The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Haifa oil leak: Bathers warned away from beaches
The Health Ministry instructs the public to keep away from the beaches at the Haifa suburbs of Kiryat Yam and Kiryat Haim, following a massive oil leak at Haifa Bay.
Bathers are told to stay off these beaches until the oil has been cleaned away.
בעקבות הפגיעה בצינור הנפט במפרץ חיפה מ' הבריאות מזהיר את הציבור מפני רחצה בחופי הקריות pic.twitter.com/WauYMF9nTp
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) July 5, 2016
El Al flight lands safely in Tel Aviv after hoax bomb threat
An El Al flight at the center of a hoax bomb threat lands safely in Tel Aviv.
Swiss media says the fake warning led the country to scramble military jets to accompany the flight, which took off from New York, as it passed through Bern’s airspace.
The planes were deployed after American authorities received an anonymous bomb threat, Israel’s Foreign Ministry says. The bomb was said to have been smuggled aboard and hidden in the plane’s kitchen.
The US officials informed their Swiss counterparts as the plane entered Swiss airspace, but a careful search of the plane soon revealed that the call was a hoax.
Katsav to get new parole hearing
The parole board is to meet again to discuss an appeal by disgraced former president Moshe Katsav to have his sentence for rape and other sexual abuse reduced.
The meeting comes following a decision by Lod District Court, the Ynet news website says.
Katsav is serving a 7-year sentence, and was convicted in late 2010. He has previously tried, unsuccessfully, to have his jail time cut.
A-G: Let single women use surrogate mothers
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit urges the government to change the law on surrogacy to allow all women to make use of surrogacy on medical grounds, regardless of marital status.
Mandelblit said the current law, which does not allow a single woman to use a surrogate mother, was flawed, the Walla website reports.
Kenya backs Israel’s bid for African Union observer status
Kenya’s president says the country supports Israel’s bid to receive observer status at the African Union.
The Jewish state previously enjoyed observer status in the Union’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, but that honor was not extended when the OAU was disbanded in 2002 and replaced by the African Union.
“We believe that there is need for us as a continent to once again to reengage Israel on a more positive basis, with an understanding that our partnership can help make this world that much more secure,” President Uhuru Kenyatta says at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Nairobi.
“This something that Kenya will continue to push, to see how Israel can regain her observer position at the African Union. I believe that this is not just good for Kenya. It is good for Africa. It is good for global peace. It is good for partnership.”
— Raphael Ahren
Netanyahu: Israel and Kenya share terrorist threat
Israel and Kenya should work hand-in-hand against terrorism, Netanyahu says in Nairobi during the second stop on his four-nation Africa tour.
Netanyahu says Kenya and Israel “face the same challenges” of terrorism, and cites the 2013 attack on the Israeli-owned Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in which four jihadist gunmen killed at least 67 people.
“We have also experienced similar attacks in our country,” Netanyahu says. “Working together will help us defeat the scourge of this terror even faster.”
The PM promises to share intelligence and provide “direct assistance” aimed at saving lives. “There is a raging battle with terrorism,” he says.
Netanyahu ‘lobbied world leaders to tone down Quartet report’
Reuters reports that Netanyahu lobbied world leaders ahead of the release of a potentially damning report on the stagnant Mideast peace process, which led to the use of softer language to criticize Israel.
Friday’s report by the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers (the US, UN, EU and Russia) had been set to strongly condemn Israel for what Reuters calls “consistent violation of international law.” But Netanyahu swung into action, meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini ahead of the report’s publication.
In the end, the report, which Reuters calls “mild in the extreme,” outlined three major areas of concern — Israel’s ongoing settlement construction, the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and Palestinian incitement.
The Palestinians tell Reuters that the world capitulated to Israel, with chief negotiator Saeb Erekat saying the Quartet attempted to “equalize the responsibilities between a people under occupation and a foreign military occupier.”
“There’s just no appetite to go toe-to-toe with Israel and deliver a really harsh indictment,” the report quotes a European ambassador as saying. “No one sees the upside to it.”
Bureaucratic row leaves Holocaust survivors without benefits
Some 9,200 Holocaust survivors in Israel are going without their monthly benefits due to an ongoing dispute between Treasury and the company that manages restitution funds.
