Anshel Pfeffer

Germany frees Mossad agent

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 20, 2010

The Israeli agent arrested two months ago in connection with the alleged assassination of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January, was released over the weekend and returned to Israel.

The man known as Uri Brodsky was arrested two months ago in Poland, on a German EU-wide arrest warrant.

Brodsky was arrested on charges that a year earlier he had helped another man receive a German passport in the name of Michael Bodenheimer. The passport was used by the team who, according to Dubai police, carried out Al-Mabhouh's assassination.

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Analysis: No Abu Ghraib photoshoot, but we should all be very concerned

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

The Facebook photos of former IDF Sergeant Eden Abergil's army days drew an inevitable, though ridiculous, comparison this week with the depraved scenes of sexual abuse and torture carried out by American soldiers in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

But in many ways, the images of Abergil posing, smiling, with arrested Palestinian civilians bound and blindfolded in the close background, poses a more difficult and complex moral challenge for the IDF's commanders.

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Jerusalem prepares for Pop Idol clashes

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

Major clashes are expected next month in Jerusalem around the broadcast of the A Star is Born finale from the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem.

The final of Israel's equivalent to Pop Idol is scheduled for Saturday night and strictly Orthodox rabbis object to it for fear that the preparations for the broadcast will take place on Shabbat, and that the heavy traffic expected will block the road for those planning to get to the Western Wall for the first night of selichot (penitential prayers said before the High Holy Days).

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Greek-Israel ties bolstered

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

The diplomatic relationship between Israel and Turkey continued to deteriorate this week in the wake of the Gaza flotilla raid, as the ambassador to Ankara was publicly snubbed. At the same time, Israel bolstered its ties with Turkey's rival neighbour, Greece, with a prime ministerial visit.

Israel's ambassador was not invited to a Ramadan "Iftar" supper hosted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Iftar meal was attended by all the ambassadors in Ankara but Israeli representative, Gabi Levy, was pointedly left out.

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Netanyahu's wife wades into deportation row

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel's prime minister, has joined in the debate on the future of 400 children of foreign workers who will have to leave Israel with their families over the next couple of weeks.

The cabinet decided three weeks ago to allow around 800 children to remain in Israel.

According to the new guidelines, children who have started school, who are about to this year or who have lived in Israel for at least five years and speak Hebrew, will be allowed to stay if both their parents entered legally.

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Israel take down Jerusalem wall

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 19, 2010

Ten years after becoming a local landmark in Jerusalem, the concrete wall shielding the Gilo neighbourhood from Palestinian fire is being removed.

The decision to take down the wall, made from 800 concrete panels, spanning 600 metres of Anafa Street, was agreed upon by the IDF, Jerusalem City Hall and the police. The wall went up at the beginning of the second intifada in 2000, after the eastern part of Gilo came under daily fire from the Palestinian village of Beit Jallah.

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Netanyahu, Barak defend actions at Gaza flotilla inquiry

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 12, 2010

Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi appeared this week before the Turkel Commission investigating the action against the flotilla to Gaza, in which nine Turkish activists were killed on the Mavi Marmara ferry.

The Israeli leaders justified the operation while acknowledging mistakes in advance planning and intelligence-gathering.

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Islamic movement tried to remove evidence of Jewish Jerusalem

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 12, 2010

An investigation into the failure of law enforcement agencies to prevent what is alleged to have been an attempt to wipe out Jewish history on Temple Mount 11 years ago looks set to cause widespread controversy.

The publication of the report into the removal, by night, of 6,000 cubic metres of mud from beneath the Al Aqsa Mosque by the Muslim Wakf authority that oversees the management of the mosque compound, has been suppressed for months by the government.

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Sewage row on Tel Aviv's beaches

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 12, 2010

This has been one of the warmest Israeli summers in memory but almost daily, some of the most central beaches on the Mediterranean coast have been closed due to pollution.

So far this year, the Health Ministry has ordered the closure of 15 public beaches due to the excessive amounts of waste and sewage discovered in the water.

Environmentalist groups have accused the local authorities of not investing sufficiently in modernising sewage treatment works, instead relying on pipelines pumping excess sewage into the sea whenever the antiquated systems are close to overflowing.

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Analysis: Israel ponders an eerie calm

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 12, 2010

It has become almost a cliché to say this but the last year and a half has been one of the calmest periods on Israel's borders, and in the statistics of casualty numbers quite possibly the calmest in its history.

