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Israeline — Wednesday, February 20, 2002 —

1. Six Soldiers Killed in Terrorist Attack near Ramallah Last night (Feb 19), six soldiers were killed and one moderately wounded in a terrorist attack on the Ein ‘Arik Israeli military roadblock west of Ramallah. The families of those killed have been notified.

The wounded soldier was evacuated to hospital for medical treatment. An additional soldier stationed at the roadblock was not wounded in the attack.

A Kalachnikov assault rifle, apparently belonging to one of the terrorists, was found at the site of the attack The terrorists apparently fled to Ramallah following the attack, together with two M-16 assault rifles taken from the roadblock. The IDF is conducting an inquiry of the incident.

2. Prohibition of Palestinian Travel on West Bank Roads
As a response to the murderous attack last night (Feb 19) west of Ramallah in which 6 Israelis were killed, the IDF tonight prohibited Palestinian travel on roads accessing and connecting the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Kalkilia, Nablus, Jenin and Tul-Karem, as well as those between the Palestinian villages in the areas. Travel for Palestinians will be permitted only in humanitarian cases.

3. IDF Operations Last Night in the West Bank
During the course of last night (Feb. 19-20), IDF forces carried out operations against Palestinian Authority targets throughout the West Bank, including Palestinian roadblocks though which terrorists are allowed to pass on their way to commiting attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. The PA police manning these roadblocks work in collusion with the terrorists and turn a blind eye to their activities. The PA security apparatus is tainted with terrorism, and many terrorists come from among its ranks. The IDF will continue operating against the terrorist elements in the PA, until such a time that the PA takes responsibility over those territories under its authority. The IDF reserves the right to take action against terrorism, at a time and place of it’s choosing.

The Palestinian roadblocks attacked include:
In the Nablus District:
– The roadblock west of Balata
– The roadblock near Kafr Kalil
– The police station in Kafr Tel In the Ramallah District
– The roadblock south of Ramallah

In addition, the IDF carried out a strike against the ‘Mukata’a’ government compound in Ramallah, as well as a building that served as a facility for security soldiers in the city.

4. IDF Carries Out Strikes Against Targets in Gaza
In response to the wave of murderous terrorist attacks in recent days, and the inadequate measures taken by the Palestinian Authority to eradicate this terrorism, an Israeli Navy force operated last night (Feb 19) against the PA’s Presidential Compound in Gaza. In the operation, a number of Force 17 members were targeted and a Palestinian Navy Police vessel was destroyed. No IDF injuries reported. In addition, the IDF carried out strikes against three targets in the Gaza District:

– BRDM armored vehicles located in the ‘Ansar 2’ Compound near the city of Gaza
– The Palestinian Police Headquarters (the ‘Jawazat’) in Gaza
– A security facility near the city of Khan Yunis

The IDF Spokesman stressed that the IDF will continue to operate against Palestinian terrorism, in order to provide security to Israel’s soldiers and civilians.

Israeline — Thursday, February 21, 2002 —



Prime Minister Ariel Sharon addressed the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Wednesday night and said that "while we are taking all the necessary steps against terror, we are also doing everything not to escalate the situation," HA’ARETZ reported.

In his address, Sharon reiterated five steps the Palestinian Authority must take in order to make possible the resumption of peace negotiations. These steps include the arrest of terrorists, dismantling terror groups and their infrastructure, collection of illegal weapons, prevention of terror attacks and cessation of incitement against Israel. Sharon added that if these demands are met it will prove the PA’s serious intention "and then we will be ready to give a great deal." He also said that Israel expects 100 percent effort from the PA, "and if it does that, we will not be pedantic about every isolated lunatic."

Sharon is scheduled to address the nation tonight and outline new diplomatic directions. He is expected to announce the lifting of economic restrictions on the Palestinians, along with intensified military measures aimed at stemming terror attacks. Today and on Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces struck Palestinian terrorist targets in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Sharon and Minister of Defense Binyamin Ben-Eliezer held a phone conversation this morning with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They discussed ways to achieve regional stability, to prevent escalation and to promote peace in the region.

