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Israeline — Monday, April 28, 2003 —


** Security Forces Capture Islamic Jihad Head in Jenin – Arrest Terror Cells
Behind Death of 9 Israelis

** Fatah to Support Abu Mazen’s Cabinet
** Histadrut Quits Talks, Prepares to Strike
** Israeli Technology Powers FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Data System
** Other News in Brief
** Eco and Hi-tech Briefs


Security Forces Capture Islamic Jihad Head in Jenin – Arrest Terror Cells Behind Death of 9 Israelis
Undercover Border Police officers arrested the head of Islamic Jihad in Jenin, Abu Ali Kasey this afternoon, as well as three armed suspected terrorists, HA’ARETZ reported. Military sources said that Kasey was in the middle of planning a terror attack inside Israel.

In addition, police and the Israel Security Agency dismanteld five Palestinian terror cells involved in the murder of nine Israelis. Three of the terror cells belonged to the Tanzim – a militia linked to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement – and operated independently of each other. Among the men held are officers from the Palestinian police service, who used weapons supplied by the PA to commit the murders. One of the arrested men, Kamel Najib Abu Wa’ar, was among the gunmen who fired at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, where Border Policeman Madhat Yusuf was killed in October 2000. Abu Wa’ar admitted that he had also been involved in a shooting attack in October 2000 in which Rabbi Binyamin Herling was killed and another four people were injured during a trip to Mount Ebal near Nablus. Abu Wa’ar’s cell was also responsible for the May 8, 2000 murder of Argenio Orlando, a security guard at the community of Itamar, and for the murder of Aliza Malka near Kibbutz Merav in August 2001. Another cell whose members were arrested was responsible for the murder of Masoud Alon who was found dead in his burnt car in January 2000. The third cell was involved in the shooting of IDF soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in November 2000. Another was behind the killing of Lieutenant David Ran-Cohen and Sergeant Shlomo Adisans near El Hader, on November 2002. The fifth cell murdered Stanislav Sandomisrky in April 2001.

Meanwhile, according to YEDIOT AHARONOT, security officials believe that last week’s suicide bombing attack outside the Kfar Saba train station, in which security guard Alexander Kostyuk was killed and 13 people were injured, was perpetrated by Tanzim members who received funding and instructions from Iran. Israeli troops arrested today Fatah and PFLP members Amir Thoqan and Allam Kabi who are directly responsible for planning the Kfar Saba attack. Two Israeli soldiers sustained light to moderate injuries in the efforts to arrest the two. "Iran is trying to ignite the flames of terror in order to make it difficult for Abu Mazen to take up his new position," ISA director Avi Dichter told the government at its weekly meeting on Sunday.

In other news, charges were filed today against four Druze men from the Golan Heights village of Bukata, who are accused of plotting to kidnap an IDF soldier and then transfer him to Hezbollah in Syria to serve as a bargaining chip for the release of Palestinian prisoners.


Fatah to Support Abu Mazen’s Cabinet
After five weeks of intense negotiations, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement announced it would support Palestinian prime minister-designate Abu Mazen’s proposed cabinet, thus boosting chances that the team of ministers would win approval in a parliament vote this week, HA’ARETZ reported. Fatah and its supporters control 62 seats in the 85-member parliament. In the vote to be held on Tuesday, Abbas needs an absolute majority of 43 legislators. Abu Mazen handed his final list of ministers to Arafat’s office on Sunday, showing a number of changes from the original proposals. Missing from the list was Gen. Nasser Yusuf, who had been designated chief of police in the West Bank and Gaza. New on the list was Maher al Masri, a Nablus man who will head a Ministry for National Economy.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced at the cabinet meeting on Sunday that he was committed to reaching an accord with the Palestinians and that he arranged for all Palestinian Legislative Council members to be permitted to attend Tuesday’s session in Ramallah to vote for the new PA cabinet. In addition, Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz has been appointed to coordinate all security talks with the PA.


Histadrut Quits Talks, Prepares to Strike
Histadrut Chairman Amir Peretz ordered on Sunday night an end to the negotiations the Labor Federation was holding with the Ministry of Finance, and announced plans for a strike which is likely to begin on Wednesday, HAARETZ reported. At its weekly meeting, the cabinet decided to ask Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to hold an extraordinary session on Wednesday to discuss and pass the new economic plan. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called on all the ministers to stand firmly behind the Finance Minister in his stand-off with the Histadrut. Sharon said he supported Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu fully, saying that "the Finance Minister’s position is the government’s position."

