The Times of Israel is liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
PM grilled by police for 4 hours in Bezeq graft probe
After four hours, police finish questioning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the high-profile corruption investigation concerning the Bezeq telecommunications giant.
Investigators were seen arriving at Netanyahu’s residence earlier this morning.
It’s the second time that Netanyahu, who held the communications portfolio until last year, is being questioned over the affair.
Reports in Hebrew language media said that Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, and son Yair are also being questioned, at another location.
Egypt deploys tens of thousands of troops for election
Egypt has deployed tens of thousands of policemen and soldiers to protect polling centers across the country as Egyptians vote to elect their president for the next four years.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s victory is a foregone conclusion. His only challenger is Moussa Mustafa Moussa, a little known politician who joined the race in the last minute to spare the government the embarrassment of a one-candidate election after several hopefuls were forced out or arrested.
Authorities hope enough people — there are nearly 60 million eligible voters — will vote in the three-day balloting that started on Monday to give the election legitimacy.
Sissi cast his ballot as soon as the polls opened at 9 a.m. at a girls’ school in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis. Local TV stations showed festive scenes outside polling centers, with women and school children singing.
Two arrested over killing of 85-year-old French Jewish woman
Two men have been arrested over the killing of an 85-year-old Jewish woman whose body was found after a fire broke out in her Paris apartment, police sources say.
An autopsy conducted on the woman, who lived alone, showed she had been stabbed several times before Friday’s blaze.
She was identified only as “Mireille K.” by the Jewish Community Protection Service (SPCJ), which works closely with the French police.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said yesterday that it had not yet determined a motive, but “is not excluding any hypothesis.”
“The investigation has uncovered elements suggesting there was not an anti-Semitic motive, but this possibility has not yet been excluded,” the SPCJ said in a statement last night.
A Paris lawmaker who spoke with one of the woman’s sons said she had managed to evade as a child the notorious 1942 roundup of over 13,000 Jews in Paris during World War II.
Fewer than 100 of those who were were detained at the so-called Vel d’Hiv cycling track and then sent to the Nazi death camps survived.
US envoy Friedman hails Trump’s ‘great efforts’ in Passover greeting
The US embassy in Israel issued a special holiday greeting ahead of the Jewish festival of Passover, saying this year the holiday holds special significance due to the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy there.
A video uploaded to the embassy Facebook page shows US Ambassador David Friedman baking the traditional matzah at Kfar Chabad in central Israel.
השגריר פרידמן אופה מצות בכפר חב"ד ומאחל לכל בית ישראל ויהודים בכל העולם חג פסח שמח – שהשנה נושא גם משמעות מיוחדת. Ambassador Friedman bakes matzahs in Kfar Habad and wishes all of the people of Israel and Jews everywhere a Happy Passover – which this year has a very special meaning.
Posted by U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, Israel on Monday, 26 March 2018
“To be here in Israel for Passover is a very special moment for me,” Friedman says. “Every Passover, at the end of the Haggadah we say ‘Next year in Jerusalem. This year, because of the great efforts of our administration, particularly our president, when we say ‘Next year in Jerusalem,’ it has a special meaning.”
Partner of French gunman was known by police as radicalized
A French judicial official says the partner of the Islamist extremist who carried out a terror attack last week in southern France was, like him, known to police as radicalized.
The 18-year-old woman was still being detained by police for questioning in the case, as well as a 17-year-old friend of gunman Radouane Lakdim, the official says. He was speaking anonymously to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Lakdim was known to police for drug-dealing, and since 2014 had been on the so-called “Fiche S” list, a government register of individuals suspected of being radicalized but who have yet to perform acts of terrorism.
Four people were killed in a carjacking and the supermarket attack Friday near the city of Carcassonne.
Lakdim was killed by police who stormed the supermarket.
Russia says final death toll in mall fire hits 64
Russia’s emergency situations minister says 64 people are confirmed to have died in a fire in a shopping mall in Siberia.
Vladimir Puchkov tells a televised briefing that firefighters have finished combing through the four floors of the shopping mall in the city of Kemerovo. Six bodies have not yet been recovered, he said.
Puchkov would not immediately say how many of the victims were children.
The Winter Cherry mall was a popular destination for families and it was packed with visitors yesterday, the first weekend of the school recess, when the fire broke out.
