Israel news

Ex-president Katzav guilty of rape

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2010

Israel was shocked this morning as former president, Moshe Katzav was found guilty of two counts of rape, one of an obscene act, one of sexual harassment and of attempting to subvert the course of justice.

The Tel-Aviv District Court, headed by Judge George Kara, upheld the claims of three un-named women who had worked in Mr Katzav's office when he served as president and previously as tourism minister. The court's verdict was total and devastating, rejecting the defence's claims and describing the former president's version as "riddled with lies."


'Israel risks losing the whole world'

By Marcus Dysch, December 29, 2010

A senior Israeli minister has warned that the "whole world", led by the United States, may back a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood if Israel does not commit to peace talks.

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the Trade and Industry Minister and a veteran Labour Party politician, said talks with the Palestinians must resume, even if Israel were forced to renew a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.

His warning, delivered to cabinet colleagues on Sunday, is the first admission by a senior Israeli official of a potential rift with its key ally.


Cyber-race is on as web goes Hebrew

By Nathan Jeffay, December 29, 2010

There was a stampede for website addresses in Israel this week, as all-Hebrew addresses went on sale.

While Israelis have been able in the past to buy website addresses in Hebrew characters, they end in .com, requiring visitors to switch their keyboard between languages and change the direction of typing.

But instead of .com, the new addresses will end in a suffix made up of Hebrew characters.


Hamas loads the launchers once again

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 29, 2010

Hamas has escalated its rocket attacks from Gaza, two years after Operation Cast Lead. But Israeli officials believe that the movement is not interested in a return to open hostilities and is, for now, "testing the limits".

Before this month and since the end of the Gaza conflict two years ago, Hamas had refrained from taking part in the attacks against Israeli patrols on the border and from carrying out missile launches against Israeli towns and kibbutzim.


WikiLeaks set to turn on Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 29, 2010

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has promised that future documents to be published from the trove of leaked American diplomatic cables, will shed light on operations of the Mossad and Israel's Second Lebanon War in 2006.

According to Mr Assange, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, of the 3,700 cables - out of the 260,000 in WikiLeaks' possession - that deal with Israel, three quarters were sent by the American Embassy in Tel-Aviv.


Archaeological find may change story of mankind

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 29, 2010

Archaeological finds in central Israel could challenge the accepted version of the evolution of modern humans and place the origin of mankind in the Holy Land.


Footballer Avi Cohen dies

December 28, 2010

Avi Cohen, the 54-year-old ex Israel captain, was pronounced dead on Tuesday, eight days after sustaining severe head injuries when his scooter collided with a car in Ramat Gan.

Investigations have suggested that Cohen was wearing an unstrapped helmet, which came off before his head hit the ground.

His son, Tamir, who plays for Bolton Wanderers, read a brief statement on Tuesday evening at Ichilov Hospital. "A Ministry of Health committee met today and confirmed that my father is clinically dead. The significance of this is that my father has died. That is the situation now.


Rabbi says Wall visits break law

By Nathan Jeffay, December 22, 2010

Jewish tourists who visit Israel often describe Shabbat prayers at the Western Wall as one of the most moving experiences of their trip. But according to the most influential rabbi in Israel, take part and you break religious law.


Scandal clouds top cop appointment

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 22, 2010

The appointment of a new national chief of police has failed to bring calm to the scandal-prone force.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced on Sunday that he was appointing the commander of the Police's Southern District, Yochanan Danino, as the next Commissioner General of the Police, instead of Dudi Cohen, who will retire in May 2011.


Orthodox get IDF exemption

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 22, 2010

A series of reforms of yeshivah students' stipends and the announcement of their exemption from army service have become the subject of a coalition disagreement and a rift between the government and the IDF.

The cabinet voted on Sunday 14-8 in favour of a plan formulated by the Prime Minister's Office to continue paying stipends to yeshivah students for another five years, gradually cutting off the payments when they reach the age of 29.