Israel news

Diplomat's bid to 're-brand' Israel

June 17, 2010

You might think it easier to run up Masada every day with a bag of rocks on your back than take on Ido Aharoni's mission: to improve Israel's public image.

For three years, the urbane diplomat has headed the Israeli foreign service's "brand management team", charged with encouraging people elsewhere to see the country in a more positive light.

But he has an upbeat message for those in the diaspora who want to aid his work. "Help us celebrate Israel's success."

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Gaza settlers were 'failed by the state'

By James Lewis, June 17, 2010

A new report into the fate of the settlers evacuated from Gaza has accused successive Israeli governments of "absolute and complete failure" in dealing with them.

The state commission inquiry showed that 70 per cent of the settlers, who were forced to leave their Gush Katif homes following the Gaza withdrawal in August 2005, have still not been found permanent homes.

A large majority of the 9,000 evacuees have not been properly compensated and are currently living in temporary dwellings.

The state made the evacuees "refugees in their own country", said the report.

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Soldier faces charges over Cast Lead

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 17, 2010

The IDF's Military Advocate General, Major General Avichai Mendelblit, will hold a hearing next week for a soldier suspected of double manslaughter in last year's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The solider allegedly shot and killed two Palestinian women who were in a group of civilians holding white flags. This is the third and most serious case in which charges are being brought against soldiers involved in the operation.

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Syria: Gaza flotilla could mean war

By Jessica Elgot, June 17, 2010

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has said the attack on the Gaza flotilla activists could be a catalyst for more war in the Middle East.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Assad said there was no chance of peace with Israel’s “pyromaniac government”.

He said: "When you don't have peace, you have to expect war every day, and this is very dangerous."

Mr Assad said the raid on the flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists died, "destroyed any chance for peace in the near future".

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Parents face jail over Jewish school segregation

By Jessica Elgot, June 17, 2010

Tens of thousands of strictly Orthodox Jews marched in Jerusalem today against the proposed integration of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi girls at a religious school.

Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that Ashkenazi, Mizrahi and Sephardi children must be educated together, and dozens of parents of girls at a school in the West Bank settlement of Emanuel face up to two weeks in jail.

The parents of Ashkenazi children have demanded the other children are educated separately - claiming they do not believe them to be observant enough.

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Israel eases Gaza land blockade

By Jessica Elgot, June 17, 2010

The Israeli government is to ease the blockade of Gaza, expanding what is allowed into the region by road.

The government said in a statement: "It was agreed to liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza, to expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision.”

Although products have not been specified, the security cabinet is expected to allow more than 100 new items to enter the territory. The naval blockade, which the activists on the Gaza flotilla attempted to break, will remain.

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New Turkish flotilla to Gaza planned

By Jennifer Lipman, June 16, 2010

The Turkish group behind the flotilla which sailed towards Gaza in May has announced it is planning to send more ships.

The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (IHH), said they would be sending a repeat convoy of at least six ships.

IHH, which allegedly has links with Islamic militant organisations, told members of the European Parliament the ships will set off for Gaza in July.

The move comes after Israeli cabinet ministers met to discuss easing the blockade of Gaza.

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Report: Israel failed Gaza settlement evacuees

By James Lewis, June 16, 2010

A new report into the fate of the settlers evacuated from Gaza has accused successive Israeli governments of “absolute and complete failure” in dealing with them.

The state commission inquiry showed that 70 per cent of the settlers, who were forced to leave their Gush Katif homes during the Gaza withdrawal in 2005, have still not been found permanent homes. A large majority of those 9,000 who were removed from Gaza have still not been properly compensated and are currently living in temporary dwellings.

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Royal honour for Israeli WW2 veterans

By Jennifer Lipman, June 16, 2010

Israeli war veterans who were injured fighting for Britain during the Second World War are to be royally honoured.

The 32 disabled soldiers will receive British Ministry of Defence medals on behalf of the Queen at a ceremony in Tel Aviv. The newly knighted Sir Tom Phillips, the outgoing British ambassador, will make the awards.

Some of the soldiers, who served in the Jewish Brigade, went on to fight for Israel during the war of independence in 1948.

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Israeli cabinet discuss easing Gaza blockade

By Jennifer Lipman, June 16, 2010

Israeli cabinet ministers have met to discuss relaxing the blockade of Gaza.

Members of the security cabinet are looking into allowing around 100 more goods into Gaza.

The meeting has been adjourned and will reconvene later with an announcement expected soon. It comes after the decision earlier in June to ease the blockade by allowing in provisions including Coca Cola, shaving cream and spices.

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