Entries in Tel Aviv (5)


Israeli Bus Explodes in Tel Aviv as Diplomats Work Toward Truce

MAJDI FATHI/AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Wednesday.

(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- A bomb ripped through an Israeli bus near the nation's military headquarters in Tel Aviv Wednesday, wounding more than a dozen people, Israeli officials said.

The bus exploded around noon local time in one of the city's busiest areas, near the Tel Aviv museum.  Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said authorities were investigating whether the bomb had been planted and left on the bus or whether it was the work of a suicide bomber.

Overnight, the violence between Israel and the neighboring Gaza Strip continued as Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with dozens of strikes, hitting government ministries, underground tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.  Gaza health officials said there were no deaths or injuries.

The Israeli Defense Force said they've now destroyed 50 underground rocket launching sites in Gaza.  The IDF also said that two rockets were fired from Gaza toward densely populated areas in Israel, but were intercepted by the "Iron Dome" missile shield.

In Gaza, at least four strikes within seconds of each other pulverized a complex of government ministries the size of a city block, rattling nearby buildings and shattering windows.  Hours later, clouds of acrid dust still hung over the area and smoke still rose from the rubble.

In downtown Gaza City, another strike leveled the empty, two-story home of a well-known banker and buried a police car parked nearby in rubble.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah early Wednesday to try to help broker a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip to end a week of tit-for-tat missile and rocket fire.

Israel and the Hamas militant group seemed to edge closer to a ceasefire on Tuesday but after a day of furious diplomatic efforts, a deal remained elusive and fighting raged on both sides of the border.

Israeli officials told ABC News that a window of opportunity for a deal could close if Hamas refuses to agree to a long-term ceasefire.  That ceasefire would be measured in years, not months.  Hamas is demanding that Israel loosen its iron grip on Gaza's borders and ease its maritime blockade.

Clinton will also meet with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo later on Wednesday.  The U.S. will not meet with Hamas because it considers it a terrorist group.

On Tuesday, Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for more than two hours behind closed doors, saying she sought to "de-escalate the situation in Gaza."  Clinton hinted it would take some time to finally reach an agreement.

The meeting came amid statements from Hamas earlier in the day that a ceasefire would soon be announced.  Netanyahu said he would prefer to use "diplomatic means" to find a solution to the fighting, but that Israel would take "whatever actions necessary" to defend its people.

Clinton relayed a message from President Obama, reinforcing America's commitment to Israel's security and calling for an end to the rockets coming from "terrorist organizations in Gaza."

She added that she would reiterate her message to Morsi when they meet later on Wednesday.

The rocket fire between Israel and Hamas, which began seven days ago, has claimed more than 138 Palestinian lives and five Israeli lives.  Half the Palestinian deaths were civilians; four of the five Israelis were civilians.  A ceasefire, if reached, would bring a halt to the worst violence between Gaza and Israel in four years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israeli Man Sets Himself on Fire in Tel Aviv Protest

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An Israeli protester is in serious condition after he poured gasoline on himself and lit himself on fire during a social demonstration on Saturday in Tel Aviv.

The 52-year-old left a letter at the scene that states, “The state of Israel stole from me and robbed me. It left me helpless.”

“Two Housing and Construction Ministry committees rejected me, even though I had a stroke.”

In the letter, he blames “the state of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, for the humiliation that the weakened citizens go through every day, taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

“I can’t afford medication or rent. I paid millions in tax, I served in the army and in the reserves until I was 46. I won’t be homeless and that is why I am protesting against all the wrongs the state imposes on people like me,” he wrote.

Thousands demonstrated in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and several other Israeli cities on Saturday to mark the one-year anniversary of the social protests.

Ofer Barkan, an activist from Haifa, told Haaretz that the man was an activist in last year’s protests and he had threatened to set himself on fire several times.

“We met him last summer. He was a completely normative person who lived in Tel Aviv, but then his business went under,” Barkan said. “He became a cab driver and suffered a stroke which left him unemployed. He moved from Tel Aviv to Haifa because he could not afford life in the city.”

According to Haaretz, protesters will hold a rally for the man on Sunday in Haifa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israeli Women Strip to Support Egyptian Who Posed Nude

Zoonar/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- Thirty-eight Israeli women posed semi-nude on Saturday in Tel Aviv in a gesture of solidarity with Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, the Egyptian activist who posted nude photos of herself on her blog last week and was widely criticized, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.

“I felt that when a liberal, enlightened woman in Cairo cannot express herself and gets threats from her state, I should show solidarity,” Or Tepler, the photo’s organizer, told Ynet.

Tepler, 28, created a Facebook event inviting women to gather and pose for a photo “to show support in a non-violent and legitimate way for a woman who is just like us -- young, ambitious, full of dreams,” according to Ynet.

The women are seen holding a banner saying “Love Without Limits” (in Hebrew) and “Homage to Aliaa Elmahdi. Sisters in Israel.”

Elmahdi has not reacted publicly to the photo. Ynet said an email Tepler sent to Elmahdi was unanswered.

A question posted to Elmahdi’s Facebook page asking for comment on the Israeli photo was unanswered.

The photo adds another layer to the already complicated story of Elmahdy’s post and the reaction to it, a story often pitting individual rights, gender, religion and Egyptian politics against each other.

Many Egyptian liberals denounced Elmahdy, either for violating Egyptian norms against nudity or for giving hard-line conservatives a campaign boost just before crucial parliamentary elections.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hundreds of Thousands Turn Out in Israeli Protests

Jim Hollander - pool/Getty Images(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- It wasn’t the “March of the Million” that organizers had hoped for, but the turnout Saturday night of some 430,000 in social protests across Israel meant it was the biggest demonstration in Israeli history.

Speaking to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, organizer Itzik Shmuli told the hundreds of thousands on Tel Aviv’s Kikar Hamedina, “Mr. Prime Minister, the new Israelis have a dream and it is simple: to weave the story of our lives into Israel. We expect you to let us live in this country. The new Israelis will not give up. They demand change and will not stop until real solutions come.”

The protests that started July 14 now enter a new stage of talks and negotiation. There are calls to take down the tent cities that sprung up almost two months ago, others want to keep them and even reinforce them as winter comes.

The protests have grown in scope over the past three weeks, and so too has the anger.

There is a deep-seated frustration with the government that it isn't holding up its end of the deal on a range of social issues.

“There is much more anger now. At first, we were angry about a moderate situation, and now they’ve shown us that they aren’t going to let it be solved,” said Roee Neuman, organizer of Tel Aviv’s tent city.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police at Israeli Airport on High Alert to Block Pro-Palestinian Activists

Comstock/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- Israel has put a dent in the plans of pro-Palestinian activists to land en masse Friday at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport. More than 200 activists were prevented from boarding their flights in Europe after Israel notified the airlines that the passengers would be denied entry into Israel.

The airlines would have had to foot the bill to fly them back, but another few hundred fly-in activists are beginning to arrive at the airport.  

Israeli officials boarded two such flights and detained more than 30 European activists. Two Americans were deported earlier Friday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor says Israel will continue to detain and deport activists if they give advance notice of their intention to create disturbances.  

But Israel did not wait to hear the intentions of more than 200 European activists it banned outright.  Palestinian organizers of the fly-in solidarity trip condemned the move, insisting that the activists are peaceful. But Israel says some have already participated in violent demonstrations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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