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Jordan to Check for Possible Radiation from Dimona

By Ha'aretz

Jordan will ask the United Nation's nuclear watchdog body to help it check whether it has been affected by radiation from Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona. The Jordanian newspaper Al-Rai reported Sunday that the Foreign Ministry has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send experts and equipment to "determine whether there is a correlation between radiation from Dimona and the appearance of unusual diseases in the area." Last month released Israeli nuclear traitor Mordechai Vanunu told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that the nuclear reactor in Dimona was operated only when the wind blew in an easterly direction, toward the Kingdom.

Israel Denies Spying on United States

By VOA News & Ha'aretz

Israel Has denied that it is spying on the United States. The FBI is investigating whether a Pentagon official passed classified information to AIPAC, an Israeli lobby group in America that, in turn, passed it on to Israel.

The official Israeli response to the spy assertion was a firm denial of any involvement in the case. A statement from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said the government was not aware of the incident. It read, "Israel is not employing any intelligence assets in the United States."

That position was elaborated on by Yuval Steinetz, chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Israeli parliament. He said Israel decided to halt all espionage activities against the United States following the arrest and conviction of Jonathan Pollard, who was caught passing secrets to Israel nearly 20 years ago.

"Since [the] Pollard case there was clear and firm decision not to spy against the United States government or in the United States, and therefore I am 100 percent confident that there is no Israeli involvement in this case," he said.

The 1985 arrest of Pollard was a diplomatic bombshell whose repercussions are still being felt. Pollard, a formal naval intelligence analyst, has become an Israeli citizen since his arrest, conviction and imprisonment for spying, and several Israeli governments have campaigned without success to get him released.

The current case involves allegations that Larry Franklin, a Christian who is an official in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia bureau, passed on information to Israel via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby group. The FBI investigation has been under way for more than a year and centers on allegations that Franklin passed on information from sensitive deliberations on Iran at a time when the Bush administration policy had not been fully formulated.

Both Israel and the United States are concerned about Iran's nuclear capability. The Israeli media have speculated that a recent drill conducted here in which anti-radiation pills were handed out to Israeli citizens is part of a campaign to build the argument that Iran poses a growing and increasingly imminent nuclear threat.

On Sunday, Israeli media attention to the FBI probe was extensive. Israel Radio quoted unnamed government sources as denying anyone at the Pentagon was spying for Israel. Marvin Grenfell, a professor of political science at Hebrew University, agrees that it does not seem likely that Israel would risk damaging relations with its most important ally by spying on it. "My guess is that Israel, following the Pollard Affair, would not risk anything like that again. And that probably this has been blown out of proportion, possibly by some people in the United States."

That position was taken in a front-page story in Sunday's Jerusalem Post. The story, which was typical of nearly all Israeli newspapers, quoted what it described simply as "sources" in Jerusalem as saying the spying allegations are nothing more than an "internal U.S. political story." "This is an American political story, an elections story, a pre-convention story to try to slander and criticize Bush. It has nothing to do with us," the source was quoted as saying.

Sources have told Ha'aretz that the U.S. administration believes that the FBI will refrain from charging Franklin with espionage. The FBI apparently lacks any evidence that the Pentagon data analyst was operated by either Israel or AIPAC.

Franklin could be charged with mishandling a classified document. However, the FBI has yet to make an official pronouncement on whether Franklin would be arrested and what charges he might face. Nevertheless, investigators are broadening their probe and interviewing figures at the Defense Department, the State Department and outside the administration.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Franklin might have conveyed the classified information innocently, not realizing he was breaking the law. "The man is not a spy, he's an idiot," an official familiar with the investigations told the paper.

12-Year-Old Girl Helps Deliver Her Own Baby Sister


A 12-year-old girl helped her mother give birth Saturday, guided by instructions over the phone from a local Magen David Adom medic.

The 33-year-old mother, whose husband was not home when she began to feel sudden birth pangs, ran into the bathroom and cried for her daughter, Esther, to call Magen David Adom. Esther did so, and the operator asked if there was another adult at home. When she said no, medic Ronen Grizak told her, "OK, Esther, stay on the line; you and I are going to help your mother give birth together."

With her two little siblings helping out by bringing water and towels, Esther followed Ronen's instructions by phone. Ronen was at the MDA center in Be'er Sheva, nearly 12 miles away. "I see the head," Esther cried, and Ronen calmed her, saying that was how it was supposed to be. When the baby was born, Ronen calmly told her, "Now put the baby on your mother's stomach," and when, a few seconds later, the baby girl finally let out a cry, everyone breathed in relief. A few minutes afterwards, an ambulance arrived at the home and took mother and baby to the hospital in Be'er Sheva, where both are doing well.

Ronen had only praise for Esther's behavior under pressure, and Esther, in turn, thanked Ronen. "I just wanted to help my mother," she said later. "It was exciting, amazing, but also scary." The family immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia a number of years ago.

Cell Phone Leads to Malpractice Suit


A woman who underwent hand surgery in Tel Aviv's Sheba Medical Center has filed a lawsuit for damages sustained due to alleged malpractice by her surgeon. The plaintiff explained that she was given a local anesthetic for the surgery, so while he arm was draped and she could not observe, she was awake and lucid, hearing and seeing events around her.

According to the lawsuit, during the surgery, the surgeon's cellular phone rang. He instructed a nurse to answer and eventually, he took the phone and spoke. According to the complaint, immediately after ending the conversation he stated that he mistakenly cut a nerve, telling a nurse "you see one shouldn't speak on a phone during surgery."

After months of physical therapy, the victim complains of diminished sensation in a thumb and compromised range of motion in the hand, indicating some medical opinions led her to believe the damage from the doctor's cutting the nerve while speaking on the phone may be permanent.

Mazuz: Law of Return Applies to all Jewish Converts

By Ha'aretz

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz believes that the only legal way to prevent granting Israeli citizenship to persons undergoing a Reform or Conservative conversion in Israel is by changing the Law of Return. According to the existing situation, a non-Orthodox conversion in Israel is not recognized for matters of civil status.

Mazuz said that if the state is interested in preventing persons undergoing Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel from receiving Israeli citizenship, it must "initiate amendments to legislation that will keep the status according to the Law of Return from anyone converting in Israel."

An 11-man bench of justices has ruled that the Law of Return that confers Israeli citizenship on every Jew would be applicable also to those who converted in Israel and had previously had permanent residence. But the court ordered the state to present its point of view regarding those who had undergone Reform and Conservative conversions.

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