The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s developments as they unfolded.
Suicide bomber detonates in Damascus judicial building
Syrian TV says that a suicide bomber has detonated his explosives’ vest inside the main judicial building in the capital of Damascus, causing an unspecified number of casualties.
The report says the bombing took place inside the Justice Palace on Wednesday afternoon, and that the explosion killed and wounding people who were at the scene. The Judicial Palace is near the famous and crowded Hamidiyeh market in Damascus.
The blast follows twin attacks on Saturday that killed at least 40 people in Damascus. That attack was claimed by the Syria’s al-Qaeda branch, formerly known as the Nusra Front.
There was no immediate claim for Wednesday’s bombing.
At least 25 dead in Damascus bombing, police say
Syrian police say at least 25 people are killed in the Damascus courthouse suicide bombing, AFP reports.
Germany jails neo-Nazis planning attacks on asylum seekers
A German court on Wednesday sentences members of a neo-Nazi group to up to five years in prison for forming a “terror organization” that planned to attack a home for asylum seekers.
The four — three men and a 24-year-old woman identified as Denise Vanessa G. — were arrested in May 2015, two days before they planned to strike at the migrant shelter in the eastern state of Saxony.
Known as the “Old School Society,” their choice of weapon was modified “pyrotechnic explosives, particularly in the form of fire and nail bombs,” which they were planning to hurl into a refugee home, the prosecutor had said.
The group had therefore “accepted that people could be killed,” chief prosecutor Joern Hauschild had told the court.
The ringleader Andreas H., 58, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison while his second-in-command Marcus W., 41, got five years.
The group’s “spokesman” Olaf G., 31, was given three years while the only woman obtained three years and 10 months.
The sentences were however more lenient than the four and a half to seven years sought by the prosecutor.
The four met on the internet in 2014.
Small IDF drone crashes in Gaza
A small IDF drone, known as a Skylark, crashed in the northern Gaza Strip today, the army says.
“The incident is being investigated,” a spokesperson says.
There does not appear to be a risk that classified information can be retrieved from the device.
— Judah Ari Gross
Trump calls out Snoop Dogg over shooting video
Donald Trump takes aim Wednesday at Snoop Dogg, saying the rap star would have gotten “jail time” had he pointed his gun at Barack Obama rather than the current US president in a video.
Snoop Dogg, an early figure in California gangsta rap who has mellowed in recent years, this week released a video pegged to the release of his album “Lavender” in which most actors are clowns.
One clown — unmistakably a parody of Trump, sporting bouffant hair and a red tie that dangles below the waist — gesticulates wildly at the podium of “The Clown House.”
The clown puts his hands up as if under arrest as Snoop Dogg draws a pistol, with a flag popping out that says “Bang!”
“Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!” Trump writes on Twitter.
Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017
Shin Bet arrested Palestinians planning gun attacks in January
The Shin Bet announces the arrest of four Palestinian men involved in a pipe bomb attack and plotting additional shooting attacks.
The security service says it broke up a two-man terror cell outside of Jerusalem in January that was responsible for a pipe bomb attack that wounded an IDF soldier in October.
The alleged pipe bomb-throwers were part of the “al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade,” Fatah’s military wing, the Shin Bet says.
They were also behind a number of other incidents, in which explosives were thrown at soldiers, the Shin Bet adds.
“In addition, the cell members planned to carry out shooting attacks at security forces in the area,” the agency continues.
The two suspects were picked up on January 9, the agency says, but details of the case remained secret until now.
The agency also says that later in January it arrested two other Palestinian men outside Hebron for allegedly planning to carry out a shooting attack on “Israeli security forces and civilians” in the area on behalf of the Hamas terrorist group.
On January 30, the Shin Bet picked up Muhannad Jabber Mahmoud Abu Sal, 28, and Ahmad Abd al-Rahman Hasan Abu Sal, 25, who are suspected of planning to carry out shooting attacks for Hamas, the agency says
The two men came from the al-Aroub refugee camp. The younger Abu Sal previously served time in an Israeli prison for belonging to Hamas, the Shin Bet says.
