Choose Day Below
— Tuesday, October 7 ,
Israeline — Tuesday, October 7
, 2003 —
** HAIFA RESTAURANT BOMBING KILLS 19, INJURES 60 – BLAST WIPES OUT ENTIRE FAMILIES
** SOLDIER KILLED BY HIZBULLAH FIRE ON LEBANESE BORDER
** IAF STRIKES TERROR BASE IN SYRIA
** ARAFAT FORMS EMERGENCY GOVERNMENT; QUREI VOWS TO AVOID CONFRONTING TERROR ORGANIZATIONS
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
RESTAURANT BOMBING KILLS 19, INJURES 60 – BLAST WIPES OUT ENTIRE FAMILIES
Nineteen people were killed and more than 60 were wounded in a suicide attack carried out by a Palestinian woman against a Haifa restaurant around 2:15 P.M. on Saturday, one day before Yom Kippur, HA’ARETZ reported.
Five members of the Zer-Aviv family from Kibbutz Yagur were killed in the blast: Bruria Zer-Aviv, 59; her son Bezalel, 30, and his wife Keren, 29, and their children Liran, 4, and Noya, 1. They were laid to rest today in their kibbutz.
Five members of the Almog family – Admiral (res.) Ze’ev Almog, 71, [former Israel Navy Commander 1979-1985], his wife Ruth, 70, their son Moshe, 43, and grandsons Tomer Almog, 9, and Assaf Staier, 11, all from Haifa – were killed and buried today in the Haifa cemetery.
The rest of the victims of the Haifa bombing are: Irena Sofrin 38 of Kiryat Bialik; Nir Regev, 25, of Netanya; Mark Biano, 30, of Haifa; Naomi Biano, 30, of Haifa; Osama Najar, 28, of Haifa; Matan Askarkabi, of Haifa; Sherbel Matar, 23, of Fassouta; Hana Francis, 39, of Fassouta; Asaf Staier, 11, of Haifa; and Zvi Bahat, od Haifa.
To find out more about the victims, please visit: www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0nuf0
As of Monday night, 18 people were still hospitalized, including a three-year-old boy in critical condition and four others – among them two children – with serious injuries.
The blast devastated the Maxim restaurant, which is jointly owned by Israeli Arabs and Jews on Hahaganah Boulevard at the southern end of the coastal city. It was packed mostly with regular Saturday customers. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber as Hanadi Jaradat, 29, a trainee lawyer from the West Bank city of Jenin.
KILLED BY HIZBULLAH FIRE ON LEBANESE BORDER
St.-Sgt. David Solomonov, 21, was killed when Hizbullah gunmen opened fire at Israel Defense Forces troops along the Lebanon border near Metulla on Monday, a day after IAF warplanes bombed a terrorist training camp deep inside Syria, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Solomonov, who was born in the United States and moved to Israel at the age of 13, was due to complete his army service shortly. He had already made plans to return to his Kfar Saba home and begin studying to improve his high school matriculation scores.
Solomonov was killed after shots were fired at a group of IDF soldiers from two cars on the Lebanese side of the border. The Israeli soldiers returned fire, hitting the two vehicles, one of which was in service of the UNIFIL international observance force.
Eight soldiers have been killed and 46 wounded since Israel pulled out of Lebanon in May 2000.
Commenting on the killing, Maj.-Gen. Benny Ganz said there had been an increase in Hizbullah activity in Lebanon. "We are facing a whole network headed by Syria and Iran and the terrorist commands there. These are dangerous steps for Syria and Lebanon, and if cautionary steps are not taken they will cause the situation to deteriorate," Ganz told reporters in the North.
STRIKES TERROR BASE IN SYRIA
Israel Air Force planes bombed a Palestinian terrorist training base inside Syria before dawn on Sunday, HA’ARETZ reported. The strike came in response to Islamic Jihad’s suicide bombing in Haifa on Saturday in which 19 people were killed and scores injured. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned after the IAF offensive that Israel could launch additional strikes against Syria, should Damascus continue to shelter and support terrorist organizations.
