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Israeline -- Monday, May 12, 2003 --

 

** Father of Six Killed by Terrorists near Ofra; IDF Continues Counter-terror Operations
** Israel Releases Palestinian Prisoners; Security Talks Resumed
** Lapid Returns from Hungary with New Details on Hanna Senesh's Death
** Israeli Company Enables Those Who Fight SARS to Breathe Easier
** Other News in Brief
** Economic Briefs

 

Father of Six Killed by Terrorists near Ofra; IDF Continues Counter-terror Operations
Zion David, a 53-year-old resident of Givat Ze'ev and father of six children, was killed on Sunday in a shooting attack near the West Bank town of Ofra, HA'ARETZ reported. He was apparently driving to work when Palestinian terrorists opened fire on his vehicle, hitting him in the head.

"We arrived at the scene and found a vehicle overturned in a ditch," a Magen David Adom paramedic told Israel Radio. "When we went into the ditch, we found a man who had been wounded by gunfire, consequently lost control of his vehicle, and was killed after his car flipped over." Both Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack. Security officials believe that the gunmen behind David's murder came from Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Muqata compound in Ramallah and returned there to hide after the attack. Security sources also indicated that the perpetrators were believed to be behind the killing of one Israeli last week near the Shvut Rachel community in the West Bank, as well as behind a series of shooting attacks in the Ramallah area over the last few days.

Meanwhile, IDF troops killed today two armed Palestinians belonging to Fatah as they were placing an explosive device near a tunnel used for smuggling weapons in Rafah. A Palestinian farmworker was killed and two people were wounded during the IDF operation in Rafah, that also enabled the discovery of a second arms-smuggling tunnel.

In other news, IDF troops arrested this morning Maher Ra'i , the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Qalqilyah, Army Radio, reported. Troops also arrested this morning a 17-year-old Tanzim activist in Nablus as he was planning to carry out a homicide bombing.

 

Israel Releases Palestinian Prisoners; Security Talks Resumed
A bus full of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, released by Israel as part of the confidence-building measures toward an internationally-brokered peace, arrived this afternoon at the Salam roadblock near Jenin, in the northern West Bank, HA'ARETZ reported. Approximately 100 additional prisoners were to be brought to the roadblock, from where they will travel to their homes in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. The prisoners had reportedly been held at the Damun prison in Carmel, most of them for being in Israel illegally or for criminal activity. A small portion were security prisoners who had been imprisoned for 10 months.

In other news, Israel and the Palestinians have secretly resumed talks on security coordination as Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad, Israel's policy chief for the Palestinian territories, met with Palestinian Security Affairs Minister, Mohammed Dahlan, over the weekend. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) are slated to meet at the end of this week, before Sharon departs for Washington, Israel Radio, KOL ISRAEL reported. After the Sharon-Abbas meeting, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is expected to meet with the new Palestinian security chief, Dahlan.

Sharon and Abu Mazen are expected to discuss ways to reduce the violence and restart negotiations. They may also announce the resumption of high-level security coordination between the sides. Mofaz will then follow up on an offer Israel has already made - to withdraw from any area where the Palestinians assume responsibility for security - by proposing to Dahlan that Israel begin by withdrawing from positions in the northern Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, according to the JERUSALEM POST, Israel expressed satisfaction with Secretary of State Collin Powell's visit to the region. Government sources claim that Powell accepted Israel's demand that the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure be dismantled. Israel also expressed satisfaction at the absence of serious differences of opinion between Israeli officials and Secretary Powell, while the latter praised Israel for its recent humanitarian concessions to the Palestinians.

Powell urged the new Palestinian government to wage an uncompromising war on terror. "We welcome the positive steps, political steps already taken by Palestinian officials toward reform and toward peace, but we must also see rapid, decisive action by the Palestinians to disarm and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure," Powell said in Jerusalem. "Without such action, our best efforts will fail. A genuine war against terror by the Palestinians, involving real effort to prevent terror, is the key to progress in the political process," Powell continued. "Quiet and security for the Israeli people will lead to Israeli measures that will create a new and better reality for the Palestinian population."

