At least two rockets landed in the Israeli-controlled region on Tuersday. No injuries or damage were reported. Sources in the IDF assess Hezbollah was behind the shooting. Israel sent Hezbollah a stern warning not to fan the flames, even as Arab sources assessed the terror group will try to carry out a revenge attack to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Imad Mughniyeh, one of Hezbollah’s top minds and the father of Jihad Mughniyeh, who was among the victims of the Quneitra attack.
After a scandalous day for police, Netanyahu told Likud supporters in Ariel that the time may have come to appoint a female police commissioner.
US House Democrats said they will not support a new Iran sanctions bill, for now. Netanyahu’s decision to address Congress before the election, in an effort to sidestep the White House, may thus have boomeranged.
In Israeli politics, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett had to defend his decision to appoint former soccer star Eli Ohana as a candidate for the next Knesset, after several Jewish Home members criticized the decision and one (MK Zevulun Kalfa) announced he was leaving the party.
The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they happened.
IDF confirms at least 2 rockets land in north
The IDF confirms at least two rockets hit the northern Golan Heights and a spokesperson says that the Mount Hermon ski slopes are being evacuated. Other media outlets reported four missiles landed in the Israeli Golan Heights.
Following rockets striking the Golan Heights, #IDF responded with artillery towards the positions that launched the attack.
— Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner) January 27, 2015
IDF fires 20 artillery shells into Syria
Israeli artillery units fire 20 shells to Syria in response to the rocket fire – one of the heaviest shelling rounds into Syria in years.
Al Manar, a Lebanese TV network affiliated with Hezbollah, reports that Israeli aircraft are circling the Golan Heights’ skies on the Israeli side of the border.
Police closed several junctions in order to prevent vehicles from traveling north, as officers scan the area looking for the locations where rockets landed.
Hermon evacuation goes quietly, employee says
Yaakov Shochat, an employee at the Mount Hermon site, tells NRG that “according to IDF instructions we are evacuating everyone, quietly and peacefully. There is no stress here, and we don’t know anything – we only received instructions from the IDF. There are approximately 1,000 people in the Hermon now.”
Rocket shells located near border
IDF and police find the shells of rockets fired from Syria near the Israel-Syria border in the northern Golan Heights.
Kurds press offensive against IS in Shiran
Activists say Kurdish fighters are advancing after driving Islamic State members from the Syrian border town of Kobani a day earlier.
Mustafa Bali, a Kobani-based activist, says Tuesday’s fighting is centered on the village of Shiran, southeast of the town, after Kurdish fighters captured the nearby village of Qarah Hlanj.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the capture of Qarah Hlanj and says the fighting near Shiran has intensified.
Bali says hundreds of people, including Kurds who crossed from Turkey, are celebrating in Kobani, which Kurdish fighters retook on Monday following four months of heavy fighting.
Golan residents allowed to leave shelters
The Home Front Command says residents of communities where sirens were heard can leave shelters and safe rooms but should stay within walking distance of a bomb shelter.
Farmers working plots of land east of Route 98 were instructed not to tend to their farms today.
Shaul Mofaz reportedly leaving politics
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz is retiring from political life, according to a tweet by veteran Channel 2 commentator Amit Segal.
Mofaz retiring would effectively render Kadima extinct, since he is the only politician in the party whose name holds some resonance with the public.
Silvan Shalom meets Azeri FM at Auschwitz
National Infrastructure and Energy Minister Silvan Shalom meets with the Azeri foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, and agrees to continue bilateral cooperation on energy and infrastructure.
Shalom meets Mammadyarov at the ceremony marking 70 years to the liberation of the Auschwitz camp and praises the Azeri for coming as the foreign minister of a Muslim country. Shalom tells Mammadyarov his coming to Auschwitz honors the relations between Azerbaijan and Israel.
The two ministers also discuss the efforts to establish an institute for Caucasian studies at the University of Haifa.
Hermon resort closed till further notice
The Hermon ski resort will not reopen until further notice for fear that it may be targeted by projectiles fired from Syria.
Poll finds Labor-Hatnua leading
A new poll published by the Knesset Channel finds the Zionist Camp winning 25 seats to Likud’s 23. The Knesset channel poll gives the joint Labor-Hatnua list one seat less than a Channel 2 poll from Monday.
