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

Tel Aviv gunman took bus home after attack — Shin Bet

Nashat Milhem, the Arab Israeli gunman who killed three people in a Tel Aviv shooting spree on January 1, returned to his home village by bus after the attack, the Shin Bet says.

According to the new details of the investigation, he asked close relations for “drugs for personal use and ammunition to carry out another attack.” The relatives deny giving him any help.

— Judah Ari Gross

Rouhani urges US businesses to invest in Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani invites US businesses to invest in Iran, saying the lifting of European sanctions had opened a new era of “win-win” collaboration.

Rouhani tells reporters in Rome that he and Pope Francis discussed the need for religious leaders to speak out against extremism and terrorism during their audience yesterday. But in an apparent reference to the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Rouhani says freedom of expression “doesn’t mean offending that which is sacred to other people’s faith.”

“All religions are to be respected, their books and the millions of people who follow the faith,” Rouhani says. Insulting them, he adds. “creates division and doesn’t help anyone.”

— AP

Ex-guard for defense minister indicted for abusing underage girls

Prosecutors indict a former security guard at the defense minister’s bureau for sexually assaulting underage girls.

The indictment alleges that 29-year-old Itay Darchi carried out dozens of instances of abuse over the course of more than two years, Channel 2 reports. Much of his alleged abuse took place close to schools in Beersheba and Rishon Lezion, and many cases involved girls between the ages of 6 and 10.

Prosecutors charge that Darchi would stalk the girls and tell them that he was a new teacher looking for the school. He would then persuade the girls to allow him to touch them intimately.

He even recorded some of these encounters on his cellphone, without the knowledge or consent of the children. According to Channel 2, he had 600 video clips and 18,000 photos on his computer, which he viewed repeatedly.


‘Police never followed up on Milhem sighting after attack’

The police failed to follow up on a sighting of gunman Nashat Milhem in the aftermath of his Tel Aviv shooting spree, Israel Radio says.

According to the report, two young Tel Aviv women saw Milhem on a bus in the north of the city immediately after the attacks. The gunman had blood on his shirt, and the two recognized him from security footage being broadcast.

The women told their boss, who called the police hotline repeatedly, but the police never followed up on the calls.

The police only looked into the matter, Israel Radio says, after it asked them to do so, and now acknowledge this chain of events.

Germany arrests 2 for running neo-Nazi website

German police arrest two administrators of the neo-Nazi Internet portal “Altermedia Deutschland” for inciting racial hatred, and the government bans the far-right website.

The suspects, identified only as 47-year-old Jutta V. and Ralph Thomas K., 27, are among five people wanted for publishing illegal xenophobic content on the German-language site.

Federal prosecutors say the website served “the massive and systematic dissemination of right-wing extremist and National Socialist ideas” including “banned Nazi greetings and slogans.”

They say the servers are based in Russia “to shield the website against [German] government intervention,” adding that “Russian authorities have been requested to shut down the site in the next few days.”

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says the portal has been officially prohibited because its hateful content is “incompatible with our free democratic system.”


Woman wounded in Beit Horon attack leaves hospital

Adina Cohen, who was moderately wounded in Monday’s deadly stabbing attack at Beit Horon, is released from the hospital in Jerusalem.

The 58-year-old is said to be in “good condition” after the attack, which also killed 23-year-old Shlomit Krigman, Channel 10 says.

“I think all the time about whether I could have saved Shlomit,” Cohen says as she is released, according to the Israel National News website.

Cameron announces plan for Holocaust memorial in London

British PM David Cameron announces the construction of a Holocaust memorial at Victoria Tower Gardens in London, next to the Houses of Parliament.

The memorial “will stand beside Parliament as a permanent statement of our values as a nation,” he says, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Britain will hold an international competition for the design of the memorial, which will be built by the end of next year.

Cameron tells Parliament: “I know the whole House will want to join me in marking Holocaust Memorial Day. It is right our whole country should stand together to remember the darkest hour of humanity. Last year, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I said we would build a striking, prominent national memorial in London to show the importance Britain places on preserving the memory of the Holocaust.”

