Investigators say hikers started forest fire in northern Israel
search
Live updates (closed)

Investigators say hikers started forest fire in northern Israel

Massive blaze in Biriya forest, which shut down roads and prompted evacuations, now under control

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

  • A forest fire in the Biriya forest in northern Israel on April 25, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 10)
    A forest fire in the Biriya forest in northern Israel on April 25, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 10)
  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens on April 22, 2016 in New York. (AFP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)
    Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens on April 22, 2016 in New York. (AFP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)
  • US President Barack Obama speaks in front of the European Union Flag at the Hannover Messe Trade Fair in Hannover, Germany, Monday April 25, 2016. Obama is on a two-day official visit to Germany. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    US President Barack Obama speaks in front of the European Union Flag at the Hannover Messe Trade Fair in Hannover, Germany, Monday April 25, 2016. Obama is on a two-day official visit to Germany. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
  • A Tamir missile fired from an Iron Dome missile defense battery during a trial in the United States in April 2016. (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)
    A Tamir missile fired from an Iron Dome missile defense battery during a trial in the United States in April 2016. (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)
  • Tens of thousands of Jews at the Western Wall for the priestly blessing ceremony on April 25, 2016. (Police Spokesperson)
    Tens of thousands of Jews at the Western Wall for the priestly blessing ceremony on April 25, 2016. (Police Spokesperson)
  • The scene of a suspected 'price tag' attack near Ramallah (Courtesy/Abdullah Al-Dado)
    The scene of a suspected 'price tag' attack near Ramallah (Courtesy/Abdullah Al-Dado)
  • Rabbi Jacoob Ben Nistell, from Haifa, Israel, who is actually Jacek Niszczota, from Poland (Facebook)
    Rabbi Jacoob Ben Nistell, from Haifa, Israel, who is actually Jacek Niszczota, from Poland (Facebook)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s developments as they unfolded.

7 Jews indicted for attacks on Palestinians

Seven Jewish suspects, including two minors and an IDF soldier, are indicted for 13 anti-Arab “price tag” attacks between 2009 and 2013.

The group is accused of a spate of attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank, which include torching property, throwing stones, firebombs, and other acts of vandalism. Other charges include aggravated assault with racist intent, carrying weapons illegally, attempted aggravated assault, and unlawful association.

Five of the seven suspects (including the minors and soldier, whose names remain under a gag order) live in the West Bank settlement of Nahliel. The four suspects who are identified are named as Pinchas Shendorfy, 22, who is married and lives in the Kiryat Arba settlement; Itamar Ben-Aharon, 20, of Nahliel; Shneur Dana, in his 20s, married with several children from the Ma’ale Efraim settlement; and Michael Kaplan, 20, also of Nahliel.

Three of the suspects are siblings, according to the Walla news site, and Dana is their brother-in-law.

Obama says Europe has ‘been complacent’ on defense

US President Barack Obama calls on Europe to carry more of the shared burden for security, directly challenging the continent’s leaders while on a visit to Germany Monday.

“Europe has sometimes been complacent about its own defense,” Obama says bluntly.

Underlining that NATO has to “bolster our frontline allies in Poland, in Romania and in Baltic states” while also “meet the threat of its southern flank,” Obama urged members of the alliance to increase their defense capacities.

“That’s why every NATO member should be contributing its full share of two percent of GDP towards our common security. Something that doesn’t always happen,” he says.

Obama’s host country and Europe’s economic heavyweight Germany has been frequently criticized for spending well below the target on defense capabilities.

Obama also announces Monday the US would send up to 250 more military trainers to help fight the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria.

“I have approved the deployment of up 250 additional US personnel in Syria, including special forces,” Obama says in Germany.

“They’re not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training, in assisting local forces as they continue to drive ISIL back,” he says, using another acronym for IS.

