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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     April 19, 1995, V3, #72
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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AMA Journal Reports Scud Stress Deaths

By David McAlary (Washington)

Jerusalem doctors say the Israeli death rate soared at the beginning of the 1991 US Gulf war against Iraq because of fear of incoming Iraqi missiles and improper use of gas masks.

Researchers from the Hadassah medical organization and the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health say the number of daily deaths gradually increased in Israel in the month before the fighting broke out until it reached a peak on Jan. 18, 1991 -- when the first of several Iraqi retaliatory missile strikes occurred.

Although the missile did not kill anyone, 147 Israelis died that day, compared to a daily average of 93 -- a 58 percent increase. During the next 17 days after a missile struck, the number of excess deaths outside of hospitals declined to 10 percent. The death rate gradually subsided until it was back to normal in mid-March -- one month after the last Iraqi missile landed.

The doctors attribute part of the overall increase in deaths to stress induced by an extraordinary life threatening situation. In today's issue of "The Journal of the American Medical Association," they write that a perception of vulnerability, coupled with anxiety induced by the uncertainty of missile attacks, served as a powerful stressor on civilians. They suggest that it caused an increase in heart attacks in those who already had heart disease.

The doctors add that their interpretation is supported by the geographic location of the excess deaths -- limited largely to the Israeli regions struck by Iraqi missiles.

Although they admit this view is speculative, they are more certain about another cause of death -- misuse of gas masks in sealed rooms. Three adults suffocated after the first attack, and up to 13 more are thought to have died the same way in subsequent attacks. Carbon dioxide accumulates and oxygen diminishes in such situations, and misapplied gas masks may have left those with heart and breathing problems the most vulnerable.

The Jerusalem researchers found that the death rate was higher among women then men, suggesting a sex difference in respiratory difficulties from gas mask use in sealed rooms or a greater female vulnerability to frightening conditions -- especially among elderly widowed women who lack social support.
The investigators further suggest that the highest number of deaths occurred on the first day of the missile attacks because the most susceptible people succumbed. The say that the rate declined immediately thereafter because people may have adapted readily to the new situation, maintained a sense of cohesion, learned how to use gas masks properly, and spent less time confined to sealed rooms.

Rabin Warns Palestinians May Fall Victim to Islamic Terrorism

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited Israeli forces along the border of the Gaza Strip yesterday. Many of the troops were colleagues of soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in the Strip nine days ago. Rabin called on the Palestinian Authority to do more to fight terrorism or, he said, the Authority itself will also fall victim to it.

"It is up to the Palestinian Authority to carry out its own responsibility to be the authority in the area, to make sure that there will be more effective action against those who instigate, organize, (or) carry out any kind of terror against Israelis or Palestinians in the Gaza Strip or outside the Gaza Strip."

Rabin also said Palestinian groups which oppose the peace accord should not be allowed to operate openly in Gaza and that the Palestinian Authority must disarm anyone not part of its police force.

Israeli concerns about the Palestinian Authority's ability to prevent terrorist attacks are delaying implementation of the next stage of the peace accord, under which the Authority is supposed to take control of large areas of the occupied West Bank. The two sides have set July 1 as the target date for reaching agreement on the next phase, but continuing attacks and Israeli security concerns are making it difficult to achieve that goal.

The prime minister also said the Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank will remain in place, as agreed, during this interim period, including the next stage. Settlers and the Israeli troops which protect them have been the focus of recent Palestinian attacks.

Rabin said Israel has detained nearly 3,000 Palestinians in areas it controls in the last six months, in connection with alleged terrorist activities. During that same time the Palestinian Authority has detained far fewer extremists, and released most of them.

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