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Israeline — Monday, August 18, 2003 —

** Discussions Under Way Regarding Transfer of Cities to Palestinians
** Israeli Woman Wounded in West Bank Shooting – Five Jerusalem Arab Residents Training For Attack Arrested
** Hizbullah Planning More Abductions
** Senator Mccain: Israel’s Security Fence is a Necessity
** Other News in Brief
** Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

Discussions Under Way Regarding Transfer of Cities to Palestinians
Israel’s transfer to the Palestinians of security responsibilities over Jericho and Qalqilyah, scheduled for today, was delayed after Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Authority Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan failed to agree on Sunday on the details of the handover agreement, HA’ARETZ reported. The divergence concerns the supervision of wanted Palestinians in the cities that will be transferred to PA control. Israel is demanding a personal commitment from Dahlan that the wanted men will not revert back to terrorist activities.

Dahlan suggested today that the delay in the next stage of handovers of security control would not be long. "Tomorrow [Tuesday], negotiations over the Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities will be completed," Dahlan said. An Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman confirmed that Sunday’s night meeting failed to produce an agreement, but indicated that the two sides would reconvene soon. An Israeli military source said the talks were conducted in a positive atmosphere.

Representing Israel at the meeting were GOC Central Command Major General Moshe Kaplinski, Head of the Plans and Policy Directorate, Major General Giora Eiland, and Israel Security Agency officials. The Palestinian delegation was headed by Haj Ismail.

Under the deal between Mofaz and Dahlan, security control of two more West Bank cities, Ramallah and Tul Karm, is scheduled to be handed over to the Palestinians within ten days after the Palestinians present a plan for preventing terror attacks and supervising wanted terrorists in the cities. The transfer of Ramallah and Tul Karm will be postponed if terror attacks are carried out, or if the Palestinians do not uphold their security obligations. Palestinian police officers and security personnel in civilian clothing were deployed in the West Bank city of Qalqilyah on Sunday, ahead of the expected transfer of security control.

Meanwhile, according to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, the IDF has lifted the siege on Nablus to allow Palestinians free access to the city. The number of soldiers manning the checkpoints surrounding the city has been increased in order to speed up the security checks. The IDF has also allowed public transportation in Nablus to resume.


Israeli Woman Wounded in West Bank Shooting – Five Jerusalem Arab Residents Training For Attack Arrested
Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for Sunday night’s attack near the Yitzhar junction in which an Israeli woman was wounded when shots penetrated the car in which she was traveling, Israel Radio reported. The driver managed to get to the community of Kedumim from where the injured woman was taken to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. The woman, who has not been identified, is listed in stable condition with light to moderate wounds. In other incidents Sunday night, troops were fired upon near Homesh, in the Nablus area. Shots were also fired at an army position near Neveh Dekalim in the Gaza Strip. There were no casualties in either incident.

In other news, five Arab residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan were arrested Sunday night by Israeli police on suspicion of undergoing armed training in Arafat’s Ramallah compound and in Jericho, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Police said today that the five belonged to Arafat’s Presidential Guard and were trained in order to carry out attacks against Israelis. The arrests raise concern regarding a growing trend among Arab residents of Jerusalem to get involved in terror activity. Up until now, Arab residents of the capital had refrained from participation in terrorism.

Meanwhile, on Sunday night in Tel Aviv, seven soldiers were injured during the landing of an Air Force Hercules transport plane at Sde Dov airport. Two soldiers suffered moderate injuries and the other five were lightly injured. The accident occurred when a blade of one of the four propellers sheared off on landing and tore through the fuselage. The air force has grounded all Hercules planes as it conducts an investigation into the incident.


Hizbullah Planning More Abductions
The Hizbullah terror group, in collaboration with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, is currently plotting to kidnap an Israeli or Jewish person abroad, HA’ARETZ reported. In the face of pressures emanating from Hizbullah radicals who have been demanding more aggressive actions against Israel, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah has appointed Ahmad Ma’aniya to plan and carry out such a kidnapping. Ma’aniya is notorious for his past experience in abduction plots and hostage mediation, and for his strong connections with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The south-Lebanon based group hopes that a kidnapping would grant the terror organization leverage in prisoner exchange negotiations with Israel. In a speech delivered in Lebanon in late July, Nasrallah had warned that he was giving Israel a "last chance" to pursue prisoner swap negotiations. Nasrallah added that Hizbullah would take serious measures to coerce Israel to comply with its demands if Israel did not agree to his conditions right away.

Nasrallah’s recent warnings are very similar to the ones made in 2000 before Hizbullah abducted three Israel Defense Forces soldiers on the northern border and kidnapped Elhanan Tannenbaum abroad. Israeli security officials who have studied the details of the Hizbullah’s plan were warning Israelis and Jews abroad not to be enticed by seemingly tempting business offers of the sort that led to the abduction and confinement of Tannenbaum in late 2000.


Senator McCain: Israel’s Security Fence is a Necessity
U.S. Senator John McCain voiced on Sunday his approval for the construction by Israel of the security fence to stop terror attacks, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. McCain said that the fence was a necessary measure that would cause a reduction in terrorism. He cited the failure of the Oslo Accords to achieve peace as a reason for the construction of the fence. "It’s pretty clear," he said "the Oslo Accords failed because they were based on the premise that Palestinians and Israelis could live peacefully together. The fence is an effort to see if Israelis and Palestinians can live peacefully apart, at least for a period of time."

