The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
7 Israeli citizens charged in Hezbollah terror plot
Seven Israeli citizens are indicted in a plot to receive explosive devices from the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon and to carry out terror attacks in heavily populated locations in the Haifa area.
Six of the defendants are from the town of Ghajar, which straddles the Israel-Lebanon border, and are suspected of receiving the devices, Army Radio reported.
The charges against the six include espionage, aiding the enemy in wartime, possessing weapons without a license, contact with a foreign drug dealer. The seventh suspect is solely charged with drug smuggling.
The plan was uncovered when a farmer from Metulla stumbled upon two of the devices close to the border.
The subsequent police and Shin Bet investigation found that the devices had been passed from Lebanon to Israeli territory by several of the suspects, who are members of the same family.
Rocket alert sounds along Gaza border
An air raid siren sounds in Israeli communities along the Gaza border.
Channel 10 names the area as the Eshkol Regional Council.
A rocket fired from Gaza struck a Sderot street yesterday morning, causing some damage but no injuries. Three people were hospitalized for anxiety.
Gaza rocket strikes open area in Eshkol region
The IDF says a rocket fired from Gaza struck an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council.
There are no immediate reports of injuries.
UN envoy: East Aleppo may be ‘totally destroyed’ by year’s end
The rebel-held eastern areas of Syria’s devastated second city Aleppo may be “totally destroyed” by the end of the year, says Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to the country.
Mistura says there are only an estimated 8,000 rebel fighters holed up in the eastern parts of Aleppo, and that no more than 900 insurgents there are from the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
Abbas undergoes routine tests in Ramallah hospital
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is undergoing routine tests at a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah, a PA official tells the Times of Israel.
The 81-year-old Abbas is found to be fit and healthy and is due to leave the hospital soon.
— Avi Issacharoff
UN envoy urges al-Qaeda affiliate to leave Syria
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura urges al-Qaeda affiliate Fatah al-Sham Front (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) to leave Aleppo, and offers to escort its fighters out of the country.
He tells reporters in Geneva that there are no more than 900 of the insurgents still in Syria.
HBO, Israeli TV plan drama about teens’ abduction
American television powerhouse HBO is teaming up with Israel’s Keshet Studios to produce a drama about the real-life abduction and murder of three Israeli teens in 2014, an act of terror that triggered a series of events leading up to the Hamas-Israel war of that year.
According US entertainment website Deadline, the show will be filmed in Israel next summer, and will be directed by award-winning Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar. Former HBO chief exec Michael Lombardo will be the executive producer.
Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank by Hamas terrorists in June 2014. Their bodies were found 18 days later.
Policewoman gravely hurt in Jerusalem stabbing shows improvement
The policewoman seriously wounded two weeks ago in an attack in Jerusalem is showing signs of improvement, Shaare Zedek hospital says.
The 38-year-old cop was stabbed in the neck as she and a 45-year-old male colleague were on patrol outside Jerusalem’s Old City. The second officer suffered moderate stab wounds to his upper body but managed to shoot the attacker.
The woman is now conscious and breathing without the aid of a respirator, Ynet reports. She is still in intensive care, however.
Ramallah hospital: Abbas undergoing heart test
An official at Ramallah hospital says Abbas will undergo a heart test after being hospitalized.
The official says Abbas, 81, will undergo a cardiac catheterization, a procedure in which a thin tube is inserted into a blood vessel to examine the strength of his heart.
Abbas hospitalized earlier today after feeling “tired,” according to a Palestinian official.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss Abbas’s condition with the media.
Palestinian media: IDF shelling Hamas targets in Gaza
Palestinian media outlets say the IDF is shelling a Hamas target in the central Gaza Strip following the second rocket strike on Israeli territory in two days.
The location being shelled is said to be connected to the Hamas unit that prevents rocket fire on Israel.
UKIP frontrunner collapses after EU parliament ‘altercation’
A top candidate to lead Britain’s anti-Europe UK Independence Party (UKIP), Steven Woolfe, collapses and is taken to the hospital after an “altercation” at the European Parliament, former party leader Nigel Farage says.
The incident comes just a day after UKIP’s new leader Diane James quit unexpectedly only 18 days into her reign as Farage’s successor, as the party grapples with infighting following Britain’s vote to leave the EU.
Farage says Woolfe is in “serious” condition in hospital “following an altercation that took place at a meeting of UKIP MEPs this morning” at the parliament.” He does not provide further details.
A UKIP spokesman says Woolfe “was taken suddenly ill in the European Parliament building in Strasbourg this morning. He has been taken to hospital in the city and he is undergoing tests.”
