Mideast Report

TEL AVIV (JPS) — Three men stole thousands of diamonds worth millions of dollars from the Dalumi diamond-cutting firm in Ramat Gan on Tuesday morning.

Masked and armed with pistols, the robbers sawed through the bars on the roof during the night to break into the fourth-floor firm.

"The employees started arriving at 7 a.m.," said Rafi Yerushalmi, one of the owners of Dalumi Diamonds, the firm's parent company. "Each of them was tied up [by the robbers], until the head director arrived and gave them the keys to the two safes."

The robbers held 20 employees at gunpoint. Distraught with fear, one employee accidentally stabbed himself with a knife that was lying on a nearby table and was later treated at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital.

The gang escaped in a blue Volkswagen Golf that was idling outside. The police responded with patrol cars, roadblocks and a search helicopter, but could not locate the getaway vehicle.

David Bar-Illan suffers heart attack

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Jerusalem Post columnist David Bar-Illan suffered a massive heart attack at his Jerusalem home last Friday night. He was rushed to Shaare Zedek Hospital, where he is in the intensive-care unit.

Bar-Illan, 70, was executive editor of the Post between 1992 and 1996, when he became director of policy planning and communications for then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He returned to the paper as a columnist last year.

Trial reportedly set for 13 Iranian Jews

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Thirteen Iranian Jews arrested last year amid allegations they spied for Israel and the United States will go on trial April 13, according to media reports in Iran.

According to Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the families of the 13 have been told to get a lawyer by the end of the week. Hoenlein has heard reports from inside Iran that some of the 13 are being targeted for conviction and that the remainder will be set free.

Sudan won't work with the 'Zionists'

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Sudan's president said the United States offered to improve ties with his Islamist-led government if it recognized Israel, according to the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat.

President Omar Hassan Bashir told the paper he declined the offer. "We refuse any relations with the Jews and Zionists, but we will work to improve relations with America," he said.

Army receives funds for Lebanon pullout

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel recently transferred $87 million to the army to prepare for a withdrawal from Lebanon, Israel Television reported this week.

The army has been building fortifications in northern Israel designed to protect residents from possible cross-border attacks.

Israeli soldier refuses to serve in Lebanon

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli military officials have jailed a soldier for four weeks for refusing to serve in southern Lebanon.

Tank technician Yigal Ben-Moshe, who had served before in the region, reportedly refused to return because he became frightened by recent Hezbollah attacks that killed seven Israeli soldiers.