Petition to honor soldier in Hebron shooting gains support
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PM: High Court rejection ‘threatens’ future gas development

Petition to commend soldier who shot disarmed Palestinian gains steam; Assad hails Syrian army’s recapture of Palmyra

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

  • Syrian pro-government forces gesture next to the Palmyra citadel on March 26, 2016, during a military operation to retake the ancient city from the Islamic State group (AFP / Maher AL MOUNES)
    Syrian pro-government forces gesture next to the Palmyra citadel on March 26, 2016, during a military operation to retake the ancient city from the Islamic State group (AFP / Maher AL MOUNES)
  • Roman Catholic scouts march during the Easter Sunday procession from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre through Jerusalem’'s Old City on March 27, 2016. (AFP / GALI TIBBON)
    Roman Catholic scouts march during the Easter Sunday procession from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre through Jerusalem’'s Old City on March 27, 2016. (AFP / GALI TIBBON)
  • Pope Francis (C) standing at the central loggia of St Peters' basilica delivers the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing for Rome and the world following the Easter Sunday mass on March 27, 2016 at St Peter's square in Vatican. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. (AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI)
    Pope Francis (C) standing at the central loggia of St Peters' basilica delivers the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing for Rome and the world following the Easter Sunday mass on March 27, 2016 at St Peter's square in Vatican. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. (AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI)
  • People gather at a memorial site at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, Sunday, March 27, 2016. In a sign of the tensions in the Belgian capital and the way security services are stretched across the country, Belgium's interior minister appealed to residents not to march Sunday in Brussels in solidarity with the victims. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
    People gather at a memorial site at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, Sunday, March 27, 2016. In a sign of the tensions in the Belgian capital and the way security services are stretched across the country, Belgium's interior minister appealed to residents not to march Sunday in Brussels in solidarity with the victims. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on March 27, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on March 27, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sundays’ news as it happened.

Petition to honor soldier in Hebron shooting gains support

An online petition started Thursday in support of giving commendations to an IDF soldier who shot an unarmed Palestinian terrorist at point blank range is gathering wide support.

As of Sunday, it’s received nearly 39,000 signatures.

The protest seeks to honor the soldier for shooting “the accursed terrorist who tried to murder soldiers.”

“The terrorist didn’t come to give food baskets to the soldiers,” the petition reads.

Formulated as a letter to the prime minister, defense minister and military brass, drafted by reserves Maj. Ran Levi, the petition says that “if you don’t intend to [commend the soldier], we the citizens of the state of Israel give him a medal of honor, medal of bravery, and medal of distinguished soldier for his role.”

Pope Francis speaks against ‘rejection’ of migrants

Pope Francis on Sunday speaks out against the “rejection” of migrants and refugees during his Easter message as Europe struggles with its biggest migration crisis since World War II.

“The Easter message of the risen Christ… invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees… fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice.

“All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance.”

— AFP

At least 400 IS fighters killed in Palmyra battle

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that at least 400 Islamic State fighters were killed in the Syrian Arab Army’s offensive to retake Palmyra from the jihadist group. At least 180 fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad were killed, the watchdog group says.

Family of arrested soldier wants its own pathologist at autopsy

The family of a soldier arrested on suspicion of murdering a disarmed Palestinian terrorist demands that a pathologist of their choosing participate in the autopsy of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, Maariv reports.

The IDF won’t allow the pathologist to take part in the dissection, only observe.

Sharif’s body remains in IDF custody during the investigation while the body of the second terrorist killed in Thursday’s incident, that of Ramzi Qasrawi Tamimi, was returned to his family.

Brussels death toll revised down to 28

The death toll from the March 22 attacks on Brussels airport and the metro system has been revised down to 28, the Belgian Crisis Centre says.

Spokesman Benoit Ramacker told AFP that the previous toll of 31 included the three suicide bombers — two who blew themselves up at the airport and one on board a train stopped at Maalbeek station.

“The provisional toll is 28 people killed in the attacks,” he says.

Only 24 of the victims have been identified to date, 14 of whom were killed at the airport and 10 at the train station.

