Israel news

Attack on Iran: the clock is ticking 'until Pesach'

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 1, 2009

As on every Yom Kippur for the past 35 years, Israeli newspapers, television and radio channels this week were full of interviews, features and special projects, picking at the unhealed wound of the terrible war that took a nation and its military idols by surprise.

But while the Yom Kippur War remains a trauma to this day, Israel’s current strategic predicament is much more reminiscent of the Six-Day War.

Then as now, the political leadership remains uncertain whether the looming threat — this time, from Iran — is indeed an existential one.


Anger at rule on gender segragation near Kotel

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 1, 2009

A move by the rabbi of the Western Wall to gender-segregate ceremonies taking place near Judaism’s holiest shrine is causing consternation.

Officials at the Jewish Agency are considering changing the venue of the ceremony at which new immigrants to Israel are given their first identity cards. According to the decision of the Western Wall Heritage Fund, headed by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, women and men would be forced to sit separately and women would not be allowed to speak from the podium.


First prisoner released in Shalit swap

By Jessica Elgot, October 1, 2009

Israel has released the first Palestinian prisoner in the deal for a video of captured soldier Gilad Schalit.

The released prisoner, 15-year-old Bara'a el-Malki, who was convicted of attempted manslaughter, has now returned to her home in the Jilazoun refugee camp near Ramallah.

She had been due for release in November.

Israel agreed to release 20 Palestinian woman prisoners in exchange for video proof that Mr Shalit is alive.


'Gods Hates Fags' extremists target synagogues

By Paul Berger, October 1, 2009

Members of one of America’s most reviled religious groups, Westboro Baptist Church, picketed two New York shuls in the run up to Yom Kippur.

A group of Westboro congregants, including young children, brandished signs last Saturday that included slogans such as “Jews Stole The Land”, “God Hates Jews” and “The Jews killed Jesus”.

The Westboro Baptist Church’s message of hate is usually aimed at homosexuals. It pickets soldiers’ funerals, claiming that military deaths are god’s punishment for America’s acceptance of homosexuality.


Secular Jews flock to special holidays services

By Nathan Jeffay, October 1, 2009

The “synagogue” was informal even by Israeli standards — several rows of chairs in a courtyard with a Torah scroll at the front. Several women wore jeans and though it was the middle of neilah, the Yom Kippur service when people normally stand throughout, most of the congregation was sitting down.

This service in Zichron Yaakov, south of Haifa, was one of 170 run along similar, relaxed lines nationally.


Goldstone rejects 'barrage of criticism'

By Jessica Elgot, October 1, 2009

The judge responsible for compiling the UN report into the Israeli offensive in Gaza has rejected the “barrage of criticism” he has received since publication.

Richard Goldstone, who headed the UN’s investigation, said: "We will not address these attacks as we believe that the answers to those who have criticised us are in the findings of the report."

Mr Goldstone’s inquiry produced a 574-page report which concluded: "Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity.”


Gilad Shalit: the prisoner swap list in full

By Jessica Elgot, September 30, 2009


The twenty female prisoners to be released in return for a video of captured solider Gilad Shalit

Ayat Kisi - Sentenced to one year and eight months for attempted murder.

Rojena Riyad Mohammed Jinajira - Sentenced to three years for conspiracy and attempted murder.

Rimat abu Ayisha - Sentenced to nine months for membership in a banned organization.


Prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit video

By Jessica Elgot, September 30, 2009

Israel has agreed to release 20 Palestinian woman prisoners in exchange for video proof that Gilad Shalit is alive.

International aid organisations are denied access to the solider, who was captured in 2006. No news has been heard from him since a letter in 2008 and an audio message in 2007.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the decision was made because "it is important that the entire world know that Gilad Shalit is alive and well and that Hamas is responsible for his health and state."


Miliband denounces Barak arrest threat

By Leon Symons, September 30, 2009

Foreign secretary David Miliband made it clear that the government will not back attempts by Palestinian supporters to try to have Israeli politicians arrested as war criminals.

Speaking at the Labour Friends of Israel fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Mr Miliband said: “This will never become a country where ministers of Israel are unable to come and have proper dialogue with the government of the United Kingdom.”


Barak arrest warrant is rejected by judge

By Jessica Elgot, September 30, 2009

A judge has rejected a Palestinian group’s application to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who is in the UK this week.

Deputy District Judge Daphne Wickham at Westminster Magistrates Court said: “I am satisfied that under customary international law, Mr Barak has immunity from prosecution as he would not be able to perform his functions efficiently if he were the subject of criminal proceedings in this jurisdiction.”