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Palestinians to Resume Contacts
** Barghouti Charged With Terrorist Activity
** Intelligence: Warning of Terrorist Organizations Carrying Out ‘Mega-Attacks’
** Economy Shows Signs of Improvement
** Economic Briefs
Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority Minister Saeb Erekat are slated to resume contacts this evening following the return of the Palestinian delegation from talks with U.S. officials in Washington, HA’ARETZ reported. Prior to the renewal of the talks, Israel pledged to the PA that it would soon transfer two upcoming payments of frozen tax funds. The payments total NIS 70 million (approximately $17.5 million) each and comprise 10 percent of the total amount Israel has withheld since shortly after the outbreak of the Palestinian violence in September 2000. The pledge regarding the funds was made on Sunday by head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Dov Weisglass, to PA Finance Minister Salam Fayed. Peres and Erekat will also discuss the "Gaza first" plan, in which the PA would assume security responsibility in those areas from which the Israel Defense Forces withdraws. Minister Dan Neveh (Likud) will also participate in the meeting.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened a meeting of high-level ministers in preparation for Wednesday’s meeting with the Palestinians, including Peres and Minister of Defense Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. Sharon has said that the mandate for the talks between Israel and PA officials is to achieve immediate steps for a cease-fire and easing conditions on the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The United States has responded positively to the "Gaza first" plan. According to reports that arrived in Jerusalem from Washington, American officials said that the plan can be implemented, and encouraged the sides to move forward to do so.
Marwan Barghouti, leader of Fatah’s Tanzim branch in the West Bank and a leader of the violent Palestinian uprising, was charged in the Tel Aviv District Court with murder, incitement to murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, membership in a terrorist organization acting as an accessory to murder, and activity in a terrorist organization, HA’ARETZ reported. The indictment, saya that Barghouti is an "arch-terrorist whose hands are bloodied by dozens of terror actions." Two of Barghouti’s deputies, Nasr Aweis and Nasr Abu Hamid, also jailed by Israel, are to serve as witnesses for the prosecution against their former chief. Barghouti is a senior leader of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement in the West Bank and the Palestinian official perhaps most closely identified with the violents Palestinian uprising which began in September of 2000.
According to the Israel Securiy Agency, Barghouti led, directed, financed and ran many terrorist operations against Israeli targets using key operatives, including Nasser Awis, and Raed Karmi, who are responsible for the deaths of several Israeli civilians.The decision to bring him to trial in civilian court and not in a military tribunal was made by Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein, who ruled that Barghouti and other alleged top-tier terrorists arrested during Operation Defensive Shield should stand trial in a civilian court.
The charge sheet details Barghouti’s alleged activities as head of the Fatah organizations in the West Bank, including the Tanzim and the terrorist organization Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. He is charged with being involved in the decision-making of those organizations including planning details of all the terror attacks conducted by those groups in the past two years, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of Israelis.
The court adjourned this afternoon and Barghouti’s trial is slated to resume in about three weeks.
The head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze’evi (Farkash) briefed the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday about the advent of terrorist organizations making every effort to carry out as many attacks as possible, including ‘mega-attacks,’ inside Israel, HA’ARETZ reported. Ze’evi defined a ‘mega-attack’ as one in which several homicide bombers or car bombs explode simultaneously, or when a particularly large amount of explosive material is detonated to cause a vast number of casualties. He said that there are currently six warnings of attacks of this kind.
Ze’evi mentioned that at the same time, the Israel Defense Forces has information indicating that the number of potential suicide bombers that have refrained from carrying out attacks decreased because they fear that their family’s home will be destroyed. The fear that the family will be banished from the West Bank to Gaza is a further deterrent, he added.
According to MA’ARIV, Ze’evi said that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s personal wealth is estimated at $1.3 billion. According to Ze’evi, Arafat accumulated these funds by monopolizing all of the financial authorities in the PA. Most of the funds are in secret accounts abroad. According to intelligence assessments, Arafat is becoming more and more isolated and even his close aides are threatening to stop backing him. In addition, criticism of him within the Palestinian society in general, as well as in the Fatah organization, is growing.