Meanwhile, the Israeli and Palestinian joint security committee is slated to convene today, with the presence of CIA officials. The last time the committee convened was on February 1, after a meeting between Sharon and senior PA officials. On Wednesday, Ben-Eliezer met the head of the Palestinian preventive security service in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Dahlan, and with Arafat’s economic advisor Mohammed Rashid, to discuss security matters and ways to stem the escalating violence.

People who undergo non-Orthodox conversions in Israel must be registered as Jewish on their Israeli identity cards, the High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday in a landmark 9-2 decision, HA’ARETZ reported.

The decision was written by Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, with Justices Shlomo Levin, Theodor Or, Eliyahu Mazza, Tova Strasberg-Cohen, Dalia Dorner, Dorit Beinisch and Eliezer Rivlin concurring. It stemmed from the High Court’s ruling seven years earlier that the Orthodox monopoly on conversions in Israel was illegal. At the time, the court refrained from explicitly ordering the state to recognize non-Orthodox conversions performed in Israel, though it had accepted non-Orthodox conversions performed abroad ever since 1986.

In 1998, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the Ministry of Interior must also register local Reform and Conservative converts as Jewish. The State then appealed that decision, and Wednesday’s ruling was the result both of that appeal and of several petitions by non-Orthodox converts.

Barak said his verdict was based on a 40-year-old ruling that defined the Ministry of Interior’s Population Registry as strictly "a gatherer of statistical material," whose decisions regarding what to write on a person’s identity card carry no weight as evidence. The outcome of this definition is that a Ministry clerk, unlike a judge, has no authority to decide whether the information given him by an applicant is true; he must record whatever the applicant tells him, unless it is blatantly false.

The Population Registry Law defines a Jew as someone born of a Jewish mother or someone who has converted, but does not define the term "converted." Furthermore, no court has ever ruled on whether non-Orthodox conversions do or do not qualify under this law. The question of what qualifies as conversion is therefore unresolved, Barak said, so a non-Orthodox convert’s declaration that he is Jewish cannot be termed blatantly false. This means the clerk must accept the convert’s declaration that he is Jewish, even if the clerk believes non-Orthodox conversions do not meet the law’s criteria.

Therefore, Barak continued, the court does not need to decide whether non-Orthodox conversions in fact qualify as conversions under this law. Similarly, the ruling does not constitute recognition of local non-Orthodox conversions for the purpose of securing citizenship under the Law of Return; that issue will be discussed in a separate case.

The court also based its ruling on its earlier ruling requiring the State to recognize non-Orthodox conversions performed overseas. That ruling said a convert must be registered as Jewish if the conversion was accepted by the community that performed it. Based on this principle, Barak wrote, any conversion recognized by any community, whether in Israel or abroad, should entitle the convert to be registered as a Jew in Israel.

The two dissenting justices, Izhak Englard and Yaacov Turkel, argued that whether the ministry registers a person as "Jewish" is not a mere matter of statistics; it implies that the person so recorded in fact meets the definition of a Jew, and is therefore a deeply controversial ideological decision of the sort in which the court should not be involved.

The Czech Republic is seeking to expand its defense ties with Israel, HA’ARETZ reported. Czech Deputy Defense Minister Stefan Fule, who visited Israel this week, said on Wednesday that he discussed the issue with his Israeli counterpart, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, and with the Director General of the Ministry of Defense Amos Yaron. Fule said that his country is interested in cooperation with Israel "on condition that it is mutual and not solely to develop unilateral links. We hold Israel’s advanced technological ability in very high esteem, but we also have something to offer."

A number of projects were discussed, including a Polish-Czech-Israeli-Hungarian consortium to upgrade their Mi-25 Soviet-made helicopters in which Israel will provide the technological know-how, the Czech Republic will purchase the license rights from Russia, and Poland, Hungary and the Czechs will build the factory. The Czechs also want Israel to purchase their LR-159 training aircraft and special vehicles suited to tough terrain.

The police and the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team came to the aid of an Arab boy from East Jerusalem last week, after his bag was mistaken for an explosive device and blown up, MA’ARIV reported.

