Choose Day Below
— Tuesday, September 2 ,
Israeline — Tuesday, September 2
, 2003 —
** SHALOM VISITS MOROCCO IN ATTEMPT TO NORMALIZE TIES
** Or COMMISSION HANDS IN ITS REPORT
** MUSICAL PROJECT SHOWS HARMONY IN THE MIDDLE EAST IS POSSIBLE
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC & HI-TECH BRIEFS
**ISRAEL DECLARES WAR AGAINST HAMAS
DECLARES WAR AGAINST HAMAS
At his cabinet meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told ministers Israel would press ahead with strikes against Palestinian terrorists, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz echoed the prime minister’s intentions and said the Israel Defense Forces were at an all-out war against Hamas and other terrorist organizations. "Since the terror attack in Jerusalem on August 19, Israel cannot return to the previous rules of the game," Mofaz said. He added that the attack had broken the track that was supposed to give the diplomatic process a chance and condemned the Palestinian Authority’s passivity regarding the war on terrorism. "In response, the IDF has changed tactics," Mofaz said. "Israel will freeze the diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority and continue to strike at terrorist leaders." IDF army chief, Lieutenant-General Moshe Ya’alon said Israel was preparing to send an infantry brigade into Gaza to stop Hamas rocket attacks. The brigade would consist of about 3000 soldiers, including fighters and support personnel. He added that the IDF was planning to build 40 to 50 bunker-type rooms for Jewish residents in Gaza, to protect them from rockets and mortars.
Meanwhile, according to HA’ARETZ, Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car carrying senior leader of Hamas Khader Husari on Monday, killing him and wounding 25 other Palestinians. It was the sixth helicopter attack since August 21. An armed Palestinian was shot and killed by IDF troops this afternoon south of Jenin. He was identified as Abd al-Qadar Dahani, a wanted Islamic Jihad terrorists.
In other security-related news, the Israel Security Agency has ordered security beefed up around a number of Israeli government ministers, fearing that Hamas would attempt to make good on its threats to target Israeli officials.
VISITS MOROCCO IN ATTEMPT TO NORMALIZE TIES
Visiting Morocco for the first time, Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom is meeting today with Moroccan King Mohammed VI and Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa to discuss the normalization of relations between the two countries, HA’ARETZ reported. Talks will include the issue of the re-opening of the liaison offices in the Morrocan and Israeli capitals. These offices, which were originally opened in 1995, were closed following the inception of Palestinian violence in 2000. Noting the important role Morocco had played in the peace process in the past, government sources said that the reopening of liaison offices would send "a positive message for both people" and would enable Israelis of Moroccan heritage to again visit the land of their birth. In addition to his political meetings, Shalom plans to visit the country’s Jewish community.
Morocco has historically maintained secret relations with Israel for many years, and played a mediating role in the early stages of the peace process, culminating in Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977. Following the signing of the Oslo agreements in 1993, Morocco was a pioneer in normalizing relations with Israel. In 1994, a regional economic conference was held in Casablanca. Former prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak visited Morocco during their terms in office. The last Israeli foreign minister to visit Morocco was David Levy, who served in Ehud Barak’s government.
COMMISSION HANDS IN ITS REPORT
The Or Judicial Commission of Inquiry released on Monday its long-awaited report on the riots that broke out in the Israeli Arab community in October 2000, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Within the first eight days of October 2000, twelve Israeli-Arabs and a Palestinian were killed by Israeli police, and a Jewish motorist was killed in a crash after being stoned on a road near Jisr a-Zarka. The report largely attributes blame for the October bloodshed to Israeli police, top government officials, and Israeli-Arab leaders. The commission in charge of the report – Supreme Court Justice Theodore Or, Tel Aviv University Prof. Shimon Shamir, and Nazareth District Court Judge Hashem Khatib – criticizes in particular former Minister of Internal Security Shlomo Ben-Ami for failing to prepare the police for the October violence, and recommends that he not be allowed to hold the same portfolio in the future. The commission also officially holds former Prime Minister Ehud Barak responsible for his government’s detachment from the Israeli-Arab community, but does not recommend withdrawing his right to hold public office in the future.
