The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they happened.
5 Russian troops killed as helicopter is shot down in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says all five Russian soldiers aboard the Mi-8 helicopter downed in Syria’s Idlib province have been killed.
Dmitry Peskov tells journalists that “from what we know from information provided by the Defense Ministry, all those who were on the helicopter died.”
He says the Russians “died heroically because they tried to move the aircraft away so to minimize losses on the ground.”
Earlier, the ministry said the transport helicopter was shot down but that the fate of the five — three crew members and two officers — was unknown.
The Russian Defense Ministry says a transport helicopter has been shot down in Syria, but the fate of the five people onboard is still unknown.
Defense Ministry unveils next generation of IDF personnel carriers
The Defense Ministry unveils Israel’s first wheeled armored personnel carrier, a vehicle that will replace thousands of aging M113 APCs currently in use by Israeli infantry brigades and other units.
The “Eitan” (“Steadfast”) moves away from the tread design of the older “Bardelas” (“Cheetah”) vehicle, which was found in the 2006 Second Lebanon War to be overly susceptible to enemy anti-tank rocket attacks. An explosion only needs to break a single link on the tread to unravel it and render the older APC immobile.
The new APC will also sport vastly upgraded armor and defensive systems akin to Israel’s Merkava line of tanks.
Likud accuses Jewish Home of Palestinian, leftist sympathies
The war of words between Likud and Jewish Home grows more frenetic today following yesterday’s dust-up in the cabinet meeting over Likud complaints that too many “religious Zionists” are being appointed to the nascent public broadcasting corporation set to launch on January 1.
Likud ministers, including Science Minister Ofir Akunis and Culture Minister Miri Regev, are complaining that the new corporation is too independent of government intervention. Under the 2014 law that established the broadcaster, the political echelon is forbidden from interfering in the hiring of senior officials or the content of broadcasts.
Regev, Akunis and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have all complained of a “monolithic” left-wing bias in the Israeli media — though the country’s largest-circulation daily, Yisrael Hayom, backs Netanyahu and some of its largest news sites, from Walla News to NRG, have long been led by right-wing editors, including such figures as former Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal.
In yesterday’s cabinet debate, Jewish Home leader Education Minister Naftali Bennett and fellow party lawmaker Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked lashed out at Likud’s accusation that they were stacking the new broadcaster with religious-nationalists — while simultaneously protecting its purported left-wing bias.
The tit-for-tat is still gathering steam. Shaked said earlier today that Likud was picking a fight with Jewish Home to push it out of the government and enable Zionist Union to join.
In response, Likud releases a statement that accuses the far-right Bennett of even worse leftist sympathies. Bennett, “elected by right-wing voters, is preserving the heritage of [Palestinian nationalist poet Mahmoud] Darwish in schools and fighting to preserve the left’s control of the media,” the statement claims.
Bennett is “digging tunnels, together with his ‘brother’ Lapid, beneath the rule of the Likud,” it charges.
Videos show flaming wreckage of Russian chopper in Syria
Videos uploaded online by Syrian opposition activists show the burning wreckage of a Russian helicopter downed in Syria.
The footage was seemingly taken in the first few moments after the helicopter crashed in Idlib province today.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says all five Russian soldiers aboard the helicopter — three crewmen and two officers — have been killed. The Defense Ministry says that the Mi-8 helicopter was returning to the Russian air base on the coast after delivering humanitarian goods to the city of Aleppo.
In one video, a rocket pod can be seen next to the wreckage. People standing nearby are seen taking cellphone photos and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great” in Arabic.
The helicopter appears to break up as it crashes. In another video, its tail can be seen lying separately from the aircraft’s body in flames.
French Muslims fundraise to keep out radical mosque donors
The head of the French Muslim Council says a new foundation will be created to help finance the construction and running of mosques in the country and keep out radical benefactors.
Anouar Kbibech proposes Monday the foundation would be financed by fees paid by actors in the halal food sector.
France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim community, is a secular state that prohibits the use of state money for the construction of places of worship.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Sunday he wants to put an end to the financing from abroad for the construction of mosques.
The debate has been prompted by an attack by two Muslim fanatics on an elderly priest in a Normandy church last week.
Turkey arrests 11-man ‘death squad’ over Erdogan hotel raid
Turkey arrests 11 fugitive soldiers suspected of involvement in an attack on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hotel during the night of the failed coup, the deputy prime minister says.
Erdogan was staying in the western seaside resort of Marmaris on July 15 but dashed to Istanbul just before the hotel came under attack from rebel soldiers determined to oust him from power.
“Eleven of them were captured in Ula,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus tells a press conference after a cabinet meeting, referring to a town near Marmaris.
He says one soldier is still at large.
