Religious politics foil fire exit at Holy Sepulcher

JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of Christian believers will fill the medieval chambers of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem on Saturday for a ritual known as the Holy Fire, packed shoulder to shoulder and holding burning candles as pilgrims have done for centuries. And, as in centuries past, the church will still have only one door and no fire exit. …

Details emerge of bloodshed aboard Gaza-bound ship

JERUSALEM (AP) _ At 4:30 a.m., from her perch on the bridge of a passenger ship in the Mediterranean Sea, Hanin Zoabi saw the first lights of fast-approaching Israeli gunships and helicopters. Norman Paech awoke to the sound of explosions. Minutes later, an Israeli commando, sent to take over the ship in what was expected to be a quick and …

Beauty and tragedy in global network of war graves

EDITOR’S NOTE _ Echoes of the British Empire linger in the cemeteries of those who died for Britain and its dominions in the two world wars, and who are honored every Nov. 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I. The graves, scattered around the world, are tenderly preserved as reminders of history at its most appalling. Associated …

Egyptians conflicted over preserving Jewish past

CAIRO (AP) _ The warren of slum alleys is called the Jews’ Quarter, but no Jews live there. The ancient synagogue still stands, but its roof is gone. The government is renovating it, but is doing so at a moment when anti-Israel feeling is running especially high in Egypt. The Ben Maimon synagogue exemplifies this country’s conflicted relationship with its …

On a jumpy frontier, drug officers wage quiet war

ALONG THE ISRAEL-LEBANON BORDER, Israel (AP) _ Filmed with a night-vision camera just before Israeli narcotics officers pounced from nearby bushes, the video shows a Lebanese courier lobbing half-kilo packages of heroin over the border fence into Israel and an Israeli courier throwing back packages of $100 bills. Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah guerrillas have been battling for years along this …

Russian feint toward Tbilisi shows truce fragile

ROAD TO TBILISI, Georgia (AP) _ Fifty battered Russian army trucks and armored personnel carriers roared without warning down the highway toward the country’s capital, making it clear that a day-old cease-fire will not keep Russia from moving freely through Georgia. “Come with us, beauty, we’re going to Tbilisi!” one of the soldiers bellowed at a photographer in a sleeveless …

The Associated Press: West Bank land deal leads to California

BURQA, West Bank (AP) _ The transformation of a piece of West Bank land from a Palestinian field into a Jewish settlement has roots in an unlikely place _ Orange County, Calif. _ and in a document that a man supposedly signed more than four decades after the date of his death. Unfolding from the West Bank’s terraced olive groves …