The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Israeli teen fined for urinating on Auschwitz memorial
WARSAW, Poland — A Polish court has fined an Israeli teenager who admitted to urinating on a memorial at the site of the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, a court spokeswoman tells AFP on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old man, who was identified only as Zeev K., committed the act in late March and was arrested the same day but was released after admitting to it.
“The court found the accused guilty as charged and imposed a fine of 5,000 zloty (1,160 euros, $1,350),” Daria Pichorz from the district court in the southern city of Krakow says.
Pichorz says that Zeev K. was not present for the verdict by a regional court in the nearby town of Oswiecim where Auschwitz is located, but adds that he had agreed to pay the fine.
A guide from the museum and several other people witnessed the act.
The memorial in question is located between the ruins of the two crematoriums at the former death camp set up by Nazi Germany after occupying Poland during World War II.
Auschwitz-Birkenau has become a symbol of Nazi Germany’s genocide of European Jews, one million of whom were killed at the camp between 1940 to 1945.
More than 100,000 others including non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and anti-Nazi resistance fighters also died there.
Erdogan: Investigators looked for ‘toxic materials’ at Saudi consulate
ISTANBUL — Turkish media are quoting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying police investigators have searched for traces of “toxic materials” at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul where Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared two weeks ago.
NTV television says Erdogan made the comments to a group of journalists on Tuesday.
Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation “baseless,” but reports suggest they may acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there.
Turkish forensic investigators searched the consulate overnight. A Turkish official says on Tuesday the top Saudi diplomat’s residence in Istanbul would also be searched.
State-run Anadolu Agency quotes Erdogan as saying Turkey wished a “result that allows us to reach an opinion” as to what happened to the journalist.
Senior Egyptian intelligence official arrives in Gaza for talks with Hamas
Ahmad Abdelhaliq, who is in charge of the Palestinian portfolio for Egyptian intelligence, has arrived with a delegation in the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas leaders, the Shehab news agency reports.
Abdelhaliq arrived in Gaza through the Erez border crossing with Israel, according to Shehab. He was greeted by Tawfik Abu Naim, the head of Hamas security forces in the Strip.
Egypt has been overseeing efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, as well as Palestinian reconciliation talks.
Egyptian delegation to lay groundwork for spymaster’s visit to Gaza
The Egyptian delegation that arrived in Gaza today will begin making arrangements for the entry of Egyptian General Intelligence Services chief Abbas Kamel into the Strip on Thursday, according to a security source who spoke to the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center.
Kamel will be meeting with the Hamas leadership in Gaza, the source says.
— Adam Rasgon
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) October 16, 2018
Pompeo meets with Saudi crown prince on missing journalist
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — US top diplomat Mike Pompeo arrives at Riyadh’s royal palace Tuesday to talk about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, an AFP journalist sees.
Earlier in the day, he discussed the case of Khashoggi — who has not been seen since he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 — with King Salman.
US President Donald Trump dispatched Pompeo to Riyadh for what the State Department has described as “face to face meetings with the Saudi leadership” about the incident which sparked international outrage.
Arab MK calls for removal of campaign posters against intermarriage
A lawmaker from the Joint (Arab) List says she’ll ask Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to order the removal of campaign posters of the national religious Jewish Home party in the central city of Ramle for alleged incitement.
The posters, which were put up in the mixed Arab Jewish city ahead of municipal elections later this month, decry interfaith marriages between Jews and Muslims.
“There are hundreds of instances of assimilation in Ramle and no one cares. Tomorrow this can be your daughter,” the poster says, below which is a Jewish-looking woman wearing a Muslim headscarf.
“Only a strong Jewish Home will preserve a Jewish Ramle,” it adds.
MK Neveen Abu Rahmoun, who was sworn in as a MK yesterday, accuses Jewish Home of using “messages of racism, incitement and intimidation” to boost its electoral prospects.
“It appears that for some [electoral] lists, incitement seems to be the only tool of persuasion,” she writes on Twitter.
She says she’ll reach out to Mandelblit about removing the posters, which she compares to an election campaign of the Likud party in Tel Aviv that has sparked controversy.
מודעה מטעם רשימת הבית היהודי לראשות העיר רמלה: "מאות מקרי התבוללות ברמלה ולאף אחד לא אכפת. מחר זו יכולה להיות הבת שלך" pic.twitter.com/thcPyAwATr
— חדשות עשר (@news10) October 16, 2018
Saudi prince tells Pompeo ‘we are strong, old allies’ before talks on Khashoggi
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tells US top diplomat Mike Pompeo that they are “strong and old allies,” during talks Tuesday on missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Both men are seen smiling and exchanging pleasantries ahead of a closed-door meeting to discuss the case of Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and US resident, who was last seen entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
“We are strong and old allies. We face our challenges together — the past, the day of, tomorrow,” Prince Mohammed tells Pompeo.
