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Israeline — Monday, June 03, 2002 —

** IDF Uncovers Bomb Factory in Nablus and Balata
** Tenet To Arrive in Israel Today
** Danny Ayalon Appointed Ambassador to U.S.
** Hebrew University Researcher Develops New AIDS Treatment Test
** Economic Briefs

IDF Uncovers Bomb Factory in Nablus and Balata

The Israel Defense Forces discovered a large bomb factory during its third day of major operations in Nablus on and the adjacent Balata refugee camp on Sunday, HA’ARETZ reported. The explosive devices and various chemical substances in Nablus were found in the home of known terrorist and Fatah leader Mahmoud Titi, who was killed by the IDF on May 21. His cousin, Jihad, carried out the Petah Tikva homicide bombing last week in which two Israelis died.

Meanwhile, the IDF safely detonated a 40-kilogram bomb planted on a road near the settlement of Dug it in the Gaza Strip. The bomb was similar to ones that have extensively damaged IDF tanks previously, the army said. Palestinians also fired two mortars on Sunday at one of the communities in the Gaza Strip. One of the mortar shells landed near a school, and a10-year-old student broke his arm while running for cover.

Security forces also uncovered plans for a large-scale terror attack in the Gaza Strip after arresting a number of Hamas terrorists at the Gush Katif junction on Friday. Three homicide bombers were planning to explode themselves. The IDF said the same group that planned this attack also was responsible for the attack at Azmona on March 7, in which five Israeli teenagers were killed.

Tenet To Arrive in Israel Today

CIA Director George Tenet will arrive in Israel today to discuss ways to rebuild the Palestinian security services, HA’ARETZ reported. A government source in Jerusalem said Sunday that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will tell the CIA director that "cosmetic" reforms in the Palestinian Authority would not be sufficient, and there is no chance for any successful reform as long as the financial and security control in the PA is held by Chairman,Yasser Arafat.

Javier Solana, the European Union’s Foreign Policy Coordinator, visited Jerusalem on Sunday morning and met with Sharon, Minister of Foreign Affair Shimon Peres, and Minister of Defense Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. Sharon reiterated his long-standing conditions for any renewal of a political process: A total end to terrorism, violence and incitement, and comprehensive reform of the Palestinian regime. Sharon also told Solana that the intelligence results from Operation Defensive Shield show Arafat has not given any instructions that could be interpreted as orders to halt terror attacks.

"Condemning attacks is not an order, and his people know exactly what he means. In the past, when he gave clear orders to fight terror, those orders were followed, because the main organization conducting the terror attacks is the Tanzim, which is directly subordinate to Arafat," Sharon said. Solana agreed that if the terror against Israel continues, it won’t be possible to do anything. He said the Quartet – the U.S., EU, UN, and Russia – agreed a regional conference should be convened as early as possible, and he cited the end of July as a possible date.

Danny Ayalon Appointed Ambassador to U.S.

Danny Ayalon, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s political adviser, has been appointed Israel’s next Ambassador to the United States, HA’ARETZ reported. The appointment was agreed on between Sharon and Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres, who announced it Friday to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs William Burns.

Ayalon, 47, is a professional from the Foreign Ministry who, four years ago, was moved to the Prime Minister’s Office in the capacity of deputy political adviser. Last year, Sharon appointed Ayalon as his political adviser. As Sharon’s political adviser, Ayalon dealt with preparing visits and meetings for the Prime Minister abroad, and was also involved in ongoing contacts with foreign ambassadors and emissaries. In recent weeks, he has maintained contact with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, discussing ways of concluding Operation Defensive Shield.

Ayalon joined the Foreign Ministry 13 years ago, after completing business administration studies in the United States and a stint in the private sector. Prior to his position at the PMO, he served as assistant to Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gad Yaakobi.

Sharon would like to see Ayalon leave for Washington as soon as possible. Prior to his departure, however, his appointment will have to be approved by the Foreign Ministry’s Supreme Appointments Committee and the Cabinet. The position of Ambassador in Washington has been vacant for about a month and a half, following the retirement of former Ambassador David Ivry.

