- - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ISRAEL

Israel rejects challenge to West Bank barrier path

JERUSALEM — The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected a Palestinian village’s appeal to reroute a section of Israel’s West Bank barrier straddling the Jerusalem municipal border, saying the petitioners didn’t prove the barrier would smother the village.

Residents of Walajeh village had claimed the path of the section under construction would cut them off from their farmlands, cemetery and water source. Israel says the barrier, which at multiple points dips inside the West Bank, is crucial to keep out Palestinian attackers.

Walajeh, a community of 2,000 on Jerusalem’s southwest edge, is almost entirely surrounded by Jewish settlements.

The planned barrier would completely encircle the village with a fence, cutting it off from most of its open land, according to an Israeli Defense Ministry map.

Locals have demonstrated against the barrier’s construction for five years, in at least one instance lying down in front of bulldozers.

But Chief Justice Dorit Beinish ruled Monday that the barrier saves Israeli lives because it “blocks terrorists from entering Jerusalem.”

SYRIA

Troops kill 7 after U.N. team visit

BEIRUT — Syrian security forces killed at least seven people in the restive central city of Homs soon after a U.N. humanitarian assessment team left the area because the security situation was deteriorating, activists said Tuesday.

Monday’s bloodshed came as the overall death toll from President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on the five-month-old uprising in Syria reached 2,200, the United Nations said.

The U.N.’s top human rights body voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to demand that Syria end its crackdown and cooperate with an international probe into possible crimes against humanity.

The U.N. assessment team had been advised to leave Homs for security reasons when “a protest situation developed,” U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday in New York.

“The mission did not come under fire,” he said.

IRAN

Iran shows off new cruise missile

TEHRAN — Iran’s president claimed on Tuesday that the country’s military can cripple enemies on their own ground as Tehran put a new Iranian-made cruise missile on display, the latest addition to the nation’s expanding arsenal.

The state TV reported that the new missile, showcased at a ceremony in Tehran, is designed for sea-based targets, with a range of 124 miles and is capable of destroying a warship. It can travel at low altitudes and is lighter with smaller dimensions.

“The best deterrence is that the enemy does not dare to invade,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during the ceremony.

As he spoke, state TV showed footage of the weapon, dubbed “Ghader,” or “Capable” in Farsi.

Iran has an array of short and medium range ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in the region, including Israel and U.S. military bases in the Gulf.

LEBANON

Hezbollah: Libyan rebels can solve 30-year case

BEIRUT — Hezbollah has called on the Libyan rebels to help uncover the fate of Moussa al-Sadr, a charismatic Shiite cleric who disappeared during a trip to Libya more than 30 years ago in a case that many blame on Moammar Gadhafi.

The mystery of the missing imam remains a keen issue for Shiites in Lebanon, including leaders of the powerful Hezbollah movement.

Framed photos of Mr. al-Sadr adorn the shops and homes of Lebanese Shiites, and the day he was last seen, on Aug. 31, 1978, is marked annually in Lebanon.

Most of Mr. al-Sadr’s followers are convinced Col. Gadhafi ordered him killed in a dispute over Libyan payments to Lebanese militias, but the imam’s family argues he could still be alive in a Libyan jail.

Now that Col. Gadhafi’s regime appears to be crumbling, Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah told the rebels that the Lebanese “are looking to you” to locate the imam and his traveling companions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports