Anshel Pfeffer

Avigdor Lieberman looks an election winner

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 29, 2009

The Received wisdom was that there would be two main political beneficiaries from Operation Cast Lead: Ehud Barak as Defence Minister, and Binyamin Netanyahu, who could claim prescience over his warnings that Hamas had to be confronted.

But while Barak’s Labour has slightly improved its position and Netanyahu’s Likud is still ahead of Kadima, the unexpected beneficiary has been Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu party If recent polls are anything to go by, Lieberman has surged ahead of his previous marginal status and is now tying with Labour for third place.

More..

Egypt turns a blind eye to arms tunnels

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 22, 2009

The Egyptian regime is still enabling Bedouin smugglers to use the tunnels under their border with the Gaza Strip to transfer arms to Hamas, the JC can reveal.

Despite announcements by senior Egyptian officials that they would clamp down on the smuggling, local Bedouin traders are still offering — even after the Gaza ceasefire — to smuggle goods and people under the border.

These were the tunnels that enabled Hamas and the other Palestinian organisations to bring through materials to manufacture the missiles fired on Israel.

More..

Settlers return as soldiers

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 15, 2009

Soldiers from the evacuated Gush Katif returned this week to some of the ruined settlements abandoned after Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005.

“I cried when our tank passed by the ruins of Netzarim and made a symbolic small tear in my uniform as a sign of mourning,” said one soldier interviewed through his parents and whose name cannot be used due to IDF restrictions.

An Israeli flag had been planted on the ruins and the road to Netzarim was being used by the 401th Armoured Brigade to cut Gaza City off from the southern part of the Strip.

More..

Media clampdown in Gaza result of Lebanon lessons

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 15, 2009

Alongside the brigades of Merkava tanks and battalions of armoured personnel carriers sent to the Gaza Strip over the past two weeks, the IDF also sent a detachment of military police cars.

Their targets were not rowdy soldiers attempting to abscond without a pass. Rather, they were journalists — both Israeli and foreign — trying to photograph the massed forces and to interview the soldiers preparing to enter the combat zone.

More..

We learned lessons from the Blitz, says Home Front

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 15, 2009

The IDF Home Front Command studied the wartime Blitz while overhauling its operational plans before Operation Cast Lead.

It concluded that, if the people of London could continue working despite repeated nights of aerial bombings, there was no reason for Israel’s southern region to be paralysed by Hamas rockets.

Like the other major units of the IDF, the Home Command also underwent a comprehensive process of reassessment following the second Lebanon war.

More..

Egypt holds key to ending the conflict

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 8, 2009

Egypt appears to hold the key to the solution of the Gaza crisis as the Israeli government waits for an improved ceasefire deal before ending Operation Cast Lead.

The IDF has indicated that it is prepared to escalate the ground offensive by reinforcing the units already operating in the Strip and entering Gaza City. However, the army high command and Defence Minister Ehud Barak are opposed to such a move as it may result in higher casualties.

More..

We need to be scared, says IDF colonel

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 7, 2009

An IDF colonel has described how he hopes his troops feel fear as they continue to push into Gaza.

“Fear is healthy” Lt-Colonel Amir Ulo said this evening. “It is part of a warrior’s basic skills that helps him prepare, not fear that paralyses.”

Lt-Col Ulo is commander of the Combat Engineer Corps special operations unit Yahalom and his soldiers have been leading the IDF’s combat groups as they take up positions around Gaza.

More..

Analysis: Cairo bears a major part of the responsibility for the conflict

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 31, 2008

In all the talk of the siege, blockade and humanitarian disaster of Gaza, one small inconvenient detail almost always goes unmentioned. Gaza has a second border in addition to the one with Israel: a small but potentially useful border with its Arab sister, Egypt.

Three-and-a-half years ago, when the international community was still hopefully predicting a peaceful outcome to Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the Egyptians were self-importantly promising to play a major role in the security arrangements from the day after the pullout.

More..

Protestors target embassy

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 31, 2008

The Israeli Embassy was repeatedly targeted this week by demonstrators, who accused Israel of carrying out a “Holocaust in Gaza”.

More..

Israel claims success in the PR war

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 31, 2008

Fewer military officers; more women; tightly controlled messages; and ministers kept on a short leash. This was Israel’s new media game-plan in Operation Cast Lead.