Peretz said on Sunday he was stopping negotiations because the ministerial committee on legislation had covened to prepare the law for the Wednesday reading. "The preparation of the economic plan for legislation is contrary to the agreement reached two-and-a-half weeks ago between me and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu according to which the government would not use legislative steps during the negotiations, and the Histadrut would not strike or take sanctions over the economic plan," Peretz said. The planned strike will encompass government offices, the National Insurance Institute, the Employment Service, local government, government companies, postal services, ports and airports, Israel Railways, non-academic staff at the universities, clerks at the courts, banks, the stock exchange and large enterprises in the private business sector.


Israeli Technology Powers FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Data System
A system developed in Israel is powering a new counter-terrorism database within the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, enhancing the US government’s ability to thwart terrorist attacks, ISRAEL 21C reported. The system will ensure knowledge and sharing of all terrorism-related information within the FBI and with the CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies The tool created by the ClearForest company, will allow bureau analysts to more easily pore through the more than one billion documents that make up the FBI repository and share information with other intelligence agencies. ClearForest, with headquarters in New York and Research and Development facilities in Israel, is a leader in organizing unstructured information and finding important patterns that help analysts form theories and reach conclusions. Their tools, ClearTags and ClearResearch, will draw patterns from terrorism-related intelligence collected from several sources into a centralized ‘datamart’ that serves as part of the agency’s modernized Trilogy network.

To power the new program, called the "Terrorism and Intelligence Data Information Sharing Data Mart," the FBI will deploy ClearResearch on the desktops of all 300 analysts in the agency, enabling them to quickly draw valuable, previously unknown insights from counter-terrorism intelligence gathered from disparate sources, and to respond immediately and efficiently to field events.


Other News in Brief

* Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz said on Sunday that all of the illegal outposts would be evacuated and that preparatory work for this mission should be completed within two weeks, HA’ARETZ reported. According to defense officials, there are about 70 outposts, only some of which are illegal. One outpost – Adorayim, in the southern Hebron hills – was already cleared on Sunday night.

* Travelers arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport from countries heavily impacted by the SARS virus will be questioned and screened by health personnel upon arrival in an effort to block the spread of the deadly disease into Israel, HA’ARETZ reported. The entrance of foreign workers from SARS-infected countries has already been blocked and Israeli travel to the Far East, and trade there, has severely declined.

* An American military doctor serving on the USS Comfort Hospital ship currently in the Persian Gulf, has requested the help of Israeli Professor Arye Eldad in order to save an Iraqi child suffering from burns over 45 percent of his body, MA’ARIV reported. The child cannot receive the necessary medical treatment aboard the US ship, which was not staying on shore for a sufficient period of time. Eldad, who was a general health officer in the Israel Defense Forces and served as director of the plastic Department at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital until he was elected to become a Member of Knesset, turned to the Hadassah hospital administration as well as to officials within the Ministry of Health and obtained their approval to take care of the Iraqi child. He conveyed the positive answer to the American doctor and he is now awaiting further developments.


Eco and Hi-tech Briefs

* Foreign investors poured $137 million into the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange last month, more than six times the amount invested during February, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. According to the latest figures, foreign investors purchased $224 million in Israeli equities during the first quarter of 2003. In 2002, acquisitions totaled $774 million.

* Tecnomatix Technologies, which develops solutions that manage manufacturing processes, announced that its long-time customer, Fiat Auto, is using Tecnomatix eMPower products, GLOBES reported. Tecnomatix said eMpower would become Fliat’s standard tolerance management tool, in order to maintain high levels of quality assurance and improve the carmaker’s process validation. "We have turned to Tecnomatix for well over a decade for the most advanced manufacturing process management software products available," said Sergio Rima, process feasibility manager at Fiat Auto. "eM-Tolmate will help us lower costs in our production facilities and decrease the time it takes to produce our vehicles."

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Shelly Revah, Victor Chemtob and David Nekrutman at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Tuesday, April 29, 2003 —

** Israel Marks Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day
** Terrorist Leader Planning Imminent Terror Attacks Killed In Gaza
** Abu Mazen: No Place for Weapons Except in The Hands of the Government
** Sharp Drop Reported in Islamic Terror Funding
** Other News in Brief
** Eco and Hi-tech Briefs


Israel Marks Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day
The annual Opening Ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day was held on Monday night, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. Six torches were lit by Holocaust survivor, who participated in Jewish resistance movements, in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The ceremony was attended by President Moshe Katsav, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, MKs, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon, Chiefs Rabbis and Holocaust survivors an their families. This year’s central theme of the observances focused on the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, when groups of Jews armed with smuggled weapons and makeshift explosives attacked Nazi occupation forces and storm troopers.

In his address, Sharon said that, "the Jewish people emerged from the abyss of the Shoah mortally wounded but still breathing, and having learned its lesson," and that "never again will Jews be defenseless and homeless." He added, "we desire peace with all our heart, but we have learned this: We will not achieve security or peace through weakness or faint-heartedness, but only through daring, valor and readiness to guard what is precious to us and essential to our future."

