The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.

Supreme Court asked to rule on investigating PM in Bezeq fraud case

A petition is filed with the Supreme Court calling on Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to investigate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a fraud investigation into Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecom company.

The Israeli Securities Authority on Monday said it had found strong evidence supporting initial suspicions of criminal offenses against the heads of Bezeq, including violations of the securities law, fraud, breach of trust, and obstructing legal proceedings.

The ISA investigation looked into communications mogul Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq; Shlomo Filber, the director general of the Communications Ministry; Stella Handler, Bezeq’s CEO; and the CEO of the Yes satellite TV company, Ron Ayalon.

Shaul Elovitz, Bezeq owner (Calcalist screenshot)

Elovitch is considered a personal friend of Netanyahu’s, and critics had long railed at the conflict of interest that relationship could cause the premier in his capacity as communications minister, a post he filled from the end of 2014 until February of this year.

The ISA said it uncovered evidence Bezeq received insider information from the Communications Ministry, and also worked with the director of the ministry to influence decisions so that Bezeq would benefit.

The petition was filed by Adv. Shachar Ben Meir, and anti-corruption activist. It asks that the Supreme Court, which also acts as a High Court of Justice hearing petitions, order Mandelblit to explain why Netanyahu is not being investigated, despite having personally appointed Filber and having served as communications minister during the alleged corruption.

Strauss in a sticky mess as Krembo shortage hits Israel

Stores are running out of the foil-wrapped chocolate-coated marshmallow treats known as Krembos, according to reports Tuesday.

Krembo, the go-to winter treat (Courtesy Wiki Commons)

Krembo (or Creambo – meaning “cream inside it”) is a popular winter substitute for ice cream, sold from October to February, and every year demand increases.

Strauss Group Ltd. said that it manufactures hundreds of thousands of the treats daily, and is doing everything it can to meet demand.

“The Strauss factory will continue to work around the clock in order to sweeten the winter for all the Krembo lovers across the country,” a spokesperson told Hadashot news.

The presence of Iran in Syria is legitimate — Lavrov

Despite reports to the contrary, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow has not promised to ensure a withdrawal of pro-Iranian forces from Syria, RIA news agency says, according to Reuters.

The presence of Iran in Syria is legitimate, Lavrov was quoted as saying by another agency, Interfax.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel would continue operating in southern Syria when necessary, in his first response to a reported ceasefire deal clinched between the United States, Russia, and Jordan to distance foreign fighters from Israel’s northern border.

Death toll in Iran quake up to 530

Iran’s state-run news agency says the country’s death toll from the powerful earthquake that struck the Iran-Iraq border has risen to 530.

The report Tuesday afternoon by the IRNA news agency said the number of injured in the temblor now stood at 7,460.

The magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck Sunday night Iran time, just as people were going to bed. The worst damage appeared to be in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah.

A rescue worker searches the debris with his sniffing dog on the earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, November 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Kermanshah, an almost entirely Kurdish province nestled in the Zagros Mountains that run along the border with Iraq, suffered all of Iran’s fatalities from the temblor Sunday night that shook 14 of the country’s 31 provinces.

— AP

In first, Saudi king hosts Lebanese patriarch

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman hosts the head of the Lebanese Maronite church, a historic first at a time when Riyadh is stepping up pressure on Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Beshara Rai arrives in Riyadh in the first trip to the kingdom by a senior Lebanese figure since a crisis sparked by the shock resignation of prime minister Saad Hariri, which was announced from the Saudi capital.

The patriarch and the king “reviewed fraternal relations between the kingdom and Lebanon and confirmed the importance of the role of different religions and cultures in promoting tolerance, renouncing violence, extremism and terrorism,” the state-run Saudi Press Agency says.

Rai also held talks with Hariri, who stepped down during a televised address on November 4 from Riyadh, in which he accused Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite movement that is part of his government but also close to Iran, of controlling Lebanon.

— AP

2 children in critical condition after caught in house fire

Two young children are fighting for their lives after they were caught in a blaze in an East Jerusalem apartment Tuesday.

According to paramedics, a five-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl were rushed to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in critical condition.

