The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Rouhani tells Macron Iran ‘not seeking to dominate’ Mideast
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran is not seeking to “dominate” the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani tells his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, according to the Iranian presidency.
“Our presence in Iraq and Syria is at the invitation of the governments of those countries to fight terrorism,” Rouhani is quoted as saying in a telephone call with Macron.
“Iran does not seek to dominate” the region, he adds, days after Paris accused Tehran of “hegemonic” ambitions in the Middle East.
IDF suspends 2 infantry commanders over shooting death of Palestinian
The IDF suspends a deputy company commander and a squad commander from the Givati infantry brigade over the shooting death of a Palestinian motorist near the northern West Bank settlement of Halamish last month.
The soldiers opened fire on a “suspicious” vehicle they said they believed was attempting a ramming attack against fellow soldiers.
And army investigation concluded that the driver, Mohammed Abdallah Musa, was listening to music as he drove and did not notice a soldier on the side of the road signaling for him to stop.
Musa’s sister was shot in the shoulder in the incident and was moderately hurt.
The commanders’ suspension follows a preliminary IDF inquiry into the incident. A full Military Police investigation is still underway.
Lebanon premier to head to Egypt amid political tensions
Casually leaving his Paris residence in jogging shorts, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri looks pretty relaxed for a man whose country is in political turmoil.
Hariri arrived in Paris on Saturday after a mysterious resignation announcement from Saudi Arabia that prompted fears he was being held against his will.
He’s expected to leave Tuesday for Cairo — where the Arab League is holding meetings on regional tensions — and then head home to Beirut to lay out his political position.
But first, he left his residence in a high-end Paris neighborhood Tuesday wearing a sweatshirt, running shoes and shorts — despite the 9°C (48°F) temperature.
Surrounded by bodyguards, he got in a car, which was escorted by a police convoy.
Palestinians ‘freeze’ contact with US over PLO office closure
The Palestinian Authority freezes all contacts with the United States after Washington decides to close the PA’s representative office in the US, officials say on Tuesday.
“In practice by closing the office they are freezing all meetings and we are making that official,” Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki tells AFP.
A spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization confirms that it had received instructions from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “regarding closing down all communication lines with the Americans.”
Iran declares ‘victory’ over Islamic State
TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declares “victory” over the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria as the jihadists cling to just a few remaining scraps of territory.
Iran is one of the main international backers of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has sent military advisers and thousands of “volunteers” to fight IS on the ground in Syria and Iraq.
In a televised speech Rouhani thanks “all the fighters of Islam,” supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the armed forces of Iraq and Syria for “the end of this group that brought nothing but evil, destruction, murder and savagery.”
He congratulates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its foreign arm the Quds Force for a “great victory” but insists that the “main work was accomplished by the people and armies of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.”
“We helped them in accordance with our religious and Islamic duties,” he says.
Hamas prisoner denied parole because of Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza
A Hamas operative’s request for an early release from an Israeli prison is rejected by a parole committee over the terror group’s continued holding of Israeli citizens and the bodies of fallen soldiers in Gaza.
The Palestinian man, a Gaza resident serving a three-year prison sentence for national security offenses related to contact with Hamas and training with its armed forces, crossed into Israel from Gaza in order to participate in violent protests against Israeli forces.
According to Hebrew media reports, the parole committee bluntly explains that “it is not the committee’s job to create pressure on Hamas to release [the Israelis held in Gaza], but the committee believes that the early release of a prisoner who belongs to the Hamas terror group can and will damage the public trust in the judicial system.”
The prisoner, the committee adds, has not abandoned the ideology that drove his actions.
High school teachers’ strike to continue in Haifa, Acre, Ashdod, Eilat
The national high school teachers’ union says it will continue its day-old strike, but in limited fashion. It will shut down high schools in four cities: Haifa, Acre, Ashdod and Eilat.
The union says the strike comes because Finance Ministry officials are continuing to “procrastinate” in talks over increased wages for teachers.
On Tuesday, the union launched a one-day nationwide strike, shuttering all public high schools.
The Finance Ministry slammed the “aggressive” move and urged a return to the negotiating table.
Lebanon’s Hariri leaves Paris for Cairo – report
PARIS, France — Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri leaves Paris on bound for Cairo, an airport source says, ahead of his return home to face the crisis sparked by his resignation on November 4.
