Choose Day Below
HOMICIDE BOMBERS KILL 23 AND INJURE 100
** ISRAEL REMEMBERS
** ISRAEL SUCCESSFULLY TESTS ARROW DEFENSE SYSTEM
** BLUE AND WHITE TO LIGHT UP SPACE
** 450 ISRAELIS KILLED BY TERRORISM IN 2002
** ECONOMIC BRIEFS
HOMICIDE BOMBERS KILL 23 AND INJURE 100
Two homicide bombers blew themselves up within a minute of each other, killing 23 and wounding 100 people at a Tel Aviv pedestrian mall on Sunday, MA’ARIV reported. According to witnesses, the first bombing occurred at around 6:30pm and the second bombing occurred thirty seconds later. "It is a maneuver we know well, where one bomber blows himself up in a crowded space and then the other, hoping to maximize the casualties, detonates his bomb," Tel Aviv Police Chief Commander Yossi Sedbon said. This was the third bombing at this location since 2002. The first homicide bombing took place on January 25, 2002, when 32 people were wounded on Neve Sha’anan Street and the second occurred on July 17 2002, when two homicide bombers blew themselves up at the entrance to the Neve Sha’anan Quarter, killing three people wounding 40 others.
Chief of Police Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishky said the two 30 pound bombs packed with nails, bolts, and metal shards created such chaos that police and rescue workers initially had difficulty determining the exact number of dead. Fifty-six victims still remain hospitalized today. Two of the victims are reported to be in very critical condition, eight in serious condition, twelve in moderate condition and the rest are being treated for light injuries.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Benjamin Netanyahu said today that "not only has the Palestinian Authority failed to fight terrorism, Arafat’s own Fatah and Tanzim forces proudly took credit for yesterday’s savage attack, and for many other atrocities over the last two years."
U.S. President George W. Bush issued a statement on Sunday night strongly condemning the double homicide bombings, calling them "a despicable act of murder." Also, Secretary of State Colin Powell called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to offer his condolences to the people of Israel.
In an immediate response to the terrorist attacks on Sunday night, Israeli Air Force helicopters fired four missiles at a weapons factory, which manufactured mortar shells, in the Askula section of Gaza City.
Staff Sgt. Mazal Orkabi, 20, from Azur;
Sapira Shoshana Yulzari-Yaffe, 46, from Bat Yam;
Amiram Zamoura, 55, of Holon;
Hanna Haimov, 52, from Tel Aviv;
Sabao Miahai, 39, from Romania;
Nicolai Ion, 35, from Romania;
Anglov Kosamov, 33, from Bulgaria;
Steven Cromwell from Ghana;
Victor Shovayev, 63, from Holon;
Avi Kotzer, 43, from Bat Yam;
Meir Haim, 70, from Azor;
Lilia Zibstein, 33, from Haifa;
Boris Tepelshvili, 51, from Yehud.
Andrei Friedman, 30, from Tel Aviv.
SUCCESSFULLY TESTS ARROW DEFENSE SYSTEM
The Israel Air Force successfully launched four Arrow missile interceptors on Sunday in an exercise testing the country’s anti-missile defense in preparation for a possible attack from Iraq, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. "Iraq has limited aerial and missile capabilities, but we are prepared for any surprises," Air Force Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz said.
According to security sources, the Arrow can travel at nine times the speed of sound to intercept hostile missiles as far as 50 kilometers from their targets. Israel and the United States have invested $2 billion in the Arrow project. The test-launch was part of the Arrow System Improvement Program (ASIP) managed by the Ministry of Defense Missile Defense Organization in cooperation with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. American military observers were present at the testing of the Arrow’s launch.
Meanwhile, dozens of American soldiers have arrived in Israel over the last few days for a joint exercise of Israeli and American anti-aircraft forces that will start this week and will finish defense preparations by January 15.
AND WHITE TO LIGHT UP SPACE
A team of five Israeli students from the ORT vocational high school in Kiryat Motzkin in northern Israel proposed and designed a scientific experiment that will be performed in space by Col. Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, GLOBES reported. The experiment is designed to determine whether the lack of gravitational forces in space affects the development of crystals. On earth, when a liquid solidifies into fibers, the fibers grow in a direction opposite to that of gravitational forces. The materials chosen for the experiment contain calcium and magnesium, and when introduced into a solution, will form blue and white crystals and symbolize the colors of the Israeli flag.
