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

Iran accuses Israel of ‘failed’ cyber attack

Iran accuses Israel of launching what it declared was a failed cyber attack against its communications systems.

“A regime whose record in using cyber weapons is clear from cases such as Stuxnet has tried this time to damage Iran’s communication infrastructure,” says Information Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi on his Twitter account.

He was referring to the Stuxnet virus, discovered in 2010 and believed to have been engineered by Israel and the United States, which damaged nuclear facilities in Iran.

“Thanks to vigilance of the technical teams, they returned empty-handed. We will follow up this hostile action through international forums,” Jahromi says.

His deputy, Hamid Fattahi, says technical teams had intercepted multiple attempts to infiltrate their systems early on Monday, and had been “strongly warded off.”

The Stuxnet virus was uncovered some eight years ago, and was widely reported to have been developed together by US and Israeli intelligence. It penetrated Iran’s rogue nuclear program, taking control and sabotaging parts of its enrichment processes by speeding up its centrifuges.


Arrest extended for driver suspected of causing crash that wiped out family of 8

Beersheba Magistrate’s Court extends by seven days the arrest of a man suspected of killing eight members of the same family in a head-on collision between his SUV and a minivan driving in the opposite lane.

The driver’s name was cleared for publication and he was identified as Laurent Ankri, 52 from Giv’on Hahadasha.

The entire Atar family — Yariv Atar, 45, and his wife Shoshi, 47, and their children Yaakov Yisrael, 12, Ateret, 11, Ayelet, 9, Moriah, 7, Yedid, 5, and Avigail, 3 — was killed in the crash Tuesday on Route 90.

Remand extended for truck driver involved in accident that killed 6 near Dead Sea

The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court extends by three days the arrest the detention of a truck driver who is suspected of causing another deadly accident on Route 90, in which six people died yesterday.

In that fatal crash, a minibus was reportedly shuttling a group of East Jerusalem Palestinian men in their thirties to their workplace when it collided with the truck.

The victims of the crash were identified as brothers Lutfi and Rajai Zahdi from Wadi Joz; Ala’a Qarash from the Old City of Jerusalem; Ahmad al-Ayoubi from Za’im; Majd Asila from Kafr Akab; and Majd Samara from Kafr Akab.

Video footage from the scene appeared to show the truck veering into the opposite lane, at which point the minivan, in an attempt to evade it, swerves and crashes into it.

The driver has claimed in court that the accident was the minibus driver’s fault because he swerved into the path of his truck.

A police investigator has told the court that the driver has kept silent during his investigation and that he apparently tried to take the memory card out of the dashcam fitted in the truck.

Far-right group launches crowdfunding campaign with eye on Knesset

The far-right Otzma Yehudit group has launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to run for the Knesset in elections next year.

The group’s leaders, Itamar Ben Gvir, Bentzi Gopstein, Michael Ben Ari and Baruch Marzel star in a campaign video in which they present the legislation they intend to advance if they are voted into the Knesset. This includes a plan to “remove enemies from the State of Israel,” a vow to ensure that the High Court of Justice acts both “Jewishly and nationalistically,” and a law requiring Israelis to kill anyone who carries out an attack against them.

“A thousand of our enemies will die and not a hair will be touched on our soldiers’ heads,” Gopstein declares in the video.

Egyptian intelligence officials enter Gaza for reconciliation and ceasefire talks

Egyptian intelligence officials entered the Gaza Strip on Monday through the Erez crossing, the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center reports.

The intelligence officials were expected to meet leaders of the Palestinian factions in Gaza to discuss intra-Palestinian reconciliation and a possible ceasefire between armed groups in the coastal enclave and Israel, the Palestinian Information Center report says.

Pictures shared on Twitter show Gaza-based officials greeting Ahmed Abdelkahliq, the official in the Egyptian General Intelligence Services responsible for the Palestinian file, after he crossed into the Strip.

In the past month, Egyptian intelligence officials have come several times to Gaza to hold talks with Palestinian officials there.

Adam Rasgon

Germany’s Merkel: I can work well with any party successor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel insists that she can work well with any potential successor as leader of her party, including a one-time rival seeking a comeback after a decade-long absence.

Merkel also stresses that her center-right Christian Democratic Union is committed to its troubled coalition with the center-left Social Democrats.

Merkel announced a week ago that she plans to give up the CDU leadership after 18 years but remain as Germany’s chancellor.

There are three high-profile candidates to succeed her: CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is the closest to Merkel’s centrist approach; and two contenders who stand for a more conservative profile, former parliamentary leader Friedrich Merz and Health Minister Jens Spahn.

