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Culture & Living, Israel


There are confirmed reports that Israeli forces have surrounded the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem after it was reportedly stormed by Jewish groups Al Jazeera reported.

Witnesses inside the mosque told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that Israeli forces had detained several Palestinian Muslim worshippers inside and were firing tear gas.

Witnesses also reported clashes between a Jewish group and Israeli forces near the mosque after a number of far-right Jews stormed it.


Israel has given approval for the building of more than 1,000 new homes in Jewish settlements, and is to publish a call for tenders from contractors, the Housing Ministry said Sunday, dpa reported.

Israel also okayed the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a broader prisoner release designed to jump-start the peace process.

The announcements came ahead of the planned resumption of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem on Wednesday.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet approved Sunday a draft bill that would enlist more ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, dpa reported.

Fourteen ministers voted in favour of the legislation, which now has to pass three readings in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, before becoming law. Four ministers abstained and none voted against.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid called it "a historic day."

"After 65 years, we finally end this distortion. We are all very excited," he told reporters.


Four people were killed and at least three injured Monday in a bank robbery in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, police and first aid officials said, dpa reported.

The casualties were found lying outside the bank, Zaki Heller, spokesman for Israel's Magen David Adom first aid service, told Channel 2 television.

He said one of the injured, a man, was in serious condition with gunshots to the upper body. Two women were treated for shock.

Channel 2 reported that at least one robber entered the bank and when people inside tried to overpower him, he opened fire.


An Israeli-Palestinian peace was possible, necessary and just, President Barack Obama said Thursday, DPA reported.
Addressing 1,000 young Israelis in Jerusalem, he said this did not mean that peace was guaranteed or likely, but said there was "an opportunity" and there was "a window."

The President quoted former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as saying that if Israel insisted on controlling the entire biblical land of Israel, it would end up losing it all.


Israel launched two Palestinians-only bus lines in the occupied West Bank on Monday, a step an Israeli rights group described as racist and which Israel's Transport Ministry called an improvement in service Maan reported.

"Creating separate bus lines for Israeli Jews and Palestinians is a revolting plan," Jessica Montell, director of the B'Tselem rights group, said on Army Radio. "This is simply racism. Such a plan cannot be justified with claims of security needs or overcrowding."


Israel has advanced the process of building 942 more settler homes in East Jerusalem under a new fast-track plan to tighten its grip on the territory, which the Palestinians seek to have as the capital of Palestine Al Jazeera reported.

A government planning committee on Monday moved the project to the advanced stage of asking contractors to submit bids to build them, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

Once a bid is awarded, construction can begin on the project in the Gilo area, though it can take months, if not longer, to reach that point.


Israel has approved a construction plan to build 1,500 housing units in annexed East Jerusalem, prompting the Palestinians to warn they would seek a UN Security Council meeting on the issue Al JAzeera reported.

Efrat Orbach, Israel's interior ministry spokeswoman, said on Monday that the ministry's planning committee had given developers the go-ahead but told applicants to trim their request to build 1,600 new housing units at Ramat Shlomo to 1,500 and resubmit it "for final approval".


Thousands of Palestinians have attended a rare Hamas rally in the city of Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank celebrating the 25th anniversary of the group's founding and its recent "victory" over Israel in Gaza, Aljazeera reported.

"Our message is that Hamas is here, on the ground and in the heart of our people"

- Hosni al-Burini, Hamas MP

The rally is the first time that the West Bank's ruling Palestinian Authority (PA), which is dominated by Hamas rival Fatah, has allowed such a gathering since 2007.


Israel should reverse its decision to build 3,000 new homes in the West Bank, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday, dpa reported.