Choose Day Below
— Monday, September 29 ,
Israeline — Monday, September 29
, 2003 —
** TWO KILLED – INCLUDING 7-MONTH-OLD-BABY – IN ROSH HASHANAH ATTACK
** PUBLIC-SECTOR WORKERS BEGIN OPEN-ENDED STRIKE
** EX-PA SECURITY CHIEF DAHLAN: ARMED STRUGGLE WAS A MISTAKE
** ARAFAT, FATAH APPROVE QUREI’S CABINET
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
KILLED – INCLUDING 7-MONTH-OLD-BABY – IN ROSH HASHANAH ATTACK
An Islamic Jihad terrorist murdered a seven-month-old baby and a 26-year-old man in the West Bank community of Negohot in an attack carried out on Friday night against a group of people celebrating Rosh Hashanah, HA’ARETZ reported. The gunman shot dead Shaked Avraham in her rocker, as well as Otniel Yeshiva graduate Eyal Yerberbaum. Married couple Nehemia and Dorit Krakover were lightly wounded in the shooting.
The terrorist – identified as Islamic Jihad’s Mahmoud Hamdan, 22 – infiltrated Negohot after the start of the Jewish New Year, around 9:30 PM and was armed with an M-16 rifle and two hand grenades. He repeatedly knocked on the door of a home where several people were holding a Rosh Hashanah dinner but failed to answer the question "who’s there?" Eyal Yeverbaum, who was armed with a pistol, went to open the door. As soon as he cracked it open, the terrorist fired two bullets, mortally wounding him. Yeverbaum, however, managed to slam the door shut, thus preventing the terrorist from entering the house. The terrorist then sprayed bullets through the door, hitting the baby girl in the chest. She was killed almost instantly. The assailant was killed about two minutes after he first opened fire by Israel Defense Forces troops stationed near Negohot.
"The Palestinians have started the Jewish New Year with another bloody terrorist attack," David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office, said. "It’s obvious that they’ve taken a New Year’s resolution to continue with their trail of terror against Israel. The Palestinian Authority still refuses to take the necessary steps to rein in the terror and prevent such attacks from happening."
WORKERS BEGIN OPEN-ENDED STRIKE
Some 50,000 public sector workers in government ministries and offices launched an open-ended strike today in protest to the Government’s intended administrative changes in the public service sector, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The municipal workers are not receiving the public, answering phone calls, or delivering mail. The National Insurance Institute is not paying unemployment allowances and the Employment Service is closed to jobseekers. The Interior Ministry clerks suspended the issuance of passports, passport extensions, identity cards, birth and death certificates, and all official licenses and documents.
Long lines were reported outside customs at Ben Gurion Airport where passengers have been delayed for up to two hours by inspectors checking every piece of luggage.
Workers at 29 state hospitals will join the strike after Yom Kippur. A forum of teachers unions, national parents associations and local authorities’ representatives have already announced that they will consider shutting the schools in mid-October, following the Succoth holiday.
The director of the Treasury’s department in charge of wages, Yuval Rachelevsky, said the strike days would be deducted from the workers’ wages. According to the calculation of the Israel Association of Chambers of Commerce, the strike is costing Israel’s economy 100 million shekels each day.
SECURITY CHIEF DAHLAN: ARMED STRUGGLE WAS A MISTAKE
Three years after the inception of violence, the outgoing Palestinian security chief said that Palestinians had made a mistake in using arms against Israel and failed to understand that the world had changed after September 11, HA’ARETZ reported. "Resorting to armed violence in certain phases of the Palestinian intifada, the way it was done in the past three years, proved to be detrimental to our national struggle," Mohammed Dahlan said on Sunday. Dahlan, who served as security chief for four months under the outgoing prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, said the terrorist groups had been misreading the situation. "We had hoped that the various Palestinian factions would understand the new world that emerged after the events of September 11, 2001 and learn from their outcome," Dahlan said. "Each era of national struggle has its own characteristics and means. What is positive at a certain time might be counterproductive in other times," Dahlan added.
