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>Israel Faxx
>JN Feb. 15, 2002, Vol. 10, No. 32

Police To Increase Manpower on Purim


Police Chief Shlomo Aharonishki announced Thursday that police would be out in large numbers during the Purim holiday to prevent any planned attacks.

He added that while the department was taking the cautious approach, there were no specific intelligence community warnings regarding terrorist activities on Purim.

The chief called on the public to celebrate the holiday as planned and not to cancel tradition Purim day parties an events.

Powell: Arafat Accepts Responsibility for Smuggling Weapons

By David Gollust (VOA-State Department)

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, in a letter this week, has "accepted responsibility" for last month's failed attempt by Palestinians to smuggle in some 50 tons of Iranian weapons.

The attempt to bring in the arms aboard a small freighter, the Karine-A, has badly strained an already tenuous U.S.-Palestinian relationship.

Powell's remarks were his most detailed thus far about the Arafat letter, which was delivered to the U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem last Sunday and is clearly aimed at repairing ties with Washington.

The secretary, appearing before a congressional subcommittee, said Arafat had reversed previous denials and accepted responsibility, not personal, but as chairman of the Palestinian Authority, for the smuggling affair.

Powell also said there was a commitment that there would be no repeat of the smuggling incident, though he made clear the administration is looking to the Palestinian leader to do more improve the climate for peace-making efforts.

"The evidence," he said, "is so overwhelming that he has to accept responsibility as the chairman of the Palestinian Authority for what happened. And we want him to foreswear any acquisitions like that in the future, and he has said he would on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. We also want to see more done with respect to arrests of known terrorists and killers. And he's working on a list a couple of lists that have been provided to him. And we want to see these people in jails that are real jails, and not just revolving doors where they're back out on the street three days later."

Under questioning, Powell expressed understanding for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's refusal to have a political dialogue with Arafat until he can get "some level of security." However, he also resisted a suggestion by a panel member that the United States cut off aid to the Palestinians as a lever to get an anti-terrorist crackdown.

Powell said, "I don't know that it would change things markedly. It's a tough situation, because if you want him to act responsibly and to arrest people and to hold them in jail, and if you want him to bring security to different places and you want him to have a police force to do that, then you have to fund it. So by not funding it, and if the Europeans stop funding it, and everybody cut off funding, then it would be hard to say to him: now go use your 40,000 man security force to do this, that, or the other."

U.S. economic aid to the Palestinians totals about $130 million a year and is largely channeled through the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.

Israel Withdraws From Recently Occupied Palestinian Areas

By VOA News

The Israeli army said it has withdrawn from most of the Palestinian areas it occupied in the Gaza Strip, after an extensive operation to search and arrest militants who fired rockets into Israel.

Six Palestinians were killed during Israeli raids into the towns of Deir al-Balah, Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun Wednesday. The army says soldiers arrested 18 Palestinians. But Palestinian security officials say 24 people were arrested, most of them relatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad members. Late Wednesday, Israeli forces again briefly entered the town of Deir al-Balah, after mortar shells were fired from the area at a nearby Jewish settlement.

Israel said it would continue such search and arrest operations until it finds Palestinian rocket factories and those who operate them. Israel has accused the militant Hamas group of firing a new kind of rocket - the Qassam-2 - into Israeli farmland in an attack Sunday. The rocket has a range of up to five miles. Hamas said it has the right to acquire whatever weapons it can to combat Israel's superior firepower.

White House: "PA Invites Terrorism"

By IsraeliWire News

While speaking to reporters Tuesday, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer grouped the Palestinian Authority together with other "regimes of terrorism." He included the PA as part of the "axis of evil" that invites and practices terrorism.

"The President has always been very clear in all the statements he's made - whether it was about North Korea, Iran, Iraq, or anywhere - the Palestinian Authority - that it's the people that the United States is concerned with, that they are victims of regimes that invite terrorism and that practice terrorism."

President Bush, during his State of the Union Address two weeks ago, labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea as part of the "axis of evil" for their role in terrorist activity.

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