Hebrew University Researcher Develops New AIDS Treatment Test

A researcher from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has developed a new test that allows for the detection of an AIDS patient’s tolerance level for certain medications, HA’ARETZ reported. Today, AIDS patients, who are taking medication to suppress the disease and reduce its severe symptoms, often develop a tolerance for the drugs, forcing doctors to put them on alternative medications, which usually involves lengthy tests before the proper dosage is determined.

Lital Alfonte, a doctoral candidate at the university, developed the test as part of her thesis project and received the Kay Prize, the University’s award to researchers who develop new applications for their science with commercial potential. According to Alfonte, the main problem with the AIDS virus is the speed by which it develops and changes which in turn allows for the rapid development of immunity to medications. She added that the new test examines an enzyme that enables the virus to multiply. The enzymes, called protases, are examined twice – once when the patient is taking the medication with it, and once without. The comparison between the two helps determine the patient’s condition.

The Government approved on Sunday the appointment of Yosef Barel as Director-General of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, MA’ARIV reported. Barel was appointed as acting Director-General in mid-March by Minister Ra’anan Cohen, who is responsible for implementation of the Broadcasting Authority Law. Barel, 67, was awarded the Israel Prize in recognition of his achievements when he headed the IBA’s Arabic Television Department.

Economic Briefs

* Two Israeli high-tech companies will be in action for the series, providing technological solutions for worldwide broadcaster Korea Telecom, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Scopus Network Technologies, a provider of digital compression technologies to the broadcast industry, will provide Korea’s largest telecom service provider with the digital transmission of the games, which will be seen by hundreds of millions of fans around the globe. At the same time, Comverse Technology will deploy its Multimedia Messaging Service Center (MMSC) during the World Cup.

* Israeli start-up Algotec will supply supplement software technology to Eastman Kodak Company’s Health Imaging division, which will accelerate Kodak’s timetable for expanding the functionality of current and future picture-archiving-and-communications systems (PACS), GLOBES reported.

These systems are used in medical facilities’ radiology departments. Algotec will make available to Kodak a suite of innovative software technologies for integration into Kodak PACS products. Kodak will perform the integration work, commercialize and manufacture the resulting PACS products, and provide post-sales service and support to customers.

Israeline — Tuesday, June 04, 2002 —


** Prime Minister Sharon to Meet With Bush
** Russian Woman Injured in Anti-Semitic Attack Arrives in Israel for Treatment
** IDF Appoints First Spokeswoman
** New Report Shows Arab-Israeli Involvement in Terrorism Has Tripled
** Economic Briefs

Prime Minister Sharon to Meet With Bush

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is slated to arrive in New York on Friday in preparation for a meeting on Monday with President George W. Bush in Washington, the White House announced on Monday night. "The visit of the Prime Minister comes in the context of ongoing consultations among senior U.S. and Israeli leaders aimed at promoting peace and security in the Middle East," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. The meeting comes only one month after Sharon’s last visit to Washington on May 7. The Bush-Sharon meeting will follow consultations between Bush and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the Camp David retreat in Maryland this weekend.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara is also expected to meet with Bush next week in Washington.

Meanwhile, assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns and CIA Director George Tenet are in the Middle East trying to lay the groundwork for an overhaul of the Palestinian Authority and build momentum for a multilateral peace summit, possibly to be held later this summer.

Theyare expected to depart Israel on Friday to return in time for the Bush-Mubarak meeting slated for Saturday. Tenet met today with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. During the meeting, Arafat asked Tenet to urge Israel to end all military operations in PA-controlled areas, a senior PA official said. Israel has been carrying out the incursions to arrest terrorists, and imposing closures on Palestinian citiesserve to keep Palestinian attackers out of Israeli population centers. Arafat also presented Tenet with a plan for reforming the Palestinian security services, proposing to halve their number and tighten supervision.

As a precursor to the reorganization of Palestinian security services, Arafat said on Monday night that the veteran Palestinian security officialAbdel Razak Yehiyeh, will be in charge of coordinating the security forces.

Russian Woman Injured in Anti-Semitic Attack Arrives in Israel for Treatment

Tatiana Sapunova, a 27-year-old Russian woman who was injured by an explosion while trying to remove an anti-Semitic sign from the side of a road outside Moscow will arrive in Israel today for plastic surgery, MA’ARIV reported. The Jewish community in Russia will assist the patient with all necessary costs for her treatment.

