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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Aug. 17, 1995, V3, #150
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Israel May Have Killed Arab POWs in 1956 and 1967

By Patricia Golan (Jerusalem)

Following an Egyptian request, Israel has been looking into reports its troops killed Egyptian prisoners of war during the 1956 Suez campaign. Well-known Israeli veterans have also reported witnessing such killings during the 1967 war.

Reports of the killings came out earlier this month when a retired general told the media -- as a company commander during the Sinai crisis -- he ordered the killing of dozens of Egyptian prisoners-of-war. Retired Brig. Gen. Aryeh Biro says his troops were stranded behind Egyptian lines with 49 Egyptian prisoners. He says he and another officer decided to execute them because his troops had to move on and there was no one to guard the Egyptians.

Tuesday, Israel's Foreign Ministry announced it was acting on a request by the Egyptian authorities for an investigation into the report.

Speaking on Israel Radio Wednesday, another retired officer spoke about prisoner killings in the 1967 Six-Day-War. Author and former member of parliament Michael Bar-Zohar said he witnessed two Israeli army cooks stab to death three Egyptian POWs.

Bar-Zohar says he took the cooks to the battalion commander who had them arrested. He says he never before spoke publicly about the incident for fear Arab troops would retaliate in kind.

Interviewed on Israel Radio and Television, Israeli military historians say they knew about many such cases. They said the offenders were secretly sentenced by military courts.

There have been many reported murders of Israeli-held prisoners in past wars, although particularly-gruesome cases were censored. But cases of Israelis killing their prisoners have always been hushed up by the military.

Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Mohammed Basyouni says Cairo is awaiting Israel's official response on the issue. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin -- who was chief of staff during the 1967 war -- has refused to comment about the recent reports.

Another Israeli official says Israeli pilots and other prisoners had been killed in Egypt in past wars and neither Israel nor Egypt wants to make an issue of such incidents now.

Tension Builds Between Iraq and Jordan

By Jumana Tamini (Amman) & Laurie Kassman (Cairo)

Jordan and Iraq have officially denied that the wife of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has secretly visited Jordan to meet with his daughters and their husbands, who defected to Jordan. The denial comes at a time when tensions between Iraq and Jordan continue, and as Jordan is moving to improve its relations with the Gulf countries.

A Jordanian senior official described reports of the visit to Amman by Sajeda, the second wife of Saddam Hussein, as "false." A spokesman for the Iraqi Embassy in Jordan told reporters that a news agency report on the visit was "totally untrue" and that there were no plans for such a visit.

The denial coincides with the spread of several rumors saying that the third daughter of Saddam Hussein and her husband have been put under house arrest in Baghdad and that certain Iraqi defectors and exiles in Jordan and elsewhere are being assassinated.

Analysts and Iraq-watchers in the region's diplomatic community suggest Gen. Hussein Kamel Hassan fled Iraq after losing the power struggle with Saddam Hussein's son, Uday. The defector says he got fed up with the mismanagement in Baghdad.

The defection is considered a serious blow to Saddam Hussein's prestige, because it comes from within his own family. Abu Isra el-Meliki -- who heads the Al-Daawa opposition party, now based in Damascus -- says the last pillar of Saddam Hussein's loyalty and support has started to crumble.

Jordan depends on Iraqi oil and is home to thousands of Iraqi citizens who have fled the misery back home. But diplomats and analysts alike suggest Saddam will refrain from military muscle-flexing or cutting off Jordan's vital oil supply.

Iraqi opposition politician Saleh Omar el Ali says from his London office that Jordan is Iraq's lifeline to the world and any confrontational gesture would only backfire and isolate Iraq even more. Still, Jordanian security is on alert.

And the US administration has been quick to warn Iraq it will defend Jordan against any Iraqi aggression. Previously-planned joint military exercises getting underway this week in Jordan reinforce that pledge.

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