The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Netanyahu hails UNESCO progress
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says that the UNESCO vote today is a better result for Israel.
A statement from the office says that “fewer nations were in favor of the resolution this year.”
The resolution passed today by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee ignores Jewish and Christian ties to the Jerusalem holy sites. It passed by a large majority, with 10 countries voting in favor, eight abstaining and two opposing the text.
“More nations moved this year from support to abstentions,” the statement says, attributing this to “intense efforts by the prime minister and the Foreign Ministry.”
Foreign Ministry says UNESCO resolution belongs in garbage
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon says the UNESCO resolution passed today “is a piece of rubbish.”
Nahshon, writing on Twitter, praised Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO for throwing a copy of the resolution in the trash.
UNESCO's vote on Jerusalem is a piece of rubbish, rightly dumped in the garbage can by our Ambassador!! Long live Jewish Jerusalem!!!
— Emmanuel Nahshon (@EmmanuelNahshon) October 26, 2016
France says clearance of Calais camp expected to end today
France says that the clearance of the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais is expected to end today.
This is the second day of operations to tear down the squalid settlement in northern France.
Around half of the camp’s estimated population of 6,000 to 8,000 migrants have been transferred out since Monday, boarding buses to centers around France.
Workers protest after mayor shuts Haifa refinery
Several workers from the Carmel Olefins refinery are protesting outside Haifa city hall after the mayor orders the factory shut.
The workers say the move is a populist measure by Mayor Yona Yahav, Ynet reports.
Yahav ordered the refinery shut for a month after a series of incidents that he says are polluting the area.
The refinery is appealing to the court against the move and says it is fully compliant with strict anti-pollution laws.
No charges in shooting of Palestinian siblings at crossing
The State Prosecutor’s office says no charges will be filed against civilian guards who shot and killed a woman and her brother at the flashpoint Qalandiya crossing in the West Bank in April.
The 23-year-old woman threw a knife at the guards. Her 16-year-old brother was also found to have been carrying a knife.
A statement from the prosecutor says that one guard fired a shot at the woman as she drew the knife, and “as such he acted in self-defense.”
Activists: Syria airstrikes kill 17, mostly kids
Syrian activists say that airstrikes outside a school in the northern, rebel-held province of Idlib have killed 17 people, mostly children.
The Idlib News network says the airstrikes hit as the children gathered outside a school complex in the village of Hass, in northern Idlib, on Wednesday.
The group says most of the casualties are children and that there are fears the death toll could rise further as some of the wounded are in critical condition. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 22, including 14 children. It also says the death toll is likely to rise.
Idlib is the main Syrian opposition stronghold, though radical groups have a large presence there also. It has been regularly hit by Syrian and Russian warplanes as well as the US-led coalition targeting Islamic State militants.
Palestinian gets 17 years for stabbing soldier
The Jerusalem District court has handed a Palestinian man a 17-year prison sentence for stabbing and lightly wounding a soldier in Jerusalem.
The Palestinian, Said Komboz, also has to pay the soldier he wounded NIS 50,000 ($13,000) in compensation for the attack, which occurred in December at the Jerusalem central bus station.
Komboz confessed to the attack as part of a plea deal, but the judge writes that he gave him a severe sentence in “the interest of public safety” and in order to discourage “this murderous ideology.”
The judge also notes that he has not expressed regret for his actions.
Push to oust IS from ‘capital’ Raqqa to start soon — officials
The offensive to drive the Islamic State group from its Raqqa stronghold in Syria will begin in the next few weeks, top US and British defense officials say.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his British counterpart Michael Fallon make the predictions nearly 10 days into a US-backed Iraqi offensive on Mosul, the last major Iraqi city under IS control.
“It starts in the next few weeks,” Carter says in an interview with NBC news before arriving in Brussels for a NATO meeting.
“That has long been our plan and we will be capable of resourcing both,” Carter says.
Arriving for the two-day NATO defense ministers meeting in the Belgian capital, Fallon says “we hope a similar operation will begin towards Raqqa in the next few weeks.”
Prosecutors seeking 40-year sentence for Netanyahu driver
Prosecutors are demanding a 40-year jail sentence for a former driver of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convicted of a series of sexual assaults against young girls.
Ilan Shmuel, 52, from Moshav Zecharia, was found guilty last month of rape, indecent assault, and sodomy on a series of young girls over a 20-year period, many of them family members.
According to Channel 10 news, prosecutors want Shmuel put away for 40 years for his crimes.
Police first began an investigation into Shmuel two years ago after a woman, now an adult, claimed the suspect had sexually assaulted her from when she was 9 until she was 16.
