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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Nov. 18, 1996 V4, #209
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Hamas terrorist blows himself up

A Hamas terrorist was killed Saturday while preparing a bomb. Mahmoud Asaf died in an explosion in the yard of his home in Kabatiya, near Jenin. Palestinian sources said he was released from an Israeli prison two months ago, and had served numerous jail sentences for Hamas activism.

Documents show Nazis had access to Jews' Swiss bank accounts

Newly unsealed documents reveal the Nazis used French-speaking sympathizers working in Swiss banks to gain access to the secret accounts of Jewish clients.

The documents refer to the secret numbered account of Henry Lowinger, a rich Austrian Jew, imprisoned with his wife for three years.

According to the documents, Lowinger was given the opportunity to buy his freedom by surrendering his accounts to the Gestapo, which "knew exactly how much Lowinger had on deposit and where it was held."

US-Egypt Military Exercise Ends

The US and Egypt concluded a large military exercise Sunday. The exercise, which included 500 Americans, practiced various measures to protect the Gulf. As part of the exercise, 1,500 soldiers with their vehicles and equipment were transported between two bases to test the ability to move forces quickly.

Israeli Supreme Court OKs Torture

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's Supreme Court has given the country's security service the right to use increased physical pressure in the interrogation of an alleged member of the militant Palestinian group Islamic Jihad. Israeli authorities say the man has information about impending terrorist attacks.

A special Supreme Court panel ruled that Israeli security services can increase the level of physical pressure in the interrogation of Mohammed Hamdan, 30, who was arrested three weeks ago.

The services convinced the court that Hamdan has information about attacks against Israelis which have been planned, but not yet carried out.

Israeli law allows the use of what is called "moderate physical pressure" in all interrogations, and more severe measures in special cases. The tactics used are believed to include putting smelly bags over prisoners' heads, depriving them of sleep, tying them in uncomfortable positions, or locking them in small cabinets and violent shaking. At least one prisoner died last year after being shaken by interrogators.

Opponents of such measures -- including Hamdan's Israeli lawyer Andre Rosenthal -- call them "torture" and say they are never justified. Rosenthal says he does not want to live in a country where such things are done. But Rosenthal says that in a closed court session the president of Israel's Supreme Court, Aharon Barak, rejected that idea, asking rhetorically whether upholding that principle was worth the lives of thousands of people who could die in a terrorist attack.

Female Circumcision Outlawed in U.S.

By Nancy Steinbach (VOA-Washington)

Congress has approved a bill banning female genital cutting. The law makes it illegal in the United States to cut the sexual organs of girls under the age of 18. It also requires government officials to warn parents moving to the United States. The parents could be sent to prison for five years if such an operation takes place on their daughters. American health officials believe that about 15,000 girls and women could be threatened or already have been cut.

Female genital cutting includes a number of different operations to cut off parts of female sexual organs or to injure them. Sometimes the vaginal opening is sewn closed. Health experts have long recognized the operation's harmful effects, including extreme pain, infection and the inability to experience sexual pleasure.

Female genital cutting is done in about 28 countries in Africa and Asia. Experts say as many as 100 million women around the world have experienced it.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., led the effort to approve the law. He said female genital cutting cannot be considered similar to male circumcision where the foreskin of a male baby's penis is removed. He says that operation causes little pain, and the pain stops in a day or two. Female cutting causes extreme pain that may never stop. He says about 15 percent of the women have very severe problems and die as a result.

Ovadia Yosef Rules Kidney Donations a mitzvah

Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has published a Jewish law ruling permitting those who can afford to spare a kidney to donate one to people in need of transplants.

The ruling, or Halacha, applies both to living donors and to those newly deceased, and designates organ donation a mitzvah -- a Jewish-law commandment. The new Halacha is being viewed as a breakthrough in the effort to involve the traditional and religious population in the practice of organ donation.

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