Meanwhile, according to THE JERUSALEM POST, a crowd of several thousand Palestinians demonstrated in the streets of Nablus to mark the anniversary of three years of violence against Israel. Leading the crowd were terrorists wearing fake explosive belts and burning a miniature Israeli bus.
Israel eased today a tight closure it had imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the two-day New Year’s holiday that ended Sunday night. However, travel restrictions remained largely in place.
FATAH APPROVE QUREI’S CABINET
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qurei is expected to present his new cabinet to the Palestinian Legislative Council for a vote of confidence by the end of the week, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. On Friday, Qurei’s proposed cabinet won the approval of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and the Fatah Central Council. Qurei had given Arafat and Fatah Central Council the authority to choose their own ministers. Three former cabinet ministers closely associated with former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas are not included in the new cabinet. They are Security Minister Muhammed Dahlan, Information Minister Nabil Amr, and Culture Minister Ziad Abu Amr. PA and Fatah officials said the new cabinet strengthened Arafat’s grip both on the security forces and in negotiations with Israel. "This is a 100 percent Arafat cabinet," a Fatah official said. "The only change is that those [in the outgoing cabinet] who dared to challenge Arafat have been ousted."
The decision to dump Dahlan sparked protests in the southern Gaza Strip, where thousands of demonstrators marched in the streets, burning effigies and posters of Fatah officials who opposed giving Dahlan a place in Qurei’s cabinet. Sources in the Gaza Strip said the demonstrators, many of them members of Fatah’s Aksa Martyrs Brigades and the Preventive Security Service, chanted slogans denouncing the new cabinet and calling for reforms in Fatah.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
At the request of more than 75 Knesset members, the Knesset is holding a special session during its recess, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The MKs are discussing a variety of topics, including the government’s economic program, the letter of 27 pilots refusing to take part in pinpoint operations in the West Bank and Gaza, and delays in the construction of the security fence. The Knesset voted today to allow the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor to assume the responsibilities of the Communications Ministry.
Marwan Barghouti returned
to Tel Aviv District Court today in order to deliver closing arguments in his
murder trial, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The Tanzim leader said that he was
proud of the violent three-year fight against "Israeli occupation".
His charge sheet includes premeditated murder, accessory to murder, incitement
to murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and participation
and membership in a terrorist organization. The indictment includes an appendix
containing a list of 37 terrorist attacks or attempted attacks that were carried
out under Barghouti’s command and claimed the lives of 26 people. Most of them
were shootings, but in the last few months before Barghouti’s arrest, they included
a large number of attempted suicide bombings, all of which failed.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
U.S. medical equipment manufacturer
Guidant has invested in Israeli medical equipment start-up WideMed, GLOBES reported.
WideMed president CEO Dr. Amir Geva said that the investment included a licensing
agreement, under which Guidant will feature WideMed’s forecasting algorithm
in its pacemakers and defibrillators. WideMed will receive sales royalties.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, and Dina Wosner at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Tuesday, September 30 ,
Israeline — Tuesday, September 30
, 2003 —
** STATE COMPTROLLER REPORT PUBLISHED TODAY
** THREE ISRAELI ARABS CHARGED WITH KIDNAPPING AND MURDERING SOLDIER
** ARAB MINISTERS AT UN DEFEND PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS
** ISRAEL PORTS AUTHORITY WORKERS JOINED PUBLIC SECTOR STRIKE
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
COMPTROLLER REPORT PUBLISHED TODAY
The latest State Comptroller’s Report, which examines the performance of Government institutions over the last year, was published today, HA’ARETZ reported. The report unveils serious problems related to Israel’s security services, including the unsound protection of security vehicles used by the armed forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the questionable personal safety of soldiers and police officers serving there. According to State Comptroller and former Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Goldberg, the Israel Defense Forces’ primary patrol vehicle – the Sufa or Storm jeep – does not meet basic safety requirements, and the army currently possesses only fifty percent of the ceramic vests needed to adequately protect soldiers in the field.