Supreme Court: Palestinian hunger striker to stay in jail

The Supreme Court rules that a Palestinian journalist who has been on hunger strike for more than 63 days will remain in jail despite warnings over his health.

The court says it will not release Mohammed al-Qiq immediately, but will track his health on a daily basis.

Qiq is on hunger strike over his administrative detention law; his lawyers say his organs are at risk of failure.


Yad Vashem joining global events for Holocaust Remembrance Day

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum is participating in a series of events around the globe as the world today marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, USA Today reports.

Historians, researchers and educators from the museum will take part in ceremonies in Belgium, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Slovakia, Malta and Russia.

Swedish FM: Battle against anti-Semitism must always be fought

Swedish FM Margot Wallstrom marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day by tweeting: “The battle against anti-Semitism must always be fought.”

Wallstrom has come under criticism recently for her comments bashing Israeli policy.

IDF keeps terrorist’s village sealed off for third day

The army is maintaining a full closure on the West Bank village that is home to one of the terrorists who carried out a deadly attack in nearby Beit Horon on Monday.

No one is allowed to enter or leave Beit Ur al-Tahta, save for in humanitarian cases.

— Judah Ari Gross

Canadian PM: Holocaust is reminder of danger of unchallenged hatred

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a warning of the dangers of “allowing hate, prejudice, and discrimination to spread unchallenged.”

“On this day, we pay tribute to the memory of the millions of victims murdered during the Holocaust. We honor those who survived atrocities at the hands of the Nazi regime, and welcome their courageous stories of hope and perseverance,” he says.

“The Holocaust is a stark reminder of the dangers and risks of allowing hate, prejudice, and discrimination to spread unchallenged. It also reminds us that silence must never be an option when humanity is threatened. As we pause to educate ourselves and our families on the bitter lessons of the Holocaust, we also strengthen our resolve to work with domestic and international partners to continue defending human rights and condemning intolerance.”

— Raphael Ahren

Security forces foil stabbing attack at Qalandia checkpoint

Security forces detain a young Palestinian after he pulls a knife on them at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

According to police, the would-be attacker, aged 17 from Nablus, arrives at the checkpoint on bus carrying passengers who have Israeli ID cards, which the youth does not possess. The security forces ask him to step off the bus, but he objects to a search and produces a knife.

The teen is taken in for questioning. No one is injured in the incident.

— Judah Ari Gross

Tony Blair: Anti-Semitism diminishes our society

Former British PM and Mideast envoy Tony Blair marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, says “Anti-Semitism is not just a matter of grief and dismay for the Jewish community, it diminishes our society.”

Jerusalem Arab jailed for a year for incitement on social media

Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court sentences 24-year-old Mahmoud Abed al-Latif, a resident of the city, to a year in jail for incitement to violence over a series of Facebook posts that advocated violence and terrorism.

“There is no doubt that these posts have a real influence on society and spur its members to acts of terror,” says judge Mordechai Kaduri as he delivers the sentence, Channel 10 reports.

Hotovely welcomes UN recognition of ZAKA

Deputy FM Tzipi Hotovely welcomes the United Nations’ decision to grant advisory status to the ZAKA rescue service.

“I congratulate the members of the Foreign Ministry and our staff at the UN embassy, led by Danny Danon, for their success in securing UN advisory status for the Zaka organization,” she says, according to the Maariv website.

Dutch to discuss joining Syria air strikes ‘within days’

The Dutch cabinet will discuss a US request to join coalition air strikes against jihadists in Syria within “the coming days,” FM Bert Koenders says, amid speculation a decision may come as early as Friday.

“The cabinet will now decide. We’ll discuss it in the coming days,” Koenders tells Dutch news program Nieuwsuur.

The Dutch government received a request late last year from the US and France to broaden its campaign of air support against Islamic State from Iraq into Syria.

After weeks of dallying, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, the Labour Party (PvdA), finally agrees to back an extension of air strikes into Syria, apparently ensuring there is now a parliamentary majority in favor of such a move.