Witnesses said the fire alarm did not go off and that staff did not arrange for an evacuation at the shopping mall, which was converted from a former confectionery factory in 2013.
Poland detains man suspected of spying for Russia
Poland’s counterintelligence agency ABW says it has detained a Polish official over suspicions that he collaborated with Russian intelligence services.
“Marek W. maintained contact with agents from Russia’s special services and sent them information regarding investments important to Poland,” ABW spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn tells the Polish news agency PAP.
He says the official had been detained on Friday and risks up to 10 years in prison if convicted of espionage.
He adds that the Marek W., who worked at the energy ministry according to local media, had transmitted information to Russia concerning the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline project, which Poland staunchly opposes.
The Russia-Germany pipeline would run through the Baltic Sea and bypass current Russian gas transit countries Poland and Ukraine.
State seeks extension for count-ordered deadline to defend expulsion policy
The government has requested an extension from the High Court of Justice, after failing to submit on time its explanation regarding the legality of its controversial plan to deport African migrants and indefinitely incarcerate those who refuse to leave.
The state is asking the court-ordered deadline be moved until April 9, though it will likely need an additional extension due to the Passover holiday.
Earlier in March, the High Court of Justice temporarily froze the deportations and ordered the government to address some of the legal issues surrounding its expulsion policy.
The plan has been condemned by Israeli activists, Holocaust survivors and the United Nations as chaotic, poorly executed, and unsafe.
An anti-deportation rally held in Tel Aviv over the weekend drew a crowd of over 20,000 people.
— Melanie Lidman
General says Iron Dome misfired last night due to ‘over-sensitivity ‘
The head of Israel’s air defenses says the unnecessary launch of Iron Dome interceptor missiles last night was the result of the system’s “over-sensitivity” and was not caused by a human or technical error.
According to Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch, the system misidentified automatic gunfire from the Gaza Strip as incoming rockets heading toward the southern Israeli community of Zikim.
Haimovitch tells reporters that this was not a bug in the system, but the result of it being programmed to be more sensitive in light of the current unrest in the area.
Late last night, Iron Dome missile defense batteries in southern Israel launched approximately 20 interceptors — each costing approximately $50,000 — which in turn set off incoming rocket sirens throughout the region, sending thousands of residents rushing into bomb shelters shortly before midnight.
— Judah Ari Gross
Iran currency hits record low, crashing through 50,000 mark
The Iranian rial falls to a record low today, breaking through the 50,000-to-the-dollar mark for the first time as analysts blamed uncertainty from Washington.
The rial has lost around a quarter of its value in the past six months, hitting 50,860 against the US dollar, according to Financial Informing Network, a trusted Iranian website for open market currency rates.
The gap between that and the official rate, which stood at 37,686 this afternoon, has continued to widen.
Iran’s government took drastic measures last month to stem the decline in the free market rate, arresting foreign exchange dealers, freezing speculators’ accounts and raising interest rates.
But on the streets of Tehran, long queues continued to gather outside foreign exchanges in the run-up to this month’s Nowruz New Year holiday.
“The issue is psychological rather than economic. There’s no reason to buy dollars except in the hope that you can sell them later at a higher rate,” said Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of the Europe-Iran Forum, a business network.
He said Iranians were reacting to worrying news from the United States, where President Donald Trump this month appointed hardline anti-Iran figures Mike Pompeo and John Bolton to senior posts in his administration.
Minister signs waiver allowing Israeli soccer games on Sabbath
Soccer players in Israel will be able to continue playing on Saturdays after the government approved a waiver for the sport on the Jewish day of rest, officials say.
Matches held on Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, have long been a cause of discord between nonreligious Israelis and the country’s ultra-Orthodox and religious nationalist communities.
Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz signed the general waiver yesterday permitting soccer industry employees to continue working on Shabbat, his office says in a statement released this afternoon.
“The general authorization I have granted preserves the status quo that has been in effect since the creation of the state,” Katz says in the statement. “We will continue and strengthen the sport in Israel.”
The waiver was the result of a compromise reached with Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties, a key part of the governing coalition.
— with AFP
Deri questioned for 10th time by police in corruption probe
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri concludes his 10th round of police questioning this afternoon as part of the ongoing investigation into a slew of corruption suspicions against him.
