Mideast Report

JERUSALEM — The remains of an Israeli commando killed in Lebanon last year were expected to be returned to Israel this week.

Itamar Ilya died in a failed naval commando raid Sept. 5. Eleven other commandos died in the raid, but Ilya's was the only body not returned to Israel.

Now, in a deal mediated by France and the International Red Cross, Israel is due to return the bodies of 40 Hezbollah fighters to Lebanon in exchange for Ilya's remains. The exchange was slated to take place Thursday night.

Israel Television broadcast pictures Wednesday night of workers digging up the coffins containing the Hezbollah fighters in northern Israel. As part of the deal, Israel also was expected to release 10 Lebanese fighters being held in Israeli jails, while the Israel-allied South Lebanon Army would free another 50 it was holding in southern Lebanon.

In July 1996, Israel exhumed and returned to Lebanon the remains of 120 Hezbollah fighters in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who were taken captive in Lebanon in 1986.

Roman relics found under Haifa hospital

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Archaeologists have uncovered remains of a settlement dating back to the late Roman and Byzantine period, literally under the floor of Haifa's Rambam Hospital.

A mosaic floor — which apparently formed part of a container for storing liquids or for a wine press — was found under the hospital's radiology department during recent renovations.

That discovery only came about because of excavations at another part of the hospital complex where operating rooms are to be built.

Dror Barchard, archaeologist for the Antiquities Authority's Haifa district, said that the work had uncovered archaeological remains.

So far, the digging at this site, which started three weeks ago, has unearthed pottery shards, coins, storage jars, glassware and walls of a building, all of which date back to the Byzantine and late Roman period. Some remains from the Hellenistic period, around the third century BCE were also found.