Google Search

Newsletter : 4fax1009.txt

Directory | Previous file | Next file

>PD OCTOBER 10, 1994, V2, #184

Terror in Jerusalem

Jew-News, an independent computer news service, reports Arab

terrorists opened fire with Kalatchnikovs in the center of Jerusalem. First reportS called this a "disaster."

The attack occurred on Nachalat Shiva Street/off the mall (Ben Yehuda Street). The center of town is an armed camp. According to Army Radio the terrorists attacked the Ben Yehuda Mall with Kalatchnikov automatic weapons and hand grenades.

Police say this was a well planned attack. At least three magazines were fired by the terrorists (75 bullets). It is believed four of five terrorists were dressed up as priests. President Ezer Weizman said on the radio that this is very bad. We have to keep the faith. Let's wait and see what develops, he said.

The terrorists approached the restaurants and opened fire. There were numerous automatic weapons. They just sprayed the area with gunfire. Many citizens and IDF soldiers that were in the area attempted to shoot the terrorists.

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Arab gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons in downtown Jerusalem late Sunday night -- killing one Israeli and wounding 14 other people on a crowded pedestrian promenade lined with sidewalk cafes. Police shot and killed two of the terrorists, but witnesses say another got away.

It was a routine night out gone mad for Keith Sprague and his friends. He was sitting outside a restaurant in usually-secure West Jerusalem, when he heard what he first thought were firecrackers. He looked up the crowded street. "We saw three terrorists dressed in black with Kalatchnikovs, running up the street, firing."

Sprague and his friends ran into the restaurant and saw, through its windows, people getting hit with gunfire at another cafe across the street called "The Yemenite Step." "Bullets started hitting the wall on our side here in the restaurant. And also I saw two people at Yemenite Step get hit and went down. There was (gun) fire on the tables and the chairs were getting thrown around."

Sprague is a security consultant to the Jerusalem city government. He generally works in predominantly-Arab East Jerusalem, but his training came in handy in a place where he never expected to use it -- his favorite spot in West Jerusalem to relax after a hard day.

"I got everyone who was in the restaurant upstairs on the roof and stood there with my gun, loaded and cocked, (pointing) on the door from the stairs upstairs to make sure none of the terrorists could come upstairs. We had about 30 customers sitting upstairs. They were all scared out of their minds."
And there was good reason to be scared, as the shooting went on and became mixed with screams. "Unfortunately, there were two people who were wounded at the Yemenite Step who were screaming for help, but we couldn't go outside to help them because the firing was still going on. And there weren't any police yet in the area, there were just terrorists firing. And you could hear them screaming, but no one could go outside to help them."

Sprague began to hear other shooting mixed with the terrorists' automatic weapons fire. Individuals, and then the police, were shooting back. Finally, after 15 minutes, it ended. Sprague went downstairs to survey the damage, which included bullet holes in the restaurant's windows and walls. "We actually had a terrorist standing in our door, firing. We had shell casings and a spent cartridge inside the restaurant. What the terrorist did was he ran off then and proceeded up the street, where he shot a very good friend of mine. Thank God, he's all right, he's in the hospital. The terrorist was killed, he was shot right in front of one of the stores. And I saw his body."

Sprague says the Israeli police and army arrived in force about that time -- taking defensive positions on rooftops and blowing up packages panicked diners had left behind. They feared one of them might be a bomb. He says the bomb squad also blew up the bodies of the two dead gunmen, in case they had been booby trapped. Other troops sealed off the King David hotel -- less than one kilometer away -- where US Secretary of State Warren Christopher was staying.

The wounded lay all along the usually festive promenade. Keith Sprague says it was a horrible scene, but it could easily have been worse. Two hours before and it would have been a massacre. I was sitting about two hours before, at about 9:30, I was sitting with a friend of mine having dinner and the street was packed, you couldn't walk, but by 11:30, Sunday night, thank God, there weren't so many people, but still it was crowded."

