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Israel Airlifts Aid to Zagreb, Considers Shipment to Somalia

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An Israeli air force Hercules transport plane flew some 15 tons of medical and humanitarian aid to the Croatian capital of Zagreb on Tuesday morning and returned home without having switched off its engines in between flights.

But the plane was unable to continue on to Bosnia-Herzegovina, as the airfield in Sarajevo was closed after a British mercy plane was shot at by snipers while taking off.

Knesset member Yossi Sarid of the Meretz bloc, who had sworn to get to the Bosnian capital after being turned away last week, accompanied the flight but was again unable to complete his personal mission.

The United Nations will now assume responsibility for getting the Israeli relief supplies from Croatia to neighboring Bosnia, which has been wracked by fighting for several months.

Israel is also considering sending humanitarian aid to the eastern African nation of Somalia, where drought and civil war have resulted in widespread famine.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has asked the United Nations to come up with a list of relief items needed there so that it can make preparations for an immediate aid shipment.

This humanitarian effort is somewhat unusual in that Somalia is a member of the Arab League and has been openly hostile to Israel in the past.

But it would not be the first time that the Jewish state provided humanitarian aid to an enemy state. In the past, Israel has sent medicine and other relief supplies to Bangladesh, Cambodia and the Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq. Ethiopia and the Soviet Union were also aid recipients before they re-established relations with Israel.

In addition to the government’s activities, Israeli peace activist Abie Nathan has provided millions of dollars’ worth of humanitarian aid to famine and natural disaster victims throughout the world without regard to the status of various nations’ diplomatic relations with Israel.

In Washington, B’nai B’rith International announced it had launched a fund-raising drive to aid the starving Somalis. Contributions can be made to B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036.

B’nai B’rith is also collecting money for Bosnia, as is the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which has received more than $100,000 in donations in the last few days.

Donations can be sent to the JDC Bosnia-Herzegovina Mailbox, 711 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017.

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