"Whoever is involved in terror and assists it, cannot enjoy impunity", Sharon said, adding that "if the Syrians do not understand the message and cease to assist Palestinian terror organizations, Israel will take steps to defend itself."
Sharon’s senior aides elaborated on Israel’s strategic decision to bomb the terror stronghold in Syria, explaining that "there is a Teheran-Damascus-Gaza-Hizbullah alliance, and Syria is the critical link. Without Syria, there will be no land and logistic base for terror leaders, and Iran would have trouble running this terror system against us."
U.S. President George W. Bush issued a statement saying that, "Israel must not feel constrained about acting in its self-defense." "I made it very clear to the prime minister as I have consistently done, that Israel has a right to defend herself, that Israel must not feel constrained in terms of defending its homeland," Bush said. White House officials echoed the president’s remarks, indicating that the United States had "frequently told the Syrian government that it is on the wrong side in the war on terror." Israel Defense Forces sources indicated that the bombed site contained dozens of buildings, including a weapons production facility. Sources said the site’s activity was supervised by Syria and Iran, and also by Palestinian terrorists. In addition to Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operatives, terrorists from Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Al-Qaida have also utilized the camp.
In other news, according THE JERUSALEM POST, the IDF retaliated for the Haifa suicide bombing by sending attack helicopters to strike at two empty weapons depots in the Gaza Strip and demolishing the home of the suicide bomber in Jenin. IDF forces remained on high alert throughout Yom Kippur.
FORMS EMERGENCY GOVERNMENT; QUREI VOWS TO AVOID CONFRONTING TERROR ORGANIZATIONS
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat issued on Sunday night a "presidential decree" forming an emergency cabinet with eight ministers, headed by Ahmed Qurei as prime minister, and announced a state of emergency in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. THE JERUSALEM POST reported. According to PA officials the move was aimed at paving the way for a crackdown on members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad following Saturday’s suicide attack in Haifa. However, Qurei said he would do his utmost to avert an armed confrontation with armed Palestinian groups. "We want a dialogue with all the factions, not a civil war," he stressed. He said the emergency cabinet was necessary in light of the exceptional circumstances in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, especially in the aftermath of Israel’s threat to "remove" Arafat and following the suicide attack in Haifa, in which 19 people were killed.
The new cabinet includes many of the familiar faces such as Salam Fayyad and Nabil Shaath, who will retain their posts as ministers of finance and interior affairs respectively. Brig. General Nasser Youssef will take over as Interior Minister in charge of the security forces. The other five ministers are: Saeb Erekat, the current chief negotiator, Naim Abu Hummus, the current Education Minister; Jamal Shobaki, the current Minister of Local Government and two Fatah legislators, Abdel Rahman Hamad and Jawad al-Tibi.
Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine strongly condemned the decision to form an emergency cabinet meeting, warning that the move could lead to a Palestinian civil war. They accused Arafat and Qurei of succumbing to American and Israeli pressure. According to the Palestinian Authority Basic Law, the emergency cabinet can function for a period of up to thirty days, and can be extended for another month only after the approval of two-thirds of the Palestinian Legislative Council members. Unlike previous cabinets, the emergency government does not require the approval of the PLC.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Two Palestinians on their way to carry out suicide attacks in Israel were captured overnight Monday by IDF troops near the West Bank city of Jenin, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. IDF Lt. Col. Mordechai said that the terrorists were nabbed during a routine IDF operation in the Jenin area. "As long as bombers head out from the West Bank villages, the [Palestinian] residents will have to understand that their life can not go on as normal." Mordechai said.
