The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
Police said training for Amona evacuation
Hundreds of police officers are training for the evacuation of the Amona outpost at an IDF base in the Negev Desert, Israel National News reports.
The police are using Tze’elim training base in the Negev, which is generally used by the army.
This week a number of senior police officers, including Commissioner Roni Alsheich, visited the base to view the training in person.
The High Court has ruled that the outpost, which is built on privately owned Palestinian land, must be demolished by December 25.
Iraq air force strikes IS fighters near Syria border
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command says Iraqi aircraft struck dozens of mostly foreign fighters from the Islamic State group near the border with Syria the previous day.
It confirms that deadly strikes in the Al-Qaim area in the west of the country were carried out by the Iraqi air force but described allegations by officials that dozens of civilians were killed as IS propaganda.
Adolf Burger, last of ‘Hitler’s counterfeiters,’ dies at 99
Adolf Burger, a Holocaust survivor forced by the Nazis to counterfeit British banknotes during WWII, has died in Prague at the age of 99, his family says.
Burger, a native of Slovakia, was a typographer by profession. He was arrested in 1942 for producing false baptism records for Jews scheduled for transports to Nazi extermination camps, and deported to Auschwitz.
In 1944, Burger was selected to take part in Operation Bernhard, a Nazi effort to destabilize the British economy by flooding the country with forged pound banknotes. He was moved to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where he worked in a special section of the camp devoted to the counterfeiting operation.
“I thought somehow I would survive Auschwitz, but was sure I was a dead man in Sachsenhausen,” Burger said. “The Nazis planned to kill us so we would never tell anyone what they were doing,” Burger told JTA in 2008. He was eventually liberated by the US army in May 1945.
After the war, Burger settled in Prague. His memoirs, titled “Number 64401 Speaks,” were first published in 1945. He later rewrote his story, which was released in 1983 under the title “The Commando of Counterfeiters.” The Austrian-German film “The Counterfeiters,” based on Burger’s memoirs, won the 2007 Academy Award for best foreign language film.
Israel, Greece, Cyprus agree on joint emergency force
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel, Greece and Cyprus have agreed to form a joint emergency rescue force, and calls for other countries to join for instances of natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes and floods.
“We have agreed to move forward on a multi-national, regional rescue and emergency services force, to be formed by our three countries – Israel, Greece and Cyprus,” the prime minister says at a trilateral summit in Jerusalem with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Egypt’s Sissi: No alternative to tough economic reforms
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi defends tough economic measures undertaken by his government, saying there is no other alternative in the face of the country’s deteriorating economy.
“Structural reforms” are an imperative for Egypt, Sissi says, adding that the newly implemented measures are no “picnic.”
El-Sissi’s remarks are his first since the government’s unprecedented flotation of the Egyptian pound last month, meant to ensure that Egypt qualifies for a 12 billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund, which the agency approved almost a week later.
“The decision to carry out reforms … was not easy,” Sissi tells a gathering of clerics. “The task requires hard work and patience.”
Security forces smash Hamas terror cell in Hebron area
Security officials say the IDF, police and Shin Bet broke up a Hamas terror cell operating out of the Hebron area in a joint operation in October, and arrested its members.
According to the Shin Bet, the cell planned to carry out shooting attacks and kidnappings “in order to bargain for the release of prisoners.”
Seven members of the cell were arrested, including its leader Ibrahaim Abdallah Ghnimat, who is already in prison; a number of assault rifles and pistols were also found and confiscated. Ghnimat is currently serving a life sentence for his role in a number of terror attacks in the 1990s, including the kidnap and murder of IDF soldier Sharon Edri.
Indictments are expected to be filed in the coming days, the Shin Bet says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Woman arrested for death threats to parents of Sandy Hook victim
A Florida woman is charged with making death threats to the parents of a Jewish boy killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
Lucy Richards, 57, is indicted in federal court in southern Florida on four counts of threats against Len Pozner, the father of 6-year-old Noah.
According to a statement issued yesterday by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, she made the death threats because she believed that the school shooting was a hoax and never happened.
Richards called Pozner on the phone and said: “You gonna die, death is coming to you real soon,” according to the federal indictment, CBS Miami reported. She also said: “Death is coming to you real soon and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
If convicted, Richards could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
AG to streamline citizenship process for partners of gay Israelis
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit informs the High Court that he will reduce the naturalization requirements for the partners of gay Israelis to match that of straight spouses.
The straight partners of Israelis undergo a four-year process to gain citizenship, while gay people currently have a seven-year path to naturalization.
According to Walla, the AG intends to make it a four-year process for both gay and straight people.
‘No progress’ as Kerry, Lavrov meet on Syria truce
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov failed to make progress on a Syria truce in talks in Germany early Thursday, an American official says.
The official says that, “no progress, no conclusion were reached on Aleppo,” in two 10-minute meetings between Kerry and Lavrov on the sidelines of a gathering of foreign ministers from the 57-member Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in the northern German city of Hamburg.
