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The Israel Defense Forces arrested Islamic Jihad terrorist Ziyad Abed al-A’al whose planned ambush killed Rabbi Yitzhak Arama of Netzer Hazani on Friday, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. According to military sources, A’al was also involved in at least five other terror attacks in the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, two Islamic Jihad terrorists were arrested by Israeli Border Police near the Dir el-Balah refugee camp on Saturday. The two are suspected of planning the attack on the community of Kissufim a few months ago.
In other news, Ahmed Kaba, a resident of the Israeli Arab municipality of Wadi Ara was indicted in the Haifa District Court for hiding weapons used by Sirhan Sirhan in the Kibbutz Metzer terrorist attack on November 10, 2002. Five people were murdered in the attack. Also, IDF West Bank division commander Brigadier General Gershon Yitzhak warned residents throughout the West Bank today against hitchhiking, following intelligence warnings of planned terrorist attempts to kidnap civilians.
We’re Ready for Saddam
Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz assured the security cabinet on Sunday that Israel is prepared for an attack by Iraq, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Mofaz, who returned last week from a three-day trip to the U.S., said he assured U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that although Israel is a sovereign nation that reserves the right to defend itself, it would act with "deliberation" and "responsibly."
Although Egypt will facilitate a renewal of talks between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to discuss a cease-fire, Mofaz indicated that Hamas and others have no intention of ending the attacks against Israelis. Mofaz added that in the past six weeks, 800 terrorists were arrested and since September of 2000, 300 terrorists were killed and wounded along the border fence in Gaza. "We still have not seen any democratic reforms implemented by the PA," Mofaz said.
In effort to facilitate Christmas in Bethlehem, Mofaz approved a plan to permit all celebrations that do not threaten security in the area.
Law Imposed by Fatah
A pamphlet distributed by Fatah in Hebron is threatening to amputate the arms and legs of any Palestinian involved in crime, especially thefts and burglaries, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. This is the first time the secular organization, which is the mainstream faction of the Palestinian Authority, has issued such a threat.
The threat was issued following an increase in crime that has hit the city in the past few weeks. "The streets of Hebron and its suburbs, as well as the streets of all cities, villages, and refugee camps, will soon witness people with one arm or one leg. They will be punished in accordance with the sharia [Islamic law]," the pamphlet said.
The Fatah pamphlet also warned families of suspects against trying to intervene on their behalf and said anyone who seeks to help the criminals would be considered an accomplice.
The latest warning comes amid complaints that criminals throughout the West Bank have been exploiting the security situation to steal goods from houses and businesses.
Will Not Appoint Cabinet Ministers Opposed to a Palestinian State
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Likud cabinet ministers on Sunday that when forming the next government, he would not appoint cabinet members who oppose his political vision of the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state, HA’ARETZ reported. Sharon also announced that he is considering modifying the internal party primaries by abolishing the central committee votes for the party list – and allow all Likud members to vote.
Meanwhile, Shinui Chairman Yosef Lapid has challenged Labor leader Amram Mitzna and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to a televised debate on the future of the peace process and negotiations with the Palestinians. Shinui’s campaign will focus on: the secular campaign, the middle class and political integrity. Recent opinion polls predict that the party will double its strength in the next Knesset, gaining 12 seats, up from six.
The Jerusalem Municipality distributed five hundred free Christmas trees at the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City today, HA’ARETZ reported. "The distribution of pine trees for Christmas is a tradition of over 20 years for the Municipality of Jerusalem," said municipal spokesman Hagai Elias. The trees were donated by the Jewish National Fund.
*Israel Military Industries will supply the US Navy with 100-200 unmanned aviation vehicles (UAVs) to act as decoys against anti-aircraft missiles, GLOBES reported. The deal is worth $22 million. IMI will supply the Improved Tactical Air Launched Decoys (ITALD) built at its UAV plant. The US Navy uses ITALDs in military confrontations.
*A team of Israeli scientists at the Weizmann Institute have successfully grown miniature human kidneys in mice, in a breakthrough that might one day help save thousands of patients waiting for transplants, GLOBES reported. The method could lead to a promising solution to the severe shortage of kidney donors. According to the U.S National Kidney Foundation and the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 50,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list.
