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Israel Publishes Names of Militants Slated to be Released from Prison

By VOA News

Israel has published a list of Palestinian prisoners it says it plans to release later this week in a bid to strengthen an internationally-backed peace plan. The list includes 59 Palestinians identified as members of the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad - organizations that have carried out dozens of attacks on Israel.

The list, which was published Monday on the Internet, contains the names of many of the 443 prisoners slated for release late Wednesday. Palestinian leaders want Israel to release all of the estimated 6,000 prisoners currently in Israeli jails.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israel would not transfer control of any more West Bank cities to Palestinian control until the Palestinian Authority moves to arrest attackers who wounded a Jewish woman and her three children Sunday. A faction of the militant al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack near Bethlehem, and warned more would take place. Israeli troops pulled back from Bethlehem last month.

Earlier Monday, Israeli military officials said a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli troops while allegedly planting a bomb on a West Bank road used by Israeli forces. Officials said the incident took place overnight near the northern town of Tulkarem. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades identified the man as one of its members.

Warnings Again: Rockets Liable To Threaten Tel Aviv And Jerusalem


Yet again, warnings are being sounded against a "peace now" policy - warnings that have come true more than once in the recent past. "The threat of Kassam rockets on Yesha communities and on central Israel will be a genuine threat." So said an IDF Intelligence Branch officer appearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday. He said that Kassam rockets are being manufactured in large numbers in the Shechem area, with the help of Hizbullah elements.

Committee Member Yechiel Chazan (Likud) said that there's no point in releasing terrorists while the terrorism continues. "We're giving everything, and getting nothing!" he lamented. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who attended the session, responded said that it could be said that Israel has also not given much. He said that he is sincerely trying to reach an agreement, and that "we can always stop before the risks become too great."

Sharon added that releasing prisoners is an important element in strengthening (Palestinian prime minister) Abu Mazen, "who represents a leadership that does not believe that the PA can defeat Israel via terror." Committee Chairman Yuval Shteinitz, also of the Likud, said that he "trusts Prime Minister Sharon," but he is "very concerned."

"Instead of the terrorist infrastructures being destroyed," Shteinitz said, "as the Road map demands, we're seeing the exact opposite. The terrorists are getting stronger, and in a matter of months, we are liable to see Kassam rockets in Yesha as well, and what we saw in the north - that in exchange for relative quiet, we received a rocket threat along the entire north - is liable to repeat itself, except this time against Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the entire central plain. This is just not an acceptable price to pay, even for a short period of quiet."

Love at First Sight Gets Second Chance in Israel

By Corinne Heller (Reuters)

It was love at first sight, but in a blink of an eye she was gone. In a country as small as Israel, there is a second chance to make up for those missed opportunities, especially by logging on to the Internet.

Two Israelis have developed a free Web service dedicated to helping Israelis overcome what they call the "Israeli ego" and contact people they have met once but in a twist of fate, or a simple case of cold feet, never seen again. Israel's small size and population improve the chances of a second encounter. More than half the population of 6.7 million lives on the country's coastal strip including Tel Aviv, the heart of its nightlife.

In addition, most Israelis aged 18-30, the dotcom generation, are among the most technically savvy in the world, and use cell phones and the Internet widely. Erez Elbaz, 31, and Daniel Shemer, 30, created "Second Chance" ( in March, bringing the popular "once seen" personal advertisements found in publications such as "Time Out" and old Israeli magazines into the digital age. "Newspapers had classified ads like this but this is problematic because newspapers expire," Shemer said.

Reut Hertz, 20, met a man at a nightclub. He left a message for her on the website the next day. "I remembered he looked good, and was really nice, so I replied and we decided to meet," she said. "I didn't call him afterwards, but then I saw him at another party and we danced and then we started dating again. We dated for two months."

Shemer said the website performs a public service. "'Second Chances' is not a singles site," he said. "You're looking for someone you've already seen and want to meet again, so the fear of meeting them is lessened." The website is divided into Israeli towns and then into popular recreational spots, such as bars and clubs. Sometimes Elbaz and Shemer visit these places, take pictures of people with permission, and hand out promotional cards for the website.

"We tell them, 'is there someone here you like but are afraid to talk to? Now you have a second chance,'" Elbaz said.

People can later find the photographs at on the website and leave private messages for those they saw or met. Shemer said they started out filming parties because it was easier for people to connect with their peers.

Elbaz said "Second Chance" has about 10,000 regular subscribers and generates hundreds of unique hits a day, adding that more than 45 percent of messages are answered. "The chances of getting a reply are very high because when someone leaves a message, they're making a certain investment," he said. "It's the phone number you would have left on a napkin."

Sometimes "Second Chance" takes an odd turn. "One girl left a message for a guy about a coat she lost at a bar they were at one night and he returned the coat," Shemer said. "The site also helped a man reunite with his friend from the army."

The website is not limited to entertainment venues. One growing subcategory is "transportation," which includes encounters on buses or trains. "You asked me if I needed help with my bags, I said no and we laughed. When you stepped off the bus you gave me a huge smile and a lasting look, then waved goodbye. I returned to look for you but you had already left by then," one message read.

Elbaz said that while the website is used roughly equally by both sexes, it appeals particularly to women. "The Israeli mentality is so screwed up that the chance that a girl will approach a guy is zero," he said.

But Shemer said shyness worked both ways, and that was the primary reason for the website. "We have a lot of friends who are very nice guys but are too shy to ask someone out," he said. "But there is an ego problem - they are afraid of rejection. People say there's never a second chance for a first impression, but we disagree - now there is."

Planes Must Be Equipped with Bulletproof Cockpit Door


Minister of Transportation Avigdor Lieberman Sunday announced a new regulation for all airplanes flying to and from Israel. Beginning on October 31, all aircraft must be equipped with a bulletproof door to the pilot's cockpit.

The Israel Civil Air Administration has sent the new security regulation to the international airline community as well as to airlines operating in Israel.

The Israeli move follows a similar decision made by U.S. civil aviation officials after the Sept. 11, 2001 airborne terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The U.S. decision also takes effect on Oct. 31, an Israeli Transport Ministry spokesman said.

Ben-Gurion International Airport, Israel's main aviation gateway is served by more than two-dozen foreign airlines. The spokesman said that some airlines with older fleets, particularly those from Eastern Europe, had yet to install the safety doors.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations' aviation arm, is requiring every airliner in the world to install reinforced cockpit doors by Nov. 1. Israel's national airline, El Al, has among world's the most stringent security requirements.

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