The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Iraq executes 36 men convicted in Islamic State massacre
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi officials say the country has executed 36 men convicted of taking part in the Islamic State group’s massacre of hundreds of soldiers in 2014.
Gov. Yahya al-Nasiri says the men were hanged at the Nasiriyah prison in southern Iraq on Sunday. A Justice Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, confirms the executions.
IS captured an estimated 1,700 soldiers from the nearby Speicher military base when it overran the northern city of Tikrit in the summer of 2014. It later posted graphic images online of the soldiers being lined up before trenches and shot dead.
The men executed on Sunday were arrested after Iraqi forces retook Tikrit in 2015 and sentenced to death by an Iraqi court earlier this year.
Peru’s half-Jewish president conducts Israel’s Philharmonic Orchestra
Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, whose father was a Jewish refugee, conducts the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra during the playing of the Peruvian national anthem in the South American country.
“More than 1,400 people who attended the concert celebrated the pleasant surprise and revelation of our president as a conductor. Later, conductor Mehta did the same with the anthem of Israel,” reads a note from the Lima Philharmonic Society.
Kuczynski, who has studied music and plays the flute, was elected president of the South American country in June. He was born in Lima to a French Protestant mother and a German Jewish father who fled the Nazis in 1933.
Israel: Hezbollah behind explosives found near Lebanon border
The explosive devices discovered in a field by a farmer near the northern town of Metulla last month were smuggled into Israel from Lebanon by the Hezbollah terrorist group, Israel Radio reports.
An unnamed defense official told the radio station the three makeshift charges uncovered in an agricultural field were likely meant to be used in attacks against Israelis.
It wasn’t clear who was meant to collect the devices, though the Lebanon-based terror group has recently ramped up efforts to recruit Palestinian operatives from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and within Israel using social media.
Last week, Israel’s Shin Bet security service revealed that in recent months it had broken up two Hezbollah terror cells and arrested nine local members of the organization.
US ambassador condemns Turkey wedding attack
The US ambassador to Turkey has condemned the “barbaric attack” on an outdoor wedding party that killed 50 and wounded dozens of others.
John Bass said “we stand by our ally Turkey and pledge to continue to work closely together to defeat the common threat of terrorism.”
Turkey’s president has blamed the Islamic State group for the bombing in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, near the border with Syria.
Rocket alert in southern Israeli towns
A rocket alert warning signal has been heard in the southern towns of Sderot, Nir Am, Gevim and Ivim.
The IDF is investigating the reports.
The siren warns residents of incoming rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Pope leads prayers for Turkey wedding attack victims
Pope Francis leads hundreds of people in silent prayer for the victims of the Turkish wedding attack.
At his weekly Sunday noontime blessing, Francis said he had heard the “sad news” of the attack. After a moment of silent prayer, Francis led tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square in reciting the Ave Maria.
He concludes by asking “for the gift of peace for everyone.”
Turkey’s president has blamed the Islamic State group for the bombing of an outdoor wedding party near Syria’s border that killed 50 people and wounded dozens of others.
Gaza rocket lands in Sderot
Police confirm reports that one rocket landed in the streets of Sderot.
They say the rocket caused no damage.
IDF artillery firing into northern Gaza after rocket lands in Israel
Palestinian media is reporting that Israeli artillery is firing into the northern Gaza Strip, in response to a rocket fire from the territory towards the southern Israeli town of Sderot.
Police say the rocket, which landed in the center of Sderot, caused no injuries or damage.
It is the first rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled strip since the beginning of July.
IDF strikes two ‘Hamas terror bases’ in response to rocket fire from Gaza
The IDF launches an airstrike against a Hamas terror base in the northern Gaza strip in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza strip that landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.
Another base was struck by tank fire, the IDF says.
“The army will continues to act with determination at any time to protect the citizens of Israel,” a statement says.
IS Timbuktu mausoleum destruction suspect set to plead guilty
An Islamic radical accused of involvement in destroying historic mausoleums in the Malian desert city of Timbuktu goes on trial at the International Criminal Court on Monday and has already told judges he intends to plead guilty.
A swift and relatively straightforward conviction is expected, marking only the fourth conviction since the Hague-based court was established in 2002. If convicted, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years.
Al Mahdi was a Timbuktu-based expert on Islamic law recruited to enforce Ansar Dine’s strict interpretation of Islam on the occupied Timbuktu, prosecutors told judges at a hearing earlier this year. He allegedly led an organization called the “Hisbah” tasked with upholding public morals and preventing vice.
