News in Brief
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert phoned his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh yesterday to express his condolences for last week's terror attack, noting the "determined response of the Indian army" in dealing with terror. Singh said India understood there should be no negotiations with terrorists. The Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, sent a condolence letter to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, saying: "Once again Jews are a target of terror," and that the international community had to work together to fight terrorism. The Italian President Giorgio Napolitano also called Israel's ambassador in Rome, Gideon Meir, to express condolences.
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Ahad Olma, one of the masterminds behind the assassination of minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001, to life in prison yesterday. Olma, the military leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was given an additional five years behind bars for his part in the fatal shooting at a Jerusalem hotel. "He was at the head of the pyramid that planned the murder," the court ruled. "He chose the time for the assassination, recruited the cell, the assassin, organized the means for the operation and the hiding place afterward."
One construction worker was killed and another seriously injured when a wall collapsed on them in the Negev village of Telamim. The two were pulled from the rubble by rescue forces. One of the men sustained serious injuries and was rushed to Barzilai Medical Center for treatment. The second man was pronounced dead at the scene. "We worked hard to dig them out but it was too late for one of them," a firefighter said.
Bodyguards accidentally broadcast an alert over Tzipi Livni's telephone line as she gave a live radio interview yesterday. Livni, who took over as Kadima chairman following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's resignation and hopes to become premier herself in a February 10 ballot, laughed as an unidentified man's voice was repeatedly heard summoning police to her house in Ramat Hahayal, a Tel Aviv suburb. "Everything's okay, I'm here," she told Army Radio by phone, speaking from her office as "Intruder alert" sounded in the background.
The body of a fetus, preserved in formaldehyde, was discovered by a passerby in a box inside a bucket at the entrance to the Har Hamenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem. A label was found on the box with the name of the mother. Police contacted the parents, who said the baby had died 11 years ago at birth at Hadassah University Medical Center, Ein Karem, and they had left the burial arrangements to the hospital. Police are investigating the possibility that the body was used for research without the parents' knowledge and have given the case to the Health Ministry for further investigation.
A minor who organized a drag race in Jerusalem in which two people were killed was indicted yesterday for manslaughter by the Jerusalem District Youth Court. The indictment states that the minor asked two of his friends to race him near the Biblical Zoo for a NIS 500-prize. In the last round, with the indicted minor in one car and the two friends in another auto, the two lost control of the car and were killed when it crashed into a traffic light. According to the Justice Ministry, as part of the war on road accidents this is the first time a driver involved in illegal drag racing is being charged with manslaughter rather than negligent homicide. (Ofra Edelman)
Police Central District detectives arrested 25 men, including eight Israel Defense Forces soldiers and seven minors, on suspicion of drug trafficking yesterday. This concludes an eight-month undercover operation, in which a demobbed soldier-turned-police agent struck bogus deals with drug dealers across Rishon Letzion, Rehovot, Nes Tziona, Lod and Yavne. The agent's work, which involved deals for cocaine, ecstasy pills and hashish, incriminated 28 suspects, of whom 25 were arrested overnight. The man, 23, officially joined the police force yesterday. (Yuval Goren)