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IDF confirms rocket fired from Gaza lands near Ashkelon

Al-Qia’an family slams lack of indictments for cops at Umm al-Hiran; Gazan travelers face new restrictions

  • A photo from the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border shows a smoke trail of rockets being fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip into Israel, August 22, 2014. (AFP/Jack Guez)
    A photo from the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border shows a smoke trail of rockets being fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip into Israel, August 22, 2014. (AFP/Jack Guez)
  • Tens of thousands reportedly attended on January 24, 2017, the funeral of  Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia'an, a villager of  from Umm il-Hiran,  who was killed in a violent clash over house demolitions. (Courtesy)
    Tens of thousands reportedly attended on January 24, 2017, the funeral of Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia'an, a villager of from Umm il-Hiran, who was killed in a violent clash over house demolitions. (Courtesy)
  • Palestinian children fill jerrycans with drinking water from public taps in the southern Gaza Strip, June 11, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
    Palestinian children fill jerrycans with drinking water from public taps in the southern Gaza Strip, June 11, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
  • Israeli policemen stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev Desert, on January 18, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
    Israeli policemen stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev Desert, on January 18, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
  • Part of a platform being taken from the coast of Israel towards the Tamar gas field in this undated photo. (courtesy Noble Energy)
    Part of a platform being taken from the coast of Israel towards the Tamar gas field in this undated photo. (courtesy Noble Energy)
  • Illustrative photo of a natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
    Illustrative photo of a natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

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

Two new natural gas fields to start pumping in 2020

The Energy Ministry officially presents its plan for developing the Karish and Tanin natural gas fields, the two smaller ones alongside the larger Tamar and Leviathan fields in Israel’s economic waters in the Mediterranean.

The development plan “shows [Israel’s ability] to keep to the schedule” of development, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz says. Once the new fields are operational, “competition will increase and prices…will fall.”

The plan calls for Karish, or “shark,” to be developed first, followed by Tanin, or “crocodile,” if there is sufficient demand in the Israeli market.

The two fields are believed to contain some 55 billion cubic meters of gas, which should be flowing to Israel’s shores — so says the development plan — by 2020.

Israel currently relies on a single working field, Tamar, and a single pipeline to shore from that field for a large part of its electricity production — a dependence that many security planners have pointed to as a potential strategic vulnerability in any future conflict.

Police bust cyber ring accused of causing millions in damage

Israel Police reveal Tuesday they arrested two suspects accused of carrying out cyber attacks all over the world on behalf of paying clients that caused millions of dollars in damages while netting the hackers $613,000.

The police cyber unit led an operation over the past year and a half and were joined in the probe by investigators and intelligence officials from the US, England, the Netherlands, and Sweden as part of the Europol organization. The collaboration led to arrests of suspects abroad, police say.

The investigation uncovered criminal actions by a number of Israeli suspects who set up and operated a website that, for a fee, would carry out Distributed Denial of Service attacks — an internet assault that overwhelms targeted servers with artificial traffic, causing them to stop working and crash.

State prosecutors are expected to file indictments in a closed session at the Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court Tuesday against the two suspects, both 19 and from the central Sharon region, for setting up and operating “a criminal initiative unprecedented in its scope to carry out cyber attacks,” police say.

— Stuart Winer

Iran’s new cabinet: For men only

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani puts forward a new cabinet line-up that again includes no women, despite criticism of their absence from his reformist allies.

There are no major changes to Rouhani’s government, which is expected to continue his push for greater foreign investment and a technocratic approach to reviving the country’s stagnant economy.

Rouhani’s reformist allies have already criticized the president after news leaked that he would again fail to appoint any women to the cabinet — seen as a capitulation to religious leaders.

“The lack of women ministers shows we are treading water,” Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, Rouhani’s outgoing vice president for women’s affairs, tells the reformist Etemad daily.

During his first term, she was one of three women among his large cohort of vice presidents, who do not require parliamentary approval.

All 18 cabinet members must be approved by parliament over the coming week.

— AFP

French farmer who helped migrants gets suspended sentence

A French appeals court on Tuesday increases the sentence against a farmer who has made a point of helping migrants cross the border from Italy, but stops short of jailing him.

The court in Aix-en-Provence gives activist Cedric Herrou a four-month suspended sentence — half the length the prosecutor had asked for, but more than his initial sentence.

“This is a warning sentence,” the court’s senior judge tells him.

Herrou is unrepentant as he emerges from court, where around 30 activists and supporters are on hand to support him. “They’ll just have to put me in prison, it’ll be simpler,” he says.

