The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s developments as they unfolded.
Defense minister slams Haredim who attacked military police
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon condemns an incident Monday that saw dozens of ultra-Orthodox protesters attack military police and overturn their vehicle in the coastal city of Ashdod.
“This violent attack on IDF soldiers who were carrying out their duty and against the police who were dispatched to assist them,” he says, “ is intolerable and necessitates a crackdown on protesters.”
Ya’alon goes on to say that the rioters, who clashed with the military police when the the latter arrived to arrest a draft-dodger, are part “an extremist, law-flouting minority.”
He calls on leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community “to condemn the violent incident.”
IDF soldier injured in forklift accident
An IDF soldier has been lightly injured in a workplace accident involving a forklift on the Tzrifin army base in central Israel, an army spokesperson says.
The soldier is taken to a hospital, and the IDF will investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident, according to the spokesperson.
— Judah Ari Gross
Iraq says it’s retaken whole Ramadi area from IS
Iraq says that its forces have completely retaken areas surrounding Ramadi from the Islamic State group and reopened the road linking the city to Baghdad.
Iraq announced in late December the recapture of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province west of Baghdad, but daily fighting with IS jihadists continued for over a month on the city’s eastern outskirts.
Iraqi forces “were able to liberate areas east of Ramadi,” including Sichariya, Juwaiba and Husaiba, the joint operations command says in a statement.
With the latest advances, Ramadi and all its surrounding areas have been retaken from IS, the statement says.
Iraqi forces “were also able to open the Ramadi-Baghdad road passing through Khaldiyah,” it says, referring to a government-held area along the route.
Israeli minister refuses to meet Reform Jews — report
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri is refusing to meet with representatives of the Reform movement in France during his upcoming visit there, the ultra-Orthodox news site Kikar Hashabat reports.
Deri is scheduled to meet with leaders of the Jewish community in the Paris Great Synagogue later this week. When Reform leaders asked to also be present at the meeting, he refused, the report says.
According to the report, the Reform representatives will not be present at the meeting.
Deri and other ultra-Orthodox politicians have in recent weeks piled scorn on non-Orthodox streams of Judaism in response to an initiative that would see the opening of a special egalitarian prayer area at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Police chief vows crackdown on crime in Arab towns
Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich vows to step up enforcement in Arab communities where he says crime is rampant and “intolerable.”
“Police data reveals that while Arabs are 21 percent of the population, 59% of those convicted of murder are Arabs,” he tells the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee.
He says the people who suffer most from the situation are Arab Israelis.
MK Tibi says man who poured tea on him got off easy
Knesset member Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List says a man who poured tea on him got off easy when he received a four-month sentence today.
In a statement, he says the attack against him is symptomatic of “ongoing incitement, especially in the political arena, and the delegitimization of elected officials over the sole fact that they think and act differently from the mainstream.”
He says the man who attacked him is of no interest to him and his fellows, but “those who incited [his actions] and painted targets on the backs of Arab Knesset members” are. He says this “chorus of inciters” is led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
US Jewish leaders meet with Turkish president, PM
A month after signaling readiness to mend fences with Israel after a years-long disconnect, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan hosts a delegation of US Jewish leaders at his official Ankara residence.
Members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are present at the meeting with Turkey’s president, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and other senior officials, according to a Channel 2 report.
The meeting is the first between Jewish leaders and senior Turkish officials since 2009, when Erdogan angrily denounced Israel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the report says.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, traveled to Turkey for the meeting directly from Israel, according to the report, which notes that he is considered an ally of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
— Tamar Pileggi
Palestinian killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
Palestinian media report that a man has been killed in a tunnel collapse in the southern Gaza Strip, the 11th to have died under such circumstances in recent days.
— Hazem Balousha (@iHaZeMi) February 9, 2016
US intel chief warns of homegrown terror attacks
Islamic militants will continue plotting against US interests overseas and homegrown attacks will pose the most significant threat from violent extremists to Americans at home, the US intelligence chief says in delivering the annual assessment by intelligence agencies of the top dangers facing the country.
“The perceived success of attacks by homegrown violent extremists in Europe and North America, such as those in Chattanooga and San Bernardino, might motivate others to replicate opportunistic attacks with little or no warning, diminishing our ability to detect terrorist operational planning and readiness,” James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, says in a statement prepared for delivery to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“ISIL involvement in homeland attack activity will probably continue to involve those who draw inspiration from the group’s highly sophisticated media without direct guidance from ISIL leadership,” he says, using an acronym for the militant group.
Clapper also says Iran remains the top state sponsor of terrorism, al-Qaeda-linked groups remain resilient and the US will continue to see cyber threats from China, Russia and North Korea.
Netanyahu: Israel surrounded by ‘predators’
During a tour of the Arava desert, where Israel has been erecting a new fence on the border with Jordan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explains that the country needs the fence to keep out the “predators”that surround it.
Apparently referring to Islamist militants, he says, according to Channel 2: “In the State of Israel as I see it, there’ll be a fence around all of it. We’re surrounded by predatory animals, and we need to protect ourselves.”
