Shorts: Mideast

Lag B’Omer draws thousands

jerusalem (jta) | Hundreds of thousands of devout Jews flocked to a holy site in northern Israel to celebrate Lag B’Omer.

Police posted 3,000 personnel at Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s tomb near the northern town of Meron to secure the celebrations on Sunday, May 9, at which pilgrims danced around bonfires and 3-year-old boys had their first haircuts.

Lag B’Omer commemorates Bar Yochai, a miracle-worker who evaded capture during the Roman occupation of ancient Israel, as well as his talmudic master, Rabbi Akiva.

The festival also ends the Omer mourning period that begins after Passover.

Double suicides shock Israel

jerusalem (jta) | An Israeli mother and son, both immigrants from the former Soviet Union, died tragically within days of each other.

Police said a 15-year-old Jerusalem youth who had been missing for two days hanged himself from a tree on Friday, May 7. The next day, his distraught mother disappeared, telling her husband in a note that she had gone to the forest outside the capital where her son’s body had been found. Her body later washed up on the shore south of Tel Aviv.

Police believe the mother also committed suicide, and that the double tragedy was a result of serious problems the family, which immigrated to Israel four years ago, had in adjusting to their new country.

Israeli Arabs win property fight

jerusalem (jta) | An Israeli Arab couple have won a nine-year battle to move to a Jewish town.

The Israel Lands Authority on Sunday, May 9, ordered the municipality of Katzir, in the Galilee, to allow Adel and Iman Ka’adan to move in.

The Ka’adans, from the nearby town of Baka al-Gharbiya, petitioned the High Court of Justice after their 1995 application to buy a plot of land in Katzir was summarily rejected on what they said were racist grounds. The High Court found in their favor in 2000, but it took another four years for the purchase to be arranged. The Ka’adans, who have four daughters, told reporters they plan to begin building a home in Katzir immediately.

They will be allowed to purchase the land at 1995 prices.

Iraq outcry reaches Gaza graveyard

jerusalem (jta) | Palestinians outraged by the abuse of Iraqi POWs defaced graves in a Gaza Strip cemetery for British war dead.

Thirty-three tombstones in the Imperial War Graves Commission Cemetery were found to have been smashed on Monday, May 10. Other graves were scrawled with swastikas or plastered with newspaper pictures of Iraqi prisoners apparently being abused by U.S. and British soldiers.

The cemetery houses the remains of 3,661 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the two world wars. A British Embassy spokesman said the attack is under investigation.