Family of Palestinian killed in Ashkelon rocket attack sues state for negligence
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Family of Palestinian killed in Ashkelon rocket attack sues state for negligence

Mahmoud Abu Asabeh’s relatives demand millions in damages after firefighters briefly looked under rubble of building hit, leaving him to bleed out before a neighbor found him

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Mahmoud Abu Asabeh, 48, from the West Bank town of Halhul north of Hebron, was killed late Monday, November 12, 2018, when a rocket launched by Gaza terrorists struck a home in the southern Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon. (Twitter screen capture)
Mahmoud Abu Asabeh, 48, from the West Bank town of Halhul north of Hebron, was killed late Monday, November 12, 2018, when a rocket launched by Gaza terrorists struck a home in the southern Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon. (Twitter screen capture)

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

Stats released for Holocaust Remembrance Day show 212K survivors living in Israel

New demographics released by the Central Bureau of Statistics in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will be marked on Sunday, show that there are roughly 212,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel.

The numbers from the end of 2017 mark a drop of roughly 9,000 people from the previous year.

According to the CBS, 100 percent of survivors are above the age of 72 and some 30% are above the age of 85.

Sixty percent of survivors living in Israel are women while 40% are men.

Visiting Ukraine leader blasted for ignoring Holocaust complicity

Top Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff criticizes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for ignoring Ukrainian complicity in the Holocaust during his visit to Israel this week, and for urging Jerusalem to recognize the Holodomor, a man-made famine in 1930s that killed millions of Ukrainians, as a genocide.

Zuroff also takes Poroshenko’s Israeli hosts to task for not having challenged him publicly on Kiev’s policy to honor Ukrainian nationalist wartime heroes, many of whom were involved in massacres against Jews.

“What happened is the height of chutzpah,” fumes Zuroff, who heads Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office. “He comes here, and asks Israel to recognize Israel the Holodomor as genocide, which it wasn’t.”

— Raphael Ahren

Ramle resident indicted for sending video of himself digging grave for his sister

A resident of the central town Ramle has been indicted after he sent a video of himself digging a grave for his 16-year-old sister.

The two got into an argument leading to the older brother to begin sending death threats to the teenage girl, which culminated in the video of him digging her grave and pledging that she would soon be buried in it.

Police arrested the suspect on Saturday, but he was released to house arrest earlier this week.

With the filing of the indictment against him for death threats, prosecutors asked that the suspect be remanded until the end of proceedings against him.

Rivlin inaugurates French museum exhibit honoring diplomats who saved Jews during Holocaust

President Reuven Rivlin inaugurates a museum exhibition highlighting the stories of diplomats who saved Jews during the Holocaust as part of an official visit to France.

The exhibition, called “Beyond duty – saving Jewish lives and showing the way,” is a collaboration between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Yad Vashem and is opening in Israeli diplomatic missions worldwide ahead of International Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday.

“Some 200,000 people were saved by the actions of these diplomats,” Rivlin says. “Their stories are a unique part of the history of the Holocaust. They prove that we always, as individuals, as representatives of our people and as countries, have the ability and the responsibility to make choices.”

Thirty-six diplomats in roughly 20 countries used their authority and influence to rescue Jews during the Holocaust and have been recognized by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations, according to the Government Press Office.

Lithuanian church removes Jewish headstones used as stairs

Lithuania’s Evangelical Reformed Church has removed Jewish headstones that had been used as stairs.

The removal of the headstones from the 9-meter (30-foot) staircase leading to the main entrance of the church building in Vilnius was completed last week, the Jewish Community of Lithuania announces. The headstones were installed when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union.

“This represents a victory in the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s long-term efforts to ensure respect for the dead and the Jewish legacy in Lithuania,” the Jewish group says in a statement.

The headstones will be placed at a Jewish cemetery, the statement says.

The church on Pylimo Street was featured in an article published in 2013 on the website, run by Dovid Katz, a Yiddish scholar and member of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. The former chief rabbi of Lithuania, Chaim Burshtein, also called for removing the headstones from the stairs.

The building, which was confiscated by the government during communist rule, was returned to the church after Lithuania’s independence and, following renovations, reopened in 2007.