Before leaving for the West Bank, Powell had reaffirmed the US position on dealing with Arafat. "We recognize that Mr. Arafat is still there, but the United States will not be working with him," Powell said. "We believe that this is the time to invest in the new leadership."

 

Lapid Returns from Hungary with New Details on Hanna Senesh's Death
Minister of Justice Yosef Lapid returned on Sunday from a visit to Hungary with Hanna Senesh's personal file which reveals some new details about the death of the woman who tried to save Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War, MA'ARIV reported. Senesh took part in a parachuting operation in Yugoslavia in 1944 in an attempt to contact Hungarian Jews and save them from the Nazis. Senesh was captured by the Nazis and tortured to death by the Gestapo after being convicted of spying for the British. The file includes materials regarding the judges who sentenced her to death. After the war, her judges were sentenced for war crimes, but Senesh's judgment was not cancelled. Only in 1993, after the visit of the Hungarian minister of Justice to Israel, was the verdict annulled. Sources described Senesh's death as long and painful. The file also mentions the testimony of a witness present during her execution, who said that Senesh was granted an opportunity to ask for mercy and that she refused. Lapid announced that the file would be transferred to Yad Vashem and the Senesh family would then decide whether they wished to release further elements it contains.

 

Israeli Company Enables Those Who Fight SARS to Breathe Easier
Oridion, an Israeli medical device company that has developed and patented unique technologies in the field of patient monitoring, is donating respiratory monitoring devices to hospitals in China, Singapore and Hong Kong to fight the SARS outbreak, ISRAEL21C reported. The company, founded 17 years ago by George Yariv - who immigrated to Israel from Argentina in 1970 - has for years been donating its respiratory monitor devices to parts of the world hit by terror attacks, earthquakes and tragic fires, and medical facilities able to take advantage of their technology. The world technology leader in capnography - the non-invasive measurement of carbon dioxide in exhaled breath, Oridion's monitoring devices are recognized world-wide as the single most effective technology for monitoring breathing in patients who are not attached to artificial breathing devices. Oridion does not only manufacture and sell monitoring devices on its own, but it cooperates with a long list of companies that are global leaders of monitoring systems including Datascope, Draeger, Philips Medical Systems, Nellcor, MDE, Medtronic Physio-Control, and others. When SARS hit the Far East, the company had direct sales activities in the US, Europe, Japan and Israel.

Through one of its corporate partners, Philips, Oridion learned that its devices were considered particularly useful for doctors fighting SARS in China. Philips had donated monitoring devices with Oridion technology to the Chinese government to help with the SARS crisis, and the government had found them so useful, that they ordered more. At that point Oridion itself stepped in and offered to donate more devices.

"Our technology is recognized as the best for monitoring the breathing of patients who are not hooked up to respirators," Yariv explained. "This is our specialty. Most SARS patients fall into that category - they are breathing on their own and therefore those treating SARS find our monitors extremely helpful." In addition to China, Yariv said that the company is in contact with people in Singapore and Hong Kong, and Oridion monitors are being sent to clinics and hospitals in those countries.

 

Other News in Brief

* Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu and Histadrut Chairman MK Amir Peretz met in a seven-hour marathon session on Sunday in an attempt to avoid a general strike in the public sector scheduled for Tuesday, HA'ARETZ reported. Progress has been reported but the two men reportedly failed to resolve core differences between the unions and the government regarding the new economic plan. At stake in the talks are wage cuts, lay-offs, changes in the management of Histadrut-run pension funds for state workers, and deep cuts in welfare benefits.

* Israeli television presenter and sportscaster Becky Griffin was named today as the new virtual jockey (VJ) for MTV Europe, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Following in the footsteps of Israel's first VJ, Eden Harel, Griffin was selected after competing against more than 200 other VJ contestants to become the newest presenter on the channel. The 22-year-old, who speaks fluent English, immigrated to Israel at the age of 10 with her parents and is the daughter of Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball player Bob Griffin.

 

Economic Briefs

* More than 50 percent of companies expect their business situation to stabilize or improve over the next four months, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce found in a survey, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. This is despite the fact that 63 percent of respondents said their company's sales declined in the first four months of the year. The survey included 60 companies spanning most industries, the Federation said.

