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Israeline — Monday, May 19, 2003 —


** At Least Twelve Israelis Killed in Renewed Wave of Terror
** Israel Remembers
** Sharon Postpones Visit to Washington; Reports on His Meeting With Abu Mazen
** Strike Ends As Netanyahu And Histadrut Reach Agreement
** Other News In Brief
** Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs


At Least Twelve Israelis Killed in Renewed Wave of Terror
At least twelve Israelis have been killed and dozens wounded in a total of six homicide attacks carried out by Palestinian terrorists since Saturday evening, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. At least three people were killed and 18 were wounded when a homicide bomber blew herself up this afternoon at the entrance to the Emakim Mall in Afula. The bomber detonated her explosive belt after a security guard prevented her entry into the shopping center. According to Magen David Adom rescue workers, eighteen wounded persons were evacuated to hospitals in Afula and Haifa. Five were seriously wounded and the rest were in light to moderate condition. "The Palestinian terrorists have clearly chosen an agenda of murder and terror," David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister’s office, said. "It’s obvious that despite Israel’s effort to make progress and pursue a path of dialogue, Palestinian terrorists have chosen to strike at Israel’s citizens at any and every opportunity."

Early Sunday morning, a Palestinian terrorist disguised as a religious Jew boarded the No. 6 Egged bus at Jerusalem’s French Hill intersection and blew himself up, killing seven passengers and wounding 20 others, four seriously. The victims were: Shimon Ostinsky, 68; Nellie Perov, 55; Olga Brenner, 52; Marina Tzachivirshvili, 44; Yitzhak Moyal, 64; Roni Yisraeli, 35, all from the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood; and Tawil Ralab, 42, from Shuafat.

The homicide bomber was identified as Bassem Jamil Tarkrouri, 19, a Hamas activist from Hebron. Tarkrouri, armed with a belt of explosives, boarded the bus wearing a kippa and tallit in order to give the impression that he had just returned from synagogue. He blew himself up at 6 AM, the explosion of his 10-kilo bomb ripping out the windows of the bus and sending glass fragments and personal belongings flying.

About 20 minutes after the blast on French Hill, as rescue officials were just completing the evacuation of the wounded to four city hospitals, another explosion went off to the north. A second Palestinian homicide bomber had set off another explosion at a checkpoint near the city’s northern border after being cornered there by security officials. He failed to kill anyone except himself. Jerusalem Police Chief Cmdr. Mickey Levy said the second bomber blew himself up after being ordered to stop near the village of Dihyat el-Barid, which adjoins the Neveh Ya’acov neighborhood. Police suspect he was on his way to carry out a second attack when he was intercepted, and that both he and Tarkrouri were part of the same Hamas cell.

According to HA’ARETZ, three of the terrorists behind the attacks carried out since Saturday night are students from the Palestine-Polytechnic, which was closed by the Israel Defense Forces a few months ago. Bassam a-Takriri, 19, a computer student responsible for the No. 6 bus attack, and Fuad Qawasmeh, 18, a second-year electrical engineering student behind the bombing attack in Hebron, reportedly lived just a few meters apart, close to Hebron University. Qawasmeh was also the nephew of the head of the Palestinian Education Ministry in the Hebron area. Videocassettes immortalizing the three and their last wills and testaments were being distributed in Hebron on Sunday.

Gadi Levy, 31, and his pregnant wife Dina, 37, of Kiryat Arba were killed on Saturday evening after a Hamas homicide bomber blew himself up alongside homes belonging to Jewish community residents of the West Bank city of Hebron. Late Saturday night, a Palestinian gunman carried out a shooting attack on the community of Sha’arei Tikva close to the Green Line, injuring at least one resident there.

Today, Palestinians launched a series of attacks in the Gaza Strip, including a homicide bomber on a bicycle who attacked an IDF patrol in the area of Kfar Darom injuring three soldiers. Several rockets and mortars were fired at civilian areas and at least one struck in the Negev town of Sderot, punching a hole in a building at a construction site. Two women were treated for shock. Later two mortars were fired at the Gush Katif community in southern Gaza. In a separate incident, gunshots were fired at Israeli vehicles escorted by jeeps near the Netzarim community, damaging a bus but causing no injury.

After consultations with security officials and following Sunday night’s cabinet meeting, a full closure was imposed on Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley in response to the bombings. Army sources indicated Palestinians would be barred from entering Israel except in humanitarian cases that would have to be coordinated with district liaison officials.
Ministers decided against proposals to expel Palestinian Authority head Yasser Arafat, but Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz said today that Israel would reconsider the idea if Arafat continued to incite attacks.

Israel Remembers
The following seven people have been identified as victims of Sunday morning’s homicide bombing attack on the No. 6 Egged bus: Here are their names and stories:

Marina Tsahivershvili, 44, of Jerusalem. Marina, who emigrated from Georgia seven years ago, was "a very dedicated and responsible kitchen worker" at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where she prepared breakfast for the children and the hospital’s clinics for the past 3.5 years. According to her boss, she was a kind woman who was always willing to volunteer, being among the first to offer her help following previous terror attacks in Jerusalem. "We lost a dear woman," Shaare Zedek director Prof. Yonatan Levy eulogized at her funeral. "It’s a shame she also fell victim to the bloody conflict between us and the Palestinians."