Erekat lashes out at Netanyahu for remarks on Palestinian Christians
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat lashes out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for accusing the Palestinian Authority of discriminating against its Christian population.
“It is Israel that has been engaged in the forcible displacement and transfer of Palestinians, including Christians” since 1948, Erekat says in a statement.
“Dozens of Palestinian Christian communities were in fact ethnically cleansed by Israel and now live as refugees,” he adds, accusing Israel of a “massive campaign of land grabbing” in the area around Bethlehem.
Erekat calls on all “peace-loving people” to condemn the “cynical use of religion to justify the oppression of the people of Palestine.”
Speaking to Christian journalists on Sunday, Netanyahu noted the sharp drop in Christians as a percentage of Bethlehem’s population, which he said was due to persecution by the PA.
Rivlin: Christians ‘paying a terrible price’ for extremism in Middle East
President Reuven Rivlin hosts a gathering of Christian journalists at his official residence in Jerusalem, where he laments violence and persecution toward Christian communities in the Middle East.
“The war in Syria continues and Iran continues to spread hatred and extremism here and across the world. The Christian communities of our region are paying a terrible price. Israel is working with our allies around the world to fight terror and extremism to bring peace to our region,” Rivlin tells the Christian Media Summit.
He also sounds an optimistic note on the possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“I believe that we can build understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. I believe we can build confidence between the two peoples. I believe, more than anything, that Israelis and Palestinians are not doomed to live together; we are destined to live together,” he says.
Turkish official says proof found that Saudi journalist killed in consulate
ANKARA, Turkey — A high-level Turkish official says police have found “certain evidence” during their search of the Saudi Consulate showing that Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed there.
The official does not provide details on the evidence that was recovered during the hourslong search at the diplomatic mission that ended early Tuesday.
The official speaks to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
Turkish officials say Saudi agents killed and dismembered the writer at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation “baseless,” but US media reports suggest the Saudis may soon acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.
GOP senator says Saudi crown prince ‘has got to go’ over missing journalist
US Senator Lindsey Graham says he believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a US-based journalist “murdered” in the Saudi consulate in Turkey and has “tainted” his country as a result.
The influential Republican and ally of US President Donald Trump says the crown prince “has got to go.” Graham says he will not return to Saudi Arabia while the prince is in power.
Graham says he has been the “biggest defender” of the kingdom, but that he now plans to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.”
The senator speaks Tuesday on “Fox & Friends.” He cites published reports that Prince Mohammed had approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, and that an intelligence official who was a friend of the crown prince had killed the journalist.
Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Turkey has said it fears Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit team. Saudi Arabia has denied that, but published reports have said the kingdom may be preparing to acknowledge killing the journalist during an interrogation gone wrong.
Netanyahu defends admonishing heckler
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defends his rebuke of a woman who interrupted a speech he gave this morning, after drawing flak from opposition figures over his response.
Netanyahu was speaking about the death of his lawyer Yaakov Weinroth during the inauguration of a new emergency room in Kiryat Shmona when he was interrupted by a woman protesting the closure of an emergency room in the area. “You’re boring,” Netanyahu responded.
“I’m used to criticism and I have no problem with heckling,” Netanyahu writes on his personal Twitter account. “But today, in deep sorrow and grief, I felt that it simply was not appropriate.”
Ministers tell Israeli TV that Liberman’s call for Gaza campaign just politics
A pair of unnamed ministers in the security cabinet tell Channel 10 news that Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s call for a military campaign against Hamas in Gaza was meant solely to help his political prospects and was not a serious proposal.
The ministers also say the matter was not seriously discussed at Sunday’s security cabinet meeting.
“This isn’t serious. Liberman said this at the cabinet for the minutes,” one of the ministers is quoted saying. “In general Netanyahu steers the security cabinet meetings on Gaza and does what he wants.”
The other minister says Liberman’s remarks were “100 percent politics.”
“Just empty words,” Channel 10 quotes the minister saying of Liberman.
Liberman’s office tells the network in response that security cabinet members are fully aware of the plans.
Egypt says 450 jihadists killed in Sinai offensive
CAIRO — The Egyptian army says Tuesday that 450 jihadists are estimated to have been killed in its eight-month offensive against the Islamic State jihadist group in the Sinai Peninsula.
The military launched a large-scale operation dubbed “Sinai 2018” in February to rid Sinai of IS jihadists after an attack on a mosque in the north of the peninsula that killed more than 300 people.
Since the start of the campaign, 450 jihadists were presumed to have been killed “in the north and the center of Sinai by [soldiers] and police,” army spokesman Tamer al-Rifai tells AFP.
