Former IDF general Yitzhak Pundak dies at 104
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Netanyahu, Trump to meet on September 17

Government to remove settlers from contested Hebron home, court hears; police find 20 marijuana greenhouses in IDF training areas

  • US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after giving final remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem before Trump's departure, May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after giving final remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem before Trump's departure, May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Leah (L) and Simcha Goldin, parents of late Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, attend a ceremony marking three years since Operation Protective Edge at the National Memorial Hall at the entrance to the military cemetery on Mount Herzl, July 13, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Leah (L) and Simcha Goldin, parents of late Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, attend a ceremony marking three years since Operation Protective Edge at the National Memorial Hall at the entrance to the military cemetery on Mount Herzl, July 13, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • Iranian soccer player Masoud Shojaei. (Screen capture: YouTube )
    Iranian soccer player Masoud Shojaei. (Screen capture: YouTube )
  • Illustrative: Police in Ashkelon, August 27, 2017. (Israel Police)
    Illustrative: Police in Ashkelon, August 27, 2017. (Israel Police)
  • Police officers stand guard at a police cordon next to London's Buckingham Palace following an incident where a man armed with a sword was arrested outside the palace in an apparent attempted terror attack on August 26, 2017. (AFP/Chris J. Ratcliffe)
    Police officers stand guard at a police cordon next to London's Buckingham Palace following an incident where a man armed with a sword was arrested outside the palace in an apparent attempted terror attack on August 26, 2017. (AFP/Chris J. Ratcliffe)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

Police arrest 2nd man in Buckingham Palace terror incident

LONDON — Police detectives investigating what they called a terrorist incident near Buckingham Palace in London on Friday night arrest a second man in the British capital.

Scotland Yard says the 30-year-old suspect was detained on suspicion of involvement in terrorism. He is in custody and officers are carrying out searches in west London as part of the probe.

Three police officers were slightly injured Friday night as they arrested a 26-year-old man who drove up to a police van in a restricted area outside Buckingham Palace then reached for a 4-foot (1.2-meter) sword. The suspect repeatedly shouted “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great” in Arabic).

No others apart from the man and the officers were injured in the incident.

— AP

Israel to press UN chief on ‘blindness’ on Hezbollah

Israel will press UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on what it says is Hezbollah’s arms buildup in Lebanon when he arrives Sunday evening for his first visit to the Jewish state since taking office.

During the three-day visit, Guterres will hold talks with Israeli leaders, travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and then to the Gaza Strip, where the UN runs a major Palestinian aid program.

The trip comes as the UN Security Council debates renewing, for a year, the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, with a vote expected on August 30.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has blasted the commander of the UNIFIL peacekeepers, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling.

— AFP and Times of Israel staff

Police combing Ashkelon after report of suspicious person

Police are searching the southern city of Ashkelon after residents report seeing a suspicious person. There is no immediate explanation as to what caused the residents’ concern, but police issue a statement calling on the public to remain alert.

Death toll from Barcelona terror attacks rises to 16

MADRID, Spain — The number of people killed in twin vehicle attacks in Spain last week rose to 16 on Sunday, local authorities in Barcelona say.

“This morning a 51-year-old German woman died after being treated in a critical condition in hospital,” said a statement from the region’s civil defense.

The attacks on Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona and in the seaside resort of Cambrils left around 120 wounded.

— AFP

Ashkelon police said looking for Palestinian suspected of planning attack

Israel Radio reports that the police manhunt in Ashkelon is for a Palestinian man who may be planning a terror attack.

The radio report is not sourced.

President pardons 3 outstanding soldiers who committed crimes as youths

President Reuven Rivlin issues a presidential pardon to three IDF soldiers for crimes they committed before they entered into IDF service.

They went on to “serve with distinction and professionalism” in the IDF, the President’s Residence says in a statement about the pardons. Two served in combat positions, and all received glowing recommendations from their commanders.

“It is important to allow citizens who help their society to turn over a new leaf,” said Rivlin.

All three committed the crimes as minors. The decision wipes their criminal records clean.

Former IDF general Yitzhak Pundak dies at 104

Former IDF general Yitzhak Pundak passes away at age 104.

A well-regarded officer in the pre-state Palmach and during the early years of the state, Pundak was promised to be promoted to major general, the IDF’s second-highest rank, by then-chief of staff Moshe Dayan. By the time he left the army in 1959, it was clear Dayan, who had himself left the army by then, had backtracked on his promise.

