Israel news

IDF looks to West to boost recruitment

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 12, 2009

The Israeli army hopes that a boost in immigration from Western countries, especially America, Canada and Britain, will help it overcome a shortfall in recruitment.

The IDF and Jewish organisations are planning new recruitment drives based on forecasts that larger numbers of immigrants from Western countries will arrive in Israel over the next decade — and on upcoming projects helping Jews in the 18-23 age group make aliyah.

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Top job for Lieberman as Bibi is forced right

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 12, 2009

The key appointments in Israel’s new government, being sworn in on March 18, will be Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister and Moshe Yaalon as Defence Minister.

Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu has failed to convince the leaders of Kadima and Labour, the mainstream parties in the Knesset, to join his coalition. His new government, therefore, will be based on a narrow, right-wing coalition, leaving Mr Netanyahu no choice but to accede to most of his partners’ demands.

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Now they claim I’m not Jewish!

By James Martin, March 12, 2009

Yossi Fackenheim is a 29-year-old Israeli like any other. He proudly served in the IDF and lives and breathes the country. But a judge in the Jerusalem rabbinical court has ruled that he can no longer be considered Jewish.

“Either I’m excommunicated and there’s nothing I can do, or I fight and get justice for a right I thought was mine for life — being Jewish,” said Mr Fackenheim defiantly as he sat in a Swiss Cottage café in north London, discussing a bewildering turn of events.

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Jerusalem murder is solved

March 12, 2009

Clues to a mystery that is more than 60 years old will be revealed next week at an intriguing Jerusalem press conference.

On May 6 1947, a 16-year-old volunteer for the hard right-wing Stern Group in pre-state Palestine, Alexander Haim Rubowitz, was distributing political leaflets on a Jerusalem street corner. The teenager was abducted by men who identified themselves as British police officers — and was never seen again.

He was presumed to have been murdered by his abductors, but his body

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'Swap Shalit for the killers of our sons'

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 12, 2009

Parents of slain IDF soldiers have called upon the Israeli government to release their sons’ killers in return for the freedom of Gilad Shalit.

As Aviva and Noam Shalit launched a “last hour” campaign for the freedom of their son last Sunday, many relatives of IDF members whose killers could be freed in return for Gilad’s release came out to support them.

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Protests mar Israel’s Davis Cup joy

By James Martin, March 9, 2009

Israel has advanced to the quarter-finals of tennis’s most prestigious national team cup in a match that was overshadowed by violent political protests.

Israel’s joy at beating Sweden 3-2 and earning a tie with Russia in July, was tempered by the fact that violence erupted outside Malmo’s Baltic Arena during Saturday’s doubles match.

Riots outside the stadium saw rock-throwing protesters attempt to storm into the arena, with Swedish police forced to apprehend around 100 protesters.

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Ex-Israeli president faces rape charges

By Jenni Frazer, March 9, 2009

Israel's former president, Moshe Katzav, will be charged with a variety of serious sexual offences, including rape, it was announced yesterday.

Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz's decision brings a new phase to the situation which led to the forced resignation of Mr Katzav, who first faced investigation in the summer of 2006.

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Israel flights 'safe' despite warnings

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 5, 2009

The head of Israel's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has insisted that flying to Israel remains safe, despite international criticism over the state of its air traffic control and aviation infrastructure.

However, CAA head Giora Romm admitted: "Our problem is that we don't conform to the international standards in documentation and bureaucratic procedures and these things have to be addressed.

"At the same time, the level of safety incidents and near-misses is not higher in Israel than elsewhere."

Senior transportation officials have blamed lack of government funding for l

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IDF chief is to warn Pentagon over Iran

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 5, 2009

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is to meet his US counterparts in Washington next week for talks aimed at convincing the Obama administration of the urgency of acting against Iran’s nuclear programme.

Senior Israeli military sources have made it clear that a decision on an Israeli strike against Iran will top the agenda of a new government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu.

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Gaza soldiers speak out

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 5, 2009

Ofer, a fighter in the Golani Brigade, was in the first wave of the ground offensive:

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