The radicals destroyed 14 of Timbuktu’s 16 mausoleums because they considered them totems of idolatry. The one-room structures that house the tombs of the city’s great thinkers were on the World Heritage list and most of them have since been restored.
Gazan man lightly injured in IDF retaliation fire
A 20-year-old Gazan man was lightly injured by shrapnel in northern Gaza after the IDF stuck 2 Hamas terror bases, the Palestinian Health Ministry spokesperson says.
The IDF fire, from both an airstrike and a tank, came in response to a rocket fire the Strip.
Erdogan: Turkey suicide bomber aged 12 to 14
Turkey’s president says the suicide bomber in the wedding party attack that killed dozens was between 12 and 14 years old.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the information in a live nationally televised address in front of Istanbul city Hall.
At least 50 people were killed and dozens of others wounded in the attack late Saturday in the southeastern city of Gaziantep. Erdogan blamed the Islamic State group for the attack.
Pro-Kurdish party condemns Turkey suicide bombing
A pro-Kurdish political party condemns the attack on a Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey that killed at least 50 people and wounded dozens of others.
The People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, blames Islamic State for the attack in Gaziantep after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said the extremist group was behind the bombing.
The HDP says “we condemn and curse the ones who launched this attack, both the forces and ideology behind their actions.”
The party also suggests that IS carried out the attack hours after another Kurdish political party announced plans to negotiate to try to end a three-decade conflict between Kurdish militants and the Turkish government.
Hamas military spox to give ‘important speech’ tonight
Hamas’s military spokesperson will give an “important speech” at 6 p.m. during a military parade in southern Gaza, according to a statement by the group.
The announcement comes after a rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip struck the southern Israeli town of Sderot.
Palestinian health ministry: 2 injured in IDF Gaza strike
The Palestinian health ministry says two people were injured in an Israeli strike in the northern Gaza strip, and not one as previously reported.
“One of them, aged 20, received shrapnel to the face,” says Ashraf al-Qodra, spokesman for the ministry.
The strikes came in response to a rocket fired from Gaza that struck the Israeli city of Sderot.
Hamas security services sources say that “six shots were fired at various targets. Two of them destroyed a water tank in Beit Hanoun, injuring and causing damage.”
According to witnesses, a base used by the Izz-a-din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, was also hit in Beit Lahia, the area adjacent to Beit Hanoun.
— with AFP
Dozens attend funeral for elderly NY woman they never met
Some 30 people attend the funeral in New York for a woman they didn’t know.
Francine Stein was buried on Wednesday after a graveside funeral at Temple Israel Cemetery in Blauvelt, in Rockland County, New York.
The strangers attended the funeral after Ora Weinbach, a New Jersey high school teacher, called on people in a post on Facebook to join her at the service conducted by her father, Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach.
The post read: “Huge mitzvah opportunity. A woman is being buried tomorrow who has LITERALLY NO ONE attending her funeral, other than the funeral home director and the rabbi (my father). Who would like to join me at the funeral? I will be leaving Teaneck at 10:45. Free lunch with the rabbi after.”
Abbas offers condolences to Erdogan over bombing
Palestinian Authority President Abbas offers condolences to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the families of the victims, and the entire people of Turkey on the death of the 50 Turkish nationals in yesterday’s suicide bombing, the official PA news outlet Wafa reported.
He also “expressed hope for an immediate recovery of the injured.”
— Dov Lieber
PFLP will run with Hamas in West Bank
The radical left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announces they will run with the hard-line Islamist Hamas in upcoming municipal elections.
The PFLP statement said they would be on a joint list with the Gaza-based terror group in the Tubas Governorate, located in the northeastern West Bank. The municipal elections are scheduled for October 8.
The Israeli Defense forces earlier on Sunday blamed the military wing of the PFLP, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, for firing a rocket that hit the Israeli city of Sderot.
— Dov Leiber
Israeli team competing in Olympic rhythmic gymnastics final
The Israeli women’s rhythmic gymnastics team is competing in the final of the Olympic competition.
They will peform shortly after 5 p.m. Israel time and again shortly before 6 p.m.
The rhythmic gymnastics team — which won a gold in the hoops and clubs discipline at the European Championships in June — represents Israel’s last realistic chance of a third medal at the Rio games, following its two bronze medals for judo. (There are no medals for the individual disciplines in Rio; just for the all-around performances.)