Health Ministry urges passengers on Egged bus to get vaccinated amid measles scare

The Health Ministry says in a statement that passengers on a Sunday morning Egged bus from Rosh Pina to the Golani Junction may have been exposed to measles by one of the commuters on board.

The ministry urges those passengers who have not been immunized with two doses of the measles vaccine to immediately do so.

Iraqi parliament approves budget of $112 billion for 2019

Iraq’s parliament approves a vastly expanded state budget for 2019, after weeks of wrangling over how to apportion revenue among the country’s regions damaged by the war against the Islamic State group.

The new budget, at 133 trillion Iraqi dinars ($112 billion), represents a 27 percent increase in spending over the previous year, to be paid in part by higher projected oil prices and a slight bump in oil exports.

It forecasts oil exports from OPEC’s second leading oil producer to average 3.88 million barrels per day, at $56 per barrel, up from 3.8 million barrels at $46 per day in 2018.

Still, the budget projects a $23 billion deficit in 2019.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s government still needs to ratify the bill, which includes several amendments to the budget proposal it submitted last year.

— AP

Bomb attack hits Syrian capital — state media

A bomb attack hit a northeastern neighbourhood of the Syrian capital, state media says, in the third such explosion in a regime-held area in less than a week.

State news agency SANA reports “a terrorist bombing in the Adawi area with an explosive device planted in a car, causing material damage but no casualties.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the blast hit near the embassy of key government ally Russia.

The Britain-based war monitor says four people were lightly wounded.


Aisha Rabi’s husband calls for ICC probe into wife’s death

Aisha Rabi’s husband Yaqoub says he has no faith in Israeli justice and wants a hearing in an international court after the Central District Court indicted only one of the five suspects arrested on suspicion of involvement in his wife’s killing.

“The Israeli police and intelligence both know who hit us leading to my wife’s death but they charged one person only.”

“When they hit our car with stones they were more than four people,” he tells AFP. “I want all those who killed my wife to be tried in an international court.”

— with AFP

Cabinet approves transfer of Qatari cash to Gaza after prodding from security establishment

Israel has approved the transfer of $15 million in humanitarian aid from Qatar to the Hamas terror group in Gaza, a diplomatic official confirms.

The decision was made following encouragement from senior officials in the defense establishment, who have ardently supported preventing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza from further spiraling.

The transfer is expected to take place in the coming days.

Hamas rejects Qatari funds, claiming Israeli ‘blackmailing’ has violated past agreements

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya says the terror group has decided not to accept Qatari dollars that were slated to support civil servants and needy families in the Gaza Strip.

“We presented our rejection to receiving the third Qatari grant in response to the occupation’s policy of attempting to hesitate and not abide by the understandings,” Hayya tells reporters in Gaza. “We say they bear full responsibility for this hesitation and blackmailing.”

The Hamas official says the terror group expressed its position to Mohammed al-Emadi, a Qatari envoy who arrived in Gaza late Wednesday.

— Adam Rasgon

Following indictment in Aisha Rabi killing, Shin Bet asserts ‘it was a terror attack in every respect’

Following the filing of an indictment against an Israeli teen alleged to have hurled a stone that struck Aisha Rabi in the head, killing the 47-year-old Palestinian mother of eight, the Shin Bet releases a statement asserting that the October 12 incident was “a terror attack in every respect.”

The security agency blasts “interested parties over their deliberate and ongoing effort to slander the Shin Bet and its employees,” throughout the investigation.

“In light of the manipulative claims currently being made by those interested parties… it should be said that this was a terrorist attack in every respect, and similar acts carried out by Arab terrorists, including minors, were dealt with no differently,” the Shin Bet says.

Shortly after the arrest of the first three suspects on December 30, settler leaders and prominent rabbis in the national religious camp began demonstrating against the Shin Bet, accusing its agents of torturing the suspects and robbing them of their rights.

The security agency says the the suspects in Rabi’s killing were in direct contact with violent far-right activists commonly known as hilltop youth, who are known for establishing illegal outposts on hilltops throughout the West bank and sometimes carrying out hate crimes targeting Palestinians and even Israeli security forces.