Herrou, an organic olive farmer, is a leading figure in Roya Citoyenne, an association dedicated to helping migrants. Last month he was arrested and charged as he accompanied 156 migrants to Marseille to help them file their asylum requests.

Since the beginning of 2017, more than 117,000 people have made the perilous Mediterranean crossing into Europe from north Africa — more than 96,000 of them arriving in Italy.

— AFP

Girl lightly hurt in ultra-Orthodox protest against defense minister

An 8-year-old girl is lightly hurt from a thrown rock during an ultra-Orthodox protest by against Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem.

Liberman visited the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem for a condolence call to a well-known ultra-Orthodox healthcare activist.

As news of his arrival in the neighborhood spread, crowds of residents gathered around the home he was visiting, causing his security detail to summon police.

When the officers arrived, some onlookers began throwing rocks at them.

The 8-year-old girl was hit by a rock.

Mea Shearim is home to many members of various ultra-Orthodox groups that have expressed violent opposition to the growing phenomenon of young men of their community choosing to enlist in the IDF.

Justice Ministry said to close cases against cops in deadly Umm al-Hiran incident

The Justice Ministry is reportedly preparing to close all its investigations into the shooting death of an Israeli Bedouin man, Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, on January 18 in the Negev village of Umm al-Hiran.

The ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department says the evidence matches the claims of police officers, according to which they feared they were in the midst of a terror attack when al-Qia’an, who had apparently been shot moments earlier by an officer, accelerated his vehicle into a group of cops, killing 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34.

Al-Qia’an was then shot dead by nearby officers.

The incident was initially billed as a “terror ramming attack” by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, but both were forced to retract the statement when video evidence emerged showing a cop apparently firing in al-Qia’an’s direction before his vehicle accelerated.

Police had arrived in force in Umm al-Hiran on the morning of January 18 to oversee the demolition of homes in the village, which the state was seeking to remove in order to clear the way for a new town critics say is meant exclusively for Jews.

Dutch Socialists reject activist over anti-Semitic tweets

The Dutch Socialist Party distances itself from an activist for the movement after he wrote that seeing Israeli soldiers makes him “proud” of German ones during World War II.

A spokesperson for the party’s branch in Castricum, a town located 13 miles west of Amsterdam, wrote last week on Twitter that Jan van der Weiden, a former Socialist Party candidate and ex-treasurer, “is not a Socialist Party member, has not been a member for years and is not involved with us. His statements are not made in the party’s name, absolutely not.”

The statement followed a complaint for hate speech filed with police by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel against van der Weiden over a series of anti-Semitic statements published under his Twitter handle.

Last month, he wrote in English: “The more I see Israelian (sic) soldiers, the more proud I am on German soldiers during the Second World War.” It was one of several tweets about Jews, including one accusing Jews of having too much influence and another explaining the need to punish Jews for Israel’s actions. The messages were removed and the Twitter account made inaccessible.

However, van der Weiden had featured as late as last week on the website of the Castricum branch of the Socialist Party, where he was praised for helping the branch out with excellent accounting skills. The page was removed following the CIDI complaint, the Dagelijkse Standaard news website reports.

— JTA

North Carolina Pride organizers move event to avoid Yom Kippur

Organizers of North Carolina’s gay pride parade and festival have altered the event’s schedule in order to accommodate the Jewish community.

The NC Pride parade had been scheduled for September 30, which this year is Yom Kippur.

Following the announcement of the date last month, organizers apologized for scheduling the parade for Yom Kippur and said they could not change the date. They said the parade has been held on the last Saturday of September for the past 17 years.

N.C. Pride organizers announced Friday that it had rebranded the event as N.C. Pride @ Night, a street fair that would start in downtown Durham and in downtown Raleigh at 4 p.m. on Sept. 30 and run until 4 a.m. on Oct. 1. The Pride Parade was cancelled for this year but is scheduled to return for 2018.

Several Jewish groups have marched in the parade in recent years.

Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill CEO Jill Madsen said that her agency is still planning to hold an alternative event planned for the Jewish community to celebrate LGBTQ pride set for October 7, which falls during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, but is more manageable for the Jewish community. Madsen told local media that she was “grateful” for the compromise from N.C. Pride.

— JTA

Despite freeze of security coordination, PA still arresting terror suspects

Despite the Palestinian Authority’s formal insistence that security coordination with Israel remains frozen, PA forces earlier this week arrested two relatives of an assailant who was shot dead while attempting to stab IDF soldiers.

