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El Al Warns Pilots of 747 Engine Failures

By Ha'aretz

El Al has issued new operating instructions to pilots flying its Boeing 747-200 aircraft, pending completion of an investigation into a recent series of in-flight engine problems on these planes. The instructions include a warning to pay special attention to the flow of gas to the engines to avoid engine stall-out. Initial findings of the investigation indicate that some of the engine problems were caused by faulty calibration and turbine failure. El Al's five 747-200 planes are among the oldest components of El Al's fleet and are mainly used as cargo aircrafts, but can also be used as passenger planes.


Israel: Hizbullah Sponsors Palestinian Terrorism

By Agence France Presse

Hizbullah is increasingly seeking to supervise the military operations of Palestinian militant groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, an Israeli military source said Monday. "In the past two months, we have foiled 19 suicide attacks inside Israel, all of them were sponsored by Hizbullah," the intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

He stressed that Hizbullah had long had structural ties with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad radical groups through their Syrian patron, but added that some cells of the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern West Bank were increasingly dependent on the fundamentalist militia.

The official claimed that four years after Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon, Hizbullah was seeking a new battlefield to retain its prestige while at the same time using the Palestinians as proxies to avoid direct reprisals. "For Hizbullah, the Palestinian adventure is a way of keeping their 'jihadic' identity and avoiding being turned into just another Lebanese political party," the official said.

He said Hizbullah's support consisted in delivering arms through all borders, supplying military know-how and even on an operational level, coordinating joint operations involving several Palestinian groups. According to Hizbullah MP Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, "those allegations are not new."

Abu Zeinab said that it is typical of the Israeli administration to "throw the blame for its failure to control the situation inside the occupied territories on others. "The struggle is at least 50 years old and is older than Hizbullah. It is a struggle against an occupier and it is really not triggered by anything else," he said, adding: "People in Palestine might be taking a moral boost from the liberation of the South, but the sponsoring stops there."


Palestinian PM Appeals for Help to Stop Israeli Demolition of Homes

By VOANews

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has welcomed the offer of an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, but says he wants to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible. And, in talks with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, he also appealed for help to end the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes to enlarge a security zone in Gaza.

Speaking after his meeting with Rice, Qureia welcomed the Israeli offer to evacuate all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, but said it can only be part of a wider negotiated agreement. He said serious negotiations are needed with the support of the international sponsors of the road map peace plan, the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union. He said experience shows that giving the process all the time it needs has not worked, so he wants the fastest possible return to the negotiating table.

The Palestinian prime minister also urged the United States to stop Israel from destroying more homes in Gaza, where it is widening a security zone where five Israeli soldiers were killed last week. Rice said the United States is discussing the issue with Israel, but she made no promises.

The talks in the German capital follow Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to Washington last month, when President Bush endorsed his unilateral Gaza withdrawal plan. The U.S. decision was very controversial among Arab countries. Qureia met Saturday with Secretary of State Colin Powell in Jordan.

President Bush's national security adviser described her one-and-one-half-hour meeting with Qureia as good, and said they discussed the establishment of the institutions needed to begin preparing for Palestinian statehood.

Meanwhile Monday, Israel launched a massive military operation in the southern Gaza strip aimed at stopping alleged arms smuggling from Egypt and attacks by Palestinian militants. Israel said troops are under orders to seal off the town of Rafah, which it claims is a major base of support for armed Palestinian groups, from the rest of Gaza.

Israeli soldiers, among the hundreds deployed in southern Gaza, have clashed with armed Palestinians. Israel said its troops opened fire after Palestinian militants attacked them with anti-tank missiles. The Palestinian militants launched the attacks in an attempt to drive back the Israelis forces, which include armored, engineering and infantry units, backed by tanks, bulldozers, and helicopter gunships.

The forces entered Rafah early Monday, and some units began tearing up roads around the town. Thousands of Palestinians are reported to be fleeing the area amid fears that Israeli soldiers will demolish their homes in a refugee camp. The Israeli troops were told to destroy what Israel called the terrorist infrastructure in the town, including a network of tunnels used to smuggle weapons and explosives from neighboring Egypt.

The operation follows a decision of the Israeli cabinet on Sunday to step up military operations, following the killing of seven soldiers in the area last week. Six other soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip. The fighting also killed at least 32 Palestinians throughout Gaza.


Yigal Amir Says He Doesn't Regret Murdering Rabin

By Ha'aretz

Yigal Amir has no regrets for murdering Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and believes that the act was necessary. Speaking to reporters ahead of a court hearing on his request to marry his fiancée, Amir said that Monday's events proves that what he did was right. "Everything I said [in 1995] has come true today. I knew that the whole [Oslo] process was one big lie ... Everyone knows this, but go on anyway as though they are blind." He argued that what he did was not murder as he his intention was not bad. He said he did what he did to save the Jewish people.

Amir's attorney said Sunday that he would ask the Prisons Service court to allow Rabin's assassin to provide sperm for artificial insemination of his wife-to-be, Larisa Trimbobler. Attorney Shmuel Caspar told the court on Monday that allowing Amir to marry would help rehabilitate the life prisoner, which is in the interest of both the state and the Prisons Service. Trimbobler was also present for Monday's hearing.

The court said it would hand down its decision in the case in two weeks' time. The Prisons Service has expressed opposition to the wedding. Amir on Monday slammed the Prisons Service for his opposition to the union, pointing out that the Knesset last week rejected a bill that would bar him from marrying and asking how the Prisons Service could try to bypass the parliament.

The Prisons Service said that it would finalize its position on the marriage only after a decision by the Tel Aviv District Court regarding Amir's request to be allowed to consummate the marriage. However, representatives of the State Prosecutor's Office, which is representing the Prisons Service, claim that the position of the chief rabbi of the Prisons Service is that "it's preferable not to hold such weddings" if the prisoner is not allowed to consummate the marriage.

In response, the Prisons Service said that Amir would clearly not be given the right to consummate his marriage to Trimbobler because he was a security prisoner. Such prisoners are not permitted conjugal visits, which are considered a security risk.

According to the Prisons Service, there are some 3,300-security prisoners jailed in Israel, almost all of them are forbidden from conjugal visits. There are only a few exceptions, and those are for prisoners who have authorization from security officials in the Prison Service.





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