Choose Day Below
** YAALON: AL-QAEDA OPERATING IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA STRIP
** KATSAV HOSTS RAMADAN FEAST FOR ISRAELI ARAB LEADERS
** MICROSOFT’S BILL GATES: ISRAEL REPRESENTS THE LEADING EDGE OF INNOVATION
** SHARON AND MITZNA MEET
** GOLD MEDAL TO ISRAELI CHEFS
** ECONOMIC BRIEFS
AL-QAEDA OPERATING IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA STRIP
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon said today that security forces have thwarted attempted al-Qaida attacks in the past in Israel and that the terrorist organization has Palestinian operatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, HA’ARETZ reported. Also, Israeli Police revealed today that they had uncovered a plan last week by an Islamic Jihad terror cell from Jenin to detonate a suitcase full of explosives at the entrance to an IDF base in the Haifa area. After the the arrest of Islamic Jihad leader, Alah Ahmed Mohammed Tawalbe, by Israel Defense Forces last week, security units learned that one of the members of the cell purchased a stolen car with Israeli license plates for $650 to bring a bomb, containing 24 pounds of explosives, from Jenin to an IDF base in Haifa. After his arrest, the other members of the cell detonated the suitcase in Jenin in an effort to destroy the evidence.
Meanwhile, an IDF soldier sustained light injuries today when an armed Palestinian attempted to infiltrate into the Jewish neighborhood of Netzarim, located in the Gaza Strip. IDF forces shot and killed the gunman, who was dressed in an army uniform and was armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and grenades. In addition, security forces issued a renewed terror alert this morning in the north and along the Green Line. Roadblocks have been set up at the entrances to Hadera, Afula and Beit She’an.
In other news, a crowd of about 200 mourners gathered at Yarkon Cemetery, near the town of Ariel, for Noy and Dvir Anter’s funeral. The brothers were killed in a terrorist attack in Kenya. Rahamim Anter, father of Noy and Dvir, pleaded with the mourners to be resilient. "I ask you to be strong. Don’t give them motivation to commit other attacks. If we are sad, it strengthens them. I ask you all not to cry," Anter said.
Also, several hundred people turned out to pay their respects, including family, friends, co-workers, and the small group of journalists for the third Israeli victim in the terrorist attack in Kenya, tour guide Albert Dehaville, 60. All those who spoke at his graveside described him as a man who "loved life, had a hunger for knowledge, and whose enthusiasm had not waned with the passing years." Albert was born in Morocco and at the age of 16 was heavily involved in a program to help smuggle Jews from his homeland into Israel. Albert recently took early retirement from his post at the Prime Minister’s office.
HOSTS RAMADAN FEAST FOR ISRAELI ARAB LEADERS
President Moshe Katsav hosted a Ramadan feast for 70 Israeli Arab leaders, including members of Knesset, mayors, and heads of local councils on Sunday, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. During the meal, Katsav addressed the issue of members within the Israeli Arab society actively supporting Palestinian terrorism. "Jews and Arabs must work together to stop this phenomenon. If you do not help to stop it now, you will lose the power to do so in the future," Katsav said. Katsav was also critical of those Arab states that provide funding for terrorism. "Whoever supports terrorism, doesn’t want a Palestinian state," he said.
Arab Coordinating Council head Shawki Hatif, echoed Katsav’s plea for an end to bloodshed. "Every day we are burying people on both sides," he said. "We have to raise our voices against this madness." MK Abdel Malik Dehamshe commended Katsav’s courage for inviting Arabs leaders at this time.
BILL GATES: ISRAEL REPRESENTS THE LEADING EDGE OF INNOVATION
Expressing confidence in the future of Israeli technology, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said that his company will expand its investment in Israel in the future, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. "We are investing and continue to invest in our research and development in Israel. Our team in Israel has recently been handed with some challenging and ambitious tasks. They are working with new developments, particularly in the field of digital security. In this area Israel has an impressive record of accomplishment," Gates said.
Gates said that despite the political and security situation, Israel continues to represent the cutting edge of innovation, and Microsoft will continue to be a part of it. "There is no connection between the war that Israel is fighting and the future of the technology that is being created there," he said. He added that while the company is always concerned about the welfare of its employees, security concerns "won’t stop us from deepening our activities in Israel."
Microsoft Israel, founded in 1989, is one of the few Microsoft outposts abroad fully owned and operated by the U.S. parent company. The Microsoft research and development center in Haifa is one of a small group of overseas centers involved developing new products for the U.S. based company.
AND MITZNA MEET
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Labor Party Chairman Amram Mitzna met on Sunday to discuss the Government’s political and security agenda in the wake of the recent series of terror attack, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. According to the Israeli law, the Prime Minister is obligated to inform the opposition’s chairman of the Government’s plans of action.
