The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
False alarm as rocket siren sounds in Gaza area towns
An incoming rocket alert siren sounds in the Yad Mordechai and Netiv Ha’asara communities near the Gaza Strip, in an apparent false alarm, the army says in a statement.
— Judah Ari Gross
France says Marseille car crash not terror
Marseille’s prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux says that investigators probing an incident in which a van plowed into people at two different bus stops in the French city have no “element pointing to a terrorist attack” and that the driver was believed to suffer from “psychiatric” problems.
“He was found with a letter from a psychiatric clinic and we are leaning towards treating it as a mental health case,” Tarabeux tells AFP.
Turkey, Iran working on joint anti-Kurd military op — Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a joint Turkish-Iranian operation against Kurdish militants is “always on the agenda,” a week after Tehran’s top armed forces commander visited Ankara for rare talks.
“It is always on the agenda to carry out a joint operation with Iran against those terror organizations which pose a threat,” Erdogan tells reporters in Istanbul before a trip to Jordan.
Erdogan does not say where the operation against the PKK will be focused.
“They always cause harm to Iran and to us. We work because we believe that if the two countries cooperate, we can reach a conclusion in a much shorter period of time,” he says.
Iran’s Armed Forces chief of staff General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri says that during his visit it was agreed that Turkey would step up the control of its border with Iran.
“The actions of Turkey and Iran complement themselves. We reached good agreements to prevent terrorists passing from one side of the border to the other,” he says.
US punishes Russia by freezing tourist visas
In a step that could affect hundreds of thousands of Russian tourists, the US Embassy in Russia says it will suspend issuing non-immigrant visas in Moscow for eight days from Wednesday and would stop issuing visas at its consulates elsewhere in Russia in response to the Russian decision to cap embassy staff.
The embassy made the decision after the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered a cap on the number of US diplomatic personnel in Russia, it said in a statement, adding that it would resume issuing visas in Moscow on September 1, but maintain the suspension at consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.
Nearly a quarter of a million Russian tourists visited the US last year, according to Russian tourism officials.
Big Ben rings final bongs before repairs
London’s iconic Big Ben bongs the hour for the last time for the next four years as the clock tower undergoes repairs.
The giant bell atop Parliament’s clock tower rings out 12 times at noon, as parliamentary staff, lawmakers and passersby paused to listen.
Big Ben's bongs have sounded the hour for the final time until 2021 time while it undergoes conservation work pic.twitter.com/hQ52BhdBuy
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 21, 2017
The sound fades away, starting what is scheduled to be the bell’s longest period of silence since it first rang out in 1859.
It is not due to resume regular timekeeping until 2021, though it will sound on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve.
The break will allow workers to carry out much-needed maintenance to the Victorian clock and clock tower. But some lawmakers have criticized the lengthy silence, calling Big Ben an important symbol of British democracy. They want the time scale for repairs tightened.
— with AP
Spain raids homes in Ripoll as more details about imam emerge
Spanish police raided more homes in the town Ripoll on Monday, regional interior minister Joaquim Forn says, amid a hunt for the driver in the deadly Barcelona van attack, as they seek to gather clues about a Moroccan imam accused of radicalizing the terror cell.
Police say Imam Abdelbaki Es Satty had spent time in prison and had once been in contact with a suspect wanted on terrorism charges, without giving further details.
In Belgium, the mayor of the Vilvorde region tells AFP that Satty spent time in the Brussels suburb of Machelen — a district next to the city’s airport — between January and March 2016.
In the Moroccan town of M’rirt, relatives of Barcelona van driver suspect Younes Abouyaaqoub accuse the imam of radicalizing the young man as well as his brother Houssein.
Barcelona suspect hijacked car after fleeing scene, police say, raising death toll
Police say the driver wanted in the deadly Barcelona van ramming could be armed and dangerous, and apparently fled on foot before he hijacked another vehicle.
Officials say a victim found stabbed dead in a car in Barcelona is linked to the case, raising the death toll to 15.
It is not immediately clear if a man seen running from that car after it crashed into police is Younes Abouyaaqoub, suspected of carrying out the van attack.
