Israel news

Asaf Ramon to be buried next to astronaut father

By Jessica Elgot, September 14, 2009

Israel air force captain Asaf Ramon, son of Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, will be buried today after being killed in an air crash.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has postponed a meeting with US envoy George Mitchell in order to attend the funeral of the 21-year-old pilot.

He will be buried at a military cemetery next to his father.

Captain Ramon was killed when the F-16A Falcon jet he was flying during a training exercise crashed near the Hebron hills.


Russian ship hijack was 'Israeli cover story'

By Jessica Elgot, September 10, 2009

An Israeli source has claimed that the hijack by pirates of a boat which disappeared off the coast was a cover, and that the ship was carrying a Russian missile system to Iran.

The Arctic Sea and its 15 crew members, all Russian, disappeared in July. The ship was then believed to have been sailing to Algeria with a cargo of timber.

The ship was found in mid-August off West Africa, and Moscow claimed the ship had been hijacked by pirates, charging eight men with hijacking and piracy.


Advert targeting Jews 'marrying out' pulled

By Jessica Elgot, September 10, 2009

A controversial advertising campaign which portrayed young Jews who have married out as “missing persons” has been pulled by the Jewish Agency.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky pulled the television and newspaper adverts after a storm of criticism from bloggers, journalists and religious leaders.


Israeli healthcare standards 'slipping'

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 10, 2009

The heated discussions going on in Britain and the United States over the future of public medicine and medical insurance has shifted the spotlight to successful systems in other countries.

In Israel, while there is universal coverage for all residents and a generally high level of treatment, there are complaints of slipping standards.


Abbas in dilemma over settlements

By Ben Lynfield, September 10, 2009

Israel’s approval of 450 new housing units in the settlements this week has placed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a vulnerable position, as he may have to make an embarrassing climbdown from his refusal to resume negotiations without a full settlement freeze.


Assimilation ad angers diaspora

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 10, 2009

A new campaign against assimilation in the diaspora, which is aimed at Israelis, is raising eyebrows in international Jewish organisations.

The television advert shows spoof “missing” posters, featuring young men and women with Jewish names. The implication is that the diaspora youngsters are being “lost” to Judaism.

The advert urges Israelis with a relative abroad who might be interested in Israel to contact MASA, an Israeli-based group that encourages Jewish students to study in Israel.


Israel ponders missed chance over Ron Arad

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 10, 2009

The basic facts are not new. Israel’s intelligence services have believed for some time that Ron Arad, the Israel Air Force navigator who was taken prisoner in Lebanon 23 years ago, died in captivity over a decade ago. But the new details of the failed efforts to release him were published this week, and in this there is a chilling resemblance to the current situation of Gilad Shalit.


What hijack? The high-sea drama no one will discuss

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 10, 2009

Ehud Barak’s face remained expressionless. The reporters surrounded the defence minister, asking again and again, “do you have anything to say about the Russian ship?” — but he would not even look at them. His bodyguards cleared a path for him as he stepped into his official car and sped away.

None of the countries allegedly involved in the mystery of the Arctic Sea — the boat that disappeared in the Baltic Sea for several days in July after being boarded by pirates — have any interest in publicity.


More than 700 civilians killed in Gaza- B'Tselem

By Jessica Elgot, September 9, 2009

Israeli officials seriously underestimated the number of Palestinian civilians killed in Operation Cast Lead, a Israeli human rights group has alleged.

A new report by B'Tselem found that 773 civilians, whose names it publishes today, were killed during the Israeli offensive in Gaza in January. B’Tselem says this includes 252 children and 109 women.

Israeli army figures put the civilian death toll at 209, with 89 children killed, but the figures did not include 245 Hamas policeman, whereas B’Tselem’s report counts policeman in its civilian figures.


Ron Arad not dead until we say so, says Israel

By Jessica Elgot, September 7, 2009

The Israeli government has refused to accept a report that the missing air force navigator Ron Arad died in Lebanon in 1995.

The Prime Minister’s Office says it will continue to assume that Lt. Col Arad is alive, unless more conclusive evidence is given to the contrary.

A statement from the PMO said: "The missing aviator’s case is ongoing and until we have conclusive evidence to the contrary, the premise is that Ron Arad is alive. We are doing everything possible to bring him home."