Newsletter : 4fax0322.txt
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54-Year-Old Gives Birth to Twins
A 54-year-old woman has given birth to twins, a boy and a girl, in Tzfat's (Safed)
Rebecca Ziv Hospital. The boy weighs 2.900kg (6.3 pounds) and the girl 2.300kg (5 pounds).
Margaret Tikis lost her son IDF Sgt. Benny in a terror attack at the Ein Arik Checkpoint
in the Ramallah area about two years ago and expressed her overwhelming joy over the birth
of her twins.
Israeli Troops Kill 5 in Gaza Gun Battles
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli troops on Sunday killed at least five Palestinians, including one they say was
a wanted fugitive, during gun battles with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
The soldiers entered the town of Khan Younis early Sunday and surrounded a compound
where, they said, a member of the Islamic group Hamas had gone into hiding. The Israeli
army said that as the man, Basem Kadeeh, and his wife tried to flee, the troops opened
fire and the bomb he was carrying exploded, killing both of them.
A gun-battle ensued with other armed Palestinians from Hamas, and some were killed. The
Israeli soldiers then demolished the compound, which it said contained a workshop for
making rockets, mortars and missiles.
The raid is part of a military offensive into Gaza that began last week after Hamas
claimed responsibility for a double Sunday bombing in the port of Ashdod, which killed 11
Israelis. Hamas, which is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization, has
carried out frequent suicide bombings and other attacks that have killed hundreds of
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told Israel's cabinet on Sunday that military strategists
are putting together a plan to significantly weaken Hamas, before a proposed Israeli
withdrawal from Gaza. Mofaz said the plan would include stopping terror attacks from
Hamas, blocking the transfer of funds to the organization and destroying what he called
its terrorist infrastructure.
He said Israel has decided to step up its offensive against Hamas after learning that
it is being supported by the Hizbullah in Lebanon, another terrorist Islamic group
dedicated to Israel's destruction. Mofaz also indicated that Israel is likely to launch
more air strikes from attack helicopters against Hamas members in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Security Forces Hit With Legal Actions Over Treatment of Palestinians
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel's security forces have been hit with a series of legal actions over their
treatment of Palestinians. At least one officer is to be charged with manslaughter, and a
Palestinian youth has been awarded financial compensation after being severely
Israeli military prosecutors said they would issue an indictment against an army
officer in connection with the deaths of four Palestinians, three of them children. The
officer is to be charged with involuntary manslaughter. The decision relates to a June
2002 incident in the West Bank town of Jenin, which at the time had been placed under a
Israeli forces encountered hundreds of Palestinian residents in the streets, who, they
believed, had deliberately disobeyed orders not to stay indoors. The company commander, a
colonel, allegedly fired two tank shells into what he mistakenly believed was an empty
area of Jenin, to disperse the crowds. The shells killed the four Palestinians and wounded
dozens of others. Lawyers for the officer are attempting to have the charges dropped in
favor of disciplinary action.
In a separate case, the Jerusalem District Court ruled last week in favor of a young
Palestinian man wounded by Israeli security forces. He was struck by a rubber bullet in
the first week of the Palestinian uprising that began in September 2000. Mohammed Juda was
16 years old when he was fired upon during riots in Jerusalem's Walled Old City. Since
then, he has been paralyzed from the neck down. The court ruled that his parents be
awarded about $500,000 in compensation.
Sharon Seeks U.S. Rejection of Palestinian Right of Return
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he wants the United States to announce that it rejects
claims by Palestinian refugees that they be allowed to return to areas that are now part
of Israel. Sharon told a meeting of his ruling Likud Party on Sunday that he would ask for
this guarantee in exchange for agreeing to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the
Sharon addressed members of his Likud faction amid growing opposition to his plan to
unilaterally withdraw troops and Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West
Bank. He said this would become the only option for Israel if peace talks with the
Palestinians remained stalled.
Sharon told Likud members on Sunday that he supports the establishment of a Palestinian
state following an Israeli withdrawal. However, he stressed that a future Palestinian
state would be the only place for millions of Palestinian refugees to make their home and
that they would be barred from entering Israel. Sharon said he also wants the U.S.
administration to publicly support this stand before implementing his disengagement
Israeli officials said the chief of staff of Sharon's office, Dov Weisglass, is
expected to make this position clear to senior U.S. officials, during a visit to
Washington this week. But some Likud members, such as Gilad Erdan, say they would oppose
Sharon's plan, even if it were backed by U.S. guarantees.
Erdan said any unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank was tantamount to
giving a reward to terrorism. "We always claimed, and we still do, that withdrawing or
giving the terror organizations to believe or to understand that with terror activities
they can gain something from Israel - that is terrible thing to do. It's very clear that
this plan will tear the Likud apart because, I believe, the majority in the Likud oppose
the prime minister's plan."
