Iran defense chief in Turkey for ‘unprecedented’ talks
search
Live updates (closed)Latest: US military head warns of ‘difficult issues’ with China

Israeli aid begins arriving in Sierra Leone as mudslide death toll rises

Trump administration accuses IS of genocide against Christians, others; Netanyahu condemns Virginia anti-Semitism following long silence; Abbas praises North Korea's Kim

  • Members of an Armemian Christian family who fled from Raqqa sit near their pet parrots, "Lover" and "Beloved" in Jazra, a western suburb of Raqqa, on August 8, 2017, during battles to oust the Islamic State from the area. (AFP/Delil souleiman)
    Members of an Armemian Christian family who fled from Raqqa sit near their pet parrots, "Lover" and "Beloved" in Jazra, a western suburb of Raqqa, on August 8, 2017, during battles to oust the Islamic State from the area. (AFP/Delil souleiman)
  • This image made from video of an Aug. 14, 2017, still image broadcast in a news bulletin on August 15, 2017, by North Korea's KRT shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un receiving a briefing in Pyongyang.(KRT via AP Video)
    This image made from video of an Aug. 14, 2017, still image broadcast in a news bulletin on August 15, 2017, by North Korea's KRT shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un receiving a briefing in Pyongyang.(KRT via AP Video)
  • Sheikh Raed Salah, center, smiles as he arrives at the Israeli Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court on August 15, 2017. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)
    Sheikh Raed Salah, center, smiles as he arrives at the Israeli Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court on August 15, 2017. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)
  • US Gen. Joseph Dunford, third left, and his Chinese counterpart General Fang Fenghui attend a welcoming ceremony in Beijing on August 15, 2017.(AFP/POOL/THOMAS PETER)
    US Gen. Joseph Dunford, third left, and his Chinese counterpart General Fang Fenghui attend a welcoming ceremony in Beijing on August 15, 2017.(AFP/POOL/THOMAS PETER)
  • A worker cleans up broken glass at the New England Holocaust Memorial that was vandalized when a rock was thrown through a panel that was part of it on August 14, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. ( Scott Eisen/Getty Images/AFP)
    A worker cleans up broken glass at the New England Holocaust Memorial that was vandalized when a rock was thrown through a panel that was part of it on August 14, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. ( Scott Eisen/Getty Images/AFP)
  • A resident walks through floodwaters past a damaged building in an area of Freetown on August 14, 2017, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone. (AFP PHOTO / SAIDU BAH)
    A resident walks through floodwaters past a damaged building in an area of Freetown on August 14, 2017, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone. (AFP PHOTO / SAIDU BAH)
  • Rescue workers carry the body of a victim from the site of a mudslide in Regent, east of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Monday, August 14, 2017.  (AP/ Manika Kamara)
    Rescue workers carry the body of a victim from the site of a mudslide in Regent, east of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Monday, August 14, 2017. (AP/ Manika Kamara)
  • General Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran, Mohammad Bagheri, right, salutes the honor guards as he is welcomed by Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces Hulusi Akar during his official visit at the Turkish General Staff headquarters in Ankara, on August 15, 2017.  (AFP/STR)
    General Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran, Mohammad Bagheri, right, salutes the honor guards as he is welcomed by Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces Hulusi Akar during his official visit at the Turkish General Staff headquarters in Ankara, on August 15, 2017. (AFP/STR)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Halamish terrorist’s relatives to be charged with not stopping attack

Israeli prosecutors plan to charge relatives of a Palestinian terrorist who carried out a deadly stabbing attack inside a settlement home last month with failing to prevent a crime, police spokesperson Luba Samri says.

Authorities say the parents, two brothers and uncle of Omar al-Abed knew of his plans shortly before he sneaked into the settlement of Halamish and stabbed three people to death in a home as they held a family celebration.

They have all been arrested since the July 21 attack, including two brought in on Sunday.

A pre-indictment filing allowing police to continue holding the suspects is expected today, Samri says.

“The family members did not act and did not take real action to stop the attack and did not report it to any Israeli or Palestinian authorities,” Samri says in the statement.

Israel in contact with Sierra Leone to coordinate mudslide aid

Israel’s ambassador in west Africa, Paul Hirschson, is in contact with Sierra Leone authorities about beginning to transfer aid to the country after it was hit by devastating mudslides Monday night.

Authorities say more than 300 pepole were killed in and around the capital Freetown on Monday following heavy rains. Many victims were trapped under tons of mud as they slept.