McCain added that the United States should not reduce loan guarantees to Israel in order to induce Israel to halt construction of the fence. He also committed himself to obtaining the release of Israeli MIAs.

McCain’s statements came during a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom. McCain is in Israel as head of a bipartisan delegation that included Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), John Sununu (R-New Hampshire), Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas), and Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tennessee).

The delegation will meet with other Israeli dignitaries including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Today, the Senators were scheduled to take a helicopter tour of the fence and examine Hizbullah’s activities along the northern border. They are also scheduled to meet with PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres.


Other News in Brief

One woman was killed and six other people were lightly injured today following an explosion near a restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel Radio reported. The police believe the bombing to be related to criminal activities. Police indicated an investigation was under way to determine the nature of the blast.

U.S. Middle East envoy John Wolf is in Washington this week to brief administration officials on the status of the implementation of the road map, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Wolf, who left Jerusalem on Friday, hopes during three days of consultations starting Monday to flesh out a formal mechanism for monitoring the progress made by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He also plans to provide an estimate on the amount of funding that would be needed to rehabilitate the Palestinian Police.

Israeli kayak rowers won two gold medals and one silver medal at the pre-Olympics championship in Greece. Roi Yelin won the 1000-meter race, Israel Radio reported. In the women’s tournament Larissa Passchovitz and Adi Gafni won the 500-meter doubles competition. Lior Camir won the silver medal in the 500 meter kayak competition. Representatives from 23 countries took part in the tournament.


Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

The Central Bureau of Statistics indicated that Israel’s GDP fell 3 percent in the second quarter of 2003, after rising 3.8 percent in the first quarter, GLOBES reported. Growth in January-June 2003 was an annualized 1 percent. GDP also grew by an annualized 1 percent in seasonally adjusted fixed prices in the first half of the year, following a 0.6 percent in the second half of 2002, and no change in the first half of 2002. The increase in GDP in the first half of the year reflects greater spending on public consumption and exports. Investments in fixed assets were unchanged. Per capita GDP fell 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2003, while spending on public consumption rose from 6 percent to 6.5 percent.

[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Jonathan Silverstein, and Adar Zango at the Consulate-General of Israel in New York.]

Israeline — Tuesday, August 19, 2003 —

** Qalqilyah, Jericho to Be Handed Over in Next Few Days
** Government Report Reveals Abbas Slow on Democratic Reform within PA
** Technion to Grant Prizes to Help Fight Terrorism
** Tel Aviv Company Creates Software for Antiquated Fashion Industry
** Other News in Brief
** Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

Qalqilyah, Jericho to Be Handed Over in Next Few Days
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held a high-level security meeting today with Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, Israel Defense Forces Chief-of-Staff Moshe Ya’alon, Israel Security Agency Director Avi Dichter and other officials in order to discuss the terms of the transfer of Jericho and Qalqilyah to Palestinian Authority control, HA’ARETZ reported. Top security officials said the hand over would occur in the next few days. Israel is expected to give control of two additional West Bank cities to the PA next week. Mofaz said he would like "suspects with ‘blood on their hands’ to be held under PA supervision," as condition of the transfer, but that the matter would be decided by the IDF and the ISA. He added that although Israel was no longer demanding the suspects’ arrest, the decision to hand over the West Bank cities was dependent upon Palestinian supervision of the suspects and confiscation of their weapons. In addition, Israel is reportedly demanding that Palestinian security services keep terror suspects inside the cities in which they reside. Mofaz added that if Israel found the Palestinian suspects to have left the cities, the IDF would reserve itself the right to act against them. Israel has demanded that PA Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan personally guarantee that the suspects will not resume terror activities. "Before fulfilling our commitment to withdraw, there has to be a clear commitment from Palestinians that they take responsibility in these areas [so] there will not be attacks on Israeli citizens coming out of them," Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said on Monday.


Government Report Reveals Abbas Slow on Democratic Reform within PA
A report submitted to the Israeli government recently unveiled that despite the Palestinian public desire for democratic reform within the Palestinian Authority, PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas had done very little to reshape the agencies under his control, HAARETZ reported. According to the findings, the main obstacle in the prevention of PA reforms is PA Chairman Yasser Arafat himself. Abbas has made strides in the reduction of anti-Israel incitement, but the U.S. administration is pressuring the Palestinian premier to take more actions as required by the road map peace plan such as democratizing the PA. In addition, Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein recently supplied the cabinet with his own criticism of the lack of reforms in the PA’s legal system. "Since the conflict began, their legal system is largely expired, it’s a legal jungle," he wrote. Rubinstein’s report also indicated that unless the Palestinian government began trying to correct the situation, Israel would be liable to find itself once again engaged in "a Sisyphean battle over the transfer of terrorists and serious criminals, such as rapists, and over cooperation in civil matters." Both he and Minister of Justice Yosef Lapid have proposed the resumption of legal cooperation with their Palestinian counterparts, Rubinstein continued, but "so far, the matter has not gone well." In response, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided that from now on, all high-level security meetings with the Palestinians would also include a representative from the Ministry of Justice.


Technion to Grant Prizes to Help Fight Terrorism
One of Israel’s premiere engineering schools, the Technion of Haifa, will award more than $100,000 in prizes and research grants to promote the struggle against terrorism, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The aim of the project is to improve the capabilities of Israel and its allies to defend themselves against terror. Benefactors of the Technion in the United States contributed the prizes after the September 11 attacks two years ago. "In view of the swift development of the capabilities of terrorists, an effective, innovative, swift, and sophisticated reaction is necessary," unnamed American donors said in a statement.