* Israeli computer services company Ness Technologies signed an agreement to acquire computer services company Apar Infotech of the U.S. and India in a share swap transaction valued at $78 million, GLOBES reported. After the merger is complete, Apar Infotech's 1,200 employees worldwide will work under the Ness brand name. This is the largest transaction in Ness's history. It is expected to increase its global workforce to 3,800, and create an entity with annual revenue of about $300 million.

Today's Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Shelly Revah and Dina Wosner at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.


Israeline -- Thursday, May 15, 2003 --

** Powell Continues to Promote Road Map; Arafat Continues to Allocate Funds
** Public Sector Strike Continues; Flights Cease to Depart From Ben Gurion Airport
** Almost 50 Percent of Israeli Children Suffer From Shell Shock
** Solidarity Hip Hop Kicks Off in Tel Aviv
** Other News in Brief
** Economic & Hi-tech Briefs

 

Powell Continues to Promote Road Map; Arafat Continues to Allocate Funds
Speaking at a news conference in the Bulgarian capital today, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Israelis and Palestinians had to make compromises and predicted that a meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. President George W. Bush next Tuesday would be important for Middle East peace, HA'ARETZ reported. Powell also told reporters that the United States was committed to the internationally brokered road map, which the United States and fellow mediators presented to the Israelis and Palestinians last month. "We are at a moment of opportunity," Powell said.

"This is the time for both sides to be prepared to make compromises, to take steps that will us move down a path to peace." He went on to add: "I hope that in the upcoming conversations... people will be able to clarify their positions and we will find a way to go forward. We can't just stay where we are. We can't miss this moment of opportunity."

Meanwhile, less than a week before the meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Israeli security sources believe that Yasser Arafat is strengthening his hold on the Palestinian Authority. Arafat recently received an urgent request for $20,000 to buy 6,000 meters of cloth to make uniforms for the Palestinian police. Arafat approved and signed it and instructed Finance Minister Salam Fayyad to transfer the money. Sources raised the question as to why Arafat is allocating funds, and why he is still involved with the security organizations whose supervision should have been transferred to Abu Mazen.

The Palestinian prime minister is currently having difficulty gaining the public support without which he will not be able to declare war on the terror organizations.

In the past weeks, Arafat has re-emerged as the one "holding the purse strings." His bureau is allocating funds to various entities, from Fatah activists in Bethlehem through PA ministers to security groups in Jenin. Despite the difficulties, some Fatah activists expect Abu Mazen to confront Hamas. He is currently in touch with the Hamas leadership abroad in an effort to launch a new round of talks in Cairo next week.

 

Public Sector Strike Continues; Flights Cease to Depart From Ben Gurion Airport
At a Wednesday cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that the second and third Knesset readings of the government's economic plan are slated for next Thursday, HA'ARETZ reported. This gives the treasury and Histadrut seven more days to reach an agreement on the plan. Both sides have said that they want to complete the negotiations before then.

Meanwhile, the public sector strike continues today, as eight hours of talks between Histadrut chief Amir Peretz, Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Treasury Meir Sheetrit failed to reach an agreement. The three are due to meet again this morning. The Histadrut also decided Wednesday night to intensify the strike to include banks and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Schools will only open at 9 A.M., except for special needs schools.

The late-night negotiations followed talks Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The key issues now holding up an agreement regard the treasury's proposed reforms for pensions. One element under dispute is the retirement age for women. While the Histadrut has accepted a gradual hike in retirement age for men from 65 to 67, it rejects the treasury's demand that women also retire at that age, and instead is proposing that women retire at 62 instead of 60. An even bigger stumbling block is the treasury's demand to take the management of public sector pension funds out of the Histadrut's hands. The Histadrut at first rejected that demand completely, but now says it is too sensitive an issue to be resolved quickly, and it wants a team of professionals to analyze the matter and negotiate a solution over the coming months.

Also, Ben-Gurion International Airport continues some work stoppages, while sea ports, border crossings and trains are not operating at all. Bezeq, Mekorot Water Company and the Electric Company are not repairing technical faults, and government and municipality offices are closed and garbage is not being collected. According to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, as of this afternoon no flights are departing from Ben-Gurion International Airport, as part of an increase of the severity of the Histadrut labor federation strike. Flights are allowed to land, although there will be delays in the removal of luggage from the planes. The airport authority committee is to meet at 5 P.M. today to decide whether to renew takeoffs.

