300 rockets over the past six years. The residents’ ongoing suffering began when Sderot was first shelled with mortars by Arab terrorists from Gaza in April 2001, and the first Kassam rocket hit the city less than a year later.

A Sderot woman responded to Moyal’s resignation by saying, “I congratulate him for his courage and for taking responsibility, and I hope that the nation’s leaders will also take responsibility.  If they don’t know what to do, then let them give the reins over to those who do know how to give the proper response.  Yesterday, we gave them a little blow [with a small-scale military offensive into Gaza – ed.], and they retaliated with a barrage of Kassams; we need to strike them so hard that they won’t have the ability to retaliate against us.”

“I call upon the Prime Minister,” she continued, “to take responsibility for at least something in this country; he doesn’t take responsibility for the Second Lebanon War, nor for education, nor for what is going on here on the border of Gaza.”

Another woman said that Moyal should not resign: “If he quits, then why should we remain here in this city?”

MK Effie Eitam (National Union) called upon Ministers Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu – Israel Our Home) and Eli Yishai (Shas) to follow Mayor Moyal’s example and lead their parties out of the government.  “The government’s helplessness is the result of the Annapolis conference and the negotiations with [Fatah chief] Mahmoud Abbas,” Eitam said. “Moyal took a courageous and responsible step, but for Lieberman and Shas to ignore this option of resigning would be the epitome of obtuseness and detachment from the voters and from the residents of Sderot.”

Tourism Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch of the Yisrael Beiteinu said his party was not yet ready to quit the government, and called upon Moyal to retract his resignation. “Now is not the time for a mayor to break down and quit,” Aharonovitch said.

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2. Sderot Under Kassam Attack

by Ezra HaLevi

Western Negev residents came under attack from eighteen Kassam rockets fired by Gaza terrorists Wednesday morning. Three people were lightly wounded, one by shrapnel. Several were treated for shock.

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal responded to the situation by announcing his resignation on a live radio interview.  “I don’t want to be around when a rocket hits a kindergarten and kills 20 children,” he lamented. “I have been losing sleep over such a scenario for years.”

Most of the rockets landed in open fields, but at least two landed in central Sderot, with one hitting a car. Another rocket struck Kibbutz Miflasim. Two women were treated for shock at the scene.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that he plans on eliminating the threat of rockets from Gaza. “The situation in the south, the Kassam rocket fire, has generated a difficult reality,” Olmert said while addressing the Institute for National Security Studies Tuesday. “We will have to act in the necessary manner to face this challenge, but with the appropriate dosage and the correct timing, without exaggeration or the creation of unrealistic expectations,” Olmert qualified. “We will not rest until the Kassam rocket threat is completely removed from Sderot and the western Negev.”

The security cabinet met Wednesday to discuss a large scale IDF operation into Gaza to remove the Kasssam threat. The cabinet decided to suffice with the small-scale IDF operation currently underway in southern Gaza.

Two Kassam rockets landed on the outskirts of Sderot Tuesday evening as residents lit their Chanukah menorahs. Military intelligence estimates that it will not be long until cities such as Kiryat Gat will come under daily rocket fire from Gaza, placing a quarter-million residents under attack.

The government has issued several high-profile statements sanctioning the cutting of power and supplies to Gaza in response to attacks, but little has been implemented. It was widely believed that a large-scale operation in Gaza was being put off until after the Annapolis Conference.

IDF in Southern and Northern Gaza
“During the past 24 hours, IDF forces, with the assistance of the Air Force and in coordination with the ISA, have been operating against terrorist infrastructures in the southern and northern Gaza Strip,” read an IDF statement. “The forces operated in order to distance the terrorist organizations—particularly Hamas—from the security fence and in order to prevent Kassam rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel. During the activity, the IDF identified hitting approximately 10 gunmen.”

In southern Gaza, pitched battles took place between IDF forces and Hamas armed and trained guerilla cells. The terrorists used anti-tank rockets and succeeded in setting one IDF tank ablaze.

The IDF has cut Gaza in half, according to PA reports, with tanks blocking the main road leading from Khan Yunis to Rafiach.

The main road is called Tancher Road by the IDF and Salah-a-Din Road by Gaza’s Arabs.

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3. Israel Encourages Emigrants to Return Home

by Hillel Fendel

In honor of the State of Israel’s upcoming 60th anniversary, the Ministry of Absorption has announced a campaign to encourage and help yordim [Israelis who emigrated] return home.

