Iran inks deal to help rebuild Syrian army, says Assad allies ‘ready to respond’
search
Live updates (closed)

Iran inks deal to help rebuild Syrian army, says Assad allies ‘ready to respond’

Tehran official claims Netanyahu keeping Mideast in state of conflict to damage Tehran’s economy, calls his threats to strike Iranian forces in Syria ‘far from reality’

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian president Bashar Assad, right, meeting with Iran's Defense Minister Amir Hatami, in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (SANA via AP)
    This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian president Bashar Assad, right, meeting with Iran's Defense Minister Amir Hatami, in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (SANA via AP)
  • Illustrative image of a mosquito biting through skin. (iStock by Getty Images/nechaev-kon)
    Illustrative image of a mosquito biting through skin. (iStock by Getty Images/nechaev-kon)
  • The suspect brought for a court hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court, under suspicion of Issuing fake bomb threats against Jewish institutions around the world, on March 23, 2017.  (Flash90)
    The suspect brought for a court hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court, under suspicion of Issuing fake bomb threats against Jewish institutions around the world, on March 23, 2017. (Flash90)
  • French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during the annual French ambassadors' conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on August 27, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / PHILIPPE WOJAZER)
    French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during the annual French ambassadors' conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on August 27, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / PHILIPPE WOJAZER)
  • President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 in New York. With Trump are from l-r., National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
    President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 in New York. With Trump are from l-r., National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  • Palestinians are seen crossing at the Erez crossing with Israel near Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip on  August 27, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)
    Palestinians are seen crossing at the Erez crossing with Israel near Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip on August 27, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

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

Israel reopens Erez crossing to Gaza after relative calm

Israel reopens the Erez border crossing in the Gaza Strip today, a week after shutting it over violence along the border with the Hamas-run coastal enclave.

A Defense Ministry spokesperson confirms it had opened as planned earlier this morning. The ministry earlier said the decision came “in light of the security calm that was upheld over the past week and the significantly reduced [number] of [violent] incidents.”

Court rules sick relatives of Hamas members must be allowed entry to Israel

The High Court of Justice rules that five women from Gaza who are purportedly close relatives of Hamas members must be allowed to travel to East Jerusalem for life-saving medial treatment.

The majority of the women are said to be suffering from cancer.

Israel banned the relatives of Hamas members from entering the country for medical purposes in an effort to pressure the terrorist organization to return the Israeli civilians and bodies soldiers believed to be held by the group.

But the court determined that while the government was entitled “to take maximum measures” to return the Israelis, it could “cannot justify an arrangement that denies the possibility of a relative of a Hamas member from receiving life-saving medical treatment in Israel.”

Macron: EU security must no longer depend on US

French President Emmanuel Macron says he will put forward new proposals for the European Union to boost its security, saying the bloc must stop depending on American might.

“Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security. It is up to us to guarantee European security,” he says in a speech to relaunch his diplomatic agenda.

His proposals will be unveiled “in the coming months,” Macron told an audience of some 250 diplomats, lawmakers and international relations experts gathered to mark the return from the summer break.

“I want us to launch an exhaustive review of our security with all Europe’s partners, which includes Russia,” he adds.

Macron’s comments came after a string of gestures from US President Donald Trump distancing himself from traditional NATO allies. Trump has repeatedly called into question the Western alliance’s core commitment to mutual defense, while complaining that the US spends too much on military support for Europe.

— AFP

Israel inks deal for precision rockets that can reach ‘anywhere in the region’

The Defense Ministry announces it has purchased a vast network of surface-to-surface precision missiles capable of reaching any target in the region.

The deal inked with Israel Military Industries is worth several hundred million shekels, and will supply the IDF with rockets that can hit targets between 30 and 150 kilometers away (18 to 93 miles), according to a ministry statement.

Spokeswomen for both the Defense Ministry and IMI declined to disclose the exact price of the rocket system or further details of the rockets’ capabilities.

“We are acquiring and developing precision fire systems that will enable the IDF… within a few years to cover anywhere in the region,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says.

