IDF's first Arab officer: 'It's my duty'

By Jennifer Lipman, November 4, 2010

A 26-year-old who has become the first Israeli Arab officer in the IDF has called for more members of his community to fight for the country.

Lieutenant Hisham Abu Rayya has faced outrage in his community and accusations that he is a traitor for taking on the role.

But he told The Times that serving in the Israeli army, and even protecting a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, was “my duty to my country”.

Lieutenant Abu Raaya rubbished claims that the reason Arab teenagers opt not to join the Israeli army is down to discrimination.


Films Without Borders premiere in London

By Jessica Elgot, November 4, 2010

Young film directors from Israel and Palestine were given a royal welcome by Prince Edward following the London Film Festival premiere of their projects for Films Without Borders.

They were two of three chosen in April by the charity, which teaches film-making to young people in conflict zones, to each record an interview with Star Wars creator George Lucas. The other was from Rwanda.


Anger over IDF Cast Lead indictments

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

Two cases of misconduct, one still only alleged, by IDF soldiers who fought in Operation Cast Lead are causing widespread debate and furor in the Israeli army and public.

On Monday, the two former soldiers appeared for their preliminary hearing before sentencing. The two were convicted earlier this month of exceeding their authority, among other charges, for forcing a Palestinian child to open bags that were suspected of being booby-trapped.

Despite the conviction, the two were accompanied by over a hundred friends and former comrades who claimed they were being scapegoated.


Now the Chief Rabbinate probes army conversions

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

The decision of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel to investigate the validity of conversions performed in the IDF has raised concerns that 5000 converts may find their Jewishness questioned.

For over eight years, the Israeli army's Nativ Project has allowed soldiers of mixed marriages who are not recognised as Jews by the Rabbinate to undergo a programme of Jewish studies, leading to conversion in a special military rabbinical court.


'Gaza flotilla activists fired first'

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

Each one of the shootings on the Mavi Marmara ferry earlier this year was justified, said the IDF Chief of General Staff this week.

In a combative appearance before the Turkel Commission, the body set up by the Israeli government to investigate the Gaza flotilla operation, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi insisted that the commandos who boarded the ship and killed nine Turkish activists acted in an exemplary fashion.


Israeli fighter narrowly missed passenger jet

By Jessica Elgot, October 21, 2010

A British flight from Egypt which veered off course into Israeli airspace came close to crashing into an Israeli fighter jet.

The flight from Sharm-el-Sheikh was not supposed to enter Israeli airspace but flew too far north from Egypt's Taba area, over the Sinai Peninsula towards Eilat, flying 13 miles into Israeli airspace.

The plane came close to hitting Israeli Air Force F-16 jets, but an IAF supervising officer noticed the plane in time. The IAF is investigating the incident as a serious security breach.


IDF looking into dancing soldier video

By Jennifer Lipman, October 5, 2010

Israel has condemned the perpetrator of a video that appears to show a soldier dancing next to a blindfolded Palestinian.

An IDF investigation has been launched into the clip, which features a woman in a headscarf and black robe.

The video was filmed and uploaded on to the internet in 2008 but only emerged this week,

An IDF spokesman said: “This will be done in any case that raises suspicions of similar conduct in the future."


IDF taught British Army vital lessons

By Robyn Rosen, September 28, 2010

The former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan has praised the Israeli army and said the British Army has learnt important lessons from it.

Retired Colonel Richard Kemp said some policies by the British Army have been formed "as a direct result" of consultation with its Israeli counterpart.

Speaking at an event held by the Zionist Federation, Colonel Kemp made his comments as royal sculptor Frances Segelman completed a bust of him at a fundraising event for BLESMA (British Limbless Ex-Servicemen Association) and the Shalom Foundation, a children's charity.


Revolution in the Israeli army

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 28, 2010

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi is widely credited with putting Israel's military back on an operational footing after the Second Lebanon War. But when he ends his military career in five months' time, he may be remembered for an altogether more profound change in Israeli society.


Prayer for IDF Druze allowed

By Simon Rocker, September 21, 2010

Orthodox rabbis have been told that there is no problem with including the name of a Druze serviceman among prayers for Israel's missing soldiers.

Rabbi Julian Shindler, director of rabbinic liaison in the Office of the Chief Rabbi, emailed rabbis to say that they can mention Majdy Halabi, who disappeared five years ago.