Hamas loads the launchers once again

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 29, 2010

Hamas has escalated its rocket attacks from Gaza, two years after Operation Cast Lead. But Israeli officials believe that the movement is not interested in a return to open hostilities and is, for now, "testing the limits".

Before this month and since the end of the Gaza conflict two years ago, Hamas had refrained from taking part in the attacks against Israeli patrols on the border and from carrying out missile launches against Israeli towns and kibbutzim.


Orthodox get IDF exemption

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 22, 2010

A series of reforms of yeshivah students' stipends and the announcement of their exemption from army service have become the subject of a coalition disagreement and a rift between the government and the IDF.

The cabinet voted on Sunday 14-8 in favour of a plan formulated by the Prime Minister's Office to continue paying stipends to yeshivah students for another five years, gradually cutting off the payments when they reach the age of 29.


IDF on manoeuvres as Nasrallah hints at war

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 26, 2010

The IDF's Nahal infantry brigade is carrying out its annual manoeuvres on the Golan Heights.

Traditionally, this is considered tank country, a potential battlefield between Israeli and Syrian armoured formations, but the column of soldiers moving under cover of darkness into dawn attack positions are training for war against another adversary.


Israeli army uses Facebook to stalk draft-dodgers

By Jennifer Lipman, November 23, 2010

Israel has adopted a new tool in the fight against army draft evaders, and it involves looking at people’s Facebook pages.

Service in the IDF is compulsory for Israeli school-leavers, except under specific circumstances. Those exempt from duty include some Orthodox Jewish men and women.

But with draft-dodging on the rise, the army has turned to Facebook to check those avoiding service are doing so for a legitimate reason.

The method has enabled the IDF to catch some 1,000 women exaggerating the extent of their religious observance.


Fall in West Bank violence

November 11, 2010

Terror activity in the West Bank has reached an all-time low due to the IDF and Shin Bet's efforts, and a major improvement in co-operation with the Palestinian Authority's security forces.


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.