Meanwhile, a high-level Egyptian security delegation is expected in the Gaza Strip this
week to discuss the implications of an Israeli pullout from the territory. Top Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Egyptian officials want to assist in training Palestinian
police to maintain law and order in Gaza, following the evacuation of Jewish settlers and
Israeli troops from the area.
Israel, China to Review Military Ties
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
A high-level Israeli delegation has flown to China for talks on rebuilding military
ties between the two countries. The discussions are the first in more than three years,
after Israel canceled the planned sale of spy planes to Beijing in the face pressure from
the United States. Top officials in the department's export division accompany the head of
the Israeli Defense Ministry, General Amos Yaron, who leads the delegation to China.
The Defense Ministry described the talks as a confidence-building measure after the
United States demanded Israel call off its $1.2 billion deal to sell three Phalcon planes
to Beijing in July 2000. The aircraft feature sophisticated Israeli surveillance equipment
mounted on Russian cargo aircraft. The planes were designed to provide advanced warnings
of an enemy attack. This year Israel reached an agreement to sell the same aircraft to
India, with the support of the United States.
But the U.S. administration said it opposed the planes being sold to China for fear
this would give Beijing a strategic edge over Taiwan. It asked Israel to cancel the sale.
China demanded compensation equal to the agreed price, but after lengthy negotiations it
accepted that Israel would pay $350 million. The cancellation was seen as a major setback
to Israel's efforts to build a substantial trade in arms with Beijing.
From the early 1970s until 1992, when the two nations established diplomatic relations,
it is estimated that Israel sold up to $4 billion worth of military equipment to China.
Israeli Defense officials said China has shown a willingness to renew its military ties
with the Jewish state, but the two countries are proceeding cautiously. The officials said
Israel would never again take the risk of proposing a sale of military equipment to China
if it were to be seen as posing a strategic threat to United States interests.
Fatah Apologizes for Killing an Arab Instead of a Jew
George Elias Khouri, 21, a Christian Israeli-Arab whose family lives in Nazareth and
northern Jerusalem, was murdered "by mistake" on Friday night by Palestinian terrorists.
He was jogging in the Jerusalem's French Hill neighborhood when a car pulled up alongside
him. A passenger inside fired four shots, two of which hit Khouri in the head; he died on
the way to the hospital. Khouri's funeral was held Sunday in Jerusalem's Mount Zion
The Al-Aqsa Brigades of Palestinian chieftain Yasir Arafat's Fatah organization quickly
announced that they had committed the murder - but when they learned that the victim was
an Arab, the terrorists issued a corrected announcement: "The fighters thought that the
jogger was a settler, as this was an area full of settlers. This was a mistake, and a
letter of apology has been sent to the family. We will consider George Khouri a 'shahid'
Yediot Achronot reported that Arafat phoned the Khouri family to express his
condolences, and promised to make every effort to catch the murderers. This was a curious
reaction, however, in light of his attitude towards the murderer of Khouri's own
grandfather in similar circumstances. Khouri the elder was one of four Arabs - amidst a
total of 14 victims - killed in the famous "refrigerator blast" terrorist attack of July
4, 1975 in downtown Jerusalem. The perpetrator of that attack, Ahmed Jabara, was freed
from prison last summer - and Arafat greeted him with kisses.
Couple Says El Al Used Them to Carry Package
El Al, which takes great pains to ensure that its passengers do not carry parcels for
others, asked one its passengers to bring objects into Israel, subjecting them to fines
and possible arrest by customs authorities, according to a complaint filed by Dr. Effi and
Sarit Carmi that was made public this past weekend.
The couple decided to publicize their case after reading that El Al places weapons in
the luggage of unsuspecting passengers as an exercise for its security officials.
According to the complaint, which was filed with El Al CEO Amos Shapira last July, El Al
employees, including a security officer, approached the Carmis in Newark International
Airport in New Jersey and asked them to bring to Israel a package including a medical
device for a terminally ill boy.
The Carmis, impressed by the official El Al request and the humanitarian issue, agreed
to take the package. The security officer escorted Effi Carmi to pick up the package from
a secure room, according to the complaint. After the couple arrived at Ben-Gurion
International Airport, customs officials, who accused them of attempting to smuggle in an
"electrical device", detained them. The Carmis refused to pay the large fine and were
allowed to exit the airport after leaving the package at customs. They filed a formal
complaint with Ben-Gurion Airport police against El Al.
After the Carmis returned home, an El Al employee, a customs worker and a Jerusalem
travel agent called them regarding the package. A few days later, a young man who
identified himself as Ran called to say the package was meant for him. It turned out that
Ran was no little boy, but a 26-year-old man from Petah Tikva who had received a kidney
transplant about six months earlier, and that the device in the package was a music
system, not a medical instrument.
Following the instructions of El Al employee Yehuda Koren, Effi Carmi met with Ran and
they arrived at the customs office together, where Ran paid the fine and took his package.
Carmi blamed El Al employees for the incident. "They took advantage of my innocence and of
the fact that I'm a doctor - my business card noting my degree was in my passport - so
they could ask me to bring the package, which required a customs payment."
