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Exercise Leaves El Al Passenger with a Gun

By Ha'aretz

El Al places firearms in the suitcases of some passengers without their knowledge as part of a training exercise for security personnel. The practice was exposed last week after a passenger returning to Israel from Frankfurt opened his suitcase to find a pistol that did not belong to him. After alerting the police, the passenger was informed that it was a simulated weapon used by El Al security in training exercises. El Al is negotiating with the startled customer over appropriate compensation. "El Al Israel Airlines uses various measures and systems to ensure passenger safety," a spokesman for the airline said. "Beyond that, the company does not comment on security-related issues."

How Did the Terrorists Enter the Port of Ashdod?


As the police and Shin Bet agents continue to investigate Sunday's double suicide bombing attack in the Port of Ashdod, there are still many questions that are unanswered. There were no breaks found in the perimeter security fence, leading investigators to believe the terrorist entered with the bomb vest on, passing the main gate and going undetected by security guards.

At this stage of the investigation, it appears the terrorist inside the port was planning to target persons and not a tank as believed earlier, since the bomb detonated contained a very large quantity of metallic balls and shrapnel. It was also reported that the second bomber, positioned outside the port, was to have blown himself up after ambulances arrived on the scene but as a result of a malfunction, the bomb detonated earlier.

It was thought that the Ashdod port attack could have been an order of magnitude worse than it actually was. Hundreds of tons of dangerous substances are stored at the port, including bromide, fuel and ammonia. Some of them were stored within close walking distance of the terrorists. A crack in one of the tanks as a result of an explosion would have left a "dirty bomb" cloud hanging over the entire area. The only protection for citizens within several kilometers of such a cloud would be to "remain at home with the windows and doors closed," according to Ruby Gilad of the Environment Ministry.

Security officials said they plan to intensify their targeted attacks on Palestinian militants. News of the stepped up pace in such operations follows Sunday's suicide attack. News agencies quoted unidentified Israeli security sources as saying Palestinian militants should expect even harsher retaliation in the days ahead.

The sources said there would be targeted killings and what was termed other measures taken against militants and that the targets will be from the top down. The same sources were reported as saying that an attack on Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, could not be ruled out. Palestinians called the Israeli policy of targeted assassinations state-sponsored terrorism. Israel said the policy was self-defense.

One member of the Israeli parliament has called on the government to take action against Sheikh Yassin and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat as well. Avigdor Lieberman of the right wing National Union party said that since both Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Arafat's Fatah Movement, claimed responsibility for Sunday's bombing then the leaders of those groups should bear the consequences.

Just hours after two suicide bombers blew themselves, Israeli aircraft struck suspected Hamas targets in the Gaza strip. One man was reported wounded in the Israeli strike. Reports said that the apparent target for Sunday's suicide bombing attack was of particular concern, as it demonstrated a shift away from bombings aimed at killing dozens to attacks that could kill hundreds.

Sharon Barely Wins Support for Settler Withdrawal Plan

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon narrowly won the backing of the parliament on Monday to unilaterally separate his country from the Palestinians if peace talks failed. He also ruled out negotiations with the Palestinians in the immediate future, saying they are doing nothing to stop attacks against Israelis. Sharon received the support of 46 lawmakers. Forty-five voted against his proposed disengagement plan.

Sharon has ruled out peace negotiations with the Palestinians, charging they have done nothing to stop attacks against Israelis. Sharon on Sunday canceled a planned summit with his Palestinian counterpart, which had been tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.

The debate was called in response to his recent statements that Israel might have to withdraw unilaterally from most, if not all, of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, if peace talks with the Palestinians remain stalled. Sharon said on Monday there was no prospect of such negotiations being revived immediately, one day after two Palestinian suicide bombers killed 10 Israelis at the southern port of Ashdod.

He said that the Palestinian leadership has done nothing against such terrorism and that the Palestinian security forces have failed to confiscate weapons, make arrests and stop incitement against Israel in the media, schools and mosques. Sharon said it was clear that Israel, for the moment, had no real Palestinian negotiating partners for peace talks.

He added that exactly what unilateral steps Israel might take has not yet been finalized and promised to bring the completed plan before the parliament later. Sharon said that he would ask the approval of the Knesset and called on lawmakers to support the final plan.

Palestinian Terrorists Try to Kill 10-Year-Old Arab Boy

By & Ha'aretz

Palestinian terrorists were willing to sacrifice a 10-year-old Arab boy in the course of an attempt to perpetrate a terrorist attack against Israelis Monday.

The incident occurred at the Hawara checkpoint near Shechem in the Shomron. An alert policewoman saw a boy carrying three packs, including one with wires coming out. She questioned him briefly, and he stuttered that he has been asked to deliver it to someone. The policewoman put the suspicious bag aside, and called the commanding officer. He distanced everyone from the site, and sappers detonated the bomb in a controlled explosion.

Witnesses said that "screws and nuts flew in all directions, and a small crater was formed at the site." The explosives vest was estimated at 15-22 pounds. The bomb was apparently meant to go off via the activation of a cellular phone in the bomb-pack - but a technical malfunction prevented this. The explosion that would have ensued was meant to kill not only Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint, but also the child.

The boy was taken for questioning, and related that he had been promised a large sum of money to carry the pack across the checkpoint. The Israeli intelligence forces believe that he did not know he was carrying a bomb, and he was released towards evening. The forces are now looking for the men who sent the boy, as well as the man who was to have received the package.

According to a Channel 2 TV News report, while soldiers worked to neutralize the bomb, the terrorist looked on from a distance and attempted to detonate it with a cellular telephone detonator but a technical malfunction prevented the explosion. Police are continuing a search for the terrorist.

Jewish Agency Officials Plan to Target U.S. College Campuses


Amos Hermon, the chairman of the Jewish Agency's Education Department, told participants in the Jerusalem Conference that the agency plans to target American college campuses in the hope of bringing young American Jews to Israel to live.

Hermon stated that there are some 400,000 American Jews on campuses around the country and the agency emissaries will be focusing on 50 different schools in the nationwide effort.

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