The commission also sharply criticizes former police Inspector-General Yehuda Wilk and the former commander of the Northern Police District, Alec Ron, for their performances before and during the riots. The commission rejects the claims of the Arab leadership to the effect that the Arab community did nothing more than demonstrate and speak out, and, as such, exercised its democratic rights. "During the events of October 2000, the earth shook," writes the commission. "The force of the aggressiveness and violence that came to the fore during these events was extremely high. [The demonstrators] used various means of assault against civilians and security personnel, including firebombs, steel marbles, rocks, burning tires, and in some cases live bullets. Jews were attacked on the roads just because they were Jews. In several cases, they were a hair’s breadth away from death at the hands of a rioting mob."
PROJECT SHOWS HARMONY IN THE MIDDLE EAST IS POSSIBLE
The multi-cultural orchestra founded by conductor Daniel Barenboim – the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra – gave a concert in the Moroccan capital of Rabat last week, its first performance in an Arab country, ISRAEL21C reported. Israeli, Palestinian and Middle Eastern Arab musicians play side-by-side in this one-of-a-kind musical project. The orchestra convenes annually at a summer workshop in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. Among the 80 members of the group are 6 Lebanese, 13 Egyptians, 6 Syrians, 31 Israelis, 4 Palestinian-Israelis, 19 Spaniards and 3 Jordanians. This is the fifth meeting of the ochestra, founded by Barenboim, an Argentine-born Israeli citizen and Edward Said, a Palestinian writer, but only the second time it has been based in Andalusia – a symbolic venue as Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together for centuries in Moorish Andalusia before the Christian Reconquest of Spain in 1492 and the resultant expulsion of Jews.
"In spite of not being political, this is a workshop that shows that when the different peoples of the region unite to create something together, they have an extraordinary quality," Barenboim said. "In that sense, it gives us an advance notice of what the Middle East might be." He acknowledges that music is not going to resolve the Middle East conflict, "but one thing is very clear: studying music is better than studying fundamentalism." Both Barenboim and Said said the reason for founding the orchestra was to help Arabs and Jews to see each other as human beings amid the violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Matan Porat, a 21-year-old Israeli pianist and composer, said it was the first time he had met Arab musicians. "It’s very interesting to see that we have had the same education and share the same views," he said. Mohamed Saleh, a 27-year-old oboist from Egypt, said he felt very comfortable working with musicians from Israel and other countries. "We don’t care about the government or political problems or anything. We are just human and want to live together and have fun," he said.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, who arrived in Jordan Monday following a visit to Israel, said he was concerned about the "critical" situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, HA’ARETZ reported. He stressed that enforcing the road map was the only solution to ease tensions between the two sides. "Everyone has to continue thinking and working on the road map as it is the one and only solution," Solana said.
The PLO Executive Committee and Fatah Central Committee are meeting this afternoon in Ramallah in an attempt to overcome the ongoing crisis of confidence between Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. 217 Palestinian personalities reportedly relayed a letter to Arafat and Abbas demanding that they resolve their differences. On Monday, Palestinian Legislative Council speaker Abu Ala said that the strong deterioration in relations between Arafat and Abbas has resulted in an undermining of peace efforts.
ECONOMIC & HI-TECH BRIEFS
Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that he planned to dismantle the ministry’s Economy and State Revenue Administration and consolidate its two tax divisions, Income and Property Tax and Customs and VAT, GLOBES reported. Netanyahu said the measures were part of the restructuring that will be submitted to the cabinet as part of the 2004 budget. The measures will be carried out over the coming year.
