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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 4, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 61

Captives to be Remembered on Pesach

By Israel Faxx

Jewish Agency and Histadrut leaders issued a public call to Jews to leave a special place at their Seder tables for the Israeli MIAs being held captive in Lebanon. They plan to distribute a specially-written prayer for the welfare and speedy release of the soldiers; Jewish people are asked to incorporate the short supplication into this year's recital of the Haggadah.

Israelis, Palestinians to Meet on Security Issues

By VOA News

Violence in the Middle East escalated on Tuesday, but Israelis and Palestinians said they are planning a security meeting. That meeting could take place as early as Tuesday, with a U.S. representative participating. Similar meetings in recent weeks failed to stop the violence from escalating.

Tuesday, Israeli helicopter gunships pounded Palestinian security targets throughout the Gaza Strip, injuring up to 60 people. Israel says it struck bases linked to terrorist activity. Targets that were hit included a compound for Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's security guard and a base for Palestinian naval police.

Earlier Tuesday, a Palestinian mortar attack on a Jewish settlement in southern Gaza seriously injured a baby.

A spokesman for the Israeli army called the mortar assault barbaric, and said that all targets hit by the helicopters were involved in terrorist activities against Israel. The gunships blasted buildings in Gaza City and in southern Gaza near Rafah and Khan Yunis.

The mortar attack had been directed at the Atzmona settlement. About 6,500 Israelis live in small, heavily guarded settlements in Gaza, surrounded by more than 1 million Palestinians.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Israel had no choice but to act to protect its citizens. A Palestinian aide to Arafat renewed a call for the establishment of an international force to protect Palestinians. The mortar attack came from the Rafah area, where a Palestinian militant was killed Monday by Israeli helicopters.

After the latest helicopter attacks, Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi said the Israelis have escalated the conflict "beyond insanity."

A top Palestinian security official, Mohammed Dahlan, charged Sharon's government with carrying out a military offensive to undermine the Palestinian leadership. He said Palestinian security forces have been targeted because they represent the Palestinian Authority, even if they are not taking part in the clashes. Nearly 460 people, mostly Palestinians, have been killed since the conflict began last September.

PLO Report Blames Baby Shalhevet's Mother for Death

By Arutz-7 News

A "Voice of Palestine" radio report broadcast on Monday said 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass was not killed by a Palestinian sniper but by her mother.

The Israeli news agency IMRA released the actual text of the report in question: "On the matter of the baby settler who was killed in Hebron a few days ago, we already said that her death was a fishy action and there is information according to which this baby was retarded and it was her mother who killed her in order to get rid of her."

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Gideon Meir said the statement is "a genuine indicator of just how low the PA is willing to sink to win over world opinion."

He said that the Foreign Ministry continues to carefully monitor PA media reports to document the ongoing propaganda campaign being waged by Arafat and PA officials.

Education Minister Limor Livnat, during a Voice of Israel interview Tuesday, said the radio report was "just another example of ongoing incitement and anti-Semitism that has become an integral part of the PA media war against Israel."

Israel Frees Three Palestinian Guards

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has released three members of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's Force 17 security unit seized during an undercover operation in the West Bank.

A statement from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said three members of Force 17, who were among six people abducted by army commandos in the West Bank, have been released. The statement says after an investigation, it became apparent the three are not involved in terrorist activity and were therefore freed.

The Israeli undercover unit seized members of Arafat's elite guard before dawn Sunday in a Palestinian-controlled area near Ramallah in the West Bank.

Israel launched attacks against Palestinian targets Palestinians say the move violated peace accords signed by both sides, and called it an escalation of the conflict.

Israel justified the operation, saying it was in response to a recent wave of terror attacks inside the Jewish state. Israel accuses Force 17 members of being involved in attacks against Israelis. Israeli helicopters launched missile attacks against Force 17 targets in Ramallah and Gaza last week after a wave of Palestinian bomb attacks.

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