Since the Gaza operation ended in January 2009, missiles from the Strip into Israel have lessened to a trickle, barely even a nuisance as almost all of them fall in uninhabited areas, quite often within Palestinian territory.

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Sadly, such things are to be expected in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 12, 2010

It is not clear whether a criminal offence has been committed in the case of the "Galant Document". If the list of dirty tricks to be used in the campaign for Israel's most prestigious job, Chief of Staff of the IDF, was compiled by an employee of the most powerful PR firm in the country, it won't be a matter for the police or courts. If there was a fabrication or forgery, it still does not feature high on the scale. Someone wrote a to-do list and stuck on a false logo.

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Israeli army gripped by 'dirty tricks' scandal

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 12, 2010

Israeli police are investigating after a plan to undermine IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, and ensure OC Southern Command Major General Yoav Galant replaced him, was unveiled on Channel Two news on Friday night.

The "Galant Document" caused a public uproar and deep embarrassment in the IDF's upper echelons. Lt-Gen Ashkenazi ends his term in February 2011 and the question of his successor has been the subject of intense speculation and rivalry.

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Abbas faces hard choice over Israel talks

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 5, 2010

The next few weeks will be extremely stressful for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The notorious procrastinator, who has shied away from anything like a decision in his five and a half years at the helm of the PA, is under intense pressure to agree to direct negotiations with the Netanyahu government - and not even his Arab allies are prepared to help him out.

Last Thursday, the Arab League convened in Cairo and gave Mr Abbas authority to decide on the resumption of talks with Israel, at his discretion.

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Israeli air exercises go on despite Romania deaths

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 5, 2010

The Israeli Air Force will continue carrying out long-range exercises abroad, despite the helicopter crash last week in Romania in which six Israeli aircrew and one Romanian liaison officer were killed.

Exercise "Blue Skies" was scheduled to take place for two weeks over Romania, but was terminated last Monday when an IAF CH-53 Sea Stallion transport helicopter crashed in the Carpathian Mountains killing all seven on board.

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Israel vows payback for Hamas after Eilat attack

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 5, 2010

Israel has said it will retaliate against Hamas after two attacks by Grad missiles on Ashkelon and Eilat in the space of three days heightened tension in the south of Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyanhu told Israelis in a TV broadcast that the terrorist organisation was responsible for the attacks on Israel and another on Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba, where one man died.

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Analysis: Shoot-out in Lebanon is an ominous sign

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 5, 2010

The short but very sharp battle on the Lebanese border on Tuesday which took the lives of an Israeli battalion commander, three Lebanese soldiers and one reporter, may turn out to be an isolated incident. By evening, calm had returned to Israel's north, but it is a worrying indication of the state of affairs in the land ofthe cedars.

The direct fire at the Israeli command post, during a routine maintenance operation across the border fence but well within Israeli territory, was at the orders of a low-level officer, but it is still unclear whether he was acting on his own initiative.

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Analysis: This time, ignoring the council is right

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 29, 2010

A year-and-a-half ago, in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the United Nations Human Rights Council announced that it was setting up a fact-finding commission to investigate claims of human rights abuse and war crimes.

The commission's chairman, one of the most respected members of the South African Jewish community and a committed Zionist, begged senior Israeli ministers to cooperate with him, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused. The result was the damning Goldstone Report, which has continued to haunt Israel and especially the IDF for almost a year now.

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Israel to boycott UN Gaza flotilla inquiry

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 29, 2010

The Israeli government will not cooperate with the latest commission set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate Israel's conduct during the Gaza flotilla affair two months ago.

Despite no official statement being made by the government, senior officials all confirmed that there was no way Israel would confer legitimacy on the UNHRC, widely seen as a forum designed solely for attacking Israel. One official said that "we are not going to even grace them with an official statement. They are totally irrelevant".

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Israel clamps down on violent settlers

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 29, 2010

ISraeli law enforcement agencies have begun a new crackdown on what it believes are "violent and inciteful elements" amongst extreme right-wing settlers.

On Monday, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Od Yosef Chai yeshivah and an influential figure, especially among the younger settlers, was arrested by the police for questioning on allegations of "severe incitement".

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Loyalty oath bill ‘provokes Arab citizens’

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

The Israeli cabinet is split over a demand to make all new citizens pledge allegiance to the "Jewish and democratic" character of the state of Israel.

There is no formal pledge of allegiance today in Israeli law. Native-born Israelis do not have to make any kind of commitment as a condition for citizenship and neither do immigrants of Jewish descent who become Israeli by the Law of Return.

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