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. has been chosen by the Hearst Corporation, one of the nation’s largest diversified communications companies, to secure its global network, GLOBES reported. The challenges in securing the Hearst network include providing reliable communications and protecting the core of Hearst’s business, intellectual property.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by David Nekrutman, David Dorfman, Tallie Lieberman and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
— Wednesday, September 3 ,
Israeline — Wednesday, September 3
, 2003 —
** HIZBULLAH RENEWS ATTACK AGAINST ISRAEL’S NORTHERN BORDER
** ABBAS TO FACE CONFIDENCE VOTE TOMORROW AGAINST BACKDROP OF POWER STRUGGLE WITH ARAFAT
** ISRAEL’S AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: ANTI-ISRAEL RESOLUTIONS MUST STOP
** TECHNION TEAM CRACKS GSM CELLULAR PHONE ENCRYPTION
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC & HI-TECH BRIEFS
RENEWS ATTACK AGAINST ISRAEL’S NORTHERN BORDER
Hizbullah terrorists fired anti-aircraft shells this afternoon, in the western section of the northern border with Lebanon, HA’ARETZ reported. Shrapnel from the shells landed inside Israeli territory, but there were no reports of injuries or damage. It is the first time Hizbullah has fired anti-aircraft shells into Israel since it killed Haviv Dadon, 16, by launching an explosive projectile against his home in Shlomi. In other news, Israel radio, KOL YISRAEL reported that five anti-tank missiles were fired at an Israeli community in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night. One house was damaged and a resident was treated for shock. Meanwhile, Israel allowed 10,000 Palestinian laborers and 1,000 merchants from the Gaza Strip to enter Israel through the Erez crossing this morning.
TO FACE CONFIDENCE VOTE TOMORROW AGAINST BACKDROP OF POWER STRUGGLE WITH ARAFAT
The power struggle between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat may reach a climax on Thursday, as Abbas is likely to insist on being confirmed in a parliamentary vote of confidence, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Abbas is increasingly unpopular and could be toppled in a parliament vote; his ouster, in turn, could cause even more turmoil for the road map peace plan. Initially, the Palestinian prime minister said he would leave the decision on holding a vote to legislators, but reversed his position after mediators failed to resolve his dispute with Arafat over control of Palestinian security forces. Many Palestinian legislators, while critical of Abbas, have said that they do not want to push him out of office and would prefer that he work out his differences with Arafat. Abbas was to address parliament Thursday to review his first 100 days in office. He has failed in his two key objectives-persuading terrorists to cease attacks on Israelis and improve the daily lives of Palestinians-and has rejected U.S. calls for an actual crackdown on terrorists, as called for in the road map, because he fears it would spark Palestinian civil war.
AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: ANTI-ISRAEL RESOLUTIONS MUST STOP
Israel has launched a campaign asking the United Nations to declare a moratorium on all resolutions that denounce Israel or request that it change its policies without parallel denunciations or demands regarding Palestinian terrorism, HAARETZ reported. Danny Gillerman, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, presented the idea to UN ambassadors of 25 European states at a special meeting Tuesday, arguing that the road map peace plan-of which the EU and the UN are cosponsors, along with the US and Russia-requires the end of anti-Israel incitement, including one-sided, anti-Israel UN resolutions.
The initiative refers specifically to 21 resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that are discussed by various UN committees each year, and are then forwarded to the General Assembly, where they enjoy an automatic majority. The new proposal is part of a concerted effort recently introduced by Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom, to separate the European states from the UN’s anti-Israel majority. Although the European officials declined to respond immediately, David Granit, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for international organizations, said that, "the success of our meeting with the European ambassadors was that it took place at all." Israel will continue pushing the issue via private talks with key UN players and during meetings with senior State Department officials in Washington this weekend.
