The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Army captures Gaza man who crossed into Israel
IDF soldiers have arrested a Palestinian man who crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip, the army says.
The man was not in possession of a weapon when he broke through the security fence.
According to the army, the man entered Israel from the northern Gaza Strip.
— Judah Ari Gross
US-backed force says it has fully captured Raqqa from IS
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces says they have fully captured the Islamic State group’s former Syrian stronghold Rqaqa, after more than four months of fighting.
“Everything is finished in Raqqa, our forces have taken full control of Raqqa,” SDF spokesman Talal Sello tells AFP.
“The military operations in Raqqa have finished, but there are clearing operations now under way to uncover any sleeper cells there might be and remove mines,” he added. “Soon there will be an official statement announcing the liberation of the city.”
Labor head: I support two-state solution
After surprising many on the left by saying he opposes evacuating settlements under a future peace deal, Labor party chief Avi Gabbay stresses he supports a two-state solution — with a demilitarized Palestinian state.
“I back reaching a diplomatic solution (to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) based on two states for two peoples,” Gabbay tells Channel 2.
“A solution leading to a demilitarized (Palestinian) state, with Israeli sovereignty over the settlement blocs and avoiding, as much as possible, the evacuation of either Jews or Arabs from their homes.”
He adds that he does not believe isolated settlement should be favored over towns inside Israel proper. “I am for every Israeli citizen to receive all services…but I am against a situation in which (some) receive more. That needs to change.”
Bennett: Israel mustn’t negotiate with reconciled Palestinian ‘terrorists’
Ahead of a cabinet meeting to discuss the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett says the agreement has made the Palestinian Authority a terrorist entity.
“Hamas has signed a reconciliation agreement with the PA in order to whitewash itself and enjoy legitimacy, all while gaining strength against us,” the education minister says, according to Channel 2.
“A Palestinian government basing itself on Hamas becomes a terrorist unity government. Israel must not fold and negotiate with it.”
Suspect arrested over anti-Semitic graffiti at UK synagogue
A suspect has been arrested in connection with anti-Semitic graffiti painted on the sign of a synagogue in Leeds in northern England.
On October 11, a swastika and the word “kikes” was painted in red on the sign of the synagogue facing the main road.
Police in Leeds tell British media that they arrested the man at the end of last week after a second incident occurred outside the Etz Chaim synagogue.
Staff members of the anti-Semitism watchdog group Community Security Trust were harangued with anti-Semitic abuse by the suspect outside of the synagogue before his arrest, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reports.
Germany nixes web monitoring workshop for Egypt, fearing abuse
German police have canceled a workshop designed to help Egyptian security officials monitor extremist websites for fear they may use the skills against other groups.
Germany has provided significant material and technical assistance to Egypt in recent years to help combat extremist groups and people smugglers, despite concerns about the Egyptian government’s human rights record.
The measures were meant to include training for Egyptian Interior Ministry officials in Cairo on Internet crimes, including monitoring websites that could be misused by terrorists to spread extremist ideas and prepare terror attacks.
Bnei Brak: Police arrest 15 in violent anti-draft rally
Dozens of ultra-Orthodox men are protesting in Bnei Brak over the arrests of two yeshiva students for military draft evasion, blocking the city’s Rabbi Akiva and Hashomer streets.
Police say some of the protesters exhibited violent behavior and assaulted officers.
Police have arrested 15 of the protesters so far.
Austria’s Kurz vows zero tolerance on anti-Semitism
Austria’s election winner Sebastian Kurz, who may form a coalition with the far-right, vows “zero tolerance” on anti-Semitism in any future government, in an interview with Israel Hayom.
“The battle against anti-Semitism and our policy of zero tolerance against all anti-Semitic tendencies is very important to me,” Kurz says.
“It is a clear pre-condition for the formation of any coalition under my leadership,” the 31-year-old conservative adds.
Election results show Kurz’s most likely coalition partner is the populist Freedom Party. Austria’s Jewish Community (IKG) organization has warned Kurz that a coalition with the FPOe could see people with “anti-Semitic, racist and euroskieptic beliefs” influence the government.
Iran warns Europe against new nuke deal conditions
A top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader is warning European governments against imposing new conditions on the nuclear deal.
“To say that they accept the JCPOA (nuclear deal) but should negotiate on Iran’s regional presence or talk about Iran’s missile defenses is to set conditions on the JCPOA, and this is not at all acceptable,” says Ali Akbar Velayati, senior foreign policy adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“This is not Europeans’ right. The JCPOA has no conditions and it must be implemented according to what was signed,” he says.
