Israel news

Israel to announce its own inquiry into flotilla

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

The Israeli cabinet is expected to appoint a committee of inquiry into the Gaza flotilla operation on Sunday.

The current plan is to a form a committee with a limited mandate which will not question soldiers who took part in the operation. The inclusion of international observers on the committee is still under consideration.

The IDF has already set up its own committee of military experts to investigate the operational aspects of the boarding of the flotilla.

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Israel and Egypt: the new allies

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 10, 2010

The fallout from the Gaza flotilla and the emergence of Turkey as a clear ally of Iran and Syria and all but an official enemy of Israel, is part of a radically changing balance of power in the region, one that is seeing unprecedented levels of cooperation between Israel and Egypt.

Senior Israeli officials have been saying in recent months that Egypt has been pursuing two seemingly opposite courses in its relationship with Israel.

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Shalit deal could end Gaza chokehold

By Jennifer Lipman, June 9, 2010

Gilad Shalit’s father has said his son’s captivity is the obstacle preventing Gaza from overcoming “economic chokehold”.

Noam Shalit said that if Hamas were to agree a deal to release the soldier, kidnapped nearly four years ago, it would encourage Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza.

He told a Jerusalem conference that the continued imprisonment of the soldier for the purpose of bargaining and political blackmail “is a grave war crime”.

Calling on Hamas to release him, Mr Shalit said: "This will allow for rebuilding the ruins in Gaza in wake of Operation Cast Lead.”

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Israel takes step to ease Gaza blockade

By Jennifer Lipman, June 9, 2010

Israel has relaxed the blockade of Gaza to permit more provisions into the area.

Officials said the list of items allowed into the Gaza Strip has been expanded to include goods from Coca Cola to shaving cream and spices.

There has been international pressure for Israel to lift the blockade following the raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying supplies.

The blockade has been in place since Hamas won power in the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Egypt had also closed its borders to Gaza, although restrictions have been lifted temporarily in the aftermath of the flotilla clash.

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Spain bans Israeli group from gay parade

By Jennifer Lipman, June 9, 2010

Israel has been asked not to attend a Gay Pride event in Madrid because of the clashes on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

Organisers of Europe’s largest gay parade have withdrawn the offer for the Tel Aviv municipality to host a float at the event in July.

A Tel Aviv themed party featuring Israeli performers and DJs had been planned for the event in the Spanish capital, along with an appearance by a bus bearing the slogan "TLV Love Embassy".

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Blair: Israel has right to check what goes to Gaza

By Jennifer Lipman, June 9, 2010

Tony Blair has said in an interview that Israel has the right to check supplies that are sent into Gaza.

Speaking on Israeli television, the former British prime minister and Middle East Quartet envoy said the Gaza blockade should be lifted but "when it comes to security, I am one hundred per cent on Israel's side."

Mr Blair added: "There's no question that there are rockets fired from Gaza and that there are people in Gaza who want to kill innocent Israelis.

“Israel has the right to inspect what goes into Gaza."

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Lebanese concert promoter: musical boycotts 'ridiculous'

By Jennifer Lipman, June 9, 2010

A Lebanese concert organiser has called boycotts against musicians that have performed in Israel “ridiculous”.

Entertainment tycoon Jihad al-Murr spoke in the wake of demands by Lebanese protesters that the British rock band Placebo should pull out of an upcoming Beirut concert after also playing in Tel Aviv.

Campaigners had said the group was unwelcome in Lebanon after launching Israel Pic.Nic festival, but Mr al-Murr said it would be foolish to “boycott every minister, official or artist that has ever visited Israel”.

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Israel’s biblical bees came from Turkey

By Jennifer Lipman, June 8, 2010

Israel has long been known as a land flowing with milk and honey, and now scientists have discovered exactly where the bees came from.

Researchers at the Hebrew University have found that the biblical bees almost certainly came from Turkey and were transferred hundreds of miles to Israel. The findings, the earliest examples of bringing animals such a long way, suggest the ancient Israelites were involved in sophisticated agricultural practices.

In 2007 scientists came across the remains of clay beehives dating back 3000 years in the Jordan Valley.

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Reuters crop photos of bloodied Israeli soldiers

By Jennifer Lipman, June 8, 2010

The Reuters news agency has said it did not mean to edit out a dagger and a pool of blood from photographs of Israeli soldiers injured on the Gaza flotilla.

In one of the original images a pro-Palestinian activist is pictured pointing a knife next to a wounded Israeli soldier.

But when Reuters distributed it, the photograph had been cropped so that his assailant was not visible.

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Britain gives Gaza £19m aid

By Jennifer Lipman, June 7, 2010

The British government has pledged to give £19 million in aid to Gaza and called on Israel to end the blockade.

Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, said the money is to go towards services including education and healthcare.

The donation is part of a £100 million financial deal with the UN Relief and Works Agency, which the Labour government arranged in 2006.

The announcement follows a second attempt by pro-Palestinian activists to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since Hamas gained control of the area in 2007.

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