Despite a 0.4 percent decline in Israel’s economy during the first half of 2002, according to a report issued today by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the economy seems to be showing signs of improvement, GLOBES reported. The figures indicate that for the first time since October 2000, the decline in GDP, exports of goods and services, and investments has slowed substantially, in comparison with 2001.
Business product declined 2.3 percent from January-June, compared with an 8.4 percent fall in the first half of 2001. The drop in business product reflects lower output in the construction, industrial, and retail sectors. On the other hand, output rose in the financial services sector.
Exports of goods and services were down an annualized 0.8 percent in the first half of the year. This decline is far less than the falls of 15 percent in the preceding six months and 21 percent in the first half of 2001. Total resources available to the economy (GDP and imports) rose an annualized 1.3 percent in the first half of the year, after dropping 7.3 percent in the second half of 2001.
The increase in available resources reflects 6.8 percent growth in imports of goods and services, after a sharp 13 percent decline in the preceding six months.
About 1,000 supporters of Israel from all over the world gathered on Tuesday at the Hurva Plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem to demonstrate their support in the first international rally for Israel in Israel, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Minister of Housing and Construction Natan Sharansky and U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey spoke at the rally. The speakers encouraged the crowd not to be afraid to visit Israel. Sharansky told the participants that Israel "is a magic place for the Jewish people. Come to Jerusalem. Let’s win over terror and rebuild Jerusalem." Senator Toricelli added, "we came here to say we’re not afraid. We’re not going away and we’ll never stop our support, he said.
* The administrative board of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Investment Center has approved 14 investment plans totalling $13 million, HA’ARETZ reported. Other approved plans include a metal products plant in Yeruham, at $2.15 million; the expansion of the facilities of the multimedia company, Emblaze Systems Netanya, at $2.1 million and a Katzrin factory for housewares and plastic goods, at $1.3 million. Paradigm Geophysicial, the Herzliya -based provider of information services to the oil and gas industry, has announced that San Francisco-based investor Fox Paine & Company has completed the acquisition of 100 percent of its shares, GLOBES reported.
* Fox Paine manages investment funds in excess of $1.5 billion, providing equity capital for corporate acquisitions, company expansion and growth programs and management buyouts. The Fox Paine funds are managed on behalf of over 50 international financial institutions, including major governmental and corporate pension systems, Fortune 100 companies, insurance and reinsurance companies, and commercial banks.
Kills Hamas Leader Planning "Major Attack"
** Israel Prepared for Iraq Offensive
** Israel Pays Tribute to Man’s Best Friend
** Israel Launches "Fine Foods From Israel" Campaign
** Israel’s Oldest Journalist Passes Away At Age 92
** Economic Briefs
Israel Defense Forces killed Hamas leader Nasr Jerar today, MA’ARIV reported. Jerar, who lost both legs and one arm while preparing a bomb a year ago, was planning a major terror attack aimed at bringing down a multi-story building in Israel. Troops surrounded Jerar’s house and called out with megaphones for Jerar to give himself up. When there was no response, troops opened fire.
Meanwhile, the IDF arrested several Palestinians wanted for terror in Gaza, Jenin, Dir Debwan near Ramallah, Bir Zeit, and at the Rafiah crossing. In Duma, south of Hebron, the IDF demolished the home of Haled Talil Gavril Tal, who took part in the February 10 shooting attack in Be’er Sheva that resulted in the death of an officer and soldier, and wounded 18 others.
Addressing political leaders and members of the American-Jewish echelon, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the U.S. promised to inform Israel several days before an attack on Iraq, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. He also said the U.S. and Israel are coordinating the planned U.S. offensive against Iraq. Sharon also expressed concern about Libya’s efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
According to YEDIOT AHARONOT,
Israeli Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz said that the "air force
is prepared in the sensitive areas of the country for the possibility that
Iraq would fire missiles at Israel." Halutz also stressed that Israel
has better means of protection today than it did in 1991. "There is no
system in the world like the Arrow," he said. "It’s the only operational
system that can deal with ground-to-ground missiles. But the Arrow system
does not operate alone, and if missiles are fired here, there are other means
we can use."