AFP

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks after touring the Hannover Messe Trade Fair in Hanover, Germany, April 25, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / Jim Watson)

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks after touring the Hannover Messe Trade Fair in Hanover, Germany, April 25, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / Jim Watson)

Police deployed across Cairo ahead of protests

Thousands of police are deployed Monday across the Egyptian capital in anticipation of demonstrations to protest the government’s decision to surrender control of two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Riot police backed by armored vehicles take up positions at Cairo’s Tahrir square, the epicenter of Egypt’s 2011 uprising, as well as on the city’s ring road, downtown and at a suburban square where at least 600 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed when security forces broke up their sit-in on August 14, 2013.

Monday’s planned demonstrations will be the second wave of protests this month against the decision to give up control of the islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba. On April 15, about 2,000 demonstrators protested in downtown Cairo over the islands.

AP

IsraAID says it’s the only foreign aid group in Japan

In Kumamoto, the IsraAID group says it’s the only foreign aid group on the ground in earthquake-battered Japan.

“A team of 7 has been helping those in need by providing psychological first aid (PFA) and basic medical support for survivors based in 5 shelters. Two IsraAID nurses provided counseling to acute stress cases and basic training for about 70 survivors based in the shelters. Additionally, the combined Israeli-Japanese professional team conducted Child Friendly Space activities for children to release the stress and fear of the quake and its many aftershocks,” it says in a statement.

“Parallel to these direct services, and in partnership with the local Japanese officials, the team conducted a long-term needs assessment and started to build a task-force combining local government officials, IsraAID, and other Japanese non-governmental organizations operating in the area.”

IsraAID workers volunteer in Kumamoto, Japan (Courtesy)

IsraAID workers volunteer in Kumamoto, Japan (Courtesy)

Poland Jewish community leader said to slam reporter who outed imposter rabbi

Krzysztof M. Kazmierczak, a local journalist who revealed that a man who posed as a rabbi in north-central Poland for several years is not actually a rabbi — or Jewish — is accused of anti-Semitism in the Poznan Jewish community.

“He served food for our guests, but so what. Everyone has such a right. And he did everything from cooking to taking out the garbage,” Alicja Kobus, head of the Poznan Jewish community and vice president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, tells the Glos Wielkopolski paper.

Kobus reportedly has tried in recent days to intimidate Glos Wielkopolski reporter Kazmierczak, who first broke the story of the rabbi imposter, demanding that he stop writing about Jacoob Ben Nistell.

Kazmierczak was accused of anti-Semitism in a post by the administrator of the Poznan Jewish community’s Facebook page. Kazmierczak says he has not met with any other negative reactions from Jews.

“True Jews and people interested in Judaism say it is very good that I revealed the sham,” Kazmierczak tells JTA. He says he believes Kobus knew for a long time that Nistell did not come from Haifa, especially since the imposter rabbi read Hebrew prayers in Polish transliteration.

“It is said that the wild animals come where there is an empty space. That’s what happened in Poznan; it shows that in a place where there is no real Jewry bad things happen,” Shalom Ber Stambler, chief Chabad rabbi in Poland, tells Glos Wielkopolski.

“First of all it is a cosmic embarrassment to the Polish Rabbinate. I knew from the start that this guy was in disguise. But the rabbinate for so long did not attempt to find out who is the man claiming to be a rabbi and taking part in community celebrations. The Polish Rabbinate should read Glos Wielkopolski; many of them will learn something new,” Warsaw Jewish leader Przemyslaw Szpilman told JTA. Szpilman says he is speaking publicly on the issue as an individual member of the Polish Jewish community and not on behalf of either the board of the Jewish community in Warsaw on which he serves or as the director of the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw.

JTA

Rabbi Jacoob Ben Nistell, from Haifa, Israel, who is actually Jacek Niszczota, from Poland (Facebook)

Rabbi Jacoob Ben Nistell, from Haifa, Israel, who is actually Jacek Niszczota, from Poland (Facebook)

83 senators urge Obama to increase Israel military aid

Some 83 senators sign a letter to Obama urging him to quickly approve a “substantially enhanced” military aid package for Israel, Reuters reports.

