The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.

Merkel: Germany had Islamic extremism before refugees

Chancellor Angela Merkel dismisses suggestions that the influx of refugees over the past year brought Islamic extremism to Germany.

Speaking at a campaign event in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Merkel says “the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism by IS isn’t a phenomenon that came to us with the refugees, it’s one that we had before too.”

She concedes, however, “it can be seen that there are attempts to win over refugees (for terrorism), or we had the case of Paris, where refugees were deliberately smuggled in by IS.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks alongside Lorenz Caffier, left, of Merkel's Christian Democrats, during an election campaign in Neustrelitz, Germany on Aug. 17, 2016. (Bernd Wuestneck/dpa via AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks alongside Lorenz Caffier, left, of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, during an election campaign in Neustrelitz, Germany on Aug. 17, 2016. (Bernd Wuestneck/dpa via AP)

Merkel’s Christian Democrats face strong competition from the nationalist, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party in state elections on Sept. 4.

The country was shaken by a string of attacks in July, two of which were the first in Germany claimed by the Islamic State group.

— AP

UN Syria envoy suspends aid task force amid ongoing fighting

The UN envoy for Syria cuts short a meeting of the international body’s humanitarian task force amid continued fighting that has prevented aid deliveries to besieged areas for at least a month.

Staffan de Mistura says he halted the weekly meeting after only eight minutes as there was “no sense” in having one because of the delay in aid deliveries.

Syrian rescue workers carry a young victim on a stretcher following a reported air srike on the rebel-held northwestern city of Idlib on 17 August, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/Omar haj kadour)

Syrian rescue workers carry a young victim on a stretcher following a reported air srike on the rebel-held northwestern city of Idlib on 17 August, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/Omar haj kadour)

He reiterates his call for a 48-hour pause in the fighting, notably in the northern city of Aleppo, to help allow for deliveries and asks for a “gesture of humanity from both sides.”

The envoy says he plans to reconvene the task force next week, and believes its co-chairs — Russia and the United States — still want a nonmilitary solution to Syria’s conflict.

— AP

4 said killed in bombing of Turkish army convoy

Three soldiers and a local guard are killed in an attack on a Turkish military convoy in the town of Bitlis in the country’s troubled southeast, state-run media reports.

Seven soldiers are also wounded in the bombing blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to the Anadolu news agency.

— AFP

Turkey asks Greece for coup suspects’ extradition

Greek officials say Turkey has officially requested the extradition of eight military officers who fled the country after July’s failed coup.

“The demand was received yesterday and sent to the justice ministry,” a diplomatic source says.

The eight men — two commanders, four captains and two sergeants — requested asylum in Greece after landing a military helicopter in the northern city of Alexandroupoli four days after the attempted government takeover on July 15.

Their asylum hearings are to begin on Friday, when two of the officers are scheduled to appear before a committee.

In late July, the court of Alexandroupoli sentenced the eight — who face a military trial in their homeland if sent back — to suspended two-month prison terms for illegal entry.

The men were subsequently relocated to Athens and are in police custody until their asylum applications are heard, a process expected to take a month. The eight claim they will not receive a fair trial in Turkey, where the authorities have detained thousands of people over the coup, including top generals.

— AFP

East Jerusalem man indicted for killing his relative

A 23-year-old resident of East Jerusalem is indicted in Jerusalem District Court for the murder of a close relative earlier this month.

Muntaser Qara’in is accused of killing Mahmoud Hajaj, following a previous dispute over the murder of Qara’in’s father in 2014. On August 5, an armed Qara’in allegedly drove to the neighborhood of Ras Alamud, where Hajaj lived, and encoutered Hajaj driving in the opposite direction, with his two-year-old daughter on his lap.

The two men got out of their respective cars, and Hajaj began to flee, chased by Qara’in who was firing at him. Qara’in allegedly shot Hajaj multiple times, shouting: “I have avenged my father.” Hajaj died in hospital shortly afterwards and Qara’in was arrested within the hour in his own home.

Clinton meeting with top law enforcement leaders in New York

Hillary Clinton is poised to meet with a group of top law enforcement leaders, including the retiring New York City police commissioner who recently said Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy scared him.

Clinton campaign aides say she will meet in New York with eight leading law enforcement leaders, including retiring commissioner Bill Bratton of New York City and his successor, James O’Neill; Charles Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department and former police chief Charles Ramsey of Philadelphia.

Other participants include law enforcement leaders from Tucson, Arizona; Seattle; Camden County, New Jersey; and Dallas County, Texas.

Bratton said in an interview earlier this month with CBS News that Trump’s “shoot from the hip” style and “lack of depth” on policy issues scared him.

