The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Police find 3 vans linked to attacks in Spain
Police in Spain have linked three rental vans to the main fugitive from an Islamic extremist cell that carried out deadly vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a nearby seaside resort.
A police official says that all three vans were rented using the credit card of Younes Abouyaaquoub, the 22-year-old Moroccan suspected of plowing down pedestrians on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade Thursday, killing 13 and injuring 120.
He remains at large and is the subject of a massive manhunt in northeastern Spain.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk about an ongoing investigation, said one of the vans was used in the Barcelona attack. Another was found in Vic, 70 kilometers (44 miles) north of Barcelona on the road to Ripoll, where all the main attack suspects lived. The third was found in Ripoll itself.
Police believe the cell wanted to fill the vehicles with explosives to create a massive attack. The plans changed, however, after the house where their plot was being hatched blew up Wednesday in Alcanar.
Police say stabbing attack in Netanya thwarted
Police say a 21-year-old Palestinian was arrested in Netanya last night with a knife concealed on his person on his way to carry out a stabbing attack in the coastal city.
According to a statement by police spokeswoman Luba Samri, the suspect is a resident of the West Bank city of Tulkarem, and was in Israel illegally.
He told police in questioning that he intended to carry out an attack, the statement says.
He will be brought before the Petah Tivka Magistrate’s Court for a remand hearing later this afternoon.
Police uncover 120 gas canisters for ‘one or more’ attacks in Barcelona
Police say they have found more than 120 gas canisters in a house in Alcanar, where suspects of this week’s twin assaults in Spain were believed to be building bombs for “one or more” attacks in Barcelona.
“We’re starting to see clearly that (the Alcanar house) was the place where they were preparing explosives for one or more attacks in the city of Barcelona,” police chief of Catalonia region Josep Lluis Trapero told journalists.
On the eve of the attack in Barcelona, an explosion had occurred at the house about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of the city, and police believe it was detonated in error by the suspected jihadists.
Iran parliament approves majority of Rouhani cabinet picks
Iranian lawmakers approve 16 cabinet members nominated by recently re-elected President Hassan Rouhani, including the first defense minister unaffiliated with the elite, hard-line Revolutionary Guard in 25 years.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani says 16 of 17 proposed ministers are approved, among them Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. He received 236 votes.
Police say don’t know if Barcelona attack suspect still in Spain
Police do not know if the man suspected of driving the van used in a deadly vehicle attack in Barcelona is still in Spain, the regional police chief tells journalists.
“If we knew that he was in Spain and where, we would go after him. We don’t know where he is,” says Josep Lluis Trapero, referring to 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub.
Injuries as rocket hits near Damascus business fair
Rocket fire injured several people near the entrance to the Damascus International Fair, a key business gathering being held for the first time in five years, Syrian media says.
State television, citing its reporters on the scene, says the rocket hit near the entrance of the exhibition complex where the business fair opened this week.
Catalan government says Spain attack cell ‘neutralized’
The cell which carried out twin vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a seaside town has been “neutralized” even though one of the attackers remains on the run, the Catalan government says.
“The capacity of this cell to act has been neutralized thanks to the work of the police,” regional interior minister Joaquim Forn tells a news conference.
Spanish police: 12 attackers didn’t have known terror ties
A top Spanish police official says there were 12 members of the cell behind the attacks on pedestrians in Barcelona and Cambrils but none “had precedents that linked them to terrorism, including the imam.”
Police official Josep Lluis Trapero tells reporters at a news conference Sunday in Barcelona that “our thesis is that the group had planned one or more attacks with explosives in the city of Barcelona.” But he said officials have no concrete evidence about how a group of young men in the northeastern town of Ripoll were radicalized.
Their families say they had no idea that their sons, brothers or cousins were involved with terror attacks — and were shocked because they seemed like such integrated youths with jobs, cars and studies.
Trapero confirms the one man injured in a house explosion Wednesday in Alcanar was arrested Thursday after the attack in Barcelona. Police believed the house in Alcanar was where the cell plotted its attacks.
Assad says no relations with countries backing rebels
Countries that want to reopen embassies in Damascus or resume ties with Syria’s government must end their support for Syria’s rebels, President Bashar Assad says.
“We are not isolated like they think; it’s their arrogance that pushes them to think in this manner,” says Assad in a speech to members of Syria’s diplomatic corps carried on state television.
“There will be neither security cooperation, nor the opening of embassies, nor a role for certain states that say they want to find a way out (of Syria’s war), unless they explicitly cut their ties with terrorism,” he adds.
The United States and most European countries shut their embassies in Damascus after the government’s bloody crackdown on protests that erupted in March 2011. Ties have remained severed throughout the brutal civil war that followed, which has since killed more than 330,000 people.
Spanish authorities unable to ID bodies at attack cell hub
Spanish authorities say they have been unable to identify remains in a house that exploded in Alcanar, complicating the manhunt for the Barcelona attackers because they are not confident about who is on the run.
Authorities believe the house, which sits on an unpaved road in the seaside town, was occupied illegally by the extremist cell that was behind two attacks on pedestrians in Barcelona and the nearby resort of Cambrils. The attacks Thursday and Friday left 14 dead and over 120 injured.