Jewish Home wins 15 seats in the new survey, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid wins 11 (two more than in Monday’s Channel 2 survey). Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu wins 8 seats, UTJ, Shas win 7 (the same as in the Channel 2 poll). Yisrael Beytenu wins 6 seats only, one less than Monday’s poll. Meretz wins 6 seats in both polls.
The new united Arab list wins 12 seats, as in Monday’s poll.
55% of the poll’s 536 respondents say they believe the expansive coverage of alleged misbehavior by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara is an attempt to politically harm the prime minister, while 39% of respondents say the coverage is legitimate and has no ulterior motives.
74% of respondents who intend to vote for Labor say they are against a unity government, while among Likud voters, only 57% oppose a unity coalition.
Gunmen storm Tripoli hotel, at least 3 dead
Gunmen storm a hotel popular with foreigners in Libya’s capital, setting off a car bomb and killing at least three guards in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
Security forces surround the Corinthia Hotel in central Tripoli and gunfire is heard from nearby, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.
A security guard was killed when the car bomb was set off outside the hotel and two others were shot dead during the assault, Issam al-Naass, a spokesman for security services, tells AFP.
Eyal Ben-Reuven joins Zionist Camp
Maj. Gen. (res.) Eyal Ben-Reuven joins the joint Labor-Hatnua list for the Knesset.
Ben-Reuven (60) serves in his reserve duty as deputy OC Northern Command. After two rockets hit the Golan Heights earlier today, Ben-Reuven said: “I know… the military is prepared for any occurrence at any place and any time, including the northern front. We have every capability of overcoming all hostile players on this arena.”
He will be placed on the 24th slot in the list, in a slot reserved for Hatnua.
Jewish Home’s Kalfa withdraws candidacy
MK Zevulun Kalfa, from National Union-Tekumah, which is on a joint ticket with Jewish Home, says he will withdraw his candidacy in the Jewish Home list, following the reservation of a place on the list for former soccer player Eli Ohana.
According to Israel Radio, Kalfa may join Eli Yishai’s Yahad party. Yahad is currently polling below the electoral threshold.
UK’s Luton airport evacuated
The Luton airport north of London is being evacuated after an alarm went off, Reuters reported.
“The terminal is being evacuated. We are investigating at the moment,” a spokesperson told the news agency.
Uri Ariel wants Kalfa to stay in Jewish Home
The head of the National Union-Tekumah faction, Housing Minister Uri Ariel, says he will try to convince Zevulun Kalfa not to withdraw his candidacy in the Jewish Home list for the 20th Knesset.
“I received Zevulun Kalfa’s letter and intend to speak to him and ask him to take it back,” Channel 7 news quotes Ariel as saying. “MK Kalfa is an excellent parliamentarian and one of the finest public figures in the country. In any case we will continue in the National Union to do all we can to preserve our values within the Jewish Home.”
Alert level in Golan back to normal
The IDF lowered the alert level in the Golan Heights after several hours when residents of the plateau were instructed to remain within walking distance of bomb shelters.
Earlier two rockets fired from Syria landed in an area near the Israel-Syria border, causing no casualties or damage.
Pakistani teachers allowed to carry guns
Authorities in northwest Pakistan allow teachers to carry firearms to schools and have begun weapons training for them, officials said. The decision was taken in the wake of a December 16, 2014, attack on an army-run school that killed 150 people, 134 of them children, in Peshawar, the main town in the country’s northwest.
Hezbollah thought behind Golan rockets
Security officials assess that the rockets fired at Israel were fired from an area controlled by the Syrian army. According to the officials, the current assessment in the security establishment is that the firing was undertaken by Hezbollah members or supporters.
UK foreign secretary speaks at Auschwitz
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, leading the UK delegation to pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, says in Auschwitz:
I am humbled to be at Auschwitz-Birkenau today, 70 years since its liberation. Standing in these chilling surroundings and imagining what happened here, I have seen for myself how the unprecedented horror of the Holocaust continues to hold universal meaning. It is also close enough in time that survivors can still bear witness to the horrors that engulfed the Jewish people and to the terrible suffering of the many millions of other victims of the Nazis.
We remember the victims who perished; and I pay tribute to the survivors still with us, many of whom work tirelessly to share their stories and memories with the next generation. We continue to stand up against those who distort or deny the Holocaust and to confront anti-Semitism wherever it is found.
