Choose Day Below
GUNMAN KILLS BORDER POLICEMAN
* ISRAEL COMPLETES WITHDRAWAL FROM NABLUS AND RAMALLAH
* UN TO SEND FACT-FINDING MISSION TO JENIN
* ACADEMICIANS CONDEMN EUROPE’S RESEARCH AND CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL
* ECONOMIC BRIEFS
GUNMAN KILLS BORDER POLICEMAN
Border Police St.-Sgt. Uriel Bar-Maimon, 21, of Ashkelon, was shot and killed Sunday in an attack by a Palestinian gunman on an Israel Defense Forces outpost at the Erez industrial zone in the northern Gaza Strip, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The gunman approached the outpost through nearby fields, opening fire with his Kalashnikov assault rifle and throwing fragmentation grenades at the forces manning the position. Bar-Maimon was shot in the head and killed. The gunman then fled into the surrounding foliage, but Givati Brigade soldiers chased him down and shot him. Theal-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, a division of Arafat’s Fatah Tanzim organization, reportedly distributed pamphlets taking credit for the attack and identified the terrorist as Aiman Juda. Bar-Maimon joined the Border Police last November and, after completing basic training, was deployed to the Gaza Strip battalion. He was the second border policeman serving in the area to be killed by terrorists during the past week.
Meanwhile, gunmen lightly wounded two soldiers in an army patrol near the Egyptian border Sunday afternoon. Today, Palestinian gunmen attacked Israeli soldiers at various checkpoints in Gaza. Palestinian gunmen also opened fire near Kibbutz Nahal Oz and threw hand grenades near Rafiah in the Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.
COMPLETES WITHDRAWAL FROM NABLUS AND RAMALLAH
Israel Defense Forces troops completed their withdrawal from Nablus and parts of Ramallah on Sunday, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Twenty-nine soldiers and border policemen were killed and 127 wounded during Operation Defensive Shield, launched on March 28, aimed at cracking down onterror, destroying terrorist infrastructure, confiscating weapons and arresting fugitives. In response to the terrorist attacks that had claimed scores of lives, and following the suicide bombing at Netanya’s Park Hotel on Passover in which 29 people were killed and scores wounded, the IDF entered Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah, Tulkarem, Bethlehem and Kalkilya. As of Sunday, the IDF remained in Bethlehem, with troops deployed around the Church of the Nativity, where Palestinian gunmen have been holed up and holding several clergy people hostage since the beginning of the operation.
In Ramallah, troops continue to surround the Mukata complex, where Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has been confined to his officefor a number of weeks. The PA has refused Israel’s request that it hand over the murderers of Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze’evi and Fuad Shubaki, who was in charge of financing the Karine A weapons ship.
During the operation, Israel arrested 4,258 suspected terrorists, 1,800 of whom remain in custody, 396 of them considered fugitives. The operational so confiscated vast quantities of weapons and explosives.
Meanwhile, according to HA’ARETZ, Israeli and U.S. officials will meet in Washington next month for a strategic dialogue forum at which the two sides will exchange assessments on various regional issues. The delegations to the strategic dialogue forum will be headed by Minister Dan Meridor and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
TO SEND FACT-FINDING MISSION TO JENIN
Israel has agreed to cooperate with a United Nations fact-finding committee investigating the battle in Jenin, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. According to senior officials in Jerusalem, however, Israel has stipulated that the committee may not include UN Middle East envoy Terje Larsen or UN Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson as both Larsen and Robinson are viewed as biased against Israel, and any committee they are involved in would not present a fair picture.
Gideon Meir, a senior Foreign Ministry official in charge of public affairs, said Israel agrees to the committee, because "we have nothing to hide." Meir said Israel’s case is "very strong," and has ample evidence to prove that the Jenin refugee camp was nothing less then a "factory, an assembly line for suicide bombers."
The decision to cooperate with a fact-finding team came following consultations between Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York. According to a statement released by Peres’s office, he told Annan that Israel has nothing to hide regarding any aspect of the Jenin operation. "Jenin was the site of a fierce battle with armed terrorists, who deliberately hid themselves among the civilian population. The IDF did its utmost to avoid harming innocent civilians, and its record is clean in this matter," the statement read.
CONDEMN EUROPE’S RESEARCH AND CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL
More than 600 professors and researchers from all over the world signed a petition condemning a call for a boycott of research and cultural links with Israel by European academicians, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. A group of mathematicians at the University of Chicago initiated the anti-boycott petition, which calls for supporting Israel and urges scientists to foster and develop ties with their Israeli colleagues.