Nelly Perov, 55, of Jerusalem. On Saturday night, Nelly and her daughter Lana, 20, celebrated that it had been three years since they immigrated to Israel from Kazakhstan. A few hours later, Nelly left home to go to her cleaning job, getting on the No. 6 Egged bus. Her 35-year-old son, Andre, came to Israel before them and lives in Rishon Letzion with his family. Yesterday, Andre spoke of how Nelly loved to be with her children and how she loved life. Lana said the moment she learned of the attack, she feared the worst – that her mother was on that bus, as she was every morning.

Olga Brenner, 52, of Jerusalem. Olga was on her way to work with her daughter Svetlana when the suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt on bus No. 6 in Jerusalem Sunday morning. Olga was killed instantly, while Svetlana, 28, sustained serious injuries from a piece of shrapnel that penetrated her skull. "I love her. You only have one wife and I will not marry again. There is no other woman like Olga; she loved the family and the children very much," Olga’s husband, Gregory, said yesterday. Olga Brenner will be laid to rest today at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in the capital. She is survived by her husband, her daughter and her son, Arkadi.

Yitzhak Moyal, 64, of Jerusalem. Yitzhak immigrated to Israel from Morocco in 1960, together with his nine brothers and sisters. He was killed yesterday on his way to work at the central post office in downtown Jerusalem. He was described by family members as a dedicated worker who never once missed a shift. After each terror attack in the city, Yitzhak would call home to allay his family’s fears; this time, however, when no call came to the family home, his wife, Rina, understood he had been killed. Yitzhak, who was laid to rest yesterday at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem, is survived by his wife, four sons, two daughters and 12 grandchildren.

Shimon Ostinsky, 68, of Jerusalem. Shimon’s family realized their loved one had been killed even before receiving official confirmation of his death. Shimon, who worked at a parking garage in downtown Jerusalem, always took the first bus from the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood into the city. When his family heard of the terror attack, they knew he was on the bus. Shimon and his family came to Israel from Kiev some 12 years ago. Prior to his immigration, he worked as a lecturer in economics, but never complained about his job as a parking garage attendant. He is survived by his wife, Alexandra, two children and two grandchildren.

Roni Yisraeli, 34, of Jerusalem. Roni was on his way to work as manager of the Har Nof Supersol supermarket when the terrorist boarded the No. 6 bus Sunday morning. A few months ago, Roni, his wife Siggi and their two daughters, ages 3 and 8, moved to their new apartment in East Pisgat Ze’ev. Usually, Siggi used the family car to go to work as a secretary in the Jerusalem College of Management. Shoppers at the supermarket said they remembered the 34-year-old manager, a longtime Supersol employee, as kind and considerate. He was the fourth of six brothers and three sisters and leaves his parents, siblings and his wife and children.

Ghalab Tawil, 42, Shuafat. Ghalab earned a livelihood for his four sons and five daughters by working as a cleaning man at Hadassah Hospital, leaving his home at the far end of the Shuafat refugee camp every morning at 5 a.m. to make the first bus to the hospital. Ghalab was the second resident of the camp killed recently by a Palestinian terrorist attack. The previous fatality was a 19-year-old truck driver shot to death by a Hamas gunman at the Karni junction three weeks ago. Almost immediately after the bombing at French Hill, police closed off Shuafat, not letting anyone out or in. Only in the late afternoon did police locate Tawil’s family, taking one member to identify the body at the Abu Kabir Forensic Medicine Institute.

The following are victims of a separate homicide bombing attack that took place in Hebron on Saturday night:

Gadi Levy, 31, and his wife Dina, 37, of Kiryat Arba.

Gadi and Dina Levy were married about 18 months ago and settled in Kiryat Arba, attracted by the very low rents. Gadi, who previously lived in Tel Aviv, was working at the Kiryat Arba supermarket. This was Gadi’s third marriage and Dina’s second. Although Dina had two children from her previous marriage, they dreamt of having a child together.

Rafael Avitan, Gadi’s boss at the supermarket, said, "We all attended their wedding at the Jerusalem Rabbinate and celebrated. Gadi was a special person, very dedicated to his wife and mother and always willing to help anyone who needed assistance. He wanted so much to be a father. He loved children."

Gadi Levy, the oldest son in his family, is survived by his parents, a brother and a sister. Dina left two pre-teen children from a previous marriage who are living with relatives, and seven brothers and sisters. The Levy couple was buried on Sunday in two separate funerals. Gadi was buried in Holon while Dina, a native of Jerusalem, was buried there.


Sharon Postpones Visit to Washington; Reports on His Meeting With Abu Mazen
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to cancel his trip to Washington in the wake of Sunday’s bombing in Jerusalem, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Diplomatic officials said there were a number of considerations behind the decision, including not wanting to send a message to the Palestinians that business was as usual under a new wave of terror. Sharon’s bureau chief, Dov Weisglass, telephoned US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to apprise the White House of the situation and postpone the visit. Sharon planned to meet with US President George W. Bush on Tuesday and officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said the White House understood the situation. The officials said the Bush administration was aware of the political constraints Israel faces and the difficulties a visit at this time would present for Sharon and his coalition. Sharon’s spokesman, Ra’anan Gissin, said the trip could take place in a matter of days or weeks.