Erdogan earlier said his swift escape had saved him from being killed or taken hostage.
Khans say they want to step out of Trump fight
The parents of a decorated Muslim Army captain killed in Iraq say they would like to step away from the public feud with Donald Trump that has erupted over their comments about him at the Democratic National Convention.
Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, have made multiple television appearances since last week’s convention, when Khan criticized Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.
Trump has responded by lashing out at Khan and suggesting that Khan’s remarks were actually prepared by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Trump also implied Ghazala Khan did not speak at the convention because she was not allowed to speak as a Muslim woman.
Khizr Khan told CNN on Monday that “We want to be out of this controversy. That is not our style…This is not our path.” He said “there was no need” for Trump to comment further, saying, “We want to maintain our dignity.”
Police find 350 marijuana plants in Negev man’s backyard
Police arrest a man, 30, in a Bedouin village in the south after finding hundreds of marijuana plants growing in his backyard.
The 350 plants weigh in at some 80 kilograms (176 pounds), according to police.
His remand is extended till tomorrow by the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court.
Netanyahu accuses rivals of ‘a desire to appeal to the media’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lends his own voice to his party’s ongoing campaign accusing coalition rival Jewish Home of left-wing sympathies.
“I understand that there is a desire among politicians to appeal to certain media outlets and preserve their monopoly,” Netanyahu says, a reference to yesterday’s contentious debate over the new public broadcasting corporation.
“That’s exactly the reason that I have held on to the communications portfolio, because I can withstand the pressure. Our job is not to serve the economic and political interests that give us [de facto political] advertising in the form of news broadcasts, but to do what is right. And what is right for the public interest is competition, competition, and more competition.”
Downtown Tel Aviv traffic snarls after electrical cable collapses
A rush-hour collapse of an electrical cable in Tel Aviv is wreaking havoc on the metropolis’s already congested traffic.
An Electric Corporation cable’s collapse near the Ramat Gan diamond exchange, which lies on the Ayalon highway that cuts through central Tel Aviv, cut power to traffic lights in the teeming business district.
Streets afflicted by bumper-to-bumper confusion due to the disruption include: Abba Hillel, Bialik, Namir, Yitzhak Sadeh, Arlozorov and Hamasger.
4 Palestinians held after M-16 is found in their car
Four Palestinian residents of the northern West Bank city of Jenin are arrested today after police find an M-16 rifle in their vehicle.
According to police, the four men were in the car when officers found the rifle under the backseat.
Minister Uri Ariel tries to calm Likud-Jewish Home rift
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, of the Jewish Home party, tries to dampen the escalating friction between his faction and the ruling Likud party over the creation of a new public broadcasting corporation slated to launch on January 1.
“The statement by Likud that [Jewish Home leaders Naftali] Bennett and [Ayelet] Shaked are ‘leftist’ is absurd. I expect the prime minister to distance himself from that comment,” Ariel says.
“Even when we disagree, it’s important to carry ourselves in a way that preserves the nationalist camp,” he says.
Khamenei: Average Iranian not benefiting from nuclear deal
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Monday that the Iranian people have not seen any benefit from the nuclear deal with world powers, state media report.
The report quotes Khamenei saying: “Weren’t the supposed sanctions lifted to change the life of the people? Is any tangible effect seen in people’s life after six months?”
He says the sanctions were supposed to be lifted swiftly. “But now the issue of a gradual lifting of the sanctions has been raised,” he says. “Why?”
Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, says the US has continued to thwart Iran’s economic relations with other countries despite the landmark accord. He says Tehran will refuse to engage in any further talks with Washington due to what he described as US violations of the deal, though he has previously ruled out further negotiations in other speeches.
Culture minister demands probe into leak of cabinet comments
Culture Minister Miri Regev is asking the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, to investigate the leak from yesterday’s cabinet meeting in which she called for political control over the new public broadcasting corporation.
“Publish the entire transcript of the cabinet meeting yesterday,” she demands in a letter to Mandelblit.
“Let the public judge my comments and the comments of my colleagues in full. Otherwise, launch an investigation into who maliciously leaked the partial information with the goal of misleading the public.”
The leaked comments, she says, “do not reflect my full views.”
In a separate Facebook comment, she says that any public broadcaster that doesn’t have direct government oversight risks being taken over by a “clique” that will prevent the airing of “a plurality of voices.”
US launches airstrikes targeting IS in Libya
The United Nations-backed Libyan government announces that the US military has begun conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group at the government’s request.
Fayez Serraj, the head of the UN-brokered presidency council, says in a televised statement Monday that American warplanes attacked the IS bastion of Sirte, adding that no US ground forces will be deployed.
“The presidency council, as the general army commander, has made a request for direct US support to carry out specific airstrikes,” he says. “The first strikes started today in positions in Sirte, causing major casualties.”