Clinton’s meeting comes as Trump, the Republican nominee, has accused her of being “against the police” and vowed to restore law and order if elected president. Aides say Clinton’s meeting has been planned for several weeks and will build upon her outreach to law enforcement during the campaign.

— AP

Court remands rabbi accused of rape until end of trial

Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court orders a rabbi apparently caught on tape admitting to the rape of his female followers to remain in custody until the end of legal proceedings against him.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland was extradited from South Africa in July, and arrested upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. He is charged with multiple counts of sexual assault.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland covers himself with his prayer shawl at the Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem on August 1, 2016.(Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Rabbi Eliezer Berland covers himself with his prayer shawl at the Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem on August 1, 2016.(Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

The court says that the 79-year-old Berland poses a flight risk, and expresses concern that he may attempt to obstruct justice.

Berland’s attorneys say they will appeal the decision to keep him in custody.

Flood at home of US lobbyist who calls natural disasters God’s retribution

A US Christian lobbyist who claims that natural disasters are God’s punishment for homosexuality had his house destroyed in the floods in Louisiana, the Independent reports.

Tony Perkins, who is president of the Family Research Council, says his home was hit by a flood of “near biblical proportions,” that forced him and his family to flee in a canoe.

Perkins claims homosexuality is akin to a drug or alcohol addiction, and has compared homosexuality to pedophilia, writing on the FRC website that: “While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”

MKs want Barak to explain claim that PM put country in danger

Zionist Union MK Omer Barlev is demanding that the intelligence subcommittee of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee hold an urgent meeting to discuss claims by former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak that PM Netanyahu has harmed Israel’s security through his actions, Haaretz reports.

Barak told a conference of the left-leaning Darkenu organization last night that Netanyahu had harmed US-Israel ties, which had also opened Israel up to a “central security threat.” But, Barak said, he could not go into more detail because of “the sensitivity of the issues.”

Former prime minister Ehud Barak speaks at a conference for the left-wing Darkenu organization in Rishon Lezion on August 17, 2016. (Neri Zilber)

Former prime minister Ehud Barak speaks at a conference for the left-wing Darkenu organization in Rishon Lezion on August 17, 2016. (Neri Zilber)

Omer Barlev, who is a member of the Knesset committee, writes to chairman Avi Dichter (Likud) that Barak’s references to strategic threats in his speech last night require a classified discussion, not one held “on stages and with microphones.”

Barlev is supported by fellow committee member and Meretz leader Zehava Galon, who calls for Barak to appear before the committee to explain his comments.

Aides: Barak slamming PM’s poor conduct, not specific event

Associates of Ehud Barak say the former prime minister was criticizing Netanyahu for his poor conduct over a protracted period and not for any specific event.

The associates decline to say whether Barak is referring to relations with a specific country, Channel 2 reports, despite him last night slamming Netanyahu for endangering US-Israel ties.

Barak is also expecting Likud MK Avi Dichter to summon him to appear before the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which he heads.

Hamas hails Malaysia for dropping FIFA summit over Israeli participation

Hamas praises Malaysia for refusing to host the FIFA Congress next year as it does not want to issue visas to Israelis or display the Israeli flag.

Gaza's Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, left, greets Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, right, after his arrival in Gaza City on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. (photo credit: AP Photo/ Mohammed Salem, Pool)

Gaza’s former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, left, greets Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, right, after his arrival in Gaza City on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. (photo credit: AP Photo/ Mohammed Salem, Pool)

A statement from the terror group expresses “great appreciation” to Malaysia, hailing the country’s refusal “to engage in the policy of normalization” with Israel.

“Hamas considers this a courageous stance that is welcomed by all Palestinians, who wish Malaysia goodness and prosperity,” the statement says.

— Dov Lieber

Brexit pushes British Jews to seek German passports

Britain’s upcoming departure from the European Union is pushing numerous British Jews to seek German passports, decades after they and their antecedents were stripped of their nationality by the Nazis.

According to The Telegraph newspaper, the number of British Jews applying for German citizenship “spiked sharply” in the wake of the June 23 vote to leave the EU, up from the usual 20 or so applications of this kind per year.

Germany’s Basic Law states that any Jewish person, or a descendant thereof, who lost German nationality as a result of Nazi laws is entitled to have it restored.

3 workers at state company indicted for smuggling cigarettes

Customs officers and police arrest three workers at a sensitive security compound on suspicion of smuggling cigarettes worth millions of shekels via the Ashdod port.

The compound at which the raid is carried out belongs to a state-owned oil company, Channel 2 reports. The cigarettes were hidden in containers that were shipped into the port.

More arrests are expected.

Film of Palestinian girls reading Anne Frank’s diary airs in Iran

A film of Palestinian and Israeli girls reading excerpts from “The Diary of Anne Frank” that was partly shot in Gaza during the 2014 war is shown in Iran.

