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

MK asks court to order probe into PM submarine affair

Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit has served a petition to the High Court with 19,083 signatures, demanding the justices intervene and demand a criminal investigation into suspicions surrounding Israel’s purchase of German submarines.

Calling the decision of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit not to pursue a criminal probe into the matter “unreasonable in the extreme,” Margalit asks the judges to order a probe into the matter, alongside a current criminal probe against Netanyahu over gifts he allegedly received from businessmen.

In the submarine affair, Netanyahu is suspected of a conflict of interest after his personal lawyer was found to have acted on behalf of German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp, from which Israel contracted to buy a number of military vessels.

The petition was launched last month along with attorney and Zionist Union political operative Eldad Yaniv.

Man killed in suspected Haifa terror attack buried

In the Haifa region, a funeral is taking place for Guy Kafri, who was killed Tuesday in a double shooting now believed to have been a terror attack.

Shahar Dror, his brother in law, says in eulogy that Kafri was killed for being Jewish.

The attacker is not yet caught, and security forces have launched a large manhunt in the Halisa neighborhood of Haifa, including with K9 units.

Scene of one of the two shootings in Haifa on Tuesday, January 3, 2017. (Magen David Adom Spokesman)

Scene of one of the two shootings in Haifa on Tuesday, January 3, 2017. (Magen David Adom Spokesman)

Police believe Rabbi Yechiel Iluz, who was injured in a separate shooting nearby a short time before Kafri was killed, was also shot by the same suspect.

There has been a “meaningful” development in the case, police said, but a gag order is in effect on the details of the case, Israel Radio reports.

— Haviv Rettig Gur

Charges against Ghattas drawn up, MK given chance to respond

Despite reports that an indictment has been filed against Joint List MK Basel Ghattas, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office tells The Times of Israel that the lawmaker will be given a chance to respond to the charges before the charges are officially leveled.

Ghattas is accused of smuggling phones and intelligence information to Palestinian terrorists serving time in Israeli prison.

Arab MK Basel Ghattas attends a remand hearing at Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court on December 23, 2016, a day after he was arrested for allegedly passing cell phones to convicted terrorists jailed in Israel. (AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ)

Arab MK Basel Ghattas attends a remand hearing at Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on December 23, 2016, a day after he was arrested for allegedly passing cell phones to convicted terrorists jailed in Israel. (AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ)

The indictment will only be filed after a hearing with Ghattas where he, or his lawyer, will be able to present the attorney general with reasons why he shouldn’t be charged.

Then, or if Ghattas turns down the invitation for a hearing, a final decision on the indictment will be made, the spokesperson says.

The indictment was sent to Ghattas and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein for review.

Ghattas is not immediately available for comment.

— Raoul Wootliff

‘Circle closing’ on gunman, top Turkish official says

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak says authorities are close to catching the gunman who killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub.

Kaynak tells A Haber news channel that “the circle is closing in” on the gunman who vanished after the attack.

A couple walk past the Reina nightclub on January 5, 2017 in Istanbul, days after a gunman killed 39 people on New Year's night. (AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)

A couple walk past the Reina nightclub on January 5, 2017 in Istanbul, days after a gunman killed 39 people on New Year’s night. (AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)

The deputy premier says authorities believe he is still inside Turkey, although they have not completely ruled out the possibility that he may have escaped.

Kaynak says the man is believed to be from China’s Muslim Uighur minority.

— AFP

Army flack Almoz takes over IDF manpower division

IDF spokesperson Moti Almoz has received his new rank of major general at a ceremony in the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters, the army says.

Last month, Almoz was nominated to take over as head of the army’s Manpower Directorate after the previous commander, Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolanski, stepped down after a military computer was stolen from his home.

Almoz will serve as both head of the Manpower Directorate and as IDF spokesperson until a replacement for the latter position can be found.

On Sunday, the right-wing, religious Movement for a Jewish Nation filed a petition with the High Court of Justice to prevent Almoz’s appointment.

The group took issue with how Almoz handled the Elor Azaria “Hebron shooting” case, saying the spokesperson cast Azaria as guilty before his trial began.

— Judah Ari Gross

Trump calls top Democrat Schumer ‘a clown’

President-elect Donald Trump describes top Democrat Chuck Schumer as a “clown” who behaves like a typical politician, amid a mounting row over health care reform.

“The Democrats, lead by head clown Chuck Schumer, know how bad ObamaCare is and what a mess they are in,” Trump says in a string of tweets that were at once strident and conciliatory.