Sharon convened the cabinet on Sunday night in an emergency session in order to discuss Israel’s reaction to the weekend’s terrorist bombings. The Prime Minister’s office issued a statement after the meeting saying the country would continue to fight terror "at any time and in any way possible." During the cabinet meeting, Sharon commented on the results of his encounter on Saturday night with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Israeli officials described the atmosphere as good and said both parties would meet again soon. Sharon said the PA rejected Israel’s offer to accept a deal according to which overall security responsibility for one specific area in the northern Gaza Strip would be transferred to Palestinian security services in exchange for an IDF withdrawal from the area. Sharon reported that while the Palestinians pushed him to accept the road map, he expressed commitment to Bush’s two-state vision. He said that his reservations to the road map should not keep the Palestinians from doing what is a prerequisite to any negotiation – beginning the fight against terrorism.

The Cabinet made the decision to issue a directive calling all government officials not to meet with any foreign official who, during a visit to the region, meets with Arafat. This policy will go into effect for all diplomats planning their visits now, but will not include the foreign ministers of France, Bulgaria, Hungary, and New Zealand, who have already planned visits and will be able to meet Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom even if they also meet Arafat.


Strike Ends As Netanyahu And Histadrut Reach Agreement
Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu expressed satisfaction on Sunday after he reached an agreement with the Histadrut on Saturday night, saying that the labor union federation had agreed to wage cuts rather than wage increases during negotiations with the government, HA’ARETZ reported. The treasury and Histadrut reached agreements on the issue of dismissals and wage cuts in the public sector, and also agreed to temporarily postpone seeking an agreement on the reforms in the Histadrut pension funds for public sector workers. As a result of the agreements, the Histadrut called off the strikes. Netanyahu emphasized that the budget cuts resulting from the wage cuts would enable reduction of the deficit in the state budget, saying that the Histadrut agreed to cut almost the entire sum demanded by the government this year. The Knesset will devote its sessions next week to debates on the economic bill and will be asked to approve the second and third readings of the bill next Wednesday.

Other News In Brief

• Judoka Arik Ze’evi won the gold medal in the under-100kg class competition at the European Championship yesterday in Dusseldorf, Germany, beating the outgoing champion Elco van der Geest from the Netherlands with an Ippon in one minute and eight seconds, HA’ARETZ reported. After suffering an injury, Ze’evi, the 2001 European champion, lost his title last year and managed to finish only in fifth place. He still suffers from a nagging back problem that prevented him from full preparation for this year’s championships, but yesterday Ze’evi showed just how devastating he can be. On his way to the gold, Ze’evi scored five consecutive victories to prove that he is one of the best judokas in Europe and the world.


Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

• Israel’s DSP Group announced that it had acquired Teleman Multimedia, a California-based maker of video compression and decompression chips, for $5 million, GLOBES reported. DSP Group, which focuses on semiconductors for short-range wireless technology, said it acquired Teleman’s intellectual property, including patents and other research and development projects. DSP Group CFO Moshe Zelnik said he expected new products built around the acquired technologies to begin generating revenues by the third quarter of 2004.

• After two years of consecutive decline, industrial exports to the U.S. are once again on the upswing, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. According to the Israeli Institute for International Cooperation and Exports, exports rose 16 percent in the first quarter of 2003 reaching $1.6 billion. Included in this figure were a 21 percent growth in high -tech exports, a 28 percent growth in drug exports, and a 12.5 percent growth in textile exports. The Institute foresees further growth in high-tech exports to the U.S. as a result of a worldwide revival of the high-tech industry.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Dina Wosner and Shelly Revah at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Tuesday, May 20, 2003 —

** Two Security Guards Among Victims of Afula Bombing
** Sharon’s Spokesman: Terror Organizations Declaring War on Abu Mazen
** New Israeli Developments Unveiled at Biotech Israel 2003
** "From Israel With Love" Kicks Off in Former Soviet Union
** Other News in Brief
** Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs


Two Security Guards Among Victims of Afula Bombing
A security guard was killed and his partner, Hadar Gitlin, 20, was seriously injured when they prevented a female suicide bomber from entering a shopping mall in Afula, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Two other Israelis were killed in the attack and 50 people were wounded – 13 seriously. Two of the victims of the Afula terror attack were identified today as Avi Zrihan, 36, of Beit Shean and Hassan Ben Ismail Tawatha, 41, of Jisr a-Zarqa. The guards were hailed as heroes for preventing the bomber from entering the crowded mall. The security guard who died in the bombing was a recent immigrant from the former Soviet Union.

The bomber used five kilograms of high-quality explosives that were not packed with nails or metal objects, as has been the case in previous attacks. This attack was the fifth since Saturday night, prompting Police Inspector-General Shlomo Aharonishky to order his officers to reinforce security in cities and try to plug gaps along the borders of the West Bank and Gaza. Widespread searches for the accomplice of the bomber were carried out and included the use of helicopters, roadblocks and checkpoints. Police suspect that he may have escaped to Jenin. Leaflets distributed by both Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade – linked to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction – claimed responsibility for the attack.

