The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Netanyahu defends blacklisting ‘inciting’ Islamist group
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement of subversive activity, defending his government’s decision to outlaw the group.
“The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement is undermining the state. It incites to violence against the innocent and is establishing close ties with terror group Hamas and it undermines the state in order to set up in its place an Islamist caliphate,” he tells the press.
He adds that he has nothing against Islam or Muslim citizens.
“We will continue to act against the inciters, against those who support terror no matter who they are. Our goal is to prevent incitement that contributes to attacks against the innocent. Our goal is to protect the state,” he says.
Kerry: Syria weeks away from ‘big transition’
US Secretary of State John Kerry says that Syria could be weeks away from a “big transition,” following international talks in Vienna over the weekend.
“We are weeks away conceivably from the possibility of a big transition for Syria,” Kerry said after talks with French President Francois Hollande in Paris.
Diplomats at the conference aimed at ending nearly five years of civil war said earlier they reached a timetable which would see a transition government in place in Syria in six weeks, followed by elections and a new constitution within 18 months.
— with AFP
Charlie Hebdo cover: They have weapons? We have champagne!
French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has released a preview of the cover of its latest edition, the first since the Paris attacks Friday.
The magazine, famous for its controversial and irreverent takes on current events, proclaims, “They have weapons. Fuck them. We have champagne!” on the cover, around a picture of a man getting sloshed while bubbly spills out of bullet holes in his torso.
— Auskar Surbakti (@AuskarSurbakti) November 17, 2015
The periodical was the target of a deadly terror attack by jihadists nearly a year ago, meant as revenge for a caricature of the prophet Mohammed.
South Africa says it will hold IDF commanders over Marmara deaths
South Africa has issued arrest warrants against four senior Israeli military commanders, including the former chief of staff, over their role in the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid.
South African police say they will arrest any of the four upon entry to the country and have them extradited to Turkey with the help of Interpol.
The four listed on the warrants are former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former navy commander Eliezer Marom, former Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin and former air force intelligence head Avishay Levy.
Ten Turks were killed in clashes with Israeli troops after a raid on the Mavi Marmara ship, which was attempting to break the Gaza naval blockade, on May 31, 2010. A number of Israeli troops were injured in the melee.
According to South African news site The Citizen, the decision to arrest the four was made following a complaint by Gadija Davids, an activist who was aboard the ship.
“This decision has allowed us to hold these commanders, now fugitives from justice responsible to answer for crimes that were committed in the high seas,” her lawyer said, according to the news site. “This important decision will reverberate across Turkey and amongst many other jurisdictions like the UK, Spain, Greece, and Sweden, where citizens of such countries were also victims of this vicious and cowardly attack by the Israeli Defense Force.”
The incident contributed to a deterioration in ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, and Turkey has demanded arrests be made and compensation paid over the deaths.
The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor recently said it would not pursue a case against Israel over the deaths
With the announcement, Pretoria appears to be the first major country other than Turkey to say it will arrest Israelis in connection with the incident.
South Africa’s government was recently criticized for allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country freely, despite an international arrest warrant to try him for war crimes in The Hague.
Rocket siren sounds on Gaza border
Rocket sirens are ringing out in southern Israel near the Gaza border.
The sirens are heard in Sha’ar Hanegev region.
It is not yet clear if a rocket has been launched.
Rocket reportedly shot down near Ashkelon
Israel Radio reports that one rocket was shot down near Ashkelon by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
A second rocket apparently landed in an open area.
There is no official confirmation.
Police and army are searching the area and investigating.
Sirens go off in the southern region minutes ago. Police units searching areas.
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) November 17, 2015
Germans nab 3 in connection with Paris attacks
German police say three people have been arrested near the western city of Aachen in connection to the Paris attacks.
The dpa news agency reported Tuesday that the three were arrested in the town of Alsdorf, just northeast of the city.
Local police did not immediately answer their telephones and no other information was available.
