Israel news

US may impose own Middle East peace plan

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 15, 2010

Israeli diplomats are coming round to the idea that the White House could try to impose its own peace plan on the Israelis and Palestinians for the first time in four decades.

In addition to reports by well-sourced correspondents in the American media, there have been a number of signals in recent days that the administration is planning to present its own peace plan. The next visit to the region by US representative George Mitchell has been repeatedly postponed, giving rise to the speculation that President Barack Obama has decided to change tack.


'Israel was close to war this winter'

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 15, 2010

Syria smuggled long-range missiles to Hizbollah in Lebanon earlier this year, leading to Israeli threats to attack the weapons convoys, it has emerged. Such an attack could have escalated into another war on Israel’s northern border.


Gaza tunnels 'shut down by Hamas'

By Jessica Elgot, April 14, 2010

Hamas has ordered Gazans to shut down the network of tunnels used for smuggling along the border with Egypt, in an unprecedented move.

Gazans told Israeli media that they believed the closure of the tunnels was in response to security requests from Egypt. The move comes shortly after Israelis were advised to leave the Sinai peninsula after an urgent warning of an imminent kidnap attempt by Hamas.


Israel banned from showing holiest site on tourism adverts

By Jessica Elgot, April 14, 2010

Israel has been banned from showing images of the Western Wall in tourism adverts, after a ruling by the Advertising Standards Agency.

An image on the advert for holidays in Israel showed a picture of the Kotel, with the gold Dome of the Rock in the background, captioned “Jerusalem”’.

The ASA received a complaint that the picture showed disputed east Jerusalem, and misleadingly portrayed it as part of Israel.

In its adjudication, the ASA ruled that the advert breached its truthfulness guidelines and said the advert must not be used again.


Israeli citizens' urgent warning to leave Sinai

By Jessica Elgot, April 13, 2010

In an unprecedented move, Israel has urged its citizens to leave Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula immediately, warning of an imminent terrorist attack.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued the urgent warning, claiming that there is “concrete evidence of an expected terrorist attempt to kidnap Israelis in Sinai".

Israeli civilians currently in Sinai may be at high risk of kidnap, although the kidnappers’ target is likely to be an Israeli soldier.

Palestinian militants have kidnapped three soldiers from Israel. One of them, Gilad Shalit, has been held hostage since 2006.


Palestinian killed in Gaza border clash

By Jessica Elgot, April 13, 2010

At least one Palestinian terrorist, who attempted to plant a bomb at the Gaza border fence, has been killed by the Israeli army.

The IDF and Palestinian sources have confirmed the attack happened on the Kissufim border with Gaza.

The IDF said that a group of Palestinians had attempted to breach the border and a Givati strike force fired and shelled at the group. Military helicopters were also used to target the men.

The dead man is a member of the al-Quds Brigade, the military section of Islamic Jihad, the terrorist group confirmed.


IDF big guns in face-off as Barak takes on Ashkenazi

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 8, 2010

The laconic announcement published by the defence minister this week that IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, would end his term as planned next February, hid beneath it a bubbling storm of ego and political reckoning. It had little to do with Israel's strategic interests.

The appointment of the IDF's chief has always been carried out in a hotbed of political intrigue. There are few democracies in which the army's supreme command carries as much social and political significance as it does in Israel.


Gaza leaders in 'truce' talks

April 5, 2010

A truce with Israel and the prospects of inter-Palestinian reconcilliation were discussed on Sunday night at a meeting of several Gaza factions.

Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front all participated attended the meeting, described by Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha as the “first fruits” of a series of inter-Palestinian talks.

The representatives gathered as a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip missed a kibbutz in the Western Negev.


Israeli conversions in legal challenge

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 1, 2010

Israel's Supreme Court will have to decide whether local rabbis can refuse to marry converts, in what may turn out to be a landmark case.

The latest challenge the rabbis are posing to the converts is an attempt to sabotage the only successful conversion programme still operating in Israel, run by the IDF.


'Freedom' haggadah dedicated to Jonathan Pollard

By Nathan Jeffay, April 1, 2010

The Seder Night themes of captivity and freedom took on a new twist in thousands of Israeli households this year, with the launch of a new haggadah remembering Jonathan Pollard.

The Freedom Haggadah, sub-titled "Let's not pass over our brother Jonathan", was produced and distributed by activists campaigning for America to free the spy.

Pollard started serving a life sentence in a US prison in 1987, for passing military secrets to Israel while working as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy.