Giving Chase to an “Enemy” Sub
by Galal Nassar
Al-Ahram Weekly 29th October – 4th November, 1998

Heading: A high military official confirmed in the presence of President Mubarak that the Egyptian navy was responsible for the 1968 sinking of the Israeli destroyer Dakar. [IMRA: The Dakar was a submarine.]

[IMRA COMMENT: This story does not relate how the Dakar was sunk. Was it struck by Egyptian fire or did it break up when diving in an unsafe area when under Egyptian pursuit? More importantly, why did Egypt delay over 30 years before taking credit for being “responsible for the sinking”, especially since Egypt has cooperated in searching for the Dakar?]


In a show of military might, 74 naval pieces teamed… to stage a naval exercise off the coast of Alexandria. The high point of the exercise, which was watched by President Hosni Mubarak as part of the celebrations marking the silver jubilee of the October 1973 War, was the chase and capture of an “enemy” submarine that was approaching the Alexandria coastline.

In the course of the exercise… Vice Admiral Mohamed El-Wleili, commander of naval training, became the first official to confirm that the Egyptian navy was responsible for the sinking of the Israeli destroyer Dakar [IMRA: the Dakar was a submarine] on 25th January 1968. Several retired officers had said so in the past, but this was the first time it was officially confirmed by an active commander. The disappearance of the Dakar, which was sailing from Britain to Israel [IMRA: on the delivery trip and probably not combat conditioned] off the coast of Alexandria has always been a mystery.

In what could be a message to certain regional powers that seek to acquire modern offensive submarines, the naval exercise featured a search operation for a submarine that sought to approach and attack the Alexandria naval base. American-made Perry and Knox-class frigates, sub-chasers and SH-2G helicopters gave chase to the submarine. The helicopters, which had not been displayed in public before, are equipped with sonar detectors and are armed with anti-submarine missiles.

On the Seventh Day
by Khaled Amayreh
Al-Ahram Weekly 29th October – 4th November, 1998

Quote from Text: “The agreement symbolizes the final downfall of the Zionist ideology which views the West Bank as part of Biblical Israel.”


Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip reacted to last Friday’s Wye Plantation agreement with ambivalence and scepticism, preferring to wait and see how, and if, the agreement would be implemented on the ground.

On the one hand, Palestinians welcomed the promised redeployment of the Israeli army from 10 per cent of West Bank territory in addition to the partial and largely disingenuous redeployment from an additional three per cent, slated to become a “nature reserve”.

On the other hand, the bulk of Palestinians have been disheartened by the stringent conditions attached to the agreement, particularly with regards to security, and also by the uncertainty hanging over a third redeployment.

Supporters of the deal argued that the Palestinians succeeded for the first time ever in regaining Palestinian land from a Likud-led government that embraces the ideology of “Eretz Yisrael”.

“The agreement symbolises the final downfall of the Zionist ideology which views the West Bank as part of historical, Biblical Israel,” said Al-Tayeb Abdel-Rehim, an aide of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. [IMRA: But even non-Zionists know that the West Bank was “part of historical biblical Israel”.]

“We did not get all we wanted,” he said, but added in a self-reassuring tone that “this is an interim agreement…”.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a former Minister of Higher Education, warned against infringing on civil liberties, especially freedom of the press and expression in the name of fulfilling commitments.

Another Palestinian councillor, Hosam Khader… a long-time critic of Arafat’s administration, voiced anxiety over the role given to the American Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] in overseeing Palestinian security compliance.

“I’m afraid our entire security apparatus will become an extra-territorial department of the CIA,” said Khader. As expected, Hamas castigated the agreement, saying it amounted to total surrender. Sheikh Nayef Rajoub, Hamas spokesman in the Hebron area, described the accord as a “security pact between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” saying the “Israelis, Americans and the PA are all after Hamas.”

Netanyahu said a special cabinet session, previously scheduled for today, would not be held pending Palestinian compliance. “As far as we are concerned, and for all practical purposes, we will not be able to begin implementing our part of the agreement until the Palestinians implement their part,” he said.

Netanyahu also criticised statements attributed to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Ereikat in which he was quoted as saying the agreement stipulated a meeting of the PLO Central Council, rather than the Palestinian National Council [PNC], to strike off anti-Israel provisions from the PLO’s charter.

