The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Bat Ayin suspects received intel from disgraced MI soldier
An indictment was served at the Jerusalem District Court against three residents of the settlement of Bat Ayin for attacking a Palestinian laborer.
David Or Shahar, 19, and two minors aged 16 and 17 are being accused of a racially motivated serious assault, attacking a public servant, racially motivated willful damage and other offenses. The 17-year-old is also accused of obstruction of justice.
According to the indictment, in one of the cases the three defendants assaulted a Palestinian laborer as well as a soldier who tried to prevent the attack. In a different case, NRG reports, they pelted a truck with rocks after they realized it was owned by an Arab. The indictment also accuses the three of cutting down olive trees owned by Palestinians who live near Bat Ayin and spraying the slogans “Arabs are thieves” and “price tag” on rocks in the olive grove. The damage to the grove is assessed at NIS 30,000 (c. $8,000).
Additionally, the 17-year-old is accused of obstruction of justice since he was in touch with Elad Sela, a soldier in Military Intelligence who leaked to the accused information about him and other residents of Bat Ayin, as well as information regarding future arrests and interrogations. According to the indictment the minor, who cannot be named due to his age, passed on the information to other people and thus interfered with the proceeding of a criminal investigation.
The indictment was preceded by an investigation by the Shin Bet security service.
PM holds consultation on Nepal
Israel is focusing on two main efforts in Nepal after the devastating earthquake that hit the country on Saturday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, “We are focusing on two efforts. Our first effort is to locate and rescue Israelis who are in distress in Nepal and enable their safe return home. To this end we are continuing operational and diplomatic activity with the Nepalese government and with other elements. At the same time, we are operating a field hospital in Nepal to help the Nepalese people in their hour of distress. We are operating under two principles: All Israel is responsible one for the other, and Israel extending a hand in humanitarian assistance in Nepal as it has done in many other places around the world.”
The prime minister was speaking at a special briefing on the situation.
IDF Home Front Command officials briefed participants on progress in setting up a field hospital in Nepal that will be able to treat approximately 200 patients a day.
Netanyahu commended the work of the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the IDF and Magen David Adom.
Safe back home, courtesy of Magen David Adom
Magen David Adom paramedics land in Israel with Israeli hikers returning from Kathmandu and with preemies born to surrogate mothers who are to be adopted by Israeli parents.
Rome chief rabbi, Pope meet at Vatican
The chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, met with Pope Francis in the Vatican.
The religious leaders discussed issues surrounding immigration to Europe, current humanitarian crises and social issues during Monday morning’s meeting.
The meeting was described by a spokesman for the Jewish community as “cordial.” He said that the pope and the rabbi expressed hope that the two religions would cooperate more intensely to reach common solutions.
Di Segni had been expected to join a delegation of European rabbis that met with the pope early last week to discuss anti-Semitism in Europe and recent attacks on Christian communities in the Middle East and in Asia, but he had to miss the meeting in order to pay his last respects to his predecessor, emeritus chief rabbi of Rome Elio Toaff, who died that day at the age of 99.
South African Jewish groups lament Israel’s refusal of visa for MP
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) issue a joint statement expressing the two groups’ “concern” over Israel’s denying a visa for Blade E. Nzimande, a South African MP and Minister of Higher Education, who wants to visit Ramallah in an official capacity.
The groups said the denial was “most regrettable,” since “regular interaction between Israel and South Africa and mutual visits of political leaders, parliamentarians and Government officials, as well as business people, media, tourists and family visits, are to the benefit of both South Africa and Israel and foster greater understanding between the two countries,” the joint statement said.
The two groups also noted that it was “unfortunate that, in recent times, South Africa has imposed restrictions on the free movement of officials between this country and Israel, and thereby on opportunities to engage in regular consultation and dialogue in the interests of peace and stability between the Palestinian and Israeli People.”
Likud-UTJ meeting ends abruptly
A meeting between representatives of Likud and United Torah Judaism ended abruptly this afternoon when representatives of the ultra-Orthodox party left the room, NRG reports.
According to UTJ officials, the Likud representatives said child subsidies will be raised upon winning Knesset approval, and not retroactively from the beginning of 2015 as UTJ demands.
