Newsletter : 6fax0404.txt
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Pensioner Party Calls for Retiree Basic Law
During their meeting with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday, leaders of the
Pensioner Party called for the legislation of a Basic Retiree Law that would protect the
basic rights of the nation's senior citizens. The party is also calling for an immediate
25% increase in the monthly retirement benefits paid to senior citizens, and doubling the
national health basket for pharmaceuticals to NIS 400 million.
Attacks and Arrests as IDF Admits PA Involved in Rockets
Attempted terror attacks, the firing of Kassam rockets and an attempted kidnapping
marked the last 24 hours. The IDF killed a wanted terrorist and arrested several other
wanted men and infiltrators.
A Kassam rocket was fired from southern Gaza toward the western Negev Sunday evening.
The rocket landed in the area of the security fence near Nir-Oz. Two more rockets were
fired Monday one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The IDF has gone public with the fact that the Palestinian Authority's security forces
are taking an active role in the firing of rockets at Ashkelon and the western Negev.
"PA security forces moved into the evacuated territories, including evacuated areas in
the northern Gaza Strip, and set up numerous posts in these areas," an IDF statement read.
"Nonetheless, projectile rocket launchings from these areas, at times right by security
forces' posts, has continued unabated. [On] March 30, 2006, the IDF warned Palestinian
security forces located both in and near projectile rocket launching grounds to stay clear
of the launching sites.
"The IDF has notified the head of Palestinian National Security of this decision, and
has warned him to remove his forces from the areas in question. The IDF will not be
responsible for Palestinian security personnel who are harmed as a result of an IDF
response to Palestinian rocket-fire in these areas. It is important to note that, although
this warning is also obviously directed towards Palestinian civilians, civilians are not
present in these areas, which are mainly used by Palestinian security forces and terror
The IDF killed a senior terrorist leader of the Tanzim terror group in Bethlehem Sunday
night. The terrorist, Ra'ad Abiat, was responsible for numerous shooting attacks in the
area south of Jerusalem, including the murder of Israelis Avi Boaz and Moshe Dayan in
2002. He was wearing an explosive belt when IDF troops caught up with him. Tanzim operates
under the sponsorship of Yasir Arafat's Fatah terror group, now headed by PA chairman
Mahmoud Abbas. A second terrorist was also killed during the Bethlehem operation.
Elsewhere in Judea and Samaria, 13 terrorists were taken into custody. They were handed
over to security authorities for interrogation. An Arab male was arrested at the IDF's
Kalandia Checkpoint on Jerusalem's northern border on Monday morning after he was found to
be concealing a knife.
And in Samaria, security forces found three pipe bombs between the communities of Itamar
and Yitzhar. They were detonated without incident in controlled explosions. Terrorists
opened fire at IDF soldiers east of Bethlehem Monday afternoon, failing to inflict
Sunday night, a car-jacking and attempted kidnapping took place on the Husan bypass
road in Gush Etzion, according to beeper messages sent out by Judea and Samaria Police. A
motorist told the IDF that three Arab males ran onto the road, entered his vehicle and
forced him to drive from the location. Near the village of Nakhlin, the driver jumped out
of the car and ran on foot in the direction of the Tunnels Road checkpoint.
Police and IDF arrived at the scene but failed to locate the car or the thieves. Police
have declined to provide any further information on the case or about the driver. The Gush
Etzion security headquarters had no further information on the incident, but stressed that
the only evidence supporting the fact that there was an attempted kidnapping was the word
of the motorist himself. They said that the only information they have on the incident was
received from the IDF.
The IDF apprehended four Arab men who infiltrated into Israel from Egypt through the
northern Negev border. The four men are being interrogated by security forces. IDF troops
also arrested five PA Arabs who had snuck past the northern Gaza border fence. They were
turned over to security authorities. Another Arab man was caught sneaking in south Gaza's
Canadian security officials decided to move former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon
from his Toronto hotel due to the threat of an attack on the retired general a few days
ago. Ya'alon was moved to another, undisclosed hotel in the Canadian city.
Meanwhile, Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of the Policy and Political Military Bureau
of the Ministry of Defense has downplayed the firing of a Katyusha missile from Gaza.
Gilad told Israel Radio Sunday that the Katyushas in Gaza are not significant, despite
their impressive 12.5 mile range, due to the low number of such missiles present in Gaza.
Gilad declined to outline how he is certain of such an assessment due to Israel's absence
along the Egypt-Gaza border since the Disengagement and long periods of unfettered
transfer of goods across that border.
Sharon to undergo surgery
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo surgery on Tuesday afternoon to close a hole
doctors made in his head during previous operations, hospital officials said. The purpose
of the surgery is to allow the transfer of Sharon, comatose since a January 4 stroke, to a
After the operation, Sharon will most likely be transferred to the Sheba Medical Center
in Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv, as demanded by his family members.
Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef the head of Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem, where
Sharon has been hospitalized since the stroke, already said in the past that the prime
minister would be taken to a rehabilitation center after the elections. The hospital
refused to name the surgeons who would perform the surgery.
Prior to January's massive stroke Sharon suffered a mild stroke in December, after which
doctors discovered a hole in his heart and recommended an angioplasty to close the hole.
One day before the scheduled operation Sharon suffered a massive stroke, and he has been
in a coma since.
