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>Israel Faxx
>JN Feb. 20, 2002, Vol. 10, No. 35

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Six More Israelis Die

By VOA News

At least six Israelis have been shot dead in a Palestinian ambush, the latest fatalities in a wave of violence that has claimed at least 22 lives since Monday.

Israeli radio reported that Palestinian gunmen got into a West Bank building and opened fire on an Israeli military checkpoint near Ramallah. The attack occurred in an area of the West Bank still occupied by Israel.

Earlier Tuesday, a Palestinian suicide bomber tried to force himself onto an Israeli bus in the West Bank that was packed with at least 50 passengers. He was pushed back by the driver and the bomb exploded, killing only the attacker.

Israel also launched more air strikes to retaliate for earlier Palestinian attacks in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. An Israeli helicopter gunship killed two members of the Islamic militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip refugee camp of Jabalya, and wounded about six students at a nearby school. Hamas has vowed revenge.

Palestinian officials said Israeli shelling of Khan Yunis in Gaza killed three Palestinians. Israeli troops killed four other Palestinians during armed encounters in Gaza and at a West Bank refugee camp, Balata. Twelve Palestinians and at least 10 Israelis have died in this latest surge of violence.

Retired Israeli Generals Call for Unilateral Pullout

By VOA News

A group of retired Israeli generals are campaigning for a unilateral withdrawal from most of the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Council for Peace and Security is made up of more than 1,000 retired Israeli security officials. Its proposal includes the dismantling of about 40 Jewish settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state. The group says troops used to the defend the settlements should instead be placed on the frontier of Israel and the West Bank.

The idea, which is being championed by former prime minster Ehud Barak, calls for the removal of Jewish settlers from all of Gaza and most of the West Bank. Israel would recognize a Palestinian state in areas under Palestinian rule and hold talks with its government.

The Israeli group also advocates the immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians. This idea runs counter to the refusal of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to negotiate while violence continues.

Sharon has said he believes there will be a Palestinian state at the end of the peace process, but that there must be calm before any negotiations. Many of his key supporters oppose evacuation of any Jewish settlers.

Turkey Detains Israel Bomb Suspects

By VOA News

Turkish police have detained three Arab men who allegedly were plotting a suicide bomb attack in Israel. A police spokesman in Istanbul identified the suspects as two Palestinians and a Jordanian and says they are part of group called Beyyiat el-Imam.

Turkish police said the suspects received training in Taliban-run camps in Afghanistan and fought for the Taliban. The accused were detained in Van province of eastern Turkey after entering illegally from Iran.

The suspects told Turkish police they were planning to travel to Istanbul and then to Israel, where at least one of the accused was to carry out a bombing in a crowded area of Tel Aviv or Ramat Gan.

Turkish police have detained six people in Istanbul for helping the accused bombers with false passports and other forged documents.

Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported earlier that the detainees were believed to be part of the al-Qaida terror network and were of Jordanian, Syrian and Saudi origin.

Czech Prime Minister Denies Comparing Arafat to Hitler


Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, in Prague, strongly denied on Tuesday a Ha'aretz report that said he had drawn a comparison between Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Adolf Hitler.

Zeman said he was "surprised" to read about the alleged comparison, which he said was based on a misquoted statement he made over the weekend while visiting Israel on a diplomatic and trade junket.

"I would like to stress that I never compared Arafat with Hitler," Zeman said in a statement released by his spokesman, Libor Roucek. The report, based on an interview with Zeman and printed in Monday's edition of Ha'aretz, triggered a diplomatic backlash as top officials from the European Union, Germany, Austria and Spain demanded an explanation from the Czech leader.

Czech President Vaclav Havel said Tuesday he was "deeply disturbed" by the alleged remarks, which he said could "only further increase tensions" between Israel and the Palestinians.

The newspaper report had raised doubts about Wednesday's scheduled meeting in Prague between Zeman and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. But Fischer's office said the visit has not been canceled.

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