UTJ officials claim Likud is reneging on its promises, but MK Ze’ev Elkin, Likud’s representative to the coalition negotiations with UTJ, says no such promise has been made.
On the other hand, Kulanu representatives told NRG yesterday (Monday) that the last meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Kulanu head Moshe Kahlon was successful and that there are no more pending issues. The Kulanu officials say that as far as the party is concerned, a coalition agreement can be signed.
Nepal quake death toll rises to 5,057
The death toll from a devastating earthquake in Nepal rises to 5,057, the home ministry’s national disaster management division says.
More than 10,000 people are now known to have been injured in Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake, the division’s chief Rameshwor Dangal tells AFP.
Soldier guilty of forcing Palestinian to drive him
A military court convicts a soldier from the Golani Brigade who admitted for abusing his authority when he forced a Palestinian to drive him, threatening the man at gunpoint.
The soldier will serve 4.5 months in a military prison after admitting his guilt under a plea bargain. He will also be demoted from the rank of sergeant to the rank of private and pay the complainant NIS 5,400 (c. $1,400) in compensation.
The complainant is Palestinian Yasser Odeh, who was stopped by the soldier while driving on a road leading to Yitzhar. The soldier examined the vehicle’s trunk and backseat, as if conducting a standard security check, but then entered the car, aimed his gun, which was cocked and loaded, at Odeh, and instructed him to drive to Yitzhar.
At some point Odeh saw a bus passing by and called to the driver, saying he has been kidnapped by the soldier, but the soldier ordered him to shut up and to continue driving. Odeh swerved into a ditch by the side of the road and escaped on foot.
Emily Sheffer Omer-Man, a lawyer with the organization Yesh Din which represented Odeh, says “This is a severe and shocking incident, and one may hope that convicting the soldier who threatened Mr. Odeh with his gun will deter other security force officials from behaving similarly toward the Palestinian population. Regretfully, it is rare that indictments are served against soldiers even when they commit transgressions much worse than this one against Palestinians.”
According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, in 2013 only 2.2 percent of Military Police investigations ended with indictments.
Saudi Arabia arrests 93 jihadists
Saudi Arabia arrests 93 jihadists, most of them linked to the Islamic State group, and foils several plots to carry out attacks across the kingdom, authorities say.
The arrests have taken place since December and most of those detained are Saudis, the interior ministry says in a statement.
2 nearly drown in Jordan Valley stream
Magen David Adom paramedics are trying to resuscitate two men in their 20s who nearly drowned in the Sukkot stream near Shadmot Mehola in the Jordan Valley.
2 Israelis refuse airlift, stay in Nepal to help locals
Two Israelis who were contacted by Israeli rescue services in Nepal decide to remain in Nepal help the local community there.
Rescue teams paid for by insurance companies finally managed to get in touch with Aviv Rosen and Yonatan Molcho after not hearing from them for three days.
The two were on the traditional trip many Israelis go to after finishing military service. When the time came and Israelis lined up for their place on the helicopters, Rosen and Molcho refused.
Yafa Rosen, mother of Aviv, responded with mixed feelings: “It is certainly not easy, but I understand he has values and thinks about others beside himself,” she tells Ynet. “I am very proud of my son, I think the entire country should be proud of such a boy who doesn’t just up and leave but stays behind to help dozens of people. He stayed behind [and didn’t fly back home] because of his love for mankind, not in order receive anything.”
7 more Israelis contacted; only 4 unaccounted for
Israeli officials have managed to contact seven more Israelis who were not accounted for since the earthquake hit in Nepal on Saturday.
The number of Israelis unaccounted for currently is down to four.
3 accused of smuggling money from Gaza to West Bank
An indictment was served at the Judea and Samaria Military Court against three Palestinians from Hebron for involvement in a money-smuggling operation from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, Ynet reports.
The IDF and the Shin Bet worked together to intercept the cell, that was transferring money from the Gaza Strip through Jordan and to Hamas activists in Hebron and Bethlehem.
Two of the defendants are lawyers by profession, Ynet reports.
Iran said holding US ship, 34 crew members
Iran has taken a US cargo ship and 34 crew members to the Bandar Abbas port on the southern coast of Iran, Al Arabiya news channel reports.
