Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli soldiers have arrested 16 Islamic extremists in villages near the West Bank town of Jenin.

The crackdown on members of the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements took place over the weekend at the end of the 40-day mourning period for Dr. Fathi Shakaki, the leader of Islamic Jihad who was slain Oct. 26 in Malta.

The arrests came amid stepped-up Israeli security measures to prevent terror attacks by militant Islamic groups in retaliation for Shakaki's killing.

Islamic Jihad officials have maintained that agents of the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, were responsible for the shooting of Shakaki.

Israeli officials refused to confirm or deny their involvement.

Israel officially handed over control of Jenin to the Palestinians on Nov. 13. The weekend arrests took place in villages still under the overall control of Israeli forces.

FDA approves drug trials done in Israel

JERUSALEM (JPS) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will now recognize clinical trials of medicines carried out in Israeli hospitals.

The FDA decision is expected to raise the quality and increase the funding of research here, and is considered a major economic and scientific achievement for Israel.

It will also provide a shortcut for local companies whose products can be tested on patients here, rather than abroad.

Israel is only the second country besides Sweden to have such an arrangement with the FDA. Switzerland had such an accord, but the FDA canceled it after the agency said Swiss quality fell.

The deal was initiated by Health Minister Ephraim Sneh, who has met with FDA chairman David Kessler several times this year.

At the first meeting, Sneh suggested that Israel and the FDA cooperate in the field of clinical testing of medications and treatments on patients.

As a result, two large workshops on clinical testing were held here under FDA auspices. The first was attended by researchers and representatives of foreign companies that want to carry out medical experiments here, while the second guided Health Ministry staffers on quality assurance in the hospitals.

Kiryat Arba convict injured during attack

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Kiryat Arba man jailed for attempting to kill a Palestinian was listed Monday in serious but stable condition after he was beaten with a metal rod by another inmate.

Eitan Kahalani, who was convicted two weeks ago, was attacked in the Ayalon jail. Police suspect the attacker was a man serving two life terms for the murder of his sister-in-law and niece.

An investigation into the jail attack is under way.

Gay Gazan allowed to see Israeli partner

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli security forces have agreed to let a Palestinian Gazan visit his gay partner, a Jewish Israeli who lives in the center of the country.

The permission was granted after the homosexual couple appealed to Environment Minister Yossi Sarid.

Israel Radio reported that the permit was issued for a period of one month, but the security establishment told Sarid that it would become permanent, enabling the couple to live together.

The move came after Israel last month lifted a closure imposed on the territories in an effort to prevent suicide terror attacks during the Jewish holiday period.

Yeshivas alarmed about smoking deaths

JERUSALEM (JPS) — The yeshiva community is reeling from the deaths in the past two months of 12 yeshiva students, all smokers, from lung cancer.

Several of the students were married and fathers of several children, but a few were 16 to 18 years old.

The Rafeh (Medicine According to Halachah) organization has circulated a memo to all the yeshivot, listing the names of the students who have died and the cause of death. Included in the memo are warnings about the dangers of smoking.

Rare Lublin Ghetto photos in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JPS) — A pocket-size photo album, containing rare snapshots from the Lublin Ghetto, has arrived at Yad Vashem.

The album was found by Holocaust survivor Zvi Hershkowitz, who discovered it after the war in a house used by the Germans.

Researchers at Yad Vashem believe that the pictures were taken and collected by a Wehrmacht soldier who sent them as a "souvenir" to his comrades.

The album contains an inscription that reads: "Lublin, 10/5/1941. A modest memento to my girlfriends, from Alfred."

Researchers say many German soldiers and civilians had in their possession pictures of Jews being persecuted or put to death, or simply depicting the misery of Jewish life under the Nazi regime.

Among the many horrific pictures are the bodies of three Jews hanging in the central square of the ghetto.

The researchers say that the pictures of life and death in the Lublin Ghetto are unique.

At Yad Vashem, a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to be held shortly for a new archive building. The new archives will be computerized.