At least 12 people were injured in a stabbing attack on the No. 40 Dan bus in Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning. As of the evening, three victims were in the hospital in serious condition. The suspected attacker, a 23-year-old Palestinian man from Tulkarem, was shot and is in custody.
Meanwhile, the IDF scrambled troops to the border with Lebanon following a suspected infiltration attempt, after a group of men were discerned approaching the border fence. Residents of nearby towns were instructed to remain in their homes. The scare ended without incident.
Finally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited by Speaker of the House John Boehner to deliver a speech at a joint session of Congress next month, but apparently unbeknownst to the White House, which blasted the invite as a breach of diplomatic protocol.
The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded.
At least 10 injured in Tel Aviv
Initial reports indicate a man pulled out a knife an started stabbing passengers on a Tel Aviv bus Wednesday morning, leaving at least 10 injured.
The attacker was shot in the leg and caught.
The incident is being treated as a terror attack.
Most of the victims were lightly injured, but there were reports of at least two in serious condition.
The attack took place on the Number 5 bus.
Victims evacuated to hospital
Two victims who were seriously in injured in the Tel Aviv attack were evacuated to Ichilov Medical center in the city.
The other victims, who were lightly-moderately injured, are being treated on the scene.
Attacker caught, being questioned
The attacker who stabbed passengers on the number 5 bus in Tel Aviv near the busy Maariv Bridge intersection manages to escape the scene, and runs on foot the Hamasger Street, Channel 2 reports.
A member of the security forces shoots him in the leg, stopping him.
The attacker is being questioned on the scene.
The intersection is full of commuters during the morning rush hour.
Police closing off site of attack
Ambulances and police vehicles fill the Maariv Bridge intersection, and police officers close off the site after the stabbing attack.
The number 40 Dan bus, which was on its way from Bat Yam to North Tel Aviv sits empty at the site with its door open.
Initial images of attack site, terrorist
Images start emerging of the intersection where a terrorist stabbed passengers on a Tel Aviv bus.
In addition, a photo of the attacker lying on the ground in handcuffs begins making the rounds.
The terrorist was shot in the leg as he made his escape on foot.
Prison service officers caught attacker
Members of Israel Prison Service, accompanying prisoners to a Tel Aviv courthouse, stopped the terrorist, Channel 2 reports.
They identified the attacker as he fled on foot, hopped out of their vehicle, and one of the guards shot the attacker.
Number of seriously hurt rises to 3
Three victims of the stabbing attack are in serious condition, according to updated reports.
The victims are being treated in Ichilov and Tel Hashomer hospitals.
TA police chief: Driver fought with attacker
Tel Aviv District Police Chief Bentzi Sau speaks to reporters at the scene of the stabbing attack, saying the Dan bus driver fought with the terrorist.
Sau also says police are looking for more suspects, and are working with the Shin Bet to identify if he had any accomplices.
The police know how the terrorist got into Israel, says Sau, but will not share that information at this time.
Sau praises the actions of members of the Prison Service’s Nachshon Unit, who were behind the bus, and noticed it driving erratically
They jumped out when they saw the terrorist, and shot him in the leg, stopping him.
Terrorist hails from Tulkarem
The attacker in Wednesday’s stabbing attack is from the West Bank city of Tulkarem, and was in Israel illegally.
He is 22 years old, according to Channel 2, and spent several days in Tel Aviv before the attack.
He is under police custody after being shot as he tried to escape.
9 injured in attack, according to police
Police say nine people were injured in the attack.
Channel 2 updates the number of seriously injured to 4.
5 people injured moderate/seriously and further 4 injured lightly. Police security patrolling tel aviv area to prevent any further attack.
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) January 21, 2015
Number of seriously hurt reaches 6
The number of victims seriously injured in the stabbing attack continues to rise, and now stands at six.
Five or six more victims are lightly-moderately hurt.
The victims are being treated in three area hospitals — Tel Hashomer, Ichilov, and Wolfson.
Video emerges of wounded terrorist [WARNING: Graphic]
Footage comes out showing the 23-year-old attacker lying on the ground handcuffed after being shot in the leg.
He writhes and wails in pain as he lies facedown in the mud.
The terrorist left more than a dozen passengers injured, including at least six in serious condition.