“We are raising the number of victims from 14 to 15 to include the victim in the vehicle found in Sant Just,” Catalonia’s regional minister Joaquim Forn tells tells journalists.
Spanish newspaper El Pais published images Monday of what it says is Abouyaaqoub supposedly making a getaway on foot after the Barcelona van attack. The three images show a slim man wearing sunglasses seemingly walking through what El Pais says is traditional La Boqueria market just off Las Ramblas.
— with AP
Spain says all 15 victims identified
An official in Spain says that authorities have identified all 15 victims killed in the attacks last week in the Catalonia region.
Catalan justice minister Carles Mundo says that the fatalities are eight males, including two minors, and seven women.
Mundo spoke during a news conference in which officials also increased the death toll in the attacks to 15 — the latest victim being a man, Pau Perez, found stabbed in a car that was believed to be used by one of the attackers to flee the scene.
The previous death toll was 14 — 13 people killed in a van attack on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade on Thursday, and one woman killed hours later in Cambrils.
Lebanon says it helped thwart Barbie-bomb on plane plot
Lebanon’s interior minister says the country’s police intelligence played a major role in foiling a plot to bring down an Emirati passenger plane that was supposed to take off from Australia.
Nouhad Machnouk tells reporters that four Lebanese-Australian brothers, including one who is in detention in Lebanon, had plotted to blow up the plane with a bomb hidden inside a large Barbie doll.
Australian authorities have said they thwarted a credible terrorist plot to down an airplane by smuggling a device onboard. They have provided few details, including the precise nature of the threat or any airlines involved.
Machnouk says two other brothers are held in Australia while the fourth is a senior member of the Islamic State group based in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.
Renewed fighting reported in Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon
Fighting resumes in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in Lebanon, as a ceasefire between warring factions reached Sunday night falls apart.
A bomb went off in the camp this morning, and gunfire has been heard, according to the Lebanese Naharnet news outlet. At least one person is reported wounded.
Two people have been killed and several wounded in heavy fighting in the camp near Sidon over the last several days, as Palestinian groups and the Lebanese army clash with Islamist groups.
UK plans crackdown on internet hate
British authorities are promising to prosecute hate crimes committed online as vigorously as those that take place face-to-face, recognizing the growth of hate speech on social media and the potential for such crimes to affect large numbers of people.
New guidelines issued Monday outline a tough stance on cyber hate attacks on the basis of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity. In addition, the guidance for the first time recognizes hate crimes against bisexuals as distinct from homophobic or transphobic attacks.
“These documents take account of the current breadth and context of offending to provide prosecutors with the best possible chance of achieving justice for victims,” Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, says in a statement. “They also let victims and witnesses know what they should expect from us.”
The guidance underscores the need for prosecutors to take a proactive approach to hate crime, advising them to understand the changing nature of internet platforms and the policies different social media networks have for removing hate speech. It urges prosecutors to identify “originators” as well as “amplifiers or disseminators” of such attacks.
Community groups monitoring anti-Semitic and Islamophobic abuse have reported that a significant portion of such incidents involve the internet.
Ramle woman stabbed, terror not suspected
A woman has been hospitalized in serious but stable condition after being stabbed in an apparent family dispute in Ramle.
The woman, 37, suffers stab wounds to her upper body, according to emergency responders.
Police say nationalistic terror is not suspected.
Some reports say she is pregnant.
Hezbollah said to confirm use of attack drones for first time
A source in the coalition fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime says Hezbollah has confirmed for the first time using attack drones in the fight against the Islamic State group.
The terror group used the drones to hit IS positions in the Qalamoun mountains, near the border with Lebanon, a military media unit linked to the Shiite organization said, according to Reuters.
While the official tells the news outlet it’s the first such confirmation, last year a media unit connected to Hezbollah posted video of what it said was a drone dropping bombs near Aleppo.
— with Judah Ari Gross
Israel condemns Finland stabbing attack
Jerusalem is condemning Saturday’s deadly stabbing attack in the Finnish town of Turku and expressing solidarity with Helsinki.