The outcome, he said, could have been far worse. "The customs agent at Ben-Gurion told
me that if, for example, they had found drugs in the package, I would have been arrested
and charged with trying to smuggle drugs to Israel and sent to jail. I protest the cynical
use that El Al employees make of innocent passengers so as to illegally transfer packages
from abroad to Israel. What's happening here? There's no messenger service or any other
way besides using innocent passengers?"
El Al said its employees behaved appropriately, that it had already responded to Effi
Carmi, and that from its perspective the issue was closed. "El Al employees behaved as
they did in all innocence and as a humanitarian move, and there was nothing wrong with
their behavior," the company said.
El Al said the package Carmi was asked to bring with him belonged to an El Al passenger
who came late for the previous flight and that its transfer was delayed due to the need to
carry out the necessary security checks. After being told that the package was supposed to
go to someone who had cancer, El Al employees agreed to assist, within the required
According to El Al, after security checks were conducted, there was no reason that the
equipment shouldn't be transferred via another passenger who agreed to do so. Several
passengers agreed to take the package with them, including Carmi, who acted out of free
will and understood what was going on, the company said.
Design for Library of Life Symbolizes Middle East Peace
By Cornell University Press Service (via Newswise)
99th KILOMETER MARKER, ISRAEL/JORDAN BORDER -- Flying over this 150-acre speck in the
desert, it is possible to imagine a near-perfect circle ringed by two green arcs. Approach
by land, and imagine the arcs enlarging to groves of olive trees, a spiraling tower behind
After it is completed, in about five years, the tower eventually will be home to the
world's most advanced database, the Library of Life. The entire complex itself, called the
Bridging the Rift Center (BTR), will be a symbol in the desert between Israel and Jordan,
seeking, as its name indicates, to create a bridge between two divided societies.
What will this collaborative scientific research center involving Cornell University,
Ithaca, N.Y., and Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., look like? "Everything about the
center -- its name, its mission, its site and its design -- speaks to the desire on the
part of the two neighboring peoples to live and work together in harmony," says
Cornell-trained architect Mustafa Abadan, who heads the BTR design team at Skidmore,
Owings & Merrill, New York (the firm also is developing Daniel Libeskind's designs for
the new World Trade Center).
The BTR team chose a circle as the organizing principle, Abadan says, because "it has
been a symbol of unity and wholeness throughout history" and because it is "a strong
geometric presence that gives form to the challenging, essentially shapeless desert
The association of the olive branch with peace led to the idea of encircling the site
with two olive groves that appear to embrace. Even some of the building materials used
will be intended to reflect harmony: gold-colored limestone from Israel and reddish
limestone from Jordan.
Perhaps the most potent symbol of the site is the "central spine" that bisects it on
what was the actual border between Israel and Jordan before both countries donated the
land to create a neutral zone for the research center. All the research buildings will
touch on the spine, and "everyone who walks along it will literally be bridging the rift,"
Abadan's team and the BTR project's developers envision Ph.D. students from Israel,
Jordan and other Middle East countries working side by side with Cornell and Stanford
scientists on the most ambitious data-organizing project in the world -- to assemble
information on all living systems, starting with those in the Dead Sea region 43 miles
north of the facility. Because of the centrality of its mission, the Library of Life will
be located in the exact center of the circle, says Abadan. The spiraling tower, which will
house the library, will be made up of two encircling arcs that repeat the circular theme
of unity and cooperation. Clad with brilliant metal, the tower will shine across the
A courtyard in front of the Library of Life tower will serve as a gathering place,
while adjacent to it will be a large auditorium and conference center, a dramatic-looking
horizontal building made of two curved copper- and wood-clad concrete shells that will be
the campus's focal point. Patterns of light from the building's exterior will play off the
surface of a nearby reflecting pool.
The facility also will include laboratories, planting fields dedicated to life science
studies, living quarters, a retreat and recreational facilities with tennis courts and a
Abadan seems undaunted by the difficulty of building a sophisticated research facility
in the middle of the desert and says that his training at Cornell prepared him for such
challenges. "The best thing that Cornell architecture does for you is it teaches you how
to tackle new problems, ask questions and find solutions," he says. He included other
Cornell architecture graduates on his team because he knew they would have similar
Some of the team's design solutions for the desert environment, where temperatures can
soar to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, include giving buildings a north-south
orientation and employing solar reflectors on rooftops to control exposure to the sun,
carefully placing buildings and using trellises above open areas, recesses and other
architectural elements to provide shade. While the facility's laboratories will require
air conditioning to keep them at a constant temperature, living, dining and other public
areas will be kept cool by fans and low-energy evaporative cooling methods typical in the
"Bridging the Rift will be somewhat self-sufficient," says Abadan. It will produce some
of its own power from photovoltaic panels mounted on its laboratory roofs, supplementing
the electrical power brought in from Jordan and Israel. Large water reserves and aquifers
deep in the ground below the facility will supply all the water needed.
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