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Gunman Wounds Tourists at Israel-Jordan Border

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem) & Ha'aretz

Israeli authorities said a gunman killed a female Ecuadorian tourist and wounded four other tourists before Israeli guards at a border crossing with Jordan, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, killed him.

The attacker apparently concealed himself behind a Jordanian truck as it approached the border near the normally quiet Red Sea resort. A Jordanian official said the gunman was not believed to be connected to any terrorist group. Jordan denounced the attack, saying it condemns acts of violence that targets civilians.

The Ecuadorian woman killed in the shooting attack was Monica Patricia Teran Navarrete. She was 33 years old. The victims were members of a 39-member South American tourist group that was in the process of entering Israel from Jordan, en route to Eilat.

The gunman, who slipped through the Jordanian border terminal, fired a number of bursts of automatic fire before Israeli security guards at the site killed him in no-man's land some 65 feet from the Israeli side of the terminal, known as the Yitzhak Rabin Crossing.

Navarrete was airlifted in critical condition from Eilat to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva where she later died of her wounds. "We heard the shooting, at first we lay down on the floor, then we tried to evacuate the tourists," said a border-crossing worker who refused to give her name. "We have been trained for something like this, but I never imagined it could really happen," she said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which coincided with high-level internal Palestinian efforts to forge a truce encompassing all militant factions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The pilgrims were returning from sites in Jordan and were due to cross into Egypt on Thursday to visit the St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai desert. The rest of the tourist group had been taken to a hotel in Eilat and city psychologists were helping them deal with the trauma.

Jordan and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1994. Incidents of cross-border violence are rare, although in 1997, seven Israeli schoolchildren were killed by a Jordanian soldier in a border area near the northern Israeli town of Beit She'an.

Israel Pushes UN to Stand Firm on Iran Nuclear Program

By Melanie Sully (VOA-Vienna)

Israel's foreign minister said the International Atomic Energy Agency must stand firm in dealing with Iran's nuclear program, and, if necessary, send the matter to the United Nations Security Council. The United States, like Israel, is also taking a hard line against Iran. Silvan Shalom spoke to reporters after talks on the Middle East with his counterpart, Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Shalom said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has already found Iran guilty of violating international obligations by secretly working on a nuclear weapons program. Tehran angrily denies the charge, claiming it is developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

During a Vienna press conference, Shalom announced Israel did not have any intention of targeting the Iranian nuclear reactor, adding Iranian nuclear program is a matter for the United Nations.

The IAEA board of governors meets Thursday in Vienna to discuss Iran's nuclear ambitions. Mr. Shalom said the IAEA should be tough on Iran. "We believe this issue should be moved to the Security Council, but until then, we should give the European countries [time] to complete their efforts to supervise the efforts made by the Iranians to develop nuclear weapons for military purposes," said the Israeli official.

Shalom said Iran posed a threat to Israel and to the world. A Western diplomat who asked not to be identified said the IAEA should cite Iran for repeated non-compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty over the last 20 years.

French Rabbi: Wear Baseball Caps, Not Kippot, in Public

By Ha'aretz

The Chief Rabbi of France, Rabbi Joseph Sitruk, called on that country's Jewish community to wear baseball caps instead of kippot while not in their homes, in order "to prevent being attacked in the street." Daily newspaper Le Parisien reported in its Wednesday edition that Sitruk made the comments Tuesday in an interview on Radio Shalom, a Jewish community radio station.

Sitruk's comments came three days after a Jewish school on the outskirts of Paris was the subject of an anti-Semitic arson attack. "I do not want young people traveling alone on trains or the Metro to become easy targets for attackers," he said. "Covering one's head is an important religious dictate, which should not be overlooked. On the contrary, today, more than ever, the Jewish community cannot shut itself off in a ghetto; it should be open, at ease and safe."

Speaking Wednesday to Ha'aretz, a close aide to the rabbi tried to play down the controversial comments. "The Chief Rabbi has always said that head covering is an important commandment, and that the covering itself is not important. In the current climate, there is no point waving a red rag in public places."

Synagogues and Jewish schools in France have been attacked repeatedly in recent years, violence authorities link to poor Muslim youths enraged by Israel's tough policies against Palestinian unrest.

Echoes of the Holocaust in Germany


The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that an ad campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), called "Holocaust on Your Plate", which juxtaposes images of Jews in Nazi death camps with chicken in industrial farms, is meeting outraged resistance in Germany. The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith and other groups have already condemned the PETA campaign, earlier waged in North America.

The PETA posters are to be part of a traveling display starting next March, but the Central Council of Jews in Germany is considering legal action to halt the campaign. The head of the Council called the PETA initiative the most disgusting abuse of the memory of the Holocaust in recent years. PETA claims to have 20,000 members and supporters in Germany.

Another event in Germany that has led to controversy recently is the World War 2 era play "The Wolves" by Nazi playwright Hans Rehberg. The play is being performed, for the first time since 1944, in the small Bavarian city of Erlangen. The Organization of Jewish Communities in Bavaria called the performance of the play - which deals with sacrifice for the fatherland and not anti-Semitism - "intolerable". About 100 protestors turned out for the opening night on Sunday. The director of the Erlangen Theater said that she originally organized the program as an expression of opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Erlangen, noted the city's mayor, raised funds for a synagogue serving the town's 300-person Jewish community several years ago. Recently, according to a JTA report, a passerby stopped at an information stand set up by opponents of the play and said, "Stop already and let's talk about the crimes of the Jews. They should be happy that they live here in peace and that nobody bothers them."

Finally, in a dispute regarding the ownership of property in the former East Germany that belonged to a Jewish family that was wiped out in the Holocaust, the German government has dropped its claims. The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, an international umbrella organization of major Jewish groups in negotiations for WW II compensation and restitution, said that it welcomes the German government's decision. The 20 parcels of prime real estate had once belonged to the prestigious Wertheim family. The Wertheim Department Store group, which was the largest and among the most distinguished Jewish department stores in pre-Hitler Germany, included the famous Wertheim Department Store at Leipziger Platz in Berlin.

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