Celebrations Proceed in Bethlehem
** Israel Security Services Thwarts Attempted Kidnapping of IDF Soldier
** Lieberman: Arafat Failed The Palestinians
** Israelis Looking to Book Hotel Rooms In Case of Iraqi Strike
** New $150 Million Tourism Venture Planned for Eilat
** Economic Briefs
Celebrations Proceed in Bethlehem
The Israel Defense Forces redeployed to the outskirts of Bethlehem today, to allow Christmas celebrations to proceed in the city, HA’ARETZ reported. The army will remain around Bethlehem’s edges, as long as the security of residents are not compromised.
According to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, Military officials said they would allow Israeli Arabs to travel to Bethlehem as well as foreign tourists, pilgrims and Palestinian Christians with special permits. "We will make every effort to facilitate the celebrations," IDF officers said. "There is now no curfew on Bethlehem and we hope to keep it that way. We shall facilitate efforts to allow anybody to enter who wants to worship."
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s adviser Ra’anan Gissin said that although Israel would like to allow greater freedom in the area, Bethlehem is the "origin of 15 attacks on Israelis in the last year, including a homicide bombing that killed 11 last month." Gissin added that we are doing everything possible to provide for normalcy in that city, which has been a center for worship by Christians and a tourist attraction, but unfortunately we have not seen any cooperation from the Palestinian side."
Security Services Thwarts Attempted Kidnapping of IDF Soldier
The Israeli Security Service announced today they seized two armed Hamas terrorists. Iyad and Abed al-Bassast Mahmoum of Rafiah, crossed into Israel from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula two weeks ago, planning to kidnap an Israel Defense Forces soldier as a bargaining chip for the release of terrorists held by Israel, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Meanwhile, IDF forces discovered and safely destroyed a tunnel used for the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip, in Rafiah overnight. Soldiers also destroyed several abandoned buildings along the Egyptian border, used by Palestinians to fire on IDF troops.
In other news, IDF Chief of Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aaron Farkash told the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee today that al-Qaida is focused on attacking Jewish and Israeli targets and has terror cells operating in the Gaza Strip. Also, Palestinians opened fire on IDF forces and municipality workers in Kiryat Arba this morning. Soldiers discovered two explosive devices in a house in the area. No injuries were reported.
Arafat Failed The Palestinians
U.S. Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman told journalists at The King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Monday that he believes Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has failed as a leader, and that a halt to terror attacks is a necessary precondition for progress., HA’ARETZ reported. "The question is whether there will be sufficient leadership here to bring about a free and secure Palestine alongside a free and secure Israel," Lieberman said.
The Senator also said he believes that the Bush administration’s decision to postpone publication of the road map was reasonable under the circumstances. "There is no point to the map if it does not lead to progress, he said, however, "American involvement is essential to resolve the conflict, as America is the only mediator accepted by both sides.
He also noted that the support Israel currently enjoys in the United States stems from the link Americans see between Israel’s experiences and their own war on terror.
Looking to Book Hotel Rooms In Case of Iraqi Strike
Owners of hotels and bed-and-breakfast establishments in the northern region of the country are reporting a growing demand for rooms in the event of an outbreak of hostilities in Iraq, HA’ARETZ reported. According to hotel industry insiders, most of the inquiries have come from the Dan region and Haifa.
The owner of the Carlton Hotel in Nahariya, Carlo Gross, reported that many people had contacted the reservations department. Those interested have also asked about security facilities in the event that Hizbullah heats up the northern border, he said. Gross added that during the 1991 Gulf War, the hotel had filled up after the first Scuds fell. The Palm Beach Hotel in Acre also reported renewed interest from residents of the center.
$150 Million Tourism Venture Planned for Eilat
A group of US, UK and Israeli investors will submit a plan for a $150 million tourist venture in Eilat to the Ministry of Industry and Trade Investment Promotions Center, GLOBES reported. Ministry sources said today that the Investment Promotions Center would probably approve the venture. The project will cover 38 dunam (9.5 acres) on the northern shore of the Eilat lagoon.
The project developers include Naot Oasis, affiliated with US investors, and the Sheraton Moriah Israel hotels. The project’s designers used to do consulting work for Disney. Sheraton Moriah Israel CEO Eli Gonen, who also serves as Israel Hotel Association deputy chairman, said, "We have an option to manage the hotel that will be built be part of the venture."
