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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      June 27, 1995, V3, #117
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Ancient Rabbi Started Life as a Gladiator

Reish Lakish, a famous rabbi in Tiberias in the third century of the Common Era, started life as a gladiator in a Roman theater in the Land of Israel, according to a doctoral thesis just completed by Dr. Ze'ev Weiss of the Hebrew University"s Archeology Institute. He writes that public theaters and arenas were numerous in those days and the Jewish population under the Romans were both spectators and participants. The Tiberias theater is being excavated. A carving on a Jewish tombstone in Beit She'arim shows gladiators in combat, with tridents and nets.

Assassination Attempt Against Egypt's Mubarak

By Laurie Kassman and Kim Reid (Cairo)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has returned to Cairo after escaping an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Unidentified gunmen fired at his motorcade just outside the airport as he was heading to the Organization of African Unity summit. He immediately left the Ethiopian capital and returned home. In Cairo, suspicion is falling on Islamic radicals.

Mubarak described the attack: "I cannot tell you exactly what nationality, but they do not look like (they are of) Ethiopian descent. There were about five or six -- some of them were on the roof of one of the houses. The others were coming in the streets. Just after I left the airport, suddenly I found a blue van...Looking the -- and somebody just ran from the ground, and machine guns started. For me it was shocking -- What's that? Then I realized there were bullets coming through our car -- It is an armored car. So I was not afraid at all that anything could come in."

Mubarak was unhurt, but the PLO ambassador from the nearby Palestinian Embassy was shot in the leg. Ethiopian and Egyptian troops guarding his motorcade killed at least three of the gunmen.

The 67-year-old president said the attack will have no affect on democracy in Egypt. There have often been tight security crackdowns in Egypt after past attacks on government officials. The president would not speculate about who carried out the attack. When pressed he acknowledged Egypt has had trouble with Sudan, a country Mubarak has often accused of exporting terrorism.

One anonymous caller to a Cairo news agency welcomed the attack and said next time they will finish the job. The caller identified himself as member of an offshoot of the Islamic Jihad, which assassinated Egypt's President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Arab leaders messaged their support.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres seconded Mubarak's call to fight terrorism on all fronts. "There are a people, a group of people who believe that by killing you can solve problems. And they are extremely dangerous -- more and more so in more and more places around the world. I think we have to take this danger seriously internationally and try to bring an end to it."

For now, Mubarak thanked God he is safe, sound and fine, though he told reporters it may be a long while before he takes another trip to Ethiopia.

Mubarak's hardline policy against Islamic radicals in Egypt has fueled speculation that they were behind the attack in Addis Ababa. Three Islamic militants were executed last year for plotting to murder the Egyptian leader at an air force base in northern Egypt. There was another terrorist plot reported against Mubarak during a planned 1993 trip to the United States.

Hamas Officials Arrested in Gaza

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

The Palestinian Autonomy Authority has arrested several top officials of the militant group Hamas and dozens of their followers. The arrests follow a suicide bombing near an Israeli settlement in Gaza on Sunday.

A senior Palestinian official says Hamas leaders broke a commitment not to carry out any attacks against Israelis inside the autonomous territory of Gaza. The official, Nabil Shaath, told reporters in Gaza the Authority had to respond, particularly because it is involved in intensive talks with the Israelis aimed at reaching agreement by Saturday on the expansion of Palestinian autonomy.

"Unfortunately, the Hamas leaders have broken their commitments to us. They committed themselves a long time ago to stop all activities in Gaza or out of Gaza and we were trying to extend that to cover the whole field. We really saw it no more than an attack on our ability to achieve for our people an extension of this peace process in the proper direction. And therefore, the leaders of Hamas have to, I think, receive a very clear message that this is something we will not tolerate."

Sunday's attack killed only the suicide bomber. Three Israeli soldiers nearby were slightly injured. Early reports said it had been carried out by the Islamic Jihad organization, but members of the bomber's family later confirmed he was affiliated with Hamas.

The militant groups had been reported to be talking with the Autonomy Authority about arranging a long-term cease-fire and participation by the militants in Palestinian elections, expected before the end of the year. There was a report just before Sunday's bombing that an Islamic leader in Sudan had invited the Authority and the militant organizations to Khartoum to try to work out a permanent agreement.

Israel says the Palestinian Authority's efforts to control violence against Israelis will continue to be a key factor in its willingness to expand the autonomous territory. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Monday that Sunday's bombing and a series of violent demonstrations in the West Bank during the last few days will not derail the current talks as July 1 approaches.

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