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A suspicious item - later determined to be a bicycle pump - spotted in a car parked near the Israeli embassy in Oslo, Norway triggered a security alert yesterday. Bomb disposal experts and dogs were dispatched to the scene, and police set up cordons. People who lived or worked in the area were advised to stay indoors and avoid standing near windows. After closer inspection the suspicious item was determined to be a bicycle pump and the cordons were removed. A police spokesman told Norwegian news agency NTB that car owner was not under immediate suspicion of any crime. (DPA)

The National Insurance Institute will publish its annual poverty report for 2005 today, and the data is expected to show a decline in poverty among the elderly, thanks to an increase in the NII's old-age stipends. The overall poverty rate is not expected to change significantly: Unemployment dipped in 2005 and real wages rose slightly, but these positive trends may have been offset by the ongoing cuts in child allowances. In January, the NII published a report covering mid-2004 to mid-2005, which found that 24.1 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. Today's report will cover all of 2005. (Ruth Sinai)

Police arrested seven Israeli Arabs suspected of selling firearms stolen from Israel Defense Forces troops in the north, Israel Radio reported yesterday. According to the report, the men are all residents of villages located on the Wadi Ara highway between Hadera and Afula. The network stole some 60 guns from soldiers living in towns in the north, by following them home from the train station in Binyamina and then breaking into the house to steal the weapons. The guns were sold to the underworld and to the Palestinian Authority for NIS 1,000 apiece, according to the report. (Haaretz Staff)

Actor Hanan Goldblatt is free to leave his sister's home in Kfar Hess, where he is under house arrest, for the purpose of work or job-search meetings, Supreme Court Justice David Cheshin ruled yesterday. The court therein partially accepted Goldblatt's appeal to revoke the terms of house arrest he has been under for almost a year. Goldblatt must be accompanied on his outings by a custody signatories or a court-approved supervisor. Goldblatt's trial, on six counts of rape and sexual assault of girls aged 15-20, will resume next month in Tel Aviv District Court. (Yuval Yoaz)

The Jerusalem District Prosecutor's Office split into two offices yesterday - criminal and civil. District prosecutor Eli Abarbanel will remain as director of the criminal prosecutor's office. The civil prosecution, with its 40 lawyers, will be headed by Orit Sonn, who was in charge of the civil department at the State Prosecutor's Office for the past five years. The split-system has been in place for years in Tel Aviv, and was recently introduced to the Haifa and southern districts. (Yuval Yoaz)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday pledged NIS 22 million in government funds for the archaeological park in Tiberias. The project centers on excavating the Roman theater built in the second and third centuries C.E. at the foot of Mount Berenice, remnants of which were discovered in 1990 by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Archaeologists were surprised by the find, since written sources contain no mention of this theater. City officials believe the theater, located 200 meters from the shore of Lake Kinneret, has major economic potential. Olmert's pledge came during a tour of Tiberias with Minister Shimon Peres. (Eli Ashkenazi)