The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Explosion at Brussels metro station
A explosion is heard at the Brussels metro Maalbeek station following two blasts at the Brussels airport earlier this morning.
Thousands of passengers are being evacuated.
Brussels metro closed down after explosion
Police have closed down all the stations on the Brussels metro following an explosions at the Maalbeek station.
Images from the scene show smoke billowing from the station.
10 reported killed across Brussels
Sky News is reported that up to 10 people have been killed in explosions at the Brussels international airport and a metro station in the capital city.
Initial reports said there was just one fatality but numbers are expected to rise.
‘I was praying at the synagogue in the airport. We felt the explosion’
Yaakov Yeret, a volunteer for United Hatzalah currently at the Brussels Airport, says thousands of people are being evacuated out of the main building.
“At the time of the explosion I was praying at the synagogue in the airport. We felt the explosion. We exited the synagogue in order to see what was happening and we joined the stream of the multitude of people who were being ushered by the police to exit the terminal. For the moment we are being kept at the other end of the airport and we are awaiting further instructions from the security forces at the scene,” he says.
Belgium on highest terror level
Belgium hiked its terror threat to its highest level after deadly explosions at Brussels airport Tuesday, Interior Minister Jan Jambon says.
The alert level was raised from three to a maximum of four, and was applied across the country, Jambon’s spokesman says, according to the Belga news agency.
Brussels airport blast was suicide bomber
Belgium broadcaster VRT reports that at least one of the explosions at Brussels Airport was caused by a suicide attack.
Eyewitnesses say they heard a man shouting in Arabic before the blast.
UK PM Cameron ‘shaken and appalled’ by Brussels attacks
UK Prime Minister David Cameron responds to the news of several explosions in Brussels.
“I’m shaken and appalled by the events in Belgium. We will do everything we can to assist,” he tells reporters.
Israeli minister responds to Brussels attacks
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan expresses his condolences to the victims of the attacks and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded.
“This is the same terror that we saw in Paris, in San Bernadino and in Istanbul. The free world must work together to fight terrorism,” he said at the sidelines of a conference at Bar-Ilan University.
One Israeli lightly injured at Brussels Airport
Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirms that one Israeli was lightly injured as a result of the explosions in the Brussels Airport.
They say he was, however, able to board his flight.
‘There was blood everywhere’ — witness
Zach Mouzoun, who arrived on a flight from Geneva about 10 minutes before the first blast, tells France’s BFM television that an explosion brought down ceilings and ruptured pipes, mixing water with blood from victims.
“It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed,” he says. “There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere.”
“We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene,” he says.
Injured victims being evacuated from Maalbeek metro station
An Associated Press reporter saw several people with facial injuries following an explosion in a Brussels metro station near European Union headquarters. At least two people were seen being moved on stretchers
Alexandre Brans, 32, who was wiping blood from his face, said: “The metro was leaving Maalbeek station when there was a really loud explosion. It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro.”
EU tells Brussels staff to remain indoors
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, tells staff to remain indoors or stay at home after at least one blast rocked a station close to the capital’s EU quarter.
“EU institutions (are) working together to ensure security of staff and premises. Please stay home or inside buildings,” says Budget Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, who also handles employee and security issues, on her official Twitter account.
Following situation in Brussels. EU institutions working together to ensure security of staff& premises.Please stay home or inside buildings
— Kristalina Georgieva (@KGeorgievaEU) March 22, 2016
10 reported killed in Brussels metro attack, 13 at airport
Belgium media is reporting that up to 10 people have been killed in an explosion on the Brussels metro.
At least 13 were reported killed in two blasts at the Brussels Airport.
Paris boosts airport security after Brussels attacks
Security measures are being reinforced at the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris following Tuesday’s bombings in Brussels, an airport source says.
A full deployment of security officials was underway at all eight terminals of the international airport and its two railway stations, with reinforced checks on trains arriving from Brussels, said the source.
Brussels metro, tram, buses shut down
Belgium closed metro, train, tram and bus services in the capital Brussels on Tuesday following bomb blasts in the airport and metro, the authorities say.
“Bus, tram and metro shut down,” the Brussels public transport operator STIB said in a message on Twitter. Major railway stations are also closed, the Brussels public prosecutor said separately.
Brussels attacks are ‘attack against democratic Europe’: Swedish premier
The explosions in Brussels Tuesday are “an attack against democratic Europe,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says.
“It is an attack against democratic Europe. We will never accept that terrorists attack our open societies,” he told news agency TT in a statement, while his Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen denounced the blasts on Twitter as a “despicable attack.”
Brussels residents told to stay indoors
The Belgium crisis center tells Brussels residents to “stay where you are.”
A string of explosions rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station on Tuesday, killing at least 13 people, according to media reports, as Belgium raised its terror threat to the maximum level.
International trains from UK to Belgium suspended
The Eurostar cross-channel train service suspends all of its lines to Belgium following a series of attack in the country’s capital.
Eurostar announced on Twitter that it will not be running trains to the Brussels Midi station and passengers are advised to make other arrangements.
UPDATE: No trains are currently running to or from Brussels Midi. Brussels customers are advised to postpone, and not come to station.