He recruited Muhannad and “was supposed to acquire the weapons for the attack,” the Shin Bet adds.
The security agency has handed over the findings of its investigation, and indictments are expected in coming days.
— Judah Ari Gross
‘Beware of Jews’ sign hung in London neighborhood
A “Beware of Jews” sign is found affixed to a light post in a London neighborhood.
The triangular-shaped sign with a red border that mimics an official road sign indicating a hazard, shows a silhouette of an ultra-Orthodox Jew with fedora hat and sidecurls. It was hung near a synagogue in the largely ultra-Orthodox Stamford Hill neighborhood of London.
The sign is discovered by the Stamford Hill Shomrim, a Jewish neighborhood watch group. The Shomrim report the sign to the Metropolitan Police and the local council.
— Shomrim N.E. London (@Shomrim) March 14, 2017
“The sign has caused a lot of concern amongst local Jewish residents, especially as it is in such close proximity to a synagogue,” Barry Bard, supervisor at Stamford Hill Shomrim, tells local media.
“This latest hateful incident shows the lengths to which anti-Semites are prepared to go to tell Jews that they are unwelcome in their own city. For many in the haredi Jewish community, this type of abuse and harassment is becoming a part of life. It has no place in a city that prides itself on its inclusivity,” says Stephen Silverman, director of investigations and enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism.
Local lawmakers call the sign disgusting,” “unacceptable,” and ” despicable.”
Israel losing to Japan as baseball miracle sputters
The Israeli team at the World Baseball Classic is down 5-0 in a game against Japan at the end of seven innings.
Should they lose the game, the Israeli team will be out of the tournament, cutting short the underdog squad’s Cinderella run.
Erdogan accuses Netherlands of massacring 8,000 Bosnians
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday accuses the Netherlands of massacring over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre committed by Bosnian Serb forces.
“They have nothing to do with civilization, they have nothing to do with modern world. They are the ones who massacred over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims… in the Srebrenica massacre,” Erdogan says in new onslaught against the Netherlands.
Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica in 1995, as Dutch UN peacekeepers stood by, the worst atrocity committed on European soil since World War II.
Israeli firm reveals security flaw in WhatsApp, Telegram
A computer security firm on Wednesday reveals a flaw that could let hackers break into WhatsApp or Telegram messaging accounts using the very encryption intended to protect messages.
Check Point Software Technologies says that it alerted Telegram and Facebook-owned WhatsApp last week, waiting until the vulnerability was patched before making it public.
Check Point did not specify how many messaging accounts were at risk, but did say the flaw posed a danger to “hundreds of millions” of users accessing the messaging platform from web browsers in computers, as opposed to mobile applications.
“This new vulnerability put hundreds of millions of WhatsApp Web and Telegram Web users at risk of complete account takeover,” Check Point head of product vulnerability Oded Vanunu says in a release.
“By simply sending an innocent-looking photo, an attacker could gain control over the account, access message history, all photos that were ever shared, and send messages on behalf of the user.”
The vulnerability made it possible for an attacker to booby-trap a digital image with malicious code that could spring into action after the picture is clicked on for viewing, according to Check Point.
The malicious code could then hijack an account, and even spread itself like a virus by sending infected messages to those listed as contacts.
WhatsApp and Telegram use end-to-end encryption designed to make certain only senders and recipients can see what is in messages.
The privacy protection had the side effect of preventing the services from being able to discern whether message contents included malicious code, according to Check Point.
To remedy the situation, both services shifted to finding and blocking viruses before messages are encrypted, the security researchers say.
Japan up 7-0 as game nears end
Japan is crushing Israel in the World Baseball Classic with a score of 7-0 at the bottom of the eighth.
Erdogan says Europe treating non-Europeans like Jews during WWII
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday says the “spirit of fascism” was rampant on the streets of Europe, comparing the treatment of non-Europeans there to that of the Jews in World War II.
