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El-Al: "We Won't Fly on the Sabbath"


El-Al, Israel's main air carrier, announced that it would continue not flying on the Sabbath. "We won't see El-Al start flying on the Sabbath in the near future," said Amos Shapira, CEO of El-Al. Shapira said that the impetus for making such a statement was that the company was afraid of a Haredi ban if planes did start flying on the Sabbath. Such a ban could tip the struggling airliner off the edge.

Hamas Threatens More Attacks

By & Ha'aretz

Hamas is warning that Wednesday's attack was only "the first of a series," that all foreigners should leave Israel - and that even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is "wanted." In a pamphlet released Thursday the militant organization said Sharon was a wanted terrorist and therefore a target for assassination.

"The Jerusalem attack is the beginning of a new series of revenge attacks... in which we will target every Zionist occupying our land," Hamas said in a statement faxed to Reuters. "We call on international citizens to leave the Zionist entity immediately to preserve their lives."

Hamas sources said the group was holding to its policy of not deliberately attacking foreigners. But Americans, Europeans and Asian guest laborers have been among those killed in its bombings during the 32-month-old Palestinian uprising.

And in Saudi Arabia, Adel al-Jubeir, an advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, defended his country's policy of giving money to families of suicide bombers. "We give money to families in need... Are some of those families, families who have had a suicide bomber? Yes. But do we give the money because their son or daughter was a suicide bomber? No. Is that money an incentive for them to commit acts of terrorism? No." Al-Jubeir condemned terrorism, but refused to condemn the terrorist organization Hamas.

Israel Targets Hamas Militants in Helicopter Attack

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car in Gaza City Thursday, reportedly killing seven people, including an infant, and wounding 40 others. It was the fifth such attack in the past 48 hours. Initial reports said that the car was carrying Hamas activists. The group claimed responsibility for Wednesday's suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem that killed 17 people and wounded more than 100 others.

The car with the Hamas activists was driving through the Sheik Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City, on Thursday when it was hit by three missiles. Witnesses said the vehicle was engulfed in flames when a fourth rocket struck it.

At the time of the strike, the streets were crowded with mourners who had attended the funeral of 11 people killed in two previous strikes by Israeli attack helicopters. The operation was launched after Israel's defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, ordered the heads of the nation's security forces to use all means at their disposal to fight Hamas.

On Tuesday, an Israeli helicopter fired missiles at another car in Gaza City, killing two bystanders, in a botched attempt to assassinate Hamas leader Abdel Aziz-Rantissi. President Bush sharply criticized that operation, saying such actions would not enhance the security of the Jewish state and would make it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to persuade militant groups to halt their terror attacks.

Despite such criticism, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed on Thursday to press ahead with operations against Hamas, an Islamic group that is dedicated to Israel's destruction. Sharon strongly denounced the Palestinian leadership for failing to act against Hamas. He likened the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, to a chick that has not grown his feathers yet, and said Israel would continue to fight terror until he does.

On Monday, Abbas ruled out using force against Hamas and other militant groups, saying this could risk drawing Palestinian society into a civil war.

Mideast 'At Critical Crossroads,' says Jordan's King

By Lisa Schlein (VOA-Geneva)

Following the latest Israeli-Palestinian violence in the Middle East, Jordan's King Abdullah has called for regional and international leaders to redouble their efforts for peace in the region. The Jordanian monarch told several thousand delegates attending the International Labor Organization's annual conference in Geneva that his part of the world was at a critical crossroads.

The Jordanian king said there is an urgent need to rebuild and stabilize the Middle East region. He says the situation there is critical. He acknowledged that the credibility of countries in his region is at stake, but King Abdullah added that the credibility of the international community also is at stake.

"Now is the time to work together, to put our full force behind the process that will lead to the handover of Iraq to a credible Iraqi government, representing all Iraqis," said King Abdullah. "And, now is the time to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East."

Police Suspect Girl, 13, Was Sold and Murdered

By Ha'aretz

The body of a 13-year-old girl from the Gaza Strip was found in the guava orchards in the Arab village of Tira on Thursday. The discovery concludes the investigation into the murder of the girl, which has taken over a year.

According to the investigation, her husband, a 20-year-old resident of the Arab village of Taibeh, buried the girl a year and a half ago. The man was arrested several days ago and is suspected of murder. Two additional suspects in the case - the husband's father and a resident of Qalqilyah - were arrested Thursday. The two brought investigators to the site where the body was buried.

The two tied the girl's husband to the murder, and admitted to helping him dispose of the body. The man has not admitted to the charges against him.

Last year, police received intelligence reports according to which the girl, a resident of the Gaza Strip who was supposed to be living in Taibeh, had disappeared. Since the information was received, an undercover investigation was launched, in which police discovered that the girl's family sold her into marriage for NIS 100,000, via an attorney from Tul Karm.

Shortly after she was sold, the family lost touch with the girl. The investigation also revealed that no official documents in Israel or the Palestinian Authority mentioned the girl.

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