“The government of Israel expresses outrage and strongly condemns the terror attack in Turku,” the Foreign Ministry says in a statement.
Earlier Monday, a court in Finland named 18-year-old Moroccan Abderrahman Mechkah as the suspect behind the Friday stabbing attack that left two dead and several more wounded.
According to court documents released Monday, regional police have requested the detention of Mechkah, a Moroccan asylum-seeker, on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, and terrorism crimes.
He is hospitalized after being shot by police during the attack.
— with AP
Video appears to show Hezbollah drones dropping bombs
Video put online by a Hezbollah affiliated media group appears to show drones dropping bombs on positions in Syria.
On Saturday, Hezbollah said it launched an operation against IS from the Syrian side of the border, where its fighters are battling alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s army against rebels.
The Lebanese army denied any coordination with Hezbollah or the Syrian army.
Hezbollah’s War Media outlet said its fighters and Syrian troops had “managed to liberate 87 square kilometres of the total area controlled by the Daesh organisation… in western Qalamun region” of Syria on Saturday alone.
On Sunday, the SITE Intelligence Group reported an IS claim that the jihadists had killed “nearly 100 Lebanese soldiers and Hezbollah fighters amidst clashes in western Qalamoun.”
— with AFP
In Israel? NASA video feeds have eclipse totally covered
Hundreds of thousands in the US are flocking to the path of totality get in prime viewing position for today’s solar eclipse, and those in Israel and the rest of the world unable to enjoy the event in person will be able to get a glimpse thanks to the magic of videos.
NASA is counting down until the celestial party with more video feeds than you can shake a special pair of sunglasses at, from Oregon to South Carolina.
The eclipse will start to be seen in Oregon at about 7:20 p.m. Israel time and will move across the United States for the next two hours.
You can watch NASA’s main feed here:
Jewish monument in Bulgaria vandalized
A monument put up by Jews in Bulgaria to thank the town of Vidin for preventing the deportation of its Jews during the Holocaust was vandalized.
The Thanksgiving Monument, erected in 2003, was spray painted with the words “Allah,” “Palestine,” “Hamas,” and the Islamic star and crescent moon symbol, the Shalom Organization of Jewish in Bulgaria says in a Facebook post.
На 19 август вечерта беше поруган Паметника на благодарността до Стамбол капия в близост до сградата на Община Видин. Пр…
The organization posted photos of the vandalism, which occurred on Saturday, on its Facebook page.
The mayor of Vidin, Ognyan Tsenkov, called the vandalism an “outrageous and unacceptable” act, the Shalom Organization says in its post. He has reportedly ordered that the monument be cleaned immediately.
Sheikh ordered held in jail until Thursday
An Israeli court has ordered firebrand Sheikh Raed Salah to be kept in custody until Thursday, as prosecutors say they are preparing charges against him.
Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, was arrested last week on suspicion of incitement to violence and supporting the outlawed organization he heads.
According to reports, prosecutors have filed a preliminary indictment, indicating they plan to charge Salah soon.
Man with explosives belt said shot near Barcelona
Spanish media are reporting that police have shot a man wearing an explosives belt in the Barcelona suburb of Subirats.
Some reports indicate the man may be the suspected driver of a van that mowed down people in the city last week, who has been on the run since the deadly attack Thursday.
Unclear if explosives belt report same as arrested van driver
Reports coming out of Spain are unclear at this moment. Some Spanish media are reporting that van attacker Younnis Abouyaaqoub has been arrested.
It is not clear if the man reported shot in Subirats is the same incident as the reported arrest.
Police only say an “operation” is underway in Subirats.
Police reportedly think shot man is Barcelona van attacker
Anna Punsi, a reporter with Spain’s SER Catalunya radio station, says on Twitter that police believe the man with the explosives who was shot is Younes Abouyaaqoub, but are fearful of approaching him without disarming the explosive belt first.
Els @mossos treballen amb la hipòtesi que és Younes Abouyaaqoub però no s'hi poden acostar fins que arribi TEDAX per inspeccionar explosius
— Anna Punsí (@punsix) August 21, 2017
She also reports that he yelled “Allahu Akbar” before being shot.
