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Israeline — Tuesday, September 17, 2002 —

** U.S. Experts to Mediate Israel-Lebanon Water Dispute
** IDF Dismantles Terrorist Infrastructure
** Magen David Adom Helps With Over 70 Births On Yom Kippur
** Footbridge to Boost Israel-Jordan Free-Trade Park
** Economic Briefs


U.S. Experts to Mediate Israel-Lebanon Water Dispute

In efforts to ease tension between Israel and Lebanon and increase understanding about the nature of the water project, a delegation of American experts specializing in water issues in the Middle East visited the Hatzbani River in southern Lebanon today, MA’ARIV reported. The River supplies Israel with 10 percent of its water.

Despite warnings by Israeli officials that diversion of water from the Hatzbani River "is unacceptable," Lebanese workers have continued to lay infrastructure for a new water pumping station north of Ghajar, a town divided by the Israeli-Lebanese border. Lebanese President Emile Lahoud told reporters, "Lebanon’s decision to benefit from the Hatzbani River to irrigate its parched land and villages in the south is final and irreversible."

Meanwhile, Minister of Defense Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told reporters, "Israel cannot pass over the subject of water – this is our life blood." At this stage, attempts to ease the crisis would be focused on American diplomatic efforts. Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shimon Peres, will meet today with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and other members of the "Madrid Quartet" to discuss diplomatic solutions to the water crisis. According to Peres, both Hizbullah and the Syrian government play a role in the conflict.

IDF Dismantles Terrorist Infrastructure

An Israel Defense Forces unit operating in Rafiah today destroyed the home of Palestinian terrorist Barah Paloji, who took part in a 1993 attack on the Jewish neighborhood of Ganei Tal in the Gaza Strip in which two IDF soldiers were killed, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. IDF troops also destroyed nine plants suspected of being used for the manufacture of mortar shells and Kassam rockets in the town of Khan Yunis, south of Gaza. During the operation, 23 Palestinians were arrested for involvement in hostile activities, and were transferred for custody to Israel’s Security Services.

Meanwhile, Palestinians fired at an IDF tank near Irtach, south of Tulkarem, and an explosive device was detonated near a tank in Al-Yamun west of Jenin. No damages or injuries were reported.

In other incidents, an Israeli Air Force helicopter sustained damage from Palestinian gunfire on Sunday. The helicopter was patrolling the West Bank town of Tulkarem when it was hit. The pilot landed safely and no injuries were reported.

Magen David Adom Helps With Over 70 Births On Yom Kippur

Magen David Adom medical personnel transported 72 women to the hospital for delivery and helped an additional four women give birth at home during the Yom Kippur holiday, HA’ARETZ reported. Overall, Magen David Odom treated 2056 people over the holiday.

Meanwhile, a Magen David Adom spokesman called on the public to donate blood, warning of a shortage in the organization’s blood banks.

Footbridge to Boost Israel-Jordan Free-Trade Park

The joint Israel-Jordan industrial park known as the "Jordan Gate" is expected to undergo significant restructuring and improvements over the next few months, which will include the completion of a pedestrian bridge that will link the two countries, HA’ARETZ reported. The pedestrian bridge is part of a larger bridge used for vehicles, and has recently gained approval of the Bet She’an local planning council. The Jordan Gate private venture is sited near the Sheikh Hussein bridge and will serve as a free trade area.

The U.S. has granted the "Jordan Gate" project the special status of "Qualified Industrial Zone," which exempts its trade with the U.S. from customs or import quotas.

Jordan expects 15,000 new jobs created by the "Jordan Gate" project. In Israel, around 1,500 new jobs will be created, mostly in the auxiliary sector, including jobs in banking, insurance, and postal services.


According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, direct spending on defense rose 4.2 percent last year to $9 billion, the highest since 1993, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Defense expenditures accounted for 11.1 percent of GDP, two to six times higher than those of other developed nations. Defense expenditures in the U.S. and UK totaled 3 percent of GDP.


Economic Briefs

* Elron announced plans to purchase 19 percent of the second largest U.S. web advertising company, 24/7 Real Media, GLOBES reported. Negotiations are underway to finalize the deal. 24/7 Real Media, which has a market capitalization of $27 million, produces online ads for marketers, web promotional campaigns and e-mail campaigns.

* ECI Telecom’s optical networking unit Lightscape Networks announced that JEA, the eighth largest municipal utility in the U.S., has selected its XDM optical platform to upgrade its communications network in Jacksonville, Florida, GLOBES reported.