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim from the site of a mudslide in Regent, east of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Monday, August 14, 2017. (AP/ Manika Kamara)
Rescue workers carry the body of a victim from the site of a mudslide in Regent, east of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Monday, August 14, 2017. (AP/ Manika Kamara)

Initial Red Cross estimates have said as many as 3,000 people are left homeless and the figure is expected to rise.

Israel will begin purchasing food to distribute to survivors of the mudslide and will follow that up with medical aid in cooperation with local authorities, a Foreign Ministry statement says.

As there is no embassy in Sierra Leone, Israel is coordinating its aid via its embassy in Senegal.

Minority lawmakers urge Trump to fire top aides

Sebastian Gorka participating in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Feb. 24, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/JTA)
Sebastian Gorka participating in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Feb. 24, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/JTA)

The leaders of four minority House caucus groups have written a letter to US President Donald Trump calling for the removal of White House staff aides Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka.

The heads of the black, Hispanic, Asian and progressive caucuses are calling in the letter for the firings of the Trump administration officials in the wake of a violent, racist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Stephen Bannon at a Donald Trump rally at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada, Nov. 5, 2016. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images via JTA)
Stephen Bannon at a Donald Trump rally at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada, Nov. 5, 2016. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images via JTA)

The letter asserts their continuing presence in the White House is emboldening a resurgent white supremacist movement in America.

Stephen Miller, White House senior adviser for policy, at a session on law enforcement held at the White House, Feb. 7, 2017. (Andrew Harrer – Pool/Getty Images via JTA)
Stephen Miller, White House senior adviser for policy, at a session on law enforcement held at the White House, Feb. 7, 2017. (Andrew Harrer – Pool/Getty Images via JTA)

“Americans deserve to know that white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis are not in a position to influence US policy,” says the letter dated Monday.

“In this time of tumult in our country, Americans deserve a leader that will bring us all together and denounce those who seek to tear us apart.”

— AP

Iran defense chief in Turkey for ‘unprecedented’ talks

Iran’s military chief of staff is in Ankara Tuesday for “unprecedented” talks with Turkey’s leadership reportedly aimed at narrowing differences on the Syria crisis and coordinating policy on Iraq.

General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri is due to meet Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his three-day visit.

He kicked off the visit by meeting his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar, the state-run Anadolu news agency says.

Pro-government Turkish Daily Sabah quote diplomatic sources as saying the visit was a “milestone” and would not have been possible unless both sides were willing to make deals on both Syria and Iraq.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency meanwhile describe the visit as “unprecedented” in the history of bilateral relations.

“This trip was necessary for better consultation and cooperation on various military and regional issues,” Bagheri says in a statement to state Iranian broadcaster IRIB, citing border security and the fight against terror.

— AFP

German police in hot pursuit of candy crooks

Police say a semi-trailer full of chocolate has been stolen in a small central German town and are calling on witnesses who may have seen the sweet-toothed thieves.

Police spokesman Martin Ahlich said Tuesday the cooled truck trailer contained 20 metric tons (22 tons) of chocolate including Kinder Surprise eggs, Nutella hazelnut-chocolate cream and Valparaiso chocolate fruit pearls.

Ahlich said the trailer was stolen in the Hesse town of Neustadt over the weekend and that the thieves must have brought in a truck to haul away the sweet spoils.

He said that “it’s not even clear if they were after the sweets or after the trailer — at this point we don’t know what their motive was.”

The chocolate swag is worth 50,000-70,000 euros ($59,000-$82,000).

— AP

Teen charged with destroying Boston Holocaust memorial

Boston police have charged a 17-year-old boy with willful and malicious destruction of property after he was caught hurling a stone at a Boston Holocaust memorial, smashing a plate glass facade after it had just been repaired, CNN reports.

Boston Police’s civil rights unit is also considering additional charges, according to the report.

The teen was tackled by passersby after being seen throwing a stone at the memorial and held until police came to take him into custody, according to reports.

A worker cleans up broken glass at the New England Holocaust Memorial that was vandalized when a rock was thrown through a panel that was part of it on August 14, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. ( Scott Eisen/Getty Images/AFP)
A worker cleans up broken glass at the New England Holocaust Memorial that was vandalized when a rock was thrown through a panel that was part of it on August 14, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. ( Scott Eisen/Getty Images/AFP)

A visitor to the memorial, located along Boston’s historic Freedom Trail, told the Boston Globe he heard the sound of glass shattering as he was reading panels at the memorial and later saw police make an arrest.