The two sides apparently resolved their differences days ago, Israel Radio says, but are now fighting over a legal document that the company is supposed to submit to the Finance Ministry.
Meretz: Government exploiting attacks to build in Jerusalem
Meretz leader Zehava Galon lashes out at the government’s plans to build more Jewish homes in East Jerusalem, accusing ministers of exploiting the current spate of terror attacks in order to advance their construction policies.
“The government is taking cynical advantage of the recent terror attacks to continue building,” she says, according to Channel 2.
“There is no symmetry between us as sovereigns and the Palestinians in the territories and the construction will not curtail the motivation for terror.”
Source: Netanyahu, Somali leader hold first-ever bilateral talks
NAIROBI– Netanyahu recently met with the president of Somalia in what would mark a first high-level contact between the two countries, a source close to the Somali leader tells The Times of Israel.
Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the East African nation. Somalia, an all-Muslim country and a member of the Arab League, has never recognized the Jewish state.
According to the Caasimada Online website, which is run by journalists opposed to the Somali regime, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and three other officials paid a short visit to Tel Aviv, where they met with Netanyahu and other Israeli officials.
A senior official close to Mohamud confirms to The Times of Israel that the meeting took place, but could not say whether it did happen in Tel Aviv. Another meeting between the two leaders is planned for the near future, the official says.
Israeli officials decline to comment on the matter.
— Raphael Ahren
Chief rabbi: Rabbinate does accept Lookstein’s conversions
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau says Israel’s Chief Rabbinate recognizes conversions performed by New York’s Rabbi Haskel Lookstein — a differing stance from Petah Tikva rabbinical court, the Orthodox Jewish website Kikar Hashabbat says.
The court’s refusal to accept the conversion by Lookstein of a new immigrant to Israel and its implicit questioning of the rabbi’s Orthodox credentials were met with angry disbelief across the Diaspora.
The high media exposure came in no small part because Lookstein also converted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and officiated at her 2009 wedding to media mogul Jared Kushner.
In a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Lau says there will be a hearing tomorrow on the issue.
Women of the Wall dedicate prayers to slain teen
The Women of the Wall organization, which campaigns for the right for women to pray at the Western Wall, will dedicate their next service for the new month to Hallel Yaffa Ariel, the 13-year-old girl murdered last week by a terrorist in her own home in Kiryat Arba.
The prayers will take place on Thursday.
Shin Bet nabs 2 Gazans for passing cash to Hamas
The Shin Bet security service says it has arrested two residents of the Gaza Strip on suspicion of transferring funds to Hamas.
The security service says the two men provided it with information about the locations of rocket launchers and tunnels in the Strip, including ones that have been constructed under “homes of innocent people and mosques.”
According to the Shin Bet, the two men were captured inside Israel, as they were among the “thousands of Gaza Strip residents” with travel permits allowing them freedom of movement for business purposes.
— Judah Ari Gross
Saudi Arabia: Pakistani man behind Jeddah suicide bombing
DUBAI — Saudi Arabia names the suicide bomber who struck outside the US Consulate in Jeddah as a Pakistani resident of the kingdom who arrived 12 years ago to work as a driver.
An Interior Ministry statement identifies the man as 34-year-old Abdullah Qalzar Khan. It says he lived in the port city with “his wife and her parents,” but does not elaborate.
In the attack, the bomber detonated his explosives after two security guards approached him, killing himself and lightly wounding the two guards, the Interior Ministry says. No consular staff were hurt.
The bombing was the first of three in the kingdom yesterday, including one at the Medina mosque where the Prophet Muhammad is buried, which killed four Saudi security troops.
No group has claimed responsibility for the Jeddah and Medina attacks, nor another at a Shiite mosque in the east of the country.
Father of Hebron soldier cries in court: It’s a frame-up
The father of Elior Azaria, the IDF soldier on trial for manslaughter for shooting dead a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron in March, bursts into tears during his son’s trial in Jaffa Military Court, and accuses the army’s judicial authorities of corruption and of setting up his son.
