Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Monday he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer requiring surgery but vowed to stay in office, confident of a full recovery. ''Following the results of a regular check-up, I was diagnosed with initial signs of prostate cancer,'' the 62-year-old prime minister told a packed news conference in Jerusalem.
Israel went on a heightened state of alert on Friday amid fears of Palestinian suicide bombings following a lethal shelling in the Gaza Strip and as gay people staged a controversial rally in Jerusalem. Palestinian groups that had observed a near-two-year truce in attacks inside Israel called for a resumption of suicide bombings.
Israel is worried about getting bogged down in a foreign public-relations disaster following a series of botched air raids over the Gaza Strip that killed a number of civilians and children. Despite pledges to continue air raids as the best means to stop rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, diplomatic officials abroad are coming in for a rough ride.
Newly installed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert set his sights on Friday on a visit to Washington to win United States support for his plan to redraw Israel's borders and leave parts of the West Bank. Olmert, whose four-party coalition was sworn in on Thursday, will leave for the US on May 21, making his first overseas trip as prime minister.
The Dead Sea is dying, with the world's saltiest water body threatened by a lack of fresh water and an increasingly tense political situation, environmentalists have warned. The bare, sun-baked landscape around the Dead Sea has since Biblical times been fed by the Jordan river's fresh water.
Israel on Friday confirmed that the deadly H5N1 bird-flu strain had been found in thousands of poultry, as five people were admitted to hospital and the authorities moved to cull multiple flocks of fowl. Battling the country's first outbreak of bird flu, the authorities ordered poultry in a quarantined area in the southern Negev desert to be exterminated.
The Israeli government was looking on Wednesday to accelerate its preparations for the pull-out from the Gaza Strip as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon voiced concern about the state of readiness. Sharon was chairing a meeting of a committee specially formed to prepare for the pull-out.