Car rented by Paris attacks suspect found
A car rented by Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam that may have been used in the preparation of the carnage was found Tuesday in a northern district of the capital, police sources tell AFP.
The “car was rented by Salah Abdeslam,” who is wanted under an international arrest warrant on suspicion of involvement in the vicious attacks that left 129 people dead four days ago.
“A black (Renault) Clio found… in the 18th district may have been used in the preparation of the attacks,” one source says.
“The car was seen on the A1 motorway as part of what may have been preparatory contacts between groups in Paris and Belgium,” the source adds.
Jewish Home MK shoots, tweets and leaves
Yinon Magal has become the latest Jewish Home MK to make sure the public knows he’s packing heat.
Magal tweets a short video of him at a shooting range, writing that it’s his first time in 23 years. “It seems there are some things are engraved in memory,” he writes.
גם אני הצטיידתי באקדח. הלכתי למטווח ראשון אחרי 23 שנה. מתברר שיש דברים שנחרטים בזכרון: pic.twitter.com/85cQmINp41
— Yinon Magal (@YinonMagal) November 17, 2015
Last week, video was provided to new outlets of deputy defense minister Eli Ben-Dahan at a shooting range, and last month, a photographer caught Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads Jewish home, with a gun handle poking out of his pants.
Magal has been outspoken in past weeks over the need for Israeli citizens to take measures to protect themselves during a recent terror wave.
Report: No rocket, Iron Dome deployed by mistake
The Ynet and Channel 2 news sites now report that there was no rocket shot from Gaza and that the Iron Dome battery fired off two anti-missile projectiles by mistake.
The sites cite the IDF.
The army tells The Times of Israel it will soon send an update.
Each Iron Dome anti-missile rocket costs about $50,000.
Channel 2: ‘Gaza rocket’ was just a bullet
Channel 2 news reports that sirens were tripped and the Iron Dome shot off missiles after mistaking machine gun fire for a rocket.
IDF confirms no Gazan rocket
The IDF says in a statement that no rocket was shot out of Gaza and that sirens were activated by mistake.
It does not confirm that Iron Dome was activated.
— Judah Ari Gross
Israel says no S. Africa warrants issued for ex-IDF brass
A well-placed diplomatic official in Israel denies that South Africa has issued arrest warrants for four former IDF commanders.
The source says Israel is in contact with Pretoria and calls the report a plant by pro-Palestinian Boycott Divestment Sanctions activists and “totally false.”
— Raphael Ahren
Russia pummels Raqqa
Two US defense officials say Russia has attacked Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s self-declared capital in Syria, with cruise missiles and bombs on Tuesday.
The officials speak on condition of anonymity to discuss non-US military operations. They provide no details on targets or the scale or outcome of the attacks.
One of the officials says the Russians gave the US prior notification of the attacks by communicating with the US-led coalition’s air operations center at al-Udeid air base in Qatar. The official says this was in accordance with protocols worked out by US and Russian officials in October.
Earlier in the day, Russia’s security service said a homemade explosive device brought down a passenger plane over Egypt last month that killed 224 people, calling it a “terrorist” act. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for downing the airliner.
Iran drills near border for IS attack
Iran’s army is conducting exercises close to its border with Afghanistan designed to simulate how it would respond if “terrorist groups” such as the Islamic State organization mounted an attack.
The operation in the northeastern province of Khorasan came a day after a military commander said IS would be “neutralized” if it breached a 40 kilometer (25 mile) zone approaching Iran’s borders.
Tanks, helicopters and planes are taking part in the maneuvers, the ISNA news agency reports.
“One aim of the exercise was to practice methods and means to confront the possible actions of terrorist groups at the borders,” says General Amir Reza Azarban, an army commander in the province.
After Paris attack, US Embassy in Israel shows support for Yugoslavia
While much of the world is expressing solidarity with France, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv is apparently feeling love for pre-World War II Yugoslavia.