TEAM CRACKS GSM CELLULAR PHONE ENCRYPTION
Professor Eli Biham of the Technion of Haifa, and doctoral students Elad Barkan and Natan Keller, found an effective way to crack the encoding system for cellular telephone conversations conducted over GSM (Global System for Mobile) networks, HA’ARETZ reported. GSM is one of the two standards widely used for cellular service. Originally developed for Europe, it now accounts for over 70 percent of the world market (870 million subscribers).
The Technion team explained at a conference two weeks ago at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that their system of cracking the GSM encoding mechanism would enable hackers to "hunt" codes used by cellular phones by collecting the digital signals sent to and from the cellular antennas. They could then eavesdrop on conversations by entering the cellular network "disguised" as one of the cell phones whose codes were cracked. A veteran private investigator, Meir Pelovsky, said on Tuesday that cellular conversations were considered relatively secure and that there were no devices available in the civilian market that could tap these conversations. However, the finding of the Technion team, which has already applied for a patent, is likely to enable a relatively inexpensive device to be built that will increase the risk of eavesdropping on the cellular conversations of GSM users.
Regardless of their discovery, it is generally assumed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) – which has received larger budgets in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks – has cracked the GSM code and is capable of tapping into any telephone in the world. Even if the cellular companies choose not to fix the breach discovered in the GSM security system, this problem will disappear when the cellular operators move to the third generation of cellular technology. However, third-generation technology will not be fully deployed until the next few years.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
* Israeli experts have concluded that no evidence could prove that missing navigator Ron Arad, whose plane went down over Lebanon in 1986, was dead, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. This conclusion is the work of a committee appointed by former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz to investigate Arad’s fate. The committee reviewed thousands of documents collected in the past 17 years and recommended the implementation of actions that will assist in resolving the matter. The report was presented to Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon and intelligence experts are currently studying it.
* In the wake of Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom’s visit to Morocco, Israeli diplomatic sources said Israel and the Morocco would soon renew diplomatic activities, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The Foreign Minister was received Tuesday by King Mohammed VI in a meeting that lasted 90 minutes. Speaking later to reporters, Shalom said the meeting was "very good" and dealt with a long list of issues. The king instructed his foreign minister, Mohammed Ben Aisa to renew the issuing of travel visas to Israelis wishing to visit Morocco. Shalom is slated to visit Jordan in September.
ECONOMIC & HI-TECH BRIEFS
* Procter & Gamble is looking to expand its investment and broaden its activities in Israel, by increasing its purchases from Israeli companies, GLOBES reported. Proctor & Gamble vice president will explore the matter on an upcoming visit to Israel. Proctor and Gable Israel CEO Gonzalez Hurtado told Minister of Trade and Industry Ehud Olmert that the Israeli market was attractive for multinational companies and that he considered Israel to be a dynamic, competitive, and knowledgeable market with promising growth potential.
* Israel venture capital fund managers continue to express optimism with regard to a recovery in the high-tech industry, GLOBES reported. Deloitte and Touche – Brightman Almagor’s VC indicator survey for the third quarter of the year examined the expectations of managing partners in 50 funds. The managers’ optimism regarding an improvement in the economic climate is also reflected in their expectations for the funds’ future capital raising. Although 76 percent expect the same difficulty in raising capital for new funds as in the preceding quarter, 35 percent expect to raise their next fund in 2004, compared with 17 percent in the preceding quarter, and 38 percent expected to raise their next fund in 2005, compared with 73 percent in the preceding quarter.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by David Dorfman, Arielle Bernstein and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
— Thursday, September 4 ,
Israeline — Thursday, September 4
, 2003 —
SOLDIER KILLED IN AMBUSH NEAR JENIN
** ABBAS THREATENS TO RESIGN, REFUSES TO CRACK DOWN ON TERROR GROUPS
** MOSSAD TO LEAD ISRAEL’S EFFORTS ON IRAN
** IAF PILOTS FLY OVER AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP TO HONOR HOLOCAUST VICTIMS
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC & HI-TECH BRIEFS
SOLDIER KILLED IN AMBUSH NEAR JENIN
Sergeant Gabriel Uziel, 20, was killed today in an ambush near the West Bank city of Jenin, HA’ARETZ reported. Uziel, of Givat Ze’ev, was laid to rest at 6 PM today at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the killing. The attack took place early this morning when Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a group of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in Jenin. Uziel, who was critically wounded, received emergency treatment at the site of the shooting but died en route to a hospital. There were no reports of other casualties. The shooting was only one of many attacks on soldiers to take place in the territories overnight. There were no injuries in the other incidents, which included the throwing of a bomb at IDF troops near the Nablus-area village of Jaba’a. Palestinian terrorist groups officially called off a truce last month. Prior to the annoucement, Hamas had carried out a suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus that left 21 people dead.
