The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s news as it unfolded.
Hundreds at funeral for woman killed in Beit Horon stabbing
Hundreds are attending the funeral ceremony for Shlomit Krigman, who was stabbed to death Monday in an attack in the settlement of Beit Horon in the central West Bank.
“She was open to the world and had great curiosity,” said Eitan Bnaya, one of Krigman’s teachers at the Ariel University, according to Ynet. “She was interested in many areas. Everything got cut off in a single moment, a young woman whose life was ended.”
Bnaya says that Krigman, an industrial design student, was an “amazing, quiet and kind person” and “very interesting.”
“Despite her gentle appearance, she would tackle every machine and every material and build models. Her finals project was to build public libraries in bus stops, a sort of social activity that combines her two great loves — books and design.”
Israel says Gazans with travel permits recruited by Hamas for terror
Major General Yoav Mordechai, who heads the IDF unit that administers the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip, threatens to close the crossings should Hamas continue to recruit people “who exit Gaza to Israel for terrorism purposes,” Mordechai’s unit, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, says.
In an interview published this morning in the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds, Mordechai accuses Hamas of exploiting “permits given to merchants and workers from Gaza who travel to the West Bank,” COGAT says in a statement. Hamas, Mordechai says, recruits them to assist in terror plots, thus making it harder for Israel to issue such permits.
Mordechai says “it seems that Hamas is preparing for another military offensive against Israel” and has no real intention of serving the interests of the population in the Strip,” according to the statement. “This situation will eventually cause the closing of the crossings and the cessation of exits from Gaza,” he warns.
Mordechai says Israeli policies are “designed to ease residents’ lives and to strengthen the Palestinian economy. Following the last operation, Israel has adopted a plan to assist the Gazan economy while taking consideration of the security situation.” To that end, he says, COGAT “has already issued over 100,000 travel permits for prayers, medical treatments and merchandise.”
— Judah Ari Gross
Iran to stage naval drill near Strait of Hormuz
Iran says it will hold a “massive” naval drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the first such exercise since the incident involving 10 US sailors who were briefly captured by Iran when they drifted into Iranian territorial waters earlier this month.
The official IRNA news agency says the drill will start on Wednesday and encompass an area from the eastern part of the Strait of Hormuz, through which one fifth of the world oil supply passes, to the Sea of Oman and also stretch into the Indian Ocean.
The agency is quoting Iranian navy chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, as saying that “many types of missiles and torpedoes will be launched during the maneuver.”
Sayyari does not elaborate on the length of the drill.
Iranian leader meets the pope
Iran’s president pays a call on Pope Francis at the Vatican during a European visit aimed at positioning Tehran as a potential top player in efforts to resolve Middle East conflicts, including Syria’s civil war.
President Hassan Rouhani’s motorcade of limousines crosses St. Peter’s Square for the late-morning, closed-door meeting with the pontiff.
Before going to the Vatican, Rouhani tells a forum of business leaders in Rome that “Iran is the safest and most stable country of the entire region.”
He is making the first state visit by an Iranian president to Europe in nearly two decades.
Rouhani’s four-day visit to Italy and next, to France, is part of efforts by Iran to reach out to its old partners following the implementation of a nuclear deal with world powers, and Rouhani is eager for foreign investments after the lifting of international sanctions. The trip was originally planned for November but postponed by the attacks in Paris.
Shlomit Krigman buried alongside Dafna Meir
Shlomit Krigman is being laid to rest in the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem alongside the grave of Dafna Meir, who was slain in a similar stabbing attack in the settlement of Otniel last week, Army Radio reports.
Israel vulture ‘spy’ caught in Lebanon
Lebanese media are reporting that people in southern Lebanon have captured a vulture that was “spying” for Israel.
But according to Israeli reports, the vulture had in fact been tagged by the Nature and Parks Authority in the Gamla reserve on the nearby Golan Heights — part of an effort to increase the population of the endangered bird.
Images posted to social media show the vulture being held up to the camera, its tags, which include the word “Israel,” fully visible.
“We hope that in the 21st century, people will understand that wild animals are harmless,” the Nature and Parks Authority says in a statement quoted by Army Radio. “We hope that the Lebanese will take care of it and release it.”
Recent Lebanese reports say the vulture has indeed been released by its captors.
The vulture is the latest in a series of Israeli animal “agents” captured in Arab countries, which, while mostly avian in nature, have also included a shark that attacked tourists in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
Peres released from the hospital
Former president and PM Shimon Peres is released from the hospital, where doctors have been observing him over the last few days after he suffered a heart arrhythmia.