In 2013, on Pundak’s 100th birthday, then-chief of staff Benny Gantz carried through on Dayan’s promise and promoted the long-retired Pundak to major general.

Pundak’s funeral will take place Monday afternoon in the cemetery at Kibbutz Nitzanim, located between the southern coastal cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod and the site of Pundak’s most famous battle in the 1948 Independence War.

Texas rescue attempts mount as Harvey pours it on

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Authorities say rescue attempts continue in Houston for those stranded inside flooded homes and submerged vehicles in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey.

The Houston Chronicle reports that hundreds of calls have been fielded for water rescues as of early Sunday, including Houston police officials who evacuated two apartment complexes and rescued more than 50 children.

Meanwhile, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Sunday continued urging residents via Twitter to “shelter in place” and stay off rain-swollen roadways.

Gonzalez actively used Twitter overnight to field assistance for those trapped inside water-soaked homes, attics and vehicles. Those appealing for assistance or being steered to help via Gonzalez’s Twitter feed included a person suffering “cardiac-arrest,” and a woman who posted: “I have 2 children with me and tge,water is swallowing us up. Please send help.”

Turner’s official Twitter account said “911 services at capacity. If u can shelter in place do so, a few inches in your home is not imminent danger. Only call if in imminent danger.”

— AP

Palestinian youth held by police after hours-long manhunt in Ashkelon

Police say they have detained a Palestinian youth after an hours-long manhunt in Ashkelon.

Reports conflict on the reasons for the detention, with police saying the young man is from the West Bank, and is suspected of residing in Israel without a permit. Some media outlets report that he is suspected of planning a terror attack, but that report has not been confirmed by police.

El Al plane diverted to Croatia over smoke smell; none hurt

An El Al flight from Munich to Tel Aviv is forced to land in Zagreb, Croatia, after crew members smelled smoke.

According to the Ynet news site, the Boeing 737 plane landed safely and is undergoing safety checks in Zagreb.

All 170 passengers and crew are safe.

Preliminary reports say a warming oven in one of the plane’s kitchens caused the smell.

Trump said to be preparing plan for reviving peace talks

Palestinian officials reportedly believe US President Donald Trump will lay out a plan in the coming months on reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal as part of his administration’s efforts to revive peace talks between the sides.

During their meeting in Ramallah Thursday, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Trump would present the plan in the next three to four months in exchange for the Palestinian leader abandoning efforts to pursue statehood in international bodies, the Israel Hayom daily reports, citing an unnamed Palestinian official.

The paper says Abbas agreed to Kushner’s proposal, but demanded that Trump personally commit to the US peace plan, setting a meeting between the two during the UN General Assembly in September.

The US plan would include a set timetable for talks, which would focus on the so called “core issues” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Palestinian official said.

— Alexander Fulbright

Uruguayan tourist collapses and dies at Dead Sea

Magen David Adom paramedics declare a female tourist from Uruguay dead Sunday morning after she collapses on the shore of the Dead Sea.

An MDA spokesman tells The Times of Israel that paramedics arrived at Kalia Beach in the West Bank to find the 74-year-old unconscious, learning that she had collapsed after stepping out of the water. They attempted to resuscitate her for 40 minutes before declaring her dead.

Police opened an investigation into the circumstances of the death and to confirm the identity of the victim.

— Jacob Magid

Woman found dead outside burnt car in northern Israel

The body of an unidentified woman is found alongside a burned-out vehicle in the Jezreel Valley on Sunday, the Magen David Adom emergency service says.

MDA paramedics pronounce the woman dead immediately upon arriving at the scene near Tel Adashim in northern Israel.

There were burn marks found all over her body, which was transferred to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute.

Police launch an investigation into the circumstances of the death.

Paintings with swastikas removed from Rio de Janeiro exhibit

Three paintings featuring swastikas are removed from an exhibit at one of Rio’s best-known cultural centers.

Having paintings with swastikas in them “became even more serious because public school students pay regular visits to the venue,” said Herry Rosenberg, president of the Rio Jewish federation. “We reiterate our commitment to fight continuously any expression of anti-Semitism in our state.”

The exhibit was closed for one day but later reopened without the paintings. The complaint was made though the federation’s WhatsApp channel for reporting anti-Semitic incidents.

