The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s developments as they unfolded.
Airstrikes reported in northern Syria
Syria’s fragile ceasefire enters a second day with battle zones still largely quiet for the first time in five years, despite sporadic incidents including several airstrikes.
The truce, brokered by Washington and Moscow, is seen as a crucial step towards ending a conflict that has claimed 270,000 lives and displaced more than half the population.
The convoluted patchwork of territorial control in Syria, wrapped up in a brutal civil war since 2011, has complicated efforts to implement the deal.
Warplanes, believed to be either Syrian or Russian, bomb seven villages Sunday in the northern province of Aleppo and Hama in the center, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It is unclear if the raids hit areas covered by the ceasefire, which excludes territory held by the Islamic State jihadist group and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.
According to Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, only one of the villages, Kafr Hamra in Aleppo province, is controlled by Al-Nusra and the others are in the hands of non-jihadist rebels.
Russia reports attack on Syrian town from Turkey
The Russian military on Sunday says armed groups had attacked a Syrian town from Turkish territory, adding it had demanded an explanation from the United States.
“Overnight from February 27 to 28 the Russian center for the reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria received information about an attack from Turkish territory on the Syrian town of Tal Abyad by armed units using large-scale artillery,” says the chief of the center, Lieutenant General Sergei Kuralenko.
“This was subsequently verified and confirmed through several channels including representatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces,” Kuralenko is quoted as saying by Russian news agencies from the Hmeimim airbase.
The Syrian Democratic Forces is a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance.
“The Russian center has turned for an explanation to the Amman-based US center for reconciliation,” Kuralenko adds, stressing that Turkey was a member of a US-led coalition.
No other details are provided by the Russian side.
Israeli woman, 38, said to die of swine flu
A 38-year-old Israeli woman dies of swine flu after contracting the disease over two months ago, the B’Hadrei Haredim website reports.
She is identified as Shayna Chaya Kugel of Modiin Illit.
Pope urges Europe to share migrant burden
Pope Francis on Sunday urges European countries struggling with the migrant crisis to “share the burden fairly,” amid growing divisions on how to handle the flow of people fleeing poverty and war.
The pontiff uses his regular Sunday address in St. Peter’s Square to hail the “generous help” offered by Greece and “other countries on the front line,” saying the situation “required cooperation among all nations.”
70,000 migrants may be ‘trapped’ in Greece next month
Greece on Sunday says the number of refugees and migrants on its soil could more than triple next month, reaching as many as 70,000, as a cap on border crossings by Balkan countries left them “trapped” in the country.
“We estimate that in our country the number of those trapped will be from 50,000-70,000 people next month,” Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas says.
“Today, there are 22,000 refugees and migrants,” he adds in an interview with Mega Channel TV.
Some 6,500 people are stuck at the Idomeni camp on Greece’s northern border with Macedonia on Sunday as Macedonian border officials let only 300 refugees and migrants pass the day before.
Russia says ceasefire breached 9 times in 24 hours
The Russian military says on Sunday that a fragile ceasefire in Syria had been breached nine times over the past 24 hours but the truce was mostly holding.
“Over the past 24 hours, nine instances of violations of cessation of hostilities have been uncovered,” Lieutenant General Sergei Kuralenko, head of the country’s coordination center in Syria, is quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. “On the whole, the ceasefire regime in Syria is being implemented.”
Jean-Marie Le Pen gives stamp of approval to Trump
French far-right patriarch Jean-Marie Le Pen, kicked out of his own party for xenophobic and anti-Semitic comments, gives controversial US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump the thumbs up.
“If I was American I would vote for Donald Trump… may God protect him,” tweets the fiery 87-year-old founder of the National Front, now led by his daughter Marine.
Le Pen was booted out of the party after a bitter feud with his daughter over his continued inflammatory, racist and xenophobic comments while she tries to polish the FN’s image to lure voters.
Last year he rehashed familiar comments about Nazi gas chambers being a “detail” of history and said France should get along with Russia to save the “white world.”