“According to Peres’s doctors, all test results were normal,” a statement from the former president’s office says.
It was the second trip to the hospital in the last two week for Peres, 92, who suffered a minor heart attack that prevented him from traveling to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
Rouhani asks the pope to pray for him
Iran’s president asks Pope Francis to pray for him after private talks at the Vatican.
Rouhani tells Francis after their 40-minute meeting: “I ask you to pray for me.” The Iranian calls the visit “a real pleasure.”
Francis thanks Rouhani for the visit and adds: “I hope for peace.”
Rome museum covered up nudes to spare Rouhani’s sensibilities
Ahead of Rouhani’s meeting with the Italian prime minister there, nude statues at Rome’s Capitoline Museum were covered.
Photographs from a press conference held by the two men show statues covered by white panels.
According to the Guardian, the statues were covered by Italian officials who were “keen to spare” Rouhani “any possible offense.”
Breaking: Several said wounded in car-ramming attack
Early reports say several people have been injured in a possible car ramming attack in the West Bank
Driver flees scene of suspected car-ramming attack
Reports place the suspected car-ramming attack at the Atarot Junction north of Jerusalem, about a five-minute drive from the site of yesterday’s stabbing attack in Beit Horon.
It isn’t immediately clear how many people are wounded, although initial reports say a soldier may have been lightly hurt.
#breaking reports of a potential car ramming attack near Beit Horon, the site of a terror attack last night.
— Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) January 26, 2016
The driver plowed into an army checkpoint and then fled the scene, reports say.
Police confirms soldier likely targeted in car-ramming
The Israel Police confirms that it has received an initial report regarding a car-ramming attack that hit a soldier at the entrance to the Palestinian village of Beit Ur al-Tahta.
The village has been under curfew since yesterday, as one of the men who carried out the stabbing attack in Beit Horon was from there.
After hitting the soldier, the car fled toward the village, police say in a statement.
— Judah Ari Gross
Images of scene of suspected car-ramming
First images emerge on social media of the aftermath of the incident, which the army has yet to confirm was a deliberate attack.
BREAKING PHOTOS: Palestinian terrorist rams his car thru Beit Horon checkpoint, wounding Israeli soldier. pic.twitter.com/cSiaDiUnRK
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) January 26, 2016
Army confirms soldier lightly hurt
The IDF confirms that a soldier is lightly injured in a suspected car-ramming outside of Beit Ur al-Tahta.
“The motives of the incident are still being investigated,” the IDF says.
— Judah Ari Gross
6 ultra-Orthodox protesters arrested in Jerusalem
Six ultra-Orthodox protesters are arrested by police during an anti-draft rally in Jerusalem, police say.
The demonstrators are protesting the arrest of two ultra-Orthodox teenagers who failed to report to the IDF for enlistment.
Etzion settlements prepare for possible snow accumulation
The regional council for the Etzion Bloc of settlements, south of Jerusalem, warns residents that roads in the area could be closed overnight should they become covered in snow.
In a statement, the regional council says the decision on closing the roads will be made by the police and army.
Police say Haredi anti-draft demo over
Police say the demonstration by ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem against the draft has ended and roads that were closed during the protest have been reopened.
In all, seven people were arrested for disturbances at the rally, police say.
IDF warns of war in north
Military officials assess that while Israel’s enemies aren’t planning to launch a deliberate war anytime soon, even a minor security incident along the northern border could trigger a major conflagration.
Officials say that, in this context, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah poses a major threat, and assess that a war would entail rocket attacks, attempts to kidnap soldiers and attacks against Israeli Navy ships.
“The next war will be different,” a military official says. “Hezbollah has turned most of the Shiite villages in southern Lebanon into [military] posts. They tend more toward subterranean battle and moving the battle into our territory. Hezbollah was digging tunnels even before Hamas [started].”
Herzog calls for electrified fence between Israel, West Bank
During the funeral ceremony for Shlomit Krigman, who was stabbed to death Monday in Beit Horon, opposition leader Isaac Herzog posts on Facebook setting out his vision for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Right now another young Israeli woman who was murdered in another terror attack is being laid to rest. Another day, another terror attack. Another murder. I feel the pain of the family of Shulamit Krigman, may God avenge her blood, with a lot of pain and rage. This murder is so terrible and so angering.
Herzog, who chairs the center-left Zionist Union, which has traditionally called for a negotiated solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, goes on to outline a plan for unilateral “separation” between Israel and the West Bank.