Naot Oasis’ attorney said the project, currently in the planning and licensing stage, was designed for internal tourism. He confirmed that the developers were examining their eligibility to be recognized as an approved enterprise under the Law for the Encouragement of Capital Investments of 1959.
Eight-year-old Adva Anter, who was seriously wounded in the Paradise Hotel bombing in Mombasa, was released from the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva on Monday afternoon, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Anter lost her brothers, Noy and Dvir, 12 and 13, in the terrorist attack. Their mother, Ora, was also seriously wounded. The Anter family was vacationing in Mombasa when three homicide bombers rammed their explosive-packed car into the Israeli-owned hotel on November 28, killing 13 and wounding 80.
* Industrialist Stef Wertheimer has begun establishing his sixth industrial park in the high-tech area along the Nazareth-Upper Nazareth municipal border, GLOBES reported. Nazareth Mayor Ramaz Jarisi, Upper Nazareth Mayor Menachem Ariav, and Ministry of the Interior director for the northern district Yigal Shachar are cooperating to promote the project, with the full backing of government ministries. Wertheimer currently operates industrial parks in Tefen, Lavon and Kiryat Shmona in the Galilee, and Omer in the Negev, and is setting up another industrial park at Dlaton in Merom Hagalil.
He began developing a joint Israeli-Palestinian industrial park at Kerem Shalom three years ago, but the project was halted by the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising.
Security Forces Arrest 1,800 Palestinian Terrorists
** Mofaz Cannot Run for 16th Knesset
** Israeli Veterinarian Creates Survival Kits For Pets
** Israeli Aid Given to Families Affected by Terror Attack in Kenya
** Economic Briefs
Security Forces Arrest 1,800 Palestinian Terrorists
During the last four months, Israeli security forces have arrested 1,800 Palestinians suspected of terrorism, with 400 arrested this month, HA’ARETZ reported. Among them are some classified by security sources as relatively senior as well as 15 local commanders. Nablus alone saw some 120 Palestinians arrested in the last five weeks, including 11 suspected homicide bombers.
Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces killed Bassan Lutfi, a former Palestinian police officer when he opened fire on soldiers during an operation in Ramallah today. In addition, IDF forces shot and killed Hamsa abu Roub, the head of the Islamic Jihad organization in the village of Kabatiya, south of Jenin, early this morning. Four IDF soldiers sustained light injuries during the operation.
In other news, Hamas terrorist Ibrahim Abu Hawash was killed and another Hamas member was arrested after they opened fire on a Paratroopers unit patrolling Nablus. The two were hiding in a house in which the soldiers found explosive devices, Kalashnikov rifles, ammunition and other equipment.
Meanwhile, according to YEDIOT AHARONOT, the IDF announced that they have uncovered a cell phone smuggling operation to Palestinian prisoners in the Ktziot Jail in southern Israel. Cellular phones, batteries and chargers were smuggled in frozen chickens and delivered to the prison by an Israeli-Arab. The cell phone smuggling operation was intended to send coded messages about Israeli targets to Palestinian activists.
Cannot Run for 16th Knesset
Following the ruling of Central Elections Committee Chairman Justice Mishael Cheshin, Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz will not be a member of the 16th Knesset, and his name was deleted from the 12th place on the Likud’s Knesset candidate list, HA’ARETZ reported. The ruling will be brought before the committee’s plenum on January 3 and, if approved, Mofaz will be able to appeal to the High Court to have the decision overturned.
Cheshin made his decision based on the fact that Mofaz did not complete the mandatory six month "cooling off period" required of all senior Israel Defense Forces officers competing for a place in the Knesset. Cheshin rejected arguments forwarded by Mofaz’s attorney that Mofaz had stopped serving as Chief of Staff on July 9. Instead he argued that Mofaz ceased to be an IDF officer on August 11, and until that date was on discharge leave. In his ruling, Cheshin wrote, "As far as the Basic Law and the Elections Law are concerned, Mofaz ceased to be an IDF officer on August 11, and a basic calculation shows that it will not have been six months since that date by the time of the elections."
Veterinarian Creates Survival Kits For Pets
As Israel prepares for a possible chemical attack by Iraq, veterinarian Rafi Kishon has created a survival kit for pets, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The kit includes antibiotics for an anthrax attack and a makeshift gasmask of bandages and baking soda that can protect pets for a brief period.