In addition, according to MA’ARIV, restaurants in Tel Aviv decided to boycott French wines and serve Israeli wines instead, because of growing anti-Semitism in France.
According to the Philippine Star, ten terrorism experts from Israel will begin training a special elite unit of the Philippine police force, YEDIOTAHARONOT reported. A security official in the Philippines said "after September 11, a few Philippine police officers were sent to Israel for a special training series," and added that "the Israeli terrorism experts, who have been fighting the Arab [terrorism] for years, are the best in the world in their field."
* The Ministry of Industry and Trade signed orders today for setting up a seed fund to encourage investments in start-ups, GLOBES reported. The loans will each be approximately NIS 5 million (approximately $1.1 million).The seed fund, which will operate under an initial budget of NIS 50 million(approximately $11.1 million), will jointly invest with venture capital funds and other investors in the early stage of each company’s life.
* Elisra Electronic Systems, a subsidiary of Koor Industries, won a $14 million contract from the Ministry of Defense, to supply electronics weapon systems to the Israel Air Force for the new Apache Longbow combat helicopters, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Under the contract, the company will arm the Apaches with defensive systems, including early warning capabilities. The system provides a full picture of the battlefield, disruption of enemy missile systems and a decoy system.
COMMANDER KILLED NEAR NABLUS
* IDF RESCUES 3 MONKS FROM THE CHURCH OF NATIVITY
* ISRAEL SURPRISED BY JENIN FACT FINDING TEAM’S COMPOSITION
* PALESTINIAN MOBS LYNCH SUSPECTED COLLABORATORS
* FDA RENEWS TRIPS TO ISRAEL
* ECONOMIC BRIEFS
COMMANDER KILLED NEAR NABLUS
Sgt. Maj. Nir Krichman, 22, an Israeli naval commando from Hadera, was killed in a clash with Hamas terrorists near Nablus on Monday, HA’ARETZ reported. Hundreds of Hadera residents came to the Krichman home after hearing that Nir was killed. His grandfather, Ya’akov Krichman, a veteran of the Palmach, ran a large auto repair business for decades, and many Hadera residents were personally acquainted with Nir’s and his parents, Pniel and Hadas." Just as he was large in body, he was also large in soul," Nir’s childhood friend Ziv Lasker said. "He always knew to laugh and give his all. A smart kid and a charming person who loved the sea and dreamed of being a naval commando. "Nir leaves behind his parents and a younger sister Sivan and brother Ran,24. Nir was laid to rest today at the military cemetery in Hadera.
RESCUES 3 MONKS FROM THE CHURCH OF NATIVITY
The Israel Defense Forces rescued three monks who were held captive at Bethlehem’s Church of The Nativity today, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. The clerics climbed onto a roof inside the compound and waved a sign to soldiers that said, "Save us." An IDF unit managed to get the three out of the compound. The monks told the IDF that Palestinian gunmen in the compound had beaten some of them last night, desecrated crosses and stolen gold artifacts.
SURPRISED BY JENIN FACT FINDING TEAM’S COMPOSITION
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced on Monday that former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata would partake in the Jenin fact-finding committee, HA’ARETZ reported. Israeli officials said they were surprised at the composition of the team and that they were puzzled the Secretary General did not consult them regarding the committee’s makeup. Officials expected the fact finding team to be comprised of military experts and to have some expertise in Middle Eastern Affairs, especially the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Annan responded to Israel’s concerns regarding the lack of military expertise was top upgrade U.S. Maj. Gen. William Nash from military adviser to the team, to full-fledged delegate. Nash commanded a multinational force in Bosnia in 1996 and was the U.N. administrator in northern Kosovo in2000.
MOBS LYNCH SUSPECTED COLLABORATORS
Hooded Palestinian vigilantes shot three alleged informers today in Hebron. The victims bodies were bound, gagged and left in the street, MA’ARIV reported. A large crowd quickly gathered around the bodies lying in the street, some of the bystanders kicking and spitting at the corpses. The bodies were then tied up and hung from the lamp-polls. Thousands of people paraded past the bodies until a municipal pickup truck came to take them away three hours later. The killings in Hebron came a day after Al Aqsa militiamen captured three suspected collaborators riding a taxi in a downtown square in Ramallah and dragged them out of the moving car. The men were then forced to the center of the square where they were shot and beaten as a large mob cheered on the attackers. Bystanders tried to block approaching ambulances, but eventually the three were evacuated. One of the victims died en-route to the hospital. The two others remain in serious condition.