Police: Milhem sighting was one of thousands of reports

Israel Police say the sighting of Tel Aviv gunman Nashat Milhem on a bus in the city was just one of thousands of reports it received in the aftermath of his deadly New Year’s Day shooting spree.

“We considered the report as we synchronized thousands of reports that we received,” the police say in wake of claims that they ignored repeated calls about the sighting.

On Holocaust memorial day, Israel releases Eichmann plea for mercy

Israel makes public a decades-old handwritten plea from Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann for clemency for his role in the Holocaust, dated just two days before he was executed.

In the request, written after he was brought to Israel in 1960, then tried, convicted and sentenced to death, Eichmann says the Israeli court overstated his role in organizing the logistics of the Final Solution.

“There is a need to draw a line between the leaders responsible and the people like me forced to serve as mere instruments in the hands of the leaders,” the letter says. “I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty.”

The Nazi continues: “I am not able to recognize the court’s ruling as just, and I ask, Your Honor Mr President, to exercise your right to grant pardons, and order that the death penalty not be carried out.”

The letter was signed and dated: “Adolf Eichmann Jerusalem, May 29, 1962.” He was hanged around midnight on May 31.

The first page of a handwritten clemency plea by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann revealed to the public on January 27, 2016 during a ceremony at the presidential compound in Jerusalem marking 55 years since Eichmann's trial, as the world observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (AFP/GALI TIBBON)

The first page of a handwritten clemency plea by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann revealed to the public on January 27, 2016 during a ceremony at the presidential compound in Jerusalem marking 55 years since Eichmann’s trial, as the world observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (AFP/GALI TIBBON)

ADL and EJC team up in Europe

The US-based Anti-Defamation League and the European Jewish Congress announce a new partnership on advocacy work within the European Union.

The ADL says the cooperation will enable it “to have a greater impact on EU policies and programs through the relationships and standing of the EJC as the representative body of European Jews.”

ADL chief Jonathan A. Greenblatt says the two organizations “share commitments to the well-being of Jewish communities in Europe and to strongly support the State of Israel.”

Poll: Americans don’t see Trump as religious

Most Americans do not believe GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is very religious or even religious at all, says a poll released today.

The Pew Research Center survey finds that nearly 60 percent of Americans believe Trump is either not religious enough (22 percent) or not religious at all (37 percent).

Only 30 percent say Trump, who identifies as a Presbyterian, is religious enough (25 percent) or “very” religious (five percent). Among Republicans, 47 percent don’t regard Trump as religious.

“The conventional wisdom in American politics has long been that someone who is not religious cannot be elected president of the United States,” Pew says. The poll, however, also finds that 56 percent of Republicans consider Trump to be a “good” or “great” candidate.


BBC: ‘Inadvisable’ for Jewish ex-TV chief to sign letter opposing Israel boycott

The BBC says it was “inadvisable” for its Jewish former head of television to sign a letter opposing a cultural boycott of Israel.

In an email response to a complaint last month, the organization says that it accepts that senior individuals “should avoid making their views known on issues of current political controversy,” and regrets the “impression” given by the appearance of Cohen’s name on the letter, The Guardian reports.

The letter, which appeared in The Guardian, reads: “We do not believe cultural boycotts are acceptable or that the letter you published accurately represents opinion in the cultural world in the UK… We will be seeking to inform and encourage dialogue about Israel and the Palestinians in the wider cultural and creative community.”

Cohen announced his upcoming departure in October 2015, several days before the letter appeared. He left the BBC in November, and now works in the US.

In late 2014, Cohen warned of growing anti-Semitism in the UK, saying “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months.”

Grocery store sets up memorial to employee slain by terrorist

The grocery store in Beit Horon where terror victim Shlomit Krigman worked sets up a memorial to her.

The 23-year-old succumbed yesterday to wounds she sustained in Monday’s attack at the West Bank settlement.

A makeshift memorial for 23-year-old Shlomit Krigman, outside the grocery store where she was stabbed to death earlier in the week, in the West Bank settlement of Beit Horon on January 27, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

A makeshift memorial for 23-year-old Shlomit Krigman, outside the grocery store where she was stabbed to death earlier in the week, in the West Bank settlement of Beit Horon on January 27, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

PM, Tsipras sign joint statement of cooperation

Benjamin Netanyahu and his Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras, sign a joint statement of cooperation at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

The ceremony comes after a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders.

Netanyahu also signs a new diplomatic cooperation agreement with Greek FM Nikos Kotzias.

— Raphael Ahren

Israeli Holocaust survivor: I live on less $1,000 per month

In a special interview to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli survivor Yithzak Sal says he lives just on NIS 3,800 ($957) per month.

“I get NIS 2,200 a month as a disabled Holocaust survivor, and another NIS 1,600 from the National Insurance Institute,” Sal tells local radio. “I have a heater but I but [I don’t always] turn it on because of the electricity usage. I operate it three times a week for a few hours.

“My meals are not guaranteed and I eat at a soup kitchen. I eat in the morning and the afternoon, and in the evening I have a cup of coffee with a rice cake. There is no justice. The minimum wage is NIS 5,100, but I live under pressure.”

But, he maintains, “I have not and will not ask for help.”

Israel frees son of Palestinian peacenik from jail

Mohammed Sabateen, the teenage son of Bethlehem peace activist Ziad Sabateen, is released from an Israeli prison and is heading home after reaching a plea deal with Israeli prosecutors.

Sabateen had been convicted of one count of stone throwing and sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay an NIS 6,000 fine, according to Lonny Baskin of the Path of Hope and Peace organization. He was arrested in November.

A group of Jewish Israeli activists, notably Hadassah Froman spoke on Sabateen’s behalf during the trial, and asked the judge for leniency in the case. Froman is the wife of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, a prominent figure in the settlement movement, and mother-in-law of recent terror victim Michal Froman.

— Judah Ari Gross

Canadian-Israeli woman in critical condition after Montreal attack

An Canadian-Israeli woman is in critical condition after being stabbed in Montreal, the local police said, according to the a Canadian news outlet.

CIJNews says the 27-year-woman was attacked by a 25-year-old assailant in the early hours, as she walked along a Montreal street.

There is no information on the motive or identity of the attacker, who is in police custody, the paper says.

‘Israeli-Greek partnership is not at expense of other ties’

Netanyahu tells reporters in Jerusalem that a newly signed agreement with Greece to dramatically improve bilateral ties is not designed to come at the expense of relations with other countries in the region, notably Turkey.

“Our cooperation with Greece and Cyprus stands on its own; it was long overdue,” Netanyahu says.

On plans to restore ties with Ankara, the PM says: “I don’t know if we’ll succeed, but we’ll keep on trying. Turkey and Israel had a very good relationship in former years. We did not cause this deterioration. If there is a change of policy, we’ll welcome it. ”

Netanyahu and Tsipras are slated to meet tomorrow with the Cypriot president to discuss regional issues, including efforts to boost cooperation in energy, technology, tourism and other fields.

— Raphael Ahren

1 hurt in suspected West Bank car-ramming attack

One person is hurt in a suspected cart-ramming attack in the West Bank, at the Maccabim Junction, west of Jerusalem.

The security forces are trying to ascertain whether this was a car accident or deliberate attack.

— Judah Ari Gross

Culture minister: I will decide who gets funding

Miri Regev presents her bill to cut subsidies to cultural institutions deemed not to be “loyal” to the state, which gives the Likud lawmaker power to decide which film and theatrical productions meet criteria for awarding grants.

Regev, presenting the bill before parliament’s education committee, warns she will “not be an ATM.”

While insisting she does not wish to impose “censorship and undermine freedom of expression”, Regev says she intends to have “the authority to determine who should receive public money.”

“Cultural institutions that engage in subversive activities against the state of Israel will not receive anything,” she says.

The draft is denounced by the opposition, as well as by many artists and commentators.