"I first became concerned back in 1991 during the Gulf War when Snoopy (Kishon’s dog) would rush to our sealed room whenever there were air-raid sirens and I began to wonder what we could do about pets," Kishon said.
Kishon said a number of patients have bought the kit and he is also giving colleagues instructions for making their own.
Aid Given to Families Affected by Terror Attack in Kenya
A delegation of the Israeli humanitarian organization La’Tet (to give) arrived in Mombasa, Kenya this week to supply aid to forty local families who were affected by the terror attack at the Paradise Hotel last month, MA’ARIV reported. The delegation was sponsored by Israeli companies and business people, the Israeli Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Jewish community in Kenya.
The delegation handed out 15 tons (approximately 33,600 lbs) of food, which is supposed to last a few months. In addition, they purchased backpacks, notebooks and pencils for 1,500 children from the village of Kikmabala, near the scene of the attack," delegate Ra’anan Amir said and added that "in most of the families, the people who were killed or wounded were the providers. Most of the residents here in the area make a living out of tourism. The number of tourists has dropped after the terror attack and they are struggling to make ends meet."
The Ministry of Health announced a public service campaign to provide information on smallpox and its vaccination, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. For more information about the disease and the vaccination, log on to the Ministry of Health’s web site: http://abush.health.gov.il/pox_eng/index.htm.
* Amdocs won a $40 million prestigious billing project for France’s second-largest telecommunications operator, Cegetel, GLOBES reported. According to sources, Amdocs jointly bid for the project with Israeli mediation company XACCT Technologies, which won Cegetel’s mediation contract. Oscar Gruss equity research analyst Tsachi Rodnik said that, "Although Cegetel is not a major telecommunications operator, winning a contract of this kind is very important, both strategically and financially."
* Minister of Finance Silvan Shalom announced a new plan to ease mortgage repayment method, at a press conference on Tuesday, HA’ARETZ reported. According to the new plan, apartment buyers can now choose to make smaller mortgage payments in the first eight years and higher ones from the ninth year on.
** Gunman Infiltrates West Bank Community
** Over 20 Fugitives Arrested in West Bank
** Sheba Launches First Aid Course for Parents
** First Legal Commercial Arab Station Launched
** Hebrew University Signs Deal for New Dormitory Complex
** Economic Briefs
The gunman opened fire at people who were inside the dining hall of the community, which is located south of Hebron. He is believed to have fled the scene of the attack.
Security forces and emergency medical teams were at Otniel at the time of this report.
20 Fugitives Arrested in West Bank
A bus transporting Israel Defense Forces troops to their positions came under Palestinian gunfire this morning, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The bus was traveling between the West Bank communities of Ofra and Bal Hatzor when it was struck. There were no reported injuries.
Meanwhile, security forces arrested more than 20 fugitives in raids in the West Bank yesterday, including two senior Hamas commanders in Kalkilya suspected of masterminding the homicide bombing at the Dolphinarium. Five IDF soldiers were wounded in the operations, one seriously, by Palestinian gunmen in Nablus and Kabatiya.. Security forces also entered Kabatiya to arrest Abu Roub, a master bomb maker who planted the bomb that exploded at Kibbutz Shaked in November 2001, wounding three civilians. He was also involved in dispatching the terrorist who perpetrated the homicide bombing near Umm el-Fahm on September 18 in which a policeman was killed and a civilian seriously wounded. He is also implicated in shooting attacks in the West Bank. Troops surrounded Roub’s home and called on those inside to surrender. Abu Roub came out the house firing an M-16 and throwing two grenades, wounding four soldiers, one seriously. Troops shot and killed him, and later blew up his house.
Also, an undercover IDF unit attempted to arrest Bassam Askar and another senior Hamas fugitive, Iman Amer Rashid, as they drove in Ramallah’s Manara Square. When their car was stopped, Askar drew a gun, and the troops shot him dead. They arrested Rashid. Soldiers found an M-16 rifle, two handguns, and thousands of Jordanian dinars in the car. Rashid was reportedly one of the senior members of a cell that carried out several homicide bombings in which scores were killed, including those at the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in March, a billiard club in Rishon Lezion in May, the Hebrew University in July, and Tel Aviv’s Rehov Allenby in September.
