Israel news

The mountain gave up few survivors

By Rafi Beyar, December 10, 2010

The Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa is northern Israel's largest tertiary hospital, serving more than two million people and 11 district hospitals. As such, sadly, all too often, we need to be ready to respond at a moment's notice to emergency situations, sometimes involving multiple causalities.

When we receive word of such a situation, as we did last Thursday, we immediately go on high alert.

Dozens of physicians and nurses make ready to receive the injured, some on them rushing to the campus on their days off to do whatever they can to help.


Regenerated Haifa becomes the city to watch in 2011

By Nathan Jeffay, December 9, 2010

The global affairs magazine Monocle has singled out Haifa as top of its "places to watch for business opportunities in 2011".

It explains that Haifa - which flourished under British rule, before Israeli independence - has been in "steady decline for the past few decades," yet its "massive head-to-toe regeneration effort" is "starting to have an impact."

Mayor Yona Yahav views the award as recognition of his success in turning the city round during his seven years in office.


Mobile crash could be cyber attack

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

The reasons for a software breakdown which resulted in no service for millions of Israeli mobile phone users last week are still unclear. Computer experts are worried that this could have been a successful trial run ofa cyber attack against Israel.

Cellcom, the largest mobile phone provider in Israel, experienced last Wednesday what the company described as a "failure in the heart of our system". For over 12 hours, most of the company's 3.3 million users were without service but, despite resuming normal operations, the company has been silent as to the causes.


Israeli cabinet approves detention centre for illegal immigrants

By Nathan Jeffay, December 9, 2010

The Israeli government has announced it will build a detention centre for the growing number of people entering the country illegally.

Since 2005, there has been an influx of Africans, the vast majority of them Sudanese and Eritreans. More than 35,000 of them have reached Israel via Egypt.

At the end of November, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared: "This growing wave threatens Israelis' jobs, is changing the character of the country and we must stop it." He added that "there has been talk for years but now we are not talking".


Lebanon crisis may be averted

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

Israeli intelligence believes that serious turmoil can be avoided in Lebanon by a toning down of the results of the Special Tribunal investigating the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Central operatives of Hizbollah are expected to be indicted by the tribunal and Hizbollah's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has issued dire warnings that "political upheaval" would result from such accusations.


Rabbis sign anti-Arab ruling

By Simon Griver, December 9, 2010

Widespread condemnation has greeted a ruling by over 50 chief rabbis of Israeli towns prohibiting Jews from renting and selling homes to non-Jews either in Israel or Jewish neighbourhoods in the diaspora.

The Israeli media reported that the radical declaration will be published ahead of Shabbat as an advertisement in the Orthodox press and in weekly leaflets that are circulated to synagogues. The decree states that Jews who ignore the prohibition should be ostracised.


Turkish aid for forest fire brings diplomatic thaw

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

The aid sent by the Turkish government to help fight the blaze on Mount Carmel offered an opportunity to improve the relations between the two countries.

In the wake of the fire, discussions took place this week over an Israeli apology for the Gaza flotilla incident and compensations to the families of nine Turkish citizens killed by Israeli naval commandos.

On Friday, Turkey sent two firefighting planes to take part in the international effort to end the fire on the Carmel at the request of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.


'The real culprit is global warming'

By Nathan Jeffay, December 9, 2010

As many Israelis are blaming the poor state funding of firefighting infrastructure for the quick spread of the inferno, environmentalists are pointing their fingers at another culprit - the entire international community.

Gidon Bromberg, director of Friends of the Earth's Tel Aviv office, said: "The fire would never have spread with such speed had there been more rainfall making trees less dry. We're in our sixth consecutive year of drought and we had unheard of high temperatures in November."


British charities mobilise for Camel forest fund

By Robyn Rosen, December 9, 2010

Dozens of charities have launched appeals to fund recovery after the forest fires.

JNF UK, along with its sister organisations worldwide, is raising money to replant and replenish more than 12,000 acres of destroyed natural woodlands.

Samuel Hayek, JNF UK chairman, said: "What has happened in the Carmel region is an absolute tragedy for all involved. JNF mourns the loss of the life which has occurred and is greatly distressed by the extensive environmental and ecological damage caused by the fires.


Negligence caused Israel Carmel forest fire

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 9, 2010

While investigators have yet to pinpoint the definitive cause, one thing seems clear: the worst forest fire in Israel's history comes down to a moment of negligence.

The blaze raged for four days, consuming some 12,000 acres on the Carmel Mountain range, claiming 42 lives, severely damaging 250 homes, displacing 15,000 people and threatening Israel's third largest city.

It was finally put out by an unprecedented coalition of the woefully underfunded Israeli firefighters and planes, engines and firemen from 24 countries including Britain, the US, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.