The boy, Marwan Asila, left his bag unattended next to the Nablus Gate in the Old City. Police forces noticed the bag, and suspecting it was a bomb, notified sappers who later destroyed the bag.

Several hours later, Asila and his father arrived at the Kishla police precinct, in search of the bag. When they were notified that the bag had been destroyed, Asila was disheartened. He told police officers that his soccer ball was in the bag. "Without my ball," he said, "I have no life." Ilan Franko, the Deputy Commander of the precinct, took pity on the child, and offered to buy him a new ball. Asila thanked him and professed his love to Beitar Jerusalem. "Is it possible," he asked Franko, "to arrange a ball signed by all of Beitar’s players?"

Franko contacted Avraham Levi, Beitar’s Manager. Levi promised to give the boy a signed soccer ball and an official Beitar Jerusalem uniform. Frnako also sent one of his officers to buy Asila a new school bag. On Monday, the boy and his father returned to the precinct, this time to receive the new bag, ball and uniform.


* Ester Neurosciences Ltd. has received regulatory approval to conduct clinical trials for an antisense drug that could completely change the way neurological diseases are treated, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The drug targets the genes that influence the protein that helps create diseases and will be used in the clinical trial to treat myasthenia gravis, a disease that affects the junctions between the peripheral nerves and muscles and is charachterized by muscle fatigue. The company, based in Tel Aviv, was established in 1997.

* Israeli drug maker Taro Pharmaceuticals announced today a net profit of $9.82 million, or $0.34 per share, in the fourth quarter, GLOBES reported. Wall Street estimates for profit per share were at $0.31. Net profit was 180 percent higher than in the fourth quarter of 2000, when net profit was $3.5 million. Taro said its revenue reached $44 million in the fourth quarter, in line with analysts’ projections. Revenue was 47 percent higher than in the fourth quarter of 2000, when revenue was $29.9 million. Taro’s gross profit in the fourth quarter of 2001 increased to $28.4 million, or 65 percent of sales, compared with gross profit of $18 million, or 60 percent of sales, in the fourth quarter of 2000 Research and development expenses for the fourth quarter increased to $5.8 million, compared with $3.8 million in the same period last year.

Israel Line is a daily summary of major news items taken directly from the Israeli media.

Israeline — Friday, February 22, 2002 —



Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unveiled a plan on Thursday to establish buffer zones, with the goal of creating "a security separation" from the Palestinians, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. In a televised speech, Sharon said that the security cabinet approved the plan on Wednesday and promised it would enhance the security of all Israelis, no matter where they live. He said the Israel Defense Forces would begin marking the zones immediately and placing obstacles along them.

Sharon pledged to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians predicated on two stages. First, Israel will seek an armistice agreement to create a situation of non-belligerency and demilitarize the Palestinian Authority. Sharon intends to meet PA in the near future to discuss this first stage. Negotiations for a permanent settlement to determine the final borders for Israel and the PA, the second stage, will begin once violence has ceased totally.

"One must remember that there are no magical solutions, and we must not be duped by false prescriptions proffered by experts and commentators," Sharon said. "I have said before and I say today: For the sake of real peace, there will be painful compromises. But there will not be any compromise on the security of the State of Israel and its citizens. First the terrorism will stop, then calm will be restored, and then we will talk peace."

Sharon called out to the Palestinian people, asking them to chose between the suffering of war and the rewards of peace. "Will you continue to follow those who lead you to ruin, destruction, and despair?" Sharon asked. "Will you continue to be misled by those who call upon your sons to commit suicide, or will you follow those who choose to progress and to thrive?"

Meanwhile, according to HA’ARETZ, Sharon spoke to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday to discuss ways to restore calm between Israel and the Palestinians. Mubarak said that ending the violence was vital to return to the negotiating table and achieve a just peace for both sides.

