- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ISRAEL

New York mayor backs Jewish state

JERUSALEM | New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg expressed solidarity with Israelis threatened by Hamas rockets in a daylong trip to Israel that included visits to two towns targeted by the Islamic militant movement in recent weeks.

During the visit to the embattled town of Sderot on Sunday, Mr. Bloomberg and his party, which included Rep. Gary L. Ackerman, New York Democrat, were briefly hustled to a bomb shelter when a missile warning went off.

In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Bloomberg said he fully understood Israel’s actions. “You should rest assured, if anyone in New York was being threatened, my instruction to the NYPD [New York Police Department] would be to use all the resources at their disposal to protect civilians,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

“I think as a New Yorker, we’ve been attacked twice by al Qaeda itself,” said the mayor, who is Jewish. “We’ve seen enormous devastation and courage and after that you sort of feel you have a bond, if you will, for those who live in a dangerous world and subject to someone trying to kill them.”

GAZA STRIP

Israel changes mind on foreign journalists

EREZ CROSSING, Israel | Israel scrapped arrangements Monday to allow the first foreign reporters into the Gaza Strip since the military launched its offensive against Palestinian militants, adding to mounting media frustration at being locked out of the war zone.

The ban on foreign media, which has been appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, drew criticism from journalists that Israel is trying to manage the story.

Israel says opening border crossings for journalists would endanger staff at the border crossings, which have often been targeted by militants. Israeli officials also say many foreign reporters are biased against Israel and easily manipulated or intimidated by Hamas.

The effect of the ban is to force many media outlets to rely on partisan reports from the Israeli military or Gaza’s Hamas rulers and militants for information.

LEBANON

Children protest Israeli offensive

BEIRUT | Thousands of children organized a sit-in Tuesday in front of the U.N. headquarters in the Lebanese capital to denounce the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The children, ages 6 to 13, gathered in front of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) building downtown, responding to a call by the educational wing of the militant group Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006.

Some of the demonstrators carried fake rockets and machine guns as well as pictures of Palestinian children presumably killed during the Israeli onslaught that began on Dec. 27 in a bid to stop rocket attacks by the militant group Hamas.

They handed over to an ESCWA official a letter addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging him to halt the bloodshed.

TURKEY

Editor faces jail for criticizing army

ISTANBUL | A newspaper editor faces up to five years in jail for publishing reports that accused the Turkish army of ignoring intelligence on a deadly Kurdish rebel raid, the daily’s chief editor said Tuesday.

Adnan Demir, managing editor of the Taraf newspaper, was charged following a complaint by the general staff that the paper printed “leaked secret information” about an October attack by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on a military outpost near the Iraqi border, Markar Esayan told Agence France-Presse.

If found guilty, Mr. Demir could be jailed from three to five years, he said.

Seventeen soldiers were killed in the attack in which PKK rebels backed by heavy weapons from northern Iraq attempted to strike the outpost in the mountainous Hakkari province.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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