Germany’s chancellor of the past 13 years has said she is ready to continue in that job for the rest of the parliamentary term, which is supposed to last until 2021.

Pressed on whether she really wants to do that, she replies: “I don’t know of readiness without willingness.”

Many observers question how realistic that is, particularly if Merz becomes CDU leader. Merkel ousted Merz as her bloc’s parliamentary leader in 2002 and many doubt they could work together. Merz left the German parliament in 2009.

Merkel says she had “always found solutions” with Merz in the past, though “of course we were not always of the same opinion.”

“I have no doubt that, if that is the outcome, I can work well together with Friedrich Merz, as with every other candidate,” she tells reporters in Berlin.

Merkel’s successor is to be elected at a CDU congress in Hamburg December 7-8, after the candidates have presented themselves at a series of regional conferences.

The chancellor sought to downplay the possible destabilizing impact of the party leadership change on the federal governing coalition with the Social Democrats, which has squabbled since it took office in March.

A CDU leadership meeting Sunday and Monday showed a “conviction that we will continue the government on the basis of the coalition agreement,” Merkel said.

— AP

UK fisherman saved from aggressive seals

A British fisherman had to be rescued from a cliff face after fleeing an aggressive colony of about 50 gray seals and their young pups, the local coast guard says.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency says the fisherman was walking on a beach in southeastern Scotland when he came across the seals, who became agitated and aggressive.

He climbed up a cliff face but became trapped before reaching the top and used his phone to call for emergency aid.

Rescue teams were able to lower the man into a lifeboat and take him to safety in Eyemouth harbor.

He is being treated for exposure to the cold but did not suffer any injuries.

Coast guard officer Jonathan Mustard said people walking along the coast should beware of seals protecting their young. He says walkers and fishermen should have a fully charged phone so they can summon help if needed.

“Aggressive seals are not a common occurrence and in this case they may have been protecting or defending their natural habitat and their young,” he says.

— AP

Iran condemns Bahrain dissident life sentence

Iran has condemned Bahrain over the jailing for life of a Shiite opposition leader, accusing Manama of wanting to “intensify its suppression” of dissent.

Bahraini Sheikh Ali Salman and two of his aides were sentenced on Sunday for “acts of hostility” against Bahrain and spying for rival Gulf state Qatar.

The ruling against Salman, who headed the now-banned Al-Wefaq movement, has been called a travesty by rights groups.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi says the verdict “leaves no doubt for the international community that the government of Bahrain… intends to intensify its suppression.”

He calls on Bahraini officials to “put aside their police state methods and use real and serious dialogue with the opposition and critics,” in a statement published late Sunday.

Ghasemi also says Manama should refrain from issuing “inhumane verdicts against its people.”

Salman and the two aides had been acquitted by the high criminal court in June, a verdict the public prosecution appealed.


IDF soldier charged with beating blindfolded and shackled Palestinian detainee

An IDF combat soldier from the Home Front Command brigade has been charged with aggravated abuse after a Military Police investigation revealed that he beat a blindfolded and shackled Palestinian detainee at an army base in the West Bank last May.

Zionist Union chairman says party’s local election wins show Netanyahu losing support

Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay says that his party’s strong showing in several cities in last week’s municipal elections shows that “Likud rule is in danger.”

Mocking Netanyahu’s infamous pre-2015 election claim that Arab voters were making their way “in droves” to the polls, Gabbay says: “Likud voters came in droves to the polls last week… but did not vote Likud. They came in droves and voted for change.”

“Likud voters are beginning to understand that the slogan ‘there is no alternative’ is just campaign spin and not the reality,” he says, touting wins by Zionist Union and Labor party mayoral candidates in Haifa and Nahariya as well as the crushing loss suffered by senior Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin in the Jerusalem race.

“This is what will happen in the national elections. We will win.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Bennett and Liberman trade slaps in faction meetings as tiff continues

Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman trade insults in their respective faction meeting as their public tiff continues.

“If the defense minister is unable to do the job, we will do it in his place. He should either bring security or step aside,” Bennett declares.

For his part, Liberman tweets in response that he “saw Bennett nervous and edgy at his faction meeting. I wish him good health and longevity.”

20-year-old sentenced for attacks against Arab Israelis

The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court sentences 20-year-old Raz Amitzur to five-and-a-half years in prison for nationalistically motivated attacks he carried out against Arab Israelis last year.

As part of a plea bargain, Amitzur has been convicted of racially motivated offenses but not crimes under the Anti-Terrorism Law, with which he had initially been charged in the original indictment against him.

