Israel news

Lauder remains WJC head

January 29, 2009

Ronald S. Lauder has been re-elected as president of the World Jewish Congress at the 13th Plenary Assembly in Jerusalem. Eduardo Elsztain of Argentina was elected chairman of the WJC Governing Board, while the UK’s Flo Kaufmann was re-elected as a vice-president.

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Renewed hope for talks to free Shalit

January 22, 2009

Israel hopes to renew negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, writes Yaakov Katz, if the new ceasefire holds, defence officials said this week.

Talks over Mr Shalit’s release have been suspended since the last ceasefire between Hamas and Israel took effect in June. But military officials said it was now possible that Operation Cast Lead will cause the group to ease its demand for the release of 1,400 Palestinian prisoners.

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IDF to fight ‘war crimes’ charges

By Yaakov Katz, January 22, 2009

The IDF and Foreign Ministry are preparing to combat dozens of lawsuits they fear will be filed against IDF officers on war crimes charges.

Several NGOs have accused Israel of using disproportionate force during its three-week Gaza campaign. Amnesty International accused Israel of “indiscriminate” military force resulting in war crimes. Oxfam International has accused Israel of “massive and disproportionate violence... in violation of international law.”

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PR battle to continue

By Yaakov Katz, January 22, 2009

The Israeli Foreign Ministry is implementing a “day after” hasbara plan to counter claims that the IDF perpetrated war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appointed Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog to lead the post-war battle over public opinion and to coordinate aid to Gaza.

During the war, journalists were not allowed into the Gaza Strip and Hamas prevented access to areas where the IDF was operating to local journalists.

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Settlers return as soldiers

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 15, 2009

Soldiers from the evacuated Gush Katif returned this week to some of the ruined settlements abandoned after Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005.

“I cried when our tank passed by the ruins of Netzarim and made a symbolic small tear in my uniform as a sign of mourning,” said one soldier interviewed through his parents and whose name cannot be used due to IDF restrictions.

An Israeli flag had been planted on the ruins and the road to Netzarim was being used by the 401th Armoured Brigade to cut Gaza City off from the southern part of the Strip.

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The television pundits criticising israel — and their ‘expert’ analyses

January 15, 2009

Abdel Bari Atwan

Regularly invited on to BBC and Sky as a Middle East expert, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of London-based Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi (or Arab Jerusalem), is a seasoned propagandist. Born in the Gaza Strip, he was a journalist in Libya and Saudi Arabia before joining al-Quds. According to Mr Bari Atwan, al-Quds is “known for its strident Arab nationalism and defence of the Palestinian cause”.

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IDF gets a fresh face

By Yaakov Katz, January 15, 2009

A Manchester-born soldier has become one of the public faces of the IDF during Operation Cast Lead.

Former paratrooper Elie Isaacson, 28, made aliyah in 2000 and heads the North American Desk in the IDF Spokesman’s Unit.

The work, he said, is extremely interesting. “We are dealing with press from all over the world and it is a challenge but we are more on top than ever before,” he said. “The fact that I have a combat background gives what I say a bigger punch since when I talk about the field I know what I am talking about. I have been there and have seen it.”

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Media clampdown in Gaza result of Lebanon lessons

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 15, 2009

Alongside the brigades of Merkava tanks and battalions of armoured personnel carriers sent to the Gaza Strip over the past two weeks, the IDF also sent a detachment of military police cars.

Their targets were not rowdy soldiers attempting to abscond without a pass. Rather, they were journalists — both Israeli and foreign — trying to photograph the massed forces and to interview the soldiers preparing to enter the combat zone.

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We learned lessons from the Blitz, says Home Front

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 15, 2009

The IDF Home Front Command studied the wartime Blitz while overhauling its operational plans before Operation Cast Lead.

It concluded that, if the people of London could continue working despite repeated nights of aerial bombings, there was no reason for Israel’s southern region to be paralysed by Hamas rockets.

Like the other major units of the IDF, the Home Command also underwent a comprehensive process of reassessment following the second Lebanon war.

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UK aid floods in for troops

By Simon Rocker, January 14, 2009

Around 3,000 parcels containing thermal wear and chocolate have so far been delivered to Israeli soldiers serving in Gaza in a campaign launched by the Zionist Federation and backed by the JC.

The ZF raised £45,000 in a week to buy the goods which were delivered with messages of solidarity via volunteers in Israel.

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