Israel news

Forest fire still blazing through Israel's Carmel mountains

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Firefighters are battling to control what experts have described as the worst forest fire in Israeli history as a devastating inferno rages through the country’s Carmel mountains region for a second day.

The fire, which has already destroyed an estimated 5,000 acres of forest and bush land in northern Israel, saw its first casualties yesterday afternoon when a bus sent to help evacuate a nearby prison caught fire, killing up to 40 Israeli prison guards.

More..

Sacked MK vows to run new party

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 2, 2010

Rabbi Chaim Amsellem, the Knesset member banished last week by his party Shas for his "heretical" views, is now threatening to form a new party for "traditional" Sephardi voters.

Rabbi Amsellem, a second-term MK, has repeatedly angered conservative Charedi rabbis and politicians with his over-liberal positions on religious and social issues.

More..

Senior policeman in lurid sex scandal

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 2, 2010

Accusations of sexual harassment have thrown the Israeli police into turmoil and affected the selection of the next national chief of police. In an unorthodox move, the accuser revealed herself in public last week to draw attention to the victims of sexual crimes.

More..

Forest fire chaos, fatal crash near Haifa

By Jennifer Lipman, December 2, 2010

Up to 40 Israelis are believed to have been killed or injured after a bus crashed while evacuating people from a devastating forest fire in the Carmel Mountains near Haifa.

The accident involved a bus transporting prison guards from the Damon Prison to safety.

The blaze has also meant that hundreds of people have been taken away from their homes while the University of Haifa has been forced to evacuate its campus.

More..

Trinny and Susannah: what Britain's Israeli ambassador should wear

By Jennifer Lipman, December 2, 2010

British fashion gurus Trinny and Susannah have shared some style tips with the British Ambassador to Israel at a party at his Ramat Gan home.

Matthew Gould and wife Celia hosted the celebrity-filled party in honour of the pair, who are filming a makeover series in Israel for Channel 10. Other guests at the party, dubbed the ambassador’s "best dressed event yet", included model Galit Guttman, designer Galit Levy and former international footballer Itzik Zohar.

More..

Palestinians remove Western Wall 'not Jewish' claim

By Jennifer Lipman, December 2, 2010

A claim that the Western Wall is not of Jewish significance has been taken off a Palestinian Authority report after its inclusion prompted condemnation from the US and Israel.

The controversial statement, which runs counter to archeological evidence, had been made by Palestinian Authority Deputy Information minister Al-Mutawakil Taha. He said "this wall has never been a part of what is called the Jewish Temple.”

But a Palestinian official said the claim did not reflect their position and so it had been removed from the government’s website.

More..

US to Palestinians: Western Wall has Jewish significance

By Jennifer Lipman, December 1, 2010

The Obama administration has rejected the controversial claim by a Palestinian official that there is no Jewish connection to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Last week Palestinian Authority minister Al-Mutawakil Taha said in a report that "this wall has never been a part of what is called the Jewish Temple.

"It was Islamic tolerance which allowed the Jews to stand before it and cry over its loss."

More..

Dagan's deputy named new Mossad director

By Jennifer Lipman, November 30, 2010

The former deputy to Mossad director Meir Dagan has been named as his successor.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Tamir Pardo as the new chief of Israel’s intelligence service, despite speculation that he would look outside the organisation and choose the head of Israel’s domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet.

Mr Pardo has worked in the organisation for much of his career. He resigned as Mr Dagan’s deputy last year amid claims of disagreements.

More..

WikiLeaks: Netanyahu 'support for' Palestinian land swap

By Jennifer Lipman, November 30, 2010

Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the possibility of a land swap with the Palestinians just two weeks after becoming Israel’s prime minister, according to documents released by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

A classified cable from February 26 2009 recorded that Mr Netanyahu “expressed support for the concept of land swaps” in exchanges with the newly - elected Obama administration.

The cable continued: “[He] emphasised that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks from being launched from there."

More..

IDF on manoeuvres as Nasrallah hints at war

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 26, 2010

The IDF's Nahal infantry brigade is carrying out its annual manoeuvres on the Golan Heights.

Traditionally, this is considered tank country, a potential battlefield between Israeli and Syrian armoured formations, but the column of soldiers moving under cover of darkness into dawn attack positions are training for war against another adversary.

More..