Sprague -- an American immigrant to Israel -- is a trained security officer. Still, he was clearly shaken by the events of Sunday night. He said he is accustomed to expecting such things to happen in Israel's occupied territories, but not here, in the heart of Jerusalem. He says such an attack has been his worst nightmare for years. Suddenly, Sunday night, he found himself in the middle of it.

Christopher's Shuttle Includes Kuwait

By Ron Pemstein and Patricia Golan (Jerusalem)

US Secretary of State Warren Christopher meets Israeli leaders today to continue his role as a facilitator in the negotiations between Israel and Syria, however, Iraq's movement of troops toward Kuwait is adding another element to the secretary of state's Middle East peace shuttle.

Christopher has added Kuwait to his week long tour that has been directed to bridge the gaps between Israel and Syria over the schedule of Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and other issues affecting efforts for peaceful relations between Jerusalem and Damascus.

Christopher will pause in his shuttle mission between Israel and Syria on Wednesday to visit Kuwait, to demonstrate American resolve in defending the Gulf state against Iraq. He will also discuss here, with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, contingency planning if Saddam Hussein diverts his attention to attacking Israel, as he did with missiles during the Gulf war four years ago.

The secretary of state told reporters after arrival here he does not expect Iraq's movement of troops to interfere with what he calls his facilitating role in bringing Israel and Syria closer to talks.

"My judgment is that the very fact that the Coalition is so strongly opposed to what Saddam Hussein and the Iraqis are doing here, it gives even more movement to the peace process. As you know, Syria and Egypt as well as the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Conference have come out very strongly against these moves by Saddam Hussein. So I think the fact that the countries in the region are so strongly opposed to this action ought to be really a force to moving the peace process forward. So I do not expect to be deterred in my efforts to help facilitate the process. I certainly do not intend to let that happen."

The secretary of state says the United States is better prepared to confront Iraq than it was four years ago, and he warns Saddam Hussein against trying to put pressure on the world community to lift sanctions against Iraq. "If that is his calculation, I would say it is a vast miscalculation."

Christopher has been encouraged in his Middle East peace efforts by the interview Syria's Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara gave last week to Israeli television. While the substance of the foreign minister's remarks did not differ from Syria's public position, Christopher says such an interview would not have been given three years ago at the beginning of the Middle East peace conference in Madrid.

Psychologically, a lot has changed in the Middle East since Christopher's last trip to the region in August. Saudi Arabia and five other Gulf states have partially lifted their economic boycott against Israel. The Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has met with his counterparts from Tunisia and Oman and has agreed with Tunisia to open economic offices. Israel and Jordan have agreed to complete work on a peace treaty by the end of the year. Syria's foreign minister, on a visit to Washington, has met with Jewish groups and has given an interview to Israeli television.

Al-Shara, in a first-ever interview with an Israeli journalist, says peace with Damascus would guarantee security on Israel's northern border. The interview televised on Israel television marked the first time a Syrian official has directly addressed the Israeli public.

The interview was conducted in Washington by one of Israel's leading reporters -- two days before Christopher arrived in the Middle East for a new round of shuttle diplomacy.

Syria is demanding Israel withdraw completely from the Golan Heights - captured in the 1967 war - before it agrees to a peace treaty. But in three years of mainly deadlocked talks, Israel has refused to specify the extent of the withdrawal it is willing to make on the heights. Israel wants total peace, including open borders, trade and an exchange of ambassadors.

Al-Shara broke no new ground in the interview, but expressed the view it is in the common interest of Syria and Israel to move quickly to peace. "I think the peoples in the region, and the people in Israel as well as in Syria would like to see peace achieved as soon as possible. It has already taken three-years of negotiations, a few other months would be all right. But I think that if this opportunity would slip away, no one would know what the future of the region would be."