Netanyahu envisions an Israel surrounded by fences
During his tour of the Arava, Netanyahu warns of the potential threat of cross-border tunnels from the West Bank. He says that unlike the borders with Egypt and Jordan, where there are no structures on either side of the fence, in the West Bank “you have built-up areas, buildings along the separation line.”
“If you’re thinking of erecting a fence there you have to take into account that they could tunnel beneath it,” he says. “The people who said that there is no significance to territory in the modern age should go to Gaza.”
Nevertheless he adds, “We’re formulating a plan to seal off the openings in the security fence in the West Bank.”
Netanyahu says this is part of a “multi-year plan to surround the entire State of Israel with security fences to protect ourselves in the current and projected Middle East.”
“At the end of the day, in the State of Israel as I see it, there will be a fence like this one” — he refers to the border fence with Jordan that has been under construction in recent months — “surrounding its entirety… We’ll surround the entire State of Israel with a fence, a barrier.”
Netanyahu adds, “In our neighborhood, we need to protect ourselves from the predatory animals.”
He says the project, which is also set to include a new fence along the border with the Gaza Strip, will cost “many billions” and take years to complete.
Stabbing attack reported in West Bank
Breaking reports say an Israeli man has been stabbed in a possible terror attack outside the West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel, south of Jerusalem.
The stabbed man came to the settlement’s gate after the incident, reports say, while the stabber has escaped.
The victim’s condition isn’t immediately clear.
Dutch deputy PM: Anti-Semitic abuse keeps me off social media
The deputy prime minister of the Netherlands says that he has stopped interacting on social media because of anti-Semitic abuse against him.
Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher, who has Jewish ancestors, writes this in a post on Facebook titled “Disrespectful Dog.”
In it, he lists the handles of several Twitter users who used anti-Semitic language against him.
One user wrote: “The Zionist dog Asscher skips UN meeting on racism, not anti-Semitism. The former doesn’t interest him.”
For many users, Asscher wrote, “my Jewish last name is a plausible explanation for my behavior and attitude,” such as simultaneously giving Muslims “too much and too little” attention.
Stabbing victim said in moderate condition
The victim in a suspected terror stabbing in Neve Daniel is in moderate condition, reports say.
He was reportedly stabbed in the shoulder.
IDF ‘sweeping area’ of suspected terror stabbing
The IDF says it is “examining the details of the incident” in Neve Daniel.
In a brief statement, the army adds that “forces are currently sweeping the area,” presumably in search of the stabber.
Victim was jogging when attacker stabbed him
The victim of the attack in Neve Daniel had been out jogging when he was stabbed, paramedic who treated him tells Army Radio.
The man, who is said to be about 30 years old, has been evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
— Judah Ari Gross
Video footage from stabbing scene
Medic describes treating stab victim
Moti Ben Shoshan, a Magen David Adom medic, describes the scene after the attack:
We saw a man, about 30 years old, lying on a path next to the entrance to the Neve Daniel settlement. He was fully conscious and suffering from a stab wound to the upper body. We gave him medical treatment, including stopping the bleeding and bandaging his wound. We loaded him onto the intensive care ambulance and took him to the hospital. He was in moderate condition. He spoke with us and told us that while he was exercising he felt the stabbing and fell down.
— Judah Ari Gross
Adelson’s attorney says billionaire doesn’t own Israel Hayom
An attorney for Sheldon Adelson tells the Supreme Court that the billionaire casino magnate does not own the daily newspaper Israel Hayom.
At a hearing Monday in the Supreme Court, attorney Avigdor Klagsbald disclosed for the first time that the newspaper is owned by an Adelson relative. Adelson has been cited frequently in media reports as the newspaper’s owner.
The question of Adelson’s ownership of Israel Hayom, a right-wing newspaper widely considered to be a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, came up during an appeal of a Jerusalem District Court ruling on a Freedom of Information petition.
Klagsbald said the ruling should be vacated because it may be based on incorrect facts – including the misconception that Adelson owns Israel Hayom, Haaretz reports.
An article in December in the Las Vegas Review Journal, which a media group owned by Adelson and his children purchased late last year, noted the Israeli newspaper is run by Sivan Ochshorn Dumont, a daughter of Adelson’s wife, Miriam, from a prior marriage. However, it identifies Sheldon Adelson as the owner.
President Rivlin welcomes new sharia judges
President Reuven Rivlin addresses a ceremony in honor of seven new qadis – or Muslim judges – appointed to sharia courts in Israel.
At the ceremony in his official Jerusalem residence, Rivlin praises the existence of state-supported Muslim religious courts, which he says “reflects the recognition of the unparalleled importance of the vitality of communities, cultures and traditions to the fabric of the life in the modern state.
“The authority of the sharia courts – as assured by Israeli law — to me reflects the fundamental principle that an attachment to faith, to tradition, to a culture and community, is not solely the issue of the individual. Such affiliations are a basic right of a citizen in a democracy, and accordingly it is the obligation of the state to support and nurture them,” he adds.
