Mideast Report

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Yigal Amir has confessed in open court to killing Yitzhak Rabin, saying that he had shot the prime minister for the "glory of God" and did not regret his actions.

At the opening of his trial Tuesday in Tel Aviv District Court, Amir, a 25-year-old religious Jew, denied that the Nov. 4 shooting was premeditated and said he had nothing personal against Rabin.

Wearing a black kippah and a purple and black sweater, Amir was calm as he answered to each of the charges, as required by law, in the indictment sheet before him.

"My aim was to shoot him in such a way as to end his activity as prime minister, either by paralyzing him or, if there was no choice, by killing him," Amir said before Judge Edmond Levy.

Amir said that when he fired the first of three bullets that hit Rabin, he had aimed at the spinal column, not the head.

Amir has denied that he had conspired with his older brother, Hagai, and a friend, Dror Adani. Those two, along with Amir, face separate conspiracy charges. Amir alone is charged with murder.

Israel gives Pollard citizenship, passport

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israel granted citizenship and a passport to Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in the United States for spying for Israel.

The decision was made by Interior Minister Haim Ramon's predecessor, Ehud Barak, after efforts to obtain the citizenship by Pollard's wife, Esther.

Esther Pollard said the citizenship would help Pollard in his efforts to receive a pardon or a parole.

Six businessmen held in stock fraud

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Six businessmen jailed in a suspected stock manipulation case were ordered kept in custody this week.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court Tuesday extended by three days the remands of two J.M. Eini Metal Industries' senior managers, three brokers from the Estrategia firm, and a bank manager, all suspected of stock manipulation.

The six were arrested by Securities Authority investigators on Monday.

According to investigators, the price of J.M. Eini shares traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange rose 640 percent over the past six months, and volume of trade also increased dramatically.

The Estrategia brokers –Amnon Shani, Benny Sidon and Eli Nataf — and the senior managers, brothers Menahem and Ya'acov Eini, are suspected of artificially increasing trade volume and share prices.

Drug use on the rise as police arrest teens

JERUSALEM (JPS) — As reports of drug use rise in Israel, police in the Galilee say 114 area teenagers are using or dealing drugs, including hashish and Ecstasy.

Police have arrested 25 people, eight of them juveniles. More than 60 people have been questioned, and more arrests are expected, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Eli Dayan told the Knesset's War on Drugs Committee Tuesday that the Israeli Embassy and consulate in India helped return 24 youths last year after they became involved in drug use there and became ill or lost their money.

The embassy in Thailand last year helped return 10 Israelis and the bodies of two who died in drug-related incidents. Seven Israelis are serving prison sentences in Thailand for drug offenses and 15 more have been detained on drug charges.

Ex-judge and priest win '96 Israel prize

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, 71, and the Rev. Marcel Dubois, 76, were named winners of the 1996 Israel Prize on Tuesday for lifetime achievement and their contributions to the state.

Shamgar was a Supreme Court justice for more than 20 years and served as the court's president for 12. He currently heads the commission investigating prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination.

Shamgar, the judges said, had contributed definitively to the rule of law and human rights in Israel.

The French-born Dubois en-tered the Dominican order at age 18, was ordained in 1946, and came to Israel in 1962. As a philosophy professor at the Hebrew University from 1968 to 1988, he "opened young peoples' minds to the thoughts of Aristotle and the Scholastics. He has toiled to improve relations between the Christian and Jewish worlds," the judges said.

Settler's group vows to patrol West Bank

JERUSALEM (JPS) — The settler's group Zo Artzenu ("This is our land") has recently begun armed patrols on the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem road through Bethlehem, both to "demonstrate a presence on the road" and to "provide security" for Jewish travelers.

"The idea," said Shmuel Sackett, one of the heads of Zo Artzenu, is "to make sure that if a car carrying Jews breaks down, we will help the people, as opposed to the Palestinian Police."