Nation World Briefs

Ground Troops in Gaza

Israel sent troops into the Gaza Strip for the first time since it withdrew from the territory. Commandos entered northern Gaza on Monday night and attacked a Palestinian squad about to launch a rocket into Israel. Four suspected terrorists were killed and another five wounded. There were no Israeli casualties. Israel had previously relied on its air force and navy for operations in Gaza, partly out of concern that a ground operation could bolster Palestinian claims that the coastal strip continues to be occupied, despite the removal of all 21 settlements and army bases there last August.

Olmert, Mubarak to Meet

Israel’s Ehud Olmert will meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at a June 4 summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik, the site of May 21 talks between Olmert’s top two deputies and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Egyptian officials said they expected the meeting to pave the way for a summit between the P.A. president and the Israeli prime minister.

Jewish Groups Gather Aid for Indonesia

Several Jewish groups set up funds to aid victims of the recent earthquake in Indonesia. The American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and B’nai B’rith International are accepting donations for victims of Saturday’s earthquake, which killed an estimated 5,000 people and left tens of thousands injured. The AJWS is accepting donations through its Web site; The JDC is taking credit card donations by phone, (212) 687-6200; personal checks should be made out to JDC: Indonesia Earthquake Relief and mailed to JDC: Indonesia Earthquake Relief, Box 321, 847A Second Ave., New York, N.Y., 10017; and online contributions can be made at Those wishing to contribute through B’nai B’rith may send checks to its general disaster relief fund, at B’nai B’rith International, 2020 K St. NW, Seventh Floor, Washington, D.C., 20006.

Israel Boycott Recommendation Blasted

British Jewish leaders blasted a decision by a British teachers union to recommend a boycott of Israel. Monday’s vote by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, which forces Israeli academics to “publicly declare their political views and subject them to the scrutiny of British academics, is especially pernicious,” the Board of Deputies of British Jews said in a statement. The boycott applies to Israeli lecturers and academic institutions that don’t publicly declare their opposition to Israel’s presence in the West Bank.

Canadian Union Backs Israel Boycott

A large public-sector union in Canada voted to back a boycott against Israel. Some 900 members of the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees voted unanimously at a conference last week to support the campaign until Israel “recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination.” The president of the union, Sid Ryan, condemned Israel’s security barrier, calling it an “apartheid wall,” and urged that Israeli wines be removed from the shelves of provincial liquor stores. Steven Schulman, regional director of the Canadian Jewish Congress in Ontario, blasted the move.

Jerusalem Compensates Gays, Lesbians

The Jerusalem Municipality was ordered to pay out $70,000 to the city’s gay and lesbian center. Jerusalem District Court on Monday found in favor of a petition filed against City Hall by the Jerusalem Open House, which had been deprived of funding from the municipal cultural chest since 2003. The petitioners were also awarded $5,200 in court costs. Gay and lesbian activists have been at odds with the Jerusalem Municipality before, given Mayor Uri Lupolianski’s misgivings over the annual Gay Pride Parade in the city.

Cancer Patients Call Off Strike

A hunger strike by Israeli cancer patients was called off after the government agreed to boost state-funded treatment. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday ordered some $75 million added to the 2006 “health basket” of medications covered by the state. The funding meant a reprieve for Israeli colon-cancer sufferers who until now have had to pay thousands of shekels a month for some of their treatments. Several patients had set up camp outside the Knesset more than two weeks ago and went on a hunger strike in protest. But there was partisan rancor at the prospect that Olmert would provide the money by cutting the defense budget.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz, whose Labor Party is chief coalition partner in the Olmert government, voiced outrage at the decision, prompting speculation that the government could have trouble passing its budget.

Senate Delays P.A. Vote

The U.S. Senate delayed consideration of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act. The Senate was due to have voted last Friday on the act, cutting off assistance to the Palestinian Authority, but a security scare stemming from an erroneous report of gunfire in the Rayburn Senate Office Building delayed business until after the Memorial Day holiday weekend. With 89 co-sponsors, the act is guaranteed passage. It would cut assistance to the Palestinian Authority, but differs from a version passed last week in the U.S. House of Representatives by allowing the president greater leeway in delivering emergency assistance to the Palestinians. It also narrows the bill’s scope, limiting its restrictions to governments led by the Hamas terrorist group.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.