The site of an apartment fire in Beit Hanina.
(Magen David Adom)

The fire broke out in a first floor apartment in a three-story building in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina, in the north of Jerusalem.

Four crews of firefighters are working to put out the fire and teams are investigating the cause.

Syria officially joins Paris Agreement, leaving US in the cold

Syria officially signs up to the Paris Agreement, leaving the United States as the only country to reject the global climate-rescue pact.

“The Syrian Arab Republic deposited its instrument of accession of the Paris Agreement on 13 November 2017,” says the UN climate secretariat (UNFCCC) hosting the annual round of global climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

After Nicaragua signed up in October, Syria was the only country not to have adopted the pact. Another 27 nations that have signed the treaty have yet to pass domestic laws required for full accession.

The United States, which championed the agreement under Barack Obama, adopted it in the French capital in December 2015, signed it at the UN in April 2016, and ratified in September last year. But in June this year Donald Trump announced that America would pull out of the agreement, which he said imposed “draconian financial and economic burdens” on the United States.


Russia drafts legislation targeting foreign media

Russian lawmakers say they have drafted legal amendments that would allow the government to register international media outlets as foreign agents.

The measure comes as a quid pro quo response after the Russian state-funded TV channel RT registered with the US Justice Department as a foreign agent after pressure from the US government.

Deputy speaker of the lower house Pyotr Tolstoy says the amendments will give the Justice Ministry the authority to register foreign media outlets or Russian media funded from abroad as foreign agents. Following the registration, they will face requirements that are currently applied to foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations.

The US intelligence agencies allege that RT served as a tool for the Kremlin to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election. Russia has denied any interference.

— AP

Hebrew National pulls advertising from Hannity after Roy Moore interview

Hebrew National, which sells what it calls kosher hot dogs, pulls its advertising from Sean Hannity’s Fox News show after the host interviewed Roy Moore, a Republican Senate candidate accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old and pursuing relationships with other teenagers when he was in his 30s.

“We removed Hannity from our advertising plans. We will be sure to provide your feedback with our team. Our advertising is not intended to be an endorsement of or sponsorship of any particular program,” Hebrew National said in a tweet. “Our advertising is not intended to be an endorsement of or sponsorship of any particular program.”

Moore has called the allegations “completely false and misleading,” but in the Friday interview with Hannity he did not unequivocally rule out dating teenage girls. Moore said, “It would have been out of my customary behavior,” when asked if it could have been possible. Hannity didn’t challenge Moore further.

Halamish widow hosted at White House

Michal Salomon, whose husband, father and sister-in-law were murdered in a July stabbing attack at their home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish, was hosted at the White House yesterday, according to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.

“Privileged to welcome Michal Salomon, her 5 children & her father to the White House yesterday,” Greenblatt tweeted.”Her husband, sister-in-law, and father-in-law were brutally murdered by a terrorist at the Shabbat table. Michal & her children escaped certain death only because of her courage.”

The family had been celebrating the birth of a new grandson and thought that the attacker, 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, who knocked on the door, was the first guest to arrive. Shortly after walking in, Abed took out his knife and stabbed to death Yosef Salomon, 70, and his two children, Chaya, 46, and Elad, 36. Yosef’s wife, Tova, sustained several stab wounds to her back but survived.

Chilean presidential candidate calls Israel ‘a threat to world peace’

A candidate in Chile’s upcoming presidential election declares Israel “a threat to world peace.”

Eduardo Artes (Wikimedia Commons)

Eduardo Artes, leader of the leftist Patriotic Union party, made the comment in an interview broadcast Friday with Chile’s HispanTV. He also pledged that as president he would conduct a comprehensive review of his country’s relations with the Jewish state.

“The treaties that Chile currently maintains with the Israeli Zionist entity in military, police, economic and cultural terms must all be reviewed in a patriotic and popular government, since they clearly damage our independence,” Artes said. “We are going to study all our relations with the Zionist entity because they are relations that generally harm world peace, not only the peace and survival of the Arab peoples, particularly the Palestinian people in the Middle East.”

