Israel news

Anger over IDF Cast Lead indictments

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

Two cases of misconduct, one still only alleged, by IDF soldiers who fought in Operation Cast Lead are causing widespread debate and furor in the Israeli army and public.

On Monday, the two former soldiers appeared for their preliminary hearing before sentencing. The two were convicted earlier this month of exceeding their authority, among other charges, for forcing a Palestinian child to open bags that were suspected of being booby-trapped.

Despite the conviction, the two were accompanied by over a hundred friends and former comrades who claimed they were being scapegoated.


Now the Chief Rabbinate probes army conversions

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

The decision of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel to investigate the validity of conversions performed in the IDF has raised concerns that 5000 converts may find their Jewishness questioned.

For over eight years, the Israeli army's Nativ Project has allowed soldiers of mixed marriages who are not recognised as Jews by the Rabbinate to undergo a programme of Jewish studies, leading to conversion in a special military rabbinical court.


Vatican conference 'hijacked' by anti-Israel

By Nathan Jeffay, October 28, 2010

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, has claimed that the Vatican synod on the Middle East, which was convened this week, was "hijacked" by critics of Israel.

Bishops ended the two-week conference of Middle East bishops, organised by the Pope to discuss challenges facing Catholics in their region, with a call for Israel to accept UN resolutions demanding a stop to the "occupation."


'Gaza flotilla activists fired first'

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

Each one of the shootings on the Mavi Marmara ferry earlier this year was justified, said the IDF Chief of General Staff this week.

In a combative appearance before the Turkel Commission, the body set up by the Israeli government to investigate the Gaza flotilla operation, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi insisted that the commandos who boarded the ship and killed nine Turkish activists acted in an exemplary fashion.


Clashes at right-wing Umm el-Fahm march

By Jennifer Lipman, October 27, 2010

Police have fired tear gas to break up a demonstration against the Islamic Movement by extreme right-wing activists in an Arab town in northern Israel.

Security officials were put on high alert in anticipation of the provocative demonstration in Umm el-Fahm, taking place this morning.

There have been reports of clashes and of activists throwing stones.

The march was organised to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the death of extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, killed by an Eygptian-American terrorist.


Britain's ambassador to Israel puts up mezuzah

By Jennifer Lipman, October 26, 2010

A mezuzah has been fixed on to the door of the British ambassador’s residence in Israel for the first time in history.

Matthew Gould, Britain’s first Jewish ambassador to Israel, was joined by Israel’s Chief Rabbi Meir Lau and Rabbi Isaac Shapira for the short ceremony at the home in the Ramat Gan suburb of Tel Aviv.

Mr Gould and his wife Celia bought the mezuzot cases in Jerusalem and placed inside scrolls hand-written by Rabbi Lau.

Mr Gould said: “There are a number of things give me a great deal of pride. One of them is being Jewish and being here.


Israel wins (chess) war with Iran

By Jennifer Lipman, October 22, 2010

An Israeli chess player has set a new world record for playing the highest number of games at one time. The title was previously held by an Iranian player.

Grandmaster Alik Gershon, who emigrated to Israel from the Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union, took the title after playing 523 games simultaneously in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

Mr Gershon, 30, won most of those matches – losing just 11 and drawing 58 of them.


The Shalit debate gets animated

By Nathan Jeffay, October 22, 2010

As Israel and Hamas have resumed negotiations in recent days over a deal to free Gilad Shalit, the lobby against a deal has enjoyed unprecedented exposure.

Hamas is demanding that in return for Mr Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted in 2006, Israel frees 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including some who have launched attacks on civilians.


Israel's Strictly Come Dancing same-sex partners

By Jessica Elgot, October 21, 2010

Israel’s version of Strictly Come Dancing is to feature a same-sex dancing couple, the first in 35 versions of the show around the world.

The Israeli version of the BBC dance show will feature Gili Shem Tov, a gay female TV sports personality.

She will dance with professional dancer Dorit Milman – who is straight - on the Channel 2 show, with the women sharing who takes the role of the male lead in the dance steps.

Producers said it had been Ms Tov’s decision to dance with another woman.


Netanyahu changes loyalty pledge after backlash

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 21, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to alter the "loyalty pledge" law voted on last week by the cabinet so that it will include not only non-Jews but any new Israeli citizen.