The toll includes 13 Belgians and 11 foreigners from eight different countries, the Crisis Centre says.

A total 340 people from 19 countries were injured, of whom 101 remain in hospital. Sixty-two of them are in intensive care, half of them with severe burns.

“The toll, unfortunately, is still provisional due to the many people still in intensive care,” the spokesman says.

— AFP

Corpse found in cave west of Jerusalem

A decomposing body was found a short while ago in a cave near the town of Beit Zayit, just west of Jerusalem.

Police detectives and forensics experts are at the scene and an investigation has been launched to determine the cause of death and identity of the deceased.

Star of David inscription removed from Egypt site

A limestone block bearing an engraved Star of David was removed from an ancient Egyptian temple on the island of Elephantine, in southern Egypt, “in order to study its date of carving, and to inspect its authenticity,” an official tells the Ahram website.

The stone was found 15 years ago by a German and Swiss archaeological team. The temple to Osiris Nesmeti is from the Ptolemaic period, roughly 2200 years ago.

The island of Elephantine was also once home to a Jewish community in antiquity, complete with a Jewish temple where sacrifices were offered, approximately 2,600 years ago.

Canada calls on UN to reconsider anti-Israel professor appointment

Canada’s foreign affairs minister has called on the United Nations to review the appointment of a Canadian law professor with a history of anti-Israel bias to a key United Nations job.

Government minister Stephane Dion is questioning the appointment of Michael Lynk, a law professor at Western University in London, Ontario, as the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestine.

— JTA

Assad touts Palmyra recapture

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday hails his troops’ victory over jihadists in the ancient oasis city of Palmyra as an “important achievement.”

“This is an important achievement and fresh proof of the efficiency of the Syrian army and its allies in fighting terrorism,” Assad says of the recapture of Palmyra, during a meeting with French parliamentarians in Damascus.

— AFP

Printers on college campuses hacked with anti-Semitic message

Printers at a half dozen college campuses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were hacked with an anti-Semitic, racist flyer, in a breach of the schools’ computers that also turned up at colleges across the country.

The flyer reads: “White man, are you sick and tired of the Jews destroying your country through mass immigration and degeneracy?” It also says: “Join us in the struggle for global white supremacy,” which is bookended by two large Nazi swastikas.

The source of the hacking, which occurred on Thursday, is not yet known, according to Robert Trestan, executive director of the New England Anti-Defamation League. The web address of the Daily Stormer, described by the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center as a neo-Nazi website, is included on the bottom of the flyer.

Copies of flyer were discovered in printers and fax machines at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, Smith College and Mt. Holyoke College, all in Western Massachusetts, and at Northeastern University in Boston, Clark University in Worcester, and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. They were also reported at Princeton University, DePaul University in Chicago and at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

 

— JTA

New video from Thursday’s Hebron incident emerges

A new video from Thursday’s incident in Hebron shows IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers approaching injured Palestinian terrorist Abdel Fattah al-Sharif without apparent concern of a possible suicide vest, contrary to the claim by the attorney of the soldier who shot him in the head afterwards that he was concerned he was wearing explosives.

NSA chief paid secret visit to Israel last week

NSA chief Admiral Michael Rogers paid a secret visit to Israel last week to discuss closer cooperation with the IDF’s cybersecurity intelligence unit 8200, Haaretz reports.

Rogers addressed cooperation with Israel, particularly against cyber attacks by Hezbollah and Iran, according to a senior American official who spoke to the paper.

The US has seen “intensified cyberspace operations by state and nonstate actors,” Rogers told the US House of Representatives panel earlier this month, according to a Department of Defense reported.

 

EU security hunts for 8 Belgium, France suspects

A German newspaper says European security agencies are searching for at least eight people suspected of aiding in the Paris attacks in November and last week’s Brussels attacks.

According to the report cited by Reuters, some of the suspects are French and Belgian citizens, and are on the run either in Europe or in Syria.