“In light of Israel’s dramatically rising defense challenges, we stand ready to support a substantially enhanced new long-term agreement to help provide Israel the resources it requires to defend itself and preserve its qualitative military edge,” the letter says.

Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris Coons were behind the letter, according to the report. Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz signed the letter, while Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders did not. Some 51 Republican senators and 32 Democratic senators were signatories.

The US currently gives Israel $3.1 billion annually in defense aid, a number Israel is hoping to increase when the package is renewed for another decade. The White House has been involved in intensive talks with Jerusalem on reaching a deal before Obama leaves office, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted he may wait for Obama’s successor to try and secure a better deal.

Times of Israel staff contributed

Turkey says it deported 3,300 suspected jihadists

A top official says Turkey has deported 3,300 foreigners suspected of links to jihadi groups, particularly the Islamic State militants, and another 41,000 foreigners have been barred from entering Turkey as part of the country’s fight against the militant group.

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also says Monday that Turkish profiling teams have interviewed 9,500 people upon their arrival in Turkey. Some 2,000 of them were denied entry.

He says some 2,770 suspects, including 232 foreigners, have been caught in police sweeps and 954 of them are being prosecuted.

Turkey, long accused of turning a blind eye to the extremists crossing into Syria, has now taken a larger role in the fight against IS. Four deadly bomb attacks in Turkey since July have been blamed on IS.

AP

2 kids among dead in Aleppo shelling

Syrian state TV says two children and an adult are killed in rebel shelling of a government-held area in the contested northern city of Aleppo.

Monday’s attack came on the fourth straight day of clashes in Aleppo, where rebels have shelled government districts and government warplanes have been carrying out airstrikes.

Activists and pro-government media have reported at least 60 people killed in the violence since Friday, including 46 in rebel-held areas. The escalating violence comes as a cease-fire, in place since late February, appears increasingly fragile.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and onetime commercial center, has been bitterly contested since 2012. Opposition groups control the eastern part of the city but have been boxed-in by government forces, and are now linked to the surrounding area by a single narrow corridor to the northwest.

AP

3rd Jewish worshiper booted from Temple Mount

A third Jewish worshiper is removed from the Temple Mount Monday for “breaking the rules” at the holy site, Ynet reports.

Earlier, two Jewish visitors were escorted out of the site.

Some 842 visitors ascended to the Temple Mount on Monday, 638 of them tourists, according to Ynet.

A view from a helicopter of the priestly blessing at the Western Wall on April 25, 2016 (Israel Police)

A view from a helicopter of the priestly blessing at the Western Wall on April 25, 2016 (Israel Police)

Trump laces into Cruz-Kasich collaboration

Donald Trump is lacing into an extraordinary collaboration between Ted Cruz and John Kasich aimed at unifying the anti-Trump vote in some remaining primaries.

Trump says his two rivals are colluding in a way that would be illegal in many industries.

Under the arrangement outlined Sunday, Kasich, the Ohio governor, will step back in the May 3 Indiana contest to let Cruz bid for voters who don’t like Trump. Cruz, a Texas senator, will do the same for Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico.

Trump says in a statement that Cruz and Kasich are “mathematically dead” — meaning neither can gather enough delegates to clinch the nomination before the party’s July convention — and their compact smacks of desperation by two “puppets of donors and special interests.”

The arrangement does not address the five Northeastern states set to vote on Tuesday, where Trump is expected to add to his already overwhelming delegate lead. Yet the shift offers increasingly desperate Trump foes a glimmer of hope in their long and frustrating fight to halt the billionaire’s rise.

“Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans,” Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, says in a statement explaining the new plans. “Not only would Trump get blown out by (Hillary) Clinton or (Bernie) Sanders, but having him as our nominee would set the party back a generation.”

Added Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, “Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee.”

AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a rally in Hartford, Connecticut, on April 15, 2016. (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images/AFP)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a rally in Hartford, Connecticut, on April 15, 2016. (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images/AFP)

Jordan’s queen calls for ‘legal’ refugee path to Europe

Jordan’s Queen Rania on Monday calls for “legal” paths into Europe for refugees, criticizing the EU’s controversial deal with Turkey which she said endangers lives.

