News that a group of Israelis detained by the United States may have had prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks and not shared it with the U.S., "Suspected Israeli Spies Held by U.S.," provoked a rapid but divided response from readers.

Readers expressed many views on the different sides of the issue. While some said Israel should not be spying on the U.S. because of they are an ally, others feel that Israel's intentions were compatible with U.S interests — to seek out Arab terrorists.

Here's a sample of this week's mail:

— I have always been a proponent of our relationship with Israel until now. I find your article provocative and condone the actions of the Israeli government. What good are allies if they can’t even share information? I vote for severing ties with Israel.

— Your article about Israeli spies repeats inuendo and unconfirmed statements. Every country has spies. It seems to me that Israel must spy on Arab terrorists networks wherever they may be. They can't and shouldn't rely on the U.S. to share info with them. By repeating an "unnamed source" that Israel may have known something before 9/11 you are stirring up hatred and suspicion of Israelis and Jews in America. Our intelligence in the U.S. also had prior information that these terrorist groups existed, but insufficient info to do anything about it.

— This revelation into the investigation conducted by our government authorities in identifying the true threats to this nation is a critical component to the security of us all. It is imperative that no bias exists in seeking out all of those who target this nation for their own national interests whether they be Arab operatives, Russian spies, or Israeli intelligence agents.

— There is one important thing you have forgotten to mention in the article — the reason why one of the most loyal American allies is forced to spy on the U.S. And the answer is this: The U.S. and Israeli intelligence services have an agreement on sharing information. However, the U.S. very often chooses not to keep its end of the deal, and not to disclose to the Israelis a lot of important information, vital to Israel's very existence.

— Your story "Suspected Israeli Spies Held by U.S." is full of unwarranted innuendo, allegations, and insinuation. Not to understate the horrific terrorist acts of 9/11, it must also be said that no country in the world has suffered more from the scourge of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism than Israel. That Israel would be using whatever information-gathering techniques at its disposal to avert any further terrorist acts is wholly understandable.

— I have a brother who lives in Israel, just outside of Tel Aviv. On 9/12, we spoke and he told me then that the Mossad had communicated about a potential attack with the U.S. authorities. This "inside" information was later confirmed in both the New York Times and Washington Post who wrote that Israeli intelligence shared this information with the proper U.S. authorities, but sadly, there was little information about the details — what, where or when. However, what information they did have was shared.

— Israel needs an appetite for information in order to defend itself from the countries all around it that wish to destroy it. It has in no way been shown that this information gathering is detrimental to the U.S. Additionally, it would be quite valuable to the U.S. in the future if that information could help identify actual terrorists.

— I think the Israel Moussad knew about 9-11, they have the best spy organization in the world. They had knowledge and failed to warn those who have been their only friends. I think you are on the right track by investigating this.