Republicans have vowed to press ahead with the potentially unpopular campaign promise of gutting President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, which allowed millions more poorer Americans to get treatment, but has been criticized for raising insurance premiums.

But Republicans — who control both houses of Congress and will take over the White House from January 20 — appear uncertain about what, if anything, should replace Obamacare.

— AFP

 

Berlin attacker used 14 aliases, official says

A police official says that German authorities knew of 14 different identities used by Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri.

Investigators say the 24-year-old Tunisian drove a truck into the market on December 19, killing 12 people, including an Israeli woman. He was killed December 23 in a shootout with Italian police in a Milan suburb.

Amri came to Germany in mid-2015. Authorities later put him on a list of potentially violent Islamic extremists. Separately, he was investigated for receiving benefits simultaneously under two different identities.

The head of North Rhine-Westphalia state’s criminal police, Dieter Schuermann, told regional lawmakers Thursday that authorities couldn’t find evidence of possible attack plans that would stand up in court, news agency dpa reported. He said they “exhausted all legal powers to the limit to ward off potential dangers.”

— AP

Second suspect held for threatening judges released to house arrest

A Jerusalem man arrested overnight on suspicion of threatening judges on the military tribunal that found Sgt. Elor Azaria guilty on manslaughter Wednesday has been released to house arrest.

The suspect is banned from using a computer, phone or internet for the next two weeks as part of the conditions for his release. He is also slapped with a restraining order keeping him away from lead judge Maya Heller for three months, according to Army Radio.

The 54-year-old was arrested after posting a call for violence against three judges on Facebook.

A second person, a 22-year-old woman from Kiryat Gat, was arrested for a similar post in which she called on readers to attack the judges, including urging grenade attacks against Heller.

She was earlier released to house arrest on condition that she refrain from contacting Heller. She also agreed not to post on Facebook for 30 days.

Turkish city rocked by bombing outside courthouse

Turkish media reports say an explosion has occurred near a courthouse in the western city of Izmir.

The Dogan news agency says several ambulances were at the scene.

NTV television says the explosion occurred inside a car, suggesting that it may have been caused by a car bomb.

According to initial reports, at least three people have been wounded in the blast.

— with AP

Reports of two bombings in Izmir

Some reports out of Turkey indicate two explosions were heard outside the Izmir courthouse.

Video shows ambulances racing to the scene and people running in the aftermath of the attack.

Clashes reported outside Izmir courthouse

There are unconfirmed reports of ongoing clashes outside the courthouse in Izmir, after an explosion there.

A picture from the scene, in the center of the large seaside city, shows two cars on fire near the entrance to the court parking lot, suggesting there may have been two car bombs as earlier reported.

14 killed in Syria blast

At least 14 people have been killed in a car bombing in Syria’s coastal city of Jabla, a bastion of the regime, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says.

Syrian state television also reports the blast, blaming it on a suicide bomber and saying there were at least nine dead and 25 wounded.

— AFP

Court orders Ghattas freed from house arrest

MK Basel Ghattas has been freed from house arrest by a Rehovot Magistrate’s Court, ahead of an expected indictment to be served against him for allegedly smuggling phones and intelligence to Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons.

After police request a 30-day extension of the MK’s house arrest, a judge says he sees no reason to continue to hold him and disturb his ability to serve in parliament, considering that he is banned from leaving the country and did not break his house arrest until now.

Police argued that he is dangerous given the severity of the crimes he is suspected of.

Joint List MK Basel Ghattas arrives for a court hearing at the Rehovot Magistrate's Court, January 5, 2017. (Avi Dishi/Flash90)

Joint List MK Basel Ghattas arrives for a court hearing at the Rehovot Magistrate’s Court, January 5, 2017. (Avi Dishi/Flash90)

Ghattas is expected to be indicted shortly after a hearing with state prosecutors, a spokesperson fro the attorney general told the Times of Israel, though the Knesset member says he has not been given the opportunity to present his side.

Entering the courthouse, he says the charges against him were expected and unfair.

“They are prosecuting me without any fairness or proportionality. They didn’t allow me to have a hearing, as allowed under law. That means an Arab MK doesn’t get the same protections and process. I will insist I be given a hearing,” he says, according to Ynet.

Two terrorists killed in clashes after Izmir bombing

Two “terrorists” have been killed in clashes with Turkish police after a car bomb exploded outside a courthouse in the western Turkish city of Izmir, and a search is on for an additional suspect, state-run news agency Anadolu reports.

