The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Arms, ammo found in E. Jerusalem falafel stand
Police officers raided a falafel stand on a main thoroughfare of downtown East Jerusalem and found two pipe bombs, ammunition magazines and bullets. The owner of the shop on Sultan Suleiman street was arrested and taken in for questioning.
They also found six pipe bombs, two stun grenades and several magazines of ammunition buried in the courtyard of a home in East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amoud neighborhood. The homeowner was arrested as well.
3 hurt in gangland car bomb in Rishon Lezion
Three people are injured, two of them seriously, after a car exploded in the central city of Rishon Lezion. Police say the incident was criminal in nature, and not terrorism.
Two men aged 24 and 32 are seriously hurt and were taken to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center; the third, a 25-year-old man, was moderately hurt and taken to Tel Hashomer Medical Center, Haaretz reports.
Police say a bomb was attached to the car.
The condition of a fourth passenger of the vehicle, who was also hurt, wasn’t immediately available.
Three of the passengers are known to police because of an ongoing gang war.
Rivlin: Jews of faith can’t hate Christians, Muslims
President Reuven Rivlin says at a New Year’s party for Israeli Christians that “a Jewish believer cannot be anti-Christian or anti-Muslim,” calling for interfaith dialog, Channel 2 reports.
He says on his official Twitter feed that he is “condemning hatred & looking to build understanding in the #NewYear.”
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) December 28, 2015
IDF beefs up security on Lebanon border
The IDF is increasing security in a number of communities along the border with Lebanon out of concern of a Hezbollah retaliation for the assassination of Samir Kuntar, Channel 2 reports.
Turkey: No detente without end to Gaza blockade
A Turkish presidential spokesman says that Ankara envisions no normalization of ties with Israel unless it lifts the Gaza blockade, Today’s Zaman reports.
Saudi announces $98b deficit in 2015
OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia posted a record $98 billion budget deficit in 2015 due to the sharp fall in oil prices, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.
Revenues were estimated at 608 billion riyals ($162 billion), well below projections and 2014 income, while spending came in at 975 billion riyals ($260 billion), ministry officials announced at a press conference in Riyadh.
Men hurt in Rishon Lezion car bombing named
The three men injured in a car bomb explosion in Rishon Lezion earlier today are named as Baruch Bukel, and Gabi and Baruch Fallah, all of Netanya, all known criminals.
Bukel survived several prior assassination attempts, Ynet notes in its reports.
Hundreds protest outside Duma suspects’ hearing
Hundreds of demonstrators have massed outside the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s court, where four suspected Jewish terrorists have been brought for an extension of their remand.
Previous protests outside court hearings concerning the suspects in the July Duma terror attack have turned violent, and right-wing activists have been arrested for disturbing the peace and assaulting police.
Herzog lashes out at NGO labeling bill
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog shows up to the Knesset wearing a badge reading: “A Jew doesn’t label a Jew. A Jew doesn’t label a human being,” referring to the NGO labeling bill the Ministerial Committee for Legislation passed yesterday.
— Tal Schneider (@talschneider) December 28, 2015
He speaks out against the bill in a Zionist Union party meeting saying, “This filthy wave is liable to lead us to the next political assassination and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu can’t say he didn’t see or didn’t hear.”
Meretz chief: Illegal outposts ‘greenhouses’ for Jewish terror
Meretz party leader Zehava Galon calls on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to dismantle illegal West Bank outposts. She says illegal outposts “serve as a greenhouse for hilltop youth and [Jewish] terror activities,” according to Channel 2.
She says that “the blood wedding,” referring to a video of right-wing extremists celebrating the death of a Palestinian family killed in the Duma terror attack, “is not a solitary example.”
Livni: Dayan’s appointment a ‘finger in the eye’ of Brazil
Zionist Union MK and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni says Dani Dayan’s delayed appointment as ambassador to Brazil isn’t personal, it’s Brasilia’s opposition to Israel’s West Bank settlement policies.
She suggests that Dayan’s appointment is politically motivated and a “finger in the eye” of the country to which he was dispatched. Should Israel appoint a diplomat of a different stripe, she says, his reception would be “in a completely different fashion.”
Hebrew U. prof calls Shaked a neo-Nazi
A Hebrew University professor is causing a stir on Facebook after he called Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked a neo-Nazi, saying “she’s not only a partner responsible for the fascization [sic] of Israel but also an indirect partner to genocide in Africa and crimes against humanity.”