Scottish ex-leader Salmond charged with attempted rape

Former Scottish leader and pro-independence figurehead Alex Salmond has been charged with two counts of attempted rape and nine counts of sexual assault, the Scottish prosecutor’s office says.

Speaking after a court hearing, Salmond says: “I am innocent of any criminality whatsoever.”


Lebanon’s star filmmaker makes Oscars history with her nomination

This year’s Academy Awards will feature an all-male best director lineup, but there is one female director vying for a top honor at the Oscars — Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki.

Labaki’s “Capernaum” is nominated for best foreign language film, competing against male directed entries from Japan, Germany, Poland and the presumptive favorite, Mexico’s “Roma.”

The actress-turned-director says she hopes to represent female filmmakers in “the best way possible” at February’s ceremony, and expects more women will be nominated in years to come.

“Capernaum,” named after a biblical village cursed by Jesus, tells the story of a 12-year-old boy, played by a Syrian refugee, who sues his parents for giving him life. It is now showing in select US theaters.

The Oscars will be held in Los Angeles on February 24.

— AP

50-year-old woman critically injured in Shuafat house fire

Emergency medics were rushing a 50-year-old woman in critical condition to the Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus after rescuing her from a house fire in the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

Doctors are trying to rescuscitate the woman, who is suffering from severe smoke inhalation.

Two men suspected of plotting attack arrested in Belgium

The Belgian authorities have arrested two men suspected of plotting a terrorist attack and charged them with terrorism offenses, federal prosecutors say.

The main suspect was arrested in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek while his alleged accomplice was arrested near the northern Dutch-speaking city of Bruges, prosecutors say.

The men were charged with “participating in the activities of a terrorist group and preparing to commit a terrorist offense,” spokesman Eric Van Duyse says.

Van Duyse adds that the pair were not believed to have been plotting a “mass attack,” but did not elaborate.

The prosecutors office say the pair were not Belgian nationals but did not give their nationalities.


Shaked slams Likud: They’re not really right-wing

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the New Right party attacks Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling party, saying the Likud is not really right-wing.

“The Likud is not right,” the Walla news site quotes her as saying to a group of ultra-Orthodox activists in Bnei Brak at a town hall meeting.

US sanctions two Iran-backed militias fighting in Syria

The US Treasury announces sanctions on two Iran-backed militias fighting in Syria in a move aimed at raising pressure on Tehran and the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Fatemiyoun Division, comprising of Afghan nationals, and the Zaynabiyoun Brigade, consisting of Pakistanis, were placed on the Treasury’s financial blacklist, which aims to cut off their access to international financial networks to choke their operations.

Both militias are recruited by the Revolutionary Guard, the Treasury says, from communities of refugees and migrants living inside Iran, and sent to fight for the Bashar Assad regime in Syria.

“The brutal Iranian regime exploits refugee communities in Iran… and uses them as human shields for the Syrian conflict,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says in a statement.

“Treasury’s targeting of Iran-backed militias and other foreign proxies is part of our ongoing pressure campaign to shut down the illicit networks the regime uses to export terrorism and unrest across the globe.”

The Treasury also designates for sanctions Qeshm Fars Air, an airline it said was controlled by already-sanctioned Mahan Air, and Armenia-based Flight Travel LLC, which markets for Mahan.

Qeshm Fars was a dormant carrier until 2017, when it was revived to deliver passengers and cargo to Damascus from Iran with two B747 aircraft on behalf of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The carrier is being staffed by Mahan Air employees and receives Mahan technical support, the Treasury said.


Venezuela’s defense chief backs Maduro

The chief of Venezuela’s military has reaffirmed his support for President Nicolas Maduro, saying the armed forces will never accept a leader imposed on their country.

The televised statement by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez is part of a show of military support for Maduro in the face of faltering international recognition of his government.

Opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido has declared himself Venezuela’s interim president, promising to restore democracy to Venezuela.

Padrino Lopez says dark interests are working outside Venezuela’s constitution, emboldening the opposition’s rise.

He says his soldiers would be unworthy of their uniform if they fail to defend the constitution.

The United States, Canada and some Latin American and European countries have recognized Guaido’s claim that the constitution gives him the authority to assume power.

