Israel news

Gas mask for every Israeli within 3 years

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 7, 2010

The Israeli cabinet has decided to hasten the production of gas masks so that in three years the entire population will be equipped with them.

The previous policy, to equip less than two-thirds of the population, was changed due to predictions that in a future conflict, Israel’s enemies would almost certainly bombard cities with medium-range missiles which are capable of carrying chemical warheads.

Although defence experts say that Hamas and Hizbollah’s missiles will probably still only carry conventional warheads, the cabinet decided that it could not take the risk.

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Seven rockets fall in southern Israel

By Jessica Elgot, January 7, 2010

Seven mortar rockets have been fired into southern Israel by Palestinian militants.

The Viva Palestina convoy, led by MP George Galloway, has been delayed at the Kerem Shalom crossing after three struck near the boarder.

Three more shells hit the north west Negev and another on the coastal strip. No-one was injured or killed.

IDF Major General Yoav Galant of the GOC Southern Command warned Negev citizens that they should prepare for further attacks.

He said: "It's true that we are after the first rains and the sun is shining - but one can see dark clouds in the distance."

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Bourekas 'banned' from Israeli cabinet

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 6, 2010

Israeli ministers arriving for the weekly government meeting on Sunday morning were surprised to find sliced vegetables and fresh fruit on the cabinet table, instead of the normal lavish repast.

The change of menu is the initiative of Cabinet Secretary, Tzvi Hauser, who decided to end the age-old custom where ministers enjoyed bourekas, ruggelach and sandwiches during their meeting.

"I reached the conclusion that the ministers have to eat healthy food, it's time to say enough to the dough and oil," said Mr Hauser.

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Gilad Shalit latest deal emerges

By Jessica Elgot, January 5, 2010

The German mediator brokering a deal with Hamas to free Gilad Shalit has presented Israel’s latest proposal to the group in Gaza.

Gerhard Conrad held a meeting with senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, who is expected to reject the latest offer from Israel.

Hamas wants 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in return for Shalit, 23, who was captured in 2006.

Israel has been reluctant to release some of those on the list, including those responsible for deadly terror attacks. It has agreed to 980 releases.

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Israel marks four years of Ariel Sharon's coma

By Jessica Elgot, January 4, 2010

Israel has marked the fourth anniversary of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coma after a massive stroke.

Mr Sharon, 81, has been in a coma since 2006 and is currently in a care facility in Ra’anana, outside Tel Aviv. He suffered a stroke several months after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

He was elected Prime Minister in 2001 as head of Likud, but abandoned his old party after making enemies when he backed the withdrawal from Gaza.

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Hamas 'may kidnap more IDF if no Shalit deal'

By Jessica Elgot, December 30, 2009

Hamas has hinted that it may kidnap more IDF soldiers if a deal for Gilad Shalit is not sealed.

According to Ha’aretz, one of Hamas’s leaders abroad, Osama Hamdan, has said that although negotiations were continuing with German mediator Gerhard Conrad, the organisation would not rule out further kidnappings if no agreement could be reached with the Israelis.

Israel and Hamas are said to be hammering out a deal involving 450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the 23-year-old kidnapped soldier.

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Terror attack breaks lull in violence

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2009

A new bout of killings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has raised fears of an escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence, at the end of a year which — since the end of the Operation Cast Lead — has seen the lowest casualty rates for over two decades.

While there have been sporadic shooting attacks against Israeli citizens in the West Bank over recent months, few have caused casualties. The murder of Rabbi Meir Chai in an ambush on a road near Nablus last Thursday evening was the first time an Israeli had been killed in a terror attack since April.

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Palestinians to gain access to Israel's main road

By Jessica Elgot, December 30, 2009

Israel’s main route between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem must be opened to Palestinians, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled.

Palestinians have been barred from using Highway 443 since 2002 when Palestinian terrorists attacked and shot dead Israeli motorists on the road.

But villagers from the Arab village of Beit Sira in the West Bank section of the road, which runs for 10km, have been prevented from access by concrete barriers, and are stopped at military checkpoints.

Villagers took their case to court in 2007, with the assistance of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

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Israelis back 'right' to disobey the IDF

By Nathan Jeffay, December 30, 2009

Some 29 per cent of Israeli Jews believe that right-wing soldiers have a “right” to refuse orders if asked to evacuate a settlement, according to a new Tel Aviv University poll.

Last month, the government decided to expel the Har Bracha yeshivah from the army’s hesder programme, which combines army service and Torah study, after its head encouraged students to disobey orders in such cases.

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Paper war launched over 'Bibi's freesheet'

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2009

Israeli politicians often complain about the power of the media and its pervasive influence. But in recent weeks, some of them have put themselves at the disposal of the local press barons in an attempt to block the new competitor in town.

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