The Syrian foreign minister said the faster the withdrawal from the Golan Heights takes place, the faster the fruits of peace will appear. He added he believes the people in Israel understand Syria is committed to real peace in the region.

In the past, Syrian officials have refused to respond to questions from Israeli reporters during news conferences. The unprecedented interview with al-Shara on Israel television - which took months of requests and negotiations to arrange - seems to be part of a measured campaign to persuade Israelis of Syria's sincerity to pursue peace. Israelis may be asked to vote about withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

Interviewed during the same program, Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Itamar Rabinovich, commented there was no new political message in the interview, but its significance is Syria was addressing the Israeli public directly. As he put it -- the medium was the message.

It is clear, a senior US official says, the context for peace in the Middle East is changing. At the same time, he says, the gaps between Israel and Syria are still too large to say they are on the brink of a breakthrough.

Israeli Military 'Monitoring' Iraq

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

In Israel -- which was the target of Iraqi Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf war -- the government says it is not particularly concerned by Iraq's current troop movements. However, Israel is keeping close watch on the situation, but is not taking any other steps.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Saturday he believes Iraq no longer has the capability to threaten Israel with missile attacks because it has few if any Scud missiles left after allied bombing during the war.

Some other experts disagree, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor says it doesn't matter, at least for now. "Last time they used them, only in the framework of a very broad attack, of a very broad campaign. It wasn't the first priority goal of the war. So I think that unless the situation deteriorates in a very dramatic and unexpected way, there is absolutely no place to fear here in Israel."

Still, Israel's military says it is closely monitoring the situation in Iraq, and Peres said if Scuds are discovered there will be "much more rigid monitoring."

Peres also described Saddam Hussein as "half crazy," but predicted he will not again invade Kuwait.

Israeli-Jordanian Talks to Resume Today

Bilateral Israeli-Jordanian talks will resume today in Eilat and

are scheduled to last four days. The talks, which will break up into a number of committees and subcommittees, will focus on three main issues: Jordanian territorial demands - mostly in the Arava region, Jordan's demand to increase the amount of water it receives from the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee and future security arrangements to prevail after a peace treaty is concluded. While the formal bilateral talks take place, the two sides are also addressing substantive issues on a separate track of talks led by the head of the delegation to the talks with Jordan - Elyakim Rubinstein and Jordanian Crown Prince Hassan.

Israel and Turkey Reach Agreement on Fighting Terrorism

Senior Turkish officials revealed that Israel and Turkey have

reached a draft agreement on joint efforts to combat international terrorism. The agreement was reportedly reached during Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz' visit to Turkey last week where he met with Mehmet Agar, the head of Turkey's security services. The two reportedly agreed on expanding joint Israeli-Turkish efforts in fighting terrorism, drug-trafficking and organized crime.

Palestinians Detained After Hebron, Beersheva Attacks

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli soldiers have shot and killed a Palestinian who allegedly threw acid at them in the West Bank city of Hebron -- the third such incident in the past week. Two of the Israeli soldiers were slightly injured by the acid. The shooting happened just a few hours after a bomb went off about 27 miles away in an Israeli town.

Friday's shooting happened near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the site of a massacre of Muslim worshipers by an Israeli earlier this year. The cave has been closed ever since and is expected to reopen later this month.

It was the third time Israeli soldiers in Hebron killed a Palestinian who allegedly attacked them since the previous Friday. The town and most of the West Bank are expected to be turned over to the new Palestinian Autonomy Authority in a few months. Radical Palestinian groups which oppose the peace process have been carrying out a series of attacks aimed at scaring Israelis -- and Israeli leaders -- away from expanding autonomy. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials say that will not happen.

Police also suspect the radical Palestinian groups in a bombing in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva Friday. The small bomb caused no serious damage or injuries in the town's Old City area. Earlier, police found and removed another bomb in Beersheva, which had been placed near a department store and a kindergarten. Police temporarily sealed off the city and arrested at least 20 Arabs for questioning.

