Israel news

Israel marks four years of Ariel Sharon's coma

By Jessica Elgot, January 4, 2010

Israel has marked the fourth anniversary of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coma after a massive stroke.

Mr Sharon, 81, has been in a coma since 2006 and is currently in a care facility in Ra’anana, outside Tel Aviv. He suffered a stroke several months after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

He was elected Prime Minister in 2001 as head of Likud, but abandoned his old party after making enemies when he backed the withdrawal from Gaza.

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Hamas 'may kidnap more IDF if no Shalit deal'

By Jessica Elgot, December 30, 2009

Hamas has hinted that it may kidnap more IDF soldiers if a deal for Gilad Shalit is not sealed.

According to Ha’aretz, one of Hamas’s leaders abroad, Osama Hamdan, has said that although negotiations were continuing with German mediator Gerhard Conrad, the organisation would not rule out further kidnappings if no agreement could be reached with the Israelis.

Israel and Hamas are said to be hammering out a deal involving 450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the 23-year-old kidnapped soldier.

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Terror attack breaks lull in violence

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2009

A new bout of killings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has raised fears of an escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence, at the end of a year which — since the end of the Operation Cast Lead — has seen the lowest casualty rates for over two decades.

While there have been sporadic shooting attacks against Israeli citizens in the West Bank over recent months, few have caused casualties. The murder of Rabbi Meir Chai in an ambush on a road near Nablus last Thursday evening was the first time an Israeli had been killed in a terror attack since April.

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Palestinians to gain access to Israel's main road

By Jessica Elgot, December 30, 2009

Israel’s main route between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem must be opened to Palestinians, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled.

Palestinians have been barred from using Highway 443 since 2002 when Palestinian terrorists attacked and shot dead Israeli motorists on the road.

But villagers from the Arab village of Beit Sira in the West Bank section of the road, which runs for 10km, have been prevented from access by concrete barriers, and are stopped at military checkpoints.

Villagers took their case to court in 2007, with the assistance of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

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Israelis back 'right' to disobey the IDF

By Nathan Jeffay, December 30, 2009

Some 29 per cent of Israeli Jews believe that right-wing soldiers have a “right” to refuse orders if asked to evacuate a settlement, according to a new Tel Aviv University poll.

Last month, the government decided to expel the Har Bracha yeshivah from the army’s hesder programme, which combines army service and Torah study, after its head encouraged students to disobey orders in such cases.

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Paper war launched over 'Bibi's freesheet'

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2009

Israeli politicians often complain about the power of the media and its pervasive influence. But in recent weeks, some of them have put themselves at the disposal of the local press barons in an attempt to block the new competitor in town.

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Analysis: Bibi's plot exposes Livni’s weakness

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2009

PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan to split the Likud’s main political rival, Kadima, suffered a setback this week when Kadima’s Knesset members unanimously voted to turn down his offer to join a national unity government. But the political machinations of the past two weeks also revealed the weakness of Kadima chair Tzipi Livni’s leadership.

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UK has biggest Israel immigration increase

By Jessica Elgot, December 29, 2009

Aliyah from the UK has increased by 34 per cent, the largest increase in new immigrants to Israel in 2009.

The Jewish Agency for Israel has announced a global increase of 17 per cent, after more than 16,200 new olim made their home in Israel.

The largest number of the new immigrants was 3,767 from the US and Canada with, but 835 British citizens also made aliyah, the largest increase in emigration volume.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said: “Every new immigrant strengthens the country and is a strategic asset to Israel.”

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Israeli man sets record with 11th divorce

By Jessica Elgot, December 29, 2009

A 50-year-old Jerusalem man has been granted his 11th divorce by the Jerusalem Beth Din in a new Jewish Israeli record — and he’s already on the hunt for a new wife.

The unnamed man, who has conducted all his marriages and divorces in Israel and abroad in accordance with halachah, said he had a tradition of divorcing his wives every two years.

The man said he planned to look for a new bride immediately, and had no problems finding wives.

He told the beth din: “I throw out a hook and the fish come on their own."

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Vanunu held after meeting with Norwegian woman

By Jessica Elgot, December 29, 2009

Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has admitted breaking terms of his release from prison.

Mr Vanunu, a former technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Centre, leaked details and pictures of Israel’s nuclear operation to the Sunday Times in 1986, leading experts to conclude that Israel had the world’s sixth largest nuclear arsenal.

He was kidnapped in Rome by the Israeli secret service, and then served 18 years in jail for treason and espionage. He was released in 2004 but is banned from any contact with foreign nationals or media.

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