Esther Herlitz, Israel’s first female ambassador, dies aged 94
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Livni: UN council motion is ‘diplomatic failure’ for Israel

Hamas says Palestinians killed in attack on soldiers in Hebron belonged to terror group; Likud minister says EU diplomat’s tears unbecoming a leader

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

  • Israeli soldiers carry the body of one of the two Palestinians who were killed after wounding an Israeli soldier in a knife attack before being shot dead by troops at the entrance to the Jewish enclave of Tal Rumeida in the city center of the West Bank town of Hebron, March 24, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
    Israeli soldiers carry the body of one of the two Palestinians who were killed after wounding an Israeli soldier in a knife attack before being shot dead by troops at the entrance to the Jewish enclave of Tal Rumeida in the city center of the West Bank town of Hebron, March 24, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
  • A Palestinian woman speaks with an Israeli soldier at the scene of an attack in which two Palestinians wounded an Israeli soldier in a knife attack before being shot dead by troops in the city center of the West Bank town of Hebron on March 24, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
    A Palestinian woman speaks with an Israeli soldier at the scene of an attack in which two Palestinians wounded an Israeli soldier in a knife attack before being shot dead by troops in the city center of the West Bank town of Hebron on March 24, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
  • Israeli soldiers and police surround the bodies of two Palestinians who had wounded an Israeli soldier in a knife attack in the West Bank city of Hebron, March 24, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
    Israeli soldiers and police surround the bodies of two Palestinians who had wounded an Israeli soldier in a knife attack in the West Bank city of Hebron, March 24, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
  • Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (L) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 24, 2016. (AFP / ABBAS MOMANI)
    Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (L) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 24, 2016. (AFP / ABBAS MOMANI)
  • EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini cries during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister in the capital Amman, on March 22, 2016, upon receiving the news about a string of explosions that rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station. (str / AFP)
    EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini cries during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister in the capital Amman, on March 22, 2016, upon receiving the news about a string of explosions that rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station. (str / AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s news as it unfolded.

Video shows soldier shooting downed Palestinian

An IDF soldier reportedly shot a Palestinian attacker at point-blank range after he was on the ground and apparently no longer presenting a threat, Palestinian media reports.

An Israeli soldier was stabbed and moderately injured in Thursday morning’s attack in Hebron; two Palestinian attackers were shot dead.

The PA Health Ministry identified the two attackers killed by the IDF as Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, 21, and Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, 21.

A video claiming to be from the scene uploaded to social media by the Palestinian group Human Rights Defenders appeared to show a soldier approach al-Sharif when he was already sprawled on the pavement and bleeding from his skull and no longer threatening the soldiers around him. A soldier approaches and appears to discharge his weapon, striking the man in the head.

A witness to today’s terror attack in the Hebron enclave of Tel Rumeida tells the Ma’an news agency: “I heard gunshots, went outside my house to check what it was, and saw several Israeli soldiers yelling and two youths on the ground. A soldier approached one of the youths that was moving while yelling and opened fire at him from zero range.”

The IDF says it’s investigating the incident.

IDF: Soldier filmed shooting unarmed Palestinian suspended

The IDF says in a statement that an initial investigation of the incident was a “serious” breach of conduct “contrary to the spirit of the IDF and what’s expected from IDF soldiers and their commanders.”

“In light of the initial findings of the investigation conducted by commanders, a probe by Military Police investigations has been opened,” the IDF spokesperson unit says. “The soldier is dismissed from his post until the end of the investigation.”

Likud minister mocks EU diplomat’s tears

Israel’s science and technology minister trashes EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini for crying at a press conference in Jordan on Tuesday after getting word of the deadly attacks in Brussels.

According to a Knesset Channel reporter, Likud minister Ofir Akunis says that “a leader doesn’t break into tears in front of the cameras. Imagine if [former UK prime minister Margaret] Thatcher or [former Israeli prime minister] Golda Meir had done so.”

Abbas, Jordanian FM talk Temple Mount cameras

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh to discuss placing security cameras on the Temple Mount.

The two are meeting in Ramallah and hashing out ways to “protect the status quo in the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Israel’s violations,” the Ma’an news agency says.

Livni criticizes Herzog for not making stances clearer

Zionist Union No. 2 Tzipi Livni criticizes her former running mate and party leader Isaac Herzog for not presenting a clear enough distinction of the faction’s policies from those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Speaking to Army Radio, she says the Zionist Union must “reach a broader audience and present it with our principles in a clearer and more flowing manner.”

Syrian Army troops enter Palmyra

Backed by Russian airstrikes, Syrian government forces on Thursday pushed into the ancient town of Palmyra that has been held by the Islamic State group since May, state TV reported.