— Eurostar (@Eurostar) March 22, 2016
In a separate tweet, Eurostar expressed condolences for those killed in the attacks.
Our thoughts rest with anyone affected by the unfolding events in Brussels – we are closely monitoring & will update.
— Eurostar (@Eurostar) March 22, 2016
UK airports increase security amid raised terror threat
British airports are increasing security and Prime Minister David Cameron is convening the government’s emergency committee after the explosions at Brussels airport and on the city’s subway system.
Cameron said Britain would “do everything we can to help.”
Britain’s official terrorist threat level stands at “severe,” the second-highest level on a five-point scale, meaning an attack is highly likely.
Gatwick airport said that “as a result of the terrible incidents in Brussels we have increased our security presence and patrols around the airport.” Heathrow said it was working with police to provide a “high-visibility” presence in light of the attacks.
Hollande holding emergency security meeting after Brussels attacks
French President Francois Hollande is holding an emergency meeting after explosions targeted Brussels airport and a metro station at morning rush hour.
Hollande is meeting with Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
France remains in a state of emergency after the November 13 attacks, which killed 130 people.
Russia re-evaluating airport security
Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov tells Russian news agencies that authorities will re-evaluate security at Russian airports. In 2011, a suicide bombing at a Moscow airport killed 37 people and injured many more.
Holland raises terror level
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says Belgium has “again been hit by cowardly and murderous attacks. Our hearts go out to the victims and next of kin. The Netherlands stands ready to help and support our southern neighbors in any possible way.”
Rutte says that “extra alertness is necessary, also in our country. We will take all necessary precautionary measures.” Rutte called a meeting Tuesday of his government’s Ministerial Crisis Committee to discuss the attacks.
The Dutch anti-terror authority said the country’s threat level was unchanged at “substantial.” It said extra security measures would be in place at the country’s airports and borders.
American Airlines says no employees hurt in Brussels blasts
American Airlines says none of its employees were reported injured in the explosions that ripped through Brussels airport.
Unconfirmed reports had said the blast took place near the American Airlines check-in counter at the airport in the Belgian capital.
The company would not comment on the reports, but says in a statement the airline was “taking care of our customers, employees and contractors.”
It says American Airlines Flight 751, due to have left Brussels Tuesday for Philadelphia, had been canceled.
EU ambassador to Israel condemns Brussels attack
The European Union’s ambassador in Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, condemns the attack in Brussels.
“I’m shocked by these reports about attacks that have left quite a number of people dead and a number of people injured. Obviously, it’s a totally condemnable act. I understand that there were also Israelis lightly wounded, so my condolences to the relatives and best wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded,” Faaborg-Andersen says.
“This shows that terror is a global phenomenon and we need to fight it on all fronts,” he tells The Times of Israel.
Asked whether he expected the EU, which is headquartered in Brussels, to step up its fight against terrorism in wake of the blasts, he replies: “There’s no need to do that, because we’re on a steady course. And we have been on that steady course for a long time. This proves, once again, that nobody is immune to terror. It’s a global phenomenon and we need to really internationally to fight together.”
–– Raphael Ahren
Israeli minister links Brussels attacks to settlement labeling
Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis offers his “sincere condolences to the Belgian people and the families of the murdered, and a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
“The terrorism of extremist Islam strikes all those who do not accept its authority,” he says.
In a reference to the recent EU decision to label products from the West Bank, Akunis suggested the attacks show European countries should have been focusing on tackling terrorism rather than criticizing Israel.
“Many in Europe have preferred to occupy themselves with the folly of condemning Israel, labeling products, and boycotts. In this time, underneath the nose of the Continent’s citizens, thousands of extremist Islamic terror cells have grown,” he writes on Facebook.
“There were those who repressed and mocked whoever tried to give warning. There were those who underestimated.
To our sorrow, the reality has struck the lives of dozens of innocent people.”
— Raphael Ahren
Belgium national soccer team cancels training
Training for Belgium’s friendly football match against Portugal was called off on Tuesday following the deadly explosions that rocked Brussels airport and metro.
“All our thoughts at this moment are with the victims (of the blasts). Football is not the priority today. Training cancelled,” the Belgian Football Federation posts on its Twitter account.
There was no immediate word if the match, due to be played next Tuesday at the King Baudoin stadium in the Belgian capital, would go ahead.
In another reaction to the blasts, the Travers la Flandre cycling race, which had been due to be held on Wednesday, was also called off.
UK police bolster forces at transport hubs
Police presence at airports and other sensitive sites in Britain is being stepped up following the explosions in Brussels, according to Scotland Yard.
“As a precaution, forces across the UK have increased policing presence at key locations, including transport hubs, to protect the public and provide reassurance,” says Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, in charge of counter-terrorism policing in Britain.
“This is not in relation to any specific information or intelligence.”
He adds that, in London, extra police were being mobilized to conduct “highly visible patrols at key locations.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron is chairing an emergency meeting after three explosions at Brussels airport and a metro station close to EU institutions in the city killed at least 21 people.
EU’s Mogherini: Brussels blasts ‘very sad day for Europe’
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the terror attacks in Brussels marked a “very sad day” for Europe, saying on a visit to Jordan that the Continent was now suffering like the Middle East.