The Israeli team won a competition sponsored by the international STARS Project to attract students to the space program and look for new and innovative ideas for outer space scientific experiments. "It’s a special opportunity for us to show the world that Israelis are helping the world," said Ido Rechter, 16, a member of the team. "We have the potential to do great things in Israel," fellow student Leila Feldman, 17, added. "The fact that an Israeli astronaut is going into space sends the message that Israel has a lot to offer in developing the sciences," Feldman said.
The Discovery STS-107’s mission will include more than 80 experiments to study Earth and space science, advanced technology development, and the health and safety of an astronaut.
ISRAELIS KILLED BY TERRORISM IN 2002
According to the Israel Defense Forces’ statistics, 447 Israelis were killed in terror attacks in Israel, and 3 outside the country (Kenya) in the year 2002, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. In addition, 2,344 Israelis were injured, including 604 members of security forces. The breakdown of the fatalities show that out of 450 Israelis, 295 were civilians and 155 were members of security forces; 302 men, 148 women, 57 children under the age of 18 and 58 senior citizens (over the age of 60) were killed. In addition, 17 foreign workers died. The statistics also show that 265 were killed within the Green Line, 182 in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and 3 abroad.
Furthermore, 2,208 terror attacks occurred in the West Bank during 2002, 3,056 in the Gaza Strip and 177 within Israel’s home front. March was the most violent month, during which 109 Israelis were killed and 663 injured.
U.S. biotechnology company Iomai Corporation announced the completion of a $54 million financing round, GLOBES reported. The Israel Infinity Fund participated in the round, investing several million dollars, according to informed sources. The New Enterprise Associates and Essex Woodlands Health Ventures funds led the round. Other investors included ProQuest Investments, MedImmune Ventures, and the China Development Industrial Bank. Iomai developed a new method of immunization that utilizes the skin, called transcutaneous immunization, for which it has been granted two registered patents.
Compugen Ltd. announced that Evogene Ltd., its agricultural
biotechnology subsidiary, is in the final stages of closing a $2 million
private placement with a group of Israeli, European and U.S. investors,
GLOBES reported. Evogene is an emerging company focused on the development
of "tailor-made" plants and plant "biofactories" for
the improvement of crops and plant derived products. The company is unique
in merging state-of-the-art molecular biology and computational technologies
with the most advanced classical breeding technologies.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by David Nekrutman and Michal Rachlevsky at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
** SENIOR FATAH OFFICER RESPONSIBLE FOR SUNDAY BOMBING ARRESTED
** FRENCH CONSULATES REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE MARRIAGES PERFORMED BY WEST BANK AND GAZA STRIP RABBIS
** MORE THAN NIS 1 BILLION TO BE ALLOCATED TO NEGEV BEDOUIN PLAN
** HIZBULLAH TERRORIST HEAD MAKES KIDNAPPING CLAIM
** ECONOMIC BRIEFS
Nineteen of the 22 people killed in Sunday night’s twin homicide bombing at the old central bus station in south Tel Aviv have been identified, and the victims include 14 Israelis and six foreigners. As of early Monday afternoon, 47 of the approximately 100 people wounded in the attack were still hospitalized. Two were wounded critically, five seriously, two moderately-to-seriously, and the rest lightly-to-moderately.
These are the names and details of the victims:
Staff Sgt. Mazal Orkabi, 20, of Azor, had joined the standing army a week ago and was posted to headquarters in Tel Aviv. She was planning to start studying at university next year. During the funeral services, Orkabi’s younger brother said, "I do not find the words to eulogize you and I cannot grasp that you are gone." Elinor, her cousin, added "You, who never hurt anybody, who always loved and respected everybody, a pure soul – we will never forget you." Orkabi is survived by her parents, a sister and a brother.
Meir Haim, 74, of Azor. Although he was never a professional football player, Haim Meir was known as "the grandfather of Beitar Jerusalem,"(a prominent Israeli football team)since he followed the fate of the team religiously and spent a great deal of time time photographing it and giving advice to the young players. Meir was a pensioner of the Mekorot water company and the local commander of the Civil Guard. He is survived by his wife, five daughters and 14 grandchildren.