“The spirit of fascism is running wild on the streets of Europe,” Erdogan says in a televised speech after clashes that followed the blocking of Turkish ministers from giving speeches in support of reforms giving him extra powers. “The Jews were treated the same in the past,” he adds.
Israel scores first point in Japan game
In the first glimmers of a comeback, Israel scores its first point in the ninth inning. The team is still down considerably, with Japan leading at 8-1.
Liberman demands rabbi quit pre-army academy over controversial remarks
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman demands that Rabbi Yigal Levinstein step down from his position as co-head of a prominent pre-army religious preparatory program over his controversial remarks on female soldiers. In a letter, the defense minister threatens to withdraw recognition of the institution should Levinstein refuse to resign.
Last Tuesday, Channel 2 News broadcast remarks made by Levinstein, who co-heads a prominent pre-army religious preparatory program, in which he said that Jewish women who enlist in the military “are not Jewish on the way out.”
Levinstein also said the military drove them “crazy,” and added that no one would want to marry a female soldier.
The controversial rabbi later apologized for his aggressive tone, but refused to back down from the content. He drew criticism from across the political spectrum, with few exceptions.
— Judah Ari Gross contributed.
Israel loses to Japan 8-3
The Israeli baseball team has lost to Japan with a final score of 8-3 for Tokyo.
PMO hails baseball team as ‘source of Jewish and Israeli pride’
The Prime Minister Office’s director-general Eli Groner hails the Israel baseball team.
“Israel’s achievements in baseball this year are a source of Jewish and Israeli pride,” he tells The Times of Israel.
“These are players that take off their baseball hats and proudly wear skullcaps while singing the Israeli anthem before the game. That’s a diplomatic achievement that is going to stay with us for many years. The State of Israel and the Foreign Ministry invest many resources into building relationships with many countries in the world where baseball is an important sport, like Japan, Latin America, China, Taiwan and others, and therefore Israel’s success is not only an athletic success but also a diplomatic success.”
— Raphael Ahren
Ex-IDF general identified in IAI corruption probe
Amal Asad has been named as the former IDF general arrested in connection with a corruption investigation of the state-owned Israeli Aerospace Industries.
Asad joined IAI in 2012. He served in the IDF for 26 years, first in combat units and later as the head of the Coordination and Liaison unit of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
Asad was one of the few Druze Israelis to reach a general’s rank in the IDF.
— Judah Ari Gross
Initial reports of suspected car-ramming attack
Channel 10 reports that a Palestinian woman is suspected of attempting to carry out a car-ramming attack at the Etzion Junction in the West Bank.
The woman has been shot, according to the report.
The army says it is investigating.
— חדשות 10 (@news10) March 15, 2017
There are no immediate reports of casualties.
No Israelis injured in suspected West Bank car-ramming
No Israelis are injured in the incident at the Etzion Junction, though a 28-year-old woman in advanced stages of pregnancy was taken to the hospital after experiencing a panic attack, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.
— Judah Ari Gross
Video footage from scene of suspected car-ramming
Video clips emerge from the scene of the suspected car-ramming, showing Israeli soldiers surrounding the vehicle.
The condition of the suspected attacker, who was shot, is not immediately clear.
IDF confirms West Bank car-ramming attempt
The army confirms the incident at the Etzion Junction was a “car-ramming attack attempt.”
It says soldiers fired at the would-be female assailant. There are no Israeli casualties, the military says.
Second bomb blast reported in Damascus
Syrian state media are reporting a second bomb blast in Damascus, after an earlier suicide attack killed at least 30 people in the capital’s main judicial building.
The SANA news agency says a second suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant in the city’s Rabweh district, killing several people.
The Ikhbariyeh TV channel says the attacker was being chased by security agents when he dove into a restaurant and detonated his explosives vest.
There is no immediate claim to either attack.
US special envoy meets with Palestinian security in Jericho
US envoy Jason Greenblatt meets with Palestinian security chiefs in Jericho, he writes on Twitter.