Journalist Yuval Ben-Ami posts on Facebook a picture of the embassy with either a flag from Yugoslavia before a star was added to it in 1943, or a sideways French flag, over an entrance.
Yugoslavia ceased to be a state in 1992.
It could also be an upside-down Dutch flag.
Voice on IS tape claiming Paris attack ID’ed
A French jihadist named Fabien Clain made the audio recording of the Islamic State group statement claiming the Paris attacks which was published online, a source close to the investigation tells AFP.
The 35-year-old is a veteran of radical Islamist networks in the French city of Toulouse and was close to Mohamed Merah who shot dead seven people, including three Jewish children, in 2012.
He was sentenced to five years in prison in 2009 for recruiting jihadists, after which he left for Syria.
PA to up hospital security after undercover IDF raid
The Palestinian Authority is upping security at hospitals around the West Bank, days after undercover Israeli forces raided a Hebron hospital to capture a terror suspect.
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah called for such a measure several days ago, in response to the arrest, which was caught on video and drew condemnation from Palestinians and others.
The security will include PA special forces, who are normally stationed outside government offices.
Several Palestinian governors say the forces have been given orders to shoot if they find undercover Israeli forces.
— Avi Issacharoff
Jordan king warns World War III in offing
King Abdullah II of Jordan is warning Tuesday of a “third world war against humanity” in the wake of the Paris attacks, describing the Islamic State group as “savage outlaws of religion.”
During an official visit to Kosovo, Abdullah says both Europe and Islam are under attack from the “scourge” of terrorism that could strike at any time.
“We are facing a third world war against humanity and this is what brings us all together,” he tells a press conference.
“This is a war, as I’ve said repeatedly, within Islam,” he says.
“Groups such as Daesh expose themselves daily as savage outlaws of religion devoid of humanity respecting no laws and no boundaries,” he adds, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.
Russia to cooperate with France in fight against Islamic State
Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed his navy to work with France in the Mediterranean against the Islamic State, AFP reports.
The news comes as Russia has expanded its operations against the jihadi group in Syria, firing cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo provinces.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also tells a briefing conducted for Putin that bombers hit Islamic State positions in Raqqa and Der-ez-Zor.
Shoigu said the cruise missiles that hit the Aleppo and Idlib positions were fired from Tu-160 and Tu-95 warplanes.
EU agrees to aid France in defense burden
France is invoking a never-before-used European Union “mutual-defense clause” to demand that its partners provide support for its operations against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and other security missions in the wake of the Paris attacks.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said all 27 of France’s EU partners have responded positively.
“Every country said: I am going to assist, I am going to help,” he says.
Speaking at an EU defense ministers’ meeting, Le Drian notes France’s military burden in northern Africa, the Central African Republic and Lebanon, and the need to provide national security while a state of emergency is in place.
He says EU partners could help “either by taking part in France’s operations in Syria or Iraq, or by easing the load or providing support for France in other operations.”
Hollande to meet Obama, Putin next week
French President Francois Hollande will meet US counterpart Barack Obama in Washington on November 24 and then Russia‘s Vladimir Putin in Moscow two days later to discuss the fight against the Islamic State group after the Paris attacks, his office says.
Hollande said in a speech Monday that he wanted to meet the leaders in the coming days to strengthen international coordination against IS, which has claimed responsibility for the carnage in the French capital.
Knesset opposition fumes over government bid to break filibuster
The opposition says all bets are off on the budget if its whopping 32,000 objections are not brought to individual Knesset votes.
The committee in charge of Knesset procedure on Tuesday ruled that the unprecedented number of reservations submitted on the two-year budget — which would take days to bring to individual votes — would be consolidated to several hundred, lumping together the objections by topic.
Committee chairman David Bitan (Likud) defends the move to consolidate the objections, saying they are meant to throw the budget vote, needed by the end of the week, off track.
“99.5% of the objections are not relevant, are frivolous, and are designed to put a spoke in the wheel of the government,” he says.