In regard to the increase in the severity of anti-Semitic incidents around the world, Sharon said that, "the wave of evil has sharpened our awareness that the State of Israel is the only place in the world where Jews have the right and the strength to ensure their own protection." "That is our response to anti-Semitism and racism, and that is our guarantee that the victims of the Holocaust will not be forgotten, and that Holocaust deniers will have no place in our midst," he added.

Katsav remarked: "Today we grieve over the deaths of six million of the Jewish people. The memory of the events of the Holocaust is a significant element in the identity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The Holocaust has cast a dark shadow on mankind, and the world has a duty to ensure that history does not repeat itself. The wound still bleeds, despite the fact that we have built a sovereign Jewish state that is modern, developed and democratic. The people of Israel lives, breathes and thrives in its homeland, the State of Israel."

At 10 AM today, sirens wailed throughout Israel for two minutes bringing work, schools and traffic to a halt, marking the national day of remembrance. In addition, ceremonies were held throughout the country as well as at the site of former ghettos and Nazi concentration camps. In Auschwitz, President Katsav and thousands of teens from Israel and Poland participated in the March of the Living. Knesset Members Mounted today to the Knesset podium and read aloud the names of Jewish children from Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, who left pre-state Palestine on visits to Europe, where they were trapped by the Nazis and died in extermination camps and ghettos.


Terrorist Leader Planning Imminent Terror Attacks Killed In Gaza
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the army’s counter-offensive measure that killed Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine Gaza Strip General Command Nidal Salameh today was due to his plans to perpetrate an attack against a Gaza Strip neighborhood in the coming days, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Salameh was traveling in Khan Yunis, when Israel Air Force helicopter fired four missiles at his car. In another incident, Israel Defense Forces soldiers were fired upon when trying to arrest a top Fatah leader in the Khirbet Aliya village located in the West Bank today. During the exchange of fire, IDF soldiers killed the Fatah leaders, Mahmud Salah, and his deputy.

Meanwhile, the IDF soldier killed in training exercise in the Golan Heights on Monday was identified as Captain Gil Shani, 22, of Almagor. He was killed when a Merkava 2 tank reversed, trampling his jeep killing him instantly. He was buried in Kibbutz Ein Gev. During the funeral, his father Shevach eulogized Shani as man who loved the army.


Abu Mazen: No Place for Weapons Except in The Hands of the Government
The Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Abu Mazen addressed the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah today, as it prepared to vote on whether to approve him and his Cabinet, and declared that "ending the armed chaos will be one of [his] fundamental missions," HA’ARETZ reported. Mazen added that that there were only one government authority and "there is no place for weapons except in the hands of the government."

Mazen also pledged to crack down on government corruption. "The Palestinians deserve a democratic state, political pluralism, not military pluralism will help the Palestinian Nation," he said. Mazen explained that only decisions that were made by the central government would be implemented. "We will not allow for any faction to strip Palestinians of their natural rights or threaten the public order," he said.

In regard to the Middle East peace roadmap, Abu Mazen stated he was committed to establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and that he demanded an end to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Addressing Israel, he said: "We want a durable peace with you through negotiations. We reject terrorism by any party and in all its forms. The choice is yours. It’s either real peace without settlements or continuing occupation, suppression, hatred and conflict."

Mazen needs the support of 43 legislators in the 85-member parliament today vote.


Sharp Drop Reported in Islamic Terror Funding
There has been a drastic drop over the past few months in the amount of financial aid channeled from Islamic charitable organizations abroad to Islamic terror groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, HA’ARETZ reported. Israeli officials said the decrease is due to efforts by the United States and other countries to halt the flow of terror money from abroad into the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Since the start of Palestinian violence, hundreds of millions of dollars have poured into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, much of it rerouted by the Palestinian Authority to terrorist elements. After the attacks of September 11 in the United States, restrictions have been imposed on monies transferred to the Palestinians. Over the last year, the United States banned the Holy Land Fund that was sending huge sums to the West Bank and Gaza. Germany banned the Al-Aqsa Fund, while Britain and France both started looking into the Islamic funds in their countries too.

In the most recent Ramadan holiday, Hamas and affiliated organizations got far less money than they did last year. With the downfall of the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, funding from Baghdad is also expected to dwindle, although Palestinian sources say Saddam Hussein has left orders for a legacy for them.


Other News in Brief

* In the wake of his visit to Syria, US congressman Tom Lantos said that he passed a message from Syrian President Bashar Assad to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon according to which Syria was ready to hold talks with Israel, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. "I discussed this with Mr. Sharon," Lantos said. "[The United States’] role can only be that of facilitating Syrian and Israeli conversations when they come about. I hope they will."