RENEWS TRIPS TO ISRAEL
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will renew its representatives’ trips to Israel after a year of suspension, GLOBES reported. The FDA agreed to send its supervisors on a trial visit contingent upon the companies’ promise to provide full security infrastructure for their representatives. According to a U.S. Embassy spokesman, if the visit is successful, the FDA plans further tests in Israel under the same format. FDA representatives halted their visits to Israel at the beginning of last year. Since then, many Israeli companies were forced to wait a long time to get approval of their local products or enterprises and permission to market them in the U.S. The situation also caused delayed cooperative ventures and investments for biotechnology start-ups. Tel Hashomer Hospital National Blood Center will host the first national conference for people with rare blood types today, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The conference participants will hear lectures on various types of rare blood diseases and hear real-life stories on cases in which lives were saved.
* Leading U.S. biotechnology firm Biogen and Canadian biotechnology company Abgenix are interested in technology developed by Israeli biotechnology company Omrix Biopharmaceuticals, GLOBES reported. Omrix Biopharmaceuticals’ technology utilizes antibodies in plasma to develop drugs, especially an antibody concentrate called IVIG used to treat patients with immunodeficiency. The company plans to conduct its first human clinical trials on 30 lupus patients in cooperation with the University of Florida.
* The International Monetary
Fund’s semi-annual report predicts renewal of economic growth in Israel this
year, and rapid growth in 2003, GLOBES reported. This report says that the
renewal in growth depends on substantial improvement in the security situation
in the region. The IMF forecasts 1.3 percent real growth in Israel’s GDP in
2002, and 3.8 percent growth in 2003. For the sake of comparison, the IMF’s
growth forecast for the EU is 1.5 percent in 2002, and 2.9 percent in 2003.
Israel’s unemployment rate is expected to reach 10.5 percent in 2002, compared
with 9.3 percent last year and 8.8 percent in 2000. In 2003, the report says
the rate will fall to 9.4 percent, if the security situation improves. The
unemployment rate forecast for Israel in 2002 is the third highest among the
advanced economies, the category to which Israel belongs according to the
EXPERTS TO ARRIVE IN NEW YORK FOR TALKS WITH ANNAN
*IDF SOLDIER WOUNDED BY PALESTINIAN GUNMEN AT CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY
*OLMERT: ISRAEL’S WAR ON TERROR BEING FOUGHT IN CAFES, SHOPS, BALLROOMS
*SECURITY OFFICIALS SEEK INCREASE IN MAXIMUM RESERVE DAYS
EXPERTS TO ARRIVE IN NEW YORK FOR TALKS WITH ANNAN
A team of Israeli legal experts is slated to depart for New York tonight to conduct talks with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan regarding the mandate of the UN fact-finding mission to the Jenin refugee camp, HA’ARETZ reported. Ministry of Defense Deputy-Director Moshe Kochnovski will head the Israeli team, assisted by Ministry of Foreign Affairs legal adviser Alan Baker and head of the international law department in the Israel Defense Forces Prosecutor’s office, Daniel Reizner.
Reversing his earlier pledge of support, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressed concern on Tuesday that the committee’s composition and mandate render it slanted toward the Palestinian position. Sharon expressed concern over the "political-diplomatic" nature of the committee, rather than" military-professional" experts evaluating IDF actions. Sharon presented Israel’s objections to Assistant Secretary of State William Burns in a meeting on Tuesday in Jerusalem. Minister of Defense Benjamin Ben-Eliezer also presented reservations to a senior administration official in Washington.
Responding to Israeli reservations, Annan agreed to postpone the departure of the fact-finding team to allow for consultations with the Israeli team. According to the Israeli Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Yehuda Lancry, Annan has shown willingness to consider expanding the team to include a retired U.S. general as a full member of the delegation and to increase the scope of the mandate to include an investigation of Palestinian terrorist infrastructure that existed in the refugee camp.
SOLDIER WOUNDED BY PALESTINIAN GUNMEN AT CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY
An Israel Defense Forces soldier was moderately wounded today when Palestinian gunmen, who are holding priests hostage at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, opened fire from the church, YEDIOT AHARONOTON-LINE reported. The soldier was evacuated to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem for treatment. IDF soldiers returned fire critically injuring a Palestinian gunman standing in a window of the church. The gunman was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital. In addition, two Palestinians surrendered earlier today. The two, who were ill, walked out of the church with their hands up. They were taken to a hospital in Bethlehem.