“Anne Frank: Then and Now” shows 10 girls — two Israeli and eight Palestinian — reading lines from the journal penned by the young Dutch Jewess while she was in hiding during World War II. The film uses various images of Gaza as a backdrop, including piles of rubble apparently from Israeli airstrikes. Some of the film was also shot in Jaffa and Jerusalem.

The Guardian says that the screening of the film in Iran was followed by a lengthy talk from its Croatian director, Jakov Sedlar, who urged the audience to find out more about the Holocaust.

Secrecy surrounds the location of the Iranian viewing so as to protect its organizers, the newspaper says.

World ORT creates NIS 2m fund for sick, housebound Israeli kids

World ORT, an international Jewish educational NGO, announces a new fund of two million shekels to aid sick, housebound children in Israel.

The fund is set up by the Kadima Mada (Hebrew for “forward science”) branch of ORT, which says the money will go to help finance treatments for rare illnesses, medical devices, in-house elevators and learning aids for special needs children, among other things.

“During our ongoing daily work with housebound children and their parents, we learnt of the distress caused by their inability to afford the medical equipment and services crucial for the children’s development and family’s welfare, to say nothing of the tremendous financial challenge in caring for a child with a rare disease,” says Kadima Mada CEO Avi Ganon.

“Upon realizing that there are insufficient frameworks addressing these needs, we took it upon ourselves to establish this new fund and recruited the necessary resources mainly from Jewish communities in the Diaspora. The funds raised thus far are of course insufficient to meet all the children’s needs but it is definitely a start,” he says.

Record 35 nations to participate in European Day of Jewish Culture

Thirty years after its initiation, the European Day of Jewish Culture will have a record 35 countries participating this year.

Azerbaijan for the first time will be a participant in the intergovernmental project, which this year falls on Sept. 4.

From the Azeri capital of Baku to Belem in Portugal, hundreds of cities and Jewish institutions will join for a series of activities around the theme of Jewish languages. Previous themes have included women in Judaism, intercultural bridges, Jewish humor and Jewish cooking.

— JTA

Barlev talks to Barak, but still in the dark on his claims about PM

MK Omer Barlev says he will meet with Ehud Barak next week to discuss the claims the former prime minister and defense minister made last night about Netanyahu endangering the security of the state.

Barlev says the two could not discuss any details over the phone, and as such he has “no solution to the puzzle” of Barak’s unspecified claims last night, Army Radio reports.

Hundreds at funeral of renowned Israeli composer Nachum Heiman

Hundreds of family and friends turn out for the funeral in Kfar Saba of Israel Prize-winning composer Nachum Heiman.

Heiman, who died last night at the age of 82, was one of Israel’s most respected musicians and penned more than 1,000 songs.

Hundreds attend the funeral for composer Nachum Heiman at Kfar Saba cemetery on August 18, 2016, a day after he passed away at the age of 82 (screen capture: Channel 2)

Hundreds attend the funeral for composer Nachum Heiman at Kfar Saba cemetery on August 18, 2016, a day after he passed away at the age of 82 (screen capture: Channel 2)

“I’m here to pay tribute to you, my father, my own personal father. True, I called you my own personal songman, but firstly you were my father,” says his daughter Si Heiman, who is also a musician. “Others will talk a great deal about your final years, which were less beautiful and comfortable for us as a society, but I want to take with me everything that you were. You were a rare and colorful person, but also a loner. This is how you lived and this is how you died.”

US auction company selling Goering’s golden gun

Rock Island Auction Company in Illinois is auctioning off a gold-plated pistol owned by senior Nazi party official Hermann Goering.

“This is an attractive example of possibly the most historic Walther factory engraved pistol that we have ever offered for sale. Obviously Hermann Goering needs no introduction to anyone, as he was well-known,” says the blurb on he company’s website.

“He survived the war, was tried and convicted at the Nuremburg war trials in 1946, but he escaped the hangman’s noose by taking poison just before he was to be sent to the gallows,” it continues. “He was an extremely close confidant of Adolf Hitler and was considered to be in Hitler’s inner-circle for most of the war. This phenomenal pistol… [was] obviously intended for a senior Nazi Party member of Hermann Goering’s rank.

The gun will be sold as part of an auction between September 9-11. According to CNN, the pistol could fetch up to $400,000.

4 PA forces hurt in shootout during Nablus arrest raid

Four members of the Palestinian Authority security forces are wounded in a shootout during an arrest operation in the West Bank city of Nablus, Ynet reports.

The report does not specify the number of wanted men the forces were trying to detain. Two of the forces are in serious condition.

 

PA security official dies in Nablus clashes

A member of the PA security forces dies in a shootout with armed men during an arrest raid in Nablus, Palestinian reports say.

Earlier reports said that four members of the PA forces were wounded in the clashes, two seriously.

