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Cuban Jews Make a First Trip to Israel


Ten Cuban Jews arrived for their first visit in Israel with the assistance of the Jewish Agency. The trip was the result of prolonged negotiations with Cuban authorities according to reports. Israel and Cuba have not had any diplomatic ties since Cuba severed relations following the 1973 Mideast war. The Cuban government was reluctant to give the Jews permission to make the trip, fearing they would not return. The "Taglit-Birthright Israel" program, an Israeli government-backed plan that sponsors trips to Israel for Jewish youth, organized the 10-day educational visit. Originally just eight young Jews were due to come, but Cuban authorities insisted that two of the leaders of the Jewish community accompany them to ensure that all returned. The Jewish community in Cuba has dwindled from 15,000 before Castro's 1959 revolution to about 1,200 today.

Suicide Attack Thwarted


It was announced that the IDF and Shabak (General Security Service) had arrested a teenager from Shechem a few days ago shortly before he was about to perpetrate a suicide terrorist attack against Jews. He told his interrogators that Fatah leader Abu Sharah was his "handler."

The IDF had recently given Abu Sharah's name to the PA security forces, but they did not arrest him. PA leaders Abu Mazen and Muhammed Dahlan have said that they do not plan to take action against the terror organizations in their midst.

The Jerusalem Police arrested 10 Arab youths Wednesday night, on suspicion of vandalizing and desecrating gravesites at the ancient Jewish cemetery on Mount of Olives. They are alleged to have smashed gravestones, scrawled anti-Jewish graffiti and defecated on the stones, and stolen ornaments from the graves throughout the past year. More arrests are expected.

This past week, IDF forces arrested a total of 72 wanted Arabs of the Palestinian Authority. Three explosive devices were detonated towards IDF forces during this period, and 22 instances of terrorist gunfire were reported. In the most serious incident, a woman and her three children were wounded in a terrorist shooting attack on the Har Gilo-Jerusalem Highway.

The IDF reported on Monday that since the onset of the "hudna" ceasefire five weeks earlier, there were no fewer than 195 terrorist attacks in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, claiming the lives of four Israelis and wounding 22.

Police Hold Back Parliamentarians from Visiting Temple Mount


Among the several Likud Party MKs who had planned to ascend to the Temple Mount Thursday, only Yechiel Chazan actually tried to do so - twice. The others were convinced to abandon their plans after police officials explained to them the security dangers inherent in such a visit. Chazan, however, said he was not convinced and that he insisted on actualizing Israel's sovereignty on the Mount.

In general, non-Muslims have not been permitted to visit the site as of last week, by police order, but Chazan said that his parliamentary immunity grants him the right to visit the area. The police did not agree, and did not allow him to enter the Temple Mount. Members of the Temple Mount Faithful stood nearby, encouraging Chazan in his efforts.

Chazan went to pray at the Western Wall, and afterwards tried to ascend once again. This time, it was the commander of the Old City police station who was waiting for him and did not allow him to enter. "It's a disgrace for the State," Chazan said, "that its elected officials cannot actualize the State's sovereignty on the Temple Mount." He accused the police of being motivated by "foreign considerations" - a reference to threats by Yasir Arafat if Jews visit their most holy site.

Officials reported that more than 100,000 persons have made their way to the Western Wall since Wednesday night, the start of Tisha B'Av, the day that Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples. A large security forces remained in an around the Old City to ensure the day passes without incident.

German Publisher Halts Book in anti-Semitism Row

By Reuters

A German publisher has halted printing of a controversial book attacked for anti-Semitism and for defending Palestinian attacks against Israel.

The publisher said "After the Terror", in which philosopher Ted Honderich says Palestinians have a "moral right to their terrorism" because of their treatment by Israel, crossed the boundary for legitimate discussion about controversial subjects. "We did not read the book carefully enough," a spokeswoman for publishing house Suhrkamp Verlag said on Thursday.

The decision to halt printing follows a letter from Holocaust researcher Micha Brumlik to the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper urging the book's immediate withdrawal. He accused Honderich of spreading "anti-Semitic anti-Zionism" and justifying the murder of Jewish civilians in Israel.

But Canadian-born Honderich, who has a Jewish wife and lives in Britain, said on his website that Brumlik's accusations of anti-Semitism displayed "audacious stupidity". His book, which investigates the morality of terrorism after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, is still being published in English. The decision to stop printing only affects the German edition.

Two Americans Missing In Israel

By Julie Stahl (Jerusalem Bureau

The U.S. has offered to help Israelis authorities search for two teenagers with American citizenship that disappeared last week in separate cases in northern Israel, the U.S. Embassy said on Thursday. Media reports said the FBI is already involved.

Dana Bennet, 18, who holds dual American and Israeli citizenship, disappeared on her way home from working the late-shift at a Tiberias restaurant early last Friday morning. Two days later, on Sunday, American citizen Eliezer Zusia Klockhoft, 19, also disappeared.

Klockhoft, who is studying at a Jewish religious school here, was visiting the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai with fellow students near the northern Israeli town of Safed. His friends went hiking and when they returned, Klockhoft could not be found.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv said it had offered to help in the search for the two missing Americans. "We're in close touch with the Israeli authorities regarding the cases of missing Americans and have offered any assistance that may be needed," the American Embassy in Tel Aviv said. "We're also staying in close touch with the families."

The embassy could not say if Israel had requested any assistance from the Americans, but Israel Radio reported that Bennett's father and brother, who came to Israel from the U.S. to help search for Dana, had asked American authorities for assistance and the FBI was now involved. In cases of crimes against Americans overseas, the FBI is legally bound to at least offer to help.

Hundreds of Israeli volunteers and police have scoured the areas where the two disappeared. Police spokesman Gil Kleiman could not confirm the report about the FBI helping in the investigation for the two missing teens. According to Kleiman, there is "no overt indication" that criminal activity is involved in Klockhoft's disappearance.

But Kleiman said in Bennett's case, because of her history as a responsible girl, police fear her absence is not of her own accord. Police have covered extensively every inch of ground and will now shift the focus of their investigation to intelligence gathering, he said. "We're treating it as a worst-case scenario," Kleiman said, as though either criminal or terrorist elements were involved.

Fears have been heightened that Bennett may have been kidnapped, following the kidnap and murder of Israeli soldier Oleg Shaihat, 20, less than two weeks earlier and the attempted kidnap of another soldier a week later. Israel's secret service said there are at least 14 warnings of pending terror attacks, including warnings of possible attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians, radio reports said on Thursday.

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