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

Lawmakers to consider expelling phone-smuggling MK

Lawmakers are set to consider expelling Arab Joint List MK Basel Ghattas from the Knesset.

The Knesset House Committee is set to debate the unprecedented move in a meeting Thursday after 71 MKs signed a call to remove Ghattas, who has already been distanced from all parliamentary activities except for plenum votes after he was discovered to have allegedly smuggled cellphones to convicted Palestinian terrorists in Ketziot Prison.

According to police, Ghattas met last month with Walid Daka, a Palestinian prisoner serving a 37-year sentence for the 1984 abduction and murder of 19-year-old IDF soldier Moshe Tamam. The MK also met with Basel Ben Sulieman Bezre, who is serving a 15-year sentence on a terror conviction.

Footage appearing to show MK Basel Ghattas handing over a package to Palestinian prisoner Walid Daka (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Footage appearing to show MK Basel Ghattas handing over a package to Palestinian prisoner Walid Daka (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Under a new law, an MK can only be expelled if at least 70 MKs call for it in writing, the House Committee approves it with a three-quarters vote in favor, and 90 of the parliament’s 120 MKs then vote for it in a formal plenum vote.

The call to start the process was initiated by Likud lawmaker Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

Mattis submits recommendations for new anti-IS strategy

WASHINGTON — A new military strategy to meet uS President Donald Trump’s demand to “obliterate” the Islamic State group is likely to deepen US military involvement in Syria, possibly with more ground troops, even as the current US approach in Iraq appears to be working and will require fewer changes.

Details are sketchy. But recommendations due at the White House on Monday are likely to increase emphasis on nonmilitary elements of the campaign already underway, such as efforts to squeeze IS finances, limit the group’s recruiting and counter IS propaganda that is credited with inspiring recent violence in the US and Europe.

One official with knowledge of the recommendations says the report would present a broad overview of options as a starting point for a more detailed internal discussion.

In this Jan. 21, 2107 file photo, US Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, greets Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

In this Jan. 21, 2107 file photo, US Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, greets Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is giving the White House the ingredients of a strategy, which officials say will be fleshed out once Trump has considered the options. Officials described the Mattis report as a “framework” built on broad concepts and based on advice from the State Department, the CIA and other agencies. Officials have indicated the recommended approaches will echo central elements of the Obama administration’s strategy, which was based on the idea that the US military should support local forces rather than do the fighting for them.

Trump signed an executive order on January 28 giving Mattis 30 days to present a “preliminary draft” of a plan. He said it should include a comprehensive strategy that would not only deliver a battlefield victory but also “isolate and delegitimize” the group and its radical ideology.

— AP

Oscar-winning Syrian rescue group says award is inspiration

BEIRUT — The head of the Syrian search-and-rescue group featured in the harrowing Oscar-winning Netflix documentary “The White Helmets” says on Monday he hopes the award will serve as an inspiration to his volunteers to keep up their mission in the war-torn country.

Raed Saleh of the Syrian Civil Defense — popularly known as White Helmets — also appeals on governments around the world “to stop the bloodshed of the Syrian people.”

Speaking in a video recorded in southern Turkey, he quotes from the Quran: “Whoever saves a life — it is as if he has saved mankind entirely.”

In this Sept. 16, 2015 file photo, comrades carry Ilias Mahmoud al-Taweel, a member of Syrian Civil Defense, popularly known as the White Helmets, during his funeral in Douma, Syria. (Feras Domy via AP, File)

In this Sept. 16, 2015 file photo, comrades carry Ilias Mahmoud al-Taweel, a member of Syrian Civil Defense, popularly known as the White Helmets, during his funeral in Douma, Syria. (Feras Domy via AP, File)

The Oscar for the best documentary short “will inspire our volunteers with the moral support to continue rescuing civilians in Syria,” Saleh says.

The film focuses on Syrian first-responders, rescue workers who risk their lives to save Syrians affected by the civil war, now in its sixth year. The film often captures the highly dangerous moments when the White Helmets arrive at the scene of an airstrike, which may be imminently bombed for a second time in a so-called “double tap” attacks.