“It’s a reminder that we as a community need to be united, both in our opposition to all forms of hate but also in the important role that memorials play in our community,” Robert Trestan told the Globe.

The 22-year-old memorial was recently repaired and rededicated following an earlier act of vandalism in which one pane of glass was shattered, allegedly by a 21-year-old man with a history of mental illness.

The six-towered memorial, designed by architect Stanley Saitowitz, features 132 panels of glass etched with 7-digit numbers symbolizing the numbers tattooed on the arms of Jews during the Holocaust.

In a post on Twitter, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Boston stands up against hate. “I’m saddened to see such a despicable action in this great city.”

— with JTA

Turkey arrests IS militant suspected of planning ‘sensational act’

Turkish media reports say police in Istanbul have apprehended a suspected Islamic State group militant wanted by Interpol.

State-run Anadolu Agency says the Belgian national was detained in an anti-terrorism operation last week.

Hurriyet newspaper identifies the man as Mehdi A. and says authorities believe he arrived in Istanbul to carry out a “sensational act.”

The paper’s online edition said the suspect was sought by Interpol for the past three years and was allegedly in charge of French-speaking militants within IS. The man joined IS in Syria together with his wife and children in 2014, according to the report.

Police in Istanbul wouldn’t comment on the reports.

Turkey has endured multiple deadly bombing attacks since 2015, blamed on IS or Kurdish militants.

— AP

US military head warns of ‘difficult issues’ with China

BEIJING (AP) — US military chief Gen. Joseph Dunford says the US and China have “many difficult issues” to work through, during a visit to Beijing that comes amid tensions over North Korea’s missile program, Taiwan and China’s claims in the South China Sea.

Dunford makes the remarks at the opening of a meeting with Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s joint staff department.

US officials say Dunford’s visit aims to create a mechanism for improving communication between the sides, especially on sensitive issues such as North Korea. Dunford and Fang signed an agreement committing the sides to that goal, with the details to be discussed during talks in Washington in November.

US Gen. Joseph Dunford, third left, and his Chinese counterpart General Fang Fenghui attend a welcoming ceremony in Beijing on August 15, 2017.(AFP/POOL/THOMAS PETER)
US Gen. Joseph Dunford, third left, and his Chinese counterpart General Fang Fenghui attend a welcoming ceremony in Beijing on August 15, 2017.(AFP/POOL/THOMAS PETER)

Fang says China has arranged a series of important meetings and visits to help Dunford “know more about our military, (boost) our cooperation and build up our friendship,” Fang said.

Dunford responds that the US considered the meetings important to making progress on areas of disagreement, without citing any specific examples.

“I think here, we have to be honest — we have many, many difficult issues where we don’t necessarily share the same perspective,” Dunford says.

“I know we share one thing: We share a commitment to work through these difficult issues,” he adds, saying that with the guidance of political leaders “we are going to make some progress over the next few days.”

— AP

Sheikh Salah ordered kept in prison until Thursday

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court has ordered firebrand Muslim cleric Raed Salah kept in custody for two more days.

Salah, from the Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm, was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of incitement to violence and terror, as well as supporting and being active in a banned organization — the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which he heads.

Sheikh Raed Salah, center, smiles as he arrives at the Israeli Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court on August 15, 2017. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)
Sheikh Raed Salah, center, smiles as he arrives at the Israeli Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on August 15, 2017. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)

“On a number of occasions, all of them after the movement was made illegal [in 2015], the inciter made statements before an audience and saw his statements quoted in the media. These statement are linked to the movement’s worldview. An examination of the [statements] raise the suspicion that some of the things said [by Salah] meet the criteria for the stated crimes,” police said in a statement.

According to Haaretz, the judge okayed the police request to keep Salah in custody, but said his words were quotes from the Quran and could not be considered inciting speech.

BBC Persian says Iran freezing assets

The BBC says an Iranian court order has frozen the local assets of over 150 people associated with its Farsi-language service.

A statement from the British broadcaster on Tuesday says those named in the court order, issued from Tehran’s Evin prison, include current and former staff, as well as contributors.

The BBC says the order bans those named from “selling or buying property, cars and other goods.”

BBC World Service Director Francesca Unsworth says it’s “appalling that anyone should suffer legal or financial consequences because of their association with the BBC.”

Iranian officials and state media did not immediately report on the order.

