Anshel Pfeffer

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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Israel may lift bar on entering West Bank

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

The IDF is considering lifting the ban on Israelis entering Palestinian cities in the West Bank for the first time in a decade.

The ban was originally imposed a few months after the second intifada began in late 2000, after a number of Israelis who had entered the cities of the West Bank were murdered by terror groups.

Since then, roadblocks at the entrances to all the cities prevent Israelis from entering. Palestinian police who find Israelis in those cities without an official permit arrest them and escort them out to the roadblocks.

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Analysis: Lieberman wants Netanyahu's job

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman have a lot in common.

Both are shrewd and cynical political operators who, despite all they have done, are still treated by the old Israeli elite as outsiders. Both are regarded by the international media as dangerous hardliners. Neither let any of that stand in their way in their struggle to reach the top. And both made millions in the short breaks they took from their meteoric political careers.

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Tension between Netanyahu and Lieberman

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 22, 2010

A late-night meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ended what is being seen as the coalition government's most serious crisis to date. However, the tension between the two is far from over.

Following a weekend of angry statements from Mr Lieberman and his party colleagues regarding the failure of the prime minister to honour his coalition commitments, the pair met on Monday for two hours and emerged promising to continue their partnership and improve co-operation.

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Maverick rabbi stirred religious left

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Rabbi Yehuda Amital, who died last Friday in Jerusalem, could have been one of the most significant religious leaders of his generation. But by embracing left-wing positions on the Israeli-Palestinian question and trying to represent a voice of religious moderation, he chose a lonelier path.

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Analysis: Not quite a whitewash, but close

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

The Eiland report held few surprises. One does not have to be a military expert to understand that only patchy intelligence and faulty planning could have led to a situation where a small group of commandos landed one-by-one into a violent mob holding paint-guns.

So what else is new? The report praised the commandos, saying they used lethal force only when their lives were in danger. But medals for fighters in the field are usually awarded to cover the screw-ups of those who sent them into battle.

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Flotilla mess blamed on 'bad plans'

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Experts appointed by the military to investigate the IDF operation against the Gaza flotilla found a series of mistakes in the intelligence-gathering and planning stages of the mission.

But they praised the actions of the naval commandos who carried out the May raid on the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

The team, headed by reserve Major General Giora Eiland, was appointed by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi a month ago to probe the military aspects of the operation.

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Israel draws up concession list

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 15, 2010

Following the friendly meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama in Washington last week, Mr Netanyahu is putting together a list of gestures to the Palestinians that, he hopes, will convince the Palestinian leadership to enter direct negotiations.

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