Official memorials marking
the 30th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War were held today, Israel Radio, KOL
YISRAEL, reported. The main ceremony was held at Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery
in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel would strike her enemies
everywhere and by all means. He made the statement at the memorial service for
the more than 2,600 soldiers who fell during the Yom Kippur war. Sharon went
on to say that Israel had to never be taken by surprise again and always be
prepared as if war were just around the corner.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Given Imaging said its newest video-in-a-capsule would be unveiled at the 11th United European Gastrointestinal Week (UEGW) Conference, TheMarker.com reported. A simple prep-less, non-invasive procedure, the M2A Patency System is designed to help doctors diagnose the presence of obstructing strictures and adhesions in the gastrointestinal tract. The new capsule dissolves in two to three days if not excreted. Its failure to pass through the digestive system in that time indicates bowel blockage. Given Imaging will launch the capsule in Europe. The company expects the Food and Drug Administration to approve the capsule for marketing in the U.S. during 2004.
Ministry of Finance budget director Uri Yogev is projecting an improvement in the economy in 2004, compared with the past two years, GLOBES reported. "There is almost no doubt that growth next year will be higher, on the condition that the economic plan and its accompanying reforms are adopted," Yogev stated. According to Yogev, the Ministry of Finance’s projected 2.5 percent growth rate for 2004 was quite realistic. However, in the event of unexpected developments, "We’re also ready for 1.5 percent growth, and we’ve set aside a special budget reserve for such an event."
Government workers in the
public sector are continuing their sanctions; offices are closed to the public
and phone calls are going unanswered, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. The
strike at Israel’s ports is also continuing. No progress is reported in the
negotiations between the Finance Ministry and the Histadrut labor federation.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, David Nekrutman and David Dorfman at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Wednesday, October 8 ,
Israeline — Wednesday, October 8
, 2003 —
** ISRAEL IN STATE OF HIGH ALERT – BUSH REITERATES ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DEFEND HERSELF
** SHALOM: NEW PALESTINIAN PM WILL SEEK TEMPORARY HALT OF TERROR ATTACKS
** CABINET APPROVES BREAKUP OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS MINISTRY
** SIXTH INTERNATIONAL POETS FESTIVAL TO BE HELD IN JERUSALEM
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
IN STATE OF HIGH ALERT – BUSH REITERATES ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DEFEND HERSELF
Following a "hot alert" of possible terrorist infiltration into Israel, police deployed roadblocks across the Ariel-Rosh Haayin area this afternoon, while the Trans-Samarian Highway was closed to traffic with police helicopters circling the area, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. A police source said the alert is a "ticking bomb," and security forces are conducting meticulous searches on the roads and city centers of the Sharon region. Full closure was imposed on the territories on Tuesday night, following 37 alerts of possible terror attacks, while the Gaza strip was split into four sections. Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz also enabled on Tuesday night a limited mobilization of reservists and the cancellation of Israel Defense Forces training due to the high alert status. Most alarming to security forces was intelligence that Israeli Arabs are increasingly involved in aiding terrorists, helping them scout potential targets and driving them there.
Meanwhile, U.S. President George W. Bush reiterated on Tuesday his support of Israel’s strike against a Palestinian terrorist training camp in Syria, drawing a parallel between the United States’ policy on terrorism and actions taken by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. While urging Sharon to "avoid escalating violence," he also stated that the decisions Sharon made were "valid decisions" and that "we would be doing the same thing. The prime minister must defend his country."