His condition is not immediately clear.
Where arrest said to have taken place
La Vanguardia newspaper reports that the Barcelona attacker was arrested in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia.
Subirats, which is where police have confirmed an operation is underway, is a neighboring town.
16:10h Incident obert a Subirats (Alt Penedès). En breu més informació
— Mossos (@mossos) August 21, 2017
Both are about 25 kilometers west of Barcelona.
Man thought to be attacker said shot and killed
A source close to the Spanish probe into the Barcelona terror attack says police have killed a man who could be the Barcelona attack fugitive.
Police confirm they shot and killed man with explosives belt
Catalan police confirm on Twitter that they shot and killed a man wearing “what looks like an explosives belt” in Subirats.
17:05 La persona sospechosa de #Subirats lleva adherido al cuerpo el que parece un cinturón de explosivos. El individuo ha sido abatido
— Mossos (@mossos) August 21, 2017
Giant hole swallows car in central Tel Aviv
Residents on a street in central Tel Aviv are being told to stay out of their homes after a hole opened up at a neighboring construction site, swallowing a car, the Ynet news site reports.
Pictures of the scene show a large hole between a residential building and a site where renovation work is ongoing to earthquake proof a building on the city’s Shaul Hamelech Boulevard.
A car was swallowed by the hole and another car is teetering on the edge.
רכב נפל לתוך בולען ברח' שלמה המלך בת"א, סמוך לבניין שנמצא בשיפוצים. אין נפגעים. pic.twitter.com/2LTGUYGw07
— כאן ועכשיו (@kann_news) August 21, 2017
According to Channel 2 news, the hole was caused when a pipe burst, softening the ground below the alleyway where the car was parked.
Robot removes suspected bomb from Spain man
Catalan public radio says a bomb disposal robot has removed a possible explosives belt from a suspect who was shot down by police in a town outside Barcelona.
The radio reported the suspect’s body was face down in Subirats.
The La Vanguardia newspaper writes that experts are checking to see if the belt is real or fake like those used by attackers in Cambrils.
Police suspect the man is Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, the attacker behind the Barcelona van attack.
According to the paper, police were called to the scene after a neighbor spotted Abouyaaqoub and recognized him.
Police officials are convening a press conference to give more details.
— with AP
Spanish TV: Abouyaaqoub shot by police
Spanish public television is reporting that the man with an explosives belt shot by police in Subirats is suspect Younes Abouyaaqoub, citing a source close to the investigation, according to Reuters.
The daughter of a Catalan vineyard owner says her father alerted police after they saw a car crossing their property at high speed, even though the vineyard was closed off.
Roser Venura says police told them to immediately leave the Ventura Soler cava vineyard, located between the towns of Sadurni d’Anoia and Subirats. She says “we heard a helicopter flying around and many police cars coming toward the gas station” near the property.
— with AP
Solar eclipse begins over Oregon
The moon has begun to block out a small portion of the sun, seen on the West Coast of the US near Salem Oregon.
The solar event will move across the US for the next several hours, giving Americans across the country a view of the rare event.
Israelis won’t experience a total eclipse passing across a large chunk of the country until 2103.
South Carolina politicos make hay when the sun is away
Both of South Carolina’s political parties are trying to capitalize on the eclipse in fundraising campaigns.
In an email titled “‘Eclipse’ the Democrats!” the South Carolina Republican Party on Monday asked donors to contribute $20.18 toward the party’s efforts to “keep Democrats TOTALLY in the dark” in next year’s elections.
Republicans now hold all statewide elected offices and control both chambers of South Carolina’s Legislature.
In a message of their own, the state’s Democratic Party sent supporters links to recent political articles in several outlets reminding them of work ahead of the party.
The party told supporters, “Nobody go blind today, there’s too much work to do for Democrats all across the state!”
Spanish police confirm man shot is fugitive van attacker
A man shot dead by security forces on Monday is Younes Abouyaaqoub, the 22-year-old Moroccan who allegedly plowed his van into crowds in Barcelona, killing 13 people, police say.