JEA Project Management manager Sandra Christiansen said, "After evaluating ten of the leading metro optical vendor solutions, we felt that Lightscape Network’s XDM single architecture platform was the most advanced and flexible solution to provide the mission critical services currently needed while positioning the network for future growth.

Israeline — Wednesday, September 18, 2002 —

** Three Israelis Killed in Separate Attacks
** Deputy Minister of Defense: Israel has no Shortage in Gas Masks
** High Court Approves Demolition of Jerusalem Homicide Bombers’ Homes
** Economic Briefs

Three Israelis Killed in Separate Attacks

An Israeli was killed and two others were injured this afternoon when a homicide bomber detonated himself at a bus stop in the Umm al Fahm junction in the Wadi Ara region, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The bomber walked up to a police car at the bus stop, talked to several policemen and then detonated the explosives attached to his body. The two Israelis that were injured moderately and lightly, were evacuated to the Ha’emek Hospital in Afula.

In another incident, one Israeli man was killed and another lightly injured in a terror attack near the West Bank community of Mevo Dotan in the Jenin region. The incident occurred as the two Israeli men were traveling north of Jenin when shots were fired at their car which apparently then spun out of control and crashed.
It was unclear whether the victim was killed as a result of wounds sustained from the shooting or from the car crash.

According to YEDIOT AHARONOT ON-LINE, a senior official of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade contacted the newspaper and claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a third unrelated incident, the charred body of David Buhbut, a 67-year-old Ma’aleh Adumim resident, was found early this morning in a rubbish dump outside the West Bank village of Al Azaria. Israeli police said the murder was apparently a terror attack. Ma’aleh Adumim Police Chief Sassi Sasson said that "with a high degree of likelihood we are speaking of a murder on (Palestinian) nationalist grounds." Buhbut had been shot in the head, and police found additional signs of violence done to the body.

A joint investigation by the police and the Israel Defense Forces indicated that Buhbot had left his home early on Tuesday morning to buy construction materials in Al Azaria, adjacent to Ma’aleh Adumim in a region classified as Area B, under Israeli security control. Buhbot was reportedly accompanied by a Palestinian worker who was renovating his Ma’aleh Adumim home when he traveled to Al Azaria.

Deputy Minister of Defense: Israel has no Shortage in Gas Masks

Speaking at the Knesset plenum, Deputy Minister of Defense Weizman Shiri said that there is no shortage in gas mask kits for the Israeli people despite media reports claiming that a shortage exists, MA’ARIV reported. According to Shiri, there are more than enough gas mask kits in storage for inhabitants of Israel, including foreign workers. He also said that there are enough smallpox vaccinations for the entire Israeli population and said that "Israel is impeccably ready" for an Iraqi missile assault. "Israel has never been more prepared for such an attack. Whoever decides to attack Israel with ground-to-ground missiles must know that Israel has an immediate real response thanks to the Arrow (anti-ballistic missile) Missile," he said.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry will start vaccinating hospital staff against smallpox today, as a first step to immunizing some 15,000 rescue and security personnel against a possible biological weapons attack. The ministry estimates that by the end of the month, around 10,000 rescue and security personnel will have been immunized. The immunization campaign is the result of a Security Cabinet decision a month ago to start vaccinating those in the "first line of defense," including hospital staff, police officers and Magen David Adom personnel.

High Court Approves Demolition of Jerusalem Homicide Bombers’ Homes

The High Court of Justice approved on Tuesday, the demolition of the family homes of the two terrorists who conducted a double suicide bombing on Jerusalem’s Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall on December 1, 2001. Justices Eliyahu Mazza, Mishael Cheshin and Dalia Dorner rejected petitions by the families against the demolitions. In their decision they complained that the petitioners, represented by attorneys Mustafa Yehiyeh and Andre Rosenthal, "did not even condemn the attacks, in which 11 people were killed and 155 were wounded." The two bombers, Nabil Halbiyeh and Osama Ayed Bahar, both residents of Abu Dis on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, doused their bombs with poisonous insecticides. Along with the two suicide bombers, a third bomb, set off in a car, went off in the same area.

The decision to demolish the family homes was made in August as part of the policy set by the government at the time to crack down on relatives aiding and abetting homicide bombers in the hope it would deter others. The families were given time to appeal, and a temporary injunction against the demolitions was issued.