The BBC’s Farsi-language service is barred from working in Iran, though many Iranians listen to its radio shows and watch its satellite television broadcasts.

Mudslide-hit Sierra Leone says it needs ‘urgent’ help

President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone says his country needs “urgent support now” for thousands of people affected by massive flooding and mudslides in the capital of one of the world’s poorest nations.

Addressing the media in the Regent hilltop community of Freetown, one of the areas hit hardest by a mudslide that has destroyed homes, Koroma fights back tears as he says the devastation “was overwhelming us.”

Residents walk through floodwaters past a damaged building in an area of Freetown on August 14, 2017, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone. (AFP PHOTO / SAIDU BAH)
Residents walk through floodwaters past a damaged building in an area of Freetown on August 14, 2017, after landslides struck the capital of the west African state of Sierra Leone. (AFP PHOTO / SAIDU BAH)

Israel announced Monday it would send aid and the country’s envoy in West Africa is coordinating starting bringing in food and medical help, the Foreign Ministry says.

— with AFP

Egypt uncovers tombs dating back 2,000 years

Egypt archaeologists have discovered three ancient tombs containing sarcophagi in the south of the country in a cemetery dating back about 2,000 years, the antiquities ministry says.

The tombs excavated in the Al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area in Minya province south of Cairo were in burial grounds constructed some time between the 27th Dynasty and the Greco-Roman period, the ministry says.

The team found “a collection of sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes, as well as clay fragments,” the statement quotes Ayman Ashmawy, head of the ministry’s Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, as saying.

One of the tombs, which was reached through a shaft carved in rock, contained four sarcophagi each sculpted to depict a human face

Another tomb holds the remains of two sarcophagi and six burial holes, including one for “the burial of a small child.”

— AFP

Switzerland condemns anti-Semitism after furor over hotel sign

The Swiss Foreign Ministry says it told Israel’s ambassador that it condemns anti-Semitism, after a sign in a hotel telling Jews to shower before using the pool sparked anger.

Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Tilman Renz tells AFP in an email that the ministry had been in contact with envoy Jacob Keidar and had “outlined to him that Switzerland condemns racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination in any form.”

The Paradies apartment hotel in the Alpine village of Arosa in eastern Switzerland was accused of anti-Semitism after an outraged guest posted to Facebook a picture of a notice plastered outside the hotel pool.

“To our Jewish Guests, women, men and children, please take a shower before you go swimming,” it said, adding that “If you break the rules I’m forced to (close) the swimming pool for you.”

A sign put up at a Swiss hotel calling on Jewish guests to shower before going swimming (Courtesy)
A sign put up at a Swiss hotel calling on Jewish guests to shower before going swimming (Courtesy)

Another sign, this one on the refrigerator, said: “For our Jewish guests: You may access the refrigerator only in the following hours: 10:00-11:00 and 16:30-17:30. I hope you understand that our team does not like being disturbed all the time.”

Keidar had reported the signs to Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely who expressed outrage.

The hotel manager said the sign was poorly worded but rejected any accusations of anti-Semitism.

But Jewish rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center has joined others voicing outrage at the incident, publishing a letter demanding that Switzerland “close hotel of hate and penalize its management.”

The center’s head of international relations, Shimon Samuels, points out that “the reference to ‘showers’ can be construed as a patently vicious reference to the fake shower (heads) in the gas chambers.”

— AFP

Abbas congratulates North Korea’s Kim amid nuclear tensions

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has congratulated North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un on the occasion of his country’s “Liberation day,” amid a high-stakes nuclear standoff between Pyongyang and Washington.

“The Korean people offered the most precious sacrifices for their freedom and dignity,” says Abbas, in a telegram to Kim, according to the PA’s official news outlet Wafa.

Abbas expresses his appreciation for North Korea’s “firm solidarity in support of the rights [the Palestinian] people and its just struggle to end the occupation and establish our independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Abbas also expresses wishes for Kim’s “health and happiness,” for North Korean “prosperity” and for the “historic relationship between Palestine and North Korea to further develop.”

In a separate statement, Abbas also congratulates the leader of South Korea Moon Jae-in for his nation’s own Liberation Day.

He wishes prosperity for the South Koreans and a development of ties with the Palestinians.