The report furthermore examines the IDF’s use of non-lethal weapons (NLW’s) as a means of dispersing Palestinian demonstrations. The report claims that security services have failed to develop modernized NLW’s, which could reduce the number of civilian casualties in the West Bank and Gaza. According to the report, the IDF has invested just NIS 3 million in the development of sophisticated NLWs over the past 10 years. Part of the problem appears to be a lack of a common understanding of what constitutes an NLW.
Another chapter of the report deals with the lack of cooperation between various branches of Israel’s security services in the fight on weapons smuggling. The Comptroller writes that police intelligence units have only partially been integrated into Israel’s efforts to thwart the illegal weapons trade.
The Comptroller also discusses the security fence in his report. Evidently, senior security officials are united in their opinion that a fence can foil terror attacks and are concerned as to why the government is stalling its construction. The Defence Ministry expects to complete the fence by 2005 at an estimated cost of NIS 8-9 billion.
The report finds flaws in the distribution of donations to both the IDF and Culture Ministry. Every year, the IDF receives donations of around NIS 150 million. Regulations stipulate that any donation to a soldier or a unit must be reported to the Personnel Division, in order to ensure that money is not misused. In practice, however, the Comptroller found that the Personnel Division was unaware of most funds donated to individual soldiers or units. The Comptroller also found the distribution of funds to art and culture institutes to be far from systematic. According to the report, the institutes operate under hazy guidelines and lack transparency with respect to donations.
ISRAELI ARABS CHARGED WITH KIDNAPPING AND MURDERING SOLDIER
Three Israeli-Arab residents of Kafr Kana in the lower Galilee – Tarek Noujezat, Yousef Sebayeh, and Sharif Eid – were charged today by the Nazareth District Court with the kidnapping and murder two months ago of IDF Corporal Oleg Shaikhet, 20, of Upper Nazareth, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Noujezat reconstructed the murder for police investigators shortly after his arrest and explained how he and his two accomplices first lured Shaikhet to their vehicle as the soldier was hitchhiking at the Beit Rimon Junction on his way to Upper Nazareth. Shaikhet was then pulled inside the vehicle by force and driven to an olive grove, where Eid shot him once in the head with Shaikhet’s M-16 rifle.
Shortly after the charges were brought, Noujezat retracted his confession saying it had been given under pressure. The other two refused to plead guilty. Units investigating the murder, including the police, the Israel Security Agency, and the Military Police reported that eyewitnesses saw three men in their early 20s carry out the murder. The murder weapon was never found. In addition, investigators have yet to establish whether the motive for the murder was criminal or terrorist. But one senior officer in the North said: "I doubt very much that three men who kidnap an Israeli soldier they have never met, shoot him and bury him, had anything but nationalistic motives on their minds." Many aspects of the investigation remain censored.
MINISTERS AT UN DEFEND PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS
Arab foreign ministers addressing the 58th annual UN General Assembly on Sunday defended the actions of Palestinian terrorists and blamed Israel for provoking attacks throughout the region, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. "We must avoid confusing terrorism and certain legitimate acts inspired by the wish to break the shackles of occupation, domination, and injustice," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said. Chairman of the Palestinian Authority’s observer delegation to the UN, Farouk Kaddoumi, told the UN’s 191 member states, that international norms protected the "right of occupied and colonized people to resist."
"The scourge of the Israeli occupation and continued aggression are the main reason for the suffering inflicted on our region," Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara said. According to Shara, the Middle East "has been singularly more victimized than any other region," due primarily to Israel’s existence and actions. Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians, said Faisal, "represents an element of instability in the Middle East, dashing the hopes and ambitions in the Middle East for peace and development."
