The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened.
Jerusalem police chief: If protests continue, don’t be surprised at casualties
Following the removal of recently added security devices and infrastructures from entrances to the Temple Mount, Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevi warns that further violence over access to the holy site would not be tolerated, adding that “there will be casualties” if protesters attempt to disrupt the fragile peace.
Muslims have refused to enter the site since security equipment, including metal detectors and cameras, was installed after a terror attack on July 14 in which three Arab Israelis used weapons smuggled into the sacred compound to kill two Israeli policemen.
Speaking at the Western Wall shortly after Muslim religious authorities declared an end to a two-week boycott of prayers at the Al-Aqsa compound atop the Temple Mount, Halevi says that authorities will do all they can to prevent further unrest, but says protesters “should not be surprised” if police respond to disturbances with force.
“No one should try to test us tomorrow,” Halevi tells reporters, promising calm if worshipers follow the directions of their religious leaders to end protests. But “if there are people who try to disturb the peace tomorrow, to harm police or citizens, they should not be surprised: there will be casualties if there is violence tomorrow,” he says.
“Don’t test us,” he repeats, “because we know how to respond, and we know how to respond directly and forcefully.”
— Raoul Wootliff
Jordan welcomes Israel’s Temple Mount decision
Jordan welcomes Israel’s removal of security installations at a contested Jerusalem shrine, saying that as “an occupying power Israel has no right to impose” changes on the ground.
Government spokesman Mohammed Momani’s statement Thursday comes after Israel removes metal railings and scaffoldings. Jordan is the Muslim custodian of the shrine — the third holiest site in Islam and the most sacred one in Judaism.
Momani says dismantling the devices was needed to calm the situation.
Muslims allege the security measures were an attempt by Israel to expand control over the shrine, a claim Israel denies. The dispute sparked widespread Muslim protests.
Rabbinic council forms squad of Jewish priests for Temple Mount attacks
ZAKA, the ultra-Orthodox emergency rescue and post-disaster identification service, has spent the past two weeks since the July 14 terror attack on the Temple Mount wrestling with a new problem: How do observant Jews tread on the holy, forbidden ground of the ancient Temple to provide emergency medical care or remove bodies after a terror attack?
The issue arose after the July 14 attack in which three Arab Israeli gunmen killed two Israeli police officers. ZAKA crews obtained rabbinic permission to enter the Mount to provide assistance after that attack, but the rabbis — ZAKA’s rabbinic council, to be exact — then got to work producing a clear-cut policy on the question.
According to the religious news site Kipa, the council has issued its ruling. Saving a life trumps nearly any other consideration in Jewish law, so medical rescue on the Mount is not a problem. When it comes to dead bodies, crews are still required to enter the sacred Temple Mount space because of the standing duty in Jewish law to ensure that the ritually impure — nothing is more impure in Jewish law than the dead — does not remain in there.
The rabbis also decided on the formation of a special team within ZAKA consisting solely of kohanim, or descendants of ancient priestly families. There are sections on the Mount, the former locations of the inner courtyards of the ancient temples, where only kohanim may tread. When it comes to removing bodies or treating wounded in those areas, ZAKA will now be sending only kohanim.
Brazilian Israelis start NGO to help growing stream of newcomers
Amid growing emigration from Brazil to Israel, Brazilian Jews living in the Jewish state establish an organization devoted to facilitating newcomers’ absorption.
Olim MeBrasil, or Immigrants from Brazil, was registered as a nongovernmental association in Israel on Tuesday.
“The idea came with the increase in olim coming from Brazil year after year, and the forecast is that this increase is not temporary and will continue during the upcoming years,” the group’s vice president, Gladis Berezowsky, tells JTA. “It’s an NGO by Brazilians for Brazilians.”
The NGO’s main goals are to “improve the absorption of olim in Israel and improve access to information about Israel for all potential olim from all across Brazil,” Berezowsky adds.
Brazil has approximately 120,000 Jews. Brazilian Jews were the sixth largest group to make aliyah in 2016 with some 700 olim, according to the Jewish Agency.
Netherlands may exempt kosher slaughterhouse from export ban
The Dutch government may exempt the country’s only kosher slaughterhouse from a newly introduced export ban, which the Jewish abattoir says is financially devastating.
