Israel news

Settler leader resigns in row with Yesha council

By Jessica Elgot, January 11, 2010

Settler leader Pinchas Wallerstein has dramatically quit the Yesha Council after a row with chairman Danny Dayan.

Mr Wallerstein, 61 has served as director of the council, which is an umbrella organisation for the settler communities in West Bank, since 2008. But he has worked for settler communities for 35 years, working in the Ofra settlement, the Gush Emunim movement and the Binyamin regional council.

His resignation comes as the settler movement is facing a crucial battle against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s settlement construction freeze.

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Egypt bans aid convoys to Gaza

By Jessica Elgot, January 11, 2010

Egypt has announced it is to ban all foreign aid convoys to Gaza after activists from the Viva Palestina convoy led by MP George Galloway clashed with police on the Rafah border.

Mr Galloway was deported from Gaza after attempting to re-enter the territory after part of the convoy was allowed a limited amount of time to distribute aid in Gaza.

A statement from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said: "The deportation was to protect him from the Egyptian people's anger. George Galloway is considered persona non grata and will not be allowed to enter into Egypt again."

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Israel to build Egypt security wall

By Jessica Elgot, January 11, 2010

Israel is to start construction of a security barrier along the 266km border with Egypt to stop the flow of illegal migrants.

The $270m barrier will run along two parts of the border, one close to the beach resort of Eilat and one by the Gaza Strip. It will take several years to construct.

The Egyptian security service said they had not been informed of the plan but said they would not oppose it if it was built entirely on Israeli soil.

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After a life on the run, this refugee is studying in Israel

By Ben Lynfield, January 7, 2010

The American and European teenagers in G Thon Kuol’s class at Hebrew University’s preparatory programme could be forgiven if they do not appreciate their studies quite as much as he does, after two decades as a refugee on the run.

“I now have a golden chance, really the best chance I’ve had in my life,” says Kuol, a lanky man who talks with his hands. “It’s really a miracle.”

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Chief Rabbis in call against abortions

By Nathan Jeffay, January 7, 2010

Women’s rights activists are furious at a decision by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate to launch a public offensive against abortion.

Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar have written to all state-employed rabbis urging them to use their pulpits tomorrow to raise the issue, linking it to the Torah portion in which midwives in Egypt save Israelite babies in defiance of Pharaoh.

They claim in their letter that the “vast majority” of the abortions are “unnecessary” and “forbidden by Jewish law”, and argue that the situation “impedes the coming of the Messiah”.

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Israel airport security too tough for the UK

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 7, 2010

Israeli security experts are sceptical of talk in America and Europe about the need to “Israelify” airport security, following the attempt to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

In an Israeli-style system, they say, security in the airport itself is only one component of an entire framework for combating terror. It would also require the political will to use controversial methods such as racial profiling.

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Right-wing violence threat on the rise

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 7, 2010

Senior Israeli security officials are warning of a drastic increase in the number of right-wing extremists prepared to use violent means to stop any attempt to dismantle settlements.

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Former Nazi may be living in Britain

By Leon Symons, January 7, 2010

A new case of a former Nazi concentration camp guard believed to be living in Britain is being investigated by the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

The Centre’s director, Dr Efraim Zuroff, said the man, whom he would not identify, had been a guard at two camps where Jews were murdered.

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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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