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Jewish Man Beaten In Berlin


An Orthodox Jew was beaten up in Berlin. Tuesday's attack on the 19-year-old, who wears a black hat and sports a beard, occurred in the Berlin subway. Three youths made anti-Semitic remarks to the man. They then followed him out of the subway, throwing fruit at him and asking if he is Jewish. They beat him when he refused to answer. The men are believed to be of Arab descent, police said. Earlier this week, a non-Jewish man who was wearing a Star of David also was beaten in Berlin by attackers who mistook him for a Jew.

Israeli Forces Seize Gaza Town, 5 Palestinians Killed

By VOA News

Israeli forces have seized a Palestinian town and killed five Palestinians during an incursion into the northern Gaza Strip. An Israeli commander, Maj. Gen. Doron Almog, said the IDF would remain in the town of Beit Hanoun for several days.

The Israeli army said it launched the incursion Thursday to stop Palestinian rocket attacks on Jewish settlements in northern Gaza and the Israeli town of Sderot across the Gaza border. Sderot is located about one kilometer from the border. The army said Israeli soldiers have demolished four structures in Beit Hanoun used by terrorists who have been firing the homemade rockets.

Witnesses said the raids involved at least 50 Israeli tanks and armored vehicles entering Beit Hanoun and surrounding the nearby town of Beit Lahiya, as well as the Jabaliya refugee camp. Palestinian officials said in Beit Hanoun, Israel soldiers and armed Palestinians fought a gun battle during which two Palestinian gunmen and two boys were killed. A fifth Palestinian killed was reportedly shot in Jabaliya.

Palestinian officials said the deaths included a 12-year-old boy. Palestinian doctors claim the boy, who had a head wound, was left bleeding for three hours because Israeli forces prevented paramedics from reaching the scene. The doctors say the boy was eventually carried away in an ambulance but died on route to a nearby hospital.

Thousands of Palestinians held demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Thursday to mark the 55th anniversary of their "displacement," which accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. Palestinians call the day "Naqba" - or "Catastrophe."

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, are prepared to meet Saturday to discuss the new peace plan. The planned talks would be the first top-level meeting between the two sides since the current Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation erupted in September 2000.

Arafat: Israel Must Return to '67 Borders, Allow Return of Refugees

By Ha'aretz

Israel must withdraw from all the lands it occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War and Palestinian refugees must be allowed to return to their homes, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat said Thursday.

"For the past 55 years, martyrs... have fallen for the sake of the homeland, freedom and the return of the refugees," he said in a speech from his offices in the West Bank city of Ramallah to mark "Naqba" day. Naqba is Arabic for "catastrophe" and is the term used in by the Palestinians to describe the establishment of the State of Israel.

"Every Palestinian refugee knows that his identity will be restored to him only upon the return of his homeland, and he will not be submissive to a patron," the PA chairman added.

Arafat condemned what he termed, "the subjugation of the land and the holy places by the Israeli occupation," and added that, "today, no one wonders where the Palestinian nation is." He welcomed peace as the "strategic choice of the Palestinian nation, but accused the Israeli "rule of strength" of delaying peace initiatives in the region.

National Strike in Israel Intensifies

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

A national strike by Israeli public sector unions has intensified, hitting banks, the stock exchange, and the country's international airport. The strike is in protest of massive cuts planned in this year's government budget. All flights from Israel's Ben Gurion international airport were suspended, due to the public sector strike. Planes continue to be allowed to land, but luggage retrieval and other services are delayed. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and banks across the country also closed.

Fears mounted over the lack of sanitation, as uncollected garbage piled up in cities across the country. In addition, hospitals are only open to emergencies and the country's main telephone, electricity, and water companies are refusing to do any repairs.

The labor unrest began more than a month ago, gaining momentum Tuesday with the start of a general strike. Israel's labor federation, the Histadrut, is demanding concessions on the government's plan to slash nearly $2.5 billion from the national budget. The plan would result in the dismissal of thousands of government employees, including teachers. Also in dispute are proposed government reforms of debt-ridden national pension funds. Israeli treasury officials insist the changes are necessary to prevent the funds from going bankrupt.

Israel's Finance Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is talking with Histadrut leader Amir Peretz in a bid to reach a compromise and end the strike. Netanyahu is threatening to bring the pension reform plan before the parliament for ratification as early as next week, with or without the approval of the trade unions.

Mazel Tov to Geraldo Rivera

By Israel Faxx News Services

Geraldo Rivera, 59, will wed his 28-year-old girlfriend, television producer Erica Levy, at New York's historic Central Synagogue on Aug. 10, The Washington Post's Christine Haughney reports. "You can't be my age and getting married and not be an optimist," Rivera, the son of a Jewish mother and Puerto Rican father, told us. He noted that he had been to the altar four times previously and had four children to show for it. "I don't know, maybe there will be one more with Erica," he said.

He added that "hundreds of people" -- including Bill and Hillary Clinton, former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a top Palestinian official, the foreign minister of Afghanistan and various U.S. military commanders from Iraq -- have been invited to the Reform Jewish ceremony and the reception at the Four Seasons restaurant. "I was not only bar mitzvahed; I was confirmed. But this is actually my first 'church' wedding, as opposed to some hippie thing in a back yard," Rivera said. "I'm making a conscious decision to take this whole Judaism thing seriously. I think the Jews need me right now."

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