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Ex-Israeli PM Olmert makes video plea before entering jail

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert released a video statement insisting on his innocence before entering prison to begin a 19-month sentence for corruption.

Ehud Olmert, who appeared in a blue shirt in his video plea, will wear a prison uniform and have two cellmates but will be segregated from the general prison population for security reasons. Credit: RTV

The 70-year-old - who was credited with working towards peace with the Palestinians while in office from 2006 to 2009 - is the first former head of government in Israel to go to prison.

"As prime minister I was charged with the highest responsibility of safeguarding Israel's citizens. Today I am the one to be locked behind bars," he said in a video released to the media.

Olmert entered Maasiyahu prison near Ramle, south of Tel Aviv, after arriving in a motorcade protected by bodyguards assigned to former leaders. Credit: Reuters

"At this time, it is important for me to say once more, as I did in court and outside it, that I completely deny the bribery charges I was accused of," Olmert said in the video.

Olmert had his initial six-year sentence cut by Israel's Supreme Court in December. A separate eight-month jail term is pending since his conviction last May in another case related to cash payments he was alleged to have received from an American businessman.


Palestinian woman shot dead by Israeli security forces

The incident happened near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Credit: Google Maps

A Palestinian woman who allegedly tried to stab a soldier was shot dead by Israeli security forces on Saturday, Israel's military has said.

No Israelis were injured in the attack, which happened in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

"An assailant drew a knife and attempted to stab a soldier," the army said in a statement. "Responding to the attack, forces fired at the perpetrator, resulting in her death."

The army said the incident occurred near Hebron's shared religious site known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, a site of frequent friction between the sides.

Since the start of October, 27 Israelis have been killed during a series of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings. According to Israeli authorities, at least 158 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the same period.

Palestinian peace negotiator arrested for spying

Palestinian officials say they have arrested a member of their peace negotiating department for spying for Israel.

The man, whose name was not released, is part of the management staff in the umbrella Palestinian Liberation Organisation's (PLO) negotiations department and is accused of "collaborating with Israel", a security official told Reuters news agency.

Palestinians take part in a protest just outside Jerusalem's Old City Credit: Ammar Awad/Reuters

Another official said the suspect had been arrested two weeks ago.

The development likely to deepen distrust between the sides at a time of deadlocked diplomacy and simmering street violence.

Israeli officials did not immediately respond.


Lawyer: Tel Aviv gunman was 'mentally unstable'

A bullethole is seen in the window of a restaurant at the scene of a shooting in Tel Aviv. Credit: Reuters

A lawyer who says he is the relative of a man alleged to be responsible for a fatal shooting in Tel Aviv has told reporters the gunman is mentally unstable rather than politically militant.

Speaking to Channel 2, Arab-Israeli lawyer Sami Melhem said he had previously represented the suspect in a case where he was jailed for attempting to steal a firearm from an Israeli soldier.

Melhem said the 28-year-old suspect shooter was "not sane, to the best of my knowledge since I represented him he has received treatment.

"He is receiving treatment. Recently he has been going around in the street as an insane person."

Asked if the suspect had radical religious tendencies, Melhem said: "I do not know."

A court order is reportedly banning Israeli media from reporting some aspects of the ongoing investigation, including releasing the name of the suspect.

Israeli police hunt for Tel Aviv attacker

Police searched buildings near the scene of the shooting Credit: Reuters

Israeli police are searching buildings in central Tel Aviv close to the scene of the shooting and examining CCTV footage in order to track down a gunman who killed two people and wounded five others.

Nati Shakked, the owner of the Simta bar on Dizengoff Street, which was hit by gunfire in the attack, said the assailant had waited on a bench outside before taking a machine-gun out of a bag and "shooting in every direction".

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