Mideast Report

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli court has charged an Israeli Jew with spying for Iran.

The Jerusalem District Court charged Herzl Rad, 31, with spying for an enemy country, endangering national security and having contact with foreign agents.

Rad, a Jerusalem clothing merchant, was arrested two months ago and has been held since then, according to local reports.

But news of the arrest was censored until this week, when the Shin Bet, Israel's domestic security agency, dropped its opposition to releasing the story.

News that an Israeli had been charged with spying for an Islamic country first appeared in the London-based Arabic paper Al-Wasat.

Israeli security officials denied the paper's report that Rad had been kidnapped by Mossad agents in Istanbul and flown to Israel to face charges.

Reports also said Rad, who was born in Iran, contacted the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul one year ago after going into debt, offering information in exchange for money.

After being questioned by Iranian officials in Istanbul in April, he was reportedly flown to Tehran, where he was recruited.

Rad's mission was to enter Israel Defense Force bases and obtain information, Israel Television reported. In return, he would receive $10,000.

Rad, who has denied all the charges, said he had been tortured by the Iranians and forced into being a spy.

Jerusalem hills burn again; arson hinted

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Several dozen acres of woodland in the Jerusalem hills were destroyed in a fire Monday, said officials, who believe that the cause was arson.

The fire occurred near the Sha'ar Hagai interchange in the Jerusalem corridor, not far from the site of a massive blaze last month that destroyed millions of trees.

Firefighters, aided by helicopters, got the blaze under control.

An initial inquiry showed that the fire had started in three separate places, which indicates arson, Israel Television reported.

Plan to net jellyfish for Far East palates

JERUSALEM (JPS) — A novel solution to the plague of jellyfish infesting the coastline again this summer appears to have been floated.

The Jerusalem Post learned Sunday that an Israeli concern is proposing to net large quantities of the jellyfish, preserve them in brine, and export them to countries in the Far East as an edible delicacy.

The company has already been in touch with a Japanese concern and sent them samples of the "ready-to-eat" jellyfish.

The Japanese company reportedly voiced interest in the proposition and plans are under way to establish what might become a flourishing export industry.

Jellyfish are considered a natural and tasty form of sea food in many Far East countries including Japan and Thailand. Those who have tasted the preserved-in-brine product say it has a taste and texture similar to that of squid.

Settlers' pirate radio broadcasts once more

JERUSALEM (JPS) — With a song, the Psalm of the day and an instrumental version of "Hello Dolly," Arutz 7 returned to the air Monday for its first full day of broadcast since its transmitters were impounded a week ago.

During the past week the pirate radio, considered "the settler's station," purchased new transmitters and resumed broadcasting from a ship about 12 miles off shore, outside Israel's territorial waters.

Much of the station's news program, between ads for settlements in Judea and Samaria and a Chassidic music concert, dealt with the controversy surrounding the police impounding the station's equipment, following a complaint by the Communications Ministry.

Communications Ministry spokesman Moshe Pearl said Monday the ministry has no comment on the renewal of the broadcasts.

Arutz 7 began its 1 p.m. newsreel with Moledet MK Rehavam Ze'evi, who along with five opposition MKs met on the ship to celebrate the renewal of the broadcasts.

1,000-year-old Bible smuggled to Israel

NEW YORK (JTA) — One of the world's oldest known copies of the Bible has been returned to Israel, smuggled page by page by Jewish immigrants from Syria, an Israeli newspaper has reported.

The Aleppo Codex, known as the Keter Aram Tsova in Hebrew, was written in Tiberias about 1,000 years ago. It is the first known Bible produced in book form and not on scrolls, said biblical scholar Menachem Cohen of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan.

It is considered the most authoritative and grammatically perfect copy of the Old Testament in existence, Cohen said.

The book is believed to have been seized in Jerusalem by 12th-century crusaders and sold to Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, where Maimonides is said to have studied it while composing some of his most important works.

It found its way to the Jewish community of Aleppo in northern Syria. The Jews there apparently guarded the book zealously, rarely allowing outsiders to see the parchment.

About two-thirds of it — 295 pages — was smuggled into Israel under still mysterious circumstances in the 1950s.