Standoff in Hebron
About 150 Palestinian gunmen surrendered Wednesday to Israeli troops who had surrounded the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Hebron. Among the 150 were 20 Palestinians wanted by Israel for suspected terror activity. The surrender came after a tense standoff punctuated by exchanges of machine gun fire. In another development Wednesday, Israeli troops arrested seven suspected Palestinian terrorists in a village near Hebron. In a separate incident near Nablus, Palestinians detonated four bombs near Israeli troops in the Balata refugee camp, but did not cause any injuries. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians fired mortar shells late Tuesday night at a settlement, but there were no injuries.
Pressure on UNRWA
Israel is mounting a campaign to get U.N. officials who work in Palestinian refugee camps to help stop suicide bombings. According to Reuters, Israeli officials may be trying to get U.S. legislators to attach strings to U.S. aid to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which Israel believes has turned a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism, much of which is carried out using the camps as cover.
Sharon Won't Be Tried
A Belgian appeals court ruled against trying Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for alleged war crimes. The three-member panel ruled Wednesday that Belgian law requires that a defendant be in Belgium for a case to proceed. Now that the case has been thrown out, Sharon can visit Belgium, lawyers said.
Israeli MIA's Mother Dies
Batya Arad, the mother of captured Israeli air force navigator Ron Arad, died Sunday at 68. Batya Arad was a tireless campaigner to rescue her son.
Ron Arad was captured by the Amal militia after bailing out during a mission over Lebanon in October 1986. Amal handed Arad to Hezbollah, which apparently gave him to Iran.
His whereabouts have not been known for years, and it is not clear if he is still alive. Batya Arad, an educator, donated her body to science.
'Under God' Unconstitutional
Jewish groups criticized a U.S. appeals court decision that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional. The court ruled Wednesday that the two words, which the U.S. Congress added to the pledge in 1954, amounted to an endorsement of religion.
Marc Stern, co-director of the American Jewish Congress' legal department, said the decision could discredit the whole issue of church-state separation in the public's eyes.
Arsonist Beats Guard
A white supremacist who torched three California synagogues in 1999 allegedly fractured a jail guard's skull during a failed escape. Benjamin Matthew Williams attacked the guard with a handmade weapon Saturday during the attempted escape with another inmate. Prison officials believe Williams and the other inmate were planning to take the guard hostage, but other guards responded to the beaten guard's calls for help, according to The Associated Press.
Williams and his brother, James Tyler Williams, are serving 30- and 21-year sentences, respectively, for the arsons at the synagogues near Sacramento, Calif.
They are still awaiting trial on charges they killed a gay couple in 1999.
CNN Exec Denies Anti-Israel Bias
CNN's chief news executive denied claims of an anti-Israel bias in the network's coverage of the Middle East. The network dispatched Eason Jordan to Israel amid threats from cable and satellite television companies to cease broadcasting CNN because of its alleged bias. Jordan said Sunday that the network seeks to provide fair and balanced coverage, though he admitted that some mistakes had been made. Among them, he said, was the decision to give airtime to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Man Found Guilty of Shul Threats
A Minneapolis man was convicted for threatening to burn or blow up several area synagogues. Gary Sigmund Corum, 52, was convicted Tuesday by a federal jury on all six counts of the indictment. Corum faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of three counts of obstruction of religious beliefs, and up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of three counts of making bomb threats. A sentencing date is expected in eight to 10 weeks.
No Patrols in Brooklyn
A Brooklyn's rabbi's vow to put armed patrols on the streets apparently failed to materialize.
Repeating a vow he made several weeks ago, Rabbi Yakove Lloyd said some 50 followers would patrol Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn on Sunday night.
Lloyd had said his patrols would meet at two Brooklyn street corners, but the only people who arrived Sunday night were reporters, police, community leaders and curious residents. Nonetheless, Lloyd said Monday the patrols had gone ahead as scheduled.
Baltimore Leader Steps Down
The veteran leader of Baltimore's Jewish federation is stepping down. Darrell Friedman, president of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, said he will resign, effective June 27, 2003, after 16 years with the organization. His announcement comes at a time of record growth for the federation, which raised $29.3 million so far this year and has in recent years taken in some $30 million annually. The Associated will launch a search committee to find a successor to Friedman, who did not disclose his plans other than to say that he'll remain active in Jewish life.
Briefs by Jewish Telegraphic Agency.