Prof. Avi Marmur, head of Technion’s Institute for Future Defense Technologies, said that during these difficult times the Technion felt obligated to help by proposing effective solutions for the defense of the state and its citizens. "The contest that the Technion will conduct aims to mobilize its finest minds for the improvement of Israel’s defensive capabilities against terrorism," he said.


Tel Aviv Company Creates Software for Antiquated Fashion Industry
A Tel Aviv company, Browzwear, has created new software that allows fashion designers to create garments and make virtual three-dimensional samples of them on the computer instead of relying on the traditional method of several wasted samples, ISRAEL 21C REPORTED. In addition to shortening the design cycle by between 25-40 percent, the company says the new program also cuts costs dramatically.

Browzwear’s "V-Stitcher" is a computer simulation program that allows apparel designers, manufacturers and retailers to see their collections in an accurate and realistic way at an early stage in the design process. Designers can fit their collection to a number of lifelike models, in a variety of shapes and sizes. Using the program the designer can see what a garment looks like and how it fits the body. Virtual fabric swatches can be dragged and dropped onto the virtual garment, and stitch types, buttons and trims changed. The program shows fabric transparency and can also simulate layers of clothing.

The software enables designers to input two-dimensional patterns for men, women, and children, from virtually any CAD system, along with instructions as to which seams are sewn together and how. These virtual patterns are then put together as a 3D image on the model. "Today all solid objects use computer aided design," Yanir Farber, the president of Browzwear, said. "In the garment business, however, people still rely on traditional methods because designing a garment is so problematic. A shirt will look completely different if the fabric is different, or if the person is thin or fat."

Browzwear was founded in 2000 with seed money of $600,000 from Israeli clothing manufacturer Delta Galil, Internet guru, Yossi Vardi (the founder of Mirabilis), and a group of private investors led by entrepreneur Menachem Einan. Initially the company began developing a product called C-Me – a virtual fitting room for people wishing to buy clothes on-line.


Other News in Brief

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided that Egypt, which has discovered gas off the Gaza Strip, might be Israel’s second gas supplier and not British Gas, Israel Radio reported. The decision was made today at a meeting attended by Sharon, Minister of National Infrastructure Yosef Paritzky and the senior management of Israel Electric.
IE officials said they were due to resume negotiations with Egypt later in August on a gas supply agreement. The prime minister called for the talks to be completed within a month.

The driver of a Brinks armored van hijacked the vehicle and stole an estimated seven million shekels (about $1,700,000) today in Haifa, Israel Radio reported. The driver, 21-year-old Sagi Unger, arrived at work this morning and told the two security guards working with him that he was taking the vehicle to the garage for repairs. He then drove off and has not been seen since. A police helicopter found the van about an hour later, locked, abandoned and empty.
As the search for the missing driver continues, police have questioned the two security guards who let Unger drive off alone in the van full of cash. A police spokesman said the driver was hired by the Brinks company recently, and that his background was now being checked.


Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

Africa Israel has completed the purchase of a $100 million building across from the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. It is the company’s largest real estate deal in the United States. The building, which belonged to J.P. Morgan Financial Services, has 37 floors above ground and five more underground. It is currently used for office rental, but Africa Israel plans to convert 85 percent of the building into residential space. After renovations the total cost of the building is expected to increase to approximately $220 million.

The national employment service said the number of unemployed increased from May to July by 19,100 as the total number of Israelis without jobs reached 207,500, GLOBES reported. The unemployment rate is the highest in Arab communities and in some development towns. In Ksifah 25% of the working age residents are unemployed. Dimona has 10.6% unemployment.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Adina Kay, David Nekrutman, David Dorfman, and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate-General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Wednesday, August 20, 2003 —

** 20 Killed, Over 110 Hurt in Jerusalem Bus Bombing
** Israel Weighing Response to Bombing
** Government Plan Advocates for Boost in Israel’s Arab Sector
** Tourism Ministry to Launch Project to Attract U.S. Visitors to Israel
** Other News in Brief
** Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs


20 Killed, Over 110 Hurt in Jerusalem Bus Bombing
At least 20 people – including six children – were killed and over 130 were wounded after a suicide bomber blew himself in a packed bus in downtown Jerusalem on Tuesday night, HA’ARETZ reported. Fifty one people injured in the bombing were still hospitalized in Jerusalem this morning, 13 of them were listed in serious condition.

The attack targeted the Egged #2 bus, which carried scores of families returning from prayers at the Western Wall. The terrorist detonated his explosives on Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem’s Beit-Yisrael neighborhood at 9 PM Tuesday, not far from the scene of a previous terrorist bombing attack in March 2002, in which nine Israelis were killed.

Eighteen of the fatalities were identified at the National Center for Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv. The names of seven of the victims have been released: Lilach Cardi, 22, from Netanya; Menachem Label, 24, from Jerusalem; Shmuel Zagari, 11 months, from Jerusalem; Yaakov Binder, 50, from Jerusalem; Rav Eliezer Weissfish, 42, from Jerusalem; Mordechai Reinitz, 49, and his son, Yissachar Reinitz, 9, from Kiryat Sanz. Lilach Cadri was in her ninth month of pregnancy. She leaves a one-year-old son. The mother, father, and six-year-old sister of Shmuel Zagari are in serious condition and were unable to attend his funeral.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed separate responsibility for the attack. Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy said the explosives charge was particularly large; Avi Zohar, head of Israel Medical Relief Services, said this was the biggest bus explosion in the past three years. Senior advisor to the Prime Minister’s office and director of the Government Press Office, Danny Seaman said: "Every time Israel has made a gesture of peace to the Palestinians over the past ten years the response has been the murder of our men, women and children."

