700 Maariv employees dismissed; business section shut down

Some 700 Maariv workers received dismissal notices on Thursday, leaving behind about 350 at the financially troubled newspaper acquired by media entrepreneur Shlomo Ben-Zvi. Among those being let go are the 20 staffers from the newspaper's business section, which will stop appearing as of next week. In its place, Ben-Zvi said he hopes to reach an agreement to use content from the Globes financial daily. The newspaper's "Magazine" section will also stop being published as a separate section and be merged into the newspaper. Maariv Holdings, the newspaper's parent company, said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that many senior executives were also being fired, among them the deputy CEOs for operations, business, technology circulation, human resources, and marketing, as well as the head of local weeklies. (Nati Tucker )

Elbit seeks $74 million from Israel for damage over denied contract

Defense electronics maker Elbit Systems said Thursday that its subsidiary, Electro-Optics - Elop - "was compelled" to file a $74 million lawsuit against the government for damages and expenses after the cancellation of export licenses for a project for an unnamed foreign customer. Elbit said it filed the suit after failing to reach a settlement with state officials. The lawsuit was filed with the District Court of the Central Region. The court has banned publication of the background to the case, but it is believed to be connected with Israel's decision in December 2011 to bar Elbit from conducting a joint project with a Turkish company after relations between the two countries deteriorated. (TheMarker Staff )

New-home sales rose 6% in first nine months

New-home sales reached 16,000 in the first nine months of the year, a 6% rise from the same time in 2011, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Thursday. The biggest rises were in Jerusalem, where the number of new homes sold jumped 54%, and in the north, where the increase was 38%. In the south, the rise was 14% while in the center it was 3%, the statistics bureau said. Sales in greater Tel Aviv declined 12%; in the Haifa area they declined 4%. Growth in the sale of new homes has been slowing since the end of the social protest in 2011. In September, sales fell from a year earlier by 0.6%. (Arik Mirovsky )

Ben-Gurion Airport to shut for security drill

Ben-Gurion International Airport will be closed to air traffic on Friday from 8 A.M. until noon so that the airport authority can hold a defense drill. Over the four hours, no flights or landings will take place, the authority said. The drill itself will take place in Terminal Three, which will be barred to the public. Cars and public transportation will not be allowed to approach the building. Terminal One and freight terminals will function as normal. In a related development, Arkia Airlines flights were suspended while workers met with union leaders over job and salary cuts. Passengers were offered apologies and vouchers for coffee and cake. The action was the first by unions after a 14-day cooling-off period ended. (Zohar Blumenkrantz ).