The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Woman stabbed, lightly hurt in Rosh Ha’ayin attack
A woman in her 30s is stabbed and lightly wounded in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin.
A security guard in the industrial area of the city spots the attacker and overpowers her without any weapons discharged, police say.
Magen David Adom says the victim is treated at the scene before she is taken to Beilinson Hospital in nearby Petah Tivka.
The circumstances of the attack are under investigation.
Iran oil exports surpass 2 million barrels per day — minister
Iran’s oil exports surpass 2 million barrels per day (bpd) following the lifting of sanctions under its nuclear deal with world powers, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh says.
“Iran’s oil and gas condensate exports are now at more than 2 million barrels per day” after rising by 250,000 bpd since March 1, the ministry’s Shana news service quotes Zanganeh as saying.
Iran has doubled exports since its nuclear accord took effect on January 16.
Iran, an OPEC member, has the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves but its exports were long hampered by sanctions over its nuclear program.
PM stresses economic stability, calls for more growth
Benjamin Netanyahu praises Israel’s economic performance and calls for more growth, after receiving the Bank of Israel annual report from Governor Karnit Flug.
“I am pleased to hear that we are at an all-time low for unemployment… and this is pushing wages upward,” says the PM.
“I think that we need to push growth higher and to this end we have started historic negotiations with China on a free trade agreement, which will greatly increase exports,” he says.
“We are in parallel discussions with Japan on a most-favored nation trade agreement, and we need to extract the gas from the sea. This will inject many billions into state coffers and for consumers in the State of Israel.”
Labor federation okays series of work disputes
The Histadrut labor federation approves a series of industrial disputes, including one by workers at the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, over a decision to move a research institute from the center of the country to the north.
Disputes are also approved for employees of the Tnuva dairy cooperative, Channel 2 television and radio, and the Port Authority, as well as veterinarians employed by local authorities, Ynet reports.
EU official: We won’t ignore Turkey’s human right violations
European Parliament President Martin Schulz says the EU must make no concessions to Turkey over human rights, but voices confidence in a deal with Ankara to manage the refugee crisis.
Under the controversial agreement, Turkey is due to take back illegal migrants from EU member Greece from Monday, when it will also start an orderly resettlement program of Syrian asylum-seekers to the 28-member bloc.
Turkey has received EU financial aid and other concessions, but Schulz tells Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper that Europe must give no ground to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when it comes to fundamental freedoms.
“We must not be silent on violations of fundamental rights in Turkey just because we are cooperating on the refugee question,” he says. “On the contrary, we must denounce these violations and permanently stay in discussions with Turkey on freedom of expression and human rights issues.”
Report: French PM to visit Israel, PA next month
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority in May, the Hebrew-language website Walla says, citing the French media.
The report says that there has been no official confirmation from Paris, Jerusalem or Ramallah.
Israel to bring in 900 Moldovan construction workers
The Population Immigration and Border Authority approves a request to bring to Israel some 900 construction workers from Moldova. Another 6,000 people will be recruited to work for foreign companies working on Israeli construction projects, Israel Radio says.
There are currently approximately 7,600 foreign workers employed in construction in Israel.
Report: UK halts funding for anti-Israel charity
The British government halts funding for War on Want, the Telegraph reports, following claims the charity sponsored anti-Israel events.
The paper quotes the Department for International Development (Dfid) as saying that it had ended support for War on Want, which contributed to the costs of “Israeli Apartheid Week” on university campuses in February.
According to the report, the charity has received £260,000 in funding from Dfid in the last two years.
War on Want denies the report, calling the item “a complete fabrication.”
“War on Want has not sought any UK government support for its operations for a number of years now, so it is absurd to suggest that we have had our funding ‘pulled,'” said the statement on the charity’s website. “The insinuation that we have been criticised by the government for standing up for the rights of the Palestinian people is equally bogus. We will be contacting the Telegraph to help it set the record straight.”
Traffic accident in Saudi Arabia kills 15, including 6 children
Two vans collide in southwestern Saudi Arabia, killing 15 people, including six children.
Saudi Red Crescent spokesman Ahmed Asiri is quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency as saying the accident took place just before 6 a.m. in the Wadi bin Hashbal region of Asir province, located south of Mecca.
