Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The fighting in Lebanon has once again spilled over into northern Israel.

The Israel Defense Force confirmed Tuesday that Hezbollah fighters had fired several Katyusha rockets at an Israeli army base on the Israeli-Lebanese border and that one of the rockets had fallen into northern Israel.

The rocket landed in an open field in the western Galilee. No one was injured.

Earlier this month, a series of Katyusha rockets slammed into northern Israel following intense fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah gunmen in southern Lebanon. At that time, too, the rockets caused no injuries.

Also Tuesday, rockets fired by Hezbollah gunmen landed near Israeli positions in the southern Lebanon security zone. There were no reports of injuries or damage in these attacks.

Palestinian police arrested in attacks

HEBRON (JPS) — Israeli forces have arrested a Palestinian police officer allegedly linked with previous attacks on Jewish settlements.

Israel has also demanded that the Palestinians immediately arrest a senior police officer in the Palestinian-held West Bank town of Nablus suspected of ordering attacks on settlers.

The latest arrest came after the Israeli army closed off the city of Nablus yesterday following the arrest of three Palestinian policemen who the army claims were on their way to attack the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha.

Palestinian Police denied that the three policemen were on their way to attack Israelis

A senior Palestinian police official said the three, one of whom was wounded during the arrest and hospitalized, were in pursuit of a "suspicious vehicle." The source admitted the three violated the Oslo Accords by entering Israeli-controlled areas with weapons.

Moslem leader calls settlers `sons of pigs'

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israeli leaders have blasted a sermon by the Palestinian Authority-appointed Muslim religious leader of Jerusalem, in which he branded Israeli settlers "sons of monkeys and pigs," and called for America's destruction.

Mufti Ikrama Sabri, addressing Moslem worshippers in Jerusalem's Al-Aksa Mosque, charged that the United States "is ruled by Zionist Jews," that President Bill Clinton "is fulfilling his father's will to identify with Israel," and that "Allah will paint the White House black!"

Sabri, whom the Palestinians appointed to replace his Jordanian-backed counterpart and rival, also said, "Allah shall take revenge on behalf of his prophet against the colonialist settlers who are sons of monkeys and pigs."

Israeli officials said the sermon violated the Oslo Accords, which call for the prevention of incitement, and criticized a top Palestinian official who attended the sermon for not protesting.

Israeli prices climb 1.1 percent in June

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel's June cost of living index rose by 1.1 percent.

The Central Bureau of Statistics attributed the increase to the devaluation of the shekel against the dollar.

The weaker shekel made imports costlier for Israelis.

The bureau said the increase was also due to a 2.4 percent rise in housing prices. The prices of education, entertainment, communications, clothing and food increased as well.

Smoking on flights of 5 hours banned

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israel's High Court of Justice has ruled that Israeli-owned commercial airlines must ban smoking on flights of up to five hours starting in August.

Israeli airlines now ban smoking for only up to two hours.

The court criticized the practice of allowing smoking on flights to Britain that continue to the United States, under which airlines say the transatlantic flight is "part" of the shorter flight to Europe and "too long" for smokers to go without tobacco.

El Al, which has been sued by a number of its stewards and passengers, has promised to ban smoking on all flights if foreign airlines make the same routes smoke-free as well.

Bikes given away in anti-traffic battle

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Ramat Hasharon town council has come up with a novel way to try to cut down on traffic jams: Make bicycles available to residents for free.

Taking the lead from Amsterdam, the municipality north of Tel Aviv has purchased a fleet of bicycles, which will be painted white and placed around the city.

The town hopes that residents will use them to move through the center of town and then leave them for others to use.

A town official said he hopes no one will steal the new transportation system.

Cell phones, punks mark Arad festival

ARAD (JPS) — Nose rings, tank tops and cellular phones were the rage at the 15th Arad pop festival Tuesday, as thousands of teens camped out for the three-day event.

To prevent a reoccurrence of the stampede that killed three people at the festival two years ago, hundreds of police, border patrol and private security guards were dispersed throughout the northern Negev Desert town.

Families of the three victims of 1995's festival held a vigil in Arad yesterday to protest the continuation of the festival.

"I'm not afraid to be here," said 15-year-old Tomer Ron of Yavne, who was mildly injured in the stampede two years ago.

The atmosphere was "punkers meet Woodstock" — teens with spiked, bleached hair and tie-died T-shirts lay around the central square singing, playing guitars or dancing.