If the budget debate goes past its Thursday deadline, the government would be forced to call fresh elections.
In response, the Zionist Union says the opposition parties are calling off all of the agreements reached with the coalition thus far on the budget, without elaborating.
The Zionist Union accuses the Netanyahu government of “trampling on the Knesset and the public, and acting undemocratically.”
“A filibuster is a parliamentary tool of the first order,” Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli says. “The objections are legitimate, even if the coalition views them as irrelevant. Wanting to overthrow the government is the job of the opposition, and it is its right to use all the tools at its disposal to do so. The opposition took time to write 32,000 objections… It is our right, even according to the rules, to demand a vote on every reservation.”
Yesh Atid terms the decision to consolidate the objections “cowardly,” and says it “brings the Knesset to a new low.”
— Marissa Newman
Egypt ups airport security, but won’t say if jet was bombed
Egypt’s government says it is bolstering security at airports over the possibility that a Russian plane departing a Sinai resort was brought down by a bomb late last month.
“Taking into consideration all possible causes behind the plane crash, including the possibility that it was targeted by a terrorist attack, the Egyptian authorities have enhanced security measures in all airports,” the interior ministry says in a statement.
But an Egyptian minister says a probe had yet to reach any final conclusions about the disaster, though Russia announced earlier in the day that a bomb had brought down the aircraft.
“Until now the (investigation) committee has not yet arrived to any results indicating the cause of the crash,” Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal tells a news conference.
Police raid Jerusalem Red Crescent offices
Police confirm that they have raided an office of the Red Crescent emergency medical service in East Jerusalem.
Spokeswoman Luba Samri says they cannot reveal what their intentions are at this point.
According to social media accounts, the raid took place at a Red Crescent office in Silwan.
It is not clear if any arrests were made.
Israeli occupation forces stormed Palestinian Red Crescent Center in Al Sawana, Occupied Jerusalem a little while ago.
— OccPal-Gaza (@OccPalGaza) November 17, 2015
Israel officials have alleged that Red Crescent medics broke humanitarian norms by refusing to help victims of a terror attack in the southern West Bank on Friday.
A woman who was in a car in which her husband and son were shot to death said Red Crescent medics arrived at the scene first but left after seeing that the victims were Israelis.
A Red Crescent spokesperson responded that the group was prepared to help, but a Magen David Adom ambulance arrived before they could.
On Sunday, Netanyahu ordered UN envoy Danny Danon to file a complaint with the International Society of the Red Cross over the incident.
Paris police looking for second suspect directly linked to attack
French officials say they are seeking a second fugitive directly involved in the Paris attacks.
There are not yet any more details about the second suspect.
At the same time, the brother of Salah Abdeslam, thought to be the eighth terrorist invovled in the attacks, is calling for him to turn himself in.
Mohamed Abdeslam, who spoke to French TV BFM Tuesday, says his brother was devout but showed no signs of being a radical Islamist.
“Of course I call on him to turn himself over to the police. The best would be for him to give himself up so that justice can shed all the light on this,” the brother says.
Mohamed was arrested and questioned following the attack and was released Monday. He says his brother prayed and attended a mosque occasionally but dressed in jeans and pullovers and showed no signs of being a radical.
— with agencies
Identity of second fugitive unknown
Officials say the second fugitive has not been identified.
Three officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide details about the ongoing investigation, say an analysis of the series of attacks on November 13 indicates that one person directly involved was unaccounted for.
Seven attackers died that night — three around the national stadium, three inside the Bataclan concert venue, and one at a restaurant nearby. A team of gunmen also opened fire at a series of nightspots in one of Paris’ trendiest neighborhoods.
Soldiers reportedly shot at in West Bank
Israeli soldiers were shot at in the West Bank north of Ramallah, the Ynet news website reports.
There were no injuries in the incident, which took place near the village of Turmus Aye.
The soldiers returned fire, according to the report.
There is no official IDF confirmation.
Shooter reported killed in West Bank firefight
One shooter was killed and two more captured after opening fire on IDF soldiers in the West Bank, says Alon Ben-David, a reporter for Channel 10 news.
Channel 2 reports that one shooter was killed and another was shot and arrested.
Police confirm exchange of fire in West Bank
Police confirm the shooting incident in the West Bank.
Spokesperson Luba Samri says attackers targeted an IDF patrol next to Aye Turmusa.
She says all the shooters were “neutralized,” and that initial reports points to one being killed and two being held.
— Judah Ari Gross
Germany says Abdeslam not arrested in Aachen
Germany’s top security official is downplaying possible links between arrests near the western city of Aachen and the investigation of the Paris attacks.
Police saiy SWAT teams arrested a man and two women in the town of Alsdorf on Tuesday after authorities received a tip from the public that the man might be Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect sought in the attacks. Police later arrested two more persons in the town.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere tells reporters in Berlin that it wasn’t clear how the people might be linked to the Paris attacks, if at all, “but sadly it’s not the man that everyone hoped it would be.”
Austrian authorities say Abdeslam entered Austria from Germany September 9 — four days before the attacks — with two companions.
IDF confirms West Bank shooting
The IDF confirms they shot one person and detained two more after a patrol was shot at on Route 60 in the West Bank, near Turmus Aya.
They also send out a picture of a guns used against the troops.
Netanyahu tells diplomats to fight South African warrants
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Foreign Ministry to work against what he terms “provocations” by the South African government, following reports that Pretoria was issuing arrest warrants for four former IDF commanders over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
This despite denials in South Africa that any such warrants have been issued.
“The prime minister instructed the Foreign Ministry to work decisively against the provocative and ugly attempt to use the South African judicial system to advance a hostile and illegitimate stance,” his office says in a statement. “Our embassy in Pretoria is in contact with the South African police to annul the effort.”
Earlier in the day, BDS activists in south Africa said police had issued warrants over the 2010 incident, in which 10 Turks died in a clash with troops who boarded a ship trying to break the Gaza naval blockade.
However, a South African police spokesperson denied that any warrants had been issued.
“There is no truth to this. No arrest warrants have been issued for any of the people mentioned‚” he said. “We have checked with our Interpol and our Crimes Against The State officials and they deny any such thing.”
An Israeli diplomatic source also told The Times of Israel earlier that South Africa said there was no truth to the claims that the warrants had been issued, describing the story as a plant by pro-Palestinian activists.
— Raphael Ahren
BDS admit they botched South African arrest report
In a clarification, BDS activists say they mistakenly reported that South African police had issued arrest warrants for IDF brass.
Instead, they say, the warrants were issued by Turkey, though they maintain that the Turkish warrants were circulated South African border agents.
The warrants were issued in response to a complaint by South African activist Gadija Davids, according to the BDS activists.
“South African authorities have confirmed in writing to Ms Davids that they have received the Turkish warrants of arrest against the Israeli commanders and have accordingly circulated the suspects on the South African Border Control system on 3 September 2015,” the note reads.
German art museum says 18 works may have been looted by Nazis
A German art museum says it has found 18 works in its collection that may have been stolen from Jews by the Nazis.
Some of the sculptures and drawings in the Kunsthalle Mannheim are by artists Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Max Slevogt and Edgar Degas, according to reports. The museum has registered the pieces with the German Lost Art Foundation and on the Lostart database in hopes of reaching possible heirs.
The museum, which has been researching the provenance of its collection since the end of 2011, announced Tuesday that it has found “clues that these works could have been stolen by the NS [National Socialist] regime.”
While most of the objects examined turned out not to have any questionable acquisition history, the museum reportedly has made only a dent in its provenance research.
As states balk on refugees, feds look to salvage program
Senior US officials are defending their program for accepting Syrian refugees and insisting that screening is stringent enough to prevent letting extremists slip into the country.