Met with Palestinian security chiefs and saw recruits training at the Jericho training center pic.twitter.com/AGEUI7YCFr
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 15, 2017
Reviewed our joint work to build their capacity to fight terrorism and provide security that benefits both Palestinians and Israelis.
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 15, 2017
Iran jails two nationals on espionage charges
Iran’s official news agency is reporting that authorities have detained two Iranian nationals and charged them with spying.
The Wednesday report by IRNA says the two had “espionage devices” while pretending they were on a tourist visit to Abu Musa Island in the Persian Gulf. It is the largest in a three-island cluster controlled by Iran but also claimed by the United Arab Emirates.
The report said there would be further investigation but did not elaborate.
Iran occasionally announces the arrest of spies without further reporting their fates.
Last month, Iran said it sentenced a 62-year-old man to a 10-year prison term on espionage charges.
At least 14 children killed in airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib
At least 14 children were among 21 people killed in an air strike in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province at dawn on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says.
The monitor says the strikes were believed to have been carried out by Russian warplanes on the provincial capital Idlib city, which is controlled by jihadists and their Islamist rebel allies.
The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information, says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used.
Women of the Wall petition top court to pray undisturbed
The Women of the Wall file a petition with Israel’s High Court demanding the right to pray undisturbed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
The petition, filed Tuesday against the Israel Police, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and the Western Wall’s rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitz, also asks the court to order the police to ensure that the women are safe from physical and verbal violence while praying at the holy site.
It requests a temporary injunction requiring the respondents to explain their failure to ensure the legal rights of the Women of the Wall to pray in the women’s section of the site without disturbance, according to a statement from the organization. The petition also demands an explanation for the respondents’ failure to implement the necessary measures to halt those who regularly attempt to disrupt their prayer services with physical and verbal violence.
Women of the Wall said in a statement that during monthly prayer services, its members are exposed to “curses, incitement, spitting, ear-piercing whistling, intense and continuous shouting and bottles thrown at them. Despite this egregious conduct, including criminal offenses, their repeated pleas for protection are met with indifference by Israel Police and by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s ushers and guards.”
Hundreds at funeral of nurse killed in clinic
Hundreds of Israelis are attending the funeral of Tova Kararo, a nurse who was set on fire and killed at a Holon clinic on Tuesday, according to Hebrew media reports.
The funeral is being held in the central city of Rishon Lezion.
Footage emerges of suspected car-ramming attack
The 0404 news outlet posts footage of the suspected car-ramming terror attack at the Etzion Junction.
In the clip, the female Palestinian driver is seen abruptly switching lanes and crashing into the pavement near an Israeli bus stop.
Trump tells Saudi prince he wants Israeli-Palestinian peace deal
The White House says President Donald Trump told a Saudi delegation that he hopes to continue their consultations for regional issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The statement from the White House, released a day after the president’s meeting with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud, emphasized Trump’s “strong desire to achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The statement also says that both sides noted the importance of “confronting Iran’s destabilizing regional activities” while continuing to enforce the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump and the Saudi delegation also discussed their mutual commitment to fighting “Daesh” — the Trump administration using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group for the first time.
9 arrested during ultra-Orthodox protests in Jerusalem
Nine ultra-Orthodox protesters are arrested in Jerusalem for blocking roads, police say.
The demonstrators are rallying against the arrest of a yeshiva student who ignored a draft order, according to reports.
There are no injuries, police say.
Polish court issues arrest warrant for ex-Nazi living in Minnesota
A court in eastern Poland has issued an arrest warrant for a Minnesota man sought in a Nazi massacre, opening the way for Poland to seek his extradition from the United States.
The Associated Press had previously identified the man as 98-year-old Michael Karkoc, an ex-commander in an SS-led unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians in World War II.
Earlier this week, prosecutors from the Institute of National Remembrance said evidence shows that American citizen Michael K. was a commander of a unit in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion that raided Polish villages.