Steinem: Woman managing Trump campaign is like anti-Semite hiring a Jew

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem mocks the Trump campaign for promoting pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager, and says she cannot understand why Conway would accept the post.

“It’s like seeing an anti-Semitic candidate being managed by a Jewish person. It’s not heartening at all. I can’t imagine why she’s doing it,” Steinem tells Yahoo News.

Gloria Steinem in 2011 (Wikimedia Commons, Ms. Foundation for Women, CC BY 2.0)

Gloria Steinem in 2011 (Wikimedia Commons, Ms. Foundation for Women, CC BY 2.0)

The writer also tears into Trump himself, calling him “a bully,” and arguing that “he’s not a successful businessman.”

She continues: “He inherited his money. He calls Hillary cowardly and I think to myself, ‘Have you ever given birth?’

“It is unprecedented that we have had someone with so little experience, so little accuracy, so much bombast, such a bully.”

Twitter axes 235,000 more accounts in terror crackdown

Twitter announces that it has cut off 235,000 more accounts for violating its policies regarding promotion of terrorism at the global one-to-many messaging service.

The latest account suspensions bring to 360,000 the total number of accounts sidelined since the middle of 2015, and is helping “drive meaningful results” in curbing the activity, according to the San Francisco-based company.

Twitter has been under pressure to balance protecting free speech at the service with not providing a stage for terrorist groups to spread violent messages and enlist people to their causes.

The latest account suspensions came since February, when Twitter announced that it had neutralized 125,000 accounts for violating rules against violent threats and promotion of terrorism.

“Since that announcement, the world has witnessed a further wave of deadly, abhorrent terror attacks across the globe,” Twitter says in a blog post. “We strongly condemn these acts and remain committed to eliminating the promotion of violence or terrorism on our platform.”

— AFP

3 senior officers to testify in support of Hebron soldier

Three senior officers are to testify in support of Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier on trial for manslaughter for killing a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron in March.

Channel 2 names the three as Brigadier General (res.) Shmuel Zakai, Major General (res.) Dan Biton and Major General (res.) Uzi Dayan. The defense team has already informed the court that the three will take the stand when the trial resumes in the coming days, the report says.

Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian stabber, seen during a court hearing at a military court in Jaffa, July 26, 2016. (Flash90)

Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian stabber, seen during a court hearing at a military court in Jaffa, July 26, 2016. (Flash90)

Zakai has previously expressed support for Azaria, saying that, “the reaction to the soldier who carried out the shooting in Hebron is disgraceful and hypocritical, and primarily lacking in professionalism. The hysterical reaction triggers melancholy thoughts regarding our ability to withstand pressure. There is no dispute over the fact that the soldier shot a terrorist who had already proven to his intent to do harm.”

Amy Schumer says show on hold, not canceled

Jewish American comedian Amy Schumer assures fans that her Comedy Central sketch series “Inside Amy Schumer” has not been canceled.

“@ComedyCentral has provided us with a wonderful home and we couldn’t be happier there. I am just touring,” Schumer writes on Twitter after previously suggesting that the show is no longer in production.

Schumer says, however, there are no plans for a fifth season of the show in the “foreseeable future.”

Schumer, 35, whose rapid rise to fame was capped with her starring role in the 2015 film “Trainwreck,” clarifies a previous tweet in which she asserted, “We aren’t making the show anymore.” Schumer was responding to criticism of one of the show’s writers, Kurt Metzger, who had posted on social media several messages that many interpreted as insensitive to rape victims.

Urged to comment on reports that Metzger had been fired, Schumer responds by saying: “I didn’t fire Kurt. He isn’t a writer for my show because we aren’t making the show anymore. There are no writers for it.”

— JTA

Hundreds protest in Tel Aviv over housing prices

Hundreds of people protest in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv over the high price of housing in Israel, which shows no signs of falling.

The protesters call for a revolt by consumers, and urge young couples not to purchase apartments, thereby forcing the state to act to bring down house prices.

The government report shows house prices in Israel rose in the second quarter of 2016. The average price for a four-room apartment in Tel Aviv is now NIS 3.09 million, up by 13 percent from 2015.

Man accused harassing child is freed as suspicions fall on his twin

Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court releases a man accused of sexually harassing a 7-year-old girl to house arrest when police begin to think that his twin brother is actually the culprit. According to Maariv, the man is put under five days of house arrest, while police say they intend to detain the brother for questioning.

The man was arrested after someone resembling him was caught on the security camera of a Bnei Brak store, following the girl at close proximity. The girl fled in fear and her family filed a complaint with police. The man was arrested and even admitted the charges against him.

Only yesterday did police begin to suspect that they had the wrong man, leading them to ask the courts to free the suspect to house arrest, on condition that he kept out of Bnei Brak for two weeks.

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