The halachic duty to avoid civilian casualties

By Daniel Reisel, May 9, 2008

Daniel Reisel examines how far Jewish law requires armies to protect civilians in battle

Hardly a day has gone by in recent years when Kassam rockets and mortar shells launched by militants in Gaza have not landed on the Western Negev. Inevitably, Israel’s military response has provoked controversy in the wider world because of civilian casualties. Israel counters that it is not always possible to protect civilians when returning fire in densely populated areas like Gaza.


Family of filmmaker killed in Gaza slam ‘attempts to delay’ court case

By Rachel Fletcher, April 25, 2008

Reports that Israel intends to pay compensation to the family of a filmmaker shot dead in the Gaza Strip in 2003 may be a “ruse” to delay proceedings, his family says.

James Miller was shot by a soldier while filming a documentary about the effects of the violence on children in Rafah. In 2006, a UK inquest returned a verdict of murder.


Hamas slams the Ramallah dance festival as ‘depraved’

By Ben Lynfield, April 25, 2008

A Hamas-affiliated jurist has condemned a dance festival now under way in Ramallah as sacrilegious and cautioned that it could cause Palestinian young men needed to fight Israel to become effeminate.

Marwan Abu Ras, chairman of the league of Islamic ulama, or scholars, in Gaza, said in remarks carried by Hamas’s Palestinian Information Centre website that the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival “is more than forbidden”.

It is the first time Hamas has condemned the festival, one of the main annual cultural events in the West Bank.


Israel must explain a Reuters man’s death

By Alex Brummer, April 25, 2008

The IDF’s inquiry into the death of a TV cameraman in Gaza must be open and thorough

Israel’s defence forces are again being accused by human-rights groups of alleged reckless or deliberate use of firepower in Gaza. The death of Reuters TV cameraman Fadel Shana, 23, during the violence which erupted on April 16 is rapidly becoming a cause célèbre.


Israel agrees to graves pay-out

By Leon Symons, April 18, 2008

Israel has finally agreed to pay for the restoration of a British war-graves cemetery in Gaza City, damaged when it launched an operation after the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit in June 2006.

A memorial stone, perimeter wall, trees and a number of headstones were damaged in that operation and in a second incident a week later.

Britain issued a formal complaint after the Israelis ignored a letter from its embassy in Tel Aviv. After initially denying responsibility for the damage for months, Israel has now agreed to pay NIS 145,000 (£20,600).


Miliband to host Palestinian aid meeting in London

By Leon Symons, April 18, 2008

Foreign secretary David Miliband is likely to use a London meeting next month of the ad hoc liaison committee for the co-ordination of international aid to Palestinians to put pressure on Israel to ease the blockade of Gaza.

But the Palestinian Authority will also feel the heat over Hamas’s continued rocket attacks on Sderot and elsewhere, which have contributed to Israel’s tough stance on Gaza.


Gaza-trip MPs face Kassam attack

By Jenni Frazer, April 18, 2008

In a week of renewed violence between Israel and Hamas that claimed the lives of three IDF soldiers and reportedly around 20 Gazans, British MPs saw Palestinian rocket fire at first-hand as Kassams were launched from a village near the Gaza Strip.

The MPs — three from the Labour Party and one Liberal Democrat — were on a fact-finding mission to Israel and the Palestinian territories, organised by Caabu, the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding.


Gunmen kill three

By Eric Silver, April 11, 2008

Palestinian gunmen shot dead two Israeli civilian workers and a soldier in clashes on either side of the Gaza border on Wednesday.

The civilians were hit when four terrorists infiltrated a depot near Kibbutz Nahal Oz from which Israel dispatches fuel, paid for by the European Union, to Gaza. Two other Israelis were wounded in the attack. Two of the infiltrators were reportedly killed in a gunfight with Israeli troops. Israeli helicopters chased the others back across the border, killing three gunmen.


New warnings on boycott bids

By Leon Symons, April 4, 2008

A communal activist has warned of a concerted effort to get the Trades Union Congress to overturn its anti-boycott stance towards Israel.

After boycott motions appeared on the conference agendas of a number of smaller unions, and a week after it was revealed that the University and College Union was trying to reactivate its academic boycott, Steve Scott of Trade Union Friends of Israel said he believed this was the start of a bigger campaign.


Not a shoah, just a PR calamity

By Jonathan Freedland, March 6, 2008

Good job, Matan. Well done. One short interview with Israel army radio and you’ve undone decades of hard work — and created an albatross that will hang around Jewish necks for another 20 years to come.

I’m speaking of Matan Vilnai, Israel’s deputy defence minister, who last week issued the following warning to the Palestinians of Gaza: “The more Kassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”