After the questioning, Deri takes to Twitter to say that, as with “all the previous times, I answered all the questions I was asked.”
“Everything is good, and God willing, it will be even better,” Deri says, adding that he will now turn his attention to preparing for the upcoming Passover holiday.
14 EU states expelling Russian diplomats over UK spy attack
Poland, Germany and Lithuania are among the European countries announcing they are expelling Russian diplomats over the poisoning of Russian ex-spy in Britain.
Germany and Poland both say they have asked four Russian diplomats to leave, while in Lithuania, three Russian diplomats were ordered to leave.
The German foreign ministry says in a statement that the move was part of a joint European response to the Skripal case.
It says “the expulsion of four diplomats is a strong signal of solidarity with Great Britain and signals the resolve of the Germany government not to leave attacks against our closest partners and allies unanswered.”
The ministry adds that the move was also a response to the recent cyberattacks against German government networks, “which according to information so far is highly likely to be attributable to Russian sources.”
US expels 60 Russian diplomats, shutters Seattle consulate
The Trump administration is expelling 60 Russian diplomats and orders Russia’s consulate in Seattle to close, as the United States and European nations sought to jointly punish Moscow for its alleged role in poisoning an ex-spy in Britain.
Senior Trump administration officials said all 60 Russians were spies working in the US under diplomatic cover, including a dozen at Russia’s mission to the United Nations. The officials say the administration was taking the action to send a message to Russia’s leaders about the “unacceptably high” number of Russian intelligence operatives in the US.
The expelled Russians will have seven days to leave the US, the officials say. They weren’t authorized to be identified by name and requested anonymity.
They added that the Seattle consulate is a counter-intelligence concern because of its proximity to a US Navy base.
Canada expels four Russian diplomats over UK spy attack
Canada is ordering the expulsion of four Russian diplomats and denied credentials for three others over the poisoning of a former spy in Britain, a statement says.
“We are taking these measures in solidarity with the United Kingdom,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says.
“The nerve agent attack in Salisbury, on the soil of Canada’s close partner and ally, is a despicable, heinous and reckless act, potentially endangering the lives of hundreds.”
German FM urges Palestinians ‘not to tear down bridges’
Germany’s new foreign minister has urged the Palestinians “not to tear down bridges,” an apparent reference to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s contentious relationship with the US and political rival Hamas.
Heiko Maas spoke after meeting with Abbas and the Palestinian foreign minister in Ramallah this afternoon.
Maas says the new German government remains committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Trump administration has refused to make such a commitment. In December, US President Donald Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, prompting Abbas to rule out the US as a future Mideast broker.
Maas says that peace efforts without the US “would be difficult.”
Meanwhile, months-long efforts to sideline Hamas in Gaza through a deal with Abbas appear to have collapsed after a Gaza bombing narrowly missed Abbas’s prime minister this month.
Case closed against bar mitzvah hike chaperones who shot Palestinian dead
The Central District Attorney’s Office says it is closing its investigation into two Israeli settlers who chaperoned a bar mitzvah hike in the northern West Bank last year that ended in deadly clashes with local Palestinians.
The two fathers were probed on suspicions of manslaughter after one of them shot dead 48-year-old Mahmoud Za’al Odeh from the village of Qusra.
State prosecutors say in a statement that no charges will be brought against the chaperones as they were acting in self defense.
In solidarity with US and EU, Ukraine expelling 13 Russian diplomats
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says his nation is expelling 13 Russian diplomats, acting in sync with the US and the EU nations.
Poroshenko says on Facebook that Ukraine is acting in the “spirit of solidarity” with its “British partners and trans-Atlantic allies.” The US is kicking out 60 Russian diplomats, Germany and Poland say they have asked four Russian diplomats to leave and other EU nations have made similar moves.
Russia and Ukraine have been in a tug-of-war since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Poroshenko in this afternoon’s post called for further “raising the price” for Moscow through financial and economic sanctions.
White House: Expelling Russian diplomats ‘will make US safer’
The White House says the expulsion of Russian diplomats and closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle will “make the United States safer.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says in a statement that US President Donald Trump is responding to “Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom.” She says the move will reduce “Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security.”
The administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats and ordered Russia’s consulate in Seattle to close, as the United States and European nations sought to jointly punish Moscow for its alleged role in poisoning an ex-spy in Britain.
