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>Israel Faxx
>JN Jan. 31, 1997, Vol. 5 Number 21

Hamas: Don't Extradite Abu Marzouk to Israel

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A senior leader of the militant palestinian group Hamas has threatened a violent response, possibly against US targets, if the United States extradites Hamas official Mousa abu Marzouk to Israel. Abu Marzouk was arrested in New York in 1995 and said Wednesday he would stop fighting extradition.

Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud az-Zahar said the United States should not extradite abu Marzouk to Israel unless, "It wants more victims."

Az-Zahar told a news conference in Gaza the extradition would make the United States what he called "an enemy of Islamic people everywhere." He said abu Marzouk has many followers and "there is no power which could stop the vengeance" if any harm comes to him.

Later, in a VOA interview, az-Zahar indicated the extradition of abu Marzouk could change the Hamas policy of not attacking US targets.

"Up to this moment we are not considering America as our enemy, but at this moment it is not a moral thing to arrest Mousa abu Marzouk and to send him to Israel to be tortured by the Israeli security forces."

Az-Zahar says the extradition would put the United States "in the frontline against Hamas" and would "cause an explosion" in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"If anything will happen, this will actually destroy the state of quiet in the area. I am now advising the American policy, American authority, not to send him to Israel."

Abu Marzouk was arrested in New York in mid-1995. Prosecutors say he was involved in the planning of at least one Hamas terrorist attack, but abu Marzouk says he only handled political affairs. On Wednesday his lawyer announced he would drop his fight against being sent to Israel for trial. In response to that announcement and previous Hamas threats, the US government urged its citizens abroad to use extra caution.

On Thursday, an official Palestinian spokesman said Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has also asked the United States not to extradite abu Marzouk to Israel. There have been suggestions that he be turned over to Arafat's Autonomy Authority, but a US official says that is not possible because there is no US-Palestinian extradition treaty.

Hizbullah Bomb Kills Three Soldiers

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A roadside bomb has killed three Israeli soldiers and wounded another in the Israeli-occupied zone in southern Lebanon. The Israeli army says the bomb went off just after midnight as the soldiers passed by on a routine patrol. In Beirut, the terrorist group Hizbullah took responsibility for the attack.

Hizbullah is engaged in a protracted guerrilla war against Israel and its occupation of southern Lebanon. Israel says the occupation is necessary to prevent their attacks against its northern towns.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Syria could show its sincerity for resuming peace talks by reining in Hizbullah. He called the attacks a Syrian "indirect war" on Israel. Experts say Hizbullah is supplied by Iran and takes some direction from Iranian leaders. But they also say Syria, with about 40,000 troops in Lebanon, decides whether Hizbullah is actually able to carry out its operations.

Sharansky Visits His Soviet Prison Cell

By Elizabeth Arrott (VOA-Moscow)

Former Soviet dissident and now Israeli Trade Minister Natan Sharansky has paid a nostalgic visit to the prison where he was once held by the Soviet secret police, the KGB. Sharansky's first visit to post-Soviet Russia has provided a stark reminder how quickly and dramatically life has changed.

Sharansky returned to the infamous "Lefortovo" prison, but not, as might be expected, with dread. "I was glad to get permission to visit my KGB prison which is where I spent some of the most interesting days of my life."

The feisty, former dissident smiles as he says this, but he is not joking. Sharansky says that, strange as it might seem, those years of imprisonment were, as he put it, "pure." "It was absolutely clear," he says, "what was good and what was evil."

Seen by the former Soviet government as a pesky gadfly for his human rights activism, especially in behalf of Jews wishing to emigrate to Israel, Sharansky outlived the system that tried to silence him. Released in 1986 to settle in Israel, he returned to Moscow this week representing the people he so long championed.

The Israeli trade minister speaks with awe about the dramatic changes he sees in the treatment of Russian Jews. Teachers once jailed for giving Hebrew lessons, he points out, now run schools overflowing with students. The only problems the teachers face today, says Sharansky, are financial.
"Now the directors of the schools are complaining that they don't have enough finances to work their programs. The very fact of these complaints showed me more the great changes which happened than anything else."

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