The recession and lower fuel costs have resulted in airfare prices that have not been seen since 2002. Now, armed with discount air/hotel packages and other incentives, officials of El Al believe they can help revive the flagging tourist trade to Israel.
“We are optimistic about the summer because of the new campaigns we are launching and the lower prices,” said Haim Romano, El Al’s president. “We feel the market is coming back.”
As Lt. Matan Benarush prepared for last December’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip, he called his mother in Ashdod, some 20 miles away.
“I heard [air raid] sirens going off there,” said the 22-year-old Israeli platoon commander.
The sirens had sounded to warn of another rocket attack from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
New York businessman and philanthropist Arnold Goldstein and his wife Arlene have donated $5 million to establish the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Satellite Center at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
Goldstein said the center would be working with robots that could be used for warfare as well as for medical and humanitarian purposes.
Hamas’ offer Monday of a 10-year truce with Israel provided it retreat to its pre-1967 borders and grant the right of return to Palestinian refugees was seen in Israel as nothing more than an attempt to grab headlines.
“They don’t want to be frozen out,” said Asher Susser, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.
Although President Barack Obama called upon Israelis and Palestinians Tuesday to “take steps” towards a peace agreement, Israeli observers question the practicality of such moves now.
And Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon reportedly said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would stress the Iranian issue ahead of the Palestinian one in his talks next month with Obama.
Although Egyptian authorities arrested 49 members of a Hezbollah terrorist cell bent on attacking Israeli tourists and Egyptian institutions, Israeli intelligence experts believe more terrorists are still at large in Egypt.
“There are still squads out there that have not been detained, including 13 operatives the Egyptians are looking for in the central Sinai Peninsula,” said Reuven Ehrlich, director of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center just north of Tel Aviv.
As the new Israeli government begins formulating “new ideas” regarding Palestinian peace initiatives, Israel’s National Infrastructure Minister said it would first demand Palestinian recognition of Israel.
“Any future negotiations will not be with a Palestinian leadership that is unprepared to recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish state,” the minister, Uzi Landau, told The Jewish Week in a phone interview, perhaps indicating that the best diplomatic defense is to go on offense.
As he settles in after officially assuming the post of prime minister on Wednesday, Benjamin Netanyahu may quickly face his first challenge from George Mitchell, America’s special envoy to the Middle East.
Still reeling from charges in the international community that Israel used disproportionate force in its 22-day Gaza offensive, Israelis awoke late last week to a stunning new bombshell: its soldiers had reportedly wantonly killed women and children in Gaza.
And this week, just as Israelis were trying to make sense of it all, came news of a new and disturbing phenomenon — the apparent widespread use among Israeli soldiers of T-shirts that appeared to glorify the murder of civilians.
The expected presentation next week of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is likely to intensify pressure on Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni to join his coalition or face defections, according to political analysts.
Livni insisted in an interview with Israeli media that she would not sit “in a government in which I am a permanent minority,” but Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University, said he heard that refrain before.