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Negev and Other Areas to be Endangered


IDF Home Front Commander Col. Uzi Buchbinder told the Knesset's Environment Committee that the implementation of the Gaza disengagement/transfer plan will place 46 western Negev communities within range of Kassam rockets fired from northern Gaza. Other major Israeli population centers, including Afula, Hadera, and Ashkelon - the latter two of which host major Israel Electric Company power stations - will also come within range of Palestinian terrorists, if the pullout from Gush Katif and northern Shomron is carried out. The army has been working on a defensive plan, Buchbinder explained, to address the shelling threat as well as the significantly increased threat of terrorist infiltration. The plan includes the installation of an early warning system and safety glass on school windows

Palestinian Militants Attack Israeli Forces in Gaza

By Benjamin Sand (VOA-Jerusalem) & Meredith Buel (VOA-Washington)

Palestinian terrorists carried out a deadly attack in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, Wednesday morning, killing at least one civilian and wounding three soldiers. At least one of the terrorists was reported killed in the ensuing gun battle.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the attack near the Jewish settlement, Morag, in the southern Gaza Strip. She said terrorists detonated a bomb near an army jeep and opened fire on its occupants. The Palestinian group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, but one of the group's spokesmen claimed the gunmen killed everyone inside the vehicle.

Wednesday morning's attack came just a few days after Palestinians overwhelmingly elected Mahmoud Abbas as their new president. Abbas campaigned for an end to violence and a resumption of peace talks with Israel. The new president made no immediate comment on the attack, which highlights the challenges he faces as he tries to improve ties with Israel and reign-in Palestinian terrorists.

Abbas' election as the new Palestinian president has raised hopes that the long-stalled peace process with Israel may soon be revived. While continuing violence has repeatedly derailed the process in the past, some analysts are expressing optimism that there is now a new opportunity to end the bloodshed and improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.

Shortly after his landslide victory to replace the late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, Abbas received congratulations from President Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Abbas has been invited to the White House to meet with Bush, and talks are expected soon between the newly elected Palestinian president and Sharon.

Bush said he expects positive actions from the Israeli government in response to the Palestinian elections. "I think it is going to be very important for Israel to fulfill its obligation on the withdrawal from the territories that they have pledged to withdraw from. It is essential that Israel keep a vision of two states living side by side in peace. As the Palestinians begin to develop institutions of a state, that the Israeli government support the development of those institutions."

Bush, who supports the creation of a Palestinian state, said the new leadership must position itself to battle militants who want to obliterate Israel. "Israel can play, and must play, an important part of the development of a Palestinian state. At the same time, it is essential that the Palestinian leadership consolidate security forces so that they can fight off those few who still have the desire to destroy Israel as a part of their philosophy, and those few who fear a free vote amongst the Palestinian people."

Former U.S. Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross pointed out that in addition to a new Palestinian president, the Israeli parliament has approved a new unity government expected to help Sharon move forward on his plan to withdraw Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and small parts of the West Bank later this year.

Ross said he expects a new approach from the Bush administration. "Interestingly enough here, we are also in transition. We are going to have a second term of the Bush administration. But I think on this issue it is not necessarily going to look like the first term. I think you are going to have a much more energetic State Department, I think there is a perception that with Arafat gone, with a national unity government in Israel, you have a real opening and a possibility to do something. So we are going to see a transition or we are in the midst of a transition almost everyplace."

Ross said the main job of the U.S. is to help facilitate a meaningful, sustained dialog between both sides, something that has not happened since the current Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation began in September 2000. He said Abbas will also need the support of Arab leaders in the Middle East to create what he calls an "umbrella of legitimacy" that will allow the new Palestinian president to make compromises with the Israelis.

Israeli Invention Detects TATP Explosives


Researchers from Israel's Technion in Haifa have developed a device to detect the kind of improvised explosives increasingly used by Arab terror groups. The new detector, named the Peroxide Explosive Tester (PET), looks like a three-color ballpoint pen. The device releases three chemical mixtures that change color upon interaction with the suspected explosive materials.

A relatively new difficult-to-detect explosive material called triacetone-triperoxide (TATP), commonly known as acetone peroxide, is one of a group of explosives based on the unstable peroxide group of compounds. It is increasingly being utilized by terror groups, who used it in the Dolphinarium Disco massacre, several bomb attacks in downtown Jerusalem, and the failed attempt to down a passenger plane by Arab shoe-bomber Richard Reid.

One of the most alarming attributes of TATP is that it cannot be detected by bomb-sniffing dogs, making it easier to smuggle into airports and onto airplanes. It is also very easy to synthesize in clandestine labs, using readily available chemicals. "To our great surprise," PET's inventor, Prof. Ehud Keinan, Dean of the Technion's Faculty of Chemistry, wrote in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, "we discovered that TATP is very different from all other conventional explosives in that it does not release heat during the explosion. It explodes by rapid decomposition of every solid-state molecule to four gas-phase molecules. This rare phenomenon, scientifically known as 'Entropic Explosion', is reminiscent of the rapid reaction that produces gas in the safety air-bags of cars during accidents."

Swiss to Publish More Names of Holocaust Accounts

By Reuters

Swiss banks have agreed to publish an additional 3,100 names of bank account holders who were probably Holocaust victims, allowing survivors and heirs of Nazi victims a chance to recover money inaccessible for more than 50 years, lawyers for survivors said . The list will be unveiled at a press conference on Thursday in Brooklyn.

The list is in addition to the publication in 2001 of 21,000 names of Swiss account holders who were considered likely Nazi victims. More than 2,800 awards worth about $240 million have already been made to those showing that they or their relatives had Swiss bank deposits from 1933 to 1945 that were not repaid. .

Le Pen: Nazi Occupation of France Was 'Not Especially Inhumane'

By BBC News

French authorities have ordered a criminal investigation into alleged comments by far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen about the Nazi wartime occupation. He reportedly said the Nazi occupation of France during World War II was "not especially inhumane".

The 76-year-old National Front leader has a history of being controversial. He apparently made his latest comments during an interview with the small extreme-right paper Rivarol. "In France at least, the German occupation was not especially inhumane, even if there were a number of excesses - inevitable in a country of 550,000 sq km (220,000 sq miles).

"If the Germans had carried out mass executions across the country as the received wisdom would have it, then there wouldn't have been any need for concentration camps for political deportees." He went on: "It's not just from the European Union and globalization that we need to deliver our country, but also from the lies about its history."

Le Pen, who founded the National Front (FN) party in 1972, has been convicted of racism or anti-Semitism on a number of occasions before. In 1987 he described the Nazi gas chambers as a "detail of history." More than 70,000 French Jews were deported during the Nazi occupation from 1940 until 1944. Thousands of civilians also died at the hands of the German army.

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