Israel news

Bedouin man's Bible bid

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2010

A Bedouin teacher and a group of IDF soldiers are in the running to become Israel’s first Bible champion in nearly 30 years.

Shadi Abu Ara, who teaches Hebrew literature to Arab schoolchildren, has his entire class behind him as he attempts to win first place in the Israeli contest.

If he emerges as the winner at the competition in December, he would go on to compete in the international championship in 2011.

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Egyptian paper criticised for Nazi cartoon

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2010

A newspaper with close links to Egypt’s government has been slammed by Israel for an “antisemitic” cartoon showing an Israeli flag with a Nazi swastika in the place of the Star of David.

The caricature, in Egyptian daily Al-Watani al-Youm (the National Today) imagines an aid ship headed for Gaza being grabbed by an octopus carrying the vandalised Israeli flag.

Shani Cooper-Zubida, from the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, complained after the cartoon appeared in the paper on June 15.

She said the “comparison between Israel and Nazism” was unacceptable and defamatory.

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Lieberman: Palestinian statehood far away

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2010

Israel’s Foreign Minister has delivered a blow to hopes of an independent Palestinian state in the near future.

Avigdor Lieberman said: “There is absolutely no chance of it before the year 2012”.

He said: "One can dream and imagine, but we are far from reaching an agreement."

Mr Lieberman said it is time for the Palestinians to make moves towards peace, as Israel had already made many steps.

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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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