Briefly: Middle East
Many of the earlier attacks in recent days targeted Iraq’s Shiite majority, raising fears of a serious outbreak of sectarian violence following the withdrawal of U.S. troops last month. Large-scale sectarian fighting pushed the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-7.
Tuesday’s youngest victims were the three boys, nine and 10 years old. They were hit by a roadside bomb on their way to school near Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, police and hospital officials said.
Northwest of the capital, two agriculture ministry workers were killed and a third was wounded when a bomb stuck to their car exploded in Sharqat, about 155 miles northwest of Baghdad.
Harsh penalties approved for illegal migrants
JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliament on Tuesday approved harsh new penalties on illegal migrants and Israelis who help them, building on other contentious measures designed to stanch the flood of Africans seeking sanctuary here.
The bill allows imprisonment of illegal migrants for an unlimited time without trial. People caught helping them could face prison terms of up to 15 years.
Critics deplore the new law as an unconstitutional trampling of human rights. They accuse the government of failing to formulate a coherent, humane policy on illegal migration that would address an issue that has become increasingly urgent over the years.
“I am not familiar with a Western country that allows such a law,” said Asaf Weipzen, a lawyer for the Hotline for Migrant Workers, an advocacy group.
Detentions in other countries are finite, and the European Union, for example, has an 18-month limit on incarceration, Mr. Weipzen said.
Africans began trickling into Israel through its porous southern border with Egypt’s Sinai desert after Egyptian security forces violently quashed a demonstration by a group of Sudanese refugees in 2005.
The number of migrants surged as word spread of safety and job opportunities in the relatively prosperous Jewish state. The government estimates 50,000 Africans - the overwhelming majority from Sudan and Eritrea - have illegally entered Israel since then.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports