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Head of Zim-Asia Will Apologize to Japanese


The head of the board of Zim-Asia, Edan Ofer, will pay a visit to Japan's embassy in Israel to formerly apologized for an accident last week off the coast of Japan in which a ship owned by Zim crashed into a Japanese fishing boat and overturned it. Seven Japanese fishermen were killed in the accident.

Jewish and Muslim Holidays Coincide in Holy Land

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem) &

The ram's horn was blown, as Israelis gathered in synagogues to observe Rosh Hashanah. A lull in five years of fighting with the Palestinians has Israelis feeling more optimistic as they begin the New Year. Jerusalem resident Benjamin Katz told VOA that it is time to stop the killing. "And the feeling is that we want to end this whole business, I want them to live in peace, us to live in peace."

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians were called to prayer. The Muslim faithful fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month, Ramadan. Palestinian shopkeeper Yasmin Husseini hopes the eight-month cease-fire will hold. "All the Palestinian people want peace, want peace 100 percent," said Yasmin Husseini.

But in the past, Islamic terrorists have stepped up suicide attacks during Ramadan, and Israeli security forces are high on alert. The army has sealed off the West Bank and Gaza, barring Palestinians from entering the country. Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld says the security is both obvious and hidden. "We, in fact, have a lot more police on the streets," he said. "There are a lot more police that you'll be able to see and that you won't be able so see."

Israel has also warned its citizens not to travel to Egypt's Red Sea coast in the Sinai Peninsula over the Jewish holidays, because of a terror threat. Cabinet Minister Yitzhak Herzog says Israelis could be kidnapped. "Israel is bothered by various information that speaks specifically about al-Qaeda activities or other terrorist cells that operate in Sinai."

Despite the threats, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is upbeat. In a Rosh Hashanah interview, Sharon said he hopes there will be "great progress" toward peace in the coming year.

And the Sufa crossing point into southern Gaza opened for business Tuesday as IDF troops transferred tons of food to the Palestinian Authority for distribution among the Arabs of Gaza. Twenty trucks carrying milk, beef, fruits, entered the Gaza district, after the food transfer was coordinated between the PA and an IDF unit responsible for coordinating government activities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. The head of that unit, Col. Nir Press, said that the food transfer was approved as "an exception" to Israeli policy, by Gen. Dan Harel, head of the Southern Command of the IDF.

Since the August pullout from Gaza, crossing points from Israel into the Gaza district have been closed, because Israel and the PA have failed to reach agreement on how to operate them. Tuesday's food transfer was made pursuant to a PA request prior to the Islamic holiday of Ramadan.

Iran Warns Israel: Don't Attack Us


The Speaker of the Iranian parliament told the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, that 'Our goal is to establish trust with world and express our true intentions to utilize our nuclear energy to achieve peace; we in Iran will never yield to the arrogance of our enemies'

Ghulam Ali Haddad-Adel warned Israel against "folly that would lead it to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities," the newspaper reported. "If Israel realizes its threats and strikes our nuclear facilities, as happened in Iraq in 1981, we'll teach her a lesson she will never forget," the official warned following his recent meeting with Syrian president Bashar Assad in Damascus.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran is willing to provide other Islamic nations with nuclear technology. Iran has said it is determined to pursue its nuclear program to process uranium and produce energy, despite European attempts to limit it

Haddad-Adel added, "Our goal is to establish trust with the world and express our true intentions to utilize our nuclear energy to achieve peace. In the past two years more than 1,200 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors have visited Iran, but they did not find any proof indicating that we are planning to direct our nuclear plan toward producing military weapons." According to Haddad-Adel, should the Iranian nuclear program be referred to the U.N. Security Council, in accordance with the recent IAEA decision, "we will regard this as certain pressure that is being applied on us. We in Iran will never yield to the arrogance of our enemies."

Meanwhile, Iranian sources told al-Hayat that during his recent meeting with the Iranian parliament speaker, Syrian President Assad said the U.S.'s "plot" to isolate Syria and Iran has failed as "no one will be able to come between Tehran and Damascus." As to Iran's nuclear program, an Iranian source said, "Assad supported Iran's right to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes and denounced the U.S.'s attempt to prevent Iran from upholding this right when it permits Israel to posses weapons of mass destruction."

Moderate Earthquake Hits Israel


An earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale was felt Monday morning throughout the country. According to police officials, no injuries or significant damage was reported. The seismological department at the Geophysical Institute said the quake's epicenter was 18 miles north of the Dead Sea in the Jordan Rift Valley. The tremors were felt at about 7:05 a.m.

Afula resident Esti Shadmi, 45, said she was in her house at the time of the quake. "The chair and table moved. It was a familiar feeling, but lighter than the earthquake felt about one-and-a-half years ago," she said. "I live on the seventh floor, but am not worried."

Rishon Lezion resident Moti Toaf, 42, told Ynet about his experience. "I was sitting on the balcony working on the computer. Suddenly I felt everything move," he said. "Then I felt the tremor. I said to myself, 'what is happening here?' And another tremor occurred. It lasted no more than 10 seconds."

Dr. Yoav Serna, chairman of the Israeli Engineering Association believes that the quake was a wonderful thing. "I personally did not feel the quake, but it is wonderful it happened, for two reasons. The first reason has to do with engineering. Every earthquake releases energy, and if minor quakes occur frequently, the probability for a major quake decreases, and if there is no damage to structures - we benefit," Serna said. "The energy which has accumulated in the earth's core is released this way, and the greater the seismic activity - more energy is released.

"The second reason is political," Serna continued. "The minor tremor today constitutes a reminder for politicians and the public as a whole that a major earthquake in the future is certain. Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in a hundred years. No one can tell for sure when, but a major earthquake will definitely occur, and it will cause damage to property, financial damages and maybe even claim lives. The last earthquake in Israel happened in 1927, and destructed Jericho and Safed. Back then not many buildings collapsed, so few people were wounded or killed. But today there are significantly more buildings, which are unprepared for such an event, and so the damage is likely to be much greater."

According to Serna, Israel is simply unprepared for a major quake. "There are several overall plans, but nothing has been actually done. Only the buildings that were constructed after 1995 are prepared for earthquakes, the rest will not endure. The State must invest in reinforcing hospitals and public buildings that are necessary in emergencies," Serna concluded.

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