The White Helmets did not have a representative at the Los Angeles Oscars ceremony after US immigration authorities barred entry to a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on the film.

— AP

Iraqi commander: Troops push further into western Mosul

BAGHDAD — A senior Iraqi police commander says troops have taken control of the western side of a key bridge in Mosul amid intense clashes with the Islamic State group.

Maj. Gen Thamir Ahmed, commander of the Federal Police Rapid Response Force, says his forces pushed into Mosul’s western Gawsaq neighborhood today, reaching the foot of what’s known locally as the 4th Bridge.

Thamir tells The Associated Press that IS fighters fought back with snipers, anti-tank missiles and suicide car bombs, describing the clashes as “fierce.” He adds that Iraqi troops suffered casualties, but didn’t give a specific number.

All Mosul’s five bridges, spanning the Tigris River to the city’s government-controlled eastern side, were destroyed by airstrikes last year.

— AP

Livni on Gaza war report: Israel doesn’t have a strategy

Ahead of the expected Wednesday release of the state comptroller’s report on the cabinet’s handling of the 2014 Gaza war, MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) says the political brouhaha over the expected censuring of Israel’s leaders at the time is a distraction.

“We should have solved the problem [of Hamas’s terror tunnels] ahead of time. The fact that this wasn’t done by the time the operation [Protective Edge] began is a great failure,” Livni tells reporters in the Knesset today.

“Israel doesn’t have a strategy vis-à-vis the Palestinians generally or Gaza specifically,” she cautions.

“We don’t have to reach an agreement with Hamas, but to rally the world against Hamas so Israel has the legitimacy to act against the tunnels in any future operation.”

Ministers set rules to end anti-Sephardi discrimination in Haredi schools

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Education Minister Naftali Bennett announce new directives they say will end discrimination against ultra-Orthodox Sephardic girls, many of whom are rejected from largely Ashkenazi Haredi institutions due to their ethnic background.

During the weekly Shas faction meeting in the Knesset, Deri — the leader of the party — says his initial proposal to force regional registration of all students was rejected due to internal coalition sparring. But he cheers the compromise, saying, “for us, the Shas faction, today is a holiday.”

Bennett says the new regulations will force ultra-Orthodox schools to begin the registration process earlier in the year. He also promises “transparency,” saying the schools will be forced to explain why they rejected each student and an appeals panel will be set up in the ministry to oversee complaints by parents.

“There is no more ‘because,'” he says of the schools, but rather they must provide a full explanation in each case.

“No girl will be discriminated against due to ethnicity, period,” says Bennett.

The education minister says the new regulations go into effect immediately.

“This is a problem that shouldn’t have existed in the State of Israel,” says Bennett.

— Marissa Newman

4 Palestinians, said to be Hamas personnel, hurt in IAF airstrikes

Four Palestinians are moderately hurt in IDF airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, according to media reports from the territory.

The wounded are all said to be Hamas personnel.

Israeli jets bombed Hamas-linked targets in the Strip after a rocket from Gaza landed in southern Israel in the early morning hours of Monday.

Lapid: Netanyahu must acknowledge errors in 2014 Gaza war

Ahead of the release of the state comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza War, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to cover up mistakes he made rather than fixing them.

“What is more worrying than the mistakes is the denial,” Lapid tells his weekly faction meeting in the Knesset. “The attempt to deal with public perception and politics and media spin comes at the expense of national security. That’s not how to run a country.”

The report, which is due tomorrow, deals primarily with the decision-making process in the high-level security cabinet, of which Lapid was a member at the time of the war. According to leaks from the report, the comptroller says that the prime minister did not give members of the cabinet enough information during the military operation.

“This is a professional and in-depth report and it is also tough and serious with personal criticism of the prime minister, the defense minister and senior IDF officials,” Lapid says, adding that he does not think Netanyahu should resign over the report but that he must admit his error and learn from the mistakes.