“Were these officers even in Hebron?” Charlie Azaria demands, according to Ynet. “They received orders from above. They are framing him. Someone is pulling the strings.”
He also says that officials are “trying with all their might to convict my son,” Channel 2 reports.
Azaria’s aunt also blamed the IDF for her nephew’s predicament, saying it was the army that “gave him a weapon and instructed him.”
Meretz MK: Herzog is useful idiot for Netanyahu
Meretz MK Issawi Frij calls opposition leader Isaac Herzog of Zionist Union a useful idiot for the right wing after he suggested a ban on the broadcast of Knesset speeches by controversial Arab MK Hanin Zoabi.
Frij says that Herzog was unperturbed by comments from hardline Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, “who called left-wing organizations ‘terrorist accomplices’… but Zoabi he wants to silence.”
The MK brands Herzog “an incompetent person and no more than a useful idiot in the service of Netanyahu and the right.”
ADL concerned at Trump silence over anti-Semitism, misogyny
The Anti-Defamation League expresses concern over Donald Trump’s failure to condemn his anti-Jewish and anti-women supporters.
We've been alarmed that Trump hasn’t spoken out vociferously against anti-Semites & misogynists who support him https://t.co/4OdH7mL1Az
— ADL (@ADL_National) July 5, 2016
“We’ve been alarmed that Trump hasn’t spoken out vociferously against anti-Semites & misogynists who support him,” the ADL writes on Twitter, after the GOP candidate defends his tweet showing an image of Hillary Clinton against a backdrop of $100 bills, with the caption “Most Corrupt Candidate ever!” inside a Star of David.
The tweet containing the image was deleted and reposted with a circle instead of the star.
IDF thwarts attempted stabbing near Ariel; no injuries
IDF troops foil an attempted stabbing near the West Bank settlement of Ariel. The IDF is still investigating, a spokesperson says, but it appears that there are no Israelis injured.
The would-be attacker, a woman, was subdued after she tried to stab civilians at the hitchhiking post next to the settlement.
— Judah Ari Gross
IDF to sound air raid sirens in Beit Shemesh drill
The IDF will activate an air raid siren in the area surrounding Beit Shemesh and the Mateh Yehuda region tomorrow as part of an emergency preparedness exercise, the army says.
At 10:05 a.m., the siren will be heard in Beit Shemesh, Mevasseret Zion, Abu Ghosh, Neve Ilan, Tzur Hadassah, and other communities west of Jerusalem.
In the case of an actual emergency, the siren will be activated twice.
The IDF will also send out a notification through its Home Front Command mobile phone application.
There will also be announcements made on 101 FM and 89.5 FM.
“The IDF spokesperson stresses that this test was planned ahead of time as part of its 2016 exercise plan and it is meant to test the alert systems,” the army says in a statement.
— Judah Ari Gross
Mother of slain teen rejects Women of Wall prayers in daughter’s name
The mother of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, the teen slain in her own West Bank home last week, opposes a plan by the Woman of the Wall to dedicate a prayer service Thursday to her daughter.
“I am hearing about this for the first time from you,” Rina Ariel tells Haredi radio station Kol Hai, as she expresses her disapproval of the plan
“We really want everyone to see our pain, and we appreciate the prayers of a woman, but from our perspective things should be done in a halachic way and definitely not in other ways,” she says.
The Women of the Wall works for the right for women to pray at the Western Wall, which is opposed by Israel’s Orthodox rabbinate.
IDF: Soldier shot assailant who tried to stab him near Ariel
The IDF says the attempted attack near Ariel was thwarted by a soldier whom the assailant tried to stab.
“An assailant armed with a knife attempted to stab a soldier at the Gitai Avisar junction west of Ariel,” the army says in a statement. “Responding to immediate danger, the soldier shot and detained the attacker.”
FBI says it won’t recommend charges over Clinton emails
The FBI won’t recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while secretary of state, agency Director James Comey says, lifting a major legal threat to her presidential campaign.
Comey says that although the investigation found “extremely careless” behavior by Clinton and her staff in their handling of sensitive information, the FBI had concluded that “no charges are appropriate.” He says the agency believed that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
The announcement comes three days after the FBI interviewed Clinton for hours in a final step of its yearlong investigation into the possible mishandling of classified information.