“The deep concern is that many of the refugees…will now start to seek more dangerous routes,” Queen Rania says in reference to the EU-Turkey deal agreed in March to stem the migration flow.

“It’s absolutely crucial for us to look for legal alternatives and more safe and effective pathways to Europe and areas of safety,” she says on the Greek island of Lesbos, the focal point of Europe’s greatest migration challenge since World War II.

Under the EU-Turkey deal which went into force on March 20, all migrants whose asylum claims are rejected will be sent back to Turkey.

More than 320 people have been expelled so far, most of them Pakistanis, in expulsions which aid agencies such as Human Rights Watch have described as “abusive,” raising questions about the fate of the deportees in Turkey.

AFP

Algeria minister meets Syria’s Assad on rare visit

Syrian President Bashar Assad meets with an Algerian minister on Monday, in a rare Arab ministerial visit to the war-torn country, state media reports.

Assad thanks Algeria’s minister for the Arab League, Abdelkader Messahel, that Algiers was standing by Damascus in the five-year conflict, SANA news agency reports.

They discussed “the danger of terrorism and the importance of uniting efforts of all countries to fight it,” SANA says.

Messahel’s mission to Damascus follows Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem’s visit to Algeria in late March.

Algeria has systematically abstained in Arab League votes slapping sanctions on the Assad regime.

AFP

Obama meets with European leaders on IS

Wrapping up his trip to Europe, US President Barack Obama is huddling with President Francois Hollande of France, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy, Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

The five leaders are making quiet conversation around a large table as they pose for photographs before the meeting, but the talk will soon get serious as the leaders are expected to touch on a wide range of topics, including the battle against the Islamic State group, the civil war in Syria and the ongoing migration crisis stemming from that war.

AP

Dutch apartment of journalist briefly held in Turkey robbed

A Dutch journalist who was briefly detained by Turkish police after tweeting about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Monday her Amsterdam apartment had been broken into, denouncing what she called “intimidation.”

“So there was a burglary in my Amsterdam home. I m impressed. intimidated. o wait… I M NOT,” Ebru Umar writes on her Twitter account in English.

In another Tweet, she says the break-in was “no coincidence.”

Umar, a well-known atheist and feminist journalist of Turkish origin, says she was hauled out of bed and arrested late Saturday at her home in Kusadasi, a resort town in western Turkey.

She was released on Sunday after top Dutch officials voiced concerns at her arrest, but is not allowed to leave the country and must report to police twice a week.

Police had questioned her for about 16 hours over two Tweets she had sent in which she sharply criticized Erdogan.

But Umar tells the daily Metro, a Dutch newspaper which she writes for, that her Amsterdam apartment was burgled overnight, saying the door “was forced open, and my old computer was taken.”

She takes to Twitter on Monday to voice her thanks to everyone for their support during her detention. Although the officers were “a bit harsh” at first, Umar says she had been “treated very well.”

AFP

Ex-MK says Olmert was aware of allegations against Ze’evi

Former Knesset member Aryeh Eldad says former prime minister Ehud Olmert was aware of the allegations of sexual impropriety against former minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2004, but went along with a law — approved in 2005 — to enshrine annual national commemorations of the slain ex-IDF general.

Earlier this month, the “Uvda” investigative TV show reported rape allegations against the former cabinet minister.

Eldad, formerly of the National Union (as was Ze’evi), says he spoke to one of the woman interviewed by the show, asking her why she didn’t step forward over a decade ago when the Knesset was set to pass the commemoration law. She responded that she took the issue directly to Olmert, who decided to proceed regardless, he says.

Asked whether the law should be canceled now, in light of the allegations, Eldad says no, but urges some “symbolic” or “cosmetic” change to the legislation.

MKr Arieh Eldad seen here in June, 2009, left the National Union party in November 2012 to form his own party. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

MK Arieh Eldad seen here in June, 2009, left the National Union party in November 2012 to form his own party. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

62-year-old collapses, dies on Safed tour

A 62-year-old man collapses and dies during a touring trip to the northern city of Safed.