The uncle and cousin of Abdullah Takaatka were detained outside Bethlehem in the aftermath of his July 28 attack at the Gush Etzion Junction, Palestinian sources say.

PA security forces have also recently arrested several Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, according to reports on Palestinian social media.

This activity is taking place despite the formal position set out by PA officials that its security coordination with Israel remains on hold in the wake of the Temple Mount tensions last month. PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced a freeze in all contacts with Israel on July 21.

— Avi Issacharoff

Intel completes acquisition of Mobileye

US computer chip giant Intel Corp. and Israeli automotive technology firm Mobileye N.V. say Intel has completed the acquisition of the outstanding shares of the Jerusalem-based company in a tender.

The acquisition is expected to accelerate innovation for the automotive industry and positions Intel as a leading technology provider in the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles, the companies say in a statement.

The combination of Intel’s computing and connectivity expertise, along with Mobileye’s computer-vision technology, will “create automated driving solutions from cloud to car,” the statement says.

Intel estimates the vehicle systems, data and services market will be worth up to $70 billion by 2030.

— Shoshanna Solomon

French memorial honoring deported Jewish children damaged

France’s President Emmanuel Macron condemns the desecration of a memorial to the Jewish children of Izieu, in eastern France, deported to Nazi camps in 1944.

In a statement, Macron denounces the “shameful and cowardly act that won’t remain unpunished.”

The plaque bearing the names of the victims — 44 children and 7 adults — was broken and removed from its base in a public garden in the city of Lyon.

On April 6, 1944, the Lyon Gestapo, headed by Klaus Barbie, searched the Children’s Home of Izieu and arrested the children and their teachers. Most of them died in gas chambers at Auschwitz. Only one adult survived.

Barbie was convicted in 1987 of crimes against humanity and later died in a French prison.

— AP

Minnesota Jewish community affirms solidarity with firebombed mosque

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota affirms its solidarity with the Muslim community in the wake of an attack on a local mosque.

The blast at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Minneapolis occurred early on Saturday, while worshipers were gathered for early morning prayers. No one was injured in the attack, but the imam’s office where someone threw a firebomb was damaged, according to police.

“Earlier this year, the Muslim community placed an ad in the Star Tribune affirming solidarity with the Jewish community after the JCC bomb threats. Today, the Jewish community affirms its solidarity with the school, mosque, and local Muslim community,” Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, says in a statement.

The attack caused an estimated $95,000 worth of damage.

A GoFundMe page set up in the wake of the attack to help the mosque has raised nearly $69,000 and a LaunchGood campaign has raised nearly $17,000. Donations ranged from $5 to hundreds of dollars.

One message left by a donor couple on the page read: “We are American Jews who share your outrage and sorrow over the recent attack on your mosque. We are relieved that no one was injured, grateful to the first responders, and hopeful that the perpetrator(s) will soon be identified and brought to justice.”

— JTA

Amy Schumer to make Broadway debut in Steve Martin comedy

US actress and comedian Amy Schumer is to make her Broadway debut this fall in an oddball comedy written by Steve Martin about two couples going into marital free-fall.

Set in the 1990s on a hot California night, “Meteor Shower” will star Schumer as one half of the two couples who dine together and end up watching a cosmic shower of smoldering rocks.

“I am more thrilled than thrilled about this announcement,” Martin tweets of the production. “An impeccable cast.”

Amy Schumer speaking about her film “Trainwreck” at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival in New York, April 19, 2015. (JTA/Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
Amy Schumer speaking about her film “Trainwreck” at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival in New York, April 19, 2015. (JTA/Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

The Hollywood actor, writer and producer tells The New York Times he recruited 36-year-old Schumer by approaching her at a party at her house and asking her to read the script.

Schumer praises the play on Twitter as “hilarious” as she confirms that she is joining the Broadway lineup.

While reviews of earlier productions have been mixed, her star power is likely to drive ticket sales ahead of curtain-up.

— AFP

Israelis in Kenya told to stay away from crowded places during fraught elections

The Israeli Foreign Ministry issues a warning to Israelis residing or visiting in Kenya, urging them to “stay especially alert during the period of elections and afterward.”

The statement warns of possible violence in the course of the fraught elections, telling Israelis to “stay away from city centers, especially in Nairobi, large crowds, public parks in major cities, and political gatherings and marches of any sort.”