The strikes mark the start of a more intense American role in the fight against IS in Libya, as the US steps in to assist the fragile, UN-backed government there.
Palestinians say Olympic gear held up by Israeli customs
The Palestinian Olympic Committee says its delegation’s uniforms are being held up by Israeli authorities.
Munther Masalmeh, the secretary-general of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, says clothes and equipment purchased for the team have yet to clear customs. He says the team of six was forced to leave for Rio de Janeiro without them.
The Israel Tax Authority, which oversees customs, says it has heard nothing of the matter but would be happy to assist if approached by the Palestinians.
Knesset committee censures Zoabi, Hazan over plenum fracas
The Knesset Ethics Committee on Monday censures Arab (Joint) List MK Hanin Zoabi after she called IDF soldiers “murderers” in the Knesset plenum during a debate last month on the reconciliation agreement with Turkey.
Her comments were “extremist, inciting and not anchored in reality,” lawmakers said in the committee decision.
The committee also censures Likud MK Oren Hazan, who it accuses of “ceaselessly instigating” the kerfuffle in the plenum that followed Zoabi’s comments.
It also chastises, but does not officially censure, Yesh Atid MKs Mickey Levy and Aliza Lavie, Zionist Union MK Hilik Bar and Likud’s Nava Boker for their part in the altercation, including their rushing of the plenum to shout at Zoabi.
The censures have no practical ramifications, but can form the basis of a future decision by the Knesset to bar MKs from plenum debates or remove them from committees.
Turkey promises to ‘correct’ any ‘unfair’ crackdown dismissals
Turkey admits Monday there may have been some “unfair” treatment in its post-coup crackdown as it voices anger at Germany for barring President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from addressing a rally in Cologne.
Retaliating after a failed military attempt to unseat him, Erdogan has launched a purge that has seen tens of thousands people suspended from their jobs and almost 19,000 detained.
Apparently responding to widening international alarm about the crackdown, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim admits there may have been some unfair treatment in the state sector.
“There must definitely be some among them who were subjected to unfair procedures,” he says in comments published by state-run Anadolu news agency.
“We will make a distinction between those who are guilty and those who are not.”
Echoing his tone, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus says: “If there are any mistakes, we will correct them.”
Shooting reported in Jaffa
Army Radio reports on a shooting in Albert Kiosso Street, in Jaffa in southern Tel Aviv.
Police are rushing to the scene.
Jaffa shooting not a terror attack: police
Police say the shooting reported minutes ago in Jaffa is not a terror attack.
— Judah Ari Gross
Woman, 32, wounded in Jaffa ‘criminal’ shooting
A 32-year-old woman is wounded in the shooting in Jaffa some 20 minutes ago, police say.
The incident is “criminal,” not terrorist, a police statement reads.
The woman, who is not yet identified, is being taken to Wolfson Hospital in Holon, the city bordering southern Tel Aviv.
Police have launched an investigation.
— Judah Ari Gross
Deputy ministership for MK Michael Oren — report
Kulanu MK Michael Oren is set to be appointed a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, according to Haaretz political reporter Chaim Levinson.
Kulanu has not yet claimed a deputy ministerial post promised to it under last year’s coalition agreement. The latest appointment for the historian-turned-ambassador-turned-lawmaker, which is not being immediately confirmed by an Oren spokesman, would complete Kulanu’s roster in the coalition.
It follows Sunday’s reshuffle of cabinet posts that saw Kulanu hand the Environmental Protection Ministry to Likud’s Ze’ev Elkin and receive in return part of the Economy Ministry — sans the employment portfolio, which was cut out of the ministry and transferred to Chaim Katz’s Welfare Ministry — for current Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.
So that’s clear then.
Jewish victims missing from French Muslims’ anti-Jihad letter
A leader of French Jews criticizes Muslim intellectuals whose petition against local jihadists omits any mention of anti-Semitic violence.
The petition, signed by dozens of academics and celebrities, appeared Sunday in the Journal de Dimanche under the title, “We, French-Muslims, are ready to assume our responsibilities.” In it, the cosignatories lament the perceived weakness of the institutions of their faith communities in stopping extremists from acting violently in Islam’s name.
The text begins by listing five recent terrorist attacks: The Charlie Hebdo killings in January 2015; the bombing and shooting attacks in November; the murder of two police officers in June; the Nice promenade attacks last month and last week’s slaying of a priest.
It makes reference neither to the murder of four Jews in a kosher supermarket after the Charlie Hebdo massacre nor to the execution of three children and a rabbi in Toulouse in 2012 – both perpetrated by radical Islamists.
