Anshel Pfeffer

Egypt in backlash against Hizbollah

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 14, 2009

The discovery of a Hizbollah terror network in Sinai could lead to a major Egyptian backlash against the Shiite movement and Iran.

Egyptian security forces this week revealed the arrest of dozens of suspects, allegedly belonging to cells recruited by Hizbollah in Egypt. At least 15 terrorists are still at large in Sinai and hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and policemen have been involved in the searches. Shots were twice fired at Egyptian security forces by Bedouin tribesmen believed to be working with the terrorists.

More..

So who’s in Bibi’s circle of power?

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 7, 2009

While Binyamin Netanyahu’s more controversial ministerial choices grab the headlines, his small team of aides and advisers are settling in to their new roles in Israel’s corridors of power. Most of them have been with him for years and proved their loyalty during his long period in the political wilderness.

No less important, they have all been vetted by the prime minister’s ultimate confidante — his wife, Sara.

More..

Rabbis use code to bar chametz

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 7, 2009

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is turning to barcode technology in the Passover struggle against leavened products.

Every year, Israeli supermarkets with a kashrut certificate “sell” all the chametz products in stock to a non-Jew on the eve of the festival. The nominal sale is automatically cancelled when Pesach ends and the chametz reverts to the supermarkets’ ownership.

During the week-long festival, most of the chametz goods remain on covered-up shelves.

In many stores, shoppers can simply reach under the covers, take out chametz and pay for it at the tills.

More..

Lieberman to be charged with fraud

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 7, 2009

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is to be charged with money laundering and fraud, according to Justice Ministry sources.

“We have enough proof to indict him on multiple charges of money laundering through a string of shell companies,” said a lawyer from the Justice Ministry, who is close to the investigation.

In the next few weeks, the police’s National Fraud Squad is expected to recommend an indictment against Mr Lieberman. Then Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz must decide whether to press charges, pending a hearing.

More..

Lone attacks fear after axe murder

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 6, 2009

The IDF warned this week of a new wave of terror attacks carried out by lone attackers after a 13-year-old was killed by an axe-wielding Palestinian last week.

The murder took place last week at the Bat-Ayin settlement, in the Etzyon bloc, south of Jerusalem. Shlomo Nativ was murdered and Yair Gamliel, seven, was wounded. The murderer fled in the direction of the nearby Palestinian village of Safa. Intensive searches by the IDF and the General Security Service (GSS) failed to locate him.

More..

For sale: one rebbe

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

If you’ve got $250,000 to spare, you could buy yourself a day to remember — Shabbat with the reclusive Gerrer rebbe.

The Gerrer Chasids have been hit by the global financial slump and seen a significant fall in fundraising. The Gerrer network has 120 schools and yeshivot around the world with 23,000 pupils. It also has many medical and welfare groups.

The Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, has taken the lead in an emergency fundraising campaign for the network that he controls.

More..

Fatah slam Jenin band’s Shoah gig

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

A Palestinian youth orchestra was ordered to disband after performing for Holocaust survivors and its leader was arrested by the Palestinian security services and banished from the West Bank.

Fatah leaders in the Jenin refugee camp are furious that 13 members of the Strings of Freedom orchestra took part in a “Day of Good Deeds” event in Israel last week. The music group was set up six years ago by veteran educator and violinist Wafa Younis, an Israeli Arab. She lived in the camp but has now been banned.

More..

Analysis: Israel hits higher up supply chain

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

As Israeli disquiet grew this week over the extent to which its recent action in Gaza succeeded in slowing arms smuggling, news emerged of a strike by its air force against an arms convoy in Sudan.

Excellent intelligence meant Israel had early warning of an arms shipment containing suspected long-range missiles for Hamas and was able to identify it among hundreds of ships crossing the Red Sea and convoys traversing the desert.

More..

Arms still tunnelled into Gaza

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

Explosives are still being smuggled into Gaza, despite Operation Cast Lead and the international coalition set up to stop the flow of weapons.

Israeli intelligence reports have revealed that, since the end of the operation, 22 tons of explosives, 45 tons of explosive-making materials and hundreds of missiles and mortar bombs have been smuggled into Gaza through the tunnel beneath the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

This has been happening despite the efforts of eight Nato members, including the UK, who have set up a coalition to fight the smuggling.

More..

'No more light touch for Hamas prisoners'

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

Human rights groups will not challenge the Netanyahu government’s new regime for Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.