Afula has suffered from numerous terrorist attacks – four since September, 2000 – primarily due to its geographic location in the North near the West Bank. However, security officials believe that the recent wave of terror attacks may have been carried out by sleeper cells operating from Israeli towns and cities.

Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces have pulled some of their soldiers out of Beit Hanun after completing an operation aimed at stopping Palestinians from launching missiles at Israeli cities. The remaining troops are stationed in the orchards that have been used as staging posts for previous attacks. In other news, 16 Palestinian terror suspects were arrested in the West Bank towns of Nablus, Ramallah, Har Hebron and Bethlehem.

Sharon’s Spokesman: Terror Organizations Declaring War on Abu Mazen
Israel’s Prime Minister Spokesman Ra’anan Gissin said today that the recent five acts of Palestinian terrorism against Israel – carried out within a 48-hour period – was a clear challenge to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as a peace negotiator, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. "Terror organizations are declaring war on Mazen’s new government," Gissin said. "What complicates matters is that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat is striving to enhance terror, and he is doing everything possible to undermine Abbas’ authority and instigate trouble."

According to a senior diplomatic official, Hamas and Islamic Jihad – supported by Iran and Syria – realize that should Abbas succeed in steering the PA onto a different track, their historical role would be terminated. "They are now fighting for their lives with instigation by and support from outside forces," the official said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz said that a decision had been reached to keep Arafat from receiving diplomatic visitors and that the Israel Defense Forces would continue its closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In addition, the IDF has transferred the family members of the terrorists responsible for the Hebron and Jerusalem bombings from their homes in Hebron to the Gaza Strip.

New Israeli Developments Unveiled at Biotech Israel 2003
Israeli companies unveiled 140 innovations last week at the BioTech Israel 2003 conference in Tel Aviv, ISRAEL21c reported. The developments were made in the fields of biotechnology, nanotechnology, medicine and medical equipment. Israeli biopharmaceutical start-up, Vascular Biogenics Ltd., has developed a new genetic treatment, GT-111, which can cut off the oxygen supply to cancerous tumors causing them to shrink dramatically, or even disappear completely, without any negative side-effects to the patient. The treatment is based on a genetic charge that destroys the endothelial cells that build the blood vessels and supply oxygen to a cancerous tumor and its metastases. Without oxygen the tumor begins to shrink in size. Unlike current treatments that are based on killing the tumor’s cells through chemotherapy, radiation and hormone treatments, and cause severe side effects, VBL’s treatment has no side effects because it is not targeted at carcinogenic cells, but at the blood vessels that allow the metastases to grow. The treatment has already been tested successfully in animals and is likely to start clinical trials by the end of this year.

Palsamed, an Israeli incubator company, has developed a botanical based drug that can reduce cholesterol in the bloodstream. It is known that high cholesterol levels play a significant role in the increase of heart disease, strokes and other cardiovascular illnesses. Today, the most common treatment for high cholesterol levels are statin drugs, which, though effective, have major side effects such as memory loss, personality changes and muscle pain. Palsamed’s drug compound is derived from edible plants indigenous to the Eastern Mediterranean region and has less potential for harmful side effects. The company is now approaching clinical trials of the drug.

Another development was unveiled by the start-up Topimed, which has developed a new medical preparation to treat degenerative skin damage like wrinkles, which result from natural aging and radiation from the sun. The preparation combines the DIK-60 hormone with an active carrier that can deliver the hormone to specific skin targets. It acts on both the dermal and the epidermal cells. According to the company, unlike existing products now on the market, the preparation can heal the internal skin layers and result in improved appearance.

Other developments which were also unveiled at the conference include a system that monitors moles that might indicate melanoma skin cancer, developed by Medvision; a next-generation wound care system developed by Enzy Surge; BioPack’s natural insect repellent for food packaging; and an orthopedic device that alleviates pressure exerted on the knees while walking, developed by Granot incubator Ortech.

"From Israel With Love" Kicks Off in Former Soviet Union
After Russian rock stars performed last week in front of a crowd of thousands of Israelis at the annual concert "From Russia with Love" at the Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv, the Jewish Agency decided to hold a similar event in the former Soviet Union in order to celebrate Israel’s 55th Independence Day, IDF RADIO reported. As part of the initiative "From Israel With Love", Israeli singers such as Sarit Hadad, Muki and Dana International, are currently performing in 23 countries in the former Soviet Union.

"Our main goal is to connect Jews to the State of Israel," Amos Lahat, Director of the former Soviet Union States in the Jewish Agency, said. "The next step will be to bring them to Israel." Lahat added that he was aware that these concerts would not convince people to immediately make Aliya (immigration to Israel), but that he hoped the project would be part of the process that an individual goes through when making a decision to emigrate to Israel."

Israeli group Gaya, which preformed on Monday night in Novosibirsk, was happy to represent Israel. "We bring a message from our small and beautiful country," the members of the group said. "[Our performance] makes people connect to Israel. It gives them the feeling that we represent Israel; with our music and love we bring Israel to them". Valera Shashkof, who was in the crowd said that the "performance shows that Russian Jews are remembered in Israel" and that while listening to the music he felt like he had been transported to Israel.

