- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Gaza residents wade to bypass Israelis

GAZA Hundreds of Palestinians, some carrying small children, waded through stormy seas yesterday to bypass Israeli checkpoints that cut the Gaza Strip into three parts after a missile attack on southern Israel by militants.

"Even the sea is angry," one woman said. "Isn't this humiliating?"

The Palestinians had tried to travel the main north-south road in the Gaza Strip, but were turned back by Israeli soldiers on a tank, who fired over their heads and gestured that the route was closed. So they headed to the coast, walking about a mile to bypass an Israeli checkpoint near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim.

Israel blocked main roads in the Gaza Strip after militants from the Islamic group Hamas fired two Qassam-2 rockets at southern Israel Sunday.

The rockets fell harmlessly, but Israel worries that if fired from the West Bank, such rockets could hit its cities.

Iraqi Kurds leery of Washington schemes

LONDON Iraqi Kurds may fervently desire Saddam Hussein's downfall, but past experience has made them wary of U.S. talk of overthrowing him.

"The scars are still there. The fear is still there," Rowsch Shaways, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly in northern Iraq, told Reuters in an interview yesterday.

President Bush last month branded Iraq part of an "axis of evil" with Iran and North Korea. Some Washington hawks see the Kurds acting as a local ground force in a U.S.-led air war, like the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

Mr. Shaways said the two key requirements for the Kurds are to retain Western military protection of the northern Iraqi enclave they have enjoyed since the 1991 Gulf war, and to keep their 13 percent share of Iraq's U.N.-supervised oil revenue.

Qatari official defends Palestinian resistance

ISTANBUL An Islamic leader defended yesterday Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and accused the West of viewing terrorism as something done only by Arabs and Muslims.

"The Western concept of terrorism reveals an effort to confine it to the product of 'the other,' and by the other, we mean specifically Arabs and Muslims," Sheik Hamad bin Jassim Thani, foreign minister of Qatar, told a forum of ministers from the European Union and Muslim states.

Qatar holds the presidency of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

He spoke at a forum in Turkey, at which European and Islamic leaders called for joint efforts to promote Middle East peace.

Weekly notes

U.S. left-wing academic Noam Chomsky arrived in Istanbul yesterday, seeking to force a Turkish court to try him with a publisher who faces jail for printing Mr. Chomsky's political essays in Turkish. The test of Turkey's limits on freedom of expression comes as the country enacts reforms designed to bring it closer to European Union membership. Britain will do all it can to ensure ongoing peace talks enable a unified Cyprus to join the European Union (EU), its special envoy to Cyprus Lord David Hannay said yesterday. President Glafcos Clerides, a Greek Cypriot, and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Jan. 16 began thrice-weekly meetings to end the island's 28-year division. The British diplomat will meet both leaders separately today.

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