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World in brief: Israel plans cuts to power in Gaza

Thu., Oct. 25, 2007

Israel unveiled a new tactic Wednesday aimed at deterring Palestinians from firing rockets out of the Gaza Strip – it will cut off Gaza’s electricity bit by bit as a pressure tactic every time rockets hit Israeli territory.

Israel provides more than half of Gaza’s electricity, and any power cutoff is sure to make life more difficult people in the impoverished region – and draw harsh international criticism.

The retaliation would begin with short cutoffs that would gradually increase for continued rocket fire, but a lengthy power blackout would not be imposed, defense officials said.

Israel’s government declared Gaza a “hostile territory” last month, clearing the way for sanctions. The decision came after the June takeover of the territory by the Islamic militants of Hamas and almost daily rocket fire by Gaza militants at towns in southern Israel.

Alaa Araj, an economic adviser to Gaza’s Hamas government, said the Israeli measure would violate human rights by hurting the strip’s entire population.

“Society will be drawn into darkness and daily life will be crippled,” he said.


Grateful Kuwaitis welcome first lady

First lady Laura Bush got a warm reception Wednesday in Kuwait, a nation that still holds her father-in-law, former President George H.W. Bush, in high regard for his role in liberating this Persian Gulf emirate from Iraqi occupation in 1991.

Laura Bush drew thunderous cheers and applause when she told a crowd of teachers and students that she first visited Kuwait with the former president in 1993, describing that trip as “wonderful and moving.”

After arriving from Saudi Arabia, the first lady met with female political activists as well as young students who praised a State Department English language initiative, the English Access Microscholarship Program.

Bush told the students that their English was excellent but quipped that they had British accents.


1203 Quran sells for $2.3 million

A Quran written in 1203, believed to be the oldest known complete copy, has sold for more than $2.3 million at an auction.

The holy book, which had been estimated to sell for up to $715,000, fetched $2,327,300 at Tuesday’s auction in London, Christie’s said.

That was a record auction price for a Quran or any type of Islamic manuscript, the auctioneer Christie’s said.

A nearly complete, 10th-century Kufic Quran, thought to be from North Africa or the Near East, sold $1,870,000.

Both were offered for sale by the Hispanic Society of America and were purchased by trade buyers in London, Christie’s said.

The record-setting Quran was signed by Yahya bin Muhammad ibn ‘Umar, dated 17 Ramadan 599 (June 1203).


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