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Friday Headlines

1. ISRAELI ELECTIONS IN NEAR FUTURE…With the Gaza withdrawal still in its final throes, Israeli premier Ariel Sharon’s political rivals are already speaking of a general election within the coming six months. The second largest party in the government, Labor, says it will quit no later than November. Meanwhile, a vote on the dissolution of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is likely to take place within the next few weeks. Those behind that move say they have the 61 signatures of lawmakers they need in order to put the matter to a vote.

2. ARMY TAKES BLAME FOR SHFAR’AM KILLINGS…An investigation into the terror attack in the Israeli town Shfar’am has found there are serious errors in the recruitment policies of the Israel Defense Forces. Four Israeli Arabs were killed when a lone Israeli soldier randomly opened fire on passengers on a public bus. The soldier had been AWOL for two months with his personal weapon. It was later discovered that he had been living in the hard-line Israeli village Tapuah in Samaria, the northern part of the West Bank. The recommendations of the military investigation include urging the country’s domestic security service to share more intelligence information with the military and placing far more emphasis on psychological and psychiatric testing and information when drafting new soldiers.

3. PALESTINIAN TERROR GROUPS CONSIDER NEXT MOVES…The Palestinian terrorist organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad are said by Israeli and Palestinian sources to be considering whether to resume attacks on Israel after two weeks of relative quiet during the Gaza withdrawal. The two insist Israel must at the very least withdraw from all territories captured during the 1967 War and they say that Israel still occupies the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Both organizations say they intend avenging the deaths earlier this week of five Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. Israel maintains several of the dead were on its wanted list.