Other News in Brief

• Tens of thousands of people congregated at Mount Meron on Monday night to celebrate Lag Ba’omer – the 33rd day of the 49 days of the Omer, the days between Passover and Shavuot, HA’ARETZ reported. Throughout the country, people celebrated the holiday by lighting bonfires. Three thousand policemen and civil guard volunteers secured the festivities on Mount Meron. Ultra-Orthodox ZAKA rescue and recovery teams were also present.

• Security officials confirmed on Monday that a body pulled out of the sea off Tel Aviv last week is that of British fugitive Omar Khan Sharif, 27, who has been the focus of a manhunt since the April 30 homicide bombing at Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv which killed three, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Dr. Yehuda Hess, head of the L. Greenberg Forensic Institute at Abu Kabir, where the body was taken for tests, told reporters that the cause of death was drowning and that DNA samples taken from Sharif’s relatives that were sent to Israel proved a positive match. Sharif and his fellow British bomber, Asif Muhammad Hanif, set out for Tel Aviv from the Gaza Strip. Hanif blew himself up but Sharif failed to detonate his explosives and fled.

Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

• The Central Bureau of Statistics reported that in the first quarter of 2003, 281,000 people were unemployed, bringing Israel’s unemployment rate to 10.8 percent – an increase of 0.6 percent over the previous quarter’s 10.2 percent rate, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The rate is slightly higher for women than men. The unemployment rate for immigrants is slightly higher than the national rate, at 11.4 percent, but has dropped from the previous quarter, when it stood at 12.2 percent.

• Herzliya-based biotech company Ester Neurosciences has been inundated with calls since the announcement of its successful Phase Ib trial of its EN101 drug for Myasthenia Gravis (MG), THE JERUSALEM POST reported.

"Companies have calling with requests to license or buy the unique molecular model for the drug," said company CEO Dr. Eli Hazum. MG is a chronic and debilitating disease characterized by muscle weakness especially causing an inability to open one’s eyes, and hand and leg muscle problems. The disease affects about 100,000 people worldwide and the potential market for the drug is believed to be up to $300 million. If testing continues to go well in the second and third phases the drug could be ready for market by 2005.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by David Nekrutman, Matthew Miller, Michal Rachlevsky, and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Wednesday, May 21, 2003 —


** All Victims of Afula Bombing Identified; Palestinians Protest Against Kassam Rockets Launched From Gaza
** Bush Phones Sharon and Abu Mazen to Condemn Palestinian Terror Attacks
** Interior Ministry Calls for New Citizenship Policies
** New International Mideast Peace Initiative Launched
** Hebrew University Launches Albert Einstein Website
** Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs


All Victims of Afula Bombing Identified; Palestinians Protest Against Kassam Rockets Launched From Gaza
The third victim of Monday’s terror attack at a shopping mall in Afula was identified as security guard Kiril Shremko, 23, the JERUSALEM POST reported. He was killed while preventing the attacker from entering the mall. It was Shremko’s first day on the job. Avi Zirhan, 26, of Beit She’an, who was also killed in the attack, had gone to the Afula mall in order to find a new job after working in Eilat. Zirhan had apparently been waiting in line for the security check to enter the mall and answered the call for assistance when one of the guards stopped the suicide bomber. The third victim was an Israeli Arab, Hassan Ismail Tawatha, 41, of Jisr e-Zarka, near Hadera, and the father of three small children. Tawatha had been on his way to study electronics at a center in the mall when he was caught in the blast and killed. Jewish colleagues of Tawatha and residents of neighboring communities joined mourners at Tawatha’s funeral. Several of them spoke of the hard-working man who was a friend to all and who would be badly missed.

The Israel Security Agency and police confirmed on Tuesday the identity of the female homicide bomber, Hiba Da’arma, from the village of Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley, who carried out Monday’s terror attack in Afula, HAARETZ reported. Although Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the operation, defense establishment officials believe that other organizations, including Fatah, were also involved.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated on Tuesday in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip to protest against the launching of rockets aimed at Israel from the town. Some 600 demonstrators took to the main street of Beit Hanun, burning tires and chanting slogans against Hamas, whose members are responsible for the rocket attacks, and against the PA for failing to stop the terrorists. The protesters were angry with Hamas for using Beit Hanun as a launching pad for firing Kassam rockets at Israel. Similar protests have also been reported in the southern Gaza Strip, where residents of Khan Yunis and Rafah have been pressuring the Palestinian Authority to make an effort to stop the attacks. In some areas, residents have set up vigilante patrols to prevent Hamas activists from entering their neighborhoods. "They [the militants] claim they are heroes," said Muhammad Zaaneen, 30, a farmer, as he carried rocks into the street. "They brought us only destruction and made us homeless. They used our farms, our houses, and our children to hide."

In other events, IDF troops operating in the Casbah in the West Bank city of Nablus found and destroyed an explosives lab today. While searching the lab, the troops found six explosives belts, a suitcase containing explosives, and various material used to make explosive devices. Troops in the town of Bitunia, near Ramallah, detained senior Palestinian intelligence officer Ahmed Birkawi late Tuesday on suspicion that he had carried out numerous shooting attacks on Israelis. The IDF said that until recently, Birkawi had been hiding in Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah.


