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False Death Notice Fools Lawmakers

July 29, 1999

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli lawmakers stood silently early today for a tribute to a prominent lawmaker who they thought had died in a hospital. But the legislator, Amnon Rubinstein, was alive and well and the Knesset had fallen victim to a hoax.

A caller posing as the director of the neurology ward at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital phoned the Knesset secretariat and informed it that Rubinstein _ who was admitted last week with a brain hemorrhage _ had passed away.

Speaker Avraham Burg interrupted an all-night session of the house to announce the sad news. He paid tribute to Rubinstein and the members stood in silence for one minute.

Minutes later the Knesset house physician rushed towards the speaker’s office shouting ``He’s alive! He’s not dead.″

Rubinstein, a former justice and education minister, said he burst out laughing when he heard about the incident.

``I think everybody has a secret wish to attend his own funeral,″ he told Army radio. ``I always said you should never trust the news media nor parliament. Now I see I was right. You have to check the facts yourself.″

Rubinstein said he is feeling much better and is to leave the hospital within the next two days.

Burg condemned the hoax as an act of cruelty, particularly to Rubinstein’s family. Burg said he telephoned Jerusalem police chief Yair Yitzhaki early in the morning and asked him to investigate the incident personally.

Update hourly