Israel news

Redrawn: Israel’s new danger zone

By Michal Levertov, December 31, 2008

Israel has rolled out a massive civil defence scheme across the south of the country to try to protect an estimated 500,000 citizens bracing themselves for an onslaught of long-range missiles from the Gaza Strip.

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'Shalit not in danger'

By Yaakov Katz, December 31, 2008

The IDF operation is not likely to endanger Gilad Shalit, the soldier captured by Hamas in June 2006, defence officials said this week.

Egyptian TV broadcast a report that Mr Shalit had been injured during the IDF operations. But the IDF released a statement saying: “Gilad Shalit is a valuable asset for Hamas.

“We believe it will do everything to keep him alive.”

Senior IDF officials have been in contact with the Shalit family and warned them that Hamas might try to use their son as part of the psychological warfare campaign against Israel.

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Israeli Arabs pelt police with stones

By Ben Lynfield, December 31, 2008

Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrated this week over Israel’s aerial bombardments in Gaza, widely described by them as a “massacre”.

But Arab leaders and police both said confrontations had not reached the same degree of violence which characterised the October 2000 clashes at the start of the second intifada, when 13 Arab protestors were shot dead.

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In Gaza, no one feels safe

By Ben Lynfield, December 31, 2008

Shaken by the ferocity of Israel’s bombardments, Gaza Strip residents said that they felt nowhere was safe as they experienced “the scariest and worst time” they could remember.

Gaza City economic consultant Sami Abdul Shafi said he was spending his time trying to write about conditions which he said were the worst since the Israeli occupation in 1967.

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Israel claims success in the PR war

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 31, 2008

Fewer military officers; more women; tightly controlled messages; and ministers kept on a short leash. This was Israel’s new media game-plan in Operation Cast Lead.

The Gaza attack is the first major demonstration of Israel’s total overhaul of its ‘hasbara’ operation following the Second Lebanon War. While the military aspects of the operation were meticulously planned, a new forum of press advisers was also established which has been working for the past six months on a PR strategy specifically geared to dealing with the media during warfare in Gaza.

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Aliyah lowest since 1988

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2008

Last year was the worst in two decades for immigration to Israel, new figures have revealed.

Only 16,500 Jews arrived in the country, 16 per cent less than in 2007. However, aliyah from Britain was slightly up, with 680 new immigrants in 2008.

The aliyah figures, the lowest since 1988, can be attributed to the Israeli government’s decision to cap the immigration of Ethiopian Falashmuras, whose Jewish ancestry is contested.

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Israel urged to employ more workers from PA

By Michal Levertov, December 30, 2008

American and European officials are putting pressure on Jerusalem over Israeli plans to impose levies on Palestinian labour within its borders.

In April 2008, the Israeli government agreed to approve an extra 5,000 employment permits for Palestinians within Israel.

However, a decision was made to charge Israeli employers of Palestinian workers a monthly fee of 1,000 NIS (£178), a move that US and Quartet officials fear may deter Israeli employers from hiring Palestinians, contradicting Israel’s commitments to increase Palestinian employment.

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Israel prepares troops and PR offensive to counter Hamas

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 23, 2008

Israeli representatives around the world are preparing the groundwork for a PR and diplomatic campaign that will accompany an IDF ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

The final decision on whether to launch such an operation has not yet been taken, but the government is preparing itself for all eventualities, including an immediate escalation.

A barrage of Kassam rockets and three IDF retaliatory attacks at the weekend signalled the end of the six-month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

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24 Russians die: Israel’s worst traffic accident

By Yaakov Katz, December 18, 2008

Israel has opened an investigation into what caused a tourist bus to crash into a guard-rail and plunge into a steep ravine near Eilat this week, killing 24 Russian travel agents in Israel’s worst traffic accident.

The group, from St Petersburg, flew into Ovda Airport on Tuesday and were on their way to Eilat to check out attractions for future Russian tourists.

Rami Vazana, the driver of another bus carrying Russian tour guides, said the vehicle passed him on a steep, narrow road when it crashed into the guard-rail and rolled down the slope.

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Fresh Gaza violence likely as truce ends

By Yaakov Katz, December 18, 2008

The Israel Defence Forces went on high alert this week as Hamas threatened not to renew their ceasefire with Israel in the Gaza Strip.

The six-month truce between Israel and Hamas was due to expire today (Friday). While Israel prefers to extend it, Hamas appears to be split between continuing the pact and ending it. Damascus-based Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal said on Sunday that the ceasefire would not be renewed, while Hamas officials in Gaza said only that the issue was under review.

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