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>Israel News Faxx
>JN Nov. 2, 2005, Vol. 13, No. 186

Israeli Cabinet Approves European Inspectors for Gaza Border

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's Security Cabinet has approved the deployment of European inspectors on the Gaza-Egypt border, a breakthrough in slow moving talks that could help shape the economic future of the impoverished coastal strip. The decision came as Israel continued an offensive against Palestinian terrorists.

The deployment of European inspectors is a key element of an emerging agreement on border security following Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip a month and a half ago. The inspectors would be posted at the Rafah terminal on the Gaza-Egypt border, giving Palestinians an open gateway to the world for the first time since Israel occupied the territory 38 years ago.

But the border is known as a haven for weapons smuggling from Egypt to Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, and hawkish Israeli parliamentarian Yuval Steinitz is worried. "The terrorists are determined to continue smuggling," Steinitz told Israel Radio; "and foreign inspectors may not be as determined to stop them."

But Israel moved ahead with the agreement under U.S. pressure. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israel to open the border, saying freedom of movement for people and goods is a necessary element of future Palestinian statehood.

Cabinet Minister Matan Vilnai of Israel's Labor Party agrees. "If Israel's pullout from Gaza creates the biggest prison in the world, then it was a mistake to leave the area."

Despite progress on the diplomatic front, Israel kept up an offensive against Palestinian militants in Gaza. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a car in the Jebaliya refugee camp, killing two terrorist leaders, one from the Islamic group Hamas and the other from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Both groups promised revenge.

Israel launched the offensive after five Israelis were killed in a suicide bombing last week.

Authorities said Hassan Madhoun, a senior member of al-Aqsa and top Hamas terrorist Fawzi Abu Kara were killed Tuesday, when an Israeli missile hit their car near the Jabaliya refugee camp. The Palestinian Authority said at least nine bystanders were wounded. A short while after the attack, spokesmen for Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades vowed to retaliate.

Israel says the al-Aqsa militant was wanted in connection with a 2004 bombing that killed 10 people in the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Architect of Park Hotel Bombing Planned Cyanide Attack


Abbas Al-Sayed, convicted of planning the bombing of Netanya's Park Hotel that killed 30 Jews in April 2001, on the first night of Passover, also planned mass murder using cyanide.

After the bombing, Al-Sayed's nephew, Tarik Zeidan, a pharmacist, provided his uncle with nearly nine pounds of cyanide that he purchased in Jordan, according to a verdict issued Tuesday by Tel Aviv's District Court.

Al-Sayed planned to use the cyanide to mass murder Jews in various parts of the country. Exposure to only a small quantity of the deadly material in one location could have potentially killed dozens of people.

Al-Sayed, who was arrested by IDF troops during Operation Defensive Shield that followed the Park Hotel bombing, was also convicted of planning the attack on the Sharon mall in Netanya, which killed five people.

In yet another conviction, handed down in October, Al-Sayed was found guilty of from receiving explosives from Hamas terrorists in Syria. According to reports, Al-Sayed was paid thousands of dollars for his terrorist activity against Israel. A number of Hamas terrorists who worked with Al-Sayed have still evaded capture by Israel's security services.

The prosecution intends to ask the court to sentence Al-Sayed, 39, to consecutive life sentences. The three-judge-panel convicted Al-Sayed unanimously.

Red Cross to Accept Magen David Adom


The International Red Cross has agreed to accept Magen David Adom as a member after a long-standing policy of shunting Israel's ambulance and rescue service, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said.

Shalom met with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey and later said a conference in Geneva would be asked to ratify the admission of Israel's Magen David Adom ("Red Star of David") into the International Red Cross. The new standing would allow Magen David to receive financial assistance from the international organization.

The Red Cross explained its long-standing refusal in that it could not recognize the Star of David, part of Magen David's logo. The international rescue body adopted the Red Cross, an inversion of Switzerland's flag, as its official symbol in the 19th century at the Geneva Convention. It prohibited using other symbols after its 1929 acceptance of the Red Crescent used by Arab Red Crescent ambulance services.

Shalom said, "It is necessary to continue to act with determination and not surrender to the extortion of the Arab countries and Palestinian elements that are trying to impose all sorts of demands as a condition for their agreement to the Red Cross move."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "They [the Swiss] have the ability to bring about changes. That will allow Magen David Adom to finally become a full member of the Red Cross." Switzerland almost accepted the Magen David as a member in 2000 but surrendered to Arab opposition after the Oslo War broke out.