The ministers advocated for the adoption of new terminology to describe Palestinian terrorists. "When did the victims of occupation, settler colonialism, and population transfer become outlaws and terrorists without a just cause?" Shara asked during his speech.
In other statements to the General Assembly Sunday, Kaddoumi called Israel’s current economic crisis "divinely ordained," and Faisal urged a specific Security Council reform: an end to US vetoes of anti-Israel resolutions.
PORTS AUTHORITY WORKERS JOINED PUBLIC SECTOR STRIKE
Israel Ports Authority workers joined the nation-wide public sector strike after talks between Histadrut chairman Amir Peretz and Minister of Transportation Avigdor Lieberman ended in failure at dawn today, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Some 2,500 workers at the Eilat, Haifa, Ashdod ports and the Ports Authority headquarters in Tel Aviv joined the public sector strike at 6 A.M. today. On Monday, some 60,000 civil servants took part in the labor action that could unravel into a general strike after the holiday period. The strike affected numerous institutions – the Interior Ministry offices, the National Insurance Institute, Employment Service and Israel Lands Administration branches- all of them refusing to receive the public or even answer phone calls.
The Histadrut is protesting against government plans to trim the number of civil servants, which they claim violate an agreement reached with Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu after the general strike in May. Treasury officials blasted the Histadrut’s actions, warning striking workers that their wages would be docked.
NEWS IN BRIEF
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced today three of the members of the Bat Ayin Jewish terror group to up to 15 years in jail for the attempted bombing of Palestinian schoolgirls in Jerusalem 17 months ago, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The court sentenced Yarden Morag to 12 years in jail and Shlomo Dvir-Zeliger and Ofer Gamliel to 15 years each.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon has announced that most of the IDF’s official study of the Yom Kippur War will be published in 20 years, HA’ARETZ reported. In August, Ya’alon ordered the IDF’s history department to expand and update the study with the intention to publish most of its content in the near future. However, in light of the report’s findings, Ya’alon has now decided to delay its full publication and release only parts of it to the public for now.
Military officials said
today that Israel had asked Egypt to resume searches for 16 Israelis who have
been missing in the Sinai Desert since the 1973 Mideast War, THE JERUSALEM POST
reported. The missing Israelis, pilots and armored corps soldiers, have been
declared dead by the army. Their bodies, however, were never recovered and are
believed to be somewhere in the sands of the Sinai.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Pitango Venture Capital held a conference in New Orleans for investors, and according to venture capital sources, a pension fund for the State of New York gave a commitment to invest $50 million in Pitango 4, HA’ARETZ reported. Founded Pitango in 1993, Pitango currently has $750 million under management.
The slow increase in economic
activity is continuing, GLOBES reported. Retail sales and services proceeds
rose by an annualized 8 percent, after rising 3 to 6 percent in the preceding
months. Sales by retail chains rose 1 percent. Imports of raw materials rose
5 percent, and industrial output rose by an annualized 1 percent. Imports of
raw materials have risen by a steady 6 percent to 14 percent a month since February.
High -tech output rose by an annualized 3 percent, but output by other industries
fell by an annualized 1 to 5 percent.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Tallie Lieberman and David Dorfman at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Wednesday, October 1 ,
Israeline — Wednesday, October 1
, 2003 —
** ISLAMIC JIHAD LEADER ARRESTED IN JENIN
** CABINET APPROVES SECURITY FENCE ROUTE
** FIRST ISRAELI ELECTED TO SENIOR UN LEGAL PANEL IN 40 YEARS
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
JIHAD LEADER ARRESTED IN JENIN
Israeli commandos arrested Islamic Jihad’s leader in Jenin, Bassam Saadi, in a counter-terror operation carried out today in Jenin’s refugee camp, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The capture involved troops backed by two dozen armored vehicles and two attack helicopters. Saadi, 43, has been on Israel’s most wanted list for an extended period of time. He became Islamic Jihad’s spokesman and apparent leader in the West Bank after other senior members of the terror group were killed or arrested in Israeli raids last year. He is suspected of having dispatched the suicide terrorist who killed Mazal Afari in Moshav Kfar Yabetz last July.