Sapunova was driving along the Kiev highway outside Moscow when she spotted the sign that read "Death to Jews." She stopped the car and tried to pull the sign out of the ground where it was posted simultaneously triggered an explosion that left her with severe burns.

The Political Minister at the Israeli Embassy in Moscow informed Israel of the poor medical conditions in Russian hospitals and following a pool of resources amongst the Moscow Jewish community, the decision was made to send Sapunova to Israel.

The incident heightened fears of racist violence in Moscow, after Russian skinheads threatened a "war against foreigners." The day after the explosion, a Jewish boy was beaten and had his nose broken in Moscow by skinheads.

IDF Appoints First Spokeswoman

Ruth Yaron, a veteran diplomat, has been approved as the next Israel Defense Forces Spokeswoman, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Yaron is the first womanever named to the post.

Yaron will be the third female brigadier-general in the IDF. The upper echelons of the IDF Spokesman’s Office is now a bastion of female commanders, as Yaron’s deputy will be Lt.-Col. Miri Regev and most departments are headed by female officers.

Yaron has worked within the Foreign Service for the past 20 years, mostly inpositions dealing with the media, including a stint as a media adviser in the Embassy in Washington, D.C. from 1989-1995.

New Report Shows Arab-Israeli Involvement in Terrorism Has Tripled

The number of cases in which Arab-Israelis were involved in terrorism has more than tripled since the start of the current wave of violence last September, according to data supplied by the Prime Minister’s Office, HA’ARETZ reported.

According to the report which was provided in response to a query from the newspaper, the Israeli Security Service uncovered two incidents in 1999 in which Arab citizens of Israel were allegedly involved in terrorism. There were eight such incidents in 2000, 25 in 2001 and 19 in the first five months of 2002.

"These official statistics reflect a sharp and ongoing rise in the involvement of Arabs with Israeli identity cards in terrorist activity," said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, which oversees the Security Service. The statement also said that in all the cases listed, there was solid evidence of the suspects’ involvement and that the suspects had been arrested.

A law banning the opening of cafes and restaurants on Tisha B’Av, the Jewish fast day marking the destruction of the First and Second Temples, passed on Monday in the Knesset, HA’ARETZ reported. The bill passed by a large majority with 28 Knesset members voting in favor of it.

Economic Briefs

* ECI Telecom, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Motorola, and Comverse Infosystems were among the medium-size and large companies to benefit most this year from the grant program sponsored by the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. It was a year that saw grant requests grow tremendously as companies that previously managed on independent financing turned to the government for help.

* Jacada announced that the South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company has purchased its servers to provide a browser interface in its mainframe-based systems, GLOBES reported. Jacada develops software that enables businesses to utilize their existing software applications to conduct business over the internet. More than 500 users located internally and at agencies across South Carolina will access the new browser interface to handle daily client needs and general administrative responsibilities. Israel Line is a daily summary of major news items taken directly from the Israeli media.

Israeline — Thursday, June 06, 2002 —

** Israeli Severely Wounded in West Bank Terrorist Attacks
** Israel Remembers
** United States Governors Support Israel
** New Competition Promoting Coexistence to Test Knowledge of Bible, Quran
** Economic Briefs

Israeli Severely Wounded in West Bank Terrorist Attacks

An Israeli civilian, 20, was seriously wounded today in a Palestinian shooting attack north of Ramallah, near the Jewish Community of Ofra, HA’ARETZ reported. The man was shot in the chest and taken to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment. Israel Defense Forces soldiers searching for suspects arrested two Palestinians, one of whom is a member of the Hamas.
Meanwhile, IDF forces redeployed from Jenin this morning after a brief operation in response to the homicide bombing on Wednesday, in which 17 Israelis were killed and more than 40 wounded. During the operation, IDF forces also targeted areas in Ramallah.

Israel Remembers

Seventeen Israelis were killed on Wednesday when a car bomb packed with a large quantity of explosives detonated near a crowded Egged bus No. 830 at the Megiddo junction near Afula, in northern Israel, YEDIOT AHARONOT ON-LINE reported. These are the names and stories of some of the victims:

* Sgt. Yigal Nevifur, 22, of Netanya, served in the Israel Defense Forces’ Logistics Branch. He graduated from Ort technical high school, and planned on a career in the army. He is survived by his parents and sister.