— UKIP (@UKIP) October 6, 2016
Putin, Hollande to meet in France on October 19, Lavrov says
Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with his French counterpart Francois Hollande during a visit to France on October 19, his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says.
Putin and Hollande “will discuss international issues including Syria and Ukraine,” Lavrov tells his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault at a meeting in Moscow.
Blast reported near Istanbul police station
Turkish media reports an explosion near a police station in Istanbul. The cause of the blast is not immediately known.
Turkey has been rocked by a wave of terror attacks in the past year carried out by Kurdish rebels or Islamic State group militants.
IDF confirms strike on Hamas in Gaza
The IDF confirms Palestinian reports that it shelled a Hamas target in the central Gaza Strip following the second rocket strike on southern Israel in two days.
5 hurt in blast near Istanbul police station — TV
At least five people are hurt, one seriously, in the suspected car bombing near a police station in Istanbul, Turkish television says.
The explosion rocks the district of Yenibosna on the European side of Istanbul, close to the city’s main international airport, according to CNN-Turk.
Television footage shows several cars wrecked and shards of glass scattering the ground after the blast.
Witnesses tells CNN-Turk that they heard a powerful explosion as well as gunshots. Turkish police have sealed off the area on suspicion of a possible second blast.
The force of the blast blew out the windows of the police station.
Culture minister objects to Acre Festival play on Palestinians
Culture Minister Miri Regev says she will examine one of the shows set to be performed at the upcoming annual Acre Festival for incitement against the State of Israel.
The play, titled “Palestine Year Zero,” is due to be performed at the festival, which runs during the Sukkot holiday, Walla says. Regev and Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri have agreed to reevaluate whether the play “has content that incites those who would harm the country and its symbols.”
Regev says: “As I previously stated, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and freedom of financing. No country, including the State of Israel, would fund shows that undermine its existence.”
According to the Acre Festival’s program, the play is a “documentary comedy” that tells the story of a Palestinian building appraiser who decides to document damage across East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. In each place, the nature and reason for the damage is different, and his final report paints a picture of the Palestinian experience past and present.
Pilot who died ejecting from jet to be buried tomorrow
An Israeli Air Force pilot who died yesterday while trying to eject from his F-16 warplane will be buried tomorrow in central Israel.
Maj. Ohad Cohen Nov, 34, will be laid to rest at Moshav Mazor.
— Judah Ari Gross
No justification for ‘deluge of fire’ in Aleppo, France tells Russia
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault tells Russia that there is no justifying the intense assault on Syria’s war-ravaged city of Aleppo.
“Nothing can justify such a deluge of fire and of death,” Ayrault says after meeting his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, adding that “no one can tolerate this situation.”
Abbas gets clean bill of health after heart test
Abbas is given a clean bill of health following an emergency heart procedure after suffering exhaustion and chest pains.
Dr. Mohammed al-Batrawi, a heart specialist treating Abbas in Ramallah, says he ordered the president to the hospital for testing after Abbas felt tired and experienced chest pains at his office. He says Abbas went through a number of routine tests, including a cardiac catheterization, a procedure that can detect and treat heart problems, and that everything looked normal.
“His arteries look great, and there is no need for him to stay in the hospital,” al-Batrawi says. “He is leaving shortly.”
Taking softer tone, Pence calls Clinton ‘admirable’
Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence offers rare praise for Hillary Clinton, saying both the Democratic presidential nominee and Donald Trump have “many admirable qualities.”
“I frankly think both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have many admirable qualities that young people can look up to,” Pence says in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.
Pence, the Indiana governor and former congressman, praises the Republican businessman’s resilience, calling him a “strong leader.” He then quickly adds a nod to the opposition: “And I want to recognize Hillary Clinton as the first woman to be major party nominee in American history,” he says.
Greek islanders, Syria’s White Helmets favorites for Nobel Peace Prize
Bookmakers taking bets for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize are giving the lowest odds to the Greek islanders who have opened their hearts and homes to hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
The award will be announced Friday in Oslo, Norway, and as usual the Norwegian Nobel Committee isn’t dropping any hints about its choice for 2016.
The betting site Unibet gives the lowest odds to Greek islanders while another betting site, Paddy Power, has the Syrian rescue group White Helmets in first place, followed by the islanders.
The committee has dedicated the prize to efforts to help refugees several times before, including with two awards to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in 1954 and 1981.
This year’s winner will be announced tomorrow at 11 a.m. local time (0900 GMT) at the Norwegian Nobel Institute.
Eshkol council head: We cannot go back to days of rocket fire
The head of the Eshkol Regional Council, which borders the Gaza Strip, says the communities in the area will not accept a return to the days of ongoing rocket fire from the Hamas-run territory.