Syria opposition says truce breached 15 times Saturday
Syria’s main opposition grouping records 15 violations by government troops and allied forces on the first day of a landmark truce, a spokesman tells reporters Sunday.
“There were 15 violations by the regime forces on day one of the ceasefire, including two attacks by (Lebanese militant group) Hezbollah in Zabadani” west of Damascus, says Salem al-Meslet, spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee.
Egyptian MP hit by shoe after meeting Israeli envoy
An Egyptian lawmaker has a shoe thrown at him in parliament by a fellow legislator who is outraged about a meeting the MP held with Israel’s ambassador, according to Egyptian media reports.
MP Tawfik Okasha, who is also a television host and was described by the state-run al-Ahram daily as “controversial,” publicly — during a broadcast — invited Ambassador Haim Koren to his house for dinner. Koren happily obliged, and the two met on Tuesday at Okasha’s home, discussing issues of politics, trade and agricultural cooperation between the countries.
But other legislators were outraged by the consultation, which one MP called “political prostitution.” One hundred members of the legislature had called for an emergency session to discuss the meeting.
And at the special parliamentary session, Okasha was attacked by a shoe-throwing MP.
The culprit, MP Kamel Ahmed, and Okasha were both removed from the session.
Ahmed says Okasha “deserves 90 million shoes,” according to a translation of his remarks by the Ynet news website. “I want to shoot him. What I did reflects the nation’s opinion. I did what I did because I am an MP and a representative of the people. Every time I see him, I’ll hit him with a shoe.”
McGill U student body fails to ratify BDS motion
Students at Montreal’s McGill University fail to ratify a pro-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions motion against Israel.
The controversial motion, which passed in the university’s student society on February 22 by a vote of 512 to 357, and was seen as a blow by pro-Israel students, could not be ratified after being rejected by an online vote of 2,819 – or 57 percent of voting undergraduate students – to 2,119, or about 43 percent. About 440 students abstain.
“The BDS movement, which among other things calls for universities to cut ties with Israeli universities, flies in the face of the tolerance and respect we cherish as values fundamental to a university,” McGill principal and vice chancellor, Suzanne Fortier, says in a statement.
“It proposed actions that are contrary to the principles of academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness, and the exchange of views and ideas in responsible open discourse,” she adds.
Arab League chief won’t seek second term
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi says Sunday he will not seek a second term as secretary general of the pan-Arab body after his present term ends in July.
Arabi, 80, took over as League chief from fellow Egyptian diplomat Amr Moussa in 2011.
He had served as foreign minister in the Egyptian government that came to power after the ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak earlier that year.
“I have asked the Egyptian government not to think about renewing my mandate,” Arabi tells reporters at the League’s headquarters in Cairo, adding that his present tenure would end in early July.
Traditionally, the secretary general of Arab League has held the post for two terms, and Cairo has always insisted that it be held by an Egyptian diplomat.
Israeli teen says he was attacked in West Bank
An Israeli teenager says he was attacked by man with his face covered in the West Bank settlement of Beit Horon, according to police. It was not immediately clear if he sustained any injuries.
Police say they are verifying the report and searching the area.
The settlement was the scene of a deadly terror attack last month, in which 23-year-old Shlomit Krigman was stabbed to death.
— Judah Ari Gross
Turkey thwarted 18 suicide attacks since New Year
Turkish security forces have prevented 18 potential suicide attacks since the New Year, the interior minister says Sunday, with the country on high alert after a deadly suicide car bombing in Ankara earlier this month.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala tells Haber 7 TV in an interview that three cars loaded with explosives to be used in attacks had been found by the authorities.
He indicates that one car was seized at Istanbul’s Bogazici University last week which caused a major security alert on the campus.
“Since the start of the year, 18 suicide bombings have been prevented… We don’t talk (to the public) about most of the prevented attacks,” he says, without giving details on the nature of the plots.
2 Palestinians said badly hurt by IDF fire
Two Palestinians are reportedly critically injured by Israeli gunfire during clashes with the military near Bethlehem, according to the Ma’an news agency.