* The Israel Defense Forces dismantled an illegal outpost near the community of Pnei Hever, east of Hebron on Monday, where two Israeli guards were accidentally killed while on duty there more than a month ago, HA’ARETZ reported. The outpost next to Pnei Hever was intended to serve as a scientific experimental station and a few caravans and an antenna had been placed there. However, on March 13, a special forces unit, aided by an IDF helicopter, shot and killed two guards after mistakenly identifying them as wanted Palestinian gunmen.

* Emergency services are being readied as Israel faces a general strike that is slated to start at 6 AM tomorrow, GLOBES reported. Ministry of Finance director of wages Yuval Rachlevsky announced that the government was preparing essential services through emergency regulations in the event that the general strike called by the Histadrut goes ahead on schedule.


Eco and Hi-tech Briefs

* Given Imaging has announced that Aetna, one of the largest providers of health care in the U.S., established a national coverage policy for the Given Imaging M2A capsule endoscope, GLOBES reported. Aetna serves more than 13 million medical members, bringing the number of Americans with reimbursable access to Given’s M2A capsule to 86 million. Use of the M2A capsule, or "camera-in-pill" device, will be covered by Aetna for investigations of suspected small intestinal bleeding in patients with evidence of recurrent, obscure gastrointestinal bleeding who have had upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopies that have failed to identify a bleeding source.

* Drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals has received U.S. Food and Drug (FDA) Administration approval to market dimethylformamide, or DMF, the raw material for GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil, an antidepressant, HA’ARETZ reported. This development could increase Teva’s active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) division’s sales by millions of dollars a year, said a company spokesman.

* Two ICQ-inspired Swatch watches go on sale today in ten countries worldwide as well as on the Internet, GLOBES reported. The watches make use of Swatch Internet Time, which was developed five years ago as a universal time reference. "Over the past 6 years, ICQ has been instrumental in bringing the online world together by making real time communication between users seamless and simple, " Mark Bernstein, General Manager of ICQ, said. "By working with Swatch to integrate Internet Time into the ICQ service as well as making available a collection of Swatch watches, we are making it even easier for our users to function in the global community. ICQ is a conferencing program for the Internet developed by Mirabilis a Tel Aviv-based company.

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

Israeline — Wednesday, April 30, 2003 —


** Homicide Bombing in Tel Aviv Kills Two Men and One Woman
** Official Road Map Presented to Israelis, Palestinians
** Nationwide Strike Paralyzes Business Life in Israel
** Israel Wins Second UN Post after Four-Decade Lapse
** Other News in Brief
** Eco and Hi-tech Briefs


Homicide Bombing in Tel Aviv Kills Two Men and One Woman
At least three people were killed and approximately 40 others were wounded, one critically and five seriously, when a homicide bomber blew himself up at around 1 A.M. on Tuesday night at a beachfront pub on Herbert Samuel Street in Tel Aviv, HA’ARETZ reported. Yanai Weiss, 46, of Holon, a musician who was performing at the club, and Ran Baron, 24, from Tel Aviv were positively identified. The name of female victim has not yet been released. Weiss will be laid to rest at 5 P.M. today, in Holon.

The pub, "Mike’s Place," is located close to the United States embassy, and is popular with tourists. The embassy was not damaged in the blast.

According to IDF Radio, the bomber, who was killed in the blast, set off the explosives at the entrance to the pub after the security guard on duty at the door physically prevented him from entering. The guard was seriously wounded in the blast, and is receiving treatment at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Ten people who were lightly injured received medical attention at the scene. The rest of the wounded were evacuated to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva and Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and the Al Qassam Brigades took joint responsibility for the attack. Tel Aviv police commander Yossi Sedbon said that the bomber was carrying a medium-size bomb packed with nails and other shrapnel. The bomb blew the front scaffolding off the bar and destroyed furniture inside. The owner of the bar, Gal Ganzman, his shirt covered with blood, said he was standing behind the bar when he heard the explosion. "I’m alive, I’m fine," he said. "One of the waitresses lost an arm but she’s still alive. The boom was just outside the entrance. The security guard must have stopped him." In a similar attack last Thursday, a security guard stopped a bomber entering a train station in Kfar Saba and was killed when the attacker set off his explosives.

The attack came only hours after the Palestinian parliament voted to approve the new cabinet presented by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). In his inaugural address, Abu Mazen indicated that his new government would move against terrorist groups and he called for an end to "terrorism," which he said had not served the Palestinian cause. The terrorist organizations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, however, issued an immediate response, saying they would not stop attacks.

The White House condemned the bombing as a "cowardly act," but said it would not scuttle the start of a new peace initiative.


