- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004

ISRAEL

Groups will mark torture-victims day

JERUSALEM — Palestinian and Israeli rights groups are to mark Saturday’s international day for victims of torture with demonstrations of techniques used to extract information from inmates in Israeli prisons.

The event in Tel Aviv, timed to coincide with the U.N.-sponsored International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, is designed to raise awareness about conditions in Israeli jails, organizers said.

Israel’s Supreme Court banned the use of torture in 1999, except in certain cases when security forces deal with so-called “ticking bombs,” or suicide bombers. Shabtai Gold of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said it was “mostly Palestinians that are tortured in Israel prisons.”

“But we do not wish to differentiate between nationalities; we condemn the use of torture against anybody, worldwide,” he added.

IRAN

Hookahs included in antismoking drive

TEHRAN — Authorities are trying to snuff out one of the country’s favorite pastimes: the smoking of water pipes, whose apple and citrus tobaccos waft through most Persian restaurants.

Police said there is no focus on hookahs, saying the after-dinner relaxants simply had fallen victim to a directive banning smoking in all public places.

However, Health Ministry official Hassan Azaripour confirmed the ban.

“According to Health Ministry directives, the ban on water pipes will be implemented,” he told yesterday’s edition of al Sharq daily.

The government passed measures this month to control cigarette smoking. It is banned in public places, vendors cannot sell to people younger than 18, and all packets must carry health warnings in Persian.

Weekly notes

Yemeni troops besieged hundreds of supporters of firebrand preacher Hussein Badr Eddin al-Huthi yesterday after overnight fighting left two soldiers dead and five wounded near the Saudi border, tribal sources said. The army fired heavy weapons in the overnight clashes as the battle raged in three areas of Saada province, where several civilians also died, the sources said. … Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is under observation while trying a new medication, and no decision has been made on when or whether he will undergo back surgery for a slipped disk, the head of a German clinic said yesterday. “We will definitely make a decision in the next few days,” said Michael Meyer, head of the Munich-Harlaching Orthopedic Clinic, who flew to Egypt last week after Mr. Mubarak, 76, developed back pain that made it difficult for him to stand, let alone walk.

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