Iran, Russia, Turkey to hold Syria summit next week

The presidents of Iran, Russia, and Turkey will meet on September 7 in Iran for their third tripartite summit on seeking to end the conflict in Syria, Turkish state television says.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Iran to meet with his Russian and Iranian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani, state-run TRT Haber television reports. Private NTV television added the summit would be held in the northern Iranian city of Tabriz.

A Turkish presidential official contacted by AFP could not immediately confirm the reports. However, the presidency has invited Turkish journalists to cover a trip by Erdogan to Iran on September 7.

— AFP

Israel opens exhibition at UN for terrorism remembrance day

Israel’s Mission to the UN opens an exhibition commemorating Israeli victims of terror attacks at the UN building in New York.

The exhibition features photos and a short eulogy of each of the victims to mark the UN’s first-ever international remembrance day for terrorism victims.

In a statement announcing the exhibit, Ambassador Danny Danon slams the Palestinian Authority for paying welfare stipends to convicted terrorists and their families.

“These hostile acts of terror are cowardly, and the terrorists who perpetrate them incite further violence against our people as they are considered heroes in their society,” Dannon says.

Doctors petition PM to have controversial gas rig moved away from shore

Around 120 doctors have joined an 11th-hour campaign to have the processing platform for the Leviathan gas field moved 125 kilometers (78 miles) away from the coast to minimize risks to public health and the shoreline environment.

Citizens’ groups, local authorities, environmental NGOs and a handful of academics are fighting the decision to build the platform just 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles, from the shores of central Israel.

Prof Ariel Rogin of the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center near coastal Hadera tells Channel 10 news there is sufficient “evidence of multiple mishaps” that have affected Noble Energy — which is developing the Leviathan gas field — and other companies worldwide. Each mishap was likely to end in environmental damage, he contends.

Hillel Yaffe is near Dor Beach, where the processing platform is due to arrive in December.

Protesters are planning a large demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night.

A senior figure at Noble Energy, Israel told The Times of Israel earlier this month that the $4 billion Leviathan project is 60% complete and irreversible. Production is due to start in late 2019.

— Sue Surkes

Iran student gets 7 years for taking part in protest

A 21-year-old student in Iran is sentenced to seven years in prison for taking part in university protests, according to her lawyer and Iranian media.

Parisa Rafei, an arts student at the University of Tehran, was convicted of “assembly with the intention of acting against national security, propaganda against the system and disrupting public order,” according to reformist newspaper Shargh.

Her lawyer, Saeed Khalili, describes the sentencing as “unfair and unreasonable” on Twitter.

He is also quoted by Shargh as saying: “In my view, none of these charges are logical or a legally sufficient reason to indicate that she has committed a crime.”

Khalili says the alleged crimes were focused on a student union demonstration in early December over issues such as dormitory opening hours.

— AFP

Teen hoax bomber on hunger strike to protest ‘inhumane’ prison conditions

Th Israeli-American teen from Ashlekon convicted of waging an intimidation campaign of bomb threats last year has declared a hunger strike to protest the “inhumane” conditions of his incarceration at the Ayalon Prison in Ramle.

The teen’s father tells Channel 10 news his son’s autism has been made worse by prison violence and what he says are “disproportionate” prison restrictions.

He says the court’s decision to incarcerate his son last month was at odds with the medical opinion of several experts who said the teen should not serve his sentence at a regular prison due to his medical condition.

The 19-year-old Ashkelon native, whose name remains under gag order in Israel, has admitted to making some 2,000 fake bomb threat calls to hospitals, airlines, schools and various Jewish institutions out of boredom.

During the trial, the judge rejected the defense’s claim that the teen was mentally unfit to stand trial, saying he was fully aware of the consequences of his actions.

Facebook bans Myanmar army chief, top brass over rights abuses

Facebook bans Myanmar’s army chief and other top military brass after a UN investigation recommended they face prosecution for genocide for a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

The site is the prime source of news and information for many in a country that only recently came online following nearly half a century of military rule.

But it has also been a platform for the army and Buddhist hardliners to spread hate speech and incendiary posts against the stateless Rohingya and other minorities.

The site aired support for the military’s bloody “clearance operations” last year that forced some 700,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh.