Investigators discovered nine more women and young girls who had been victims of Shmuel.
In the intervening period, Shmuel continued to work as a driver at the Prime Minister’s Office, including duties behind the wheel of Netanyahu’s limousine.
France finishes clearing Calais migrant camp
French authorities say they’ve cleared the Calais migrant camp known as “the Jungle,” days earlier than planned.
A local official in the region. Fabienne Buccio, says their goal of has been accomplished.
“There are no more migrants in the camp. Our mission has been fulfilled,” Buccio says.
Thousands fleeing war and poverty have lived in squalor at the camp as they waited for a chance to sneak into Britain.
Authorities moved fast after migrants set fire to shelters and tents in the camp in northern France before being forced to leave.
Education minister says blackballing of UNESCO to continue
Education Minister Naftali Bennett says today’s UNESCO statement reinforces his decision to suspend cooperation with the UN cultural body.
“This is history denial, and history will render this embarrassing decision as meaningless as previous ones,” Bennett says of today’s decision, which ignores Jewish and Christian links to Jerusalem holy sites.
Bennett suspended ties with UNESCO two weeks ago after a separate panel approved a resolution that erased the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest sites.
“One thing is constant: Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. Therefore, my decision to suspend our professional activity with UNESCO remains in place,” says Bennett in a statement. “We will not cooperate with an organization denying the Jewish People’s connection to Jerusalem.”
Russia withdraws request to refuel warships in Spain
Russia’s embassy in Madrid says Russia has withdrawn its request to refuel in Spain a fleet of Russian warships that could be used to ramp up air attacks in Syria.
Embassy spokesman Vasily Nioradze tells The Associated Press that the request has been canceled, but gives no details.
Britain earlier in the day expressed concern that NATO ally Spain was considering refueling the Russian ships.
The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and a task group of support vessels have steamed through the North Sea and English Channel in recent days heading to the Mediterranean Sea.
25 people found dead in Mediterranean migrant boat
The French aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says that 25 migrants have been found dead aboard an inflatable dinghy in the southern Mediterranean.
MSF says its chartered rescue ship, the Bourbon Argos, picked up 107 people aboard the boat 26 nautical miles off Libya on Tuesday.
Its crew initially counted 11 corpses on the dinghy’s floor, which was flooded with a mixture of fuel and seawater.
The Bourbon Argos was then called away to another rescue operation nearby, saving 139 people aboard another vessel.
The crew returned to the first vessel and found on closer examination that in fact 25 people had died, probably from suffocation, burns or drowning.
The bodies were retrieved from the toxic mixture over a period of hours, with the help of a team from the German NGO Sea-Watch.
“The mixture of water and fuel was so foul that we could not stay on the boat for long periods. It was horrible,” says MSF project leader Michele Telaro in a statement.
UN says 145 child soldiers freed in South Sudan
The UN children’s agency UNICEF says it has negotiated the release of 145 child soldiers from two rebel groups in South Sudan.
“Our hope is that today’s release will be followed by many others,” Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF head in South Sudan, says in a statement.
UNICEF estimates that around 16,000 children are currently fighting or working as porters with armed groups in South Sudan, including the national army. It says that more than 800 have been recruited this year alone.
Freed children are disarmed, given civilian clothes and drafted into a reintegration program. They receive counselling and efforts are made to trace their families.
UN: Mediterranean migrant deaths in 2016 hit record 3,800
At least 3,800 migrants and refugees have perished this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, the highest ever toll ever, the UN says.
“We can confirm that at least 3,800 people have been reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, making the death toll in 2016 the highest ever recorded,” UN refugee agency spokesman William Spindler tells AFP.
Last year’s toll was 3,771.
Egypt upholds life sentence for Muslim Brotherhood head
An Egyptian court has upheld life sentences against the top leader of the country’s now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group and 36 others, including former ministers, in murder and violence charges, and upheld death sentences against 10 others tried in absentia.
The Appeals Court verdict rejects an appeal by Mohammed Badie , the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The decision comes two years after a criminal court sentenced him and 36 others to life imprisonment.
The case dates back to July 2013, in the aftermath of the military-led ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
Hungarian neo-Nazi suspect kills policeman in shootout
A 76-year-old Hungarian suspected of running a far-right paramilitary group shot dead a policeman during a house search in a village in northwest Hungary Wednesday, officials say.
The officer was shot in the head before entering the suspect’s house in the village of Bony (110 kilometers, 70 miles northwest of Budapest) and died at the scene, police say.
Police had been sent to the house to investigate a report of illegally held firearms.