In June, vandals spray painted a swastika inside a Star of David on the entrance wall of the Brazilian Israelite Club, a Jewish institution attended by Jews and non-Jews and whose doors commonly remain open for neighborhood events.

Brazilian law allows sentences of two to five years imprisonment plus a fine for promotion of Nazi or Nazi-related propaganda.

— JTA

Iran soccer captain out of qualifier after playing Israeli club

TEHRAN, Iran – The Iranian Football Federation excludes captain Masoud Shojaei for World Cup qualifiers against South Korea and Syria but denies it is punishment for playing against an Israeli club.

Shojaei and his compatriot Ehsan Haji Safi came in for criticism in Iran when they turned out for their Greek side Panionios in an August 3 home Europa League qualifier against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Sunday’s squad, announced by already qualified Iran’s Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz on Facebook, included Ehsan Haji Safi but omitted Shojaei.

The initial reaction from Deputy Sports Minister Mohammad Reza Davarzani suggested the pair would both be banned for violating the country’s “red line.”

But Iran appeared to backtrack on the ban after a huge outcry from football fans on social media and the launch of an investigation by FIFA, which has strict rules against political interference in national teams.

The ISNA news agency reported that the Iran Football Federation had denied the ban in a letter to FIFA on August 13.

— AFP

Adopt-a Nazi fundraiser reaches, surpasses $150K goal

The Adopt-a-Nazi (Not Really) fundraiser, a response to a far-right “free speech” rally that had been scheduled for San Francisco, reaches its $150,000 goal and ups it.

The campaign, by San Francisco attorney Cody Harris and the Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco, asks visitors to donate a small amount of money to the Southern Poverty Law Center by “sponsoring” each person who had been expected to attend the rally. Some 300 rally-goers had been expected.

The rally that had been scheduled for Saturday night was cancelled late Friday by its organizer: a right wing group known as Patriot Prayer led by Joey Gibson of Portland, Oregon.

“It doesn’t seem safe. A lot of people’s lives are going to be in danger,” Gibson said in a post on Facebook. He also said that “tons of extremists” had planned to show up at the rally and that the event had the potential to become “a riot.”

Launched on Aug. 17 with an initial goal of $10,000, the campaign passed that target in 24 hours. The goal was changed to $100,000 and then to $125,000.

As of Sunday morning, the GoFundMe campaign to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center had raised more than $155,000 and raised its goal to $165,000 by Monday.

— JTA

Father of fallen soldier held in Gaza slams government inaction

The parents of fallen IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, whose bodies are still held by Hamas in Gaza since their deaths in the 2014 war in Gaza, rail against Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman for insisting earlier today that he would not agree to a prisoner exchange in which Israel releases Palestinian security prisoners.

“Liberman violated his committed to the IDF’s code of ethics” by writing off any viable prisoner exchange, Simha Goldin, Hadar’s father, charges in a live statement to the press broadcast on Channel 2.

He then addresses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Israel’s policy to the missing [in action] was set long ago by prime ministers. It’s part of the responsibility of the job. I turn to Prime Minister Netanyahu and say there must be a new coordinator appointed immediately.”

The former coordinator for talks with Hamas over a prisoner exchange, Lior Lotan, announced last week he was leaving the post after three years on the job.

“You, prime minister, must fulfill your promises to us and our children. Our son, Hadar, is not a ‘deal,’ but a hero. Don’t turn him into a ‘cost.’ This is not a trading floor,” Goldin says.

He adds: “We demand an entirely new equation: pressure on Hamas. You have to do one of two things, either a prisoner exchange, or pressure on Hamas.”

Police find 20 marijuana greenhouses in IDF training areas

In a massive crackdown on pot-growing sites in the south, police uncover 20 marijuana greenhouses situated in IDF training areas.

Some 2,650 plants are confiscated from the sites, valued at tens of thousands of shekels, according to Channel 2.

Finland police confirm identify of suspect in stabbing attack

HELSINKI, Finland – The identify of the main suspect in the stabbing attack this month in the Finnish city of Turku has been confirmed, police say.

Investigators have determined that Abderrahman Mechkah, an asylum seeker whose name had previously been released by police, is a Moroccan man born in 1994.

“The police have interviewed the main suspect, and he is willing to communicate with the interviewing police officer,” the National Bureau of Investigation says in a statement.

It says it would not release details of his statements while the investigation continues.