The Director of Policy and Planning at the U.S. State Department, Richard Hass arrived in Israel on Wednesday. He met with Palestinian officials, including Abu Ala and Abu Mazen, upon his arrival, and with Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Avi Gil, Minister Dan Meridor, National Security Adviser Uzi Dayan and Sharon’s foreign policy adviser Danny Ayalon on Thursday. Today, Haas is scheduled to meet with Minister of Defense Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and the head of the IDF Planning and Policy Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland, also serves as Israel’s representative on the joint security committee with the Palestinians.

Hass is the most senior U.S. envoy to travel to the region since U.S. Middle East Envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni returned to the United States at the end of last year. Haas also visited Egypt.


An alert customer shot a terrorist attempting to blow himself up this morning in a supermarket in Efrat, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Efrat is located in the Gush Etzion block of Jewish communities, south of Bethlehem.

The terrorist successfully detonated one small explosion, lightly injuring one customer, when a female shopper shot him twice. The terrorists’ explosives were packed with nails to increase injury.

According to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, police sources said that the terrorist, identified as Muhammad Ashimali, 22, from the village of Adoha, apparently intended to detonate a small bomb in the supermarket and then blow himself up with the explosive belt when police forces arrived at the scene. Ashimali had a permit allowing him to work in Efrat.

After the attack, Ashimali’s father said that his son wanted to be a martyr.


In the latest of a series of moves that followed a joint Palestinian-Israeli security meeting on Thursday night, Israel will grant Palestinians residing in the West Bank full access to mosques in Jerusalem during the upcoming Eid Al Adha festival, HA’ARETZ reported.

Israeli Security Agency chief Avi Dichter, head of the Israel Defense Forces Plans and Policy Directorate Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland, Palestinian Authority preventive security chiefs Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub and head of PA intelligence Amin al Hindi attended the meeting. Earlier in the day, Minister of Defense Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Dahlan and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat’s economic adviser Mohammed Rashid met.

During the meeting, it was also agreed that the IDF would dismantle roadblocks erected following a shooting attack on Tuesday night near the West Bank city of Ramallah, in which six soldiers were killed. Troops also withdrew this morning from positions taken last week on the hills east of the El Bureij refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip.

Also this morning, IDF troops arrested a Palestinian in the West Bank village of Tamoun suspected of planning to carry out a suicide bombing attack in the upcoming days.


The Jewish National Fund of America dedicated a new community, Zuqim (cliffs), in the Arava desert on Wednesday, HA’ARETZ reported. The Sapphire Society, a women’s gift fund within the JNF, is funding the community.

Unlike most communities in the Arava, Zuqim will be residential, with the first living units scheduled to be complete by Spring 2003. At a groundbreaking ceremony, Sapphire Society chairwoman Marcy Lefton of Florida placed a foundation stone to mark the site of Zuqim’s first house. "Women want to make a statement," Lefton said. She also said that she was inspired by David Ben-Gurion’s vision of seeing the desert bloom.

New Jersey State Senator John Adler, who was visiting Israel for the first time as a guest of the JNF, was also present at the dedication. "Too many Americans think Israelis are hunkered down waiting for the next shot," Adler said. "They know Israel from its tragedies but not from the miracle’s on the Golan, the hi-tech in Herzliya and the agriculture in the Arava. They don’t have a sense of the daily courage of Israelis living their lives, conscious of danger but undeterred by it."

* Teva Pharmaceuticals is cooperating on a research project intended to genotype multiple sclerosis patients in order to produce a "diagnostic kit" that will predict responsiveness to Copaxone, a medication developed by the company to treat MS, HA’ARETZ reported. The project will be carried out in conjunction with the Rappaport Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences at the Technion and with the Weizmann Institute’s Genome Center. In the course of the research, patients who took part in clinical trials for Copaxone in oral form, which has not yet received Food and Drug Administration approval for sale in the United States, will also be tested.

* Citibank began offering a limited number of retail services to Israeli customers this week, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The international personal banking services are aimed at mid-to-higher-income customers with $50,000 or more. The service includes local current accounts, from which wire transfers and domestic deposits can be made. In addition, the service provides a range of products including mutual funds and money-market instruments, which would allow Israelis to diversify their assets.

Israel Line is a daily summary of major news items taken directly from the Israeli media.