The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
‘Threats all around prove need to go commando’
IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot, at a ceremony dedicating a new commando unit, says threats surrounding the country prove the need for the new fighting force.
“Braggadocio blowing in from Lebanon, the threats yesterday from the Islamic State, the wave of escalating violence in the West Bank and threats from the south require more than ever the abilities of the new brigade,” he says, according to a report in Ynet news.
Victims said to be soldiers; attackers reportedly killed
Both victims were apparently soldiers guarding at a gas station in the village, along Route 60, a main north-south West Bank artery used by Palestinians and Israeli settlers alike.
Channel 2 reports that two assailants were shot and killed in the attack.
There is no official confirmation.
Both assailants apparently killed
More pictures from the scene show two apparent assailants covered with foil blankets. According to reports, both are dead.
A second knife is also seen.
BREAKING PHOTOS: Two Israelis wounded in stabbing attack near Nablus moments ago, Two terrorists shot dead. pic.twitter.com/ayuBVyLyMi
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) December 27, 2015
Netanyahu removed from Spanish list of suspected war criminals
Spanish judges responsible for international affairs have canceled the registration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a war crimes suspect, which they said was a jurisdictional error.
The El Diario daily reported on the recent ruling by two judges of Spain’s National Court on Netanyahu and six other Israelis, whom a judge from the same court last month flagged to police as persons of interest in connection with a complaint over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
In November, Justice José de la Mata ordered police to add to its registry of people of interest Netanyahu and six other Israeli politicians: Ehud Barak, Avigdor Lieberman, Moshe Ya’alon, Eli Yishai, Benny Begin and Eliezer Marom.
Police were to inform de la Mata of the arrival in Spanish jurisdiction of any of the seven flagged. De la Mata would then have had the authority to detain, arrest or charge them.
But in an announcement to police, a two-man National Court panel whose authority supersedes de la Mata’s ordered the Israelis be de-registered.
One soldier in Hawara injured by friendly fire
The army says one of the soldiers injured during the stabbing attack in Hawara was hit by friendly fire from IDF soldiers shooting at the attackers.
The soldier lightly injured with bruising to the face was apparently hit by a bullet ricochet.
Both have been taken to a hospital for treatment.
The army confirms that both assailants, who managed to moderately injure a soldier, were shot and killed.
Anti-NGO bill gets government backing
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation has passed a controversial bill that will force foreign-funded NGOs to be labeled as such.
The bill, which critics say will target left-leaning civil society and human rights groups, now has the backing of the government as it makes its way through the Knesset before becoming law.
Paris attacker buried in hometown
Samy Amimour, one of the men who massacred 90 people at the Bataclan music venue in Paris, was buried north of the city, local officials say.
The 28-year-old was buried on Thursday in Seine-Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, where he grew up and his parents still live.
“There were very, very few people there,” said a source in the local town hall.
Amimour was previously a bus driver before spending around two years in Syria, according to family members who spoke to AFP in October, prior to the brutal attacks in Paris.
He was one of three attackers killed when police stormed the Bataclan music venue on November 13.
Iran’s Rouhani: Muslims need to unite against Israel
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accuses Muslims of forgetting their common enemy — Israel — as they are distracted by atrocities committed by the Islamic State terror group.
Rouhani says the Islamic State group and other armed groups are defaming Islam by resorting to barbaric acts and that has led to Muslim states forgetting their common enemy: Israel.
Addressing a conference in Tehran, Rouhani suggests that destroying Syria won’t strengthen those governments in the region which support the anti-Assad rebels, and accuses Israel of wanting to see Syria destroyed.
“Does the weakening of Syria benefit its Muslim neighbors? Does the destruction of Syria lead to the strengthening of Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates or other countries? Who is pleased by Syria’s destruction other than Israel,” Rouhani says.
He also accuses archrival Saudi Arabia Sunday of promoting poverty and terrorism by continuing to bomb Yemeni rebels and supporting armed rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria.
Iran is one of Assad’s main allies and has provided his government with military and political backing for years.
Police break up French cocaine ring, love triangle
Police arrested four Israelis with French citizenship and are investigating them for importing and selling drugs, conspiracy to commit a crime and attempted murder, spokeswoman Luba Samri says.