Trump slams FBI decision on Clinton case: It’s very, very unfair
Donald Trump criticizes the FBI decision not to recommend charges against his presumptive presidential rival Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while secretary of state, writing on Twitter that it was “very, very unfair.”
The system is rigged. General Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2016
FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2016
The GOP nominee’s comments come shortly after FBI Director James Comey says the agency will not back criminal charges against Clinton, thereby lifting a major legal threat to her presidential campaign.
Turkish military chopper crashes with senior officers on board
A military helicopter comes down in northern Turkey, with senior officers on board, Israel’s Walla website reports, quoting the Turkish media.
US court: KKK can join ‘Adopt a Highway’ scheme
The Supreme Court in the state of Georgia rejects the authorities’s bid to stop the Ku Klux Klan from taking part in its “Adopt-A-Highway” program, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the WSJ, a local KKK chapter called the International Keystone Knights applied in 2012 to join the state-run program, in which “citizen volunteers” to help pick up litter from the side of road. Normally volunteers have their names placed on signs along the part of the highway they have cleared.
The KKK chapter suggested that it adopt a one-mile stretch of a local route, a bid rejected by Georgia’s transportation department, which expressed concerns that “erecting a sign naming an organization which has a long-rooted history of civil disturbance would cause a significant public concern.”
The KKK chapter was backed by Georgia’s ACLU branch, which sued the state on the grounds that the denial of the application violated a “fundamental right to free speech.”
Algeria nixes soccer match over Ghana’s Israeli coach — report
Algeria’s soccer team is pulling out of a friendly match with Ghana because the latter has an Israeli head coach, a Ghanaian website says, quoting the Algerian media.
According to the report on pulse.com.gh, the Algerian team dropped out of the match to ensure that Avram Grant did not enter the country.
According to the report, Algerian journalist Ayman Gada wrote on Facebook that, “The Algerian national team canceled the friendly match with Ghana because it refused to host Ghana’s Israeli coach, Avraham (sic) Grant.”
Grant, who formerly coached English soccer giant Chelsea, has been in Ghana for the past two years.
IDF gets new commander in flashpoint Hebron area
Col. Itzik Cohen takes over for Col. Yariv Ben-Ezra as head of the IDF’s Judea Brigade, which is responsible for the Hebron area.
In a ceremony outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Ben-Ezra steps down from the position that he has held for two years.
“Yariv, your tenure has had constant challenges: the kidnapping of the three teens — Gilad [Shaer], Eyal [Yifrah] and Naftali [Fraenkel], may their memories be blessed — which took place soon after you entered your position, and immediately afterward there was Operation Brother’s Keeper and then Operation Protective Edge,” Brig. Gen. Lior Carmeli says at the ceremony, referring to two military operations that took place in the summer of 2014 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively.
“You knew how to strike the right balance with professionalism, honesty, sensitivity and with the large scope that is required in a complicated reality,” he says.
“Unfortunately, even in the last week in the position we have experienced difficult terror attacks in which Hallel Ariel and Miki Mark were murdered,” Carmeli adds.
Cohen, who is entering the position, notes the difficulty he will face, but says he is “proud” to receive the responsibility.
In the span of just a few days, Hebron and the surrounding area saw a spate of attacks that left two dead and several injured. In response, the army put a closure on the city — the most populous in the West Bank — in a bid to return calm to the area.
— Judah Ari Gross
Germany evacuates Turkey-bound plane after warning
German police evacuate a plane bound for Turkey at the Kassel airport in the center of the country after an anonymous caller tells authorities that a potentially dangerous piece of luggage is on board.
The caller informs airport officials that there was a suitcase on board “which could pose a danger,” Kassel police say in a statement.
Airport authorities later say that no hazardous items are found in a search of the plane and the luggage. The aircraft, operated by German airline Germania, is eventually able to take off for Antalya on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast with 128 passengers on board, according to German news agency DPA.
Afghan Taliban condemns attack at Medina mosque
The Afghan Taliban condemns a deadly suicide bombing at Islam’s second holiest site in the Saudi city of Medina, describing it as “an act of enmity and hatred.”
