The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Netflix now available in Israel
Netflix expands its streaming service to an additional 130 countries, including, Israel.
… Netflix is now global. #NetflixEverywhere
— Netflix US (@netflix) January 6, 2016
“Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network,” says co-founder and chief executive Reed Hastings.
“With this launch, consumers around the world — from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo — will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously — no more waiting.”
Police confirms Nashat Milhem killed taxi driver
Police say fugitive Nashat Milhem, the suspected perpetrator of the deadly attack in central Tel Aviv, was also responsible for the murder of taxi driver Ayman Shaaban, which took place less than an hour after the first shooting.
The gunman who shot up a bar in Tel Aviv Friday, killing two, fired into two other establishments, fled the scene on foot, hailed a cab and rode to north Tel Aviv where he murdered the driver before abandoning the vehicle, police said Sunday.
According to Hebrew media reports based on police sources late Sunday, Milhem is now known to have fled the scene of the shooting on Dizengoff Street on foot, and hailed a cab on nearby Ibn Gabirol Street. The vehicle drove to north Tel Aviv, where Milhem worked. There, Milhem is alleged to have killed Shaaban outside the Mandarin Hotel. He then drove the cab to Namir Road, where he abandoned it near a bus stop.
Since Friday afternoon, Milhem, 29, from Arara in northern Israel, has remained at large. Authorities have warned he is armed, dangerous and capable of striking again.
Ashkelon mayor admits to sexual relations, denies rape charges
Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni, who was arrested on suspicion of rape, corruption and bribery on Tuesday, admitted to having sexual relations with several women, one of whom was a municipal worker.
Shimoni did not deny that he paid the women in order to keep the relations secret. He claims that the payments were made not to prevent the women from filing a complaint with the police, but to hide his actions from his family, Channel 10 reports.
Simta bar opens for first time since attack
Simta, the Tel Aviv bar where two people were killed in a shooting on Friday, opens for the first time since the deadly attack.
No music plays at the bar as the first costumers enter the venue. A special show in memory of the victims of the attack, Alon Bakal, 26, and Shimon Ruimi, 30, will take place later this evening.
Bakal was the manager of the Simta bar, one of the locations hit by a gunman. Ruimi, a resident of the southern town of Ofakim, was killed as he joined friends for a birthday celebration at Simta.
The attack took place Friday afternoon outside the Simta bar on Tel Aviv’s busy Dizengoff Street. Later in the day, 29-year-old Nashat Milhem allegedly shot dead Arab Israeli cab driver Amin Shaaban, whose taxi he had hailed, police say.
Palestinian official slams treatment of Arab passengers
A Palestinian official criticizes the treatment of two Arab passengers who disembarked from an Israel-bound flight after other travelers complained of security concerns.
The Greek Aegean Airlines says the two passengers agreed to take a later flight from Athens after passengers “persistently and vocally complained” and demanded additional security checks.
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat says the passengers were treated with “discrimination and prejudice.”
A passenger on the flight identified only as Nissim told Israeli Army Radio that one passenger appeared suspicious. He said no one cited the passengers’ ethnicity as a reason for their concerns. He said “no one was racist.”
Aegean, who identified the Arab passengers as Israeli, called the incident “unfortunate” and thanked the two passengers for their cooperation. The incident took place Sunday.
New police unit to be established to combat violence in sports
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev decide on the establishment of a special police unit to combat violence at sporting events.
The unit will gather intelligence in order to prevent violent incidents, during sports games and afterwards.
Egypt to try 6 reporters for allegedly defaming minister
An Egyptian prosecutor refers six local journalists to trial for allegedly spreading “false news” that defame the justice minister.
Prosecutor Fathy Bayoumi says that the six were sent to court after investigators found that they “intentionally published false information to defame” Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind.
The reports say al-Zind, as head of the powerful Judges Club, sold state lands to a relative at below market price. The accused include editors from the state-owned Al-Ahram news website and Abdel-Haleem Kandeel, a well-known journalist.
Al-Zind has generated controversy in the past by defending the decades-old practice of giving priority to the children of judges when hiring for the judiciary.