“We confirm that the person shot down in the incident in Subirats (near Barcelona) is Younes Abouyaaqoub, the perpetrator of the terrorist attack in Barcelona,” said police in Catalonia tweet.
Solar eclipse nears totality as millions look skyward
Excitement in the US is building as the solar eclipse nears totality, with the moon set to totally blot out the sun in the coming minutes.
Coast to coast in the US, people are gathering at parks, science museums, baseball stadiums and elsewhere to watch the rare celestial event.
In Lincoln Beach, Oregon, the first place the eclipse is visible, clouds have taken a bite out of the rare event, but many are still watching the sun as it disappears.
“The show has just begun, people! What a gorgeous day! Isn’t this great people?” Jim Todd, a director at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, tells a crowd of thousands at an amphitheater in Salem, Oregon, as the moon seems to take an ever-bigger bite out of the sun.
The celestial show was expected to be the most observed and photographed eclipse in history, with millions staking out prime viewing spots and settling into lawn chairs to watch, especially along the path of totality — the projected line of shadow created when the sun is completely obscured. The path was 60 to 70 miles (96 to 113 kilometers) wide, running from Oregon to South Carolina.
Police searching for suspect in West Bank
Troops in the West Bank are searching for a Palestinian suspect who escaped during a traffic stop near the settlement of Shavei Shomron, south of Nablus.
The army say a semi-automatic rifle was found in his car.
Total eclipse of the sun!
Totality has begun in Oregon, with the moon completely blocking out the sun, in a total eclipse.
The eclipse will march across the country for the next 90 minutes or so, bringing its blinding corona to millions gathered to witness the rare event across the country.
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 21, 2017
Police: Fugitive’s explosive belt was fake
Catalan police chief Josep Lluís Trapero says the explosive belt worn by main suspect Younes Abouyaaqoub before he was shot by police turned out to be fake.
He says Abouyaaqoub yelled “Allahu akbar,” and police opened fire when they saw the belt.
Five other suspects shot and killed in Cambrils after a terror attack were also wearing fake explosives belts.
Trapero adds that the police investigation into the Barcelona and Cambrils terror attacks is not over.
Imam linked to Barcelona attack dead — police
A Moroccan imam believed to have radicalized youths who committed Spain’s terror attacks was confirmed dead Monday in an accidental explosion at the suspects’ bomb factory, police say.
Asked whether Abdelbaki Es Satty had died in the blast on Wednesday that precipitated the attacks, Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero says: “It is confirmed,” adding, “the remains of the imam were there,” in the house in Alcanar that exploded.
Jordan, Turkey leaders call for ‘serious’ Mideast peace push
Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are calling for new “serious and effective” peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the royal palace says.
Meeting in Amman, they urge “the resumption of serious and effective negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel to end the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution to assure an independent Palestinian state with June 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as capital.”
Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since the failure of US mediation in the spring of 2014.
“New peace negotiations must take place according to a precise timetable and be based on international resolutions,” Erdogan and Abdullah say.
They also express their “unequivocal rejection of any attempt to change the legal and historical situation in the Al-Aqsa mosque and any unilateral Israeli action threatening the identity of east Jerusalem.”
Two killed in suspected electrocutions
Police are investigating after a young woman was found dead in a shower in the northern town of Tirat Hacarmel.
Initial reports suggest she may have been electrocuted.
Earlier in the day, a man was electrocuted to death while working at a building site in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon.
Total solar eclipse completes path across America
The Great American Eclipse comes to a close, as the moon completes its journey across the United States sky on Monday, with the path of totality stretching coast-to-coast for the first time in nearly a century.
Totality began over Oregon at about 17:16 GMT and ended at 18:48 GMT over Charleston, South Carolina where sky-gazers whooped and cheered as the Moon moved directly in front of the Sun.
“It was incredibly beautiful. I am moved to tears,” says Heather Riser, sitting on a blanket in Waterfront Park in Charleston, a bustling East Coast city where thousands had gathered to watch.