Israel in the News Aug/Sep 2000

Russians rescue Israeli boy after 10–month ordeal
HAARETZ—Prime Minister Ehud Barak expressed his gratitude to Russian President Vladimire Putin for the freeing of Adi Sharon, a 12–year–old Israeli boy. According to Russian news agencies, the 13 gang members responsible for the kidnapping were arrested.

However, Israeli security sources expressed their dismay at the decision of the Russian anti-terrorist unit to delay their operation to free the boy, whose location they allege was known to the Russians as early as December.

Adi Sharon travelled to Moscow to visit his father, who lived there. On August 23, 1999, during his visit, the two were kidnapped by a gang of men. The father was quickly released and a ransom was demanded for the boy. Following negotiations with the Russian Interior Ministry, the kidnappers, a mix of Chechens and Russians, agreed to lower their ransom demand.

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh was also brought into the picture because of his links with the MVD, the Russian anti-terrorist unit.

Sneh requested that the MVD act to rescue the boy as early as December, when the location where he was being kept became known, but he was told that they would act at an appropriate time.

Meanwhile, Adi was being kept in harsh conditions and by the time a rescue took place, six months after the location was known, he had not seen daylight for ten months, and had subsisted on bread and water.

A special unit broke into the basement where Adi was kept, while the cameras were rolling. Russian newsreels ran coverage of the operation.

In addition to the difficult conditions in which the boy was kept, the kidnappers tried to pressure his father by sending him two severed fingers from the boy’s hand. According to the Israeli Consul in Moscow, Moshe Bachar, Adi is in stable condition, but weak and terrified.

According to the Consul, Adi suffers mostly from malnutrition. He also says that he believes that Adi was the last Israeli kept by kidnappers in Russia.

In their conversation, Prime Minister Barak and President Putin discussed the details surrounding the boy’s rescue. Putin said that the whole Russian nation was concerned with developments in the case and that Russians were shaken by the affair. Barak told Putin that the rescue operation signals the determination to fight against terror and that serious governments around the world will not cave in under any form of violence.

Egypt will recognize Palestinian state
THE JERUSALEM POST (INTERNET EDITION)—President Hosni Mubarak said that Egypt would recognize a future Palestinian state, whether it emerged by agreement or was declared unilaterally.

“If a Palestinian state is announced we will recognize it . . . under any circumstances we will recognize it,” Murbarak told reporters at a news conference with outgoing Israeli President Ezer Weizman, who was on a brief farewell trip to Cairo.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, who met separately with Mubarak on his way back from Tunis, has said he will proclaim a state in September if negotiations with Israel fail.

Palestinian Minister for Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath told The Jerusalem Post that all those states that recognized the PLO’s November 1988 declaration of independence within the 1967 borders—including most Arab, African, Asian, and Islamic states—will automatically recognize the state when it is declared by Arafat in September.

Israel, African Jews to help victims of Mozambique flood
THE JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY ON LINE—Israel and the African Jewish community have pledged their support to Mozambique after recent flooding in the southern African nation.

The chairman of the African Jewish Congress and Israel’s ambassador to six African states assured Mozambique’s president, Joaquim Chissano, that aid to his country will continue.

“Thank you for your concern—we are optimistic because we have this international aid,” Chissano told an AJC delegation visiting Maputo.

Delegates to the AJC conference from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies handed over money collected from world Jewish communities—particularly in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand—to the Red Cross in Mozambique.

The proceeds will be used to establish a water purification plant in one of the resettlement areas.

About 19 Jews currently live in Mozambique and efforts are being made through the AJC, which is part of the World Jewish Congress, to reorganize this fragmented community.

Out of Mozambique’s total population of 4.5 million, 760,000 have needed assistance. Some 700 people have died as a result of the floods.

Sixty years after Holocaust daughter receives father’s will
IsraelWire—Batya Tiemens, a Jerusalem resident, received a surprising phone call: the caller from Holland told her that she had found the will written by Tiemens’ father, who died 60 years earlier in the Holocaust.

Tiemens, who was born in Holland, recently wrote a book titled Struggle and Victory about her life under the shadow of the events of the Holocaust. The book was publicized in Holland’s newspapers, and the name caught the eye of Marion Tan-Toya. Ten years ago, when Tan-Toya and her husband were renovating their home, they found a double bottom in a closet in the bathroom. Hidden there was a document case with the name Tiemens written on it. Tan-Toya made contact with Batya Tiemens and said that she wanted to visit Israel and personally deliver to Batya the last remnants of her parents and four siblings, who all perished in the Holocaust.

During the emotion-filled meeting between Tan-Toya and her husband with Batya Tiemens and her family, Batya told of the last time she saw her parents and siblings. Her father had been summoned to a work camp and knew that that meant death. Her father, mother, and four younger brothers went into hiding in another part of the city. Batya and her older brother went to hide in a different location. That was the last she saw of her parents and siblings. Later on, she heard that her family had been informed upon and were taken and shot in the street.

When Batya opened the document case, she found many family photographs, documents, and a will by her father, in which he divided his effects between his wife and children.

Hamas asks for free hand to fight Israel
REUTERS— The spiritual leader of Hamas called on the Palestinian Authority to allow the militant Islamic group to fight Israel. Sheik Ahmed Yassin urged the self-rule authority to stop security coordination with Israel and the United States which he said had “aborted and undermined” Hamas activities. “The Authority is required to stop coordination against Hamas so it can use the language Israel understands,” Yassin told Reuters. Hamas opposes IsraeliPLO peace accords and has killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings since the signing of the 1993 Oslo peace agreement.

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