“It is… a very sad day for Europe as Europe and its capital is suffering the same pain that this region has known and knows every single day,” she said tearfully at a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
European travel stocks slump on Brussels blasts
Airline and travel stocks tumble across Europe following deadly explosions at the airport and metro in Brussels, pushing stock market indices into the red.
After falls of between 1.0 and 1.5 percent for Europe’s main indices as news of the explosions first filtered through, the region’s stock markets are showing losses of around half a percent.
The euro fell against the dollar, while haven assets gold and the yen gave up earlier gains.
“While travel stocks had their knee-jerk reaction sell-off and safe havens were bid (higher), relative calm has quickly returned,” says Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
Around 1000 GMT, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 0.4 percent, while in the eurozone, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 fell 0.5 percent and the Paris CAC 40 dropped 0.3 percent.
EU’s president condemns attacks
European Union president Donald Tusk condemns a series of blasts early Tuesday at Brussels airport and a metro station as appalling “terrorist attacks.”
“I am appalled by the bombings this morning at Zavantem airport and the European district in Brussels which have cost several innocent lives and injured many others,” Tusk says in a statement, with the death toll standing so far at 21.
“These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence.”
Belgian leader: ‘We face a tragic moment’
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says “what we feared has happened” and says authorities are worried there will be more attacks.
Speaking a news conference in Brussels, Michel says “there are many dead, many injured” from the attacks earlier Tuesday at the airport and a subway station. He says border controls have been reinforced.
Michel says “we realize we face a tragic moment. We have to be calm and show solidarity.”
Facebook sets up Brussels explosions alerts service
Facebook has set up an alert system to help users in Belgium let friends and family know that they are OK following a series of deadly explosions in Brussels.
European Jewish groups condemn Brussels attacks
European Jewish groups express shock and anger following a series of attacks that left at least 26 dead in the Belgian capital.
“This is yet another shocking, appalling and deadly attack on innocent Europeans by radical terrorists,” European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor says in a statement. Kantor called the attacks “shots at the heart of Europe” that he says should galvanize counter-terrorist actions.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said his organization is “united in prayers at this hour with the families of the victims and the injured.”
He calls the attacks, whose perpetrators have not yet been publicly identified, the “latest act of war of Islamic fascism against the capital of Europe,” adding: “As in the biblical story of Esther, which will be read in all the synagogues later this week, evil can and will be destroyed only by recognizing it, and fighting it.”
Belgium’s Jewish schools on lockdown
Jewish schools and other institutions in Antwerp and Brussels are on lockdown following deadly attacks in Brussels.
Community leaders are discussing the possibility of canceling school tomorrow and Purim street festivities planned for Thursday.
Hollande: ‘The whole of Europe has been hit’
Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels that killed at least 26 people struck at “the whole of Europe,” French President Francois Hollande says.
“Through the attacks in Brussels, the whole of Europe has been hit,” Hollande says in a statement, urging Europe to take “vital steps in the face of the seriousness of the threat.”
At least 15 said dead in Brussels metro blast, 55 wounded:
The bomb attack on the Brussels metro Tuesday killed at least 15 people and left 55 wounded, the transport operator STIB says.
A further 10 people were killed in two blasts at Brussels Airport hours earlier.
Initial reports had put the number of people killed on the metro at ten.
“Our thoughts go to the victims and their families. So far 15 victims, 55 wounded (provisional),” STIB says on Twitter, turning its logo black to mark the deaths.
Merkel spokesman calls for solidarity with Belgium
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff is calling for solidarity with Belgium following the Brussels attacks that left scores dead.
Peter Altmaier tweets: “Terrorists will never win.”
He added: “Our European values much stronger than hate, violence, terror!”
All solidarity now with EU, Belgium, #Brussels! Terrorists will never win: Our European values much stronger than hate, violence, terror!
— Peter Altmaier (@peteraltmaier) March 22, 2016
We are at war, French leaders say
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, speaking after a crisis meeting called by the French president, says “we are at war. We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war.”
President Francois Hollande also warns that “this war will be long,” so sangfroid and lucidity are needed.
Paris says it will light the Eiffel Tower in the colors of the Belgian flag. The city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, described it in a tweet as a measure of “solidarity with Brussels.”
Attack may have been moved up after Abdeslam capture — intel source
An unnamed intelligence source tells the Het Laatste Nieuws daily that the attacks must have been planned a long time ago but may have been carried out earlier than planned to retaliate for the Friday arrest of jihadist Salah Abdeslam.
The source says Abdeslam may have planned to take part in the attack.
Belgian security sources said Sunday Abdeslam claimed an attack in Brussels was being planned.
Belgium has announced it will dispatch 225 troops to the capital following the explosion, Sky News reports.
— with JTA
Abbas condemns Brussels bombings
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemns the attacks in Brussels, according to a statement released on the official WAFA news agency.
Abbas says Palestinians oppose terror in all its forms and sends his condolences to the dead and wounded.
Sunni Islam’s leading seat of learning, Al-Azhar, says Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels “violate the tolerant teachings of Islam,” and urges the international community to confront the “epidemic” of terrorism.
“Al-Azhar strongly condemns these terrorist attacks. These heinous crimes violate the tolerant teachings of Islam,” the Cairo-based Al-Azhar says in a statement.
