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>Israel Faxx
>JN March 11, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 49

Teens Die as Palestinian Police Open Fire

Deborah Tate (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian police in the Gaza Strip opened fire on a crowd protesting a military court's decision to sentence a security officer death in a politically-charged murder case. Two teenagers were killed.

The court's decision to hand down the death penalty to Rael al-Attar for the shooting death of another policeman, Rifat Joudeh, sparked violent demonstrations in the city of Rafah on the Egyptian border. Al-Attar's relatives protested outside the home of Joudeh's family.

The decision by the five-judge court comes amid growing concern by Palestinian and human rights groups that military courts in self-ruled areas of the Gaza Strip and West Bank are too quick to issue death sentences.

Of the eight witnesses who testified in the Rafah case, seven said they had not seen al-Attar shoot Joudeh. The director of the Palestinian human rights monitoring group, Bassam Eid says Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat may bend to public pressure to commute the death sentence.

But Arafat is also under pressure from Israel and the United States to do more to crack down on violence.

Al-Attar -- and two other men who received long prison terms for their roles in Joudeh's death -- are former members of the Palestinian extremist group, Hamas, and were all wanted by Israel for the 1994 killing of an Israeli soldier near Rafah.

57% of Tel-Aviv Residents Do Not Feel Safe

By IsraelWire

57% of Tel-Aviv residents do not feel that they can walk freely and safely in every part of the city. The area of the old central bus station was perceived as the most dangerous. These are the results of a special survey conducted for the Tel-Aviv municipality. The study was undertaken in order to check residents' satisfaction with the municipality and its services in 1998, in order to plan for the future.

Most residents feel safe in their own neighborhoods, except for the residents of Jaffa, where a third of the residents responded that they feel at risk. 47% of city residents proclaimed their belief that the old central bus station is the city's most dangerous area, 41% stated that south Tel-Aviv is the most dangerous, Jaffa was mentioned by 12%, and Allenby Street was targeted by 17%.

According to the survey, the majority of Tel-Aviv residents are satisfied with the city, and would choose to remain there. Residents indicated that Tel-Aviv's best features are the culture available and the city's freedom. 21% said that the best thing to be said for Tel-Aviv is that it a city that never sleeps.

A small percentage mentioned the Mediterranean Sea as being the best thing Tel-Aviv has to offer. Less than two percent cited the lack of religious coercion as the city's best feature. Along with praises, the TA residents have complaints. 26% said that the city is too dirty and littered, while 13% mentioned parking problems. The survey involved 1,024 adults representing a cross-section of Tel-Aviv residents.

Eurovision Plans Get Underway

By IsraelWire

The international Eurovision Song Competition is scheduled to take place in Jerusalem May 29. The $7 million event will be watched by over 100 million viewers in more than 30 countries. Contestants in the contest are from 23 countries, all competing for the honor of being judged as the home of the best song.

Last year's competition caused a stir in Israel, especially among the Orthodox community, when the year's first prize went to Dana International, an Israeli transsexual. This year, Israel will be represented by Eden who will sing, "Happy Birthday."

Average Monthly Wage Rose 2.2% in 1998

By IsraelWire

The Central Bureau of Statistics reports that the average monthly wage (in constant prices) rose by 2.2% in 1998, reaching NIS 6,270 (about $1,550) in December 1998.

The total number of wage earning employees was 2,248,000, and rises to 2,285,000 when employees from Judea, Samaria and Gaza are included. In 1998, wage changes by sector were as follows: industry 5.1%; agriculture 3.7%; construction 3%; commerce and public administration 2.5% each; community, social and personal services 2.3%; education and culture 1.5%; catering and hospitality -0.3%; banking and financial services -2%; health and welfare services -2.5%.

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