Among the crimes for which Amitzur was convicted was a stabbing attack in February 2017. Then, he approached a couple sitting in a parked car outside of a soccer stadium in Beersheba and asked the man inside for a lighter in an effort to confirm that he had an Arabic accent. Once he concluded that it was a Jewish-Muslim couple, he stabbed the man repeatedly. The victim was able to escape from the incident without serious injury.

Netanyahu fetes municipal election gains, ‘tremendous support for me”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “great achievement” by his Likud party in last week’s local elections, which he says “has increased its power in the local lists by about 30 percent.”

Speaking at the opening of the Likud party faction meeting in the Knesset, Netanyahu says the results have shown him “the tremendous support for me, in the Likud, and for our candidates.”

“I also thank you for the tremendous support for me and my wife,” he says. “It warms our hearts and gives us the strength to continue leading the State of Israel together for many years to come.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Netanyahu: My fight against the world paid off with Trump’s new Iran sanctions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says ​US President Donald Trump’s​ ​decision to reinstate all US sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal proved that his often-criticized efforts to bring about such a result had paid off.

“​For many years I ​have devoted my time and energy to the war against the Iranian threat. ​On this issue I went ​up ​almost against the whole world. Today we see the results of this long and ongoing struggle​,” he tells his Likud faction meeting in the Knesset.

“​I would like to thank President Donald Trump again for a courageous, determined and important decision. I think that this contributes to stability, security and peace,” Netanyahu says, adding it is ​”​a very big day for the State of Israel. This is a great day for the people of Israel. This is a great day for the future of Israel.”

— Raoul Wootliff

PM meets with US envoy on Syria Jeffrey

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US envoy on Syria James Jeffrey in Jerusalem.

The two discuss developments in Syria and bilateral efforts to curtail Iranian aggression.

The prime minister thanked Jeffrey for his efforts and congratulated US President Donald Trump on reintroducing a second round of sanctions against Iran.

PM: If you’re a powerful nation you can occupy and no one will care

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have told Likud lawmakers during today’s faction meeting that strong countries are able to occupy other nations without repercussions.

“Power is the most important thing in foreign policy,” Army Radio quotes Netanyahu as saying.

“‘Occupation'” is nonsense,” he adds, scoffing at international characterization of Israel’s control over the Palestinians.

“There are powerful states that have occupied and transferred populations, and no one talks about them.”

“Strength changes everything and it changes our policy vis-a-vis countries in the Arab world,” he says, suggesting that the more powerful Israel gets, the less the world will care about its treatment of the Palestinians.

US to exempt China, India, Japan from Iran oil sanctions

The United States will exempt China, India and Japan from oil sanctions on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday, while vowing to be “relentless” in pressuring Tehran.

Pompeo listed eight countries that will enjoy temporary waivers from a ban on all oil transactions with Iran: China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.

Pompeo vows the US will be “relentless” in pressuring Iran.


Saudi rights record under fire at UN

Saudi Arabia insists at the UN that its investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be “fair,” amid a barrage of criticism from countries over the brutal murder.

The half-day public debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva comes just over a month after the royal insider-turned-critic was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey confirmed last week that Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the consulate on October 2 as part of a planned hit, and his body was then dismembered and destroyed.

The so-called Universal Periodic Review — which all 193 UN countries must undergo approximately every four years — came as a Turkish official charged Monday that Saudi Arabia had sent experts to Turkey to cover up the journalist’s murder before allowing Turkish police in to search the consulate.

The murder has placed huge strains on Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the United States and other western countries and has tarnished the image of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

During today’s review, Western countries especially voiced outrage at the killing, with many calling for a “credible” and “transparent” investigation, and some, like Iceland and Costa Rica, going further and demanding an international probe.


US envoy says he met with ‘Palestinian friends’ to discuss peace

US envoy Jason Greenblatt says that he held a “candid discussion yesterday on the path to peace with Palestinian friends.”

“We’re committed to hearing from all partners who share this goal,” he tweets.

He has declined to identify the “friends” he was referring to.

The Palestinian Authority has boycotted the White House since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

US sanctions: SWIFT network suspends Iran banks

The SWIFT banking network, the backbone for international monetary transfers, says it has suspended several Iranian banks from its service, after the United States reimposed nuclear sanctions on Tehran.

“In keeping with our mission of supporting the resilience and integrity of the global financial system as a global and neutral service provider, SWIFT is suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system,” it says.

“This step, while regrettable, has been taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system.”

SWIFT, the Belgian-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, provides banks with a secure messenger network to allow international transfers.