“We will not settle for anything less than a meeting of the PNC,” Netanyahu said.

His statement drew an angry reaction from Palestinian negotiator Hassan Asfour. “It seems that once again Netanyahu is going to succumb to political blackmail by the settlers and extremists. It shows that Netanyahu has unwillingly signed the agreement under pressure from the American president.”

The opposite interpretations of key parts of the agreement — security and the Palestinian charter — indicate that implementation is bound to face major hurdles.

Meanwhile, Palestinian police arrested a Palestinian on suspicion of killing a Jewish settler on Monday. Police sources in Hebron said the Palestinian, Jamil Khalifeh, confessed to having killed the settler.

Khalifeh was apparently angered by the agreement and acted on his own initiative. His arrest demonstrates PA resolve to combat violence and deny Israel any pretexts for not honouring its commitments. [IMRA comment: Better, it demonstrates the writers ingenuity in finding reasons for the killing of Jews.]

Prudish Reception
by Nevine Khalil
Al-Ahram Weekly 29th October – 4th November, 1998

Heading: Cairo received the Middle East breakthrough cautiously, subscribing to a wait-and-see approach and putting the emphasis on honest implementation.


Egypt cautioned that the Wye Memorandum… will only prove successful if it is adhered to “honestly” by both parties, especially the Israelis. [IMRA: Not equally the Palestinians?] During separate telephone conversations with President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the signing ceremony, President Hosni Mubarak stressed the necessity of “commitment to the new agreement” in order for regional peace to make progress.

Egyptian officials were briefed by the Palestinian negotiators on a daily basis, according to Mubarak. “We gave them advice and helped them overcome the obstacles,”… He asserted that Egypt’s role in the peace process was to “propel, not obstruct, negotiations”.

Mubarak said that Cairo “has no objection” to the Wye Memorandum “because the Palestinians have accepted the agreement out of conviction,” adding that Egypt will “follow the implementation phase closely”.

Mubarak believed that the Israeli leadership is satisfied with the agreement, but expressed hope that Netanyahu’s government will “closely adhere to the articles of the agreement.”

Mubarak stressed that “good will” was necessary for the peace process to “regain its energy”, and said that the agreement “will assist in rebuilding the required confidence between the parties on all tracks.”

“If there is good will, then implementation will be simple,” Mubarak told a gathering of army officers in Suez… “And excuses should not be made on the pretext of security concerns.” The president said that Netanyahu had failed to live up to past peace deals. Of the six points in the 1997 Hebron Accord, Mubarak said, “only two were implemented while the remaining four were ignored.” [IMRA: The Palestinians kept none of their obligations.]

Marble at a Price
by Sherine Nasr
Al-Ahram Weekly 15th – 22nd October, 1998

Heading:… curious goings-on in a cave near Beni Suef

Quote from Text: “these accidents are not reported to the police and no legal or police action is taken”

“Sometimes the dynamite explodes before the worker has taken shelter and then we have a tragedy…”


One worker was killed and another seriously injured last month while using dynamite to blast marble at the Snour cave, 60 kilometres from the town of Beni Suef in central Egypt. The death of Rabie Tohami Abdel-Tawwab may yet not be the last in the cave. “Since 1990, 15 workers have been killed and 73 others crippled as a result of the use of explosives,” said Emad Abu Zeid, a member of the local (municipal) council of Beni Suef.

Judging by Awad’s account, working conditions at the cave are primitive indeed. “A worker descends into the cave to a depth of 50 or 60 metres. He fixes the dynamite in various locations, lights the fuse and then makes a dash for it, hiding behind the farthest and largest boulder he can find,” said Awad. “Sometimes the dynamite explodes before the worker has taken shelter and then we have a tragedy on our hands.”

Moreover, rocks which may have become dislodged as a result of successive explosions sometimes fall on workers without warning, causing even more harm.

According to Karam Saber of the Land Centre for Human Rights, these accidents are not reported to the police and no legal or police action is taken. “The workers are recruited from nearby villages and each is paid LE10 a day. Certainly, they are not insured medically and when something goes wrong, they are not compensated,” Saber said.

The use of explosives is not only dangerous to workers but to nature as well. The Snour cave is classified as a nature reserve and a 1983 law penalises any action that affects such a reserve.

Translations by Dr. Joseph Lerner,
Co-Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645