Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions have spurred a rash of stabbings.

Early Tuesday in the West Bank, a 19-year-old Israeli soldier guarding the Omarim settlement south of Hebron sustained severe wounds in the head and chest after repeated stabbings by two assailants.

He was listed in serious but stable condition at Soroka Hospital in Beersheva. Israeli security forces carrying out searches in the Palestinian village of Dahariya arrested several suspects.

Meanwhile, Israeli police are investigating two earlier, separate stabbing attacks. In Jerusalem, a 50-year-old city resident was moderately wounded two weeks ago when he was stabbed in a public park near the King David Hotel, apparently by a Palestinian.

Near Hebron, an Israeli taxi driver was lightly wounded ltwo weeks ago when an argument erupted between him and his two Arab passengers.

Army chief seeks new military ties

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Amnon Shahak, left this week for visits to South Africa and Thailand with the goal of strengthening Israel's military ties with the two states.

Israel has been concerned by a South African proposal to sell tank firing systems to Syria.

In another development, Turkey's defense minister is due to visit Israel next month in what will be the first such trip by such a Turkish minister.

During the past year, Israel and Turkey strengthened their military ties with several cooperation agreements — including plans for joint air maneuvers in Turkish air space — that have drawn sharp criticism from Arab states.

Netanyahu attends ceremony for Rabin

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Members of the Rabin family joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Shimon Peres and other public figures at a cornerstone-laying ceremony held two weeks ago at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Ramat Aviv, near Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu shook hands with Rabin's widow, Leah, who has accused the Likud leader of contributing to a violent political atmosphere that preceded her husband's assassination in November 1995.

Despite the prime minister's gesture, about a dozen people walked out in protest when Netanyahu rose to address the gathering.