With our international partners, we will continue to support Holocaust education, remembrance and research – as of fundamental importance in themselves, and for prevention of future genocides.
It may be time for female police chief – PM
Prime Minister Netanyahu says the time may have come to have a woman as chief of police.
Speaking at a meeting of Likud supporters in Ariel, and a day after sexual assault allegations surfaced against the deputy chief of police, Netanyahu says “maybe the time has come, and it is the right thing to do, to appoint a woman as chief of police. If it’s up to me, I want to push this idea. I think it would be a refreshing change: a female inspector general chief of police.”
Former Haaretz editor David Landau dies, 67
Former editor in chief of Haaretz David Landau has passed away. He was 67 years old.
Born in the UK, Landau studied law in university. In Israel he worked as a reporter for the Economist and also as diplomatic correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, where he later became managing editor. He led a walkout of journalists over management intervention in editorial content in 1990.
In 1993 Landau joined Haaretz and in 1997 established the paper’s English edition. He took over as editor-in-chief of the Hebrew edition in 2004 and held the post until 2008.
Landau authored “Piety and Power” on the world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism in 1992, and a biography of Ariel Sharon, “Arik,” last year.
Landau was awarded the OBE in 2014.
Former president Shimon Peres, with whom Landau worked on two books including his autobiography, described him as “a rare person, deeply religious but also widely liberal.”
Landau is survived by a wife and three children. His funeral will take place on Wednesday, at 4 p.m. in Jerusalem.
Liberman hopes Putin will visit Israel in May
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who is on a trip to Moscow, says “Israel hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin can come on an official visit of Israel in May,” Liberman tells the Itar-Tass news agency.
“We hope Putin will be able to come. By early May we will have established a new government,” Liberman says. Asked about a visit by Netanyahu to Russia, Liberman says the prime minister will “certainly” visit, “but it will happen only after the election.”
Survivor tells of her Auschwitz death penalty
At the 70 year commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz, Jewish Holocaust survivor Helena Birenbaum speaks to the gathered 49 heads of state, hundreds of Jewish survivors and political prisoners, and some 800 journalists.
“I am prisoner 48693 with a death penalty because I was young, because I was Jewish,” says Birenbaum.
Birenbaum told the crowd at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp under the theatrically lit gate that although her family all perished, “I never let them die.”
“Auschwitz is a place that used to be unknown… nothing remains reminding you of anything remotely human. You are there so you cannot be anywhere in the world.”
Birenbaum was imprisoned for two years and freed on May 3, 1945, by the Russian Allies.
— Amanda Borschel-Dan
‘Stop sanitizing the Holocaust!’
“We do not want our past to be our children’s future,” says an emotional Roman Kent, president of the International Auschwitz Committee at the ceremony marking 70 years to the liberation of Auschwitz. “That’s the key to my existence, we survivors do not want our past to be our children’s future!”
Kent, who was born in 1929 in Łódź, calls on international media to desist from sanitizing the Holocaust and using terms such as “lost,” which he said “protects the perpetrators.”
“11 million, including 6 million Jews and 1.5 million Jewish children were not lost or misplaced. These children were murdered,” said Kent.
Kent also calls on the 49 heads of state in attendance to stop being spectators and to remove all anti-Semitism and racism from their lands.
“If I had the power, I would add an 11th commandment — you should never, never be a bystander,” says Kent.
Kent speaks before the world premiere of the Steven Spielberg-produced film “Auschwitz,” which will be screened to all visitors at the Auschwitz Museum in the future.
The documentary film gives a historical background to the genesis of the extermination camp and the mindset of those who allowed it to become the archetype of evil it is today. Using army film footage, survivor interviews and drawing and artifacts, the documentary also takes pains to depict the humanity found among prisoners, both during their interment, and after their survival.
— Amanda Borschel-Dan
PM warns Hezbollah: Don’t play with fire
Prime Minister Netanyahu, speaking at a conference of ambassadors and diplomats marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, refers to the deal taking shape between world powers (led by the US) and Iran, as well as to the two rockets that landed in the Golan Heights earlier on Tuesday.
Netanyahu says his job as prime minister of Israel is to make sure there will not be any more existential threats against the country and that there will never again be a reason to establish memorial sites like the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.
The prime minister adds that the deal would leave Iran with the capability to arm itself, first with a single, then with several nuclear weapons.