Their remand has now been extended until December 31.
After receiving a tip about the drug ring, the police opened their case in November, the police say.
The four charged in the crime are Emanuel Amueyel, Dan Ben-Tulila and Sarah Ben-Abu, as well as Jerusalem resident Yossi Gabbai, a.
Detectives found that Amueyel contacted young women in France who were willing to hide the cocaine within their bodies in order to avoid detection, and travel to Israel. Once they arrived in Tel Aviv, his partner Ben-Tulila would take the cocaine from the young women and pay them €3,000 (NIS 12,800), police say.
However, when Amueyel discovered that there may be a romantic relationship blossoming between his ex-girlfriend — a former drug mule — and his partner Ben-Tulila, Amueyel decided to kill Ben-Tulila, police say.
Amueyel then traveled to Israel, presumably in order to murder his partner, but was captured by police in Tel Aviv in November. A few days later, police also picked up Ben-Tulila, Ben-Abu and Gabbai.
Livni rails against newly approved NGO bill
A newly approved, contentious bill that would require nongovernmental groups to declare funding from foreign countries is “another brick in the wall of solitude the government is putting up around Israel,” Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni says in a tweet.
The bill, which was proposed by the cabinet, was passed earlier today by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation
“This is internal politics at the expense of proper foreign policy,” Livni says. “This is not a law that’s designed for transparency; it’s a law that will mark Israelis.”
Representatives of such NGOs will also be required to wear an identification badge whenever they attend sessions in the Knesset to reflect their group’s foreign funding. The bill would have NGO representatives wear a tag similar to those worn by lobbyists — or face a NIS 29,000 ($7,500) fine.
NGO bill a ‘black day for civil liberties,’ Herzog says
“It is a black day for civil liberties, associations, and Israeli thought. The government decision to approve the twisted NGO bill is a bullet between the eyes for Israel’s standing in the world,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog says of the controversial bill that would require non-governmental organizations to declare their foreign funding.
“Our enemies are giving a big thank you to the Israeli government, which has put us on the same level with the darkest countries in the world,” Herzog says.
New Israel Fund joins condemnations of Shaked’s NGO bill
“In the past few weeks we have been witnesses to a campaign of incitement that was intended to advance the NGO bill of Ayelet Shaked,” the New Israel Fund said in response to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approving the bill.
“The New Israel Fund is in favor of transparency, but the proposed law does not try to advance the values of transparency, rather intends to selectively silence and politically hound human rights organizations.”
Police: Suspect picked up in Old City planned to carry out attack
The suspect picked up by police with a knife earlier today in Jerusalem’s Old City was planning to carry out a stabbing attack, police say.
The Palestinian man had aroused the suspicion of police while walking through the Muristan in the Christian Quarter. When he was asked to show identification, he drew the blade.
During his interrogation, the man revealed his intentions to investigators, police say.
He will be brought to a Jerusalem court to have his remand extended tomorrow.
Hezbollah chief praises Samir Kuntar, a week after his death
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah praises Samir Kuntar, who was killed one week ago in an alleged Israeli airstrike, during a speech to mark the occasion.
“As we commemorate Kuntar, we must revive the spirit of sacrifice, because this is a key condition for lifting up the people, the persistence of resistance and the creation of the future,” Nasrallah says in a televised address.
“After he was freed from prison, Samir could have lived a normal life among his family and friends. He could have stayed in the ‘axis of resistance’ without getting involved militarily, but he refused to do so,” Nasrallah says during his speech, according to the Lebanese Naharnet new site.
The Hezbollah leader calls for increased action against Israel, which he says, “has been seeking to influence our minds, will and resolve through a psychological war.”
Hezbollah leader vows retaliation for Kuntar’s death
“The retaliation to Samir’s assassination will inevitably come,” Nasrallah says during his speech to mark one week since Samir Kuntar’s death, according to the Lebanese Naharnet news site.
“The Israelis are hiding like rats along the border. The Israelis are worried and they should be worried along the border and inside Israel. Their threats will not benefit them.”
An ostrich escapes Jerusalem Zoo, runs wild
An ostrich escaped the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and is currently in the Gilo neighborhood of the city, the municipality says on its Facebook page.
“We are after her,” the municipality writes.
