Israel news

Mixed feelings from IDF over the Shalit deal

By Anshel Pfeffer in Hebron, November 26, 2009

Views among IDF soldiers this week over the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange broadly mirrored those among the wider public, but they had some unique insights of their own.

The younger soldiers, those who started their service only recently, were broadly in favour of the emerging deal. Uriya, a machine-gunner in the Golani Brigade who began his first operational posting last month, said: “From my point of view, what is important is how his mother feels. Nothing can compare to that. Any price is worthwhile, even 1,000 terrorists.”

His friend, Tamir, added a less emotional reason.

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Gilad Shalit's freedom 'will change the Middle East'

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 26, 2009

It is safe to say that the Gilad Shalit saga is now in its final stretch. Assessments by senior Israeli sources range between a prisoner exchange taking place sometime next week and sometime next month. What is clear is that both sides have reached the point of no return.

Too much is at stake for Israel and Hamas, both on the domestic front and in the international arena. Outside the direct mechanics of the negotiations, both sides made major concessions this week which will go a long way to enabling the deal to go down.

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Three named in Israel helicopter crash

By Jessica Elgot, November 25, 2009

Three of the four people who died after a helicopter crashed off the coast of Netanya, Israel have been named.

A 43 year-old British man is believed to have died in the crash. His name has not been released by police.

One of the Israeli victims has been named as 35 year-old Yoav Tamir from Tel Aviv, the co-owner of Tamir Airways which owned the helicopter.

Ran Lapid, 49, from Nes Tziona, a pilot for El Al, was flying the helicopter when it crashed. Mr Lapid had regularly flown Boeing 737 planes for El Al, and had served as a helicopter pilot in the army.

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Netanya helicopter deaths joy on Press TV site

By Marcus Dysch, November 24, 2009

Reports of the death of a British tourist in a helicopter crash in Netanya were met with celebration by readers of Press TV’s website.

The news organisation, funded by the Iranian government, ran a story on Tuesday afternoon headlined “Two killed in Israeli chopper crash”.

It was immediately met with comments referring to the Gaza conflict and apparently calling for Jews and Israelis to be killed.

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Briton killed as helicopter crashes in Netanya

By Jessica Elgot, November 24, 2009

Four people have died after a helicopter crashed off the coast of Netanya, Israel.

Israeli ambulance service Magen David Adom has confirmed that four bodies have been recovered from the helicopter, and that at least one, a 43 year-old man, was British.

The private helicopter took off from Tel Aviv's Sde Dov airfield. Two of the dead have been identified as Israeli citizens. A British passport has also been recovered from the sea.

Haaretz has identified the pilot as Ran Lapid, and suggested he was an employee of El Al.

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Netanyahu: There's no Gilad Shalit deal yet

By Jessica Elgot, November 23, 2009

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has slammed reports of a prisoner swap deal to rescue kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, claiming any deal would have to be approved by the cabinet.

Mr Netanyahu said that reports that a deal wth Hamas, for the release of the 23-year-old soldier, was imminent, were “not credible and some of them are even intentionally distorted.”

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Shabbat wars erupt over Intel Jerusalem factory

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 19, 2009

Attempts at mediation have failed so far to prevent another round of Shabbat protests in Jerusalem, this time over a high-tech factory working seven days a week.

The Intel plant in Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim business park has carried out limited work on Shabbat for over three decades. The start of a new manufacturing process, which will greatly increase the work taking place on Shabbat, had sparked calls for renewed protests. It has been two months since the previous Shabbat protests against an open municipal car park petered out.

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Analysis: Why Bibi will not go to Copenhagen

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 19, 2009

Greenpeace Israel held an unusual demonstration outside the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem on Sunday. Dressed as El Al cabin crew, they held aloft a giant boarding card with passenger Binyamin Netanyahu’s name.

They demanded the government put the issues of global warming and protection of the environment higher up its agenda and, as a start, urged Mr Netanyahu to fly to Copenhagen next month for the global climate summit.

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Israel is officially out of recession

By Simon Griver, November 19, 2009

Israel is officially out of recession after the Central Bureau of Statistics reported that the country’s economy grew 2.2 per cent on an annualised basis in the third quarter of 2009.

This followed 1 per cent growth in the second quarter.

Israel was one of the last Western countries into recession, enjoying growth of 4 per cent last year despite a contraction of 1.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008. The recession hit hardest in the first quarter of this year, when the Israeli economy contracted by 3.2 per cent.

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A day of pride for Ethiopians

By Ben Lynfield, November 19, 2009

For their forebears in Ethiopia, the Sigd was a religious holiday renewing their covenant with God and expressing longing for Zion. But for many among the thousands marking it in Jerusalem on Monday, the festival was more of a day of ethnic pride.

“The sigd is very empowering,” said Aviva Nagosa, 32. “It is the only thing left that joins us all together.”

While in Ethiopia, the Sigd highlighted the uniqueness of the Beta Yisrael — the ancient Jewish community — amongst their Ethiopian neighbours, today it defines them as a distinguished group among other Israeli Jews.

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