The report says both were hit in the chest south of the West Bank city. One of the injured Palestinians is “a middle-aged dentist who was standing in his front yard near the city’s historical gate when he was shot,” the report says.
There is no immediate comment from the army.
Saudi Arabia accuses Assad regime, Russia of ‘ceasefire violations’
Saudi Arabia on Sunday accused President Bashar Assad’s regime and its ally Russia of “ceasefire violations” in Syria.
“There are violations to the ceasefire from Russian and (Syrian) regime aircraft,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir tells reporters in Riyadh.
Cruz acknowledges Trump could clinch nomination
Ted Cruz doesn’t think it will happen, but he’s acknowledging that a super showing by Donald Trump on Super Tuesday could perhaps seal the nomination for the billionaire businessman.
Cruz tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “there is no doubt that if Donald steamrolls through Super Tuesday, wins everywhere with big margins, that he may well be unstoppable.”
Republicans will vote in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake.
Cruz and Marco Rubio are the leading contenders trying to slow down Trump.
Cruz says he’s the only one who can beat Trump, and the Texas senator is making this appeal to voters: “I would encourage you, even if you like another candidate, stand with us if you don’t want Donald to be the nominee.”
Bombings near Baghdad market kill at least 22
Bombings near a market in a Shiite area of northern Baghdad kill at least 22 people on Sunday, security and medical officials say.
The blasts in the Sadr City area, at least one of which was a suicide bombing, also wounds at least 55 people.
The bombings are the deadliest attacks to hit the capital this year.
There is no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but suicide bombings are a tactic almost exclusively employed in Iraq by Sunni militants, especially members of the Islamic State jihadist group.
Palestinian would-be stabber moved from jail to hospital
Yasmin Zaru, who attempted to stab a Border Police officer in Hebron earlier this month, has been taken from jail to an Israeli hospital for treatment, according to an Israel Prison Service spokesperson.
On February 13, the 21-year-old tried to stab the officer near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, but was shot in the lower body before she could injure him.
While in jail, her wounds became infected, which prompted the transfer to a hospital for further care, according to Palestinian media.
— Judah Ari Gross
Cop hurt in rock, firebombing attack in East Jerusalem
A border policewoman is taken for medical treatment after a group of Israeli police officers come under a stone and firebomb barrage in Issawiya.
“A border policewoman is hit in the head and taken for medical treatment,” police say. “The troops, who were in real danger,” opened fire with a .22 Ruger sniper rifle. “A hit in the leg was identified, and a 19-year-old resident of Issawiya was arrested.”
— Judah Ari Gross
Trump says he knows ‘nothing about’ Ku Klux Klan
Donald Trump is refusing to disavow his endorsement by David Duke, saying he doesn’t know anything about the former Ku Klux Klan leader.
Trump was asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether he would declare that he didn’t want Duke’s support, or that of other white supremacists in the presidential election.
Trump says of Duke, “I just don’t know anything about him.”
Trump likewise says he wouldn’t condemn a group that he knows “nothing about.” He adds that if he were sent a list of groups he would research them and “certainly” would disavow any if he thought there was “something wrong.”
Army confirms it shot at Palestinian stone-throwers
The IDF confirms that soldiers opened fire on Palestinian stone-throwers south of Bethlehem.
“A force arrived on the scene in order to stop the attack. They shot at the suspects,” an IDF spokesperson said, adding the army did not have information about Palestinian injuries at this time.
Palestinian media reports say two people are critically hurt, including a middle-aged dentist.
— Judah Ari Gross
Police call off search near Beit Horon
After several hours of sweeping the area, police call off the alert around Beit Horon.
— Judah Ari Gross
Egypt cop shot dead in attack claimed by IS
Masked gunmen shot dead an Egyptian police officer Sunday in the Sinai, the interior ministry says, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group which is leading an insurgency in the peninsula.
Gunmen opened fire on Captain Abdullah Khalil in the early hours of Sunday as he stood in front of his house in El-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, the ministry says in a statement.