Meanwhile, the Labor and Meimad parties decided on Saturday night to uphold their original partnership agreement, under which two slots on the Labor’s Knesset list will be reserved for Meimad candidates (one spot between the 10th and 15th places on the list, and the second between the 25th and 28th places). The agreement also reserves a ministerial portfolio for Meimad Chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior in case Labor forms a government or joins a unity coalition.
In addition, Shas’ Chairman Eli Yishai announced that his party will support Sharon for prime minister.
MEDAL TO ISRAELI CHEFS
A team of Israeli chefs won the gold medal in the Ethnic Kitchen category at the International Culinary Competition held in Shanghai, China, last week, HA’ARETZ reported. Representatives from the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia participated in the competition and introduced the distinctive dishes served in their country. The Israeli team used Israeli fruits, dishes and ingredients native to the region such as dates, pomegranates, Sabra fruit (cactus fruit), Hummus, Falafel and different herbs.
*Following the launching of Strella anti-aircraft missiles at an Arkia airliner taking off from Mombasa, Kenya, on Thursday, Rafael, the Israeli Armament Development Authority, has gone into emergency production of an anti-missile system, Britening, for civilian aircraft, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. The anti-missile system includes electronic sensors that detect the launching of heat-seeking missiles. The system then sends out a hot beam of light that distracts the missile away from the plane. The system is activated automatically when it senses the incoming missiles, since manual activation can take too long to be effective. The cost of installing Britening on civilian plans is less than $2 million per system.
*U.S. space agency NASA announced today that Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, will be launched into space on January 16, 2003. Ramon’s space mission has been delayed for half a year, after small cracks were found in fuel pipes in the main engines of two orbiters. NASA plans to host a press conference with the flight crew on January 3, at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The agency will broadcast the launch on its television station.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by David Nekrutman and Michal Rachlevsky at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
** AL-QAEDA CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR MOMBASA ATTACK VIA WEBSITE
** BUSH IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON PA, BUT DELAYS IMPLEMENTATION
** IDF COMBAT UNITS TO DRAFT MORE WOMEN
** NEW STUDY SHOWS ISRAEL AS SINGULAR COUNTRY WHERE JEWISH COMMUNITY IS GROWING
** ECONOMIC BRIEFS
CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR MOMBASA ATTACK VIA WEBSITE
An announcement attributed to al-Qaeda, in which the organization claims responsibility for last week’s terror attacks in Kenya, was released Monday on the Internet, HA’ARETZ reported. The announcement is signed in the name of Tanzim Qa’adat al Jihad – the political bureau of Osama bin Laden’s organization.
Experts in analyzing and assessing Internet messages said the announcement includes expressions, nicknames and definitions that are all characteristic of the dialogue that has been conducted in recent months in the name of al-Qaeda. The announcement said that the attack in Mombasa, which killed 13 people, three Israelis and 10 Kenyans, was intended "to destroy all the dreams of the Jewish-Crusader covenant that were aimed at preserving their strategic interests in the region. It also said that "the action came to strike another blow at the Israeli Mossad, like the blows we landed in the past at the Djerba synagogue." The security forces even knew the name of the organization affiliated with Osama bin Laden and received names and photos of two Iraqi terrorists who were planning to enter Kenya through Somalia to carry out the attack.
The statement also noted that the two attacks – the suicide bombing at the Paradise Hotel and the attempted downing of an Arkia passenger jet – "were intended to make it clear to Muslims worldwide that the Mujahadeen were standing alongside their compatriots in Palestine and continuing their way." Meanwhile, according to the Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation, Kenyan security forces were warned four times in the past eight months of possible terror attacks in the country, and had information on the Iraqi terrorists responsible for the deadly attack in Mombasa.
According to the report, Kenyan security forces knew that terrorists were planning to carry out the attack in a coastal area and that a bomb had been smuggled into the country. The warnings were sent in March 2002 to senior military officials, the police and intelligence organizations, the report said. According to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, the Kenyan Interior Minister denied that Kenya received early terror warnings.
IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON PA, BUT DELAYS IMPLEMENTATION
United States President W. George Bush decided on Monday to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority for not fulfilling its obligations to fight terror, HA’ARETZ reported. According to sources familiar with its content, the report issued by Bush says that the Palestinian Liberation Organization and PA "have not complied" with several key commitments. Among them, their failure to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security; to commit to the Middle East peace process; to renounce the use of terrorism and violence and to urge Palestinians to refrain from violence.
This decision marks the first time the U.S. has imposed official sanctions on the PA, even if in this case they are only formal in nature. In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Bush wrote that he has decided to impose sanctions on the PA and to reduce the diplomatic ranking of the PLO office in Washington, in accordance with the law passed by Congress eight years ago requiring the President to determine once every six months whether the PA is actually fighting terror, as they are obligated to under the Oslo Accords. In the next section of the letter, however, Bush writes that he has decided to use his presidential authority to prevent the sanctions from being carried out, due to considerations of U.S. national security.