NEW PALESTINIAN PM WILL SEEK TEMPORARY HALT OF TERROR ATTACKS
Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom told the cabinet today that Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei had set himself a goal of stopping, temporarily, all terror attacks against Israeli targets in an attempt to gain legitimacy for his new government, HA’ARETZ reported. Shalom told the ministers that though Qurei would not take military action against the terror groups and would not try to break them up, he was attempting to stop terror attacks in an attempt to ease international pressure on the Palestinians and transferring it instead back on Israel.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat swore in Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and an emergency Cabinet on Tuesday, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The new cabinet did not include Nasser Yousef, a veteran Palestinian military official who had been tapped to become interior minister. Youssef wants the Palestinian parliament to back his appointment as interior minister in a vote of confidence before he accepts his post. Youssef boycotted a swearing-in ceremony held by Yasser Arafat on Tuesday for the rest of the new eight-member cabinet led by Qurei. Despite their close ties, Arafat and Youssef had struggled in recent weeks to reach a deal on sharing security powers. The dispute was resolved, with Youssef granted more authority than his predecessor, Muhammed Dahlan, but Arafat retaining overarching control. An Israeli government source said Tuesday that Qurei’s new government was "a long tentacle of Arafat." According to the source, Israel will not establish official ties with the new Qurei government before it proves its intention to fight terrorism and to dismantle the terror infrastructure.
APPROVES BREAKUP OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS MINISTRY
The Israeli Cabinet approved on Tuesday the breakup of the Religious Affairs Ministry and transferred the authority for the rabbinical courts to the Justice Ministry, HA’ARETZ reported. The decision was accepted with a majority of 18-3. Ministers Avigdor Lieberman, Benny Elon and Uzi Landau opposed it and the National Religious Party has also threatened to quit the coalition over the changes.
According to the plan, the Religious Affairs Ministry will be dissembled by the end of the year. The Chief Rabbinate will maintain a degree of control over the rabbinical courts, the level of which will be determined by a special committee. Both chief rabbis expressed strong dissatisfaction with the proposed separation between the rabbinical courts and the chief rabbinate, which will also be moved to the authority of a different ministry, yet to be determined. The NRP wants both the courts and the rabbinate to be kept together and moved to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Prime Minister Sharon and Minister of Justice Tommy Lapid said in response that they would do nothing to harm neither the rabbinate nor the courts, and had no plans to install sweeping changes in their operations. The breakup of the Religious Affairs Ministry was part of the coalition agreement signed with Shinui. Both the Conservative and Reform movements in Israel welcomed the decision.
INTERNATIONAL POETS FESTIVAL TO BE HELD IN JERUSALEM
The sixth International Poets Festival, held every other year, will be held October 19 – 23 at Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem, HA’ARETZ reported. Poet Natan Zach is the artistic director of the festival in which 26 poets from Israel and 23 poets from the rest of the world are slated to take part. The event will feature daily poetry by both Israeli and guest poets. Poems will be read in their original language and translations will be screened simultaneously. An anthology of the festival poems will be be published soon. This year, the festival is paying special attention to poets who are highly influential in their own countries but have not yet visited Israel. They include Jewish Cuban poet Pablo Armando Fernandez; the expatriate Chinese Duo Duo, who lives in Europe and the United States; the expatriate Yemenite Abdullah al-Udhari, Britain’s Elaine Feinstein, Russia’s Alexandra Petrova, who has lived in Isral and now lives in Italy; Irish poet Dermot Healy; India’s Ayyappa Paniker, Afro-American poet Ishmael Reed, and the New York Times poetry critic, Mark Rudman.
The Israeli poets taking part in the festival are Dalia Rabikovitch, Haim Gouri, Meir Wieseltier, Nurit Zarchi, Yitzhak Laor, Agi Mishol, Aryeh Sivan, Joseph Sharon, Rafi Weichert, Haviva Pedaya, Moataz Abu Saleh, Samih el-Kassim, Taha Muhammad Ali, Mohammad Hamzah Ghanaiem, Hava Bracha Korzakova, Israel Pincas, Israel Bar Kochav, Maxim Ghilan, Jacob Besser, Moshe Ben Arrosh, Ben Zion Ben-Moshe, Ory Bernstein, Moshe Ben-Shaul, Israel Har, Mordechai Geldman and Tamir Lahav-Radlmesser. The festival will also feature special events such as an exhibition, a concert and panel discussions.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
Seaport workers were disrupting work in Haifa this afternoon in reaction to a Government decision to dismantle the Ports Authority, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. The Knesset is to hold a special plenary session on Thursday at the Government’s request to introduce a legislation aimed at privatizing the country’s seaports.