But Kerry tells Russian journalists that he remains hopeful and will continue to work for a solution.
Health Ministry calls for end to ban on Ethiopian blood donations
The Health Ministry calls for an end to a ban on blood donations from Israelis of Ethiopian origin. The ban is in place due to fears of HIV-infected blood being passed to a recipient.
The ministry recommends that the ban now only apply to those who spent more than a year in Ethiopia and have been in Israel for less than 12 months since then, Walla says.
There is also a ban on blood donations by Israelis of British origin, due to fears of contagion with Creutzfeldt–Jakob (aka Mad Cow) disease, which was prevalent in the 1980s.
Egypt arrests son of ousted president Morsi
An Egyptian official says security forces have arrested the son of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
The official says that Osama Morsi was wanted by authorities, without providing further details. The state-run news website Al-Ahram reports the arrest, saying Osama is accused of inciting violence.
Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, was overthrown by the military in 2013. He faces a raft of charges in at least four separate cases and has received death sentences from lower courts. He has not received family visits or had any access to lawyers for three years.
Jewish Home minister: I will join resistance to Amona evacuation
Jewish Home cabinet minister Uri Ariel says there will be resistance to the upcoming evacuation of the Amona settlement outpost, and vows to join any protests against the court-ordered demolition, Channel 2 reports.
The High Court ruled that the outpost, which is built on privately owned Palestinian land, must be demolished by December 25.
UK government distances itself from minister’s Saudi ‘proxy war’ claims
British Prime Minister Theresa May distances her goverment from claims by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that UK ally Saudi Arabia is engaging in “proxy wars” in the Middle East and says this does not represent the country’s position.
May’s comments come shortly after the British media airs footage of Johnson telling a conference last week that there is no sufficiently strong leadership in the Middle East willing to reach out beyond the Sunni-Shia divide, and “that’s why you’ve got… Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in and puppeteering and playing proxy wars.”
May’s spokeswoman Helen Bower says the remarks are Johnson’s own views and do not reflect British policy on Saudi Arabia and its role in the region.
6.5 magnitude quake off California coast reported
The United States Geological Survey is reporting a 6.5 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Northern California in the Pacific Ocean.
The quake hit at 6:50 a.m. about 100 miles west of Ferndale, California.
No damage or injuries are reported.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says there is no tsunami threat from the earthquake.
White supremacist, neo-Nazi posters hung at Boston college
Posters promoting a white supremacist, neo-Nazi organization are discovered in a lecture hall and a student residence at Emerson College, a private academic institution in Boston.
At least seven posters from the American Vanguard organization were discovered Monday, local media reports.
“The racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric of American Vanguard has no place on our campus as a community that cherishes the diversity of ideas and people acting together in shared interests as a sustaining and core value,” Emerson College President Lee Pelton says in an e-mail to students after the posters were found.
He says they do not yet know who placed the posters, adding that Emerson College Police Department is conducting an investigation into their origin.
— Shaun Chaiyabhat (@ShaunWCVB) December 7, 2016
Amona residents say evacuation taking place Saturday night
Residents of Amona send out a text message saying the evacuation of the outpost will take place on Saturday night, and urge opponents of the demolition to help block it.
“The evacuation is getting underway! Everybody come now to Amona!” the message says.
“By all accounts the evacuation will take place this Saturday night. Everyone is invited to come to Amona and stay here on Shabbat too. The roads will be blocked so you have to [work around this] to get here.”
The message ends with the pledge that, “this Jewish community will not be destroyed.”
The High Court has ruled that the outpost, which is built on private Palestinian land, must be demolished by December 25.
Herzog praises end to ban on Israeli Ethiopian blood donations
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog praises the decision to end a ban on blood donations by Israelis of Ethiopian origin.
“In a correct decision, today saw the cancellation of institutionalized racist policies against the Ethiopian community in Israel that have lasted for more than three decades,” Herzog says.
“I welcome the decision by [Health] Minister Litzman to repair the injustice to the Ethiopian community, which has a major and significant role in the mosaic of the Jewish people,” he adds.
“As a people who have experienced ongoing racism, we must continue to fight against [it] and work to eradicate all symptoms of ostracism towards minorities… that still exist in Israeli society.”
— Raoul Wootliff
Body of woman found at site of Jerusalem crash
Rescue workers find the body of a woman inside a car trapped between two buses following a road accident in Jerusalem.
Eight other people sustain light injuries following the collision at the Bar-Ilan junction in the capital.
At least 5 members of same family hurt in Jerusalem crash
Hadassah Hospital, Mount Scopus says it is treating five people following the collision between two buses in Jerusalem this evening.
All five are members of the same family and all sustained light injuries in the crash, the hospital says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Likud MK to Amona supporters: Don’t try to stop evacuation
Right-wing MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) urges supporters of the illegal West Bank settlement outpost of Amona to ignore calls to resist its evacuation, ordered to take place by the High Court before December 25.