Ofer Cassif, a political science professor at the Jerusalem university, made the statement in response to a similarly critical post by former Peace Now director and Hebrew University Professor Amiram Goldblum. Goldblum charged in all-caps that “SHAKED’S ELECTION CAMPAIGN WAS BASED AMONG OTHERS ON MONEY COLLECTED IN EXCHANGE FOR ARMS SOLD TO KILLERS IN SIERRA LEONE AND IN SOUTH AMERICA BY SHAKED’S FINANCIAL SUPPORTER WHO IS NOW IN JAIL IN BELGIUM AFTER BEING DETAINED BY INTERPOL FOR 8 MONTHS IN MONTENEGRO SINCE MARCH 2015.”
Goldblum also called on all European governments to block Shaked from visiting their countries.
The university says in response to the Cassif’s comments that it is not responsible for comments made by its lecturers so long as they don’t use the lecture podium for disseminating them.
Bennett: Israel must annex West Bank
Education Minister Naftali Bennett calls once again for Israel to annex the West Bank and extend its laws to the territory.
“The time has come to say Israel is ours,” he says at a meeting of the Land of Israel Caucus at the Knesset. “To go from strategic defense to a process of initiating the implementation of Israeli sovereignty on the territories under Israeli control in Judea and Samaria.”
“We need to mark this as a strategic objective and stop the misunderstood message sent from Israel abroad,” he says.
Bennett says incitement against Shaked ‘everyone’s problem’
Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett reacts to a Hebrew University professor’s post calling Ayelet Shaked a “filthy neo-Nazi,” saying the incitement against her “was everyone’s problem.”
“You can take everything and celebrate now and earn another quarter of a political point and it’s ok, but that’s not the way,” he says at the Knesset.
Shaked files police complaint over Facebook posts
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has filed a complaint with the police over Facebook posts by two Hebrew University professors, one of whom calls her a “filthy neo-Nazi,” which she says are incitement against her.
2 Palestinians dead from swine flu
Two Palestinians have died already this winter of swine flu, PA Deputy Health Minister Asaad Ramlawi tells the Palestinian Wafa news agency, and another 54 contracted the illness.
The two who died were elderly and suffered from other health problems, he says.
Last week an Israeli woman died of swine flu and 10 others were hospitalized with the disease.
Bennett demands Hebrew U. response for professors’ ‘incitement’
Bennett calls the head of Hebrew University demanding an immediate response to Facebook posts by university professors critical of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
Bennett says in a statement that the posts were “the most serious incitement against a justice minister since the founding of the state.”
“Academia cannot turn into a source of incitement against the minister responsible for the justice system in this country.”
Netanyahu gears up for Likud internal elections
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants to wrap up internal Likud elections as soon as possible “because I think it’s right and it will serve the movement’s benefit.”
“Tomorrow a chairman of the Likud Central Committee will be elected and I wish luck to all the contenders, and in addition it’s important to complete the elections for chairman of the Likud party and its nominee for the premiership in order to unite the movement and ensure that that there is no division and partisanship,” he says in a statement.
Hebrew U. professor ups attack on Shaked in interview
The Hebrew University professor who called Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked “a filthy neo-Nazi” says in an Army Radio interview that “this government and Minister Shaked want to eliminate the remnants of democracy in Israel.”
“If they summon me for a police investigation I will arrive as if it’s an honor. Perhaps I’ll even tag myself,” Ofir Cassif says, alluding to the bill Shaked is pushing which would require employees of NGOs that receive foreign funding to label themselves while in the Knesset.
New Likud MK sworn in
The Knesset’s freshest member, Likud MK Amir Ohana, just got sworn in.
He paraphrases party founder Menachem Begin saying that Israel is here “not by right of force, but by force of right.”
Netanyahu welcomes new MK
Netanyahu welcomes new Likud MK Ohana from the Knesset podium and says he’s “proud” to have him in parliament — playing off Ohana being the Likud party’s first openly gay lawmaker.
Political blogger Tal Schneider notes that ultra-Orthodox MKs were absent from the swearing-in of Ohana.
Hollande: Ramadi liberation ‘most important victory against IS’
French President Francois Hollande congratulated Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on his army’s liberation of Ramadi from Islamic State forces on Monday, saying it was “a major step” in the conflict.
“(Hollande) congratulated him on the liberation of the town of Ramadi by Iraqi forces, which constitutes the most important victory since the start of the fight against the terrorist organisation Daesh (an alternative name for IS),” the president’s office said in a statement following a phone call between the two leaders.
Foreign Ministry chief: Israel hit Hezbollah-bound Syrian arms
Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold tells a London-based Saudi newspaper that Israel struck a Syrian arms shipment of Russian-made missiles bound for Hezbollah, the first admission of its kind by an Israeli official on record.
“We won’t allow such things,” he tells Elaph. “Israel won’t allow damage to its sovereignty and won’t allow advanced Russian anti-aircraft weapons, SA-22 missiles, which can threaten our aerial supremacy, to be transferred to Lebanon.”