Esther Pollard: Prison Website Release Story is a Distortion


The U.S. Federal Prisons website states that Jonathan Pollard could be freed on Nov. 21, 2015 - but Pollard supporters say the story, and the timing of its release, are a distortion and a ploy.

The Ha'aretz "scoop" on the issue Tuesday morning was headlined, "U.S. Judicial Department: Pollard Will Be Freed in 2015." But in fact, even the website on which the story is based states only that this is the "projected" release date.

Pollard's wife Esther said it's not even that. "At best, this is the date on which he can begin the process of asking for a shortening of his sentence," she told Arutz-7. "But really, even that is totally insignificant - because we have not been permitted to see his sentencing file. This means that all the requests for presidential clemency that Jonathan has made - three of them - have been turned down, and we are not even allowed to know why! They merely say, 'Sorry, it's classified information.'"

"By the same token," she said, "this prevents Jonathan from asking for parole or for a shortening of his sentence. Normally, a federal prisoner is permitted to ask for parole every 10 years - but in Jonathan's case, we have been warned that if he does so, he will not only be turned down without explanation, but he will not be permitted to ask for parole for another 15 years afterwards! This will of course enable any president to similarly say that he can't pardon him... and all this without our lawyers even being permitted to see the file against him."

Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst for the Pentagon, was arrested exactly 20 years ago this month for having passed classified information to Israel. He was convicted not of treason, nor of compromising US agents or codes, but of passing classified information to an ally, without intent to harm the United States. The median sentence for this offense is 2-4 years; only Pollard has ever received a life sentence - and this, despite the plea bargain agreement he reached with the prosecution. He was not a mercenary, as the FBI concluded after nine months of polygraph tests, and the sentencing judge, who declined to fine him, recognized his ideological motivation.

The information on the projected release date appears on the above website in a one-line description of his status. The entry also includes the prisoner's name, prison number, race, sex and prison location (Butner, North Carolina).

Ha'aretz reporter Amir Oren surmised in his report that "the willingness of the American Judicial Department to recognize a possible date for Pollard's release, even if it is 10 years away, could help the Israeli efforts to bring about a shortening of his sentence by additional years."

Esther Pollard strongly disagreed. "If anything," she said Tuesday, "it is likely to cause Israeli judges to feel that Pollard is already on his way out, and that there is therefore no reason to feel pressured. Keep in mind that Jonathan has a case pending in the [Israeli] Supreme Court, in which he is demanding to be recognized as a Prisoner of Zion. The timing of this breaking of this news is suspicious in that it looks like an effort to make it seem that there's no great rush to work for Pollard's release."

The Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard also responded negatively to the report of Pollard's projected release date: "There is nothing new in that report. Two and three years ago, as well, the website had the same information. It has always been known that he could then submit a request for a shortening of his sentence - but there is not even a guarantee that they will agree to hear the request."

Regarding Israel's official stance on Pollard vis-à-vis the Americans, Adi Ginzburg of the Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard said, "Reports of Prime Minister Sharon raising the matter to President Bush are designed only for Israeli public opinion. He acts only according to what will help him politically and what will keep his government in power for more time. How is it possible that there is not even one government minister who demands that while Sharon releases terrorists, he should also secure Pollard's release? It is this atmosphere that allows him to just ignore Pollard."

Kibbutz Sells Prime Kinneret Resort Property

By Ha'aretz

Publicly traded Golan Fine Crafts last week agreed to pay Kibbutz Ha'on NIS 23 million for ownership of the Lake Kinneret beachfront resort Ha'on Holiday Village. The kibbutz explained that the agreement is not a sale but an agreement on price, should a sale take place. The parties must sign a sale agreement within 30 days.

Should the deal close, the kibbutz will hand over the 63-dunam (about 16-acre) resort village to Golan, controlled by diamond merchant Oded Desau. The village has 96 units and a 400-meter stretch of beach. Golan plans to construct and additional 100 vacation units at the site.

The deal must be approved by the kibbutz membership, Israel Lands Administration and the kibbutz's creditors. Ha'on has an estimated NIS 50 million in debt, about NIS 25 million is owed to the Jordan Valley Purchasing Corp. The kibbutz also owes NIS 7.5 million to banks, as well as various other creditors.

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