Israeli-German artist paints anti-Semitic tweets outside Twitter offices

An Israeli-German artist known for his “YOLOCAUST” project combining selfies taken at Berlin’s Holocaust memorial with images of concentration camp victims releases video of his latest work taking aim at social media giant Twitter’s failure to address online anti-Semitism and racism.

In the video, Shahak Shapira says that despite alerting Twitter to some 300 tweets containing offensive content, the social media company failed to delete most of the messages and in nine of the cases said that the tweets were not in violation of the company’s policies.

Shapira contrasts Twitter’s approach to these messages with that of Facebook, who he says removed some 80 percent of the 150 posts he reported to the company within days.

Due to Twitter’s inaction over the offensive tweets, Shapira decided that “if Twitter forces me to see those things, then they’ll have to see them too,” leading him to travel to the company’s Hamburg offices and spray-paint 30 of the tweets outside the entrance using chalk.

Among the tweets that Shapira painted on the ground were messages such as “JEWISH PIG,” “LET’S GAS SOME JEWS TOGETHER,” “GAYS TO AUSCHWITZ,” and “GERMANY NEEDS A FINAL SOLUTION FOR ISLAM,” next to which he wrote “HEY TWITTER: DELETE THIS CRAP.”

Steering malfunction seen as likely cause of IAF helicopter crash

A problem with the steering system appears to have been the cause of Monday night’s helicopter crash in which one officer was killed and another was seriously injured, a senior military officer says.

The malfunction, which presented itself just before 9:00 p.m., specifically affected the steering system of the Apache helicopter’s rear rotor. It occurred while the helicopter was taking part in a training exercise near the Ramon Air Base in southern Israel, the officer says, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The technical problem, and not human error, appears to be the cause of the crash, though a full investigation led by an Air Force colonel is still underway and is expected to take several months.

Approximately nine minutes after reporting the malfunction, as pilot Maj. (res.) David “Dudi” Zohar was bringing the Apache helicopter in for a landing, the aircraft crashed on the runway.

Zohar was killed. His co-pilot, a lieutenant on active duty, was critically wounded. They were the only two on board.

— Judah Ari Gross

New Israeli policy allows East Jerusalemites special access to Gaza

As of Monday, East Jerusalemites able to improve the economic or humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip are permitted to apply for Israeli permits to enter the Palestinian enclave.

The new policy is announced on the Facebook page of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Defense Ministry’s agency for coordinating Palestinian civil affairs.

“Access is allowed to businesspeople and others who want to improve and strengthen the economy, infrastructure and humanitarian conditions of the Gaza Strip,” the statement says.

The statement adds that no more than 150 such permits will be granted at a time.

Prior to the new policy, East Jerusalemites could only enter Gaza on strictly humanitarian grounds on a case-by-case basis, a spokesperson for COGAT says.

— Dov Lieber

Netanyahu visits Yavneh stabbing victim, calls him ‘hero’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the man who was critically wounded in a stabbing attack in the central Israeli city of Yavne last week.

The prime minister praises Niv Nehemiah, calling him a “hero,” as he sits at Nehemiah’s hospital bedside in the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

“Niv is a hero, who fought against the terrorist with his two hands and prevented a great disaster,” Netanyahu says.

“We all prayed that he would recover,” Netanyahu says. “I saw him with his family, and it is simply heart-warming. I bless him and embrace him in the name of the entire people of Israel.”

Nehemiah, 43, regained consciousness on Sunday. His condition is improving, but remains serious, according to hospital officials.

Azaria loses final bid to delay sentence, will enter prison tomorrow

A military court rejects the final request by former IDF soldier Elor Azaria to delay his prison term until he receives an answer to a pardon request from IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

Azaria was convicted of manslaughter in the March 2016 shooting death of a Palestinian stabber in Hebron.

With the delay request thrown out, Azaria is set to begin his 18-month prison sentence in a military prison tomorrow morning.

Al-Qia’an family slams lack of indictments for cops at Umm al-Hiran

The family of Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an slams the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department over reports it is set to recommend no indictments against any police officers in the deadly January incident in Umm al-Hiran that left al-Qia’an and officer Erez Levi dead.

“It’s inconceivable that no one will be brought to justice for the unnecessary loss of life of a citizen and a police officer,” the family says in a statement.

The decision should “worry every citizen in the country and keep us up nights,” the statement adds. “After all, it means that, in practice, law enforcement is not held to the same rules that apply to all other citizens. Once the state sends that message to its police officers, then we, as law-abiding citizens, are dependent on the good graces of officers who just received a license to kill without consequences.”