PM speaks with head of IDF rescue mission
Netanyahu speaks with Col. Yoram Laredo, head of the IDF rescue mission to Nepal, who is at the site where the military is building its field hospital.
“The most important mission now is to rescue the Israelis stuck on Everest and continue the evacuation of the frozen lakes near Langtang. I instructed that the option be examined whether equipment, food and heating supplies can be dropped from small planes or helicopters. Say shalom to all of them, good luck and keep up the good work,” Netanyahu said.
Laredo told the prime minister “we landed here at dawn in Kathmandu, immediately unloaded our equipment, and now we are in the midst of preparing, building the hospital and all the other efforts, among them the effort to locate Israelis.
“Every Israeli that will come to us will get anything they need. I want to emphasize, we came here ready for the mission, motivated, prepared, proud to represent our country and hoping to really save lives and show results.”
Navy officials deny report on US ship
Senior US Navy officials say reports of Iran forcing an American Navy cargo ship into an Iranian port are false, according to a tweet by NBC news.
Ship seized by Iran navy is flying Marshall Islands flag
According to a tweet from Reuters, Iranian forces have boarded a ship flying a Marshall Islands flag, owned by MV Maersk Tigris.
Reuters is attributing the report to the US Pentagon.
Pentagon says Iranian navy fired warning shot
A Pentagon official says Iranian patrol vessels have fired warning shots across the bridge of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel that was traversing the Strait of Hormuz in Iranian territorial waters.
Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, says the cargo ship’s master had initially refused an Iranian order to move further into Iranian waters, but after the warning shots were fired the MV Maersk Tigris complied.
Warren says the cargo ship has been boarded by Iranians, but no one has been injured and no Americans are involved.
Warren says the cargo ship issued a distress call and US Naval Forces Central Command, based in the area, sent a US destroyer and an aircraft to the area of the incident to monitor the situation.
Lucy Aharish to join Peres at UK gala dinner
The Zionist Federation says Israeli journalist Lucy Aharish will attend its gala dinner tribute to former president Shimon Peres. Aharish will interview Peres in front of the audience as part of the event, which is expected to attract an audience of around 1,000 on May 17 in London.
As part of the gala dinner, Aharish will conduct an informal interview with Peres, who will be the guest of honor at the event. ZF said in a statement that the presence of Peres will make this the largest gala dinner the ZF has ever held, with an audience expected to include MPs, lords, ambassadors, and heads of Jewish and Christian communal organizations.
Aharish was recently in the spotlight when she was selected to take part in the official opening of Israel’s Independence Day. Aharish, who is a Muslim Arab, was chosen to be one of 12 Israeli trailblazers who would light torches at the opening ceremony. Her emotional speech, delivered in both Hebrew and Arabic, was widely reported.
US puts Burgas attackers on terror list
The US Department of State designates Meliad Farah, Hassan el-Hajj Hassan, and Hussein Atris as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
The designation effectively means no US persons are allowed to engage in transactions with the three, and freezes all property and interests of Farah, Hassan, and Atris that are in the US or come within the US or the possession or control of US persons.
Farah and Hassan were both publicly identified with the bombing at the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, on July 18, 2012, in which six people were killed — five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian citizen. Both men are believed to be in Lebanon.
The Burgas attack is attributed to Hezbollah.
Hussein Atris is a member of Hezbollah’s overseas terrorism unit. In 2012, he was arrested in Thailand in connection with a terror warning about a possible attack in Bangkok. Atris was found to be hiding nearly three tons of ammonium nitrate, a component in the manufacture of explosives. In 2013, a Thai court sentenced Atris to two years and eight months in prison for illegally possessing the materials. He was released in September 2014, and traveled to Sweden and later Lebanon, where he is believed to reside.
US nationals may be aboard – Iranian news agency
An “informed source in Iran” confirms that Iranian forces seized a ship in the Persian Gulf that is flying a Marshall Islands flag, “but is owned by the US,” the Iranian FARS news agency reports.
“The ship is a trade vessel and has been seized by the Iranian navy at the request of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization,” FARS quotes the unnamed Iranian source as saying on Tuesday.
“The ship was seized after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation,” the source is quoted as saying, indicating that the Iran Ports and Maritime Organization has monetary differences with the ship owner.