THREATENS TO RESIGN, REFUSES TO CRACK DOWN ON TERROR GROUPS
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah today, blaming Israel for the failure of the temporary ceasefire with Hamas and other groups, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. In summing up his first 100 days in office, Abbas said the Palestinians lacked a united national front in supporting the U.S. peace plan known as the ‘roadmap.’ "Without unity in authority, decision-making and absolute enforcement of law, we will not advance one step on the political track," Abbas said.
Abbas reiterated his counter-terrorism position of maintaining dialogue with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others, instead of disarming these groups. However, Abbas added that if he did not receive full support, his resignation as prime minister would be submitted. Even though Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said the "roadmap is dead," Abbas continued to bolster the chairman’s status by calling him "our constitutional and historic leader," while slamming Israel for its siege on Arafat’s compound. "I believe that the siege of President Arafat is hurting our national dignity," Abbas said.
Israel and the United States want Abbas to crack down on Hamas and other terrorists groups, as required by the road map. Israel has already ordered a diplomatic freeze on the implementation of the road map until Abbas orders a clampdown. Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said, "Israel will not negotiate with a new Palestinian government handpicked by Arafat," while Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz warned on Tuesday that Israel might have to expel Arafat soon if he keeps getting in the way of the peace process.
TO LEAD ISRAEL’S EFFORTS ON IRAN
Israel’s effort to block Iran from developing nuclear weapons will be spearheaded by the Mossad, HA’ARETZ reported. According to Israel Defense Forces estimates, Iran will cross the point of no return in another year, at which time it will be able to create fissionable material for nuclear bombs. By 2006, Iran will be able to produce its own nuclear weapons. The intelligence agency will coordinate the inter-ministry forum acting to keep atomic weapons out of Tehran’s arsenal. On this issue – considered the most serious threat to Israeli national security – the Mossad will give instructions to the Foreign Ministry, responsible for making diplomatic contacts, Military Intelligence, responsible for gathering information about the Iranian nuclear program, and the Atomic Energy Commission, which will provide professional and technical support in nuclear affairs and handle contacts with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Meanwhile, the IAEA board of governors will meet in Vienna on Monday to discuss concerns that Iran has violated its commitments and is hiding experiments in enriched uranium from international inspectors.
PILOTS FLY OVER AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP TO HONOR HOLOCAUST VICTIMS
Three IAF F-15 jets flew over the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp this afternoon in a salute to the Jews who were murdered at the camp, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The pilots carried with them the names of 1,943 Jews who perished at the site on September 4, 1943 – exactly 60 years ago. During the fly-over, the planes’ Star of David was visible from the ground, where some 200 Israel Defense Forces soldiers stood at the former Birkenau death camp, adjacent to Auschwitz. The administration of the memorial museum at the site objected to the fly over complaining that Auschwitz was not the place for a display of "Israel’s military might". Israel’s Ambassador to Poland Shevah Weiss rejected the criticism saying the idea was a show of respect to the Jews murdered in the Holocaust. "They will fly over the camp for about a second to honor the ashes of their fathers and grandfathers," Weiss said. "This will be a very emotional moment for them. They will probably be crying in the planes. This is not a demonstration of military power. Our army simply wants to honor the victims," he added.
