Israeli convicted of spying for Iran
As Israel remains preoccupied with the looming nuclear threat from Iran, an Iranian-born Israeli was convicted in a Tel Aviv court for spying for Tehran. The Jerusalem Post reports:
The man, 55, who could not be named due to a court-imposed gag order, was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport on May 8 by the Shin Bet, and the police's Serious and International Crimes Unit.
Police said the suspect, who is said to live abroad, told his interrogators that he visited the Iranian consulate regularly in Istanbul.
"The suspect agreed to cooperate with Iranian intelligence officials. He gave them names of people he knew and claimed they were working for Israeli security forces," the police said.
So many Palestinians, so little money
A sign of the hapless condition of the Palestinians came as employees of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank went on strike to protest the nonpayment of their salaries. The money, it seems, went to the Gaza Strip, which remains devastated by its war with Israel. Al Jazeera reports:
Bassam Zakarna, the head of the civil servants' union in the West Bank, said on Sunday that "the strike is complete," with all employees of the territory's political institutions taking part.
"The strike today is a warning, it is a shout out to the Arab countries and those pledged to provide aid to the Palestinian Authority," he said.
Teachers and the police, however, reportedly turned up for regular duty.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayad said Sunday that the government had been unable to pay the workers' salaries on time because the money had been spent on assisting the people of Gaza.
Valentine's Day in Gaza
Love is in the air, though: Israel decided to allow Gazan flower growers to export 25,000 carnations to Europe for Valentine's Day. The hearts of Gazans, however, were not exactly singing. Quoting the Associated Press, the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Alawsat reports:
Mohammed Khalil, head of the Gaza flower growers' association, dismissed the move as "nothing."
Khalil said Gaza used to export 40 million flowers a year, so 25,000 carnations is insignificant.
The flowers will be Gaza's first exports in a year. Israel has blockaded Gaza since Hamas militants seized control of the territory in June 2007.
Israeli military spokesman Maj. Peter Lerner said Israel agreed to let the flowers through at the request of the Dutch government and Gaza farmers.
Lerner called the move an Israeli gesture and said it did not indicate any change in the overall policy toward Gaza.