According to army figures, around 30 soldiers have been killed during the operation.
Jihadists began an insurgency in Egypt after the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was forced out by the military in the face of mass protests against his rule and that of his Muslim Brotherhood.
Israel, US issue joint stamp to mark 70 years of ties
Israel and the United States issue a joint stamp for the Hanukkah holiday to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic ties between the country.
The new stamp design is unveiled simultaneously at ceremonies in the US and Israel. The US ceremony is held at the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest synagogue in the country.
“Today’s joint stamp issue is a symbol of the shared values and the cultural affinity between the United States and Israel,” US Ambassador David Friedman says at the ceremony in Jerusalem.
US said developing new Syria strategy focused on pushing out Iran
The United States is formulating a new strategy for the conflict in Syria that would place greater emphasis on ejecting Iranian military forces and Iran-backed proxy groups from the country, NBC News reports.
Though the new strategy would not involve direct military action against Iranian troops and allied groups, the report says the US will use political and diplomatic tools to bleed Iran financially, such as sanctions on Iranian and Russian firms involved in reconstruction efforts in Syria.
An unnamed Trump administration official is quoted in the report saying the new Syria strategy will soon be submitted to Congress. The official says that along with defeating the Islamic State jihadist group, preventing the Assad regime from using chemical weapons and jumpstarting a political transiton, countering Iran’s “malign influence” is one of the White House’s four main goals in Syria.
Top US general says foreign fighters still flocking to Syria to join IS
WASHINGTON — Foreign fighters continue to flow into Syria to join the Islamic State terror group despite its forces being largely decimated, Pentagon Joint Chiefs chairman Joe Dunford says Tuesday.
Even though the jihadist group’s territory has shrunk to a fraction of what it once was, new followers arrive, mostly over the Turkish border, at a rate of about 100 a month, Dunford says.
While that is down from a peak of about 1,500 a month three years ago, it shows that Islamic State’s ability to attract followers remains potent, he says.
“It’s the flow of foreign fighters, the ability to move resources, and the ideology that allows these groups to operate,” Dunford says, opening a conference on countering violent extremism.
Dunford also says that the inflow adds to the mounting problem of how to handle hundreds of captured foreign fighters whose home countries will not take them back.
Dunford says not dealing with the captured foreign fighters correctly will make it harder to eventually extinguish the attraction of the Islamic State ideology.
A critical factor, he says, “is how we identify, prosecute, deradicalize and reintegrate foreign fighters.”
“We need to find a way to address this challenge and prevent the detainees from becoming the leaders of tomorrow’s extremist organizations,” Dunford says.
Palestinians set off explosives at border fence during Gaza clashes
Sections of the Gaza security fence were damaged by explosive devices set off by Palestinian rioters in the southern Strip, the army says.
According to the army, approximately 100 Palestinians were taking part in clashes along the border with Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and live fire.
In a separate incident, a group of Palestinians broke through the Gaza security fence and approached an IDF post. Troops fired warning shots at the men, who ran back into Gaza, the army says.
— Judah Ari Gross
US sanctions network funding Iran’s use of child soldiers
WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department is targeting a network of businesses that provides financial support to a paramilitary force in Iran, which allegedly trains and deploys child soldiers to fight with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The sanctions are part of the US economic campaign against Iran to pressure it from engaging in aggression in the region and violating human rights.
The network of at least 20 corporations and financial institutions is known as Basij Cooperative Foundation. It uses shell companies to mask its control over multibillion-dollar business interests in Iran’s automotive, mining, metals, and banking industries.
The Treasury is also sanctioning several banks and others affiliated with the network.
The sanctions prohibit Americans from doing business with the network or its affiliates and freeze assets they have under US jurisdiction.
Brothers caught ‘red-handed’ plundering northern Israel archaeological site
The Israel Antiquities Authority announces the arrest of two people it says were caught “red-handed” plundering an archaeological site in northern Israel over the weekend.
The IAA says the suspects, brothers from the Arab village of Daburiyya, destroyed underground cavities and artifacts with a backhoe at a site associated with biblical era city of Daberath, including potsherds from the Hellenistic period.
After they were caught by IAA agents Border Police officers, the suspects were brought to a police station in Tiberia, where their remand was extended. A judge ordered yesterday they be released on bail, according to the IAA, which says it will request the backhoe be seized.
“The illegal and brutal excavations at archaeological sites cause terrible destruction of heritage sites, and the study of all of our history is damaged forever,” Nir Distelfeld, the head of IAA’s theft prevention unit, says in a statement.
Distelfeld calls the damage at the site in northern Israel “shocking” and expresses satisfaction that the suspects were arrested and “greater damage was prevented.”