Newsletter : 4fax0901.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
Sharon: Attacks Not Connected to Gaza Plan
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the media Tuesday that Israel would continue the
uncompromising war against terror.. Sharon added that the tragic double suicide bombing
attacks were not connected to the Gaza expulsion plan, which he stressed, would continue
forward on schedule. And thousands of PA residents of Gaza danced in the streets and threw
candies, expressing their joy over the double suicide bombing attacks in Be'er Sheva that
claimed the lives of 17 persons and left more than 100 others injured.
Twin Suicide Bombings Rock Israeli City, 17 Killed
By VOA News, IsraelNationalNews.com. Ha'aretz & MSNBC
The southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva has been hit by suicide bombings on two city
buses. Emergency services reported 17 dead and more than 100 injured in the blasts. Police
reported that the blasts occurred almost simultaneously when suicide bombers blew
themselves up on two buses some 100 meters apart in the center of Be'er Sheva.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, in leaflets
distributed in the West Bank city of Hebron. Be'er Sheva is a city of some 150,000 people,
located in the Negev desert about 24 miles east of the Gaza Strip and far from the usual
scenes of Palestinian militant attacks.
The Izzadin el-Kassam faction of Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks. Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon told Israel Radio that it is the government's policy to fight terror
and he would do just that. Sharon's spokesman, Raanan Gissin, said Israel would take
whatever steps necessary to protect its citizens.
It has been more than five months since the last suicide attack inside Israel. That was
on March 14 when two Palestinians blew themselves up in the Israeli port of Ashdod,
killing 10 people. That attack led to an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip that killed
Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Israel says the lull in terror attacks is the result of continuing security operations
and is not due to a lack of trying by Palestinian militants. Israeli security officials
say they thwart dozens of attacks nearly every day. Israel also says its controversial
security barrier being built in and around the West Bank has drastically cut down on the
number of successful terror attacks.
Early Tuesday morning, Israeli troops caught and disarmed a man wearing an explosive
belt as he tried to pass through the Erez checkpoint from the northern Gaza Strip into
Israel. Official sources have confirmed that a three-year-old child was among the 17
persons murdered in this afternoon's suicide bombing attacks in Be'er Sheva, the capital
of the Negev.
In response to the attack, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz
decided in a Tuesday night meeting with top security officials, that it would launch a
military offensive in the West Bank city of Hebron, the home of suicide bombers Ahmed
Kawasma and Nassim Jabri.
Hebron will be surrounded and Palestinians' freedom of movement there will likely be
severely limited. Shortly after the attack, Israel Defense Forces troops in the West Bank
raided the bombers' homes. Security forces will also bolster security along the seam line
between the southern Hebron Hills and the Negev, the area that the suicide bombers
apparently passed on their way to carrying out the attack.
In addition, security forces have imposed a full closure on the Gaza Strip in the wake
of Monday's attempted suicide bombing at the Erez Crossing. Palestinian workers have also
been banned from working in Israel or in the Erez industrial zone until further notice.
Assassinations of senior Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip are also expected to
The initial investigation of the Be'er Sheva attack showed that both buses departed
from the central bus station in the city, and two suicide bombers - one on each bus - blew
themselves up at 2:50 p.m., about 100 meters apart.
"I heard a blast and I started to run to the site. Within seconds there was another
explosion," said Gil Yehezekel, the owner of a business close to the location of the
attack. "When I got there, there were people on the floor, wounded people, limbs torn
off," he said. "The police and ambulances arrived in seconds."
The driver of the second bus that blew up, Yaakov Cohen, said that when he saw the bus
ahead of his explode in a ball of flame he had a premonition his own vehicle would soon be
next. "I saw the first explosion and thought, my God, I've got to get out of here. I drove
[my bus] about 10 meters and then opened the doors," he said from his hospital bed, where
he was being treated for leg wounds.
"I believe that between 10 to 15 people got off my bus. Suddenly I heard a huge
explosion. I can't explain it but it was almost as if I knew it was going to happen. It
was terrible, terrible ... I don't want to describe what I saw."
The Palestinian Authority condemned "any attacks that target civilians, whether
Israelis or Palestinian," Palestinian Minister Saeb Erekat said. The United States and
European Union also condemned the attack. In the Gaza Strip, Muslim leaders praised the
"heroic operation" over mosque loudspeakers. About 20,000 Hamas supporters sang and threw
candy in the streets of Gaza City in celebration of the bombings and their casualties.