“This text reflects an idiot patriotism,” says Ilan Gilon, an MK in the leftist opposition party Meretz.


French source: Peugeot to return to Iran under new deal

A French government source says a deal that will see carmaker Peugeot return to the Iranian market will be signed Thursday as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits France.

Peugeot and its French partner Citroen will work with Iran’s Khodro to produce 200,000 vehicles a year, using parts manufactured in Iran, and the first vehicles will roll off the production line in 2017, the source says.


Jewish extremist collapses on day 9 of hunger strike

Jewish extremist Meir Ettinger collapses on the ninth day of a hunger strike to protest his administrative detention.

Ettinger is given emergency medical treatment after losing consciousness, the Maariv website says.

He has been in detention since August, for “involvement in violent activities and terrorist attacks that occurred recently, and his role as part of a Jewish terrorist group.”

Norway bans ad depicting Hitler as teddy bear

Norway bans an advert that highlights the danger of dust gathering on toys over its inclusion of teddy bears resembling Adolf Hitler, late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and former North Korea dictator Kim Jong-Il.

The bears are displayed under the heading: “Teddy bears can be dangerous.”

The ad, produced by Norway’s Heart and Lung Association, is a response to a rise in asthma and allergy cases across the country, the Daily Mail says.

But, the paper says, the Norwegian Jewish community has objected to the ad.

Members of Det Mosaiske Trossamfund, Norway’s Jewish society, are reportedly concerned that the teddy of Hitler could diminish his crimes in the eyes of young people.

A Norwegian advert featuring teddy bears resembling Muammar Gaddafi and Adolf Hitler is banned in January 2016, after provoking outrage in the country.

A Norwegian advert featuring teddy bears resembling Muammar Gaddafi and Adolf Hitler is banned in January 2016, after provoking outrage in the country.

Number of Syria’s besieged communities rises to 18 — UN

The United Nations says the number of besieged areas in Syria’s conflict has risen to 18, up from 15 earlier this month.

As the UN hopes to get Syrian parties to begin peace talks on Friday, the UN humanitarian chief and the head of the World Food Program calls upon Syria’s government to allow sustained access to as many as half a million people in besieged areas.

Officials say the rare convoys that reached a few besieged communities earlier this month are not enough and that the aid delivered will soon run out.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien calls the idea of airdropping aid “risky” and insufficient, but all options are still being discussed.

— AP

Mogherini: Anti-Semitism still alive in ‘civilized’ EU

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warns anti-Semitism still exists on continent, in statement to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“We must be honest enough to admit that more than 70 years after the Shoah, anti-Semitism is still alive in our ‘civilized’ European Union,” says Mogherini, using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

This year’s commemorations come as a resurgence of anti-Semitism casts a shadow over a new generation of European Jews, something that is driving thousands of them each year to leave the continent.

At a ceremony at the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also speaks out against a “rising tide of anti-Semitism.”

— AP

‘Rouhani blanks Jewish reporter at Rome press conference’

Iranian President Mahmoud Rouhani reportedly walks out of the room at a Rome press conference when asked about human rights by an Italian Jewish reporter.

According to sources who witnessed the encounter, Rouhani chooses to skip a question from Adam Smulevich from Pagine Ebraiche, who asks: “Mr. President, how do you think we can trust your words and your propaganda if your nation continues to be ranked as one of the top countries to promote the denial of human rights?”

— Simone Somekh

Aide: UN chief doesn’t support terror, stands by comments on Palestinians

UN chief Ban Ki-moon rejects Israeli claims that his comments on “Palestinian frustration” promote terrorism, his spokesman says, adding that Ban believes “nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify terrorism.”

Ban sparked Israeli outrage yesterday with his comments about the terror attacks of the past four months, in which over 25 Israelis have been killed.

“Stabbings, vehicle attacks, and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians – all of which I condemn — and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, have continued to claim lives,” Ban told the UN Security Council, adding that, “Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.”

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric says today that Ban stands by “every word of his statement” to the Security Council.

Palestinians and Israelis must understand that “the status quo is untenable,” Dujarric adds.

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