Israelis showing profound shockover the death of Princess Diana

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TEL AVIV — "Wouldn't it have been great if fairy tales were for real? But you know as well as the rest of us that happy endings don't just ride in on the wind."

That was a message sent last year to Princess Diana by one of her tens of thousands of fans on one of the many Internet web sites devoted to her.

Its theme, prophetic in hindsight, could be heard Sunday in cities as far away from her homeland as Tel Aviv.

Diana's tragic end transcended borders and cultures, and Israel was no exception.

Everyone seemed to be mourning the death of Diana. Sad Israelis talked of her grace, beauty and charm, echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apt telegram of condolence to the British people.

Both morning talk programs, "Another Matter" and "It's All Talk," dealt almost exclusively with Di, her life and the media's role in her unexpected death.

Israel Radio's evening show, "Someone To Talk To," kept up the coverage.

The BBC World Service reported Jerusalem residents "as stunned as anywhere in the world — surprising in a country so occupied with its own problems."

In Gaza, Suha Arafat said, "I didn't know her personally, but I felt close to her because of our similar humanitarian concerns. She was a victim of journalists. It's too late now, but I hope they've learned their lesson."

In Tel Aviv the British Embassy was closed as usual on Sunday, but Nick Kopaloff, public relations director of JIA, an organization for British immigrants, said, "Everyone is in a profound sense of shock over Diana's death."

"It's almost like she wanted to die," the young owner of a watch store in Dizengoff Center said. "She was sick and tired of this life."

"From the moment she married that Prince Charles she didn't have a minute's peace, not one moment's happiness," an older woman in the store added.

"Lady Di was a tragic heroine: She had a self-destructive streak which drove her to it," said a foreign correspondent.

But Talma Admon, Ma'ariv's literary editor, had a different theory: "She was up against bigger, stronger forces. She didn't have a chance from the start. Her death reminds me of the fate of Marilyn Monroe — a female victim in a man's world. When she finally found a man who could envelop her with care and provide for her needs, she was brutally killed."

In the meantime, infighting among Israeli officials regarding who would attend Princess Diana's funeral on Saturday has apparently been a waste of time.

The British Foreign Ministry announced that VIP invitations are being extended only to people who knew the princess personally, to representatives of countries she visited or to charitable organizations with which she was associated.

A spokesperson for the British Embassy stated that Israel, "like many other countries," fits into none of these categories, according to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.