Sanders says the United States and allies want to send a message to Russia that “actions have consequences.”
Russia vows to react to ‘unfriendly’ expulsions of diplomats
Russia’s Foreign Ministry is expressing its outrage over the expulsions of Russian diplomats by European Union and NATO members in solidarity with Britain, saying that Moscow will respond.
Britain has accused Russia of involvement in the March 4 poisoning of former Russian spy Serge Skripal and his daughter, accusations that Moscow has denied. The United States and many EU nations have announced that they are expelling Russian diplomats.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reaffirms in the statement that the British accusations are unfounded. It adds that the allies of Britain are “blindly following the principle of Euro-Atlantic solidarity in violation of common sense, norms of civilized international dialogue and international law.”
It says Russia will respond to the “unfriendly” move but doesn’t immediately say how.
Visiting German FM hails Israeli ‘warmth and kindness’
The friendliness with which he is being received in Israel cannot be taken for granted, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says as he wraps up his maiden two-day day visit to the region.
Before a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem, he says the warm welcome he received Israel is not something that is expected. “For a German, this warmth and kindness feels like an undeserved present,” Maas says.
While Berlin and Jerusalem may disagree on certain issues, such as the Iran nuclear deal and the two-state solution, Germany will always be at Israel’s side, he adds.
— Raphael Ahren
Foreign Ministry mum on possible expulsion of Russian diplomats
The Foreign Ministry declines to say whether it’s considering expelling Russian diplomats in sync with Western nations who earlier announced the collective measure as a response to the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in England earlier this month.
However, the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv confirms to The Times of Israel that none of its diplomats have been ordered to leave.
— Raphael Ahren
Turkish daily portrays Merkel as Hitler, decries ‘Nazi mentality’
A Turkish daily strongly supportive of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan portrays German Chancellor Angela Merkel on today’s front cover as Adolf Hitler, accusing her of having a “Nazi mentality.”
The Yeni Akit daily, known for its hardline views on Turkish foreign policy, printed a photoshopped picture of Merkel with a Hitler mustache, swastika arm band and belt diagonally across her chest in the style of Nazi militia.
“We are very worried by this mentality,” it said.
#Türkei– #Presseschau– #Merkel in Nazi-Uniform
Die regierungsnahe türkische Tageszeitung Yeni Akit wirft Merkel vor, Terrorgruppen (Gülen, PKK, DHKP-C) Schutz zu gewähren und Anschläge auf Moscheen in Deutschland nicht zu verurteilen pic.twitter.com/qiNdLzZEvy
— elmas topcu (@TopcuElmas) March 26, 2018
Its front page came as European Union President Donald Tusk and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker were to meet Erdogan at the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Varna in a bid to mend ties with Turkey and the EU.
Gov. Cuomo jokes at Harlem church: Jews have no rhythm
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joked during a speech at a predominantly black New York City church that Jews lack rhythm when dancing.
The Democrat seeking a third term in office made the awkward crack yesterday at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem.
Noting he was Catholic, Cuomo said Catholics and Baptists share many of the same beliefs but Catholics “do it without the rhythm.”
He added: “But we try. We are not as without rhythm as our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
Cuomo then singled out Hank Sheinkopf, a Jewish Democratic political consultant who was moving to the music in a front pew. Cuomo referred to Sheinkopf’s movements as “ugly.”
A Cuomo spokeswoman later told the New York Post the governor was poking fun at himself and a longtime friend.
Netanyahu expresses solidarity with France after terror attack
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expresses solidarity with France after the death of a police officer in an Islamic extremist attack last week.
Speaking during the visit to Jerusalem of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Netanyahu says: “We grieve with you over the loss of innocent French lives and of a true hero, the officer Arnaud Beltrame, a hero of humanity, not only a hero of France, and we understand this very well.”
Beltrame died after exchanging places with a hostage during the attack Friday in southern France. Four people were killed, including the officer, at a supermarket and in a carjacking. The gunman was killed when police stormed the supermarket.
Le Drian thanked Netanyahu, saying that Beltrame “paid his life, his fight against terrorism. We have this fight in common; the basis of everything is security.”