Without its services, Iranian banks will find it more difficult to do business with any client prepared to brave US sanctions to maintain ties with Tehran.

Some US sanctions on Iranian banks and oil exports had been suspended after Iran signed a landmark 2105 deal with six world powers to curtail its nuclear ambitions.

But these came back into effect after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord and demanded that the world again turn up the economic heat on Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said waivers would be issued to allow eight countries to buy Iranian oil, but that otherwise the measures would be “relentless.”

This could mean European and other banks and businesses face secondary sanctions if Washington deems them in breach of sanctions, and US officials have been pressing SWIFT to act.

The network connects 11,000 banks and financial institutions in 200 countries and territories, while priding itself on taking a neutral political stance.

It does not hold or manage client funds, but allows the banks to transfer funds by sending messages across the network.


After US reintroduces second round of Iran sanctions, Bolton says more coming

After the US reimposed sanctions against Iran, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton says more will be coming.

“We’re going to have sanctions that even go beyond this. We’re not simply going to be content with the level of sanctions that existed under Obama in 2015,” Bolton tells Fox Business Network.

Minister: We can reach ceasefire deal with Hamas that doesn’t include returning soldiers’ bodies

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz says that it is possible to reach a ceasefire agreement with Hamas that does not include the return of the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

“The national security should not be held captive to this thing,” he says in an interview with Radio 103FM.

Egypt’s leader says Arab Spring uprising was ill-advised

Egypt’s president says the 2011 Arab Spring revolt was an ill-advised attempt at change whose chaotic aftermath posed an existential threat to the nation.

Addressing an international youth conference late Sunday, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said those behind the revolt had good intentions but had “opened the gates of hell.”

The uprising led by young, pro-democracy activists ended autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s 29-year rule and led to Egypt’s first free and fair elections, which were won by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Islamists’ rule proved divisive, and in 2013 Sissi led the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi amid mass protests. Since then, the government has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, jailing several activists behind the 2011 uprising.

Sissi says his actions have spared Egypt the fate of war-torn Syria, Yemen and Libya.

— AP

Balloon with suspicious object tied to it found in southern Israel

A suspicious object connected to a balloon has been found near a farm in the Eshkol Regional Council.

A police sapper has arrived and defused the item.

Court extends remand of suspects in diamond smuggling ring linked to Leviev operation

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extends by a week the remand of the six suspects in a smuggling operation that brought hundreds of millions of shekels’ worth of diamonds into Israel hidden in suitcases.

Police said earlier in a statement that the suspects “conspired, planned, and operated for a number of years smuggling diamonds into the State of Israel worth hundreds of millions of shekels in violation of the law and without reporting to the competent authorities.”

The investigation, being handled by the Lahav 433 national crime unit, found that an Israeli citizen who had been living aboard entered Israel six years ago with diamonds concealed in his luggage, police said.

Police believe the suspect, a worker at a Russian factory owned by Russian-Israeli diamond billionaire and philanthropist Lev Leviev, then sold the diamonds without reporting the transactions to tax authorities.

Autopsy finds rapper Mac Miller died from drugs and alcohol

A coroner has ruled rapper Mac Miller’s death an accidental overdose due to a combination of drugs and alcohol.

A Los Angeles County coroner’s report released Monday named the 26-year-old Miller’s cause of death as “mixed toxicity,” saying cocaine, alcohol and the powerful opioid fentanyl were found in his system.

Paramedics found Miller, who was Jewish, unresponsive in his Los Angeles home on Sept. 7 and declared him dead soon after. An autopsy was performed Sept. 10.

The Pittsburgh native was in a two-year relationship with Ariana Grande that ended earlier this year.

His music, which often examined his depression and drug use, won him fans among some of the biggest names in hip-hop.

Performers at a tribute concert for him last week included Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott and John Mayer.

— AP

US envoy praises Israeli minister’s visit to Oman

US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt praises the visit of Transportation Minister Israel Katz to Oman for an international transportation conference.

Katz will present a plan that could see a rail link between Israel and the Gulf.

“Let’s keep the dialogue going. These efforts support our efforts,” says Greenblatt, while not explaining what efforts he is referring to.

New York police probing whether BB gun shootings were a hate crime

Police in New York are investigating a series of BB gun shootings in which six people were targeted.

Three of victims targeted on Saturday at Temple Israel on Riverside Boulevard were yeshiva students and authorities are looking into whether the shootings constituted a hate crime.

The three other passers-by who were hit are not Jewish.

No arrests have been made.

Katz thanks US envoy for recognizing his plan for rail link between Israel and Gulf

Israel Katz calls US envoy’s recognition of his plan for a train linking Israel and the Gulf a “dramatic development.”

