Renewed hope for talks to free Shalit

January 22, 2009

Israel hopes to renew negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, writes Yaakov Katz, if the new ceasefire holds, defence officials said this week.

Talks over Mr Shalit’s release have been suspended since the last ceasefire between Hamas and Israel took effect in June. But military officials said it was now possible that Operation Cast Lead will cause the group to ease its demand for the release of 1,400 Palestinian prisoners.


IDF to fight ‘war crimes’ charges

By Yaakov Katz, January 22, 2009

The IDF and Foreign Ministry are preparing to combat dozens of lawsuits they fear will be filed against IDF officers on war crimes charges.

Several NGOs have accused Israel of using disproportionate force during its three-week Gaza campaign. Amnesty International accused Israel of “indiscriminate” military force resulting in war crimes. Oxfam International has accused Israel of “massive and disproportionate violence... in violation of international law.”


PR battle to continue

By Yaakov Katz, January 22, 2009

The Israeli Foreign Ministry is implementing a “day after” hasbara plan to counter claims that the IDF perpetrated war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appointed Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog to lead the post-war battle over public opinion and to coordinate aid to Gaza.

During the war, journalists were not allowed into the Gaza Strip and Hamas prevented access to areas where the IDF was operating to local journalists.


War weakened Abbas, Palestinians warn

By Ben Lynfield, January 22, 2009

President Mahmoud Abbas has been politically wounded by the Gaza war, with Hamas enjoying a surge of popularity in the West Bank, according to Palestinian analysts.

“In political terms, Hamas has become much stronger and its rivals much weaker,” said Ghassan Khatib, a former PA minister.

“The mere fact that Israel is targeting Hamas makes Hamas popular, as does the fact that Hamas fought back and did not surrender, and in Palestinian eyes put on an impressive performance by being disciplined, organised and continuing to fire rockets until the last minute.”


Analysis: After Cast Lead: where do we go from here?

January 22, 2009

Prepare for more civilian casualties

Anshel Pfeffer
Israel correspondent of the JC

It is, notoriously, hard to argue with success. And that seems to be the case with Operation Cast Lead. There were minimal Israeli casualties, and its leaders enjoyed more than 80 per cent public approval ratings, reaching across the political spectrum.


MPs urge hate-attack clampdown

By Bernard Josephs, January 22, 2009

A parliamentary motion condemning attacks on the Jewish community as a result of the war in Gaza has been signed by more than 40 MPs - including critics of Israel. The MPs called on the government to stamp down on a wave of antisemitic incidents.

The motion, sponsored by Labour MP John Mann, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Antisemitism, also attacked the growing number of extremist websites, one of which calls for attacks against Jews around the world.


Tony Benn: 'Expel the Israel envoy'

By Marcus Dysch, January 22, 2009

Former Labour MP Tony Benn used a demonstration in Trafalgar Square to call for Israel’s ambassador to Britain to be expelled from the country.

Speaking last Saturday, Mr Benn, president of the Stop the War Coalition, accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza and said Ron Prosor should be banished in response.

He also said Israeli airlines should be banned from landing planes at British airports.

Similar calls to remove Mr Prosor were made during a parliamentary debate on the conflict last week.


Masked thugs stamp on man in 'revenge'

By Leon Symons, January 22, 2009

Two masked thugs beat up a Jewish man in north-west London on Saturday night in what they said was revenge for Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Michael Bookatz was going home after eating with a friend in Golders Green when he was attacked as he walked along Sinclair Avenue.

Mr Bookatz, a 31-year-old computer software developer, said: “I saw a man walking towards me. Suddenly he broke into a run and punched me in the face.


Jewdas sorry over hoax email

By Leon Symons, January 22, 2009

The maverick group Jewdas has apologised to the Board of Deputies for trying to wreck last week’s pro-Israel Trafalgar Square rally.

Jewdas said that it would also transfer an internet domain name that it used to the Board and gave its “guarantee” that it would not impersonate the Board again.


Public does not blame Israel for war, says survey

By Rachel Silver, January 22, 2009

A majority of the British public does not single out Israel as the side responsible for the conflict in Gaza, according to a survey published this week.

Only 18 per cent of those polled put the blame largely on Israel, while 24 per cent laid the blame for the three-week long Operation Cast Lead squarely on Hamas.

Fifty-eight per cent either blamed both sides for the conflict or were unsure of whom to blame.

The poll, carried out by the research organisation YouGov, sampled the views of 2,077 people.