SDEROT Israel (Reuters) – Sitting on a leather sofa in flip-flops and shorts, smoking and eating snacks, a group of middle-aged Israeli men look like they are watching a soccer match on TV, but they are perched atop a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip watching a very different kind of contest.
The buzz of drones flying overhead is interrupted by the blast of rockets fired from the Palestinian enclave. Surrounded by camera crews who rush to catch the action, the men watch for the distant explosions of Israeli air strikes, occasionally offering their commentary on the fighting.
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel bombarded dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, stepping up what it said might become a long-term offensive against Islamist Hamas after a surge in Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns.
Following the worst outbreak of violence along the Gaza frontier since an eight-day war in 2012, the Israeli military said a ground invasion of the enclave was possible, though not imminent, and urged citizens within a range of 40 km (24 miles) of the coastal territory to stay close to bomb shelters.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s prime minister phoned the father of a murdered Palestinian teenager on Monday to promise that the attackers would be prosecuted, the government said, as anger over the killing fuelled Arab street protests.
The burnt body of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair was discovered in a Jerusalem forest last week. Six Jews have been arrested in what police suspect was a revenge attack for the abduction and killing of three Jewish youths.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli lawmakers are pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lift what they call unjustified secrecy over opaque – and rising – funding for settlements on West Bank land Palestinians want for a state.
Unpublished official data reviewed by Reuters suggests state spending on settlers rose by a third after Netanyahu took office in 2009 and critics complain that the cost of settlements has long remained hidden in thickets of budgetary convolution.
HEBRON West Bank (Reuters) – Israeli forces traded gunfire with Palestinians on Thursday, the military said, in the fiercest street battles in the occupied West Bank since a search began for three Israeli teenagers missing for a week.
Hospital officials said three Palestinians suffered bullet wounds in the overnight clashes in Jenin, a militant stronghold and the scene of deadly fighting during a Palestinian uprising a decade ago. There were no reported Israeli casualties.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel is lobbying world powers not to ease their pressure on Iran to curb its disputed nuclear programme should Tehran cooperate with the West in beating back Sunni Muslim insurgencies that have spiralled from Syria into Iraq.
A lightning advance has seen Sunni fighters rout the army of Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government and seize the main cities across the north since last week, prompting Iran, the Middle East’s main Shi’ite power, to state that it is prepared to intervene to defend Shi’ite holy sites in Iraq.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s Defense Ministry has for weeks been engaged in a public battle with the Finance Ministry, which is seeking to slash Israel’s largest budget and dismisses warnings that cuts will make it harder to protect the Jewish state.
The Treasury is seeking an $870 million cut in defense funds, which at about $14.5 billion make up some 17 percent of Israel’s total budget. The Defense Ministry in turn has cautioned it will Israel’s security will be compromised unless its funding is increased.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The United States should change its role in the Middle East peace process allowing for more direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said on Saturday.
The U.S.-brokered peace talks veered toward collapse this week, prompting a warning from Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, that Washington was evaluating whether it was worth continuing its role in the negotiations.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel may impose a partial settlement freeze to keep U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians alive, an Israeli source close to the negotiations said on Tuesday.
The proposed halt to Israeli public construction in the occupied West Bank would be part of a package that includes the release of Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli spy jailed in the United States, and hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel.
JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) – Egypt brokered a ceasefire on Thursday aimed at ending a flare-up of rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli towns and Israeli air strikes in the Palestinian enclave, the Islamic Jihad militant group said.
There was no immediate word from Israel, but a senior Defence Ministry official said earlier in the day he expected the fighting to die down soon.