Newsletter : 2fax0422.txt
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Dozens of Reservists Fired from Their Jobs
Dozens of army reservists who were called for duty to take part in
Operation Defensive Shield, the war against PA terror, report
having been fired from their jobs. Such an act is illegal. An
employee may not dismiss a reservist called for annual reserve duty
of an emergency situation as the one that currently exists. No
official statements have been made indicating if the government
plans to deal with the alarming incidents in a special fashion or
if each reservist will have to file with the appropriate government
Sharon: First Stage of West Bank Offensive Over
By VOA News & Agence France-Presse
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the first stage of his country's
West Bank offensive is over as Israeli forces withdraw from more
key Palestinian cities. But Sharon reiterated that Operation
Defensive Shield would continue using what he called a different
method." He did not elaborate.
The Israeli leader said the first stage of the offensive had
achieved profound results in the struggle against terrorism.
Israel said its forces are completing their pullout from Nablus and
Ramallah but will keep a tight military cordon around the cities to
prevent Palestinians from attacking Israelis.
Israeli forces will also continue surrounding Palestinian leader
Yasir Arafat's headquarters in central Ramallah and the Church of
the Nativity in Bethlehem. A standoff continues between Israeli
troops and several hundred Palestinians who have taken refuge in
the church. Five Palestinian youths emerged from the church and
surrendered to Israeli forces Sunday.
Palestinian officials dismissed Israel's withdrawal as a media
gimmick, stating that Israeli forces are still in control of
Palestinian areas. Meanwhile, heavy exchanges of gunfire were
reported Sunday at the Qalandiyah refugee camp in Ramallah, during
a raid by Israeli forces searching for what the army called
A suspected head of a militant group which has carried out suicide
bombings was among 15 people arrested by Israeli troops in the
camp, Palestinian witnesses said. Nasser Hmeid, who was arrested
in Kalandia camp, is suspected of heading Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades
in the West Bank's Ramallah region and of having organized several
anti-Israeli attacks, according to Palestinian sources. The Al-Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades is a radical offshoot of Arafat's Fatah group.
Hmeid, a 34-year-old member of the Palestinian security forces, was
arrested in a home of the Kalandia camp along with eight others,
witnesses said. Israeli soldiers entered the camp, located between
Ramallah and Jerusalem, and made 15 arrests in house-to-house
searches, without any casualties reported, they said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said on U.S. television Sunday that
he was pleased that the withdrawal from West Bank cities was moving
forward, but that he still regarded the situation in the region as
serious. "I am pleased that this withdrawal now seems to be well
underway and reaching the point Prime Minister Sharon said to me it
would reach by the end of this week."
Powell suggested that Israel might want to ease its restrictions on
Arafat. "I think sooner or later he has to be given access to the
means of control, the means of communicating with others. And so I
think we will have to work through that problem." Powell said he
has no immediate plans to return to the region, but added he
expects to go back in the not too distant future.
Carter Urges Economic Pressure on Israel
By VOA News
Former President Jimmy Carter said the United States should
leverage economic and military aid to Israel to persuade the Jewish
state to withdraw from Palestinian lands in exchange for Middle
Writing Sunday in The New York Times, Carter - who brokered the
1979 peace deal between Israel and Egypt - said Washington provides
nearly $10 million daily in aid to Israel. In calling for economic
pressure on the Jewish state, he said normal diplomatic efforts to
end Middle East violence have failed.
He called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a strong and forceful man,
adding that he believes Sharon's ultimate goals are to establish
Israeli settlements as widely as possible throughout the occupied
territories and to deny Palestinians what he called a cohesive
He said there is adequate blame on the Palestinian side as well. He
said Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has never exerted control over
the radical Hamas movement or other Palestinian groups who reject
the concept of a peaceful Israeli existence. He called Arafat's
infrequent denunciations of violence spasmodic and probably
Pope Issues New Appeal for Mideast Peace
By VOA News
At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II has issued a new appeal for peace
in the Middle East. Addressing a crowd of thousands in St. Peter's
Square, the Pope focused his appeal on the continuing stand-off at
the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which has been under siege by
Israeli troops for nearly three weeks.
The Israeli army ringed the church on April 3 after a group of
about 200 Palestinians, some of them armed, took refuge in the
church, along with foreign and local priests and nuns.
Pope John Paul said the church, revered as the birthplace of Jesus,
has become the site of "clashes, blackmail and intolerable
exchanges of accusations," and he urged Israel and the Palestinians
to do everything possible to keep the Holy Land from being caught
up in the "spiral of hatred and violence."
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