In other news, Israel Security Agency agents aided by Israel Defense Forces troops captured three members of the Islamic Jihad cell that carried out the murderous attack on the Trans-Israel highway this summer in which a seven-year-old Israeli girl was killed. However, three other members of the cell, including its leader, remain at large. The June 17 attack killed Noam Leibovitch, seriously wounded her younger sister and lightly wounded her elder brother and grandfather.
According to HA’ARETZ, undercover IDF troops killed one Islamic Jihad terrorist and wounded another today when they entered the West Bank city of Tul Karm to search for terror suspects.
APPROVES SECURITY FENCE ROUTE
The Cabinet approved the route of Israel’s security fence with a sweeping 18-4 majority and one abstention, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. According to the approved plan, the fence will not be continuous at this stage; rather, it will be constructed with gaps that will be patrolled by soldiers. The main section of the fence would run near the Green Line, with smaller sections surrounding Ariel, Elkana, Gush Etzion and Binyamin area communities from the east, with an additional section to be built east of the Har Hebron towns.
The route is somewhat of a compromise between mounting pressure to include Ariel and neighboring Jewish communities, and strong U.S. opposition to a fence running deep into the West Bank. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon advised his cabinet not to make a final decision about completing a fence around Ariel, since that would almost certainly prompt friction with the United States. The United States has already threatened to deduct money Israel spends on including Jewish communities within the fence from its $9 billion in loan guarantees, fearing that Israel is drawing a political line rather than a security line. However, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday that the State Department would not recommend to Congress to deduct fence costs from the loan guarantees.
ISRAELI ELECTED TO SENIOR UN LEGAL PANEL IN 40 YEARS
Tal Becker, the legal advisor to Israel’s UN mission was elected to the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee on legal affairs after 40 years of Israeli isolation from the panel, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Before 2003, Israel’s last posting to a General Assembly committee was in 1961, when international legal affairs expert Shabtai Rosenne sat on the Sixth Committee. Becker was elected by consensus to serve as one of three vice chairmen on the committee, which deals with legal issues. Among other matters, the committee is to discuss international terrorism, jurisdictional immunity and human cloning. The vote came at a General Assembly meeting Monday. "I think that this is another step towards Israel’s acceptance in the United Nations as a full and equal member," Becker said. "It shows that Israel is committed to improving the work of the United Nations and playing a positive role. The United Nations is not just about the Arab-Israeli conflict."
"Tal’s election is another significant step in the acceptance of Israel as a full-fledged member of the United Nations on an equal basis, one that is elected to important UN positions and allowed to make its contributions in many meaningful areas," Israel’s UN ambassador Dan Gillerman said. Becker’s election to the Sixth Committee marks Israel’s sixth, and most prestigious posting to a UN body this year. Over the past year, Israel has been elected to the General Assembly Working Group on Disarmament, the UN Environmental Program and UN-HABITAT (UN Human Settlement Program).
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
Palestinian prime minister-designate
Ahmed Qurei said today that he would present a new cabinet to the Palestinian
parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council, early next week but gave no
details as to the composition or size of his government, HA’ARETZ reported.
Over the weekend, Qurei submitted his proposed cabinet to Fatah and PLO institutions
for approval, suggesting a makeup of 24 ministers. The names of 19 possible
candidates for office were released, though Palestinian sources indicated changes
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has received tentative approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a generic version of a pain management treatment, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Teva said its Oxycodone Hydrochloride extended release tablets are generic equivalent of Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin Controlled Release Tablets. Annual sales of the brand product are approximately $620 million.
