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>JN Aug. 3, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 133

Israeli Driver Foils Bus Bombing

By VOA News

An Israeli bus driver has foiled a bombing attempt in Israel, as Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat called for an end to all Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Thursday's bombing attempt in northern Israel was thwarted when a bus driver ordered a Palestinian youth carrying a black bag to get off the bus. The youth was detained and a large bomb was found in the bag.

Israeli police said it could have caused a bloodbath. Police also said the youth tried to detonate the bomb when he was confronted. A bomb squad later destroyed the device in a controlled explosion.

Israeli police said the teenager told interrogators he was given the bag by another man waiting near the bus stop near the Jordan Valley town of Bet She'an.

During the search for the man, Israeli troops briefly detained a Palestinian activist of the Fatah movement in the West Bank. Troops released him when they found he was not the man being sought.


Four Palestinians Sentenced to Death for Helping Israel

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

The Palestinian Authority has sentenced four Palestinians to death since Tuesday after convicting them of collaborating with Israel. The action is aimed at deterring informers from helping Israel assassinate Palestinian activists suspected of planning attacks against Jews.

A Palestinian security court in the West Bank city of Nablus sentenced a Palestinian man to death by firing squad for collaborating with Israel in its killing of a senior activist from the militant Islamic group Hamas.

Ahmad Abu-Ayshah was found guilty of treason for helping Israeli intelligence agents kill Salah Darwaza, whose car was hit by tank shells last week in the West Bank.

Ayshah, who allegedly received about $45 from Israel each time he passed on information, begged forgiveness from his accusers. But Palestinians in the packed courtroom demanded the execution of Ayshah, a father of nine children. He is the fourth Palestinian to be sentenced to death this week for collaborating with Israel.

Israel's policy of assassinating militant Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Islamic leaders has sparked an intense search within Palestinian society for local informers, who may have helped Israel carry out targeted killings.

In a strong warning to other suspected collaborators, three Palestinian men were sentenced to death by firing squad for their part in the earlier assassination of Thabet in Tulkarem, also in the West Bank. A fourth man was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

Thabet, was a senior member of Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO. Arafat must still ratify the death sentences and although he has approved capital punishment in the past, he has blocked some executions in the face of international criticism.

For such operations as the one in Nablus, Israel has often relied on Palestinian informers, who pass on sensitive information concerning the movements of activists targeted for assassination.


Pope: 'Unprecedented Violence' in Middle East

By Greg Lamotte (VOA-Cairo)

Pope John Paul says the Middle East has reached a point of "unheard of" violence. The pontiff expressed his concern after a meeting Thursday outside Rome with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.

The unprecedented violence between Israel and the Palestinians must end and both sides must return to the negotiating table. Those were the comments of Pope John Paul following his meeting with Arafat.

Italy is the latest stop in Arafat's campaign to gain support for his proposal to have international monitors sent to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Arafat was given a 25-minute private audience at the pope's summer residence southeast of Rome.

Afterward, a statement issued at the Vatican said the pope expressed his concern and anguish over what he called the "unprecedented violence between Israel and the Palestinians" and the growing numbers of victims. There was, however, no mention of papal support for international monitors in the Palestinian territories, something Israel opposes.


Inner City Railway for Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

By IsraelNationalNews.com

If you're sick of traffic jams in Tel Aviv, there is yet hope for commuters in Israel's financial capital. The Regional Planning and Building Board approved the metropolitan Tel Aviv light railway plan.

The route's 32 planned stops will extend from Bat Yam, a suburb south of Tel Aviv, northbound to Ramat Gan and Bnei Brak, then eastward to the terminus in Petah Tikva.

The light railway is slated to be run by electricity, meaning a quiet ride and no pollution. Each train will carry up to 700 passengers and run at three to six minute intervals. The project is scheduled to be completed in eight to 10 years.

A similar project in Jerusalem is only five years away. The first line will be 8.5 miles long, and its 24 stops will extend from Pisgat Ze'ev in the north to Mount Herzl, through the city center.


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