Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Israeli planes carrying food and supplies for famine-stricken areas of Ethiopia landed in Addis Ababa earlier this week.

On the order of Israel's military rabbinate, the aid includes matzah instead of flour, which could be used to alleviate the hunger of many more people.

Ariel Kerem, Israel's ambassador to Ethiopia, told Israel Radio the decision seemed "a bit odd," since the starving people are not Jews and not required to observe the laws of Passover.

Israeli officials warn of attacks from Iran

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli security officials are warning that Iran has decided to launch attacks inside Israel's borders, on Israeli diplomatic offices abroad and on El Al airliners following Israel's planned withdrawal from southern Lebanon in July.

Israel's three top daily newspapers quoted security sources as saying that Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed group fighting Israel in southern Lebanon, has already started planning attacks.

Meanwhile, Israel and Iran have been holding talks in Switzerland and other locations in recent months, according to the Washington Post. They reportedly discussed the trial of 13 Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel and the United States.

Israeli panel to rule on Arabs' return

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli committee was slated to decide Sunday whether to allow Israeli Arabs to return to two villages they evacuated during Israel's 1948 War of Independence.

Many residents of Birem and Ikrit fled to villages in northern Israel during the war and have waged court battles to force the government to allow them to return to their native homes.

Chabad rabbi hurt in Safed hit-and-run

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The chief rabbi of the Israeli town of Safed was listed in moderate to serious condition after an apparently deliberate hit-and-run attack. Safed police detained Meir Baranes, for allegedly trying to run over Rabbi Levy Bistrizky, a leading figure in the Chabad Lubavitch movement.

Baranes has been convicted by the Safed Magistrates Court for assaulting Bistrizky in a previous incident. He was also arrested last month for allegedly carrying out a death curse ceremony on Pope John Paul II prior to the pope's visit.