Shorts: mideast

Internet seductress

convicted in Israeli teen’s murder

jerusalem (jta) | A Palestinian woman who used the Internet to lure an Israeli teenager into captivity for eventual murder was convicted of premeditated manslaughter.

The woman made contact with Ofir Rahum while chatting on the Internet. She told him her name was Sally and that she was an Israeli immigrant from Morocco. She lured him from his home in Ashkelon to Jerusalem, where he was kidnapped and killed.

The father of the boy told Israel’s daily Ma’ariv that he did not want the woman executed for luring Ofir to his death in 2001. “I don’t want her to be executed. I just want her to be punished and go to jail,” he said.

Second Jewish

soldier killed in Iraq

jerusalem (jta) | The campaign in Iraq has claimed a soldier believed to be the second American Jewish military casualty.

David Bernstein, 24, of Phoenixville, Pa., a first lieutenant with the Army’s 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade based in Camp Ederle, Italy, was killed in Taza, Iraq, when enemy forces ambushed his patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.

Bernstein’s father, Richard, called his son “an athlete and a scholar” who graduated fifth in the class of 2001 at the U.S. Military Academy, the New York Daily News said.

“He was an exceptional man and a wonderful person,” the elder Bernstein, now a Knoxville, Tenn., resident, told the Pottstown Mercury, a local newspaper covering Phoenixville.

Police to question

Sharon in probe

jerusalem (jta) | Ariel Sharon will be questioned by police in connection with two corruption probes, according to Israeli media reports.

The Israeli prime minister reportedly will be questioned regarding allegations of an improper loan he allegedly obtained during the 1999 primary election campaign, as well as allegations that he was bribed to promote a real estate project in Greece while he was foreign minister in the late 1990s.

Sharon’s predecessors, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, also were questioned by police in corruption probes, but charges were not filed against them.

Likud lags as local

elections commence

jerusalem (jta) | Local elections in Israel showed diminished grass-roots support for the ruling Likud Party.

Only 41 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots, a record low turnout.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s party lost three of the five main cities it controlled prior to Tuesday’s polls; according to early results, it kept another 62 local councils.

The Likud’s main rival, the Labor Party, took two more cities, ending up with control of eight of the country’s 12 major municipalities. Runoffs were planned in 10 municipalities due to poor voter turnout.

The local polls do not threaten Sharon’s national rule general elections are not scheduled until 2007 but some observers say they serve as a bellwether of public sentiment amid terrorism and economic malaise.