Local media reported that the property was known as a base for a neo-Nazi paramilitary group called the Hungarian National Front (MNA).
The MNA, formed in 1989, is “one of the largest and most organized paramilitary hate groups in Hungary,” according to the Athena Institute far-right watchdog.
Republicans in Israel hold Jerusalem rally for Trump
Several hundred Israeli supporters of Donald Trump are gathering on the rooftop of a Jerusalem restaurant overlooking the Old City and its walls for a rally in support of the Republican presidential candidate.
The billionaire from New York and his running mate, Mike Pence, are to address the event via video.
The event, headlined “Jerusalem Forever,” is being billed as a event to affirm the Jewish people’s ties to Jerusalem in light of recent UNESCO resolutions that have ignored them.
“I’m here today to show support for Donald Trump as he is standing with us, supporting us here in Israel,” says Reuben Aschenberg, who hails from Teaneck, New Jersey and now runs the Republican party’s campaign in Beit Shemesh.
Israel to recall ambassador to UNESCO — report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will order home Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO to protest recent resolutions denying Jewish links to Jerusalem holy sites, several Hebrew-language media outlets report.
A senior government official says Netanyahu will make a formal announcement later today at an event in Herzliya.
Today’s UNESCO resolution echoed last week’s decision in referring to the Temple Mount compound solely by its Muslim names, “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” and defined it only as “a Muslim holy site of worship.”
Trump tells Jerusalem rally he will make Israel, US safe again
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tells a rally held in Jerusalem that he will work to make “America and Israel safe again.”
“I love Israel and honor and respect the Jewish tradition and its important we have a president who feels the same way,” Trump says in a recorded video message.
Several hundred Israeli supporters are gathered in Jerusalem for a rally to support Trump and affirm the Jewish people’s ties to Jerusalem in light of recent UNESCO resolutions that have ignored them.
“My administration will stand side-by-side with the Jewish people and Israel’s leaders to continue strengthening the bridges that connect, not only Jewish Americans and Israelis, but also all Americans and Israelis,” Trump says.
“Together we will stand up to enemies, like Iran, bent on destroying Israel and her people, together we will make Israel and her people safe again,” he says.
Pence: Israel hated by terrorists, progressives for what it does right
Addressing the pro-Donald Trump rally in Jerusalem via recorded video, running mate Mike Pence calls the city “the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”
“Donald Trump and I stand with Israel because Israel’s fight is our fight, because Israel’s cause is our cause,” he says. “Israel is our most cherished ally.”
He says he and Trump “understand that Israel is not hated by her enemies for what she does wrong but rather for what she does right.”
“Like the US, Israel is hated by terrorists and the failed states that support them. She is hated by too many progressives, because she is successful and her people are free,” he adds, saying the IDF fights with “decency, humanity and restraint.”
“As Israel takes the curses, the slanders and lies of the world and turns them into blessings, the real question is how can any good person not stand with Israel,” he says.
Israel okays 1,600 new homes in Golan Heights
The Finance Ministry says it has approved a project to build 1,600 homes in Katzrin in the Golan Heights.
The move is part of a plan to fastback building projects in a bid to combat Israel’s housing shortage.
But the approval is likely to draw criticism from the international community, which views the Golan Heights as occupied territory.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in 1967 and effectively annexed it in 1981, a move not recognized by the international community.
Netanyahu orders envoy to UNESCO home
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirms he is ordering home Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO for consultations after the UN body passed a second resolution in as many weeks denying a Jewish connection to Jerusalem holy sites.
“The theater of the absurd continues, and so I decided to recall our ambassador to UNESCO back to Israel for consultations,” Netanyahu says at an event in Herzliya.
Then “we will decide what to do, what our next steps will be toward this organization,” he says.
Israel must reevaluate ties with UNESCO, recalled envoy says
Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, says his recall to Israel is necessary to reconsider ties with the UN body in the wake of its anti-Israel declarations.
“This is a necessary step,” says Shama-Hacohen. “The motive is the need to rethink and reevaluate our relations with UNESCO given the persistent persecution of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Rivlin to visit family of teen killed in Egypt border shooting
President Reuven Rivlin is to pay a condolence visit to the family of an Israeli teenager who was shot and killed near Mount Harif in southern Israel on Tuesday while working on the border fence with Egypt.
Rivlin’s office says he will go Thursday to the family of Nimer Bassem Abu Amar, from Lakiya, a predominantly Bedouin village in southern Israel.
The ministry said the minor had been brought to work the site by family members, who were part of a team of civilian subcontractors hired by the Defense Ministry to perform maintenance work on the fence.