The team made it through to the finals of the all-around competition at the Rio Olympics on Saturday, finishing the two qualifying rounds with a total score of 34.883.
Israeli rhythmic gymnastic team scores 17.166 in first final performance
In the first of two performances in the Olympic rhythmic gymnastic competition, the Israeli team scores 17.166 for its ribbon routine.
In yesterday’s heat it scored a total of 34.8 points, opening with a slightly stronger score of 17.250. The team scored 17.633 in the second rotation of hoops and clubs, securing sixth place and therefore a spot in today’s medal-chasing final eight.
The second performance will take place shortly before 6 p.m. Israel time.
Israeli rhythmic gymnastic team placed 6th after final first round
After the first of two performances in the Olympic rhythmic gymnastic competition, Israel’s team placed 6th of the eight teams competing.
Spain, Bulgaria and Russia lead the scoring, in that order.
The Israeli team scored 17.166 for its ribbon routine. They will perform their hoops and clubs routine shortly before 18:00 Israel time.
In yesterday’s heat the team scored a total of 34.8 points, opening with a slightly stronger score of 17.250. The team scored 17.633 in the second rotation of hoops and clubs, securing sixth place and therefore a spot in today’s medal-chasing final eight.
Israeli rhythmic gymnastic team scores 17.383 in final Olympic performance
In its final performance in the Olympic rhythmic gymnastic competition, the Israeli team scores 17.383 for its hoops and clubs routine.
After the first round the team was in 6th place having scored 17.166 for the ribbons routine.
In yesterday’s heat it scored a total of 34.8 points. The team scored 17.633 in the second rotation of hoops and clubs, securing sixth place and therefore a spot in today’s medal-chasing final eight.
Medal hopes dashed for Israeli rhythmic gymnastic team
The Israeli team misses on winning a medal in the rhythmic gymnastics competition at the Rio 2015 Olympics.
With three of eight teams left to compete, Israeli is currently placed 4th after finishing both of its routines.
In its final performance the Israeli team scored 17.383 for its hoops and clubs routine. After the first round the team was in 6th place having scored 17.166 for the ribbons routine.
The rhythmic gymnastics team — which won a gold in the hoops and clubs discipline at the European Championships in June — represented Israel’s last realistic chance of a third medal at the Rio games, following its two bronze medals for judo.
Israel finishes 6th in Olympic rhythmic gymnastics
In the final tally, the Israeli rhythmic gymnastics team finishes 6th in the final of the Olympic competition. Eight teams competed.
Russia – 36.233
Spain – 35.766
Bulgaria – 35.766
Italy – 35.549
Belaruss – 35.299
Israel – 34.549
Italy seeks to relaunch EU ideal with symbolic summit
Italian Premier Matteo Renzi invites his German and French counterparts to pay their respects at the tomb of one of the founding fathers of European unity in a symbolic bid to relaunch the European project after Britain’s clamorous decision to leave the EU.
The location for Monday’s summit carries particular resonance as Europe confronts Islamic extremist violence, slow economic growth and continued anxiety over the implications of the Brexit vote. Italy has a lot to gain from a reinvigorated EU as it copes with flat GDP, the migrant crisis and political uncertainties over a constitutional referendum this fall on which Renzi has staked his government’s survival.
The island of Ventotene off Naples, filled with sun-worshipping tourists in the waning days of summer, was where detained anti-fascist Altiero Spinelli in 1941 began co-writing the “Ventotene Manifesto,” which called for a federation of European states to counter the nationalism that had led Europe to war.
The document is considered the inspiration of European federalism.
Supreme Court allows destruction of terrorist family’s home
Israel’s Supreme Court rejects the judicial appeal of “HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual” and authorizes the home demolition of the terrorist who murdered Rabbi Miki Mark.
Right wing NGO Im Tirtzu praised the decision.
“Im Tirtzu welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to authorize the home demolition of the terrorist who murdered Rabbi Miki Mark. This decision sends a clear message to European governments, which fund radical Israeli NGOs to submit appeals to Israel’s Supreme Court aimed at damaging the IDF’s deterrent capabilities,” Im Tirtzu CEO, Matan Peleg, said in a statement.
Mark was killed on July 1 in a drive-by shooting. He was traveling on Route 60 with his family, close to the Otniel settlement where they lived. Mark’s wife, Hava, was seriously injured and two of his children were wounded in the shooting attack.