Mihai Sabau, 39, of Romania, arrived in Israel seven years ago and worked in construction. "He was a good man, and gave his soul to his work," his brother Peter said. The family will accompany his body back to Romania today. He is survived by his wife and son.
Lilya Zibstein, 33, of Haifa, immigrated with her family from the Ukraine five years ago. She worked in the computer company near the central bus station. "She was a wonderful person. Not a bad word can be said about her," a family friend said. Zibstein is survived by her parents and a sister.
Krassimir Angelov, 33, of Bulgaria, arrived in Israel last year. He began working in construction in Jerusalem. He moved to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem a few days ago. Angelov is survived by his wife and young son in Bulgaria. His body will be flown home tomorrow.
Victor Shobayev, 62, of Holon, immigrated with his family from the Ukraine in 1996, and worked as a handyman at the Mikud company’s office near the old central bus station. He was on his way home when the bombs exploded. Shobayev is survived by his wife, Yelena, his son, Vladislav, two daughters from a previous marriage who remained in the Ukraine, and two sisters in Israel.
Amiram Zmora, 55, of Holon. Zmora’s day began well: After 20 years of dedicated work at Bank Hapoalim, he was told that he was not among the 900 staff members being laid off. Zmora worked at the branch near the old central bus station and left work half an hour early on Sunday evening, since a meeting was cut short. He is survived by his wife, Ronit, and two army-age sons.
Steven Arthur Cromwell, 43, of Ghana. Cromwell arrived in Israel four years ago with his wife, Sarah, and worked as a cleaner. He had gone to do shopping at the market near the old central bus station and was on his way home when the explosion took place. The Cromwells have two children who live in southern Ghana and the body will be flown there for burial.
Sapira Shoshana Yulzari-Yaffe, 46, of Bat Yam, worked in an insurance company in Tel Aviv and was waiting for the bus home. She was the proud grandmother of a baby girl and spent a great deal of time taking care of her and of her two children. She is survived by her parents, her children, granddaughter, and three siblings.
Avi Kotzer, 43, of Bat Yam, worked in a computer firm and had caught a ride to the central bus station on Sunday evening with a friend. He was due to be married soon to a young woman from Canada. Kotzer, who was born in Azerbaijan, wrote a Caucasian-Hebrew dictionary. He was the family breadwinner and leaves behind his mother and a young brother.
Hannah Haimov, 52, of Tel Aviv, arrived in Israel 10 years ago from Uzbekistan with her son, daughter and other relatives in order to "live a real Jewish life," as the family put it. Haimov’s niece, Osnat, was killed in terrorist bombing in Ocober.
Boris Tepalshvili, 51, of Yehud, immigrated to Israel from Georgia three years ago with his wife Louisa and their two daughters, to create a better life. He was on his way to meet a friend at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv when he was killed. Louisa described her husband as an optimist, a good man who loved his family. "My daughter is getting married and hurts that her father will not be there for the occasion," she said. Tepelshvili will be buried on Wednesday at the Yahud cemetery. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Ilanit Peled, 32, of Azor, received her Masters degree in Law with honors at the Tel Aviv University last week. Minutes before the attack she called her parents to let them know that she was on her way home, then she boarded a bus at the old central bus station and was immediately killed from the blast. Peled used to help her parents take care of her brother, who was crippled in an accident. She was buried on Monday at the Holon cemetery and is survived by her parents and brother.
Ramin Nasibov, 25, of Tel-Aviv, emigrated from Georgia with his parents and sister in 1998. He sold cellular phones for a living in a small store in the area of the old central bus station in Tel Aviv. "He loved to travel, dance and have fun," his cousin Zohara Dadash said, adding that after Nasibov heard the first bombing, he rushed out of the store to see what had happened. He was killed in the second bombing. Nasibov’s body was flown to his hometown in Georgia for burial and he is survived by his parents and sister.
Mordechai Evioni, 52, of Holon, was on his way to take care of his sick mother when he was killed in the attack. During the Yom Kippur war in 1973, Evioni was wounded and later suffered from shell shock. Unable to recover, he was supported by his parents. When his father died three years ago, Evioni took it upon himself to take care of his mother. He also volunteered in the Civil Guard organization. Evioni was buried today at the Yarkon cemetery in Tel Aviv and is survived by his mother and two brothers.