This image made from video of an Aug. 14, 2017, still image broadcast in a news bulletin on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, by North Korea's KRT shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un receiving a briefing in Pyongyang.(KRT via AP Video)
This image made from video of an Aug. 14, 2017, still image broadcast in a news bulletin on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, by North Korea’s KRT shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un receiving a briefing in Pyongyang.(KRT via AP Video)

Earlier Tuesday, Kim signaled he would not launch missiles near Guam, amid sky high friction between the US and North Korea and a war of words between the countries’ leaders.

During an inspection of the North Korean army’s Strategic Forces, which handles the missile program, Kim praised the military for drawing up a “close and careful plan” and said he would watch the “foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” a little more before deciding whether to order the missile test, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency says.

Kim said North Korea would conduct the launches if the “Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity,” and that the United States should “think reasonably and judge properly” to avoid shaming itself, the news agency says.

— Dov Lieber with AP

Indonesia busts IS-linked ring plotting chemical attack

Five suspected Islamic State sympathizers have been arrested in Indonesia, a police spokesman said Tuesday, adding that authorities also confiscated bomb making materials.

The suspects — a married couple and three other men — were detained after a raid by anti-terrorism forces on three locations in the city of Bandung West Java, spokesman Yusri Yunus said.

Police claim the attackers were part of the IS-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) network that has been blamed for a series of recent attacks in Indonesia including one in Jakarta in January 2016 that left four civilians dead.

“We found evidence in one of the suspects’ houses. The evidence is a bomb made of chemical material,” he told AFP.

Yunus said the group planned to attack the state palace, a local police headquarters as well as officers in the field.

— AFP

Breaking silence, Netanyahu speaks out against neo-Nazis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tweeted out his condemnation for anti-Semitism, as the leader has come under criticism for failing to speak out on a hate-filled violent rally in Virginia over the weekend.

“Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred,” he tweets in English. He does not specify what his comments refer to.

Jews in Israel and abroad had expressed unease to The Times of Israel over Netanyahu’s silence over the Charlottesville rallies.

“It is surprising and disappointing that Prime Minister Netanyahu has not been more forthcoming and explicit in his condemnation,” Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, said.

Some had pointed out that Israeli officials were quick to condemn a Swiss hotel for a sign seen as anti-Semitic, but had remained silent in the face of images of people marching with swastikas and chanting against Jews in the US.

This file photo taken on July 08, 2017, shows members of the Ku Klux Klan and others arriving for a rally calling for the protection of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia. (AFP Photo/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)
This file photo taken on July 08, 2017, shows members of the Ku Klux Klan and others arriving for a rally calling for the protection of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia. (AFP Photo/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who was quick to speak out against the Swiss hotel, has remained silent on Virginia, as have President Reuven Rivlin, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union).

US President Donald Trump was also condemned for being slow to name the neo-Nazis, KKK and other hate groups who marched in Virginia in his comments.

— with Raphael Ahren

Trump retweets man calling him a ‘fascist’

US President Donald Trump appears to have mistakenly retweeted a message from one of his critics saying “he’s a fascist.”

Trump deleted his retweet after about five minutes, but not before the message sent to his 35 million followers racked up a big response.

Trump seems to have been trying to draw attention to a Fox & Friends article on a possible presidential pardon for former Phoenix-area Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of a crime for ignoring a US court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

A Twitter handle identified as “@MikeHolden42” tweeted to Trump “He’s a fascist, so not unusual.” The user suggested in subsequent tweets that he was calling Trump a facist, not Arpaio.

Trump retweeted the message to his massive following, triggering an avalanche of replies.

@MikeHolden42 responded: “I’m announcing my retirement from Twitter. I’ll never top this RT.” He later updated his description on Twitter as “Officially Endorsed by the President of the United States.”

Trump has also retweeted and deleted today a cartoon showing a train labeled “Trump” running over a man with “CNN” covering his face Monday morning.

The retweets come after a national uproar over race-fueled clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia. It took two days of public equivocation and internal White House debate before the president condemned white supremacist groups by name on Monday, declaring “racism is evil.”

— AP

11 killed when tree falls on Portugal religious festival

At least 11 people have been killed when a 200-year-old oak tree fell and crushed them at a religious festival on the Portuguese island of Madeira, local media reports.

The public RTP television channel says at least 35 people were injured when the tree toppled into a crowd outside a church on the island’s southern coast.

— AFP

Lebanese troops advance on Syria border ahead of anti-IS push

The Lebanese army says troops have advanced along the border with Syria, tightening the siege on areas controlled by the Islamic State group.