A committee headed by former Justice Minister Professor Daniel Friedman recommended that Hamas prisoners should be denied academic studies, media access and have their family visits limited. “We might be the only democracy in the Middle East,” explained Professor Friedman, “but we don’t have to be the only suckers.”

More..

Netanyahu pledges to face down Iran

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

Stabilising the Israeli economy, dealing with the Iranian threat and establishing a dialogue with the Obama administration will be the first priorities of Binyamin Netanyahu’s new government, which was sworn in on Tuesday night.

With 30 ministers and eight deputy ministers, Mr Netanyahu’s Cabinet is the largest government in Israel’s history, and is based on a coalition of six parties and 74 members of the Knesset.

More..

IDF ‘war crimes’ probe ends amid controversy

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 2, 2009

The IDF’s Military Advocate-General, Brigadier Avichai Mendelblit, has closed the investigation into the testimony of Israeli soldiers who reported shootings of civilians during the Gaza operation — but the public controversy is far from over.

More..

Rabbis to block Bodyworlds show

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

The controversial Bodyworlds exhibition featuring plastinated corpses has been denounced as “an insult to human dignity” by Orthodox groups trying to ban it from being shown at a museum in Haifa.

The exhibition is due to open at Haifa’s National Science Museum over Pesach. This will be its first showing in Israel since it started touring the world in 1995.

The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yonah Metzger and leading local rabbonim have issued rulings banning followers from visiting it.

More..

Israel may go it alone on Iran strike

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

While the American intelligence community is tearing itself apart in public over the question of whether Iran has accumulated sufficient uranium for a nuclear weapon, a quiet debate is going on behind the scenes in Israel.

Most Israeli intelligence analysts believe Iran is a few months away from the point of no return.

If pro-Israel president George Bush decided not to attack Iran, it is hard to see Barack Obama with his new policy of engaging Iran and the Muslim world ordering a strike. That leaves Israel with an awful dilemma — can it go it alone?

More..

Car bomb sparks terror fear

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

The failed attempt to explode a large car bomb in a shopping centre in Haifa on Saturday night has intensified fears of a possible wave of terror attacks.

The Israeli police and security forces have forbidden publication of any technical details of the car bomb. However, its size, described by explosives experts as “equal to 15 suicide bombers”, and the sophistication of the methods used to smuggle it into Haifa and the shopping centre car park, is of an order not seen in Israel for more than five years.

More..

Israelis debate morality of Gaza

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

The publication of the experiences of young soldiers from Operation Cast Lead has kicked off a public debate in Israel over the morality of the army’s conduct in Gaza.

The stories of the soldiers, alumni of the Oranim pre-military academy, were published last week in Haaretz and Maariv. They described several IDF units as acting in a trigger-happy army that operated with scant regard for Palestinian civilians.

More..

Netanyahu pact splits Likud

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

The only obstacle still standing in the way of Binyamin Netanyahu forming a government next week is a possible revolt within his own party.

Likud members are angry with Mr Netanyahu for allocating most of the senior cabinet positions to the other parties in his coalition. “We are going to give him a rough ride when he presents the coalition agreements to the Likud Central Committee next week,” said one disgruntled MK. “Netanyahu has given everything away to the coalition partners and Likud, the ruling party, has to make do with leftovers.”

More..

Murders prompt new terror fears

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 19, 2009

The murder of two policemen in the West Bank last week has raised fears of a new terror offensive.

David Rabinovich, 42, and Yehezkel Ramzarker, 50, two veteran traffic policemen, were ambushed near Moshav Massua by gunmen posing as motorists.

Both officers were shot at point-blank range when they stopped to investigate a broken-down car. A previously unknown group, Imad Mughniye Brigade, claimed responsibility for the attack, but Israeli intelligence sources are dubious about the claim.

More..

Iran buys anti-aircraft missiles from Russia

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 19, 2009

The reported sale of advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Tehran has made the need to deal with Iran’s nuclear programme more urgent than ever.

A senior source in Russia’s Federal Bureau of Military-Technological Cooperation confirmed to the Interfax news agency on Wednesday that his country had signed a contract to sell the S-300PMU missile system to Iran in 2007. The official said that the system had not yet been supplied.

More..

Olmert blames Shalit’s parents

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 19, 2009

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has blamed the intensive media campaign for the release of Gilad Shalit for the breakdown of the talks over a possible prisoner deal — and told his family that they may have harmed his cause.

This week the Israeli government announced that it had refused Hamas demands for the release of 450 senior terrorists, many of them jailed for life for murder.

More..