Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A second suit has been filed by a relative of the victims of last July's bridge collapse at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.

The husband of Elizabeth Sawicki filed a $3.5 million negligence suit in Jerusalem District Court against the Jewish state, the event's organizers and the builders of the bridge.

Four Australian athletes were killed and dozens of others injured when a pedestrian bridge collapsed at the Ramat Gan stadium during the Games' opening ceremonies, plunging scores of people into the river below.

Sawicki, 47, died of lung complications that hospital officials attributed to contaminants in the river water.

A public commission found that the accident was caused by a chain of failures involving the bridge's planning and construction.

In December, five Israelis were charged with negligent homicide in connection with the collapse.

The five included the contractors, the bridge's engineer, the subcontractor and the head of the organizing committee for the Games.

Israeli figure skaters struggle at Olympics

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israel's contingent at the Nagano Winter Olympics skated to disappointing finishes last week.

Misha Shmerkin fell twice during the men's figure skating free-program event to place 18th overall out of 24 skaters, two spots below his Lillehammer result four years ago. He had been in 14th place after his short program.

At age 28, this is Shmerkin's last Winter Olympics.

Israel's other two team members were Galit Chait, 23, and Sergey Sakhnovsky, 22, who train in Delaware. They finished 14th out of 24 entries in the ice dance competition.

Jordan airspace closed to IAF for Iraq sorties

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan Saturday said that the Israel Air Force would not be given permission to fly over Jordan en route to prospective operations in Iraq.

His statement on Swedish television was apparently aimed at signifying how far Amman would go should a military confrontation erupt. During the Gulf War, Jordan sided with Iraq diplomatically, but shied away from taking sides militarily.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai cautioned Iraq Saturday not to put Israel "to the test" and hinted it would retaliate forcefully if it came under attack.

"We are a peace-loving people and we will act under any circumstances to ensure peace and security to all our citizens," Mordechai said during a Likud gathering in Safed.