Asiri says ambulances and fire trucks are dispatched to the scene and extinguish the fire that had engulfed one of the vehicles.
Erdogan blames ‘alliance of militant groups’ for DC protests
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames an alliance of Kurdish, Turkish and Armenian groups proscribed by Turkey for noisy protests in Washington, DC, on Thursday, which led to scuffles with his security guards.
Speaking at the airport on his return to Istanbul after his almost week-long trip to the US, Erdogan says he saw at the protest “representatives” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state, and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey accuses of being the Syrian arm of the PKK.
Erdogan also claims there were representatives at the protests from the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), which carried out a string of deadly attacks in the 1970s and 1980s purportedly aimed at avenging the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 in World War I.
The president says the groups worked alongside allies of his archenemy, the US-based exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of running the Parallel State Structure group (PDY) and plotting to oust the government.
Palestinian pathologist ‘finds Hebron attacker was killed by soldier’
The Palestinian Prisoners Club quotes a Palestinian pathologist as saying that an autopsy on a disarmed Palestinian attacker shows he was killed by an IDF soldier who shot him in the head as he lay wounded on the ground.
The autopsy took place at the Institute for Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir in Tel Aviv.
The soldier, who is currently being detained on an IDF base, is now facing manslaughter charges over the March 24 incident in Hebron.
— Avi Issacharoff
Human error caused plane crash that killed top IDF officer
A Defense Ministry investigator finds that the light plane crash that killed Brigadier General Munir Amar in northern Israel last month was caused by human error.
The findings of the ministry’s chief accident investigator, Yitzhak Raz, show the crash occurred after Amar momentarily lost control of the aircraft he was flying solo, Channel 2 reports.
The investigation also shows no indication of any technical malfunctions, nor did Amar make any distress calls during the flight.
Palestinian tries to stab soldiers in West Bank, is arrested
A Palestinian is arrested while trying to stab soldiers at the Tapuah Junction in the West Bank.
There are no injuries in the incident.
Syrian army seizes key IS stronghold, state TV says
Syrian troops seize the key Islamic State group bastion of Al-Qaryatain, dealing the jihadists a new blow in the country’s center a week after expelling them from Palmyra, state television says.
“The army with backing from supporting forces [pro-regime militia] brings back complete security and stability to the town of Al-Qaryatain, after crushing Daesh terrorists’ last remaining positions there,” state television says, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, however, says fighting is still raging in the east and southeast of the town, in the desert of the Homs province.
Light plane makes emergency landing in sea near Tel Aviv
A light plane makes an emergency landing in the water off the coast of Tel Aviv, Channel 2 reports.
Rescue workers are on their way to the plane, which landed near the popular Metzizim beach in north Tel Aviv.
‘Game of Thrones’ villain stars in SodaStream April Fools’ gag
Hafthór “Thor” Björnsson, better known to “Game of Thrones” fans as evil killer Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, teams up with Israeli company SodaStream for an April Fools’ Day prank.
Ostensibly advertising a product called “Heavy Bubbles,” an ad released March 31 shows Björnsson attributing his great strength to the new brand of sparkling water, which appears to be sold in dumbbell-shaped bottles. He then directs viewers to the website heavybubbles.com.
But anyone trying to purchase the water via the website receives a message reading: “Why do you believe such thing? It makes no sense. With SodaStream you don’t carry plastic bottles. You don’t sweat and you make sparkling water from normal water. At home, like me.”
Admitting that the ad was a joke, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum says the company “wanted to emphasize how ridiculous it is to continue to carry bottles home from the supermarket, so we came up with this crazy, out-of-the box campaign,” according to the PR Newswire website.
Bjornson, who joins Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson as a famous face of the brand, says: “I’ve been using SodaStream since I was a kid and was therefore thrilled to collaborate in this video. I’m always open to new techniques for exercising, but you’ve got to admit that carrying bottles home from the supermarket is a hassle and actually pretty stupid when we have an alternative such as SodaStream.”
Report: London city hall covers up illegal Jewish faith schools
A British newspaper says the education authority of London municipality has destroyed proof that Jewish boys are being taught at illegal faith schools that solely teach religious texts and not mainstream subjects.