According to THE JERUSALEM POST, the three Armenian monks, who were being held hostage inside the church and were rescued by IDF soldiers on Tuesday, told IDF officers that Palestinian gunmen in the church assaulted them and the other clergymen, stole gold and other property, including crucifixes and prayer books and caused major damage. Narkiss Korasian, one of the monks, told reporters that the Palestinian gunmen "stole everything, they opened the doors one by one and stole everything…they stole our prayer books and four crosses…they didn’t leave anything." He thanked the IDF soldier for assisting them and added, "we will never forget it." The IDF announce data Supreme Court session that it would transfer humanitarian aid, such as food and medicine, to the priests in the church.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah terrorists in southern Lebanon fired anti-aircraft rounds this afternoon on Israel’s northern border. Shrapnel from the shells fell in the Galilee village of Shlomi and wounded a woman. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, there were no Israeli aircraft in the area at the time of the Hizbullah shelling.
Also today, a Palestinian woman was arrested in East Jerusalem after attempting to stab a police officer in front of the police station on Saladin Street. The police officer was not injured.
Speaking at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces annual dinner last night at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York with over 1,500participants,keynote speaker Mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert said, "this is the first time that we [Israel] fight not only to protect our homes, but that the war itself is being waged in our homes. The war is fought not only by IDF soldiers in uniform, but by hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians in streets, buses, ballrooms, restaurants, cafes and shops across the country," Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. Olmert added, "In Israel, the war is being fought not 5,000 miles, but 500 feet from the bedrooms of our children and we do not feel that we have to apologize for defending ourselves."
Addressing the grief of hundreds of Israeli families that have lost loved ones, particularly the newly widowed, Olmert said, "If you want to understand the power of Israel, it is the power of the young widows whose lives will never be the same, who lost their husbands either on the battlefield on in the centers of town, and who in spite of tremendous pain bear no hatred and no bitterness."
Olmert also emphasized that Israel’s war was an integral part of the global war on terrorism saying that the "biased, unfair and prejudiced judgments of many governments who don’t support Israel’s war of self defense upsets me." He asked rhetorically, "What should Israel do when our citizens are attacked? What are other countries doing? The U.S. was attacked and thank God they had the courage to attack those who attacked them and no one questions the moral foundation of America’s war on terror."
In a videotaped message broadcast during the event, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon thanked participants for their support of the IDF and said that Operation Defensive Shield has been a success. "We successfully uprooted terror and dismantled terrorist infrastructure," Sharon said. "All this is thanks to the dedication, motivation and commitment of the IDF soldiers."
OFFICIALS SEEK INCREASE IN MAXIMUM RESERVE DAYS
Security officials are slated to ask the Government and the Knesset to extend the maximum army reserve day quota this year from 30 to 40 days HA’ARETZ reported. The request comes as a result of Operation Defensive Shield, and the issuance of mandatory emergency call-ups to thousands of IDF reservists.
Security sources say the reserve quota for an individual reservist will be increased from the current total of 30 days (25 of which can involve field operations) to 40 days (with a maximum of 32 in field assignments).Service stints longer than 40 days can be done only if a reservist voluntarily signs for the extension.
The reserve day increase will be submitted to the Government next week, and will subsequently be relayed to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for approval.
The 21.1-kilometer (approximately 13.1 miles) Jerusalem Marathon is slated to take place tomorrow under high security, HA’ARETZ reported. More than 2,000 runners will participate in the marathon that will begin in Safra Square and end at Teddy Stadium. Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert and Speaker of Knesset Avraham Burg will participate in the race.
* Delek Fuel Corp. is negotiating through its Delek USA subsidiary tobuy85more gas stations in the United States, together with convenience stores, GLOBES reported. Sales by these gas stations, including fuel, oil, and products marketed in the stores, amount to $200 million per year. Through Delek USA, Delek Fuel owns 240 gas stations in the United States, some of which have convenience stores. Thirty six of the gas stations are in Virginia, and were acquired by Delek Fuel from East Coast for $41million.
* Pelephone chose Nortel Networks to build its $150 million advanced cellular network that will allow subscribers to download music, video, interactive games and data, as well as benefit from location based services, m-commerce and multimedia services, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Under the terms of the two-year agreement, Nortel will be the sole infrastructure supplier for Pelephone’s CDMA 2000 1 x RTT network, providing a solution that will include the network core, packet data capability and radio access equipment. Nortel will also be responsible for the engineering, installation and provisioning of the radio access. Pelephone’s decision on its infrastructure provider came more than a year after the company put out a request for proposal to the world’s leading infrastructure companies: Nortel, Hyundai, Ericsson, Lucent, Motorola and Samsung.
