- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 14, 2010

GAZA STRIP

Israeli forces kill 2 in strikes on militants

GAZA CITY | Israeli forces fired at Gaza militants from helicopters and tanks early Tuesday, killing at least two Palestinians and wounding three, witnesses and medics said.

The clash erupted Tuesday near a border crossing in central Gaza. The Israeli military said it struck a group of Palestinians planting explosives near the border fence.

The Islamic Jihad group said it clashed with Israeli forces who entered Gaza. The militants said they came under fire from a helicopter and Israeli tanks.

The body of a 23-year-old Islamic Jihad fighter was taken to a Gaza hospital immediately after the fighting. Later, a second body was retrieved from the area, said an Associated Press cameraman at the scene.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers have tried to maintain a cease-fire with Israel since the end of the Gaza war in January 2009. However, smaller militant groups sporadically carry out attacks.

EGYPT

Protesters criticize police brutality

CAIRO | Dozens of Egyptians on Tuesday demonstrated against police brutality and called for constitutional reform near the high court in downtown Cairo while hundreds of police looked on.

It was a rare case in the past year in which a political protest was permitted and erupted only a week after dozens of demonstrators were beaten and detained for a similar protest near parliament.

There were, however, some minor scuffles, and at least one man was beaten and arrested by police, witnesses said.

The demonstrators, who came from a number of loosely organized secular reform groups, draped themselves with Egyptian flags and held up signs reading, “Down with Mubarak,” and chanted for two hours.

SYRIA

Ex-official says Hamas wants to keep cease-fire

DAMASCUS | A senior exiled Hamas official says his group is interested in maintaining a cease-fire with Israel so as not to give the Jewish state a pretext to launch a new war against Gaza.

Moussa Abou Marzouk denied, however, that Hamas was preventing militants from other Palestinian groups from attacking Israel.

Islamic Jihad said Sunday that Hamas police detained several of its fighters in Gaza along with those from another group and made them sign pledges that they would not engage in attacks on Israel.

Mr. Abou Marzouk told the Associated Press in an interview that there was a “consensus” among Palestinian groups not to launch rockets against Israel for the time being but “sometimes violations happen.”

ISRAEL

Couple claim lottery’s $20 million jackpot

JERUSALEM | A couple who won Israel’s biggest-ever lottery prize came forward to claim the $20 million payout on Tuesday, saying they had no idea they had been holding the lucky ticket for nearly four months.

The couple appeared at a news conference wearing masks to protect their identities, and told reporters the winning ticket had been languishing near the bottom of a pile of papers and old lottery forms at their home.

They noticed the ticket this week and double-checked the numbers, discovering it was a winner.

“This win is thanks to my wife who pushed me to go check the tickets because otherwise I wouldn’t have found it,” the man said.

After determining they had a winning ticket, the couple made a late-night visit to a store shortly before closing to see how large the prize would be. The husband said a silence fell over the room as they began counting the number of zeros in the winning payout with the clerk.

“How much did we win, for God’s sake?” he said he recalled thinking. “Everyone there was pretty shocked.”

Israel often conceals the identities of lottery winners to protect their privacy. The couple wore red masks with the lottery agency’s logo at Tuesday’s news conference. The woman also wore a wide-brimmed black sun hat.

The two said they have no idea what to do with their newfound fortune and hinted that some of it may go to charity.

The $20 million prize is subject to a 25 percent tax in Israel, the lottery agency said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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