October 27th, 2012
08:05 PM ET

Israeli airstrike hits Hamas target

An Israeli airstrike east of Khanunis City in Gaza early Sunday left a 25-year-old man dead and another militant seriously injured, according to medical sources and the military wing of Hamas.

The two belonged to Hamas’ Izzedine al Qassam brigade, which three hours earlier fired mortars into Israel.

The airstrike reportedly occurred after an Israeli incursion into Palestinian territory.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
October 24th, 2012
11:30 AM ET

Sudan blames Israel for weapons factory blast

Sudan says Israel bombed a weapons factory overnight, killing two people.

Sudanese officials originally said the explosion took place inside the facility near a residential area in southern Khartoum.  But by afternoon, officials announced that the blast came after four airplanes flew overhead.  A resident told CNN he saw two planes and a flash of light coming from them, followed by the sounds of rockets being fired.


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Filed under: Gaza • Israel • Palestinians • Sudan • World
October 24th, 2012
09:02 AM ET

Israel vows punishment for rocket attacks

[Updated at 12:40 p.m.] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel "neither chose nor initiated this escalation, but if it continues we are prepared for much more extensive and deeper action. In any case, we will continue with preventative operations. Whoever intends to attack Israeli citizens needs to know that he will bear the consequences."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured areas hit by rockets in southern Israel and said the military "is working efficiently against all the terror elements.  Since the beginning of the month, 15 active terrorists have been killed in the act, and more have been injured."  He wished a speedy recovery to those injured by rockets fired from Gaza.  "Hamas will receive its punishment for what has happened here," he vowed, promising that Israel will "work with patience and level-headedness."

"There is no way to eliminate the hatred or hostility entrenched in Hamas. But the IDF will act on the border, from the air, and in any other necessary way in order to strike down those who attempt to cause us harm," he said.

[Updated at 9:02 a.m. ET] As dozens of Palestinian rockets rained down on southern Israel, the country's air force carried out new raids on positions in Gaza on Wednesday. Two days of air strikes have so far killed four Palestinians.


FC Barcelona invites Palestinians to Madrid match after Gilad Shalit row
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sidetracking "El Clásico," a game normally known for featuring the world's biggest stars.
September 28th, 2012
03:46 PM ET

FC Barcelona invites Palestinians to Madrid match after Gilad Shalit row

It's not often a sporting event can stoke the tensions of one of the world's longest-running conflicts, but news that an ex-prisoner and Israeli soldier would attend a Spanish soccer match next month did just that.

Gilad Shalit, who was freed in October 2011 after more than five years as a Palestinian prisoner, is expected to attend next month's "El Clásico," a match between Spanish powerhouses FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. This game, which will be played at Barcelona's Camp Nou on October 7, is one of the world's biggest rivalries.

Despite several reports that Barcelona had extended the invitation to Shalit, the club announced in a Thursday statement that wasn't the case.

Gilad Shalit is expected to attend next month's soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

"The Club did not invite Mr. Shalit to the game, but accepted a request to watch a match during his visit to Barcelona," the statement said.

Barcelona said it also accepted a Palestinian Embassy request that three of its delegates - Palestinian Authority Ambassador Musa Amer Odeh, Palestinian Football Union President Jibril Rajoub and soccer player and activist Mahmoud Sarsak - be invited to the game.

Though the club statement said the three would attend, the Palestinian-run blog, The Electronic Intifada, cited two reports saying that Sarsak would reject the invitation.

Sarsak was freed from an Israeli prison in June following a three-month hunger strike. The player's refusal to eat prompted Amnesty International to issue a statement saying Sarsak should be released or provided with medical treatment.


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Filed under: Human rights • Israel • Palestinians • Soccer • Sports • World
July 4th, 2012
07:46 AM ET

Arafat belongings test high for radioactivity, scientist says

Scientific tests have found unusually high levels of the radioactive substance polonium-210 in some of the personal effects of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, one of the scientists involved in the study said Wednesday.

The results do not mean that Arafat suffered radiation poisoning, François Bochud told CNN.

Some details in Arafat's medical records are not consistent with polonium poisoning, he explained.

"We have evidence there is too much polonium, but we also have hints from the medical records that this may not be the case. The only way to resolve this anomaly would be by testing the body," said Bochud, director of Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland.


Filed under: Middle East • Palestinians
Hamas says military wing agrees to cease-fire with Israel
The remains of a rocket launched from Gaza are embedded in the ground Tuesday near the kibbutz of Yad Mordechay.
June 20th, 2012
04:33 PM ET

Hamas says military wing agrees to cease-fire with Israel

[Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET] The Palestinian group Hamas says its military wing has agreed to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Israel following a sharp increase in violence between the two sides.

In a statement posted early Wednesday, Hamas - which controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza - says it will observe the cease-fire as long as Israel remains committed to the agreement.

There was no immediate response to the cease-fire announcement from Israel, which said more than 75 rockets had been fired into its territory from Gaza in the past three days. Six Palestinians and one Israeli died between Sunday and Tuesday in a spate of rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes, officials on both sides reported; Israel also said a Palestinian child was killed when a rocket launch attempt by militants backfired.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
May 14th, 2012
12:45 PM ET

Israel reaches deal with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike

A group representing Palestinian prisoners has reached a deal with Israel to end a hunger strike.

The agreement, brokered by Egypt, involves Israel taking steps to ease conditions, Palestinian officials said.

Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, confirmed that an agreement was reached and said the hunger strike will end.

"I am glad it's over. I am glad nobody died," he said.

Ziad Abu Ein, the Palestinian deputy minister of detainees and ex-detainees, said Israel agreed that all Palestinian prisoners who are currently in solitary confinement will be moved out and into other jail cells.

Also, Israel will allow families from the West Bank and Gaza to visit inmates, he said.

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April 17th, 2012
07:59 AM ET

1,500 Palestinian prisoners start hunger strike

About 1,500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli detention began an open-ended hunger strike Tuesday as Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza gathered in various events to observe the annual Prisoners' Day, marking solidarity for the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

The Palestinian Prisoner's Association Club, an inmate advocacy group, said there were 1,500 prisoners taking part in the hunger strike and suggested that more from a range of Palestinian political factions were expected to follow.

"The Palestinian detainees who are on hunger strike are protesting Israel's treatment to prisoners inside the Israeli prisons," said Amani Sarahna, a club spokeswoman. "They are protesting Israel's policy of administrative detention and solitary confinement for prisoners for months at a time. They are protesting the arbitrary fines imposed on prisoners by the Israeli authority, the prevention of families especially of those from Gaza."

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
January 3rd, 2012
10:05 AM ET

Israeli, Palestinian officials meet in Jordan to relaunch negotiations

Israeli and Palestinian representatives are holding talks in Jordan Tuesday in an effort to relaunch negotiations between the two sides after more than a year of deadlock.

Israel's special envoy, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat are meeting in Amman with representatives of the Middle East Quartet - made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

Peace talks between the two sides fell apart more than a year ago over disagreements on the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

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Filed under: Israel • Jordan • Palestinians
January 3rd, 2012
12:30 AM ET

Israeli, Palestinian officials to meet in Jordan to relaunch negotiations

Israeli and Palestinian representatives are expected to meet in Jordan on Tuesday in an effort to relaunch negotiations between the two sides after more than a year of deadlock, Jordanian state media reported.

Netanyahu's special envoy, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, and Erakat will meet in Amman with representatives of the Middle East Quartet - made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

Peace talks between the two sides fell apart more than a year ago over disagreements on the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

In September, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a bid for the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state, a move Israel called premature without direct talks that address its long-standing security concerns.

Filling the vacuum left open by the removal of Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Abdullah has taken a more active role in trying to bridge the gulf between Israelis and Palestinians.

In November, King Abdullah made a rare visit to the Palestinian political capital of Ramallah in the West Bank followed by a meeting in Amman a week later with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

While both sides thanked the Jordanian government for its role in bringing about the meeting, few are expecting any serious breakthroughs.

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Filed under: Israel • Middle East • Palestinians • World
December 18th, 2011
05:43 PM ET

Palestinians rejoice as Israel releases another 550 prisoners

Thousands of Palestinians celebrated the release Sunday night of 550 inmates from Israeli prisons, part of the second phase of the deal that won the freedom of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The revelry in the Mukataa compound in Ramallah - the long-timehome to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat - ran late into the night. Tayeb Abdel Rahim, general-secretary in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office, was among those officials greeting the line of freed prisoners, as they all paid their respects at Arafat's grave.

Hamas' armed wing, the Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, welcomed the news even as they, like Rahim and other Palestinian leaders, continued to push for the release of others in Israeli custody.

"It's a great accomplishment, but it's not the end," brigade spokesman Abu Obieda said Sunday night. "We will work toward liberating all our prisoners."

The Israel Defense Forces said in a news release Sunday night that the International Red Cross assisted in the release process, which it noted at 10:30 p.m. had been "completed."

Israeli military says it boarded 2 Gaza-bound aid ships
An Israeli navy vessel patrols off the southern port of Ashdod on July 19.
November 4th, 2011
10:39 AM ET

Israeli military says it boarded 2 Gaza-bound aid ships

[Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET] Israeli sailors boarded two aid ships headed to the Palestinian territory of Gaza, the military said Friday, and no resistance was reported.

The Israel Defense Forces earlier said that the activists on board the "Freedom Waves" mini-flotilla were "attempting to break the maritime security blockade that is in place in accordance with international law" and were refusing to heed their calls to turn back.

