Israel news

British journalist held by Hamas

By Jessica Elgot, February 15, 2010

A British journalist is being held in Gaza for ‘violating security’, Hamas has announced.

Freelance journalist Paul Martin, who has reported for the BBC and The Times, will be held by Hamas for a fortnight awaiting a court hearing.

The British consulate in Jerusalem confirmed that Mr Martin was being held and said it was “very concerned”. A spokesman said Mr Martin’s family had been informed.


Bar Refaeli's Israeli tax row resolves

By Jessica Elgot, February 12, 2010

Bar Refaeli has resolved her row with the Israeli tax authority, which refused to allow the supermodel to register as an expat.

Ms Refaeli, the on-off girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio, had requested exemption from Israeli tax because she is resident abroad.

She broke up with Mr DiCaprio in June last year, but the pair have been spotted taking a holiday to Italy together earlier this month, fuelling rumours the romance is back on.

The model, who has been the face of campaigns for Victoria’s Secret and Israeli clothing line Fox, has now reached an agreement with the tax authority.


Israeli plan stalls to give drivers extra road training

By Nathan Jeffay, February 11, 2010

After more than five years working on a programme to improve driving standards in Israel, the Transportation Ministry has shelved it.

Israelis have a reputation for being bad drivers, and last month this assumption became enshrined in official information for visitors put out by the American State Department.


Analysis: Bibi survives his first year, but has done little

By Shmuel Rosner, February 11, 2010

In recent weeks, the Israeli media has been obsessively covering the whereabouts of PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara. News flash: she fired a house maid! News flash: she intervened on behalf of a candidate for ambassadorship. News flash: Sara is at it again! And again! And again!


Analysis: War talk reveals Israeli fear of a Syrian front

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 11, 2010

Thousands of Israelis flocked last week to the Golan Heights to enjoy the first major snowfall of the year, but not all of them returned home safe and sound. One family, eager to slide down a pristine white hillside, inadvertently entered a minefield and two of its children stepped on anti-personnel mines. A boy lost his foot and his sister sustained extensive shrapnel wounds.


Israel bans fur imports, except for Chasidic hats

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 11, 2010

The Israeli government is going to forbid manufacture, import and export of all kinds of furs, with one exception: Chasidic shtreimels, or fur hats.

A new law forbidding all manufacture and trade in furs in Israel is one of the strictest of its kind in the world and was approved on Sunday. It is an extension of a previous law prohibiting the use of cat and dog skins.

Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon explained that the inspectors had trouble distinguishing between the different kinds of furs and that Israel should not be supporting “a cruel industry”.


Israeli expats may get voting rights

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 11, 2010

A new law proposed this week by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to allow Israeli citizens living out of the country to vote in the elections could cause a split in his own coalition.

Israeli law allows only official representatives of the government to vote outside the country. Various proposals in the past to allow expatriate voting for the estimated one million Israelis living abroad have never garnered enough support.


Why Jerusalem Post sacked columnist Naomi Chazan

February 11, 2010

The Jerusalem Post fired columnist Naomi Chazan after the organisation of which she is president, the New Israel Fund, threatened to sue the paper.

The Post, along with several other Israeli newspapers, published an advert by student organisation Im Tirzu, featuring a caricature of Ms Chazan with horns and the letters “NIF” on her forehead.


Military expert on Goldstone report ‘severely biased’

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 11, 2010

An investigation by an Israeli think tank has alleged that the military expert on the UN’s Goldstone Commission, Desmond Travers, was so biased against Israel that the commission’s report was a travesty of the truth.

And in an interview last week, Colonel Travers — who retired from the Irish Army in 2001 — accused “Jewish lobbyists” of strongly influencing Britain’s Middle East policy.


Israeli ice skater's misery at Olympic deselection

By Jessica Elgot, February 10, 2010

Three Israeli athletes are gearing up for the start of the Winter Olympics on Friday, hoping this will be the year the country finally wins a medal.

But Tamar Katz, a 22-year-old figure skater and three-time Israeli champion, has not qualified, despite meeting the standards set by the Winter Olympics committee.

Controversially, the Israeli Olympic Committee decided not to send her because she did not finish in the top 14 at the World Championships held in Spokane, Washington.