Bush Phones Sharon and Abu Mazen to Condemn Palestinian Terror Attacks
U. S. President George W. Bush called Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Tuesday, reiterating his commitment to his June 24 two-state solution, and encouraging Abbas to combat terrorism, HA’ARETZ reported. Bush wants to meet with Sharon as soon as possible in order to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, sources in Washington said on Tuesday. Israeli sources said Sharon preferred to wait until the current wave of terror had subsided before meeting with the President. It was the spate of terror attacks over the weekend – five suicide bombings in less than 48 hours – that caused him to postpone his trip to Washington.

Bush’s phone conversation with Abbas was the first time the two leaders spoke. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that, during the 15-minute conversation, Bush reiterated that the Palestinian Authority had to immediately fight terror and prevent terror attacks. However, Fleischer said the president stressed that Israel needed to take steps as well. Abbas promised Bush that he was committed to fighting terror, and U.S. State Department officials indicated the administration believed the commitment was sincere.

Afterwards, Bush telephoned Sharon, and according to Fleischer, he told the Prime Minister that he understood Sharon’s decision to defer his trip to Washington and that the United States would remain committed to Israel’s security. However, Bush reportedly said it was now vital to try and advance the peace process in light of Abbas’ apparent commitment to peace, Abbas denounced homicide bombings on Tuesday, appealing to Palestinian terrorist groups to halt the violence, but he added that his government would not clash with the factions. "I condemn those operations because it is hampering" our efforts to reach a peaceful settlement with Israel, he said in an interview with the Arab television station Al-Arabiya. "There must be one legitimate authority and one legitimate weapon," Abu Mazen added when asked about confiscating weapons from Palestinian terrorist groups.


Interior Ministry Calls for New Citizenship Policies
Minister of Interior Avraham Poraz (Shinui) requested on Tuesday the annulment of the immediate granting of citizenship, based on the Law of Return, to individuals who convert to Judaism in Israel, HA’ARETZ reported. According to his proposal, those converting in Israel would be eligible for citizenship according to the Citizenship Law and based on principles such as: humanitarian concerns, the unification of families, the individuals’ identification with the Zionist cause, or the exceptional contribution one individual could bring to Israeli society – including scientists, artists, actors, or athletes. The proposal is based on a letter Poraz sent earlier in the week to Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein. His opinion comes as a decision by the Supreme Court is to be handed down regarding petitions filed by foreigners who converted in Israel and to whom the Interior Ministry has refused to grant citizenship according to the Law of Return. Poraz is requesting that his position be presented to the Supreme Court as representative of the state.

National Religious Party Chairman Effi Eitam held a press conference on Tuesday to freeze Poraz’s authority. Poraz defended his position by explaining that he believed the conversion process took advantage of the fact that some individuals, especially those from developing countries, settled in Israel. "From my point of view, it doesn’t matter if the conversion was Orthodox and approved by the chief rabbinate, or if it was Conservative or Reform," Poraz wrote to Rubinstein. Poraz added that whoever wanted to convert could do so, "but then we will all know that the conversion is being done due to religious conviction, and not in order to receive various benefits."

The Interior Ministry, backed by Rubinstein, advanced this approach before Poraz was appointed to the Interior Ministry. In December 2002, Rubinstein, along with Interior Ministry legal advisers, formulated a position according to which the Interior Ministry would not grant citizenship and rights reserved for immigrants recognized by the Law of Return for those who had converted in Israel. Until then, the Interior Ministry recognized those who had converted in Israel and granted them citizenship and the rights of new immigrants.


New International Mideast Peace Initiative Launched
A new international peace initiative offering a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is being launched in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza by a broad range of organizations and individuals, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The program – entitled "One Voice" – is the result of the work of the US-based Peace Works Foundation, headed by American Jewish businessman Daniel Lubetzky, and was initiated on the premise that there was a silent majority among Israelis and Palestinians who wanted a negotiated settlement and an end to the cycle of violence.

Among the supporters of the "One Voice" program which was officially unveiled at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Monday night, are businessman and World Jewish Congress chairman Edgar Bronfman, American Arab Institute president James Zogby, and celebrities like Brad Pitt and his wife Jennifer Aniston. The initiative also has the backing of Israeli and Palestinian leaders, including deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Michael Ratzon, Labor MK Matan Vilna’i, Rabbi Michael Melchior, leading Palestinian Islamic cleric Sheikh Tayseer Tamini and Yasser Abbas, son of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).

Mohammad Darawshe, regional director and co-founder of One Voice, said that "the aim of this project is to awaken the voice of the silent majority on both sides and involve people in helping to solve the main issues by getting their input… The first stage will be to collect signatures on a proclamation of principles, which will be the gateway for engaging in a dialogue on the way to drafting proposals for overcoming obstacles on the path to peace," Darawshe said. "Those who sign the proclamation will then be eligible to participate in a truly public referendum, via e-mail, phone, and traditional door-to-door canvassing that we hope will reach hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. They will be asked to give their views on proposals formulated by experts to resolving the 10 key issues."

The panel of experts, composed of 15 Israelis and similar numbers of Palestinians and international specialists, is to be chaired by former Under-Secretary of State Stuart Eisenstat. The panel is slated to meet in August to draft the proposals for solving key issues such as Jerusalem, borders, Palestinian refugees, water allocations, economic, social, and cultural ties. "The issues and the proposals for resolving them through negotiations will be made public and Palestinians and Israelis, who signed the proclamation, will be invited to submit their views based on a grading system," Darawshe explained. "To this end we will be distributing hundreds of computer terminals to community centers, schools, and offices of non-governmental organizations in Israel and the PA areas. After about two years, all the findings will be collected and the original proposals will be revised in light of the results by the panel of experts."

Darawshe said that IBM had donated $ 1.3 million worth of computer hardware and software to assist with the project. He added that altogether the One Voice project would cost around $6M – of which over $2M had already been raised. As part of the project, offices in Herzliya, Ramallah, and Gaza will be opened.


Hebrew University Launches Albert Einstein Website
A Website presenting some 43,000 never-before-published documents, articles, photographs and scientific papers taken from the Einstein Archives at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, was launched on Monday by the Hebrew University and the California Institute of Technology, HA’ARETZ reported. According to Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, former rector and president of Hebrew University, the site (available at is a great cultural asset of the highest degree that will allow "the broader public [to be] impressed by the character of this enigmatic man." Gutfreund said Einstein’s connection with Hebrew University began in 1919, when he was inspired by Chaim Weizmann to join the Zionist Movement. As a member of the movement, Einstein undertook the task of working toward establishing a university in the Land of Israel. Two years later he embarked on a six-week journey around the United States to raise money for the establishment of the university in Jerusalem. He explained at the time that there was no point to political independence without intellectual independence as well. Einstein served on the university’s board of trustees and was the first chairman of its academic committee. In 1950, five years before his death, he bequeathed all his assets to the academic institution.

Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

• Despite the recession in Israel, e-commerce in Israel is flourishing, and with only a relatively small investment in advertising in comparison to the Internet bubble years, THE MARKER reported. Most online trade in Israel is transacted on sites owned by companies that do not have real stores, unlike the American market, in which the leading e-commerce sites are owned by long-time retailers, with the exception of The total volume of online trade in Israel in 2003 will be about NIS 1.4 billion (approx. $0.3M), compared to about NIS 1 billion (approx. $0.2M) in 2002, according to a study conducted by the TASC research company. The market is controlled by four main players who attract 62 percent of sales, mostly electrical appliances and computer products: Olsale (18 percent), P1000 (17 percent), NetAction (17 percent) and Walla Shop (10 percent). The rest of online trade is divided among niche sites that focus on various areas: books, tourism, food, tickets for entertainment events, flowers, etc.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Jonathan Schienberg, Shelly Revah, David Dorfman and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Friday, May 23, 2003 —

** 9 Israelis Hurt in Hamas Bomb Attack on Bus in Gaza
** Arafat Linked with Hizbullah Weapons Ship
** U.S. Says It Will Consider Israel’s Roadmap Reservations
** Israel Marks 3 Years since Withdrawal from Lebanon
** Other News in Brief
** Economic & Hi-tech Briefs


9 Israelis Hurt in Hamas Bomb Attack on Bus in Gaza
An explosion today near a bus carrying Israelis in the Gaza Strip injured nine people, HA’ARETZ reported. The injured people were taken to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva where officials reported that two sustained moderate wounds while the remainder were being treated for light wounds. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bus was travelling in the Netzarim area of central when the explosion occured. Initial reports suggest that the explosion was caused by a roadside bomb, although security officials are also exmaining the possibility that an anti-tank missile was fired at the bus.

David Baker, an official with the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, decribed the incident as "another Palestinian terror attack that was deliberately aimed at a civilian Israeli bus." "The attack on the bus follows the other horrific attacks against Israeli civilians this week in Hebron, Jerusalem and Afula, in which innocent Israelis fell victim to the continuous Palestinian campaign of terror," he added.

Also today, a wanted member of the Fatah’s Tanzim division was critically wounded during an exchange of fire with Israel Defense Foreces operating in the Tulkarem refugee camp. An IDF spokesman said that the man opened fire on an IDF patrol, which returned fire, injuring him.

According to Army Radio reports on Thursday, security forces caught some 1,300 Palestinians staying in Israel illegally over last 24 hours. All but 19 of them were released and returned to the West Bank and Gaza. The IDF arrested seven wanted Palestinians overnight Thursday in the West Bank city of Hebron, three of them are Hamas terrorists.

Meanwhile, Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip have rejected a request by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to suspend terrorist attacks on Israel. Abbas met in his office in Gaza City Thursday night with a number of Hamas leaders including Abdel Aziz Rantisi, Mahmoud Zahhar, and Ismail Haniyeh and urged them to accept a temporary cease-fire. It was Abbas’s first meeting with representatives of Hamas since he took office three weeks ago. The meeting was attended by PA Minister for Security Affairs Muhammad Dahlan and other senior PA security officials in the Gaza Strip. Abbas said he summoned the Hamas leaders to persuade them to suspend terrorist attacks against Israel, but the Hamas officials quickly announced that they had turned down the request.