Finally, a Border Police undercover unit in Tulkarm shot Jimal Yehiye when he attempted to evade arrest. An IDF doctor, who was unable to save his life, treated him. Yehiye had planned a number of attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the Tulkarem area and in areas bordering the Green Line. He was also involved in numerous shootings, the terrorist infiltration into Hermesh in October, in which three were killed, and the terrorist infiltration into Kibbutz Metzer in November, in which five were killed, including two small children and their mother. Earlier in the year he was involved in several failed attempts to dispatch suicide bombers.
Launches First Aid Course for Parents
The Childbirth Center at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat-Gan is slated to open a first-of-its-kind first aid course for parents concerned about caring for their children in emergency situations, MA’ARIV reported. The goal of the course is to teach parents how to recognize stressed babies and young children, and teach them how to help their children.
The course will feature several lectures, including recognizing symptoms and what steps to take in time of crisis or war. For example, which child should be fitted with a gas mask first, in a family with multiple children, what should a parent do when a baby cries while in an Infant Protective Suit and how should a parent decorate and accessorize the Apartment Protected Space? (APS). Parents will also learn about the contents of a protection kit and each part’s purpose as well as how to deal with children who have specific health or mental problems.
"The Childbirth Center believes that it is of great importance to prepare the population for emergency situations in advance, so that in real time they could answer to the immediate needs of babies and children," Sheba’s Executive Director Dr. Ze’ev Rotstein said.
Legal Commercial Arab Station Launched
The first legal commercial Arab radio station, a-Shams, or "The Sun," is scheduled to launch broadcasting this coming March, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Program Director Yazeed Hadid, a shareholder of Radio a-Shams, will supervise the new station. Hadid initiated the project in response to outdated Arabic radio stations from neighboring countries that he says he could not relate to. "It was old fashioned, it didn’t speak to me as a young person and progressive thinker," he said. The new radio station will serve the Arab population in northern Israel, reaching as far south as Tel Aviv.
Radio a-Shams offers listeners contemporary Arabic music that is not played by any other Arab or Israeli radio station. While A-Shams is not the first Arab-Israeli radio station, it is the first to fall outside the control of the government. Hadid hopes the station will be "very fun and hip, with more progressive and local music. "We will also create fun programs for woman and youth," he said, "with more health news, more quizzes and games, and more interviews."
University Signs Deal for New Dormitory Complex
Hebrew University is set to sign an agreement today with Africa-Israel and Minrav building companies for the construction of a $45 million dormitory complex, THE JERUSALEM POST reported.
Under the terms of the agreement the two companies will build the project under a DBOT (Design-Build-Operate-Transfer) scheme. The builders will construct the dormitories using their own funds and retain ownership for 25 years during which the university will rent the complex from the builders. The builders will also have full control of the complex during the two summer months to rent out the rooms to tourists. After the 25-year period has passed, the project will be handed over to the university.
This is the first initiative of its kind in Israel and is based on similar projects undertaken by foreign universities.
With some 70 percent of its 23,000 students coming from outside the capital, the university regards dormitory space as critical. The complex, which is to be built opposite the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Mount Scopus, will comprise 10 buildings between seven and nine stories in height, containing 380 apartments for a total of 1,500 rooms. The apartments will be composed of 2,3 and 5 room shares. Each student will be given a private room while married couples will be entitled to a two-room apartment. The students will pay a monthly rent of $250. The new complex will increase the university’s dormitory space by over 30 percent. The plan for Spector-Amishar architects and construction designed the project and expects it to be completed by 2004.
* Entrepreneur Stef Wertheimer announced of the establishment of a Jewish-Arab industrial park, GLOBES reported. Wertheimer’s 6th industrial park will be located in the high-tech area along the Nazareth-Upper Nazareth municipal border, with the encouragement of government offices. Nazareth Mayor Ramaz Jarisi, Upper Nazareth Mayor Menachem Ariav, and Ministry of the Interior Northern District Director Yigal Shachar are also promoting the project.
* The Israel Hotel Association reported on Thursday that there was a 6 percent increase in foreign tourist staying overnight in November 2002, compared with November 2001, GLOBES reported. The report also indicated that there was also an 11 percent increase in hotel overnights by Israelis. Total hotel overnights in November were 1.093 million, of which 900,000 were by Israelis and 193,000 by foreign tourists.