The destruction of the evidence came at the request of Jewish community leaders, the Independent says, citing a private company that works with the local education authority. The report says that the practice involves up to 1,000 Jewish boys.
Belgium denies troops at Brussels synagogues had no bullets
The Belgian defense ministry denies reports that some soldiers guarded Brussels synagogues without ammunition in their rifles.
The denial is in response to a claim by a senior Brussels rabbi, Menachem Hadad of the Shomre Hadas Haredi Orthodox community.
A ministry spokesperson says via email that “since January 2015, the defense ministry aids the federal police in protecting certain areas. To do this, soldiers receive standard equipment necessary for operational intervention, including weapons and ammunition.”
Syria opposition wants US promise on Assad
A Syrian opposition figure criticizes perceived “American ambiguity” on the future of President Bashar Assad and urges Washington to confirm he will not be “rehabilitated” in a future government.
“We have American ambiguity that is very damaging for us,” says Bassma Kodmani, member of the main opposition High Negotiations Committee that attended last month’s peace talks in Geneva.
The White House last week indicated Assad should not feature in a transitional unity administration, White House spokesman Josh Earnest dubbing his participation a “non-starter” for Washington.
But Kodmani says the committee wanted confirmation of that stance, two days after high-level US-Russian discussions on ways of strengthening a fragile ceasefire.
“We don’t know what the United States are discussing with Moscow,” Assad’s long-time ally, says Kodmani.
“We are awaiting confirmation that the USA are maintaining their position to refuse to rehabilitate Assad,” she tells French media.
US Republicans back Egypt’s Sissi despite rights concerns
A US Republican delegation visiting Cairo says President Abdel-Fattah Sissi is the “right man at the right time” for Egypt even as Washington criticizes alleged rights abuses in the country.
The six-member delegation led by hawkish senator Lindsey Graham backs Sissi in the fight against the Islamic State group, but is cautious when asked to respond to growing accusations of human rights violations committed by Egyptian security forces.
Graham says Sissi was “the right man at the right time” to lead Egypt as the Islamic State group has become a “nightmare” for the entire region.
“There is a desire that Daesh be destroyed in Sinai… the president has expressed his desire to destroy Daesh,” says Graham, using the Arabic acronym for the IS.
US Jewish skater Max Aaron finishes 8th at World Championship
Scoring a new personal best, American Jewish figure skater Max Aaron is part of a trio that lands the US skaters in the top 10 at the ISU 2016 World Championships.
Aaron, the 2013 US champion from Scottsdale, Arizona, scores 254.14 points and is placed eighth overall in his third appearance at a World Championship.
“This is truly special. It’s a moment I will never forget. I’ve always wanted this on home soil,” says 24-year-old Aaron in a statement from the TD Garden.
The six-day event at the TD Garden marks the first time in its 130-year history the international competition was in Boston.
Jailed Jewish suspected extremist loses appeal to attend son’s circumcision
Beersheba District Court rejects a petition to allow Jewish extremist Meir Ettinger, who is currently in administrative detention, to attend his son’s circumcision.
The petition is turned down on the grounds he remains a threat to the public.
Ettinger, the 23-year-old grandson of murdered extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, is accused of being a key figure in a loose band of youths suspected of a string of nationalist hate crimes targeting Palestinians, Christians and even Israeli soldiers.
PM: I never expressed concern over GOP ‘anti-Muslim rhetoric’
PM Netanyahu denies expressing concern over “anti-Muslim rhetoric” emanating from some candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination his office.
The denial is a response to claims by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) on Virginia radio that both Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in January that they “were very worried about some of the anti-Muslim rhetoric coming out of some of the candidates.”
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is very careful to avoid even the appearance of preference among American presidential candidates,” says the statement from Netanyahu’s office. “In his meeting with Senator Kaine and his colleagues, Prime Minister Netanyahu did not express any opinion about the candidates or any of their positions.”
— Haviv Rettig Gur
Paris vandals tear down signs for Israel exhibit at Louvre
Vandals deface and tear down signs in Paris subway announcing an exhibit about Israel at the Louvre Museum.