Man found dead in Beersheba, police investigating
A 60-year-old man is found dead in his apartment in Beersheba.
Police arrive at the scene and are investigating the incident.
Arab Israeli MKs call to investigate weapons in villages
Arab Israeli MKs from the opposition seek to establish a parliamentary investigative committee to examine the presence of illegal weapons in towns and villages across the country.
The coalition strikes down the proposal.
Israeli reporter stabbed while demonstrating protective vest
An Israeli reporter is accidentally stabbed on the job while demonstrating a protective vest.
Reporter Eitam Lachover was filming a story about a company making protective vests at a time when Israel is facing near-daily stabbing attacks by Palestinians.
Linda Bar, a spokeswoman for Israel’s state broadcaster, says Lachover was asked to try on the vest and demonstrate a thwarted stabbing. But the knife penetrated the vest, lightly wounding him in the upper back.
Bar says that despite the mishap, the news item would be broadcast.
Lachover says on Twitter he got stitches and was discharged from the hospital.
Nashat Milhem believed to be in West Bank
Nashat Milhem, suspected of shooting three people to death in two attacks in Tel Aviv Friday, is believed to be in the West Bank, security sources say.
Since the attacks, Milhem, from Arara in the north, has remained at large. Authorities have warned that he is armed, dangerous and capable of striking again.
According to Israel Radio, officers on Wednesday morning searched the homes of relatives of Milhem in an unnamed Arab town in an area of Israel known as the Triangle, but the search came up empty.
Earlier reports have said that police do not know where Milhem is. Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich indicated at a press conference Tuesday that Milhem was no longer believed to be in Tel Aviv, although he refused to elaborate.
Police confiscate firearms in countrywide search
Border Police officers confiscate more than 20 firearms, several grenades and ammunition in searches for illegal weapons across the country.
More than 50 people are arrested as part of the search.
Indyk says his and Netanyahu’s exchange on Rabin took place outside of Knesset
Martin Indyk, US ambassador to Israel during the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, says that as the late Israeli leader’s coffin was placed in the Knesset, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed disappointment that Rabin’s untimely death would mean he’d go down in history as a “hero.”
Indyk’s clarification comes after he earlier said the exchange occurred during Rabin’s funeral.
Indyk claimed that Netanyahu, then the leader of the opposition, sat next to him and said: “Look, look at this. He’s a hero now, but if he had not been assassinated, I would have beaten him in the elections, and then he would have gone into history as a failed politician.”
Hours after Indyk’s account was aired Tuesday night in a two-hour-long PBS “Frontline” documentary on the relationship between Netanyahu and the White House, the Prime Minister’s Office put out a terse response asserting that “these things never happened.”
Photos from the 1995 funeral carried by Israeli media showed Netanyahu sitting between former president Moshe Katsav and businessman Martin Schlaff. Indyk was not seen in the photos.
However, in the transcript of the “Frontline” interview, Indyk had noted vaguely that “Netanyahu sat next to me when I was ambassador in Israel at the time of Rabin’s funeral,” such that it wasn’t clear whether the conversation, as recalled by Indyk, took place at the funeral itself or at another ceremony at the time of Rabin’s burial.
Mother of TA fugitive says authorities threatened to demolish home
The mother of a fugitive man suspected of shooting up a Tel Aviv bar on Friday, killing two Israelis, before going on to kill a cab driver elsewhere in the city, says security forces threatened to demolish her home if she did not give up her son’s location.
“They threatened as if they intended to demolish our house if we don’t disclose the place where he is hiding,” she says, according to Ynet.
“I told them we do not know where he has gone.”
Jaudat Milhem, Nashat Milhem’s brother, said earlier that his family condemns the attack, but added that he and his father, who was also arrested, have nothing to do with the shooting.
A court ordered the brother, Jaudat Milhem, who was released earlier today from police custody, not to enter his hometown, the Israeli Arab town of Arara, until further notice. Jaudat Milhem was arrested following the attack on suspicion that he had been an accomplice.
UN chief demands N. Korea cease ‘nuclear activities’
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounces North Korea’s nuclear test and calls on Pyongyang to halt its nuclear program.
