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>Israel Faxx
>JN March 12, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 47

Purim 1998

Purim will be celebrated today and tomorrow by Jews around the world -- except those dwelling in Jerusalem, who will commemorate the holiday Friday. Festivities began Wednesday night with the traditional reading of the Book of Esther in synagogues, and will be marked today by friendship-enhancing exchanges of food packages, gifts to the poor, and a festive meal. In Israel, many cities will be sponsoring Purim masquerades and parades.

Dozens Injured as Palestinians Retaliate

By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)

Palestinian riots erupted in the West Bank Wednesday, leaving dozens injured. The violence comes one day after Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Palestinians at an army roadblock.

Israeli soldiers opened fire at rioting Palestinians, firing tear gas grenades and rubber-coated bullets. Palestinians pelted the soldiers with rocks, bottles and firebombs.

The riots continued after the three Palestinians were buried in a cemetery near the West Bank city of Hebron. They were the victims of a nighttime incident at an Israeli checkpoint. Witnesses say a van carrying Palestinian workers pulled out of a line of cars waiting to be cleared through the roadblock by Israeli soldiers. The van struck and injured one of the soldiers, as the Israelis opened fire. Israeli officials say the soldiers thought they were under attack. But the Israeli army commander in the area, Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan, admitted that they were wrong.

Palestinians are furious. Many do not believe the Israeli explanation that the soldiers felt they were under attack by Palestinian terrorists.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian chief Yasir Arafat to express sympathy over the deaths of the three Palestinians. But he did not apologize for the incident. Netanyahu appealed to Arafat to try to prevent a violent reaction among his people. Arafat denounced the shooting at the roadblock. "It is a big crime against our workers, who were going, who were returning from their jobs to their homes."

Incidents like this put Arafat and his Palestinian Authority police force in a difficult position. He is tied politically to the process of making peace with Israel. But he can not afford to appear before his people as an agent of Israeli policy.

On the one hand, he understands the needs of his people to express their anger after Israeli soldiers kill three Palestinians. On the other hand, he does not want to let violence get out of control.

Palestinian moderates warn that violence might allow the Israelis to cancel the peace process with the Palestinians, re-occupy West Bank Palestinian cities now under Palestinian control, and, perhaps, lead to Arafat's overthrow.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen for more than a year. Netanyahu insists that he wants to make progress, but only if Israel's security needs, as he defines them, are assured.

"Nothing will make us abandon our security. Nothing. There is no power in the world that can make us abandon our security. And I will never compromise the security of the state of Israel or the security of the people of Israel."

The Israeli leader was speaking after a meeting Tuesday with Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan. The crown prince had talks with Arafat as well, trying to break the stalemate in peace talks. Prince Hassan had some advice, and implied criticism, for both sides.

"I would like to emphasize that we have all had ample time to assess the future advantages of peace, and not only to analyze the complexities and challenges of making peace in a region that has been fraught with war for so long."

Referring to the shooting incident in Hebron, Crown Prince Hassan called on all sides to avoid extremism. That is the danger every time there is bloodshed in the West Bank. With Palestinians frustrated because of the lack of progress toward peace, and distrustful of the intentions of the Israeli government, officials fear each incident could be the one that sets off a large-scale conflict.

Crystal Systems Launch Year-2000 Tool

By IINS News Service

Crystal Systems Solutions Ltd. will launch a do-it-yourself Year 2000 software tool aimed at companies lacking the resources or time to outsource their conversions.

Crystal's vice president of marketing and sales, Ben Levy, said the new C-MILL PRO, is designed to walk in-house programmers through the conversion process.

Levy said Crystal developed the new tool after realizing the time crunch companies will be facing in 1998 and 1999. At that time, many companies that haven't started the conversion or need to expedite it probably won't be able to outsource. The C-MILL PRO will be unveiled at a conference March 19 and March 20 in New York. Levy declined to disclose pricing. The Herziliya company is a unit of information technology company Formula Systems Ltd.

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