The exhibit, called “Open a Door to Israel,” a joint project of Israel’s Strategic Affairs and Foreign Affairs ministries, features nine doors that open to interactive screens that present different aspects of Israel. It has been on display in Rome and Warsaw.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan says in a statement that the signs were ruined by activists from the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
“The BDS extremists revealed their true and hateful nature, using the same approach they take in university campuses, concert halls and business meetings, of violently silencing pro-Israel speakers, and threatening and bullying decision-makers and the general public,” says the statement from Erdan’s office.
The exhibit also is scheduled to go on display in Russia, South Korea, Japan, China and the United States.
Parole board delays decision on cutting Katsav sentence
The Israel Prisons Service Parole Board decides to hold off on a decision about reducing the sentence of former president Moshe Katsav, who is currently serving a seven-year term for rape and other crimes.
The decision to delay a ruling until Wednesday comes after the board members are unable to reach agreement on the request by Katsav to cut one-third off his sentence, Haaretz says.
Chief rabbi: Let Jewish extremist attend his son’s circumcision
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau calls on the Israel Prisons Service to allow Jewish extremist Meir Ettinger to attend his son’s circumcision tomorrow.
Beersheba District Court ruled earlier today that Ettinger, who is currently in administrative detention, cannot leave jail to attend the ceremony.
Lau asks IPS Commissioner Ofra Klinger to find a way to overturn the ruling after receiving a direct appeal from Ettinger’s wife, Israel Radio reports.
Court grants state 3-month extension on Western Wall plan
The High Court gives the state another three months to present a plan to integrate multidenominational Jewish prayer at the Western Wall, and to report on progress in talks with the Reform and Conservative movements, Walla reports.
The court also declines to issue an interim order compelling Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch to allow Torah scrolls in the women’s section at the holy site, effective immediately.
Bono hails Turkey for help on Syrian refugees
The lead singer of Irish rock band U2 Bono hails Turkey’s contribution in hosting Syrian refugees as a “lesson to the world,” in a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the premier’s office says.
With Turkey preparing to host migrants sent back from Greece under a controversial EU deal from tomorrow, Bono praises the country’s tolerance in hosting over 2.7 million Syrian refugees.
“I am very humbled by the generosity of the Turkish people. It is extraordinary. it is a lesson in grace,” Bono says at the meeting in Ankara.
“Years into the (Syria) conflict, in every town and city people are welcomed,” he says in the footage posted on the premier’s official YouTube channel, describing Turkey’s work as a “lesson to the world.”
Democratic senator vows to reauthorize Iran sanctions
The top Democrat handling foreign relations in the Senate says he will endeavor to get Congress to reauthorize Iran sanctions before year’s end, a key goal of pro-Israel activists.
“There’s general agreement we have to extend the sanctions against Iran, and we need to do it before they expire at the end of this year,” says Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking member of his party on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Cardin says he can get Democrats behind a simple reauthorization, adding it is needed to keep in effect sanctions the Obama administration say will “snap back” should Iran violate the deal. The deal offers sanctions relief in exchange for rollbacks in Iran’s nuclear program.
He says concerns about whether Iran would expand its influence in the region came up during his March 18-26 tour of the region in conversations with Netanyahu, the Saudi king and the emir of Qatar.
The Obama administration says reauthorization is not required and is opposing it for now.
80 rare sheep stolen from Negev farm
Police open an investigation after 80 rare sheep are stolen from a farm in the Negev.
The sheep are of the Dorper breed, and have a distinctive black head and white body. The missing animals are worth NIS 250,000 (some $60,000).
Massive leak on offshore accounts ‘names top Israeli banks’
A massive leak of documents from a Panama law firm specializing in tax havens implicates dozens of politicians and officials from around the world in shady offshore holdings. The millions of leaked documents were handed to a German paper, which shared it with other news outlets. Two major Israeli banks are said to be among the organizations named in the leaked documents.
According to Haaretz, the documents show that Bank Hapoalim used the Panamanian law firm to manage activity for various trust funds until 2011. The paper also claims that the leaked documents include multiple correspondences regarding Bank Leumi operations in the Channel Islands, long considered to be a tax haven.
Individuals named in the so-called “Panama Papers” include Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad al-Saud; a confidant of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; and numerous associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The list also includes current and former ministers from Argentina, Angola, France, Iceland and Malta, as well as high-ranking officials from the UK, Hungary, Kenya and Brazil.