Amos Schocken, the publisher of Israel’s daily newspaper, Ha’aretz spoke to faculty and students at the University of Missouri School of Journalism on September 12. Shocken was there to accept the School’s medal of honor "in recognition of Haartez’s long tradition of fiercely independent and balanced reporting under the most difficult of conditions."


Economic Briefs

* Drug maker Teva announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved its application to market Nizatidine capsules in 150 mg and 300 mg doses, Globes reported. Nizatidine Capsules USP are the generic equivalent of Eli Lilly’s Axid Pulvules. The product is for treatment of active duodenal ulcer, maintenance therapy of healed duodenal ulcer, GERD and benign gastric ulcer. According to Teva, sales of the brand product last year were $225 million. Teva expects to begin shipping the product immediately.

* Blue and White, an open-end mutual fund, plans to raise about $100 million on the New York Stock Exchange next month to be invested in Israeli high-tech companies traded in Tel Aviv and on Nasdaq, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The fund, floated by underwriter U.S. Bank Corp., will be jointly run by Ramco Investments, a Tel Aviv-based portfolio and fund manager with $100 million in managed assets, and Eplboim-Poutre Investments, based in Los Angeles, with $500 million in managed assets, which will also market and supervise the fund. The fund founders will stage a road show on October in the U.S. and will be meeting with local investors in the beginning of October.

Israeline — Thursday, September 19, 2002 —


** Palestinian Homicide Bombing in Tel Aviv Kills 5
** Peres to UN General Assembly: We Have to Win, As Soon As Possible
** Christian Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in Sukkot
** New Ministers for National Infrastructures and Tourism Appointed
** Economic Briefs

Palestinian Homicide Bombing in Tel Aviv Kills 5

Five people were killed and over fifty people were injured, five seriously and one critically, when a homicide bomber exploded on a bus in central Tel Aviv today, HA’ARETZ reported. The bombing occurred on a Dan bus at the intersection of Allenby and Montefiore streets. The terror attack was the fourth in two days, and the second homicide bombing.

"I heard a massive blast," Ofer Menachem, the owner of a cafe near the site of the explosion, said. "I ran outside where customers were eating lunch. I saw people escaping from the bus, jumping out of the windows covered in blood. I saw soldiers and women covered in blood shouting and screaming."

The Hamas terror organization claimed responsibility for the terror attack, and said it was "the first of a planned series of responses to Israeli crimes." The Islamic Jihad terror group also made a claim to the bombing, but Israeli officials said this group was less likely to have been responsible, and that the bombing characteristics pointed to Hamas.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened a full Cabinet meeting to discuss the bombing and Israel’s response to it. Prime Minister Spokesman David Baker said that Palestinian terrorists were waging war against Israeli civilians. "The Palestinians have jumped on the terror bandwagon and are keen on unleashing murderous deeds at any and every opportunity," he said.

Peres to UN General Assembly: We Have to Win, As Soon As Possible

In his address to the United Nations 57th General Assembly on Wednesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres said that with the absence of war, "our region can bloom again" THE JERUSALEM POST reported. "We can separate politically into two states and coordinate one economy," Peres told the leaders and diplomats of 190 nations.

Turning to the current situation in Israel, Peres said that Israel "offered the Palestinians a comprehensive solution without the terror. A solution that was close to their national aspirations," he said. "We agreed that they would have their land in accordance with United Nations resolutions. Terror postponed their destiny."

Peres also told the Assembly that September 11 forced us as an international community to face a new confrontation that is both borderless and merciless. "Terrorism has changed priorities – security before policy," he said, "But we cannot allow dark forces to possess weapons of mass destruction. We shall not turn our lives into sleepless nights and nightmare days. We have to win. As soon as possible."

Meanwhile, US officials were upbeat on Wednesday about the prospect of delineating a new road map for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement after Tuesday’s meeting of the Quartet in New York. "There’s a growing consensus in the international community that Arafat is an obstacle to moving forward with the Quartet’s work," one U.S. official said.

Christian Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in Sukkot

More than 2,000 Evangelical Christians from seventy different countries are slated to arrive in Israel in the upcoming days to participate in the annual celebrations of the Sukkot holiday in Jerusalem, HA’TSOFEH reported. This is the third annual pilgrimage organized by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. The thousands of pilgrims are coming to personally show their solidarity with Israel and their commitment to the State of Israel and the Jewish People.

The group is expected to spend about $8 million during the ceremonies and their stay in different hotels in Jerusalem.