Arafat Linked with Hizbullah Weapons Ship
According to the Israel Defense Forces, two Palestinian officials, Adel Al Mughrabi and Fathi Razam – a naval commander and a military aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat respectively – worked with terror group Hizbullah to have weapons shipped to the Gaza Strip, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Mughrabi and Razam – who were involved in the smuggling Karine A episode, where Israel intercepted a boat in the Red Sea with a cargo of 50 tons of weapons destined for the Palestinian Authority in January 2002 – are now linked to another arms smuggling attempt. On Wednesday, Israeli naval commandos seized an Egyptian-registered fishing boat – called the Abu Hassan – and captured an explosives expert from Hizbullah onboard. The ship was transporting dozens of bomb detonators, CD-ROMs on how to prepare explosives, and a radio-controlled activation system that could be used to fire rockets or detonate homicide bombs and remote-controlled explosives. Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said "this is a new attempt to smuggle weapons and instructions for terror attacks, and there is no doubt Arafat was involved as he was in previous cases."

Israeli security officials said the boat left Egypt on May 16 and made its way to Beirut, Lebanon three days later, avoiding the normal fishing routes. Eight people were onboard the ship – including two Hizbullah operatives. IDF officials confirmed that one of the people arrested was a top Hizbullah explosives expert, Hamad Abu Amra. This was the first time Israel captured a member of south Lebanon-based terror group heading to the Palestinian areas to train terrorists. In the past, Palestinian terrorists have traveled to Lebanon to receive training. The boat was seized off the northern Israeli port town of Haifa. In May 2001, Israel seized another boat, the Santorini, shipping arms to the Palestinian Authority.

U.S. Says It Will Consider Israel’s Roadmap Reservations
The United States said today that it would address the "significant concerns" Israel has on the road map, HA’ARETZ reported. "The United States shares the view of the government of Israel that these are real concerns, and will address them fully and seriously in the implementation of the road map," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said in a statement issued by the White House. Based upon the U.S. consideration of Israel’s concerns with the roadmap, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will submit the peace plan to his cabinet for approval on Sunday.

Israel’s reservations include a tougher demand on Palestinians to fight terror and a request that U.S. be the sole monitor in the implemematation of the plan – rather than have all four members of the Quartet (Russia, The United Nations, The European Union and The United States) play that part.

Washington agreed to most of Israel’s concerns with the roadmap, but rejected two: that the Palestinians immediately waive their demand for a "right of return" to the State of Israel, and that the mention of the Saudi peace initiative be removed from the plan. According to the road map, Israel is expected to comply with "the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit, calling for acceptance of Israel as a neighbor living in peace and security, in the context of a comprehensive settlement." The Saudi plan requests an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders in an exchange for peace with other Arab nations.


Israel Marks 3 Years since Withdrawal from Lebanon
Today marks the third anniversary of Israel’s military withdrawal from Lebanon, MA’ARIV reported. Since June 2000, a series of incidents have occurred on the border between the two countries: Ten Israelis have been killed and 56 injured; three Israel Defense Forces soldiers were kidnapped by Hizbullah; a total of 27 Katyusha rocket attacks have been launched against Israel and more than 80 incidents of fire of antiaircraft missiles have been reported. Although a relative calm usually prevails in area, IDF officials from the Northern Command said, "it is not right to keep on living with the growing threat of the Hizbullah."

Meanwhile, 959 days after the kidnapping of St.-Sgt. Adi Avitan, his parents toured the northern border on Thursday. "The withdrawal from Lebanon was the right thing to do, but there are three soldiers in Lebanon that haven’t come home yet," Ya’akov Avitan said. "We need to turn the world upside down in order to find them, and bring them home as soon as possible. It’s the moral responsibility of the government to the families and to the people of Israel."


Other News in Brief

* The Knesset’s judges selection panel picked on Thursday district court judges Miriam Naor and Asher Grunis as the newest additions to the Supreme Court, HA’ARETZ reported. Naor received five out of nine votes, while Grunis only garnered four votes after the Israel Bar Association’s delegate to the panel abstained.

* The 22nd Tel Aviv half-marathon, cancelled in 2002 due to security concerns, took place today and started at Ganei Yehoshuah Park, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Six thousand participants were expected, including handicapped runners and victims of terror who were running a shorter course. Central streets in Tel Aviv were closed to traffic from 7am to 12pm because of the event.

* Singer Lior Narkis will represent Israel at the Eurovision song contest to be held in Riga, Latvia on Saturday night, IDF RADIO reported. Narkis will perform the song "Milim La’ahava" (Words for Love), written by Yossi Gispen with music by Yoni Ro’e. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian song to be performed during the contest was composed by an Israeli, Tzvika Pik. A total of 26 countries will be participating in this years’ Eurovision. Diana Shkolnik, a former resident of the Ukraine, remarked: "It is nice to see the Ukraine put on the map."

Economic & Hi-tech Briefs

* After an unprecedented meeting that lasted over 19 hours, the Knesset Finance Committee accepted the treasury’s emergency economic plan early today, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. On Monday, the plan will be brought to the Knesset for a second and a final third vote. Under the plan, the pension age will be raised to 67 for both genders, and pensions will be reduced by 2 percent.