Why don’t they implement an effective separation? Why don’t they erect a wall? What’s the point of a fence if one can hop over or crawl under it? We don’t need a livestock fence. We need real separation that will truly block the terrorists. We can erect a real fence, topped with electrified barbed wire, one that can’t be traversed. Any weaker solution is wantonness that this government is responsible for. We need a fence that’ll deter murderers and defend civilians. We can do that and defend our civilians from terrorism and murder. That’s part of my separation plan.
Herzog’s proposal sounds a lot like the one floated by his main rival in the center, Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid, on Monday.
Ya’alon excoriates Turkey for terrorism ‘support’
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accuses Turkey of “supporting” terrorism and assisting the Islamic State group by buying oil from it and allowing its fighters unmolested passage to and from Europe.
IS – he says during a meeting with his Greek counterpart, Panos Kammenos, in Athens – “enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time.”
He also accuses Turkey, with which Greece has had problematic relations over the decades, of “allowing jihadis to move to Europe from Syria and Iraq and back home as part of the [Islamic State] terror infrastructure in Europe.”
Yet, he says, “hopefully” Turkey and Israel can set aside their differences and repair their relations, and Ankara “will join the countries that fight terrorism and not those that generate or support it.”
IS accuses Israel of bombing Sinai base
The Islamic State group claims that Israeli Apache gunships, aided by a drone, have bombed one of its bases in the northern Sinai peninsula, across Israel’s border with Egypt.
The IDF refuses to comment on the unlikely report.
Shooter reported in San Diego US Navy hospital
The Naval Medical Center in San Diego says there is an “active shooter” on the premises.
In a Facebook post, the center says: “All occupants are advised to run, hide or fight.”
UN chief calls on Israel to freeze settlements
The UN Secretary-General says progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians requires that Israel freeze its settlement-building.
Ban Ki-moon addresses the UN Security Council’s periodic Middle East debate and calls Israel’s settlement activities “an affront to the Palestinian people.”
Ban urges both sides to act now “to prevent the two-state solution from slipping away forever.”
Dozens of people on both sides have died in four months of violence, which Israel blames on Palestinian incitement. Palestinians say the attacks stem from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli military rule.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour urges the council to act.
Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, does not address settlement-building. He instead shows reporters what he calls “terror dolls,” which he says are used to teach hatred to Palestinian children.
Israel announces ‘severe cyberattack’ on electric company
Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz says Israeli Electric Authority is being targeted by a “severe cyberattack.”
Addressing the Cybertech Conference in Tel Aviv, Steinitz says the attack was discovered on Monday and that his ministry is “already handling it,” along with the Israel National Cyber Bureau.
“The virus was already identified and the right software was already prepared to neutralize it,” he sayd. “We had to paralyze many of the computers of the Israeli electricity authorities. We are handling the situation and I hope that soon, this very serious event will be over.
“This is a fresh example of the sensitivity of infrastructure to cyberattacks, and the importance of preparing ourselves in order to defend ourselves against such attacks.”
He doesn’t say whether Israel has identified any suspects in the attack.
Jerusalem expecting snow in coming hours
Jerusalem’s city hall says that snow is predicted in the coming two hours.
In a statement, the city says its “array of [snow] plows is deployed along major roads” and requests that residents “refrain from unnecessary driving while it snows in order to prevent disturbances along the roads.”
Netanyahu warns of European anti-Semitism
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns that Europeans are not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism, in a statement on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Netanyahu, who has routinely argued the Jewish state is unfairly singled out for criticism by the United Nations and other bodies, warns that “in Europe and elsewhere, Jews are once again being targeted just for being Jews.”
“We see anti-Semitism directed against individual Jews, and we also see this hatred directed against the collective Jew, against the Jewish state,” he adds.
Netanyahu warns that anti-Semitism is gaining traction across Europe.
“Even respected Western opinion leaders have become afflicted with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said, without giving names. “The obsession with the Jews — the fixation on the Jewish state — defies any other rational explanation.”
International Holocaust Remembrance Day will be marked around the globe on Wednesday to commemorate the six million Jews who died at the hands of Nazi Germany and its allies.
Netanyahu blasts UN chief for saying it’s ‘human nature to react to occupation’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hits back at UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for saying “it is human nature to react to occupation.”
Ban’s comments “stoke terrorism,” Netanyahu says in a statement. “There is no justification for terrorism. The Palestinian terrorists don’t want to build a state; they want to destroy a state, and they state that proudly. They want to murder Jews everywhere and they state that proudly. They don’t murder for peace and they don’t murder for human rights.”
