Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JPS) — Many Palestinian couples in Nablus, the largest city on the West Bank, have begun naming their newborn babies after Saddam Hussein.

According to the London-based pan-Arab daily al Quds al Arabi, the favorite name for Palestinian families in the city these days is Saddam.

"Many Palestinians are proud of this name," the paper's correspondent, Ala Badarneh reported from Nablus. "Many families are also keen on keeping posters of Saddam Hussein in their homes."

Terror groups show solidarity for Iraq

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade called for attacks on U.S., British and Israeli targets around the world because of the war in Iraq.

The group, which is affiliated with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah Party, said the three countries are attempting to take control of Arab and Muslim resources through "terror and massacres."

Palestinian Authority officials said the statement does not reflect official Fatah policy. Meanwhile, Hamas declared Monday a day of fasting in support of Saddam Hussein.

Court melee mars hearing on 'Jenin' film

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A courtroom outburst forced the suspension of a hearing in Israel on a petition challenging the censorship of a film about last year's battle in the Jenin refugee camp.

Army reservists and relatives of fallen soldiers shouted at High Court judges who had rejected their request to present their arguments, Army Radio reported.

The court was hearing a petition March 20 filed by Israeli Arab filmmaker Mohammed Bakri. "Jenin, Jenin" was barred by the censorship board from commercial distribution in Israel.

Arab families want prisoners moved

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The families of Palestinian security prisoners being held at an Israeli prison in the Negev are seeking international backing to have their relatives transferred to a facility in northern Israel.

They argued Saturday that being held in jail near the Dimona nuclear facility exposes the prisoners to the danger of Iraqi Scud missiles targeting the area.

Gas mask decisionriles IDF officials

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel defended its decision to have citizens open their gas mask kits after the United States attacked Iraq last week.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the instructions were necessary because the chance of an Iraqi missile attack on Israel, while minimal, still exists.

Mofaz's comments, made Sunday, came after Israeli army officials criticized the decision to order residents to open their gas-mask kits when the war on Iraq began.

"This is one big scandal. The country wasted billions of shekels over such a small possibility that it would be attacked," one senior source in the army's Home Front Command told the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.