UN investigators lambasted the platform earlier this year, saying it had morphed into a “beast” in Myanmar.

In recent months the tech giant has embarked on a huge PR campaign, admitting it has often been too slow to take down inflammatory posts.

— AFP

Russia claims US readying to strike Syrian government forces

A top Russian official says the US is bolstering its military forces in the Middle East in preparation for a strike against Syrian government forces.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov tells reporters the US is “building up the cruise missile carriers group in the Middle East as part of preparations for another provocation in Idlib Province to be presented as an alleged use of chemical weapons.”

Konashenkov says the USS Ross entered the Mediterranean yesterday, armed with 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of hitting anywhere in Syria.

Pompeo: US will ‘vigorously defend’ against Iran court challenge

The United States will “vigorously defend” itself in the International Court of Justice against Iran’s challenge to the reimposition of US sanctions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.

Iran is set to make opening arguments in The Hague this week against the unilateral sanctions, which were slapped back on three weeks ago following the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran.

“We will vigorously defend against Iran’s meritless claims this week in The Hague,” Pompeo says.

— AFP

Egypt says police kill 5 jihadist fighters in southern province

Egypt says its police forces have killed five suspected Islamic militants in a shootout in a southern province.

The Interior Ministry says in a statement the fighting broke out Monday when police raided a suspected militant hideout in the Akhmim district in Sohag province, 390 kilometers (244 miles) south of the capital Cairo.

The statement adds that police seized weapons during the raid. It didn’t say whether any security forces were killed or wounded.

Egypt, which has been under a state of emergency since April of last year, has been battling Islamic militants for years. The insurgency gained strength after the 2013 overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president. The militants have mainly targeted security forces and Christians.

In February, Egypt launched a nationwide security operation against the militants.

— AP

Netanyahu says Likud aiming to take 40 Knesset seats in next election

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells members of his Likud party their goal is to reach 40 Knesset seats in the next national election.

He tells a group of party candidates running in upcoming local elections the vote would “strengthen the power of the Likud throughout the country.”

He said reaching 35 seats, up from the Likud’s current 30, was a “reasonable” goal, but says 40 is the target goal.

“We’re getting there,” Netanyahu says. “With God’s help and with yours, the Likud faction will reach the heavens.”

Father of hoax bomber says autistic son ‘not fit to be in prison’

The father of an Israeli-American man from Ashlekon convicted of waging an intimidation campaign of bomb threats last year, says his son has ended a hunger strike to protest the conditions of his incarceration, but plans to re-new his fast in the near future.

The man’s father tells The Times of Israel that his son’s autism has been exacerbated by his incarceration, and is not mentally fit to serve jail time.

“He is being treated very poorly, they’ve been putting immense pressure on him for nearly a year and a half,” the father says. “They don’t let him out into the yard, they make him shower with his legs still cuffed, they move him around with his feet and hands cuffed wherever he goes.”

“He is autistic and has a brain tumor, yet they are placing severe pressure on him for a year and a half and it got to a point where he could not take it anymore.”

“He started a hunger strike last week on Wednesday, which he stopped earlier today due to medical reasons, but he intends to strike again. This is because all the medical experts claim that he is not fit to be in prison, but the State of Israel is ignoring this. All the experts say it’s dangerous for him to be there.”

The Ashkelon native, whose name remains under gag order in Israel, has admitted to making some 2,000 fake bomb threat calls to hospitals, airlines, schools and various Jewish institutions out of boredom.

During the trial, the judge rejected the defense’s claim that the teen was mentally unfit to stand trial, saying he was fully aware of the consequences of his actions.

In April, he managed to make dozens more bomb threats against over 100 schools in Israel while he was incarcerated at the Nitzan Prison during his trial.

A month before that, he briefly escaped police custody after a hearing at a Jerusalem District Court.

His lawyer has said that he has attempted suicide at least five times while in prison since his arrest last year.

Minister: Arab MKs working to condemn Israel at UN guilty of treason

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin says Arab MKs seeking United Nations condemnation of Israel for passing the controversial nation-state law last month should be tried for treason.

