Israel news

South African diplomat back in Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, July 20, 2010

The South African ambassador to Israel is to resume duties in Tel Aviv nearly two months after he was recalled following the flotilla clash.

Ambassador Ismail Coovadia was pulled out of Israel by his government in the wake of the fighting on the Gaza-bound ship on May 31. Turkey also recalled its ambassador in protest.

The South African Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the Israeli army has already investigated the events of May 31 but called for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent” probe.

They also called for Israel to end the blockade of Gaza.

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The Scot bringing Israel beer

By Jennifer Lipman, July 20, 2010

A Glasgow-born Israeli has opened a brewery to change the way Israeli drinkers see beer.

David Shire, who moved from to Israel from Scotland in 1983, set up the kosher Lone Tree Brewery with an American neighbour near his Gush Etzion home.

Mr Shire told the Ha’aretz newspaper that the project had come about because he wanted an alternative to Israeli beer, which is “just for 16-year-old kids who want to get drunk.”

He said in Scotland, “good beer is appreciated like good wine and good cheese."

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Hurndall family anger as killer freed

By Jennifer Lipman, July 20, 2010

The sister of a British activist killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003 has slammed the decision to release the man responsible early as “incredibly sad”.

Sophie Hurndall, whose brother Tom was shot while volunteering in Rafah for the International Solidarity Movement, said the family was “angry and shocked” to hear that Taysir-al-Heib would leave jail 18 months before his sentence expires.

Ms Hurndall told the Ha’aretz newspaper that the family had feared this would happen, despite the fact that three previous appeals by Mr al-Heib to have his sentence commuted had failed.

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Early release for Tom Hurndall killer

By Jennifer Lipman, July 19, 2010

A former Israeli soldier imprisoned for killing a British activist in the Gaza Strip in 2003 is to be released before his sentence is up.

Taysir-al-Heib was sentenced to eight years for the "unlawful killing" of Tom Hurndall, a 22-year-old volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement.

But an army committee said he was no longer a threat and has agreed to release him 18 months before his sentence expires. His lawyer said Mr al-Heib had changed and added that he planned to get married.

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Secret Kafka files to be opened

By Jennifer Lipman, July 19, 2010

A collection of valuable private manuscripts by Franz Kafka is to be opened for the first time as part of a legal battle over his estate.

The four boxes, believed to contain unpublished writing and sketches by the Prague-born Jewish author, will be unlocked in Zurich to help lawyers determine where ownership lies.

Literary experts will study the documents, hidden for 50 years in the vaults of a Swiss bank and said to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

It is just the latest stage in a two-year legal battle initiated by a woman called Eve Hoffe.

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Baroness Ashton told easing blockade not enough

By Jennifer Lipman, July 19, 2010

A group of non governmental organisations have written to the EU High Representative claiming that Israel’s decision to ease the blockade of the Gaza Strip is not enough to rebuild the area’s economy.

The 19 organisations, including Amnesty International UK, Christian Aid, and War Child UK, asked Catherine Ashton to press for restrictions on Gaza to be lifted completely.

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Maverick rabbi stirred religious left

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Rabbi Yehuda Amital, who died last Friday in Jerusalem, could have been one of the most significant religious leaders of his generation. But by embracing left-wing positions on the Israeli-Palestinian question and trying to represent a voice of religious moderation, he chose a lonelier path.

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Analysis: Not quite a whitewash, but close

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

The Eiland report held few surprises. One does not have to be a military expert to understand that only patchy intelligence and faulty planning could have led to a situation where a small group of commandos landed one-by-one into a violent mob holding paint-guns.

So what else is new? The report praised the commandos, saying they used lethal force only when their lives were in danger. But medals for fighters in the field are usually awarded to cover the screw-ups of those who sent them into battle.

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Flotilla mess blamed on 'bad plans'

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Experts appointed by the military to investigate the IDF operation against the Gaza flotilla found a series of mistakes in the intelligence-gathering and planning stages of the mission.

But they praised the actions of the naval commandos who carried out the May raid on the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

The team, headed by reserve Major General Giora Eiland, was appointed by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi a month ago to probe the military aspects of the operation.

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Israel draws up concession list

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Following the friendly meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama in Washington last week, Mr Netanyahu is putting together a list of gestures to the Palestinians that, he hopes, will convince the Palestinian leadership to enter direct negotiations.

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