Andrei Friedman, 30, of Tel Aviv, was looking for a job at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv when he was killed. Three and a half years ago Friedman emigrated from Belorussia with his family and worked as a security guard. "He was a good man, who loved his daughter very much and helped with her education," said his ex-wife Oxana. Friedman was buried today in Ashkelon.
Li Peizhong, 41, of China, came to Israel to work so he could send money back to his wife and children in China. He was planning to save money to go back to his native country. When his friends and flatmates heard the explosions they tried to contact him on his cell phone but did not succeed. After a few hours someone answered the phone and told them to come to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir to identify his body. Li’s body will be flown to China with the next few days for burial.
Nicolai Ion, 35, from Romania, was a construction worker in Israel for the last two-and- a- half years. He planned to work a few more years, save enough money to buy an apartment and go back to his hometown in Romania. Ion had planned to meet his wife, who also lives in Israel, at the old central bus station at the time he was killed. His body will be flown to Romania in the next few days for burial.
Ivan Patoniak, 46, of the Ukraine, came to Israel three-and-a-half years ago and worked in construction. Patoniak and his girlfriend, Mira lived a few yards from the old central bus station and were just getting home when the blast hit them. Patoniak was killed and Mira was lightly injured. "He was a good guy who loved Israel very much," said his friend Alex. Patoniak’s body will be flown to the Ukraine for burial, where his two children live.
At the time of press, pathologists have managed to identify the last remaining victims but have not yet released their names.
FATAH OFFICER RESPONSIBLE FOR SUNDAY BOMBING ARRESTED
The Israel Defense Forces arrested Hazam Awad, a senior officer in the military wing of Fatah on Monday, HA’ARETZ reported. Awad is believed to have been the "operations officer" for the terrorist cell that sent the two homicide bombers on the mission that killed 22 people on Sunday in Tel Aviv. In addition, the IDF paratroopers force arrested another top Tanzim official, and both men are being questioned about their links to the two bombers.
Meanwhile, a force of Border Police and Israel Defense Forces Givati infantry troops entered the Muazi refugee camp in central Gaza searching for suspected terrorists early this morning when gunmen fired on them with anti-tank missiles and small arms, and threw fragmentation grenades at them, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Border Police undercover troops then stormed the gunmen’s position, killing four. Among the three gunmen killed were two members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, and an activist of Islamic Jihad. The army is still on the trail of Naif Abu Shariah, another Fatah operative.
Several other important arrests were also made yesterday. IDF soldiers arrested Iyad Aymouni, an Islamic Jihad terrorist from Halhul, considered one of the top men in the group that conducted the ambush on Worshipers Way in Hebron and the shooting attack on Otniel. Two other Islamic Jihad members were arrested with him. In Rafah, Givati troops arrested Islamic Jihad man Hassan Abu Armana, responsible for the murder of a Gush Katif rabbi in December. In Ramallah, Yusuf Pukha, a leading Jihad operative, considered a financier of the organization’s activists was also arrested.
CONSULATES REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE MARRIAGES PERFORMED BY WEST BANK AND GAZA
The French consulates in Jerusalem and Haifa are refusing to recognize Jewish wedding ceremonies, including those performed in pre-1967 Israel, if the presiding rabbi happens to be a resident of the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, THE JERUSALEM POST reported.
In one recent case, a French woman who had converted to Judaism and married an Israeli in a ceremony in Jerusalem, approached the French Consulate to apply for a livret de famille, an official document which records the status and details of one’s family members. Her request was turned down, she was told, because the rabbi who performed the ceremony lives in Gush Etzion. A spokeswoman for the French Consulate confirmed that its policy is not to recognize marriage certificates issued by the Chief Rabbinate’s local branches in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. "This is our policy and it is not new", she said, "France does not recognize such marriage certificates, because it is the location of the rabbinate issuing the certificate that matters." When asked about the policy, Jerusalem Consul Jacques Yves Raimbault would say only that the woman in question should make an appointment to see him, and that he would review her file.
THAN NIS 1 BILLION TO BE ALLOCATED TO NEGEV BEDOUIN PLAN
A five-year plan for Bedouin in the Negev Desert that includes investments of NIS 1.175 billion will be submitted for government approval in the coming weeks, HA’ARETZ reported. "The plan is comprehensive and includes two major innovations: allocation of funds for the promotion of Bedouin interests in the Negev, and, concurrently, the financing of stepped up enforcement against illegal construction and the taking of land," Shmuel Rifman, head of the Ramat Negev Regional Council, said.