"This brutal, senseless violence has to stop," Seaman said. "It must be realized that this is not an Arab-Israeli issue but rather an international campaign of terror which is ongoing from New York and Baghdad to Moscow and Jerusalem."

According to Israel Radio, the United States and United Nations led worldwide condemnation of homicide bombing in Jerusalem. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom to deplore the attack, and a spokesman for U.S. President Bush condemned it. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement offering his condolences. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also condemned the attack, calling it appalling and senseless.


Israel Weighing Response to Bombing
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met today with the country’s top security chiefs, including Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, to weigh Israel’s responses to Tuesday night’s horriffic terrorist attack on a Jerusalem bus that killed 20 people, HA’ARETZ reported. Sharon and his security chiefs decided that Israel would give the diplomatic process a chance in the long term, but in the short term would take action against the perpetrators of the attack. "Despite every pressure from the U.S. and Israel, there is no action by the Palestinian Authority to wipe out terror, and the result of that is awful terror acts like yesterday [Tuesday] in Jerusalem," Sharon told U.S. President George W. Bush in a phone conversation today. Bush told the prime minister that there could be no compromise when it came to terror and that the murderers of women and children had to be hunted down. He said that there was a need to eliminate terror organizations that dealt in the murder of innocents and who were destroying the peace process.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Israel froze security talks and the planned withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops from any additional West Bank cities. Sources in Jerusalem said that all understandings reached with the Palestinians on the transfer of security control in West Bank cities were now void. In addition, the IDF imposed a general closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and surrounded cities in the West Bank. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert commented that the Palestinians had now to face a "moment of decision" and directly and immediately confront Palestinian terror groups. He warned that if the PA was unable to act against terror, Israeli-Palestinian ties would have to be reassessed. The most important response to the attack, said Olmert, was for Israel and the United States to create diplomatic pressure as soon as possible. "Now that what we have been warning will happen has happened, there is no option but to immediately use an iron fist," Olmert said. "And if the Palestinian Authority is capable of doing that, it has to prove it. If it can’t do it, then we and the Americans will have to reconsider all our moves, because one thing is clear: It cannot continue like this." Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has ordered its security forces to hunt down and capture the people responsible for the bus attack in Jerusalem, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was slated to convene his cabinet later today to discuss further measures against the terrorist groups responsible for the attack.


Government Plan Advocates for Boost in Israel’s Arab Sector
The ministerial committee on Arab affairs, headed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, approved a plan on Tuesday to narrow the gaps between Israel’s Jewish and Arab sectors, HA’ARETZ reported. The plan, drafted by the National Security Council, calls for affirmative action for Arabs in the civil service and invites to reconsider the idea of national service for Arab high school graduates – something often discussed but never before implemented. Arab community leaders present at the committee meeting praised the plan’s "good intentions." The proposal also calls for the appointment of at least one Arab board member to every government company within a year, and advocates that a preference should be given to Arab candidates eligible for promotion in the civil service.

In addition, the chairman of the NSC will head a permanent inter-ministerial committee on Jewish-Arab relations and set the policy on this subject for government ministries.

The two successive drafters of the plan, Uzi Dayan and Ephraim Halevy, said they consulted with Arab leaders while working on its details.


Tourism Ministry to Launch Project to Attract U.S. Visitors to Israel
The ministerial committee on Arab affairs, headed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, approved a plan on Tuesday to narrow the gaps between Israel’s Jewish and Arab sectors, HA’ARETZ reported. The plan, drafted by the National Security Council, calls for affirmative action for Arabs in the civil service and invites to reconsider the idea of national service for Arab high school graduates – something often discussed but never before implemented. Arab community leaders present at the committee meeting praised the plan’s "good intentions." The proposal also calls for the appointment of at least one Arab board member to every government company within a year, and advocates that a preference should be given to Arab candidates eligible for promotion in the civil service.

In addition, the chairman of the NSC will head a permanent inter-ministerial committee on Jewish-Arab relations and set the policy on this subject for government ministries.

The two successive drafters of the plan, Uzi Dayan and Ephraim Halevy, said they consulted with Arab leaders while working on its details.


Other News in Brief

* Nearly three years after Jerusalem’s Temple Mount was declared off limits to non-Muslims visitors, the holy site was reopened to Jewish and Christian visitors today, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy said that "several hundred" Jewish and Christian visitors toured the area during the two hours it was open to the public. The tour occurred without any reports of violence.

* Israel’s top tennis player, Anna Pistolesi, of Israel staged a dramatic comeback to defeat Russia’s Vera Zvonareva in the second round of the Pilot Pen event in New Haven, Connecticut on Tuesday, HA’ARETZ reported. Down a set and 5-1, the red-hot Pistolesi rallied to win 0-6 7-6 6-2. Having won her last two tournaments, in Poland and Finland, Pistolesi lifted her game when on the brink of defeat and then took advantage of her opponent’s increasing frustration, eventually reducing her to tears. In other sports news, Israeli tennis players Amir Hadad, Noam Okun and Dudi Sela all won their first match in the qualifying round for the upcoming 2003 U.S. Open.


Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

* Shamrock Holdings chairman Stanley Gold told Minister of Industry, Trade, And Labor Ehud Olmert that he intended to set up a $120 million fund to invest in Israeli companies, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The announcement was made to Gold during Olmert’s trip to California in which he met with potential investors. Olmert also met with businessman Eliot Brody, who is planning to establish a $250 million investment fund in the near future. Former Lehman Brothers executive, Ron Lubash, will manage the fund, which will be set up by Brody’s Markstone Capital Parners fund.

* A recent survey by Ernst & Young / VentureOne indicates that Israel’s venture capitalist investment sector is on an upswing following U.S. positive trends, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The study showed that Israeli venture-backed companies raised $245 million in the second quarter of 2003, a 60 percent increase from the first quarter. Twenty seven percent of all investments went to the healthcare industry.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, David Dorfman, Matthew Miller, and Adar Zango at the Consulate-General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Thursday, August 21, 2003 —


** Israel Remembers the Victims of Tuesday’s Homicide Bombing
** Top Hamas Leader Killed as Israel Targets Terror Infrastructure
** As Terror Groups Call Off Cease-Fire, Abbas is Pressured to Take Concrete Actions
** Other News in Brief
** Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

Israel Remembers the Victims of Tuesday’s Homicide Bombing
The Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir in Tel Aviv had this morning identified 19 of the 20 fatalities in Tuesday night’s suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem, HA’ARETZ reported. Fourteen of the victims were Israelis and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv said Wednesday night that five of the dead were American citizens. One unidentified woman was a foreign worker from Thailand. More than 110 were wounded in the attack, 40 of them children. As of this morning, 33 people were still hospitalized – Nine were in serious or very serious condition.

Details on some the victims of the suicide bombing follow: Rabbi Eliezer Weisfish, 42, of Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem, was a Bratslav Hasid who spent his time studying Torah. He is survived by a wife and a 9-year-old daughter. Weisfish was the son of Rabbi Yehiel Zvi and the father-in-law of Yitzhak Wolloch, a member of a well-known Jerusalem family.

Lilach Karadi, 22, was eight months pregnant when she was killed in the homicide bombing. She is survived by her husband Shmuel and one-year-old son. Up to three years ago, she lived in Netanya, before she met her husband and the two moved to Jerusalem. Seven years ago, Lilach lost her father in a work accident. Her mother died six years ago after a long illness. "In the late afternoon Lilach ran some errands in City Hall and before going home decided to pray at the Western Wall," her uncle said. "She used to pray there a lot."

Yaacov Binder, 50, left behind seven children and many grandchildren. A Gerer Hasid who made his living as a kashrut inspector for Agudat Yisrael, he was close to the rebbe and the previous Gerer rebbe. Binder was not on the bus Tuesday night – he was coming out of a bar mitzvah celebration at the Zvil wedding hall when the bomb went off. Yosef Haberfeld, a neighbor and friend said: "Yankele was a very honest Jew who gave his children excellent education. Each one of his children was more successful than the next and every morning he got up, went to pray and then went to the grocery store to make sure there was food for his wife and children."

Zippora Dushinsky, 50, is described by her friends as "an extraordinary woman." "Over the past five years, she would prepare meals over the weekends for around 300 needy people and worked for hours cooking," Zippora’s friends said. "She and her husband were always doing things for and helping others." Tuesday night’s terror attack occured some 100 meters from the couple’s apartment in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood of the capital.

Liba Schwartz, 54, is survived by her husband, a rabbinical court judge, five children and 11 grandchildren. Liba had gone to the Western Wall Tuesday to recite psalms as her son, Yoel, began his studies at an elite yeshiva in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of the capital. "My mother was very tied to the Western Wall," her son, Eli, said on Wednesday. "Whenever she had a problem or request in her life, she would go the Wall. The fact that she died on her way back from the Wall makes me feel that she died at one with herself."

Hanoch Segal, 65, worked as a teacher at a Talmud Torah school in Bnei Brak for 40 years and as a cantor. Like many others involved in the terror attack, Segal boarded the bus Tuesday night after evening prayers at the Western Wall. "He came to breathe the air of Jerusalem. He was crazy about the pure air of the city," his son, Shmuel said on Wednesday. Segal was born in Jerusalem to Holocaust survivors. He was buried, on his 44th wedding anniversary, at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery. He is survived by five children, 20 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Miriam Eisenstan, 20, was a teacher in a Bnei Brak yeshiva. Miriam left eight brothers and sisters and was "a paradigm and outstanding student for all the girls in her classes," one of her neighbors said. She was known for spending Fridays visiting ailing children at the hospital, taking out those who could walk. As she did once a month, Miriam was in Jerusalem to pray at the Western Wall for the children she took care of as a volunteer.

Benjamin Bergman, 15, was the youngest child in a large family. Benjamin was a student at the Shomrei Hahomot Yeshva, not far from his home in Jerusalem. He had told his family he was going on an errand and apparently was on his way to the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood when the bomb went off. His uncle, Meir Bergman, called him "a sweet lad, who excelled in every aspect." He was buried last night at Givat Shmuel cemetery.

Hava Rechnitzer, 19, was killed just three months before she was due to get married. Hava, the daughter of Leah and Rabbi Yosef Zvi of the Belz Hasidic sect, was in Jerusalem for Zion Day, the day of remembrance for the Belz rebbe. She went praying at the Western Wall before boarding the ill-fated bus. A neighbor said, "she was a gentle, modest and very special girl." Hava was buried Wednesday at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery.