 

Almost 50 Percent of Israeli Children Suffer From Shell Shock
A new research by the Adler Center at Tel Aviv University and the Judea and Samaria College in Ariel shows that almost half of the children in Israel suffer from shell shock due to terror attacks in Israel, MA'ARIV reported. The survey of 3,000 children was based on data collected immediately following last year's wave of terror attacks around the Passover holiday.

According to the research findings, one-fifth of the surveyed children had a relative who was a victim of terror, and more than 300 children lost a loved one in terror attacks. In addition, 42.7 percent of the respondents said that they were suffering from shock symptoms, such as flashbacks of events, nightmares, panic and troubling thoughts. Other negative symptoms included feelings of detachment, inability to concentrate and a general feeling of uneasiness. A surprising discovery showed that in places such as Rehovot and Ariel, which are less exposed to terror, the rate of shell shock in children is higher than in places like Kiryat Arba and Karnei Shomron, which experience terror attacks more frequently.

 

Solidarity Hip Hop Kicks Off in Tel Aviv
Wu-Tang Clan hip-hop artists Remedy and Killah Priest will kick off their solidarity tour in Israel today and perform with Israeli rapper Subliminal in Tel Aviv, HA'ARETZ reported. The two New York rappers, who will also perform in Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva, came to Israel at the request of Lukas B, who they call Luke Brenowitz. Brenowitz worked at the Israeli Consulate in NewYork, and is accompanying them in Israel. He wanted to create a connection between the words of their songs, which deal with the search for historical and religious roots, and active support of Israel. The result is a multi-faceted trip to Israel, culminating in hip hop performances and touring of the country's most famous sites.

Remedy, born Ross Filler, is a Jewish rapper who grew up on Staten Island in New York and writes lyrics about the Jewish tradition. In his songs, he also advocates for the Jewish people. Remedy is best known for his song "Never Again," which is about the Holocaust.

Killah Priest is a black rapper who is very connected to the Bible. He considers the visit a spiritual experience of the highest degree. Remedy and Killah Priest have been checking out almost all of the clubs in Tel Aviv, in addition to touring historical sites such as the Western Wall, Ammunition Hill and the Holocaust memorial museum Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. They also visited Masada. According to Remedy, they found the combination fitting. "Our concept is that you have to connect between the past and the present all the time," he said. "That's what makes the State of Israel what it is. We know that the situation here now isn't good, but we want to feel exactly like the Israelis - to continue no matter what, to show that life goes on. Yesterday we visited Mike's Place, [recently attacked by suicide bombers] which is very close to our hotel. The moment you see things from up close, you understand everything much better." Remedy added: "There's nowhere else to be, but Eretz Yisrael. I'm just coming to spread the love and feed it from New York to Israel."

 

Other News in Brief

* Israel Defenses Forces troops launched a large-scale raid today into the northern Gaza Strip in an effort to put a stop to repeated Kassam rocket attacks on Israeli communities, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Three Palestinians were reportedly killed in this morning's fighting, including two terrorists and a 12-year-old boy. Senior IDF sources indicated troops would remain in the area for an extended stay order to prevent further rocket attacks against the nearby town of Sderot.

In other news, military sources said Hizbullah gunners fired anti-aircraft shells today - presumably at Israeli jets - and some of shrapnel landed in the upper Galilee town of Kiryat Shmona. No injuries were reported.

* Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said in a speech given during his visit to Lebanon that he was committed to continuing his country's support for Hizbullah, IDF RADIO reported. "The world is praising the resistance and the heroism of Hizbullah," he said. "Iran's backing for the organization is also a sign that we support Lebanon,"

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and Hizbullah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, attended the speech.