Hamas threatens to end ‘calm’ if Gaza blockade not lifted
The spokesman of Hamas’s military branch threatens Israel that calm from Gaza will cease if the blockade of the Strip continues.
Speaking at a military show in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza, Abu Obieda, spokesperson for Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, says, “The siege will not prevent the Qassam Brigades from developing its abilities, and shall not serve the the continuance of the state of calm.”
“Whoever plants the anger will reap a volcano,” the Hamas spokesperson warns.
Abu Obieda also criticizes Israel’s treatment of Hamas prisoners in its jails. He promises Hamas will treat Israeli prisoners in the same way.
Hamas is holding the remains of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in the 2014 Gaza war, as well as 29-year-old Avraham Mengistu and Juma Ibrahim Abu Anima. The two living hostages are believed to be in mentally unstable.
Salafi group claims responsibility for Gaza rocket
Gaza-based Salafi group Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis claims responsibility for a rocket fire from the Gaza Strip earlier today which landed in the southern Israeli city of Sderot.
The rocket, the first fired from the Strip since early July, caused no injuries or damage, police said.
In response, the IDF struck two “Hamas terror bases” in the northern Gaza strip. Two Palestinian men were lightly injured by shrapnel, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
1 killed, 1 critically injured in fire that destroyed home of Orthodox Jewish couple
One person has been killed and one critically injured in a house fire that destroyed the home of an Orthodox Jewish couple in Houston.
Firefighters were called to the house of Eva Lou and Julius Chapman by neighbors at about 7:45 p.m. Friday, and found it engulfed in flames.
The badly burned body of Eva Lou Chapman was found in the back of the house, according to KPRC Houston. Julius Chapman was still breathing when he was pulled from the front of the house. He remains hospitalized with burns and smoke inhalation.
The couple, both in their 70s, were described as pillars of the Houston Orthodox Jewish community, according to the Vos Iz Neis website.
“When they first moved here and were raising their family, it wasn’t so simple to be shomer mitzvot and Shabbos,” Rabbi Barry Gelman of the United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston told the website. “They stuck with our shul when Orthodoxy wasn’t fashionable, maintaining their lifestyle and modeling it for others. To a large measure our community is an Orthodox community because of what they did.”
The couple has six children and about 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, according to reports.
Israeli mountain biker finishes mid-pack of Olympic race
Israel’s Shlomi Haimi finished 29th in the Olympic mountain biking competition with a time of 1 hour 43 minutes and 30 seconds.
The gold medal went to Switzerland’s Nino Shcurter with a time of 1:33:28.
Of the 54 racers, 34 finished the course.
Israel sends condolence letter to Turkey
Israel sends condolences to Turkey over the deadly wedding bombing that killed 51 people late Saturday.
“Israel expresses its condolences to the families of the victims in the city Gaziantep and Turkey and sends its best wishes to the injured,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says. “To defeat terrorism the international community must join forces and fight forcefully and with determination.”
The explosion was the latest attack to rock the key NATO member in a horrific year that has seen strikes blamed on Kurdish and Islamist militants as well as a bloody July 15 botched coup.
Clinton campaign halfway to $1 billion fundraising goal
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is halfway to its goal of raising a billion dollars for the 2016 race.
That’s according to the head of the campaign’s fundraising operations.
Finance director Dennis Cheng made that announcement Thursday in a meeting with staff at the campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.
Word of the announcement comes from a campaign aide who was present for the meeting but wasn’t authorized to discuss internal campaign strategy, and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Clinton’s campaign has resisted publicizing a fundraising target for the general election, fearing it would draw attention to big donors at a time when voters are angry about the role of money in politics.
She aimed to raise $100 million for her primary bid.
Clinton raised $90 million for her campaign and Democratic party committees in July, according to new finance reports released on Saturday.
Mixed messages from Trump campaign on debates
Newly-appointed campaign manager Kellyanne Conway says Donald Trump’s team is still discussing whether to agree to the debate schedule announced by the independent Commission on Presidential Debates.
Trump has voiced criticisms of the scheduled debates on September 26, October 4 and October 9, including complaining that two debates coincide with football games.
Conway says on ABC’s “This Week” that Trump is “very engaged” with debate prep.
She says the GOP nominee is a “natural communicator, natural connector with people, and the debates are a fabulous opportunity to force a conversation onto substance.”
As to whether Trump is on board with the schedule Conway says: “We are discussing that.”
Appearing later on ABC, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, says it’s time to agree to the schedule and “get on with it.”