Avraham Bar Or, 12, was supposed to celebrate his bar mitzva in another six months. The second of seven children and a student at a B’mesila Na’ale, Avraham was the oldest in the household since his 17-year-old older brother has been living in France. He was on the bus with his parents, but while they sat in the back, he wanted to be in the middle and ended up sitting next to the bomber. He was killed on the spot. His parents were lightly wounded and learned of his death at the hospital.

Elisheva Meshulami, 16, was born in Bnei Brak and had studied at the ultra-Orthodox Beit Ya’akov school in the town before attending the Beit Ya’akov ultra-Orthodox girls’ seminar, where she excelled. She was the youngest daughter of Rabbi Meshulam Meshulami and Sima and had seven brothers and sisters. The family also has a foster child. She was buried in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery on Wednesday. Elisheva’s mother, who was sitting next to her on the bus, suffered severe head injuries and still does not know of her daughter’s death. The two were returning from prayers at the Western Wall.

Mordechai Reinitz, 39 and his son, Yisaschar, 8, were killed in Tuesday’s bombing. The Reinitz family – Mordechai Shalom, his wife Chaya and their 11 children – who is from Netanya was on holiday at Mordechai’s relatives in Jerusalem. Mordechai had taken two of his children, Yisaschar and Mendel, 11, to pray at the Western Wall on Tuesday night when the bus they were traveling home in exploded. Mendel is still in serious condition and his mother and siblings stood by his sides at his Jerusalem hospital bed until he was moved to Netanya’s Laniado Hospital just before his father and brother were laid to rest. Mordechai, 49, came to Israel with his parents from the United States some 39 years ago. Mordechai was an excellent student from a young age and when he was 14, received a special certificate for learning 300 pages of Gamara by heart. Five years ago, he was appointed spiritual headmaster of the Talmud Torah where he studied.

Other victims of the bombing were: Goldie Taubenfeld, 43, and her son Shmuel. Tehila Nathanson, 3, from Jerusalem. Shmuel Zargari, 11 months, from Jerusalem . Shmuel Volner, 50, from Jerusalem. Menachem Liebel, 24, from Jerusalem. A foreign worker from Thailand who has yet to be named.


Top Hamas Leader Killed as Israel Targets Terror Infrastructure
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab was among three Palestinians killed this afternoon in a missile attack in Gaza City, HA’ARETZ reported. Israeli officials explained that Abu Shanab was involved in the planning of attacks, along with other Hamas leaders. "There’s no question that there is a direct link between the heads of Hamas and the terrorists on the ground," Foreign Ministry official Gideon Meir said. Officials also explained that Abu Shanab had been active in strengthening Hamas’s military infrastructure during the cease-fire period. He had been imprisoned in Israel for a period of 10 years as a result of his terrorist activities, and had admitted to being involved in planning and carrying out the kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldier Ilan Sa’adon. Abu Shanab was responsible for policy decisions within Hamas and for directing and approving military operations.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz decided on Wednesday to take the necessary military action against Palestinian terror groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades in order to reply to the renewed terror assault against Israel. According to Israel Radio, the Israel Defense Forces launched a major military operation on Wednesday, dubbed Perfect Harmony, against terrorists in the West Bank. The army began the operation in Nablus, considered a stronghold of terrorist operations, sending in scores of troops and tanks. Soldiers were also taking action in other Palestinian towns, including Tulkarm and Jenin. Suspects are being rounded up and troops have seized explosives and subversive material.

Also this morning, IDF troops demolished the Hebron home of the terrorist who carried out Tuesday night’s bombing. Troops also destroyed the West Bank homes of three other terrorists who had carried out attacks on Israelis.

IDF soldiers arrested a 17-year-old Hamas activist in the West Bank village of Tubas overnight who possessed a large amount of explosive material.


As Terror Groups Call Off Cease-Fire, Abbas is Pressured to Take Concrete Actions
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, declared today that they were pulling out of the hudna (temporary cease-fire) and would fully resume their attacks against Israel, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The announcements came in response to death of top Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab in Gaza City earlier in the day. Hamas has carried out two homicide bombings since the cease-fire announcement, including the Jerusalem bus attack that killed 20 people on Tuesday.

Israeli officials said that Tuesday night’s suicide bombing attack had "changed the rules of the game." The officials said there was no longer place for a hudna and warned that if the Palestinian Authority chose to take sides with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it would remain without a state. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office said peace talks could not continue unless the Palestinian Authority fought terror. "If the Palestinian government does not take all the steps necessary in the war on terror, actual and meaningful steps, it will not be possible to move to the stage of diplomatic discussion," Sharon’s office said.

US Mideast envoy overseeing implementation of the road map peace plan, John Wolf, met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas today, pressuring him to act to dismantle the terror infrastructure. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called on PA Chairman Yasser Arafat to help his Prime Minister and use security forces he controls to help stop attacks on Israel. The PA reportedly decided Wednesday to crack down on the militant groups in response to the Jerusalem bus bombing and said that it would begin to collect weapons and would forbid militant demonstrations. In an emergency session of the Palestinian government late Wednesday night, it was decided to shut down Hamas and Islamic Jihad institutions and to forbid the publication of the militant group’s magazines and newspapers.


