Newsletter : 4fax0419.txt
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Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2004
Israel Faxx News Services
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day began Sunday night. President Moshe
Katsav warned of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, "The world knew, the world saw and
continued to ignore the genocide of Europe's Jews. The shame should accompany humanity for
eternity." He spoke at a ceremony at Yad Vashem, attended by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
and other dignitaries. Sharon said that the State of Israel does not forget what those who
hated the people of Israel have perpetrated in the past, which is why "we won't let the
murderers of today and those of tomorrow to hurt our people. Those who dare do so will be
harmed. Our face is toward peace, but the defending sword will not be returned to its
Sharon Warns of Broad Plan to Capture or Kill all Hamas Leaders
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he would continue to hunt down all leaders of Hamas
and would push ahead with his plan to disengage from some Palestinian areas. His pledge
followed Israel's killing on Saturday of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.
Sharon opened a cabinet meeting by thanking the Israeli army for what he called a
"successful" operation to assassinate Rantisi. The Hamas leader was fatally wounded in a
helicopter gunship attack on his car on Saturday. Two bodyguards and Rantise's son were
also killed. Thousands of outraged Palestinians took to the streets in the Gaza Strip at
the funerals. Hamas leaders promised revenge attacks on Israel.
Sharon said the Israeli policy of trying to advance the political process while at the
same time hitting out at terrorist leaders would continue. He is hoping to build up
support for his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank before a
referendum of his ruling Likud Party on May 2.
The prime minister's spokesman, Raanan Gissin, said the killing of Rantisi is just one
part of a wider plan to capture or kill all the leaders of Hamas. "Since we failed to
bring him to justice, we brought justice to him and so we will do with the rest of the
leaders of the terrorist organization." d.
Hamas is listed by the State Department as a terrorist group. It has carried out
frequent suicide bombings and other attacks that have killed hundreds of Israelis. Israel
claims Rantisi was directly responsible for some of these deaths and this justified his
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Israel's policy of killing Rantisi and
other Hamas leaders would only lead to more bloodshed. "It is no doubt that is a crime. It
is completely condemned. And I am sure that it is a step that Israel intended to escalate
the circle of violence in this region."
Hamas vowed to avenge the deaths of Rantisi and the group's spiritual leader, Sheikh
Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in a similar Israeli military strike three-weeks ago. Rantisi
was elevated to the top position in the Gaza Strip, following the sheikh's death.
Hamas said it has selected another man to replace Rantisi. But it said the identity of
the new leader would not be revealed in order to prevent Israel from assassinating him
Rantisi: A Life Lived, Ended for Palestinian Cause
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
Tens of thousands of Palestinians took part Sunday in the funeral for the Hamas leader
in the Gaza Strip, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, killed Saturday in an Israeli air strike. His death
is another formidable blow to Hamas. Even after his death, recordings of fiery Rantisi
speeches urged Hamas followers to continue their violent attacks on Israel.
Rantisi was a long-time spokesman for the organization before becoming Gaza leader last
month following Israel's assassination of the Hamas spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
He warned then that the sheikh's death would only inspire Hamas to step up its campaign of
violence. "The road is opened. I know that they [Hamas members] will succeed in
assassinating the political leaders [in Israel]." But Israel acted swiftly to stop Rantisi
from carrying out his dire threats.
An Israeli helicopter fired missiles at his car late Saturday in Gaza City. Although he
was pulled alive from the burning wreckage, he died later on the operating table. Israel
held Rantisi directly responsible for the deaths of Israeli citizens. Foreign Affairs
Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled says he was targeted to prevent more innocent people
from being killed.
"Israel is compelled to continue fighting against terrorism and struck a mastermind of
terrorism, a man with blood on his hands, the head of the Hamas terrorist organization,
that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis," he said.
Rantisi rose to prominence after becoming one of the founders of Hamas in 1988. He was
born in 1947 in a village near the coastal city of Ashkelon. It became part of Israel one
year later when the Jewish state was created. The Rantisi family became refugees and moved
to a camp in the southern Gaza Strip.
As a young man he studied medicine in Egypt and returned to work in Gaza as a
pediatrician. But politics became his real passion. He was arrested for the first time in
1983 for attempting to organize a tax revolt against the Israeli administration in
He was jailed again in 1990 and two-years later was one of 400 Palestinians exiled to
Lebanon by Israel, but the group was allowed to return home following a storm of
international protest. He immediately re-dedicated himself to Hamas, which has sworn to
destroy Israel and establish an Islamic state. He soon got in trouble with the newly
formed Palestinian Authority. In 1998, he was jailed after demanding some members of the
authority resign. He publicly opposed efforts by the, then, Palestinian Prime Minister
Mahmoud Abbas to revive peace talks last year with Israel.
In the last few weeks of his life, Rantisi said he wanted to die a martyr for the
Palestinian cause. Israel granted him his wish. Hamas said it does not want his successor
to share the same fate.
The Bush administration warned Israel to consider the consequences of its actions. A
White House statement did not condemn the killing of Rantisi, but said Israel has a right
to defend itself.
Israir To Fly Direct From JFK
Israir announced Sunday that it would begin direct flights to New York on June 15. As
of now, El Al is the only Israeli airline that makes direct flights between Israel's Ben
Gurion Airport and JFK Airport in New York. Continental Airlines remains the only foreign
airline that flies directly between Ben Gurion Airport and Newark Airport in New
Two years ago Israir planned to begin direct flights to New York, but the Ministry of
Transportation refused to approve the route. After petitioning the Supreme Court, Israir
received permission to begin flights. Israir subsequently postponed its plans due to the
drop in tourism resulting from the Oslo War but with the recent increase in tourism has
now decided that the time is right to begin the flights. Israir, which currently flies to
Europe as well as domestically within Israel, will make the flights through Iceland Air.
Israir General Manager Sabina Biran said the airline would operate Boeing 767-300ER
wide-bodied planes on the route three times a week - on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
The flights will leave Ben Gurion Airport and JFK around midnight. The Boeing 767-300ER
has a capacity of 185 tourist class and 42 business class passengers.
Israir will be the first Israeli airline to make charter flights to New York. Zohar
Andelman, CEO of Unitel, which will be marketing the new flights, said tickets would cost
$700-1,100 during the peak season, and that Unitel would offer packages, including hotels,
organized tours, and family tours. Israir does not plan to operate the three weekly direct
flights during the winter season, instead using the planes for flights to the Far East,
Mexico and Cuba.
At a Sunday press conference, Andelman said, "We're convinced that El Al will react
quickly to our flights, possibly even by tomorrow morning. We want to grab 5% of the
market share on the New York route."
Biran said, "We have long-term goals, and we believe that the New York route will be
profitable in its first year of operation. We might even increase our activities this
summer, depending on demand." Israir will offer relatively low-cost $1,999 business class
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