Newsletter : 5fax0303.txt
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Iran Threatens "entire Zionist territory" with Retaliation
Yahya Rahim Safavi, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, promised Israel and the
US "bone-breaking blows" in retaliation for any attack on Iran. Safavi told the Persian
newspaper Ya Lessarat that the State of Israel and over 190,000 American troops stationed
in Iraq and Afghanistan would be the most obvious targets of retaliation. If "the Zionist
regime had a satanic thought and attacked Iran," Safavi said, "we would not leave one
point safe in the entire Zionist territory."
Report: Police Thwart Terror Attack in Jerusalem
Police thwarted a terror attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Channel Two reported after
police called off a security alert in the capital. The police had set up roadblocks and
conducted searches for several hours in northern Jerusalem and surrounding villages, after
receiving information that a Palestinian intended to enter the city and carry out a terror
Security forces said after the alert was called off Wednesday evening that they had
arrested a Fatah activist at the Jat junction in the West Bank, near Nablus, on suspicion
that he was planning to carry out a terror attack, Israel Radio reported. It was not
immediately clear whether the arrest was connected to the Jerusalem alert.
Early Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces troops discovered a large explosives workshop
near the West Bank city of Jenin. The bomb lab, which was run by Hamas, was hidden beneath
a welder's shop in the village of Al-Yamun. IDF troops found a large supply of material
used to make explosives, a Kassam rocket ready for use and three other rockets. The Hamas
activists had apparently planned to fire the rockets at Israeli communities along the
Abbas Sees New Era of Peace in Mideast
By Roger Wilkison (VOA-Brussels)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that a new era of peace
and hope has been born in the Middle East and that it will lead to the creation of a
The European Union, which has over the years spent more than any other donor to build
up Palestinian infrastructure and institutions, has pledged another $325 million in
funding this year for the Palestinian Authority. Some of that money will go to rebuilding
schools, bridges, roads and other infrastructure that, in past years, have been targeted
by Israel as part of its strategy of retaliation for Palestinian terrorist attacks.
Asked by reporters whether the EU funds would be wasted if Israel destroys the projects
the money is financing, Abbas said the situation has now changed in the Middle East that
there is a new era of peace and hope in the region, and he hoped that the projects in
question would be maintained and not destroyed. And, Abbas added, it is time to be
optimistic about the future.
Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, who heads the European Commission, the EU's executive body,
said that there is now a good opportunity for peace in the region and it is important to
put an end to violence there. But he acknowledged that the EU has been irked by Israeli
attacks on EU-funded Palestinian infrastructure and has so informed the Israelis and their
"We are, of course, very disappointed, to put it mildly, to see that some concrete
support that we have been giving with taxpayers' money to help the Palestinian people is
destroyed," he said. "So it's important to put an end to violence, be it violence coming
from Israel or violence coming from the terrorist movements."
Mr. Barroso said he believes Abbas is seriously trying to convince Palestinian groups
to renounce violence and end terrorist attacks. He added that the EU stands fully behind
the Palestinian leader and his efforts to undertake democratic reforms and make peace with
the Jewish state.
Earlier, Abbas told EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana that he wants an independent
Palestinian state as soon as possible. Solana responded "the sooner, the better," saying
it now depends on Israelis and Palestinians to agree on a new date for the creation of a
Israeli Analysts Ponder Possible Syrian Withdrawal from Lebanon
By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel is watching closely, as international pressure mounts on Syria to pull its
troops out of Lebanon. Israeli officials have long complained about what they see as the
Syrian threat. They accuse Damascus of harboring and supporting Palestinian terrorist
groups; of trying to amass weapons of mass destruction; and of supporting attacks against
Israel by Hezbollah terrorists in southern Lebanon. Israel has repeatedly pushed for
international action against Syria. It is no wonder that it is now pleased to see others
turning up the pressure.
Mass demonstrations in Beirut since the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister
Rafik Hariri turned into massive anti-Syrian protests and clearly took the Syrian
leadership by surprise. The United States and France have jointly called on Syria to
implement the United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at ending foreign
interference in Lebanon.
Israeli U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman told Israel Radio, even tougher action is needed.
"Syria needs to be dealt with in a much more forceful way and sanctions are just one of
them." The United States has also accused Damascus of assisting anti-American insurgents
in Iraq. And, both Washington and Israel have said Syrian-based militants from Islamic
Jihad were behind last week's suicide attack in Tel Aviv that killed five people and
injured dozens more.
Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres told Israel Radio it is time for Syria to decide
which path it wants to follow - to continue supporting terrorism or join in the fight
against it. He said it is time for the international community to put more pressure on the
Some Israeli analysts see a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon as inevitable. Prof. Asher
Susser, director of Tel Aviv University's Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African
Studies, told Israel Radio, such a withdrawal would have a definite impact on Hezbollah.
"Hezbollah will pay the price because they will become the next target when the Syrian[s]
leaves. It's not to say their role is finished. After all, they are a Lebanese party with
many supporters. But, clearly, the room for maneuvering that they had before that allowed
them to operate against Israel will be very narrow."
Arab Citizen Convicted of Driving Terrorists to Attack
An Arab citizen of Israel who drove two suicide-bombers to the scene of a deadly terror
attack in 2003 was sentenced to 42 years in prison Wednesday. Sixty-year-old Muafak Airuk
used his Israeli citizenship papers to transport two terrorists undetected from the
Israeli Arab town of Umm el-Fahm to the site of the January 2003 attack on Tel Aviv's
Central Bus Station. Twenty-three people were murdered in the deadly attack.
The terrorists paid Airuk $100 to drive them and informed him of what they intended to
do upon arrival at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. Airuk drove them nonetheless. "He
knew very well he was driving terrorists about to blow themselves up," the verdict
Despite the fact that Airuk agreed to drive the terrorists even after they told him of
their intentions, the court concluded that his action stemmed from financial and not
ideological reasons. "The defendant was willing to endanger the lives of both Jewish and
Arab citizens because of greed," the judges ruled. The court also responded to the terror
accomplice's displays of remorse in the courtroom. "In our opinion, the defendant is
crying over his own fate and not over the tragedy of the victims and their families," they
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