* Sgt. Sivan Weiner, 19, of Holon, celebrated her birthday a day before the attack. Her family did not want her to return to her army base late at night, and urged her to spend the night at home and take the bus in the morning. Before joining the army, she was a dancer with the "Horah Re’im" folk dancing troop, and performed around the world. She completed a commanders’ course recently, and was about to be in the service as a platoon commander for the first time next week. Friends of Weiner said on Wednesday, "we can’t grasp this. Sivan was always so full of life. How can it be that she’s gone?" She is survived by her parents and three older brothers.

* St.-Sgt. David Stanislavsky, 23, of Netanya, immigrated to Israel from the Ukraine with his mother several years ago. He was 10 days short of his discharge from the army. After his discharge, he planned on taking the money he’d saved during his service and marrying his girlfriend of two years. He is survived by his mother.

* Sgt. Violeta Hizgayev, 19, of Hadera, served as technician. Her mother was killed several years ago in a car accident, and her father died of a terminal illness. Violetta was left with her sister Ida, 15, and her brother Yitzhak, 20. Yitzhak usually took the same bus as his sister, but on the morning of the attack took a different bus to see an army doctor at a different base. The Hizgayev family immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union eight years ago. Violeta is survived by her siblings.

* St.-Sgt. Eliran Buskila, 21, of Hadera, served as a non-commissioned officer in charge of ammunition. He planned on a career in the army. His mother said, "you left us, but we’re not leaving you. We will stay with you forever, Eliran, my flower." He is survived by his parents and three brothers.

* Sgt. Sariel Katz, 21, of Netanya, served as a computer technician. He returned home every night from his army base in order to support his ailing parents. He planned on starting an officer’s course in the coming months. At his graveside, his mother said, "Sariel, come home. You don’t belong there, in the ground." He is survived by his parents and two brothers.

* St.-Sgt. Genadi Isakov, 21, of Hadera, immigrated to Israel with his family from the Former Soviet Union in 1998. He was called to his base earlier than usual on Wednesday, as he was slated to receive a new appointment as a non-commissioned officer in charge of computers, as well as a higher rank.

* St.-Sgt. Tzvika Gelbard, 20, of Hadera, was almost killed two months ago in another Palestinian suicide bombing, after having missed bus number 823 seconds before it exploded. In his spare time, he served as a soccer referee, and was excited about watching the World Cup games. He is survived by his parents and two sisters.

* Corp. Avraham Barzilai, 19, of Netanya, surprised his parents on Tuesday as he came home for an unexpected leave from the army. On Wednesday morning, his father escorted him to the bus station. He is survived by his parents and three siblings.

* Corp. Vladimir Marari, 20, of Hadera, immigrated to Israel with his family from the former Soviet Union three years ago. On Tuesday night, he called his sister Irena, and told her how excited he was about his upcoming birthday and discussed plans of studying after the discharge from the army. "We were soul mates," Irena said. "He had a heart of gold. Always helping everyone. In five weeks, he was supposed to be 20. It will never happen." He is survived by his parents and sister.

* Corp. Dennis Bliumin, 20, of Hadera, immigrated from the Ukraine with his family in 1991. He loved computers, and spent most of his time building internet sites. He also took only express busses, thinking that decreased the chance of the bus being boarded by a suicide bomber.

* Corp. Liron Avitan, 19, of Hadera, was slated to complete a professional training course today. She spent most of her time at the army or at home, tending to her younger brother who was injured in a car crash several years ago. She is survived by her parents and three siblings.

* Sgt. Dotan Reizel, 22, of Hadera, was the youngest son of the family. He was excited about his older brother’s wedding next month. He is survived by his parents and two siblings.

* Tzion Agmon, 50, of Hadera, was a successful lawyer, who had served in the past as a District Attorney. On Wednesday, he and his son Yuval took the same bus, but did not find seats next to one another. Tzion sat at the front of the bus, while Yuval sat in the back. Tzion was killed, and Yuval was moderately injured. "When I was in the hospital," Yuval said, "I asked where my mother was, and they told me she’s on her way but that she’s stuck in traffic. But I knew right away where she really was: she was at the morgue, identifying my father’s corpse." Agmon served on the board of directors of the local radio station, and was an active member in several charities. He is survived by his wife and son.