הבטחנו, מקיימים – עדכון: היען שיצאה לטייל ברחובות שכונת גילה נתפסה על ידי השירות הוטרינרי ובעליה המתגורר בשכונה.הבעלים…
Child dies in a car accident in West Bank settlement
A young child was killed when he was hit by a car in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, outside of Jerusalem, Roi Engel, spokesperson for the Magen David Adom rescue service says.
Paramedics arrived at the scene and found the approximately 4-year-old child with multiple injuries and no signs of life. They pronounced him dead at the scene, Engel says.
High Court to decide on ex-PM’s appeal this week — report
The High Court of Justice will decide on Tuesday if it will hear the appeal of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, Channel 2 news reports.
Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison in 2014 for his role in the Holyland scandal, in which he was accused and convicted of taking bribes when he was mayor of Jerusalem.
Report: Moscow, Tehran to begin construction of Iranian nuclear power plant
Iran and Russia will begin the construction of several nuclear power plants in Iran within the next few weeks, a representative of Israen’s Atomic Energy Organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, tells Iranian television, according to Fars news.
“The construction work will begin in coming weeks and we are in talks with the Russians to start the job as soon as possible after the New Year holidays,” Kamalvandi says of the first plant.
The second is expected to start three months later, and a third plant will be built two years later, Iranian regime mouthpiece Fars news says.
IS fighters flee Ramadi compound as Iraqi forces close in
The Islamic State’s fighters have all left the former government compound in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, the spokesman of the elite counter-terrorism service said Sunday.
Ramadi has become a flashpoint in the fight against the Islamic State in recent week.
“All Daesh (IS) fighters have left. There is no resistance,” Sabah al-Numan told AFP, adding that the entire perimeter had to be cleared of mines and booby traps before troops could move in.
Duma suspect’s attorney calls for investigation of torture claims
An attorney for one of the suspects in the Duma firebombing files a complaint against Shin Bet interrogators for allegedly torturing his client, according to the Walla news site.
“Despite the fact that the [complaints department] is under the state’s attorney’s office, I hope the investigation will be independent,” the suspect’s attorney Adi Kaidar tells Walla.
In the past, the suspects’ lawyers calls for an investigation have been ignored.
Maccabi Games start in Chile tomorrow
Some 4,000 Jewish athletes from at least 20 countries will attend the Pan American Maccabi Games in Chile.
The thirteenth edition of the international multi-sport event will be held in Santiago from tomorrow until January 4, 2016, and will draw participants from South, Central and North Americas, Israel and guest countries such as Australia and South Africa.
Held every four years, the Pan American Maccabi Games are held to “perpetuate and preserve the Jewish communities in the Americas by encouraging Jewish pride, strengthening Jewish bonds, and by creating a heightened awareness of Israel and Jewish Identity.”
Latin American delegations in 2015 include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay.
The last Pan American Maccabi edition was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2011.
New fines for employing Palestinians who enter Israel illegally
Business owners may now be fined up to NIS 452,000 ($116,000) for employing Palestinians who illegally enter Israel, police say.
The new set of punishments were proposed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in light of the ongoing violence in Israel, some of which has been carried out by such illegal workers.
“Whoever employs Palestinians who illegally live in Israel endangers the lives of Israeli citizens,” Erdan says. “In the wave of terror it has been proven again how dangerous the presence of these people is in city centers and building sites. We must harshly punish those who employ and house these people.”
Business owners who employ Palestinians who enter Israel illegally repeatedly can be fined up to NIS 452,000, while one-time offenders can be fined up to NIS 75,000 ($19,300), with the minimum fine being NIS 5,000 ($1,300).
Hotovely pledges to push through Dayan’s appointment
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely denounced Brazil’s apparent refusal to accept Dani Dayan as Israel’s ambassador to the South American country during a meeting this morning, according to a recently released statement.
Brazil has reportedly not accepted Dayan’s credentials because of his past as a leader in Israel’s settler movement.
“I cannot abide a situation in which they do not appoint an ambassador because of his [political] positions,” Hotovely said.
“The Foreign Ministry will use all of the tools at its disposal to ensure that the appointment of Dani Dayan is successful,” the acting-foreign minister said. “Israel will not accept the phenomenon of refusing an ambassador due to ideology.”