Caspar Itz, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said this in an email Tuesday to JTA. He was replying to JTA’s questions following the publication of a letter penned by the lawyer of the Slagerij Marcus abattoir. The letter said that the slaughterhouse will not survive the implementation of a government policy paper from July 5, which said the production of meat without stunning will be limited to the needs of faith communities in the Netherlands.
“Upon request, special circumstances may be taken into account” when it comes to the de facto ban in export, Itz wrote. His letter did not say whether such an exception will apply to the Jewish-owned abattoir specifically.
The limitation on the export of kosher and halal meat came in an agreement signed by Economic Affairs Minister Martijn van Dam and Muslim and Jewish faith and community leaders, including from the Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands, or NIK. An extension of a 2012 agreement on the production of kosher and halal meat, it introduced a new stipulation on export.
A clause in the document signed July 5 states that meat may be produced without stunning the animals, as is common in kosher slaughter, but that such meat will “not exceed the actual needs of communities present in the Netherlands.” The slaughterhouse’s lawyer, Herman Loonstein, wrote to NIK that this stipulation means bankruptcy for Slagerij Marcus, which relies on export for approximately 40 percent of its revenue.
Anti-Semitic incidents in UK hit record high
The Jewish community of the United Kingdom records 767 anti-Semitic attacks in the first half of 2017 — the highest figure recorded in the same six-month period since monitoring began in 1984.
The total number of incidents recorded from Jan. 1 to July 1 by the Community Security Trust, British Jewry’s watchdog on anti-Semitism, constitute an increase of 30 percent from the 589 incidents from the same time period of 2016, CST writes in a report published Thursday. The number last year was itself an increase of 18% from the 501 incidents recorded during the first half of 2015.
CST has recorded 80 violent assaults in 2017, a 78% rise from the 45 over the first six months of 2016 and the highest number CST has ever recorded for the January to July period.
In one incident, unidentified individuals threw a brick with the word “Jew” and a swastika painted on it into the home of a Jewish family in the London borough of Edgware on Shabbat. No one was hurt in the incident.
US seeks to test Iran deal with more inspections
The Trump administration is pushing for inspections of suspicious Iranian military sites in a bid to test the strength of the nuclear deal that US President Donald Trump desperately wants to cancel, senior US officials say.
The inspections are one element of what is designed to be a more aggressive approach to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. While the Trump administration seeks to police the existing deal more strictly, it is also working to fix what Trump’s aides have called “serious flaws” in the landmark deal that — if not resolved quickly — will likely lead Trump to pull out.
That effort also includes discussions with European countries to negotiate a follow-up agreement to prevent Iran from resuming nuclear development after the deal’s restrictions expire in about a decade, the officials say.
The inspections requests, which Iran would likely resist, could play heavily into Trump’s much-anticipated decision about whether to stick with the deal he’s long derided.
If Iran refuses inspections, Trump finally will have a solid basis to say Iran is breaching the deal, setting up Tehran to take most of the blame if the agreement collapses. If Iran agrees to inspections, those in Trump’s administration who want to preserve the deal will be emboldened to argue it’s advancing US national security effectively.
Palestinians keep Muslim worshipers out of Temple Mount over last unopened gate
A crowd of Palestinians is preventing Muslim worshipers from entering the Al-Aqsa compound atop the Temple Mount, saying Israel has still not restored conditions at the site to what they were before the July 14 terror attack that left two Israeli police officers dead.
While Israel has dismantled all metal detectors, metal railings and cameras installed after the attack, and reopened four gates closed during the 13 days since the attack, one gate, the Huta Gate north of the Temple Mount, remains closed.
That’s the gate at which the cops were killed in the attack.
— Dov Lieber
Iran successfully launches satellite-carrying rocket — report
Iranian semi-official media are reporting that Iran has successfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite into space.
The website YJC.ir, which is affiliated with Iranian state television, as well as the semi-official Fars news agency, report today’s launch and said it was successful.
The launch comes as the United States has criticized Iran’s ballistic missile tests.
Raoul Wallenberg’s family sues Russia’s security service
The family of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II before disappearing under Soviet rule, are suing Russia’s security service for access to its files, their lawyer says.
The Wallenberg family “wants to force the FSB (the successor to the KGB) to give it access to the originals of the documents” that concern Wallenberg’s fate, their lawyer Ivan Pavlov tells AFP.