They sought an arrest warrant for him from a court in eastern Poland, a step toward extradition.
Judge Dariusz Abamowicz tells the AP Wednesday the regional court in Lublin issued a warrant after concluding that there was “high probability” the suspect committed the war crimes listed by prosecutors.
Karkoc must be present in court in Poland since the country does not recognize trial in absentia.
It was not immediately clear when Poland’s Justice Ministry would send the extradition motion to US justice authorities.
Would-be car-rammer a 16-year-old Palestinian girl — report
The suspected West Bank car-ramming attacker is reportedly a 16-year-old Palestinian girl from the village of Beit Fajjar, according to the Safa news agency.
She is identified as Fatima Taqatqa.
There is no immediate comment from the Palestinian health ministry.
— Dov Lieber contributed
US indicts 2 Russian spies for massive Yahoo hack
Two agents of Russia’s FSB spy agency and two “criminal hackers” are indicted Wednesday over a massive cyberattack affecting 500 million Yahoo users, the US Justice Department announces.
The indictment unveiled in Washington links Russia’s top spy agency in one of the largest cyberattacks in history, revealed last year, and which officials said was used for espionage and financial gain.
Netanyahu won’t attend upcoming AIPAC confab
Contrary to numerous rumors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not attend the upcoming AIPAC confab in person, his office says.
The pro-Israel lobby’s annual policy conference is set to take place in Washington, DC, from March 26-28. Former US vice president Joe Biden is scheduled to address the conference.
— Raphael Ahren
Son of suspected Minnesota ex-Nazi says father innocent
The son of a Minnesota man who’s the subject of an arrest warrant issued by a Polish court says his father is innocent of any war crimes.
A judge in Poland said Wednesday that a court issued the warrant for 98-year-old Michael Karkoc, whom The Associated Press previously identified as an ex-commander in an SS-led unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians in World War II.
The warrant opens the way for Poland to seek his extradition from the US.
Karkoc’s son, Andriy Karkoc, says the family is calling on the judge to release any evidence that may implicate his father. He says if prosecutors have no proof, the arrest warrant is meaningless.
The son also points out that German prosecutors declined in 2015 to seek Karkoc’s extradition, concluding he was unfit to stand trial.
Netanyahu to meet US special envoy again Thursday
Netanyahu will meet with senior US official Jason Greenblatt again tomorrow, the Prime Minister’s Office confirms.
Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to international negotiations, has been shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah for the past few days, meeting with Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and other Israeli officials, as well as with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials.
Earlier on Wednesday, Greenblatt met youth leaders in the Jalazone refugee camp near Ramallah “to understand their daily experiences,” he writes on his Twitter account. He also met with senior PA security officials and visited recruits at a Jericho training center to review “our joint work to build their capacity to fight terrorism and provide security that benefits both Palestinians and Israelis.”
— Raphael Ahren
IDF said to arrest cousin of would-be car attacker
Bethlehem media reports that Israeli troops arrested the cousin of a Palestinian teenager who apparently rammed her car into a bus stop at the Etzion Junction earlier today.
He is identified as Amjad Taqatqa of Beit Fajjar, outside Bethlehem.
— Judah Ari Gross
‘Explosive’ parcel found at German Finance Ministry
German police on Wednesday find an “explosive” package at Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble’s office building, a day before he is due to host his new US counterpart Steven Mnuchin for talks.
“The package contained an explosive mix,” Berlin police say in a statement, adding that the substance is often used in the production of fireworks.
“It was designed to cause severe injuries when the package is opened,” say police.
The parcel was intercepted in the ministry mailroom.
Investigations were ongoing into the case, they add.
Greenblatt meets with Jordan’s king, ‘important ally’ for peace
US envoy Jason Greenblatt tweets about meeting with Jordan’s king Abdullah II.
“Honored to meet with HM King Abdullah II. We agree on need for peace b/t Israelis and Palestinians. Jordan an important ally in this effort,” he writes.