The three jets – piloted by descendants of Holocaust survivors – were to fly over the former death camp accompanied by two Polish MiG-29 jets. More than one million people perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau – the vast majority of them Jews – from 1940 until January 27, 1945. A total of six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. "It’s a joint Israeli-Polish initiative and for a noble cause," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled said. "We share a tragic history, and obviously it’s being done in full cooperation."
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
Israel Air Force fighter jets attacked a Hizbullah base in southern Lebanon on Wednesday, destroying the artillery position which hours earlier had fired anti-aircraft shells in the western section of Israel’s northern border, HA’ARETZ reported. In the wake of Wednesday’s strikes and counter-strikes, IDF sources said that more aggressive action against Syria, which backs Hizbullah and has a military presence in Lebanon, was now called for. Two years ago, Israel destroyed two Syrian army bases in Lebanon in response to Hizbullah shelling.
Yacov Hadas, Israel’s new ambassador to Jordan, arrived in the Hashemite Kingdom today and will present his credentials to the king in the near future, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Hadas, 46, was formerly the head of Israel’s trade mission to Qatar. Hadas is Israel’s fourth ambassador to Jordan since the 1994’s peace treaty. Jordan was the second Arab country to exchange ambassadors with Israel after Egypt. Subsequently Mauritania became the third Arab state to have full diplomatic relations with Israel. Jordan has not had an ambassador in Tel Aviv since the inception of Palestinian violence late 2000.
Indian police said unprecedented security measures would be enforced when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visits the country next week, Israel radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The announcement followed warnings by political groups that they would stage protests. Police Commissioner Maxwell Pereira said Sharon would be granted the same protection as that extended to U.S. President Bill Clinton when he visited India two years ago.
ECONOMIC & HI-TECH BRIEFS
Leon Recanati is starting a new investment company in Israel, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The fund, which will be known as GlenRock, will focus primarily on investments in the fields of technology, life sciences, and finance. Recanati said he saw potential in Israeli companies, and he looked forward to consulting for young Israeli firms. GlenRock will also operate in the United States, under the name GlenRock USA, and will offer private equity investments and consulting services to American companies and Israeli firms operating in the U.S. the firm said.
Netanya-based start-up Infra-Com plans to raise up to $4 million on the over-the-counter market in New York by the end of the year, HA’ARETZ reported. Infra-Com develops Optical Wireless Broadband solutions which enable non-line-of-sight, high-speed wireless communication using an optical medium. "Our chips will be ready for our clients in the first quarter of 2004. Home entertainment devices using our chips are expected to be available in the second quarter," CEO Tamir Shaanan said.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by David Nekrutman, Matthew Miller, Tallie Lieberman and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
— Friday, September 5 ,
Israeline — Friday, September 5
, 2003 —
** UN CONFERENCE TURNS INTO ISRAEL BASHING CAMPAIGN
** ISRAELI SCIENTISTS DEVELOP DRUG TO COMBAT WEST NILE FEVER
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC & HI-TECH BRIEFS
**IDF SOLDIER KILLED IN NABLUS
SOLDIER KILLED IN NABLUS
Sgt. Maj. Ra’anan Komemi, a member of the elite Naval Commando unit Shayetet 13, was killed earlier today in a clash with Hamas terrorists in Nablus. Four other soldiers were wounded in the gun battle, one of them seriously. Komemi, 23, from Moshav Aminadav near Jerusalem, and his unit were involved in an operation to capture a senior Hamas bomb-maker, Mohammed Hanbali, who had topped Israel’s most wanted list for the region around Nablus. Hanbali, who had directed several fatal suicide bombings and was responsible for dozens of Israeli deaths, was killed in the firefight.
Brig. Gen. Gadi Eizencot said that the naval commando unit, together with other IDF units, operates around the clock in an effort to thwart attempts by terrorists to launch attacks. In addition to killing Hanbali, the soldiers arrested three additional Hamas members in the raid.