Egyptian security sources told Sky News Arabia the shots were fired during a clash between smugglers and Egyptian border guards.
Baha’i man stabbed to death in Iran
A member of the Baha’i faith has been stabbed to death in Iran in what’s been called an act of religious persecution, a Baha’i organization reports.
The Baha’i International Community identify the victim as Farhang Amiri, 63, from the city of Yazd in Iran.
The incident reportedly occurred on September 26, but information only emerged today.
“Unfortunately, such a heinous act is a consequence of a longstanding, systematic effort by the Iranian authorities to encourage hatred and bigotry against Baha’is,” says Bani Dugal, a Baha’i representative at the United Nations.
Iran allows religious freedom for several minorities but targets the Baha’i faith, which believes in unity among religions and equality between men and women.
The Baha’i faith considers Bahaullah, an Iranian born in 1817, to be the latest prophet sent by God, a major divergence from Islamic orthodoxy.
Pride parade stabbing victim suing attacker, police
Yarden Noi, who was stabbed and wounded at the 2015 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, is reportedly seeking millions of shekels in damages from the attacker and police.
Noi is demanding NIS 2.5 million ($650,000) from the attacker Yishai Schlissel and from the police, Channel 10 reports.
On July 30, 2015, Schlissel knifed and killed 16-year-old Shira Banki, and injured six others, despite a heavy police presence at the parade.
Noi says that police were negligent in their preparations to safeguard the event.
The court that convicted Schlissel said that police had failed to intercept Schlissel, who previously served 10 years in prison for a similar but not-fatal attack on the 2005 Gay Pride Parade. He was released just weeks before carrying out the repeat attack in 2015.
No Defense Ministry representative at funeral of slain teen — family
The family of a teen shot and killed while working on the border fence with Egypt says that no representatives of the Defense Ministry attended his funeral today.
Nimer Bassem Abu Amar,15, was buried in Lakiya, a predominantly Bedouin village in southern Israel.
“Why did no one (from the Defense Ministry) come to pay their respects,” a family member tells Channel 2.
The ministry tells Channel 2 it will send a high-ranking representative to pay condolences at the family’s mourning tent.
The ministry said the minor had been brought to work at the site by family members, who were part of a team of civilian subcontractors hired by the Defense Ministry to perform maintenance work on the fence.
Strong earthquake shakes central Italy, Rome
A strong earthquake rattles central Italy and Rome, shaking centuries-old buildings in the capital.
The US Geological Survey says the quake was 5.4 on the Richter Scale and its epicenter was 107 kilometers (66 miles) from Rome near Visso.
— with AP
No immediate reports of damage in Italy quake
There are no immediate reports of damage after a quake rattles Italy. But the 5.4-magnitude temblor shook centuries-old palazzi in Rome’s historic center.
The epicenter of the quake, near Visso, Italy, is just a few kilometers from an area that was devastated by an earthquake on August 24, killing nearly 300 people and toppling homes in Amatrice and other nearby villages.
— with AP
Two Palestinians held near Etzion bloc settlement
Two Palestinian youths have been detained in the Etzion settlement bloc, south of Jerusalem, reports say.
They were spotted near the security fence of Migdal Oz and a knife was found near one of the youths, Ynet reports, adding that the pair have been taken for questioning.
Opposition chief says UNESCO pushing ‘blood libels’
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog from the Zionist Union says UNESCO is “spreading blood libels,” comparing resolutions by the UN cultural arm to anti-Semitic canards used to persecute Jews in the Middle Ages.
“UNESCO is promulgating blood libels and the fate of libels is to be vanquished,” he writes on Facebook after the UN cultural body passed a second resolution in as many weeks denying a Jewish connection to Jerusalem holy sites.
The move has drawn sharp Israeli anger, with Netanyahu recalling the country’s envoy to Jerusalem for “consultations.”
“Since the dawn of its founding, Israel has striven to safeguard the holy sites of all the religions,” Herzog writes.
Israel to temporarily expand Gaza fishing zone
Israel will expand the area off the southern coast of Gaza where Palestinians can fish ahead of the fall fishing season, says the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
For two months from November 1, fishermen in the southern Gaza Strip will be able to sail out to a distance of nine miles (17 kilometers) from the shore, before the limit reverts back to the current six-mile (11-kilometer) limit that is normally in effect.
The extension does not apply to fisherman in Gaza’s north, COGAT says.
A similar extension was granted by COGAT in April for the spring fishing season. The two temporary expansions are expected to increase the fishermen’s total revenue by “approximately NIS 1 million ($260,000),” COGAT says.
— Judah Ari Gross