Skinheads Attack Foreigners in Germany

By Evans Hays (Bonn)

German authorities have reported more right-wing, anti-foreigner violence over the weekend. Police say several people were injured in the attacks in Berlin and Magdeburg when a band of neo-Nazi skinheads went on a rampage, beating and robbing passengers on the Berlin subway system. Victims of the violence included a 37-year-old man from Mozambique.

Police say skinheads also tried to push two men off a train, but failed. Three of the neo-Nazis were detained for vandalism, but the others escaped.

In Magdeburg, four asylum-seekers were attacked by skinheads. Police described the victims only as being from Africa. Police were unable to catch the attackers.

The latest incidents follow the arrest last week of four right-wingers accused of pushing a man from Ghana off a train north of Berlin. The Ghanian was found stabbed by the rail tracks. Authorities say the victim was also apparently run over by a train, severing a leg. There have been thousands of attacks on foreigners in Germany since unification. About 30 people have been killed.

Ukraine's Jews Ponder: Stay or Go?

Hatikvah News Service

For the Jewish community of Ukraine, one of the world's largest, the future looms like an ominous question mark. The dreams, desires, anxieties and uncertainties can be reduced to a single query: To stay or to go?

Emigration to Israel is accelerating so rapidly that Ukraine now has the fastest-growing emigration rates in the former Soviet Union, according to officials with the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Yet at the same time, Jewish life is beginning to flourish, with schools, camps, Yiddish clubs, newspapers, cultural groups and religious organizations expanding by leaps and bounds.

Not surprisingly, planning ahead is difficult, especially since the national political situation is tense and unclear. "I have no sense of what's going to happen," said Rabbi Ya'akov Bleich, the chief rabbi of Ukraine's approximately 500,000 Jews. "I don't think everyone is going to move out in the next three or five years, but then again, I wouldn't advise building a new synagogue."

"The more people go, the more people come. This is our paradox," said Kira Verkhovskaya, a Jewish leader from Odessa, referring to the simultaneous trends of emigration and new affiliation with the Jewish community.

For those boarding planes to Tel Aviv, financial problems appear to be a primary motivation. While average wages are stuck at about $20 a month, consumer items like clothing and appliances cost about the same as they do in the West. Industrial production is plummeting, market reform is only hiccuping along and hyperinflation means that Ukraine's currency, the coupon, now runs at more than 45,000 to the dollar.

"For the most part, Jews are leaving for economic reasons," according to Zvi Rom, who oversees the Jewish Agency office in Kiev. "It's not really aliyah, it's repatriation, because it's not for ideological reasons," he said. "As an Israeli, I would like to see Jews leave Ukraine because they have come to the conclusion that Jews should live in Israel, but that is not what is happening."

Still, a growing proportion of Ukrainian Jews have decided to move to Israel after attending the new Sunday schools for adults and sending their children to Jewish day schools. Others are leaving to be with loved ones. Nearly every member of the Jewish community here has close friends or relatives living in Israel who are urging them to make the move.

Another push is anti-Semitism. While the new president, Leonid Kuchma, is following the friendly policies toward Jews that have become the norm since independence, the country's sputtering economy is straining his staying power.

The number of Ukrainian Jews choosing Israel is constantly increasing. While emigration statistics are dropping slightly in Russia, where the economic and political mayhem has stabilized somewhat, Ukrainian emigration has nearly doubled in the past year, from 1,300 a month to 2,300 each month, according to Chaim Chesler, who oversees the Jewish Agency in the former Soviet Union.

Despite the many departures, Jewish life continues its vigorous revival in the land that produced Chasidic Judaism, populist Zionism and dozens of gifted Yiddish writers before the dark years of Soviet repression.

Home Search

(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)

Read today's issue
Who is Don Canaan?
IsraelNewsFaxx's Zionism and the Middle East Resource Directory