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Israeli Military to Investigate Reported Abuse of Palestinian Dead


Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon sharply condemned the actions of some Israeli soldiers who allegedly lacked respect for the bodies of Palestinian terrorists killed by Israeli units. He announced the opening of an investigation. The case, which was uncovered by the daily newspaper "Yediot Achronot" aroused the chief of Staff's indignation who asserted: "It is forbidden that such acts take place in an army which educates to respect man."

Huge Swarms of Locust Land in Eilat, Arava Desert

By & Ha'aretz

Israeli planes are bombarding millions of attackers from Egypt- -not Arab troops and tanks, but rather swarms of locusts. The unwelcome guests have reached Eilat and the northern Negev.

An Agriculture Ministry spokesmen said that they hoped intensive spraying would overcome the threat of locusts reaching Negev farms - but they were apparently too optimistic. Several swarms have landed in Israel's southernmost city, Eilat, and are reportedly attacking the palm trees outside the city's hospital. Potato farms north of Eilat were also under "locust attack," and reports of locust sightings have come from the B'sor region in the northwestern Negev. It is feared that warm weather may encourage the locusts to multiply, thus increasing the threat several-fold.

The locust swarms entered southern Israel from Sinai, and are now making their way towards Jordan. The "plague" has brought about a measure of trilateral cooperation among Israel, Egypt, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Ministry of Agriculture officials reported that the appropriate offices in the three countries have been working together in monitoring the locusts' advancement and in taking action to avoid significant damage to crops.

Huge swarms of locust landed near two Dead Sea hotels, as well as a number of communities in the western Negev desert, on Sunday afternoon. There is growing concern that the locusts, which flew in from Egypt, will destroy thousands of shekels worth of crops. Sites where the locusts have touched down include the hotels Ein Bokek and Nevah Zohar, near the Dead Sea, and the moshavs of Yavol, Talme-Yosef, and Sde Nitzan, in the western Negev.

Powell Renews Bid for Middle East Peace; PA Tells Him to Pressure Israel

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem &

Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Israel Sunday night amid PA demands that he pressure Israel to withdraw troops from major cities and release an Arab terrorist sentenced for life.

Earlier Sunday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia told Undersecretary of State William Burns that Israeli soldiers must vacate major PA cities in order that Palestinian elections scheduled for Jan. 9 will be orderly. Burns, who preceded Powell, said he came "to stress strong American support for the Palestinian elections...and support steps by Israel" to facilitate the elections.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman assured Burns that Israel "will do everything we can". Burns said successful Palestinian elections are a key towards establishing a Palestinian state.

Qureia Saturday night said he also would ask Powell to pressure Israel to release convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti who was sentenced earlier this year to multiple life sentences for terrorist murders. Qureia told reporters he also wants Israel to release Ahmad Sadat, leader of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who was imprisoned for his involvement in the assassination of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi in a Jerusalem hotel.

Powell, in his last visit to the Mideast before National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is to replace him, will meet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom Monday morning before speaking with PA leaders in Jericho. The PA is demanding Israeli concessions while totally rejecting Israel's position that Arabs must stop incitement as a condition to renewing peace talks. Instead, Qureia accused Israel of incitement, saying, "We may have issues of this sort, but Israel has them to a greater extent."

Sharon has suggested that if the PA would halt incitement for terrorists' attacks, Israel could consider coordinating with Arabs the proposed expulsion of 8,000 Jews from Gaza and Northern Samaria and transfer of the Jewish land to the PA. Sharon recently told Likud leaders the PA must cease "the poisonous incitement on television and in the educational system, demonizing Israel, Israelis, and Jews [which is] more dangerous than any weapon."

Abducted Boy Returns Home to Israel


In a dramatic rescue operation culminating three months of torturous uncertainty and threats, a Jewish Israeli boy abducted by his Muslim father in Russia has returned home.

The 10-year-old boy, who immigrated to Israel with his mother six years ago, had not seen his Syrian-Muslim father since then - until this summer. In August, the boy and his grandmother visited Moldova, from where his father snatched him and refused to return him to his mother. The man forced his son to behave like a devout Muslim, threatening to take him to Syria if his mother tried to retrieve him.

The mother, who lives in Ramat Gan, was stubborn and persistent, however. With great effort, she was able to track down the whereabouts of her kidnapped son to a town in southern Russia, and was even able to speak with him for a few moments. She finally filed suit in a Russian court, but without legal counsel - or her former husband's connections - she knew that her chances were slim. The Muslim father is a wealthy man, his former wife said; "who owns four large stores and has several lawyers... He has five other children from his first wife and his present wife, and he told me, 'I have six children, and they will all live with me.'"

A month ago, the Israeli Supreme Court gave her case a boost by ruling that the Justice and Foreign Ministries must take an active role in returning the boy. The mother's Israeli lawyer lamented at the time, "This is a straight-out kidnapping case. A Jewish 10-year-old boy, an Israeli, who spent almost his whole life in Israel and doesn't even know his father, whom he last saw at the age of 4, is suddenly kidnapped, forced to live like a Muslim, detached from his family, country, friends and his whole life..."

For the three months since the boy was taken, the mother lived first in the local synagogue, and then in an apartment in Volgograd, where the father was keeping the boy. Help from Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, the Jewish Communities Organization of Russia and the Ramat Gan municipality facilitated this.

The turnabout came this past Monday, but not in the legal sphere. The Israeli Hebrew news site Ynet, which first broke the story, reported that Interpol police identified the boy in a store, apparently alone. They alerted Atty. Yael Yofeh, wife of Volgograd's Chief Rabbi. She informed the mother, and the two took a train to the store. They found the boy, but the father's new wife accompanied him. The mother managed to obtain the woman's permission to speak with her son, and mother and son quickly rushed into the waiting Interpol police car. They sped away, changed cars, and drove several hours northwards to Moscow. In the meantime, Atty. Yofeh alerted the Israeli Embassy, a travel agency was contacted, and Rabbi Lazar and his community purchased a plane ticket, and within a short time, mother and son were on an El Al plane home.

The boy appeared tired but healthy upon his arrival, and had no dramatic announcements to make. "It's good to be home, and I'm not going back to Russia," he said.

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