In a surprise move, Benjamin Netanyahu forced out his long-serving defence minister, Moshe Yaalon. As he stepped down, Yaalon warned: “Extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel.” He was referring partly to his expected successor: Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose trademark outbursts have included demands to bomb Egypt and behead disloyal Palestinian citizens. But Yaalon was also condemning extremism closer to home, in Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

“I am sure one day I will return to Saffuriya,” Ameen Muhammad Ali says of a Palestinian village only two kilometres outside Nazareth that Israel destroyed during the Nakba in 1948. He pauses, then chuckles as he injects a note of realism: “If not me, then my son – and if not my son, then my grandson.” Unlike the majority of refugees from the 1948 war, 81-year-old Abu Arab lives near his former village, in a neighbourhood of Nazareth whose residents are all refugees from Saffuriya or their descendants.

Israel is stepping up its efforts to seize control of Palestinian heritage sites and antiquities in the occupied territories in violation of international law, Palestinian and Israeli archaeologists warned this week. The experts echoed criticisms levelled against Israel in a recent resolution passed by the United Nations’ cultural agency, UNESCO, that accused Israel of interfering with major holy sites in occupied areas.

There is no bigger taboo in Israel than comparing the state of Israel to Nazi Germany. And yet that is precisely what Yair Golan, the deputy head of the Israeli military, did during a speech to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. There is now a palpable fear among army commanders like Golan that they are losing control over their soldiers – and with it any hope of holding on to their much-cherished claim to be the “most moral army in the world”.

Zionism’s roots help us interpret Israel today

9 May 2016

Israel and its supporters would prefer we forget that, before the rise of the Nazis, most Jews deeply opposed a future in which they were consigned to Palestine. What they feared was that the creation of a Jewish state in a far-flung territory in the Middle East, as the Balfour Declaration promised, dovetailed a little too neatly with the aspirations of Europe’s anti-Semites, then much in evidence, including in the British government.

In Israel, an ugly tide sweeps over Palestinians

25 April 2016

In Israel’s evermore tribal politics, there is no such thing as a “good” Arab – and the worst failing in a Jew is to be unmasked as an “Arab lover”. Or so was the message last week from Isaac Herzog, head of Israel’s so-called peace camp. In the current climate, Herzog and his opposition party Zionist Union have found themselves highly uncomfortable at having in their midst a single non-Jewish legislator.

Rise in Palestinian children held by Israel ‘alarming’

24 April 2016

A jabbing pain in his shoulder and thigh roused Obada from his sleep at 3am. In the half-light, the 15-year-old could make out eight masked men surrounding his bed, their rifles pointed at him. “I felt terrified,” he said of the experience. Obada is one of more than 100 Palestinian children who in recent months have found themselves dragged from bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, according to children’s right groups.

Israeli paramedics accused of medical violations

19 April 2016

There is mounting evidence that Israeli ambulance crews are withholding treatment from Palestinians injured during a wave of attacks over the past six months. Physicians for Human Rights in Israel found that wounded Palestinians had been left untreated for as long as two hours. In some cases, it is believed medical teams failed to tend to the injuries of suspected attackers as revenge, in the expectation that they would die from their wounds.

Spymaster’s final interview reveals deep rift in Israel

11 April 2016

If revenge is a dish best served cold, then Meir Dagan must have relished his retribution on Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu – it was delivered from beyond the grave. In damning posthumous remarks, the former Mossad chief described Netanyahu as a man trapped in self-delusion, and “the worst manager I knew”. Their falling out centred on Netanyahu’s belligerent posturing over Iran.

Israel’s ‘Bible Trail’: Demolishing Palestinian homes to make national parks

9 April 2016

As Israeli authorities declare “national parks” over residential areas in East Jerusalem, thousands of Palestinians living in overcrowded neighbourhoods close by the Old City are being trapped in a planning nightmare. Human-rights group accuse the officials of increasingly using such parks as a tool to grab control of Palestinian land and demolish homes, under the guise of archaeological preservation and tourism development.