Hariri takes off from Le Bourget airport shortly after 1:30 p.m. (1230 GMT), the source says, asking not to be named. He is due to meet with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi before finally heading back to Lebanon.
Crash report turns out to be scene for Billy Crystal film
LONG BEACH, New York — A report of a car crashing into a pizza and ice cream shop on Long Island turns out to be a scene for a film starring Billy Crystal.
Police in Long Beach tell Newsday that officers and firefighters were dispatched Monday morning after someone reported a vehicle had crashed into Slices & Ices. Police department officials say they were aware that a movie was being filmed there, but had to be sure a real accident hadn’t occurred.
An officer was posted at the location to direct motorists around the scene, which may have led someone to believe that there had been a crash.
Crystal grew up in a Long Beach neighborhood near where the scene was being shot for a comedy titled “We Are Unsatisfied.” Another scene was shot Monday at a local coffee shop.
Former tourism minister jailed for 15 months for breach of trust
A former tourism minister for the Yisrael Beytenu party will go to jail for 15 months and pay a NIS 70,000 (just under $20,000) fine after a court on Tuesday approves a plea bargain for breach of trust.
Stas Misezhnikov, 48, who served as minister in 2009-2013, was accused of ensuring his ministry’s funding of a student festival in 2012 in the southern port city of Eilat and then asking organizers to employ his romantic partner, Julia Roth, in return. Organizers complied, paying her tens of thousands of shekels during the period in question. The ministry’s funding came to some NIS 1 million ($270,000).
In the course of the investigation, he was also charged with having sent aides to buy cocaine, which he allegedly consumed during official events in Israel and abroad. Those charges were dropped in the plea deal.
The revised indictment and the terms of the deal were submitted to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court last month.
The charges against Misezhnikov were linked to a massive corruption investigation into a number of Yisrael Beytenu party officials.
Residents of Kafr Kanna protest PM, public security minister visit
Dozens of residents of Kafr Kanna on Monday protested the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan as the two arrived at the northern town for the inauguration of a police station, the Ynet news site reports.
The protesters shouted: “Erdan, you liar, you killed Abu Al-Qia’an,” and “We will sacrifice our lives for the martyrs.”
Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, 47, a teacher and father of 12, was shot and killed in January after his car careened into a line of police officers who had come to demolish homes built without permits in the Negev Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran.
Shortly after the incident, which also resulted in the death of 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, from Yavneh, and before the conclusion of an investigation, Erdan and the police asserted that Abu Al-Qia’an was a terrorist inspired by the Islamic State group and that the incident had been a terror attack. An investigation concluded that Abu Al-Qia’an did not intend to hit the officers, but lost control of his vehicle after he was shot in the leg by a police officer at the scene.
Russia to coordinate with Turkey, Iran in Syria
MOSCOW — Russia’s defense ministry says top military chiefs of Russia, Turkey and Iran have agreed to coordinate their efforts in Syria to defeat the Islamic State group.
The presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran are meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday for talks focused on war-ravaged Syria. The Kremlin has already said that the point of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s surprise visit to Sochi on Monday was to get him to agree to possible agreements that the three leaders might reach on Wednesday. Iran and Russia have been Assad’s main backers while Turkey supports the opposition.
Pro-government forces over the weekend defeated the Islamic State group in its last major stronghold in Syria, leaving the group to defend just strips of desert territory in the country and a besieged pocket outside the capital, Damascus.
The Russian defense ministry says in a statement Tuesday that the army chiefs of the three countries have met in Sochi and discussed “concrete steps to complete the elimination of the remaining IS and Nusra Front formations” in Syria. The three officials also agree to improve coordination in a safety zone in the Idlib province in Syria’s northwest.
Past colleagues, staff sign statement supporting Franken
MINNEAPOLIS — A group of women who worked alongside Al Franken on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” have signed a statement of support for the Minnesota senator.
Last week, broadcaster Leeann Tweeden accused Franken, a Democrat, of forcibly kissing her during a USO tour in 2006. Another woman says he placed his hand on her buttocks while posing for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.
Thirty-six women signed the SNL statement supporting Franken, including performers Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman, and many behind-the-scenes staff.
The statement released Friday calls Franken’s conduct toward Tweeden “stupid and foolish,” but says the women know Franken as “a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant.” It says none of the women has ever experienced improper behavior from Franken.
40 years after Sadat visit, PM says he’s ‘not yet met the Palestinian Sadat’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells Knesset members “I have not yet met the Palestinian Sadat, who will declare his desire to end the conflict.”