Police have not publicly identified the bodies from the blast Wednesday, which at first was considered a gas leak but now is thought to be related to terror activities. Police official Josep Lluis Trapero said Sunday the one man injured in the Alcanar explosion was arrested Thursday after the attack in Barcelona.
Alcanar mayor Alfons Montserrat tells Spanish media the house appears to belong to a bank and is in a quiet area with few people around.
Land mine kills 3 Lebanese soldiers near Syria border
Three Lebanese soldiers were killed when a mine exploded under their vehicle in the east of the country along the border with Syria earlier this afternoon, the army says in a statement.
The deaths in the Jurud Arsal area come as the army fights to oust the Islamic State group from a nearby area on the country’s border in an operation that began yesterday.
Court orders release of Sara Netanyahu’s employment details
The Jerusalem District rules the municipality must disclose the details of Sara Netanyahu’s job as a child psychologist within 30 days.
The ruling comes in response to a petition filed by Maariv journalist Ben Caspit.
Caspit is requesting the Jerusalem Municipality release details of Netanyahu’s employment over the past year including the scope of her jobs and the dates she was employed there.
The court also rules the municipality must pay Caspit’s NIS 7,500 in legal fees.
UN warns of more displaced Iraqis as battle to retake IS stronghold begins
The United Nations is warning that thousands of civilians are expected to flee Islamic State-held Tal Afar and surrounding areas where Iraqi security forces have launched an operation to retake the town.
The Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, describes the situation inside Tal Afar as “very tough,” where food and water are running out and people lack the basic necessities. Grande says more than 30,000 people have already fled, but didn’t say since when.
In a statement issued hours after the multi-pronged operation was announced, Grande expressed concerns “about the extreme risks that families are facing” and called on warring parties to protect the civilians.
Tal Afar and the surrounding area is one of the last pockets of IS-held territory in Iraq after victory was declared in July in Mosul.
German police detain 39 over neo-Nazi march in Berlin
Berlin police say 39 people were detained Saturday in connection with a far-right march commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of high-ranking Nazi official Rudolf Hess.
More than 500 neo-Nazis had attempted to march to the site of the former prison in Berlin’s western district of Spandau where Hess died in 1987, but were blocked by left-wing groups and local residents.
Police say that 35 of those detained belonged to the far-right march, while four were taking part in the counter-protest.
Twelve of the far-right protesters are being investigated for displaying forbidden symbols.
Others detained are being investigated for breach of the peace, assault, resisting arrest, drug offenses and breaking the law on public assembly.
The march was accompanied by about 1,000 police officers and passed largely peacefully.
Abbas says Israel holding up resumption of security cooperation
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tells visiting Israeli lawmakers in Ramallah that Israel is preventing the resumption of security cooperation with his government.
“After the Al-Aqsa attack, we stopped cooperation with the Israeli security establishment,” Abbas tells the visiting delegation of lawmakers headed by Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon according to Channel 10. “We recently contacted them to try to resume some kind of cooperation, but they did not respond, which is preventing progress in our relations.”
Abbas says Ramallah has informed the US of the situation.
Palestinian leader says Trump administration ‘in chaos’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he has met with officials from US President Donald Trump’s administration over 20 times since his election in November 2016.
“Each time they reiterate their commitment to a two-state solution and the stop to settlement building, Abbas says. “I urge them to tell Netanyahu that, but they are deterred.”
“I don’t even know how they are dealing with us, because his entire administration is in chaos,” he adds.
Meretz chief tells Abbas cutting off Gaza power ‘wrong’
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon tells Abbas that her party rejects measures taken by Israel and the PA to cut electricity to the Gaza Strip over its unpaid bills,a move that has deteriorated into a full-blown humanitarian crisis.
“I do not support Hamas or the government it established, but the decision to punish the people of Gaza by cutting off electricity is wrong and illegitimate,” Galon says.
“We are here today because we believe in a moderate Palestinian leadership,” Galon tells Abbas during a meeting in Ramallah. “There is no difference between our ideas as partners for peace.”
“We believe in the necessity of ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state along 1967 borders,” she adds.
— with Dov Lieber
Egyptian lawmaker steps back from call to extend president’s term
The Egyptian lawmaker behind a call to amend the constitution to extend the president’s term by two years says the change won’t apply to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s current four-year term.
Sissi has 10 months left in his first term in office. He is barred by the constitution from serving more than two four-year terms.
Any amendment to the relevant clause in the 2014 charter must be approved in a nationwide referendum.
In a partial turnaround, lawmaker Ismail Nasreldeen says in comments published today the proposed amendment will apply to the next president.
Sissi is widely expected to run in 2018.
His predecessor, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown by the military after a year in office. Hosni Mubarak ruled for nearly 30 years until the 2011 uprising.
Missing Australian-British boy, 7, killed in Spain attack
Spanish authorities say they have positively identified three more victims of the van attack in Barcelona, including a 7-year-old boy who has been missing since the rampage Thursday.
National and regional emergency services said Sunday that a boy with dual Australian-British nationality was one of the 13 people killed when a van swerved a pedestrian walkway in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district.