Honored to meet with HM King Abdullah II. We agree on need for peace b/t Israelis and Palestinians. Jordan an important ally in this effort.
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 15, 2017
Right-wing ministers, Liberman trade barbs on rabbi resignation demand
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely slams Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman for threatening to withdraw military accreditation of the pre-army academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli, unless its co-head, Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, resigns.
“The pre-army program in Eli is an educational institutions that trains the best of the IDF’s fighters,” she says in a statement. “Talk of closing the program is disconnected from reality. Criticizing Rabbi Levinstein’s words is legitimate, but his statements are covered under freedom of speech.”
Levinstein had disparaged female IDF soldiers, calling them “crazy” and saying they are no longer Jewish when they leave the military. He later apologized for the tone, but not the content, of his remarks.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, of the religious nationalist Jewish Home party, says in a statement that Liberman “crossed a red line” in calling for Levinstein’s resignation.
Meanwhile, while rejecting Levinstein’s remarks, Education Minister Naftali Bennett lashes out at Liberman, his coalition partner, saying the defense minister “simply wants to do a cynical political exercise on the backs of religious Zionism.”
But the barbs don’t end there.
Liberman takes to Twitter to hit back at Bennett.
“Bennett is defending those who want to turn Israel into Iran,” he says. “We will not allow it. In Israel, women are equal to men and military service is for everyone.”
High turnout as Dutch vote in Europe far-right test
Millions of Dutch flock to the polls Wednesday in a test of the “patriotic revolution” promised by far-right MP Geert Wilders, with Europe closely watching the outcome amid signs his support may be waning.
Wilders votes in a school in The Hague, mobbed by hundreds of reporters, as final polls suggested he was trailing the Liberal VVD party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
“Whatever the outcome of the election today, the genie will not go back into the bottle. And this patriotic revolution, whether today or tomorrow, will stay,” Wilders says.
Polls close at 2000 GMT (10 p.m. Israel time), with exit polls expected shortly after. Wilders has reason to be cautious, however, after his Freedom Party (PVV) has flopped in past votes.
“Let’s wait and see what the result will be,” he tells reporters.
On a warm spring day, queues began swelling early and the research institute IPSOS says turnout is already “a lot” higher than at the same point in 2012 when final participation was over 74 percent.
An eventual turnout of around 80% was predicted, 8% lower than the current record of 88% achieved in 1977.
Israel fumes as UN commission censures ‘apartheid’
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations slams the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), after the commission releases a report accusing Israel of “apartheid.”
“The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie,” says Danny Danon in a statement. “It comes as no surprise that an organization headed by an individual who has called for boycotts against Israel, and compared our democracy to the most terrible regimes of the twentieth century, would publish such a report. We call on the Secretary General to disassociate the UN from this biased and deceitful report.”
Danon was referring to ESCWA Executive Secretary, Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian national.
Over 300 recent anti-Semitic incidents shown on one interactive map
The investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica produces an interactive map that chronicles over 300 anti-Semitic crimes across the United States from the past few months.
The graphic, which is published Wednesday, is a companion to an article ProPublica ran last week, “In an Angry and Fearful Nation, an Outbreak of Anti-Semitism,” which found evidence of over 330 incidents of anti-Semitism between last November and early February.
Both are part of ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” series, which the company launched last year to “gather evidence of hate crimes and episodes of bigotry from a divided America.”
The interactive map links each pin to local news reports from across the country, allowing users to access the original news stories for each instance of anti-Semitism. About 160 of the incidents involve vandalism, such as spray-painted swastikas and other defacement of public spaces.
Top US lawmakers see no evidence for Trump wiretap claim
Senior US lawmakers say Wednesday they had seen no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claim that his predecessor Barack Obama wiretapped his New York home and office building.
“We don’t have any evidence that that took place,” says Devin Nunes, Republican chairman of the congressional committee conducting a probe into the allegation, at a press conference.