The army says in a statement Tuesday that the troops discovered bombs and explosive belts left behind by militants in areas captured on the edge of the Lebanese border town of Arsal.

It says that they also found the body of an unknown man.

The Lebanese army has been preparing for an all-out attack on IS positions along the Syrian border for weeks, massing reinforcements and pounding the area with artillery shells and rockets.

The Syrian army and Hezbollah are preparing for a simultaneous attack on the Syrian side of the border.

— AP

US says it is still open to talks with North Korea

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Washington remains ready for talks, after North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un postponed a threat to fire missiles toward the US territory of Guam.

But the top US diplomat says it is up to Kim when such negotiations would begin, having previously insisted Pyongyang must demonstrate that it accepts it will have to give up its nuclear program.

“I have no response to his decisions at all at this time,” Tillerson says, when asked about Kim’s decision to hold off. “We continue to be interested in finding ways to get to dialogue, but that’s up to him.”

— AFP

Two policemen killed in Sinai attack

Egyptian security officials say suspected Islamic militants have shot dead two policemen in el-Arish, capital of the turbulent north of the Sinai Peninsula, where an Islamic State affiliate is fighting security forces.

The officials say gunmen sprayed a police lieutenant’s car with gunfire on Tuesday, killing him instantly. Later, assailants shot dead a policeman as he left his home.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

At least 12 soldiers and policemen have been killed in northern Sinai since the weekend.

— AP

Schwarzenegger donates $100k to Simon Wiesenthal center

Arnold Schwarzenegger has donated $100,000 to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which combats anti-Semitism and bigotry, in the wake of the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The actor and former California governor announced the donation Sunday on Facebook, where he wrote that he was “horrified” by the previous day’s rally bringing together neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other far-right activists.

“I have been horrified by the images of Nazis and white supremacists marching in Charlottesville and I was heartbroken that a domestic terrorist took an innocent life,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “My message to them is simple: you will not win. Our voices are louder and stronger. There is no white America — there is only the United States of America.”

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dances with Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis at a public menorah lighting ceremony at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Sunday, December 6, 2015, the first night of the eight-day holiday. (Chabad.org/Thierry Guez)
Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dances with Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis at a public menorah lighting ceremony at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on, December 6, 2015, the first night of the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah. (Chabad.org/Thierry Guez)

Schwarzenegger, also a former bodybuilder, said he has worked with the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center for decades, and admires “the Center’s mission of expanding tolerance through education and fighting hate all over America — in the streets and online.”

— JTA

Family disowns son for attending white supremacist rally

A North Dakota family has disowned an adult son who attended the gathering of white supremacists that turned violent over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Pearce Tefft says in a letter to The Forum newspaper of Fargo that he and his family “loudly repudiate” the “vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions” of his 30-year-old son, Peter Tefft. He says his son isn’t welcome at family gatherings until he renounces his “hateful beliefs.”

The son, Peter Tefft, told KVLY-TV in Fargo on Monday that he didn’t want to say much about his family’s denunciation.

While he denied his father’s account about him once joking about fascists throwing people into ovens, he acknowledged that he did make a joke about ovens.

He called it “a way to get under people’s skin.”

— AP

Suspected Syrian Scud site spotted by satellite

Satellite intelligence firm ImageSat is claiming to have spotted a long-range missile factory being built in Syria, possibly under the aegis of Iran.

According to a report by Israel’s Channel 2, the images show a Scud missile factory being built near the city of Baniyas, south of Latakia, in an area seen as a bastion of support for the embattled Assad regime.

Experts say the buildings match building methods seen in Iran, pointing to cooperation between Damascus and Tehran, one of Assad’s largest backers.

The site can also be seen in plain view on Google Maps.

Girl hit trying to cross freeway where pedestrian bridge was knocked down

A new video shows the moment a truck with a crane crashed into a pedestrian outside Tel Aviv on Monday, bringing down the span and crushing the driver to death.

The bridge has been removed and pedestrians are being forced to find another way over the busy Route 4 highway between Bnei Brak and Givat Shmuel.

A 15-year-old girl has been hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries after being hit while trying to scurry across the freeway there.

US accuses Islamic State of genocide against Christians, others

The Trump administration is denouncing the Islamic State group for carrying out “genocide” against Christians and other religious minorities in areas under its control.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the group is “clearly responsible for genocide” against Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Shiite Muslims in Syria and elsewhere. His comments are made as the State Department releases its annual report on international religious freedom.