“We cannot live with such an agreement,” says Netanyahu. Referring to the rocket attack on the Golan Heights, Netanyahu says whoever decides to challenge Israel will realize Israel is well-prepared to respond.
Israel, Netanyahu says, sees the attack from Syrian territory as very serious. He warns: “They who play with fire – will be hit with fire.” Earlier, sources in the security establishment said Hezbollah was behind the rocket attack.
House has ‘right’ to hear Netanyahu – Boehner
House speaker John Boehner, who came under heavy criticism in the US for inviting PM Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the White House first, says representatives have a “right” to hear Netanyahu speak on Iran.
“The House of Representatives is a equal branch of the government, and we have a right to do it, and we did it,” says Boehner. Read about it here.
Iran sends warning to Israel via US officials
Iran says it has sent a warning to Israel through the United States over the recent killing of an Iranian general in an alleged Israeli airstrike, the official IRNA news agency reports.
The report quotes Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying, “We told the Americans that the leaders of the Zionist regime should await the consequences of their act.”
He adds, “The Zionist regime has crossed our red lines.”
Iranian Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guard, was killed along with six Lebanese Hezbollah fighters in a Jan. 18 airstrike in the Syrian-controlled part of the disputed Golan Heights. Both Iran and Hezbollah blame Israel for the strike; the Israeli government refused to comment.
Amirabdollahian says Iran delivered the message to US officials via diplomatic channels. He did not elaborate.
IS threatens Japanese, Jordanian hostages
An online message purportedly from the Islamic State group warns that a Japanese hostage and Jordanian pilot the extremists hold have less than “24 hours left to live.”
The message again demands the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for involvement in a 2005 terror attack that killed 60 people. It also mentions for the first time Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, who is a captive of the Islamic State group, setting a Wednesday afternoon deadline.
Tuesday’s video matched a message released over the weekend, though neither bore the logo of the Islamic State group’s al-Furqan media arm. The weekend video showed a still photo of Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photo of the body of Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa.
The Associated Press could not independently verify either video. However, several websites affiliated with the Islamic State group referenced the video and posted links to it late Tuesday afternoon.
The message says that unless the Jordanian government frees al-Rishawi within 24 hours, Goto and the pilot will be killed, adding that this would be the group’s last message. The message warns any delaying tactics by the government will result in the death of both men.
Goto has only “24 hours left to live and the pilot has even less,” the message said.
Marching for the prophet
Palestinian youth chant slogans as they march during a protest rally in support of the Prophet Mohammed in Gaza City. The marchers are participating in a Hamas military-style camp.
Democrats say they won’t support Iran sanctions bill, for now
A group of US Senate Democrats told the White House on Tuesday that they will not support passage of an Iran sanctions bill until at least the end of March.
The decision could halt the march of legislation that would levy more sanctions on Iran if no diplomatic agreement can be reached to prevent Tehran from being able to develop a nuclear weapon. Republicans could still push sanctions legislation — but without Democratic support, Congress would not likely have the votes needed to override a veto threatened by President Barack Obama.
Obama said if there is new sanctions legislation, Iran could walk away from the negotiating table, saying the “United States was operating in bad faith and blew up the deal.” And he said the willingness of America’s international partners to enforce existing sanctions against Iran would wane.
Diplomatic talks have been extended until July, with the goal of reaching a framework for a deal by the end of March.
Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat who drafted the legislation with Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican, said at a Senate banking committee hearing that he and many of his Democratic colleagues had sent a letter to President Barack Obama saying they won’t support passage of the bill until after March 24.
Ayelet Shaked asks Jewish Home MKs to ‘give Eli Ohana a chance’
Ricochets from the appointment of Eli Ohana to a slot on the Jewish Home top ten:
Having come under fire for reserving a slot for former soccer star Ohana in the top ten, several of the party’s highest officials decide to convene an emergency meeting in Jerusalem, Ynet reports.
MK Zevulun Kalfa already said he will not run again; sources closer to Rabbi Avichai Rontzky said he is considering to pull out.
“This appointment [of Ohana] caused a great rift within Religious Zionism,” say sources close to Rontzky.
Also on Tuesday, a Whatsapp message apparently coming from Ayelet Shaked’s phone pleads with party members to give Ohana a chance:
“Friends listen, I, as you know, didn’t think we need another reserved slot, but in this forum let’s admit to the truth. I am the only non-religious person in the party. There’s just me. And Naftali [Bennett] wanted to add a traditional Sephardic type who grew up in the slums, but made it.
