Israel news

Analysis: Row over shrines could shape the Middle East

By Nathan Jeffay, February 25, 2010

The excitement was palpable in Jerusalem this week. Archaeologists hit the jackpot.

They went public with their latest discovery: 420 sq m of ancient city wall which they believe to be from the 10th century BCE.

"This is the first time that a structure from that time has been found that may correlate with written descriptions of Solomon's building in Jerusalem," announced Eilat Mazar, who directed the excavations.


Olmert trial opens despite delay threat

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 25, 2010

The trial of Israel's former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was due to open on Thursday in the Jerusalem District Court. He is being charged over three separate cases of corruption.
Mr Olmert, who was forced to resign last year over the allegations, was indicted in September on charges of fraud, breach of trust, falsifying records, tax evasions and fraudulently obtaining benefits.


Analysis: Drone signals new spy era for Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 25, 2010

During the rolling-out of the Israeli Air Force's new spy-plane, the Eitan, on Sunday at Tel Nof airbase, one of the guests whispered to his neighbour: "Do you think they scheduled this for today to take the international attention away from the Dubai fiasco?" The neighbour answered: "To do that they would have had to roll out an atom bomb."


Yuli Edelstein: the man to save Israel's PR crisis?

By Jenni Frazer, February 25, 2010

Israel is suffering its biggest public relations crisis for 20 years, according to its information and diaspora minister.

Yuli Edelstein told 400 guests at the Zionist Federation dinner in London this week: "We are facing the 3Ds- deligitimisation, demonisation, and double standards, pretending to be legitimate criticism of Israeli policies."

While it had become "absolutely disgusting not to talk nicely about Jews," such a taboo no longer applied to Israel or its soldiers.


Son of Hamas leader was an Israeli agent

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 25, 2010

Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a leading member of Hamas, has revealed himself to be an agent for Israel's security service.

In over a decade as a secret source working within Hamas, he exposed plans to launch suicide bombings and supplied information that led to the arrest of dozens of Hamas terrorists.

The son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of Hamas's founders and the leader of its military wing in the West Bank, Mr Yousef has written a book to appear next week in the United States, titled Son of Hamas.


Israeli heritage site row 'could start intifada'

By Jessica Elgot, February 24, 2010

Israeli president Shimon Peres has said that the row over the protection of Jewish and Muslim heritage sites by Israel is being incited by extremists and Hamas.

Hamas’s leader in Gaza has called on Palestinians to attack Israel over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and the site of Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, in a £69m restoration plan. Both are also important Islamic shrines.


Fake Viagra factory raided in Israel

By Jessica Elgot, February 24, 2010

Twelve people have been arrested on suspicion of distributing fake Viagra from a factory in central Israel.

Undercover police officers from the Financial Intelligence Unit conducted a lengthy investigation into the factory, in a small moshav in central Israel, Ynet reports.

Police seized thousands of fake Viagra and Cialis pills. Both are prescription drugs used to treat impotence but they are a valuable commodity online as patients buy them without prescription.


Family of Rachel Corrie will sue Israel

By Jessica Elgot, February 24, 2010

The family of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, killed seven years ago while apparently acting as a human shield in front of an Israeli army bulldozer, is to sue the Israeli Defence Ministry.

Cindy and Craig Corrie of Olympia, Washington, say they have four key witnesses, three Britons and an American, who saw Ms Corrie crushed underneath a Caterpillar bulldozer in Rafah in 2003.

The witnesses belong to the International Solidarity Movement, the pro-Palestinian activist group with which Ms Corrie, 23, was involved at the time of her death.


Israeli army clashes with shrine protesters

By Jessica Elgot, February 22, 2010

Israeli soldiers have clashed with stone-throwing protesters in Hebron angry that two shrines have been listed as Israeli heritage sites.

The IDF soldiers used tear gas to disperse the protesters who threw bottles and stones at the soldiers.

The protest was in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to include the Tomb of the Patriachs in Hebron and the site of Rachel’s Tomb in Bethelehem as part of an Israeli £69m restoration plan for heritage sites.


Analysis: If it was Mossad, then was it a success?

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 18, 2010

Israel almost never takes responsibility for mysterious killings in the Middle East. To do so would only cause diplomatic and security problems and reveal operational methods.

As it is, most of the targets have multiple enemies and whoever's finger was on the trigger, Israel will be blamed.

There is one major exception to this rule: sometimes things go dramatically wrong and the only way to release a captured agent is to own up.

Did the assassins who eliminated the Hamas arms smuggler, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, mess up? Operationally, no.