Katz is currently in Oman to present his regional transportation initiative, which he is advancing jointly with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the Sultanate last month.

“The invitation of the Government of Oman and the visit are part of a comprehensive move to promote the initiative and strengthen the ties with the pragmatic states in the region,” Katz says in a statement.

US faces deadline for new Russia sanctions over nerve attack

The United States faces a deadline Tuesday that could lead to fresh sanctions on Russia over an attempted assassination with a lethal nerve agent of a former spy in Britain.

The State Department on August 6 found that Russia had violated a 1991 US law that seeks the elimination of chemical and biological weapons.

The determination came after Britain said that Russian operatives on March 4 attempted to kill former intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in Salisbury using Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Under the US law, the State Department must report to Congress within three months whether Russia has come into compliance or impose a second round of sanctions.

State Department spokesman Robert Palladino says the three-month deadline is Tuesday.

“The conditions that we would have to certify are that Russia has ceased and assured that it will not use chemical weapons again, and that it has allowed international inspectors to verify those assurances,” Palladino says.


Likud badboy calls handicapped Meretz MK ‘half a human’

Likud MK Oren Hazan calls handicapped Meretz lawmaker Ilan Gilon “half-a-human,” during a Knesset debate over legislation that would see government funding for the arts as contingent on “loyalty.”

Gilon had been criticizing Culture Minister Miri Regev from the podium when Hazan came to her defense.

Gilon and Hazan then exchanged words before the latter said “If you weren’t half a human, I would respond to you.”

Hazan later said he was not referring to Gilon’s disability.

Police evacuate London’s Parliament Square afer suspicious package found in Westminster

Police evacuate Parliament Square and shut part of Whitehall road after a suspicious package was found in Westminster, the Independent reports.

IDF officer charged with raping subbordinate

A non-commissioned officer in the IDF has been charged for a string of sexual offenses committed against four female soldiers who served beneath him. The charges include rape.

Israel Radio reports that the officer has been in detention for the past three weeks.

Fox and NBC to stop airing Trump immigrant ad deemed racist

NBC and Fox News Channel both say that they will stop airing US President Donald Trump’s campaign advertisement that featured an immigrant convicted of murder.

CNN had rejected the same ad, declaring it racist.

Fox pulled the ad Sunday “upon further review,” said Marianne Gambelli, president of the network’s ad sales department. Fox did not immediately say how many times it had aired on either Fox News Channel or the Fox Business Network.

The advertisement aired on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and drew a heated online response.

The advertisement includes footage of Luis Bracamontes, a twice-deported immigrant from Mexico sentenced to death in California for killing two police officers

NBC says that in its review, it recognizes the insensitive nature of the ad.

Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted that NBC News, CNN and Facebook had chosen “to stand with those ILLEGALLY IN THIS COUNTRY.” He said the media was trying to control what you see and think.

Parscale made no mention of Fox’s decision.

The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., had tweeted over the weekend, noting CNN’s refusal to air the advertisement, that “I guess they only run fake news and won’t talk about real threats that don’t suit their agenda.”

CNN said on Twitter that it was made “abundantly clear” through its coverage that the ad was racist and declined to air it when the campaign sought to buy airtime.

— AP

Trump to announce replacement for UN envoy Haley by end of week

US President Donald Trump says he will announce a replacement for UN Ambassador Nikki Haley by the end of the week.

— AP

Trump says ‘probably’ no Putin meeting in Paris this week

US President Donald Trump says he does not expect to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, when they attend World War I commemorations in Paris at the end of this week.

Trump says he was “not sure we’ll have a meeting in Paris — probably not.”

However they “will be meeting at the G20” summit in Argentina at the end of November, he says.


Islamic Jihad condemns US re-imposition of sanctions against Iran

The Islamic Jihad terror group condemns the US administration’s re-imposition of sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“The Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine strongly condemns the unjust American sanctions at the expense of Iran, affirming that the US administration… is practicing the role of the thug with regard to its positions on the Islamic Republic,” the terror group says in a statement published on the Islamic Jihad-linked Palestine Today news site.

Iran is a major backer of Islamic Jihad.

— Adam Rasgon

Knesset amends bill for early prison release to exclude security prisoners

The Knesset passes in its second and third readings of a bill aimed at relieving pressure in overcrowded prisons by allowing the early release of certain convicts.

An original draft of the bill would have also affected security prisoners. The bill has since been altered to exclude them, after media reports noted this would mean some 300 prisoners serving time for terrorism and other security-related crimes would be freed several months early.

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