— AP

Gabbay pays condolence visit to family of Israeli student murdered in Australia

Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay pays a condolence visit to the family of Aya Maasarwe, who was brutally murdered in Australia last week.

In a statement following the visit, Gabbay says he came “to show our sympathy for the pain of her family, and of an entire sector that wants to see its political leaders share in their pain.”

Pompeo warns Venezuela’s Maduro against use of force

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro not to use force against mass demonstrations and urged further international support for the self-declared acting president.

A day after the United States and major Latin American nations recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the acting president, Pompeo presses his case at a special meeting of the Organization of American States.

“The time for debate is done. The regime of former president Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate,” Pompeo says.

“His regime is morally bankrupt, it’s economically incompetent, and it is profoundly corrupt, and it is undemocratic to the core,” he says.

Pompeo demands that the military, whose leadership has confirmed its loyalty to Maduro, protect Guaido, a day after deadly street clashes.

“I reiterate our warning about any decision by remnant elements of the Maduro regime to use violence to repress the peaceful democratic transition,” Pompeo says.

Pompeo urges all members of the Organization of American States to recognize Guaido.


Church must help others overcome ‘fears’ about migration, pope says

Pope Francis tells Central American bishops that the Catholic Church must work to help others overcome their “fears and suspicions” about migration.

Speaking from Panama in Central America — the hub for caravans of migrants heading to the United States — Francis says migrants were simply seeking “the minimum conditions for a better future.”

He says the church, with hospitality and acceptance, can facilitate “dialogue and to help overcome fears and suspicions, and thus consolidate the very bonds that migrations — in the collective imagination — threaten to break.”


IDF accuses Iran-backed Islamic Jihad of undermining Gaza calm as tensions rise

The Israeli military accuses the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group of being behind efforts to “destabilize” the situation in the Gaza Strip, as an unofficial ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas appeared to be in peril of collapsing.

“In recent weeks, we have monitored increasing attempts by the Islamic Jihad movement to destabilize the security situation in the Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic-language spokesperson tweets.

“The activities of the radical Islamic Jihad movement risk… the attempts to improve the civilian reality in the Gaza Strip,” Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee adds.

The accusations by the army spokesman come shortly after Hamas announced it would not be accepting millions of dollars in funding from the Qatari government, a key aspect of the unofficial ceasefire arrangement with Israel.

— Judah Ari Gross

Man succumbs to wounds from stabbing in central Israel

Doctors at Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center pronounce the death of a 35-year-old man who arrived earlier in critical condition after being stabbed repeatedly in the Israeli central city of Lod.

According to police, the incident appears to be crime related. No arrests have been made.


Amid rumors he’s joining Gantz, Ya’alon says he’s interested in merging right-wing parties

Amid reports that he is in close contact with Benny Gantz to join the ex-IDF chief of staff’s Israel Resilience party, Moshe Ya’alon tells a group of national religious reporters that he is interested in uniting with right-wing parties as well.

The former defense minister, who established the Telem party last month, says the factions on his radar include the New Right, Jewish Home, and even the Likud.

German Jewish leader ‘threatened’ after criticizing far-right AfD

A Jewish community leader in Germany said Thursday she had been targeted with threats and hate mail “almost by the minute” since criticizing the far-right AfD party.

In a speech about Holocaust victims, Charlotte Knobloch called on Wednesday the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party a threat to democracy, sparking a walk-out of its regional politicians.

A day later, Knobloch, 86, tells a local newspaper that “since then, I have received coarse verbal abuse, threats and insults by email and telephone almost by the minute.”

“The danger the party and its supporters spell for our liberal democracy has become more than clear and this shows more than ever that the democrats in our country must stand united against them,” she tells the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

Knobloch, a former leader of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, now heads the community in the Bavarian city of Munich.

She added that she “had expected the AfD to use the Bavarian state parliament for self-promotion — I just hadn’t expected a row of such proportions.”

The five-year-old AfD, the country’s biggest opposition party, opposes multiculturalism, Islam and the immigration policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom it labels a “traitor.”

One of its most radical figures, Bjoern Hoecke, has sparked outrage with statements on Germany’s Nazi past, calling Berlin’s Holocaust monument a “memorial of shame” and urging a “180-degree shift” in the country’s culture of remembrance.


