Israel news

Clashes at right-wing Umm el-Fahm march

By Jennifer Lipman, October 27, 2010

Police have fired tear gas to break up a demonstration against the Islamic Movement by extreme right-wing activists in an Arab town in northern Israel.

Security officials were put on high alert in anticipation of the provocative demonstration in Umm el-Fahm, taking place this morning.

There have been reports of clashes and of activists throwing stones.

The march was organised to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the death of extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, killed by an Eygptian-American terrorist.


Britain's ambassador to Israel puts up mezuzah

By Jennifer Lipman, October 26, 2010

A mezuzah has been fixed on to the door of the British ambassador’s residence in Israel for the first time in history.

Matthew Gould, Britain’s first Jewish ambassador to Israel, was joined by Israel’s Chief Rabbi Meir Lau and Rabbi Isaac Shapira for the short ceremony at the home in the Ramat Gan suburb of Tel Aviv.

Mr Gould and his wife Celia bought the mezuzot cases in Jerusalem and placed inside scrolls hand-written by Rabbi Lau.

Mr Gould said: “There are a number of things give me a great deal of pride. One of them is being Jewish and being here.


Israel wins (chess) war with Iran

By Jennifer Lipman, October 22, 2010

An Israeli chess player has set a new world record for playing the highest number of games at one time. The title was previously held by an Iranian player.

Grandmaster Alik Gershon, who emigrated to Israel from the Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union, took the title after playing 523 games simultaneously in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

Mr Gershon, 30, won most of those matches – losing just 11 and drawing 58 of them.


The Shalit debate gets animated

By Nathan Jeffay, October 22, 2010

As Israel and Hamas have resumed negotiations in recent days over a deal to free Gilad Shalit, the lobby against a deal has enjoyed unprecedented exposure.

Hamas is demanding that in return for Mr Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted in 2006, Israel frees 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including some who have launched attacks on civilians.


Israel's Strictly Come Dancing same-sex partners

By Jessica Elgot, October 21, 2010

Israel’s version of Strictly Come Dancing is to feature a same-sex dancing couple, the first in 35 versions of the show around the world.

The Israeli version of the BBC dance show will feature Gili Shem Tov, a gay female TV sports personality.

She will dance with professional dancer Dorit Milman – who is straight - on the Channel 2 show, with the women sharing who takes the role of the male lead in the dance steps.

Producers said it had been Ms Tov’s decision to dance with another woman.


Netanyahu changes loyalty pledge after backlash

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 21, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to alter the "loyalty pledge" law voted on last week by the cabinet so that it will include not only non-Jews but any new Israeli citizen.


Turkish activist backs IDF account of Gaza flotilla

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 21, 2010

A Turkish journalist's account of the events during the takeover of the flotilla to Gaza on May 31, in which nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos, tallies with the Israeli version of events.

Sefik Dinc, a Turkish journalist, was on the Mavi Marmara ferry when the violent clashes took place. Mr Dinc recently published in Turkey a book on the incident, The Bleeding Mavi Marmara, which, while critical of Israel's actions, is also critical of his own government and the activists' actions.


Rabin assassination anniversary to be downgraded

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 21, 2010

The memorial events for the 15th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination began this week under growing controversy over his legacy.

A series of events marked the anniversary of the former prime minister's killing beginning with a ceremony at the President's residence in Jerusalem including a memorial service at his grave on Mount Herzl and a special Knesset session.


Hillary Clinton: don't defer Middle East decisions

By Jennifer Lipman, October 21, 2010

Hillary Clinton has called for the Palestinians to publicly disavow terrorist organisations Hamas and Hizbollah.

The US Secretary of State told a Palestinian peace group that Israel must take further steps to relax restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

Mrs Clinton also told the audience at the American Task Force on Palestine event that while there is “no magic formula” to solve the Middle East conflict, negotiation remains absolutely necessary.

Direct peace talks resumed in Washington in September after nearly two years.


Remember him, pleads Yitzhak Rabin's daughter on anniversary

By Jennifer Lipman, October 20, 2010

Yitzhak Rabin’s daughter Dalia has called for Israel to do more to keep the memory of the former prime minister alive at an event to mark the 15th anniversary of his assassination.

Ceremonies were held around Israel, including a candlighting with Israeli President Shimon Peres and a ceremony at the Rabin Centre in Tel Aviv.

Mr Rabin was killed in 1995 by a right-wing Orthodox Jewish fanatic during a peace concert.