“You’re ready to assume your responsibilities, but you are off to a bad start,” Robert Ejnes, the executive director of the CRIF umbrella of French Jewish communities and organizations, writes on Facebook, citing the omissions.
“You have a long way to go, my friends: You need to understand one day that these anti-Semitic attacks were committed against Jews, who were targeted for being Jewish. You can’t avoid these anti-Semitic murders,” Ejnes adds.
CRIF has asked the authors to address the omission and have the text corrected.
Police recommends closing Herzog primaries probe
Police will recommend closing the investigation into opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union).
According to Channel 2, police are ending four months of investigation into suspicions that the Labor Party leader received an illegal donation in 2013 and failed to report it.
Police say they do not believe there is sufficient evidence for an indictment, as there is no proof that Herzog was aware of the problematic donation.
The recommendation has been passed on to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who has the final say on a possible indictment.
The donation was spent on Herzog’s 2013 primary campaign against MK Shelly Yachimovich.
Car bomb attack in Turkey kills 5 police officers
A Turkish official says Kurdish rebels have detonated a car bomb in southeast Turkey, killing five police officers traveling inside a police vehicle.
Yavuz Selim Koser, the governor for Bingol, says four other police officers are seriously wounded in Monday’s attack in the mainly Kurdish province. He blames the attack on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has been fighting Turkey for Kurdish autonomy since 1984.
Clashes between the PKK and the Turkish security forces resumed a year ago after a fragile peace process collapsed. The renewed conflict has led to the death of nearly 600 security personnel and more than 5,000 Kurdish militants.
Last week, eight Turkish soldiers and 35 Kurdish militants were killed in clashes in the southeastern province of Hakkari.
Top UK counter-terror cop calls on public to help prevent attacks
Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism police officer appeals to the public Monday to help prevent future attacks, urging people to call a confidential anti-terror hotline if they see anything suspicious in their community.
Mark Rowley writes in a National Police Chiefs Council blog that cooperation between the police and the public is Britain’s “greatest advantage.”
“It has often been said that ‘communities defeat terrorism’ and now that’s more important than ever before,” he says.
The comments mark the second time in as many days that senior police officers have warned the public to be vigilant. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe warned Sunday that an attack in Britain was a case of “when, not if.”
Rowley says that 3,600 contributions — or tips — from the public take place daily and that gun laws and a close working relationship between the police and security services have helped prevent attacks.
PMO confirms Oren as deputy minister
The Prime Minister’s Office confirms an earlier report that Kulanu MK Michael Oren is set to be appointed a deputy minister in the PMO.
The appointment was agreed to by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kulanu chief Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, according to the statement.
Oren’s precise responsibilities are not yet clear.
US cybersecurity firms confirm Russian hacks of DNC
Two US cybersecurity firms say that their analysis of computer breaches at the Democratic Party’s funding group for congressional candidates shows detailed evidence that the intrusions were likely linked to Russian hackers.
The two companies say in separate posts today that Internet domains and registrants used in the breach of computers used by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, tie back to a Russian hacking group linked to that nation’s intelligence services.
That same hacking group, known as “Fancy Bear,” was previously connected to the June cyber breach at the Democratic National Committee.
Both firms, Fidelis Cybersecurity and ThreatConnect, say the hackers created a fake Internet DCCC donation site. The registrant for the fake DCCC site was linked back to other web domains used by “Fancy Bear.”
Intel briefings for Clinton, Trump could begin this week
WASHINGTON (AP) — The political conventions were laced with tales of foreign espionage and intrigue. Now, it’s time for the official spy work of the presidential campaign to begin.
As early as this week, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will start getting top-secret intelligence briefings from the national intelligence director’s office. This year, though, the more than 60-year-old tradition of providing presidential candidates classified briefings has prompted vicious backbiting between Democrats and Republicans about whether each other’s candidate can keep a secret.
Clinton supporters and some intelligence officials say the New York business magnate has loose lips and often shoots from the hip.
Trump backers point to Clinton’s use of a private email server and FBI Director James Comey’s rebuke of her “extremely careless” handling of classified information while she was secretary of state. Trump tweeted: “Hillary Clinton should not be given national security briefings in that she is a lose (loose) cannon with extraordinarily bad judgement (judgment) & insticts (instincts).”
In a letter to National Intelligence Director James Clapper, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said many questions remain about how Clinton handled her email and requested that she not get classified briefings for the rest of the campaign. Clapper rejected the request, saying, “I do not intend to withhold briefings from any officially nominated, eligible candidate.”
As secretary of State, Clinton held a high security clearance and received a copy of the President’s Daily Brief — the highest-level US intelligence document, filled with sensitive intelligence and analysis from across the world. Trump, as a career businessman, has never held a government security clearance and is a novice when it comes to intelligence briefings.