Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel's Health Ministry is warning about a possible breakout of rabies.

The warning comes after an Israeli man died of rabies Tuesday — the third fatality in Israel from the disease in the past year.

The latest incident also prompted calls from the Nature Reserve Authority for a campaign to immunize wild animals.

The reports of rabies were the first in humans in Israel in some 40 years, health officials said.

Israel unemployment causes violent protests

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rising unemployment in Israel has brought warnings that a "social explosion" is imminent.

The predictions were borne out Tuesday, when laid-off workers took part in violent protests in the southern development town of Ofakim.

The protests took place one day after official figures showed a 1.2 percent rise in unemployment in November.

The statistics, which indicated that 151,600 Israelis were out of work, put unemployment at its highest levels in five years.

The unemployment figures indicated that 15 towns and settlements have more than 10 percent unemployment rates, and that development towns in the Negev have been particularly hard-hit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed an emergency team to look into the matter of rising unemployment.

Hebron movement co-founder is jailed

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli court has sentenced one of the co-founders of the Hebron settlers movement to six months in jail.

Rabbi Moshe Levinger also received a six-month suspended sentence and a fine of about $2,300 for assault and disturbing the peace three years ago in Hebron.

Levinger was convicted of disturbing Muslim prayers at Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994 and of blocking an army commander from entering Kiryat Arba, a settlement located near Hebron.

In 1990, Levinger served three-and-a-half months of a five-month sentence for killing an Arab shopkeeper in Hebron during a 1988 stone-throwing incident.

Prior to that, he also received a four-month sentence for assaulting an Arab family and insulting an Israeli soldier.

Israel's cost of living falls .3% in November

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel's cost of living index fell by .3 percent in November.

The decline fit in with forecasts for sluggish economic growth during the coming year.

Israel's economy is expected to grow only by about 2 percent in 1998, following several years of record growth.

The November figure brings annual inflation to an estimated 8 percent for all of 1997. The government had set a target of 7 to 9 percent.

The drop in the cost of living was attributed to declines in the prices of produce and housing.

Israel rescue squad is training Palestinians

NEW YORK (JTA) — Israel's emergency rescue service is training Palestinian paramedics and ambulance drivers.

The training program by Magen David Adom comes at a time of high tension between Israel and the Palestinians because of the stalled peace process.

Despite the problems in political negotiations, Dr. Shlomi Antebbi, Magen David Adom's president, agreed to a request from the chairman of the Palestinian Red Crescent, Dr. Fathi Arafat, to train the Palestinians.

About 25 Palestinians are participating in the course. They will join the staff of the Palestinian Red Crescent, which operates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The three-week course, which began Nov. 30, involves training in ambulance driving and equipment and medical treatment, including first aid in various emergency situations.