ANNAN, DISCUSS UN MISSION
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan discussed Israel’s concerns about the UN fact-finding mission on the Jenin refugee camp on Wednesday, HA’ARETZ reported. The mission is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Saturday.
The phone conversation took place as an Israeli delegation of legal experts, led by Defense Ministry Deputy Director General Moshe Kohanovsky and Ministry of Foreign Affairs legal advisor Alan Baker, was flying to New York to meet UN secretariat officials for clarifications about the mission’s mandate. Government sources said the legal team would be pressing an Israeli demand that the mission’s findings not be considered a legal document, so it cannot be used in any Palestinian attempt to prosecute individual Israelis in an international court.
According to UN sources, Sharon told Annan that Israel wants to see military and counter-terrorism experts added to the fact-finding team, and he expressed concern that the make-up of the mission indicates that it will focus only on humanitarian issues and was designed "to make a case against Israel." The UN and Israel are working on a compromise that would enable the mission to begin work immediately upon arrival.
Meanwhile, the mission’s members, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, and Cornelio Sommaruga, former president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, are in Geneva, waiting for the go-ahead from Annan. Israel has already expressed its concerns over the fact that Sommaruga, as head of the ICRC, opposed Red Cross recognition of the red star of Magen David Adomasan equivalent symbol to the red cross and the red crescent as internationally recognized medical symbols. Retired U.S. Gen. William Nash, and police advisor Peter Fitzgerald of Ireland, were named as consultants to the mission.
OF LYNCH VICTIM TO ESTABLISH INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM FOR VICTIMS OF TERRORISM
The family of Vadim Norzich, the Israel Defense Forces reservist who was lynched by a Palestinian mob in Ramallah last year, will establish an international museum commemorating victims of terrorism worldwide, YEDIOTAHARONOT reported. The museum will be built in Or Akiva, Norzich’s hometown.
Vadim’s sister, Tatiana Norzich-Brienberg, said that she and several other women whose loved ones were killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks had already begun raising funds for the museum. "We know it’s a serious challenge," she said, "but we will succeed. We want to commemorate all those individuals around the world who lost their lives in terror attacks." Sheadded that the museum will feature the names, pictures and biographies of terror victims, and will also research terrorism and the means to combat it.
Norzich-Brienberg also said that she intends to organize a fund-raising event in September, auctioning artwork by children from Israel, Russia and the United States..
ROBOTICS TEAM DEFEATS IRAN, WIN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Ronson, an Israeli robot developed by students of the Henry Ronson High school in Ashkelon, defeated the Iranian robot Pierre and won the world championship in robotics, held last week in Connecticut, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. Israeli robotics teams also won the second and fourth places in the championship.
Each competing robot was required to traverse a partitioned ring without bumping into walls, locate a burning candle and extinguish it. The Israeli robot succeeded in completing all tasks in the shortest period of time.
The team’s manager, Michel Lusky, said that despite the situation in the Middle East, the Israeli team was very well received, and added that the Israeli and the Iranian delegations became friendly during the championship.
KEDMA MAKES FINAL LIST IN CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
Director Amos Gitai’s new movie Kedma was chosen as one of the 22movieswhich will compete in the Cannes Film Festival, slated to open on May15,YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. This is Gitai’s third nomination in the festival. He was nominated for the Palme d’Or Award for Kadosh in 1999 and Kippurin2000.
Kedma tells the story of the pioneers, the new immigrants, who arrived from all over Europe, to the beaches of pre-state Israel and were gathered by the Palmach and Haganah soldiers. Later, those immigrants participated in the War of Independence. The movie follows the transition from uprooted lives to lives of soldiers, who have to fight for their lives in a new country.
* Alon USA, the wholly owned subsidiary of Alon Israel Oil Company, signed a 20-year $76.6 million outsourcing agreement with US Filter Operating Services, a subsidiary of the Vivendi Environmental company, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Under the terms of the agreement, US Filter will maintain and operate the ground water treatment system, wastewater, and sludges at Alon USA’s 60,0000 barrel-per-day Big Spring refinery in West Texas. "The agreement will ensure that Alon USA will reduce its operating costs and improve performance and efficiency at the Big Spring refinery," JeffMorris, President and CEO of Alon USA, said.
* Tax reform committee chair Yair Rabinovitch reported that the Government’s emergency economic plan may include capital gains tax and taxes on interest-bearing instruments, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Rabinovitch said the 13-member tax reform committee is discussing reforms for capital gains tax, Israelis’ income abroad, and decreasing the tax burden on labor wages. He stressed that the committee’s conclusions will not be submitted before May 10.