Artes spoke days before Chile’s presidential, parliamentary and regional council elections, which are slated for November 19.


Lebanon’s PM says he will return in next 2 days

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who plunged the country into crisis with his surprise resignation during a trip to Saudi Arabia, says he will return home in the next two days.

In his first tweet in more than a week, Hariri tells his followers that he is okay, and that he will be returning without his family, who will stay “in their home” in Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri gives a live TV interview in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 12, 2017, saying he will return to his country “within days”. (Future TV via AP)

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has refused to accept the November 4 resignation, which came under mysterious circumstances, until Hariri returns to the country.

Lebanon has insisted the resignation was forced by Hariri’s Saudi patrons and that he is being kept in the kingdom against his will. Hariri denied those reports in a Sunday TV interview and said he’ll return to Lebanon within days.

— AP

Syria calls on US to withdraw its troops

Syria calls on the United States to withdraw its forces from the country now that the fight against the Islamic State group is nearly over.

The Foreign Ministry statement, carried by state-run media, says the presence of the troops will not force a political solution to the conflict.

The comments come a day after US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said “we are not going to just walk away right now” before the UN-backed political process yields results.

US troops and advisers are supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against Islamic State militants in northern and eastern Syria. Kurdish officials want the US troops to remain in the country to help prevent clashes with pro-government forces, which are also battling IS.

— AP

Archaeologists find Greco-Roman mummy in Egypt

A Russian archaeological team discovers a well-preserved mummy from the Greco-Roman period in a wooden coffin south of Cairo, according to Egypt’s antiquities ministry.

The discovery was made near New Fayoum city, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the Egyptian capital, the ministry says in a statement.

The team “found inside the coffin a well-preserved mummy, wrapped in linen, with its face covered by a human mask with drawings in blue and gold,” it says.

The Russian team made its discovery near a monastery in the village of Qalamshah.

“The expedition carried out an initial restoration of the coffin and the mummy, as the coffin was found in a bad condition,” the ministry says, citing the minister’s assistant Mohamed Abdel Lateef.


IDF deploys Iron Dome in Tel Aviv

Amid heightened tensions with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad since demolishing the terrorist group’s border-crossing attack tunnel last month, the IDF has deployed an Iron Dome missile defense battery in the Tel Aviv area, Hadashot news reports.

A general view shows Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, deployed in the Golan Heights near the Israel-Syria border, March 17, 2017 (AFP / JALAA MAREY)

Yesterday the army confirmed that a number of Iron Dome batteries had been deployed in central Israel but would not elaborate on their exact location, citing army policy.

The Iron Dome system, which is designed to shoot down short-range rockets and, in some cases, mortars, was deployed to counter the threats made by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, which has vowed to avenge its members killed in the tunnel blast and its aftermath.

162 Bnei Menashe Jews set to make aliyah

One hundred and sixty-two members of the Jewish community in India, who trace their heritage to one of Israel’s lost tribes, are moving to Israel this week.

The immigrants, who hail from the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram — home to the second largest concentration of the country’s Bnei Menashe community, as they are called — will arrive in Israel Thursday. The move is being facilitated by Shavei Israel, a nonprofit that seeks to connect “lost” and “hidden” Jews to the Jewish state.

Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel in recent years, with another 7,000 remaining in India.

PM’s office: Netanyahu told Putin Israel not bound by Syria ceasfire

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israel will not be be bound by a ceasefire deal that includes the expulsion of foreign fighters from Syria, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office says.

In a brief statement, the official says Netanyahu told Putin “Israel will continue to look out for its security interests in any situation.”

The PMO did not say when Netanyahu spoke with Putin. The agreement was announced Saturday by the US and Russia in a joint statement calling for “the reduction, and ultimate elimination” of foreign fighters from southern Syria.

Brazilian students simulate Nazi human experiments for science fair

Brazilian high school students simulated medical experiments that the Nazis conducted on concentration camp prisoners during the Holocaust.

The students at Milecimo da Silva high school in Rio De Janeiro were recently assigned to re-create a Nazi laboratory for a science fair. According to the Brazilian Israelite Confederations, the country’s umbrella Jewish group, the purpose of the exhibition was to highlight the supposed scientific progress made by Nazi doctors working in concentration camps.