Speaking at a special Knesset session in honor of 40 years since Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s visit to Israel in 1977 to launch peace talks, Netanyahu says, “We must always be strong enough to ensure that there is no question about Israel’s permanence.
“Our Palestinian neighbors refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist,” the prime minister insists.
“I have not yet met the Palestinian Sadat, who will declare his desire to end the conflict, who will recognize the State of Israel in any borders and our right to security and peace,” he adds.
Mugabe resigns for ‘smooth transfer of power’
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says he is resigning immediately and voluntarily in order to have a “smooth transfer of power” after 37 years in charge.
His letter is read out in a cheering, dancing Parliament, which had been pursuing impeachment of the 93-year-old Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state.
The resignation comes at the end of a week of extraordinary events that began with the military moving in last week, angered by Mugabe’s firing of his longtime deputy and the positioning of the unpopular first lady to succeed him.
Impeachment allegations against Mugabe included that he “allowed his wife to usurp constitutional power” and that he is “of advanced age” and too incapacitated to rule.
Mugabe also was accused of allowing unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to threaten to kill the recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other officials.
US charges Iranian over ‘Game of Thrones’ HBO hack
The United States on Tuesday charges an Iranian computer whiz with hacking into HBO, stealing scripts and plot summaries for “Game of Thrones,” and trying to extort $6 million in bitcoin out of the network.
US prosecutors in New York unveil a seven-count indictment against Behzad Mesri, who they identify as an Iran-based hacker who also goes by the name Skote Vahshat. Mesri is still at large, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan tells AFP.
Mesri is accused of orchestrating a hack of HBO from May to August, then threatening to release stolen data unless the premium cable network paid a $6 million ransom in the digital currency bitcoin.
US prosecutors accuse Mesri of previously conducting computer attacks on behalf of the Iranian military that targeted nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure.
They also said he was a member of the Iranian-based Turk Black Hat Security hacking group, targeting hundreds of websites in the United States and around the world.
Zimbabwe’s fired VP to take power within 48 hours
HARARE, Zimbabwe — A Zimbabwe ruling party official tells The Associated Press that recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will take over as the country’s leader within 48 hours after President Robert Mugabe resigned.
Ruling party chief whip Lovemore Matuke says Mnangagwa, who fled the country after his firing, “is not far from here.”
The official spoke to the AP immediately after the Parliament speaker announced Mugabe’s immediate resignation during impeachment proceedings.
Matuke says they look forward to Mugabe doing the handover of power “so that Mnangagwa moves with speed to work for the country.”
White House: Trump and Putin spoke by phone on Syria, Iran
WASHINGTON — The White House says US President Donald Trump has spoken on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The White House says Syria, Iran, North Korea and Ukraine were on the agenda.
Trump and Putin spoke informally several times last week when they attended a summit in Vietnam. They agreed on a number of principles for the future of war-torn Syria.
Trump’s phone call with the Russian president on Tuesday comes a day after Putin met with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Putin hosted Assad at a Black Sea resort ahead of a summit later this week with Russia, Turkey and Iran.
The Kremlin said Tuesday that Assad was called to Russia to get him to agree to potential peace initiatives drafted by Russia, Iran and Turkey.
Man stabbed, critically wounded in Yavneh, no terror suspected
A man in his thirties is seriously wounded after being stabbed on Harakefet Street in the central Israeli city of Yavneh.
Police are treating the case as a criminal incident, according to initial reports.
He has been taken to Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.
4 Penn State students charged in menorah vandalism
Four Penn State University students are being charged with stealing a 9-foot menorah from the home of the campus Chabad rabbi and leaving it damaged outside a traditionally Jewish fraternity.
The students, who were caught on surveillance camera footage late last month placing the damaged menorah on the porch of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, reportedly are members of other campus fraternities.
State College Police said Monday that they had filed charges against the students, including misdemeanor counts of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief. They are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 20.
Rabbi Hershy Gourarie, co-director of Chabad of the Undergrads at Penn State, told The Daily Collegian that the menorah was too damaged to be repaired and would cost about $1,800 to fix.
“I hope that this is a time of introspection for the four suspects. At the right time, I would like to meet with them to educate and heal,” Gourarie said in a statement that also thanked the State College police.
US says Mugabe’s resignation ‘historic moment’
HARARE, Zimbabwe — The US Embassy in Zimbabwe says the resignation of President Robert Mugabe “marks an historic moment” for the country and congratulates all Zimbabweans who raised their voices.