Official Road Map Presented to Israelis, Palestinians
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer presented Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with the official version of the Middle East Road Map peace initiative today, drafted by a quartet of international mediators, HA’ARETZ reported. The plan was also presented to the newly appointed Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) today by UN envoy to the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen. The United States, one of the four main backers of the Road Map, along with the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, had identified Mazen’s taking office, and Arafat’s removal, as a necessary step to be implemented before releasing the plan. The leader of the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, however, rejected the new US-backed peace initiative today vowing no respite in attacks on Israel.

The Palestinian Legislative Council overwhelmingly confirmed the appointment of Mazen as prime minister on Tuesday along with his 25-member cabinet. Mazen officially took office today becoming the first-ever Palestinian prime minister – a post Arafat created under international pressure to cede some powers and implement democratic reforms. Mazen has vowed to curb "armed chaos" by terrorist groups that he said had set back Palestinian aspirations to a state. His cabinet includes both critics of Arafat and loyalists from within his Fatah movement.


Nationwide Strike Paralyzes Business Life in Israel
The Knesset began debating today the first reading of the proposed budget cut of 11.4 billion shekels ($2.3 billion) as some 700,000 public sector workers, including more than 200,000 teachers and tens of thousands of private sector workers, began a nationwide strike at 6 A.M. that will effectively shut down almost all the public services offered by the state, HA’ARETZ reported. After weeks of negotiations, talks between the Treasury and the Histadrut over the plan broke down on Monday, when the Treasury decided to put the budget cut to a vote in the Knesset, with or without an agreement with the Histadrut.

The strike paralyzed business life in the country, leaving garbage uncollected and hundreds of thousands of children home from school. Ben-Gurion Airport ground to a halt at 8:00 A.M. this morning, as international travel to or from Israel became impossible. Hundreds of Israelis were stranded overseas, including groups of high school youths who traveled to Poland to participate in a March of the Living at the site of the Auschwitz death camp in honor of Holocaust Day.


Israel Wins Second UN Post after Four-Decade Lapse
Israel was elected to only its second UN post in more than four decades today, winning a three-year term on the global policymaking UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, HAARETZ reported. The uncontested election in the 54-nation UN Economic and Social Council came just weeks after the 191-nation UN General Assembly chose Israel last February to serve on a working group helping organize a disarmament conference next year. The Vienna-based narcotic drugs commission is the main UN policymaking body in the global fight against illegal drug trafficking and abuse. Before February, Israel had not won a UN election since 1961, when it served as an officer of the General Assembly’s legal committee.

Most UN posts are selected through regional groups. Until 2000, Israel was the only UN member barred from any of the organization’s five regional groupings, mainly due to a boycott by Islamic nations.

With strong backing from the United States, Israel was allowed in May 2000 to join the "Western European and Others Group," which endorsed Israel’s candidacy for the disarmament post in February and for the narcotics commission seat this month. "The process that began in February to incorporate Israel into as much of the UN’s work as possible is continuing," Israeli Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Arye Mekel said. "We must demonstrate to the world what we already know – that Israel is far greater than the Arab-Israeli conflict."

Other News in Brief

* Women volunteering to serve in combat units will now spend three years in the military – the same amount of time as their male counterparts, MA’ARIV reported. The recruitment of women into combat units started in 2002. Up until now, they only served two and a half years, received a limited amount of duties and were authorized to leave their unit at any time. From now on, women in combat units will not be able to relinquish their position and will be called for reserve duty until the age 45. In spite of these new conditions, many female candidates have expressed their intentions to join combat units next year.


Eco and Hi-tech Briefs

* Bank Leumi USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank Leumi Group, announced that its profit reached $8.4 million in the first quarter of 2003, GLOBES reported. Profits rose 6.3 percent compared with the first quarter in 2002. Bank Leumi USA is the largest subsidiary of Bank Leumi, Israel’s second largest banking group after Bank Hapoalim. The bank facilitates investments and trade between the U.S. and Israel, and offers private banking services, securities and insurance products through its brokerage subsidiary, Leumi Investment Services.

* Medical devices start-up Real -Time Radiography has announced that is has completed its second financing round, raising $2.25 million, GLOBES reported. Liberty Square of the US led the round, with the participation of existing investors. Real-Time Radiography develops digital radiography detectors that provide real-time, high-resolution images. The exceptional sensitivity to x-rays greatly reduces doses of radiation and medical staff and patients’ exposure.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Jonathan Schienberg, Shelly Revah, Marita Gringaus and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Thursday, May 1, 2003 —

** Passports Show Tel Aviv Bombers Had British Citizenship
** Fierce Gun Battle Rages in Gaza City
** Economic Plan Passes First Reading, Strike Continues
** Israel Beats Cyprus 2-0 in European Soccer Championship Qualifier
** Other News in Brief
** Eco and Hi-tech Briefs


Passports Show Tel Aviv Bombers Had British Citizenship
The homicide bomber who blew himself up early Wednesday morning at a Tel Aviv beachfront pub, killing three Israelis and wounding about 60, was a British citizen, HA’ARETZ reported. A second terrorist, who managed to flee when his explosive device failed to detonate, is also British.

