The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened.

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Initial report: Attempted stabbing in West Bank near Tekoa

Hebrew media outlets report an attempted stabbing at the Tekoa junction southeast of Jerusalem in the West Bank.

No Israelis are hurt in the incident, according to initial reports.

The Palestinian assailant is reportedly neutralized, though there is no immediate report on their condition.

Tekoa security department warns residents to avoid area of stabbing

The Tekoa settlement’s security department tells residents in a statement that “a few minutes ago, a stabbing attack took place in the area of Arab Tekoa” — a Palestinian village of the same name nearby — “without harm to our forces.

“Please refrain from driving [west] to the [Etzion Bloc] anytime soon.”

IDF confirms attempted stabbing near Tekoa, assailant dead

The IDF confirms the attempted stabbing near Tekoa.

According to reports, a Palestinian attempted to stab a female soldier but was shot dead by troops at the scene.

Palestinians rioting near site of attempted stabbing

Many dozens of Palestinians are throwing rocks at IDF forces near the West Bank Palestinian village of Tekoa shortly after a Palestinian assailant was shot dead by troops while attempting to stab a soldier.

Soldiers are firing tear gas at the rioters.

Netanyahu visits Holocaust memorial on Danube

As he ends his trip to Budapest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the shoes memorial to Holocaust victims on the banks of the Danube, a site where Jews were shot and thrown into the river during World War II.

Netanyahu lays a stone brought from Mount Herzl in Jerusalem at the memorial.

MK Israel Eichler, who is traveling with the premier, reads a chapter of Psalms.

“This place expresses in a tragic way, but clearly, the great change that has taken place in the fate of the Jews,” Netanyahu says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at the shoes memorial for Holocaust victims on the bank of the Danube in Budapest, July 20, 2017. (GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at the shoes memorial for Holocaust victims on the bank of the Danube in Budapest, July 20, 2017. (GPO)

Kuwait shuts Iran cultural mission, expels some diplomats

Kuwait says it is shutting the Iranian cultural mission to the country and calling for a reduction in the number of Iranian diplomats stationed there, deepening a rift between the Gulf Arab states and Tehran.

The official Kuwait News Agency announces the move in a brief statement Thursday. It links the decision to the case of a terrorist cell broken up in 2015 that authorities allege had contacts with Iran and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

The Iranian ambassador to Kuwait has been notified of the decision, the news agency, known as KUNA, reports.

— AP

Erdan: Metal detectors crucial at Temple Mount

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan says metal detectors placed at a contested Jerusalem shrine after a deadly attack there are essential to maintain security, despite a Muslim call for mass protests in the city if they are not removed.

Erdan tells Army Radio that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will rule on the issue later in the day after he holds security consultations upon his return from a working visit to Europe. Israeli security services are reportedly divided over what to do given the volatility surrounding the site.

But Erdan rejects Arab accusations that new Israeli security measures are an attempt to expand control over the site and insists they are necessary to carry out proper security checks.

“The Israeli police needs these metal detectors so the security checks can give a proper response to the security considerations,” he says. “I assume there are contacts internationally to try to calm the situation, but in my eyes there is no reason why the situation should not be calm.”

— AP

Police nab suspected ringleader in army firearm theft

Police arrest the suspected ringleader of a gun trafficking network that is believed to have stolen 33 M-16 assault rifles from an IDF base earlier this year, along with six other people.

In May, the 33 guns were stolen from the army’s Sde Teiman base in southern Israel, prompting police to launch a nationwide search for the weapons and the thieves.

Over the course of the nearly two-month investigation, police arrested six suspects from across the country.

Those arrests led to the suspected ring leader, whose name has yet to be released. Police would say only that he is from the Arab town of Kafr Qara in northern Israel.

Today police say they found the suspect hiding in an apartment in northern Israel. He has already been interrogated and is expected to be brought before a judge later today.

— Judah Ari Gross

Four firefighting planes battling blaze near Jerusalem

Firefighting crews are battling a blaze in the Jerusalem Forest west of the city, trying to prevent it from spreading to the city’s western neighborhoods of Beit Hakerem and Givat Shaul.

