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Israel to Buy Turkish Water


Israel and Turkey signed a long awaited but controversial water deal Thursday. Israel will buy 50 million cubic meters of fresh water from Turkey each year for the next 20 years, at a minimum price of 70 cents per cubic meter. This is cheaper than desalinated water, but much more expensive then local water. Israeli water experts continue to bemoan the lack of a large-scale desalination system. Israel consumes some two billion cubic meters of water each year, while its water supplies are replenished at a rate of only some 1.8 billion. This produces a yearly deficit of 200 million cubic meters, or four times the amount to be purchased from Turkey.

Palestinians Say Teenage Boy Killed by Israeli Soldiers in Gaza Raid

By VOA News

Palestinian witnesses said a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and at least two others were wounded when Israeli forces raided the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, Thursday morning. They said the boy was hit when Israeli forces opened fire near a school.

The Israeli military said there was a heavy exchange of gunfire as soldiers faced fierce resistance from Palestinian gunmen while searching for weapons smuggling tunnels in the area near the Egyptian border. The raid came a day after three members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas were killed in an Israeli air strike south of Gaza City.

The Israeli military said the helicopter targeted the men because they had carried out attacks on Israel and were planning more attacks. Hamas said the three were on their way to launch an attack and vowed revenge. Israel has used air strikes to kill dozens of people allegedly linked to Palestinian groups that have carried out suicide bombings against Israelis.

In a separate incident, one Palestinian militant was killed when his house blew up in the Rafah refugee camp. Israeli military says the man was killed when a bomb he was making exploded prematurely.

Israel's Blue-White House


Israel will have its own White House - to be called, perhaps, a Blue-White House, based on the colors of Israel's flag. Yediot Achronot reported that a new complex would be built to house the Prime Minister's Office and Residence, covered entirely by reinforced glass.

The new structure will be built in the government neighborhood in Jerusalem, where the Knesset, Supreme Court, Bank of Israel and many government offices currently stand. Construction is scheduled to begin this year or next, and be completed by 2009.

The new project is designed to solve several problems, among them the location of the Prime Minister's Residence in the middle of the residential Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia and the too-humble location in which heads of state are currently greeted. "We are just ashamed to receive heads of state in the current office and residence of the Prime Minister," said Sharon's Bureau Director Avigdor Yitzchaki, "especially after we visit other countries and are welcomed in magnificent places. The Prime Minister's Office and Residence must be representative and beautiful. The current buildings, erected in the 1950's, are not the answer and inhibit our image. The State of Israel is a central player on the international scene, and we must keep up with the times, technology, and needs."

The new building will have a roof in the shape of a giant triangular tent, with the words "Bring Me Under Your Wings" engraved upon it. Ellipse-shaped, the structure will include the Prime Minister's Office, resting rooms for the ministers, a plaza for public ceremonies, a large greeting room, a press center, a cafeteria and exercise room for employees, a kitchen on each floor, and underground parking for 200 cars. In addition, the Prime Minister's Residence will have five bedrooms, guest rooms and a private yard.

Two of Kerry's Relatives Found in Yad Vashem Database

By The Scotsman & Newhouse News Service

Two Jewish relatives of presidential hopeful John Kerry perished in the Nazi genocide of the Second World War, officials at Israel's Holocaust archive, Yad Vashem, said Thursday. Archivists said a brother of Kerry's grandmother was killed in the Theresienstadt ghetto, and a sister vanished in the Treblinka death camp.

Word of Kerry's Jewish ancestry first surfaced last year when an Austrian genealogist hired by The Boston Globe found that the Massachusetts senator's paternal grandfather, Frederick Kerry, was born under the name Fritz Kohn in 1873 in a village in what is now the Czech Republic.

In 1902, the elder Kerry converted to Catholicism, changed his name and immigrated to the United States, presumably under circumstances similar to many of the region's Jews, who migrated to seek better lives and escape anti-Semitism. The news reportedly astonished Kerry, a Catholic. The paper said Kerry already knew that his paternal grandmother, Ida Loewe, was born Jewish and converted to Catholicism.

Felix Gundacker of the Institute for Historical Family Research in Vienna was hired last year by the Boston Globe to study Kerry's roots and ultimately was able to verify through genealogical records that the senator is descended from Central European Jews. Gundacker has posted the findings of his research on his Web site (, which he has continued to update since the Globe published its story in February 2003. The site was most recently updated Sunday.

According to Gundacker, on Aug. 13, 1942, the brother and sister of Kerry's paternal grandmother, Ida Lowe, were snatched from their Vienna apartment. Otto Lowe was killed less than a year later at a Jewish prison and ghetto erected by the Nazis in Czechoslovakia to serve as a point of debarkation to extermination camps in Poland. Jenny Lowe, according to Gundacker, survived the ghetto only to perish in a concentration camp.

"They were deported to the camp Theresienstadt," Gundacker wrote. "Here Otto was murdered on June 29, 1943; and Jenny vanished into the horrors of Treblinka." In all, the Nazis deported some 140,000 Jews to Theresienstadt and 33,000, including Kerry's granduncle Otto, died there. He was 67 years old, according to Gundacker.

Kerry's grandaunt Jenny was 70 when she was seized by the Nazis in Vienna, but there is no indication how old she was when she was killed.

Gundacker's research found that Jenny was among those sent by train to Treblinka, where 870,000 people, mostly Jews, were murdered under the Third Reich. The commandant of Treblinka later testified at his trial that between 12,000 and 15,000 people per day were fatally gassed at the camp and their bodies incinerated.

Gundacker could not be immediately reached in Vienna for comment, but using the Web site of the Online Archive of the Austrian Resistance, his findings about the fates of Otto and Jenny Lowe can be verified. The site maintains a database of Austrian Jews killed in the Holocaust. Kerry told the Globe in 2003 that he had known for about 15 years about his Jewish roots, but was never able to track down many details.

The New York newspaper Newsday reported on its Web site Sunday that Kerry, when asked about the newest revelations, said: "I'm very touched by the knowledge that one of my relatives was in the Holocaust. It gives an even greater personal sense of connection (to the Holocaust) that is very real and very touching. It makes you wonder how horrible their lives must have been."

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