The three killed in the blast were Yanai Weiss, a musician from Holon, Ran Baron from Tel Aviv, and Dominique Caroline Hess, also from Tel Aviv.

The man who escaped after scuffling with bystanders at the pub was identified as 27-year-old Omar Khan Sharif. The police and the Israeli Security Service have requested the public’s help in locating him and have published his portrait in the media. The homicide bomber, a Muslim, was identified in his British passport as 21-year-old Asif Mohammed Hanif. Both Hanif and Sharif came to Israel from Britain, then went to the Gaza Strip. They entered Israel from the Gaza Strip a few hours before the attack, the first to be launched from there in the 31 months of violence. Israeli security sources said the Israeli Security Service had been on the lookout for possible infiltration by pro-Palestinian militants using Western passports and that Hanif and Sharif are not common names in the Palestinian territories. The Israeli security sources said the two might have come from elsewhere in the region, such as Lebanon or Syria.

According to investigations, at the Tel Aviv promenade, Sharif decided not to continue with the planned attack due to a malfunction in his explosive device. Hanif continued alone and blew himself up in the pub. Minutes later, the police received reports of a man seen escaping from the area. Shortly afterward, the explosive and the fleeing bomber’s coat were found near the American embassy.

The British Foreign Office denounced the terrorist attack on Wednesday and has every intention to cooperate fully with Israel to help locate the bomber-at-large. According to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, police in London today questioned the two brothers of the Briton who carried out the bombing. The British newspaper The Guardian quoted sources as saying that Hanif, who carried out the bombing, traveled from Egypt to Gaza, and then entered Israel. The paper also reported that according to Sharif’s passport, he was born in Derby 27 years ago. He landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport one month ago and apparently left Gaza several hours before the attack on Tuesday night.

Palestinian Prime Minster Abu Mazen denounced the attack on Wednesday, which he described as an immoral act that was harmful to Palestinian interests.


Fierce Gun Battle Rages in Gaza City
Eight Israel Defense Forces soldiers were injured in an ongoing battle in the Sija’ia neighborhood of Gaza City, and ten Palestinians were killed in operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today, HA’ARETZ reported.

Israeli tanks backed by helicopters raided the Sija’ia neighborhood area after midnight and surrounded the house of the family of a senior Hamas military leader, Yusuf Abu Hin. Three brothers belonging to Hamas are currently holed up inside the house.

The Three soldiers who sustained moderate wounds in the battle were evacuated to Soroka hospital in Be’er Sheva, while five who were lightly wounded were treated at Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon.

At the southern end of the Gaza Strip, IDF troops searched for tunnels used for smuggling weapons in Rafah. Unlike previous operations in Rafah, the Palestinians mounted little resistance. The IDF said it demolished a number of abandoned homes adjacent to the Egyptian border.

In the West Bank, the IDF shot dead two armed Palestinians in Yata, south of Hebron. According to Palestinian sources, one of the men killed in Yata was Khaled Makhamra, a top leader in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the military wing of the Fatah movement. The IDF also arrested 12 wanted men in operations in Nablus, Qalqiliyah, Hebron and Bethlehem.

In Beit Sira, just over the Green Line near the city of Modi’in, the IDF demolished the home of a Tanzim militia leader responsible for killing three members of a family driving on the Jerusalem-Modi’in road in August 2001 and the murder of another Israeli near Ramot a month later.


Economic Plan Passes First Reading, Strike Continues
The Knesset passed on Wednesday night the economic plan proposed by the Ministry of Finance in a first reading, while the public sector entered today its second day of strike against the plan, MA’ARIV reported. After eleven hours of debates in the parliament, 56 coalition MKs voted in favor of the plan and 46 voted against it. The Economic Arrangements Law, affiliated with the economic plan, was also passed.

According to HA’ARETZ, the Likud party decided that its MKs would have to support the bill in its first reading and the same order was imposed on all members of the coalition. In addition, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared he would see the vote as a vote of confidence in the government.

With the continuing of the strike, the government issued on Wednesday several hundred back-to-work court orders for "essential workers," such as court officials involved in detaining dangerous criminals and health workers. No meeting was set up between the Ministry of Finance and Histadrut Labor Union officials to bring the strike to an end. Sources on both sides believe it will continue until after the weekend and might be stopped to mark Israel’s National Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror on Tuesday.

