2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Palestinians claim Israeli
army destroyed mosque
RAFAH REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) -
Israeli army bulldozers flattened 30 houses and a
mosque in this refugee camp yesterday, Palestinian
officials said, accusing Israel of systematically razing
homes to widen a military buffer zone.
The military said it only targeted buildings from
which shots were fired overnight at Israeli forces, but
did not know how many structures were demolished.
Frantic residents threw mattresses and blankets
from second-floor windows as beams and walls came
crashing down around them. One woman, standing
near a bulldozer, waved a white flag in a failed
attempt to slow the demolition and buy time to sal-
vage her belongings. A crying girl helped her mother
carry a mattress.
Army officials initially insisted the razed houses
had been empty, but then said the claim was still
being checked. The governor of Rafah, Majed Agha,
said about 400 people were left homeless.
Israel has demolished hundreds of houses in
Rafah, near the Egyptian border, in more than three
years of fighting, saying the buildings gave cover to
gunmen and weapons smugglers.
The Palestinians say Israel is clearing large swaths
in the camp to distance built-up areas from the narrow
strip Israeli troops patrol along the Egyptian border.
Israel has erected a tall metal barrier south of the camp
as a shield for troops. The destruction is part of a plan
by Israel "to create a wide buffer zone and consolidate
Israeli military control in the area," Agha said.
Alsorazed yesterday was a neighborhood mosque,
Al Tawhid, which had been partially demolished Sat-
urday, residents said. The mosque is about 70 yards
from the Israeli metal barrier. "This is a crime
against God's law and human law as well," said
preacher Ibrahim Abu Jazar.
The military said it was still checking the report on
the mosque. In the past three years, troops have gen-
erally stayed clear of holy sites.
In the West Bank, Israeli security forces trying to
dismantle a synagogue in a West Bank settlement
outpost wrestled with dozens of settler activists.
Troops left half a dozen trailer homes at West Tapuah
It was the first attempt by the army to remove a
structure from a populated outpost since June. Dror
Etkes of Peace Now, an Israeli group that opposes the
settlement movement, said the demolition was a
meaningless display, noting that settlers simply
rebuild such structures after soldiers leave.
Under the U.S.-led "road map" peace plan, Israel
has to remove dozens of settlement outposts, but has
taken down only a few. The Palestinians have also
failed to meet their first obligations, including a
clampdown on militant groups.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, mean-
while, asked foreign diplomats to urge their govern-
ments to speak out against Israel's separation barrier
in the West Bank, ahead of a Feb. 23 hearing by the
The Palestinians have asked the International
Court of Justice to rule on the legality of the barrier,
which has severely disrupted the daily lives of tens of
thousands of Palestinians. The Palestinians say the
barrier amounts to a land grab and will make it
impossible to create a viable Palestinian state in the
West Bank and Gaza.
"We ask the entire world to restrain the Israeli
NEWS IN BRIEF 7:F
HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
U.N. election experts likely off to Iraq
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is likely to approve within days sending elec-
tion experts to Iraq to study whether the country could have quick, direct elections
for a transitional government, U.N. diplomats said yesterday.
The team - which the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi leaders sought from Annan
in a meeting Monday - would head to Iraq soon after the decision is made, the
diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
Iraqi leaders and the Coalition Provisional Authority want the U.N. team to
assess whether it's possible to hold elections for a transitional legislature set to
take power by June 30. Iraq's most prominent Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali
al-Husseini al-Sistani, has demanded direct elections to choose a provisional gov-
ernment. But the coalition wants to keep to a handover plan agreed to on Nov. 15
that calls for caucuses to choose a provisional assembly.
The election team is separate from a four-person mission the United Nations
plans to send to Baghdad within a week to assess overall security conditions for a
possible large-scale, permanent return of U.N. staff. That team would work out of
the so-called "green zone," a barricaded area in Baghdad that houses the head-
quarters of the U.S.-led coalition, and would focus on upgrading U.N. facilities
that are outside the protected area.
FBI: Potential terrorist almost entered U.S.
A man who may have been the intended 20th hijacker in al-Qaida's Sept. 11 terror
attack was prevented from entering the country by a U.S. immigration agent, federal
officials said yesterday. The man, identified only by his last name of al-Qahtani,
was turned away by the agent Jose Melendez-Perez at Orlando International Air-
port in late August 2001, according to two senior law enforcement officials who
spoke on condition of anonymity.
FBI and Justice Department investigators say al-Qaida was attempting to bring
additional operatives into the United States only a few weeks before the attacks,
perhaps to join the hijacking plot or to launch a second wave of terror.
As many as a dozen names are being examined through immigration records,
the officials said. It was unclear whether any of these others were stopped from
entering the United States.
The agent in Orlando became suspicious when al-Qahtani provided only
vague answers to questions about what he was doing in the United States and
could not provide names of people meeting him at the airport or describe where
he was staying, one official said.
A ralesiunian woman runs witn some o ner
belongings as an Israeli army bulldozer
destroys houses in a refugee camp yesterday.
madness of expansion," Qureia said after meeting
with more than a dozen diplomats. "This is a wall of
annexation and expansion, not for security."
Israel says it needs the divider to keep out Palestin-
ian attackers who have killed hundreds of Israelis in
bombings since September 2000.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
ordered a review of the barrier, saying minor changes
in the route and technical arrangements could be
made to lessen the hardship it creates for Palestini-
ans. Israel has been looking for ways to deflect grow-
ing international criticism of the barrier.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said yester-
day he opposes any revisions.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Shiite
Muslims marched through-Baghdad
for a second day yesterday, this time
demanding the execution of Saddam
Five thousand people joined the
march that wound its way from Sadr
City, a poor Shiite neighborhood in
northeastern Baghdad, to Firdous
Square, the plaza-in the center of the
capital where Saddam's statue was
pulled down April 9, marking the
ouster of the Baathist regime.
Saddam was captured Dec. 13 and
the Pentagon has designated him a
prisoner of war.
"The butcher of Iraq is not a POW.
He must be punished," read a banner
waved by some demonstrators.
"Saddam is a war criminal, not a
POW. Execute Saddam," the crowd
chanted, waving huge green flags, the
color of Islam.
The march, which coincided with
smaller protests in two other cities,
came a day after a much larger demon-
stration of 100,000 Shiites in Baghdad
to demand direct elections to replace
the U.S.-led interim administration.
Shiites were kept out of power dur-
ing Saddam's 35-year rule by the
minority Sunni Muslims. Thousands of
Shiites were murdered by the regime.
Victims often were buried in mass
Since the fall of Saddam, the Shi-
ites have begun asserting their numer-
ical superiority. Generally supportive
of the U.S. invasion last year, Shiite
leaders now pose the biggest political
challenge to the U.S.-led occupation
and its plans for a power transfer this
Leading Shiite cleric Grand Aya-
tollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani
opposes the U.S. plan that envisages
holding 18 regional caucuses in May
to choose a transitional legislature.
The assembly would then appoint a
provisional government to take power
on July 1, formally ending the U.S.
Al-Sistani wants early, direct elec-
tions for the new government. But
Washington says it is impossible to
hold elections before June 30
because there has been no census and
there are no true voter lists.
The precarious security condition
makes elections even less feasible, U.S.
Russia read to go
to Mars wit U. S.
Russia's space engineers spent
years designing futuristic spacecraft
for missions to Mars with little hope
they would survive the financial melt-
down of the nation's once-glorious
But President Bush's announce-
ment of a new thrust into space has
awakened hopes that these dreams
could come true in a new*alliance
with the United States.
From giant booster rockets to tiny
robots, Russia has developed a range of
cutting-edge space technologies it now
hopes to share with the United States to
send humans to the moon and Mars.
It would offer the cash-strapped
space industries an alternative to
China, which put a man in orbit last
year, envisages conquering the
'moon and hat sought Russian tech-
nology and know-how for its space
Stewart pleads 'not
guilty' as trial begins
Martha Stewart waved to her sup-
porters, strode into a Manhattan
courthouse and repeated a plea of
innocent at the formal start of her
stock-trading trial yesterday.
The 62-year-old millionaire gra-
cious-living guru stood in court and
nodded at the first batch of jurors, who
were interviewed one by one in a
judge's private robing room.
"Not guilty," Stewart said five
times, speaking almost inaudibly and
nodding as she re-entered her plea to
five criminal counts related to her
2001 sale of nearly 4,000 shares of
Court strikes down
imitation Klan masks
A group that mimics the Ku Klux
Klan in robes, hoods, masks and beliefs
cannot cloak itself in the First Amend-
ment to escape a state law banning
masks at public gatherings, a federal
appeals court ruled yesterday.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in Manhattan issued the ruling
more than four years after 17 members
of the Church of the American Knights
of the Ku Klux Klan rallied outside a
state court without masks.
Although a lower court judge had
decided they could wear masks, the
appeals court suspended the effect of
U.S. District Judge Harold Baer's ruling
until it could decide the issue itself.
Compiledfrom wire reports
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