Other News in Brief

The Jewish Agency announced that 17 more Iraqi Jews have immigrated to Israel, Israel radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. An agency spokesman said that two families and several individuals ranging from five to 60 years old arrived Wednesday night. They are now staying in Hadera with their families. Six elderly Iraqi Jews arrived in Israel last month. Iraq once had a thriving community of some 130,000 Jews; between 1949 and 1952, around 120,000 made their way to Israel, with smaller numbers of Jews leaving the country in subsequent years.


Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Tourist entries to Israel jumped 54.2 percent in July 2003 to 113,800, compared with 73,800 in July 2002, GLOBES reported. Tourist entries by air rose 54.5 percent in July to 104,700, compared with 67,800 in July last year. 519,900 tourists entered Israel in January-July 2003, 10 percent more than in the corresponding period in 2002. Tourist entries by air rose 11.9 percent to 476,300, compared with 425,700 in the corresponding period last year.

Flash memory developer M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers announced today that its Mobile DiskOnChip had been adopted in Sony’s PEG-UX50 CLIE handheld device, GLOBES reported. The company said that the 512-megabit (64 megabyte) Mobile DiskOnChip had the storage capacity needed to realize functions such as PDA/scheduler, address book, task management, memo pad, music player, digital image capture, and movie playback. "M-Systems’ Mobile DiskOnChip, with its compact-sized package, competitive cost structure and high speed write performance, contributes to our CLIE PEG-UX50 handheld for features and performance that customers request," said Hideki Tanabe, chief engineer of Sony Corporation’s handheld computer company.

The Treasury confirmed that Israel and the United States signed an agreement in New York on Wednesday, enabling Israel to receive $9 billion in American loan guarantees, Israel Radio reported. The Treasury’s director-general Ohad Marani said that he did not expect the U.S. to break the agreement or cut the loans over Israel’s construction of the security fence.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob and Adina Kay at the Consulate-General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Friday, August 22, 2003 —

** Barrage of Kassam Rockets and Mortars Fired at Sderot – IDF Foils Bombing In Haifa
** Mubarak Advisor Meets With Shalom to Discuss Renewed Tension
** Many Schools to Shorten Week to Five Days
** Israeli, Palestinian Children Come Together for Soccer Game in Japan
** Other News in Brief
** Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

Barrage of Kassam Rockets and Mortars Fired at Sderot – IDF Foils Bombing in Haifa
Twenty eight mortar rounds and at least 6 Kassam missiles have hit the Negev town of Sderot as well as Israeli communities in Gaza since Thursday evening, causing extensive damage but no injuries, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. "Since 10 p.m. last night (Thursday) Palestinians have been launching a steady hail of Kassam missiles and mortar shells aimed at Sderot and Jewish communities in Gaza," a military source said. "These are not small rocks that Palestinian children are throwing. These are missiles with explosive warheads whose only purpose is to kill innocent Jewish civilians and destroy the cease-fire," the source added.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces said that one of its positions in Rafiah, near the Israel-Egyptian border, came under automatic weapons fire around noon today.

The homes of three suicide bombers were demolished Thursday night in Nablus and Jenin – an action aimed to indicate that any family supporting acts of terror against Israel will ‘pay a heavy price.’

Also on Thursday night, IDF Golani, Paratrooper and Nachal troops took part in anti-terror operations arresting in Nablus, Jenin, Hebron and Bethlehem 12 men suspected of planning terror attacks. The IDF reported that all operations were highly selective in that only Palestinian "ticking bombs" were targeted. "It is the objective of the IDF to take action against terrorists and not the Palestinian population which has chosen to support peace with Israel," a military source indicated. IDF operations in the West Bank will carry on as long as necessary. Israel is still receiving more than 30 terror warnings daily.

In other security related news, HA’ARETZ reported that the IDF successfully foiled a homicide bombing that Islamic Jihad had planned for Haifa this week. The bomber and two accomplices were arrested on Tuesday at a military roadblock west of Jenin. The would-be bomber is Omar Othman, 26, of the village of Silat a-Dahar near Jenin. Under interrogation, he revealed that a Jihad operative named Bashar Shuwahana, who lives in his town, had sent him on the mission. Shuwahana, who had previously served two years in an Israeli jail, was released in March; he was rearrested on Wednesday. The arrested terrorists also gave Israeli investigators the 10-kilogram bomb they had planned to use in the attack.


Mubarak Advisor Meets With Shalom to Discuss Renewed Tension
Osama El-Baz, the political adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom in Tel Aviv today to discuss the renewed tension in the region since Tuesday’s homicide bombing in Jerusalem in which 20 Israelis, including six children, were killed, HA’ARETZ reported. Earlier Friday, El-Baz met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. El-Baz brought Arafat a letter from Mubarak, and was expected to press the PA to take immediate action against the militant Palestinian groups.

Meanwhile, Israel decided on Thursday night to halt military action against Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets for a period of time. During the break, it will wait to see if its suspended military campaign and American pressure lead the PA to confront the terror organizations. A senior defense source said that if during the 24-hour lull there were no signs of the PA taking steps against Hamas and other terror groups, Israel would step up its offensive against Hamas and Islamic Jihad networks.

Earlier this week, Israel rejected a Palestinian request to delay the Israeli response and give the PA another chance to fight the terror groups. Explaining why Israel decided to respond immediately to the Hamas bombing on Tuesday, Minister for Industry and Trade Ehud Olmert said, "we didn’t think that in 24 hours or 48 hours they would suddenly promise to do what they hadn’t done for months".

