Mideast Report

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Tens of thousands of Israelis attended a mass rally Saturday night in support of religious Zionism at the same Tel Aviv square where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was slain.

The event was held to reaffirm the religious Zionist movement's goals — belief in settling all of the Land of Israel — in the wake of a backlash generated by the assassination of Rabin by a 25-year-old religious law student after a Nov. 4 peace rally.

National Religious Party leader Zevulun Hammer issued a call for national reconciliation without capitulation.

"We will not fold up our flag," he said. "With the rest of the nation we will examine what can be fixed, but we will not give up our principles."

Police estimated that 70,000 people took part in the rally. Organizers put the figure at 120,000. Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau said the gathering was meant to "expel the darkness."

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, a member of the Likud, said bullets should neither bring down the government nor silence legitimate argument.

"May we have good luck in our future battles for the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital," he said.

More organ donors since Rabin murder

JERUSALEM (JPS) — The number of Israelis joining the list of potential organ donors has tripled since Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, according to Idi, the organization that registers the names for the National Transplant Center in Petah Tikvah.

An Adi official said Friday that the number of new volunteers is a "barometer of the nation and an expression of its feelings and compassion for others."

Peace process gets record-high support

JERUSALEM (JPS) — One month before Palestinian elections, a poll indicates that 85 percent of Palestinian voters support the peace process and 69 percent will support Yasser Arafat for president of the elected council. Both are record highs since the surveys began after the 1993 Oslo accords.

The poll by the Nablus-based Center for Palestinian Research and Studies indicates that the most important problems facing Palestinian society today do not concern political issues like settlements and Jerusalem, but social issues such as unemployment (47 percent), declining religious belief (24 percent), and free speech (8 percent).

The support for the peace process and Arafat compares with previous highs of about 75 percent and 55 percent.

Support for Hamas dropped to 10 percent, from a high of 15 percent, while Arafat's Fatah faction scored 55 percent, up from around 45 percent. Other groups including independents each received less than 4 percent support.

Palestinian throws ax, wounding Israeli girl

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian threw an ax at a Jewish teen-age girl Tuesday in Hebron, slightly wounding her in the head.

The girl, identified as Tirza Daniel, 15, was released after being treated on the spot.

The assailant fled the scene, and security forces closed off the area. A number of suspects were detained.

After Tuesday's attack, Jewish residents from the Hebron area caused disturbances in the market. Some were detained on suspicion of trying to attack Arabs, Israel Radio reported.

Jewish settlers also called on Israel to crack down on violence. Last week, two elderly Jews were stabbed outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Meanwhile, the head of the Israeli army's central command issued orders Tuesday to 12 Jewish settlers from the Nablus area, restricting their movement.

Israel welcomes oldest immigrant

JERUSALEM (JPS) — The oldest immigrant on record in the history of the state, 111-year-old Tzippora Mataiyeva, arrived here Tuesday afternoon from Chechnya.

"My life's dream has come true," said Mataiyeva, who arrived safely on a Jewish Agency flight from Piyatrgorsk in the Caucasus. She was taken into the airport on a wheelchair and received flowers from Absorption Ministry officials.

Accompanied by her son, 74-year-old Nehemia, Mataiyeva left Ben-Gurion Airport for their new home in Or Akiva, where they have relatives. Another 30 new immigrants arrived on the same flight.

The Mataiyevas had lived in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, until shortly before war broke out. Mataiyeva's dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren are spread out through the volatile Caucasus region.

A few months ago, Nehemia decided to apply to the Israeli consulate for exit papers. The surprised officials who saw his mother's birth date, April 14, 1885, were unable to enter the last two digits as required into the computer because they would have created the impression that the papers were those of a child and therefore registered her birth year as 1900, Jewish Agency emissary Arye Privert said Tuesday.

Nehemia told reporters that until two years ago, his mother had managed her own household, doing all the cleaning and cooking alone.

Asked for the secret of her longevity, Tzippora said: "I always avoided doctors and medicines."