Asked if, as a senior minister and member of the security cabinet at the time, he also bears responsibility. Lapid said that “the buck stops” with the prime minister.

— Raoul Wootliff

IDF confirms five strikes on Gaza Strip in wake of rocket attack

The IDF confirms Palestinian reports it has been bombing Hamas-linked targets in the Gaza Strip in response to an overnight rocket strike on southern Israel.

According to a statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, “aircraft of the Air Force struck five terror infrastructures of the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip.”

The statement adds: “The Hamas terror organization is the sovereign in the Gaza Strip, and bears responsibility for every terror incident emanating from it.”

IDF sets up roadblocks around Ofra ahead of home demolitions

The IDF starts setting up roadblocks around the Ofra settlement in the northern West Bank ahead of a court-ordered demolition of nine buildings slated for tomorrow.

The roadblocks along Route 60 are not stopping traffic, the Walla news site reports, but will be ready to do so to prevent far-right activists from entering the settlement ahead of the demolition.

Hamas warns Israel not to ‘change the status quo’ after airstrikes

Hamas says it will not allow Israel to “change the status quo,” after Israeli planes struck several sites belonging to the terror group in Gaza in retaliation for earlier rocket fire into Israel on Monday.

“The continual targeting of facilities and sites belonging to [Hamas] and the intentional exploding of the situation in Gaza cannot be allowed, nor the imposition of any new status quo, whatever the cost,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum says in a statement posted to the group’s official website.

He adds: “Hamas holds Israel fully responsible for this continuing dangerous escalation on Gaza and its people.”

Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qedra says four Gazans were moderately injured by Israeli airstrikes today east of Rafah.

Monday morning’s rocket attack against Israel also comes two and a half weeks after a number of cross-border exchanges between Israel and terrorist groups inside the Gaza Strip, which raised concerns of potential renewed conflict between the IDF and Hamas.

— Dov Lieber

Herzog: Gaza war report an ‘indictment’ of Netanyahu’s leadership

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog says that the pending comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza war is an “indictment” against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership during the military operation.

“This indictment doesn’t deal with receiving illicit gifts or with inappropriate personal behavior,” Herzog tells his Zionist Union faction meeting in the Knesset, referring to the ongoing criminal investigations into the prime minister, “but rather with the failure of country’s leadership, the disregard for human life, the abandonment of soldiers and officers and the citizens of the south.”

He adds: “This indictment reveals how the prime minister and his security cabinet failed to understand the threats, to set a strategy to deal with them and to prepare the operation.”

According to Herzog, the only member of the security cabinet who acted appropriately during the war was Tzipi Livni, his number 2 in the Zionist Union faction, who sat next to him in the meeting.

— Raoul Wootliff

Israel not seeking escalation in Gaza Strip, says defense minister

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says Israel is not seeking an escalation in violence in the Gaza Strip, but will not tolerate rocket fire from the coastal enclave.

“We have no intention to initiate a military campaign in Gaza but we also have no intention of being on the receiving end of sporadic fire,” he says at the weekly Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting in the Knesset. “I recommend that Hamas take responsibility and calm down.”

Liberman, who during the 2014 Gaza war fiercely criticized the government response to Hamas rocket fire, says all the recent criticism about the government’s conduct during the 50-day conflict stems solely from political concerns and is harming Israel’s security.

He speaks a day before the state comptroller report on the government’s handling of the war effort is set to be published. According to leaks of the report, it is a damning indictment of the prime minister and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, as well as the army’s top echelon, accusing Israeli leaders of failing to update the high-level security cabinet about the extent of the tunnel threat from Gaza.

Talk about the report “is a political discourse that does not contribute to security and even the opposite — it harms Israel’s security,” the defense minister says.

“The IDF and defense establishment have been dealing with drawing lessons and rectifying what needs fixing from the day after the campaign. We have a strong army and the readiness of the army and reservists is at one of the highest levels in decades,” he says.

Liberman declines to comment on the content of the report until after the embargo is lifted tomorrow.