According to the FARS report, there could be American nationals among the crew.
UTJ, Likud resolve coalition differences
Teams from UTJ and Likud finalize a draft for a coalition agreement several hours after UTJ representatives abruptly walked out of a coalition meeting claiming the Likud reneged on promises it made to the ultra-Orthodox party on child subsidies before the election.
According to NRG, the UTJ reps left the negotiating table “dramatically, creating an artificial atmosphere of crisis.”
Likud officials meanwhile were unfazed, dismissing the theatrics as well-worn tactics for the last week of coalition talks. “We’re not excited by anything at this point and by now, sadly, we also have to deal with this type of thing,” an unnamed senior Likud official was quoted by NRG as saying.
UTJ eventually gave up on its original demand, namely that child subsidies be raised retroactively to the beginning of 2015. Instead subsidies will be raised from the moment raising them is voted on in the Knesset.
If the UTJ Council of Torah Sages approves the draft agreement, UTJ will be the first party to sign a coalition deal.
Chabad group meeting Obama includes woman
A Chabad delegation meeting with US President Barack Obama included a veteran female educator, a nod to the president’s emphasis on the need for education for girls.
The meeting at the White House Monday was led by Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, the chairman of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, the umbrella organization for the Lubavitch movement.
Such delegations routinely meet with the president on or around the issuance of the annual Education and Sharing Day proclamation, marking an initiative launched by the late Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Until now, the delegations have comprised only males. This year, the nine-person group included Chave Hecht, a rebbetzin who has been teaching in the movement for more than 70 years, and Menachem Benjaminson and Chaya Goldstein, two 11-year-olds who are leaders in Chabad’s Jewish Children’s Corps.
In his March 31 proclamation, Obama made a point of noting Schneerson’s focus on educating women, saying he “worked to tear down barriers that stood in the way of girls who wanted to learn.”
In addition to education, the meeting included a discussion about Israel’s importance to Jews and about rising anti-Semitism in Europe.
The delegation presented Obama with a menorah, and he presented the delegation with a signed framed copy of his proclamation.
IDF’s field hospital is biggest it ever built
The IDF field hospital established in Kathmandu is the biggest ever built by the Israeli military, Channel 2 news reports.
Earlier, an Israeli hiker rescued from Nepal describes a harrowing scene.
“It was pure luck and maybe written in the stars that we made it to the helicopter,” says Roi Dormer, an Israeli who was rescued from the Langtang area in Nepal.
Speaking on Channel 2 news, Dormer says “we saw the helicopter on the other side of the river, we just ran… next to us there was a whole village erased. We saw locals with a look on their face like their whole family died,” Dormer says.
Another hiker says “there are mud avalanches and snow avalanches all the time. Anyone who’s not rescued from there will definitely die.”
US Jewish hikers in Nepal contact families
Two Jewish American men who were hiking together in Nepal during the massive earthquake contact their families.
Danny Cole, 39, a father of four from Crown Heights, New York, and Mendy Losh, 38, originally from Crown Heights and now living in Los Angeles, reportedly are at the Mount Everest base camp awaiting evacuation. They were hiking in Nepal and believed to be on a trail below the Everest base camp when the earthquake struck, triggering avalanches in the area.
They say it took them two days of moving from village to village in the area to find a way to contact the outside world.
“Our families are in contact with them and we are working towards bringing them home safely,” says Moshe Schreiber, a family spokesman for both men. “We thank the many people and organizations who have worked tirelessly on behalf of Danny and Mendy during this difficult time. We wish them continued blessing and success in their selfless efforts to help the countless others in need of aid.”
Nepal my 2nd home, says IsraAID mission head
A second IsraAID team of 15 search and rescue specialists boards a plane to Nepal, as the advance emergency relief team is already on the ground there coordinating with the Nepalese and other foreign governments as well as Israel, UN agencies, and the International Aid Agencies.
“I can’t believe it, Nepal is like my second home – I fear thousands of bodies are still buried under the rubble in villages. It’s like a huge bomb went off here,” says Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s head of mission and IsraAID Asia director, who previously spent 3.5 years working in Nepal, and has led emergency missions in Japan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, and most recently Vanuatu.