Based the investigation by the House Intelligence Committee he heads, “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” says Nunes, whose committee is also conducting an investigation into suspected Russian interference in last year’s US election.
Nunes’ conclusion is echoed by the panel’s top Democrat, Adam Schiff.
“To date I’ve seen no evidence that supports the claim that President Trump made that his predecessor had wiretapped he and his associates at Trump Tower,” Schiff tells reporters at the press conference.
“Thus far, we have seen no basis for that whatsoever.”
Water returns to Aleppo after 2 months
Residents of Syria’s largest city Aleppo say water has returned to pipes for the first time in two months.
The activist-run Zahra Neighborhood News Network Facebook page reports water pressure in the Hamdaniyeh, Manyan and Salaheddine neighborhoods.
Imad al-Khal, 64, tells The Associated Press on Wednesday it was the first time he’d received municipal water in 67 days.
“People were using well water and getting sick,” says the Aziziyeh neighborhood resident.
Islamic State group militants shut off the city’s main water station on the Euphrates River in January. Government forces recovered the station in Khafseh last week and immediately began working on repairs.
Aleppo was once Syria’s industrial capital, before rebels seized the eastern half of the city in 2012. Government forces regained control of the city in December last year following a punishing military campaign that laid much of the eastern part of the city to waste. The UN condemned the government’s indiscriminate campaign as a war crime.
Shaked urges president to commute Olmert’s sentence — report
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is supporting the early release of former prime minister Ehud Olmert from prison, Channel 2 reports.
Overriding the official objections of her ministry, Shaked writes a letter to President Reuven Rivlin urging him to commute Olmert’s sentence, the TV report says.
Shaked cites Olmert’s contributions to Israel’s security in her letter to the president.
There is no immediate response from Rivlin, the report says.
Police nab Palestinian youth concealing knife in Hebron
Border Police troops arrest a 17-year-old Palestinian after they found a knife among his belongings during a search at a checkpoint near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron.
He was transfered to security forces for interrogation, police say.
Rocket from Gaza lands in open field in southern Israel
A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip lands in an open field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council in southern Israel.
There are no reports of injuries or damage.
The siren alerting of an incoming projectile was not triggered.
Security forces were searching for the impact site.
PM asks to delay closure of Israel Broadcasting Authority
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to delay the closure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority by six months so the parties can come to an agreement, the Prime Minister’s Office says.
The ailing broadcaster is set to be replaced by a new state-run media conglomerate whose launch has been postponed several times.
IBA has already been subjected to drastic manpower and budget cuts in recent years in preparation for its replacement, including the early retirement and firing of hundreds of employees.
Netanyahu has been opposed to the new corporation and has been leading a charge to kill it.
Likud officials have claimed that nixing the new corporation would save the state some NIS 2.5 billion ($658 million), a figure later ridiculed by the Finance Ministry and Erdan.
Critics from both the coalition and the opposition say the real reason for the move was Netanyahu’s fear of the corporation’s political independence.
Exit poll shows Dutch PM Rutte beating anti-Islam leader Wilders
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is moving toward a dominating parliamentary election victory over anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, who is looking like he failed the year’s first litmus test for populism in Europe.
The Netherlands’ main exit poll suggests Rutte’s party won 31 seats in the 150-place legislature, 12 more than Wilders’ party, which shared second place with two other parties.
“I am so proud at what has happened and happy that we have been given the trust again” by voters, Tamara van Ark, campaign leader of Rutte’s liberal VVD party said.
With France and Germany facing elections in the months ahead, Rutte hoped to slow the momentum of what he called the “wrong sort of populism” after last’s year British vote to leave the European Union and the election of US President Donald Trump.
“This is a chance for a big democracy like the Netherlands to make a point to stop this toppling over of the domino stones” of populism, Rutte said after voting.
Wilders had insisted that whatever the result of Wednesday’s election, the kind of populist politics he and others in Europe represent aren’t going away.
“Rutte has not seen the back of me!!” Wilders said in a Twitter reaction.
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