CIA ‘torture’ psychologists to stand trial

Two psychologists who helped design the CIA’s post-9/11 detainee interrogation program will stand trial in September for promoting the use of torture methods like water-boarding, starvation and chaining prisoners in extreme stress positions.

Federal judges in Washington state late Monday ordered a lawsuit on behalf of three former detainees — one of whom died in a CIA prison following harsh interrogation — to go to a jury trial, rejecting efforts to force a settlement and prevent a full hearing of the case.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the ex-detainees, will be the first involving the torture program to go to trial.

The government has headed off previous efforts, citing what is said is a need to protect sensitive intelligence.

The case targets psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who were recruited by the CIA in 2002 to design and help conduct interrogations of war-on-terror suspects captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The two were paid $80 million for their work, which included helping interrogate Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks by Al-Qaeda, and Abu Zubaydah, another top Qaeda official.

— AFP

Al-Qaeda leader claims German 9/11 suspect has died

A German man believed to have provided logistical support to the Hamburg-based September 11 hijackers has died, according to a newly-released audio message from the leader of al-Qaeda.

The announcement by Ayman al-Zawahiri comes in an August 2 audio message posted online in which he says a man he identifies as Zuhair al-Maghribi who worked for As-Sahab, the terror network’s media arm, is a “martyr.”

He says al-Maghribi is one of several who “sacrificed their lives” but doesn’t provide details on when or how they died.

Al-Maghribi is a known alias of Said Bahaji, who authorities have said worked for As-Sahab. He’s been wanted on an international arrest warrant issued by Germany shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Germany-born Bahaji, who is of Moroccan descent, is believed to have helped suicide hijackers Mohamad Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah when they were in Hamburg, and to have fled shortly before the September 11 attacks.

— AP

Interior Minister Deri questioned by cops for six hours

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri is interrogated for over six hours in a fourth round of police questioning as part of an ongoing corruption investigation into a range of fraud charges against him.

The minister’s wife, Yaffa Deri, is questioned separately for two hours over suspicions of various financial crimes, including tax evasion and using money donated to her nonprofit organization to purchase real estate. She has joined her husband for two of the previous three rounds of questioning.

The head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party is questioned on suspicion of money laundering, fraud, breach of trust and various other alleged offenses, according to police.

 

Aryeh Deri seen leaving his home in Jerusalem on the way to questioning at the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, June 5, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Aryeh Deri seen leaving his home in Jerusalem on the way to questioning at the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, June 5, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The investigation is a joint effort of the Israel Police, Tel Aviv Income Tax Investigation Division of the Tax Authority, and the Justice Ministry’s Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, under the supervision of the attorney general.

— David Sedley

Gazan travelers face new restrictions from Israel

New Israeli restrictions on Palestinians exiting the blockaded Gaza Strip have further disrupted travel for the few who are allowed to cross the border into Israel.

The restrictions include a ban on laptop computers, hard-shell suitcases and even toothpaste.

Israel is citing unspecified security concerns as the reason.

— AP

Iranian drone buzzes US naval jet in Gulf — US

An Iranian drone flew within 100 feet (30 meters) of a US Navy jet as the American plane was trying to land on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf, the Navy says.

The encounter unfolded in international air space as the F/A-18E Super Hornet was preparing to land on the USS Nimitz, US Naval Forces Central Command spokesman Commander Bill Urban says.

He says that despite repeated radio calls to stay clear of flight operations near the Nimitz, the Iranian drone executed “unsafe and unprofessional” altitude changes near the F/A 18.

The US jet had to maneuver to avoid collision, with the drone passing just 100 feet away at its closest point.

Urban adds this was the 13th “unsafe and/or unprofessional” interaction between US and Iranian maritime forces this year.

In July, a US Navy patrol ship fired warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boat in the Gulf as it closed in on the American vessel.

— AFP

Renault to open smart car incubator in Israel

The Globes business journal reports that Renault-Nissan won a government tender to found an incubator that would help fund startups in the smart car field.

The journal reports:

Renault-Nissan will found a technological innovation laboratory in Israel as an incubator for young companies developing smart car and shared transportation technologies. The automaker, one of the winners in the Israel Innovation Authority’s tender, will establish the incubator in Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Atidim.

Companies selected for the incubator will receive government funding of up to NIS 1 million at the stage of proving feasibility. The incubator is designed to connect companies having technologies and ideas in the sector with Renault-Nissan, currently the world’s largest automaker. In addition to close cooperation with the automaker’s international R&D laboratories, the developers will be able to assess and try out their ideas on real vehicles in the field provided by Renault-Nissan.