Australian envoy: ‘Distressed’ by attack
Australia’s ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, tweets out that he is distressed by the Tel Aviv attack, and offers his hopes that the injured all pull through.
Very distressed by news emerging of serious stabbing attack on bus in Tel Aviv. Hoping that those injured survive.
— Dave Sharma (@AusAmbIsrael) January 21, 2015
Hamas official praises ‘heroic and daring’ attack
Writing on Twitter, Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq praises the stabbing attack, calling it a “heroic and daring” commando operation against the Zionists.
He also calls it “a natural response to the occupation and terrorist crimes against our people.”
Commander of Prison Service force speaks
Benny Botershvili, the commander of the Nachshon Prison Service force who shot the terrorist, gives his account of the incident.
“We identified in the area of the Maariv Bridge large gathering, and people crying for help. After an initial assessment, we understood it was a terrorist incident. I and a team of three Nachshon fighters identified the terrorist and chased after him. We shot toward his legs, the terrorist collapsed and fell, we handcuffed him, and waited for the police to arrive.”
No. 40 bus towed, intersection re-opened
The Dan bus on which the stabbing attack occurred is towed from the site, and will be examined by investigators.
In addition, police open the intersection to rush hour traffic.
Four in serious condition
The number of victims seriously injured is revised down to four, according to Channel 2.
A senior doctor treating victims of the attacks says the severity of the wounds indicate the terrorist was using a long knife.
Arabic cartoon celebrates attacks
Israel Radio’s Gal Berger tweets out an Arabic cartoon hailing Wednesday’s stabbing attack.
cartoon: terrorist praises the attack in Tel Aviv after stabbing 10 people on bus. on the sign: occupied Tel Aviv. pic.twitter.com/O8ruNGMVAu
— Gal Berger גל ברגר (@galberger) January 21, 2015
Driver in serious condition
The Dan bus driver is in the hospital in serious condition, with an injury to his liver, says a relative.
The driver used pepper spray on the attacker, she says.
Picture of the knife emerges
A photograph of the knife used in the stabbing attack comes out. The blade is seen lying bent on the ground, separated from the wooden handle.
Canadian MP: Support for 2 states will lead to terror
Canadian Conservative MP James Lunney tweets in the wake of the attack that if countries keep pushing a two-state solution, they will increasingly experience the same type of attacks that Israel does.
“The more that nations continue 2 supprt creation of a terrorist state within Israel’s brders, the more they will experience the terror they want Israel to overlook in the pursuit of peace!” writes Lunney.
Attack is ‘normal response’ – Hamas official
Hamas official Husam Badran writes on Facebook:
The stabbing in Tel Aviv highlights our people’s insistence on continuing the resistance in all its forms. It is a normal response to the crimes of the occupation against our people. We praise this extraordinary act and call for more devotion, as well as individual and collective resistance.
— Elhanan Miller
Don’t know if attacker had support – Aharonovitch
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch speaks from Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, where he met with doctors and visited victims of the attack.
He says it is “very, very hard to stop attacks like this.”
He also says it is unclear at this point where there was “infrastructure” supporting the terrorist, and whether he was a member of any organization.
Aharonovitch adds that police had been on heightened alert since the start of the election season, as there can be increased motivation for attacks.
He says he visited a policeman lightly hurt in the chest during the attack.
Abbas, Haniyeh, Arab MKs to blame — Liberman
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman lays blame for the attack at the feet of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas, and several Israeli Arab leaders.
“The ones who stand behind the attack this morning in Tel Aviv are those who also stand behind the riots in Rahat, and stood behind the wave of attacks in Jerusalem: Abu Mazen, Haniyeh, Raed Saleh, Hanin Zoabi, Ahmed Tibi, and their partners,” he writes, referring to Abbas, former Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Islamic Branch Northern Movement, and two outspoken Arab Knesset members. “They are all part of a process of undermining the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, and it doesn’t matter to the whether it’s in Judea, Samaria, the Negev, the Galilee, Tel Aviv, or Jerusalem. All of them are part of the same wing whose goal is to eradicate the Jewish state.”
“Therefore we must act with determination against all those people, who are operating under different names and at different levels, but they all have the same target: To kill Jews and destroy Israel.”
Palestinians don’t want peace: Likud MK
Likud MK Yariv Levin vows that the government will work to bolster security for Israel’s citizens and that Wednesday’s event is further evidence that Palestinian terror groups are not interested in peace.
