Israel in the News Apr/May 1994

Wave of riots after Hebron massacre

Arabs rioted both within and across the Green Line in response to the massacre at the Machpela Cave (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hebron. The IDF said 54 Palestinians were killed in the shooting at the tomb and the ensuing disturbances in Hebron. Thirty-nine of them were killed when Dr. Baruch Goldstein, a Kiryat Arba resident, entered the tomb and fired nearly 100 bullets from his Galil rifle into a group of Palestinian worshippers.

Goldstein’s gun then apparently jammed, and he was overcome by worshippers and beaten to death, military sources said. PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat told Reuters that he would only agree to continue the peace talks if Israel disarms Jewish residents of the territories. President Clinton suggested moving the Israel-PLO talks to Washington in an attempt to keep them on track.

In the ensuing rioting, at least 10 more Palestinians were killed, but the IDF was unable to provide exact casualty figures. Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin was quick to condemn the Hebron killings, issuing a statement only hours after the event, calling it a “loathsome, criminal act of murder.” President Ezer Weizman said it was “the worst thing that has happened to us in the history of Zionism.”

Cabinet moves to crack down on extremists

The cabinet examined proposals on steps to crack down on Jewish extremists.

Police Minister Moshe Shahal noted that military commanders in the territories already have the power to take a variety of steps in an “emergency” against those who are deemed a “danger to the public.”

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin met with senior security officials following the Hebron massacre to discuss ways of preventing the situation in the territories from deteriorating.

In his denunciation of the killings, Rabin said the massacre was due to the “crazed action of a psychopath,” and extremists on both sides should not be allowed to succeed in preventing reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Speaking on Israel Radio, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said: “This is a moral disgrace for this nation. This madness will hurt our political situation, and I would not make light of this. It could accelerate the peace process but also complicate it.”

15 area families want out

Some 15 Jewish families from the territories, most from Ariel, last week called on the Knesset to help them leave immediately. The request was made in defiance of Prime Minister Rabin, who has said he does not want to encourage Jews to leave the territories at this time.

No rabbi, please

The Vatican does not want a rabbi as Israel’s first ambassador to the Holy See, Italy’s leading daily, Il Corritre Della Sera, has reported in Rome, quoting the Vatican’s deputy foreign minister,” Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli. His comments were apparently a response to speculation that Rabbi David Rosen, official adviser to the Israeli delegation negotiating with the Vatican, was being considered for the post. According to the Corriere report, Israel Lippel, a senior official of the Religious Affairs Ministry, has reacted with indignation. “Maybe we should wait a generation,” he said. “It seems things aren’t yet ripe for peace between the Jewish people and the Church.”

1.5m Jews in former USSR

Surveys taken by Jewish Agency emissaries in the former Soviet Union indicate that the remaining Jewish population numbers approximately 1,434,300. Jews have been located in 208 communities, with the largest concentration of 656,000 living in Russia. Ukraine, with 474,000, has the second largest Jewish population. The survey also found that 148,000 Jews live in the Moslem republics, and 80,000 in regions of tension. The figures tend to contradict the long-held belief that there are more than 5m Jews in the former USSR.

Immigrants to get ‘no fault’ health coverage

The government has signed an agreement with Kupat Holim Chalit to provide health coverage to new immigrants regardless of their age or health, the Absorption Ministry said recently. The agreement, signed in coordination with the Health, Absorption, and Finance Ministries, will be followed by similar agreements with the other health funds, the ministry said.

Under the agreement with Chalit, an immigrant is to be immediately eligible for all types of medical treatment provided by the health fund; no patients may be I turned down, even those suffering from serious diseases.

JNF restoring rivers

The Jewish National Fund is planning to employ 3,500 new immigrants to help restore the country’s rivers this year, and to create parks and recreation areas at more than 100 sites along those riverbeds.

(All articles are taken from The Jerusalem Post)

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