Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A U.N. commission has ordered Iraq to pay Israel's national airline nearly $7 million as compensation for economic damages during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Two Israeli families were also awarded a total of $200,000 for property damage from Iraqi Scud missile attacks.

El Al had asked for $70 million in damages, but the commission refused its request to compensate for a drop in passengers because of the war.

Nut vendor prevents Netanya bombing

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Prime Minister Ehud Barak has praised a Netanya nut vendor whose alertness and actions prevented a bombing at the city's central bus station on Dec. 24.

Police and the Shin Bet are searching for the man who planted the bomb. Witnesses said he was disguised as a fervently religious Jew. Netanya police chief Dep.-Cmdr. Shimon Shomroni said a West Bank terror cell is believed to be linked to the attempted attack.

Around 8:30 a.m. Dec. 24, the nut vendor noticed a black bag left outside his store at the bus station after, he said, a man dressed as an observant Jew entered the store and left in a hurry. The vendor questioned passersby and alerted the police, who immediately cordoned off the area.

Police used a robot to detonate the bag, which was found to have contained a pipe bomb packed with about two pounds of explosives and nails.

In November, a pipe bomb exploded in Netanya, wounding 34 people. Six months ago, a pipe bomb was discovered near one of the city's police stations and defused.

Women will serve in army combat units

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli Knesset has passed a law that opens the way for women to serve in combat units in the Israeli army.

The law, which could also extend the number of years women serve in the army from two years to three and allow them to serve reserve duty, gives legal backing to a trend already under way in the army to have women in increased fighting roles.

2 women promoted to top IDF positions

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz has promoted two women to top positions in the Israel Defense Force which were previously held only by men.

Col. Devora Hasid was appointed commander of the school for the Adjutant-General Corps. A longtime professional in the corps, Hasid will remain a colonel.

Lt.-Col. Miriam Garitzky was appointed to head of the IDF Manpower Branch's retirement section. Garitzky will be promoted to full colonel, bringing to 11 the number of female colonels in the IDF.

Court rejects appeal in Canada slaying

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli court has rejected a soldier's appeal against his arrest on charges he participated in the murder of a teen-ager in Canada last month.

Judge Daniella Wexler ruled that 19-year-old Daniel Weiz's appeal was filed too late.

Under an Israeli law passed last year, Weiz could be extradited to Canada for trial, but serve his sentence in Israel.

Army gets back stolen equipment

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel's army has gotten back nearly $500,000 in stolen equipment as a result of a six-week amnesty.

Among the items reportedly turned in to police stations and army bases throughout the country were explosives, bulletproof vests, helmets, communications equipment, classified maps, a missing machine gun and a commando raft.