“This is another reminder that we are locked in a continuous [battle for our security]. Terror organizations continue their attempts to harm each and every one of us,” Levin says.
“These groups do not take election breaks, and likewise, we will continue to engage them during this strenuous period … to ensure the safety and security of Israel’s citizens,” he says.
— Avi Lewis
Number of injured stands at 17
The number of wounded in the stabbing attacks is at 17. The victims are being treated in Ichilov, Tel Hashomer, and Wolfson hospitals.
Four are in serious condition, and four are in moderate condition, Channel 2 reports.
‘If anything happens to me, look out for my kids’
A colleague of the bus driver seriously hurt in the attack tells Channel 2 that the driver called him after being stabbed, and told him, “If anything happens to me, look out for my children.”
The driver, named as Herzl Biton, fought with the attacker, and managed to hit him with pepper spray.
Israelis don’t feel safe, says Herzog
Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog says “There is not a feeling of security today for Israeli citizens, not in Jerusalem, the Gaza region, or Tel Aviv.”
He also says the security forces will receive his full support from his party.
Dan bus company praises driver’s ‘heroism’
The Dan bus company releases a statement praising driver Herzl Biton’s bravery in struggling with the terrorist during the attack this morning.
“The Dan company wishes and prays for the speedy recovery of all those injured in the stabbing attack this morning in Tel Aviv.
“The driver who operated according to the instructions of the company’s security officer and security officials displayed resourcefulness, bravery, and heroism to protect the passengers, while he was seriously wounded with a deep stab wound in his chest. Dan bus drivers stand at the front every day, this is their job and they will continue to do it.”
Netanyahu blames PA incitement
In a statement released by his office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blames the Palestinian Authority for the stabbing attack.
“The attack in Tel Aviv is the direct result of the poisonous incitement spread by the Palestinian Authority toward the Jews and their state. The same terror tries to harm us in Paris, Brussels, and everywhere.”
“The ones who rushed to praise this attack are Hamas, Abu Mazen’s partners in the unity government,” he continued, referring to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. “This is the same Hamas that announced they would sue Israel in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“For the incitement, and for the dangerous move in the Hague court, Abu Mazen is responsible.”
80 units of blood used to treat victims
Hospitals used 80 units of blood to treat those injured in the stabbing attack, Channel 2 reports.
The number is high for the number of victims, an indication of the severity of some of the wounds. Doctors said that while most victims did not have many stab wounds, the ones they did suffer were especially deep.
Seventeen people were hurt in the attack, including four in serious condition.
Terrorist named on Palestinian social media
Israel Radio’s Gal Berger says Palestinian social media is giving the name of the attacker — Hamza Muhammad Hassan Matruk, from the Tulkarem refugee camp.
There is no confirmation of the name.
He lives with his divorced mother in Ramallah, says Berger.
Terrorist tried to stab others at second site
After attacking passengers on the bus, the terrorist fled on foot, and tried to stab more people about a kilometer away, according to Magen David Adom Medical Director Dr. Rafi Satrugo.
Speaking to Channel 2, Satrugo says medics were treating victims at the scene of the bus stabbing when he heard on his radio that the terrorist was attacking people at a second site.
Assailant rode for two stops before attack
An initial investigation reveals the stabber arrived in Tel Aviv early on Wednesday and boarded the bus near the old Tel Aviv bus station, Ynet reports.
The attacker apparently rode for two stops before beginning to stab people near the Maariv flyover intersection.
It’s not clear if he arrived straight from his home town of Tulkarem in the West Bank.
Survivors recount bus attack
A passenger on the bus during the attack tells of the confusion as the attacker began slashing at the driver.
“I heard screams and I didn’t understand what was going on,” he says. “Everyone ran to the rear of the bus. The terrorist was half a meter from me. The driver didn’t manage to open the doors. As soon as he did everybody ran out.”
Liel Suissa, an 8th grade student on the bus, says he narrowly escaped from the attacker.
“I threw my bag at the terrorist when he got close to us to keep him away. The driver slammed on the brakes when he got close to us. The terrorist went flying and I kicked the window and the window broke and so we were able to exit. Also the driver opened the door,” he says.
The attack occurred as the bus, an urban line running from Bat Yam to the the city’s north, traversed the busy Maariv Bridge intersection at about 7:30 a.m., a time when it is packed with cars, buses and pedestrians.