Visiting French FM: ‘Reasonable to assume’ Paris Holocaust survivor murdered in hate crime
Visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says he is not surprised to learn that Paris authorities suspect an anti-Semitic motive in the murder of a Holocaust survivor over the weekend.
Speaking ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Le Drian says the suspicions will only serve to strengthen France’s resolve to combat anti-Semitism.
“We cannot yet say if the motive for the murder was anti-Semitism but it is reasonable to assume, it will not be surprising and, therefore, this only strengthens the fact that this struggle has not ended, and that we will need to continue fighting against anti-Semitism,” he says according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
After 2nd questioning in Bezeq case, PM insists ‘there is nothing’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is confident that the police investigations into his alleged connection to the Bezeq corruption probe will not uncover any wrongdoing.
In a Hebrew-language video uploaded to social media, Netanyahu asserts that he is “completely safe,” and repeats his refrain that: “There won’t be anything, because there was nothing.”
Earlier, Netanyahu, his wife Sara, and their son Yair were questioned by police separately in the quickly ballooning corruption investigation into Israel’s largest telecom provider.
‘Neutral’ Austria won’t expel Russian diplomats
Austria says it would not follow a number of other EU countries in expelling Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, stressing its neutrality.
“We stand behind the decision to recall the EU ambassador, but we will not take any national measures,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl say in a joint statement.
“Indeed, we want to keep the channels of communication to Russia open,” they add. “Austria is a neutral country and sees itself as a bridge-builder between East and West.”
Ahead of protests, UN Mideast envoy urges Hamas, IDF not to put Palestinian children at risk
The UN envoy for the Middle East urges restraint, as he raises concern about children at risk during Palestinian protests starting this week near the Gaza-Israel border.
“It is imperative that civilians, in particular children, not be targeted and that all actors refrain from putting children at risk at any time,” Nickolay Mladenov tells the council via videoconference from Jerusalem.
“I call on all sides to exercise restraint and to take the necessary steps to avoid violent escalation,” he said.
Palestinian families are planning to pitch hundreds of tents in the Gaza Strip near the border starting on Friday, launching a six-week show of support for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
Murder of French Holocaust survivor probed as anti-Semitic
French authorities say the killing of an elderly Jewish woman in Paris is being investigated as an anti-Semitic murder.
The Paris prosecutor’s office says two suspects have been put in custody. It said it is asking investigating judges to charge the pair with premeditated murder of a vulnerable person for anti-Semitic motives.
The office also asked for the suspects to be jailed pending trial.
Leading Jewish group CRIF said the 85-year-old woman was slain last week in Paris’ eastern 11th district. The victim had reportedly escaped a round-up of Jews in Paris during World War II.
IDF chief warns of ‘volatility’ during upcoming Passover holiday
IDF chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot warns of potential violence in the coming weeks, but also issues a message of calm ahead of the upcoming Passover holiday.
“The volatility of the Palestinian arena demands that we be prepared,” Eisenkot says, during a ceremony honoring outstanding officers and NCOs.
Military officials have warned that the coming few weeks may see an increase in violence, as Palestinians mark a number of protest holidays.
“But in a few days, we will sit around the Passover seder table and celebrate the holiday of freedom, certain that our freedom is guaranteed,” the army chief says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Sara Netanyahu refused to be questioned in the presence of state witnesses — report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara reportedly refused to be questioned in the presence of two state witnesses during her questioning in the Bezeq telecom corruption case earlier today.
Israel Police’s national anti-fraud unit Lahav 433 wanted to question the prime minister’s wife, with ex-Communications Ministry director Shlomo Filber and former Netanyahu spokesman Nir Hefetz in the room, regarding yet a separate case, pertaining to the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, Channel 10 news reports.
Sara Netanyahu was questioned for over four hours earlier today, her second interrogation in the quickly ballooning corruption case surrounding Israel’s largest telecom provider.
The report says Sara Netanyahu’s refusal to be questioned in the presence of the state witnesses is akin to exercising the right to remain silent.
Spain joins nations expelling Russian diplomats
Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says authorities are expelling two diplomats from the Russian embassy in Madrid, adding that it considers the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England as an incident of “extreme gravity.”
The ministry says in a statement that the March 4 poisoning “represents a serious threat to our collective safety and to international laws.” It does not identify the Russian diplomats in an emailed statement, but says that both have been told to abandon Spanish territory.