ClearForest has raised $7.5 million in its third round of funding, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The round was led by Greylock venture capital, with participation by Walden Israel, Pitango Venture Capital, and U.S.-based HarbourVest Partners. The company’s product is designed to classify content within documents to identify patterns and present information more clearly. Its customers include Dow Chemical, USJF, Thomson Financial, and Ford Motor Company.
Minister of Finance Benjamin
Netanyahu wrote to Histadrut chairman Amir Peretz, asking that the two sides
work toward ending the port workers’ strike, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Netanyahu
called on Peretz to enter into immediate negotiations to resolve their differences
of opinion regarding the proposed seaports’ reform. The general strike entered
its second day today, and is estimated to have caused NIS 400 million ($90 million)
worth of damages to Israel’s economy.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, David Dorfman and Arielle Bernstein at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Thursday, September 25 ,
Israeline — Thursday, September 25
, 2003 —
** WOULD-BE SUICIDE BOMBER GETS 14 YEARS – COUNTER-TERROR OPERATIONS FOIL ATTACK
** PRISONER NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND HIZBULLAH STILL ALIVE
** U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: NO IMMEDIATE CUTS IN LOAN GUARANTEES
** PORT STRIKE COSTS ISRAEL MILLIONS
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
WOULD-BE SUICIDE BOMBER GETS 14 YEARS – COUNTER-TERROR OPERATIONS FOIL ATTACK
The Tel Aviv District Court handed a 14-year prison sentence to a would-be suicide bomber who was intercepted before he could blow himself up in a crowded seaside café, HA’ARTEZ reported. Rifat Mukdi, a Hamas operative, was wearing a 15-pound bomb belt when he was stopped by a security guard at the entrance of the café. After fleeing, he was pursued by guards from the U.S. Embassy and then hit by a passing car. A resident of Qalqilya, Mukdi was recruited with a cousin, who later carried out a suicide bombing on the number 4 bus line in Tel Aviv.
In other news, IDF and Border Police troops shot dead an Islamic Jihad commander and bomb maker in Tulkarm early this morning. Mazen Yusuf Salameh, 30, was an expert in preparing explosives and suicide bomb belts. Meanwhile, IDF soldiers in Nablus found a car bomb ready to be used in a terror attack in Israel. The car, loaded with explosives, was safely detonated by the IDF.
NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND HIZBULLAH STILL ALIVE
Israel said that the prisoner swap talks with Hizbullah were still very much alive, despite an announcement by the terror group on Wednesday that Israel had halted negotiations over the refusal to divulge information regarding missing airman Lt. Col. Ron Arad, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. "We are still involved in negotiations," a government source said. "We approach them carefully and cautiously and have a long road ahead of us, however the deal is nowhere as close as it looked in the media."
For weeks, hopes had been raised that the deal could be reached in a matter of days. On Wednesday a man claiming to be closely linked to Hizbullah told Reuters that Israel had broken off the German-mediated talks due to a Hizbullah refusal to provide information about the missing navigator. Israel denied the claims, saying chief Israeli negotiator Ilan Biran was currently in Germany and still very much involved in the negotiating process. The sources also added German mediator Ernst Urlau would travel to Beirut in the next few days to conduct talks with Hizbullah. Difficulties in the negotiations surfaced as Israel strives to obtain information regarding Arad, and Hizbullah continues to inflate its demands.