Photos posted on Facebook show a red banner hung in the school with swastikas and white letters saying “Nazi laboratory.” In the darkened fake blood-stained “lab,” students playing doctors wear medical uniforms and swastika armbands. Others pretend to be suffering patients.

Students at Milecimo da Silva High School recently simulating Nazi human experiments in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Screenshot from Facebook via JTA)

The Rio State Department of Education reportedly has opened an investigation to determine whether the school promoted Nazism, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine.


Lockheed offers glimpse into missile defenses eyed by Saudis

US defense giant Lockheed Martin says the company is delivering to Saudi Arabia its Patriot anti-missile system and that the kingdom is on track to become the second international customer, after the United Arab Emirates, to acquire its THAAD system.

Saudi Arabia is aggressively building up military capabilities as tensions spike with Iran. It intercepted a missile fired by Yemen’s Shiite rebels at Riyadh earlier this month, the deepest strike inside the kingdom since its forces went to war in Yemen in 2015.

Illustrative photo of a Patriot missile (courtesy of Israel Air Force)

Reports suggested the kingdom may have used the Raytheon MIM-104 Patriot system to shoot the missile down.

Lockheed Martin’s vice president of Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Tim Cahill, told reporters at the Dubai Airshow on Tuesday the company is fielding more requests than ever before worldwide.

— AP

Ex-Shin Bet chief: Islamic Jihad are ‘lunatics’ determined to carry out attack

Amid rising tensions in the south amid fears that the Islamic Jihad will attempt to avenge a tunnel demolition two weeks ago, former Shin bet chief MK Avi Dichter warns that the group terror group are “lunatics” determined to carry out attack “at all costs.”

The army said earlier that Iron Dome missile defense batteries have been deployed in the Dan region of central Israel, a day after the military said it had stationed several interceptors in central Israel to protect against a possible rocket attack.

The batteries are one of several measures taken by the army to raise its alert level and response capabilities amid heightened tensions with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization since the army demolished the terrorist group’s border-crossing attack tunnel last month.

Speaking to Hadahsot news, Dichter says that while Fatah and Hamas may be looking to maintain quiet on the Gaza border to prevent additional pressure on their recently singed reconciliation deal, the leaders of Islamic Jihad are less interested in saving face.

“They are lunatics who will do all they can to stir things up. Deterrents don’t work with them. They will carry out an attack at all costs,” he says, adding that the Iranians are encouraging the group to carry out an attack.

Dichter also warned that Islamic Jihad has “a terrorist infrastructure” in the West Bank and has carried out attacks from there in the past.

Likud MK Avi Dichter leads a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset, on February 22, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Miss Israel and Miss Iraq post photos together

Together at the heats for Miss Universe 2017, Miss Israel and Miss Iraq share photos of each other together on their respective Instagram accounts.

Israel and Iraq! 😱😍Gorgeous ladies! ❤️❤️❤️#MissUniverse #MissUniverso #MissUniversePredictions

Posted by Miss Universe Predictions on Monday, 13 November 2017

“Get to know, this is Miss Iraq and she’s amazing,” writes Adar Gandelsman, who is representing Israel in the international beauty pageant.

The Iraqi constant, Sarah Idan, wrote on her account, “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel.”

In 2015, a seemingly innocuous selfie at the Miss Universe pageant in Miami sparked criticism in Lebanon because it featured a smiling Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, alongside Miss Israel, Doron Matalon. Matalon had posted a picture of herself with colleagues from Japan, Slovenia and Lebanon on her Instagram account.

Earlier this year a Swedish-Lebanese beauty queen, Amanda Hanna, was stripped of her crown in the Miss Lebanon Emigrant 2017 competition after pageant organizers discovered she visited Israel in 2016.

France calls for access after pro-BDS lawmakers barred from Israel

France calls for its lawmakers to be given full access to “all of the interlocutors they wish to meet” after Israel announced it will not allow a group of European officials, including French parliamentarians, to visit Israel due to their efforts to promote boycotts of the Jewish state.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced yesterday that he will adopt the recommendation of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to deny entry to the group’s 20 participants, among whom are French parliamentarians and mayors, and members of the European Parliament.