— AP

IDF arrests soldier filmed shooting Palestinian

The IDF has detained a soldier suspended for shooting an unarmed Palestinian attacker in the West Bank, an army spokesman says.

Joint List leader: Ministers encourage executions

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh reacts to the shooting of an unarmed, incapacitated Palestinian attacker, saying that “Israel has turned in recent months into a place in which executions are carried out in public to the cries of the screaming crowd.”

“The government of Israel tries to protect the image of a state [ruled by] law but in practice its ministers call over and over for the public to execute every suspected person,” he says in a statement. “The price of the decline in security and morals are paid by two nations, the Israeli and Palestinian.”

“I call for bringing to justice the criminals, and their dispatchers from 10 Balfour Street,” he says, referring to the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Yesh Atid MK: Terrorism ‘no reason’ to shirk IDF morals

Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, says that the murderous actions of terrorists “are no reason for the IDF to dismantle its values.”

“We need to praise the speedy actions of the army, which launched an investigation and clarified that the action negates its values,” he says in a statement.

“Morality is the source of the army’s strength, and compromising it even a little because of the difficulties raised by terrorism is a blow to the security of the nation,” he says.

Katsav said unlikely to get early prison release

The state will reportedly oppose the early release of imprisoned former president Moshe Katsav because of his refusal to take responsibility for his actions and express regret for the rape, sexual harassment and other charges he was convicted of, Army Radio reports.

The prison authorities also took into account the opposition of the complainants against shortening the president’s seven-year prison sentence, which he started serving in 2011.

 

Esther Herlitz, Israel’s first female ambassador, dies aged 94

Esther Herlitz, a former MK, an Israel Prize laureate and the country’s first female ambassador, is dead at 94.

The Labor Party politician was the first woman on the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and received the country’s highest award for contributions to Israeli society.

Born in Berlin in 1933, she was the daughter of George Herlitz, founder of the Central Zionist Archives.

She served as Israel’s ambassador to Denmark in 1966, then as Israel’s consul in New York. She served in the Knesset from 1973 to 1977 and again from 1979 to 1981.

Former MK Esther Herlitz in 1980. (Moshe Milner/GPO)

Former MK Esther Herlitz in 1980. (Moshe Milner/GPO)

IDF says investigating ‘very serious, atypical’ Hebron shooting

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz responds to the video of a soldier apparently shooting an incapacitated Palestinian attacker saying, “The soldier who shot the terrorist was arrested, we’ll need to check how this happened and investigate this in the IDF.”

“It’s a very serious and atypical incident,” he says, noting that not just the arrested soldier, but all other soldiers present, would be investigated.

Extra police on patrol in Jerusalem for Purim

Police say they’ve beefed up security across Jerusalem for the Purim holiday, which is celebrated Thursday night in the capital.

Peres, Paris mayor and interfaith leaders denounce terrorism

Former president Shimon Peres met with the mayor of Paris and leaders of French religious communities to make an interfaith denouncement of terrorism.

“We gathered here today Jews, Muslims and Christians to say loud and clear – that we must fight terror, we must go against those preachers who are using God’s name in vain to promote bloodshed and incitement,” Peres says, according to a statement released by his office. “There is no God in the heavens that permits terrorism, there is no God willing to murder the innocent – babies, children, here in Europe, in the Middle East or the rest of the world.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo calls on “rabbis, church leaders and imams to sit together, fight against the hatred and work towards advancing peace.”

“We must be accessible to the youth of Paris and together fight against violence and terror,” she says.

Jewish Home MK says all terrorists must be killed

“A terrorist who comes to kill — his sentence is unequivocally to be killed,” Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev tells Army Radio in response to today’s incident in which an IDF soldier was filmed shooting an unarmed an incapacitated Palestinian attacker.

“At the same time, if an incident occurs which didn’t need to happen — I trust the IDF.”

Hamas says terrorists shot in Hebron are its members

Hamas says that the two terrorists shot by the IDF in Hebron earlier today during an attack on soldiers were members of the organization.

The terror organization praises the “act of heroism” of the two, identified by the Palestinian Health Ministry as Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, 21, and Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, 21, for trying to stab soldiers in the Jewish enclave of Tel Rumeidah.

PM scorns attacks on Reform Jews by MKs

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns comments by Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday who accused Reform Jews of trying to destroy the Jewish people.

“Wholesale and ad hominem attacks on any part of the Jewish people are inappropriate and unacceptable,” Netanyahu says.

— JTA

Soldier’s lawyer: Give him the benefit of the doubt

The attorney of the soldier filmed shooting an incapacitated Palestinian in Hebron today tells Army Radio that his client is an “outstanding soldier, salt of the earth. He has yet to be allowed to defend his innocence.”

“Did someone at the scene [of the incident] get up and shout? Did someone give testimony on behalf of the soldier?” he asks, saying his client is innocent until proven guilty.