In response to a possibility of a confrontation with Iraq, Ministry of Defense officials confirmed on Wednesday that the Home Front Command is preparing to distribute capsules to counter the effects of radioactivity. Initially, the pills will be given to citizens living near the nuclear reactors in Dimona and Nahal Sorek, and to citizens living near Israel’s main ports in Haifa and Ashdod.
"In the coming weeks, Israel will distribute pills it has in its stockpile to the population in certain areas considered at risk," the Ministry said in a statement.
The potassium iodine pills, which shield the thyroid gland from radioactivity, would provide protection if radiation leaked from a nuclear reactor undergoing a meltdown as the result of a direct hit, an accident or a technical glitch.
In an effort to pay tribute
to canines killed during search and rescue operations, the Israel Defense
Forces is establishing a cemetery for the dogs of their Oketz K9 unit, YEDIOT
AHARONOT ON-LINE reported. The cemetery will be divided into 5 separate courts
with a garden in its center, in which there will be a monument honoring the
loyal hounds for their service. The flag of Israel and the Oketz K9 flag will
be raised on the both sides of monument. Also, the IDF is considering an annual
ceremony to pay tribute to the fallen dogs, which would take place a few days
before Memorial Day. "We regard the hounds as soldiers just as us,"
the Deputy Commander of the Oketz K9 unit said.
The cemetery will have 80 plots and each dog laid to rest will have a tombstone designed by its soldier or handler. Funds for the cemetery are being donated by an American millionaire who is fond of animals.
Meanwhile, according to a study in MA’ARIV, animals present at the scene of a terror attack tend to suffer from sleeping problems and anxiety reactions just like humans. "Daphne," a three-year-old golden retriever guide dog was severely injured when a homicide bomber blew himself up while sitting in a taxi in Wadi Ara 18 months ago. Her trainer, Cloud Knap, 29, was killed in the attack. After recovering from an extensive medical treatment she was put in the custody of Cloud’s brother Ricardo, who lives in Kiryat Shmona, on the northern border.
"She hides in a corner and shakes and trembles. No matter how much love and nurturing she receives, the dog finds it difficult to overcome the attack’s experience," Ricardo said.
Surrounded by packages of chocolate wafers and bottles of kosher wines at the residence of Consul General of Israel in New York Ambassador Alon Pinkas, Minister of Industry and Trade Dalia Itzik announced this week the launch of the "Fine Foods from Israel" campaign, THE JERUSALEM POST reported.. The goal of the project is to boost Israeli food exports to the U.S.
"The campaign will increase visibility and the introduction of new brands to American consumers," Itzik said. The campaign, scheduled for display in supermarkets across the country in October, is expected to increase Israel’s annual $55 million in food exports by 50 percent within two years.
The founder of the Itim news agency Haim Beltzen died on Wednesday at the age of 92, HA’ARETZ reported. Born in Bessarabia in 1910, Beltzen who is considered "Israel’s oldest journalist," studied law at the University of Bucharest and immigrated to Israel at the age of 25. Beltzer studied literature and history at the Hebrew University.
At the outbreak of World War II, Beltzer joined the British army. While stationed in Turkey, he began filing reports for Ha’aretz. In 1948, upon return to Israel, he joined the Israel Defense Forces and became head of the public relations department at the Ministry of Defense. Two years later, he founded the Itim news agency, where he served as editor in chief for the next 25 years.
A reporter, commentator and highly cultured individual, Beltzer devoted much of his time assisting non-native speakers to read Hebrew. Beltzer is survived by his wife and three children.
*The Central Bureau of Statistics announced today that Israel’s Consumer Price Index for July rose by 0.6 percent, GLOBES reported. The rise was above analyst forecast range. Very low or negative Consumer Price Index increases are expected in August-October if the shekel continues to appreciate against the dollar. Inflation is now running at an annual rate of over 7 percent.
