Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A donkey rigged with explosives blew up as a bus passed Sunday morning on the road from Jerusalem to Gush Etzion, near an Israel Defense Force roadblock and the ascent to Har Gilo and Beit Jala.

No one was wounded, though a bus passenger was treated for shock.

According to the army, a gas canister filled with explosives and metal rods was strapped to the donkey and a second, full of explosives, was placed next to it.

The bombs were detonated simultaneously by two cell phones.

Orthodox prayer cards help soldiers from afar

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Orthodox Union has sold some 14,000 credit card-sized cards featuring a prayer that those abroad can say for Israeli soldiers.

"We needed to find a way for diaspora Jewry to go beyond expressions of solidarity with the people in Israel," said Howard Rhine, O.U. senior vice president and chair of its Israel Task Force Initiative.

Proceeds from the sales are being donated to the Friends of the Israel Defense Force to assist injured and needy soldiers. Further information about the campaign is available at www.ou.org/israel

Saudi columnist backs Lieberman run

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Saudi columnist reportedly welcomed the candidacy of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), saying that as president Lieberman would go out of his way to prove he is not biased in favor of the Jews.

As a result, Lieberman would offer the Palestinians concessions never offered by any of his predecessors, columnist Walid Abu Murshid wrote earlier this month in the London-based daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, according to a translation provided by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute.

The fear that "the Jews will be blamed for everything done" by a President Lieberman, and the "requirement that the first Jewish president of the United States must prove that he places his Americanism ahead of his Jewishness," would wind up serving Palestinian interests, Murshid wrote.

IDF officer ousted for foiling an attack

JERUSALEM (JPS) — An Israel Defense Force intelligence officer was ousted from his post for disrupting an Israel Air Force plan to attack terrorist targets in the West Bank following the double suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv's Neveh Sha'anan quarter in which 23 Israelis and foreigners were killed last month.

In response to the attack, the army planned a number of reprisal operations in the Gaza Strip as well as in the West Bank against terrorist targets.

According to a report in Ma'ariv, the officer who held the rank of lieutenant failed to pass on to his superiors vital information needed to execute the operation, until after a high state of alert had been lifted.

The officer, who studied in the army's prestigious Talpiot program and served in a special intelligence gathering unit, was recently tried by his unit commander.