The Times of Israel live blogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Rivlin says ‘alarm bells should be ringing’
The presidents of Israel and Germany warn of growing anti-Semitism as they mark half a century of diplomatic ties, 70 years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust.
“I am very worried. Worldwide anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish slogans are on the rise,” says President Reuven Rivlin, who is on a state visit to Berlin to mark the anniversary of bilateral relations.
“In the entire free world — and especially in Europe, given its not too distant past — alarm bells should be ringing,” he says in comments to German and Israeli newspapers.
Rivlin’s German counterpart, Joachim Gauck, shares in the joint interview concern about rising hate speech against Jews and the state of Israel, both in his country and elsewhere in Europe.
“In Germany too, during demonstrations last year, we saw anti-Semitism, some of it cloaked as criticism of Israel, some of it open,” he says, referring to street protests against Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip over the past summer.
“In addition to a ‘traditional’ anti-Semitism we are increasingly confronted with anti-Semitism from immigrant families,” says Gauck, adding that this “made me and the overwhelming majority of Germans feel deeply ashamed”.
The presidents, who are both aged 75, stress that German-Israeli ties have grown strong despite the enduring dark legacy of the Holocaust during which Nazi Germany killed six million Jews.
Zero tolerance for sex offenders – IDF head
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot says that the IDF will “do anything necessary to completely eradicate sexual offenses during military service.” In a missive sent to military commanders the chief of staff stresses that any intimate relationship between commanders and subordinates crosses a red line. Eisenkot adds that the military “will exercise zero tolerance” for such incidents.
Israel Radio quotes Eisenkot as saying the IDF’s strength is measured not only in its might on the battlefield but also in its moral strength.
The chief of staff’s missive comes in the wake of a much publicized case in which a former IDF female soldier sued her commander for sexual assault. The case ended in a plea bargain, and the verdict was criticized as being lenient in face of the emotional damage sustained by the victim.
IsraAid team in Nepal
An IsraAid team en route to the epicenter of the new quake that hit Nepal today, the organization says in a statement.
“All of the country’s residents went out to the streets for fear that more buildings will collapse,” says Yotam Polizar, director of the IsraAid team in Nepal. “I am worried for the population where the IsraAid team is working. Buildings have totally collapsed and we fear deeply for the wellbeing of the residents.”
133 Israelis take shelter in Chabad Nepal
133 Israelis are taking shelter in the Chabad House in Kathmandu, the organization says in a statement on its website.
“Although everyone we know appears to be safe, we are sad to report that there are many more casualties in Nepal again today,” he says. “There is so much more work that now needs to be done,” says Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz, co-director of Chabad of Nepal
A few hours after the quake, Chabad of Nepal published on its Facebook page in Hebrew a list of the whereabouts and condition of Israeli and other foreign tourists, backpackers and volunteers in Nepal who they have been in contact with.
Jewish Home MK Magal pummels Zionist Union
After opposition MKs criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for backtracking on his support in the previous government for capping the number of ministers, newcomer MK Yinon Magal (Jewish Home) fires back with a speech in the Knesset plenum where he posed to leaders of the opposition statistics from their past.
“Eitan Cabel, you are against ministers without portfolios? You were a minister without a portfolio,” Magal tells the Zionist Union MK, who wrote on his Faceook page that there was “no greater waste than a minister without a portfolio.”
Magal then turns to Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog and says: “You speak of an inflated government with 20 ministers? You were member of a government with 39 ministers and deputy ministers.”
Magal also criticizes Herzog’s co-leader in Zionist Union, Tzipi Livni. According to NRG, Magal asks her: “Are you against political bribes? You were a member of the [Ariel] Sharon government who one evening bribed eight deputy ministers in order to expel Jews from Gush Katif.”
Magal is referring to the politicking that preceded the vote on the Disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Nepal death toll rises to 42
Nepal’s Home Ministry raises the death toll from Tuesday’s quake to at least 42, while saying another 1,117 people had been injured.
The magnitude-7.3 quake hit hardest in remote mountain districts northeast of the capital.