The bomb blew up outside the entrance to the court for prosecutors and judges in the usually peaceful city on the Aegean Sea, CNN Turk television reports.

At least 10 people were wounded, one seriously, the mayor of Izmir’s Bayrakli municpality tells NTV.

— AFP

Victims of Hebdo, Hyper Cacher attacks remembered 2 years on

French officials have honored the 17 victims killed in attacks by Islamic extremists on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, a kosher market and police almost two years ago.

Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, during an attack on the offices of the newspaper which left 12 dead, including two police officers. (Photo credit: AFP/ ANNE GELBARD)

Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, during an attack on the offices of the newspaper which left 12 dead, including two police officers. (Photo credit: AFP/ ANNE GELBARD)

Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo lay wreaths and observe a minute of silence on Thursday at three sites of the attacks.

On January 7, 2015, two French-born brothers killed 11 people inside the Parisian building where Charlie Hebdo operated, as well as a Muslim policeman outside.

Over the next two days, an accomplice shot a policewoman to death, then stormed a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris, killing four hostages. All three gunmen died.

Republican guards stand outside the Hyper Cacher supermarket ahead of a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the deadly attack against the store in Paris on January 5, 2017. (AFP/CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT)

Republican guards stand outside the Hyper Cacher supermarket ahead of a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the deadly attack against the store in Paris on January 5, 2017. (AFP/CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT)

— AP

French probe far-rightists over suspected illegal use of aides

French authorities have stepped up their investigation into accusations that members of the far right National Front tricked the European Parliament out of several hundred thousand euros paid to legislative aides.

Party members are accused of using assistants for political activity even though they’re on the parliament’s payroll.

It’s one of multiple investigations around the National Front or its finances that are casting a shadow over party leader Marine Le Pen’s campaign for France’s April-May presidential election.

The Paris prosecutor’s office says a judicial inquiry was opened last month into the use of parliamentary aides, on potential charges including fraud, abuse of trust and organized criminal activity.

Party treasurer Wallerand Saint Just says the accusations are unfounded and a “persecution” campaign aimed at hurting Le Pen’s presidential bid.

— AP

Cop, court worker killed in Izmir bombing

Turkish state-run news agency Dogan says a police officer and a court worker were killed in the Izmir car bomb.

At least 11 people were wounded, Dogan reports, after the blast outside the prosecutors and judges’ entrance in the usually peaceful city on the Aegean Sea.

Cars burn in the street at the site of an explosion in front of the courthouse in Izmir on January 5, 2017. (AFP/ DOGAN NEWS AGENCY / DHA)

Cars burn in the street at the site of an explosion in front of the courthouse in Izmir on January 5, 2017. (AFP/ DOGAN NEWS AGENCY / DHA)

Two assailants were killed in clashes with police and forces are searching for a third suspect.

— with AFP

McCain says Americans should be alarmed at Russian hacking

A Senate hearing on suspicions that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Donald Trump win has begun in Washington.

In an opening salvo, Senate Armed Services Committee head Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) says, “Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation.”

“There is no national security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference. That is why Congress must set partisanship aside, follow the facts, and work together to devise comprehensive solutions to deter, defend against, and, when necessary, respond to foreign cyberattacks,” he says.

McCain also says other countries have carried out cyberattacks against the US, including Iran. “Iran has used cyber tools in recent years to attack the US Navy, US partners in the Middle East, major US financial institutions, and a dam just 25 miles north of New York City,” he says.

The cyberthreats hearing comes a day before the president-elect receives a briefing by the CIA and FBI directors — along with the head of national intelligence — on the investigation into Russia’s alleged hacking efforts.

Trump has criticized their findings and even seemed to back WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s contention that Russia did not provide him with hacked Democratic emails.

In new tweets early Thursday, Trump backed away from his apparent embrace of Assange. Trump blamed the “dishonest media” for portraying him as agreeing with Assange, whose organization has been under criminal investigation for its role in classified information leaks.

“The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!” Trump writes.

The committee’s session is the first in a series aimed at investigating purported Russian cyberattacks against US interests and developing defenses sturdy enough to blunt future intrusions.

The session can be watched here.

— with AP

Police grilling Netanyahu for second time

Investigators have arrived at the Prime Minister’s Residence to question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a second time in a case allegedly involving gifts from businessmen.

Netanyahu was earlier this week grilled under caution for three hours at his home.