New Ministers for National Infrastructures and Tourism Appointed

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced on Thursday that Ministers without portfolio Effi Eitam and Yitzhak Levy from the National Religious Party will receive the National Infrastructures and Tourism portfolios, respectively, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. Sharon, who held those portfolios until now, has however decided to retain responsibility for the Land Authority, which is part of the Ministry of National Infrastructure portfolio.
According to Israeli Law, Eitam and Levy may begin acting in their new portfolios immediately and do not need the approval of the Knesset as they are already acting ministers.

Economic Briefs

* The Ministry of Finance plans to proceed with the privatization of Bank Leumi on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in October, despite Standard & Poor’s recent downgrade of the bank, Globes reported. The state plans to sell 6 percent of Bank Leumi. The issue, initially scheduled for October 6, has been postponed to the second half of the month. The Ministry of Finance and the bank are currently preparing the prospectus and structure for the issue, and the structure of the units to be sold (options, shares, etc.). The main consideration behind the decision to proceed is that the downgrade is post hoc, reflecting known banking problems already included in the market’s pricing of the bank’s shares.

* Israeli start-up Actimize is raising an estimated $10 million, reported Globes. An investment agreement in principle was signed between Actimize and Giza Venture Capital, under which Giza would invest an estimated $4 million in the company. Giza is believed to be the only new Israeli investor in Actimize. The company is negotiating to bring in another foreign fund. Industry sources believe it is probable that the current round will be increased to $13 million. Founded in mid-1999, Actimize develops systems to analyze large quantities of business data, mainly for large financial institutions. The Rosh-HaAyin-based company was founded in 2001.

Israeline — Friday, September 20, 2002 —

** Israel Security Forces Arrest Twenty Terrorists at Arafat’s Compound
** Israel Remembers
** Three Azzariyeh Murder Suspects Indicted
** Israel Celebrates Sukkot

Israel Security Forces Arrest Twenty Terrorists at Arafat’s Compound

Twenty Palestinians, including some wanted by Israeli security forces for terrorist activities, who sought refuge inside Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah compound, surrendered to Israel Defense Forces this morning, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Among those known to be inside the building are West Bank Intelligence Chief Tawfik Tirawi, suspected of planning terrorist attacks, smuggling weapons, and sheltering terrorists, and Mahmoud Darma, Force 17 commander in the Ramallah area, whose terrorist cell is responsible for murdering 15 people.

Following Thursday’s security cabinet decision to isolate Arafat in response to this week’s renewed Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians, IDF tanks surrounded Arafat’s compound and were able to arrest the fugitives.
Meanwhile, two IDF soldiers sustained light injuries late Thursday night when their tank drove over an explosive device during operations in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. The two soldiers were evacuated for medical treatment.

Israel Remembers

Six people were killed on Thursday after the homicide attack in Tel Aviv, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. Twenty-six people remain hospitalized, including one person in critical condition and six others in serious condition. The following are the names of those victims lost in the attack:

Yossi Mamistavlov, 39, from Or Yehudah, was the driver of the exploded Dan bus. A few months ago, Yossi, who drove bus no. 4 for fifteen years, was transferred to another route. He protested to return to his former route. According to his friend Mickey, "he knew the people and the passengers, he loved them and wanted to keep on working for them."

According to his friends, Yossi, a father of four, ages fourteen to a month and a half, was "a loving and caring family man. He was loved by everyone and always smiled and was cheerful." He is survived by his wife and four children and was laid to rest today at the Yarkon cemetery in Tel Aviv.

Yaffa Shemtov Hanoun, 49, from Tel Aviv, was killed on her way to work from the doctor’s office. Her daughter Limor said that Yaffa usually took the no. 17 bus to work but on Thursday she boarded the no. 4 bus instead because of a doctor’s appointment.

Her relative Simcha said that Yaffa worked as a kindergarten teacher in Tel Aviv for twenty years and loved her job, the children she taught and her three grandchildren more than anything. "Yaffa was an amazing person, who devoted all of her time to her family," Simcha said.

Yaffa is survived by her daughter and three grandchildren. She was laid to rest today at the Yarkon cemetery in Tel Aviv.

Rosanna Siso, 59, from Gan Yavne, went out of her clothing store to get lunch and was killed instantly by the blast. Rosanna’s eldest son was lightly injured in the attack. Her daughter, Tobi, said that she spoke to her mother earlier in the day and that Rosanna was in a good mood. "She was an active woman, noble and never afraid," Tobi said.