The team met today with commander Thapa, head of the Special Forces of the Nepalese army, who expressed his appreciation for IsraAID’s expertise and guidance and requested support in the recovery of dead bodies in Kathmandu and neighboring villages and in trying to find more survivors.
Band ‘Hadag Nahash’ was in Baltimore during riots
Israeli rap band Hadag Nahash was in Baltimore over the past few days, when public anger over the death of black youth Freddie Gray in police custody last week fueled violent riots which reached their climax Monday overnight.
“We got to the city several hours after the riots began,” one of the band members tells Channel 2 news. “We were told its best just to stay indoors and not go out to the street.”
“We made some effort, eventually we did the show for the few brave people that showed up,” he said.
‘Rebels fight IS-linked group near Golan’
Rebels and Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate clash with jihadists linked to the Islamic State group along Syria’s border with the Golan Heights, a monitor and an opposition spokesman say.
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says that rebel groups, as well as Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, fight IS-linked Jaish al-Jihad in the border town of Qahtaniya in the southern province of Quneitra province.
“These are key battles, because IS now has a presence in Syria’s south and because they are close to the ceasefire line with the Golan,” says Abdel Rahman.
“This is the first time these groups have clashed with each other,” he adds.
Abdel Rahman says 12 rebels, including Al-Nusra fighters, were killed and Jaish al-Jihad lost seven fighters.
“Fifteen members of Jaish al-Jihad were also taken hostage,” he says.
The clashes took place as Israel announced that two mortar rounds fired from Syria struck northern parts of the Golan Heights, without causing casualties.
Jaish al-Islam is a relatively new group but is suspected to have very close ties to IS, according to Romain Caillet, a French expert on jihadists.
Essam al-Rayes, spokesperson for the Southern Front coalition which is fighting Jaish al-Islam, says the IS-linked group has a presence in and around the town of Qahtaniya.
Prosor says world cannot ‘ignore’ Hezbollah threat
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, says Hezbollah is posing a real threat to Israel and is openly preparing for confrontation.
In a letter to UN Director General Ban Ki-Moon and to the Security Council Prosor demands that the international community stop “ignoring” the threat Hezbollah poses.
Israel will not be able to look away when Hezbollah attacks in Israeli territory and will take all the means necessary to protect its citizens, Prosor writes. He calls on the security council to condemn recent acts of aggression by Hezbollah.
Police chief says cop who was filmed beating soldier will be fired
Police Chief Commissioner Yochanan Danino says the officer that was filmed beating up a soldier from the Ethiopian community will be expelled from the force, pending a hearing.
“The violent cop was immediately suspended and he will also be fired pending a hearing. There is no room for such officers in the Israel Police,” Danino says.
“This is a very serious incident on every level. This is how we look at it and this is how we looked at all violence incidents in the past. I said this before and I say this again: We follow a very clear path. Whoever won’t walk it – won’t be with us,” the police commissioner adds.
“There is a sharp drop in acts of police violence. We will continue this trend and not let this kind of incident stand in the very clear way walked by the Israel Police,” Danino says.
The clip showed the Ethiopian soldier attacked by two men. Police say the second man is a volunteer, and said he would no longer be allowed to volunteer for the police.
Shas leader Deri plays hard to get with Likud
Shas chairman Aryeh Deri says his party will not enter the government unless Likud agrees to lower the VAT on basic products to zero and give his party several social portfolios.
“Shas carried the social banner for the two million people who are transparent,” says Deri, referencing the party’s campaign slogan. “Without enacting 0% VAT on basic products and receiving ministries that will be a social toolbox to implement the social policies which we promised, we will not return to negotiations,” Deri is quoted by NRG as saying.
Deri’s comments are made after UTJ is all but inside the new government, waiting only for the approval of the Council of Torah Sages.
Kulanu is also ready to sign a coalition agreement with Likud. Likud officials say that despite Deri’s comments on the party’s social commitments, the real rub in making him sign the dotted line of an agreement revolves around which ministry he will lead.
Likud offered Deri the Interior Ministry but without the Planning Administration, which Kulanu wants to control, but according to NRG Deri refuses to accept the job without control of the powerful housing authority; he also does not want the Ministry of Economy, which Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett will vacate when he becomes – in all likelihood – education minister.
According to Likud sources, Shas is the main obstacle to establishing a coalition.