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Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories

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Frayed cloak, rusty dagger?


Seems someone on the Mossad’s hit-list just won a reprieve.

A botched assassination exercise by Israel’s overseas intelligence service on Monday has thrown a rare spotlight on its secret tactics, as well as raising questions about professionalism.mossadchief1

According to witnesses, a black-clad man in his 20′s attached a magnetic replica bomb to the door of a car parked in Tel Aviv’s tony port district, and tried to slip away. He was spotted by two diners at a nearby restaurant who, thinking him a terrorist or mob contract-killer, alerted police.

Confronted by the cops, the suspect revealed that he was on a Mossad drill. The story surfaced on Tuesday evening, after government censors dropped a gag order.

Was it a training exercise for a novice spy? Probably not. The Mossad is known to dispatch its cadets onto the streets of Israel, and beyond, to learn basic surveillance and infiltration skills. But assassination missions are reserved for select squads of veteran operatives.

The Mysterious Mr. Mitchell’s MacGuffin




It’s a bit like a Hitchock thriller. Nobody knows where he is — not even the U.S. State Department — and nobody knows when he will show up in Israel. All we know is, suspense is building and it’s time to watch out for surprises.

President Barack Obama’s Middle East peace envoy Senator George Mitchell is somewhere in transit — probably – and expected in Israel and the Palestinian Territories next week –  sometime.

2006 Lebanon War Still a Point of Contention in Israel, Lebanon


LEBANONToday, July 12, marks another controversial anniversary: it is the third anniversary of the start of the Second Lebanon war, as it is known by Israelis, or the July War, as it’s called by the Lebanese.

(See our factbox on the war here).

Three years on, Israelis are still divided as to whether their government made the right decision in undertaking the 34 day conflict in 2006.

Tight corner



A quiet weekend in the country is often not quite that in this part of the Middle East.  A couple of days in the northern Golan Heights left me with plenty to reflect on, about land and people, borders and sovereignty, war and peace.

The picture on the left shows, in the middle, the southern end of the Shebaa Farms, the few square miles at the centre of possibly the knottiest territorial dispute in a region with no shortage of same.  Is it Lebanese? Or Syrian? In any case it is occupied by Israel. All three countries converge here, while neither Lebanon nor Syria recognise Israel, seeing instead Palestine across their border. In the foreground of the picture, taken from near the 13th-century Crusader-era Nimrod Castle, lie the Golan Heights, Syrian territory seized by Israel in 1967 and held in another war six years later. In the distance, lie the Hezbollah strongholds that saw heavy fighting in the 2006 war with Israel.

Captured Israeli soldier’s parents take protest to Olmert’s doorstep


Dubbed Israel’s most polite protesters by one Israeli newspaper columnist, the parents of captured soldier Gilad Shalit have set up a protest tent outside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Jerusalem residence to press for his release.



Shalit, 22, has been held since 2006 by militants from Hamas and two other groups who tunnelled into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Hamas has demanded Israel release hundreds of its members held in Israeli prisons in exchange for the soldier.

The music stops for ‘Waltz’


In one of the biggest surprises on Oscar night, the animated Israeli documentary Waltz with Bashir did not walk away as many expected with the famed statuette in the Foreign Film category, which instead went to Japanese film Departures.

Even the star of Departures acknowledged he was expecting Waltz with Bashir to win the Academy Award.

from Global News Journal:

Twittering from the front-lines

Who remembers the Google Wars website that was doing the viral rounds a few years back – a mildly amusing, non-scientific snapshot of the search-driven, internet world we live in?

It lives on at where you can enter two search terms, say ‘Lennon vs. McCartney’ or ‘Left vs. Right’, and let the internet pick a winner by the number of search hits each word gets.