“If the international community does not unite to confront this epidemic, the corrupt will not stop from committing heinous crimes against the innocent.”
— with AFP
Jewish groups call for action after attacks
Jewish groups are expressing shock and anger following the attacks in Belgium.
Kenneth Bandler, director of media relations for the American Jewish Committee, links the attacks to the slaying of four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in May 2014. “What began with the jihadist fatal attack on the Jewish Museum nearly two years ago has now reached the airport and metro,” he writes in an email about the Tuesday morning attacks in Brussels.
“This is yet another shocking, appalling and deadly attack on innocent Europeans by radical terrorists,” European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor says in a statement. Kantor calls the attacks “shots at the heart of Europe” that should galvanize counter-terrorist actions.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, says his organization is “united in prayers at this hour with the families of the victims and the injured.”
He calls the attacks, whose perpetrators have not yet been publicly identified, the “latest act of war of Islamic fascism against the capital of Europe,” adding: “As in the biblical story of Esther, which will be read in all the synagogues later this week, evil can and will be destroyed only by recognizing it, and fighting it.”
MK Tzipi Livni tweets her condolences over the attacks and says Israel and Belgium are united against terror.
My condolences to the Belgian people who experienced cruel terrorism. In this battle for our values we are all on the same side, inc. Israel
— ציפי לבני (@Tzipi_Livni) March 22, 2016
— with JTA
Belgium parents told to gather kids from Jewish schools
Jewish schools in Belgium have begun calling parents to have them pick up their children, a resident tells The Times of Israel.
Earlier in the day, Jewish schools had been placed on lockdown, but in light of the security situation, parents have now been contacted to take their children home.
— Judah Ari Gross
Watch: Netanyahu to speak at final AIPAC session
AIPAC has begun its final session of the 2016 policy conference.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to give an address to the pro-Israel confab via satellite link.
You can watch the conference here:
Belgian media reports death toll up to 34
Sky News, quoting Belgian media, says the death toll in the twin attacks is now at least 34, with 20 killed in a bombing at a Brussels subway station and 14 killed in two bombings at the city’s airport.
There is no official confirmation of the higher death toll.
Americans in Belgium told to stay put, flights canceled
The US Embassy in Brussels is recommending that Americans in Belgium stay where they are and avoid public transportation.
The embassy notes that with the threat rating in Brussels at its highest alert, attacks can take place with little or no notice. It urges US citizens to monitor media reports, follow instructions from the authorities, and “take the appropriate steps to bolster your personal security.”
More than 200 flights to Brussels have been diverted or canceled after the three explosions, according to the flight tracking service Flightradar24.
IMAGE: Flights being diverted away from Brussels airport pic.twitter.com/AXgn9IuoTk
— The Int'l Spectator (@intlspectator) March 22, 2016
Beersheba terror scare just fight and firecrackers
A reported stabbing and gunfire at the Beersheba central bus station turns out to be a scuffle and firecrackers, police say.
One person is very lightly injured, according to reports.
Setting off firecrackers is a popular activity among teens around the Jewish holiday of Purim, which begins Wednesday night.
The Beersheba bus station was the site of a deadly attack in October.
Hezbollah condemns Belgium attacks, links bombings to Syria
Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah says it condemns the Belgium attacks and the killing of innocents, according to mouthpiece al-Manar.
It claims the attackers are backed by state-sponsored terror and says the same people threatening Europe are those that threaten Syria.
The statement is likely a reference to Saudi Arabia in light of Hezbollah’s claim that the kingdom backs the Islamic State.
Belgian FM: Terror suspects may still be at large
Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders on Tuesday says authorities fear that suspects involved in the deadly attacks at Brussels airport and a metro station could still be at large.
“The inquiry is still ongoing… because we fear that people are still at large,” Reynders tells RTBF television after a news briefing in the Belgian capital.
New AIPAC leader castigates crowd for cheering Trump’s anti-Obama remarks
At AIPAC, new president Lillian Pinkus bashes the crowd for cheering snide remarks against US President Barack Obama made by GOP candidate Donald Trump a night earlier.
“We are disappointed that so many people applauded a sentiment that we neither agree with nor condone,” she says. “Let us close this conference with the recognition that when we say come together we still have a lot to learn from each other.”
Trump drew loud applause from the self-proclaimed nonpartisan group after calling Obama possibly the worst president for Israel and saying “he’s leaving … yay.”
Netanyahu speaks to AIPAC
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is giving a live address to the AIPAC policy conference via video link-up.
Some 18,000 people are attending the conference.
AIPAC head Bob Cohen introduces him to loud applause.
Netanyahu links Brussels attacks to Israel terror
Netanyahu begins his speech by sending condolences over the Brussels attacks.
“The chain of attacks from Paris to San Bernardino, from Istanbul to the Ivory Coast and now to Brussels, and the daily attacks on Israel, this is one continuous assault on all of us. In all these cases, the terrorists have no resolvable grievances.”
“What they seek is our utter destruction,” he adds. “We won’t let that happen.”
Netanyahu thanks Americans for support
Netanyahu thanks Obama for his support “including for ballistic missile defense.”
