Israel news

Netanyahu honours foreign help for Carmel fire crisis

By Jennifer Lipman, December 7, 2010

Israel has honoured 250 foreign fire fighters and rescue workers from Britain and around the world who worked to control the devastating four-day-long forest fire in the Carmel mountains region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the volunteers honorary awards on behalf of the state of Israel at a ceremony in Jerusalem this morning.

He said that for years Israel had sent humanitarian assistance abroad, in response to disasters such as the Haiti earthquake or a fuel tanker explosion in Congo, and praised the international community for doing the same for Israel.


Chabad man in cocaine arrest, insists innocence

By Jennifer Lipman, December 7, 2010

A Chabad representative has been arrested in Spain after police found four kilograms of cocaine in his suitcase.

Eliyahu Hecht, who is based in Safed, was detained by police during a stopover on his flight from Costa Rica back home to Israel.

A friend said Mr Hecht had not known the drugs were in his possession and had been the victim of a smuggling scam. He said that before boarding the flight a woman asked Mr Hecht to deliver a suitcase to a woman in Madrid, but he refused.

Chabad activists have launched a campaign to raise money to defend Mr Hecht in the case.


Justin Bieber sets date for Israel concert

By Jennifer Lipman, December 7, 2010

Teenage pop sensation Justin Bieber has announced that he will perform in Israel next year.

The 16-year-old Canadian singer will play in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park in April as part of his “My World Tour.”

Marcel Avraham, the producer bringing the singer to Israel, said he expected up to 60,000 people to buy tickets.

Best known for his songs "Baby" and "One Time", Bieber has had chart success around the world and is the most Googled person on the planet.


Carmel forest fire traced back to teen's nargila coal

By Jennifer Lipman, December 6, 2010

Police investigating the forest fire in Israel’s Carmel region have traced it back to the negligence of a 14-year-old boy.

The teenager has admitted to discarding a lit coal, used in smoking a nargila water pipe, in an open area.

Investigators believe this is what initially caused the devastating blaze, although unseasonably dry weather and strong winds have been blamed for why it spread.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said: “Based on an analysis of findings on the ground, the fire was caused by negligence.”


Deaths mourned as Carmel forest fire brought under control

By Jennifer Lipman, December 6, 2010

More than 17,000 people have been allowed back to their homes in the north of Israel after firefighters said that the worst of the blaze in the Carmel mountains region had been brought under control.

The fire, which investigators have traced back to two teenage boys now being held by police, has devastated 5,000 hectares of forest.

Forty-two people died as a result of the fire including the head of the Haifa police department and a 16-year-old volunteer firefighter who was killed during the attempt to rescue prison-guards trapped on a burning bus.


Israel's Idan Raichel to perform at Nobel ceremony

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Fresh from a tour of UK universities Israeli music star Idan Raichel has been asked to perform at this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

The singer, who has enjoyed global success and sings in Arabic, Amharic, Zulu and Hindi as well as Hebrew, will take to the stage with American artist India Arie at the event in Oslo on December 10.

The pair are currently working together on an album.


Frustration at Israeli government as Carmel forest burns

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Questions are being raised over the way in which Israel deals with disasters as a devastating forest fire blazes across the Carmel mountains region for a second day.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that the country did not have sufficient equipment to tackle the disaster as reports emerged of another person killed in the fire.

This would bring the total casualties to 41 after a bus carrying prison guards caught fire on Thursday afternoon, killing 40 passengers.


British teens 'out of harm's way' from Carmel forest fire

December 3, 2010

British teenagers on gap year programmes in Israel have witnessed first-hand the worst forest fire in the country’s history.

Groups from several British youth movements including FZY, Habonim and Noam were in the town of Shlomi in the north of Israel for a seminar when the fire broke out on Thursday afternoon.

Natie Shevel, the UJIA’s regional director for Israel, reassured that all 160 British participants were safe.

He said: “None of them has been affected and they are all well out of harm's way.”


Carmel forest fire: Israeli charities appeal for international support

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Israeli charities and aid organisations are on high alert as firefighters attempt to bring a devastating forest fire in the Carmel mountain regions near Haifa under control before Shabbat.

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) are amongst the organisations that have launched emergency appeals for support from the international community in the wake of the disaster.


Carmel fire evacuee: 'the whole sky was red'

By Robyn Rosen, December 3, 2010

Thirteen-year-old Einav King was evacuated from her home in Nir Etzion along with her parents, three siblings and dog, to stay with her British grandmother, Gloria King, from Sunderland, in Hofit.

“When I came back from school in Haifa, the whole sky was red,” Einav said. “It was filled with dust and smoke. At home, everything was covered in smoke. I came out the house and saw the flames about five kilometres away.