The campaign, entitled, “Returning Home for Israel’s 60th,” begins with a “personal call” to each and every emigrant: “Come home!  The State of Israel is your home.”

The government’s call continues, “We have prepared, especially for you, an unprecedented array of benefits and incentives to ease your return home.  Counselors and advisors are already waiting for you at a special 24-hour-a-day information center, at tel. +972-3-973-3333.”

The announcement ends, “The decision is yours. The commitment is ours.”

A recent study conducted by the The Rappaport Center for Assimilation Research and Strengthening Jewish Vitality in Bar Ilan University has found that assimilation among the children of Israeli yordim is comparatively high.  The second-generation, as opposed to their parents, tends not to form connections with the Jewish community in their new country.  Sixty percent of the children polled are not affiliated with their local Jewish community, while a quarter of them marry non-Jews, the study found.

Absorption Minister Yaakov Edry writes, “Israel is the place to educate and raise your children, to strike roots, to be built and to build the continued future of the State of Israel.  Israeli society, on all its levels, needs you to help shore up the ranks, strengthen the economy, deepen the culture, nourish the leadership of the next generation, and to take an active and creative role in all that goes on here…”
Though calls of this nature are often greeted with cynical reactions such as, “First solve such-and-such problem and then we’ll come back,” the hope is that the former Israelis will realize that they themselves can and should be part of the solution.

The new program features aid in finding employment, starting a new business, and health insurance, as well as special aid to scientists and researchers, and more. Financial aid will given to employers who employ returning Israelis. Up to 10,000 shekels’ aid will be provided for those taking part in external study courses. Aid will be provided to the returning Israelis for licensing tests, sportsmen, job placement; and more.
For information in Hebrew, click here, and in English, here. 

Approximately 4,000 Israeli citizens returned home in 2007, and the government hopes that 10,000 will return in 2008.

World Jewry Numbers Stagnate
A research team led by Political Science Professor Gabi Sheffer of Hebrew University, and published by the Van Leer Institute, shows that world Jewry has barely grown over the past 30 years.  The total number of Jews in the world is 13 million, according to the study, and has grown by an average of only 0.06% each year.

The study further found that in Russia, where intermarriage is the highest in the world, 70% of Jewish women and 80% of Jewish men marry non-Jews.

Sheffer and his co-researchers recommend the establishment of a government ministry for the encouragement of Israel-Diaspora ties.  They say it is a national interest to pass a law that will obligate the government to make such ties a vital national strategic objective.

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4. Teachers’ Strike Over… Not!

by Gil Ronen

The 54-day-old teachers’ strike was reported to be over Tuesday morning, but was back on by evening. Thursday, the first day back to school following the Chanukah holiday, could turn out to be anarchic, with many teachers saying they will refuse to obey the back-to-work orders issued by the Labor Court.

Early in the day Tuesday, media reports said the government and the Secondary School Teachers’ Association (SSTA) had held their best meeting to date, and that they were on the verge of striking a deal. Education minister Yuli Tamir said she was “cautiously optimistic.”

Erez backtracks
The evening newscast on Channel 2 TV also opened with the news of the strike’s impending end, and the reporter explained that the teachers’ union had basically caved in on all fronts and achieved nothing.

Teachers who were interviewed were unanimous in declaring the proposed agreement a failure, and some hinted they would rather look for alternative leadership than comply with the accord negotiated by their union.

SSTA leader Ran Erez then went on the air live and said the strike was not over, reversing his previous messages to the government and press. Erez sounded more resolute and strident after the segment showing reactions to the accord was aired, and observers said he had decided to backtrack after hearing and seeing the sharp criticism of the proposed accord voiced by teachers and students alike. Erez said the government wanted to give the teachers an 8.5 percent raise in three stages. “In that case, let them look for another client,” he snapped. He later told the media: “we will not agree to sign an agreement that is bad for the teachers.”
Some teachers hinted they would rather look for alternative leadership than comply with the accord.

Late Tuesday evening, Erez reportedly had broken up negotiations, and news outlet Ynet went so far as to declare he had “disappeared,” and that no one knew where he was.