* Adi Dahan, 17, of Afula, was just completing her junior year of high school. Two months ago, her older brother, Shlomi, was killed in an accident. Her aunt, Shoshana Cohen, said, "after Shlomi died, Adi tried to bring life back to the home. She was the pillar of this family, a talented girl who loved life. Just as the smiles were returning to this home, this horrible blow came." She is survived by her parents and two siblings.

United States Governors Support Israel

Forty-two United States’ governors signed declarations on Wednesday to express their express support for Israel, endorsing its right to live in peace and security, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. "Today, governors from around the country send a powerful message that America stands firmly with the people of Israel, united in our belief that a true and lasting peace in the Middle East can only come with a safe and secure Israel," New York State Governor George Pataki (R-NY) said.
On April 15, two days before Israel Independence Day, California Governor Grey Davis sent a letter to fellow Democratic governors asking that they sign a declaration of principles expressing solidarity with Israel and the peace process. Governor Pataki sent a similar declaration to his Republican counterparts.
Maryland Governor Parris Glendening (D) said, "The United States and Israel will always enjoy a special bond, united by our shared values of democracy, respect for human rights and belief in the sanctity of life."

New Competition Promoting Coexistence to Test Knowledge of Bible, Quran

A new competition testing knowledge of both the Bible and the Quran is currently being held in the Gilboa Regional Council in northern Israel, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. The preliminary round of the competition, featuring 48 Jewish and Muslim high school students, started on Wednesday. The goal of the competition is for Jewish students to profess knowledge of the Quran and for Muslim students to profess knowledge of the Bible, in order to promote tolerance, peace and coexistence. Sixteen students will compete in the competition’s final round, scheduled to be held next week.
One participating student, Shahed Kassem from the Mukabala village, said, "I am happy about the opportunity to study the Bible. Before the competition, I knew nothing of the Bible. And, I had the chance to get to know some new Jewish friends." Another participant, Timna Ben from Moshav Dvora, said that she is thrilled about the chance to study the Quran, and is excited to meet new Arab friends.
The competition was initiated by the head of the regional council, Danny Attar, together with regional high schools. It is the first time ever that a competition tested the knowledge of both holy books concomitantly.


The Central Bureau of Statistics annouced on Wednesday that 270,000 people are unemployed, an all-time record high, HA’ARETZ reported. According to the data, the rate of unemployment among men in the first quarter of 2002 was 10.6 percent and 10.7 percent among women.


Economic Briefs

* Major American corporation have shown renewed interest in joint ventures with Israeli companies and investing in Israel according to Dov Hershberg, executive director of the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation for U.S. Israel high-tech corporation, HA’ARETZ reported. There has been particular interest in the fields of telecommunications and software, which may indicate the beginning of the end of the global crisis in these areas, Hershberg noted. U.S. companies, said Hershberg, believe that Israeli firms now have more realistic assessments of their value and are ready to make deals at better prices than in the past.

* Optical equipment company Atrica announced that it has teamed up with FlexLight Networks, a new optical networking company, GLOBES reported. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will participate in joint reference-selling of their products. Atrica said both companies have already successfully completed initial test to ensure interoperability between Atrica’s optical Ethernet system and FlexLight’s gigabit passive optical networking (GPON) solution. Atrica is a privately held company based in Santa Clara, California, with research and development facilities in Israel. FlexLight Networks was founded in September 2000 by a team of optical network specialists. The company has offices in Atlanta, Georgia, and Kfar Saba, Israel.

