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Latest Headline Briefs from Israel - July 23, 2001

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Latest Headline Briefs from Israel - July 23, 2001

Israeli police thwarted a major bomb attack in the northern port city of Haifa yesterday, when a Palestinian suicide bomber was arrested before carrying out an attack in a crowded area. Police said the bomber apparently had a change of heart, and led them to a building where he had hidden the explosives. A bomb squad defused the device which police described as "very large." An Israeli court partly lifted a gag order on the arrest yesterday evening, hours after police received intelligence warnings that a bombing was imminent, and set up roadblocks around entrances to the city. Radio reports said police were searching for a second suspect. The fact that the bomber was able to penetrate tight security and enter Israel shows that the police and army have not been able to seal the porous borders between Judea and Samaria and Israel proper. Israeli security forces remain on high alert around the country amid warnings that terrorists are planning more attacks.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faced a hostile audience at the convention of his Likud party last night, where activists criticized his policy of restraint and demanded tougher action against the Palestinians. Protest signs outside the Cinerema building in Tel Aviv where the 2,600-member Likud central committee convened said, "Sharon is a disgrace," and "Until when?" Leading the rebellion was former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who won loud applause as he attacked government policy."What civilized country would agree that its citizens' blood be spilled every day?" said Netanyahu, who has been calling for a decisive military strike against the Palestinian Authority. "Restraint only leads to greater terror and gradually convinces the world that perhaps the Arabs are right; because otherwise we would react strongly to the murderous attacks against us."

In a response interrupted throughout by heckling, Sharon defended his security policy and his decision to form a national unity government with the moderate Labor Party, including its elder statesman Shimon Peres. "There are security and also political concerns," Sharon said. "There is nothing more important than national unity in the struggle for security and peace. Only here [in the Likud] this is not understood." Sharon also taunted the hecklers. "You will scream and I will take care of terrorism," he said. "This is the difference between us. You don't resolve security problems with screams. Security problems are a complicated and difficult thing." Sharon’s moderate policies have won him wide support among the general public, where polls show him far more popular than Netanyahu. But Netanyahu has a growing edge among Likud party members. "There is a feeling among the members that every time we succeed in electing a prime minister from the Likud we get a policy that comes from the ideology of the Labor Party, which is restraint," said Gilad Erdan, head of the Likud's young guard. The face-off between Sharon and Netanyahu was a sign of things to come. Come the next election, Netanyahu will try to take back the leadership of the party and be the Likud’s candidate for prime minister. And it appears that he has a good chance of winning.

Israel is considering a formula that would allow CIA officials to oversee the Mideast cease-fire, after Group of Eight (G-8) leaders meeting this weekend in Italy called for "outside monitors" to help implement the truce. Israeli political sources said Israel had agreed to the deployment of as many as 10 CIA officers to monitor the cease-fire, but still opposed a Palestinian demand for the deployment of international observers or peacekeepers. "We've never been against the CIA bringing a few more monitors for the purpose of its work," Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told Israel Television. "This started long before we talked about an international force." Israel maintains that a significant foreign force in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip would act as a shield for terrorists. It’s not clear if the US would allow the CIA to raise its already prominent role in the conflict, especially after CIA chief George Tenet’s cease-fire plan failed to take hold.

Israel says it has arrested one of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's bodyguards who was directly involved in terrorist attacks. A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said the Shin-Bet internal security service arrested Annis Mahmoud Namourah, an officer in the bodyguard unit that protects Arafat when he visits Ramallah and Bethlehem. "In recent months, Namourah, together with his work as a bodyguard for Arafat, was involved in organizing a Tanzim unit," the statement said. "Tanzim" refers to gunmen in Arafat's Fatah faction, who have led armed attacks against Israel during the 10-month-old Palestinian uprising. The statement said Namourah admitted to being involved in several attacks, including one that killed an Israeli army officer earlier this month in Hebron.

A new poll shows that Palestinians overwhelmingly support continuing the armed struggle against Israel. The poll, conducted jointly by Israel's Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy Research, shows that 92% of Palestinians support armed attacks against Israeli soldiers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Some 58% support armed attacks against civilians in Israel. A solid 70% believed "the armed confrontations so far have achieved Palestinian rights in a way that negotiation could not." Not surprisingly, there is pessimism on both sides: 46% of Palestinians and 41% of Israelis see no prospect of a peace agreement "in the years to come." That compares with 23 percent and 19 percent a year ago, before the intifada erupted. In addition, 59% of Palestinians and 46% of Israelis believe their relations in five to 10 years will be characterized by "conflict and violence." "This pessimism both feeds and is a result of the ongoing violent confrontations between Israel and the Palestinians," the survey said.

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Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Latest Headline Briefs from Israel - July 23, 2001

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Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Latest Headline Briefs from Israel - July 23, 2001