‘We were shocked’
Officials from Education and Finance Ministries kept waiting for Erez in the negotiations room, in the hope he would return. “We are in a state of complete shock,” said one of the negotiators. “Throughout the day we were certain that an agreement would be signed today and if not tonight then tomorrow morning. It is really too bad that this is how this man [Erez – ed.] behaves,” the negotiator said.

Wednesday afternoon, Erez resumed negotiations with the government representatives in a last-minute effort to reach a work agreement before the back-to-work order by the Labor Court goes into effect.

The accord that was on the verge of being signed reportedly included a 7.5% pay increase for the teachers, most of which they would have received in any case, as part of the general wage hike in the public sector. The vaunted reform of the education system would have been shelved indefinitely and NIS 1.5 billion would have been invested in reducing the number of students per class.

According to the court orders, teachers must return to work Thursday. However, many teachers have threatened to defy the court orders and not return work.

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5. Support Sought for Temple Mount Synagogue

by Hillel Fendel

Haifa’s long-time Chief Rabbi She’ar-Yashuv Cohen, who has taken part in many interfaith conferences and gatherings with Moslem religious leaders, says he’s trying to gather support for a synagogue on the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Cohen, son of the late renowned Torah scholar known as the Nazir, Rabbi David Cohen, chairs the Chief Rabbinate Council for the Establishment of a Synagogue on the Temple Mount.  Speaking on a special Temple Mount radio program on Voice of Israel’s Moreshet (Tradition)-channel this week, he said he is working in the United States to amass support for the project. 

Other rabbis have also called for the construction of a Jewish prayer site on the Temple Mount.  Former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu is among them, though he has not campaigned for this cause.  Other members on the Chief Rabbinate committee are Be’er Sheva’s Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri and Tzfat’s Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.

Jewish Temple Mount supporters greeted Rabbi Cohen’s announcement with enthusiasm.  The Movement for the Establishment of the Temple declared, “The holiday of Chanukah, commemorating the liberation and purification of the Mount and the Temple, is the perfect time for the establishment of a prayer site for the Jewish People on the Mount.  This will be a step towards full Jewish sovereignty over the holy site.”

Rabbi Cohen took advantage of the opportunity to call upon the observant Jewish public to visit the site of the Holy Temple.  He said this must be done only after taking the prescribed Halakhic [Jewish legal] precautions, such as immersing in a mikveh beforehand and others.

Other Temple Mount News
On Monday, the famous golden Menorah (candelabrum) – suitable for use in the Holy Temple, and familiar to visitors to the Cardo section of the Old City of Jerusalem – was relocated to the landing of the wide staircase that leads down from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall.  Click here to see photos of the procession. The $3-million, one-half ton Menorah is protected inside the same type of glass structure that has housed it until now.  The Menorah’s construction was made possible through the generosity of Vadim Rabinovitch, a leader of the Jewish community of Ukraine. 

Some 1,500 people took part in the monthly “Temple Mount Gates March” on Sunday  night, Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Tevet.  The event was dedicated to the memory of Ido Zoldan, who was murdered last month by Palestinian terrorists; his family took part in the march.

Hundreds of Jews have ascended to the Mount “in purity” – i.e., according to Jewish Law – on the various days of Chanukah.  Rabbis of the Movement for the Establishment of the Temple were on hand to provide guidance and explanations.

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6. Yesha Human Rights Group Publishes Report (Part One of Eight)

by Ezra HaLevi

Human rights week in Israel heralds the publication of a plethora of reports on the alleged mistreatment of Israel’s Arab citizens by groups funded by the European Union and the New Israel Fund. The Yesha Human Rights Organization decided to publish its own report on the status of human rights among the Jews of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Yesha Human Rights Organization Chairman Orit Struck prefaces the report writing that the public residing in Yesha (acronym for Judea, Samaria and Gaza) has “suffered public and blatant trampling of its basic rights, but not received almost any defense from the human rights organizations.”

Struck explains why the Yesha Human Rights Organization was founded. “Over the years, it became clear that there was a need for a human rights organization ‘of our own,’ which would relate to those settling in Yesha as human beings possessing rights, and not as second, third or fourth class citizens. The Yesha Human Rights Organization tries to provide for the various needs resulting from the trampling of the rights of these residents by government authorities.”

The report deals with eight areas of particularly blatant discrimination. “To our great sorrow, in each of these areas, residents of Yesha did not receive any support from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), which often took a stance negating the residents’ most basic rights. We are prepared to provide individuals and lawyers involved in each one of these realms with evidence which further illustrates the phenomenon.”