“I condemn it unequivocally. I demand the DPRK cease any further nuclear activities,” Ban tells reporters ahead of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
North Korea says it had carried out a “successful” miniaturized hydrogen bomb test — a shock announcement that, if confirmed, would massively raise the stakes in the hermit state’s bid to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.
Ban calls the underground nuclear test “deeply troubling” and “profoundly destabilizing for regional security.”
He stresses that it was in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions barring Pyongyang from engaging in nuclear activities.
Three previous tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 triggered waves of UN sanctions.
Rep. Steve Israel, senior Jewish lawmaker, won’t run again
Steve Israel, the Long Island Democrat who is one of the most senior Jewish lawmakers in the US House of Representatives, is retiring.
Israel says in a statement he will not run in 2016 in order to work on his second novel. His first, “The Global War on Morris,” a satire about a Jewish pharmaceutical salesman who gets caught up in the government’s surveillance machine, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim.
Israel, who was elected in 2000, rose to become one of the most senior members of the Democratic caucus, heading the Democratic reelection campaign the last two election cycles.
His district, covering Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York, is relatively conservative and for a time he was one of only two Jewish members of the “Blue Dog” Democrats, the party’s mostly rural conservative caucus.
In his statement, he pledges to help keep his district in the party’s control.
“I hope to continue to be involved in public service, but it is time for me to pursue new passions and develop new interests, mainly spend more time writing my second novel,” he says.
Israel is one of a handful of Jewish Democratic lawmakers who have in his background stints working for the Jewish community, including a position with the American Jewish Congress. He was arrested at least once in the 1980s protesting the treatment of Jews by the Soviet Union.
He has been a hawk on Israel issues, and was one of a minority of Democrats who voted this summer against the nuclear deal with Iran.
Trump poster on Jewish-owned building in Florida defaced with Nazi symbols
A Donald Trump campaign poster on a Florida building owned by a Jewish woman is defaced to make the front-running GOP candidate look like Adolf Hitler.
The words to the poster in the window of a vacant storefront in Jacksonville reading “We want Donald Trump! Republican Candidate For President” is altered with spray paint to read “heil Donald Trump! Nazi Candidate For President.” A swastika is drawn on Trump’s forehead and a small mustache resembling Hitler’s drawn on his upper lip.
Building owner Patsy Butts tells local media that the graffiti was targeting the Jewish community.
“If it’s just the fact that they don’t like Donald Trump and they don’t like Donald Trump becoming president, why didn’t they just say … ‘We don’t want Donald Trump’ or something of that effect,” Butts tells the local ABC affiliate KSAT. “But what they did is they made Donald Trump look like Hitler. Then they put the swastika on his forehead. That to me is a direct affront to the Jewish people.”
— KSAT 12 (@ksatnews) January 5, 2016
Butts says she will not remove the Trump sign and that she plans to offer the empty office space to whichever Republican candidate secures the nomination.
Eggs from Ukraine may carry salmonella bacteria
The health and agriculture ministries call on the public to refrain from purchasing or eating eggs bearing the marking UK, which indicates that the eggs came from Ukraine.
The call comes due to fears that eggs from the country had been infected with salmonella bacteria.
Settlements are cancer, says Abbas
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas asserts that the Authority is in no danger of collapsing, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed ministers to act to prevent the break up of the West Bank governing body.
Speaking in Bethlehem, Abbas adds that Jewish West Bank “settlements are a cancer in our midst.”
Abbas stresses that he is against acts of violence committed by Palestinians, but says he does not believe protests in the West Bank are violent, according to Channel 10.
He also says he fears Netanyahu is not interested in achieving peace.
Germany: Nearly 1.1 million migrants arrived last year
Nearly 1.1 million people were registered as asylum-seekers in Germany last year, more than 400,000 of them from Syria, the government says.
The Interior Ministry says that 1,091,894 people in total were registered between January and December. Syrians were by far the biggest single group, accounting for 428,468 people.
They were followed by Afghans, 154,046 of whom were registered, and 121,662 Iraqis.
