Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — In a precedent-setting ruling, an Israeli court has ordered the state to pay about $169,000 in damages to five Palestinians injured by Israeli soldiers during the Palestinian uprising.

The judge said the state failed to prove the plaintiffs had thrown stones and even if it had, breaking fingers is not considered reacting with "reasonable force."

Druze village riots over phone antennas

JERUSALEM (JPS) — At least 10 people, including five police officers, were injured Tuesday night during riots in the predominantly Druze village of Usfiya, south of Haifa.

The disturbances erupted when several youths set fire to a Cellcom monitoring station in the village after a series of attempts to dismantle antennas of the Motorola and Cellcom firms. According to townspeople, the youths dismantled 16 antennas.

The incidents followed complaints of an increase in the number of cases of suspected cancer among residents, which some blame on radiation from the phone companies' broadcasting stations.

Events took a turn for the worse Tuesday when Motorola maintenance workers were attacked at the entrance to the village, where they had intended to carry out repairs to one of the firm's damaged antennas. Cellcom workers who arrived to repair the fire damage to the company's monitoring station, housed in a gas station, also were attacked.

Police also came under attack from angry residents demanding the removal from the village of all mobile phone antennas.

Scores of people armed with rocks and sticks surrounded the police cars that arrived at the scene, trapping five police officers inside. After an hour, the five were released, although in the melee another officer tried to force his vehicle through the crowd, injuring five demonstrators, according to reports from the scene.

Anti-missile defense now in Israel's hands

JERUSALEM (JPS) — With band music and long speeches at the Palmahim Air Force Base, Israel on Tuesday took possession of the Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile defense system, as the country moved one step closer to erecting a missile shield.

"If Israel gets into an emergency situation in the near future, we will know how to put this system into operation in a matter of days," Air Force Maj.-Gen. Eitan Ben-Eliahu said.

The defense system's development was jointly funded with the United States.