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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 15, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 103

Palestinian Sewage Presents Ecological Danger

Arutz-7 News Service

A report warns that further withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza may cause great ecological harm to coastal Israeli cities. The Palestinian practice of unrestrained sewage release will likely continue to cause irreparable harm to underground water sources, increased sewage streaming down to the coast, and industrial pollution of areas adjacent to densely populated areas. The report states that the Palestinian Authority has done nothing in the past to prevent these phenomena.

Rabin Assassin's Friend Convicted

By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)

In Israel, a friend of the Jewish extremist who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin nearly three years ago was convicted for failing to prevent the crime.

Margalit Har-Shefi testified she thought Yigal Amir was just bragging, trying to impress her, when he told her of his plan to assassinate Rabin. She said Amir told hundreds of people of his plan, but no one took him seriously.

On Nov. 4, 1995, Amir shot and killed Rabin. Minutes later, Har-Shefi called Amir's parents, providing evidence that she knew that Amir was the killer. The Israeli court convicted her on a charge of failing to prevent the murder.

Rabin's widow, Leah, called the verdict a ray of light in the darkness. She charged that the present Israeli government, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, continues to incite its supporters to ideological violence of the type that led to the murder of her husband.

Har-Shefi's attorney says she is likely to appeal the conviction. She has become a celebrity at the West Bank settlement where she lives, and among Israeli opponents of the peace process with the Palestinians.

Hamas Says No to Arafat's Appeal

By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)

The radical Palestinian group Hamas has turned down an offer to join Yasir Arafat's new Cabinet. Arafat is forming a new government under the threat of a no-confidence vote from his parliament.

Arafat invited the radical Islamic Hamas group to take part in consultations toward forming a new Cabinet for his Palestinian Authority. Hamas officials say it included an invitation to join the Cabinet. As in the past, Hamas refused to join, according to the official, but will attend the consultations, set for Tuesday.

Arafat is forming a new Cabinet under pressure from his parliament. It threatens a vote of no-confidence because of charges of widespread corruption in Arafat's administration. Arafat's Palestinian Authority was set up in the framework of peace talks with Israel.

The Islamic movement does not accept the concept of a Jewish state in the Middle East, and opposes Arafat's decision to make peace or even negotiate with Israel.

Expressing its rejection of Israel and peace, Hamas sent suicide bombers into Israel, killing dozens of Israelis in attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Hamas officials claim there is no connection between the military and political wings of the group. Surveys show that Hamas has been gaining popularity among Palestinians as the year-long stalemate in peace talks with Israel continues.

Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is nearing the end of a triumphant tour of Arab countries, where he raised millions of dollars for the Islamic movement based in Gaza. Israel released him from prison past year.

The purpose of his trip abroad was presented as medical treatment. Yassin is confined to a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a childhood accident. After discussing the pros and cons of refusing to let him return home after his fund-raising mission, Israel's government has reportedly decided to allow Yassin to return to Gaza.

Wheat Growers Take Offense to Rabbi's Demands

IsraelWire News Service

According to Yossi Dror, a wheat grower from the Negev area of southern Israel, "If the Chareidim (ultra-Orthodox) want to ensure eating wheat that has not been cut down on the Sabbath, they should buy bread [manufactured] abroad."

The tensions began when a local rabbi entrusted with supervising the kosher standard of a wheat delivery, refused to permit a truckload to be unloaded until it was determined exactly when the wheat in question was cut. In this particular case, it was determined that the wheat was not harvested on the Sabbath, in violation of Jewish law, and the rabbi signed the necessary forms, permitting the unloading of the shipment.

According to Dror, the rabbis in charge of the kosher supervision are placing too many restrictions on growers, making it more difficult to harvest their crops and make a living. Dror added that it is getting to the point that they will do what they need to do and the rabbis will just have to learn to live with it or buy bread elsewhere.

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