Shorts: mideast

Did the wrong body go to Hezbollah?

jerusalem (jta) | Israel may have sent the Hezbollah the wrong body.

Kul Al-Arab reported that a Lebanese family expecting the body of Muhamed Biro, a drug dealer who died in an Israeli prison when he was 70, instead received the body of what appeared to be an Orthodox Jew. Now, the paper reported, Hezbollah wants an additional 30 bodies as compensation for the mistake.

The body was transferred to Lebanon as part of an exchange of 400 Arab prisoners for one live Israeli citizen and three dead Israeli troops.

The Israeli army confirmed to Israeli news outlets on Friday, Feb. 20, that the case was under review, but said it had not heard of any new demands from the Lebanese terrorist group.

U.S. public support for Israel wanes

jerusalem (jta) | American public support for Israel has declined slightly over the past year. 

In its annual “favorability of nations” poll Feb. 9-12, Gallup found that 59 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of Israel to various degrees, versus 35 percent unfavorable, with 6 percent having no opinion. That’s down from 64-29 one year ago with 7 percent staying neutral.

Meanwhile, 76 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Palestinian Authority, 15 percent have a favorable view and 9 percent have no opinion. One year ago the ratio was 73-13, with 14 percent undecided.

Bus security system gets mixed results

jerusalem (jta) | Israel’s Egged bus company field-tested a system meant to spot suicide bombers before they board.

Five buses equipped with the driver-controlled entry turnstile were deployed in Jerusalem on Monday, Feb. 23, to a mixed reception. One Egged staffer noted that a terrorist successfully locked out by the turnstile could still detonate his bomb and kill the driver.

Qureia, Arafat face salaries showdown

jerusalem (jta) | The Palestinian prime minister is threatening to resign unless Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat allows more transparency in how he pays security forces.

Ahmed Qureia told Arafat that continued funding from the European Union depends on such transparency, according to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. Arafat has agreed to allow monitored payments to agents in security forces not under his control, but insists on paying agents who answer to him directly in cash.