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>Israel Faxx
>JN Feb. 17, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 30

Buy Now and Be Safe in Ashkelon

By IINS News Service

With the possibility of an Iraqi missile attack looming overhead, many Israeli residents of the Tel-Aviv/Gush Dan areas have been trying to rent apartments in the Ashkelon area. They are relying on the statistics of the 1991 Gulf War, that it will be a safer area, in the event of an attack. According to data published in Monday's Haaretz newspaper, persons are paying up to $600 for a monthly rental, since short-term rentals are too difficult to find.

Senior IDF Home Front Commander Issues Real Warnings

By IINS News Service

According to a report in Yediot Achronot, an unidentified senior officer in the IDF Home Front Command said, "Whoever buys materials for a sealed room, is not making a mistake."

In addition, the Home Front Command will issue call-up orders for reserve duty to thousands of Israelis, who will participate in a 48-hour training program designed to enable them to deal with a situation following a missile attack. The training will also address chemical and biological warfare.

Israel has Enough Gas Masks for All Tourists

By IINS News Service

The Tourism Ministry says Israel has enough gas mask kits for all tourists in the country. On average, there are 40,000 tourists in Israel on any given day. For the purpose of distributing gas mask kits, tourists will be divided into two categories: those residing in hotels, and those not residing in hotels.

The joint working team of the Tourism, Finance and Defense ministries decided that for tourists residing in hotels, distribution will be carried out by the hotels themselves, which have a supply of gas mask kits on hand for these tourists. These kits will be distributed if needed, in accordance with instructions from the Defense Ministry.

Distribution of gas mask kits to tourists not residing in hotels will be carried out by the Mashbir and Shekem department stores. Each of these tourists will be asked to make a NIS 200 (about $55) deposit for the kit, which will be refunded when they return the kit, upon departure from the country. (Editor's Note: New Israeli gas masks sell for about $30 in Fairfield, Ohio)

IDF Soldier Admits to Murder

By IINS News Service

A 19-year-old Israeli Bedouin soldier has told investigators in Beersheva that on Sunday, he burned and killed his 16-year-old cousin. Jabar Kuran strangled his cousin and then poured a flammable substance over her dead body and set her ablaze.

The soldier, who admitted to his actions, said he did it to preserve his family's honor. He stated he has no regrets and if set free, there is one other person on his list who he will kill as well.

The Beersheva Magistrate's Court ordered the suspect remanded for eight days. The remains of the victim were transported to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute for an autopsy. She was buried Sunday night.

Netanyahu Cleared in Botched Hamas Assassination

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A special Israeli government commission has cleared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of any wrongdoing in the botched attempt to assassinate a Hamas leader in Jordan last September.

The report blames the failed operation on over-confidence in Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, and on poor planning by its director, Danny Yatom. He is expected to lose his job because of the affair, but perhaps not immediately.

At the same time, the three-member commission concluded Netanyahu gave approval for the mission after following established procedures and considering all factors he could reasonably be expected to consider.

Critics reject that contention, saying the operation risked destroying Israel's relations with Jordan and should never have been tried, in spite of the Mossad's high level of confidence.

Netanyahu said Monday he does not expect any similar operations in Jordan in the future. But he emphasized that Israel will continue to attack terrorists wherever it is necessary to do so.

He said there is an understanding with Jordan about joint efforts to combat militant groups like Hamas, but, he said, Israel is not prepared to give terrorists "immunity" anywhere.

It was on Sept. 25 in Amman that Mossad agents attacked Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, bumping into him and injecting him with a slow-acting poison. The agents were to have been long gone before Meshal even got sick. But the agents were captured and exposed.

Jordan's King Hussein, who made peace with Israel in 1994, was furious about the Israeli intelligence operation in his capital city. He insisted that Israel provide the antidote to keep Meshal alive. And as a condition for allowing the Mossad agents to return home, the king forced Netanyahu to release the Hamas spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and dozens of other Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

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