Under this plan, a number of new communities are to be created for Bedouin in the Negev, the establishment of a mechanism to formulate solutions on land disputes, and the construction of educational institutions and public facilities. The plan was drawn up by a special intra-ministerial committee in conjunction with various local councils in the south.
TERRORIST HEAD MAKES KIDNAPPING CLAIM
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Hizbullah terrorist group, said on Monday that Elhanan Tannenbaum, the businessman kidnapped by the Shi’ite organization in October 2000, was alive, HA’ARETZ reported. This is the first time since the kidnapping that Nasrallah has stated that Tannenbaum is alive. Tannenbaum, a reserve colonel, is believed to be poor health and in needs of a constant supply of medicines. Tennenbaum was kidnapped in Europe eight days after the abduction of St.-Sgt. Benny Avraham and Omar Sawaid, and Sgt. Adi Avitan.
A recent study by the IVC research center states that several management companies are continuing to make investments in Israeli high-tech companies at a brisk pace, despite a difficult investment environment, GLOBES reported. According to IVC, during 2002, Pitango, Evergreen, Star and Giza were the funds that made the largest number of deals (first time and follow-on investments). Pitango Venture Capital invested in 21 companies, Evergreen in 17, Star in 16 and Giza in 14. The largest numbers of Follow-On investments were made by Pitango (17), Evergreen (14) and Star (14).
Teva announced that its US subsidiary will collaborate
with Illinois-based BioSante Pharmaceuticals on the development of a hormone
therapy product for the US market, GLOBES reported. The US market for
hormone therapy products is worth $2.5 to $3 billion in annual sales,
the companies said. BioSante president and CEO Stephen M. Simes said,
"We are extremely excited by this agreement and the opportunity to
work with Teva. Since we continue to make progress in development of our
hormone therapy gel products, our objective was to fund our work in a
way that maximizes stockholder value. With this licensing agreement with
Teva, we can continue to fund development and be ready to capture significant
market share on introduction of any product we jointly develop."
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Adina Kay and Dina Wosner at The Consulate General of Israel in New York.
TROOPS PREVENT INFILTRATION INTO THE SOUTHERN GOLAN
** SHARON’S SECURITY ADVISOR ARRIVES FOR TALKS IN EGYPT
** FRENCH ACADEMICS, POLITICIANS UNITE TO FIGHT ISRAEL BOYCOTT
** ISRAEL RANKS NUMBER THREE IN THE WORLD IN STUDY OF WORKAHOLICS
** ECONOMIC BRIEFS
TROOPS PREVENT INFILTRATION INTO THE SOUTHERN GOLAN
Israel Defense Forces troops killed a terrorist from a cell that tried to infiltrate Israel today from the point where the Syrian, Jordanian and Israeli borders meet, HA’ARETZ reported. Troops also injured another terrorist from the cell while three remaining members fled to Syria.
In separate incidents, IDF troops killed two Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip early today and demolished the home of wanted terrorist Osama Ashkar of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a group affiliated with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement.
The IDF has been carrying out operations in Gaza and the West Bank almost every night, arresting suspected terrorists. Early Tuesday, three Palestinians were killed in an exchange of fire between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces in the same area.
SECURITY ADVISOR ARRIVES FOR TALKS IN EGYPT
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s national security advisor Ephraim Halevy arrived in Egypt today ahead of talks with officials on ways of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, HA’ARETZ reported. Halevy, a former head of the Israeli secret service agency, the Mossad, is expected to meet several officials including Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher.
Visits by Israeli officials to Egypt had slowed to a trickle as result of a violent Palestinian uprising that erupted in September 2000. "These contacts are very vital," Reuven Merhav said, former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "The relationship with Egypt is a strategic pillar for Israel in the region." Merhav also said that the visit by such a senior government emissary was a sign of the importance Israel attached to its ties with its neighbor. Egypt and Jordon are the only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.