Writing in Hebrew on Facebook and Twitter, the MK says: “The [social] network is overflowing with calls to come to Amona to try to prevent the evacuation. I beg you not to go! Don’t listen to them! Nothing good will come out of it! There is no chance of stopping the evacuation and it’s also not right to do it.
“If Amona’s residents wanted to do the right thing and emerge as the victors, they would pack up and move by agreement. They would contribute a million times more to Judaism than by unnecessary clashes with security forces. Don’t do it!”
UN: Outpost bill is ‘unequivocally illegal’
The UN human rights chief slams Israeli legislation to legalize outposts built on private Palestinian land as a clear violation of international law.
“I strongly urge lawmakers to reconsider their support for this bill, which if enacted, would have far-reaching consequences and would seriously damage the reputation of Israel around the world,” says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
He says that “in enabling the use of land privately owned by Palestinians for Israeli settlements without the owners’ consent, this legislation would violate international law. Israel as the occupying power, must respect the private property of Palestinians, regardless of whether or not compensation is provided.”
The bill passed its first Knesset reading last night.
Police ban PFLP event in East Jerusalem
Jerusalem police issue an order banning the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine from holding a conference in East Jerusalem.
The event planned for today is outlawed when police receive information that it intended to be a show of support for terrorists, Walla reports. Police are deployed to the site of the planned event to ensure that there are no disturbances.
PFLP is seen as a terrorist organization by the US, the EU and Israel.
AG renewing probe into alleged sexual offences by top prosecutor
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is reopening an investigation into Uri Korb, a senior official in the State Prosecutor’s Office suspected of committing sexual offenses against a female subordinate.
Channel 2 says Mandelblit decided to renew the probe, which was effectively closed when Korb’s accuser refused to cooperate, after receiving new information. The investigators are now trying to persuade the woman give a statement to police.
The report does not detail what the new information is.
Jewish, progressive groups gather 1M signatures against Bannon
Jewish and progressive groups deliver over 1 million petition signatures to Capitol Hill opposing President-elect Donald Trump’s pick of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist.
The coalition, which includes J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, IfNotNow and other progressive organizations, urge members of Congress to denounce the Bannon appointment.
The groups say in a statement that, “there is no place for a white supremacist, anti-Semitic, climate-change denying misogynist in the White House.”
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, says Trump has “mounted an assault on our most fundamental values as Jews and as Americans.”
“Trump has invited promoters of white nationalist and anti-Semitic views and rhetoric, like Steve Bannon, into his inner circle, unacceptable behavior from anyone seeking to unite and lead our country,” he says.
Tsunami threat as 7.7-magnitude quake hits off Solomon Islands
A major 7.7-magnitude quake struck off the Solomon Islands, raising the threat of “widespread, hazardous” tsunami waves, officials says.
The US Geological Survey says some casualties and damage are possible from the quake, while the Pacific Tsunami Warning center says some coasts in the Solomons, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, New Caledonia, Tuvalu and Kosrae could be affected within the next three hours.
The epicenter of the quake, which hit at 4:38 am (1738 GMT Thursday) was located 68 kilometers (42 miles) west of Kirakira, a provincial capital in the Solomon Islands, at a depth of 48 kilometers.
— pacnews pina (@PACNEWS1) December 8, 2016
Russia, US to discuss rebel pullout from Aleppo
Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow and Washington agree to call a meeting to discuss the withdrawal of Syrian rebels from Aleppo.
Sergey Lavrov says after talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Hamburg that they agreed to call a meeting of military experts and diplomats in Geneva on Saturday.
He says they would work on a document outlining details of the rebels’ exit from Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods, along with civilians who are also willing to leave the city.
The Syrian government has dismissed calls for a ceasefire, as its troops press their offensive on the rebel-held enclave.
Lavrov says the Syrian army suspended its advance today to allow some 8,000 civilians to leave the city in a convoy spreading across 5 kilometers.
UN warns ‘rhetoric of fascism’ on rise in US, Europe
Human rights standards worldwide are under “unprecedented pressure,” the UN says, warning that “the rhetoric of fascism” is becoming commonplace in parts of Europe and the United States.
Speaking ahead of the international Human Rights Day on December 10, UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urges people around the globe to push back against a dangerous erosion of rights protections.
“2016 has been a disastrous year for human rights across the globe,” Zeid says in a statement, warning that “if the growing erosion of the carefully constructed system of human rights and rule of law continues to gather momentum, ultimately everyone will suffer.”
His comments follow a string of populist victories in Europe, and the stunning November election of Donald Trump as the next US president.
“In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged,” Zeid warns. “The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the ‘Deep Net’. It is becoming part of normal daily discourse.”
N.Korea capable of launching nuke, not mastered targeting — US official
North Korea has developed the capability to pair a nuclear warhead with a missile and launch it, but has not mastered bringing the weapon back from space and onto a target, a senior US defense official says.
“They have the capability right now to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon, they are just not sure about re-entry,” the official says.
“They are not sure of the re-entry capability for a strategic strike, so they are endeavoring to try and overcome that,” the official adds.