“Yesterday it was a Kassam in Sderot, today it was us in Eshkol,” Gadi Yarkoni tells Army Radio. “This cannot continue, not even for a few days. We will not accept a return to the sporadic fire on communities bordering Gaza, which is something that was over two years ago.”
Russia to US: We will use air defense to protect Syrian army
The Russian military is warning the United States against striking Syrian government forces, saying it’s ready to use its air defense weapons to protect them.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov warns that the Russian military won’t have time to contact its US counterparts if they see missiles on way to target — indicating it would strike back without warning should Syrian forces be attacked.
Konashenkov voices concern about media reports alleging that Washington is considering strikes on Syrian troops. He says strikes on government-controlled areas could threaten Russian forces there.
A US-led coalition airstrike killed over 60 Syrian government soldiers last month. The US says the strike was unintentional and had been targeting the Islamic State group, but Moscow questions this account.
Abbas leaves Ramallah hospital after heart tests
Abbas leaves hospital after completing heart tests in a Ramallah hospital.
The 81-year-old Palestinian leader was given a clean bill of health earlier today, after complaining of chest pains and exhaustion.
Shaked: US won’t be ‘mean-spirited’ over Shiloh construction
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked calls yesterday’s furious American response to new housing units in a West Bank settlement “disproportionate,” but says she does not think that the US administration would take any “mean-spirited” steps against the Jewish state, such as deciding not to veto anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council.
The response to the expansion of the Shiloh settlement to house residents of the Amona outpost tapped for demolition was disproportionate considering the state of the wider Middle East, including Syria, she tells Channel 2 television.
Shaked says that while the US administration has the right to respond in whichever way it chooses, it is unlikely to take such severe action in the final months of Obama’s term, given the close US-Israel relationship.
Florida-bound Hurricane Matthew upgraded to Category 4
Hurricane Matthew is gaining strength as it approaches Florida and was upgraded to Category Four, the National Hurricane Center says.
The center says the storm could strengthen further still as it churns toward the US coast from the Caribbean. Four is the second-highest level on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of nearly 140 miles (220 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts, the center says.
Ex-Labor leader: Joining coalition would be ‘amoral’
Former Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich slams the reported coalition negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Zionist Union chair Isaac Herzog.
Labor is one of the two parties that make up the Zionist Union faction, along with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua.
“Once something substantial happens… and this unreasonable, amoral, opportunistic move to enter the right-wing government takes shape, then I will say the things I have to say,” Yachimovich tells Army Radio.
Liberman: We don’t war with Hamas, but we’ll answer every rocket
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stresses that while Israel does not want to spark a war with Hamas, it will answer every rocket attack with a “forceful response.”
Liberman was speaking specifically about rocket attacks that struck Israeli territory, to which Israel responded by striking Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
“We are not looking for adventures and no one wants to push for escalation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip — however, we are determined to protect the safety of the citizens of the State of Israel, and on that point there will be no compromise,” Liberman says at a Tel Aviv event honoring outstanding officers and NCOs.
“All [rocket] fire from Gaza into the sovereign land of the State of Israel will get a forceful response. Hamas rules the Strip with a firm hand and when it wants to get something or prevent something, it knows how to do that,” he says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Jeffrey Goldberg publishes complaint from PM’s aide over unflattering column
Jewish American columnist Jeffrey Goldberg posts online a letter he received from Netanyahu’s spokesman David Keyes in response to a column criticizing the PM.
Goldberg posts the entire response on The Atlantic website, under the headline “The Unbearable Smallness of Benjamin Netanyahu, Cont’d” — a reference to the original article’s title “The Unbearable Smallness of Benjamin Netanyahu.” The headline given by Keyes to his missive is “The Unbearable Misunderstanding of Goldberg.”
In the response, Keyes addresses the points raised in Goldberg’s original article, accusing the respected columnist of making “spurious” claims against Netanyahu, whom he says “remains fully committed to his vision of peace based on two states for two peoples where a demilitarized Palestinian state finally recognizes the Jewish State of Israel.”
Furthermore, Keyes says, Goldberg depicts the prime minister “as an obstacle to peace despite the evidence to the contrary” and even accuses him “of badly misplaying Iran.”
Keyes concludes by saying that, “Israel’s future has never been brighter. The real pessimist here is not Prime Minister Netanyahu—it’s Jeffrey Goldberg.”
Palestinians say Gaza probe a ‘serious test’ for ICC
Palestinian officials welcome delegates from the International Criminal Court, saying they hope it will lead to a war crimes investigation against Israel.
Officials from the world’s only permanent war crimes court are visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories this week against the backdrop of a probe into the 2014 Gaza war.
But chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says the trip is not linked to her ongoing initial inquiry on the war. She says the visit is for “outreach and education activities” to raise awareness about the ICC and her own office.
The official schedule does not include a visit to Gaza.
“Palestine is a serious test to the ICC and I don’t think they can afford to fail it,” says Ammar Hijazi, a Palestinian foreign ministry official, tells journalists. “If they fail Palestine’s test, the whole ICC and the whole international criminal system will collapse.”
IDF nabs suspected Palestinian arms dealer in West Bank
The army says Israeli security forces arrested a Palestinian man believed to be on his way to an arms deal in the West Bank today, confiscating a locally produced submachine gun and what appears to be a wooden mace.
The suspect was picked up near Halhul, a Palestinian village outside Hebron, as part of a joint Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police operation, the army says.
Footage of the incident, which was released by the army, shows the suspect making a U-turn before his car was rushed by troops.
Upon searching the man’s vehicle, IDF soldiers found a “Carlo”-style submachine gun and what seems to be a wooden spiked mace, also known as a morning star.
1 suspect charged, 2nd held in attack on Belgian police
Belgian prosecutors say a suspect has been charged with attempted murder in a terrorist context and participating in the activities of a terrorist group in connection with a stabbing attack that injured two Brussels police officers.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office, in a statement Thursday, also said suspect Hicham D.’s younger brother, Aboubaker D., has been detained, and that an investigating judge specializing in terrorism cases will decide whether he should be kept in custody tomorrow.
Two police officers in the Schaerbeek neighborhood of Brussels were attacked on the street yesterday by a man with a knife, who was overpowered by another police patrol.
Hicham D. was identified by prosecutors as a 43-year-old Belgian national. Media reports said he was a veteran of the Belgian army who was discharged in 2009.
Police shutter 3 groups linked to banned Islamic Movement
Israel Police announces the closure of three Arab organizations linked to the banned Islamic Movement Northern Branch.
A publication, QPRESS, an educational institute named Qadaraat and Supreme Council in Support of al-Quds and al-Aqsa, an association that campaigns for East Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, also have their bank accounts frozen.
The three are allegedly linked to the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which was banned in November 2015 on charges of having instigated weeks of Palestinian unrest at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
“These three organizations carried on the activities of the Northern Branch,” police say in a statement, adding that QPRESS has issued new calls to confront Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount.
Corbyn names author of anti-Semitism report as shadow A-G
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn names the author of a controversial report into anti-Semitism in his party as his new shadow attorney-general.
This is the second time that Corbyn has singled out Shami Chakrabarti in the wake of the report, which was widely derided by British Jewish leaders as “beyond disappointing.”
In August, the human rights lawyer also received a peerage, and was the sole person recommended for an honor by Corbyn.
Obama declares state of emergency in Florida
Obama declares an emergency in the state of Florida and orders federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts to Hurricane Matthew.
Obama’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate efforts to alleviate the suffering caused by the hurricane. The directive applies to more than two dozen counties in Florida.
Emergency declarations are designed to help provide emergency services to protect lives and property, and to lessen the threat of a catastrophe.
Police nab man who posed as security official, assaulted tourist
Police arrest an Arab resident of the Old City of Jerusalem for allegedly posing as a member of the security forces and sexually assaulting a female tourist.
The attack took place in the area of the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. The suspect who is in his 30s allegedly stopped the woman, told her he needed to check her ID and then assaulted her.
The woman complained to the police immediately after the attack, and the suspect was arrested. The investigation is ongoing, police say.
Ivanka Trump, Rosie O’Donnell make nice in NYC
Rosie O’Donnell, who has been feuding publicly with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for a decade, bumps into his daughter Ivanka Trump in New York City.
The two women reportedly ran into each other on Wednesday night at the trendy Nobu Japanese restaurant in Manhattan.
O’Donnell tweets about the chance encounter, wishing Ivanka, who converted to Judaism in 2009, a Happy New Year in honor of Rosh Hashanah.
@IvankaTrump in a city of 8 million – we meet face 2 face – i thank u 4 listening – mother 2 mother – on this new years week – my best 2 u
— Rosie (@Rosie) October 6, 2016
The feud between O’Donnell and Donald Trump began in 2006 over Trump’s reinstating Miss USA Tara Conner despite her violation of pageant rules including drug use, underage drinking and sexual activities. O’Donnell, then a co-host of “The View,” criticized the decision by Trump, a co-owner of the Miss USA Pageant, slamming his personal morals and accusing him of going bankrupt.
Trump responded by calling O’Donnell “a loser,” “a woman out of control” and “nice fat little Rosie.”
Ivanka Trump did not mention the encounter on social media accounts.