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>Israel Faxx
>JN Dec. 17, 1997. Vol. 5, No. 230

Swiss Banks Pressured to Settle Holocaust Claims

Pressure mounted on Swiss banks Tuesday to pay billions of dollars to Holocaust survivors when a U.S. lawyer heading a $20 billion lawsuit joined calls by Jewish leaders for a lump-sum payment.

Edward Fagan, one of the attorneys pressing three related lawsuits in New York against Swiss banks, said he agreed with World Jewish Congress demands for a one-time payment to settle a string of claims against Switzerland for its World War 2 role.

Yearender: Gaza Development '97

By Al Pessin (VOA-Gaza)

It has been a difficult year for the people of the Gaza Strip, where setbacks in the peace process and Israeli security closures have created economic hard times and political frustrations. At the main crossing between Israel and Gaza, thousands of Palestinian workers pour out of the walkway they must follow to traverse the border zone.

Salam Faris is one worker in the surging crowd. He says that in a way, the situation is worse than the many months this year when the workers were barred from Israel. Faris says he leaves home at 2:00 a.m., returns home at 7:00 p.m., suffers humiliation at the border -- including a one mile walk in all kinds of weather -- and earns only about 28 dollars for his efforts. And that is when he can find work. Often, workers say, they come home empty-handed.

According to the workers, they are lucky if they find jobs 15 days a month. The average Gaza family has five children, meaning there is barely enough money for basic food, and meat is virtually out of the question.

Workers who have some money left at the end of the month are afraid to spend it, never knowing when the border might be closed and they will be out of work. Businesses scrape by on a few days of shopping every month when policemen and other employees of the Palestinian Authority get paid.

30,000 Gazans with permits to work in Israel, are the lucky ones. Tens of thousands of other Gazans have no work at all and must subsist on aid from the United Nations and private donor groups.

Plans to create more jobs in Gaza, and to build industrial zones along the Israel-Gaza border, have largely gone unfulfilled. Grants and low-interest loans from abroad are only at half the level which was pledged, and private investment is almost non-existent these days, after a brief surge a few years ago. Many projects stand as half-built monuments to plans which died largely because of the frequent border closures which cripple new ventures.

The head of the Gaza Business Owners Association, Mohamed Yazegi, says Gaza has many problems, but one step could ease a lot of them. "We said the problem in two words. We need free movement for the goods, free movement for the people.You have more than 2.5 million palestinians here in Gaza and the West Bank. Starving stomachs. Empty stomachs. They want to eat. First let's feed them. Give them work. Give them money. And let the political people negotiate another 20 years."

Yazegi calls on Israel to stop using terrorist attacks as reasons to close the border. He says stopping violence is the responsibility of the leaders and the police, not the workers and the business owners. And he says if the border stays open, and Gaza gets its long-delayed airport and seaport, and safe passage to the West Bank, it could try again to attract foreign investment and begin to build its economy.

Jewish Woman Heads for Guyanese Presidency

By Arutz-7 News Service

The first Jewish woman outside of Israel to be a head of state is likely to be Janet Rosenberg Jagan, 77, originally from Chicago. The widow of Guyana's former president, she is the front-runner in Monday's national election in the South American country. She helped form a Marxist political party in Guyana, where she has lived since 1943. Her American citizenship was revoked at one point, and when she was later given a chance to recover it, she declined. The New York Times reported that her Jewish background does not appear to be an issue in the election.

Israeli Dies of Rabies, 3rd This Year

By IINS News Service

A 58-year-old Israeli man died of rabies Tuesday in the third incident of the virus this year, a Nahariya hospital spokeswoman said. The man from the Galilee in northern Israel contracted the virus after being scratched by a stray animal.

The man was the third fatality from rabies in Israel this year. About two weeks ago a girl died and about 10-months ago, an IDF soldier died of rabies. Health Ministry officials stated they take this very seriously and everything possible is being done to prevent additional cases in the future.

"For 30 years we never had a single case of rabies in Israel," Dr. Isaac Klinger, deputy director of veterinary services in the Agriculture Ministry, said. He said two other Israelis have died of rabies this year and that pressure by animal rights groups have made doctors reluctant to kill stray animals.

Look at the Bright Side

By IINS News Service

Two antique-robbers were caught Monday night as they attempted to loot an archaeological site in the Elah Valley, near Beit Shemesh. The two, from the Arab village of Kfar Tsurif, were found shoveling at the site, and were arrested by the Beit Shemesh police. As a result of the illegal digging, a burial cave from the Second Temple period, heretofore unknown, was uncovered.

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