Newsletter : 9fax0317.txt
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>JN March 17, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 53
Declaring the Hebrew Month of Nissan
At 4 p.m. today, the new Hebrew month of Nissan will be declared in
accordance with ancient biblical practice. The declaration will
take place at the Hulda Gate to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem's Old
City. In the reenactment of the ancient practice in which the new
moon was announced every month, the shofar (ram's horn) will be
sounded and the appropriate prayers will be recited.
Egyptian Bedouin Ask For Asylum
By Deborah Tate (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel's Supreme Court has ruled hundreds of Egyptian bedouins who
crossed the border into the Negev Monday may remain, pending a
court hearing on their request for asylum. Israeli authorities had
wanted to forcibly return the bedouins.
When 600 members of the bedouin Al-Azazmeh tribe entered Israel's
Negev Desert from Egypt's Sinai to escape a tribal feud, it caused
diplomatic headaches for Israel -- which has been at peace with
Egypt for two decades.
Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon expressed concern about the
precedent it might set, saying no country in the world would allow
people to suddenly cross its border and settle there. "It is a very
serious problem. What had to be done, even yesterday, is just to
send them back [to] the place from which they came."
But Egypt's Ambassador to Israel, Mohammad Bassiouny, played down
prospects of a diplomatic rift. "This is not between the Egyptian
government and the Israeli government. It is probably between the
bedouins and themselves. So I do not think it will affect
relations between the two countries."
The situation is a problem for regional officials in the Negev, who
argue they do not have the means to care for the bedouin. They
ordered the army to send the men, women, and children back to
But Israel's high court -- acting on a petition filed by an Israeli
member of the tribe -- ordered authorities to stay any attempt to
send the bedouins home until a court hearing next week. Until
then, the Israeli army is providing the bedouins with food, water
and medical supplies.
Israel occupied the Sinai from 1967 until 1982. The Al-Azazmeh
tribe has members on both sides of the border.
West Bank Village Joins the Internet
By Deborah Tate (VOA-Jerusalem)
A remote Palestinian village on the West Bank is now connected to
the Internet through a unique new solar energy project. It is the
start of a new day at the school in Arab Al-Ka'abneh -- a village
about 24 miles southeast of Hebron.
It promises to be a day that will change the lives of village
residents forever. Al-Ka'abneh, home to 2,000 people, has few
basic services. But it is about to become connected to the global
information superhighway, the Internet computer network.
A US based non-profit group, Greenstar, which promotes solar power
in developing nations, is making the project possible, with help
from the US Energy Department. Greenstar Director Michael North
says residents of the village are the kind of people who can
benefit most from his project.
"They do not have electricity, they do not have cell phones,
they do not have running water, they do not have basic medical
care. Their education is not world class. It is not connected
to the world economy. They have no way of communicating with
people around the world. So the point of Greenstar is to find a
way that such communities can come into the 21st century quickly."
With cooperation from the village council, Greenstar installed a
computer system operated by solar power. One teacher was so taken by
the new solar project he was heard to exclaim, "Some people have
reached the moon. We have reached the sun."
Besides the computer, Greenstar has also installed a vaccine
cooler, a water purifier, a television, and copy machine in the
village -- all of which run on energy generated from solar panels.
US Visitors Banned from Old City and Golan Heights
The United States government instructed visitors attending an event
at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies they may not visit the
"occupied areas" of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Golan
According to a report appearing in Haaretz, the retired American
generals and researchers wished to visit those areas but were told
they were off limits.
According to Haaretz, a US Embassy official acknowledged the ban
but quickly added it did not originate in the embassy. The embassy
added that since 1967, a ban has been in place, which prohibits US
officials from traveling to "occupied areas" in the accompaniment
of Israeli officials. Hence, the cancellation of a planned visit to
the Western Wall by President Clinton once Jerusalem Mayor Ehud
Olmert insisted that he accompany Clinton.
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