Netanyahu: ‘Perfectly open’ to meeting with Abbas
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Netanyahu: ‘Perfectly open’ to meeting with Abbas

Kerry denounces ‘outrageous’ attacks on Israeli civilians; Shin Bet frees 2 suspects nabbed in Tel Aviv manhunt

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

IDF soldiers and police block a road near the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv as police searched for two East Jerusalem suspects on October 15, 2015. (Flash90)
IDF soldiers and police block a road near the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv as police searched for two East Jerusalem suspects on October 15, 2015. (Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s developments as they unfolded.

Officer cadets ‘excited’ to guard Tel Aviv hotspots

Hundreds of armed IDF soldiers are now standing guard at some of Tel Aviv’s most popular shopping destinations to beef up the police presence.

Tel Aviv’s police department received 100 soldiers, most officer cadets, who will assist police in patrol of public spaces, such as the Dizengoff Center mall and the outdoor Carmel Market, Channel 2 reported.

According to the station, the soldiers appeared excited for their new mission, particularly because they got to exchange the remote desert landscape of the officer’s training school — near Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev Desert — for the urban hustle-and-bustle of central Tel Aviv.

Palestinians, Israeli troops clash near Ramallah

Palestinian media outlets report clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli security forces near the West Bank settlement of Beit El, next to Ramallah.

Poll: Center-left gov’t wouldn’t be better at security

Over two-thirds of Israelis who responded to a recent poll say they think a center-left government wouldn’t have done a better job than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government at addressing the current security situation, the Knesset Channel reports.

Just 23% responded that they thought a center-left coalition would do better.

‘Most Israelis seek peace talks with Palestinians’

In another poll, also conducted by PanelsPolitics and published on the Knesset Channel, 65% of respondents said the Israeli government should conduct negotiations with the Palestinians in addition to security operations, to stanch terrorism against Israelis.

Ahmed Manasra alive, ‘improving,’ video shows

The Government Press Office releases a video showing 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra in Hadassah Hospital at Ein Kerem, who stabbed two Israelis in Pisgat Zeev on Monday.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas charged in a speech Wednesday that Ahmed was killed “in cold blood” by Israeli troops. The GPO said the clip was “disputing Palestinian Abbas [sic] claim that he was executed.”

Manasra is seen being fed in the clip by a man with a black tie. There’s no audio to the film, but Manasra can be seen asking the person holding camera “What?” in Arabic.

“Hadassah Ein Karem hospital updated that his condition is improving and he will be released from the hospital in the next few days,” the GPO said.

Manasra was reportedly struck by a car while fleeing the scene of the stabbing; his cousin Hassan Manasra was shot dead by Israeli security officers while charging them with a knife.

Hadassah refused to let GPO film Manasra, was overruled

Hadassah Hospital staff initially refused to let a government camera crew enter Manasra’s room, but was issued an order by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman to give them permission, the NRG news site reports.

The hospital refused to allow the cameramen in because the family of the 13-year-old Palestinian boy refused, the site says, but in the end the GPO published the film.

“Abbas and the family of the terrorist cooperated in order to perpetrate a falsehood against Israel,” Litzman says in response to NRG’s query. “[Abbas] claimed that the boy was dead, and the family refused to let him be filmed, supposedly for the sake of privacy and because he’s a minor.”

Israeli armor on border with Gaza

The Palestinian Watan Voice news site reports that the IDF has deployed armored forces along the border with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Arab woman, 19, jailed without trial for ‘martyr’ texts

The Nazareth District Court has ordered a three-month detention without trial for a 19-year-old Arab woman from northern Israel.

The woman reportedly sent a text message to her sister and friends that she intends to become a martyr, and her concerned family reported it to the police, Ynet reports. The woman also published several posts on Facebook in a similar vein.

Because there wasn’t enough evidence to take her to trial, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued her a three-month administrative detention out of concern for public welfare.

The woman’s identity wasn’t immediately available.

2 nabbed in Tel Aviv manhunt to be freed

The two East Jerusalem residents that were arrested this morning in Givatayim have been interrogated by Shin Bet officers, the security service says.

Following an investigation, the service says, they have found no evidence that the two were planning on carrying out any terrorist activities.

They will be released shortly, the Shin Bet says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Jerusalemites rush to buy pepper spray

If you, like many Jerusalemites, are looking to arm yourself with nonlethal pepper spray for defense against possible attackers, better go buy before supplies run out.

