Israel news

Knesset votes for NGO probe

By Marcus Dysch, January 6, 2011

THe Knesset has voted overwhelmingly in favour of establishing a parliamentary committee to probe funding of human rights groups in Israel.

The right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party proposed the bill, calling for an investigation into the actions of NGOs monitoring the activities of the IDF in the West Bank.

The motion claimed a coalition of international organisations was working under the guise of human rights to encourage draft-dodging and label IDF soldiers and commanders as war criminals.


Halutz: we didn't have intelligence to get Gilad Shalit

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 6, 2011

Former IDF Chief of Staff, retired Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, said that Israel had insufficient intelligence to retrieve Gilad Shalit following his capture by Hamas four and a half years ago.

Mr Halutz, who gave a lecture in Beersheva on Shabbat, is trying to rebrand his image in attempt to win political office. The former general resigned four years ago following the Second Lebanon War and is widely seen by the Israeli public as one of those responsible for the less than spectacular results of Israel's war against Hizbollah.


US realised settlement freeze was wrong tactic

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 6, 2011

The Israeli government was prepared to extend the settlement freeze by three months but the American administration decided at the last moment to change course, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week.


Debate over death of Palestinian woman in Bil'in

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 6, 2011

A Furious debate has broken out in Israel and across the blogosphere over what caused the death of a 36-year-old Palestinian woman over the weekend.

The villagers of Bil'in in the West Bank claim Jawaher Abu Rahme was suffocated by tear-gas shot, by Israelis soldiers. The IDF maintain she died of an illness that she was already suffering from.


Rabbis battle over organ transplants

January 6, 2011

After Orthodox British student Yoni Jesner was murdered in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem in 2002, his family gave permission for doctors to use his organs for transplant. The decision was particularly poignant because the recipients included a young Palestinian girl.

But last week's dispute over the body of Avi Cohen has highlighted that organ donation still remains a contentious issue among Orthodox rabbis.


Storm over Avi Cohen organ donation

January 6, 2011

The refusal of Avi Cohen's family to give away the former Israel football captain's organs has reopened a debate over the religious objections to such donations.

Mr Cohen, who also played for Liverpool in the 1980s, was hurt in a motor-cycle accident three weeks ago in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan.

He lay in a coma for nine days before doctors at Ichilov Hospital told his family he was clinically dead.

Mr Cohen, 54, was a proud organ donor card carrier and had advocated that every professional footballer in the country should carry one.


Netanyahu heckled, chaos at Carmel fire memorial

By Jennifer Lipman, January 6, 2011

A memorial for the victims of the Carmel forest fire descended into chaos as the crowd shouted at the Israeli Prime Minister, causing his bodyguards to intervene, and forced another government minister to leave the service.

Friends and relatives of the 44 people who died heckled Benjamin Netanyahu as he made a tribute speech at Kibbutz Beit Oren, one of the sites damaged in the blaze.

The crowd raged that they blamed the prime minister for the way in which he coordinated the response to the devastating fire last month.


Mickey Mouse magic: Disney plans Israel theme park

By Jennifer Lipman, January 5, 2011

The Holy Land is set to become an even more magical place. Disney has announced that it is to open a theme park in Israel.

The Walt Disney Company, which has amusement parks in the US, France and Hong Kong, is planning to open another in Haifa in 2013.

The park, which will cover 20 acres of land near the Carmel Tunnel, will be home to a 25-screen cinema complex, shops and other entertainment facilities.

The project is expected to cost more than £107 million.


Guardian website 'preoccupied with Israel'

By Jennifer Lipman, January 4, 2011

Israel was the sixth most written about country by the Guardian website in 2010, coming in front of Pakistan, Iran and Zimbabwe.

The Jewish state featured in 1008 stories during the year; more than double the combined total of mentions for its Middle Eastern neighbours Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

Jordan appeared 39 and Syria 85 times, while there were 126 reports about Lebanon and 219 about Egypt.


Israel: Mossad vulture part of academic study

By Jennifer Lipman, January 4, 2011

Israeli authorities have said that a bird captured by Saudi Arabia on suspicion of being a Mossad spy is part of an academic study.

Less than a month after the governor of South Sinai accused the Israeli intelligence organisation of orchestrating a fatal shark attack in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Saudi officials have seized a vulture equipped with a GPS chip.

According to reports in the Israeli media the bird was discovered after it flew into Saudi territory, at which point concerned residents alerted security officials.