— Marissa Newman

Swastikas scratched into cars in Jewish neighborhood of Miami Beach

Swastikas are scratched into several cars in a Jewish neighborhood in Miami Beach, Florida.

The swastikas are found keyed on the cars on Sunday morning. Though the neighborhood is predominantly Jewish, at least one of the vandalized cars is not owned by a Jewish family, the Miami Herald reports.

Earlier this month, a large swastika was painted on the car of a resident of Boca Raton, Florida, in a neighborhood where many Holocaust survivors live.

Also on Sunday, two buildings in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, were found defaced with threatening anti-Semitic graffiti.


After anti-Semitic incidents, Herzog says to prepare for immigration from US

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to establish an “emergency national program” to prepare for a “mass wave of Jewish immigration” following a series of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States.

“I wish to express my shock and vociferous condemnation of the outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, France and other places around the world,” Herzog tells his Zionist Union faction meeting.

Yesterday, dozens of headstones were found toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, after a similar incident last week in which over 150 graves were damaged at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis.

“I call on the government to urgently prepare and establish an emergency national program to enable a wave of Jewish immigration for our brethren,” he says.

“I am sure that the US government will do all it can to put an end to this phenomenon with all its might,” he adds.

— Raoul Wootliff

High Court rejects bid to stop settlement home demolitions

The High Court of Justice turns down an appeal by the residents of nine buildings in the Ofra settlement in the northern West Bank slated for demolition tomorrow.

The appeal asks the court to cancel the demolition, and instead seal up the homes pending some other solution. The court ordered the demolition because the homes are built on privately owned Palestinian land.

If the court had consented to sealing the homes, it would have meant the lifting of the standing demolition order against them, thereby making them subject to the newly passed Regulation Law that requires the state to authorize homes built illegally on private Palestinian land.

North Carolina JCC evacuated due to bomb threat

The Asheville, North Carolina, Jewish Community Center is being evacuated because of a bomb threat, an employee of the center tells The Times of Israel.

Employees are being moved to a nearby church.

The JCC is home to a preschool, but it is closed today for a teachers’ conference.

The bomb threat follows dozens of similar threats since January in what watchdog groups have said is a major spike in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the US in recent weeks.

— Judah Ari Gross

Netanyahu: Israel has become ‘a rising global power’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his recent foreign trips to the UK, US and Australia have strengthened Israel’s standing in the world.

Speaking to the Likud weekly faction meeting in the Knesset — his first in three weeks due to the trips — Netanyahu says his travels have also helped Israel’s security and economy.

“These trips greatly strengthen the international standing of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu says at the meeting, his first in three weeks due to the trips. “They strengthen our security, they strengthen our economy.”

Citing further upcoming trips to Russia and China and a scheduled visit to Israel of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Netanyahu says Israel has become “a rising global power.”

“The State of Israel is sought after. I’ve said it many times and we must say it again,” he adds.

— Raoul Wootliff

US general talks military aid on Lebanon visit

BEIRUT — The commander of US forces in the Middle East meets with top officials in Lebanon to discuss American military aid and other efforts to contain the fallout from the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, meets with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf upon his arrival in Beirut on Monday.

In this photo released by the Lebanese Government, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, right, meets with US Central Command Chief Gen. Joseph Votel, center, and US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, left, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. (Dalati Nohra/Lebanese Government via AP)

In this photo released by the Lebanese Government, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, right, meets with US Central Command Chief Gen. Joseph Votel, center, and US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, left, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. (Dalati Nohra/Lebanese Government via AP)

Votel does not make any public comments in the Lebanese capital. The US has been speeding up delivery of ammunition to help Lebanon’s military combat jihadi groups near the border with Syria.

Washington has provided more than $1 billion in military assistance to Lebanon since 2006.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

Man moderately hurt from snake bite near Tel Aviv

A 21-year-old man is moderately hurt after being bitten by a snake at Ariel Sharon Park near Tel Aviv.

He is taken to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.