Police investigators arrive at the entrance to the Prime Minister Residence in Jerusalem on January 2, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Police investigators arrive at the entrance to the Prime Minister Residence in Jerusalem on January 2, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The current interrogation is expected to be shorter, Channel 2 reports.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Thousands threaten judge, IDF chief online over Azaria trial

The head of social media monitoring firm Vigo says the last 24 hours have seen some 8,000 posts and messages online threatening violence over the Elor Azaria conviction.

Raviv Tal tells Channel 2 that some 4,500 of the posts are directed against against military tribunal judge Maya Heller and another 2,500 against IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

He adds that some 77 percent of posts on social media on the topic support Azaria, convicted of manslaughter after killing a wounded Palestinian attacker in March.

The word “pardon” appears in a little over half the posts that appeared over the past day.

In the last year, Tal says, there were some 400,000 “violent” posts related to the case.

Earlier, two people were arrested and later released to house arrest for posting threatening messages against Heller.

US spy chiefs say election hacking directed from Kremlin

US intelligence chiefs testifying before the Senate say they believe Russia’s top leadership was behind the hacking and leaking of Democratic party documents in the US presidential election.

Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Marcell Lettre, left, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, center, and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC, January 5, 2017. (AFP/ JIM WATSON)

Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Marcell Lettre, left, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, center, and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC, January 5, 2017. (AFP/ JIM WATSON)

“We assess that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized the recent election-focused data thefts and disclosures,” three spy chiefs say in a joint statement to a Senate hearing.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was testifying alongside National Security Agency chief Michael Rogers and Marcel Lettre, undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

— AFP

Lebanese president tells defense brass to ‘face Israeli enemy’

Lebanese President Michel Aoun tells a meeting of top defense officials that the country will continue to “face the Israeli enemy and all forms of terrorism,” according to a statement put out by his office.

Aoun, who is backed by terror group Hezbollah, also talks about the “importance of pre-emptive confrontation against terrorist groups,” according to news site Naharnet.

The meeting with the Higher Defense Council is the first since Aoun took office, and includes Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, who also said recently that resisting Israel would be a top priority for his government.

US blacklists bin Laden’s son

The United States has added Hamza bin Laden, son and heir of the late global jihadist leader Osama bin Laden, to its terrorist blacklist.

Hamza, who is in his mid-20s, has become active as an al-Qaeda propagandist since his father’s death at the hands of US special forces in 2011.

Since bin Laden’s death, his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri has taken up the reins of the organization, but Hamza has issued audio messages to supporters.

The State Department order lists Hamza bin Laden as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” meaning that US citizens are forbidden from dealing with him, and freezes any assets under US jurisdiction.

— AFP

Syrian rebels ask UN for halt to truce violations

Syria’s main opposition coalition is urging the United Nations Security Council to put an “immediate” halt to what it says are regime violations of a shaky ceasefire.

The truce, brokered by regime backer Russia and rebel sponsor Turkey, has brought quiet to large parts of Syria since it began on December 30 but is threatened by a regime bid to retake rebel-held Wadi Barada, source of the main water supply to Damascus.

Syrians fill plastic containers with water at a public fountain in the capital Damascus on January 3, 2017. (AFP/LOUAI BESHARA)

Syrians fill plastic containers with water at a public fountain in the capital Damascus on January 3, 2017. (AFP/LOUAI BESHARA)

The coalition “condemns attempts by the government of [President] Bashar [Assad], Iran and their terrorist militias to continue with violations and with the war crimes that are being carried out, especially in the Wadi Barada area,” the National Coalition opposition body says.

It calls on the Security Council and the guarantors of the truce to “halt attacks immediately and to condemn and punish those who commit violations.”

— AFP

Top justice defends Azaria judges against attacks

Amid a flurry of threatening messages against military tribunal judge Maya Heller of the Elor Azaria conviction, Supreme Court president Miriam Naor releases a statement excoriating those who would level what she calls “unbridled attacks” on justices.

“We strongly condemn the flagrant attacks that we are witness to now, which have no place in a civilized society,” Naor writes in a statement on behalf of herself and the other judges on the bench. “Pointed criticism of verdicts are of course legitimate, but what is happening now crosses all lines of legitimate discourse and represents a threat to the rule of law and democracy.”

Security has been stepped up around Heller and the other two judges on the panel that convicted Azaria Wednesday, amid reports of thousands of threats of violence against them on social media and elsewhere.

