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News And Features Articles

Mossad enlists ultra-orthodox volunteers amid split over army service

Israel’s intelligence services are trying to entice the country’s ultra-orthodox community into service in an attempt to calm tensions over the military exemptions made for the religious minority. Non-orthodox Israelis, who all serve from the age of 18, have grown increasingly tired of the state benefits given to the ultra-orthodox Haredim who instead dedicate their life to the study of the religious texts.

Israeli police ‘use George Floyd brutality’ against protesters

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s hard-right national security minister, has been accused of fostering a culture of police brutality in trying to crack down on protests against the government. Ben-Gvir, leader of the Jewish Power party and the most radical member of Binyamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, has secured a guarantee that he will soon be given control of a new “national guard” of volunteers. Before that, however, he is said to have started a sweeping overhaul of the police force.

Iran launches militia patrol to crack down on abortions

Iran has ordered a notorious paramilitary group to patrol towns and cities to crack down on abortions, as the regime worries about the country’s declining population. The “abortion patrol”, or “Nafs”, meaning “life” in Persian, was announced by Saber Jabari Faruji, an official from the Ministry of Health, who warned that those involved in illegal abortions will be dealt with “severely”, with medical staff having their licences revoked.

Iran wins UN human rights role despite wave of executions

Iran has been invited to chair the 2023 social forum of the UN human rights council, despite months of crackdowns on protesters that have left hundreds of civilians dead. The appointment of Ali Bahreini, Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, has been met with outrage by rights campaigners who say the dictatorship — which has also executed more than 200 Iranians since January — has no right to lead a global human rights forum.

Iran puts treasured sites on sale to ease debt in face of sanctions

Some of Iran’s most ancient historical treasures are being put up for an online auction to reduce state debt in the face of crippling sanctions. Nineteen locations will be put on sale on May 22 by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts. The decision has been condemned by experts. Mohammad Gharipour, one of Iran’s leading architectural historians, said the plan was “extremely worrisome and appears to have been hastily made”.

Iranian film and sports stars banned from leaving country

Iranian film stars, sports personalities and celebrities have been banned from leaving the country, had their bank accounts frozen and wages cut, according to leaked documents that reveal the depth of the regime's crackdown. Dozens of famous Iranians have been penalised for supporting the women's rights protests that have taken place since last year, secret documents seen by the Telegraph show, with punishing sanctions including “disconnecting their communication”.

Iranian mullahs use spy cameras to catch hijab refuseniks

Iran has begun a nationwide CCTV surveillance operation to catch women refusing to wear the compulsory Islamic head covering in the wake of a nationwide uprising. Since unrest began in September following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in the custody of the Iranian morality police, women across the country have defied the regime in a mass rebellion. Women can now be seen in public places without the headscarf, in addition to innumerable others burning them in public, rejecting the strict dress

Saudi dissident in UK says there is a bounty on his head

A Saudi Arabian security officer turned dissident who fled to London after he criticised his country’s human rights record has claimed there is a bounty on his head. Colonel Rabih Alenezi, a member of Saudi Arabia’s security service, posted a video on Twitter last month announcing that he was abandoning his post over “dangerous violations to human rights” and “the reckless policies and political indiscretions” of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS.

Israeli protests over Netanyahu’s judicial reforms escalate

A record 120 demonstrations took place across Israel on Saturday and elite military reservists said they would refuse to turn up for duties as protests against proposed controversial reforms by Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, escalated. Thousands of demonstrators opposing legislation that could essentially make the government unaccountable to the legal system were attacked by right-wing and religious extremists with tear gas, pepper spray and iron bars amid the clashes.

Binyamin Netanyahu defies mass protests with vow to fulfil mandate

Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, has vowed his government will “fulfil our mandate” despite a weekend of historic mass demonstrations against his plans to curb Israel’s judiciary. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in cities across the country on Saturday, in what organisers claimed were the biggest protests in Israel’s history. More than 240,000 marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday, with 50,000 on the streets of the northern city of Haifa.

Hijab protests sow doubt and confusion among Iran’s revolutionary guards

Forces in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are beginning to feel “doubt and confusion” after almost five months of anti-regime demonstrations, senior officers have admitted. Compounding this sense of frustration is their pay. The salaries of IRGC soldiers are a quarter of their counterparts in Lebanon’s Hezbollah forces, Iran’s most powerful Middle East proxy, according to sources.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard given extra billions as economy collapses

Iran’s feared state security forces, which have played a violent role in suppressing nationwide protests, have been allocated $3 billion in the latest budget, despite the country’s collapsing economy. Announced several weeks late by the government, the budget for the state militia, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has been raised by 28 per cent. Some experts estimate the actual income of the militia could be as high as $17 billion.

Inside Israel’s booming boutique hotels

The Israeli hotel industry has undergone a dramatic transformation since the pandemic began. An array of boutique hotels are emerging and proving to be tough competition to some of the global brands which, for decades, have dominated the landscape. Until now, that is. One of the major players behind this shift which is challenging the status quo is Leon Avigad, co-founder of Brown Hotels, a home-grown Israeli brand taking the country by storm, and now expanding rapidly into Europe too.
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