The IDF says in a statement that Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot ordered the head of Central Command to carry the investigation through to its completion.

“This is not the IDF, these are not the values of the IDF and this is not the culture of the IDF,” the Spokesperson’s Unit says in a tweet.

Defense minister decries Hebron incident

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon responds to today’s incident in Hebron saying “we must not allow such a loss of temper.”

He reiterates statements made by the IDF to the effect that the shooting of a Palestinian terrorist lying on the ground bleeding was “completely opposed to the values of the IDF and its combat morals.”

 

 

Yemeni Jew jailed for ‘helping smuggle Torah scroll’

Yemeni authorities have arrested a Jewish man on suspicion of helping to smuggle a Torah scroll to Israel along with a group of Jews who immigrated earlier this week, the Jewish Chronicle reports.

The group of 17 Yemeni Jews who immigrated to Israel earlier this week with help from the State Department and Jewish Agency brought a purportedly 800-year-old Torah scroll with them.

A Muslim airport worker was also arrested charged with allowing the artifact pass through security, the report says.

The final group of Jewish immigrants from Yemen arrives in Israel accompanied by an ancient Torah scroll, March 20, 2016. (Arielle Di-Porto for The Jewish Agency for Israel)

The final group of Jewish immigrants from Yemen arrives in Israel accompanied by an ancient Torah scroll, March 20, 2016. (Arielle Di-Porto for The Jewish Agency for Israel)

Human Rights Council okays ‘blacklist’ of settlement businesses

The UN Human Rights Council votes in favor of a “blacklist” of companies operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights, a motion that passed with no countries voting against.

The proposal, put forward by the PA and Arab states, includes a condemnation of settlements and calls on companies not to do business with Israeli settlements.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon responded saying that “When the UN marks Jewish business so that they can be boycotted it reminds us of dark times in the history.”

“The Human Rights Council has turned into an accomplice of the BDS movement and its conduct is both anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic,” he says in a statement.

Microsoft disables teen Twitter bot for becoming Nazi

An AI Twitter account created by Microsoft was deactivated after a day because she turned into an “evil Hitler-loving, incestual sex-promoting, ‘Bush did 9/11’-proclaiming robot,” The Telegraph reports.

Tay, a robot modeled to speak like a Milennial teen, said things such as “Bush did 9/11 and Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have got now. donald trump is the only hope we’ve got”, “Repeat after me, Hitler did nothing wrong” and “Ted Cruz is the Cuban Hitler…that’s what I’ve heard so many others say.”

PM: Hebron shooting ‘doesn’t represent IDF’s values’

The prime minister weighs in on today’s incident in Hebron in which an IDF soldier shot an unarmed Palestinian terrorist who posed no threat.

“What happened in Hebron doesn’t represent the values of the IDF,” he says in a statement. “The IDF expects its soldiers to behave level-headedly and in accordance with the rules of engagement.”

Netanyahu: Human Rights Council an ‘anti-Israel circus’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds to the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to create a blacklist of companies operating in the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, saying the international body “has turned into an anti-Israel circus, which attacks the only democracy in the Middle East and ignores the blatant violations of Iran, Syria and North Korea.”

“The absurd thing is that instead of dealing with Palestinian terrorist attacks and Islamic State attacks in Europe, [the Human Rights Council] decides to condemn Israel. Israel calls upon responsible governments not to respect the decisions of the council which denigrate Israel.”

Jerusalem train pelted by stones

The Jerusalem Light Rail was pelted by stones in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat moments ago.

A window is broken, but no injures are reported.

Livni: UNHRC decision a ‘dramatic diplomatic failure’

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni raps Netanyahu’s call for Western states to oppose the Human Rights Council’s “anti-Israel” decisions, saying “the fact that the states closest to Israel didn’t oppose the decision about settlements — a dramatic diplomatic failure.”

 

She says that the fact that the council passed an anti-Israel motion isn’t remarkable, “but what’s concerning this time is the fact that the states closest to Israel didn’t oppose the decision.”

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Esther Herlitz, Israel’s first female ambassador, dies aged 94

Esther Herlitz, a former MK, an Israel Prize laureate and the country’s first female ambassador, is dead at 94.

The Labor Party politician was the first woman on the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and received the country’s highest award for contributions to Israeli society.

Born in Berlin in 1933, she was the daughter of George Herlitz, founder of the Central Zionist Archives.

She served as Israel’s ambassador to Denmark in 1966, then as Israel’s consul in New York. She served in the Knesset from 1973 to 1977 and again from 1979 to 1981.

Former MK Esther Herlitz in 1980. (Moshe Milner/GPO)
Former MK Esther Herlitz in 1980. (Moshe Milner/GPO)