In a call with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron said talks on regional security and Iran’s ballistic missile program are necessary to ensure the survival of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Kurdish forces lose more territory in Iraq
A day after Iraqi forces took back the disputed city of Kirkuk, forcing Kurdish fighters to leave, Iraq’s Interior Ministry says Kurdish forces have also withdrawn from other disputed territories in eastern Iraq, namely from three towns near the Iranian border.
The Ministry’s Emergency Response Unit says the Kurdish forces pulled out of the towns of Jaloula, Khaniqain, and Mandali, near the Iranian border.
Baghdad has demanded Kurdish authorities return all the country’s “disputed territories” — mostly areas Kurdish forces took since the 2014 in the war against the Islamic State group.
Iran says Revolutionary Guards commander killed in Syria
A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander has been killed during fighting in Syria, Iran’s state media is reporting.
“Brigadier General Abdollah Khosravi, a senior war veteran, was martyred on Saturday in Syria,” the Basij news agency says without giving further details.
According to Fars news agency, Khosravi was commander of the Fatehin Battalion, made up of Iranian volunteers fighting in Iraq and Syria. Its members are drawn from the powerful Basij militia, a volunteer force linked to the Revolutionary Guards and sometimes used for domestic security inside Iran.
Ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem over arrest of draft evaders
Dozens of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators are rallying in Jerusalem’s Jaffa Street, blocking the city’s light rail line, in protest of the arrest of two yeshiva students who allegedly evaded the mandatory military draft.
Meanwhile the number of arrests in a similar protest in Bnei Brak has risen to 28.
Spain: Top court officially rules Catalan referendum illegal
Spain’s top court has officially ruled that Catalonia’s disputed independence referendum was illegal because a regional law that backed it was against Spain’s constitution.
The Catalan regional parliament passed the so-called “self-determination referendum law” in early September. Regional leaders went on to stage the October 1 referendum on whether the region should separate from Spain. They say the “Yes” side won and that the result gives the region a mandate to declare independence.
Spain’s Constitutional Court says the law goes against national sovereignty and the “indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation.”
The court says that the parliamentary session that approved the law also violated the country’s constitution.
Group says 270,000 displaced from Raqqa need aid
An international charity group says tens of thousands of people who fled the northern Syrian city of Raqqa are in bad need of aid and that the “camps are bursting at the seams.”
Save the Children’s statement comes as US-backed Syrian fighters said they liberated Raqqa.
The city suffered major destruction since early June when the offensive against the Islamic State group there began. The charity says some 270,000 people who fled the Raqqa fighting are still in critical need of aid.
With the high levels of destruction reported in and around Raqqa, most families have nowhere to return home and are likely to stay in camps for months or years to come.
Netanyahu says Israel won’t boycott PA over deal with Hamas — report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly tells ministers that Israel will not freeze contacts with the Palestinian Authority despite opposition to a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal.
At a meeting of the security cabinet, Netanyahu says that even though Israel will not recognize Thursday’s deal between the Fatah party, which dominates the PA, and the Gaza-based Hamas terror group, he will not cut ties to the PA, the Haaretz newspaper reports.
Poland gives Erdogan support on Turkey’s EU bid
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finds a friendly European voice during a visit to Warsaw.
“Poland supports Turkey’s aspiration to join the European Union,” Polish President Andrzej Duda says, appearing with Erdogan before journalists.
Accession talks between Brussels and Ankara have essentially stopped. Erdogan says if the EU thinks “the accession of Turkey is not possible, then it should finally tell us so.”
US coalition says IS pockets remain in Syria’s Raqqa
The spokesman for the US-led coalition says pockets of Islamic State militants remain in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
Col. Ryan Dillon says the Syrian Democratic Forces have seized the last strongholds of the militant group in Raqqa but are not done securing them.
“We have not received official reporting to say Raqqa is cleared,” he says.
He says that with the fall of Raqqa, the militants will be denied their “wellspring” that provided planning and support for terror operations in Syria and Iraq and around the world.
Hamas denies report it will stop attacks against Israel as part of unity deal
A senior Hamas spokesperson denies reports the terror group agreed to halt attacks against Israel from the West Bank as part of a reconciliation deal with the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority.
“There are no secret clauses in the reconciliation understanding, and what the occupation published on the resistance halting in the West Bank is not true,” senior Hamas spokesperson Husam Badra tells the Palestinian news site Quds Network.
“The position to choose resistance is not connected to any person or entity, but rather it is the position of the entire Palestinian people to decide. The natural situation is that when there is an occupation, there will be a resistance to confront it,” Badran adds.