Around half of the governors of the 50 US states, along with Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, have urged Obama to suspend a plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year.
President Barack Obama’s government is looking to brush aside threats from state governors to block the resettlement effort, arguing that it is a federal policy and legitimate refugees must enjoy freedom of movement.
But officials admitt that, after fears stirred by last week’s massacre in Paris, they are now wary of losing the support of the public and Congress for America’s four-decade policy of welcoming refugees.
A senior administration official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, calls the program “a proud American tradition that not only saves lives but also enriches our country and our nation.”
Police evacuate Germany-Holland soccer match
Police have evacuated a stadium in Hanover, Germany, and called off a soccer match between Holland and Germany for security reasons.
No other details are available.
The Stade de France was targeted by three suicide bombers during a terror rampage in Paris last week.
The French team is currently playing a friendly against England in London’s Wembley Stadium.
Merkel was set to attend evacuated match
Fans at Hanover’s 49,000-capacity HDI Arena quickly evacuated the stadium, says an AFP journalist at the scene.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was set to attend the match in Hanover — the world champion’s first since their international in Paris on Friday night was interrupted by the blasts of suicide bombers outside the Stade de France.
Police have not given any details for the move beyond “security concerns.”
Rocket reportedly shot at southern Israel
A rocket has reportedly been shot from Gaza at southern Israel, several Hebrew-language news outlets reports.
No siren sounded for the rocket and investigators are checking whether it landed in Israeli territory, according to news site Walla.
According to Ynet, the rocket landed near the border fence.
There is no confirmation from the IDF.
Earlier in the day, rocket sirens sounded in southern Israel in what turned out to be a false alarm, the army said.
The alarm was reportedly triggered when the Iron Dome anti-missile system accidentally shot off an intercepting rocket, possibly after mistaking light arms fire in Gaza for a rocket.
Fans, police gather at Wembley for France-England match
While the Germany-Netherlands soccer match has been canceled, in London, fans are arriving at Wembley Stadium to see France take on England under heavy security.
With a police helicopter whirring overhead and armed officers on patrol, England and France soccer fans are mingling outside Wembley Stadium on ahead of what should be an emotionally charged international friendly taking place four days after the deadly attacks in Paris.
The atmosphere is calm on a wet and windy evening in London and there is no sense of panic among supporters, who appear intent on sending a defiant message of unity after at least 129 people died in a string of coordinated attacks in the French capital on Friday.
“Tonight is more about solidarity than football,” says 31-year-old England fan Robert Williams, who is wearing a beret and holding a France flag. “It is about remembering the people that have lost their lives in such tragic circumstances.”
Prince William and British Prime Minister David Cameron are expected to be among the near-80,000 spectators at English football’s national stadium, where there was an increased police presence and enhanced security measures, including compulsory bag searches.
Red Cross urges Israel to refrain from allegations against Red Crescent
The International Committee of the Red Cross is calling on Israel to refrain from making allegations that a Red Crescent rescue team ignored Israeli terror victims in the West Bank, while not directly denying the claim.
The ICRC says the Palestinian Red Crescent’s “record of principled and strictly humanitarian action is uncontested and well recognized.”
“What we call on for now is for all to act responsibly and better support both national societies,” the statement reads, referring to the Red Crescent and Magen David Adom. “That includes refraining from making serious accusations against either National Society that do not take into account the facts on the ground. The ICRC is determined to ensure that the sick and injured persons receive impartial, professional and timely help.”
The statement does not say if the ICRC contests the Israeli claim, made by victims of a deadly shooting attack in the southern West Bank Friday, but says it takes claims of impartiality seriously, while repeating the Red Crescent’s claim that it only left the scene when an MDA ambulance showed up.
“The PRCS has immediately provided factual accounts, firmly rejected these allegations, and unequivocally reaffirmed its commitment to impartial response,” the statement reads.
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