The US and more than a dozen European nations announced coordinated expulsions of Russian diplomats on Monday, in solidarity with Britain, which blames Russia for the attack.
Saudi-led coalition threatens retaliation against Iran over missiles
The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia is threatening retaliation against Iran, accusing the Shiite power of being behind multiple Yemeni rebel missile attacks on the kingdom.
We “reserve the right to respond against Iran at the right time and right place,” coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki tells a news conference.
Saudi forces say they intercepted seven Yemeni rebel missiles on Sunday, including over the capital Riyadh, in what Malki dubbed a “deadly escalation” that coincided with the third anniversary of the coalition’s military intervention in Yemen.
One Egyptian was killed and two of his countrymen were wounded by falling shrapnel in Riyadh, authorities said, with residents reporting loud explosions and bright flashes in the sky shortly before midnight.
Displaying wreckage of what he said were fragments of missiles fired on Sunday, Malki claimed forensic analysis showed they were supplied by Iran.
Minister said to suggest airdropping aid to Gaza to disrupt protests
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz has proposed airdropping humanitarian aid to Gazans on Friday, in an effort to dissuade residents from attending a massive protest along the border fence with Israel, Hadashot news reported.
During yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Steinitz suggested that delivering food and medicine throughout the Strip would draw Palestinians away from the protests “Land Day” protests, expected to take place along the Gaza Strip’s security fence on Friday.
Protests planned for the coming weeks will be held under the banner “March of Return” — a reference to the demand that Israel allow millions of Palestinians refugees, and their descendants to return to their former homes inside the Jewish state.
Corbyn vows ‘zero tolerance’ for anti-Semitism as protesters rally outside parliament
Britain’s main opposition leader vowed Monday that his Labour Party would have “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism, after Jewish groups accused him of failing to stamp out anti-Jewish prejudice within his left-of-center party.
Hundreds of protesters are rallying outside Parliament bearing signs reading “no to anti-Semitism.” The protesters are joined by some Labour lawmakers who are critical of their leader.
British news reports put the number of protesters in the thousands, and said that police were called to break up a scuffle with a small group of counter-protesters.
Kansas legislators try to save law against boycotting Israel
Kansas legislators are trying to salvage a law prohibiting state contractors from boycotting Israel, after a federal judge blocked its enforcement, advancing a bill to narrow the ban so it no longer would apply to individuals or small contracts.
The state House approved the measure, 93-30, sending it to the Senate. Enacting the bill’s changes would resolve the federal lawsuit that led to it being put on hold, according to an attorney involved, but lawmakers in both parties said they believe the narrower law still would violate free-speech rights.
New Jersey Holocaust memorial again defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti
A New Jersey synagogue’s Holocaust memorial has been vandalized for the second time in less than a year.
Lakewood police say someone spray-painted several anti-Semitic words and phrases — some misspelled — on the memorial at Congregation Sons of Israel. Similar graffiti was also found on the synagogue, while a swastika was spray-painted on a pickup truck parked outside the building.
The vandalism was reported around 11:45 a.m. Saturday and apparently occurred sometime during the previous evening.
No one has claimed responsibility for the vandalism, nor have any arrests been made.
A similar act occurred at the site last July, when vandals posted a banner containing an anti-Jewish slur on the Holocaust memorial.
French investigators probe Netanyahu benefactor for bribing prison guards
French police arrest seven men, including a Jewish chaplain, two Jewish inmates, and director and a supervisor at one of France’s biggest prisons, on suspicion of taking bribes from a prominent Jewish convict with ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The director and supervisor employed by the Fresnes jail, in the suburbs of Paris, are suspected of having received bribes from Arnaud Mimran and a second Jewish inmate, Eric Robic, in exchange for preferential treatment. Nearly 280,000 euros were allegedly found during searches of the prison and of their homes on Monday, investigators say.
Mimran, who has claimed in the past that he gave donations to Netanyahu, was jailed in July 2016 for eight years and fined one million euros for his part in a €283 million fraud involving the trade of carbon emissions permits and the taxes on them.
Robic was sentenced to five years in jail in December 2014 for a hit and run killing of 25-year-old Lee Zeitouni in Tel Aviv in 2011. Robic fled to France after the incident.
— with AFP