“I never spoke to him but I was told he’s intelligent. All MKs [of Jewish home] are religious and most of them are Ashkenazi. Let’s keep open-minded for a few hours and hear what he [Ohana] and Naftali have to say. I checked now and he has taken back his stance on the Disengagement [Ohana supported the Disengagement at the time].
“He’s right wing and wants to deal with social matters. Let’s give him a chance.”
Palestinians urged to abolish death penalty
A rights group urges Palestinian authorities to abolish the death penalty, after two new sentences were handed down this month in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights calls for “an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a form of punishment because it violates international human rights standards.”
Authorities in Hamas-controlled Gaza sentenced a 24-year-old to death by hanging on charges of murder, and a court in Hebron in the West Bank handed a sentence to another man on charges of collaboration with Israel, it said.
Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel, murder and drug trafficking are all punishable by death.
Bennett defends decision to appoint Ohana
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett rejects, during a Channel 2 interview, accusations that his decision to appoint Eli Ohana was motivated by populist thinking or intended to fill in the position of a token Sephardic candidate.
“There is a whole world whose ethos Eli Ohana embodies, a man who grew up in the slums of Kiryat Hayovel [a Jerusalem neighborhood], and by age 16 already fed his family.
“We are not lacking Sephardic candidates in the party,” Bennett says, dismissing a question on Ohana’s ethnic background. “But I knew every big change brings some resistance. When I brought Ayelet Shaked people said ‘she’s a secular woman’, now we cannot do without her.”
Bennett is asked about recent reports that his party also courted former MTV anchor Eden Harel: is his party run like a reality show?
“To say about Eli Ohana that what he expresses is a reality show… I have seen his life story and I admire it. Do you know that he was a kid he had one pair of pants, and he actually worked in the Knesset canteen clearing plates so that he could buy another pair of pants?”
Bennett was careful not to attack Likud too strongly and also dismissed reports that Jewish Home and Likud were going to run on one ticket. But, he added, “I am pragmatic. If they unite in the Left – we will have to have an answer to that.”
Court to Likud: Continue recount of primary votes
The High Court of Justice has decided to renew the recount of votes in the Likud primary, after Avi Dichter appealed the party’s internal court’s decision to halt a recount and leave candidates in their current places.
According to the original result, MK Tzipi Hotovely will be placed 20th and stands a real chance of returning to the Knesset. Placed 26th on the list, Dichter is less likely to enter the Knesset, with Likud currently polling around 23 seats.
He appealed to the party committee which ordered a recount of the votes in the primary, as the difference between Hotovely and Dichter stood at only a few hundred votes. But after the recount began, the party’s internal court instructed officials to stick with the original results. Dichter then appealed to the High Court of Justice, which overruled the internal party court and instructed that the recount of the votes continue.
Dichter rejected the prospect of becoming an MK by entering a slot reserved especially for an appointment by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Arab sources say Hezbollah’s revenge asgainst Israel will come next month
Security officials estimate that the two rockets fired at the Golan Heights earlier today are just the preamble for an act of revenge by Hezbollah for the killing of several of its members last week, which Hezbollah believes was undertaken by Israel.
Channel 10 quotes Arab sources as saying that Hezbollah will carry out a large-scale terror attack next month, to coincide with the anniversary of the killing of Imad Mughniyeh. Mughniyeh’s son, Jihad, was among the Hezbollah members killed in the attack last Sunday.
The IDF on Tuesday fired some 20 artillery shells into Syria after the two rockets landed west of the border, but according to Channel 10 the military is weighing another response, even if to deter Hezbollah from planning a large-scale attack.
Israel on Tuesday played tough against Hezbollah and Iran, sending a clear message that any attack would be met with a harsh response.
Nasrallah to discuss Syria attack in speech Friday
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah will deliver a speech on Friday afternoon, where he will address the attack on a convoy in Quneitra, in the Syrian Golan Heights, last week.
Six Hezbollah members died in the attack, including Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Iamd Mughniyeh who was one of Hezbollah’s top strategists.
A poster for the speech posted on the website of Hezbollah mouthpiece al-Manar shows the six slain Hezbollah operatives, as well as Iranian general Mohammed Allahdadi, also killed in the strike.
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