Israel news

Child killings fuel Israel 'crime-wave' fears

By Nathan Jeffay, January 14, 2010

After a murder reminiscent of the James Bulger case and several other apparently violent deaths since the New Year, Israelis are becoming increasingly concerned about violent crime.

On January 1, police found the body of seven-year-old Leon Kalantarov in the bedroom of Naor and Adir Sudmi, twins in their 20s who live in the boy’s home town, near Ashdod.


Rabbi: Conversion annullment 'illegal'

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 14, 2010

A rabbi is causing an uproar in Israel’s strictly Orthodox community with a new book in which he insists that there is no Halachic basis for the annulment of conversions.

Rabbi Haim Amsalem, a Shas MK, has been told by his party’s leaders in the past to rein in his zeal to publish Halachic rulings.

One of the party’s ministers even said recently: “He has to decide whether he’s a politician or a rabbi.”

But Rabbi Amsalem is undeterred and his latest book, soon to be published, contains a bombshell.


Israel to fence off Egyptian border

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 14, 2010

After years of deliberations, the Israeli government has decided to build a border fence along its border with Egypt. The fence is meant to keep out terrorists, but the more immediate reason is to stem the flood of African refugees into Israel.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu authorised a plan presented to him by the Defence Ministry to spend NIS 1.5 billion on a fence between Israel and Egypt.

Besides a few short fences near the Gaza Strip to the north and Eilat in the south, most of the border, over 300km, is not fenced.


Turkey threat to recall envoy after Ayalon row

By Jessica Elgot, January 13, 2010

Turkey has threatened to recall its ambassador to Israel after his alleged humiliating reprimand by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Turkish envoy Ahmet Oguz Celikkol was apparently made to sit in a low chair during his heated discussions with Mr Ayalon, who refused to shake his hand. He was called in after a TV programme aired on Turkish TV which depicted IDF soldiers as brutal killers and babysnatchers.

Mr Ayalon also allegedly told reporters that they should photograph the ambassador sitting in the low chair.


Settler leader resigns in row with Yesha council

By Jessica Elgot, January 11, 2010

Settler leader Pinchas Wallerstein has dramatically quit the Yesha Council after a row with chairman Danny Dayan.

Mr Wallerstein, 61 has served as director of the council, which is an umbrella organisation for the settler communities in West Bank, since 2008. But he has worked for settler communities for 35 years, working in the Ofra settlement, the Gush Emunim movement and the Binyamin regional council.

His resignation comes as the settler movement is facing a crucial battle against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s settlement construction freeze.


Egypt bans aid convoys to Gaza

By Jessica Elgot, January 11, 2010

Egypt has announced it is to ban all foreign aid convoys to Gaza after activists from the Viva Palestina convoy led by MP George Galloway clashed with police on the Rafah border.

Mr Galloway was deported from Gaza after attempting to re-enter the territory after part of the convoy was allowed a limited amount of time to distribute aid in Gaza.

A statement from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said: "The deportation was to protect him from the Egyptian people's anger. George Galloway is considered persona non grata and will not be allowed to enter into Egypt again."


Israel to build Egypt security wall

By Jessica Elgot, January 11, 2010

Israel is to start construction of a security barrier along the 266km border with Egypt to stop the flow of illegal migrants.

The $270m barrier will run along two parts of the border, one close to the beach resort of Eilat and one by the Gaza Strip. It will take several years to construct.

The Egyptian security service said they had not been informed of the plan but said they would not oppose it if it was built entirely on Israeli soil.


After a life on the run, this refugee is studying in Israel

By Ben Lynfield, January 7, 2010

The American and European teenagers in G Thon Kuol’s class at Hebrew University’s preparatory programme could be forgiven if they do not appreciate their studies quite as much as he does, after two decades as a refugee on the run.

“I now have a golden chance, really the best chance I’ve had in my life,” says Kuol, a lanky man who talks with his hands. “It’s really a miracle.”


Chief Rabbis in call against abortions

By Nathan Jeffay, January 7, 2010

Women’s rights activists are furious at a decision by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate to launch a public offensive against abortion.

Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar have written to all state-employed rabbis urging them to use their pulpits tomorrow to raise the issue, linking it to the Torah portion in which midwives in Egypt save Israelite babies in defiance of Pharaoh.

They claim in their letter that the “vast majority” of the abortions are “unnecessary” and “forbidden by Jewish law”, and argue that the situation “impedes the coming of the Messiah”.


Israel airport security too tough for the UK

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 7, 2010

Israeli security experts are sceptical of talk in America and Europe about the need to “Israelify” airport security, following the attempt to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

In an Israeli-style system, they say, security in the airport itself is only one component of an entire framework for combating terror. It would also require the political will to use controversial methods such as racial profiling.