North Carolina JCC gets ‘all clear’ after bomb threat

The Asheville, North Carolina Jewish Community Center received the “all clear” after being evacuated because of a bomb threat.

Employees were moved to a nearby church while authorities searched the premises.

The JCC is home to a preschool, but it is closed today for a teachers’ conference.

The bomb threat follows dozens of similar threats since January in what watchdog groups have said is a major spike in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the US in recent weeks.

— Judah Ari Gross

Man critically hurt in Bat Yam shooting

A man is critically wounded after a shooting on Ben Gurion Boulevard in Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv.

Police are investigating the motive for the attack.

Bat Yam shooting victim dies, police rule out terrorism

The young man shot in a drive-by attack on Ben Gurion Boulevard in Bat Yam dies in the hospital, according to officials.

Police say the incident is believed to be connected to a feud among known criminals, and is not a terror attack.

Israeli hospitals have cared for 1,320 Syrians wounded in civil war

Israeli hospitals have cared for 1,320 wounded Syrians, 150 children among them, the Knesset’s Special Committee for Child Welfare hears today.

The committee is discussing the urgent demand of several hospitals in Israel’s north that the state compensate them for the millions of shekels they have spent in caring for the Syrians, a net drain on the hospitals’ budgets, as the Syrians do not arrive with any insurance coverage the hospitals can access.

Man moderately hurt in Umm al-Fahm shooting

An Umm al-Fahm resident, 40, is moderately wounded after being shot in the legs in the northern city on Monday.

The Magen David Adom rescue service is taking him to Haemek hospital in Afula.

Police are investigating.

Hebron shooting soldier to appeal prison sentence

Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier convicted for the shooting death of a Palestinian stabber in Hebron last March, is planning to appeal his 18-month prison sentence.

Channel 10 reports that Azaria’s lawyers plan to appeal on Wednesday to the Military Appeals Court, the highest court in the military judicial system, asking that it delay his sentence, which he is set to start serving on Sunday.

Over 200 Israelis attend funeral of Holocaust survivor they don’t know

More than 200 Israelis attend the funeral of a complete stranger — a Holocaust survivor from the Canary Islands who is buried in a Tel Aviv cemetery.

Hilde Nathan’s final wish was to be laid to rest in Israel alongside her mother, the United With Israel organization says on its website.

Nathan, who did not have a husband or children, died alone last week in the Canary Islands at 90. Knowing of her wishes, the Canary Island Jewish community, which numbers about 20, raised the money to fly her body to Israel for burial. The community put out a call through the Israeli media for mourners at her funeral, which is held Monday morning.

“Nathan always lived alone, but today it seems that the entire People of Israel has come to say goodbye. She lived alone, but did not leave alone,” an Israeli Holocaust survivor, the only person at the funeral who was acquainted with her when she was alive, tells the United With Israel website.

Nathan, a native of Germany, was one of the few released from the Theresienstadt concentration camp by the Soviet army on May 8, 1945. Her father died shortly after the war and was buried in Germany, and she and her mother moved to the Canary Islands. Her mother died several years ago and was buried in Israel.


‘Surprised’ astronomers find Tatooine-like, two-star system

PARIS – Astronomers say Monday they have found hints of a planetary system closely resembling that of Tatooine, the home of Star Wars jedi Luke Skywalker, orbiting a duo of suns.

The evidence comes in the form of seemingly rocky debris orbiting two stars — a white dwarf and a brown dwarf — in a system called SDSS 1557 some 1,000 light years away.

The “debris appears to be rocky and suggests that terrestrial planets like Tatooine…. might exist in the system,” says a statement from University College London (UCL), which took part in the study.

All other planets discovered orbiting double stars have been gas giants similar to Jupiter.

Now in SDSS 1557, a team has found planetary material with a high metal content, including silicon and magnesium, which is more common to rocky worlds.


Israeli police investigate after Palestinian shot mistakenly

Police say an investigation is underway after forces at a West Bank checkpoint shot and wounded a woman, thinking she was planning an attack, but who was later found to be unarmed.