Speaking from the Knesset plenum, Sharon and Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu urged Histadrut leader Amir Peretz to stop the strike and return to the negotiation table. Netanyahu called on the Histadrut to "stop this unnecessary strike." "It is causing terrible suffering to all the citizens," he said. "It is not only the children who are at home and the parents who don’t know what to do with them. It is the factories, which have stopped at the decisive moment when they were about to give new life to the economy and start on a new path." Peretz said that, "if the Knesset endorses the plan, it will give legitimacy to the unreasonable use of governmental force."


Israel Beats Cyprus 2-0 in European Soccer Championship Qualifier
The Israeli national soccer team beat Cyprus 2-0 during its Euro 2004 group qualifier held in Palermo, Italy, on Wednesday night, MA’ARIV reported. After the third substitution by Israel coach Avraham Grant, Walid Badir scored Israel’s first goal at the 88th minute, only three minutes after entering the field. The second goal was scored during "overtime" period when striker Shai Holtzman, another substitute, picked up a loose ball in the area and turned to roll it in from close range.

After the game, Grant said that his players had shown a lot of character. "A draw was enough for Cyprus, so it was a great achievement for us to win the game," he said. "We did well to capitalize on two opportunities." Last night’s game leaves Israel in a fight for the second place in the group, along with Slovenia.

Other News in Brief

* Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz offered his Turkish counterpart Defense Minister Vedgi Gonul relief assistance to help dig out survivors of an earthquake that killed at least 84 people in the southeastern part of Turkey, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The earthquake struck early this morning in the village of Celtiksuyu, where crews are working to rescue 118 primary and middle school students still buried under the four-story dormitory.

Israel has sent the IDF rescue unit to assist in relief efforts after earthquakes in the past in Turkey and other countries.

*U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell began a trip to Europe and the Middle East today, seeking to gain support for the road map to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, HA’ARETZ reported. Powell will stop in Damascus and Beirut, leaving the Israelis and Palestinians another week to prepare their comments on the "road map" that was handed over to them on Wednesday.

* Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad will head a new political/security department within the Ministry of Defense, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz created the department after being designated by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the head of the team in charge of negotiating with the Palestinians. The new department will coordinate the security aspects of negotiations between the Palestinians and the Ministry, develop foreign relations security strategies, and be entrusted with other various security responsibilities. Due to the need to have a civilian head the department, Gilad will shortly end his term as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, thus retiring from the military.


Eco and Hi-tech Briefs

* Teva, the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, announced that its profit reached record levels in the first quarter, beating market expectations, GLOBES reported. "Our strategic emphasis on global leadership in generic drugs and neurology allows us to report on another strong quarter, reinforced by all-time high profit margins," Teva president and CEO Israel Makov said. "First quarter results were also enhanced by the growing demand for Copaxone. In addition, our recent clinical success with Rasagiline reinforces the strong prospects for our specialty neurology business."

* The World Bank is testing innovative content-filtering software developed by Israeli start-up iCognito, GLOBES reported. The test has been defined as an "operational pilot. " The World Bank will download the software into its computer system, and test it on a daily basis at every organizational level. iCognito’s software enables an enterprise to block employees’ access to certain websites. Personal use of workplace computers, including surfing pornographic, gambling, and entertainment sites, has affected productivity in the United States and other countries.

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

Israeline — Friday, May 2, 2003 —


** Arafat Undermines U.S. Roadmap
** Strike Scaled Down
** NYU Establishes Center for Israel Studies
** Israel Helping Asia Countries In Its Battle With SARS
** Other News in Brief
** Eco and Hi-tech Briefs


Arafat Undermines U.S. Roadmap
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat ordered today the establishment of a national security council to oversee all the PA’s security mechanisms, an action that violates the US Middle East roadmap, HA’ARETZ reported. According to the roadmap, "all Palestinian security organizations [are to be] consolidated into three services reporting to an empowered Interior Minister," which falls under Minister of Interior Mohammed Dahlan. The move empties the new structure of the Palestinian security services of its content and thwarts the ability of PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen and Dahlan to implement security reforms.

Meanwhile, according to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, the two British citizens who perpetrated the Tel Aviv homicide bombing attack on Wednesday entered Israel at the Erez Crossing riding in a Palestinian taxi and told border control authorities that they were peace activists. One of the terrorists blew himself up outside the Mike’s Place pub, while the second managed to flee after his explosives failed to detonate. Police are still searching for the fugitive who is believed to be hiding in south Tel Aviv or in the Nevei Tzedek area neighborhood.