ACADEMICS, POLITICIANS UNITE TO FIGHT ISRAEL BOYCOTT
French politicians, media and academics have joined forces to denounce an attempted academic boycott of Israel, in response to a petition by a leading Paris university demanding that the European Union bar the country from research programs, HA’ARETZ reported. The faculty of Paris 6 University (specializing in the natural sciences) adopted the petition against Israel on December 16. In response, University president Gilbert Bereziat said on Tuesday that the university’s official policy has not changed and it would "never" cut off contacts with either Israeli or Palestinian scientists. Nevertheless, the university did not withdraw the petition, which says "Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has made education and research impossible for our Palestinian colleagues" and argues that continued scientific cooperation between the EU and Israel "will be interpreted as support for Israel’s current policies." On Tuesday evening, Paris 7 University was due to vote on a similar resolution.
The decision by the Paris 6 faculty sparked a wave of denunciations in the mainstream French media. Le Monde, Le Figaro and La Liberation all published editorials on the importance of maintaining ties with Israel’s academic institutions, arguing that these institutions serve as a moderating influence and as a place where Jews and Arabs can interact. Several French ministries also denounced the petition. Education Minister Luc Ferry said the petition was "out of place," as the "universal dimensions" of higher education and scientific research require that these fields be kept out of politics. The Foreign Ministry stressed that the university’s decision "in no way obliges the French government."
A letter signed by dozens of Nobel Prize winners protesting the university’s decision is expected to be published in Le Monde and an Internet petition against the decision has so far collected 25,000 signatures, 6,000 of them from academics.
RANKS NUMBER THREE IN THE WORLD IN STUDY OF WORKAHOLICS
In a global study of work addiction, Israel ranked number three in the world, YEDIOT AHARANOT reported. The United States came in first followed by Japan. The number four and five spots went to Belgium and the Netherlands respectively. According to the study, 8.4 percent of the Israeli workforce is considered workaholics working a minimum of 60 hours per week. Ninety-one percent of the groups studied were men and only nine percent were women. In the U.S., workaholics make up 12.7 percent of the total workforce. In Japan, 9.3 percent, Belgium 6.7 percent and the Netherlands 6.5 percent.
Given Imaging announced it has received Medicare and Medicaid code and payment rates for endoscopy using its M2A capsule endoscope, HA’ARETZ reported. VP for business development Yoram Ashery said the code’s significance is predominantly financial, calling it a substantial development in insurance coverage. Before receipt of such a code, many doctors avoided performing procedures due to the red tape and uncertainty involved in receiving reimbursement from the patient’s insurance company.
Hamat, Israel’s largest faucet maker, has signed a marketing
agreement with The Great Indoors (TGI), a Sears subsidiary, valued at
$1.5 million, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The faucets will be marketed
in 22 stores across the U.S. Avigdor Cohen, general manager of Merhav,
Hamat’s parent company, said the agreement is part of the company’s marketing
strategy to expand exports.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Caryn Farber and Jonathan Schienberg at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
COURT REVERSES DECISION ON BISHARA AND TIBI
** HAMAS LEADER CALLS TO ESTABLISH SUICIDE ARMY TO DEFEND IRAQ
** CIA: SYRIA ESTABLISHING NUCLEAR WEAPONS INFRASTRUCTURE
** COURSE OFFERED TO FOREIGN WORKERS IN PREPARATION FOR A POSSIBLE WAR WITH IRAQ
** ECONOMIC BRIEFS
COURT REVERSES DECISION ON BISHARA AND TIBI
Israel’s Supreme Court, composed of an 11-judge panel headed by Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, ruled today to allow Azmi Bishara and Ahmed Tibi to run in the January 28 elections, reversing a decision by the Central Election Commission, HA’ARETZ reported. Two weeks ago, the CEC disqualified Bishara and Tibi on grounds that they had expressed support for Israel’s enemies. Bishara was accused of inciting violence against Israel, while Tibi allegedly sided with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority against the Jewish state. Both legislators denied the charges, saying they oppose violence, and were simply criticizing Israel’s policy. In the wake of the decision, Shweki Khatib, chairperson of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, called on Arab citizens to participate in the upcoming elections.
In another decision, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the candidacy of Baruch Marzel, who was formerly a leader of Kach, whose members are banned from the Knesset under the Basic Law due to the party’s racist creed. The CEC had decided to allow Marzel’s candidacy based on his declaration that he abandoned his Kahanist beliefs.
Meanwhile, the court unanimously voted to disqualify the candidacy of Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz on technical grounds, saying he had not been out of the army for the requisite time to run for Knesset. Mofaz is a former army chief of staff and was disqualified because of the law requiring a six-month cooling-off period between military service and running for the Knesset.
