Israel news

Activists concerned as Israel resumes expulsion of refugees

By Ben Lynfield, August 28, 2008

Israel has revived the practice of rapidly returning refugees crossing into its territory from Egypt for the first time since a group of 48 Africans went missing after being forcibly returned to Sinai last year by the IDF.

The IDF confirmed on Wednesday that fresh expulsions had been carried out but could not immediately say how many people were returned or what their nationalities were. The expulsions became public only after soldiers serving along the Egyptian border alerted refugee-rights activists of new orders to return refugees to Egypt.


Israel fears there will be more ‘Free Gaza’ boats

By Yaakov Katz, August 28, 2008

Israel's decision to permit two boats carrying international activists to sail into Gaza harbour has raised fears that human-rights groups will make additional attempts to sail into the Strip to protest the Israeli blockade.

Professor Jeff Halper, an Israeli participant, told the JC from Gaza that the group's ultimate plan was to establish a regular ferry service between Cyprus and Gaza and to recruit other ships.


Crime ‘kingpin’ faces extradition

By Yaakov Katz, August 28, 2008

Organised crime in Israel may have been dealt a blow this week with the arrest of alleged mobster Itzik Abergil following an extradition request by the United States.

Mr Abergil has featured on Israeli police's "most-wanted" lists for the past two decades and has repeatedly been investigated on a wide range of allegations including drug-dealing, money-laundering, illegal gambling and, most recently, murder, with the July botched mob hit on a Bat Yam beach that killed Marguerita Lautin, a 31-year-old mother-of-two.


‘Sex-trafficking’ family is arrested

By Michal Levertov, August 28, 2008

An Israel mother and daughter have been arrested on suspicion of trafficking women for prostitution from Israel to London.

Therese Orland, 55, and Katrin (Katty) Atiya, 28, were detained on Sunday as they arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport and were remanded until Wednesday. They are suspected of human trafficking, false imprisonment, assault and theft. The adverts boasted that the women could earn $1,000 (£538) a day. Police said that those who answered the adverts would then meet Mrs Atiya in a café and she would explain the nature of the work.


Prisoner release may do nothing for Shalit

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 22, 2008

Israeli defence sources have warned that the government decision to release 199 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority - and to apply pressure on Hamas over the negotiations to free Sergeant Gilad Shalit - might backfire.


Israel plans its response to ‘Free Gaza’ ship

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 22, 2008

The Israeli government will try to portray the Free Gaza movement's attempt to run a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip as both non-humanitarian and a project designed to question Israel's right to exist.

Israeli officials have kept a low profile over their response to the plan to sail two ships to Gaza loaded with hearing-aids and some 40 activists, including former UK premier Tony Blair's sister-in-law, Lauren Booth.

They prefer not to draw too much media attention to what they are calling "a stunt".


Livni wins unexpected support

August 22, 2008

The front-runner in the Kadima primaries, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, received some unexpected support from her leadership rivals this week, following a fierce attack on her suitability from Labour Leader, Defence Minister Ehud Barak, writes Anshel Pfeffer.

Mr Barak said last week he was unconvinced that in defence issues "the Foreign Minister with her background is prepared to give the solutions".


Is an Israeli academic kidding over Hitler?

By Miriam Shaviv, August 15, 2008

A senior academic at an Israeli university is claiming to have a family connection to Adolf Hitler.

Michael Mach, of Tel Aviv University's Department of Philosophy, told the JC that his grandmother, Erna, married Hans Hitler after divorcing his grandfather.

Hans Hitler, he claimed, was Hitler's nephew - the illegitimate child of the German leader's half-brother, Alois Jr. 

Last week Dr Mach, who is a German-born convert to Orthodox Judaism, told The Guardian that he met Hans Hitler only once, aged 12, when his grandparents came to tea.


Israeli and Palestinian trade unions in new deal

By Dana Gloger, August 15, 2008

The revival of an agreement between the Israeli national trade union and its Palestinian counterpart which collapsed more than a decade ago has been welcomed by UK-based Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI).

The deal, between the Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), was originally negotiated in 1993, but collapsed shortly after. This week it was reinstated under the auspices of the International Trade Unions' Confederation (ITUC).


Olmert’s peace plan dismissed

By Simon Griver, August 15, 2008

A peace plan offered by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that would see 93 per cent of the West Bank handed to the Palestinians was this week dismissed by both President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli media.