1. ARAFAT’S GROUP TAKES CREDIT FOR MURDER OF ISRAELI COUPLE… Yassir Arafat’s Al-Aq’sa Martyrs Brigades along with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine took credit for the murder of a young Israeli couple traveling along the “seam” – Israel’s border with the Palestinian territories – on Friday. Thirty-year old Eitan Kukoi and his 25-year old wife Rima Novikov were killed when terrorists opened fire on their car on Friday night. The couple leaves a two-year old baby girl. Investigators found spent shells from a Kalashnikov rifle and footprints leading to nearby Palestinian villages. Earlier on Friday, a would-be suicide bomber’s explosives apparently detonated prematurely killing himself but causing no other injuries or damage. The incident occurred near the Jewish community of Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip. The attacker’s means of transportation was a bicycle.
2. ISRAELI SUPREME COURT TO DECIDE WHETHER ISRAELI FENCE CAN BE BUILT IN THE AREA OF 8 PALESTINIAN VILLAGES PETITIONING… The Chief Justice of Israel’s Supreme Court will sit on a three-judge panel that hears a petition from eight Palestinian villages that are seeking to prevent the controversial security barrier from being built in their vicinity. The hearing will take place today. The action comes as Ariel Sharon bows to international pressure and is sending envoys to Washington to discuss plans for a revised route that eliminates the contentious detour into Palestinian territory and reduces construction originally said to be necessary in order to prevent terror attacks on planes taking off and landing at Ben Gurion International Airport, the country’s main gateway. Although the changes have been submitted to the Americans, they have not been brought before the cabinet for its approval.
3. ISRAELI FAMILY, HOUSE DESTROYED, SURVIVES ROCKET ATTACK… The home of the Tzadoq family in the Gaza community of Neveh Deqalim took a direct hit from an anti-tank missile on Friday. Miraculously, although the house is a loss, the family – present when the rocket hit — is unharmed. Another Neveh Deqalim home was damaged by a mortar attack on Friday before the Tzadoq family home was hit by the missile.
4. ISRAELI MISSILES HIT CAR IN JABALIYYA REFUGEE CAMP… Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car in the Jabaliyya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Three members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization were killed, including two leaders of the group who were the targets of the raid. All of the dead were riding in the vehicle. Ten bystanders, including a six-year old boy, were injured in the operation. Israeli security officials said that the targets of the assassination were planning imminent attacks against Israelis. Israeli security forces are taking Islamic Jihad vows for revenge seriously, and on Sunday have beefed up security precautions. Measures include preventing Palestinians from crossing via the Erez Crossing to work at jobs in Israel.
5. ANTI-WALL PROTESTS REACH TEMPLE MOUNT, WESTERN WALL… Protests against the construction of Israel’s controversial security barrier reached the area of the Temple Mount on Friday, where hundreds of rioters threw rocks at police and at Jewish worshipers praying at the Western Wall below, before being stopped by riot police. Several police were injured in the melee. Two Palestinians died during violent confrontation with Israeli forces on Thursday.
6. NABLUS MAYOR, ARAFAT LOYALIST, QUITS IN PROTEST OF PA INACTION… Nablus mayor Ghasan Shak’a, a longtime supporter of Yassir Arafat, raised eyebrows when he submitted his resignation in protest of the Palestinian Authority’s failure to crack down on terror. Shak’a’s bold action is viewed as another sign of growing unrest among the next generation of the PA’s leadership. On Friday, Arafat had promised Fatah elections within a year, but his promise appears to carry little credibility among the faction’s younger activists. Shak’a said that his resignation is, “a warning bell to the Palestinian Authority and the residents of Nablus, because both of them are doing nothing for this city.” Last November, PA security forces refused to arrest those Shak’a said were responsible for the murder of his brother. Referring to the PA’s security forces, Shak’a said, “They are doing nothing except spreading disorder.” At a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council on Thursday, Yassir Arafat called PLC member Na’sr Yousuf a traitor, told him to shut his mouth and threw a microphone at him because the fellow septuagenarian questioned the effectiveness of Arafat’s security forces.
7. EREZ KILLER CAME THROUGH TUNNEL… Israeli army officials believe that a 60-meter (169 ft.) tunnel, running adjacent to the Erez industrial zone was used by the gunmen who killed a reserve soldier at the Erez Crossing on Thursday. In addition to the excavation equipment, Palestinian police uniforms were found inside the tunnel. Two Palestinians opened fire and tossed hand grenades at a group of Israeli soldiers near the Erez Crossing, the main point at which Palestinians and commerce travel back and forth to Israel. Both were shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Investigators are also looking into the possibility that the terrorists came over the wall by tying weapons straps together.
8. EFFORT TO SELL SHARON PLAN CONTINUES IN D.C. TODAY… Ariel Sharon’s efforts to obtain American approval for his Gaza disengagement plan continue today when two top emissaries, bureau chief Dov Weisglass and national security adviser Giora Eiland, arrive in Washington for a new round of talks with senior U.S. officials. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Friday that the Bush Administration is trying to convince its European allies that Sharon’s withdrawal is a good thing that can be built upon. What the Americans are not in agreement with is Sharon’s intention of relocating residents evacuated from Gaza communities in other post-1967 areas. Sharon has also injected new elements into his negotiations with the Americans. He wants a promise that the U.S. will not force any new deals on him while Arafat remains in power and that the Americans will run interference with world opinion while Israel strengthens what are being called “settlement blocs that would remain Israeli in any final negotiation.” Considerable attention at the moment is being devoted to whether an Israeli withdrawal would leave chaos in its wake and what post-Israeli pullout would look like in terms of Palestinian stability.
9. ANGER AT TENNENBAUM DEAL CONTINUES TO GROW… The anger expressed by Israelis upon learning that Ariel Sharon excluded missing airman Ron Arad from the recent prisoner-swap with the Hizbullah terrorist organization is being dwarfed by public reaction to news that Elhanan Tennenbaum, the man for whom Sharon moved mountains in the deal, will get off scot-free for his crimes. Sharon, by way of convincing the nation to support the deal, promised he would be tried for any crimes committed. Nevertheless, when Tennenbaum refused to cooperate with security experts trying to assess the damage he caused in revealing classified information, the government offered him an immunity deal and a sentence equal to time already served by virtue of his ‘captivity.’ Even though he might have faked that ‘captivity.’ After signing the agreement with prosecutors, Tennenbaum admitted that he traveled to Dubai of his own volition as part of an illegal drug deal in partnership with an agent of Hizbullah. He is also known to have revealed secrets to the Hizbullah terrorist organization. The latest government spin is that Tennenbaum’s cooperation in learning what he told Hizbullah is more important than prosecuting him. So far, the public finds that argument weak at best and remains incensed that the man for whom the nation did so much will do nothing in return.