Israel news

Soldiers defend IDF’s conduct

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 23, 2009

IDF soldiers have responded to criticism of the army’s conduct in Operation Cast Lead by producing a website describing how the army did everything in its power to minimise civilian casualties.

Soldiers Speak Out was created by Stand With Us, a Los Angeles-based pro-Israel advocacy organisation, and includes videos of IDF reservists who fought in the Gaza operation.

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British diplomats involved in US-Israel tension

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2009

British diplomats played a major part in the recent spat between Israel and the United States over Jewish building in east Jerusalem.

Last week, during a routine meeting with Israel’s new ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, the Americans expressed objection to plans to convert the Shepherd Hotel in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah into 20 flats for Jewish families.

The building is owned by American-Jewish millionaire Irving Moskovich.

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El Al to offer 'no-frills' to Europe

By Jessica Elgot, July 21, 2009

El Al will roll out a ‘no-frills’ ticket on its scheduled flights from Israel, where tickets from £121 will be supplemented with charges for extras like meals and baggage.

Tickets are already being sold on the maiden budget flight from Tel Aviv to Rome in August.

But London flyers thinking of a low-cost El Al flight to Beijing or Bangkok without a meal will be disappointed: the airline is only offering its no-frills fares on short-haul flights.

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US to Israel: Stop building in East Jerusalem

By Jessica Elgot, July 20, 2009

The United States has issued a stark warning to Israel’s US ambassador over planned settlement construction in East Jerusalem and demanded that the project be scrapped.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that "Israel will not agree to edicts of this kind in East Jerusalem."

Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren was summoned to a meeting at the state department where he was told the US sought a freeze on new settlement construction in the east of the capital where an old hotel is being turned into Jewish homes by an American developer.

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Al-Jazeera shut down in West Bank

By Jessica Elgot, July 17, 2009

The West Bank offices of the TV channel, Al-Jazeera, have been shut down by the Palestinian Authority because, it has been claimed, the station portrays the Palestinian leadership in a negative light.

Al-Jazeera, which has offices in Ramallah, said it had been “stunned” by the allegations, which it fiercely contested.

The shut-down appears to be a direct result of what the majority PA party, Fatah, calls “false news” which it said the channel broadcast on Tuesday night.

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UK embassy gives £35k to Gaza report

By Jessica Elgot, July 17, 2009

Britain’s embassy in Israel is one of the financial backers of the human rights group, Breaking the Silence, it was revealed today.

The organisation, whose controversial report on the actions of the IDF during the Gaza conflict in January this year has just been issued, is said to have been given more than £35,000 by the UK, according to the 2008 donors’ list, published by the Jerusalem Post.

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Israeli warships sail through Suez Canal

By Jessica Elgot, July 16, 2009

Israel has sent two warships through the Egyptian-controlled Suez Canal between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

The move appeared designed to signal Israel's military strength to Iran.

Israeli ships often use the canal, but the government rarely publicises this.

Israel has said repeatedly that it will not rule out the possibility of taking military action against Iran over their nuclear weapons plans.

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Britain's arms ban could be first step to boycott

By Bernard Josephs, July 16, 2009

The UK government’s decision to ban the further sale to Israel of gun parts used in Operation Cast Lead is feared by many Israel advocates as simply a curtain-raiser to worse scenarios.

Concern that Britain’s actions could lead to similar embargoes by other European countries was voiced by Zionist Federation chairman Andrew Balcombe.

“So far it is only a few items that have been banned, but we have to wait and see if it stops there. We don’t know if it is grandstanding or if it will happen with other suppliers.

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Court examines IDF violence in West Bank

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 16, 2009

Next week, the commander of the IDF’s Central Command, Major General Gadi Shamni, will take the stand in the final hearing of a criminal case that has shaken the IDF to the core and cost at least one senior officer his career.

General Shamni will testify in the case of Lieutenant Adam Malul, a junior officer in the Kfir Brigade who is accused in a military court of using excessive force against Palestinian detainees in a West Bank village last year. General Shamni will explain exactly what degree of force soldiers are allowed to use to quell demonstrations.

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IDF accused by own soldiers

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 16, 2009

A new report alleging that IDF soldiers carried out war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead includes testimony from soldiers who claim that their units used human shields , a practice banned by the Israeli Supreme Court, while searching Palestinian homes.

The report, by the human rights group Breaking the Silence, is based on interviews with 30 soldiers.

The organisation is run by IDF veterans and it bases its evidence only on soldiers who claim to have witnessed the events.

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