 

Protesting Azaria, news anchor reads out names of ‘hero’ terror victims

In a strange and poignant display, Channel 2 news anchor Rahav Meir wraps up a segment on the Elor Azaria trial by reading the names of dozens of victims of terror and violence over the past 16 months, saying they are the real heroes and not Azaria.

In something of a monotone, Meir reads off all the names of the more than 30 Israelis killed, starting with Alexander Levlovitz, who was killed in September 2016 when he crashed his car following a rock throwing attack in Jerusalem, and all the way to Levana Malachi and Yosef Kirima, killed in an October shooting in the capital.

Supporters of Azaria, a soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian assailant following a stabbing in Hebron in March, have tried to paint him as a hero sold out by the army. The case and trial became a lightning rod for politicians, and exposed deep societal rifts, dealing a major blow to the myth of the IDF as a uniting force across many strata of Israeli public life.

His manslaughter conviction Wednesday led to calls for a pardon from politicians and loud, angry protests against the IDF chief and judges from ultra-nationalists.

Attorney general orders probe into anti-IDF chief protests

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has ordered a probe into protesters who rallied against IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot outside the military tribunal for Elor Azaria a day earlier.

Ultra-nationalist protesters outside the trial in support of Azaria chanted, among other things, “Gadi be careful, Rabin is looking for a friend,” referring to former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a right-wing extremist in 1995.

Eisenkot on Tuesday rejected claims by Azaria’s supporters that he should be seen as a child whom the nation is committed to protecting. “An 18-year-old man serving in the army is not ‘everyone’s child,’” Eisenkot said. “He is a fighter, a soldier, who must dedicate his life to carry out the tasks we give him. We cannot be confused about this.”

Supporters of Elor Azaria protest outside military court in Tel Aviv on January 4, 2017. ( Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Supporters of Elor Azaria protest outside military court in Tel Aviv on January 4, 2017. ( Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

According to social media tracking firm Vigo, some 2,500 posts put online in the past day threatened Eisenkot.

Anne Frank House sees record visitors

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam says it had a record number of visitors for the seventh consecutive year.

In 2016, nearly 1.3 million people visited the Anne Frank House, located at the site where the teenage diarist hid from the Nazis with her family, according to a statement from the memorial site. This year’s number was 27,490 more than the record set in 2015.

“The connection that these people feel with Anne Frank and her life story is always moving and inspiring,” Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House, says in a statement.

— JTA

 

Neo-Nazis plan Montana march for January 16 — MLK day

The editor of neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer says he has filed a permit to march in Whitefish, Montana, on January 16 — Martin Luther King Day.

The march, in support of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, who lives part time in the resort town, had originally been slated for January 15.

White supremacists are vowing to go ahead with the march despite furious local opposition.

According to the Forward, the city clerk says the municipality never received an application, and a copy posted online is missing several components, like signatures from property owners along the route.

Report: Netanyahu got cigars worth 100s of thousands from Hollywood producer

Channel 2 television reports new details about suspicions surrounding gifts received by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the TV report, Netanyahu received hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of cigars from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

His wife Sara also received bottles of champagne worth hundreds of shekels, according to the report.

Arnon Milchan, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu on March 28, 2005. (Flash90)

Arnon Milchan, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu on March 28, 2005. (Flash90)

Netanyahu is known as a cigar aficionado, and the channel reports on rumors that he smokes tens of thousands of shekels worth of cigars a month.

Sources close to Netanyahu respond that they were gifts between friends. They also point out that Milchan, who is Israeli, sits on the board of Channel 10, which the prime minister has tried to shutter.

Channel 10 is also partially owned by Ronald Lauder, who is reportedly also suspected of giving Netanyahu expensive gifts.

Police investigators are still in the Prime Minister’s Residence, some three hours after entering to question Netanyahu for a second time, reportedly over these suspicions.

During a Channel 10 stand-up outside the residence, the channel’s reporter is accosted my an unseen man yelling over him accusations about the media trying to fell the prime minister.

 

CCTV footage shows MK handing envelopes to inmate

Channel 10 news shows security camera footage purporting to show MK Basel Ghattas handing contraband to a Palestinian inmate during a visit to prison last month.

Ghattas, who has maintained the case is being blown out of proportion, is expected to be indicted shortly.