“Israel deeply appreciates it and we also deeply appreciate the strong bipartisan support for Israel in Congress… and among the American people,” he says.
He says the issue of Israel must never divide Americans, but is a cause that unites Americans.
Netanyahu speaks out against UN imposing peace deal
Netanyahu holds up a replica of an arrowhead found at an archaeological site at Yodfat in Israel’s north, where Jews fought Romans 2,000 years ago.
“We’ve achieved remarkable successes; but it’s true, we face challenges.”
He says Israel faces two trends, a positive one with international actors interested in friendship with Israel to strengthen their security, especially from Asia, and to boost their economies. He says Israel has diplomatic ties with 161 countries, more than any in the countries history.
But he also says there is a negative trend. “While Israel is embraced by Individual nations, there are those who seek to malign Israel among nations.”
He says at the UN, Israel is slandered like “no other country on earth.”
“Only Israel is hounded by UN bodies,” he says and accuses the body of a “shameful record of singling out Israel for castigation.”
So why would anyone think the UN could decide a fair peace for Israel?
He says a UN-imposed peace settlement would be “stacked” against Israel and convince Palestinians they can “stab their way to a state … a state instead of Israel.”
He says a Security Council resolution could kill chances for peace and asks US to reject such a UN resolution.
Netanyahu calls for direct peace talks with Palestinians
Netanyahu says direct talks are the only way to reach a two-state deal, and calls on the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state.
“I am ready to agree to talks immediately, without preconditions, anytime, anywhere,” he says.
But he accuses PA President Abbas of not being willing to do so.
“There is political will here in Jerusalem, but not political will there, in Ramallah,” he says, accusing Abbas of inculcating Palestinians with murderous hate for Israel.
Netanyahu accuses Palestinians of incitement
Netanyahu shows AIPAC attendees a video compilation he says proves that the Palestinians are inciting to “murderous violence.”
The video includes footage of Palestinian kids calling to kill Jews.
“This is sick, it’s inexcusable,” he says.
“That little girl wasn’t born hating, she was taught to hate,” he says.
He accuses Fatah of praising the killer of US student Taylor Force, and says the Palestinians are paying terrorists.
“If the international community really wants to demand peace, it must demand the Palestinians stop poisoning the minds of their children,” he says.
Netanyahu: Those who backed nuke deal should still stop Iran aggression
“I am confident that over time the trend of embracing Israel will overcome the trend of maligning Israel,” he says.
He transitions to Iran, accusing the country of continuing to push attacks against Israel, and mentions its ballistic missile tests.
“I believe those who supported the nuclear deal and those who opposed it can at the very least work together to stop Iran’s aggression and terror and hold Iran accountable for its transgressions.”
“The writing is not on the wall, it’s on the missile,” he says of a Iranian rocket with “Israel must be wiped out” written on it.
Netanyahu: Israel can defend itself
He says Israel will defend itself “mightily” against any threat and shows a video of the Arrow anti-ballistic missile defense system.
He ends by thanking the US and AIPAC for support in developing the program.
Sen. Menendez follows Netanyahu, calls to defend Israel
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez follows Netanyahu, calling for efforts to be “redoubled” in protecting Israel against regional threats.
He rattles off a laundry list of challenges, including Syria breaking apart, terror in Turkey.
“The region is in turmoil …. the integrity of national borders in question,” he says.
He says Iran is emboldened by the nuke deal and is launching missiles that threaten Israel.
“We signed the JPOA and surprise surprise, Iran is already testing the agreement … testing missiles,” he says, bashing the nuke deal and using the wonky term for it.
“We can never allow Iran to threaten Israel or the region with a nuclear weapon,” he says to applause.
Menendez bashes Trump, says being pro-Israel is being open
Addressing talks over defense aid, he says it is his hope the US will fully fund all three US-Israel joint missile defense programs, plus the Iron Dome system.
He accuses other countries of offering little, but Israel offering much, such as education and liberty.
He then slams Donald Trump, without using his name.
“Sometimes I must say when I look at the vitriol I am reminded why being pro-Israel has always meant following our better angels … welcoming rather than refusing refugees … solving problems … rather than blaming the other across the border or across the world.”
Senator calls for Iran sanctions to be boosted
Menendez continues to bash the nuclear deal, says new legislation is needed to fill in holes, noting various cases where Iran has shown it is not acting in good faith.
“We’ve seen $1.7 billion in American money go to Iran,” he says, adding that it was paid so quickly, terror victims who won judgments against Iran could not claim the money.
He says Iran has the largest arsenal in Middle East, which can deliver chemical and biological weapons, and is developing a space program.
He says the sanctions imposed by US are not robust enough.
“Clearly Iran will never change … for all these reason I am introducing legislation that will fill empty holes left by JPOA,” he tells AIPAC members, asking them to lobby for his bill when they go to the Hill later today.
He bashes Trump again and says there is no being “neutral on Israel.”
A legacy is not a policy, Menendez says on Obama backing nuke deal
Referring to Obama’s claim that his name being on the nuclear deal should be guarantee enough that it is solid, he says a legacy is not a policy.
“We hope and pray for peace, but we must always have Israel’s back,” he says, calling for efforts to counter those who delegitimatize Israel or deny the Holocaust.