Emergency services attempt to revive the man, a resident of central Israel but are forced to pronounce him dead.

Separately, Israeli fire services evacuate tourists in the Biriya Forest near Safed after a brush fire breaks out. There are no reports of injuries, but the roads in the surrounding areas are closed off as firefighters battle the blaze.

12 civilians killed in Baghdad suicide bombing

A suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden car Monday in a commercial area in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing at least 12 civilians, officials say.

The attack in the capital’s eastern Shiite-dominated New Baghdad neighborhood also wounds at least 38 other people, a police officer says. Police earlier said it was a parked car bomb.

A medical official confirms the causality figure. All officials speak on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bears the hallmarks of the Islamic State group, which controls key areas in the country’s west and north. Commercials and public places in Shiite-dominated areas are among the most frequent targets for the militants seeking to undermine government efforts to maintain security inside the capital.

AP

Delegate math shows Tuesday could close door on Sanders bid

Hillary Clinton can’t win enough delegates on Tuesday to officially knock Bernie Sanders out of the presidential race, but she can erase any lingering honest doubts about whether she’ll soon be the Democratic nominee.

After her victory in New York last week, Clinton has a lead over Sanders of more than 200 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. As she narrowed Sanders’ dwindling opportunities to catch up, Clinton continued to build on her overwhelming support among superdelegates — the party officials who are free to back any candidate they choose.

In the last few days, Clinton picked up 14 more endorsements from superdelegates while Sanders received one, according to an Associated Press survey.

Factoring in superdelegates, Clinton’s lead stands at 1,944 to 1,192 for Sanders, according to the AP count. That puts her at 82 percent of the 2,383 delegates needed to win the nomination.

At stake Tuesday are 384 delegates in primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. This group of contests offers Sanders one of the last chances on the election calendar to gain ground in pledged delegates and make a broader case to superdelegates to support him.

Yet it appears Clinton could do well enough Tuesday to end the night with 90 percent of the delegates needed to win the nomination, leaving her just 200 or so shy.

The Sanders campaign knows a tough battle awaits in those five states and says it will reassess its effort after Tuesday. If Sanders fails to win significantly in the latest primaries, he won’t have another chance to draw closer in a big way until California votes June 7. “We intend to take the fight all the way to California,” Sanders said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Clinton is already on track to have hit the magic number of 2,383 by that point.

AP

This file photo combination taken on April 14, 2016 shows US Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Bernie Sanders before the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York. (AFP)

This file photo combination taken on April 14, 2016 shows US Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Bernie Sanders before the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York. (AFP)

Iran threatens US with legal action over frozen funds ruling

Iran threatens Monday to take legal action in the International Court of Justice against the United States if $2 billion in frozen funds are “diverted” to compensate victims of attacks.

On Thursday, Tehran said the US Supreme Court’s decision to deduct $2 billion from its frozen assets to compensate American victims of terror attacks amounted to theft.

“We hold the US administration responsible for preservation of Iranian funds and if they are plundered, we will lodge a complaint with the ICJ for reparation,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says.

He is speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Macedonian counterpart Nicolas Poposki.

The US Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Iran must hand over nearly $2 billion in frozen assets to survivors and relatives of those killed in attacks blamed on the Islamic republic.

These included the 1983 bombing of a US Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

The decision affects more than 1,000 Americans.

The official IRNA news agency on Monday cites Zarif as saying in English that if such a ruling were applied, it would be “misappropriation” of Iranian funds.

“We have announced since the beginning that Iranian government does not recognize the US extra-territorial law and consider the US court ruling to blockade Iranian funds null and void and in gross violation of the International Law,” he says.

AFP

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens to a question in a joint press briefing with his Omani counterpart Yousuf bin Alawi after their meeting in Tehran, February 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens to a question in a joint press briefing with his Omani counterpart Yousuf bin Alawi after their meeting in Tehran, February 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

‘No place’ for Jordan’s comments on Temple Mount — official

An Israeli official says there is “no place” for Jordan’s threats over the Temple Mount.

