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>Israel Faxx
>JN Oct. 7, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 182

Hamas Sheikh Returns to Gaza

By Al Pessin (VOA-Gaza)

Celebrations began Monday at the Gaza home of the founder of the extremist Palestinian group "Hamas," and a crowd gathered at a local stadium to welcome him home. A tape played, children danced and women chanted at the home of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. People spoke of joy and unity and gave thanks to God.

One of the sheikh's sons, Abdul Hamid, said his father's return to Gaza would be good for all Palestinians, not just for Hamas. But he added -- only God knows what will happen if Israel does not grant Palestinian demands.

In Israel, the controversy over the sheikh's release and the botched intelligence operation which led to it is raging. But here in economically-depressed and politically-isolated Gaza, it is an occasion for a rare day of joy.

Swiss Banks Postpone 2nd List in Search for Holocaust Money

By IINS News Service

Basel, Switzerland -- The Swiss Bankers Association said it postponed to the end of the month the release of a list of holders of dormant accounts, that should help find Holocaust victims who own bank-held assets.

The association said it needed more time to check the list of about 20,000 Swiss citizens, who opened an account before the end of World War II and who haven't been heard from since. It said earlier that it would publish the list by Oct 20.

The banks, accused of hoarding assets which may belong to victims of the Holocaust, waived bank secrecy in July to publish a first list, naming about 2,000 non-Swiss holders of dormant accounts.

"We need a little more time to check the list," said association spokeswoman Silvia Matile-Steiner. "It will definitely be published before the end of October, not in November."

The publication of the names of Swiss account holders may help locate Holocaust victims who may own assets held by Swiss banks, since many are thought to have used Swiss proxies to open accounts, in an attempt to keep them safe from Nazi confiscation.

Matile-Steiner said a team of five people, including a journalist, a historian and a retired banker, is checking the list for people who might easily be located before the names are published. The publication of the first list in July led to embarrassment for the banks, when prominent people were found to be among the names. Top Nazis were also on the list, including an aide to Adolf Eichmann, the architect of Hitler's genocide campaign against Jews. The list also included the mother of the US ambassador to Switzerland.

Bankers' Association President Georg Kramer said it was "shameful" that some of the banks had failed to find the people before now. "There's no fig leaf big enough to cover" the inaction of his colleagues, Kramer said.

The association said this week it received more than 2,000 claims after the first list was published. Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker was named to head a board that will oversee the claims process.

Volcker was named by the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons, a commission that was set up by Jewish groups and the Swiss Bankers' Association to search in Switzerland for assets belonging to Holocaust victims.

Jewish groups have said Swiss banks may be holding billions of Swiss francs in cash and other valuables belonging to Holocaust victims, who entrusted them to the banks before and during World War 2.

The banks said in July that they located 18.3 million francs ($12.6 million) in dormant accounts, bringing the total found so far to 61.2 million francs. About 10 million francs of that, they said, could be traced to victims of Nazi Germany and their successors.

Danger Signals From Egypt

By Arutz 7

A senior Egyptian government official has threatened that his nation will provide military assistance to the Palestinian Authority in case of a violent clash between Israel and the PA.

Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that Mahmoud Karim, Egypt's Ambassador to the Palestinian autonomy, participated in a ceremony last week in Gaza in commemoration of last September's violence during which PA police opened fire on IDF soldiers, killing 15.

Karim said, "Egypt, its President, its government, and its people, are concentrating their forces on behalf of the Palestinian nation and its achievement of its full rights." Sunday's edition of the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reported that Egypt is interested in cutting down on the number of Israelis visiting the country, and has instructed its Tel Aviv consulate to slow down the process of issuing visas to Israelis.

President Mubarak, in a speech in commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, said that peace in our region is "facing a grave danger and a difficult hour."

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