The group was scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority areas on November 19-23 and had announced that its primary purpose was to visit Marwan Barghouti and other Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails and offer them support.

“In general, we want all French parliamentarians to have access to all of the interlocutors they wish to meet in order to conduct their fact-finding missions,” the spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs says in a statement.

“We are paying close attention to this matter with respect to Israel as with respect to all countries that French elected officials visit,” the statement adds.

Netanyahu to be questioned a 6th time in graft probes next week

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be questioned next for a sixth time in a pair of criminal investigations involving suspicions he received illegal gifts and favors from businessman for advancing their business interests, Hadashot news reports.

Last week he was grilled by police for over four hours at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem. That questioning was the first since March. The next round is set to take place just 10 days after the last round of questioning.

Netanyahu is facing two separate criminal investigations, known as Case 1000 and Case 2000. He has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

Case 1000 revolves around alleged illicit gifts given to Netanyahu and his family by billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 is focused on an alleged clandestine quid-pro-quo deal made between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher and owner Arnon “Noni” Mozes, in which the prime minister was said to have promised Mozes he would advance legislation to reduce the circulation of Yedioth’s main commercial rival, the freebie Israel Hayom, in exchange for friendlier coverage from Yedioth.

Police investigators arrive at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem to question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a pair of corruption investigations, on November 9, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

US official says National Security Council delegation in Israel to discuss Syria

Speaking about the US delegation of National Security Council officials to Israel, a US Embassy official in Tel Aviv told The Times of Israel: “We have an important strategic relationship with Israel and US government delegations routinely visit Israel to coordinate on a wide range of issues. During this visit, US officials will meet with Israeli counterparts to discuss regional security issues, including Syria.”

Representatives of other security agencies are also participating Tuesday in the discussions, which are focused on the recent U.S.-Russia cease-fire agreement for Syria as well as on Iran.

In LA, Rivlin hails Gal Gadot as Israel’s ‘true and beloved ambassador’

President Reuven Rivlin meets Israeli actress Gal Gadot at the premiere of “Justice League” in Los Angeles, praising the “Wonder Woman” star as a “true and beloved ambassador” of the Jewish state.

Rivlin, who was in Los Angeles to speak at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America said he attended the premiere at Gadot’s invitation.

“I was so proud and happy to meet her here as a true and beloved ambassador of the State of Israel,” Rivlin tweeted.

Gadot, who has proudly embraced her Israeli heritage, has become an international celebrity and a source of pride for Israelis since the release of this year’s box office smash “Wonder Woman.”

At least three killed in shooting at California school

At least three people were killed and two children were wounded Tuesday in a shooting at a school in rural Northern California, authorities say.

The shooting broke out at a home in Tehama County and continued at the Rancho Tehama Elementary School, local authorities are quoted as saying.

Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston told San Francisco news network KCRA that the assailant was killed by police. He said he didn’t have the exact number of victims but knew of at least three deaths.

“I know that we have medevacked (airlifted) a number of students, I know that the school has been cleared, I know that we have the children that were attending school in a safe location at this time,” he says.

He added that some 100 law enforcement officers had responded to the shooting.

— AP

Trump leaves uncertain Asia capitals in his wake

For all the pageantry and promises on his lengthy Asia trip, President Donald Trump is returning to Washington with few concrete accomplishments in hand and leaving uncertain Asian capitals in his wake.

Trump time and again portrayed himself as a sharp break from presidents past on his five-nation, 12-day trip.

He urged the region to reshape its trade deals to America’s liking, declined to spotlight violent human rights abuses and cranked up pressure on North Korea.

US President Donald Trump waves goodbye as he enters Air Force One after participating in the East Asia Summit, Tuesday, November 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

He pushed a go-it-alone trade policy yet reaffirmed traditional strategic alliances.

And he opened the door to negotiations with North Korea, but the diplomatic overture was overshadowed by a tweet in which Trump derided dictator Kim Jong Un as “short and fat.”

— AP

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