He says that Wallenberg’s relatives have made many attempts to gain access to the FSB archives dating back to the Soviet era. These were either rejected or the documents they received were incomplete, Pavlov says.
As a special envoy in Nazi-controlled Hungary, Wallenberg issued Swedish identity papers to tens of thousands of Jews, allowing them to flee Nazi-occupied Hungary and likely death.
In 1957, the Soviet Union released a document saying Wallenberg had been jailed in the Lubyanka prison, the notorious building where the KGB security services were headquartered, and that he died of heart failure on July 17, 1947.
But his family refused to accept that version of events, and for decades have been trying to establish what happened to him.
Abbas rival Dahlan joins meeting of Hamas-led parliament
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s exiled rival took part in a public meeting with Hamas members of parliament for the first time in a decade.
Mohammed Dahlan was Abbas’s ally inside the Fatah party until they fell out, with Dahlan expelled in 2011. He now lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates and has been moving closer to Gaza’s rulers Hamas in recent months, with rumors he could join a government in the Palestinian enclave.
Dahlan attends today’s meeting via video link, while seven of his allies in Gaza attended in person — along with 22 Hamas members, according to Hamas’s media office.
He says he had been talking with Hamas to reach “understandings which are able to restore hope to the people of Gaza and alleviate their suffering.” Dahlan adds that talks with the Islamists were going well “but we are still at the beginning of the road.”
Abbas, the internationally recognized leader based in the West Bank, has sought to isolate both Dahlan and Hamas terrorist organization. Reconciliation between Hamas and Dahlan would be seen as a blow for Abbas.
Palestinians cheer as Israel reopens last Temple Mount entrance
Over a thousand Palestinian protesters cheer as the Huta Gate north of the Temple Mount is reopened, as Israel capitulates to the final condition of Muslim worshipers who demanded the security measures at the holy site be returned to what they were before a July 14 attack outside the site in which two Israeli police officers were killed.
Crowds of worshipers celebrate the move, and lift Muhammed Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem, on their shoulders as they proceed to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for afternoon prayers.
People yelling not to enter as mufti of Jerusalem makes his way to gate of tribes. One gate still closed pic.twitter.com/viTVDVY6rk
— Dov Lieber (@DovLieber) July 27, 2017
One protesters tells police officer at the scene that “the story is over, you can go home now.”
— Dov Lieber
Algeria arrests jihadist linked to Paris Hyper Cacher attacker
Algerian security forces have foiled a “terrorist plot” masterminded by a militant with links to France-based jihadist Amedy Coulibaly and the Islamic State group, the Al-Khabar daily reports.
Citing “well-placed security sources,” the newspaper says early results of an investigation “show a strong link between the head of the terrorist cell” and Coulibaly, who in 2015 killed a municipal police officer then four hostages in the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris before being killed.
The alleged head of the Algerian cell, Mohamed Yacine Aknouche, was sentenced by a French court in 2004 to eight years in prison for taking part in a failed plan to blow up a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
The French-Algerian dual national was arrested this week along with a minor and a third person whose identity has not been revealed, in Ain Tagourait, 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Algiers, Al-Khabar says.
During a raid on Aknouche’s apartment, security forces found “dozens of photos” of places he was hoping to attack, including army installations, it said.
It said the investigation had uncovered a link between Aknouche and “murderous attacks in European countries… committed by Daesh,” an Arabic acronym for IS.
US welcomes EU court’s ruling keeping Hamas on terror blacklist
The US hails yesterday’s decision by the European Union’s top court to keep Hamas on the blacklist of terrorist organizations.
According to the State Department, Washington “welcomes” the ruling, saying the election of Yahya Sinwar to lead the Gaza-based group “illustrates that the organization remains a terrorist threat.”
The statement says Sinwar was designated Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the Obama administration in 2015.
Jordan king calls for Israeli embassy shooter to face trial
Jordan’s king calls on Netanyahu to ensure a security guard who killed two Jordanians at the Israeli embassy in Amman over the weekend faces trial.
Abdullah II urges Netanyahu to “take responsibility and take legal steps including the trial of the killer,” a royal court statement reported him as saying.
The guard was attacked and opened fire in self-defense, Israel said, killing his assailant and a second Jordanian.
— AFP, Times of Israel staff
46 said injured in fresh Temple Mount clashes
Clashes erupt between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Temple Mount as thousands of Muslim worshipers entered the holy site, marking an end to a boycott of the compound over new Israeli security measures.