Driver Herzl Biton’s niece, Heli Sousan, tells reporters outside the Ichilov Hospital that her uncle was in a serious condition with injuries to his liver, and was undergoing an operation.
She says Biton sprayed the terrorist with pepper spray in an effort to fight back against the assault.
“It is awful,” she says.
— Stuart Winer
Driver out of surgery
Herzl Biton, the Dan bus driver who fought with the attacker, has come out of surgery, according to Channel 2.
He was brought to the hospital in serious condition, with a wound in his chest. Biton’s niece said he was also injured in his liver.
Twenty-one people were injured in the attack, according to latest reports. Three, including Biton, remain is serious condition.
‘A driver should protect his passengers’
Kazis Matzliach, driver Herzl Biton’s colleague at the Dan bus company who received a phone call from his wounded friend, speaks to Channel 2, and says the “first thing a driver should do is protect his passengers.”
Biton struggled with the terrorist during the stabbing attack and was injured in his chest.
After being stabbed, Biton called Matzliach and asked him to take care of his children if he dies.
Biton was taken to the hospital in serious condition
Matzliach, who has been with Dan for 35 years, says he visited Biton and his family in the hospital. Biton is still sedated, he says.
Emergency phone call from attack released
A panicked phone call to emergency services from a victim of the stabbing attack emerges.
“There was an attack on a bus…,” yells a clearly distraught woman. “A person with a knife…An attack on a Tel Aviv bus…Maariv bridge…”
“What happened there?” asks the dispatcher.
The victim continues to speak disjointedly, and tells the dispatcher that she feels like her whole body is covered in blood.
Terrorist not member of any group, say friends
Palestinian security sources also identify the terrorist as Hamza Muhammad Hasan Matrouk, a 23-year-old from the Tulkarem refugee camp, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.
Ma’an also reports that camp residents said Matrouk was not affiliated with any political groups, and that the IDF summoned his father and other relatives for questioning.
A friend of Matrouk’s says he did not notice anything unusual about Hamza’s behavior the night before the attack.
“Last night Hamza and I hung out with friends in the camp until 11 p.m. and we had fun,” he tells Ma’an. “He was laughing and kidding and I know very well that he isn’t affiliated to any faction.”
Aussie envoy blasts Hamas response
Australia’s ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma says Hamas’s praise of the terrorist attack sickens him. He mentions that his staff could have been injured in the attack.
Sickened by Hamas praise for stabbing attack on Tel Aviv bus hours ago. Several Embassy staff take the #40 on their daily commute.
— Dave Sharma (@AusAmbIsrael) January 21, 2015
Photo of terrorist emerges
A picture of Hamza Matrouk, the 23-year-old accused of stabbing passengers on a Tel Aviv bus, comes out.
Stabber ‘was spurred by Gaza war, paradise’
Hamza Matrouk, the terrorist who stabbed commuters this morning, tells Shin Bet interrogators that he carried out the attack because of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer.
He also says he was inspired by the unrest over Temple Mount, and by radical Muslim programming talking about promises of paradise, the Ynet news site reports.
Palestinian cartoon extols ‘quality’ stabbing
The Palestinian Safa news agency, which is affiliated with Hamas, publishes a cartoon following this morning’s terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, showing a knife in the shape of Israel and the Palestinian territories labeled “Palestine.” The caption above says 17 Israelis injured in a quality stabbing in “Tel Aviv,” Times of Israel Arabic affairs correspondent Elhanan Miller says.
New cartoon depicts "Palestine" map as a knife. Caption reads 17 Israelis injured in a quality stabbing in "Tel Aviv" pic.twitter.com/dm3Ek58XTx
— Elhanan Miller (@ElhananMiller) January 21, 2015
Stabber nourished by incitement, Ya’alon says
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon responds to the Tel Aviv terrorist attack earlier in the day saying the stabber was “grown in the ground of incitement against the State of Israel.”
“We won’t let anyone disrupt the lives of our citizens, we will pursue anyone who plans and carries out terrorist attacks at any time and any place, and we’ll act to thwart every attempt at terrorism. We won’t compromise on the security of Israeli civilians,” Ya’alon says.
Palestinian fisherman shot off Gaza coast
The Israeli Navy reportedly shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Gaza, the Ma’an news agency reports.