He says the Holocaust was not the justification for Israel’s founding, but thousands of years of anti-Semitism is, drawing large applause.
“There can be no denying the Jewish people their legitimate right to live in peace and security in the homeland to which they have a connection over thousands of years.”
He vows to continue to support Israel and fight the nuclear deal.
Brussels officials up toll to 34
Back to Brussels, officials confirm at least 34 people were killed in the subway and airport bombings.
Brussels Mayor Yvan Majeur now says at least 20 people have died and 106 people were injured in the attack on the Maelbeek subway station, which is close to the European Union headquarters.
Firefighters say 14 people were killed in twin blasts at the city’s airport, AFP reports.
— with AP
Explosive belt, rifle found after attack
Belgian broadcaster VRT says police have found an unexploded explosives belt at the airport in Brussels, Reuters reports.
Authorities also found a Kalashnikov rifle next to the body of one of the attackers.
Police are continuing to search the area.
3 Americans hurt in Belgium, Obama to speak
US official say at least three Americans were wounded in the Brussels attacks, the AP’s Matthew Lee reports.
Obama, in Cuba on a historic visit, is set to give a live address at 4:10 p.m. Israel time, during which he will likely speak about the attack.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo orders beefed up security at transit hubs around New York City, but says there is no specific threat.
“I have directed state law enforcement officials to step up security at high-profile locations around the state, including our airports, bridges, tunnels and mass transit systems,” he says in a statement.
Joint List head calls for Arab world to ‘vomit’ out Islamic State
Nobody has taken responsibility for the Brussels attacks, though some Islamic State fanboys on Twitter try to take credit for the group.
In Israel, Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List of Arab parties Knesset faction expresses sympathy for the victims of the attacks and calls on the Arab world to reject Islamic State terror.
“The Arab world needs to vomit it up from within itself and achieve victory for the nations of the region for the sake of peace and democracy,” he writes on Twitter.
Airport bomb had nails — Belgian TV
A Belgian TV station is reporting that at least one of the bombs at the Brussels airport contained nails.
Flemish language broadcaster VTM interviewed Marc Decramer of the Gasthuisberg hospital in Leuven, who says the hospital is treating 11 people with serious injuries, three of them in critical condition. Decramer says the wounded have fractures and deep cuts caused by flying glass and nails.
Obama says world must unite against ‘scourge of terror’
Speaking in an address to the Cuban people, Barack Obama starts his speech by saying he stands in solidarity with the people of Brussels.
“We will do whatever is necessary … bringing to justice those responsible,” he says.
He says the world must unite “in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.”
Brussels police raid homes, ask media to stay mum on details
Police in Brussels are raiding homes in a search for suspects linked to the day’s deadly terror attacks, Belgian media reports.
Police have asked media to maintain a blackout on details of the raids.
Israeli media sources, citing Belgian media, say two people have been arrested. However, there is no confirmation.
News site Flandersnews.be reports that there is a massive police presence around Brussels, with helicopters flying overhead and much of the city deserted.
Pope condemns ‘blind violence’ of Belgium attacks
Pope Francis has condemned the “blind violence” of the Brussels attacks and has offered prayers for the victims, their families and emergency responders.
Francis’ secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sends a telegram of condolences to the archbishop of Brussels, Mons. Jozef De Kesel.
In it, Francis says he “condemns once again the blind violence that breeds so much suffering and implores the gift of peace from God” for all Belgians.
Herzog slams ‘morbid’ Israeli reactions to bombings
Back in Israel after visiting the US, opposition leader Isaac Herzog speaks out against Israelis who he says are expressing “morbid joy” over Europe’s pain in the wake of the suicide bombing.
“Enough already! Cease this contemptible talk. Where did you get the chutzpah to degrade innocent victims of terror? Where do you get this miserable cynicism from? This is a distortion of the most basic human morality. This is a painful moment internationally that demands all people to identify with the bereaved families whoever they are and wish them a speedy recovery,” he writes.
A number of Israeli politicians reacted to the bombing with a sort of “I told you so,” in calling for Europe to support Israel in its own fight against Palestinian terror.
Islamic State claims responsibility for attacks
The Islamic State linked Amaq news agency says the terror group is taking responsibility for the Brussels attack.
The Amaq statement claims the attacks were carried out against Belgium for participating in the US-led coalition fighting the group in Iraq and Syria.
It says fighters opened fire at the city’s airport before blowing themselves up, and a separate suicide bomber detonated himself at the Maalbeek subway station.
It also claims 230 people were killed and wounded in the attack.
Rivlin sends condolences to Belgian king
President Reuven Rivlin sends a letter of condolences to Belgium’s King Philippe, echoing Netanyahu in linking the attack to Israel’s own fight against terror.
Police said to accidentally release picture of suspects
Belgian police have reportedly accidentally released a picture showing suspects thought to be behind the attack in the Brussels airport, according to local media.
The picture was apparently intended for internal use but was accidentally put out on Twitter.
It’s not immediately clear which men in the picture are suspects.
Belgium to hold three days of mourning
Belgium will hold three days of national mourning in the wake of the deadly attacks in the capital Brussels that killed at least 34 people.