Police have said that Mechkah — who arrived in Finland in early 2016 — targeted women in a rampage on August 18 at a market square in the southwestern port city of Turku.

Six other suspects have been arrested on suspicions of being involved in the attack, though three of them have since been released.

Investigators are treating it as the country’s first terror attack.

— AFP

Houston opening convention center as shelter

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says emergency personnel have responded to more than 2,000 calls to 911 for rescues in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. He says priority was being given to life-threatening calls.

Turner also says at a news conference that he has ordered the downtown George R. Brown Convention Center opened as a shelter as floodwaters inundated much of the city.

Turner also urges people not to drive, as numerous streets and roadways in Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, are flooded Sunday.

The George R. Brown Convention Center has 1.8 million square feet (167,000 square meters) of space.

— AP

Netanyahu, Trump to meet on September 17

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet US President Donald Trump when the former visits the US in mid-September for the United Nations General Assembly.

According to the Israel Hayom newspaper, the two are scheduled to meet on September 17 in New Jersey, likely at Trump’s National Bedminster Golf Club.

Government to remove settlers from contested Hebron home, court hears

State attorneys tell the High Court of Justice that they plan to remove Israeli squatters who have been staying in a disputed house in Hebron.

Some 15 Israeli families in mid-July moved into Machpela House, which for years has been at the center of legal wrangling over claims of ownership by a group of Jewish families, who say they bought the site, and Palestinians, who say the purchase document was forged.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has ruled that the families must be evacuated, the state tells the court on Sunday.

Mandelblit has granted the military another week to attempt to coax the squatters out and “evacuate the building peacefully,” the state says in a High Court hearing on the subject. If the negotiations fail, they will be ordered to evacuate the site by force.

Houston Jewish community ‘impacted’ by Hurricane Harvey

At least five people are reported dead in Houston as rain and winds from Hurricane Harvey hit the city, causing massive flooding.

“Parts of our community have been impacted by the severe weather of the past two days. We are working with our partner agencies to assess the current situation in our community and determine priority on action items. We will communicate out as soon as we know how best to move forward in the short and long-term,” the Jewish Federation of Houston posts Sunday morning on Facebook.

The post does not specify what in the Jewish community had been damaged.

Prior to the onset of the hurricane, the Federation wrote on its website that it was “preparing to mobilize a community response to Hurricane Harvey in the event it is necessary… We are here to help manage the recovery, as needed.” The Federation said it had met with Jewish Family Services, the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center and Seven Acres — to spearhead a community-wide recovery response.

The Houston JCC announced on Facebook that it would close Friday and remain closed Sunday, with an update Sunday evening. Prior to the hurricane, it collected emergency supplies for the community, including bottled water, work gloves, packing supplies, plastic storage bins, heavy trash bags, heavy-duty razor blades to rip out wet and damaged carpet, cleaning supplies, and gift cards for home repair stores and grocery stores, according to the Texas Jewish Herald-Voice.

The newspaper reported that homes in heavily Jewish populated Houston subdivisions were reporting flooding Sunday morning, for the third time in as many years.

— JTA

Biden says Trump ’emboldened white supremacists’

WASHINGTON — Former US vice president Joe Biden levels harsh words at US President Donald Trump for placing blame on “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In a commentary published Sunday in The Atlantic, Biden writes: “Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate.”

He says Trump has “emboldened white supremacists with messages of comfort and support.”

Biden and former president Barack Obama have each kept a low profile since leaving office, carefully choosing the moments to weigh in.

In his commentary, Biden says: “This is a moment for this nation to declare what the president can’t with any clarity, consistency, or conviction: There is no place for these hate groups in America.”

— AP

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Former IDF general Yitzhak Pundak dies at 104

Former IDF general Yitzhak Pundak passes away at age 104.

A well-regarded officer in the pre-state Palmach and during the early years of the state, Pundak was promised to be promoted to major general, the IDF’s second-highest rank, by then-chief of staff Moshe Dayan. By the time he left the army in 1959, it was clear Dayan, who had himself left the army by then, had backtracked on his promise.

In 2013, on Pundak’s 100th birthday, then-chief of staff Benny Gantz carried through on Dayan’s promise and promoted the long-retired Pundak to major general.

Pundak’s funeral will take place Monday afternoon in the cemetery at Kibbutz Nitzanim, located between the southern coastal cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod and the site of Pundak’s most famous battle in the 1948 Independence War.