Germany has seen more refugees and other migrants arrive than any other European country. In the early part of 2015, that included large numbers of people from Balkan countries who have very little chance of winning asylum. The fourth- and fifth-biggest groups of asylum-seekers last year came from Albania and Kosovo.
Flammable container washes up on Ashkelon beach
A container filled with a flammable substance washes up on the coast of Ashkelon.
Security forces are investigating whether the container came from the Gaza Strip.
Over 16 arrested for suspected hurling of Molotov cocktails, stones
Over 16 Palestinians from the village of Kharbata al-Misbah, near Highway 443, were arrested by security forces on suspicion of hurling Molotov cocktails and stones at Israeli-owned vehicles, the Shin Bet clears for publication.
Palestinian man shot dead in Hebron
A Palestinian man is shot dead in the West Bank city of Hebron by an unidentified gunman on Wednesday, the Ma’an news agency reports.
Muhammad Yousif al-Heimouni, 25, is shot in the Ein Sarah neighborhood, Palestinian police spokesperson Luay Irzeiqat tells Ma’an. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but doctors pronounced him dead on arrival.
“Initial reports suggest that the shooting was a tit-for-tat attack by someone in dispute with the victim,” Irzeiqat says.
Bahrain dismantles ‘terror’ cell linked to Iran, Hezbollah
Bahrain says it had dismantled an Iran-linked “terror” cell that was planning attacks in the kingdom, amid a growing diplomatic crisis between Gulf states and Tehran.
The cell — allegedly linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Lebanon’s Tehran-backed Hezbollah — was planning to carry out a “series of dangerous bombings” on the tiny Gulf island, Bahrain’s interior ministry says in a statement.
Iranian diplomats leave Saudi Arabia
Iranian diplomats have left Saudi Arabia and returned to Tehran after the kingdom severed ties with the Islamic Republic.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency reports that staff at the Iranian Embassy in Riyadh and the Iranian Consulate in Jiddah had left the country. State media in Iran shows still photographs it said were of the diplomats arriving in Tehran on a Meraj Airlines jet.
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties to Iran over the storming of two diplomatic posts in the country following the kingdom’s execution of a top Shiite cleric who was also an opposition figure.
Several Saudi allies have followed the kingdom’s lead and scaled back or cut diplomatic ties to Iran.
German tourist falls off Israeli cliff and dies
A German tourist is killed when he falls off a cliff in northern Israel.
Golan Rescue Unit personnel are now attempting to retrieve the body.
Court orders Russia to pay $35,000 to Jewish activist
The European Court of Human Rights orders the Russian government to pay $35,000 to a Jewish activist from Moscow whom authorities illegally imprisoned at a demonstration.
The ruling relates to the arrest on May 6, 2012, of Evgeny Frumkin, a 53-year-old Muscovite organizer of many rallies and events critical of actions deemed undemocratic by the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Frumkin, who is among the founders of Russia’s pro-democracy movement during the last days of communism, was arrested at a Moscow square during riots that erupted during a rally protesting Putin’s Inauguration as 4th President of Russia, on May 7 that year.
Frumkin was arrested and sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest for disobeying police orders. But the European court, a pan-continental entity whose decisions are binding on 47 countries including Russia but rarely enforceable, found this violated his right to personal integrity and the right to a fair trial, RIA Novosti reported, as well as the freedom of assembly.
Iraq offers to mediate between Saudi Arabia, Iran
Iraq offers to act as a mediator to ease tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran that escalated after the kingdom’s execution of a Shiite cleric and attacks on two of Saudi diplomatic posts in the Islamic Republic.
Some Sunni Arab nations have followed the Saudis’ lead and severed or downgraded ties with Iran, while others have offered words of caution aimed at calming the situation.
The offer by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, made during a news conference in the Iranian capital, includes the diplomat referring to the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as a “crime,” a description that raised questions as to whether Saudi officials would even consider such an offer. The kingdom and its allies say that al-Nimr was executed after being tried and sentenced to death under Saudi law.