CONFERENCE TURNS INTO ISRAEL BASHING CAMPAIGN
A United Nations annual conference in New York meant to bolster Palestinian civil society turned into anti-Israel forum, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Setting the tone for the conference (themed "End the Occupation" and supported by UN Secretary Kofi Annan) Palestinian observer to the UN Nasser al-Kidwa urged delegates to overlook terrorism and focus on Israeli self-defense policies. "Violence in self-defense in the occupied Palestinian territories is not terrorism. It is a reaction to the odious Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinian people. It does not run counter to international law," he said.
In reaction to developments of the conference, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman said, "the event sabotages whatever positive developments there may be on the ground and derails the road map and the peace process."
SCIENTISTS DEVELOP DRUG TO COMBAT WEST NILE FEVER
Two Israeli scientists have come up with a revolutionary new drug which they believe will slow down the spread of West Nile fever among those already infected by the virus, HA’ARETZ reported. The drug – Omr-IgG-am – was developed jointly by Professor Bracha Rager, former Health Ministry chief scientist and senior staff member at the Health Science Faculty’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be’er Sheva, and David Ben-Natan, of the Nes Tziona Biological Institute. Omr-IgG-am, which is manufactured by Omrix, a biopharmaceuticals company, is based on immunoglobulin, a protein group found in the blood’s liquid component. "This group contains all the antibodies that a human develops in his lifetime once he is exposed to bacteria, viruses and the like," Rager said.
The researchers succeeded in isolating the "defensive antibodies" produced from a group of proteins taken from Israeli blood donors who had come in contact with the virus. The antibodies were injected into rats who had been infected with the West Nile virus. The fact that the rats survived the disease proved the effectiveness of the antibodies as a pharmaceutical treatment even among patients who have already been infected by the virus. Since developing the drug, Omrix has a signed cooperation agreement with the National Institutes of Health in the United States to carry out clinical tests of the Israeli product in an attempt to determine its effectiveness. "The research is pinned on our success in proving the effectiveness of the antibody treatment against the disease. Not every disease can be treated in this way," Rager said. "In the future, we will attempt to develop a vaccine for people who have not yet been infected by the disease."
NEWS IN BRIEF
The August 19th Hamas homicide bombing in Jerusalem has now claimed 22 victims, HAARETZ reported. Mordechai Laufer, 27, of Netanya died Friday of wounds he received when a Palestinian Hamas homicide bomber boarded a packed Jerusalem bus and blew himself up, killing 22 people and wounding over 100 others.
The European Union is unlikely to place Hamas on its list of terror organizations, despite US and Israeli pressure, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The issue will be discussed at an informal meeting held by EU foreign ministers in Italy over the weekend.
Israel plays Germany today in the 32nd European Basketball Championships, HAARETZ reported. The tournament is being held in Sweden.
ECONOMIC & HI-TECH BRIEFS
Verint Systems Inc. an Israel-based provider of analytic software-based solutions for communications interception, digital video security and surveillance, and enterprise business intelligence announced that it has been selected to deliver a multi-million dollar ULTRA Intelligent Recording solution for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), GLOBES reported. Verint has significant experience with major government implementations and our ULTRA solution is uniquely designed for a large-scale, multi-site organizations like the Internal Revenue Service," said Dan Bodner, president and CEO of Verint Systems Inc. "ULTRA will deliver actionable intelligence that will enable the IRS to enhance operational efficiency and provide a positive taxpayer experience."
Trans-Israel Highway operator Derech Eretz plans to raise $250 million to complete construction of the northern stretch of Highway 6, HA’ARETZ reported. The northern stretch is slated for construction in early 2004 and runs from Wadi Milek to Wadi Ara.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Arielle Bernstetin, Matthew Miller, David Nekrutman and Dina Wosner at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.