Israel news

Pope will achieve nothing, say Israelis

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 7, 2009

Israel will see little benefit from Pope Benedict XVI’s visit next week, say senior Israeli officials.

The Pope will land in Tel Aviv on Monday for a five-day “pilgrimage” to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The much heralded visit has become a political, financial and security nightmare for many of those involved in organising it.


Kayak champ poisoned

May 7, 2009

Israeli kayaking champion Yasmin Feingold, 20, was in intensive care after overturning her boat in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon River.

The Yarkon has been severely polluted for many years, despite efforts to clean it up.

In 1997 four members of the Australia’s Maccabiah Games team were killed and 60 injured when a temporary pedestrian bridge collapsed over the Yarkon and they swallowed toxic chemicals.

Feingold was rushed to the city’s Ichilov Hospital, where she is out of danger.


Stolen scroll sheds light on exile days

By Simon Rocker, May 7, 2009

A 2,000-year-old papyrus fragment offering rare evidence of early Jewish history was seized by police in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Two men were arrested.

The 15 lines of Hebrew, written in the style of the Dead Sea Scrolls, contains a the phrase “year four to the destruction of Israel” — a reference possibly to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70CE or the Roman defeat of the Bar Kochba revolt nearly 70 years later.


What Shimon Peres told Barak Obama

By Nathan Guttman and Anshel Pfeffer, May 7, 2009

Israel’s new right-wing government made its debut in the American capital his week, with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trying to convince the Obama administration that they are committed to the peace process.

Mr Peres, who met with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday and gave the keynote speech at the annual policy conference of the pro-Israel lobby group, Aipac, assured his audience that Mr Netanyahu’s government will not renege on its roadmap commitments.


UN divided over Gaza ‘war crimes’ report

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 7, 2009

Israel has created a rift in the higher echelons of the United Nations over the investigation of alleged “war crimes” in the Gaza operation.

Israeli diplomats, backed by President Shimon Peres and American diplomats at the United Nations, have persuaded the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon not to investigate further the allegations of illegal actions carried out by the Israeli army during Operation Cast Lead. But Mr Ki-moon is under intense pressure from many in his own organisation to announce a new investigation.


Child-killer suspect arrest

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 30, 2009

The arrest of a Palestinian suspect, who admitted carrying out the murder of a child a month ago, has confirmed the security forces’ theory of a lone attacker.

The General Security Service (GSS) arrested Mussa Tit, a 26-year-old shepherd from the village of Hirbet Safa, south of Jerusalem, two weeks ago.


Man stole treasure found under home

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 30, 2009

Armed only with a bucket and spade, an industrious East Jerusalem householder excavated five ancient rooms under his East Jerusalem house, finding gold coins and many other archeological treasures, all of which he sold to dealers.

The 34-year-old resident of the Christian Quarter was arrested last week and is expected to be charged with selling antiques illegally and carrying out an archeological dig without permission.

The man admitted selling his findings to dealers in the Old City. When the police raided his home, they found only broken shards of pottery and two large jars.


Israelis fend off pirates in ocean firefight

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 29, 2009

A team of Israeli security guards fought off armed Somali pirates who tried to hijack an Italian cruise ship in the Indian Ocean.

The Israelis fired pistols and used water hoses to repel six invaders who attacked in a fast motor boat, shooting and attempting to climb onto the cruise ship using a rope ladder.


Jews and Muslims vow to protest against the Pope

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 23, 2009

Muslim and Jewish protesters are planning to disrupt the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel next month.

Residents of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City are planning a demonstration against the closure of the area around the Western Wall for 12 hours during the visit. Protesters have vowed to flock to the Wall and remain there for the duration of the stay.


Hamas killing Palestinians

April 23, 2009

Hamas has been systematically murdering its political opponents in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Israeli operation four months ago.

A report published this week by Human Rights Watch (HRW) details at least 32 instances in which Palestinians were murdered by Hamas members. According to the report, at least 18 men were summarily executed during Operation Cast Lead, and at least 14 in the months since.

Most of the murdered were members of Fatah, Hamas’s rival in the inter-Palestinian power struggle.