Rosanna will be buried on Sunday, pending the return of her son from the United States. She is survived by her husband, four children and eight grandchildren.

Ofer Zinger, 29, from Moshav Patzael in the Jordan Valley, just graduated from Tel Aviv College with a degree in electronic engineering. During his studies, he resided with his grandfather in Tel Aviv. Ofer was on his way to the post office to pick up a package when he was killed in the attack.

Ofer graduated from the Yarden high school and served in the Israel Defense Forces’ Golani brigade. His family members said he was always worried about the safety and security of his parents in the Jordan Valley. He is survived by his parents and two siblings. Ofer was laid to rest today at the Ein Gev Cemetery.

Jonathan (Yoni) Jesner, 17, from Glasgow, Scotland, was a student at the Har Etzion Yeshiva in Gush Etzion. He was hospitalized with serious head injuries after the attack and died today of his wounds at the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv. His first cousin and best friend Gideon Black, who sat next to him on the bus, was also injured and is in moderate condition. Yoni’s father, a resident of Jerusalem, was at his son’s side when he died and other family members were on their way from Scotland and the United States on Thursday night to be with him. Both Yoni and Gideon were in their second year of an intensive talmudic studies program and had come to Tel Aviv to meet their families.

According to his friends, Yoni was a serious student, extremely popular and had a brown belt in karate. He planned to attend medical school in London after finishing his second year at the Yeshiva, and was planning to immigrate to Israel there after.

Minister of Health Nissim Dahan, who arrived at the scene of the bombing 50 minutes later, found the Lulav and Etrog that Yoni had bought that day for the Sukkot holiday. The lulav and etrog were returned to his parents. Yoni was buried today at Har Ha’menuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem.

Solomon Honig, 79, from Tel Aviv, is survived by a son and daughter. He was laid to rest this afternoon at the Holon Cemetery.

Three Azzariyeh Murder Suspects Indicted

Three Arabs Israelis from Eastern Jerusalem have been indicted in the murder of David Buhbut, 67, of Ma’aleh Adumim, whose charred body was discovered on Wednesday in an Arab village east of Jerusalem, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Buhbut, who was bludgeoned to death with a pickax and rocks, was buried on Thursday night in Jerusalem.

The three suspects, Fadi Natshe, 22, of Wadi Joz, Muhammad Aliwat, 22, and his brother, Yakoub Aliwat, 20, of Silwan, who were questioned for eight days at a closed door session in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, confessed to carrying out the killing. The suspects told police that they carried out the murder, which they planned for several days out of "criminal motives," asserting that the deceased had owed them $8,000 and had refused to pay them. However, police doubt this claim and stated that in their view the murder was clearly a terror attack, citing the vicious nature of the wounds inflicted as well as discrepancies in the suspects’ statements regarding how much money they were owed.

Israel Celebrates Sukkot

The seven-day festivities of Sukkot will begin tonight at sundown with many Israelis spending a good part of the holiday with family and friends in "Sukkot," MA’ARIV reported. Many of the events scheduled for the holiday focus on a return to nature, in line with the agricultural roots of Sukkot as a harvest festival. Some events include: The Wine and Blueberry Festival in Al-Ram, offering a visit to a vineyard, picking and stomping grapes, making a personal bottle of wine, and picking blueberries; The Tirat Tzvi Harvest festival will mark 65 years of the kibbutz, with tours along the Jordanian border, and a guided tour outlining the history of the Jordan Valley community. Rishon Letzion and Zichron Yaakov will both be celebrating their 120-year anniversaries, with music and art festivals and special concerts by popular Israeli artists.

The week will also be filled with various cultural concerts and festivals including:
Abu Gosh Music Festival, featuring outdoor concerts in Abu Gosh churches; Givatayim Storytelling Festival; The "Mini Israel" theme park, which will mark its grand opening and its permanent exhibit at Latrun offering over 350 miniature models of Israeli sites of historical or archeological importance. In addition, The Haifa Film Festival will screen one hundred and thirty international award-winning films.

Minister of Internal Security Uzi Landau announced on Thursday in a meeting with Jewish leaders in New York that his office will work directly with the office of U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge to reduce U.S. susceptibility to international terrorism, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Landau said "Israel serves today as the worldwide laboratory of international terrorism and we have much to offer, in terms of experience, to the US."