The 19-year-old man was shot in the foot and hospitalized, but the report gave no indication of his condition.
The Gaza fishermen’s union contends that the boat he was on was within the zone permitted by the Israeli blockade. The IDF says the boat strayed out of Gazan waters and that those aboard didn’t respond to warning shots.
Video of Tel Aviv stabbing posted online
A video uploaded to the internet appears to show part of this morning’s stabbing attack in Tel Aviv.
A number of people are seen fleeing down the street when, from the left side of the screen, the attacker can be discerned racing after a woman in a blue jacket, whom he stabs in the back before running off down the street.
8 attack victims still hospitalized
Eight victims of this morning’s terrorist attack in Tel Aviv remain hospitalized as of this time, the Walla news site reports. Three are in serious condition, four are in moderate condition and two have minor injuries.
Remand hearing for stabbing suspect
Police are set to request an extension of remand of the suspect in Wednesday’s stabbing in Tel Aviv at 4 p.m.
Hamza Matrouk, 23, of the West Bank city of Tulkarem, won’t be present at the hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court. He was shot and injured attempting to flee the scene of the attack.
Police seek an extension of Matrouk’s detention by 15 days, the Walla news site reports.
Tel Aviv mayor pumped iron during attack
When the Tel Aviv terror attack took place this morning around 7:30 a.m., Mayor Ron Huldai was at the gym. After hearing the news, he evidently continued his workout and didn’t head to the scene of the crime, Channel 2 reports.
“Certainly the presence of the police was enough, it does what it needs to do… I don’t think my presence could have helped there. Until I’d have arrived the incident would have been over,” he said in an interview with Army Radio a couple of hours after the attack.
France condemns Tel Aviv terror attack
France’s Foreign Ministry issues a statement, published on Twitter, condemning this morning’s terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.
— France Diplomacy (@francediplo_EN) January 21, 2015
The statement was only released on the French Foreign Ministry’s official English account, but didn’t appear to have been published by its French handle.
There was still no public condemnation from Washington.
‘France foiled attack on Jews last year’
Jihadists arrested last year in Lyon were planning to carry out a terrorist attack at a Jewish group’s conference about anti-Semitism, a French newspaper reports.
The five suspects who were arrested in a series of sweeps by French police between September 16 and September 18 were planning to strike on September 18 at an event organized in Lyon by the regional branch of the CRIF umbrella of French Jewish communities and organizations, according to a report Tuesday in the Le Progres daily.
An unnamed police officer who is in charge of the investigation confirms to the daily that the suspects were arrested following the interception of a September 5 telephone conversation in which they discussed their plans.
PM invited to address US Congress on terror
US Speaker of the House John Boehner invites Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress next month on the threat posed by Iran and radical Islam.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people,” Boehner says in a statement posted on his website.
“In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life. Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”
The speech, which would take place on February 11, is scheduled for a month before the Israeli elections.
It is not yet clear whether Netanyahu has accepted the invitation.
PM said to accept invite to address Congress
The PM’s office has no immediate response whether the prime minister will accept an invitation to address the US Congress next month, but a congressional source tells CNN that Netanyahu has accepted.
PM’s speech on Iranian Revolution anniversary
The date Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint session of the US Congress is the 36th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, marking the day the shah’s regime fell.
The invitation for Netanyahu to speak to lawmakers on February 11 comes hours after Obama, in his State of the Union address, said he would veto any sanctions legislation.
The speech invitation also comes as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is working on legislation that would allow Congress to weigh in by allowing it to take an up-down vote on any deal the Obama administration reaches with Tehran. A committee hearing on Wednesday will focus on the status of the negotiations and the role of Congress.
Netanyahu’s speech would also take place just five weeks before the Israeli national elections, scheduled for March 17.
— AP contributed
PM seeks meeting with Obama next month
Netanyahu has accepted the invitation to address Congress next month, and is exploring the possibility of meeting with President Barack Obama during his visit, Reuters reports.
Netanyahu accepted invitation to address U.S. Congress Feb 11, official in his office says, exploring possibility of meeting Obama @Reuters
— Maayan Lubell (@MaayanLubell) January 21, 2015
According to Makor Rishon diplomatic correspondent Ariel Kahana, Netanyahu’s office emphasizes that the invitation was made by both the Republicans and Democrats.
