Mideast Report

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JERUSALEM (JPS) — Two Israeli soldiers were killed and six others wounded in a roadside bomb attack in the Lebanon security zone Monday afternoon.

One of the soldiers killed in the attack, Staff Sgt. Zohar Doron, 21, of Kibbutz Lahav. The other was Staff Sgt. Magen Friedman, 24, of Moshav Nir Etzion.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred on the outskirts of the Druze village of Hatzbiyeh. A string of explosive devices were detonated one after another as a convoy of four Israel Defense Force vehicles were driving past.

Golan Heights Druze demonstrate for Syria

JERUSALEM (JPS) — About 400 pro-Syrian Druze who live in the Golan Heights protested Tuesday to mark the Yom Kippur War's 25th anniversary on the secular calendar.

The demonstrators, chanting slogans declaring that the Golan Heights belongs to Syria, marched through the streets of Majdal Shams — the largest of the four Druze communities on the Golan — to what is know as the "Shouting Hill."

The Shouting Hill is where Druze on the Israeli side of the border are able to shout messages to their relatives and friends on the Syrian side.

Speakers at a later rally also voiced their support for Syria in the present crisis with Turkey.

Assassination probe still focuses on Raviv

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein denies that the state is trying to evade taking actions again Shin Bet agent Avishai Raviv, who has been long implicated in Yitzhak Rabin's assassination.

The state simply needs more evidence before it can decide whether to press charges against him, Rubinstein said last week.

He was responding to Deputy Minister Michael Eitan, who is calling for a state commission of inquiry into Raviv's actions before the prime minister's assassination.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Eitan demanded that the commission examine whether the state attorney had hidden facts from the Shamgar Commission, which investigated the assassination.

Eitan asserts that he has information indicating that the motive for not pressing charges against Raviv was not state security, but rather an attempt to cover up for the mistakes of Raviv's bosses.

"A policy of allowing secret-service agents to disregard the law and regulations, in the knowledge that they will never be brought to trial, does not strengthen the [Shin Bet] but rather weakens it," Eitan wrote to Netanyahu.

Arab tennis player quits Israeli tourney

JERUSALEM (JPS) — A controversy over a flag prevented the first participation by a Palestinian tennis player in an Israeli-organized tournament over the weekend.

Raja Murad, 25, was invited to compete in the $50,000 ATP Yitzhak Rabin Men's Challenger tournament, which began Monday in Ramat Hasharon.

Murad, having no ATP ranking, was to try his luck in the qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday.

The situation turned sour when Murad arrived at the Israel Tennis Center, accompanied by Issa Rishmawi, president of the Palestinian Tennis Association, who insisted that the Palestinian flag be hoisted alongside the Israeli flag and those of the countries of the visiting players.

Officials at the center contacted the Foreign Ministry, which refused to grant permission for the flag to be flown. Murad dropped out.

Shekel dropping: four to the dollar

JERUSALEM (JPS) — On Tuesday, the exchange rate dropped to four shekels per U.S. dollar for the first time amid stormy trading on the money markets.

The shekel depreciated 2.04 percent against the dollar, with the central bank setting the rate set at 4.011 shekels per dollar midday Tuesday.

The shekel continued to depreciate in interbank trading later in the day. Dealers said the exchange rate reached 4.08 shekels per dollar in late trading.

Bank Leumi dealing room head Haim Formowitz said the main reason for the shekel's decline was the rise of the dollar abroad, saying that there is no evidence that the depreciation of the shekel was an outcome of a massive flight of foreign investors from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Israel gave great tips to U.N. on Iraqi arms

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel reportedly gave U.N. inspectors many of their best leads regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The United States supplied raw intelligence photos of Iraqi sites to the U.N. Special Commission that Israeli officials analyzed for weapons inspectors, the Washington Post reported last week.

Israeli intelligence officials, who regularly met with inspectors in New York and Israel, also supplied specific information on the program, including physical descriptions of trucks and depots used by the Iraqis to move banned materials.

Israel chief rabbis call safe driving a mitzvah

JERUSALEM (JPS) — The two chief rabbis ruled last week that obeying traffic laws is as important as following the Torah's edicts of self-protection.

"Not following traffic laws is dangerous — one must comply with traffic laws as if one was complying with the Torah's mitzvot in the matter of protecting one's self in regard to `protect yourself and your soul,'" wrote Sephardi Chief Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau.

"There is danger in any negligence," they added.

Bakshi-Doron and Lau also asked drivers and pedestrians to be alert and careful during Sukkot.