The Supreme Court also decided to disqualify Moshe Feiglin, who served a six-month jail sentence for sedition. According to the law, anyone who has served at least three months in jail for a crime involving moral turpitude cannot run for the Knesset for seven years.
LEADER CALLS TO ESTABLISH SUICIDE ARMY TO DEFEND IRAQ
Senior Hamas leader and leading spokesman for the terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi said today that Iraq should establish an army of suicide bombers, equipped with thousands of explosive belts to "achieve the great, longed-for victory," Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. "Had we not been in battle against the [Israelis] in Palestine, our people in Palestine would be the first to come to the aid of our people in Iraq," Rantisi said.
In the past, Rantisi has repeatedly called for more suicide attacks against Israel. In an article titled "Iraq Will Triumph, by Allah’s Will," which was posted on the Hamas website, Rantisi called on warriors from around the Moslem world to come to the aid of Iraq in Islamic Jihad.
SYRIA ESTABLISHING NUCLEAR WEAPONS INFRASTRUCTURE
In a report submitted to the United States Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, the Central Intelligence Agency determined that Syria is establishing an infrastructure to develop nuclear weapons, MA’ARIV reported. Russia and Syria approved a draft to cooperate on civil nuclear power, which could provide Syria with opportunities to expand its indigenous capabilities, should it decide to pursue nuclear weapons.
The report also claims that Syria is developing chemical and biological weapons. It already holds a stockpile of the nerve agent Sarin, but is trying to develop more toxic and potent nerve agents. Syria is also improving its missile range and is continuing to receive help from abroad, primarily from North Korean entities and Russian firms.
OFFERED TO FOREIGN WORKERS IN PREPARATION FOR A POSSIBLE WAR WITH IRAQ
The Tel Aviv Municipality initiated a new course for leaders of different foreign workers’ communities in the city to teach them how to prepare for a possible war with Iraq, MA’ARIV reported. The leaders would be expected to later pass on the information to members of their communities. The course will include meetings with psychologists, representatives from the Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command and the National Insurance Institute. The participants will receive information about shelter locations and how to equip shelters in case of an attack. They will also learn how to use protective emergency kits including gas masks.
Meanwhile, over the next several weeks the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will train 90 social workers and other personnel who work with handicapped people, to help those who are severely handicapped in case of a possible missile attack on Israel. The trainees will learn about the special needs of handicapped people in an emergency situation and how to deal with any problems they may face.
* * * * * *
According to a study conducted by the Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, Israel is ranked second in the world, after Canada, in the number of educated adults, MA’ARIV reported. 44 percent of adults in Israel have completed higher education degrees, compared with 52 percent in Canada. In addition, the study shows that in Israel, 80 percent of children aged 3-6 are in school.
* * * * * *
A new technology incubator in Beersheba, known as Ma’ayan, will open in March with capital of $2.3 million available for investment, GLOBES reported. The incubator will accept six companies into its facilities, chosen from 70 requests to join. More companies will be admitted as the investment funds grow. In addition to funding, the incubator will provide resources for research, and assistance with networking and loans. The initiative was led by venture capital firm Partners 500 and industry workers, and will be operated jointly by VC Israel Infinity, Yossi Hasson of Nokia Ventures, and academic institutions.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Marita Gringaus and Michal Rachlevsky at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
** HEAD OF CEC SHUTS DOWN SHARON PRESS CONFERENCE
** BLAIR: I’LL WORK TO LIFT ARMS EMBARGO
** ISRAEL WILL CONDUCT SPACE RESEARCH WITH INDIA, FRANCE, UKRAINE AND HOLLAND
** ITALY ACCEPTS ISRAEL’S REQUEST TO HOLD EURO 2004 QUALIFYING GAMES IN FLORENCE
** ECONOMIC BRIEFS
OF CEC SHUTS DOWN SHARON PRESS CONFERENCE
Judge Mishael Cheshin on Thursday evening ordered the shutdown of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s televised news conference only minutes after the broadcast began, GLOBES reported. Sharon was to have answered questions about accusations leveled against him and his sons regarding improper campaign financing. Chesin, who heads the Central Election Committee, said Sharon’s speech was not appropriate due to elections campaigning regulations because of his criticism of the Labor Party. Israeli television has certain designated time-slots for election campaigning.
