Mideast Report

Palestinians readying for a possible attack

JERUSALEM (JPS) — The Palestinian Authority is preparing for a possible Iraqi biological weapons attack, even though the Palestinian Authority calls for the lifting of restrictions on Iraq and opposes U.S. military action, Palestinian Health Minister Riyad Zaanoun said on Friday of last week.

During an interview with Aaron Lerner, director of the Independent Media Review and Analysis, Zaanoun said the Palestinian Authority has approached the World Health Organization and the U.S. Agency for International Development for technical help.

In addition, Zaanoun said supplies of penicillin are being increased. Currently, there is enough stock to last for three to six months of average use.

Also, he said Palestinian officials have asked the WHO to supply protective clothing, vaccines and relevant medication and have also lodged a similar request with the U.S. Consulate.

IDF alert system gives faster warnings

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Should Iraq choose to bombard Israel with missiles, Israelis will have more time to prepare than they did during the 1991 Gulf War.

Since the Gulf War, the IDF has improved the system meant to pick up launches of incoming missiles. During the Gulf War, the warnings were often delayed by a few precious minutes, between the time when an American satellite would pick up a launch and downlink it to the United States for a call to be put through to Israel.

Today, the warning would be automatically bounced back to Israel through a communications satellite in almost real time. Once the warning arrives, it is expected to take just nine seconds to operate a network of sirens installed in areas under serious threat. In all, about 350 sirens have been installed in nearly every settlement.

Non-terror murders in Israel rose in 1997

JERUSALEM (JPS) — A total of 211 people were murdered in Israel last year, including those killed in terror attacks; 192 murders were non-terror related.

This represents a 60 percent increase in the number of non-terrorist murders since 1996, when there were 189 murders, 120 of them non-terrorist.

There were 16 murders of women by their husbands or lovers. In half of those cases, the murdered woman had filed a prior complaint with the police.

There was a rape every 12 hours, and a sexual molestation every five hours.

Police Inspector Gen. Yehuda Wilk acknowledged the significant rise in crime last year, particularly in family violence and theft.

He said Sunday that some 46,000 vehicles were stolen, a rise of about 25 percent, adding that this year the police will concentrate on combating car theft.