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Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories

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“Breaking the Silence” Takes on Cast Lead

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ISRAEL/GAZA-CROSSAfter a round of reports and outside critiques of the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead were released two weeks ago, this week the criticism comes from within.

Israeli activist group “Breaking the Silence” has released a new set of testimonies from Israeli soldiers who took part in the Gaza offensive launched this winter.

You can find the entire set of testimonies translated on their website here.

As our correspondent Douglas Hamilton reports, the 30 testimonies collected say that the “Israeli army’s imperative was to minimise its own casualties to ensure Israeli public support for the operation.”

“If you’re not sure, kill. Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad,” says one testimony.

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

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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.

Israel’s Chosen Weapon Against Iran– memory sticks?

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IRAN-ELECTION/FACEBOOKYesterday Reuters reported US President Barack Obama emphatically stating that Joe Biden’s comments this week on ABC were not a “green light” to Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Yet he did reiterrate Biden’s argument that Washington cannot “dictate to other countries what their security interests are.”

If Israel were to decide to try to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, how might it do that? It sounds almost like something from a spy novel, but Reuters’ Dan Williams reports that Israel may use “cyber warfare” to accomplish that goal.

Clear the fog of war… with a quiz

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Israel’s recent offensive in the Gaza Strip, with its heavy toll on Palestinian civilians, inflamed a long-running debate about how the laws of war can be applied to guerrilla-style fighting.

Far from the split-second decision-making of battle, or the raw recrimination of politicians and pundits, one Israeli think-tank is offering a more leisurely way to gauge your understanding of what constitutes a war crime.

Internal Investigation

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As we reported here Israel’s army gave itself a clean bill of health today for its conduct in the recent offensive in Gaza – saying a series of internal investigations had found no evidence of serious misconduct by its soldiers during the campaign.

Human rights groups have cast doubt on these internal investigations and have demanded that the IDF opens itself up to independent investigators to probe numerous allegations of serious misconduct and war crimes that stemmed from the 22-day offensive that Israel launched to counter cross-border rocket attacks from Gaza.

Wanted: an ethical code of war

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    International law governing the conduct of war is based on the traditional model of two armies on a battlefield. It fails to apply effectively to ‘terrorist conflicts’ and provides insufficient response to the ethical dilemmas that arise.

    Until effective international law is developed to regulate the ‘war on terror’, no decisive ethical code will exist. This is not only a challenge for the Israeli military. It is shared by all Western armies fighting to preserve core democratic values.

Breaking Ranks

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Its been two months since Israel ended its 22-day offensive in Gaza – two months during which Israel has been weighing up the costs and the benefits of what was achieved in the fierce fighting.

Strong international condemnation of the offensive – and the slew of boycotts, bans and blunt dioplomacy that have followed – has been met with a mix of incredulity, anger and resignation in Israel.

Send in the drones

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Israel’s economy is, in large part, mirroring what is happening elsewhere in the world – with job losses, factory closures and all the other symptoms of the global financial meltdown. 

One sector though is defying all the odds.

Elbit Systems – an Israeli company that makes electro-optics, airborne systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and command and control systems – announced this week a record 4th quarter with profits rising 32.6 percent and strong forecasts for continued growth in the year ahead.

If Moses had turned right instead of left…

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olmertorangesThere’s an old joke that goes “If Moses had turned right instead of left when he led his people out of the Sinai desert - the Jews would have had the oil and the Arabs would have ended up with the oranges.”

The Land of Milk and Honey it might be – but over the years one major problem for Israel, a tiny strip of land on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, has been energy security.

Top job in the new government? No thanks!

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By Tova Cohen

Though it’s considered one of the top three cabinet posts in Israel’s government,  in these troubled times there seems to be no takers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party for the job of finance minister, according to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily.

Netanyahu, who is in the process of putting together a government after last month’s general election, is seeking to give the finance post to someone in his own party, but senior members are reluctant to step into this “honey trap”, the country’s top selling daily reported.

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