The White House urged cooperation between Israel and the PA, asking Israel on Thursday to work with the Palestinians to crack down on terrorism.


Many Schools to Shorten Week to Five Days
Several cities, towns and regional councils, as well as most kibbutz and moshav schools, will participate in an experimental five-day school week program during the coming school year beginning August 31, HA’ARETZ reported. The change from a Sunday-to-Friday schedule is expected to save the Education Ministry NIS 80-100 million annually, and the local authorities an estimated NIS 200 million annually. The money saved will be redirected to try to cover the cutbacks caused by drastic slashes in last year’s education budget, and those expected for this year.

Minister of Education Limor Livnat introduced the plan to the Knesset Education Committee about a month ago. The program allows a shorter school week on the conditions that the free day be Friday, and that the number of study hours be no less than during a six-day school week. The strong objections of the two teachers’ unions and the national parents’ committee threatened to stop its progress, but when most of the kibbutz and moshav schools joined the program a few weeks ago, the plan was able to move forward. All Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, Upper Nazareth and Omer high schools, along with three of Tel Aviv’s high schools, all elementary schools in Ariel, and all schools in Ashdod, will join the program.


Israeli, Palestinian Children Come Together for Soccer Game in Japan
Twenty-two children – 11 from Israel and 11 from the Palestinian territories- put politics aside to participate in a program hosted in Japan featuring soccer and promoting peace in the Middle East at the grassroots level, HA’ARETZ reported. The week-long program of soccer matches, camping, concerts and stays with Japanese families is the brainchild of Daitetsu Koike, a Buddhist monk and president of Takasaki University of Art and Music north of Tokyo. Koike was inspired by the universal nature of soccer and decided to bring the children over from their homelands. "All children play soccer, and through this they could communicate," he said. "It’s now become hard for both Israelis and Palestinians to think about peace at home."

Against the background of renewed violence at home, it was clear that changing things might be difficult. But to those taking part, the troubles underscored the importance of what they were trying to accomplish.

Four mixed teams of Israelis, Palestinians and Japanese played two games as part of the program. "It was fun and I feel very happy that we played together," Tzah Ben-Menechem, an 11-year-old Israeli boy, said. Others, like 9-year-old compatriot Ryan Whbee, had more complicated feelings. "This is the first time that I meet them, I play with them, it’s not easy," he said. "But when we play and meet each other, we began to feel more easy."

"It is very important today, what we are having here," Waleed Siam, Ambassador at the Mission of Palestine in Japan, said. "They take back to their own societies how important (it is) that we have to shake hands and have peace." Gershon Baskin, an Israeli NGO member whose two children were taking part in the experience said that "the children are the future and the children can show the adults that we can live together". For the children, though, soccer clearly trumped more weighty matters. Asked how it felt to kick the ball, Ahmad Nofal, an 11-year-old Palestinian, said: "Happy. Just happy."


Other News in Brief

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will visit Jerusalem on Monday to show solidarity with Israelis in their fight against terrorism, HA’ARETZ reported. Bloomberg announced his plans at a news conference Thursday during which he joined in with local politicians, Jewish leaders and UN dignitaries to condemn both the homicide bombing in Jerusalem and the truck bombing in Baghdad. Bloomberg stated that his visit would "show that the people of New York stand united with the people of Israel against terrorism." He noted that terrorism, whether in Lower Manhattan or the Middle East, was an attack on free people everywhere. "I want to see the men on the street and show them that we’re not afraid to go over there and we’re not afraid to stand next to them," he said of his visit. Bloomberg plans to return to New York late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

In spite of Tuesday’s suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the city’s Yearly Arts & Crafts Fair opened as planned on Wednesday night, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. With additional security forces on site, the capital is hosting a week (20-27 August) of colorful celebration for the arts, thus giving its residents and many more guests a reason to keep on living normally. The Fair, which became Jerusalem’s traditional festival for the last 30 years, takes place this year on Ben Yehuda Street. It will showcase the work from 130 artists coming from all over the world.


Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

The planning and economy division of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor indicated that industrial exports, excluding diamonds, totaled NIS 11.1 billion in January-July 2003 – a 4.5 percent increase compared to last year, GLOBES reported. Net polished diamond exports rose by 0.4 percent to NIS 3.3 billion in January-July, after rising by 14 percent in 2002. A breakdown of exports by technology sector indicated that high-tech exports fell by 3.5 percent in January-July. However, high-tech exports in July were 5.2 percent higher than in July 2002. Exports of electronic communications equipment fell 11.8 percent in January-July, monitoring and supervision equipment exports fell 5.3 percent, avionics exports fell 6.7 percent, and electronic components exports fell 7 percent. Pharmaceutical exports rose 29 percent, after rising 37 percent in 2002. A breakdown of exports, including diamonds and agricultural goods, by region indicated a substantial increase in exports to Western Europe. Exports to the EU rose 12.6 percent, and exports to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein) rose 25 percent. Exports to Asia rose 4.4 percent, reversing last year’s trend. Exports to China rose 45 percent to $326 million. Exports to North America rose 3.4 percent, a lower increase than in 2002. Exports to both Canada and the U.S. rose 3 percent, while exports to Mexico rose 25 percent in the period covered.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Jonathan Schienberg, Arielle Bernstein, Ravit Bar-Av, and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate-General of Israel in New York.