Sharon underwent a number of emergency operations after the stroke, mainly to stop
brain hemorrhages. A large section of his digestive system was removed in a separate
surgery after doctors identified damage in his intestines. Doctors failed to rouse Sharon
from a medically induced coma and have described his condition as serious but stable.
A number of leading coma specialists were invited to Jerusalem to advice on how best to
treat Sharon, but the team of surgeons treating the prime minister refused to reveal the
recommendation they had been given.
Lawsuit: Coca Cola Drinks May Cause Cancer
A request to file a NIS 200 million ($43 million) class action lawsuit against the
Central Bottling Company (Coca Cola Israel) was submitted to the Tel Aviv District
The plaintiff, Yaakov Huri, who filed the request through his lawyer Yochi Geva,
alleges that the Central Bottling Company misled consumers of its Fanta brand soft drinks
because the drinks are not suitable for human consumption. The plaintiff claims that the
Fanta drinks contain a combination of two ingredientssodium preservatives and
acerbic acidthat together create Benzene, which is believed to be a cancer-causing
ingredient in humans.
The plaintiff additionally claims that the quantity of these ingredients in a Fanta
bottle are eight times more than the acceptable, or the recommended amount in drinking
water, and it should be applied soft drinks as well.
He said that he used to trust the company's approval and the labels on the bottles
stating that the product does not risk one's health and that obviously there are no
ingredients that in combination could produce cancer causing elements. Additionally, Huri
claims that the company was fully aware of the health risks it subjected the public
Coca Cola said in response that it didn't receive the lawsuit yet and that their
products are safe for drinking and undergo a strict quality assurance process as part of a
quality assurance system which is one of the most advanced in the world.
"Products stand the requirement of not only the global Coca Cola company but also all
the strict norms and standards of the Health Ministry and the Standards Institution of
Israel," the company said in a statement.
The company explained that a combination of the ingredients exists in two Fanta
products and both were analyzed by the company's global laboratory in Europe. The findings
also support the claims that the amount of Benzene is drastically lower than the Israeli
standard and the World Health Organization standard for drinking water. Therefore, Coca
Cola said, "it's important to stress that Fanta products carry no health risks."
Environmental Scientist Re-examines Israel's Exodus from Egypt
ABC-TV anticipates the Jewish Passover on April 10 and 11 with a lavish new two-part
miniseries, "The Ten Commandments," which dramatizes Moses' story from birth through Mount
For thousands of years, Jews have commemorated the liberation from Egypt led by Moses,
fulfilling the Bible's command: "You shall observe this as an institution for all time,
for you and for your descendants."
ABC's version closely follows the Bible's Book of Exodus, regarding which there's
perennial debate. The latest example is a chapter in "The Natural History of the Bible: An
Environmental Exploration of the Hebrew Scriptures" (Columbia University Press) by Daniel
Hillel, professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of
The Bible is the earliest effort to "describe a people's history as a continuous
progression of events," Hillel writes, and the Exodus is pivotal for that story.
This scientist is a middle-of-the-roader, neither accepting everything as literally
true nor dismissing Exodus as a fable. Historical proof or disproof ` "is not easy, and
perhaps not possible, to resolve entirely," he said, since archaeological finds are
chancy, much has been wiped away and the lack of remains doesn't confirm anything.
Outside the Bible, there's no hard proof of Israel's sojourn in Egypt and escape. But
Hillel figures if the accounts "were entirely contrived, they could hardly have had such
lasting power" and "there appears to be a believable core of authenticity."
He considers it unlikely that "a nation would ascribe to itself so humble and
humiliating a national beginning as slavery, unless it had some basis in truth." There are
no surviving Egyptian accounts; perhaps the event seemed unimportant, or too
Hillel thinks "whoever wrote the story of the Israelites in Egypt must have known the
country very well, either must have lived there or must have received the information from
others who had. The background is believable, the names seem authentic and the entire
atmosphere and sense of place appear genuine."
For instance: Nomadic farmers indeed entered Egypt's eastern Nile delta during severe
droughts in their traditional grazing grounds. Egyptian records back to the 18th century
B.C. tell of numerous "Asiatic" slaves. One inscription specifies that a group named
Israel lived in Canaan around the time of the Exodus.
Credible biblical themes include: centralized authority under the pharaoh, drought
contingency planning, grain storage, emergency food distribution, sharecropping, taxation,
independent priesthood, visiting nomads with high birthrates and resulting resentment,
slavery and grand public works projects.
Then there's brick-making. To this day, he says, Egyptians make bricks by kneading clay
with straw, pressing it into molds and baking it in the sun or ovens (Exodus 5:10-19).
Turning directly to his specialty of ecology, Hillel said the biblical author obviously
knew about Egypt's ``mostly regular but occasionally anomalous water supply."
The Nile was both a source of drinking water and a waste disposal, raising constant
danger of pollution and especially during times of low flow. That could produce massive
fish kills, proliferation of frogs that thrive in stagnant water and scourges of insects,
just like the Exodus "plagues."
Then, too, the freak hailstorms and eerie darkness (an eclipse of the sun? a dust
storm?) were natural phenomena in Egypt that would have left a lasting impression, he
Even the parting of the Red Sea, better translated the "reed sea," which he assumes was
a marsh, might have referred to a natural occurrence. Those who escaped could hide in the
delta's reeds while heavily laden troops with chariots got bogged down in the mud and
mire. And the pillar of cloud could have been one of the familiar dust devils that reach
considerable heights in the region's deserts.
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