One section will be reprinted by Arutz-7 each day for the next week:

The Expulsion of the Residents of Gaza and Northern Samaria
“The essence of the expulsion of thousands of citizens from their homes presents the most blatant trampling of human rights by both the Knesset and the Supreme Court. The Expulsion Law, or in the language of the lawmakers the ‘Disengagement Implementation Law’ was, in the words of retired Supreme Court Justice David Tal a ‘law making injustice kosher.’ For the first time in the history of the State of Israel, the Knesset was asked to enact a law that would legalize the expulsion of thousands of people – an action that was until then defined according to Israeli law as a ‘war crime’ and ‘crime against humanity.’ The ‘Disengagement Implementation Law’ allowed the Israeli government to carry out the expulsion of 8,000 Jews from their homes.

“Since the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom states that ‘there is no harming the rights outlined in this basic law except via legislation that befits the values of the State of Israel and is designated toward a worthy cause…’ – the Knesset, and afterwards the Supreme Court, were asked to clarify whether the exception from the Basic Law stood up to the stipulations outlined in the law itself. Namely: was the expulsion being carried out ‘for a worthy cause.’

“The ’cause,’ as it was presented to the Knesset and the Supreme Court by representatives of the State Prosecution was: ‘To bring about a better security, diplomatic, economic and demographic reality.’
“In the framework of the discussion surrounding the legislation, which took place in Knesset Law and Legislation Committee and in the documents handed to the Supreme Court – no evidence or proof was brought regarding the existence of the stated cause. In other words: It was not proven, to say the least, that the reality that would be created through the expulsion would be better in the realms of security, diplomacy, economics or demographics. In fact, the opposite was presented by many opponents of the law – that Israel’s situation in the stated areas would decline as a result of the implementation of the Disengagement (an estimation that was proven correct within a short time).

“Nevertheless, the Knesset authorized it, and afterwards the Supreme Court approved the expulsion law, thus dealing a mortal blow to thousands of citizens, their property, their livelihood, their dignity, their health – physical and mental, and to the overall texture of their lives, turning them into refugees in their own land.”

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7. Israel Celebrates Passage of its First UN Resolution

by Ezra HaLevi

Israel has successfully passed its first resolution ever at the United Nations – albeit one having nothing to do with politics or the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The resolution encourages able nations of the world to develop farming technology for developing countries.

The resolution was passed by the UN General Assembly’s Second Committee, dealing with development issues. There were 118 votes in favor and 29 abstentions, with no opposing votes. The resolution will be brought before the full General Assembly next week.

“For Israel, this is a very dramatic development, and an historic day at the UN,” Ambassador Dan Gillerman told reporters. “It is the very first time that Israel initiates and authors and submits a resolution which has nothing to do with the conflict. It is not easy for Israel to have its resolutions and its points of view adopted,” he added. “This makes Israel a much more normal and acceptable member of the UN. One of our main aims is to not be a one issue country and to bring awareness of Israel’s excellence to the world.”

Included in the 29 abstentions were South Africa and 19 Arab states present – though not including Muslim Afghanistan and Pakistan, who voted in favor. Iran did not take part in the vote. The abstentions came from Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, Darussalam, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Gillerman slammed South Africa for its stance. “This was a shameful mistake for a country that considers itself to be the leader of Africa,” he said. “They sent out the wrong message.” Africa stands to be the main beneficiary of the resolution.

Palestinian Authority United Nations representative Riyad Mansour criticized the move, telling Reuters that Israel was “trying to score political points” and had rejected a move that would have obscured the Jewish state as the author of the resolution in favor of its presentation as a “consensus resolution.” He also criticized Gillerman for “lashing out” at South Africa, which he termed “a country that no one can question their integrity with regard to justice and doing the right thing,” according to Inner City News of S. Africa.

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8. Six Top Powers Discuss New Sanctions on Iran’s Military

by Gil Ronen

Diplomats from the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany held a 90-minute telephone conference call Tuesday to discuss a draft plan for new United Nations sanctions against Iran.

