Newsletter : 6fax0129.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Jan. 29, 1996 V4, #16
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Israel Dumps Ethiopian Jewish Blood
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Thousands of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel staged a violent
demonstration outside the prime minister's office Sunday in
Jerusalem to protest a recently uncovered secret government policy
of not accepting their blood for medical transfusions.
The angry demonstrators threw rocks and tree branches at police,
injuring 30 officers. They smashed car windows and threw several
smoke bombs over a fence into the parking lot outside the building
which houses the offices of Prime Minister Shimon Peres. The prime
minister was hosting his weekly Cabinet meeting at the time.
Police countered with tear gas, water cannon, and by firing some
rubber bullets, finally dispersing the crowd after several hours.
The police commander said if he had not acted the demonstrators
would have entered the building.
Later, Peres met with representatives of Israel's 60,000-member
Ethiopian community. He condemned their violent demonstration, but
apologized for the government policy which triggered it.
Last week, an Israeli newspaper revealed Israel's blood bank has
for years been secretly disposing of donations by Israelis of
Ethiopian origin because they have a higher incidence of the AIDS
virus. Other medical sources say the statistical difference is not
significant and can be remedied by careful screening.
Ethiopian community leaders say they are particularly incensed
because the blood donations were accepted and then disposed of
secretly. Israeli health officials say they kept the policy secret
so as not to offend the Ethiopians.
Israel airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews from their East
African homeland in the mid-1980s and again in 1991. They were
accepted as citizens, but have had many problems adjusting to a
modern society and frequently complain of discrimination. The
Ethiopian Jews trace their ancestry to an ancient Jewish sect.
Palestinians Stranded on Egyptian-Libyan Border
By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)
The Egyptian Office of Human Rights is calling attention to the
plight of 200 Palestinians stranded along the Libyan-Egyptian
border. They and hundreds of others were sent there by Libya's
leader after he canceled their work permits. Those who remain in a
makeshift border camp have nowhere to go because of legal problems
with their travel documents. The 200 Palestinians at the border
have been living in a makeshift camp for the past four-months while
several governments and international agencies wrangle over their
Nineteen are married to Egyptian women and have families in Egypt,
but Egypt says their documents do not allow them to stay in the
country without a visa. Nearly 150 more have Gaza residence
documents that were canceled after the Libyan expulsion order.
The secretary general of the Egyptian human rights organization
says the Palestinians are innocent victims of regional politics.
The human rights group sent Khalid Dawoud to the camp on a
fact-finding mission earlier this month. He says food is running
out and sanitary conditions are deplorable.
UNHCR representative Panos Moumtzis says the weather has worsened
and caused the spread of illness and misery. "It is true that the
conditions at the border are appalling indeed. The land is rock so
every time it rains the area becomes like a big lake or pool. And
people are exposed to the winds and to the terrible weather
The UNHCR has documented all 200 cases. International aid agencies
have called on Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Libya
to help resolve the crisis. So far, Moumtzis says there has been
no response, either positive or negative.
The Palestinians' plight began last August when Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi ordered the expulsion of 30,000 Palestinian
workers. The Libyan leader's action was intended to prove his
belief the Palestinian-Israeli peace accord is a fraud because it
does not provide a homeland for Palestinians living outside the
He sent thousands to the Egyptian border. Hundreds more boarded
ferryboats and were stranded at sea until Syria and Jordan agreed
to take in those carrying the appropriate documents. Although most
of those stranded at the border have found somewhere to go, the
remaining 200 are still in limbo.
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