The Gaza attack is the first major demonstration of Israel’s total overhaul of its ‘hasbara’ operation following the Second Lebanon War. While the military aspects of the operation were meticulously planned, a new forum of press advisers was also established which has been working for the past six months on a PR strategy specifically geared to dealing with the media during warfare in Gaza.

More..

Israel blasts UK’s ‘megaphone’ tactic

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2008

Israeli diplomats have expressed their “deep disappointment” over what they have termed Britain’s “megaphone diplomacy” over Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

But the Minister for the Middle East, Bill Rammell, has denied that the government is planning any initiatives.

Mr Rammell visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority last week and at the end of his stay said: “Our position is long-standing. We have always said that the settlements are illegal by international law and that they make facts on the ground, making a solution more difficult.”

More..

Aliyah lowest since 1988

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2008

Last year was the worst in two decades for immigration to Israel, new figures have revealed.

Only 16,500 Jews arrived in the country, 16 per cent less than in 2007. However, aliyah from Britain was slightly up, with 680 new immigrants in 2008.

The aliyah figures, the lowest since 1988, can be attributed to the Israeli government’s decision to cap the immigration of Ethiopian Falashmuras, whose Jewish ancestry is contested.

More..

Yemeni Jews: relocation offer

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2008

The Jewish community in Rayda have refused an offer by the Yemeni President to relocate to the capital, Sana’a. Three weeks ago, a Jewish teacher was killed there by a former air force officer demanding his conversion to Islam.

About 270 Jews live in the Rayda area and they have been living in fear since the murder of Moshe Yaish Nahari by former pilot Abdul Aziz Yahya Hamoud Al-Abdi, who has already confessed to the murder. In his defence he said that he had given Nahari a choice between converting to Islam, fleeing the country or death.

More..

Fury at ‘Don’t buy on West Bank’ advice

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 23, 2008

Israeli officials have said they are “deeply disappointed” at the British Government’s decision to publish an advice note warning Britons against buying property in settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, describing the move as “politically motivated”.

More..

Israel prepares troops and PR offensive to counter Hamas

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 23, 2008

Israeli representatives around the world are preparing the groundwork for a PR and diplomatic campaign that will accompany an IDF ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

The final decision on whether to launch such an operation has not yet been taken, but the government is preparing itself for all eventualities, including an immediate escalation.

A barrage of Kassam rockets and three IDF retaliatory attacks at the weekend signalled the end of the six-month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

More..

Hate wave feared in recession-hit Ukraine

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 18, 2008

A major wave of antisemitism is feared in Russia and Ukraine in 2009 as their economies begin to bear the full brunt of the global financial crisis.

The warning comes from senior officials in local Jewish organisations and from the Israeli government.

One veteran emissary from a major Jewish body was especially worried.

More..

Brown criticises Israel’s Palestinian policy

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 18, 2008

Prime Minister Gordon Brown criticised Israel’s policy on the territories at a London conference on investment in the Palestinian economy this week.

More..

Netherlands vows to boycott Durban II

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 18, 2008

The Netherlands is the latest country threatening to boycott the United Nations ‘Durban II’ conference against racism.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said the conference was “a propaganda circus by countries attempting to carry out antisemitic agitation against Israel”.

He warned that his government would not participate if the resolution of the preparatory committee was not changed.

Netherlands is one of several EU members to voice concerns over the conference, due to take place in Geneva in April.

More..

Ukraine: why we should worry

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 18, 2008

There is a little grave in a vast cemetery on the outskirts of Kiev that stands out from its dilapidated and rundown surroundings. It is swept daily and fresh flowers are arranged in a vase. In March, hundreds of Ukrainian nationalists will make their annual pilgrimage there to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the death of 13-year-old Andrei Yushchinsky and the last major blood libel case in Europe — the Beilis Trial.

More..

Analysis: Olmert’s air miles have proved costly

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 11, 2008

Ehud Olmert’s wanderlust has been well documented by the Israeli media. In his second term as Jerusalem mayor, which lasted four and a half years, he clocked up no less than 294 days in 55 trips outside Israel. His destinations ranged from Japan to Brazil, but his favourite city was New York, where his good friend, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, awarded him the rare privilege of being allowed to park anywhere in the Big Apple.

More..