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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     April 14, 1995, V3, #69
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Security Preparations in Effect for Passover

By Patricia Golan (Jerusalem)

Agents from the FBI are working with Palestinian and Israeli authorities to investigate Sunday's suicide bombings in the Gaza Strip. An American citizen was killed in one of the blasts, as well as seven Israeli soldiers. Today, there is a high security alert in major Israeli cities as the Jewish holiday of Passover starts.

As Jews in Israel start the week-long Passover holiday tonight, the Israeli army and police have stepped up security amid warnings of possible terrorist attacks.

Israel has also imposed a blanket closure on the Gaza Strip and West Bank for three days as Passover begins, preventing Palestinians from entering Israel. Strict restrictions imposed in the last few months following suicide bombings have already radically reduced the number of Palestinian workers allowed into Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian police have been continuing their roundup of supporters of the Islamic opposition organizations Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, groups responsible for a string of deadly attacks against Israeli targets.

Palestinian officials say about 300 Islamists have been detained so far. Authorities in the PLO controlled Palestinian self-rule area also announced plans to confiscate weapons from militants. A Hamas spokesman says the organization will not comply with the order to hand in weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says it is too early to judge the success of the Palestinian Authority in combatting extremist elements in Gaza and Jericho, the areas under its control.

"It looks like they have taken certain steps, but we know that the struggle against the most lunatic terror organizations, the suicidal terror missions, is very difficult to cope with it, we know it from our experience."

The prime minster pointed out that suicide bombings were carried out over the last year in several places in Israel by Palestinians who were residents of the West Bank, which is still under Israeli control.

Meanwhile, FBI agents have joined the investigation into the latest suicide bombings, which killed a 20-year-old woman student who was an American citizen. A US law passed in the wake of hostage-taking of Americans in the Middle East, gives the United States authority to prosecute suspects in terrorist attacks abroad on American citizens.


Syrians Cancel Israeli Talks

By Edward Yerainian (Beirut)

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara told reporters in Beirut Thursday afternoon that Syrian and Israeli military chiefs of staff would not be meeting in Washington because security arrangements remain blocked.

Following a brief courtesy call on the Lebanese president Syria's foreign minister declared bluntly that military advisors of Israel and Syria would not be meeting any time soon.

Speaking briefly al-Shara dashed any hopes that ambassadorial level talks in Washington with Israel would be upgraded.

Last week U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross visited the Middle East in an attempt to reconcile Syrian and Israeli positions.

Negotiations remained deadlocked over Syrian demands that Israeli and Syrian demilitarized zones in the Golan Heights be of equal size following a hypothetical Israeli pullback.

Syria's official government press has repeatedly poured cold water on optimistic Israeli assessments of the chances of an imminent breakthrough.

Veteran Arab journalists say that Syrian President Hafez al-Assad would lose face in the Arab world if he accepted an agreement with Israel that Arabs perceived as unfair.

Despite official Syrian pessimism, diplomatic observers in Beirut say today's developments must be taken in perspective.

From Syria's point of view, they say, any optimistic assessment would be seen as a concession to Israel.

Neo-Nazis Sentenced

By Dagmar Breitenbach (Bonn)

Four German men have been sentenced to several years in prison for firebombing a synagogue last year in the northern German city of Luebeck. It was the first major incident of its kind in Germany since the Nazi rampage against Jews in 1938 that led to the Holocaust.

The court sentenced the four men to jail terms of between two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half years for hurling gasoline bombs into the Luebeck synagogue.

The convicted arsonists are between 20 and 25 years of age. The judge rejected the prosecutor's call for an attempted murder conviction. While no one was hurt in the firebombing, there were five people asleep in rooms above the synagogue at the time of the attack. Awakened by the sound of breaking glass, they managed to escape.

The attack drew worldwide attention. In Luebeck, thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets and held a candlelight vigil at the synagogue the following night. The firebombing was the most serious attack against a German synagogue since World War II, although there had been several cases of attempted arson.

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