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Israelis Pay Highest Taxes of Any Developed Country

By Ma'ariv

After a three year long recession, the Israeli economy is one of the least productive of the world's advanced first world economies, with a per capita GDP equaling just over half (55%) registered by the US, and 69% of the OECD (organization of economically advanced industrial states) average. Israelis may be inefficient producers, but they pay the highest taxes of any developed country. The per capita tax burden is nearly $1,000 higher than in any other OECD member, equaling 38.5% of the GDP, compared to the 32.8% OECD average.

Egypt Arrests Five Over Sinai Bombings


Egypt announced it had arrested five of the nine men who bombed Red Sea resorts almost three weeks ago, saying the attackers used stolen cars packed with old war-time explosives and a washing-machine timer. Egyptian sources claimed that the mastermind was a Palestinian originally from Gaza who died with his accomplice in the Taba Hotel blast. There was no mention of al-Qaeda involvement in the reports.

The interior ministry said the attacks -- allegedly carried out by a gang including Bedouin tribesmen, a stolen car dealer and a welder -- were in retaliation for a massive Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip that killed 130 Palestinians in the space of less than three weeks. At least 32 people were killed when car bombs exploded at the Taba Hilton hotel just across the border from Israel and two other tourist resorts along the Red Sea coast on October 7.

They were the deadliest attacks on Egyptian soil since a massacre in the southern Nile resort of Luxor in 1997 left 58 foreign tourists dead, and occurred as thousands of Israelis were in the Sinai for a Jewish holiday. Many of the victims were Israelis. The state prosecutor's office said later Monday that the perpetrators of the attacks would be charged with premeditated murder, terrorism charges and illegal possession of weapons. A date for their trial was not announced.

The interior ministry said two bombers had been killed while carrying out the attacks, naming them as Iyad Said Saleh, a Palestinian aged about 30, and Bedouin tribesman Suleiman Ahmed Saleh, while another two were still at large. The ministry said the two dead men were not planning to blow themselves up but were killed when the bomb they were transporting went off prematurely due to a timer failure.

Iyad Said Saleh, who worked as a minibus driver in the northern Sinai, "acted in retaliation on Israeli tourists for the deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories," the ministry said. The Palestinian bomber and his accomplices stole three cars and stuffed them with explosives left over from successive Arab-Israeli wars between 1956 and 1973, the ministry said. They devised a simple mechanism, operated by a washing machine timer to set off the bombs.

Egyptian authorities identified the Palestinian through DNA tests on bits of flesh on the wreckage of the car that rammed into the Taba hotel. Iyad Said Saleh already had a criminal record and had been accused of raping a woman. He was thought to have recently embraced Islamic fundamentalism. His sister, who was questioned by investigators last week, said he had left the house with all his belongings a day before the bombings, without giving an explanation.

The attacks have been claimed by four organizations so far, two claiming links with Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, and two previously unknown groups who cited the Israeli onslaught on Gaza as a motivation. They came on the 10th day of Israel's Days of Penitence offensive in the northern Gaza Strip, the deadliest raid since the start of the intifada four years ago.

Suleiman Ahmed Saleh, who died with the Palestinian, as well as two suspects who are still on the run -- his brother Mohammed Ahmed Saleh and Hammad Gomaa Gamaan -- are Bedouin tribesmen who had all been involved in criminal activities, the ministry said. Investigators had enlisted the help of Bedouin trackers to hunt down the suspects.

The five who were arrested are all Egyptians, the ministry said. One was named as Hamdan Salama Salem, who owns a holiday resort on the coast and provided his accomplices with information on the two resorts near Nuweiba that were hit the same day as the Taba Hilton. The ministry also named Mohammed Ahmed al-Seweirki, a stolen car dealer, and Ihab Mahmud Eid, an electrician who prepared one of the booby-trapped cars. The other two were identified as Mohamed Sabah Hussein, employed by the national water company, and Mohammed Abdallah Rubaa, a welder who inserted the explosive devices inside three vehicles.

Another Mosque Planned for Temple Mount

By & Ha'aretz

Four mosque towers on the Temple Mount are not enough for the Moslems, and they plan to build a fifth one within a year. So announced in Amman the "Committee to Restore the Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock," an official Jordanian body acting under the auspices of the Hashemite Kingdom and with Israel's approval.

Rumors that a fifth mosque would be constructed have been afloat for several weeks, and the announcement in Amman confirmed them. Jewish Temple loyalists have said that they will "bodily prevent" such a development.

Israeli Troops Kill 14 Palestinians, Sharon Asks for Gaza Plan Approval

By VOA News

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has formally asked parliament to approve his Gaza withdrawal plan, saying it will strengthen Israel and will move the Jewish state forward "on the road to peace." Sharon opened two days of stormy parliamentary debate Monday that is set to culminate with a vote late Tuesday. Under the plan, all Israeli settlers would be withdrawn from Gaza and four small West Bank outposts by 2006.

Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet approved a bill to compensate Jewish settlers who would be relocated. Penalties are to be assessed against any settlers who resist evacuation. Hours before Sharon's address, Israeli tanks, armored bulldozers and troops raided a Gaza refugee camp at Khan Younis, killing at least 14 Palestinians and wounding more than 70 others. Israel said mortar fire on a nearby Israeli settlement provoked the latest army assault.

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