John Reed, the Financial Times’ bureau chief in Jerusalem, tweets that the line for pepper spray is out the door at an army surplus store in downtown.

‘Russian, Israeli air forces to run joint exercise’

The Russian Foreign Ministry says that joint training of Russian and Israeli Air Force pilots has begun in order to prevent unwanted altercations in Syria, Channel 2’s Arad Nir reports.

The two militaries have reportedly set up a hotline for air operations.

Netanyahu meets visiting Indian president

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in Jerusalem a short while ago. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the two leaders “discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of security, technology, innovation and agriculture.”

As Israel ups its security presence across the country in the face of a new wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks, Netanyahu and Mukherjee also discussed counterterrorism and policing, the PMO said in its statement.

Mukherjee invited Netanyahu to pay a state visit to India, which Netanyahu said he’d be happy to do.

3 Palestinians shot by Egyptian army in Gaza tunnel

Palestinian media is reporting that three Palestinians were injured by Egyptian gunfire in a tunnel near Rafah, near the border between the Gaza Strip with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Another Palestinian was arrested, Hamas TV says.

The circumstances of the incident aren’t immediately clear.

Publishing Arab teen attacker’s photo ‘violates medical ethics’

Physicians for Human Rights, Israel, says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s publication of 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra’s image while the accused stabber is hospitalized at Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem violates medical ethics.

Massive drop in public transit use in Jerusalem

Jerusalem transit officials tell Channel 2 that there’s been a 40% drop in ridership in recent days following terror attacks on a city bus and at the Central Bus Station.

The windshield of a bus with a bullet hole, at the scene of a terror attack in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv, on Tuesday, October 13 2015. (Magen David Adom)

The windshield of a bus with a bullet hole, at the scene of a terror attack in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv, on Tuesday, October 13 2015. (Magen David Adom)

‘We don’t take chances,’ senior cop says about morning’s arrests

After a manhunt for two suspected terrorists that snarled traffic across the greater Tel Aviv area this morning ended with the release of the two suspects without charge, the greater Tel Aviv police chief tells Army Radio that “during days like these we don’t take chances.”

“The suspects were arrested — and even if they didn’t try to carry out a terror attack, we still did our job,” he says.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai tells the radio station that “We’re all doing our best to continue life as normal.”

“I’ll continue going to Jaffa — a third of Jaffa is Jewish, and we live together,” he says.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai (left) and journalist Raviv Drucker on December 14, 2014. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai (left) and journalist Raviv Drucker on December 14, 2014. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Palestinian demonstrators break for cake

A “priceless” photo shared on Twitter by Ynet’s Palestinian affairs reporter shows Palestinian rioters taking a break from a demonstration to celebrate a birthday, cake, party hats and all.

“The dramatic juxtaposition of the clown hat and the kefiyyeh is priceless,” he says.

2 Palestinians hurt in West Bank clashes with IDF

Two Palestinians were reportedly injured in separate clashes with Israeli forces near Bethlehem and Ramallah, Arabic media reports.

One suffered a head injury when struck in the head with a tear gas canister, and the second was shot in the leg, Palestinian media say.

2 new suspects IDed in ’88 Lockerbie bombing

Scottish prosecutors on Thursday said they had identified two new Libyan suspects in the bombing of a Pan Am jet over the town of Lockerbie in 1988, which killed 270 people.

“The Lord Advocate and the US Attorney General have recently agreed that there is a proper basis in law in Scotland and the United States to entitle Scottish and US investigators to treat two Libyans as suspects in the continuing investigation into the bombing of flight Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie,” said prosecutors in a statement.

— AFP

5 MKs now bear arms in Knesset plenary

At least five Israeli lawmakers now pack heat while attending Knesset sessions, according to a report by Walla news.

Likud MKs Anat Berko and Yoav Kisch, Eyal Ben Reuven of the Zionist Union, and Jewish Home’s Bezalel Smotrich all started carrying sidearms (which they own legally) since the uptick in terrorism, the news site says. They’re joined by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who was already in the habit of carrying his pistol.

Berko and Kisch are both reservist lieutenant colonels and Ben Reuven is a retired major general.

Likud MK Oren Hazan, who formerly had a gun license, also apparently wants to get cleared once again to carry firearms.