 

Economic & Hi-tech Briefs

* Delta Galil chairman Dov Lautman released the company financial results for the first quarter of 2003, establishing that its policy of expanding in the popular price market was the main engine of higher operating profits despite weaknesses in the European market, HA'ARETZ reported. The private label underwear maker's sales increased 9.7 percent to $137 million. The main factor was a 27 percent rise in U.S. sales in the first quarter to $82 million. The increase showed a 53 percent rise in popularly priced products, mostly to the retail chains, Target and Walmart.

* In a sharp about-turn, Israel's gross domestic product (GDP) increased in the first quarter of the year by 2.5 percent per annum, following a small rise of 0.1 percent in the last quarter of 2002, and a contraction of 0.2 percent in the third quarter, HA'ARETZ reported. According to figures released recently by the Central Bureau of Statistics, economic activity in the business sector reported growth of 3.1 percent, after a consistent average contraction of 1 percent in each of the three preceding quarters.

Today's Israel Line was prepared by Adina Kay, Michal Rachlevsky and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.


Israeline -- Friday, May 16, 2003 --

 

** Sharon Meets with Cabinet Members to Discuss Abu Mazen Meeting - Chief Palestinian Negotiator Resigns
** Shalom: Israel Cannot Accept Road Map As Is
** Palestinians Expand Rocket launching to Jabalya
** Romanian Intelligence Thwarted Iraqi Plots to Attack Israelis
** Other News in Brief
** Economic & Hi-tech Briefs

 

Sharon Meets with Cabinet Members to Discuss Abu Mazen Meeting - Chief Palestinian Negotiator Resigns
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met today with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Deputy Prime Minister Yosef Lapid and Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry Ehud Olmert ahead of the planned meeting on Saturday between Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), HA'ARETZ reported. The meeting focused on security issues and demands that the new Palestinian government curb terror.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian minister responsible for overseeing negotiations with Israel, Saeb Erekat, handed in his resignation on Thursday to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Abu Mazen, a Palestinian source revealed today. Erekat would neither confirm nor deny reports of his resignation, saying that the issue was an internal Palestinian matter. Sources within the PA said that Erekat's resignation was precipitated by Abu Mazen's decision not to include him in the Palestinian delegation (comprised of Abu Mazen, Palestinian Minister of Security Mohammad Dahlan, and Palestinian Legislative Council head Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala)) that will travel to Jerusalem on Saturday to meet with Sharon. Erekat reportedly said that the delegation does not faithfully represent the internal Palestinian leadership and sees Abu Mazen, Dahlan and Abu Ala as "Tunis men" loyal to Arafat from the time of their joint exile in the North African country. He accuses them of using money earmarked for humanitarian aid in the Palestinian territories for their own luxurious housing in Jordan and elsewhere.

In other news, Palestinians are insisting that Saturday's meeting between Sharon and Abu Mazen focus on diplomatic issues rather than on security coordination. The Palestinian prime minister is seeking clarification about Israel's official stance on the proposed road map for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

 

Shalom: Israel Cannot Accept Road Map As Is
Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said today that the government was unlikely to accept the "road map" as is without amendments for fear it would divide the Israeli government and trigger new elections, thus delaying the peace process, HA'ARETZ reported. He added that Israel had "14 contributions in order to narrow the gaps to implement the initiative."

In a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in London on Thursday, Shalom said Israel saw Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as more moderate than Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and that the Goervment would work with him on reviving peace efforts. "After the war in Iraq there are new opportunities which we are determined to seize," Shalom said. "We hope the Palestinians feel the same."However, he stressed that Palestinians must make a "100 percent effort" to rein in terrorists and end anti-Israeli incitement.

 

Palestinians Expand Rocket launching to Jabalya
Palestinian sources said today that Qassam rockets are now being fired from the area of the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip - not Beit Hanun, where an Israel Defense Forces counter-terror operation was launched early Thursday morning, HA'ARETZ reported. Israeli security officials confirmed that the Qassam rocket that landed in the western Negev desert on Thursday night was launched from Jabalya. However, they defended the IDF presence in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun, saying the operation there prevented Palestinians from firing rockets from that area against Israeli communities. Major General Doron Almog of the Southern Command said Thursday afternoon that the IDF would remain in Beit Hanun for several days. Five Palestinians were killed and at least seven others were wounded in fighting between the IDF and armed Palestinians in Beit Hanun. Palestinians fired several mortar shells at Gush Katif in Gaza in addition to the Qassam rocket that fell in the Negev.