Security camera footage showing Basel Ghattas, right, handing an envelope to an inmate in Israeli prison. (screen capture: Channel 10)

Security camera footage showing Basel Ghattas, right, handing an envelope to an inmate in Israeli prison. (screen capture: Channel 10)

In the footage, Ghattas is seen handing at least four envelopes to the prisoner, which the prisoner slips into his pants.

According to the channel, the envelopes contained cell phones and SIM cards.

 

Army condemns protests against Azaria judges

IDF spokesperson Moti Almoz has joined the chorus of denunciations against protesters threatening violence in the aftermath of the Elor Azaria verdict.

Responding to reports of calls for violence against judges in the tribunal and IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot, Almoz says the army condemns “any inciting statement or action of any type toward judges in military courts, the military justice system and against any soldier whoever they are.”

In a separate statement, opposition leader Isaac Herzog backs Supreme Court president Miriam Naor for backing the military judges.

He also slams Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely for decrying the verdict as a “show trial.”

“That’s a saying reserved for trials in backwards countries, including those in which Jews were hanged in Iraq, Arab countries, and Stalin’s Russia,” he says, adding that now is not the time to start a conversation about pardoning the killer.

Freed Gitmo detainees land in Saudi Arabia

Three inmates from the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay have arrived in Saudi Arabia, after the White House rejected President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze on transfers.

An AFP reporter saw the three prisoners after they landed at a terminal normally reserved for royals at the Riyadh international airport.

The relatives of one inmate were waiting for his arrival.

They identify him as Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni, and say he had been held for 16 years at the US facility in Cuba.

The three were among 59 prisoners remaining at the detention center in Cuba.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted: “There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”

Hours later, outgoing President Barack Obama’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, said he would expect “additional transfers” before Obama hands power to Trump on January 20.

— AFP

‘Dramatic development’ reported in hunt for Haifa shooter

A “dramatic development” is being reported in the manhunt for a suspect who killed one person and wounded another in two separate shootings in Haifa earlier this week.

Police have put a gag order on other new details of the case.

The Tuesday morning incident was originally ruled to be non-terror related, but suspicions have grown that the double shooting was nationalistically motivated.

Large forces have been deployed since Tuesday to search for the killer, focusing on the Mahlisa neighborhood of the bay city.

Chabad in Orlando evacuated over threat — third since Wednesday

For the second time in as many days, the Chabad of south Orlando has been evacuated over an unspecified threat made over the phone, local news in central Florida reports.

Police are investigating the Jewish center, which mainly serves tourists visiting the city’s theme parks.

On Wednesday, the same center was evacuated over a bomb threat, though no explosives were found.

At the same time, a bomb threat was also called in to a Jewish Community Center in the Orlando suburb of Maitland, which also turned out to be a false alarm.

No secret UN Security Council move after Paris summit, French official says

France is not secretly planning a UN Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after a major conference in Paris this month, the president of the French Senate says.

“There is no secret proposal for a resolution prepared by France at the UN after the Paris conference to date,” Gerard Larcher says.

Larcher says he is not aware of any country working on a resolution to put before the council between the January 15 meeting and the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president on January 20.

Speaking to the press in Jerusalem at the end of a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Larcher says many Israeli interlocutors had expressed fear France would try to translate the outcome of the conference into a UN resolution.

The French-organized talks, to be attended by around 70 countries — but not by Israeli representatives — are being held to reiterate international support for a two-state solution to the conflict.

— AFP

Jordan says US embassy move would have ‘catastrophic’ consequences

Jordan’s government spokesman is warning of “catastrophic” repercussions if US President-elect Donald Trump makes good on a campaign promise to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Such a move could affect relations between the US and regional allies, including Jordan, Information Minister Mohammed Momani tells The Associated Press, addressing the issue publicly for the first time.

An embassy move would be a “red line” for Jordan, would “inflame the Islamic and Arab streets” and serve as a “gift to extremists,” he says, adding that Jordan would use all possible political and diplomatic means to try and prevent such a decision.

Momani says that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem “will have catastrophic implications on several levels, including the regional situation.”

He says countries in the region would likely “think about different things and steps they should take in order to stop this from happening.”

“It will definitely affect the bilateral relationship between countries in the region, including Jordan, and the parties that will be related to such a decision,” he says.

— AP

Haifa shooter turns himself into police

The shooter had handed himself over to police earlier in the day, but details of the case are being kept under a gag order, which prevented their publication.

The suspect has been handed over to the Shin Bet security service for further questioning, as law enforcement tries to determine if the shooting was criminal or terrorist in nature.

— Judah Ari Gross

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