Three residents of East
Jerusalem were recently arrested on suspicion of being linked to suicide bus
bombings on the capital in which 40 people were killed, HA’ARETZ reported. The
three were apparently recruited by Hamas in the West Bank city of Hebron and
allegedly collected information for the group on populated parts of the capital.
They also allegedly escorted the suicide bombers on their way to the attacks.
The three were arrested following the suicide attack on Cafe Hillel some three
weeks ago in which seven people died just hours after another suicide bomber
killed eight people near the Tzrifin army base in the center of the country.
The three suspects were also said to be planning to help dispatch another three
suicide bombers, but these attacks were thwarted by the arrest.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Elbit Systems Ltd. has announced that its U.S. subsidiary’s first Enhanced Vision System would be installed on large air transport class aircraft operated by FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., GLOBES reported. The value of the contract was not disclosed. "EVS will improve schedule reliability by reducing weather-related delays, improve takeoff and landing minimums, and as a taxi aid in reducing the risk of runaway incursions. Our flight crews will have increased situational awareness and improved safety in reduced visibility conditions," Don Barber, senior vice president of air operations, FedExpress, said.
Minister of Finance Benjamin
Netanyahu and Minister of Transportation Avigdor Lieberman appointed a committee
on Tuesday in order to examine the feasibility of connecting the southern port
city of Eilat to the national rail network, HA’ARETZ reported. The committee,
which has until June 30 to submit its conclusions, will consider Eilat’s role
as the nation’s southern freight entrance and transfer station for goods moving
between Israel and southeast Asia and Africa.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, David Dorfman and Arielle Bernstein at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Thursday, October 9 ,
Israeline — Thursday, October 9
, 2003 —
** 5 SOLDIERS WOUNDED IN WEST BANK TERROR ATTACKS
** IDF TO DECLARE SULTAN YAKOUB SOLDIERS DEAD
** WASHINGTON MOVES CLOSER TO IMPOSING SANCTIONS ON SYRIA
** COURT: CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING TENNENBAUM ABDUCTION MUST BE MADE PUBLIC
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
5 SOLDIERS WOUNDED IN WEST BANK TERROR ATTACKS
Two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded today, when a female Palestinian suicide bomber detonated explosives at a military roadblock near Tulkarem, HA’ARETZ reported. Earlier in the day, security forces went on high alert for a short time along the seam line, in Hadera and in Wadi Ara, due to intelligence reports that a Palestinian was planning to carry out a terror attack in the area. Police set up roadblocks, and officers were checking every vehicle.
In other news, three IDF soldiers were wounded Wednesday evening in a shooting attack on the their vehicle in the Beita Hawara area of villages, south of the West Bank city of Nablus. Two of the three are in serious condition, and the third sustained moderate wounds.
Meanwhile, the IDF plans to call up four divisions of reservists next week in order to beef up security along the seam line between Israel and the West Bank. The reservists will replace soldiers so they can be used for counter-terrorism missions within the West Bank. Also, the IDF began stationing female soldiers and sniffer dogs at checkpoints in the northern seam area. The female soldiers will conduct body searches of Palestinian women. In addition, the IDF has ordered for the first time a restriction of Palestinian vehicular traffic in those parts of the northern West Bank, designated Area C (full Israeli control) for the next four days.
TO DECLARE SULTAN YAKOUB SOLDIERS DEAD
Following years of indecision, the Israel Defense Forces is set to declare Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz as “killed in action, place of burial unkown” following their abduction by Syria in 1982, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The three soldiers, taken hostage in the fierce battle of Sultan Yakoub during the war in Lebanon, were unable to be ceremonially mourned by their families according to Jewish law because they had never officially been declared dead.