*Brussels Airlines, created
out of Sabena Airlines, will renew its flights to and from Israel this winter.
Since November 7, 2001 Sabena shut down its operations leaving El Al the only
route between Belgium and Israel. Brussels Airlines’ Commercial Manager in
Israel Roby Herskowicz said he thought flights would be in the same format
as those of Sabena, seven weekly flights and additional flights under the
auspices of El Al.
Leads Pro-Iraq Demonstration in Gaza
** Alleged Killer of 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass Arrested
** Hospital Shut Down Imminent
** NYC Council Demands to Close PA Office in New York
** Economic Briefs
Hundreds of Palestinians marched in Gaza on Thursday in a Fatah-led demonstration calling on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to attack Tel Aviv, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Many of the marchers were teenagers who chanted, "we are marching to Iraq, giving millions of martyrs on the way."
Saddam sent at least $30 million in cash to support the families of Palestinian men who have killed Israelis. The money has been distributed at ceremonies in Gaza and the West Bank. The families of Palestinians who carried out homicide attacks against Israelis receive $25,000 each.
In today’s operation in Hebron, Israel Defense Forces soldiers arrested Sudki Zaro, the Palestinian sniper who is believed to be behind the killing of 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass, HA’ARETZ reported. In March 2001, on a visit with her grandparents in Avraham Avinu, a Jewish community in Hebron, Shalhevet was fatally shot in the head by a Palestinian sniper who opened fire from the Abu Sneneh neighborhood on hill opposite.
n addition, IDF troops arrested five Palestinians south of Jenin, including four who appear on Israel’s most-wanted list. Also, IDF troops killed two terrorists armed with grenades and explosive devices on Thursday night near the Kissufim Crossing, adjacent to the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip.
In an effort to prevent
imminent shut downs of state-owned hospitals due to lack of supplies, Sarel,
the main provider of medical equipment to Israel’s hospitals, recently received
a transfer of several million shekels in order to help renew hospital stocks,
HA’ARETZ reported. However, the stocks are expected to last for only a short
period of time.
Several state-owned hospitals are expected to close down next week and will not be able to treat emergencies or terror attack casualties due to shortage of intensive care medication, painkillers and bandages.
The City Council of New York passed a resolution on Thursday urging U.S. President George Bush to shut down the Palestinian observer mission at the United Nations, HA’ARETZ reported. The resolution "strongly condemns the murderous attacks against civilians in Israel and calls upon President Bush to condemn the Palestinian Authority’s support of terrorists and harboring of terrorists." In addition, the city council said, "as a government entity that shelters terrorist groups, the offices of the Palestinian Authority may pose a danger to New Yorkers."
The Palestinian Liberation Organization first obtained UN observer status in 1974. The decision to close down the Palestinian mission on New York City’s Upper East Side can only be made at the federal level, a State Department spokeswoman said.
The Israeli Camerata Orchestra is expected to hold a special tribute to New York on September 11 at 8:46 PM (U.S. time), HA’ARTEZ reported. The concert is part of an international initiative, in which orchestras around the world will perform Mozart’s Requiem at the exact time the planes hit the World Trade Center a year ago, in order to create 24 hours of musical continuity throughout the world. The orchestra, conducted by Michael Shani, will perform the Requiem in conjunction with the Tel Aviv Camerata Choir at the Rekanati Hall of the Tel Aviv Museum.
* The Israel Electric Corporation and the private company Energy Horizons, a part of the Ofer Brothers Group, signed a contract on Thursday, in which Energy Horizons will supply electric utility from its 350-megawatt power plant, HA’ARETZ reported. The power plant is a gas-turbine model, to be built with an investment of $220 million. According to the time schedule, the plant will begin to supply electricity by the end of 2004.
* The international telephone calls operator and Internet Service Provider, Barak ITC, reported on Thursday a net profit of NIS 38.7 million (approxamately $8.6 million) for the second quarter of 2002, compared with a loss of NIS 5.6 million (approxamately $1.3 million) in the first quarter of the same year, HA’ARETZ reported. Golden Lines and Bezeq International are Barak’s competitors.