According to eyewitnesses, the clashes erupted shortly after the worshipers entered the Temple Mount compound.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reports that 46 people are wounded both inside the compound and in the immediate area.
Thousands of worshipers began streaming into the Temple Mount compound earlier this afternoon after reports the Huta Gate, north of the Temple Mount, had been reopened by Israeli police.
— חדשות 10 (@news10) July 27, 2017
But eyewitnesses at the scene tell the The Times of Israel that police had opened and closed the gate several times, before using stun grenades to disperse crowds gathered there.
The Huta Gate is now closed and police have barricaded off the area.
Video footage from atop the Temple Mount appears to security forces dispersing protesters with tear gas.
The reasons for the clashes inside the compound were not immediately clear.
The reopening of the Huta Gate was final condition of Muslim worshipers who demanded the security measures be returned to what they were before a July 14 terror attack outside the site in which three Arab Israelis killed two Israeli police officers with guns that had been smuggled into the site.
— Dov Lieber, agencies
Police say Muslim worshipers hurling rocks at officers on Temple Mount
Palestinian Muslim worshipers hurl rocks at police officers as they flooded the Temple Mount complex, ending a two-week boycott of the holy site over the new Israeli security measures at the holy site.
According to a statement from police spokeswoman Luba Samri, a number of rocks fell on to the Western Wall plaza blow. No injuries to Jewish worshipers were reported.
The statement says one officer on the Temple Mount was injured after being struck in the head by a rock.
Samri says Palestinian and PLO flags placed near the Al-Aqsa Mosque were removed by officers, and that rioting worshipers were dispersed by officers at the scene.
The statement says and calm has been restored to the holy site.
Netanyahu calls for Halamish terrorist to be executed
Prime Minister Netanyahu calls to implement the death penalty against terrorists, saying the Palestinian assailant who stabbed to death three members of the Salomon family last week should be executed.
Speaking while making a condolence call to the bereaved family, Netanyahu says “the time has come” to implement the death penalty for convicted terrorists.
“This is enshrined in law, while it requires a unanimous opinion of all the judges, there is a desire to know what the government’s position on this is,” he says.
“My stance as prime minister in this case of such a despicable murder, is that he should be executed,” he says of the Halamish killer. “He should not be allowed to smile anymore.”
Hundreds attend circumcision of terror victim’s grandson
Hundreds gathered in the city of Elad for the brit, or circumcision ceremony, of the son of Shmuel and Chen Salomon, whose three family members were brutally murdered in a terrorist attack last week.
“We chose to open this ceremony to the public so the Salomon family would be remembered as special and joyous rather than sad and hurt,” says Shmuel Salomon, who lost his father Yosef, sister Chaya, and brother Elad in the Halamish attack.
The baby’s name was announced as “Ari Yosef.” The new father explained they had chosen the name “Ari” before the attack, but it gained new meaning after his family members fought like lions against the Palestinian terrorist that took their lives last Friday night. The Hebrew word for lion originates from the same root as the boy’s name. The middle name, “Yosef,” was chosen to honor his late grandfather.
— Jacob Magid
Arab League chief warns Israel risking ‘religious war’ at Temple Mount
The head of the Arab League warns that Israeli actions at the highly sensitive Temple Mount risk igniting a “religious war.”
Israel’s actions are “playing with fire, and will only ignite a religious war and shift the core of the conflict from politics to religion,” Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit says at an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on the latest violence in Jerusalem.
“I invite the occupying state (Israel) to carefully learn the lessons from this crisis and the message it holds,” Abul Gheit says in a televised speech.
“Handling holy sites lightly and with this level of arrogance seriously threatens to ignite a religious war, since not one single Muslim in the world would accept the desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque,” he adds.
Mother of Halamish terrorist indicted for incitement
The mother of a Palestinian terrorist who stabbed to death three Israelis in the Halamish settlement last week, is indicted for incitement, the army says.
Ibtisam al-Abed, the mother of 9-year-old Omar al-Abed, was arrested last week after appearing in a video in which she praised her son for the attack, saying she was “proud of him” and hoped he would be released from custody.
Earlier this week, the family hosted guests and Abed’s mother handed out sweets. According to the military, she also “called for attacks on Jews.”