The Health Ministry says rescuers have managed to pull three people to safety in the capital, while another nine were rescued in the district of Dolkha.
J’lem deputy mayor tours Old City ahead of flag march
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovitz tours the Muslim Quarter of the Old City ahead of the flag march scheduled to take place this Sunday.
“It is important to me as chairman of the Jewish Home party in Jerusalem and as the deputy mayor to make sure the march takes place in its planned route while maintaining the dignity of all residents. It is important to tour the route in advance in order to examine from up close all possibilities for friction,” says Kalmanovitz.
On Sunday the High Court of Justice rejected an appeal by left-wing NGOs that sought to ban the marchers from traversing the Arab part of Jerusalem near the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.
New MDA delegation to bring 4 babies to Israel
Magen David Adom head Eli Bin instructed the organization to prepare a delegation of doctors and paramedics that will travel to Nepal and help bring to Israel four babies and their parents.
Magen David Adom say they are in contact with the parents, who said they were evacuated from a hospital in Kathmandu for fear it might collapse. The parents and newborns are staying in a van nearby.
Iran is tops in list of threats, PM tells German minister
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Netanyahu tells Leyen: “The challenges to us keep changing. We’ve made peace with two of our Arab neighbors, but there are new forces in the region. They are threatening not only us but also threatening of course our Arab neighbors with whom we’ve made peace.
“This creates the opportunity to make other alliances with other Arab states, but at the same time, we have a great threat emanating from militant Islam, both from militant Sunnis in the form of ISIS and al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, but the greatest threat that we see and I think that our neighbors see as well is the threat that emanates from the imperial and theological ambitions of the Ayatollah regime in Iran. They are seeking, as you know, to develop a capability to develop nuclear weapons. They are engaged in a campaign of conquest and subversion throughout the Middle East, now in Yemen, around Israel’s borders in Lebanon, not very far from our border in the Golan, in Gaza,” Netanyahu says.
“We view the greatest challenge to the security of the Middle East, of Israel and of the world Iran’s quest for empire coupled with its quest for nuclear weapons. We hope that this can be prevented, preferably by diplomatic means. We think a better deal is required than the one that is proposed in Lausanne, and I believe that this is important for our common future and our common security,” he adds.
Regime barrel bomb attack kills 20 in Aleppo
At least 20 people were killed in a regime barrel bomb attack on a minibus stand in a rebel-held part of Syria’s Aleppo city, a monitor group says.
“Helicopters committed a massacre, dropping a barrel bomb on a minibus station in the Fardous district of Aleppo, killing 20 civilians, among them children, and injuring 30 more,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group says.
The monitor says the toll is expected to rise because of the number of serious injuries among the wounded. Most of bodies of those killed “were charred,” the group says.
Video footage distributed by activists and posted on YouTube shows rubble and twisted scraps of metal strewn across the cratered pavement where the station was, underneath a bridge.
A second video showed several men hoisting a male victim missing a large section of the back of his torso onto an orange stretcher and into an ambulance. It was unclear whether he was still alive.
MK expelled from Knesset for heckling
MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beytenu) was removed from the Knesset plenum after being called to order three times during a marathon of minute-long speeches in which Meretz MKs read out loud from a report by a left-wing NGO.
The Meretz MKs read excerpts from a report by Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects testimony soldiers on their combat experience. The testimonies tend to describe actions taken on the field which can be seen to be morally reprehensible outside the context of war.
Gal heckled the Meretz MKs, shouting that they were “collaborators, you are criminals and should be ashamed of yourselves.”
In response, Joint List MK Dov Khenin said, “I commend reading the testimonies in the plenum and I suggest that all MKs should read them and reflect. When you refuse to listen it does not change reality.”
Likud MK Oren Hazan said: “When I hear the MKs here I am suddenly confused and feel like I’m in the parliament of the Palestinian Authority. When we were sworn in on March 31 I meant I was pledging myself to both the State of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF. The ease with you allow yourselves to sleep at night when our brothers are risking their lives for you – that cannot go unanswered. MK [Zahava] Gal-on, I am ashamed of you.”
