Press Review

And no prizes for guessing what's on the front pages of today's papers; Rob Cameron joins me in the studio now for today's Press Review.

Yes, Israel's raids on the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority and other targets in Gaza and the West Bank dominate the papers today. "Israel strikes back," reads a front-page headline in MLADA FRONTA DNES. "Israel takes revenge for two lynched soldiers," reports PRAVO. "Israel bombs Palestinian territories, Arabs say this is war," says LIDOVE NOVINY, while CESKE SLOVO and ZEMSKE NOVINY relegate the story to pages 4 and 5.

LIDOVE NOVINY's West Bank correspondent Michal Novotny gives a grisly description of yesterday's mayhem in the West Bank. A Palestinian youth pulls out a crumpled handkerchief from his pocket, says Novotny. We're standing on Ramallah's main square. In his hand he holds a rather strange souvenir--a piece of scalp from one of the Israeli soldiers lynched by a mob of Palestinians. Everybody knew that the revenge for the lynching would be terrible, he says.

Meanwhile the paper's Tel Aviv commentator, Jehuda Lahav, in a comment titled simply "Ramallah," notes that all Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to date have followed the same pattern: deals are inevitably preceded by crises. A few weeks ago, he writes, Israel's Justice Minister Josi Bejlin expressed hope that agreement would be reached within weeks. There's no doubt that hardline opposition leader Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the Palestinian-administrated Temple Mount a few weeks ago was only a pretext, and not the root cause of the crisis. On the other hand, no government in the world would tolerate criminal acts such as the lynching in Ramallah, much less so the Israeli cabinet, which is reeling under opposition pressure, notes LIDOVE NOVINY.

MLADA FRONTA DNES quotes the head of the Czech mission on the Palestinian territories as saying the Israeli raid had come like a bolt from the blue. But Dasa van der Horst questioned Israeli claims that the murdered soldiers were reservists who had unintentionally strayed into a no-go area. Van der Horst says all routes are well marked and security measures are so tough in Ramallah that hardly anybody can slip into the town unnoticed by Israeli patrols. She said the Czech mission had been closed until further notice, adding that she was pessimistic about the future. The Israeli authorities, she said, are under enormous public pressure to root out terrorists, so the next step could be a military occupation of the autonomous territories.

Moving on now, and MLADA FRONTA DNES reports that the pile of unanswered letters on the Czech prime minister's desk is growing. The paper claims that Prime Minister Milos Zeman refused to answer a letter from Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber asking for the launch of the Temelin nuclear plant to be delayed to allow for new safety tests. The letter arrived on September 22nd, says 'an unnamed source at Cabinet Office', but wasn't answered until this week, and not by Zeman but by his foreign minister, Jan Kavan. Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel claimed recently that Mr Zeman had ignored two of his Temelin letters as well.

And a rather disturbing story to end with: the headline in today's ZEMSKE NOVINY reads "Meat and bread recycled!" The paper spoke to several butchers and bakers who wished to remain anonymous. They disclosed that meat, bread and buns as well as other products which are not sold during the day are sent back to their producers who use them to make 'fresh' food the next day. So a piece of meat which has been defrosted several times, may end up in salami or sausages, while yesterday's loaves of bread and rolls are ground up and sold as breadcrumbs. This kind of 'recycling' could cause health problems, notes the paper, adding that although hygienic norms outlaw the practice, it's still common, especially in smaller shops, where hygiene checks are less frequent. So watch what you eat.