Nacho Solano, spokesman for the Catalan government’s emergency services, confirms that the child was Julian Cadman, an Australian with dual British nationality.
The Australian, Philippines and British governments announced Friday that the 7-year-old son of a woman seriously injured in the attack had become separated from her and was missing.
The other two victims identified were said to be Belgian and Italian. Solano says he could not name them.
Qatar said blocking Saudi planes from transporting pilgrims
Saudi Arabia says Qatar had refused to allow its planes to land in Doha to transport Qatari Muslims to Mecca for the annual hajj pilgrimage.
“Saudi Arabian Airlines director general Saleh al-Jasser has said that the airline has thus far been unable to schedule flights to transport Qatari pilgrims from Hamad International Airport in Doha as Qatari authorities have not allowed the aircraft to land,” according to a report on the SPA news agency.
Saudi Arabia last week reopened its border with Qatar for Muslim pilgrims and said it would transport Qataris to Mecca, three months into a diplomatic crisis that has seen Riyadh cut all ties with Doha over allegations that the emirate supported Islamist extremists.
Man dies in jail cell at Kiryat Gat police station
A man in his fifties has died in his jail cell in a police station in the southern city of Kiryat Gat, police say in a statement.
A police officer was in the cell at the time, the statement says, adding that medical treatment was administered to the man before his death was certified.
The circumstances of the incident are being investigated, police say, and the body has been sent for a full autopsy to determine the cause of death.
— Raoul Wootliff
‘Mother of Satan’ TATP found in Spain bomb factory
Traces of the easy-to-make but deadly explosive TATP — known as the “mother of Satan” — have been found in a house where the alleged attackers in the twin assaults in Spain were believed to be building bombs, police say.
Investigators uncovered ingredients of the explosive at a house in the town of Alcanar, around 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Barcelona, believed to be the terror cell’s bomb-making factory.
Used by jihadists everywhere from Paris and Brussels to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, the dangerously unstable TATP has become the explosive of choice for the Islamic State group, which claimed the attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils.
Iran reformist leader calls for politicians’ release
Iran’s ex-president Mohammad Khatami is asking Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to intervene in the case of two reformist politicians under house arrest without trial for the past six years.
The two high-profile reformists — Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi — have been under house arrest since 2011 for their part in mass protests that rocked the regime two years earlier.
“I want to request the supreme leader to intervene to ensure that the house arrest is resolved,” says Khatami, who led a reformist government between 1997 and 2005, and is himself banned from appearing in the media since the protests.
“The responsible institutions cannot or do not want to resolve the issue of the house arrests and only your intervention can allow this issue to be resolved, which is in the interests of the regime and would be a sign of its strength,” he says, addressing Khamenei.
Abbas: PA will continue to slash funds to Gaza until Hamas dismantles government
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to continue slashing funds to the Gaza Strip unless Hamas dismantles its rival government in the Palestinian enclave.
“We transfer $1.5 billion a year, but after Hamas declared its own government, we discontinued 25 percent of our support to Gaza,” Abbas told a delegation of visiting Israeli lawmakers in Ramallah.
“We fear that if there is no change soon, it will gradually reach 100%,” he said.
“We perceive Hamas as an effort to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, and this an expression of political distrust in the Palestinian leadership, more than a moral or diplomatic step.”
Abbas made the remarks during a meeting with Israeli opposition lawmakers headed by Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon.
Banners with anti-Semitic messages hung on Oregon highway overpasses
Signs with anti-Semitic messages were hung on highway overpasses in Oregon.
The banners were hung on two northbound highways, which are heavily traveled by California tourists heading to the state to get a better view of Monday’s expected solar eclipse, according to local reports.
The banners read, “UNJEW HUMANITY,” “Eclipse Whitey,” and “Jewish Financing Available,” the Oregon Statesman Journal reported on Saturday. They were taken down later that day.
Police probe if body in car is 15th Spain victim
Spanish police say they are trying to establish if a man found dead inside a car on the outskirts of Barcelona is another victim of the extremist attack in the city.
Senior regional police officer Josep Lluis Trapero says that investigators haven’t yet linked the man discovered inside a car that struck two officers at a police checkpoint to either the Las Ramblas van attack or its suspects.
Trapero says they are “working intensely on this inquiry.”
He says police fired on the car after it broke through the checkpoint, within hours of the downtown attack Thursday. They initially thought they had killed the driver, but then discovered a dead person in the back seat.
An examination found no bullet wounds on the body, according to Trapero.
Trapero did not name the person found dead in the car nor say how he died.
He says a person was seen running near the vehicle and police are investigating whether this person was connected to the van attack.
American comedy legend Jerry Lewis dies aged 91
American Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis, , whose slapstick comedies like “The Nutty Professor” endeared him to millions, died aged 91, according to reports in US media.
One of the most popular comic actors of the 1950s and ’60s, Lewis perfected the role of the quirky clown but also won acclaim as a writer, actor and philanthropist in a career spanning six decades.
His longtime partnership with Dean Martin saw the pair stair in over a dozen movies together and achieve huge box office success.
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Lewis was found dead in his home this morning.
— with AFP