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Haifa Chemicals Makes Way to Iraq and Syria


Chemicals manufactured in Haifa Chemicals plant are finding their way to Iraq and Syria. The chemicals contain components found in explosive materials. Haifa Chemicals deals with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, UAE, and North Africa. The chemicals have been making their way from those countries to Iraq and Syria. Haifa Chemical's executive Gabi Polizter says chemicals sold to those countries are for agricultural purposes and cannot be converted into explosives.

Islamic Militants Recently Acquired Chemical Weapon From Iraq, Report Says

By Jim Malone (VOA-Washington)

The Washington Post said Thursday that U.S. officials are treating as credible a report that Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaeda recently acquired a chemical weapon in Iraq. The Post said U.S. officials believe the weapon involved was the nerve agent VX and that it was smuggled by a courier overland into Turkey. The newspaper reported that U.S. officials describe the source of the information as "sensitive and credible."

If the report proves to be true, it would be the first known acquisition of a chemical weapon other than cyanide by al-Qaeda or any of its affiliated terrorist groups. It would also run counter to Iraq's assertion that it has destroyed all of its chemical weapons.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked about the al-Iraq-Iraq link by NBC television during his visit to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar: "There are al-Qaeda connected to Iraq who have used that country just as there are al-Qaeda in Iran and Pakistan and the United States and other countries and we also know that the al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks have actively sought to gain access to chemical and biological and radiation weapons."

The Post said U.S. officials did not know the intended target of the nerve gas but that they were concerned it might be used somewhere in Europe or in the United States. A spokesman for U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said there is no concrete evidence that al-Qaeda has obtained chemical weapons.

Two Israelis, 6 Palestinians Dead in Mideast Violence

By VOA News

Violence in the Israeli-occupied territories Thursday claimed the lives of two Israelis and six Palestinians. Israeli police said Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron killed the two Israelis in a shooting attack. It was not immediately clear whether the dead were soldiers or civilians.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said its soldiers shot and killed five Palestinians trying to climb a fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The bodies of the five unidentified men, who were unarmed, were found Thursday morning in an area barred to Palestinians.

Palestinian officials speculated that the five men may have been laborers, without work permits, who were attempting to smuggle themselves into Israel to find work. A security fence surrounds the entire Gaza Strip and the number of Palestinian workers allowed to cross into Israel has been reduced severely since the start of violent clashes, more than two years ago.

Also in the Gaza Strip, Israeli border police killed a sixth Palestinian Thursday when he tried to infiltrate the Gush Katif settlement. Meanwhile in Tel Aviv, a district court has ruled that Israel has the right to arrest and try Palestinian official Marwan Barghouti.

Judge Zvi Gurfinkel ordered Barghouti, a prominent member of the Palestinian parliament and leader of Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement, to be held in custody throughout his trial. The judge rejected Barghouti's arguments that his arrest and detention are illegal under the Oslo accords and because he should be accorded immunity as a member of the Palestinian parliament.

Israel has charged Barghouti with involvement in attacks that killed 26 Israelis. He was arrested at his home in the West Bank in April, and has been detained by Israel since then. Barghouti's lawyer called the ruling "political" and said he would appeal it.

Israel May Withdraw Army From Bethlehem Over Christmas Holiday

By VOA News

Israeli President Moshe Katsav has promised Pope John Paul that Israel's army will withdraw from Bethlehem over Christmas if there are no warnings of terrorist attacks. Officials at Israel's embassy in Rome say Katsav made the promise at a meeting with the pope Thursday after the Vatican urged Israel to allow free access to Bethlehem during Christmas celebrations.

Israeli troops are patrolling Bethlehem; the town where tradition says Jesus was born. Israeli authorities say the soldiers are searching for Palestinian militants responsible for terrorist attacks. Israel has also said it will bar Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat from making his traditional visit to the town for Christmas midnight Mass.

During his meeting with the pope, Katsav gave the pontiff a Book of Psalms. He also wished the 82-year-old pontiff strength in his continued mission.

Earlier this week, Katsav held talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and other officials in Berlin on German-Israeli military transfers. Israel's concern about rising anti-Semitism in Germany and throughout Europe was also among the topics discussed.

Palestinian Mother Proudly Prayed for Son to Die

By Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch.

Palestinian TV frequently broadcasts interviews with parents who express joy that their children became Shahids, meaning they Died for Allah in confrontations with Israelis. This week PATV went further, interviewing a mother who had lost two sons, who proudly recounted that while on pilgrimage to Mecca she prayed that her son would die fighting Israelis.

Afterward, the woman was given time to express at length her detailed wishes that Israelis should live in horror, suffering regular terrorist attacks: "I have one wish for all Israeli mothers, for all Israelis. They should not relax, they should not sleep peacefully, they should always have nightmares, night and day, wherever they go, and whatever they do... No Israeli of any kind should live in comfort. Even in their sleep, they should have nightmares. We will blow them up day and night, wherever they go... if I see an Israeli I will blow up among them.

Mother Of 11 Faces Imprisonment For Hitting Horse


Kinneret Rosental, daughter of Rabbi Moshe Levinger of Hebron, and mother of 11 children, will begin a four-month prison sentence in two weeks' time. Her crime: hitting a police horse.

The incident began six months ago when she drove up to a Jerusalem courthouse and a police officer told her to stop. At the same time, however, another officer told her to go. Confused, she began to drive, and another policeman took out his gun and threatened to break her windshield. Her confusion now turned to panic, she started driving quickly away and ended up hitting a traffic island - on which was standing a police horse.

The police forcibly removed her from the car, placed her in hand- and leg-cuffs, and she was charged with aggravated battery. Rosental was acquitted of this charge, but found guilty of assaulting and interfering with a policeman and abuse of an animal.

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