Hotovely’s remarks were made during a meeting with the prime minister on her office’s plans to advance Dayan’s appointment.
— Raphael Ahren
Syrian official says Golan Heights residents to rise up against Israel
A Syrian official claims Arab residents of the Golan Heights will soon rise up against the Israeli government, Fars news reports.
“We will see the integration of popular resistance in both the free and occupied territories of the Golan Heights,” Ra’afat al-Bokar, a member of Syria’s Quneitra Province Council, tells the Iranian regime mouthpiece.
“I confidently say that the people have and will never halt their resistance; we will soon witness integrated efforts by popular resistance forces throughout the Golan Heights against Israel,” al-Bokar says.
Jerusalem workers catch escaped ostrich
The Jerusalem municipality clarifies that the ostrich running around the city’s Gilo neighborhood had not escaped from the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, but was illegally owned by a local resident.
“The owners told the veterinary services inspector that he had purchased the ostrich (a female) as a chick illegally in the Kafr Kassem market and raised her ever since, without notifying the city or a veterinarian,” the municipality writes on Facebook.
The ostrich will be sent to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.
Israel fires the head of its missile defense programs
The Defense Ministry has dismissed the head of Israel’s missile defense organization, Yair Ramati, for improperly maintaining state secrets.
Ramati, who was responsible for Israel’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile defense system, committed “severe information security violations,” the ministry says.
As a result, “he cannot continue to hold his position at the Defense Ministry,” according to a statement.
Three people in serious condition with flu
Three people in Israel are in serious condition with the flu, Ynet news reports.
It is now being checked if the three Israelis are suffering from swine flu.
Last week, one woman died and another 10 people were hospitalized with the disease. Four of them were put on artificial respiration.
New ‘Star Wars’ hits $1 billion at box office: Disney
The new Star Wars film has passed the $1-billion mark in global box-office sales in record time, Disney says.
In the 12 days since first hitting screens worldwide, according to a statement, The Force Awakens has posted an estimated $545 million in ticket sales in the US and $546 million internationally.
Knesset’s newest member to be sworn in tomorrow
Amir Ohana will be sworn in tomorrow evening as the Knesset’s newest member, his spokesperson announces.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of Israel’s parliament will take part in the ceremony, which is to take place in the Knesset at 6 p.m.
Ohana will take over for former deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom, who stepped down last week amid numerous sexual harassment allegations. (Update: The allegations against Shalom were not substantiated and a police investigation was subsequently closed.)
Opposition leader again blasts NGO bill
For the second time today, opposition leader Isaac Herzog blasts the new non-governmental organizations law — approved earlier by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which would require NGOs to declare all sources of foreign funding — in a Facebook post.
“The NGO bill, approved today by the Netanyahu government, is worse than the EU’s labeling law, because this labels people,” Herzog writes on his official page.
The law has only one purpose, the opposition leader says: “to increase the hatred, polarization and division among the nation of Israel.”
Justice Ministry official visited Duma terror suspects — report
In an abnormal occurrence, a senior official from the Justice Ministry visited suspects in the Duma terror case to check their well-being, Channel 2 news reports.
Deputy Attorney General Raz Nazri visited the Shin Bet security service’s facility, where the prisoners were being held in order to determine if they had been subject to torture, according to the report.
The right-wing activists are suspected of having carried out a terror attack in the Palestinian village of Duma in the West Bank, in which firebombs were thrown into the Dawabsha family home, instantly killing 18-month-old Ali and causing the deaths of his parents.
Rivlin pays condolence call to family of terror victim
President Reuven Rivlin paid a condolence visit this evening to the family of Rabbi Reuben Birmajer, who was killed in a stabbing attack at Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate, his office says.
“The personal pain and sorrow are great, and I pray — together with you — that happier times will soon return,” Rivlin told the family.
The family moved to Israel from Argentina, and Birmajer’s wife, Naomi, told the president that they remained convinced of their decision to immigrate.
“People ask me if I want to go back to Argentina and I say ‘no’, my husband Reuben would not want that. The spirit that is here in Israel exists nowhere else. This is our home, despite the difficulties,” she said.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
I'm proud of our coverage of this government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, including the political and social discontent that underpins the proposed changes and the intense public backlash against the shakeup.
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