Seeking to end the years of anguish and uncertainty, Yona and Miriam Baumel asked the army in 2000 to prove that their son or any of his comrades were dead. Following the request, the IDF used an investigator, Yoav Stoller, to determine the fates of the soldiers. After amassing intelligence on their case, Stoller concluded that none of three was still alive.
Maj. Gen. Gil Regev called the families on Wednesday evening to tell them that while he had no concrete information about whether or not their sons were alive, the IDF would consider them to be killed in action.
MOVES CLOSER TO IMPOSING SANCTIONS ON SYRIA
In a vote of 33-2, the House International Relations Committee passed a bill Wednesday imposing fresh sanctions on Syria if it does not abandon its support for terrorism, end its occupation of Lebanon, stop producing weapons of mass destruction and prevent the passage of terrorists from Syria into Iraq, THE JERUSALEM POST reported.
The White House pressed Republican leadership last year to shelve the bill, but said Wednesday that it would not oppose the legislation, signaling a shift in Washington’s attitude toward Damascus.
"I would remind you that we have repeatedly said that Syria is on the wrong side in the war on terrorism, and that Syria needs to stop harboring terrorists,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said “And that message has been sent loud and clear to the Syrians as well."
The full House is expected to vote on the bill next week. It was unclear when the Senate would vote. If passed, the law would automatically ban the sale of dual use items to Syria. In addition, the president would select two sanctions to impose from a menu of six – banning exports to Syria; prohibiting American businesses from operating in Syria; restricting Syrian diplomats, blocking Syrian airline flights; reducing diplomatic contacts with Syria; or freezing Syrian assets.
CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING TENNENBAUM ABDUCTION MUST BE MADE PUBLIC
The Tel Aviv District Court ruled today that the circumstances surrounding businessman Elhanan Tennenbaum`s kidnapping in Lebanon had to be released to the public, HA’ARETZ reported. The court was hearing a request by HA’ARETZ and CHANNEL 10 that a gag order on information about the affair be lifted. No information will be released before this coming Monday, October 13 – the final date by which the Tennenbaum family can appeal the decision. The state said this week it had no objection to publishing how Tennenbaum was kidnapped, but said that a gag order should remain in place on other details of the affair.
Tennenbaum, a businessman and colonel in the reserves, was kidnapped by Hizbollah in October 2000 while on a trip abroad.
Judge Uri Shoham has said that if the gag order were indeed lifted, any press reports on the subject would need the approval of the military censor.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is apparently suffering from a serious intestinal infection, which could be threatening his life, MA’ARIV reported. For the past few days, Arafat reportedly suffered from different symptoms related to the infection, but his close aids denied the reports in an attempt to prevent panic in the Palestinian public. Last week, “The Guardian” revealed that Arafat had had a light heart attack – information quickly denied by the Chairman’s relatives.
As part of its war against
terrorism, the Israel Defense Forces is reverting to an earlier tactic – the
expulsion of terrorists’ family members and accomplices from the West Bank to
the Gaza Strip, HA’ARETZ reported. A discussion has been ongoing since
the beginning of the week about expelling some 25 wanted men – mostly
from Islamic Jihad – arrested by the IDF.
The debate on the subject is in the preliminary stages. After the legal aspects are considered, it will be up to the head of the IDF’s Central Command to issue expulsion orders. The persons involved will be granted the opportunity to appeal the orders to a military appeals tribunal and possibly also to the High Court of Justice.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Trendlines Group, an American-Israeli marketing and financial consultancy, is setting up a $25 million investment fund to be called Trendlines Israel Fund, TheMarker.com reported. The fund plans to raise money from supporters of Israel. The fund will invest in Israeli startups engaged in data security, information technology and life sciences. Its purpose is to generate economic growth and create jobs in Israel. "With unemployment running more than 10 percent, government cutbacks, and a prolonged recession, there is great demand for financing for young companies that can create jobs,” Alan Weinkrantz, the company’s spokesman, said.