Israel’s war on the Arabic language

7 April 2016

Israel’s one in five citizens whose mother tongue is Arabic are increasingly fearful of using it in public as hostility has mounted towards the language from both officials and the Jewish public, human rights groups have warned. The alert comes as lawyers have threatened the municipality of Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, with a contempt of court action for failing to include Arabic on most of the city’s public signs – 14 years after the Israeli supreme court ordered it to do so.

Execution of Palestinian exposes Israel’s military culture

4 April 2016

It might have been a moment that jolted Israelis to their senses. Instead the video of an Israeli soldier shooting dead a young Palestinian man as he lay wounded and barely able to move has only intensified the tribal war dance of the Israeli public. This was not a killing in the fog of war; it was a cold-blooded execution – a war crime. And yet, for most Israelis the soldier is the victim of this story.

Parents protest as dream of bilingual education in Israel turns sour

26 March 2016

In a classroom on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, young Israeli children – Jewish and Palestinian – play and study together, casually chatting and joking in a mix of Hebrew and Arabic. The opening of the first bilingual classrooms in Israel’s largest city was celebrated with great excitement last September. But only months into the educational experiment the mood has soured. Hundreds of parents staged a protest this month, chanting “All children are equal”.

Decades on, Israel tries to bury its darkest times

22 March 2016

Details of the biggest massacre committed by Israeli soldiers during the 1948 war have finally surfaced, decades after the documentation was locked away. Israel is still trying to silence its army’s new generation of whistleblowers, even in an age of 24-hour news and social media. But Israel must face facts: the days when such systematic brutality could be kept under wraps are now over.

Appointment of Israeli spokesman viewed as snub to US

18 March 2016

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the appointment of a new foreign media adviser and spokesman this week, the latest in a series of moves viewed as snubs to the Obama White House. US-born David Keyes replaces Mark Regev, who became familiar to English-language audiences as the voice of the Netanyahu government during Israel’s repeated attacks on Gaza.

Israeli textbook ‘bad for Arabs, bad for Jews’

10 March 2016

Leaders of Israel’s large Palestinian minority have begun creating an alternative syllabus for Arab schools, in what they are terming “a revolutionary” step towards educational autonomy. It will be the first time in Israel’s history that the Palestinian minority has tried to wrest control of the curriculum taught in Arab schools from the Israeli education ministry. The move follows controversial revisions to the civics textbook.

Report on Israel’s aid subversion makes shocking reading

8 March 2016

Shir Hever, who has spent years piecing together the murky economics of the occupation, has published a new report that makes shocking reading. Like others, he believes international aid has allowed Israel to avoid footing the bill for its occupation. But he goes further. His conclusion is that at least 78 per cent of humanitarian aid intended for Palestinians ends up in Israel’s coffers.

Emerging from a ‘reign of terror’: Palestinians in Israel hold first BDS conference

3 March 2016

Israel’s large Palestinian minority held its first-ever conference on BDS in defiance of anti-boycott legislation introduced five years ago that exposes activists to harsh financial penalties. One participant called it a sign that the Palestinian minority was slowly emerging from the law’s “reign of terror”. The question of how feasible it is for Israel’s 1.6 million Palestinian citizens to promote BDS was high on the conference agenda.

Israel accused of trickery to snatch refugee lands

26 February 2016

Palestinian leaders in Israel have warned that they suspect the Israeli government is behind recent efforts to trick the families of refugees from the 1948 war into signing away the rights to their lands. Experts say Israel has been working to pressure families into selling their lands for decades as a way to undermine a Palestinian right of return, one of the key demands in any peace agreement.

Israel is on the brink of a tyranny of the majority

23 February 2016

Benjamin Netanyahu is effectively legislating the expulsion of the Balad party and throwing down a gauntlet to the courts. It won’t end there. If Balad is unseated, the participation of the other Joint List factions will be untenable. In effect, the Israeli right is seeking to ethnically cleanse the parliament.