Israel news

Analysis: Israel will be blamed for Hamas murder

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 2, 2010

Hamas leadership and the international media, understandably, immediately accused Israel’s Mossad of being behind the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room two weeks ago.

There is no shortage of reasons for this. Mabhouh, for the last six years, was the main Hamas operative in the complex arm-smuggling organisation linking the Gaza Strip and Iran. Israel’s intelligence services have been fighting a major campaign against this pipeline, largely in secret.

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Hamas: Gilad Shalit deal has 'failed'

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2010

Negotiations to rescue kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have collapsed, Hamas’s Mahmoud Zahar has claimed.

Mr Zahar, a founder of Hamas, and one of its most militant commanders, told the BBC that it was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who had caused the “failure” of the talks.

He said: "After the involvement of Benjamin Netanyahu, it appears we have gone one step back. As of now the process has failed."

Israel has been in talks for months through German mediator Gerhard Conrad over a huge prisoner swap for the abducted 23-year-old corporal.

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Berlusconi: My dream for Israel to join EU

By Jessica Elgot, February 1, 2010

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has declared that Israel should become a member of the European Union.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Berlusconi said: “My greatest desire, as long as I am a protagonist in politics, is to bring Israel into membership of the European Union."

He added: “We would like a committed friendship to grow from this meeting, to work together toward the future.

"I hope we can all look towards a future of profit and prosperity, particularly peace for you, whose fragile existence is threatened."

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B'Tselem call for Gaza white phosphorus probe

By Jessica Elgot, February 1, 2010

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has demanded an investigation into the alleged use of white phosphorous at a UN compound in Gaza, which the IDF denies occurred.

A spokesperson for B’Tselem said: “Israel not only covered up the details of the incident but also refrained from stating, in the report, why measures had been taken against those responsible for this particular event, although many lives were lost in dozes of similar incidents throughout the operation.

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IDF officers disciplined for Gaza 'white phosphorus'

By Jessica Elgot, February 1, 2010

Two senior IDF officers have been found to have “endangered human life” during last year’s Gaza operation, for reportedly firing white phosphorus towards a UN compound, injuring an aid worker.

Gaza Division Commander Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg and Givati Brigade Commander Colonel Ilan Malka were subject to disciplinary action from the IDF command for but details of the officers’ punishments were not revealed.

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Netanyahu sues media over wife's staff abuse claims

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

Pressure piled up on PM Binyamin Netanyahu this week as it emerged that another household employee is suing his wife, Sarah. The Netanyahus responded with a libel suit and a complaint to the Israeli Press Council.

Two weeks ago, the former housekeeper of the couple’s weekend home in Caesarea filed a lawsuit which included potentially embarrassing claims about Mrs Netanyahu’s behaviour at home. This was soon followed by a slew of media reports focusing on her personal relationships with members of staff and her influence on the prime minister’s policy-making.

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Poll shows Israelis have conflicted views on immigrants

By Nathan Jeffay, January 28, 2010

A new poll shows that Israelis hold deeply conflicted views on immigration, considering new immigrants vital for the state, but also worrying they make Israel crime-ridden and boozy.

Some 73 per cent of Israeli Jews deem immigration important for Israel, the Geocartography Knowledge Group, a research company, found in a survey commissioned by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.

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Netanyahu ‘blasted’ Gilad Shalit negotiator

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

According to reports, Israel’s senior negotiator in the talks to free captured soldier Gilad Shalit was severely criticised by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for overstepping his mandate.

The negotiator, Hagai Hadas, had initially agreed to some of Hamas’s demands before being censured by Mr Netanyahu, who appeared to blame him for offering too much to Hamas.

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Analysis: IDF prepares for another Goldstone war

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

Thirteen months after Operation Cast Lead ended, the IDF is bracing itself for a new round of demands to set up an independent commission of inquiry into its actions. Meanwhile, Israel’s diplomats are gearing up to ward off new attempts to use the Goldstone Report as a lever for putting the country in the dock.

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Chabad excommunicates rabbi

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 28, 2010

A new schism emerged last week in the Lubavitch movement in Israel following reports that one of the leaders of its “messianic” stream had stopped fasting on days marking the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Gedalya Axelrod, a leading Lubavitch rabbi in Haifa, published a letter last week saying that “according to halachah”, Rabbi Zimroni Tzik, who runs the Chabad House in Bat Yam, should be excommunicated.

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