Hi-Tech Solutions of Rishon Lezion has sold its Optical Character Recognition (OCR) system to 10 more port terminals on the West Coast, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The deals are estimated at $10 to 15 million. Hi-Tech’s system can read the container, license and chassis number of all trucks entering and leaving port terminals as well as container numbers. The information is then fed into a database operating system, which fully automates the flow and data of every aspect of the terminal. Previously these numbers were written down manually by a clerk. The Pacific Maritime Association estimates that the new system could cut port personnel costs by up to 30 percent.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, David Nekrutman and Tallie Lieberman at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Friday, October
10, 2003 —
Israeline — Friday, October
10, 2003 —
** IDF LAUNCHES LARGE-SCALE OPERATION TO STOP WEAPONS-SMUGGLING IN GAZA
** SHARON MEETS WITH SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO DISCUSS PRISONER SWAP
** ABU ALA SHIFTS, TURNING DOWN PM APPOINTMENT
** ONE MONTH AFTER BOMBING, JERUSALEM’S CAFE HILLEL REOPENS
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
IDF LAUNCHES LARGE-SCALE OPERATION TO STOP WEAPONS-SMUGGLING IN GAZA
Army forces working on the demolition of Palestinian weapons-smuggling tunnels confronted Palestinian gunmen for hours today in the largest army raid in half a year in the Rafah refugee camp, the JERUSALEM POST reported. The raid, which began around midnight Thursday, was part of stepped-up military activity in response to last weekend’s suicide bombing that killed 20 Israelis in a restaurant in the port city of Haifa. It was aimed at uncovering weapons-smuggling tunnels along Gaza’s border with Egypt. Four Palestinians were killed and 38 wounded, and one Israeli soldier was lightly wounded. Because of the heavy fighting, the military was not able to begin searching for smuggling tunnels until after daybreak.
The raid was conducted after Israel received intelligence warnings that Palestinians were planning to smuggle in anti-aircraft missiles, as well as Katyusha rockets, via these tunnels. The shoulder-held Stinger missiles could shoot down military helicopters, as well as civilian aircraft, and the rockets would have the range to hit Israeli cities near Gaza. So far this year, the military said it had destroyed 33 smuggling tunnels in the area. The tunnels have been used to bring in munitions and rifles, as well as drugs. Israeli officials said that Egypt was taking no steps to stop the smuggling.
Earlier this week, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered two more battalions into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and decided to call up four battalions of reserve soldiers, or about 1,000 troops, after the Sukkoth holiday, which ends in a week. Meanwhile, troops have been enforcing a strict travel ban, confining Palestinians in the West Bank to their communities and blocking main roads in the Gaza Strip.
MEETS WITH SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO DISCUSS PRISONER SWAP
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met today with members of his "Committee of Five," a ministerial panel of senior cabinet members, for an update on the state of the prisoner-exchange negotiations with Hizbullah, HA’ARETZ reported. After the meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that the talks would continue, and that the Knesset would be asked to approve any future deal.
The committee is comprised of Sharon, Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom, Minister of Industry and Trade Ehud Olmert and Minister of Justice Yosef Lapid. The meeting was held to discuss the parameters of the deal, which may include Israel freeing hundreds of Palestinian and others, along with Lebanese prisoners, in exchange for Elhanan Tennenbaum and the bodies of soldiers Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omer Suweid who were kidnapped in October of 2000. Sharon is in favor of the deal, and has promised to bring it to the full plenum of the Government for its approval.
Meanwhile, YEDIOT AHARONOT indicated in an exclusive report that Ron Arad, the air force navigator shot down over Lebanon in 1986, was alive and jailed near Tehran. The source of the information allegedly comes from three Iranian exiles – one of them is a diplomat and the other two are former intelligence officials, all whom are currently in Europe.
