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>JN Aug. 19, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 151

Jordan Arrest Terrorists Planning Israel Attack

By IINS News Service

Jordan has announced that one month ago, security officials arrested five Jordanians who were planning to cross into Israel and carry out attacks against Israeli targets and against senior officials in the PLO Authority.

The conspirators are now being held in an Amman jail. Jordanian authorities uncovered a weapons cache and other materials that were to have been used in their attacks in a storage facility about 12 miles west of Amman. The terrorists told Jordanian security officials they are affiliated with an Islamic underground organization.


Hamas Officials Praise Arafat

By IINS News Service

Following Yasir Arafat's refusal to comply with Israeli requests to begin mass arrests of Hamas-affiliated terrorists, senior officials from Hamas praised Arafat for his actions.

In an interview in a Qatar newspaper, Hamas officials praised Arafat's refusal to arrest the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. The Hamas officials also called upon Arafat to stand steadfast and not comply with additional pressures being exerted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US administration and special envoy Dennis Ross to destroy the Hamas infrastructure.

The Hamas officials added that "Cooperation with the Zionist enemy is not a viable option under any circumstances."


Syria Planning Major Soviet Arms Deal

By IINS News Service

The London based "al-Awsat" reported Aug. 11 that Iran and a number of Gulf States have worked out a way to handle Syria's $12 billion arms debt to Russia so that Syria can now sign a new major arms deal with Russia which will include: 48 MIG-29's; 14-24 Sukhoi-27 [which is claimed to be a better performer than the Israeli F-15's]; SAM-11 ground to air missiles to replace the SAM-6's; SAM-12's for defense against missiles and jets to replace the SAM-5's, M300BMU -- a development of the SAM-10 which is claimed to be superior to the American Patriot, able to strike jets 62 miles away and missiles 25 miles away; as well as 300 T-80 tanks.

The sales are seen as part of a general strategy towards a Soviet-Syrian-Iranian alliance.


Holocaust Victims Lawyer: Insurers Can't hide Behind Secrecy

By IINS News Service

ZURICH, Switzerland - An American lawyer representing Holocaust victims and heirs said European insurance companies cannot "hide behind secrecy," as he publicized a lawsuit seeking billions in compensation for money lost in insurance policies.

Lawyer Edward Fagan said his clients were seeking $1 billion each from 16 European insurance companies to compensate for policies that they claim were never paid off. Fagan said a hearing was set for New York on Wednesday.

The lawsuit, similar to one already filed against Swiss banks, is on behalf of 10,000 people who purchased insurance policies in the World War II era but whose claims were denied. Three Swiss companies -- Winterthur, Basler and Zurich Insurance - are named in the lawsuit.


Israel Appoints First Muslim IDF Chaplain

The Israel Defense Forces appointed Akel el-Atrash, a Muslim spiritual leader from the el-Atrash Bedouin tribe in the Negev, as a chaplain. El-Atrash will be the first imam, or Muslim cleric, to be appointed as an IDF chaplain. He will be responsible for the spiritual needs of Muslim soldiers in the IDF.

The need for a Muslim chaplain emerged after the death of a Bedouin IDF soldier last year, when an imam refused to bury the fallen soldier due to his service in the Israeli army. After a short delay, the soldier was buried by el-Atrash. El-Atrash will continue serving as imam of his village in the Negev.


Poll Reveals High Religious Numbers

An overwhelming majority of the Jewish public in Israel is satisfied with the religious services in the country. This is the finding of a recent poll carried out by the Geocartographic Institute for the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

An Orthodox service for their wedding was chosen by 93% of respondents, while 2.5% chose Reform or Conservative services and 92% of those who got married were "very satisfied" with the rabbi who conducted the ceremony.

Almost 2/3 of the Jewish population pray in a synagogue at least once a year. One-third of the population utilizes the automated phone service of the Ministry, including such information as Sabbath candle lighting times, neighborhood rabbis and synagogues. Over 25 percent of the women in Israel regularly immerse in a mikveh (ritual bath), and another 15% more do so "sometimes."


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