Tillerson says he was making the pronouncement to “remove any ambiguity” about previous genocide assertions made by his predecessor, John Kerry, who in March 2016, determined that genocide was occurring in Islamic State-held areas. Neither administration’s genocide determination carries with it any legal obligation for the US or others.

“ISIS has and continues to target members of multiple religions and ethnicities for rape, kidnapping, enslavement and death,” Tillerson tells reporters.

Members of an Armemian Christian family who fled from Raqqa sit near their pet parrots, "Lover" and "Beloved" in Jazra, a western suburb of Raqqa, on August 8, 2017, during battles to oust the Islamic State from the area. (AFP/Delil souleiman)
Members of an Armemian Christian family who fled from Raqqa sit near their pet parrots, “Lover” and “Beloved” in Jazra, a western suburb of Raqqa, on August 8, 2017, during battles to oust the Islamic State from the area. (AFP/Delil souleiman)

“ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled. ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds and other minorities,” Tillerson says. “The protection of these groups — and others who are targets of violent extremism — remains a human-rights priority for the Trump administration.”

The religious freedom report, which is mandated by Congress, covers 2016. A section on Israel notes relations between Jews, Muslims and others remains “strained,” and notes the Israeli government’s failure to open the Western Wall plaza to non-Orthodox groups.

In addition to the Islamic State, Tillerson and the report calls out Bahrain, China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Turkey for persecuting, stigmatizing or otherwise restricting the rights of religious minorities.

— AP, with Times of Israel staff

Fresh suspect arrested in Steinmetz money laundering scheme

Police say they have arrested a sixth person in connection with the investigation into a money laundering scheme involving billionaire diamond mogul Beny Steinmetz.

Police do not say who the suspect is, but note he is not a well-known figure. He is slated to be remanded before a judge tomorrow morning.

On Monday, Steinmetz and acting Bezeq chairman David Granot were among a group of people raided as part of a police sting into a scheme involving faked papers for a real estate deal abroad, police said.

Among the other suspects arrested were Tal Silberstein, a former political consultant to ex-Israeli premier Ehud Barak and an adviser to Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern.

A court extended Steinmetz and Silberstein’s custody later on Monday.

Police probing possible vote tampering in union election — report

Israeli authorities are investigating suspicions of possible fraud in a recent election for the head of the powerful Histadrut labor union, Channel 2 news reports.

Incumbent Avi Nissenkorn beat out former Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich in the tightly fought race in May with almost double the amount of votes.

According to the report, information has made its way to police leading to suspicions of vote tampering and fraud during the election, and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has ordered a quick investigation, regarding the allegations as serious.

Yachimovich briefly contested the results before eventually conceding defeat. She had gone to court to allege “massive irregularities” and claimed that hundreds of ballot boxes had been “knowingly tampered with.”

Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn seen at the National Labor Court in Jerusalem on March 26, 2017, during a court hearing about the request of the Histadrut to prevent Ashdod Port workers from transferring their representation to the National Labor Federation (NLF). (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn seen at the National Labor Court in Jerusalem on March 26, 2017, during a court hearing about the request of the Histadrut to prevent Ashdod Port workers from transferring their representation to the National Labor Federation (NLF). (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Army launching missiles over central Israel for air defense drill

The Israeli Air Force is conducting a routine test of its aerial defense systems, firing multiple interceptor missiles into the air over central Israel, the army says.

Residents of the area should expect to hear sounds of faint explosions.

The army says the exercise is not connected to any specific threats, but was instead planned in advance as part of the military’s yearly training schedule.

— Judah Ari Gross

Texas school official booted for book about Pepe the Frog

A Texas school district has removed an assistant principal from his post after he authored a children’s book whose central character is also a white nationalist symbol.

The Denton school district, north of Dallas-Fort Worth, said in a statement Monday that the publicity generated by Eric Hauser’s work has become a “distraction.” He’s being reassigned to an undetermined post.

This summer Hauser self-published “The Adventures of Pepe and Pede,” about a frog and centipede seeking “truth and honesty” against “deceitful forces.”

In the district’s statement, Hauser apologized for the negative attention brought to colleagues.

Pepe the Frog appeared more than a decade ago in an online cartoon and the Anti-Defamation League says the character has been appropriated by white supremacists and other racists in online memes.

– AP

Octogenarian who shot home intruders won’t be charged

The Justice Ministry says it will not charge an octogenarian who shot to death a Palestinian man who broke into his home last month.