The new statement says that “whatever short-term arrangements the government may establish, the path forward must lead to free, fair and inclusive elections.”
The United States also urges “unwavering respect for the rule of law.”
The US in 2003 imposed targeted sanctions, a travel ban and an asset freeze against Mugabe and close associates, citing his government’s rights abuses and evidence of electoral fraud.
Hebron man identified as Palestinian allegedly beaten by Breaking the Silence spokesman
Hadashot television news, formerly Channel 2, says it may have located the Palestinian man allegedly beaten by Breaking the Silence spokesman Dean Issacharoff when he served as an IDF soldier in Hebron in March 2014.
Issacharoff’s claim at a Breaking the Silence rally in April that he beat a Palestinian “in the face and chest until he was bleeding and dazed” during an arrest in the Palestinian city has stirred controversy, and launched a criminal investigation into the case. Last week, the prosecution announced it was closing the case because the alleged Palestinian victim, one Hassan Julani, denies that he was ever beaten.
But on Monday, Breaking the Silence said Julani was not the Palestinian involved in the 2014 incident, and published a photo and video of another Palestinian man.
According to Hadashot, that man was Faisal el-Natche, a Hebron resident, who was tracked down by Hadashot and interviewed for the network’s Tuesday night broadcast.
“There was rock throwing,” El-Natche recalls in the interview. “Soldiers came, they shouted, ‘Stop, stop.’ They hit me, with hands and legs. There were ten soldiers. They attacked me and those who were with me.”
Asked if Issacharoff was among the soldiers who beat him in the 2014 incident, however, El-Natche says he doesn’t know.
“I didn’t see who was hitting me. If I saw him [today], I wouldn’t recognize him.”
El-Natche was not questioned by police in recent weeks, he says, and so was apparently not part of the investigation into Issacharoff’s claims.
UK’s May welcomes ‘opportunity to forge a new path’ for Zimbabwe
British Prime Minister Theresa May says the resignation of President Robert Mugabe gives Zimbabwe “an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterized his rule.”
The British leader says the Zimbabwean people have shown they want “free and fair elections and the opportunity to rebuild the country’s economy under a legitimate government.”
May says Britain — the former colonial power — is “Zimbabwe’s oldest friend” and will “help the country achieve the brighter future it so deserves.”
Mugabe resigned Tuesday, after 37 years in power, as Zimbabwe’s parliament was preparing to impeach him.
France’s Macron urges both Netanyahu and Rouhani to reduce regional tensions
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with the leaders of Iran and Israel in bid to lower regional tensions, according to Macron’s office.
Macron speaks by phone with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about “the need for stability in Lebanon and the need for regional states to work together to reduce tensions.”
Lebanon is facing a political crisis after its prime minister, Saad Hariri, announced a surprise resignation on November 4 while visiting Saudi Arabia, and used the opportunity to blast Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region. Hariri, now visiting Cairo, is expected to return to Lebanon tomorrow for the first time since his resignation.
Prosecutors to reopen investigation into police shooting at Umm al-Hiran
The State Prosecution plans to reopen the Umm al-Hiran investigation into the actions of police officers at the southern Bedouin village during a deadly confrontation last January.
The case files on officers at the scene were sent back to the Police Investigations Department in the Justice Ministry, the state prosecution announces citing “new evidence.”
In August, the PID finished its investigation and told prosecutors it did not find sufficient evidence to warrant indicting the police officers who shot and killed Yaacoub Abu Al-Qia’an, a local schoolteacher, shortly after his vehicle rammed into a group of officers, killing Sgt. Erez Levi.
The incident was initially labeled a terror attack, and Abu Al-Qia’an a terrorist, by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. But video footage soon emerged, including from the police itself, that seemed to show a police officer shooting toward Abu Al-Qia’an before his vehicle accelerated toward the officers. An autopsy later found he had been shot in his right leg, and was likely unable to pull it off the gas pedal.
There was no reason given for the officer’s initial shooting.
- Israel & the Region
- Hassan Rouhani
- Emmanuel Macron
- Riyad al-Malki
- US-Palestinian relations
- Islamic State
- Saad Hariri
- Billy Crystal
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- Anwar Sadat
- Robert Mugabe
- Donald Trump
- Vladimir Putin
- US-Russia relations
- Syrian civil war
- Breaking the Silence
- Dean Issacharoff
- Palestinian Authority