Israeli start-up upends colon cancer diagnosis
An Israeli start-up may revolutionize the diagnosis of colon cancer, one of the brutal cancers which is today often diagnosed only when it is too late for treatment.
Medial, established by Israelis some of whom are alumni of the IDF’s prestigious 8200 intelligence unit, developed an algorithm that can be used to analyze the results of standard blood tests and predict the likelihood of colon cancer some three years before the disease strikes.
According to Channel 2, Medial’s algorithm requires the charts from completely routine blood tests; prediction relies on math rather than advanced testing technology. The technology can therefore be easily introduced and implemented in hospitals.
Typically attacking people after middle age, colon cancer can go unnoticed for years and then be discovered at the onset of abdominal pains which the patient may think are not any worse than a case of food poisoning.
The highly malignant disease can from that point kill a patient in as little as several weeks.
Medial’s technology can potentially save thousands of lives every year.
Edelstein says it’s time to recognize Armenian genocide
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein says Israel should reexamine its official position on recognition of the Armenian genocide.
“This is one of the most despicable and most dramatic incidents that happened in the beginning of the last century. Over several years, more than a million Armenians were led to their deaths and according to most estimates – the number reached a million and a half. This was done through massacres and expulsions, coming from racism and xenophobia,” Edelstein says.
“It is no secret that the State of Israel has until now taken an ambivalent stand on the Armenian genocide. A thicket of constraints, diplomatic and other, created a state of affairs in which the Israeli position was too hesitant, too restrained, and as a result – it appears to have diminished the importance of this powerful event,” says Edelstein.
“It is as members of the Jewish people, with the memory of the Holocaust that occurred not long afterwards still etched in our flesh, that we cannot afford to remain silent. We cannot look aside or belittle the Armenian tragedy,” says the Knesset speaker.
He then calls for a rethink of Israel’s position on the Armenian genocide. “The State of Israel must thoroughly examine its official position, since history, as we know, cannot be changed. We cannot, nor are we allowed, blur with clever phrases the magnitude of the disaster of the Armenian people and the deep stain it left on the morality of the human race,” he says.
MKs support Edelstein’s Armenia call
After Knesset Speaker Edelstein urged Israel to “reconsider” its position on the Armenian genocide – essentially calling for recognition of the mass killing as an act of genocide, several MKs voice their support for the move.
Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on says: “I adopt the Knesset speaker’s call and think his words are immensely important, especially coming from the speaker of the Knesset. This issue cuts across political positions; it is not a political but rather a human issue. Regrettably, for too many years this issue was a pawn in the hands of Israeli foreign policy, which chose to sacrifice truth and memory at the altar of interests.”
Last month, MKs Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) and Anat Berko (Likud) represented the Knesset in Armenia during events marking the centennial of the killing.
Shai said in the Knesset today: “At the official ceremony in Armenia they also mentioned the Holocaust. There is no place where people discuss the Armenian genocide that our Holocaust does not get mentioned. There is similarity and there is difference between the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide, and we don’t mix the two. What happened in Armenia is genocide; we have come to the conclusion that after 100 years the time has come for humanity to wake up. We returned feeling that we must carry this on and we will do so at every opportunity.”
MK Berko said that “the Armenian tragedy is not like Holocaust of the Jews of Europe and there is no place to compare the conflict between the Armenians and the Turks with the Holocaust of the Jews of Europe. As we stand facing the Armenian historic memory we still feel that the wound is wide open.”
UN envoy in Yemen as ceasefire nears
A UN envoy arrived in Yemen for talks ahead of a planned five-day humanitarian ceasefire, with dozens reported dead in Saudi-led bombing of an arms depot in the capital.
The truce, proposed by Riyadh and due to take effect at 11:00 pm (2000 GMT), aims to allow deliveries of desperately needed relief supplies, although aid groups have already warned that five days is insufficient.
Explosions at an arms depot hit by several coalition strikes since Monday left at least 69 people dead and 250 others wounded in Sanaa, most of them civilians, a medical official says.