A Jordanian government spokesman earlier Monday said Israel’s “violations against worshipers” on the holy site “are a violation of international laws and conventions” and could have “dangerous consequences.”

“There is no place for such a statement. Israel is acting responsibly and Jordan knows this,” the Israeli official says in response.

The official also praises the letter by 83 senators to the US president urging him to boost defense aid.

“It is encouraging to see such strong support for Israel from both parties and the American people,” the official says.

Raoul Wootliff contributed

Britain’s Labour Party suspends anti-Semitic columnist

As part of its crackdown on anti-Semitism, Britain’s Labour Party suspended the party membership of a columnist from Ireland who apparently said Israel was using the Holocaust to receive money.

John McAuliffe, an international member of the British party, columnist at Digital Journal and the Cambridge Globalist, was suspended this week after allegedly posting on Facebook a message in which he described the genocide as “the most useful political tool of the Zionist government in Israel to establish a financial racket in the West, whereby Israel receives an unlimited sum for the duration of its existence,” The Jewish News reports Monday.

The suspension, made known to the Jewish News by a Labour spokesperson, is the latest in a string of punitive measures against members who have made anti-Semitic hate speech.

In his Facebook post, McAuliffe wrote: “The large level of poverty in Israel among Holocaust survivors shows they don’t care about the emotional impact they are trying to generate. It is about money and military technology. This further paints a clearer picture of the divide between Zionism and Judaism, and their incompatibility.”

JTA

Police fire tear gas at Cairo protesters, make several arrests

Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters as around 50 anti-government demonstrators gathered in a square of Egypt’s capital Monday in defiance of an official ban, an AFP journalist said.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and his interior minister had warned on the eve of the planned demonstrations that security forces would deal firmly with protesters.

Police had sealed off access to three venues for protests called by the secular and leftist opposition as well as making dozens of arrests over the previous four days.

The protesters who gathered in a small square came under tear gas fire after a first police van at the scene was pelted with stones, the journalist says.

Several arrests are made and journalists briefly detained until their credentials had been verified.

AFP

Kasich says pact with Cruz ‘not a big deal’

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is still urging people in Indiana to vote for him.

That’s the Republican presidential candidate’s message about 13 hours after he announced an arrangement to give rival Ted Cruz “a clear path” in Indiana, which holds a primary election next week. In exchange, Cruz was to give Kasich a clear path in Oregon and New Mexico.

The arrangement was designed to prevent front-runner Donald Trump from clinching the nomination. Kasich addresses the matter publicly for the first time as he campaigned in Philadelphia on Monday.

Kasich says of Indiana voters, “I’ve never told them not to vote for me. They ought to vote for me.” He says he simply agreed not to spend “resources” in Indiana.

He’s also playing down the significance of the extraordinary arrangement.

He says, “It’s not a big deal.”

AP

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 18, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images via JTA)

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 18, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images via JTA)

Obama says now ‘most peaceful’ era in human history

In Germany earlier today, Obama says we are fortunate to live “in the most peaceful, most prosperous, most progressive era in human history.”

“I want to begin with an observation that, given the challenges that we face in the world and the headlines we see every day, may seem improbable, but it’s true,” he says. “We are fortunate to be living in the most peaceful, most prosperous, most progressive era in human history. That may surprise young people who are watching TV or looking at your phones and it seems like only bad news comes through every day. But consider that it’s been decades since the last war between major powers. More people live in democracies. We’re wealthier and healthier and better educated, with a global economy that has lifted up more than a billion people from extreme poverty, and created new middle classes from the Americas to Africa to Asia.”

“If you had to choose a moment in time to be born, any time in human history, and you didn’t know ahead of time what nationality you were or what gender or what your economic status might be, you’d choose today — which isn’t to say that there is not still enormous suffering and enormous tragedy and so much work for us to do,” the US president says.