Israeline — Friday, June 07, 2002 —


** Teenager Killed in Shooting Attack Thursday
** Peres: Syria to Blame for Megiddo Attack
** Hague Christian Groups Demonstrate for Israel
** Economic Briefs

Teenager Killed in Shooting Attack Thursday

Erez Rund, 18, from a community in Ofra, was killed on Thursday in a shooting attack in the West Bank, north of Ramallah, HA’ARETZ reported. Rund was in a car on his way to the Elei community north of Ofra to register for a preparatory course for the IDF. Rund was in his final year of high school. He was brought to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem in serious condition with bullet wounds to his chest. Despite attempts to save his life, he died at the hospital. His funeral was held today at11:30am in Ofra. Following the shooting, the IDF placed a closure on the village and searched for the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, according to THE JERUSALEM POST Israeli tanks entered the West Bank town of Jenin this morning and declared a curfew in a routine patrol following the bombing near Megiddo on Wednesday. The suicide bomber who blew up an Israeli bus with an explosives-laded car near Megiddo set out on his mission from Jenin. IDF forces also patrolled along the southern edge of Bethlehem early today and briefly entered Tulkarem where a Palestinian woman suspected of planning a suicide attack inside Israel was arrested. An army spokesman said two other men were also detained. In addition, in the al-Fawar refugee camp near Hebron, a special police unit arrested five Palestinians suspected of terror activity. One of those apprehended is a members of the Palestinian police force.

Peres: Syria to Blame for Megiddo Attack

Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres said Thursday that Syrian President Bashar Assad shares in the blame for Wednesday’s Megiddo bus bombing which took the lives of 17 people, as Damascus is harboring terrorist organizations, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Peres made the accusation during a series of media interviews, including one with the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television, in which he noted that the orders for the deadly attack were given by Islamic Jihad leader Abdallah Ramadan Shalah from his base in Damascus. In addition, Ambassador to the United Nations Yehuda Lancry sent a letter on Thursday detailing Syria’s responsibility for Wednesday’s attack Mikhail Wehbe of Syria, who is also the current President of the UN Security Council. "Israel is appalled that a member of the Security Council continues to lend its support to organizations committed to deliberate murder of civilians," Lancry wrote.

Noting that Syria assumed leadership of the 15-member body at a time when Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the council had already made fighting international terrorism a top priority, Lancry added, "it is astounding that Syria is brazenly supporting attempts to subvert anti-terrorist objectives of an international body of which it itself is president. The international community must demand that the government of Syria immediately halt its support for the terrorist groups to which it grants safe harbor in its territory and abide scrupulously by its international obligations and the resolutions of the Security Council." The letter included a request that Wehbe circulate the text as an official council document.

Hague Christian Groups Demonstrate for Israel

A coalition of Christian groups held a march in the Hague in the Netherlands on Thursday evening in support of Israel, THEJERUSALEM POST reported. The demonstration was held to counter several anti-Israel protests that the area has seen lately.

According to Rev. Cornelius Sonnevelt, a Dutch pastor presently living in Israel, the youth wing of the Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij initiated the demonstration, a Christian political party in the Dutch Parliament, which he said, represents hundreds of thousands of bible-believing Christians.

The march was purposely planned for June 6, marking the 35th anniversary of the Six Day War during which Israel’s very existence was threatened and then averted, Sonnevelt said. The demonstration was also intended as a rebuttal to a recent pro-Palestinian demonstration in Amsterdam, during which participants likened Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Hitler.


Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz appointed on Thursday retired judge Eliahu Winograd to head a team that will re-evaluate the fate of Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Arad has been missing since October 16, 1986, and it is presumed that he has been held hostage in Lebanon since then. The team will re-examine all the information about Arad’s captivity with the aim of drawing conclusions as to his status today, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said in a statement.

Economic Briefs

* A recent Israel Export Institute survey shows that the security situation negatively affected exports of 41.5 percent of Israeli companies, while 7.1 percent claimed their exports were positively affected, and 51.5 percent were unaffected, GLOBES reported. Only 36 percent of the respondents said that foreign customers expressed concern about delivery timetables for Israeli products. Twenty-three percent of the respondents said that their foreign customers demanded that storerooms be opened overseas.

* Prime Minister Ariel Sharon committed himself to boosting Israel’s economy and told a forum of exporters that he will encourage foreign investors to come to Israel, HA’ARETZ reported. In reference to the state of the economy, Sharon said, "We know where we are headed and what is needed today is to be calmer and quieter. Essentially, we have a strong economy and the best brains in the world, in every field. I believe in the shekel and the Israeli economy and I will make every effort to keep the economy stable." Sharon also told his audience he will instruct Israeli embassies across the globe to prioritize economic matters and to give assistance to Israel’s industry.