Four people were killed in the bombing outside the Prophet’s Mosque yesterday, on the same day as an attack outside a minority Shiite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia, and another near the US consulate in the western city of Jeddah.
“The Islamic Emirate (Taliban) – which has been shocked by this gruesome act – condemns this incident in the strongest of terms and considers it an act of enmity and hatred towards Islamic rituals,” the militant group says in an emailed statement.
There are no claims of responsibility for the bombings, but the Islamic State group had urged its supporters to carry out attacks during Ramadan.
The Taliban, who were ousted from power by a US-led invasion in late 2001, have themselves been repeatedly blamed by the UN for deliberately targeting civilians in the war-torn country.
Clinton, Obama head to campaign stop on Air Force One
Less than two hours after a legal cloud was lifted from her campaign, Hillary Clinton boards Air Force One for a flight with President Barack Obama to a joint campaign appearance in North Carolina. The trip comes as FBI Director James Comey says the FBI will not recommend criminal charges in its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.
Clinton’s rival Donald Trump objected to the travel arrangement. He tweeted, “Why is President Obama allowed to use Air Force One on the campaign trail with Crooked Hillary? Who pays?”
Why is President Obama allowed to use Air Force One on the campaign trail with Crooked Hillary? She is flying with him tomorrow. Who pays?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2016
Presidents make all their airplane flights on Air Force One, no matter the purpose of the trip. Political committees are required to contribute to the cost of a president’s campaign-related travel, though a portion of such costs is borne by taxpayers, too.
Clinton campaign ‘pleased’ at FBI decision on emails case
Hillary Clinton’s spokesman says the campaign is pleased that the FBI will recommend no charges against her for blending personal and State Department email on a an unsecured private server.
Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon says in a statement that the campaign is “pleased that the career officials” overseeing the investigation “have determined that no further action by the department is appropriate.”
Fallon adds that Clinton has said previously that it was a “mistake to use her personal email and she would not do it again.”
He adds the campaign is “glad that this matter is now resolved.”
Pro-Palestinian group names woman shot trying to stab soldier
A pro-Palestinian group identifies the woman shot and wounded by an IDF soldier as she tried to stab him in the West Bank earlier today.
According to the International Solidarity Movement, the woman is 23-year old Jamila Dawud, who suffers from what the group called mental health issues. The woman is now in hospital, the group says.
— ISM Palestine (@ISMPalestine) July 5, 2016
Ryan: Anti-Semitic images have no place in presidential campaign
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan offers a tepid condemnation of Donald Trump’s use of a Star of David in a tweet claiming corruption by his rival Hillary Clinton, saying that such images do not belong in the race for the White House.
“Anti-Semitic images have no place in the presidential campaign, candidates should know that,” Ryan tells “Midday with Charlie Sykes” show on Milwaukee’s WTMU radio.
“One of the few times I spoke out against him … was when he failed to disavow white supremacists,” Ryan points out, before adding “I think he’s got to clean this thing up.”
The speaker says, however, that he understands the post was tweeted by a member of Trump’s staff and not by the candidate himself.
Trump last week tweeted the image of Clinton surrounded by $100 bills with the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” on a six-pointed star, a common Jewish and Israeli symbol. The ad drew immediate condemnation from social media users, with some questioning Trump’s motive for using a six-pointed star in a campaign ad slamming his opponent’s finances.
PM announces plan to visit Kazakhstan, possibly Azerbaijan
Netanyahu is planning to visit Kazakhstan and possibly Azerbaijan, he tells Israeli reporters during his current four-country tour in Eastern Africa.
The prime minister makes the announcement at a briefing in his hotel in Nairobi, during which he also lays out a plan to create new alliances around the globe in a bid to strengthen Jerusalem’s position in the conflict with the Palestinians.
“Israel is perceived here, but not only here, as a world power in some areas, such as technology, intelligence, water, agriculture, cyber security and other areas I will not detail here. This is how Israel is seen,” Netanyahu says.
This policy of expanding international relations “will lead to a situation in which the Palestinians will no longer have this shelter and will have to discuss with us on a bilateral basis, something they refuse to do it as long as they have the international refuge,” he adds.
— Raphael Ahren