Yesterday, Hadashot news reported that lawmakers from the Joint (Arab) List, Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, and other senior Palestinian officials are attempting to convince the UN to advance a resolution next month that likens the quasi-constitutional legislation to apartheid.

“In any other normal country there’s one word for that: treason,” Levin tells Army Radio in an interview. “I hope the justice system puts them on trial.”

Netanyahu meets Bosnia’s top diplomat in Jerusalem

Netanyahu met with Bosnian Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak this morning at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, a statement from his office says.

Bosnia’s foreign ministry says the meeting is “confirmation of [the] good relations” between the two countries.

Local news reports say Crnadak and Netanyahu discussed cooperation projects in the fields of agriculture, technology and healthcare, as well as the regional efforts against terrorism.

Crnadak will also reportedly travel to the West Bank for an official visit to the Palestinian Authority.

German FM: Europe must step up at world bodies as US pulls out

Germany’s foreign minister says Europe should fill the gaps left by the withdrawal of the United States from international organizations and key regions of the world.

Minister Heiko Maas tells German diplomats in Berlin on Monday that Europe should increase its political and financial weight at the United Nations and the World Trade Organization — both of which have come under pressure from Washington since US President Donald Trump took office last year.

He also urged Europe to step up its activities in the Western Balkans, in the Mideast and in Africa, warning that “the cost of war, poverty and displacement in our neighborhood … is borne by us Europeans.”

Maas said while Europe should seek to “rebalance” its relationship with Washington, “the goal is never ‘Europe first.'”

— AP

Prison denies hoax bomber went on hunger strike, contradicting father

A spokesman for the Israel Prison Service denies claims by the hoax bomber’s father that his son had been on a hunger strike to protest the poor conditions of his incarceration.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells The Times of Israel he is unwell and attempts to hurt himself regularly.

The source claims that his father has been trying to convince him to go on a hunger strike, but has not been able to due to his poor health.

He is being kept in the prison’s mental health ward, and the source says that while he probably shouldn’t be housed there, it’s not for the prisons service to decide.

Earlier, the man’s father told the Times of Israel his son — who has a brain tumor and is on the autism spectrum — was being mistreated by prison guards, and his mental health was deteriorating.

A spokesperson from the Israel Prisons Service denied the man was mistreated by guards.

— Jacob Magid

Health Ministry: Third man dies from West Nile fever, 74 hospitalized

The Health Ministry announces says a third person has died from West Nile fever, amid the biggest outbreak of the mosquito-transmitted disease in recent years.

A statement says the 61-year-old man who died in Beilinson Hospital was a cancer patient.

According to the ministry, 74 cases of the disease have been reported in Israel so far this year, twice as many as in 2017, and that 14 of those patients are in serious condition.

Trump: ‘Really good deal’ reached with Mexico on trade

US President Donald Trump says he reached a “really good deal” with Mexico and talks with Canada would begin shortly on a new regional free trade pact.

“It’s a big day for trade. It’s a really good deal for both countries,” Trump says.

“Canada, we will start negotiations shortly. I’ll be calling their prime minister very soon,” Trump says.

US and Mexican negotiators have been working for weeks to iron out differences in order to revise the nearly 25-year old North American Free Trade Agreement, while Canada was waiting to rejoin the negotiations.

— AFP

Iran says it signed deal to help rebuild Syria’s military

Iran’s defense minister says his country has signed a deal with Syria to rebuild the Syrian armed forces that have been battered by years of war.

Amir Hatami, who is on a two-day visit to Syria, tells the Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV station in an interview aired Monday that the agreement is to also develop Syria’s military industry.

Iran has been an essential backer of Syria’s government in the civil war now in its seventh year, providing advisers, military supplies, training and thousands of militiamen to fight alongside the Syrian army.

Israel has been critical of Iran’s expanding role in Syria, saying it will not tolerate an Iranian permanent military presence near its frontiers.

Hatami says Iran is in Syria at the invitation of its government.

— AP

Russia indefinitely postpones meeting on Afghan peace talks

Russia indefinitely postpones a meeting on the Afghan peace process planned for next week, Afghan officials say.

A statement released by the office of the Afghan presidency says that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani have decided to postpone the meeting and hold it at a later date.