“They had a good, constructive conversation, and they will continue to work to finalize the elements of a Security Council resolution,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. He declined to give details of the draft or whether China and Russia, which have opposed new sanctions on Iran, had agreed to it, saying it was too early to say whether there was consensus among the council’s veto-wielding members.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. officials have said the draft discussed on Tuesday, which was written by the French, includes sanctions against portions of Iran’s military apparatus and against a major bank.

U.S. President George W. Bush called on Iran Tuesday to explain why it had operated a secretive nuclear weapons program, and warned that any such efforts must not be allowed to flourish “for the sake of world peace.”

“Iran is dangerous,” Bush said after a meeting in the White House with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. “We believe Iran had a secret military weapons program, and Iran must explain to the world why they had a program.”

Bush’s comments came after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that it was “a step fo
“You have an obligation to explain to the world loud and clear why you had a military program.”
rward” that U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that Tehran stopped developing its nuclear weapons program four years ago.

Olmert: NIE debate ‘exaggerated’
In a public address Tuesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said “I attach great importance to the American president’s statement that nothing has changed. Iran was and is dangerous.”

“The [NIE] report’s publication gave rise to an exaggerated debate. Some of us even interpreted the report as an American retreat from supporting Israel. This is utterly baseless.”

‘The ball is in their court’
In an interview with ABC News on Tuesday, Bush gave an indirect response to Ahmadinejad. “My answer to the Iranians is: You had a hidden program that was a military program,” he said. “We think you have shut it down now. You have an obligation to explain to the world loud and clear why you had a military program. Do you intend to start it up again. In other words, the ball is in their court.”

Iran has claimed its nuclear program was intended for peaceful ends. Last week, a U.S. intelligence report said there was no evidence of a current military nuclear program. However, the report also revealed that such a program had existed covertly until 2003.

“Iran has an obligation to explain to the IAEA why they hid this program from them,” Bush said, referring to the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency.

U.S.S. Enterprise, currently in Persian Gulf.

Bush’s comments reflected a renewed effort to keep pressure on Iran after the release of last week’s National Intelligence Estimate, following which Ahmadinejad told reporters that an “entirely different” situation between the United States and Iran could be created if more steps like the NIE report followed. “We consider this measure by the U.S. government a positive step. It is a step forward,” Ahmadinejad said.

“If one or two other steps are taken, the issues we have in front of us will be entirely different and will lose their complexity, and the way will be open for the resolution of basic issues in the region and in dealings between the two sides,” the Iranian president said. White House press secretary Dana Perino dismissed Ahmadinejad’s comments as “fanciful thinking.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reviewed Ahmadinejad’s blog, which it noted was relatively tame and included surprisingly uncensored reader comments.

“You are a terrible, despicable human being. You WILL be attacked by the US or Israel and will be destroyed,” wrote one British reader, under the caption “YOUR GONE” [sic]. Another reader, from the U.S., wrote: “Shut up please, would you? I get headache reading your nonsense stuff.” Someone writing under the name Xochitl told the president-turned-blogger: “I think you are an evil leader. Freedom and tolerance are necessities in this day and age, and the fact that your country kills intellectuals, journalists, minorities, etc. is horrible and deeply disturbing.”

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9. News Briefs

by IsraelNN Staff

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Wednesday, Dec. 12 ’07
3 Tevet 5768

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Weather Forecast
Partly Cloudy.
Tomorrow: Partly Cloudy
Today Dec 13
T.A 19-11C 20-11C
Haifa 18-11C 19-11C
Jlm 16- 9C 17- 8C
HaGolan 14- 7C 15- 7C
B.Sheba 20- 8C 21- 8C
Hebron 15- 8C 16- 8C
Ariel 17- 9C 18- 9C
J.Valley 23-14C 24-12C
Galilee 12- 6C 13- 6C
Eilat 23-12C 24-12C
Weather Forecast

Halachic Times
Jlm. T.A.
A. shachar 05:15 05:17
Talit 05:42 05:44
Sunrise 06:27 06:29
Sof Shema 08:59 09:01
Sof Tfila 09:49 09:51
Chatzot 11:31 11:33
Mincha G. 12:01 12:03
Mincha K. 14:28 14:29
Sunset 16:40 16:36
Nightfall 16:53 16:54

Update: 07/12/2007
US Dollar 3.875 Ú
GB Sterling 7.8653 Ù
Yen (100) 3.4766 Ú
Euro 5.6685 Ù
Can $ 3.8226 Ù
Swiss Franc 3.4266 Ù

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