Hamas supporters said they were pleased the group's repeated attempts to launch attacks
against the Jewish state had finally caused Israeli casualties. "Our religion orders us to
respond in kind to aggression against us. You [Israeli people] are the ones who choose
your leaders and choose to be their shields. Therefore your shields will suffer more
blows," a leaflet said. This is a gift to the newcomers who arrived recently to our land,"
it added in a reference to recent wave of Jewish immigration to Israel. "We say to you:
'This is your fate, so wait.'"
Israel Police announced a heightened alert nationwide following the Be'er Sheva
attacks. This was the first bus attack in Israel in over six months. Many officials are
citing the lack of a counter-terrorism partition fence in the south.
US Calls for Palestinian Terror Crackdown after Israel Bombings
By David Gollust (VOA-State Department)
The United States has condemned the Be'er Sheva suicide bus bombings, saying a
Palestinian crackdown against terrorist factions was long overdue. Secretary of State
Colin Powell telephoned his Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, to
express U.S. condolences to families of the bombing victims and to condemn the attacks "in
the strongest terms."
State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said there can be no excuse for the terror
and violence the Israeli people have been forced to endure, and that Palestinian leaders
need to take "immediate and credible" steps to end such activity.
"The time for excuses is long past," said Boucher. "We need to see actions that send a
clear message that terrorism will not be tolerated. Attacks such as these not only kill
innocent civilians, but they undermine the aspirations and the hopes of the Palestinian
people as well." Boucher confirmed that the State Department's chief Middle East diplomat,
Assistant Secretary William Burns, would visit the region in early September for talks on
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other issues including Iraq.
Palestinians Celebrate Deadly Israeli Bus Bombings
Thousands of joyful Hamas supporters took to Gaza's streets on Tuesday, throwing sweets
in the air and singing songs to celebrate a twin suicide bombing that killed 17 people on
"Revenge is so sweet," said one activist, hoisting high a poster of Abdel-Aziz
al-Rantissi, a Hamas leader assassinated by Israel four months ago after the last deadly
suicide bombing by the militant Islamic group in March. Hamas had vowed "a volcano of
death" to avenge Israel's assassination of Rantissi and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed
Yassin - both killed in the wake of a bombing at Ashdod port - but were hampered by
Israeli military raids and arrests.
Militants said they felt satisfied on Tuesday when two suicide bombers from the West
Bank city of Hebron reached the nearby Israeli city of Be'er Sheva, where they boarded two
buses and blew them up almost simultaneously. Body parts were scattered around by the
blasts and the buses left charred and spattered with blood.
The explosions were greeted by hoots of joy, singing and street celebrations by about
20,000 Hamas supporters in Gaza, heartland of the militant group sworn to Israel's
destruction. "It was just the beginning," a Hamas activist shouted over a loudspeaker as
activists waved posters of Yassin and Rantissi and sang songs in their praise.
A videotape released by Hamas showed the two bombers - 22-year-old Nassem Jabari and
26-year-old Ahmad Qawasme - posing self-consciously next to rifles and posters of the dead
Hamas leaders. "Yassin and Rantissi can rest in peace," a Hamas spokesman said over a
loudspeaker. "Hamas men have never let us down," one supporter said.
Hamas Targeted Be'er Sheva Because it was Easy
By Ze'ev Schiff, Ha'aretz (Analysis)
The bombing of the buses Tuesday proves Hamas' unwillingness to accept a cease-fire in
anticipation of Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, as its people told Egyptian
officials in Cairo last week. The meeting in Cairo ended without results, and it was clear
that it was only a matter of time before Hamas found a way to penetrate Israel's
Be'er Sheva was chosen as a target because the way from Hebron to Be'er Sheva is
relatively easy, in the absence of a defense barrier in the south of Mount Hebron.
The two suicide bombers arrived from Mount Hebron. The Shin Bet knows who they were.
Tuesday the defense establishment heads convened in Tel Aviv to discuss Israel's reaction.
It would be wrong to expect a decisive and surprising reaction to the two bus bombings.