The Sinai Province, the Egyptian affiliate of IS, claims the attack.
“A security detachment was able to eliminate the apostate Abdullah Khalil… in the center of the city of El-Arish,” it says in a statement posted on the group’s Twitter accounts.
PA rejects direct Iran aid to terrorists’ families
The Palestinian Authority on Sunday said direct financial assistance by Iran to the families of Palestinians killed in a five-month wave of violence — many of whom carried out terror attacks against Israelis — would be unacceptable.
Tehran announced last week assistance would be offered to families of Palestinians killed in the wave of violence that erupted in October, but the PA says such aid must follow official channels.
Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, cited by local media, says bypassing the authority in handing out such funds would constitute illegal interference in internal Palestinian affairs.
Iran should “send this money through official channels to the (PA’s) Martyrs and Prisoners Foundation rather than relying on informal and circuitous routes,” Abu Rudeineh says.
— AFP, Times of Israel staff
Migrants protest at Greek-Macedonian border
About 300 migrants stranded at the Greek-Macedonian border stage another protest, this time cutting off the railway line connecting the two countries. The protesters are carrying posters reading “Open the border” and shouting the same slogan.
A cargo train on its way to central Europe is forced to turn back.
Over 6,500 refugees are stranded at a tent camp in the Greek border town of Idomeni, as Macedonia has again put in severe border restrictions for migrants. Another 400 migrants are camped at a gas station 17 kilometers (11 miles) away.
Macedonia let in only 300 Iraqis and Syrians on Saturday after closing the border on Friday. It says it is regulating the migrant flow depending on what other countries further north in the Balkans migration route — Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia — do.
Cop hurt in apparent hit-and-run near Nazareth
A police officer is hit by a car near Nazareth, in northern Israel, according to preliminary information from police.
The policeman is injured and taken to the hospital for treatment, police say. The car flees the scene.
— Judah Ari Gross
Sudeten Germans drop claim to territory in Czech Republic
An organization representing ethnic Germans who were ejected from the former Czechoslovakia after World War II votes to drop its territorial claims.
Some 2.9 million so-called Sudeten Germans were expelled after 1945 by the Czech government, which blamed them for the Nazis’ pre-war aggression against the country.
The Sudeten German Homeland Association says in a statement late Saturday that delegates meeting in Munich voted 72 percent in favor of changing its statutes to relinquish the largely symbolic claims. The group says the decision was meant to “build a bridge to the Czech people.”
Sudeten Germans lived mainly in the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia from at least the 14th century. They included automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche and the industrialist Oskar Schindler, best known for saving Jews from the Holocaust.
Cop hit near Nazareth badly hurt
The police officer hit by a car near Nazareth is in moderate-to-serious condition.
He had signaled at a car to stop, when the driver rammed into him, police say.
Clinton urges churchgoers to reject ‘the demagoguery’
Hillary Clinton is church-hopping across Memphis in an effort to mobilize African-American voters ahead of Tuesday’s primaries.
She’s speaking at two churches in the city Sunday and asking worshipers to reject “the demagoguery, the prejudice, the paranoia.” She never mentions GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s name, but the comments references his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
“America has never stopped being great, our task is to make American whole,” says Clinton at Greater Imani Cathedral of Faith.
With rival Bernie Sanders trailing in delegates, Clinton is beginning to focus more attention on her potential GOP challengers. Her church addresses, like her South Carolina victory speech, makes no mention of the Vermont senator, or his policy plans.
Clinton is trying to rally black voters ahead of the Super Tuesday contests, which take place in a number of southern states. Black voters turned out in a higher percentage in South Carolina on Saturday than in 2008, catapulting Clinton a sweeping win there.
Police detain suspect in possible car-ramming
Police have detained a suspect in the potential car-ramming. He is now being questioned, a spokesperson says.
The officer who was hit was taken to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center in serious condition, according to Israel Police spokesperson Luba Samri.
— Judah Ari Gross