Mideast Report

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Internal Security Minister Moshe Shahal has called upon the Palestinian Authority to take stronger steps to crack down on militant Islamic fundamentalists.

"The Palestinian Authority is not doing enough to prevent terrorists," Shahal told Israel Radio. "It must do more than get at the activists and those carrying out the attacks."

Shahal's remarks came in the wake of Tuesday's slaying of an Israel Defense Force soldier at the Israeli-Palestinian liaison offices near the West Bank town of Jenin.

The soldier was identified as Staff Sgt. Ehud Tal, 22, of Kibbutz Maoz Haim, near Beit Shean. He was to have completed his army service in two weeks.

A 19-year-old Hamas activist, Mahmoud Sariyeh, who is from a refugee camp near Jenin, entered the office carrying two concealed knives. The IDF spokesman said Sariyeh set off a metal detector at the compound's public entrance and then was asked by Israeli security forces to remove his belt and jacket and pass through again.

The detector did not go off the second time. He then entered one of the buildings where Tal was, and stabbed him repeatedly.

IAF warplanes blast Hezbollah targets

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israel Air Force fighter jets struck at Hezbollah targets in the Jab'l Shaffi region of south Lebanon Tuesday, following an abortive car bomb attack in the security zone on Sunday night.

Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the targets of the air strike were bases for Hezbollah activities. The spokesman said the pilots reported accurate strikes and that all the planes returned safely.

News agencies reporting from Lebanon said two jets carried out three runs at the targets and fired six rockets. The reports said the warplanes came under anti-aircraft fire from Lebanese army gunners stationed in the area, but the planes dropped missile-deflecting balloons and were not hit.

There were no immediate reports of any Hezbollah casualties, although Hezbollah gunmen closed off the target area to Lebanese army troops and security forces.

Palestinian police detain Ofra resident

JERUSALEM (JPS) — An Ofra resident was detained by Palestinian policemen in Ramallah for an hour Tuesday, the second time in five days that Israelis have been detained in an autonomous Palestinian area.

Nissim Erez, a private contractor, was transporting four Romanian construction workers from Jerusalem to his settlement, near Ramallah, when a car with blue license plates signaled him to pull over and stop.

"When I pulled over," Erez said, "two men in civilian clothes got out of the car, along with another person wearing a Palestinian Police hat."

Erez said the men, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, took his identification papers, as well as a pistol, and told him to follow them to a Palestinian Police station.

Last Thursday, an Israeli couple who mistakenly drove into the Palestinian village of Dura in the Hebron Hills was detained for more than three hours by Palestinian policemen, before being released.

Israel, Palestinians now sharing sewage

JERUSALEM (JPS) — "Sewage knows no borders" is the motto of Palestinian and Israeli negotiators who are near agreement on a joint sewage treatment plant for Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

The German government has already agreed to fund the project at a cost of more than $100 million.

The plant is to treat sewage run-off from the two cities to the east. To the west, Israel is already building a new sewage plant for Jerusalem, to which Bethlehem will also likely be linked.

A Jerusalem city official said the east-west division in the sewage system had "nothing to do with politics. The mountainous terrain makes for a natural division where one part of the cities sewage runs off to the east, and the other to the west," he said.

Amid heavy rains last week, sewage from eastern Bethlehem and Jerusalem, including both Arab and Jewish neighborhoods, poured untreated into the valleys of the Judean Desert.

10,000 nature-loversprotest new highway

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Some 10,000 people took part in protest tours around part of the planned Trans-Israel Highway Saturday, according to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, which organized the event.

Many of the day-trippers signed a petition calling on the government to reconsider the north-south highway, and sent postcards to Prime Minister Shimon Peres asking him to halt work on the road.

The protesters toured the area around Tel Hadid, near the Ben-Shemen Forest, where work has just begun on the first stage of the road.

The large numbers of demonstrators caused serious traffic jams in the area.