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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 fate.

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 conditions."

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 newly-autonomous areas.

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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