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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       Feb. 27, 1996 V4, #36
All the News the Big Guys Missed

5.5 Earthquake Hits Southern Israel

An earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale hit Israel Monday morning, but did not cause any injuries or damage. The earthquake was centered about 24 miles south of Eilat, and was felt in all parts of the country. The quake followed a large tremor in November that killed 10 people in Israel, Jordan and Egypt and caused 10s of millions of dollars in damage in Eilat and Aqaba. The recent eruption of quakes was caused by rifts between two continental plates which meet in the Red Sea south of Eilat.

Auto Accident Leads to Death of Two

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A car driven by an Arab-American rammed into a crowd at a bus stop in Jerusalem Monday, killing one woman and injuring at least 15 other people. The driver was shot to death by a man standing nearby who believed it was a terrorist attack, but police now say it was probably an accident. Witnesses say the car ran a red light and drove at high speed directly toward the people waiting at the bus stop. They say the driver emerged and attacked a policeman, and was shot to death by a bystander.

But police found long skid marks on the road, indicating the driver had tried to avoid hitting the people. And there were bags of groceries in the car which suggest he was not planning any attack, as well as other signs it might have been an accident. The man is reported to have been a US citizen of Arab descent, who was visiting the West Bank town of Ramallah.

The incident was at the beginning of the evening rush hour, at a bus stop frequented by Israeli settlers. There have been several terrorist attacks at that intersection in the past, including one in which a militant ran over people at a bus stop. A police spokesman says a final determination of exactly what happened is not expected until sometime today.

The Dead are Buried after Terrorist Attacks

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel continued the process of burying the dead from Sunday's two suicide bombings, which killed 25 people in addition to the bombers. It was a scene repeated over and over at Jerusalem's military cemetery and others around the country. Families and friends gathered -- often along with hundreds of people who never knew the victims -- to cry together and lay their loved ones to rest.

Rabbis chanted the prayers, as the plain wood coffins -- draped with Israeli flags -- were lowered into the graves. Israel has been through this before, including a series of bombings in late 1994 and early 1995. But this was the first major attack in six months and the most deadly attack in years. The reaction seemed to be stronger than usual, with many people making pilgrimages to the sites of the bombings to pray and light candles. In Jerusalem, someone hung a sign which read "Shalom, Friends," a take-off on President Clinton's "Shalom, Friend" farewell to assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Psychiatry Professor Elie Wyitztum says public mourning is a new phenomenon in israel, which developed during the last year-and-a-half. He says it is a way many Israelis have found to deal with the tension and fear they live with.

"You know, all the nation is feeling this like one family, like one unit: this pain and sorrow, and the pain of the loss. This accumulating affect of the trauma has an impact on society. And you notice this phenomenon of people who come there, standing quietly, lighting candles, or singing." Israeli leaders also struck the theme of moving on. Prime Minister Shimon Peres said in a special speech to parliament that the peace process will continue, even as Israel re-doubles its efforts to fight the militant groups which reject the peace process.

He also said he has drawn up a list of what he called "operational demands" which will be submitted to the Palestinian Authority. He said Israel will consider compliance with these demands a test of the Palestinians' ability to live up to their commitments.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said his party will support any action against the militants the government wants to take. But he said Israeli security should not depend on action by the Palestinian Authority.

Meanwhile, efforts to deal with the tragedy continued. Details of the victims emerged -- 10 of them between the ages of 16 and 23. At least six of the victims were women, two of them just 19 years old. Five of the dead were recent immigrants from Russia, Georgia and Ukraine, including a young Russian-Israeli couple who left two children, one aged nine, and the other just four months old. One of the older victims was a man who had come to Israel from Germany just after World War II.

Israeli schoolchildren spent the first hour of the day discussing the bombing, and stood for a minute of silence. Israeli radio stations devoted most of their programming to the bombings and their aftermath, including outpourings of grief and anger from people who called in.

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