Four firefighting planes are part of the force deployed to put out the blaze.

UN envoy calls for ‘de-escalation’ on Temple Mount

UN peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov says he is “deeply concerned by the recent surge in tensions and violence around the holy esplanade in the Old City of Jerusalem.”

He welcomes “the commitment of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to uphold and respect the status quo at the holy sites,” and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s “firm condemnation of violence, specifically the deadly attack on two Israeli policemen on 14 July.”

He adds: “I hope these affirmations will contribute to resolving the concerns of all parties and put an end to the provocative rhetoric that has added to the escalation over the past week.”

Mladenov calls on “on all concerned parties to de-escalate the situation,” and on “moderate voices to speak up against those who try to fuel tensions.”

Homes evacuated as forest fire nears Jerusalem

The huge forest fire on Jerusalem’s western outskirts leads to the closure of roads and limited evacuations from residential neighborhoods that border on the Jerusalem Forest.

Residents are being evacuated on Rachel Hameshoreret and Haarazim streets in the Beit Hakerem neighborhood, and a preschool is evacuated near Mount Herzl as firefighters battle to stop the blaze’s advance eastward into the city.

UK archives show Churchill blocked release of Nazi memos

Britain’s National Archives release records showing then-prime minister Winston Churchill’s attempts to cover up a Nazi plot to collaborate with members of the British royal family.

The elaborate plan to install the Duke of Windsor as king, should the Nazis successfully invade Britain, involved luring the abdicated king out of neutral Portugal to Spain to offer him a deal.

Top secret memos, made available on Thursday, showed how Churchill tried to stall the publication of the plot after World War II as he was worried about how the royal couple would be perceived. Churchill even asked then-US president Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 to delay publication of the memos.

The Nazi plot failed, and the memos were eventually published in 1957 when Churchill was no longer prime minister.

— AP

Rivlin reaches out to Turkey’s Erdogan to help calm Temple Mount tensions

President Reuven Rivlin’s office is working to arrange a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a bid to help calm tensions surrounding the Temple Mount.

According to an exclusive Channel 2 report, the Foreign Ministry recommended that the president desist from these efforts, fearing that giving Erdogan, an ally of Hamas, a role in the talks would only hurt Israel’s position.

The President Residence responds to the report by condemning alleged leaks from the Foreign Ministry. It does not deny the report.

Gay adoption protest to begin in Tel Aviv

Gay rights activists are preparing to protest in Tel Aviv against a reported government policy to favor heterosexual couples over same-sex ones for adoption.

The protest is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. outside the government complex on the corner of Kaplan and Begin streets.

A second protest is planned outside the home of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Friday morning.

Firefighters beat back Jerusalem forest blaze

Residents of Jerusalem’s Beit Hakerem neighborhood evacuated earlier today due to a growing forest fire on the capital’s western approaches are allowed back to their homes.

Firefighters say they have gained control of the fire that sent billowing smoke into residential areas.

Hamas calls for ‘day of rage’ over Temple Mount metal detectors

Hamas calls for mass protests on Friday against metal detectors at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

In a televised speech, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh urges Palestinians to participate in a “day of rage” against the stepped up security measures, which were imposed after a Palestinian shooting attack that left two Israeli police officers dead.

Israel initially closed the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount. The compound, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque, was reopened Sunday with metal detectors installed, a step Palestinians protest as a change to the longstanding status quo.

Haniyeh says “Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem are a red line,” and that “the closure and punitive measures on Jerusalemites and sanctuaries will not be allowed.”

— AP

Jordan holds its first outdoor opera, at Roman amphitheater

Jordan’s first outdoor opera performance, a production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata,” brings hundreds of spectators to a Roman amphitheater in the capital, Amman.

More than 150 singers, musicians and dancers from more than 10 different countries, including Italy and China, took to the stage Wednesday evening. The cast was led by Jordanian soprano Zeina Barhoum, who played the ill-fated lover Violetta.