“All national flags on public buildings will be at half-mast through Thursday,” Frederic Cauderlier, spokesman for Belgian premier Charles Michel, tells AFP.
Police arrest 1,200 Palestinians in Israel in crackdown
In the past two weeks, police officers have arrested approximately 1,200 Palestinians illegally residing in Israeli cities and another 150 Israelis who employed or housed them in cities around the country, police announce.
The crackdown began March 9, the day after a Palestinian man illegally residing in Jaffa carried out a terror attack that left one American man, a tourist, dead and almost a dozen people injured.
Following the vicious attack, the police made dozens or hundreds of arrests per day.
“The police will continue to operate to find [Palestinians illegally residing in Israel], for the safety of the public from both a criminal and security standpoint,” the police say in a statement.
— Judah Ari Gross
Brussels airport shuttered until Wednesday at least
The head of the Brussels airport says the airport will remain closed at least through Wednesday.
Airport CEO Arnaud Feist says it is still too early to assess the damage to the terminal and indicated the airport could be closed even longer, after two bombs ripped through the airport’s departure hall, killing at least 10 people there and injuring scores.
He says thousands of passengers and personnel were at the airport during the morning rush hour when the attacks hit Tuesday.
The exact number killed at the airport is still unclear. Regional governor Lodewijk De Witte says there are “more than 10 deaths” there. Firefighters earlier said 14 were killed there.
Brussels attack could never happen here, says ex-Ben-Gurion security head
Pini Schiff, a former security director at Ben-Gurion International Airport, calls the attacks in Brussels “a colossal failure” of Belgian security.
Schiff says “the chances are very low” such a bombing could have happened in Israel, with its several layers of security put in place after Palestinian attacks on Israeli planes and travelers in the 1970s.
Ben-Gurion is considered by some the most secure airport in the world.
Authorities in Europe and across the world have tightened security at airports, railway stations, government buildings and other key sites after the attacks on the Brussels airport and its subway system.
With Brussels in lockdown and the French prime minister saying that Europe is “at war,” European leaders have held emergency security meetings and deployed more police, explosives experts, sniffer dogs and plainclothes officers, with some warning against travel to Belgium.
“The threat we are facing in Europe is about the same as what Israel faces,” says Olivier Guitta, the managing director of GlobalStrat, an international security consultancy. “We have entered an era in which we are going to have to change our way of life and take security very seriously.”
In Moscow, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov says authorities will “re-evaluate security” at Russian airports, although its measures are already among some of the toughest across Europe.
Security is high at all Paris airports and at Gatwick and Heathrow in London, among many others.
At Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, sniffer dogs are deployed in the check-in areas, while at Milan’s Malpensa airport police in carts were patrolling the areas before security checks.
In Germany, the state rail system, Deutsche Bahn, has halted its high-speed rail service from Germany to Brussels, stopping them at the border city of Aachen.
Egypt also says it is increasing security, with top security officials asked to personally handle security checks inside airports and in outside areas like hotels and car parks.
Third bomb neutralized at Brussels airport
Florence Muls, a spokeswoman for the Brussels airport, says a third bomb has been neutralized at the airport after two other bombs killed at least 10 people there Tuesday morning.
Muls tells The Associated Press the third bomb was dispensed of “with a controlled action” once the chaos of the first explosives had eased somewhat.
Elsewhere in the Belgian capital, anti-bomb squads detonated suspicious objects in at least two locations — the Maelbeek subway station and close to Brussels University a few miles further away. Authorities say those two did not contain explosives.
A US official has told the AP the explosives in Brussels appear sophisticated, and investigators will examine them to see if they bear the same characteristics to those used in the Paris attacks last year.
Islamic State officially claims Brussels attack
The Islamic State group officially claims responsibility for the attacks in Brussels.
“Soldiers of the caliphate… carried out an attack targeting the crusader state of Belgium, which is fighting Islam and its people,” the group says in a statement posted online.
Syrian refugees save neo-Nazi after crash
A German neo-Nazi politician who crashed his car into a tree was rescued by Syrian refugees who happened to be passing, according to German media reports.
Stefan Jagsch, 29, a member of the far-right National Democratic Party, was badly injured in the crash last week, local newspapers and national news agency DPA say.
The first responders were two Syrian asylum seekers from a passing minibus that stopped at the crash site near the town of Buedingen in the central state of Hesse.
They pulled Jagsch from the wrecked car and administered first aid, a spokesman for the local fire brigade tells DPA, confirming eyewitness reports from last Wednesday.
Ya’alon: We are in World War III against terror
Reacting to the attacks in Brussels, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says a “third World War” is being waged against Western civilization.
“For the last several years, Western civilization has been under attack by indiscriminate and ruthless radical Islamism, whose goal is to harm and disrupt the lives of citizens in the free world,” he says in a statement released by his office.
“This is a third World War against our shared values. A war that if we don’t deal with using the proper tools, on all levels, will continue to hurt us and wreak havoc,” he adds.
Ya’alon does not detail what those tools are, but calls for nations to unite in an “unyielding” fight against terror.
Police ask for info on airport attack suspect
Belgian police have issued a wanted notice for an airport attack suspect seen in a CCTV video.
A spokesman for the Belgium prosecutor’s office confirms that a picture taken from the video is of the three suspects.
