IDF

Ben Sahar returns to Israel to do army duty

December 30, 2009

Israeli international Ben Sahar has returned to Israel to begin his IDF service.

The 20-year-old striker, who plays for La Liga club Espanyol, began his army career as a youth motivational speaker this week.

He will be allowed to complete his service during his holidays in Israel, over a number of years, thanks to a change in army rules that allows “gifted athletes” based abroad to do their service over a longer period of time.

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Yeshivah backs off in fight with army

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 23, 2009

The heads of the Hesder yeshivahs, which allow 18-year-olds to combine Torah studies and army service, have issued a joint statement against any form of political protest within the IDF.

The rabbis are trying to end the crisis with the defence establishment which led to one of the yeshivahs being cut out of the arrangement last week. Defence Minister Ehud Barak cancelled the Hesder status of the Har Bracha yeshivah on the West bank following the refusal of its head, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, to retract his previous statements in support of soldiers refusing orders to dismantle settlements.

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Israel severs link between religious school and IDF

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 17, 2009

Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s decision to end the Har Bracha yeshivah’s hesder arrangement — which allows 18-year-olds to combine Torah studies with army service — has sent reverberations through the IDF and the network of yeshivahs which have, for decades, enjoyed close relations with the military.

“This isn’t about just one yeshivah,” said a senior rabbi this week. “This is a battle for the soul of the next generation of the national-religious community.”

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Crackdown on 'Orthodox' women who shirk IDF

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 3, 2009

A law enabling the IDF to crack down on women who defer army service fraudulently “for religious reasons” has become a political hot potato and may cause a coalition crisis.

Coalition partners Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) have said they will be voting against a government-approved law that will enable the IDF to send investigators to check whether young women who do not join the army claiming they were religious are indeed leading a religious life.

If they are not, the IDF will be able to draft them immediately.

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Israeli bomb experts help UK soldiers

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 26, 2009

British bomb experts have received training from the IDF’s central weapons laboratory on the types of bombs used by Islamist terrorists.

The Substances Laboratory, which is part of the IDF Ground Command’s Experiment and Quality Control Unit near Tel Aviv, is a mecca for explosives specialists from around the world. One of the main roles of the lab is to analyse all bombs and ammunition used against Israeli forces and civilians and devise methods of countering them.

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IDF cracks down on its settler rebels

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 26, 2009

Two political protests by religious soldiers in uniform have turned a spotlight on the divided loyalties of many yeshivah students who also serve in the IDF.

Last Sunday, a group of soldiers in the Nahshon infantry battalion hoisted a banner on top of a building on their base in the southern region of the West Bank, reading, “Nahshon also doesn’t banish Jews.”

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Mixed feelings from IDF over the Shalit deal

By Anshel Pfeffer in Hebron, November 26, 2009

Views among IDF soldiers this week over the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange broadly mirrored those among the wider public, but they had some unique insights of their own.

The younger soldiers, those who started their service only recently, were broadly in favour of the emerging deal. Uriya, a machine-gunner in the Golani Brigade who began his first operational posting last month, said: “From my point of view, what is important is how his mother feels. Nothing can compare to that. Any price is worthwhile, even 1,000 terrorists.”

His friend, Tamir, added a less emotional reason.

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IDF set to investigate Goldstone Report

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 12, 2009

The IDF has formed an internal commission which will investigate the claims raised in the Goldstone Report over alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year.

While many voices in Israel over recent weeks supported the launch of a judicial commission of inquiry over the Goldstone allegations, the IDF has staunchly resisted “putting the IDF on trial”, insisting that the army’s internal investigations were sufficient.

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Outrage over 'rape' poster that demonises Israel

By Robyn Rosen, November 12, 2009

The New Israel Fund (NIF) has defended a conference sponsored by three Palestinian groups it funds, which allegedly “demonised” Israel.

The poster publicising the conference, held in Haifa on Monday, shows the hand of an IDF soldier grasping the breast of a woman wearing a traditional Palestinian dress.

The poster reads: “Her husband needs a permit to touch her. The occupation penetrates her life everyday.”

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Swedish journalist defends organ 'blood libel' in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

The Swedish journalist who accused the IDF of killing Palestinian youths to harvest their organs claimed this week that he never wrote that the Palestinians were intentionally killed for that purpose.

Daniel Bostrom’s report, published two months ago in Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, caused a diplomatic row between Israel and Sweden. His accusations were linked to the arrest of a Jewish man in New York suspected of illegal organ trafficking. The IDF denied all the allegations.

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