Palestinian journalist arrested by Shin Bet over terror ties

Israel’s Shin Bet security service on Monday accuses a Palestinian journalist arrested at the weekend of belonging to a terror group after colleagues called for international support for his release.

Omar Nazzal, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), was detained by Israeli officials on Saturday at the border between the West Bank and Jordan.

He was seeking to travel to a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists in Bosnia.

The Shin Bet service said in response to an AFP query that he had been recently appointed a director of Palestine Today, a TV channel it declared illegal in February, and was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — a leftist political party Israel accuses of terrorism.

“Omar has for years been known to be a Popular Front activist: he was arrested now because of his involvement in current Popular Front activities,” Shin Bet says in a written reply.

It said he was not detained because of his journalism but over “his involvement in terror group activities.”

The PJS called on Sunday for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to intervene in Nazzal’s case.

The Palestine Today offices in Ramallah were raided in March by soldiers after Israel accused it of incitement.

AFP, Times of Israel staff

Soldier jailed for 17 days for pointing gun at Palestinian

An IDF soldier is jailed for 17 days after he cocked his weapon at a Palestinian over the weekend.

The soldier, from the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda battalion, aimed his weapon at an Arab man though there was no immediate threat, the army says.

Holocaust survivor Martin Gray dies at 93

Best-selling author and Holocaust survivor Martin Gray has died in Belgium aged 93, a local official tells AFP on Monday.

The Polish-born Gray, who died overnight, is best known for his 1971 memoir “For Those I Loved,” which was translated into more than 20 languages.

It described how he survived the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, fled the Treblinka death camp and entered Berlin as a soldier in the Red Army.

The book was turned into a high budget mini-series starring Michael York in 1983 that was a huge hit in France.

Some doubts emerged about the veracity of Gray’s claims, but lawyer and famed Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld tells AFP he firmly believed them.

“He was a light-hearted man with a rare strength of spirit,” he says.

AFP

US journalist says he was denied entry into Turkey

A Turkey-based American journalist says he was denied reentry at Istanbul Ataturk Airport and is returning to the United States.

“I’ve been given no reason for the entry ban, nor confirmation that this status is lasting or permanent,” David Lepeska, who has written for Foreign Affairs and Al Jazeera America, tells The Associated Press.

Lepeska arrived in Turkey from Italy on Sunday evening after a family vacation.

On arrival he was informed that there was an entry ban on his visa and that he would need to wait for clearance from Ankara to re-enter the country.

After nearly 20 hours of waiting, Lepeska says, he decided such clearance “probably wasn’t forthcoming” and booked a flight to Chicago.

On his Instagram account, he writes, “This is not the last I will see of you, Turkey.”

There is no immediate comment from Turkey’s Interior or Foreign Ministries on his situation.

Lepeska is one of several foreign journalists who have been detained, denied entry or expelled from Turkey.

Turkey’s government is cracking down on critical media and dissenting voices, raising concerns in a country once seen as a model of Muslim democracy.

AP

Saudi society will decide if women can drive — prince

Saudi society, not the government, will determine whether women will be allowed to drive cars, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says on Monday.

He is speaking to reporters after the unveiling of a vast plan, known as Saudi Vision 2030, to transform the oil-dependent economy.

Mohammed is asked whether one of the plan’s goals, to increase women’s participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent, could lead to their right to drive.

“So far the society is not persuaded — and it has negative influence — but we stress that it is up to the Saudi society,” he says, adding that change cannot be forced.

Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s toughest restrictions on women and is the only country where they cannot get behind the wheel.

The sexes are separated in restaurants and other public facilities. Women are subject to male “guardians,” family members who must authorize a woman’s travel, work or marriage.

The kingdom’s major cities are expanding their public transport networks but for the moment they remain limited, and a woman’s ability to work is hindered unless she can afford a driver.

AFP

Hikers’ carelessness may have sparked forest fire

Police believe careless hikers in northern Israel may have accidentally started the fire in the Biriya Forest, which has just been brought under control, Channel 2 reports.