In closing his speech Rivlin, whose father, Yosef Rivlin, was the translator for the first Hebrew edition of the Quran, quotes from the Muslim holy text: “Indeed, did We send Our apostles with all evidence of truth; and through them We bestowed revelation from on high, and gave you a balance [wherewith to weigh right and wrong], so that men might behave with equity.” When the revelation and the balance is in your hands, I wish you success in preserving justice.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is also on hand, says: “In recent years we have seen such appointments made is several Muslim countries including Jordan, Egypt and others. There is no reason why Israel, as a democratic and progressive state, would not align itself with these important winds of change, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, which sets forward that the state would be based upon equal rights for all its citizens regardless of religion, race, or sex.”
Stab victim named as area resident, 28
The jogger who according to suspicions was stabbed by a Palestinian outside Neve Daniel is named as Tomer Ditur, 28, from the nearby settlement of Rosh Tzurim.
Army surrounds West Bank village in search for stabber
The IDF has sealed off the Palestinian village of Nahalin as it searches for the suspect in the stabbing in Neve Daniel, an IDF spokesperson says.
Nahalin is located just west of the Neve Daniel settlement in the Etzion bloc, and according to reports, the assailant fled in that direction after stabbing the Israeli man.
“Currently, the entrances and exits of Nahalin are closed, with the exception of humanitarian cases,” the spokesperson says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Iran said to hack into ex-IDF chief’s computer
Channel 10’s military correspondent, Amir Ben-David, tweets: “Iran succeeded in hacking into the personal computer of a former [IDF] chief of staff and extract information from it.”
He says that the channel will air the full story during the 8 p.m. news tonight.
Former IDF chief hacked by Iran — report
Iran hacked the personal computer of a former IDF chief of staff and extracted information from it, Channel 10 reports, without naming the former chief of staff.
The report says dozens of Israelis, most of them current and former senior IDF officers, were hacked by Iran, which was said to have stolen documents, pictures and emails.
The report says the man who hacked the former chief of staff was Yaser Balaghi, who was working for a cyber company at the time and even boasted of the hack in a resume.
Arab youth who stabbed 11-year-old boy remanded
The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court remands for three days a 16-year-old who is suspected of stabbing and wounding an 11-year-old boy on Monday in the central Israeli town of Ramle.
In a statement, police say they are still seeking to determine the motive of the suspected stabber, who is Arab, and is looking at “both criminal and nationalistic” aspects.
The statement says police are aided by the welfare authorities in the investigation.
If the juvenile suspect is charged with carrying out a terror attack, he could be tried and sentenced as an adult.
His victim was hospitalized with moderate injuries, the Magen David Adom emergency service said.
— Times of Israel staff contributed.
MK sings ‘Mishe Mishe’ during Knesset address
During an address in the Knesset plenum, MK Oren Hazan of the Likud party sings “Mishe Mishe,” a song marking the advent of the Jewish month of Adar.
Adar is the month of the holiday of Purim, and Jews are traditionally enjoined to remain joyous throughout it.
Palestinian attacker’s text message to parents
Channel 10 publishes a translation of a text message sent by a Palestinian man to his parents shortly before he carried out an attack in Jerusalem along with two others.
The attack killed an Israeli border policewoman, Hadar Cohen. All three attackers were killed during a shootout with police at the scene, just outside the Old City, at the Damascus Gate.
“Mother, I’m going to heaven,” Ahmad Zakarneh of Qabatiya wrote in the message, according to a Hebrew translation. “If you see me sizzling in my old blood, rejoice. Don’t say, ‘He died’ and be saddened, for I am living by candlelight, under the Lord’s throne of honor.
“Forgive me, father,” he continued. “I yearned for a saint’s death. My religion called upon me to uphold the ritual. I am a martyr, by Allah’s assistance. Rejoice.”
Full-fledged investigation into actor Ivgy said imminent
A police source quoted by Channel 2 news say that it is “only a matter of time” before a criminal investigation is opened against the veteran actor Moshe Ivgy after one of several women to have accused him of sexual harassment came forward and lodged an official complaint.
According to the report, one or two more women will likely file complaints as well, paving the way for the current unofficial probe to be upgraded to a full-fledged investigation.
Ivgi, one of Israel’s most recognizable stage and screen actors, has rejected the allegations against him, saying he never intended to “deliberately” harm anyone.
US official says Syrian government unlikely to collapse
The director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency says he does not think the Syrian government of Bashar Assad is likely to collapse or be defeated in the near term because of increased support from Iran and Russia.
He says Assad’s forces will likely regain key territory in some key areas.
“He certainly is in a much stronger negotiating position that he was just six months ago,” Stewart says before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart predicts, however, that Iranian and Russian interests in Syria will likely diverge because they won’t share the stage there as a regional power. For now, however, Iran wants to maintain its relations with Moscow so it can purchase Russian arms without preconditions.