The paper said that it could not establish or refute the testimonies of the three men in Israel, and said that the claims had to be treated with caution and suspicion.
ALA SHIFTS, TURNING DOWN PM APPOINTMENT
Designated Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, informed Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat on Thursday that he wished to be relieved of the responsibility of forming a new Palestinian government, HA’ARETZ reported. The announcement came following a meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Thursday, in which the new emergency government of the PA was expected to receive the parliament’s approval. The gathering dispersed once it became clear that Qurei had failed to garner sufficient support for his government.
Palestinian parliamentarians coalesced around a common claim that the emergency government was unconstitutional and could not be approved without the Palestinian Legislative Council’s support.
Qurei’s troubles began earlier this week, when a number of ministers, including the designated and all-important minister of the interior and security, General Nasser Yussef, refused to be sworn in without parliamentary approval. The ministers are concerned that they may face stiff opposition from the Palestinian street without parliamentary support if the emergency government is forced to confront the opposition groups, like Hamas.
When Qurei suggested that Arafat revert to his previous recommendation for a broad government, the PA chairman refused to support the idea. He also reneged on his suggestion to appoint Yussef as interior minister.
MONTH AFTER BOMBING, JERUSALEM’S CAFE HILLEL REOPENS
Exactly one month after its destruction in a suicide attack, Jerusalem’s Cafe Hillel located in the city’s trendy German Colony, reopened its doors to the public on Thursday, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Seven people were killed, and scores of others were wounded in the September 9 late-night attack at the café which was then packed with customers.
On Thursday afternoon, the only signs from last month’s carnage were several repair men carrying out the final touches on the outside of the café and the strict security at the entrance.
The Café’s clients pledged their unequivocal support to the popular Jerusalem eatery. “I used to come here every day, and I have been waiting for this reopening,” American-born Yisrael Campbell said as he waited in the take-out line at the cafe Thursday afternoon. Many of the customers who showed up for the reopening said that they had come to this particular place on purpose in order to show their defiance and repudiation of the terrorism. “There is no way that I would not come here on the day of its reopening,” Rich Brownstein said. Brownstein moved to Jerusalem this summer from Oregon, and was at the cafe the morning of the attack. "We are here for them," he said motioning to the owners and workers.
"We choose this cafe on purpose in order to strengthen it, and to show that the Nation of Israel is alive," 19-year-old Avital Shvut, said.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
Archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem recently excavated the ruins of an ancient synagogue in Albania and proved that Jewish presence in the country dated from an earlier time than what had previously been assessed, HA’ARETZ reported. They uncovered remnants of a magnificent building, including a large basilica and other rooms with mosaic floors, dating from the 5th century C.E., which is the early Byzantine period. The excavations revealed that the synagogue was later converted into a church. However, certain Jewish symbols remained, such as a mosaic picture of a seven-branched menorah on the floor of one of the rooms. The team hopes to continue excavations in the future provided additional financing for the project could be found.
The Museum of Italian Jewish Art in Jerusalem will be holding two days of festivities next Monday and Tuesday in the museum’s courtyard on Hillel Street in downtown Jerusalem to celebrate the Sukkoth holiday, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. The weeklong festival of Sukkoth begins this afternoon.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
India, Israel and Russia signed today a $1 billion agreement for the sale of PHALCON airborne early warning systems to India, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The advanced Israeli-made PHALCON radar systems are to be fitted on converted Russian-made Ilyushin transport plane that India will purchase from Moscow. The deal was finalized last month during Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to India.
Dockworkers at the Eilat, Ashdod and Haifa ports were back on the job this morning after the Histadrut labor federation and the Port Authority representatives agreed to end their ten-day strike, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. A national labor court injunction ordered them back to work but also temporarily froze government efforts to pass a bill restructuring the Port Authority. The sides agreed that legal teams would attempt to draw up a document that would serve as the basis for negotiations between the Government and the port workers.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Arielle Berntein at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]