Al-Jaafari’s comments show the balancing act that Iraq finds itself in amid the inflamed regional politics. It is relying on Iranian help and powerful Shiite militias to battle the extremist Islamic State group while trying to repair its own ties to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which last week sent an ambassador to Baghdad for the first time in 25 years.
Speaking alongside Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, al-Jaafari says Iraq’s place in the heart of the Middle East allows it to play a role in trying to “alleviate tensions.”
“This responsibility has been given to us and we have been active from the early moments to lessen tensions to prevent a disaster from happening that could affect the entire region,” he says.
Russia also has offered itself as a potential mediator, though it’s unclear whether Saudi or Iranian officials have responded to the proposal.
Vatican raps Charlie Hebdo’s one-year-after cover
French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo publishes a special edition on the eve of the anniversary of a jihadist attack that wiped out most of its staff, prompting protests from the Vatican over a cover lampooning God.
In typical Charlie Hebdo fashion, the special edition features a bloodstained, bearded God-figure in sandals with a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder under the headline: “One year on: the killer is still at large.”
The Vatican criticizes the cover for failing to “acknowledge or to respect believers’ faith in God, regardless of the religion.”
“Behind the deceptive flag of uncompromising secularism, the weekly is forgetting once more what religious leaders of every faith unceasingly repeat… using God to justify hatred — is a genuine blasphemy, as Pope Francis has said several times.”
The provocative cover is typical of the fiercely secular publication whose drawings of the Prophet Mohammed drew the fury of Muslims around the world and, according to the attackers, inspired the bloody assault on its offices on January 7 last year.
Brother of suspected TA shooter released
Police release Jaudat Milhem, the brother of Nashat Milhem, a fugitive man suspected of shooting up a Tel Aviv bar on Friday, killing two Israelis, before going on to kill a cab driver elsewhere in the city.
Other family members are still in custody.
Jaudat Milhem says his family is sorry for the attack, but adds that he and his father, who was also arrested, have nothing to do with the shooting.
The court ordered the brother, Jaudat Milhem, not to enter his hometown, the Israeli Arab town of Arara, until further notice. Jaudat Milhem was arrested following the attack on suspicion that he had been an accomplice.
Mohammed Milhem, the father of 29-year-old Nashat Milhem, was arrested and questioned Tuesday along with five others. He is suspected of being an accessory to the murder, and of obstructing the investigation.
Police had asked the court to keep Mohammed Milhem in custody for 12 days.
The suspected killer’s uncle and several other unnamed relatives and friends were also remanded Tuesday in connection with the attack.
Gunmen assassinate commander of Syrian Islamic group
Syrian activists and an official with an ultraconservative rebel group say gunmen have shot and killed the group’s commander the main central province.
Labib al-Nahhas of Syria’s Ahrar al-Sham Islamic rebel group mourns on his Twitter account the death of Abu Rateb al-Homsy, the group’s leader in Homs province. It is not clear when al-Homsy was killed.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says al-Homsy was shot while in a car with his wife in the village of Farhaniyeh. She is wounded in the attack.
Several local commanders of insurgent groups have been assassinated over the past weeks in Homs. No one has claimed responsibility for the killings.
Ahrar al-Sham is one of the most powerful rebel groups and is active in different parts of Syria.
Man suspected of planning Herzliya attack to be released
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court decides not to extend the remand of an East Jerusalem man in his 20s suspected of planning to carry out a terror attack in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv yesterday.
The suspect’s father reported to police that his son was going to carry out a suicide attack in the city, but the detainee claimed his father had filed a false complaint against because of a dispute between them.
According to reports, the suspect had a fight with his father before leaving his family home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Tsur Baher.
Dozens of officers had combed the town, a Tel Aviv suburb, since the morning, when the suspect evaded a police checkpoint in Jerusalem. The car was later found abandoned in the center of Herzliya.
IDF says training accident that killed 1 due to serious chain of errors
Sources in the army say the training accident at the IDF’s southern Tze’elim base that killed officer Yishai Rosales was not caused by any specific error in judgment, but rather followed a chain of shortcomings during the preparations and implementation of the military exercise.
Rosales, an officer in the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda unit, was killed when a mortar shell landed near him during training.
Another soldier was lightly injured.