The only formula Israel has is continuing to foil suicide bombings on the basis of
intelligence tips relating to specific incidents, by assassinations of persons directly
involved in suicide bombings, stepping up the construction of the separation barrier, and
setting a "price" for those who support terror. The past few months indicate that this
formula has been relatively successful.
Hamas' reply to Egypt was not surprising. Its leadership sees Israel's disengagement
plan as a threat, and even if it cannot prevent it, Hamas will try to make the IDF
withdraw under fire. The Egyptians are familiar with this position, but want to prove to
the residents of the Gaza Strip that they are doing everything to reduce Israel's military
pressures on them.
Hamas is gaining considerable prestige from its high level meetings with Egyptian
officials. At the end of the last round of talks, Hamas representatives said they would be
willing to have another debate with the Egyptians after the latter receive Fatah's answer
to the cease-fire proposal. They probably know that Arafat is not ready to issue an
explicit instruction for a cease-fire.
Hamas in Hebron is considered one of the hard-core terrorist organizations,
characterized among other things by the extreme secrecy with which it conducts itself. The
intelligence services consider it difficult to crack Hamas cells in Hebron, and when
things are quiet in Hebron for a long time, the Shin Bet gets suspicious, seeing it as the
calm before the storm.
After several Hamas attempts to penetrate towns in the Sharon failed, it chose the
southern, open way, where no fence separates Mount Hebron and the Negev. The fence route
in the south has been decided on, but following the High Court of Justice ruling, the
officials in charge started arguing on whether it should be changed. The planned route is
not on the Green Line, and penetrates quite deeply into Palestinian territory, more than
five kilometers in some places.
Chief Rabbi of Ariel Arrested on Rape Charges
West Bank police Tuesday arrested the chief rabbi of the Ariel settlement, Shalom
Nagar, on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman who sought his advice. Police allege
that Nagar raped the woman and continued to harass her with telephone calls before the
woman reported the matter.
Only after the police received the appropriate clearance for cases involving public
figures did it open an investigation. The rabbi was taken into custody outside his
In a separate case, police Tuesday arrested a 65-year-old Petah Tikva man on suspicion
of repeatedly raping a girl he employed in his store over the period of six years.
The suspect, a local storeowner who first hired the girl when she was 11 years old,
admitted during investigation that he had maintained a relationship with the girl, but
denied charges of inappropriate sexual conduct.
IBM Asks High Swiss Court to Reject Holocaust Lawsuit
Computer giant IBM has asked Switzerland's high court to block a Gypsy rights group's
attempts to sue it for allegedly helping Nazi slaughter in World War Two, lawyers said
Monday. The group accuses IBM of facilitating the mass slaughter of gypsies by selling
Nazi Germany its punch-card Hollerith tabulating machines - the mainframe computer of its
era - knowing it would use them to track and identify victims.
IBM had its European headquarters in Geneva during the war. "We have appealed the case
to the supreme court in Switzerland and we are confident that we will prevail," IBM
spokesman Fred McNeese said. IBM wants the high court to overturn a ruling giving Geneva
courts the green light to hear the case.
If the Gypsies' case goes ahead and is successful, it could eventually cost IBM e12
billion in claims, the plaintiff's lawyer Henri-Philippe Sambuc said. "(But) if the
decision overrules the court of justice in Geneva, the case will be over," Sambuc told
Reuters by telephone.
The five plaintiffs, all of whom lost family members in death camps in the 1939-1945
period when Nazis killed an estimated six million Jews and 600,000 gypsies in Europe, will
claim e20,000 each from IBM. Based on the outcome, Sambuc aims to proceed in Swiss courts
representing a broader gypsy victim group and seek damages of e12 billion.
IBM has refused to discuss the suit in detail. "We are not discussing the charges and
will discuss our case in court," McNeese said. The IBM appeal adds at least three months
to the procedures, launched in 2001 and expected to last at least another five years as
lawyers grapple with numerous complicated aspects of international law, Sambuc said.
In 2001, investigative reporter Irwin Black published a book called "IBM and the
Holocaust" saying IBM let the Nazis use its machinery to carry out ethnic cleansing. At
that time, IBM said it had lost control of its German subsidy Dehomag before the war began
in 1939. Historians have known for decades about the Nazi use of Hollerith tabulators. IBM
has contributed e3 million to a German fund to compensate the victims of World War Two
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)