Possible infiltration in north
Residents of northern Israel’s border zone are instructed to remain in their homes as local security details have been scrambled following a possible infiltration across the border from Lebanon, Israel Radio correspondent Idan Avni reports.
IDF searching area along Lebanon border
A number of persons were discerned on the Lebanese side of the border, according to Israel Radio’s Idan Avni. IDF troops are searching the area and the roads near the border in the Upper Galilee near Kiryat Shmona have been closed.
Residents of the north from Metula, on the Lebanese border, south to Ramot Naftali have been instructed to remain in their homes.
All-clear issued after terror scare
An all-clear has been given after a terror scare along the border with Lebanon, but residents of communities in the Upper Galilee are urged to remain in their homes.
The terror scare along the border with Lebanon comes just three days after an alleged Israeli airstrike on a Hezbollah convoy in the Syrian Golan Heights, and amid growing threats by Hezbollah and Tehran officials of retaliation against Israel for the deaths of an Iranian general and a senior Hezbollah commander.
UK condemns Tel Aviv terror attack
Follow Paris’s lead, the British Foreign Office issues a condemnation of Wednesday’s terror attack in Tel Aviv and calls on all parties to ensure calm.
“I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on passengers on the bus on Begin Road in Tel Aviv this morning,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says in a statement. “This was a cowardly and senseless attack. Violent attacks of this nature only undermine the cause of peace.”
“My thoughts are with all those who were affected in this attack; and I wish those injured a swift recovery. Every Israeli and Palestinian has a right to live in peace and security. We call on all to ensure calm.”
As IDF searches area, northern towns shut
The head of the Mevo’ot Hahermon regional council tells Channel 2 that two communities near the border with Lebanon are still closed, as are roads in the area.
He says IDF troops are stationed along the border where terrorists were discerned, but that no infiltration of the border fence has been identified.
Tension high in north after 5 approach border
Tensions and the readiness remain high after an infiltration scare along the border with Lebanon.
Five individuals were reportedly espied approaching the border fence separating Lebanon and Israel, prompting the IDF to scramble troops to the area. According to an unconfirmed report, soldiers saw the men placing an explosive device on the fence.
Although Israeli officials say there was no infiltration of Israeli territory, Al-Arabiya reports that the five fled after crossing the border once IDF soldiers arrived.
IDF troops fired flares along the border to aid in the search for possible infiltrators.
IDF chief cancels Brussels trip after scare
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz cancels his participation in a conference of NATO chiefs of staff in Brussels following the security incident on the Lebanese border, Walla news reports.
Bibi invite breaches protocol, White House says
The White House says House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation for Israel’s prime minister to come to Washington is a breach of normal diplomatic protocol.
President Barack Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, says the White House has not heard from Israelis about whether Benjamin Netanyahu plans to speak to Congress Feb. 11. Earnest says they are reserving judgment about the invitation until they’ve had a chance to speak to the Israelis about what Netanyahu might say.
Earnest says typical protocol is that a country’s leader would contact the White House before planning to visit the United States. But Earnest says they didn’t hear about Boehner’s invitation until Wednesday morning, shortly before the speaker announced it publicly.
Earnest was speaking to reporters traveling aboard Air Force One to Idaho on Wednesday.
Police to up presence in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
Israel Police chief Yohanan Danino says additional reinforcements are being deployed in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv following this morning’s terrorist attack that left eight hospitalized.
“We’re committed to doing this and we’ll continue our operations with determination wherever it is necessary to do so,” he says.
Police sources tell Channel 2 that the main suspect in this morning’s stabbing, Hamza Matrouk, 23, entered Israel illegally multiple times prior to this morning’s attack.
The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court approved the extension of Matrouk’s remand for an additional five days.
Netanyahu planned Congress speech with GOP
Netanyahu was in touch with Republican lawmakers for some time to discuss Wednesday’s invitation to come speak before a joint session of Congress, Channel 2 reports.
IDF choppers fly over Lebanon border — local TV
Israeli aircraft are hovering over southern Lebanon, near the border separating the countries, Lebanese media report.
Lebanese TV station Al-Jadeed reports that Israeli helicopters dropped flares along the border with Lebanon near the towns of Naqoura and Marouahine, adjacent to the western Galilee.
The reports come shortly after IDF soldiers were scrambled after a group of men were spotted near the border fence not far from Israeli towns in the Upper Galilee.