Man convicted of having pipe bomb in luggage at UK airport

A man who arrived at a British airport for a flight with a pipe bomb in his hand luggage is convicted Tuesday of trying to smuggle explosives onto a plane.

Nadeem Muhammad, 43, denied wrongdoing after security staff found the device inside the zip lining of his bag at Manchester Airport on January 30. He said the bomb, made from masking tape, batteries and a marker pen tube, must have been planted by someone else.

But prosecutors said he planned to detonate it during a Ryanair flight to Italy.

During his trial, prosecutors also revealed that security officers didn’t initially think the bomb was viable. Muhammad was allowed to fly to Italy several days later. After he departed, a forensic expert examined the device and judged it to be “crude but potentially viable.”

Muhammad, who was born in Pakistan and has an Italian passport, was arrested when he returned to Britain. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 23.

— AP

Brussels police open fire on car in Molenbeek suburb — report

Brussels police open fire on a car after a high-speed chase in the suburb of Molenbeek, and the driver has told officers there are explosives inside the vehicle.

Brussels prosecutor’s spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch tells The Associated Press on Tuesday afternoon that police fired once at the car, which was involved in two collisions during the chase.

Van Wymersch says: “When they got the person out, he immediately claimed that there were explosives inside.”

She says the man was alone and no one is injured.

A police vehicle blocks a road in the Molenbeek suburb of Brussels, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
A police vehicle blocks a road in the Molenbeek suburb of Brussels, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Army bomb disposal experts have been called in and police have sealed off the area, locking a number of people in nearby shops as a precaution, Van Wymersch says.

Brussels has been on high alert since 32 people were killed in 2016 suicide attacks. Many suspects linked to those attacks and the November 2015 massacre in Paris lived in or transited through Molenbeek.

— AP

North Korea said to be able to fit nuke inside a missile — report

The Washington Post is reporting that US intelligence officials assess that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.

That would mean North Korea has passed a crucial threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.

The Post story, citing unnamed US intelligence officials, says the confidential analysis was completed last month by the US Defense Intelligence Agency.

Separately, Japan’s defense ministry assesses in a report Tuesday that it is possible that North Korea has achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads.

— AP

American-Israeli bomb threats suspect offered services on dark net

US authorities say an American-Israeli Jew charged with threatening to bomb Jewish community centers and schools across the United States had offered to sell his threat-making services through an online black market.

Recently unsealed court documents link the 18-year-old — whose name is barred from publication in Israel by court order — to a posting on the now-shuttered illicit marketplace AlphaBay advertising a “School Email Bomb Threat Service.” The poster offered to send customized threats to schools for $30, plus a surcharge if the buyer sought to have someone framed.

Authorities say he made 245 threatening calls, mostly to community centers and schools, from January to March, using an online calling service that disguised his voice and allowed him to hide his identity. The threats led to evacuations, sent a chill through Jewish communities and raised fears of rising anti-Semitism.

He was arrested in March in Israel and has been charged in federal court in Orlando, Florida, with 28 counts of making threatening calls and conveying false information to police.

American and European law enforcement officials announced last month they had shuttered AlphaBay, which they called the world’s leading “darknet” marketplace that traded in illegal drugs, firearms and counterfeit goods.

— AP

Rocket sirens sound near Gaza, Ashkelon

The “Code Red” siren warning of rocket fire sounds in Israeli communities near the northern border of the Gaza Strip and in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council near the southern city of Ashkelon.

There is no immediate word from the IDF about rockets falling in those areas.

Ashkelon residents hear distant boom – report

Channel 2 reports that Ashkelon residents heard a distant boom moments ago as sirens sounded in the area warning of rocket fire from Gaza.

Possible rocket fall reported in Ashkelon

The Kan public broadcaster reports that a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip is believed to have fallen in a construction site in the southern city of Ashkelon.

The report is not confirmed by authorities.

IDF confirms rocket fired from Gaza lands near Ashkelon

In a statement, the IDF says “a projectile fired at southern Israel hit an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. No injuries have been reported. Forces are searching the area.”

— Judah Ari Gross

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Rocket sirens sound near Gaza, Ashkelon

The “Code Red” siren warning of rocket fire sounds in Israeli communities near the northern border of the Gaza Strip and in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council near the southern city of Ashkelon.

There is no immediate word from the IDF about rockets falling in those areas.