Man lightly-to-moderately hurt in Eilat stabbing

A man is stabbed and lightly-to-moderately injured in the southern resort town of Eilat.

A suspect is arrested.

Police are investigating the motive for the attack.

Channel 10 says the two men had been arguing.

Investigators confirm forest fire caused by hikers

Investigators confirm that the large fire in the Biriya forest was started by Israeli visitors to the site, according to Hebrew reports.

Saudi Arabia to cut down on foreign military spending

Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s biggest military spenders, seeks a major boost to its small local defense industry under a wide-ranging plan unveiled Monday to transform the oil-dependent economy.

Currently only two percent of the kingdom’s defense spending is within its borders, but this will rise to “30 percent to 50 percent to endow the country with a new industry,” Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says, unveiling the Vision 2030 plan.

Saudi Arabia has traditionally bought its weapons from the United States, Britain and France but “has a strong demand that we should satisfy locally,” the prince, who is also defense minister, tells Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television.

“From now on the ministry of defense and other security and military agencies will only place a contract with a foreign supplier if it is linked to a local industry,” he says in an interview.

“We are proceeding with a restructuring of several of our military contracts to link them to a Saudi industry.”

AFP

Foreigner’s head dumped in southern Philippines

The head of a foreign man is dumped on a remote southern Philippine island on Monday, authorities say, hours after a ransom deadline passed for two Canadians and a Norwegian held hostage by Islamic militants.

Police say two people on a motorbike dropped the head near city hall on Jolo, a mostly lawless island about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of Manila that is one of the main strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf militant group.

“We found a head in a plastic bag,” provincial police chief Wilfredo Cayat tells AFP.

He says the head belonged to a Caucasian man, but emphasized it was impossible to immediately identify. The local police chief issues a report to journalists with similar details.

Canadian tourists John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor were kidnapped seven months ago from yachts at a marina near the major city of Davao, more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) from Jolo.

Six weeks after the abduction, Abu Sayyaf gunmen released a video on social media of their hostages held in a jungle setting demanding one billion pesos ($21 million) each for the safe release of the three foreigners.

The men were forced to beg on camera for their lives, and similar videos were posted over several months in which the hostages looked increasingly frail.

In the most recent video, Ridsdel, a retiree aged in his late 60s, said he would be killed on April 25 if a ransom of 300 million pesos was not paid.

AFP

Case against broadcaster who called Nazi camps ‘Polish’ dismissed

A court in Poland on Monday dismisses a case brought by a Holocaust survivor who was held at Auschwitz against a German broadcaster who described Nazi camps as “Polish.”

In summer 2013, Germany’s ZDF channel referred to “Polish camps of Auschwitz and Majdanek” during a promotional trailer for a documentary about the liberation of the Nazi-era camps.

The court in Krakow accepts that Karol Tendera, 93, had his “rights violated” by the wording but adds that the German broadcaster had “effectively” explained its behavior in two letters it sent to Tendera and a statement posted on its website.

Tendera’s lawyers have said that he will appeal against the decision.

“We consider that the explanation does not satisfy Mr Karol Tendera,” one of his lawyers tells the PAP news agency.

He criticized the court for not banning the German channel from using the wording in future and for not ordering it to pay damages to an organization known for defending Polish identity.

In 2009 Poland protested over foreign media’s use of the term “Polish camp” for the Sobibor death camp that was also established by Nazi Germany in Poland during World War II.

AFP

Canadian executed in Philippines, PM confirms

A Canadian national was executed by Islamic militants in the Philippines, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirms, according to AFP.

Report: Palestinian shops in Hebron forced to close over Israeli visits

Palestinian news agency Ma’an says Palestinian shop owners in Hebron are forced to close as thousands of right-wing Israelis visit the city for Passover.

Hebron activist Issa Amro tells Ma’an that the IDF “instructed” shops in both the H1 (controlled by the PA) and H2 (controlled by Israel) areas of the city to stay shut.

“They want to make it look like Palestinians don’t live here,” Amro says.

read more:
comments