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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       April 19, 1996 V4, #71
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Civilians Killed Accidentally at UN Base

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem) & Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has expressed regret for the Israeli artillery shells which hit refugees at a United Nations post in southern Lebanon Thursday, killing more than 94 civilians and injuring more than 100 people, including some UN soldiers. But Peres also blamed the Hizbullah fighters for the tragedy.

Peres, who is also defense minister, told a news conference at the Defense Ministry he is sorry that the civilians were killed and that such deaths are not Israel's intention. But he accused Hizbullah of launching rockets on Israel from locations near the refugees, putting them in danger. And he noted that a UN spokeswoman agreed with the Israeli view.

"Actually, the spokeswoman for the United Nations summarized the situation in a very brief way. She said what we did, what our forces did was a reply to the source of fire. Also, she added, that the Hizbullah is traditionally trying to look for a shelter behind the life of the civilian people."

UN peacekeeping officers on the scene in southern Lebanon have confirmed Israeli charges that Hizbullah launched Katyusha rockets on northern Israel from a spot just a few hundred meters from the UN post, a few minutes before the Israeli artillery struck.

Peres also said Israel will continue to defend itself against the Katyusha attacks. France and the United States are trying to broker a cease-fire, which would depend in part on a return to the 1993 understanding that bans attacks on civilians on either side of the border. French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette has been shuttling among Mideast capitals. US peace envoy Dennis Ross is on his way to the region. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher is expected to follow soon.

The week-old offensive has provoked outrage in the region. The Arab media runs scathing editorials blaming Israel for the death and destruction in Lebanon. The Arab League issued a strong statement Wednesday condemning the action and calling on the United Nations to rein in Israel. And it renewed support for Lebanon's right to resist Israeli occupation of its southern border area.

Israel Bombs Beirut Apartment House

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Reports from Lebanon say an attack by Israeli warplanes Thursday morning hit an apartment building in southern Lebanon and killed at least six people. The air strike came as the flare-up of fighting in the area entered its second week.

Israel has warned southern Lebanon villagers to move to the north and has said it will consider anyone remaining in the region a guerrilla, and therefore a legitimate target. Israeli war planes made good on that threat Thursday morning, hitting an apartment building believed to be a guerrilla operations center. The identities of the people killed were not immediately known. Israel says the guerrillas of the Hizbullah movement use the civilians as human shields.

Trial of Amir Brothers and Dror Adani Opens

The trial of Yigal and Haggai Amir, and Dror Adani opened Thursday in the Tel Aviv District Court before a panel of justices headed by Amnon Strauschnov.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit criminal acts and illegal production of and possession of weapons. The indictment charges that the three began collaborating 18 months ago to attack Arabs and officials of the Palestinian Autonomy.

Yigal Amir was sentenced to life in prison last month for the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the wounding of a bodyguard.

18 Greek Tourists Murdered in Cairo

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

The Egyptian Interior Ministry says 18 Greek tourists, 14 women and four men, were killed when four unidentified gunmen opened fire on their tour group as it was about to board a bus at their hotel. Thirteen others were injured in the attack, and three are listed in critical condition. No group has claimed responsibility.

The Interior Ministry confirms that four gunmen driving a white van sprayed the hotel entrance with machinegun fire. Witnesses say one of the gunmen also ran into the building shooting toward the ground-floor dining room.

The tour group had arrived on the last leg of a Holy Land tour that took them to religious sites in Israel and Egypt. Other tour groups at the same hotel, still shocked and frightened by the incident, said they were packing to leave.

It was the first major terrorist attack in Cairo since December 1993. Israeli tourists often stay at the Cairo hotel that was attacked.

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