Border Police arrest two Palestinians suspected of hurling Molotov cocktails

Border Police entered the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem and arrested two young Palestinians suspected of hurling Molotov cocktails at passing cars on a main area highway.

One of the suspects resisted arrest, which led the officers to shoot, and was seriously injured. He was evacuated to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Egypt ‘more dangerous’ than ever for gov’t critics, rights group says

International rights group Amnesty International says that an intensified crackdown on dissent in Egypt made the country “more dangerous” than ever for peaceful critics of the government.

The statement from the group comes ahead of the eighth anniversary of the January 25, 2011 uprising which led to the ouster of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Amnesty says Egyptian authorities had arrested at least 113 people during 2018 for “peacefully expressing their views.”

“Today it is more dangerous to openly criticize the government in Egypt than at any other time in the country’s recent history,” says Najia Bounaim, the group’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

Amnesty said the space for dissent “is being crushed out of existence.”

“Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s administration, Egypt has been converted into an open-air prison for critics,” it says.

The Egyptian leader recently denied in an interview with CBS that the country holds any political prisoners.

Human rights groups have regularly criticized Sisi’s government for cracking down on secular and left-wing activists, as well as the Islamist supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

A growing number of activists have been detained in Egypt in recent months.


Sudan gripped again by a day of anti-al-Bashir protests

Thousands of people are out on the streets at several locations in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, calling on the country’s longtime ruler to step down, according to videos circulating online and activists.

The demonstrations are the latest in a wave of unrest that began December 19 across most of Sudan, first to protest worsening economic conditions but soon to demand an end to Omar al-Bashir’s 29-year, autocratic rule.

Today’s demonstrations began in more than a dozen of the capital’s residential neighborhoods and in at least six cities across the country, with numbers in each protest varying from scores to the low hundreds.

In response, security forces in Khartoum have sealed off main roads to keep protesters on side streets and used tear gas to disperse them, said the activists, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

They are chanting “Just leave!” — which is fast becoming the uprising’s definitive slogan and already is a Twitter hashtag used by activists — and “Freedom, peace and justice.”

Al-Bashir, who led a 1989 military rule that toppled a freely elected but ineffective government, has repeatedly said that any change of leadership could only come through the ballot box. Already one of the region’s longest serving leaders, he is expected to run for another term in office next year.

— AP

Family of Palestinian killed by Gaza rocket fire sues Israel after firefighters missed body under rubble

The family of Mahmoud Abu Asabeh, who was killed by a rocket fired from Gaza in November, is suing Israel for millions of shekels after firefighters took hours to uncover his body under the rubble.

According to Asabeh’s relatives, rescuers did a quick search through the Ashkelon building that was struck and did not continue looking despite the fact that neighbors told them that residents remained trapped underneath the rubble.

Asabeh was found along with another woman by a local man over an hour after the rocket hit the building. The woman, who was in moderate condition, was rushed to the hospital, but Asabeh — a Palestinian from the West Bank city of Halhoul and a contractor with a permit to work in Israel — was pronounced dead on site and was the lone civilian casualty in the three day cross-border flare-up.

Border Police detained Israeli teen charged with manslaughter before attack that killed Rabi — report

The Israeli teen charged with manslaughter in the killing of Aisha Rabi had been briefly detained for clashing with Border Police at the Rehelim Junction in the northern West Bank, roughly a mile away from where the attack took place the very next day, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The 16-year-old was released shortly after his arrest on October 11.

Israeli ministry slams Irish parliament’s passing of bill banning trade with settlements

The Foreign Ministry condemns the decision by the Dail, the lower house of Ireland’s parliament, to advance a bill criminalizing trade with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The ministry called the legislation “pure hostility on the part of its initiators and deserving of full condemnation.”

“It is disturbing and disappointing that the initiators of Irish law focus on a hypocritical attack on Israel, rather than focusing on the dictatorships that slaughter their citizens. This is a clear expression of obsessive discrimination that should be rejected with disgust,” the ministry’s statement adds.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 has to take several additional legislative hurdles before it passes into law.

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