Barhoum, 33, says she hopes the two performances, including a second show Saturday, will be a step toward nurturing an opera culture in Jordan.

She told a news conference last week that she also hopes the festival will be a step toward establishing an opera house in the kingdom.

— AP

Back in Israel, PM convenes security chiefs to discuss Temple Mount

Netanyahu lands back in Israel from a European work trip and heads to IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv’s Hakirya compound for consultations with top security officials about the Temple Mount.

At the meeting, scheduled for 8 p.m., officials will discuss whether to remove metal detectors at the site placed there after last Friday’s killings of two police officers at the holy site.

Sessions stays as US attorney general despite Trump rebuke

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he has no immediate plans to resign after President Donald Trump excoriated the nation’s top prosecutor for recusing himself from the probe of suspected Russian meddling in the 2016 US political campaign.

“We love this job, we love this department and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” Sessions says.

A former senator from Alabama, Sessions was one of Trump’s earliest and ardent supporters and became attorney general in February. A month later, he took himself out of a Justice Department-led inquiry into the election following revelations he’d failed to disclose his own meetings with the Russian ambassador to the US.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions seen a news conference at the Justice Department on July 13, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions seen a news conference at the Justice Department on July 13, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

At a news conference Thursday on an unrelated matter, Sessions is asked how he could continue to serve as attorney general without the confidence of the president. His response: “We’re serving right now. The work we’re doing today is the kind of work we intend to continue.”

Trump on Wednesday told The New York Times he never would have tapped Sessions for the job had he known a recusal was coming.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” Trump told the newspaper.

— AP

US, European police say ‘dark web’ markets shut down

US and European police announce the shutdown of two huge “dark web” marketplaces that allowed the anonymous online trade of drugs, hacking software and guns.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says underground websites AlphaBay and Hansa had tens of thousands of sellers of deadly drugs like fentanyl and other illicit goods serving more than 200,000 customers worldwide.

“This case, pursued by dedicated agents and prosecutors, says you are not safe, you cannot hide. We will find you, dismantle your organization and network, and we will prosecute you,” Sessions says in a warning to dark web entrepreneurs.

The announcement comes three weeks after AlphaBay stopped functioning with no explanation.

On July 5, the Canadian national who ran AlphaBay, Alexandre Cazes, was arrested in Thailand. Earlier this week, Cazes was found dead in his Thai police cell, with police saying he apparently hanged himself with a towel.

AlphaBay’s shutdown sent traffic flooding into the smaller Hansa marketplace. But that new traffic, tens of thousands of users, was unaware that Dutch police had already secretly taken control of Hansa, giving them the ability to identify and track buyers and sellers of illicit goods.

The Hansa market has also now been shut down, says Europol executive director Rob Wainwright.


Rivlin tells Erdogan Israel expected him to condemn Friday terror attack

President Reuven Rivlin speaks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the latter’s request, the President’s Office says.

In a statement, Rivlin’s office says: “During their conversation, President Rivlin clarified to his Turkish counterpart that the terror attack perpetrated on Friday on the Temple Mount – a site holy for all – was intolerable, and crossed a red line which endangered the ability of all of us to live together.

“President Rivlin reminded President Erdogan that after the terror attack in Turkey, the State of Israel was quick to condemn those criminal acts. He said Israel expected to hear similar condemnation from Turkey, with the understanding that terror was terror wherever it took place; in Jerusalem, in Istanbul, or in Paris.

“President Rivlin stressed that Israel was maintaining and would continue to maintain the status quo at the holy sites. He added that the steps taken on the Temple Mount were intended to ensure that such acts of terror could not be repeated, and that Israel was committed to safeguarding the lives of all the citizens who visited the holy places.”

Erdogan urges removal of Temple Mount metal detectors

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urges Israel to swiftly remove metal detectors that have outraged Muslim Palestinian worshipers at the Temple Mount.

“Within the framework of freedom of religion and worship there can be no impediment for Muslims” entering the holy site, the Anadolu news agency quotes Erdogan as telling President Reuven Rivlin.