STATE DEPARTMENT: NO IMMEDIATE CUTS IN LOAN GUARANTEES
The State Department informed Congress Tuesday that the government would not be cutting its loan guarantees to Israel at this time, HA’ARETZ reported. The department was obliged to disclose its intentions regarding Israel’s loan package on the eve of the new fiscal year, which began today.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, however, that the prospect of America’s deducting loan guarantees to Israel was not inconceivable. Boucher noted Israel’s construction of a security fence along its border with the West Bank, as a factor that may influence ongoing loan negotiations between U.S. and Israeli officials; the administration is opposed to the continuing construction of a barrier, which may interfere with Palestinians’ lives or encroach on land designated for a Palestinian state. No direct aid to Israel, which amounts to nearly $3 billion in military and economic aid a year,
Israel has so far secured $1.6 billion out of the annual sum of $3 billion mandated by the loan guarantee agreement and is expected to obtain loans equivalent to the remaining $1.4 billion by the end of the year.The loan guarantees were promised to Israel to cushion the economic impact caused by the U.S. war in Iraq. Tourism, already off in light of Palestinian terror attacks, dropped even further out of travelers’ anxieties that Israel might be enveloped in the war.
STRIKE COSTS ISRAEL MILLIONS
The strike affecting Israeli ports is estimated to have cost the country’s economy NIS 400 million ($90 million) – a damage increasing daily by approximately NIS 200 million, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The general strike, which shut down government offices, and affected the country’s air and seaports, continued into its fifth day today.
Following cabinet approval of Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal Wednesday to use a private port near Haifa, Minister of Transport Avigdor Lieberman took the necessary measures for the port to be prepared for receiving goods. It is estimated that within two days, scores of ships will be able to anchor and unload their cargo.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, customs workers at Ben-Gurion Airport halted their sanctions after Lieberman authorized Airports Authority officials to allow arriving passengers to enter without having to pass through customs. Lieberman’s action effectively put an end to the long lines that had been caused by customs officers staging a "by-the-book" strike, in which nearly every suitcase was searched at the exit of the baggage claim area.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Verint Systems, which makes analytic software-based solutions for communications interception, digital video security and surveillance, and enterprise business intelligence, announced that the U.S. government was using its systems to keep out unwanted international passengers, THE MARKER reported. “ Airport security is being addressed by multiple organizations, including airport authorities and federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security,” Dan Bodner, president and CEO of Verint Systems, said. “Verint’s networked digital video solution and analytics are well suited for security initiatives that require close cooperation among different agencies.”
Sequoia Capital plans to invest $6 million in MagInk Media, HA’ARETZ reported. MagInk Media has developed a versatile, variable resolution, low power, full color digital ink based on patented organic materials. MagInk’s electronic ink enables static images to be presented on giant billboards at very high quality. The images can be replaced using a computer, without requiring much of electrical output.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Tallie Lieberman and Matthew Miller at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Friday, October 3 ,
Israeline — Friday, October 3
, 2003 —
** IDF CLOSES WEST BANK AND GAZA AHEAD OF YOM KIPPUR TO PREVENT ATTACKS
** ISRAEL READY TO GIVE QUREI A CHANCE
** MOFAZ: IRAN RESPONSIBLE FOR RON ARAD’S FATE
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
IDF CLOSES WEST BANK AND GAZA AHEAD OF YOM KIPPUR TO PREVENT ATTACKS
The Israel Defense Forces imposed today a full closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday, which begins at sundown Sunday and lasts for 25 hours, HA’ARETZ reported. Although these preventative measures were in place, a Palestinian woman infiltrated Israel and carried out a terrorist attack against Israeli civilians, killing 19 Saturday. Palestinian travel in and out of the two areas will be restricted to humanitarian cases only. Last week, similar measures were imposed ahead of the Rosh Hashanah (new year) holiday, in a move aimed at deterring terror attacks.
In other news, Palestinians fired three anti-tank missiles during heavy fighting in Rafah in the Gaza Strip before dawn today. Three mortar shells were also fired at the Gush Katif Jewish communities. No injuries were reported in either incident. Overnight in the West Bank, Palestinians fired at the Jewish community of Psagot, near Ramallah. There were no injuries.
Three Palestinians were wounded today, one seriously, from IDF gunfire near the West Bank city of Jenin. They were taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. Elsewhere in the West Bank, the IDF arrested 16 Palestinians in the Nablus and Hebron areas.
