Slim odds of indictment against Labor chief Herzog — report
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Slim odds of indictment against Labor chief Herzog — report

Far-right candidate trumps in Austria presidential vote; tourists flock to Sea of Galilee, but Jerusalem’s Old City empty; Israel says Istanbul bomber didn’t plan to target Israelis;

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

  • The candidate of the far-right Freedom Party Norbert Hofer arrives at the polling station for the first round of the Austrian presidential elections in Pinkafeld, on April 24, 2016. (AFP/Dieter Nagl)
    The candidate of the far-right Freedom Party Norbert Hofer arrives at the polling station for the first round of the Austrian presidential elections in Pinkafeld, on April 24, 2016. (AFP/Dieter Nagl)
  • An archaeologist on the site of the remnants of a Jewish 17th-century slum in the center of the Dutch capital (at5.nl screenshot)
    An archaeologist on the site of the remnants of a Jewish 17th-century slum in the center of the Dutch capital (at5.nl screenshot)
  • Israelis swim in a natural spring in the outskirts of Jerusalem during Passover on Sunday, April 24, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis swim in a natural spring in the outskirts of Jerusalem during Passover on Sunday, April 24, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • A 3,700-year-old scarab seal found by a birdwatcher at Tel Dor, in northern Israel, dated to the 13th Dynasty. (Tel Dor Excavations, courtesy)
    A 3,700-year-old scarab seal found by a birdwatcher at Tel Dor, in northern Israel, dated to the 13th Dynasty. (Tel Dor Excavations, courtesy)
  • Israeli police guard at an entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, during the Jewish holiday of Passover on April 24, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Israeli police guard at an entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, during the Jewish holiday of Passover on April 24, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Times of Israel covered Sunday’s breaking news as it happened.

Droves flood Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem empty

Over 22,000 people have flocked to the beaches of the Sea of Galilee, forcing park authorities to close the gates to further visitors.

Far fewer Israelis are visiting Jerusalem’s Old City on the Passover holiday, with many people saying they’re afraid to travel to the capital because of months of terror attacks.

“There are [foreign] tourists and also a few tourists, but everyone’s afraid,” Bauk, a jewelry shop owner, tells Channel 2.

“I was afraid to come. My sister said I was crazy but if we are afraid we’d never leave home at all,” Esti, an Israeli tourist visiting Jerusalem, tells the station. “It’s dangerous everywhere but there’s nothing that can be done. It’s also dangerous in the Sinai and there are people who still go there.”

Police ask Tel Aviv to shut Sarona Market

Police ask Tel Aviv city hall to close the Sarona Market in because of lax security which “could threaten lives” at the outdoor shopping mall, Channel 10 reports.

17th-century Jewish slum found in Amsterdam

Dutch archaeologists unearthed what they said was the remnants of a Jewish 17th-century slum in the center of the Dutch capital.

The discovery of the slum on Valkenburger Street, north of the Portuguese Synagogue in the eastern part of the center of Amsterdam, was made earlier this month by a construction crew digging a foundation for a hotel and housing complex that are planned to be built on what used to be a slum.

“People who lived here were so poor that they had no infrastructure,” said Jerzy Gawronski, a municipal archaeologist whom the construction crew called upon after unearthing a matrix of narrow pathways, not broader than three feet across.

Bordering on the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, the slum was inhabited by hundreds of people living in squalor and extremely crowded conditions, he told AT5, a local television station.

— JTA

Rescue volunteers work to save stranded hikers

Volunteer rescue workers are en route to rescue a group of hikers who got stuck on Mount Sarbata in the Jordan Valley without water.

Another hiker was rescued after falling from a height in Wadi Tamarim in the Judean Desert.

3,700-year-old scarab seal found at Tel Dor

Haifa University announces the discovery of a rare 3,700-year-old scarab seal found at Tel Dor, an important ancient port on the coast south of Haifa. The amulet was found by a birdwatcher, who gave it to university archaeologists on site.

“The scarab must have belonged to a very senior figure in the kingdom, probably the viceroy responsible for the royal treasury,” Ayelet Gilboa of the University of Haifa, co-head of excavations at Tel Dor, said in a statement.

A university spokesperson says the item was found several months ago, but was only cleaned up and cataloged in time for Passover.