Spokeswoman Luba Samri says the woman entered a vehicle-only lane Monday and advanced toward officers holding “something.” She was shot after ignoring calls to stop.

— AP

Attorney general upgrades ‘submarines affair’ to full-blown police investigation

The Justice Ministry says the inquiry into the so-called “submarines affair” will be upgraded to a full-blown graft investigation.

In a statement Monday evening, investigators say that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has approved upgrading the case, which involves suspicions of possible corruption linked to the purchase of German-made submarines and other naval vessels.

One key suspect is David Shimron, the personal attorney of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who investigators say may have attempted to sway naval ship-building tenders in favor of German firm Thyssenkrupp using his connections to the prime minister.

Police have noted repeatedly that Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case.

JCCs’ umbrella group demands that US authorities ‘speak out’ on bomb threats

The Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, the umbrella group of American Jewish JCCs that have faced multiple waves of bomb threats for several weeks, says it is “outraged” by Monday’s latest threats, and calls on US authorities to “speak out forcefully.”

In a statement, David Posner, the group’s director of strategic performance, says “Anti-Semitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities. The Justice Department, Homeland Security, the FBI, and the White House, alongside Congress and local officials, must speak out — and speak out forcefully — against this scourge of anti-Semitism impacting communities across the country.”

Posner adds: “Actions speak louder than words. Members of our community must see swift and concerted action from federal officials to identify and capture the perpetrator or perpetrators who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in our communities.

“We remain grateful to local law enforcement who continue to serve our communities and ensure that our JCCs and schools remain safe and open for business as the vital community institutions they are.”

The statement notes that on Monday alone, bomb threats were called in to Jewish institutions in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Umm al-Fahm shooting victim dies, son moderately hurt

A police update from the shooting in Umm al-Fahm says one man, 40, is dead and his son is moderately hurt in a shooting in the northern Arab town.

The two were taken to Haemek Hospital in Afula by the Magen David Adom rescue service.

Police are investigating the motive behind the attack.

White House condemns ‘cowardly’ cemetery vandalism, threats to Jewish centers

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tells reporters in his daily briefing a short while ago that President Donald Trump “continues to be deeply disappointed and concerned by reports of further vandalism at Jewish cemeteries.”

He adds:

The cowardly destruction in Philadelphia this weekend comes on top of similar accounts from Missouri and threats made to Jewish community centers around the country.

The president continues to condemn these and any other forms of anti-Semitic and hateful acts in the strongest terms. From our country’s founding we’ve been dedicated to protecting the freedom of our citizens’ rights to worship.

No one in America should feel afraid to follow the religion of their choosing freely and openly. The president is dedicated to preserving this originating principle of our nation.

Nazi’s son returns art that his family looted in Poland

WARSAW, Poland — The son of a Nazi official returns three works of art that his family had looted from the southern Polish city of Krakow during World War II.

Polish officials say Monday they hope the gesture by Horst von Waechter of Austria would inspire other Nazi descendants to follow suit.

In the ceremony Sunday in Krakow, von Waechter returns an 18th-century map of Poland, built into a small table, and two historic drawings that his mother, Charlotte von Waechter, had appropriated there in late 1939. It was shortly after her husband, Otto von Waechter, had become governor in the southern Polish city occupied by German and Austrian Nazis during the war. Von Waechter ordered the Krakow ghetto be set up in 1941.

The handover takes place at the office of the Krakow provincial governor and was the result of efforts by Polish historian and politician Magdalena Ogorek, according to Krzysztof Marcinkiewicz, spokesman for the governor.

He says one of the paintings had Charlotte von Waechter’s handwritten pencil inscription saying it came from the Potocki Palace in Krakow, where the Waechters resided during the war.

Ogorek tells The Associated Press she spotted some Poland-related objects at Horst von Waechter’s castle in Austria while she was doing research there about his father, who died in unexplained circumstances in 1949 at the Vatican, while waiting to be smuggled to Argentina to avoid facing justice.

— AP

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