According to HA’ARETZ, the Likud party said that due to the black out, the Prime Minister was not able to properly answer the allegations against him. Labor says that the committee must discuss the manner in which Sharon used the media for unauthorized election campaining.
The Central Elections Committee presidency is to convene Saturday night, at the behest of the Likud and Labor parties, to discuss the decision of the committee chairman to halt media coverage of the press conference, convened by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to refute claims of alleged financial improprieties.
I’LL WORK TO LIFT ARMS EMBARGO
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday that he intended to work toward reversing his country’s policies restricting the export of security-related equipment to Israel, HA’ARETZ reported. Blair was speaking after a meeting with Labor Party chairman Amram Mitzna. Mitzna reportedly raised the issue with the British leader as a result of requests he received from Israeli sources, whom he refused to identify. These sources, Mitzna acknowledged, had stressed the problems the British arms embargo was posing to Israel’s defense needs. Among the items under reconsideration are those that are not related to the Israeli security efforts against the Palestinians.
In addition to a discussion about the developments in the Middle East, the two men discussed ways to renew the peace process, while maintaining pressure on terrorist organizations. Blair’s envoy to the Middle East, Lord Michael Levy, accompanied Mitzna during part of his visit to Britain.
WILL CONDUCT SPACE RESEARCH WITH INDIA, FRANCE, UKRAINE AND HOLLAND
Israel will partner in space research with India, France, Ukraine and Holland says Avi Har-Even, Director-General of the Space Agency, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Among the joint ventures being discussed is a joint satellite mission between Israel and India, to be launched in the next two years.
Meanwhile, Ilan Ramon will become the first Israeli astronaut to be sent into space on January 16th, if all goes as planned. The shuttle mission was supposed to launch in July, but was delayed when NASA found cracks in the fuel lines of its four orbiters. Har-Even said Israel plans to send more astronauts into space in the coming years, via the partnership with NASA. He added that the excellent space research cooperation Israel has with America would continue.
ACCEPTS ISRAEL’S REQUEST TO HOLD EURO 2004 QUALIFYING GAMES IN FLORENCE
The Italian Football Association confirmed on Wednesday that it would host Israel’s Euro 2004 Group 1 qualifying matches scheduled for April against France and Cyprus in Florence, HA’ARETZ reported. The Israeli Football Association is waiting for confirmation from UEFA, and plans to send a delegation to Florence Sunday to complete arrangements with the local municipality and police force.
After UEFA banned
Israel in March 2002 from hosting international matches due to the security
situation, the Israeli Football Association approached several venues
in England, however, they fell through due to excessive security expenses.
IFA Chairman Gavri Levi has said that the association stands to lose some
$1.5 million in revenues as a result of the ban. Israel’s under-21 team
will also host its qualifying matches in Italy, however it is yet to be
decided whether the games will be held in Florence or Ampoli.
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The Civil Aviations Administration has given final approval to Israir to fly from Ben-Gurion International Airport to New York, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reports. The airline has announced that the first flight will take place in July. Israir has committed to employing Israeli crewmembers on this route, the radio said. An estimated 7,000 travelers fly between Ben-Gurion and New York each year.
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The Ministry of Industry and Trade incubator administration has approved five incubators to operate under the privatization pilot model, GLOBES reported. Three more incubators are in the final stages of the approval process. The five incubators are: Orit Technological R&D Center in Ariel; Initiative Center for the Negev in Beer Sheva; Meytag Technology Incubator in Katzrin; Ofakim Innovative Technologies; and NGT in Nazareth, established as the first incubator in the Arab sector. Outside investors must pledge an incubator at least $300,000 in investment a year for three years, regardless of the number of projects at the incubator. They must also pledge to finance five projects a year for three years. The total commitment is $2 to $2.5 million.
New ministers who join the government after the January 28 elections will earn NIS 2,135 (approximately $454) a month more than those who have been in the cabinet since the current government was formed in March 2001, due to two changes in the law that differentiate between these two groups. In June 2001, the wages of new ministers and deputy ministers were linked to the Consumer Price Index. However, the change did not apply to veteran ministers, those that were already serving in the cabinet at the time. Their pay was linked, as it had always been, to the average wage.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Dina Wosner and Jonathan Schienberg at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.