Newsletter : 5fax0301.txt
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Israel May Not Demolish Settlements after Gaza Withdrawal
By VOA News
Israel may not demolish Jewish settlements after the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip
planned for later this year. The head of Israel's National Security Council, Giora Eiland,
recommended not destroying the homes because it would prolong the pullout, increase the
cost and create a mountain of garbage. Palestinians may want to have the mostly
single-family settler homes demolished to make room for high-rise buildings, as there is a
severe housing shortage in the densely populated Gaza Strip. Israel originally proposed
last year destroying the evacuated homes in all 21 Gaza settlements to prevent Palestinian
militants from living in them.
Large Truck-Bomb Attack Thwarted
A major truck-bomb attack that could have killed hundreds of civilians was thwarted
Monday by the IDF and the General Security Service (GSS), which have been prepared for
such an attack for a few days. According to an IDF announcement, the Islamic Jihad terror
group in Tul Karem was responsible for the intended attack. The statement also reiterated
the claim that followed Friday night's deadly attack in Tel Aviv, that the terror group is
directed from its headquarters in Syria.
Monday afternoon, IDF forces uncovered a commercial vehicle rigged with a large amount
of explosives near the village of Arabeh, near Jenin - an area slated for evacuation and
handover to the PA under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. The rigged
vehicle, which was in the final stages of readiness for the attack, was uncovered with a
long cable protruding from it. The cable was attached to a battery and a video camera,
intended for the documentation of the terrorist attack. IDF sappers detonated the
truck-bomb in a controlled manner.
Israel: Evidence of Syrian Involvement in Tel Aviv Nightclub Bombing
By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel said Monday that it has evidence Syria was involved in the bombing at a Tel Aviv
nightclub on Friday that killed five Israelis and wounded dozens more. It intends to
present the evidence to representatives of the international community. Foreign Minister
Silvan Shalom is to present the evidence to ambassadors of the European Union and all
countries now serving on the U.N. Security Council. Israeli officials said, however, the
evidence would not be made public.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused Syrian-based elements of Islamic Jihad
of being behind the attack. Syria denied the charge, saying the Islamic Jihad office in
Damascus has been closed. Syrian officials also were quoted as saying that Damascus
supports the current Palestinian peace efforts, and that the suicide bombing only hurts
those efforts. Sharon warned the Palestinians must crack down on militants and dismantle
what he termed the terror infrastructure before any progress can be made in getting peace
talks back on track.
On Monday, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official said there could be no shortcuts
in the fight against terrorism. Ron Posdor told Israel Radio the Palestinian Authority
must act, and he said the international community must also do its part to put pressure on
the Palestinians, as well as those countries that give sanctuary or support for terrorist
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday he would not tolerate attacks like the
Friday night bombing, and he reaffirmed his commitment to finding peace. Abbas told
Britain's Independent newspaper it would be irresponsible to let the chance for finding
peace slip away because of the incident. He added that the Palestinians are exerting a
"100 percent effort to end violence."
Tel Aviv Bomber Helped by Israeli Arabs
Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz said Mondat that that the terrorist who carried out the
attack in Tel Aviv Friday night did not arrive in Tel Aviv by bypassing the separation
fence. He said that a preliminary investigation ruled out the possibility that the
terrorist reached Tel Aviv through a gap in the fence's route.
Mofaz made his comments in response to harsh attacks by pro-fence elements, among them
former Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Uzi Dayan, who said that the attack could have been
prevented if the government had built the barrier faster. Despite a gag order on the exact
details of how the terrorist made his way to the crowded Tel Aviv beachfront, it has been
repeatedly reported that the bomber was driven to the site of the attack by an Arab
Israeli driver. Bystanders reported seeing the terrorist dropped off by a group of Arabs
driving a white Subaru with Israeli license plates.
Israeli Arabs travel freely between Judea, Samaria, Gaza and pre-1967 Israel.
Since the beginning of the Oslo War, terror organizations increasingly have taken
advantage of Arab Israelis, with or without their knowledge. The Shin Bet security service
said that from the beginning of the violence until August 2004, 111 Arab Israelis have
been involved in attacks or the planning of attacks.
Settlers Bringing Babies to Evacuation will be Prosecuted
The Justice Ministry on Monday said criminal investigations would be launched against
settlers who use children in order to avoid arrest, and charges would be pressed at any
event in which adults use children and babies to resist evacuation from settlements and
Criminal probes will also be launched against adults who use children of other parents
in order to resists arrest. The new policies were announced in a letter sent by the
assistant to the State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan to the executive director of the National
Council for the Child, Dr. Yitzahk Kedman. The decision was reached during recent
discussions held in the Justice Ministry, in an effort to prevent settlers and right-wing
activists from using children and babies while resisting the evacuation of illegal
The Justice Ministry also fears this tactic could be used by settlers during the
evacuation of settlements under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. Hence,
the State Prosecution has decided to make use of the section "breaching the duty of a
parent or guardian," which appears in the punitive law.
The Jerusalem Magistrates Court in December sentenced three female settlers from Hebron
to jail terms of two to five months for risking the safety of their children during the
evacuation of an illegal outpost near Hebron in March 2003. Judge Yechskiel Barkali, who
also convicted the women of breaching parental responsibility, wrote in his ruling "the
presence of children at demonstrations makes their dispersion more difficult; the
defendants took advantage of this and brought their babies in order to use the police's
sensitivity when encountering babies."
Simhon Warns of Lethal Asbestos if Settler Homes Razed
Environment Minister Shalom Simhon warned Monday that highly carcinogenic asbestos
could pose severe health risks if Israel demolished settlers' homes prior to handing over
evacuated Gaza and West Bank settlements to the Palestinian Authority. He said "We must
fervently hope that the Palestinians agree to us leaving the houses intact," adding that
damage to ground aquifers and to public health could be a consequence.
"We are speaking here of tons of asbestos, which is an extremely carcinogenic
substance," Simhon told Israel Radio. "This is a substance which we cannot recycle, and
which will many, many years to treat, and which is liable to cause real damage to citizens
of Israel." The Palestinian Authority has said it is not interested in the settlers'
villas and prefers to use the evacuated areas for high-density inhabitation. But it asked
that Israel remove rubble from any demolition and not leave behind environmental pollution
resulting from demolition.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres is pressing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to leave the
buildings intact, and is trying to find an international third party to buy the
properties. Simhon has warned of the potential ecological damage from demolition and
Sharon has promised him a new discussion of the issue in the government.
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