On Saturday, the Israeli daily Maariv reported that a deal struck between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah on Thursday included a “secret clause” that Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip, would cease carrying out attacks against Israelis from the West Bank.
On Sunday, London-based Pan-Arab daily As-Sharq al-Awsat also reported that there was an “implicit understanding” between Hamas and Fatah that the terror group would extend its current ceasefire with Israel from Gaza to the West Bank.
While Hamas has for years agreed to a ceasefire against Israel from the Gaza Strip, its West Bank operatives have continued to plan and provoke attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces.
— Dov Lieber
Israel Aerospace Industries joins S. Korea’s Hankuk Carbon to make drones
Israel Aerospace Industries says it has formed a joint venture with Korean company Hankuk Carbon to make unmanned aircraft together.
It says the new company, called Korea Aviation Technologies, will develop drones with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. Its products will be aimed at both the military and civilian markets in South Korea.
The two companies signed their joint venture agreement on Tuesday at the International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in Seoul. Each will hold a 50 percent stake in the joint venture.
State-owned IAI is one of the world’s leaders in drone technology, while Hankuk Carbon will provide manufacturing expertise.
Israel: No negotiations with Palestinian unity gov’t unless Hamas recognizes Israel
Israel says it will not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas until the terrorist organization meets the following conditions:
- Recognition of the State of Israel and a stop to all terrorist activities in accordance to the guidelines set forth by the diplomatic Quartet facilitating the Middle East process
- Disarming of the group’s military infrastructure
- The return of the fallen Israeli soldiers and civilians currently being held by Hamas in the Strip
- Full security control of the Gaza Strip, including all border crossings, handed over to the Palestinian Authority
- Severing of all ties between Hamas and Iran
- All humanitarian needs of Gaza residents be facilitated though the PA
Bennett praises PM for laying out ‘strategic’ conditions for negotiating with Palestinians
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett praises the security cabinet for laying out conditions for Israel to conduct future diplomatic negotiations with the newly established Palestinian unity government between Fatah and Hamas.
In a statement, Bennett hails Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for adopting the “strategic” move.
He says he believes that the IDF and the government would be able to stand firm against international and Palestinian pressure” to restart negotiations with Palestinians.
He says the government should focus its efforts on returning the civilians and bodies of IDF soldiers held by the terrorist group.
Norway solar firm signs 2.5B-euro deal with Iran
Just days after US President Donald Trump called for further isolation of Iran, a Norwegian solar company signed a deal to invest 2.5 billion euros in the country over the next five years.
“Norway is fully committed to the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and this is proof that we have taken the opening very seriously, and we will see more investment very soon,” Norwegian ambassador Lars Nordrum tells AFP.
He was hosting the signing at his residence in Tehran between Norway’s Saga Energy, which will work with Iran’s Amin Energy Developers to install two gigawatts of solar panels in multiple sites around the central desert region.
It comes just days after Trump gave a bellicose speech, imposing further sanctions on Iran and calling for European allies to curb their financial dealings with the country.
The new solar project is being financed by a consortium of European private and state investors, and backed by a sovereign guarantee from the government of Iran.
White House says neither settlement building nor freeze will bring peace
The White House says that “unrestrained” Israeli settlement building in the West Bank will not facilitate a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
In the same statement, the White House also says that calls for a freeze on Israeli construction in the Wrest Bank has also not advanced regional peace efforts.
“President Trump has publicly and privately expressed his concerns regarding settlements and the Administration has made clear that unrestrained settlement activity does not advance the prospect for peace,” the statement says. “At the same time the Administration recognizes that past demands for a settlement freeze have not helped advance peace talks.”
PA spokesman says Israeli demands won’t deter Palestinian unity efforts
The spokesman of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says Israel’s refusal to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas won’t affect the landmark unity deal between the two rival Palestinian factions.
According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that Abbas believes the the unity deal signed last week between Fatah and Hamas is “moving the Palestinians in the right direction.”
“Any Israeli remarks will not change the official Palestinian position to move forward with reconciliation efforts and reach the hopes and aspirations of our people,” he says.
Earlier, the security cabinet announced that Israel would not negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas if the terrorist organization does not disarm, recognize Israel and give up violence.
Iraq president blames Kurdish poll for Kirkuk assault
Iraqi President Fuad Masum blames a Kurdish independence referendum for triggering a military intervention by Iraqi forces to take control of the disputed province of Kirkuk.
“Holding a referendum on the Kurdistan region’s independence from Iraq stirred grave disagreements between the central government and the government of Kurdistan,” Masum, himself a Kurd, says in a televised address.
That “led to federal security forces retaking direct control of Kirkuk,” he adds.
Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly on September 25 for independence from Baghdad.
Regional president Massud Barzani had pushed ahead with the poll in defiance of Baghdad, Washington and Iraq’s neighboring states.
Ultra-Orthodox block entrance to Safed in latest anti-draft protest
Ultra-Orthodox protesters are blocking the entrance to the northern city of Safed as part of ongoing anti-draft protests sparked by the Sunday arrest of two yeshiva students for failing to show up to the Israel Defense Forces draft offices.
Route 89 at the Elifelet Interchange is blocked to westbound traffic. Police are urging motorists to use alternate roads in the area.
הפגנה הערב במחאה על מעצר הבחורים החרדים בתחילת השבוע. לפני זמן קצר בכניסה לעיר צפת pic.twitter.com/HEHweRRTD0
— מחאות החרדים (@mechaot_h) October 17, 2017
Earlier today, 40 people were arrested in ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak for participating in a violent anti-draft demonstration.
Police said the protesters were arrested for attacking officers, “blocking roads and causing public disturbances” in the Tel Aviv suburb.
UK intelligence chief says terror threat is worst of career
Britain’s domestic intelligence chief warned during a rare public speech Tuesday that the terrorist threat the country faces has accelerated at an alarming pace and is worse now than at any time in his 34-year career.
MI5 Director General Andrew Parker said his agency, also known as the Security Service, is constantly expanding and upgrading its capability, but cannot realistically prevent all attacks targeting civilians.
“In 2017, with all that has happened and much that has not, it is clear that we are contending with an intense UK terrorist threat from Islamist extremists,” Parker told journalists in London. “That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly, and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before.”
He noted a “dramatic upshift” in the threat this year, with successful attacks in London and Manchester that killed 36 people combined.
“Twenty attacks in the UK have been foiled over the past four years,” Parker said. “Many more will have been prevented by the early interventions we and the police make. There have been a record number of terrorism-related arrests: 379 in the year to June.”
He said continental Europe has faced a similar surge, particularly in France, Belgium, Germany and Spain.
“The scale at which we are operating is greater than ever before,” he said.
Liberman announces NIS 3 billion plan to increase security on West Bank roads
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman unveils a NIS 3.3 billion plan to bolster security on West Bank roads.
According to Channel 2 news, the plan includes better lighting on main roads, and alternative roads for settlers living in the West Bank that bypass Palestinian towns and villages.
The plan also calls for increased cell phone towers along the main roads
Roman Polanski in Poland for documentary on his early life during the Holocaust
A Polish film company says director Roman Polanski has traveled to Poland to appear in a documentary about his early life during the Holocaust.
The KRK Film company said Tuesday that Polanski was in Krakow to see the site of the former ghetto where he was held as a child by the German Nazis.
The 84-year-old director also visited the village of Wysoka, where he after fleeing Krakow. New York photographer Ryszard Horowitz, a friend of Polanski’s since they met as boys in the ghetto, accompanied him.
It was Polanski’s first visit to Poland since the country’s Supreme Court refused to extradite him to the United States to be sentenced in a 1977 unlawful sex case involving a 13-year-old victim.
Since he fled the US, Polanski mostly has lived in Paris.
Israeli drone reportedly killed IS-linked fighter in Sinai
A Palestinian fighter linked to the Islamic State jihadist group in the Sinai Peninsula was reportedly killed by an Israeli drone.
According to Hebrew-language media reports, a publication linked to the IS faction in the Egyptian territory says that Gaza native Zaher Abu Sitta was killed by the drone strike earlier this week.
The reported strikes were in the area of Rafah and Sheikh Zweid in northern Sinai, and came shortly after the firing of two rockets on Sunday night that landed in the Eshkol region of Israel causing no damage or injuries.
IS group took responsibility for the attacks yesterday.
Iraq’s president defends seizure of Kirkuk
Iraqi President Fuad Masum says troops had no choice but to take over the administration of the disputed oil city of Kirkuk after Kurdish authorities held a referendum for independence last month.
Masum, himself a Kurd, says the referendum “provoked dangerous disputes” between Baghdad and Irbil, the capital of the country’s Kurdish region, forcing federal forces to take Kirkuk. Masum addressed Iraqis in a televised speech today.
Kurdish forces moved into the city in 2014 to secure it against advancing Islamic State forces after national defenses collapsed. They withdrew Monday ahead of advancing federal forces and militias, in a blow to Kurdish aspirations for statehood.
Since then, Kurdish forces have been withdrawing from disputed territories across northern and eastern Iraq, including areas they acquired in the tumult of the war on the Islamic State group.