Gold didn’t specify a particular incident when Israel struck a Syrian arms shipment.
Russian diplomat: Russia removes uranium from Iran
A senior Russian diplomat says that Iran has met a key requirement of a nuclear deal with six world powers by completing the transfer of most of its enriched uranium to Russia.
The diplomat spoke to The Associated Press on Monday. He demanded anonymity, because he was not authorized to be cited by name.
Under the July 14 deal, Iran must ship out all except 300 kilograms (over 660 pounds) of the close to nine tons of low-enriched uranium it has stockpiled. Low-enriched uranium is suited to power generation but can be further enriched to arm nuclear warheads.
Its removal is a key obligation taken on by Iran under the deal, which aims to reduce its ability to make nuclear weapons — something Tehran says it has no interest in.
Foreign Ministry denies Gold said Israel hit SA-22 missiles
The Foreign Ministry denies, in an interview with Elaph, that Director Dori Gold said Israel struck an SA-22 missile shipment to Hezbollah.
“In the interview with the Saudi newspaper, Dori Gold clarified that Israel won’t allow the transfer of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah and won’t let it be fired upon from Syria,” the ministry said in a statement.
Court releases Duma terror suspect
The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court orders the release of one of the suspects arrested in the murder of the Dawabsha family in the Duma terror attack in July, Israel Radio reports.
He won’t be charged with murder, but will be charged with assault.
IDF chief: ‘We know how to deal with those who wish us ill’
Israel’s top soldier responds to threats by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah to retaliate against Israel for the assassination of Samir Kuntar.
“Our soldiers deal with murderous terror on a day-to-day basis and they face it with courage, calm and uncompromising determination,” IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot says during a ceremony for the army’s outstanding units held in Gelilot, outside Tel Aviv.
“Even over our borders, facing the threats heard in the north, we stand ready for every challenge. And as we’ve proven in the past, we know how to find those who wish us ill. Our enemies know that if they try to disturb the security of Israel — they will deal with harsh results,” the army chief continues.
“In order to ensure the power of the IDF in every conflict that comes to our door, we put preparedness and fitness as our top priority,” Eisenkot says. “And we will change and develop the IDF to adapt to the challenges of the future.”
— Judah Ari Gross
Zionist Union MK calls out Jewish Home chief for terrorist aide
Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson writes on Facebook that Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s political adviser is a convicted terrorist and calls on Bennett to fire him.
Nathan Nathanson, he writes, “was a member of the Jewish Underground who tried to murder the then-mayor of Nablus with explosives and led to his severe injury and amputation of his legs.”
Nathanson was convicted in 1985 for involvement in the Jewish Underground and taking part in three car bombings against Palestinian mayors in June 1980. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Hasson notes that Nathanson has “a permanent entry permit to the Knesset as the political adviser of Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett. He’s the whisperer in his ear, a regular visitor to the corridors of the Knesset and takes part each week in the meetings of the Jewish Home party.
“Let’s go, Naftali, show us your true intentions and throw out the terrorist you’ve placed at your side. Deal with the bad seeds in your garden without apologizing,” continues Hasson. “Because if you don’t do it now, in another five years the terrorists from Duma will be sitting in the Knesset.”
Netanyahus seek public funds to feed dog
The Netanyahu family has asked the Prime Minister’s Office for state funding for dog food to feed the family dog, Kaia, Channel 2 reports.
Missile defense chief had top-secret info on cell phone
Dismissed missile defense chief Yair Ramati had downloaded classified information to his personal cell phone and may have showed the information to others, Channel 2 reports.
He had previously been warned for violating information security protocols in the past.
Defense Ministry officials were concerned that Ramati may have inadvertently leaked secret information and caused damage to Israeli security.
Vaccine shortages reported as swine flu cases mount
Because of a spike in swine flu cases, there’s a shortage of flu shots at health clinics across the country, Army Radio reports. Several health care providers are ordering additional doses of the vaccine, but the drugs will only arrive in Israel in a matter of weeks.
At least two Palestinians and an Israeli have died of swine flu in recent weeks. Dozens of others are hospitalized with the flu strain.
Ship with 25,000 lb of uranium leaves Iran for Russia
US Secretary of State John Kerry says that a ship carrying over 25,000 pounds of uranium left Iran for Russia as part of the nuclear accord reached between Tehran and world powers, Reuters reports.
Katsav to face parole hearing after 4 years in prison
Former president Moshe Katsav, who’s serving a prison sentence for rape, will stand before a parole board in two months’ time, Channel 2 reports.
The exact date hasn’t yet been set, but if his release is approved, Katsav could be let free. Katsav has served four years of a seven-year sentence.