Israel news

Militants release new Shalit video

By Jennifer Lipman, June 28, 2010

A chilling new animated video about captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has been released four years after Hamas militants took him hostage.

Titled “Four years on, we still have Gilad”, the video shows images of tanks, barbed wire and explosions, replicating the cross-border raid in which he was taken.

It ends with an Arabic slogan which means "the illusion is shattering" and the numbers 2006/6/25 – the date Gilad was kidnapped.

In the four years since then, just three letters, an audio and a video have been released to prove the now 23-year-old remains alive.

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Assault on Gaza children's camp

By Jennifer Lipman, June 28, 2010

Armed assailants have vandalised a United Nations children’s summer camp in central Gaza.

The incident, in which toys were burnt and a guard tied up, follows a similar attack by Palestinian militants on another UN camp in May. There are about 12 UN camps in Gaza, catering for 250,000 children.

In the latest assault more than 20 masked men attempted to set fire to tents and used knives to slash a plastic paddling pool and inflatable slide.

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Turkey blocks Israeli flight on trip to Auschwitz

By Jennifer Lipman, June 28, 2010

A flight carrying a group of Israeli officers going to pay tribute to Holocaust victims at Auschwitz has been turned away after Turkey blocked it from its airspace.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the bar on the military plane flying through Turkish skies was in response to the clash on a ship headed to Gaza in May.

Mr Erdogan, speaking while in Canada for a global summit, reportedly told a Turkish news agency: "We are not interested in making a show”.

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Death threat academic defended

By Jennifer Lipman, June 28, 2010

A controversial Israeli academic who called for a boycott of the country has been defended by Ben Gurion University (BGU) after receiving a death threat.

The university president, Professor Rivka Carmi, said a “red line” had been crossed after Dr Neve Gordon, a politics and government lecturer, was sent a letter which read: “You're a traitor. I'm coming to Ben-Gurion to kill you!”

Dr Gordon was criticised by the university in 2009 after publicly demanding an international cultural, economic and political boycott of Israel in the Los Angeles Times.

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Israel marks four years since Gilad Shalit's kidnap

By Jessica Elgot, June 25, 2010

More than 250 people demonstrated outside the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, with thousands more expected throughout the day, and 600 marched in Nahariya in Galilee.

A mass vigil is planned for Haifa this evening where 6,000 yellow balloons will be released. Candlelit vigils are planned across the country and people are wearing yellow ribbons in solidarity.

A demonstration is also planned outside the International Red Cross headquarters in Israel. Hamas will not allow the Red Cross to visit Corporal Shalit, who is still being held in Gaza.

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Turkish builder sues PM over lost Israeli business

By Jessica Elgot, June 25, 2010

Yilmazlar Construction Group’s chief executive, Ahmet Reyiz Yilmaz, told Bloomberg that $2.6m of his assets had been frozen by Israel because of increased tensions between the countries, following the death of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists on the Gaza flotilla.

Mr Yilmaz said it was a “dangerous precedent” and blamed the Turkish Prime Minister for ruining his business by his anti-Israel rhetoric.

He said: “The reason was only the politics of our prime minister. He has a responsibility to his country, and he cannot say irresponsible things.”

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Analysis: Secular and religious Jews are not at war

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

The 100,000-strong demonstration last Thursday supporting the fathers about to go to jail has been billed as the ultimate showdown between the secular state and the strictly Orthodox community.

Feelings have been inflamed for a while. The media and politicians have been ramping up the debate over the role of the Charedi sector for several months, following a number of reports on the community's growing share of the younger population and its lack of contribution to the national economy.

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Comment: Media treats Charedim the way the world treats Israel

By Jonathan Rosenblum, June 24, 2010

From the beginning, the dispute over the two-track system - one Chasidic and one general - in the Beit Yaakov school in Emanuel, an impoverished West Bank settlement, has been falsely portrayed as a case of ethnic discrimination against Sephardim, or Jews of Middle Eastern descent.

It would not be surprising if there were few Sephardi girls in the Chasidic track - there were few Sephardim in the areas of Eastern Europe from where Chasidim hail. In fact, more than a quarter of the girls in the Chasidic track are of Sephardi origin.

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Rabbi's rebel son is behind race lawsuit

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

The identity of the Charedi rabbi who gave his blessing to the controversial petition to the Supreme Court surprised no one.

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef has long made a name for himself in challenging not only the norms of his community, but also the wishes of his father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the most influential Sephardi rabbi of this generation and spiritual leader of the Shas political party.

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Mothers to go to jail in school race case

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 24, 2010

The crisis surrounding the segregated Beit Yaakov school in Emanuel seems set to continue with a new Supreme Court ruling ordering that the mothers of some of the pupils be sent to prison.

Thirty five fathers of girls at the strictly Orthodox school were jailed last Thursday for two weeks for contempt of court, after they refused to allow their daughters in the mainly Ashkenazi "Chasidic stream" to study with girls in the mainly Sephardi "general stream".

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