Kerry denounces ‘outrageous’ attacks on Israeli civilians

US Secretary of State John Kerry is speaking at Indiana University right now and has raised the matter of the recent “tragic, outrageous, attacks on civilians trying to go about business in Israel and West Bank.”

“We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against innocent civilians,” Kerry says, but urges “that calm be restored as soon as possible.”

“There is absolutely no justification for these reprehensible attacks.”

“We will continue to support Israel’s right to defend its existence.”

Apparently confirming a report published Wednesday in the Israeli press, Kerry says that he expects to travel to the Middle East in the coming days and “we will remain closely engaged to support efforts to stabilize situation.”

 

Israeli flyers refuse to board when crew turns out to be Czech

Israeli travelers who were supposed to fly from Tel Aviv to Paris tonight refused to board the plane after they found out the pilot and crew were Czech, not Israeli, Ynet reports.

The Arkia flight was operated at the last minute by a Czech airline instead of the Israeli company. Police were called in to handle the situation.

They claimed the reason was because of the current security situation.

“I paid to fly with an Israeli company and it’s unacceptable that Czechs will fly me,” Yossi, one of the passengers, tells Ynet. “Only an Israeli company can fly me so that I feel secure. I feel like they pulled one over on me.”

Netanyahu says will fight ‘big lies’ by telling truth

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a very brief address to the press, saying PA President Mahmoud Abbas is spreading “two big lies”: the change of the status quo on the Temple Mount and about the death of a Palestinian teen who attacked Israelis days earlier.

“The only way we can fight this lie… is to tell the truth,” he says. “This is what we will do today.”

He pans what he calls the “false symmetry between Israeli victims and Palestinian attackers.” He blames the attacks on ongoing Palestinian incitement.

“We expect all our friends to look at facts, see these facts, not to draw false symmetry,” he says.

Netanyahu says open to meet Abbas, ‘He’s not willing to meet me’

Netanyahu says he’s open to meeting with Abbas and Arab leaders, because such a conversation could help curb the current round of violence.

“I’m willing to meet him. He’s not willing to meet me,” he says.

He adds that Israel is still trying to apprehend the suspects involved in the Dawabsha family home’s firebombing in July, but that the lack of results are no justification for attacks on Israelis.

Excessive force claims as ‘baseless,’ Netanyahu says

Responding to inquiries as to whether he’s willing to return to negotiations he says, “I called for this repeatedly. Including in UN
speech,” and that he’s open to this now.

Netanyahu says that before negotiations, both sides have to “lower the flames” of conflict. “We can’t have both terror and peace. Arafat tried to do this, and we saw where it led to.”

Asked about State Department claims of Israel’s use of excessive force, Netanyahu calls them “baseless.”

“There is no truth to the claim that we use excessive force. What would you have done if people in New York, Paris or London had done so? Look at the number of the casualties,” he says.

One hurt in Jerusalem bus stoning

One Israeli is reportedly lightly injured after stones were thrown at a bus in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev. He received medical treatment on site from paramedics.

Iranian-American arrested in Tehran

Iranian security forces recently arrested an Iranian-American businessman in Tehran, according to the IranWire website.

The website says that the security agents “ransacked the house, confiscated property, and took the dual national to Evin Prison.”

Israeli wins wildlife photography award

And now for something completely different and distinctly less depressing:

An Israeli photographer won the 52nd annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year award’s bird category today.

Amir Ben Dov, an amateur photographer from Beit Shemesh, snapped a photo of three migrating red-footed falcons.

Congratulations!

Erekat: Pics of Ahmed proof of ‘Israel’s disregard for human life’

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator in the now-defunct peace talks, responds to Netanyahu’s charges that Abbas is a liar. He calls Netanyahu’s remarks “a failed attempt to distract from the fact that Palestinian civilians, including children, are being systematically targeted for extrajudicial executions by Israel.

“We thought in the beginning that he (Ahmed) was killed,” Erekat said. “Then the information we had was that he is clinically dead.”

Erekat says that the photos and video of Ahmed Manasra published by the Prime Minister’s Office from Hadassah Hospital earlier today “clearly shows Israel’s disregard for human life.

“Ahmed was run over by an Israeli military jeep. While he didn’t constitute a threat following the incident, he was later beaten and abused by the Israeli settler bystanders under the protection of the Israeli armed forces,” Erekat charges.

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