The blasts at a military base at Mount Noqum, in the eastern outskirts of Yemen’s rebel-held capital, lasted until midday on Tuesday after coalition strikes sent debris crashing into a residential area at the foot of the mountain.
The depot was bombed again on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent says.
‘Unchecked, anti-Semitism consumes everything,’ warns PM
“The Jewish state will defend itself by itself against any threat,” Netanyahu says at a Foreign Ministry conference on anti-Semitism.
“That’s what we learned from history. That’s what the Jewish state is all about.”
“I don’t know if we can eradicate the scourge of anti-Semitism,” says Netanyahu. “But we have to fight it. We have learned that if unchecked these forces of anti-Semitism eventually spread and consume everything.”
“The battle against anti-Semitism starts from the top, contrary to what people believe. It does not bubble up from below; it percolates also from the top. That’s why it’s so important to host so many foreign leaders here,” Netanyahu tells the Foreign Ministry staff members.
— Raphael Ahren
20-30 Israelis in Nepal out of touch, Chabad rabbi says
Chabad Nepal co-director Rabbi Chesky Lipshitz says 20-30 Israelis have not yet made contact with the Chabad House in Kathmandu.
The quake this morning was much more strongly felt, Lipshitz tells Walla news, adding that surrogate families were in real danger. Lipshitz says that buildings that were merely damaged in the first quake two weeks ago collapsed to the ground.
He says equipment left behind by the IDF was used to treat the wounded.
The death toll today stands at 42, with some 1,200 injured.
Majority of deal agreed on – Iran negotiator
Iran’s nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi says a majority of the draft nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers has been agreed on but differences remain over one part, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.
“We have now a text that a major part of it, even all its phrases, has been agreed but a part of it is still a source of difference,” Araqchi is quoted by Fars as saying in an interview with state-run TV upon landing in Vienna.
“In certain paragraphs, there is difference on one phrase and in certain other paragraphs, one sentence and in certain parts, the whole phrase has not been agreed; yet now a major part has ended,” he adds.
Asked about the next round of talks, he says representatives of Iran and the US will have a bilateral meeting on Thursday and then deputy foreign ministers of other P5+1 members would join on Friday.
200 protest discrimination in Haifa
Some 200 people are demonstrating in Haifa against discrimination against Jews of Ethiopian descent, Ynet reports. About half of the demonstrators are carrying signs with the text “Black or white, we are all human beings.”
The central Hanassi Avenue in the city is closed to traffic because of the demonstration.
Likud MKs vie for ministerial positions
Likud MKs Yuval Steinitz, Silvan Shalom and Gilad Erdan all seek the foreign affairs portfolio, says Channel 2 political analyst Amit Segal.
According to Segal, Gilad Erdan, currently the communications minister, would like to head the Public Security Ministry. Additionally, Netanyahu promised Bennie Begin and Haim Katz ministerial positions, and according to Segal he repeated the promise in recent days.
Netanyahu also seeks to appoint Gila Gamliel, Miri Regev, faction chairman Ze’ev Elkin and Yariv Levin to ministerial positions, according to Channel 2.
Red tape grounds 30 tons of Nepal aid
30 tons of equipment collected by volunteers and intended to be shipped to Nepal will remain on the tarmac in Israel because of lack of coordination between government ministries, Channel 2 reports.
In an initiative of SID-Israel (the Society for International Development), the equipment was collected by volunteers and includes anything from calorie-rich foods to digging tools and clothes. The organization planned to piggyback on a plane that was heading to Nepal to bring back Israeli medical teams from the country.
But because of a lack of communication and coordination between the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry, the plane will take off without the equipment, Channel 2 reported.
2 Nazi-looted paintings due to return to heirs
A German court formally authorized the return of two Nazi-looted artworks from the collection of the late art collector Cornelius Gurlitt.