In an incident unrelated to the operation, soldiers shot and killed late Thursday a Palestinian man who was running toward an IDF base near Rafah on the Egyptian border after several warning shots had been fired and the man had refused to stop. It was not known whether he was armed.

Also on Thursday night, an Israeli woman was lightly wounded when Palestinians fired at her car north of Ramallah. She was hit in the leg and taken to Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer. A nearby bus was also hit, but none of the passengers were hurt.

Overnight Friday, the IDF destroyed the Nablus house of Radwan Tsalah Hasin Karo, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member who carried out a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley a month ago in which two soldiers were killed and eight wounded. The IDF also arrested five Palestinian terror suspects in the West Bank overnight Friday, four near Ramallah and one south of Jenin.

 

Romanian Intelligence Thwarted Iraqi Plots to Attack Israelis
Romania's intelligence agency said it had uncovered a plan by the Iraqi Embassy in Bucharest to launch terror attacks against Israeli and American targets in the country in the event of a war against Saddam Hussein, HA'ARETZ reported. The Romanian spy service stated in a televised statement that it had gleaned enough evidence to support its suspicions and that "the terrorist attacks were to be carried out with AG-7 grenade launchers provided by the head of the espionage office of the Iraqi Embassy in Bucharest."

A Romanian lawmaker privy to the intelligence reports said that Iraqi diplomatic staff were ordered to gather intelligence on a list prospective targets in his country -- among them the American and Israeli embassies in Bucharest. Following the reports, Romania expelled five Iraqi diplomats and declared 41 other Iraqis as persona non grata. Documents obtained at the Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters in Baghdad by foreign intelligence sources later confirmed the Romanian fears.

Israeli Ambassador Sandu Mazor confirmed that the Romanian spy service informed him of attacks that were planned to take place during the Iraq war. "The Romanian intelligence service made us aware of some aspects unknown to us and in this way contributed to our protection," Mazor said in an interview with Romania's Realitatea TV.

 

Other News in Brief

* Non-Muslims are not welcome on the Temple Mount, the director of the Waqf (Muslim religious trust) said on Thursday in response to a comment made Wednesday by Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, that the area would soon be opened to Jews for visits and prayer, HA'ARETZ reported. "The Arab standpoint, the Waqf standpoint, is that there is no change in the decision of not allowing non-Muslims to enter the place," Adnan Husseini, director of the Waqf, told Israel Radio.

* An 8.6 percent drop in road fatalities has been recorded in Israel during the first quarter of 2003, Israel Radio, KOL ISRAEL, reported. There has been a 15 percent decrease in serious injuries caused by road accidents, and a 13 percent drop in serious car accidents. At either extreme, Ashdod suffered a 22 percent increase in traffic accidents while Jerusalem enjoyed an 18 percent decrease.

 

Economic & Hi-tech Briefs

* Comverse Technology subsidiary Verint Systems will raise $100 million next week through a share issue, GLOBES reported. Comverse chairman and CEO Kobi Alexander first launched Verint on Nasdaq in July 2002, raising $72 million at $16 per share. The Verint share currently trades at $21, reflecting a company value of $514 million. Comverse declined to respond to the report. Verint provides digital recording and voice and video analysis solutions, mostly for security concerns. The company, considered the brightest hope in the troubled Comverse group, was responsible for the only Israeli Wall Street IPO last year. Verint benefited from positive investor momentum, particularly after the September 11 terrorist attacks which increased the need for its products.

* Israelis have developed a test that can detect early signs of dementia, often in time to initiate treatment that delays mental decline, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. A computerized battery of tests has been developed by Israelis and validated in studies in Israel and in Canada as being highly reliable and specific to MCI (mild cognitive impairment). After being downloaded from the company site, it takes about 30 minutes to complete. Called Mindstreams and developed in Modi'in for the NeuroTrax Corporation the patented software can make it possible to sift out people who have only benign forgetfulness and find those who have MCI or advanced stages of dementia.

Today's Israel Line was prepared by David Nekrutman, Jonathan Schienberg, Matthew Miller and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.