Israeli troops trying to arrest three terrorist brothers entered a Hamas stronghold on Thursday during a pitched gun battle that left at least 12 Palestinians dead. The shootout at the Sajahiya section of Gaza City was the fiercest in 31 months of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel Defense Forces were after Yousef Abu Hein, a top Hamas bomb-maker, and his two brothers, Aiman and Khaled, who are responsible for a series of attacks, including missile launches from the Gaza Strip.

In other news, a bomb was safely detonated at Jerusalem’s Atarot Airport today, and police found a 90-kilogram explosive device at border fence in the Gaza Strip and safely defused it.


Strike Scaled Down
The Histadrut Labor Federation Chairman, MK Amir Peretz, announced today a partial suspension of the general strike – at least until Wednesday’s Independence Day – due to the resumption of talks with the Ministry of Finance, HA’ARETZ reported. Peretz and Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu met this morning for the second time in 12 hours.

Trains began running again at 6 AM and Ben Gurion International Airport reopened at midnight. The ports will remain closed until Wednesday morning. Government offices and local authorities have returned to work, but are not receiving the public; no identity cards nor passports will be issued, and National Insurance and tax offices will be closed to the public. The airport will be closed over the coming Shabbat. The Prime Minister’s Office stated that since flights would resume after Shabbat, Israelis abroad would be able to return home in time for Remembrance Day and Independence Day. With Ben Gurion International Airport closed, thousands of Israelis have been stranded abroad.

Economists estimated that the strike, which has paralyzed the Israeli economy by shutting banks, schools, airports, government offices and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, cost the economy up to a billion shekels ($220 million) a day.

The High Court rejected a petition by two Tel Aviv lawyers to call on the government to declare a state emergency and force all 600,000 public employees back to work. But Justice Michael Cheshin said in issuing his ruling that it was "frightening" to see how a few dozen people could paralyze the country. The strike was launched by the Histadrut to protest a proposed cut of NIS 11.4b ($2.3b) in the NIS 208b ($45b) state budget. Although the plan passed in one vote on Wednesday, it needs two more votes to become a law.

Netanyahu said when presenting the emergency plan that the proposed measures were crucial to rescue the economy from crippling recession.


NYU Establishes Center for Israel Studies
New York University inaugurated the Taub Center for Israel Studies Thursday by hosting a lecture by Michael Oren, distinguished academician and author of the best-selling Six Days of War, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The Center joins Emory University in Atlanta, University of California at Berkeley, Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and the University of Toronto in adding Israel studies to their list of academic programs.

Lawrence Schiffman, the chair of NYU’s Skirball Department, explained that by traditionally including Israel studies within the framework of Jewish studies programs and not making it an independent field, a serious academic gap had been created. "Imagine during the Soviet period, no one studying about the Soviet Union," he said.

The Forward, a NYC-based Jewish newspaper, suggests two reasons for the void: Middle Eastern studies programs that are either hostile to Israel or narrowly focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and Holocaust- and religion-heavy Jewish studies departments that give little attention to modern Israel.

According to Kenneth Stein, founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel at Emory University, "the burden of responsibly for the absence of Israel studies sits on the shoulders of American Jewry." During the 1960s and 1970s Jewish academics made a choice "not to focus on the study of modern Israel. They decided to focus on the Holocaust instead."


Israel Helping Asia Countries In Its Battle With SARS
The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Israel Export Institute jointly launched a program on Thursday to send specialized products to Asia to fight the SARS, GLOBES reported. Products such as Oridion Systems respiratory patient monitoring and breath testing systems and Orex Computed Radiography X-ray digital scanner will help in detecting and preventing the spread of the disease. Israeli commercial attaches in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand are coordinating the program.


Other News in Brief

* Basket Ball Team Maccabi Tel Aviv won the State Cup for the 33rd time in the competition’s history – and for the third year in a row – scoring a 96-83 victory over Givat Shmuel at Yad Eliahu on Thursday night, HA’ARETZ reported. President Moshe Katsav presented the State Cup to Maccabi captain Gur Shelef, while Derrick Sharp was voted MVP of the game.

* Two Israeli wineries took the gold medal at Challenge International du Vin at Bordeaux in France, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Ramat Hagolan won for its 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, and Barkan for its Merlot 2001 Reserve. The contest included entries from 31 countries, which submitted approximately 5000 wines.


Eco and Hi-tech Briefs

* Oridion Systems will send its respiratory patient monitoring and breath testing systems to countries hit by SARS epidemic, GLOBES reported. Oridion is offering its systems, which are used in operating rooms and intensive care units, to Asian hospitals at special prices. Other products will be donated, since the use of capnography and breath test devices to treat SARS provides a new application for Oridion’s systems. Orex Computed Radiography will also provide its products to Asian countries to help prevent the spread SARS. Orex has developed an X-ray digital scanner that can analyze 41-81 pictures in an hour.

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