The paintings, among the most valuable of the more than 1,400 artworks discovered in Gurlitt’s home in Munich and later in a second home in Salzburg, Austria, can be retrieved this week by the heirs of the Jewish owners from whom they were stolen, The Wall Street Journal reports Tuesday following the decision by the Munich District Court.
The court did not reveal the names of the owners of the artworks — Henri Matisse’s “Woman Sitting in an Armchair” and Max Liebermann’s “Two Riders on the Beach” — or the names of the heirs who will receive them, according to The Associated Press.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Libermann painting was stolen from David Friedmann, a German-Jewish collector who died in the early 1940s, and the Matisse was stolen in a Nazi raid on a bank vault in France belonging to Paul Rosenberg, a Jewish art dealer.
Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, was an art dealer on assignment to the Nazis. When Hildebrand Gurlitt died in 1956, his son inherited the collection, which includes works by Picasso, Durer, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Beckmann and Matisse. The Gurlitt collection, discovered in the course of an investigation for tax evasion, is worth an estimated $1.26 billion.
Palestinians say they number 12.1m. people worldwide
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics says it has recorded a population of 12.1 million people, of whom 4.6 million live in the territories and the remainder abroad.
The figures show that at the end of 2014, 2.8 million Palestinians lived in the West Bank and 1.8 million in the Gaza Strip.
In the impoverished Gaza enclave, the population of 4.9 people per square kilometer makes its density one of the world’s highest.
Of the 4.6 million people in the Palestinian territories, 43.1% are refugees.
The balance of 7.5 million Palestinians live in exile, the majority in 31 UN-installed refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
UNRWA, the world body’s aid agency for Palestinian refugees, has 5.49 million people registered on its books.
‘Hezbollah bases in villages put civilians at risk’
Hezbollah bases built inside villages in south Lebanon put residents of the villagers at high risk in case a war breaks out between the Shiite terror group and the IDF, the New York Times reports.
The paper received maps and aerial photography from military officials that illustrate, according to the officers, that Hezbollah has moved most of its military infrastructure into and around the Shiite villages of southern Lebanon. According to the paper, Israeli officials say Hezbollah’s move amounts to using the civilians as a human shield.
As Israel prepares for what it sees as an almost inevitable next battle with Hezbollah, the Shiite Lebanese organization that fought a month-long war against Israel in 2006, Israeli military officials and experts are warning that the group has done more than significantly build up its firepower since then.
The paper quotes Israeli officials as saying the IDF will not be deterred from striking at Hezbollah posts, which means the villages will be hit even more badly than during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
US Marine helicopter missing in Nepal
American officials say a US Marine Corps helicopter providing assistance in the wake of the Nepal earthquake is missing.
US Navy Capt. Chris Sims says the Huey was conducting disaster relief operations near Charikot, Nepal, on Tuesday.
The aircraft is part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469. US officials would not say how many people were on board the helicopter.
The incident is under investigation.
Rivlins wife honors artist Kadishman in Berlin
Nechama Rivlin, wife of President Reuven Rivlin, came to the Jewish Museum in Berlin where a massive art installation by recently deceased artist Menashe Kadishman is on permanent display.
The piece is comprised of some 10,000 metal masks which are scattered over the floor of one of the spaces in the museum.
Rivlin came to the museum to lay a wreath of flowers on the piece: “I came here to pay final respects to Menashke, our beloved, as I promised Maya his daughter. I came to honor this unique and rare work of art and to promise to him that we will not forget him, never.”
‘Have you seen Iranian delegation in Nepal?’ asks PM
Prime Minister Netanyahu says at the Foreign Ministry conference on anti-Semitism that “we live in a generation where anti-Semitism comes to life again. Jews have a right to live freely wherever they please and governments are responsible for this.”
Netanyahu also mentions the Israeli delegation to the first earthquake that hit Nepal late last month, the second largest after the Indian delegation. “Have you seen an Iranian delegation in Nepal?” Netanyahu asks. “Iran is the most blatant example of a case where the aggressor blames the victim. They attack us on human rights?”
According to Iranian news agency IRNA, the Islamic Republic sent financial assistance to Nepal, but not humanitarian assistance.