The ministry says it has closed the case against the unnamed man, 80, for lack of guilt, after he shot two Palestinian would-be robbers who broke into his home in the rural community Beit Yitzhak, near Netanya.

The man is reportedly a Holocaust survivor.

A statement from the ministry says the two threatened the man with a pickaxe and scalpel after he came upon them after they broke into his home. It says he shot the two in self defense.

Suleiman Shaluf was killed and a second man with him was injured by the gunfire. Both were from Tulkarem.

Shaluf’s family had denied he was robbing the home.

Tunisia says IS plot to seize territory foiled

Tunisia says it has foiled a “terrorist plot” aimed at allowing Islamic State group jihadists to seize part of its territory.

Authorities “uncovered a terrorist plot” targeting police and military units in the southern town of Ben Guerdane in a fresh bid to claim territory for IS, the interior ministry says in a statement.

In March last year, jihadists mounted a coordinated assault on security installations in the town on Tunisia’s border with Libya, aiming to win over residents and establish an IS “emirate.”

That attack cost the lives of seven civilians and 13 members of the security forces. Fifty-five assailants were killed.

The latest plot sought to “take advantage of social unrest… to help Daesh elements infiltrate our country in order to carry out terrorist attacks and try to seize security and military buildings,” the ministry says, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

Five people were arrested, it adds.

— AFP

Polish police remove activists trying to block far-right march

Police in Poland have forcibly removed activists who tried to block a march by far-right extremists on Poland’s Armed Forces Day holiday.

The activists, many of them women, held up photos of Heather Heyer, the American woman killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally in Virginia on the weekend.

Beneath the photos were the words: “If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention. Heather Hayer, victim of fascism August 2017.”

Police officers remove a demonstrator who tried to block a far-right extremists marching to celebrate the Polish Army Day, marking the victory of Polish troops against the Bolshevik army in 1920, on August 15, 2017 in Warsaw. (AFP/JANEK SKARZYNSKI)
Police officers remove a demonstrator who tried to block a far-right extremists marching to celebrate the Polish Army Day, marking the victory of Polish troops against the Bolshevik army in 1920, on August 15, 2017 in Warsaw. (AFP/JANEK SKARZYNSKI)

“Get fascists off our streets,” read another sign.

The aim of the protest was to prevent a group of several dozen extremists from marching in central Warsaw.

Far-right wing extremists march through the downtown to celebrate the Polish Army Day, marking the victory of Polish troops against the Bolshevik army in 1920,on August 15, 2017 in Warsaw. (AFP/ JANEK SKARZYNSKI)
Far-right wing extremists march through the downtown to celebrate the Polish Army Day, marking the victory of Polish troops against the Bolshevik army in 1920,on August 15, 2017 in Warsaw. (AFP/ JANEK SKARZYNSKI)

In recent years Polish far-right groups have become increasingly active, particular on the national holidays. Critics of the ruling conservative Law and Justice party believe the government is emboldening them by failing to denounce them in strong terms.

Police forcibly remove the protesters, taking them to a side street and recording their names, but as they did so new protesters arrived to take their places. Police heavily guarded the extremists.

— AP

Israeli food aid begins arriving to devastated Sierra Leone

Israeli envoy to west Africa Paul Hirschson says the first Israeli aid to mudslide-hit Sierra Leone has been delivered, tweeting a picture of pallets of baked beans.

Officials in the impoverished country say at least 300 people have been killed and another 600 are missing after mudslides hit capital Freetown Monday morning.

Thousands lost their homes in the disaster, which was triggered by heavy rains.

read more:
comments
Live updates (closed) Latest: US military head warns of ‘difficult issues’ with China

Iran defense chief in Turkey for ‘unprecedented’ talks

Iran’s military chief of staff is in Ankara Tuesday for “unprecedented” talks with Turkey’s leadership reportedly aimed at narrowing differences on the Syria crisis and coordinating policy on Iraq.

General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri is due to meet Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his three-day visit.

He kicked off the visit by meeting his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar, the state-run Anadolu news agency says.

Pro-government Turkish Daily Sabah quote diplomatic sources as saying the visit was a “milestone” and would not have been possible unless both sides were willing to make deals on both Syria and Iraq.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency meanwhile describe the visit as “unprecedented” in the history of bilateral relations.

“This trip was necessary for better consultation and cooperation on various military and regional issues,” Bagheri says in a statement to state Iranian broadcaster IRIB, citing border security and the fight against terror.

— AFP