"The boarding was carried out in line with directives from the Israeli government and after all attempts to prevent the vessels from reaching the Gaza Strip were made, but to no avail," the IDF said.

"The boarding was carried out following numerous calls to the activists on board and during different points at sea. Following their unwillingness to cooperate, and after ignoring calls to divert to the port of Ashdod, the decision was made to board the vessels and lead them there."

The IDF said the sailors "took every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of the activists on board the vessels as well as themselves."

"Upon arrival of the vessels at the Ashdod port, the activists will be transferred to the custody of the Israel Police and immigration authorities in the Ministry of Interior."

According to the activist organizers, this mission was the eleventh attempt to run Israel's blockade of Gaza by sea. Five missions arrived safely in Gaza between August and December 2008, with the rest intercepted by Israel.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
October 31st, 2011
12:05 PM ET

U.N. agency approves full Palestinian membership

The U.N. agency focusing on education and science voted Monday to accept a Palestinian bid for full membership, in the first vote on the matter by a part of the world body.

The vote, which required two-thirds approval by UNESCO members, passed with 107 votes in favor, 14 against, and 52 abstentions.

The vote is separate from the Palestinian bid for full membership in the United Nations. Representatives of several countries pointed out that currently that bid is being discussed by members of the U.N. Security Council.

Huge applause broke out at the meeting in Paris when the results of the vote were announced.

The vote risks the agency - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - losing its U.S. funding, which accounts for more than a fifth of its budget.

Some U.S. lawmakers have threatened to cut off the funding, which a spokeswoman for the U.S. Mission to UNESCO said totals $80 million a year.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians • United Nations
October 29th, 2011
07:29 PM ET

Officials: 10 killed in Gaza, Israel in back-and-forth violence

At least 10 people are dead in Gaza and southern Israel, in a wave of back-and-forth attacks between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants, according to medical and military officials.

The violence began when two Islamic Jihad commanders were among seven militants killed Saturday by Israeli strikes targeting a training camp in Rafah, Gaza, a spokesman for the militant group and medical sources reported.

The Israel Defense Forces said that more than 20 mortars and rockets were subsequently fired into their territory. A 55-year-old man was killed in the rocket attacks and 20 others were injured, according to Zaki Heler, an emergency services spokesman in Israel.

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel • Palestinians
Gilad Shalit story: Exchanging one for many not a first for Israel
A Palestinian prisoner is held aloft by relatives after arriving in Mukata following his release Tuesday in Ramallah, West Bank.
October 18th, 2011
10:11 AM ET

Gilad Shalit story: Exchanging one for many not a first for Israel

Israel is freeing more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds serving life sentences for attacks on Israelis, in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas in 2006. 

Who is Shalit?

The move has prompted many to ask if exchanging many people for one man is unusual. In the past, Israel has exchanged prisoners several times with its neighbors. Overall, Israel has released about 7,000 Arab prisoners over the last 30 years in exchange for 19 living Israelis and the bodies of eight prisoners. Here are some of those instances:

In 1985, three Israeli soldiers held in Lebanon were released, but only after Israel freed 1150 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.

In June 1998, Israel and the South Lebanese Army released 65 prisoners and the remains of 40 Hezbollah guerrillas for the return of the body of an Israeli soldier killed in combat.

In 2004, an Israeli businessman was released along with the remains of three soldiers. In return, Israel freed 436 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners.

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Filed under: Israel • Lebanon • Palestinians
October 18th, 2011
07:40 AM ET

Both Palestinians and Israelis celebrate prisoner swap

The release of more than 400 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one detained Israeli soldier elicited waves of celebration Tuesday, both from relatives of Palestinian prisoners and Israelis anticipating the famed soldier's homecoming.

But the situation remains dicey for Israelis opposing the deal.

Hundreds of Palestinian family members turned out in Gaza and the West Bank to welcome their relatives, with some waving flags of the Islamist group Hamas.

Ahmed Qawasmi, 80, is awaiting the release of his son Amer, who was arrested when he was 17 and has been in jail 24 years.

"I am very, very happy for the release of my son Amer," he said, but added: "The celebrations and happiness won't be complete until all Palestinian prisoners are free from Israeli prisons."

Israel agreed to free a total of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners - 477 on Tuesday, and 550 later this year - in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by Hamas for five years.

Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erakat described "an overwhelming feeling of humanity" Tuesday amid the Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap - and acknowledged that Hamas was able to achieve a deal when the Palestinian Authority could not.

"I have been talking to the Israelis for many, many years about prisoners - the need to release prisoners - and we could not convince," Erakat said.

"It's a good day, and we welcome it (in) the strongest possible terms, and we hope one day we will have nothing but peace on the two sides," he said.

Hassan Mousa, a Hamas leader in the West Bank, echoed Erakat's sentiment.

"This is a great day that (has) brought happiness to all Palestinian people," he said. "It has unified the Palestinian people together. It will free people who have been in Israeli jails more than 34 years and more than 30 years, and many more with high sentences, and will free the women and children alike."

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
October 15th, 2011
09:48 PM ET

Israel releases list of Palestinian prisoners to be swapped

Israel early Sunday released the names of the first group of Palestinian prisoners to be freed in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, setting in motion a process that will allow the public to file objections to specific releases.

The list features 477 names, including those of Ahlam Tamimi, serving life terms for a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem restaurant, and Amneh Muna, who plotted the killing of a 16-year-old Israeli boy in 2001 and received a life sentence.

Israel approved the deal Tuesday night, agreeing to release in two stages 1,027 Palestinians prisoners, including hundreds serving life sentences for attacks on Israelis. The first swap is expected to take place early this week.

Twenty-seven of the prisoners are women. The second stage, which includes 550 prisoners, will occur later this year.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
October 8th, 2011
05:56 PM ET

Arab, Christian graves vandalized in Israeli city

Less than a week after the arson of a mosque in northern Israel, dozens of Christian and Muslim graves were vandalized in an Arab section of the Israeli city of Jaffa.

More thahan 100 graves were vandalized in the Muslim cemetery of al-Kazakhana and at a nearby Christian cemetery in the Ajami neighborhood of Jaffa, according to residents and a CNN producer who visited the locations.

Some of the graves were spray painted with graffiti while others were smashed.

Residents say the vandalism took place Friday evening as the Yom Kippur holiday was beginning in Israel, but police suggested it might have taken place a day or two prior.

On the Radar: 787 delivery, Palestinian statehood, Washington Monument
A 787 painted in ANA colors lands in Japan after a July test flight.
September 26th, 2011
06:01 AM ET

On the Radar: 787 delivery, Palestinian statehood, Washington Monument

Three things you need to know today

ANA Dreamliner: Boeing delivers its first 787 Dreamliner today, handing over the airliner to All Nippon Airways at a ceremony at Boeing's facility in Everett, Washington.

You can follow the events live on Boeing's website beginning at noon ET, 9 a.m. Pacific.

The plane is the first commercial airliner to be made mostly of carbon composites or super durable plastic. Those materials mean a lighter plane that Boeing says could use 20% less fuel than conventional airliners, making way for a more environmentally-friendly and cost effective aircraft option for airlines.

So far, according to Boeing, the manufacturer has more than 800 orders for the 787 Dreamliner, which has a list price of about $200 million each.

The interior of the plane also sports a variety of upgrades. Gone are traditional plane window shades. Instead, a button on the window allows passengers to gradually darken their surroundings.

All Nippon Airways has ordered 55 Dreamliners.

Palestinian statehood: The historic Palestinian bid for statehood goes before the United Nations Security Council Monday, where it looks set for a largely symbolic debate in the face of a promised American veto.

Lebanon's Nawaf Salam, the Security Council president for this month, said he circulated the letter of application to all 15 members of the Security Council last week.

While a U.S. veto would block the bid for full U.N. membership, the General Assembly could still vote to upgrade the status of Palestinians, who currently hold the status of non-voting observer "entity."

The body could change that status to permanent observer "state," identical to the Vatican's standing at the United Nations.

Washington Monument: National Park Service officials will hold a news conference Monday afternoon to offer details on damaged sustained by the Washington Monument during the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the East Coast on August 23.

The service has been working with an engineering firm to determine the extent of the damage and what it will cost to fix it.

The monument has been closed to the public since the earthquake.

September 23rd, 2011
01:43 PM ET

Israel's Netanyahu: 'Peace must be anchored in security'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' address to the United Nations General Assembly, tells the same body that  says Israel has been "singled out for condemnation" more often than "all the nations of the world combined."

"The truth is Israel wants peace," he said. But "peace must be anchored in security."

Netanyahu said Palestinians' application for U.N. membership should be rejected because Israel and the Palestinians need to clinch a peace deal first, and that, he said, can only be reached through negotiation for a two-state solution that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinians must "first make peace with Israel, and then get their state."

After a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome Palestinians as a full member of the U.N., but the first.

He said prior Israeli concessions did not "calm the militant Islamic storm that threatens us," and that the concessions only brought militants "closer to us."

Earlier Friday, Abbas submitted Palestinians' application for full U.N. membership. The United States has pledged to veto the application should a vote occur in the body's Security Council.

The United States, however, would not be able to veto any Palestinian effort to go before the General Assembly, rather than the Security Council, to gain a lesser-than-full-member status: that of "permanent observer state."

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians • United Nations
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