Police on Twitter and Facebook issue a call for information about the man on the right, seen wearing a hat.
“The police is seeking to identify this man,” a statement says, according to the New York Times. “He is suspected of having committed the attack at the Zaventem airport on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.”
— Avis de recherche (@police_temoin) March 22, 2016
Brits told to nix all non-essential travel to Brussels
Britain has updated its travel advice to warn against all but essential travel to Brussels.
“The Belgian authorities are currently advising against travel to Brussels; you are advised to follow the instructions of the Belgian security authorities,” read a statement from the government.
The foreign ministry’s previous travel advice had been for British citizens to “remain alert and vigilant” and “stay away from crowded places.”
Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokeswoman says that specialist police officers are also being sent to Brussels to help with the investigation.
“They will be gathering together as much material as possible that can help them with the investigation,” she says.
Raids underway in Belgium, shootout reported in Antwerp
Belgian police officials say several raids are under way across the city, AFP reports.
There are also unconfirmed reports of a shooting incident in Antwerp, with police in a standoff with suspects.
A Belgian official says recently captured jihadist Salah Abdeslam was supposed to take part in Tuesday’s attacks, Politico reports.
The senior official says Abdeslam’s fingerprints were found in an apartment where there were also detonators thought to have been used to prepare attacks.
Antwerp shooting false alarm; man arrested in Amsterdam
Police now say the shooting in Antwerp was a false report and everything is under control.
There are also reports on Twitter of shots fired and a suspect arrested after a chase near the Amsterdam central station, but no official confirmation.
— Annet de Graaf (@droombosNL) March 22, 2016
Amsterdam’s Central station was evacuated earlier in the day after reports of suspicious packages.
Bomb, Islamic State flag found in Brussels home search
Police have uncovered a bomb and an Islamic State flag during a search of a home in Brussels, AFP reports.
Belgium’s federal prosecutor meanwhile says it is too early to make any link between Tuesday’s attacks on Brussels and those in Paris in November.
“It is too early to establish a link with the Paris attacks,” federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw tells a news conference with Prime Minister Charles Michel.
Trump: ‘We’re having problems with the Muslims’
Donald Trump tells a Fox interviewer that “we’re having problems with the Muslims,” in response to the Belgium attacks.
“These attacks are not done by Swedish people. That I can tell you. We have to be smart. We have to look at the mosques and study what’s going on. There is a sick problem going on,” he tells Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, according to The Hill.
Earlier Trump called for borders to be closed as a way of fighting terror and encouraged the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture.
“We have to have strong borders, we have to be very vigilant and careful of who we allow into our country. Uh, I know Brussels well, and Brussels is a total mess,” he told NBC.
His main GOP rival, Ted Cruz, also says he will dispense with political correctness, calling for increased police patrols on Muslim areas in the US.
“We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” he says in a statement.
He adds that the US should stem the flow of refugees from countries with significant Islamic State presence as well as the southern border.
On the other end of the political spectrum, Hillary Clinton says closing the borders is unrealistic and unwise.
“Closing our borders to all people of a certain religion is not either consistent with those or isn’t smart to shut down our system of commerce and the free movement of people and goods,” she tells ABC.
She adds that the US should boost international cooperation to fight terror.
Democratic rival Bernie Sanders condemns the attack in a statement and calls on the international community to come together to “destroy ISIS.”
Attacks show need to end Syrian fighting, UN envoy says
The UN’s special envoy to Syria, Staffan De Mistura, says the Brussels attacks prove the need to reach a peace agreement in Syria.
“The message we are drawing out of it (is that) we need to extinguish the fire of war in Syria,” de Mistura says, according to Reuters. “We need to find a political solution, we need a political transition in Syria to make sure we can all concentrate on what is the real danger for everyone in Europe, in the world and Syria.”
Brussels police officials say a house search in the neighborhood of Schaerbeek has “led to the discovery of an explosive device containing among other things nails.”
Investigators also found chemical products and an Islamic State flag.
Police also confirm that they are searching for a third suspect involved in the airport blast, seen in a tan jacket, dark glasses and a hat.
— with AP
Jerusalem mayor to Brussels: Get back to life quickly
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, whose city has seen its fair share of terror attacks, has some advice for Brussels: Get back on your feet fast.
“Life in Brussels needs to quickly return to normal, that;s the best medicine for terror,” he says while visiting the US, according to Israeli news site Walla.
“Terror in Jerusalem, Brussels and Paris is a global problem, and giving in won’t solve it, but rather a world effort against radical Islamism,” he says.
Europe shows solidarity with lights, flowers
After a day punctuated by deadly terror in Brussels, Europe is transitioning to grieving and remembering, with memorials and landmarks putting on Belgian colors.
At nightfall Tuesday, the Eiffel Tower in Paris lit up in the black, yellow and red colors of the Belgian flag.
Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, which after the November attacks in Paris was illuminated with the French colors of red, white and blue, also is lit up in Belgian colors.
— Paris Je t'aime (@ParisJeTaime) March 22, 2016
A few blocks away, some people laid flowers and lit candles outside the Belgian Embassy.
And in Italy, Rome’s Trevi Fountain joined in the show of Belgium’s national colors.
— with AP
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