“Given the importance that Haram al-Sharif carries for the whole Islamic world, the metal detectors put in place by Israel should be removed in the shortest possible time and an end put to the tension,” Erdogan adds.

The Turkish leader had earlier held telephone talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, telling him the measures imposed by Israel were “unacceptable.”


Some 8,000 rally in Tel Aviv over anti-gay discrimination in adoption

Some 8,000 people are taking part in a protest in central Tel Aviv against the stated policy of the government to prefer heterosexual couples over homosexual ones in adoption decisions.

Power-sharing deal between former foes taking shape in Gaza

A power-sharing deal between two former arch foes is slowly taking shape in Gaza and could lead to big changes in the Hamas-ruled territory, including an easing of a decade-long border blockade.

In the latest sign that the Egypt-backed understandings are moving forward, Hamas permits more than 2,000 supporters of its former nemesis, Mohammed Dahlan, to stage a rally in Gaza City on Thursday. They hold up banners with large photos of the ex-Gaza strongman and signs reading, “Thank you, Dahlan.”

Dahlan backers also opened an office in Gaza last month as a springboard for political activity and began disbursing $2 million in Dahlan-procured aid from the United Arab Emirates to Gaza’s poor.

Former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

Former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

All involved appear to benefit from the new deal for Gaza, described in detail by key players.

Egypt, which is battling Islamic extremist insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula next to Gaza, hopes to contain Hamas through new security arrangements.

Dahlan, forced into exile after falling out with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010, is poised to launch a comeback and advance his Palestinian leadership ambitions.

Hamas gets a chance to prolong its rule with a promised easing of Gaza’s stifling border blockade. Egypt and Israel had imposed the closure after Hamas seized Gaza in a violent 2007 takeover that included battles with forces loyal to Dahlan.

The three-way agreement aims to revive Gaza’s battered economy and restore a sense of normalcy for 2 million Gazans, who have largely been barred from travel and trade for the past decade and have endured rolling power cuts, most recently of up to 20 hours a day.

— AP

Security cabinet to meet over Temple Mount tensions

The ten members of Israel’s security cabinet are due to meet in Tel Aviv at 10:30 p.m. for consultations on tomorrow’s expected mass protest by Palestinians over new security measures at the Al-Aqsa compound atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

The ministers are to meet at IDF Headquarters in the Kirya complex in central Tel Aviv.

Palestinian and Muslim leaders have called for Muslims from all over the country to stream to Jerusalem on Friday morning for the protest.

Two arrested at Tel Aviv gay adoption protest

Two protesters are arrested at the gay adoption protest in Tel Aviv, according to a statement from police.

The two, ages 28 and 30, are held for “disturbing public order, participating in an illegal demonstration, and insulting a public servant,” the statement says.

It adds: “The Israel Police will ensure the right to protest, but won’t allow disturbances to public order or violations of the law.”

Anne Frank Center guide compares Jews under Nazis to Palestinians under Israel

The Anne Frank Center in Berlin distances itself from the statement of a freelance guide who compared the suffering of Jews under the Nazis to that of Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

At issue was a profile of Nesreen Hajjaj, a 24-year-old Berliner of Palestinian background, in the July 19 online English version of Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned news outlet. Hajjaj is one of 25 freelance guides who introduce visitors to the exhibition at the Anne Frank Zentrum Berlin.

Hajjaj tells the interviewer that “many things that happened to the Jews during the Nazi rule are happening to the Palestinians now. Jewish people were kicked out of their homes and denied an education. Today Palestinian lands and houses are being conquered,” she tells the online publication.

She says she has been called an “infidel and a hypocrite” on social media for taking the job with the center.

Her answer to critics: “We must be open-minded toward different people, especially if you live within their societies.”

Patrick Siegele, director of the Anne Frank Zentrum, tells JTA that Hajjaj’s comment was “incorrect and painful … and does not reflect the official position of the Anne Frank Zentrum. Furthermore, the Anne Frank Zentrum distances itself from this position.”