Israel news

Law student held over assassination plot

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 1, 2009

Rawi Sultani, 23, passed on information about Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazy's movements. His arrest is probably the nipping in the bud of Hizbullah's plan to assassinate Israel's most senior soldier. It also serves as a reminder of the Lebanese organisation's true motives.

Last week, the IDF released surveillance footage of Lebanese citizens repelling Hizbollah members from their village near the border with Israel. Their intention had been to rebuild fortified positions and replenish arm caches that had been used to shell the Galilee during the Second Lebanese War.

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Aviva Shalit: forgive us, my son

August 28, 2009

A senior Hamas official looks set to fly to Cairo shortly to approve a deal that includes the release of Gilad Shalit.

And the mother of the IDF soldier captured in June 2006, made a heartfelt plea for action with an apology to her son for “not being able to protect you”.

The trip by Hamas Politburo chief Khaled Meshal will follow efforts by German intelligence who have sent an official to Cairo to help mediate.

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Likud right wing frightens Bibi

By Anshel Pfeffer in Jerusalem, August 27, 2009

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is planning to discreetly demote his deputy, Moshe Yaalon, for two recent “right-wing” appearances.

Mr Yaalon, a former IDF Chief of Staff, was fired by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in early 2005 for opposing the disengagement from Gaza. He joined the Likud late last year and was seen as one of the main figures in the effort to rehabilitate the party’s image in the eyes of Israeli voters. He was appointed minister for strategic affairs and deputy premier.

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Israel’s economy recovering

By Simon Griver in Jerusalem, August 27, 2009

The Bank of Israel has raised interest rates from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent, becoming the first central bank in the developed world to push up interest rates since the credit crunch began.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said he does not expect others to follow his lead.

“Interest rates in the world’s leading economies will remain unchanged until the end of 2009 and maybe mid-2010. In contrast to Israel, those countries have low inflation.”

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Twitter campaign for Gilad Shalit

By Jessica Elgot, August 24, 2009

A Twitter campaign "Tweet4Shalit" has been launched to mark the 23rd birthday of kidnapped Israeli solider Gilad Shalit.

Organisers, including the Jewish Internet Defence Force, hope that by encouraging enough people to use the #GiladShalit hashtag at the end of every tweet they send on August 26, then Gilad Shalit will become a trending topic on the site.

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Analysis: Mr Netanyahu’s London visit could be a summer break he would prefer not to take

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 20, 2009

Binyamin Netanyahu is hardly looking forward to his visit to Britain next week. Relations between the two governments are going through a rocky period and Israel does not consider Gordon Brown a critical partner given his current political situation.

The meetings at Downing Street and the Foreign Office will have little diplomatic value. They will consist mainly of lectures by the hosts on the evils of settlements and attempts by Mr Netanyahu — mostly unsuccessful —to move the debate on to the Iranian threat.

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Fears over policing as crime surges in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 20, 2009

It is not just the numbers — 12 civilians murdered in less than three weeks since the beginning of August, an abnormally high body count for crime in Israel. It is also the utter senselessness of most of the deaths.

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Amnesty stops its support for Cohen concert

By Robyn Rosen, August 20, 2009

Amnesty International says it has withdrawn its support from a concert in Israel because it did not receive sufficiently widespread support from Israelis and Palestinians.

Organisers of the Leonard Cohen concert, which sold out in a day and is due to take place in Tel Aviv next month, approached the US branch of the human rights charity to set up a fund which could distribute the profits of the concert to Israeli and Palestinian charities.

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Israeli rabbis back gay parenting

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 20, 2009

A revolutionary halachic ruling that will allow religious homosexual men to marry women and have children with them is currently being discussed at one of the most prestigious Orthodox institutes in Israel.

Rabbi Menachem Burstein is founder and head of the PUAH Institute, recognised in Orthodox circles as the leading organisation on matters of fertility and Jewish law. He confirmed this week that he has “been dealing with this subject for quite some time”.

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Dudu Topaz kills himself in prison

By Jessica Elgot, August 20, 2009

One of Israel’s top television stars, Dudu Topaz, has committed suicide in prison, the Israeli Prison Service has announced.

Mr Topaz, 62, apparently hanged himself in the shower at the Nitzan Detention Centre in Ramla while awaiting trial for multiple charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.

Mr Topaz was on suicide watch but no security cameras could see him in the shower.

Zion Amir, Mr Topaz's lawyer, blamed the media circus around his trial for driving his client to suicide.

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