Israel news

Police clamp down on gambling in Israel

By Nathan Jeffay, August 12, 2010

In the latest move of cat-and-mouse between Israel and the gambling industry, police have decreed that internet service providers must block access to online gambling sites.

With the exception of the state lottery and football pools, gambling is illegal in Israel. But Israelis have long been on the lookout for ways around the law.

Underground casinos have always flourished. Police are constantly closing down operations - they closed six in the last month, but this is thought to be the tip of the iceberg.

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The Israeli army 'Gap Yah'

By Paul Berger, August 12, 2010

Gap year students usually spend their 12-month sabbatical between school and university helping the underprivileged or exploring the world. Most never consider another option - joining the IDF.

"The Israeli army has never recruited outside Israel," said Jay Shultz, co-founder of a new organisation, JoinTheIDF.com, which helps diaspora Jews join the Israeli army or the Israeli civil service for a fee of £1,800.

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Israeli soldiers get Shabbat Bluetooth phone

By Nathan Jeffay, August 12, 2010

Inventors have come up with a Bluetooth device for the Israeli Defence Forces, which can make any soldier's mobile phone permissible for use on Shabbat.

Where lives are at risk, such as in the army and in hospitals, special Sabbath innovations are permitted that are not allowed in other contexts.

The new phone device will eliminate the main transgressions associated with telephoning on Shabbat, making it permissible in the army and in hospitals. But the inventors stress that it does not make telephoning for normal social or business purposes acceptable.

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Israeli army gripped by 'dirty tricks' scandal

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 12, 2010

Israeli police are investigating after a plan to undermine IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, and ensure OC Southern Command Major General Yoav Galant replaced him, was unveiled on Channel Two news on Friday night.

The "Galant Document" caused a public uproar and deep embarrassment in the IDF's upper echelons. Lt-Gen Ashkenazi ends his term in February 2011 and the question of his successor has been the subject of intense speculation and rivalry.

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Peres, Netanyahu call for direct peace talks

By Jennifer Lipman, August 11, 2010

Israel’s president and prime minister have both expressed hopes that peace talks will soon restart with the Palestinians.

Benjamin Netanyahu told the United States Middle East envoy George Mitchell that it was time “to get on with it”.

Mr Netanyahu said: "Shall we get on with it? That's my whole message...what I've been saying for a year and a half.”

Mr Mitchell was in Israel to press for face-to-face peace negotiations, which have been on hold since before the Gaza incursion of January 2007.

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Israeli army chief: flotilla raid 'unprecedented'

By Jennifer Lipman, August 11, 2010

Israel’s chief of staff has told a panel investigating the Mavi Marmara operation that his soldiers behaved in a "proportionate and correct" way.

Appearing before the inquiry, which is headed by retired Supreme Court judge Jacob Turkel, Gabi Ashkenazi said that the circumstances on board the Gaza-bound flotilla had been “unprecedented”. But he added that the commandos had “exhibited calm, bravery and morality.”

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Israel threatens to pull out of UN flotilla probe

By Jennifer Lipman, August 10, 2010

The Israeli government has warned that it could pull out of a United Nations probe into the clash on a Gaza-bound flotilla if IDF soldiers are called to testify. The panel is set to start investigations today.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had agreed that Israeli soldiers would not be questioned by the panel. Mr Moon has denied promising this.

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Mordechai Vanunu leaves jail

By Jennifer Lipman, August 9, 2010

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has been released from jail after serving a three month sentence.

The Israeli, 55, was first jailed in 1986 for disclosing confidential information about Israel’s nuclear operation to the British media.

He was released in 2004 but last year was arrested again for breaching the conditions of his parole. It was his second sentence for this.

Mr Vananu’s release had been conditional on him not travelling abroad, speaking to the media or having any contact with foreign nationals.

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Ashton Kutcher: it's hot in Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, August 9, 2010

Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher has been enjoying the sites of Israel – and the weather.

The actor, who is married to actress Demi Moore and is perhaps best known for having one of the world’s largest Twitter followings, was in Jerusalem for a Kabbalah event.

He and his wife are among a number of Hollywood followers of the Jewish mysticism, even marrying in a Kabbalah ceremony in 2005.

Accompanied by Ms Moore’s daughter Scout, Mr Kutcher attended the birthday party of Kabbalah Center founder Shraga Berg at the David Citadel hotel.

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Netanyahu: Israel warned Turkey about flotilla

By Jennifer Lipman, August 9, 2010

Benjamin Netanyahu has told a public investigation into the clash on a Gaza-bound ship that the Turkish government ignored warnings “intended to prevent a confrontation with the Marmara flotilla”.

The Israeli Prime Minister said that from May 14 his office communicated with the Turkish government "at the highest level" on the issue, but repeated warnings that the ships would not be allowed to sail to Gaza were not heeded.

Nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists died during the fighting with the Israeli navy on May 31.

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