COMBAT UNITS TO DRAFT MORE WOMEN
The Israel Defense Forces is planning a significant increase in the number of women soldiers who will serve in combat units, HA’ARETZ reported. The IDF’s manpower division and the ground force command are currently working on implementing the measure. The first stage would increase the number of women combatants three-fold and most women would be sent to positions involving the securing of the seam line. According to a recent report, only about 1 percent of women conscripts currently volunteer for such units. Male combatants are for the most part required for the IDF’s frontline infantry brigades, such as the paratroopers, Golani, Nahal and Givati, and the armored, engineering and artillery corps. Despite the current low enrollment of women in combat units, women have, to date, been in mixed infantry units in the Southern Command, along the borders with Egypt and Jordan.
"Women will constitute a significant part in the operational line-up along the seam line," a senior officer said. "We have to change our basic attitude," he added. "We will no longer ask: ‘Who wants to be a combat soldier?’ We will say: ‘You are suitable. We need you as a combat soldier.’" The IDF is working on brochures that will be sent to young women about to be called up for service, suggesting that they volunteer for combat units. The process will remain voluntary. The existing screening process for women will have to be revised and women conscripts will have to undergo psycho-technical testing as men combatants do.
The IDF is also interested in encouraging women to serve in "combat support" positions, such as medics, communications operators, mechanics and technicians in field units. Women will also be placed in formerly male-only jobs like truck driving.
STUDY SHOWS ISRAEL AS SINGULAR COUNTRY WHERE JEWISH COMMUNITY IS GROWING
Israel is the only country in the world where the Jewish community is growing, according to The Jewish Agency’s Institute for Jewish People Policy Planning’s new study, HA’ARETZ reported. Israel is also home to most of the world’s Jewish children under the age of 15. The Institute’s study also claims that the number of Jews in the world is declining with a net loss of 300,000 American Jews in the last decade. The study followed a preliminary examination of the recent census of American Jewry.
According to the Institute, which convened an emergency session to deal with what it called the "demographic crisis," there are now some 12.9 million Jews in the world. Earlier this year, estimates put the number at 13.2 million. The main reason for the decline appears in the data from the census of Jewish communities in the U.S., which shows a decline of 300,000 in the American Jewish population, from 5.5 million in 1990 to 5.2 million in 2002. Experts say that some 300,000 Jews emigrated to the U.S. during the 1990s, but nonetheless, the community lost some 50,000 Jews a year, mostly to natural attrition.
The Institute, jointly headed by former U.S. Middle East Peace Envoy Dennis Ross and Prof. Yehezkel Dror, a specialist in strategic government policy planning, is supposed to form general and long-term strategic plans for the Jewish people. Studies published at the conference, which opened on Saturday night and ends today, said the decline is apparent in other major Jewish communities around the world. The French Jewish community has declined from 535,000 in 1980 to some 500,000 now, while the number of Jews in the former Soviet Union has fallen from 1.45 million in 1989, to some 437,000 now. Most of those Jews moved to Israel during the 1990s.
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The 16-hour 21st annual Shirutrom (to ‘sing’ and ‘donate’ in Hebrew) telethon, to benefit the welfare of Israel Defense Forces soldiers, kicked off this morning with an hour hosted by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, and Rami Dotan, Chairman of the Association for the Soldier. The telethon is dedicated to IDF reserve soldiers, IDF Radio reported. During the day, special radio and television programs will be broadcast featuring different units in the IDF. This year’s "One Day to Say Thank You" campaign raised in it’s 10th hour more than NIS 7 million (approximately $1.5 million).
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*Japanese company Kirin Brewery, together with partners Yissum, the Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hadasit, the Research Development Company of Hadassah University Hospital, and Algen Biopharmaceuticals, announced a joint research venture researching the use of Tyrphostin compounds for inhibiting certain components of the immune system involved in tissue or graft rejection, GLOBES reported. Kirin will invest an initial $5 million over a five-year period and will also gain rights to commercialize the technology.
*Disney investment arm Shamrock is in talks to acquire control of Koor Industries, HA’ARETZ reported. Shamrock CEO Stanley Gold’s representative is in Israel conducting preliminary negotiations with Koor CEO Jonathan Kolber, who controls Koor along with the Bronfman family’s Claridge Group. Sources said Shamrock would be willing to leave Bronfman and Kolber with a 25 percent minority stake. "Anyone willing to take over Koor would make it conditional on Kolber and Koor President Danny Biran moving aside from decision-making positions; otherwise, it would be impossible to make much-needed improvements," the sources said, noting that it is not a hostile takeover bid.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Adina Kay and Dina Wosner at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.