President Ghani insists the peace talks should be “Afghan owned and led,” according to the statement.

Lavrov says Russia agrees the peace process should be under the auspices of the Afghans and it is “ready to cooperate,” the statement added.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry, which had extended the invitation to the Taliban despite the group’s official designation as a terrorist organization in Russia, also confirms in a statement that the talks have been postponed after Lavrov’s conversation with Ghani.

“(Ghani) supported the idea of a Moscow meeting in principle and suggested postponing it in order to come up with a consolidated position,” the ministry’s statement says.

— AP

Iran FM: Netanyahu threats to strike forces in Syria ‘far from reality’

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami tells the al-Mayadeen TV station that Netanyahu is keeping the Middle East in a perpetual state of conflict to damage the Iranian economy.

“I think that Netanyahu is maintaining a tense atmosphere in the region to have an economic impact on the Islamic Republic,” he says, according to Channel 10 news.

Hatami tells the TV station that Iran’s air defenses are deterring Netanyahu from striking Iranian forces in Syria.

“I think Netanyahu’s threats to attack Iranian forces in Syria are far from reality,” he says.

“The Syrian government has the right to respond to any aggression against it, as has happened in the past. Syria’s allies are ready to respond to any aggression,” Hatami says.

Cohen’s lawyer walks back claim Trump knew of Russia meeting

Michael Cohen’s lawyer is walking back his assertions that his client could tell a special prosecutor that Trump had prior knowledge of a meeting with a Russian lawyer to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Lanny Davis says Cohen “should have been much clearer that I could not confirm the story.”

Cohen is Trump’s former personal lawyer. Davis is attempting to clean up his comments in interviews last week, after Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and bank fraud.

Davis told The Washington Post over the weekend that he “could not independently confirm” the claims he made on television last week that Cohen witnessed Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., telling his father about the Trump Tower meeting beforehand.

Trump has denied knowing about the meeting and called the claims a “phony story.”

— AP

Livni warns foreign diplomats not to ‘fall in the trap’ of Arab MKs

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni warns foreign diplomats not to “fall in the trap” set by the Arab Knesset members who are seeking UN condemnation over the controversial nation-state law.

Livni, who was staunchly opposed to the law herself, tells the representatives from 11 countries not to meddle in internal Israeli affairs, according to Hadashot news.

She tells the diplomats “not to fall into the trap” set by members of the Point (Arab) List, who are working along Palestinians to pass a UN resolution that would liken the Israeli legislation to apartheid era-policies.

“[The MKs] and the Palestinian Authority do not accept the principal that Israel is the state of the Jewish people,” she says.

“Its impossible to demand two states for two peoples in one breath, and at the same time not accept the fact that Israel is the state of the Jewish people.

Hamas official says group will continue to strengthen even if truce reached

Hamas Foreign relations chief Osama Hamdan says that even if a long-term ceasefire deal with Israel is reached, the terror group would continue to “build its capabilities because it has no faith in the Zionist entity.”

Hamdan is quoted in Palestinian media as the ceasefire deal currently being negotiated with the help of Cairo does not include the building of a seaport or a airport serving the Hamas-run enclave. “Everything that has been published about this so far is a lie,” he says.

“The Zionist enemy has reached the conclusion that it’s impossible to thwart the Palestinian resistance and that Israel will see that it made a grave mistake if the truce with Hamas fails,” he adds.

Police arrest third suspect in violent anti-Arab hate crime

Police say a third person is arrested for their suspected involvement in a violent hate crime targeting a group of Arabs at Haifa beach over the weekend.

The suspect will be brought before a judge tomorrow morning for a remand hearing, police say in a statement.

The statement notes that police are viewing the case “with great severity,” and vow the attackers will be brought to justice.

McCain, in posthumous message, warns of hateful ‘tribal rivalries’

The late US senator John McCain warned against “tribal rivalries” that have sown “hatred” around the world, in a final message read posthumously Monday that appeared aimed at President Donald Trump.

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe,” McCain said in a poignant farewell statement, read by his campaign manager Rick Davis.

“We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been,” he added in an apparent reference to the Trump presidency.

— AFP

read more:
comments