Ya’alon defends IDF chief against criticism from lawmakers

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon denounces on Twitter ministers and MKs who’ve taken part in “incitement unprecedented in its severity” against IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

He says Eisenkot is leading IDF commanders in a “determined and uncompromising war against Palestinian terrorism” and that he lends Eisenkot and the troops his full support .

“When we need to investigate we do so, and any cynical political intervention in the matter of operational inquiry, investigations, or rules of engagement is detrimental to the IDF and harms soldiers and commanders.”

Riot cops clash with anti-IS protesters in Belgium

A Brussels square that has been a memorial site turned agitated on Sunday when black-clad men started shouting slogans and carrying a banner with an expletive against the Islamic State group.

Hundreds of people were remembering the 28 victims of Tuesday’s attacks when dozens of men, some in balaclavas and anonymous masks, barged to the center of Place de la Bourse and mounted the steps of the stock exchange building.

Riot squads joined plainclothes policemen to move the protesters away from the square. A water cannon sprayed the protesters.

The anti-IS rally came despite government appeals not to hold a march against fear Sunday in Brussels since the security forces were stretched too thinly to provide security.

People gather at a memorial site at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, Sunday, March 27, 2016. In a sign of the tensions in the Belgian capital and the way security services are stretched across the country, Belgium's interior minister appealed to residents not to march Sunday in Brussels in solidarity with the victims. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

People gather at a memorial site at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, Sunday, March 27, 2016. In a sign of the tensions in the Belgian capital and the way security services are stretched across the country, Belgium’s interior minister appealed to residents not to march Sunday in Brussels in solidarity with the victims. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

— AP

Netanyahu: ‘Difficulties’ in making pluralistic Western Wall prayer area

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there are “several difficulties” in executing a plan for a pluralistic prayer section at the Western Wall earlier this year.

“Approximately two months ago, the cabinet decided to implement the recommendations of the advisory committee on prayer arrangements at the Western Wall,” Netanyahu says in a statement. “Since then, several difficulties have arisen. We are working to resolve them.”

“I would like to reiterate my commitment to resolve the issue of prayer arrangements at the Western Wall in the aforesaid direction.

“To this end, I have decided to appoint the head of the Prime Minister’s Bureau, David Sharan, to coordinate discussions on this issue with the various elements and to present – within 60 days – a recommendation on the steps necessary to resolve the difficulties, according to the solution that has been proposed.”

High Court shoots down gas deal

The High Court of Justice rules 4-1 against the gas deal, giving the government a year to resolve the court’s objections to the formulation of the agreement.

Glick raps soldier for shooting incapacitated Palestinian attacker

Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick defends the IDF’s decision to arrest and charge a soldier with murder last week for shooting an unarmed Palestinian terrorist.

“This soldier knowingly broke the IDF’s regulations on opening fire,” he says on Channel 2. It’s terrible that “some are portraying him as a national hero.”

Glick is next man into the Knesset for the Likud and was nearly killed in an assassination attempt by a Palestinian terrorist last year.

“I strongly support the IDF’s deployment in Judea and Samaria, but it has to be moral.”

Brussels mayor fumes at police for not stopping hooligans in advance

Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur says police had done “nothing” to stop the hooligans coming to Brussels despite having advance warning, adding that he was “appalled” that “such thugs have come to provoke residents at the site of their memorial.”

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says he “emphatically” condemned the demonstration.

The mourners gathered despite the fact that organizers had earlier called off a “March Against Fear” in Brussels on Sunday at the request of Belgian authorities, who said police needed the resources for their investigation.

— AFP

10 arrested in Brussels far-right protest

Police arrested around 10 people Sunday as far-right football hooligans disrupted mourners at a shrine for victims of the Paris attacks, a police spokesman told AFP.

Some 200 black-clad protesters shouted anti-immigrant slogans and hurled smoke bombs and flares as they moved in on the makeshift memorial at Place de la Bourse where people had gathered in a show of solidarity.

— AFP

Energy minister bemoans court ruling on gas deal

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz says the High Court’s gas deal ruling was “miserable” and its “negative consequences for developing the gas market, for energy security, for the Israeli economy, and for lost income for the state of Israel and its citizens, are liable to be even more difficult — and potentially irreversible.”

