News in Brief

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Haaretz

The Nazareth District Court yesterday denied parole to Mahmoud Nadi, who transported the suicide bomber who blew up the Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv in 2001. The bombing killed 21 and wounded 110. Nadi, 35, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The parole board refused to release him early because the Shin Bet security service deemed him to still be dangerous. The court upheld this decision, saying that while the Shin Bet report alone was sufficient, it was bolstered by the prisoner's own statement to the court that he had done nothing wrong - proving he has yet to internalize the gravity of his crime. (Eli Ashkenazi )

The Defense Ministry has recognized a former soldier who participated in the army's experiments on an anthrax vaccine as a disabled veteran after he developed Crohn's disease. For two years, it denied similar recognition to another veteran who has the same disease, which causes severe bowel infection, and participated in the same experiments, until a court overruled that decision last month. The ministry said the cases differed, as the first soldier contracted the disease during the experiment and the second only three years later. Altogether, 716 soldiers took part in the trials from 1998-2006, and many later said they were pressured to "volunteer." Many have also since developed medical problems. (Anshel Pfeffer )

Airline heads warned of possible harm to long-distance flights leaving from Ben-Gurion International Airport due to runway renovations slated for early June and set to take over a year. The issue was discussed at a meeting last week between the airline heads and Israel Airports Authority officials. Airline chiefs maintain that the takeoff runway for eastbound flights is too short and unfit for large planes. "It's a scandal," said the head of a foreign airline. "Not only has the IAI chosen to start renovations at the peak of the tourist season, but it is now telling airlines to use a single runway unfit for large planes." (Zohar Blumenkrantz )

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz showed favoritism in allowing a contracting company to bring hundreds of foreign workers to Israel, Channel 10 News reported yesterday. Steinitz's brother-in-law, a consultant to Shapir Engineering, is alleged to have convinced the minister to accede to the company's request to import the workers despite ministry experts' recommendations to the contrary. The laborers were slated to work on laying groundwork for a new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem rail line. The Finance Ministry said Steinitz's decision was motivated by purely professional considerations, and a statement from Shapir read, "These are skilled workers who cost twice as much as their Israeli counterparts." (Moti Bassok and Avi Bar-Eli )

The Jewish Agency this week appointed Los Angeles-based public relations professional Larry Weinberg to its new position of chief communications officer. Weinberg will lead the agency's "efforts to reach out to the world Jewish community utilizing cutting-edge communications technologies and platforms," a spokesman said Monday. Weinberg, who will be working out of New York, said he strongly supports JA chairman Natan Sharansky's new vision for the organization, which has recently shifted its focus from immigration to fostering Jewish identity. Weinberg most recently served as executive vice president of Israel21c, a news service focusing on stories about Israeli contributions to the world. (Raphael Ahren )

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