“Stabbings, vehicle attacks, and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians – all of which I condemn — and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, have continued to claim lives,” Ban had said earlier in the day at a session of the UN Security Council. “But security measures alone will not stop the violence. They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians –- especially young people. The full force of the law must be brought to bear on all those committing crimes –- with a system of justice applied equally for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
“Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process,” Ban continued. “Some have taken me to task for pointing out this indisputable truth. Yet, as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.”
In his reaction, Netanyahu says the UN has “lost its neutrality and its moral force, and these statements by the secretary general do nothing to improve its situation.”
Lapid also rips into UN’s Ban
Only minutes after Netanyahu excoriates Ban Ki-moon, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid also blasts the UN Secretary General.
Ban, Lapid says in a statement, “described the current wave of terror as a ‘natural response to the occupation.’ There are millions of people in the world whose lives are harder than those of the Palestinians. In Africa, in Asia, in the Middle East. There are hundreds of millions of people in the world for whom the UN didn’t create a special body and to whom the UN didn’t send billions of dollars (and then stood to one side while a corrupt government stole it).
“For some reason those people don’t think there is anything, anything at all, which gives them license to take a knife and stab a mother of six. To take a knife and stab a woman who is five months pregnant. To take a knife and stab a wonderful 23-year-old woman who had never harmed anyone.Terrorism against innocent civilians can not be justified. No-one should provide excuses for it, especially not the UN Secretary General. Terrorism against innocent civilians is the result of nothing except the murderous insanity of the perpetrators.”
2 soldiers sent to prison for shooting camel
A military court sentences two IDF soldiers to prison terms for shooting a camel.
One of the soldiers, who was filmed shooting the camel in a video that later went viral, is sentenced to four months in prison along with a suspended sentence. He is also demoted to the rank of private.
A second soldier who was in the car at the time of the incident is sentenced to two months and is also demoted to the rank of private.
“The sentence reflects the severity with which the IDF sees the offense of cruelty to animals, especially when it involves using a military-issued weapons,” the IDF says in a statement.
The two were members of the elite Duvdevan infantry unit.
Publisher Zuckerman announces US-Israel science initiative
Real estate magnate and publisher Mortimer Zuckerman has announced a scholarship program to pay for American graduate students in the sciences to study in Israel.
The Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program will provide more than $100 million in scholarships over the next 20 years, Zuckerman says.
It will provide funding for American graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to study at Israeli universities. They include Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.
“At a time when collaboration is essential to advanced scientific research, this program gives the next generations of leading American and Israeli academics the ability to work together on cutting-edge research in ways that stand to benefit their fields for years to come,” Zuckerman said as he announced the initiative Monday at the Harvard Club of New York City.
Iraq says 40 bodies found in mass grave in Ramadi
Iraqi forces have found more than 40 bodies, including those of women and children, in a mass grave in the city of Ramadi west of Baghdad, which they recently retook from Islamic State militants, officials say.
Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan says the grave in central Ramadi contains the bodies of civilians as well as police. Video footage from the site shows local security forces and a small forensics team wearing face masks and digging with shovels.
Ramadi, the provincial capital of the sprawling Anbar province, fell to IS in May, marking a major setback for U.S.-allied Iraqi forces. Iraqi troops retook the city center last month with heavy coalition air support.
Similar mass graves have been found in other areas liberated from the IS group in Syria and Iraq. The extremist group has boasted of massacring Shiites and other opponents, often releasing gruesome videos and pictures of the killings.
No sign of shooting at San Diego Navy medical center
The US Navy says an initial inspection at the Naval Medical Center San Diego found no sign of a gunman or a shooting.
The disclosure comes after military police checked Building 26 after a person reported hearing three shots in the basement earlier in the day, Navy spokesman N. Scott Sutherland said.
The base remained on lockdown as authorities went from room to room and led personnel out of the facility.
TV images showed uniformed Navy personnel walking outside the medical facility. Their hands were in the air and they were being patted down by base police as a precaution.
School officials said a lockdown had ended and instruction has resumed at three schools near the medical center.
The Navy hospital previously said on its Facebook page that an active shooter was reported and people were told to run, hide or fight.
Knesset committee checks out F-35 in Washington
Four members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee visited Lockheed Martin headquarters in Washington, D.C., the spokesperson for the committee says.
Representatives from the US Air Force showed the visiting parliamentarians — Likud MKs Tzachi Hanegbi and Avi Dichter, Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelach and Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev — the work being done on the new $100 million F-35 fighter jets, the first of which are supposed to be delivered to Israel by the end of the year.
Hanegbi, Dichter, Shelav and Bar-Lev discussed the fighter jet’s capabilities and expected supply date with USAF General Chris Bogdan, who is managing the F-35 project, the spokesperson says.
— Judah Ari Gross