Facebook glitch asks Pakistan users worldwide to say they’re safe after blast

After a bomb goes off in Lahore, Pakistan, killing at least 25 and injuring 61 people or more, Facebook is sending out notifications to users across the globe in what may be a glitch.

“Are you OK? It looks like you’re in the area affected by The Explosion in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Lahore, Pakistan. Let friends know that you’re safe,” the message reads.

Death toll in Lahore blast rises to 56

The death toll from a blast in Pakistan’s Lahore rises to 56, an official tells AFP.

Lahore bombing targets Christians

The explosion took place near the children’s rides in Gulshan-e-Iqbal park, according to local police chief Haider Ashraf. He says the explosion appears to have been a suicide bombing, but investigations are ongoing.

The area was crowded with Christians celebrating the Easter holidays, and many families were leaving the park when the blast occurred, Ashraf says.

— AP

Netanyahu blows up at High Court gas deal ruling

The prime minister reacts to the High Court’s ruling against the gas deal, saying the “decision threatens the development of Israel’s gas reserves.

“Israel is regarded as a state with excessive judicial intervention, which makes it difficult to do business,” Netanyahu says in a statement.

“Surely nobody has anything to celebrate in the fact that the gas is likely to remain in the depths of the sea and that hundreds of billions of shekels won’t reach the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu continues. “We will find other ways to overcome the great damage caused to the Israeli economy because of this shocking ruling.”

Man moderately hurt after shot multiple times in Jerusalem

A 25-year-old Jerusalem man is moderately injured after being shot in the Beit Hakerem neighborhood of the capital. He is hospitalized at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center with multiple wounds to the upper torso.

Police opened an investigation and are investigating all possibilities.

Italy nabs counterfeiter connected to Paris, Brussels attacks

Italian authorities say they’ve arrested an Algerian man connected to the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks.

The suspect, identified as Djamal Eddine Ouali, 40, provided forged documents to the perpetrators, The New York Times reports.

Poll: Most Israelis oppose arrest of soldier who killed Hebron terrorist

A series of questions posed to respondents of a survey published on Channel 2 TV finds 32% of Israelis agree that the soldier who killed an unarmed Palestinian terrorist should have been arrested and investigated, while 57% oppose the IDF’s move.

Nearly seven in 10 Israelis — 68% — disagreed with the way the prime minister, defense minister and IDF chief of staff publicly condemned the soldier’s actions.

Gunmen rob bank in Acre

Gunmen are robbing a bank in the city of Acre and are holed up inside, Channel 2 reports.

Two suspects are believed to have fled, and it’s unclear whether there are hostages in the armed robbery.

Chief rabbi: ‘Non-Jews forbidden from living in Israel’

Israel’s Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef says that according to Jewish law, “a non-Jew is forbidden from living in the Land of Israel.”

The rabbis contends that only non-Jews who accept the seven Noahide laws can live in Israel, but that today there’s no enforcement of that principle. The seven laws are tenets outlined in the Talmud, which God supposedly gave to all humankind. One of the laws is a prohibition on suicide.

“If a non-Jew is not willing to accept the seven Noahide laws, we must send him to Saudi Arabia,” he says in a video published by Channel 10. “When the complete and true redemption comes, we will do this.”

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Petition to honor soldier in Hebron shooting gains support

An online petition started Thursday in support of giving commendations to an IDF soldier who shot an unarmed Palestinian terrorist at point blank range is gathering wide support.

As of Sunday, it’s received nearly 39,000 signatures.

The protest seeks to honor the soldier for shooting “the accursed terrorist who tried to murder soldiers.”

“The terrorist didn’t come to give food baskets to the soldiers,” the petition reads.

Formulated as a letter to the prime minister, defense minister and military brass, drafted by reserves Maj. Ran Levi, the petition says that “if you don’t intend to [commend the soldier], we the citizens of the state of Israel give him a medal of honor, medal of bravery, and medal of distinguished soldier for his role.”