READY TO GIVE QUREI A CHANCE
A senior security official recently told Western diplomats that despite his obvious links to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israel would deal with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qurei if he demonstrates a genuine willingness to fight terror, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The official said that Israel learned a number of lessons from its dealings with former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas. This time, the PA prime minister will have to demonstrate real action against terrorist organizations, such as taking authority for the various Palestinian security forces out of Arafat’s hands and uniting them under one command. Qurei, unlike Abbas, is not viewed by Palestinians to be a U.S. or Israeli puppet, and his loyalty to Arafat may in fact give him greater maneuverability since Arafat may not view him as a threat. Qurei is also considered by both Israeli and foreign diplomats to be a more seasoned politician than Abbas, and as speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, he gained experience in forging alliances and mobilizing a consensus. These traits may make him capable of standing up to Arafat if he so chooses.
IRAN RESPONSIBLE FOR RON ARAD’S FATE
Iran is responsible for the fate of missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad, for his well being and for his safe return home, Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz said today, HA’ARETZ reported. Mofaz held a meeting at his Tel Aviv office today to discuss the Vinograd report, which looked into the fate of Arad, who went missing after his plane experienced a technical malfunction forcing him to bailout over Lebanon in 1986. Mofaz also said that efforts to release Arad would continue, parallel to steps being made on the release of other missing and kidnapped Israelis – including reserve Israel Defense Forces colonel Elhanan Tennenbaum and the bodies of three IDF soldiers kidnapped three years ago by Hizbullah. Mofaz said that Arad’s family would be allowed to view the Vinograd report immediately, with the exception of several details that were not allowed to be released due to security considerations. The report determined that there was no available information that could refute the defense establishment’s working assumption that Arad was still alive. At the end of the meeting, Mofaz said that he accepted the report’s working assumptions.
Meanwhile, an Israeli official denied a claim by an Israeli Arab prisoners’ group that Israeli Arab prisoners would be released as part of the deal with Hizbullah. Negotiations between Israel and Hizbullah on a prisoner exchange deal have accelerated and are now at a decisive stage. Nonetheless, Israel does not know when the deal will be completed, an Israeli official said.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
The Israel Defense Forces announced that reserve duty would be reduced in most units to an operational service once every three years, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. General Yiftach Ron Tal, commander of ground forces, said that the change stemmed from cuts in the defense budget which would lead to a reduction in the number of troops in the West Bank and Gaza. The proposed reforms will require reservists to attend a training session once a year, and serve a full reserve term only once every three years.
Bicycle shops are reporting
a 20 percent increase in sales ahead of Yom Kippur, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL
reported. The Day of Atonement is also a day when youngsters ride their bikes
and skateboards in the traffic-free streets. Most people do not travel during
the day long fast. Stores selling’s CDs and videos are also reporting
strong sales, 15 percent more than last year.
The first high-level discussions since civil servants launched strike action earlier this week between Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Transportation Avigdor Lieberman and the chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, MK Amir Peretz, ended this afternoon with no results. The parties are scheduled to meet against on Saturday evening.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Mul-T-Lock, Israel’s largest lock maker, has won tenders to provide locks and security to Toronto’s C-Tower and to Vancouver International Airport, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The Yavne-based company said its sales to Canada will reach $ 2.5 million for the year, 40 percent more than last year. The company is also supplying 4,000 locks to builders in Vancouver, and 5,000 locks to secure Canada’s Labat beer breweries. Mul-T-Lock has subsidiaries in the U.S., Canada, France, England, and the Czech Republic.
Jungo Software Technologies’ software platform will be integrated with the wireless router of Cisco Systems’ Linksy division, GLOBES reported. Jungo develops an operating system and software for residential gateways for broadband Internet. Jungo has similar agreements with Toshiba, U.S. Robotics, Samsung Electronics, Texas Instruments, Conexant and Z-Com.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Jonathan Schienberg and Arielle Berntsein at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]