A 3,700-year-old scarab seal found by a birdwatcher at Tel Dor, in northern Israel, dated to the 13th Dynasty. (Tel Dor Excavations, courtesy)

A 3,700-year-old scarab seal found by a birdwatcher at Tel Dor, in northern Israel, dated to the 13th Dynasty. (Tel Dor Excavations, courtesy)

A 3,700-year-old scarab seal found by a birdwatcher at Tel Dor, in northern Israel, dated to the 13th Dynasty. (Tel Dor Excavations, courtesy)

A 3,700-year-old scarab seal found by a birdwatcher at Tel Dor, in northern Israel, dated to the 13th Dynasty. (Tel Dor Excavations, courtesy)

Israel says Istanbul bomber didn’t target Israelis

Israel’s counterterrorism bureau says the suicide bomber who killed three Israeli tourists in Istanbul last month did not specifically target Israelis but was taking aim at tourism in Turkey in general.

The bureau, connected to the Prime Minister’s Office, recently issued a travel advisory for Turkey, warning Israeli citizens to leave as soon as possible and avoid traveling there. The travel advisory remains in place despite the new security assessment.

The bureau said Sunday that Israeli security agencies carried out a monthlong investigation into the blast, which took place next to an Israeli culinary tour group and also killed an Iranian tourist.

Turkey identified the bomber as having links to the Islamic State group.

— AP

Over 1,000 visit Temple Mount; 13 Jews ejected

Police say 1,043 people visited the Temple Mount today, of whom 885 were foreign tourists. Thirteen Jewish visitors were ejected for violating the site’s rules. One Arab was also removed from the contested compound’s premises.

Egypt president urges people to fend off ‘forces of evil’

Egypt’s president is urging people to defend the state and its institutions from “the forces of evil” a day before planned demonstrations against his policies, including the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

In a widely televised speech Sunday, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi insisted on the need for stability in the Arab world’s most populous country, saying that attempts to degrade it “won’t be successful” if Egypt stands united.

Earlier this month, thousands marched against Sissi’s policies in the largest demonstrations since he assumed office in 2014. The protests featured slogans used in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

The protesters, including politicians and activists, called for more demonstrations on Monday.

— AP

Judge nulls real estate deal near Afula

The Nazareth District Court cancels a real estate tender near Afula which sparked outrage in December because it was won by Arab Israelis who don’t live in the city.

The head of the court, Judge Avraham Avraham, rules that the winning tender was null because the applicants coordinated their bids to ensure the neighborhood was populated mainly by Arab residents, violating the rules of the tender.

Carmel Tunnel crash driver released to house arrest

The bus driver involved in the deadly Carmel Tunnel crash on Thursday is released from police custody to house arrest, but his driver’s license is staying with the police, Army Radio reports. The crash killed a 17-year-old girl and left dozens injured.

No weekend seder with Bernie

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says he didn’t have a chance to have a seder because he’s “been working hard on the campaign.”

Speaking to NBC’s “Meet The Press” in a sweeping interview, he says that the US has “to get the root cause” of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Asked about his support for a bill that would allow 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, Sanders says, “I think there’s a lot about Saudi Arabia that we don’t fully understand. And I want to get to the root cause of it, the root of what Saudi Arabia has done.”

“There is some evidence… that money from Saudi Arabia actually funded a 9/11 attack,” he says, and that Saudi money is funding extremist Wahhabi ideology worldwide.

Sanders: Poverty in Baltimore rivals ‘West Bank in Palestine’

Sanders tells supporters at a rally in Maryland that Baltimore’s poverty conditions rival those in North Korea and “the West Bank in Palestine.”

“People don’t know this,” he says. “If you are born in Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods, your life expectancy is almost twenty years shorter than if you are born in a wealthier neighborhood.”

“Fifteen neighborhoods in Baltimore have lower life expectancies than North Korea,” he adds. “Two [neighborhoods] have a higher infant mortality rate than the West Bank in Palestine… Baltimore teenagers between the ages of fifteen and nineteen face poorer health conditions and a worse economic outlook than those in distressed cities in Nigeria, India, China and South Africa.”

Reports of explosion on bus in Modiin

There are initial reports of an explosion on a bus outside a mall in the central city of Modiin. Emergency services are on their way.

False alarm in Modiin

Apparently the reports of an explosion on a bus in Modiin were false alarms — it was just an exploded tire.

No injuries are reported.

Austrian far right triumphs in presidential vote

Austria’s anti-immigration far-right triumphed Sunday in the first round of a presidential election, with candidates from the two governing parties failing to even make it into a May 22 runoff.

Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party (FPOe) won 36.7 of the vote, followed by Alexander van der Bellen backed by the Greens on 19.7 percent and independent candidate Irmgard Griss on 18.8 percent, projections showed.

From the governing coalition, Rudolf Hundstorfer from the Social Democrats (SPOe) came joint fourth with just 11.2 percent, level with Andreas Khol from the People’s Party (OeVP).

The result, if confirmed, means that for the first time since 1945, Austria will not have a president backed by either the SPOe or OeVP.

Support for the two parties has been sliding for years and in the last general election in 2013 they only just garnered enough support to re-form Chancellor Werner Faymann’s “grand coalition”.

Austria also no longer has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union and Faymann’s coalition, in power since 2008, has bickered over structural reforms.

The next general election is due in 2018. The FPOe is currently leading national opinion polls with more than 30 percent of voter intentions, boosted by Europe’s migrant crisis.

— AFP

MK knocks court decision to nix Arab land sale

MK Basel Ghattas from the Joint (Arab) List says the court decision will encourage racism and attributes the ruling to what he suggests was state-sponsored denial of Arab rights to the land.

“Those who don’t want an Arab neighborhood in a Jewish city shouldn’t complain about ‘illegal construction,'” he says referring to allegations of unauthorized building projects in Arab neighborhoods. “Decisions like this are springboard for the spiral of racism which is sweeping every part of the country. State institutes have always used the planning and construction laws to dispossess the Arabs from their lands and their rights, and the District Court in Nazareth today gave a stamp of approval to a petition which was filed solely for racist reasons.”

“For a long time already we have had no faith in the justice system which is used as way to destroy homes under the claim of ‘illegal construction’ when the country doesn’t enable planning or construction arrangements in the Arab community,” he continues. “Decisions like these don’t change the history that we own the homeland and the landlords. We will continue to build and will continue to hold onto the homeland.”

German paper says Turkey turned back its photographer

A German newspaper says a Greek photographer who was working for it has been turned back by Turkish authorities at Istanbul’s main airport.

The Bild daily reported that Giorgos Moutafis was prevented from continuing to Libya on Saturday evening. He had to take the next plane back to the Greek capital, Athens, on Sunday morning.

It quoted the photographer as saying he had been told at passport control that his name was on a list of people who weren’t allowed to enter Turkey, but wasn’t given a reason why.

The reported incident comes days after a journalist with a German public broadcaster was prevented from entering Turkey. Chancellor Angela Merkel says she discussed that case during a visit to Turkey on Saturday.

— AP

Several injured after Syria rockets hit Turkish town

A Turkish news agency says rocket projectiles fired from Syria have hit a mosque at a border town, wounding several people.

The private Dogan news agency said the projectiles struck the mosque in Kilis, a town just a few kilometers from the Syrian border, on Sunday. It said the mosque is close to the office of the region’s governor.

Officials say more than a dozen people, including children, have been killed since January from rocket rounds fired at Kilis, mainly from Islamic State-controlled territory across the border.

The Turkish military systematically responds by firing back at targets in Syria, in line with its rules of engagement.

The agency said some Kilis residents took to the streets in protest of the attacks and to demand greater protection.

— AP

Not enough evidence to indict Herzog — report

There might not be enough evidence for an indictment against opposition leader Isaac Herzog in a criminal investigation into alleged financial irregularities, Channel 2 reports.

The final decision to indict him or not will be made by the attorney general in the coming weeks. But at this point, it remains uncertain if there is sufficient material to charge him.

Gilad Shalit’s family dispels rumors, says ex-POW is safe

Rumors swirled on social media that Gilad Shalit, the former Israeli prisoner of war held by Hamas in Gaza, was killed in a car accident, but the former soldier and his family dispelled them, saying he is safe and sound.

“There is no accuracy to the rumors, Gilad is safe and sound,” his family says, wishing everyone a happy Passover.

NYU graduate student union approves BDS resolution

The graduate student union at New York University voted to approve a motion to support a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution against Israel.

The resolution was approved by two-thirds of the 600 union members who voted on Friday, according to reports citing the Graduate Student Organizing Committee. The committee represents more than 2,000 graduate teaching and research assistants at the university.

The resolution called on the union and its parent union, the United Auto Workers, to divest from Israeli companies. It also calls on NYU to close its program at Tel Aviv University, which it alleges violates the NYU non-discrimination policy. Fifty-seven percent of the voting union members also took a personal pledge to boycott Israeli government and academic institutions.

— JTA

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