Nearly 100 injured in Jerusalem clashes, Palestinian medics say
A Palestinian Red Crescent spokesperson tells The Times of Israel that 96 people were treated for injuries during today’s clashes in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The spokesperson says the injuries were mainly caused by rubber bullets, burns and bruises.
— Dov Lieber
Additional security forces to be deployed in Jerusalem on Friday
Israel will increase police presence throughout Jerusalem in the wake of clashes at the Temple Mount as Muslim worshipers ended a boycott of the holy site and flooded the compound.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says Netanyahu has ordered additional police and border police officers to be deployed around the capital due to the “sensitive security situation.”
There have been concerns that Friday’s main weekly Muslim prayers — which typically draw thousands to the Al-Aqsa Mosque — will lead to more clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces.
PM said to offer Palestinians Arab villages in exchange for annexing settlements
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly suggested a land swap with Palestinians to US President Donald Trump’s Mideast policy advisers.
According to Channel 2, the prime minister recently floated the idea to Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt in which the jurisdiction of several Israeli Arab villages in the Wadi Ara region would be transferred to the Palestinians in exchange for Israel annexing Jewish settlements in the Gush Etzion bloc in the West Bank.
The report did not indicate what the Trump administration’s response was to the suggestion.
Israeli guard questioned by police over Amman embassy shooting
The Israeli security guard who shot dead two Jordanians at the Israeli embassy in Amman earlier this week, was reportedly questioned earlier today by police investigators over the incident.
According to Channel 2, the guard’s testimony will be sent to the Attorney General and State Prosecutor for review.
Earlier this evening, the Jordan’s King Abdullah II called on Netanyahu to ensure the embassy worker would face trial over the killings, and accused Israeli leader of using the incident to “score personal political points,” after he posted photos of himself embracing the guard.
The guard says one of the Jordanians attacked him with a screwdriver, and he opened fire in self defense. The landlord, who was also present, was hit by a bullet and later died of his wounds.
The guard is accredited as an Israeli diplomat and thus was protected from arrest and prosecution by Jordanian authorities.
According to reports in Jordanian media, Israeli diplomats will not be allowed to return to the country unless the guard is put on trial.
Istanbul police detain 26 suspected IS members
Anti-terror officers in Istanbul detain 26 suspected members of the Islamic State jihadist group, according to reports in Turkish media.
Seventeen foreigners were among those detained, state-run Anadolu news agency says, without giving details of their nationalities.
Police seized several electronic devices and documents during the operation in nine different Istanbul districts, the agency says.
Officers suspected those detained had links to “people in conflict zones”, Hurriyet daily reports, but not saying in which countries.
Medics raise number of Palestinians injured in Jerusalem clashes to 115
A Palestinian Red Crescent spokesperson says that 115 people were treated for injuries during clashes in Jerusalem’s Old City today, 15 of which were hospitalized.
A Red Crescent spokesperson earlier said the injuries were mainly caused by rubber bullets, burns and bruises.
— Dov Lieber
Trump’s top Middle East adviser removed from position
One of US President Donald Trump’s top advisers on the Middle East has been fired.
Two administration officials with knowledge of the decision said Derek Harvey was fired Thursday for unknown reasons. They were not authorized to discuss private personnel issues and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The White House would not say whether Harvey was fired, but confirmed he will no longer serve as the top Middle East adviser.
A statement says national security adviser H.R. McMaster “greatly appreciates Derek Harvey’s service to his country as a career army officer” and that “the administration is working with Colonel Harvey to identify positions in which his background and expertise can be best utilized.”
Harvey was hired by Trump’s former national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn.
White House: Netanyahu’s land swap proposed in ‘context of peace agreement’
The White House says the land swap that Netanyahu reportedly proposed to Trump administration officials recently was likely discussed in the context of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
“This may have been one of many ideas discussed several weeks ago in the context of a peace agreement and not in the context of a separate annexation,” an administration official tells The Times of Israel.
Earlier, Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu suggested a land swap with Palestinians to US President Donald Trump’s Mideast policy advisers.
According to the report, the prime minister floated the idea to Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt in which the jurisdiction of several Israeli Arab villages in the Wadi Ara region would be transferred to the Palestinians in exchange for Israel annexing Jewish settlements in the Gush Etzion bloc in the West Bank.
The report did not indicate what the Trump administration’s response was to the suggestion.
— Raphael Ahren