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Bezeq’s Shaul Elovitch, former CEO Handler summoned to pre-indictment hearing

Securities fraud investigation was the precursor to so-called Case 4000, which has since implicated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

  • Shaul Elovitch arrives at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court for a remand hearing in Case 4000, February 26, 2018. (Flash90)
    Shaul Elovitch arrives at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court for a remand hearing in Case 4000, February 26, 2018. (Flash90)
  • Stella Handler (L), CEO of the Bezeq telecom company, appears in the Tel Aviv District Court on February 21, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
    Stella Handler (L), CEO of the Bezeq telecom company, appears in the Tel Aviv District Court on February 21, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
  • This picture taken on September 1, 2019 from a location near the northern Israeli town of Avivim, close to the border with Lebanon, shows fires and smoke rising after Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah terror movement fired anti-tank missiles into northern Israel (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
    This picture taken on September 1, 2019 from a location near the northern Israeli town of Avivim, close to the border with Lebanon, shows fires and smoke rising after Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah terror movement fired anti-tank missiles into northern Israel (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
  • A member of the Israeli security forces stands at a security checkpoint near the northern Israeli town of Avivim, close to the border with Lebanon, on September 1, 2019. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
    A member of the Israeli security forces stands at a security checkpoint near the northern Israeli town of Avivim, close to the border with Lebanon, on September 1, 2019. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
  • Israeli self-propelled artillery guns are positioned near the Lebanese border on the outskirts of the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona on September 1, 2019. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)
    Israeli self-propelled artillery guns are positioned near the Lebanese border on the outskirts of the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona on September 1, 2019. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)
  • Smoke rises near the community of Avivim following an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon on September 1, 2019. (Courtesy)
    Smoke rises near the community of Avivim following an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon on September 1, 2019. (Courtesy)

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

Iran touts new drone, says it can hit targets ‘on enemies’ soil’

Iran unveils a new domestically produced drone, named the “Kian,” a week after an Israeli strike in Syria targeted the Islamic Republic’s UAVs.

Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard, of the Iranian air force, warns: “The unmanned vehicle can hit targets way beyond the country’s borders and can start its defensive mission on enemies’ soil,” according to the Mehr news agency.

Last Saturday, the Israeli air force announced it carried out raids against Iranian kamikaze drones based in Syria that were set to be used in an attack against the Jewish state. Early last Sunday, an alleged Israeli-launched drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut while another exploded and crashed nearby.

Lebanon to ban drones over Shiite areas during festival

Lebanon says Sunday it will ban drones over Shiite areas during commemorations for the Shiite festival of Ashura, following tensions with Israel over an alleged drone attack last week.

Shiite terror group Hezbollah has vowed that Israel “must pay a price” for what it says was a drone strike on one of its strongholds, the southern suburbs of Beirut.

“The army’s command warns all citizens against the use of drones throughout the duration of Ashura commemorations in the following areas: the southern suburbs of Beirut, Nabatieh, Sour, Baalbek-Hermel,” it says in a statement.

Ashura, one of the holiest days in Shiite Islam, commemorates the seventh century killing of Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Imam Hussein.

Lebanon is expected to mark Ashura itself on September 10, but the days leading up to it feature multiple processions and religious gatherings.


Pope gets stuck in elevator, freed by firefighters after 25 minutes

Pope Francis says he was late to his weekly Angelus prayer because he had been stuck in a Vatican elevator and had to be freed by firefighters.

“I have to apologize for being late. I was trapped in a lift for 25 minutes, there was a power outage but then the firemen came,” the smiling 82-year old pontiff says.


Freed by Gibraltar, pursued by US, Iranian tanker slows down off Syrian coast

An Iranian oil tanker pursued by the US across the Mediterranean Sea slows to a near-stop off the coast of Syria, where America’s top diplomat alleges it will be unloaded despite denials from Tehran.

The ongoing saga of the Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as the Grace 1, comes as tensions remain high between the US and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. Tehran is set to send a deputy foreign minister and a team of economists to Paris tomorrow for talks over ways to salvage the accord after a call between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The ship-tracking website shows the Adrian Darya slowed to a near-stop on Sunday some 50 nautical miles (92 kilometers) off Syria. The ship’s Automatic Identification System does not show its destination after its mariners onboard previously listed it as ports in Greece and Turkey. Turkey’s foreign minister at one point suggested it would go to Lebanon, something denied by a Lebanese official.

The US has been warning countries not to accept the Adrian Darya, which carries 2.1 million barrels of crude oil worth some $130 million.

The US has sanctioned the Adrian Darya’s captain and has sought to impound the vessel.

Authorities in Gibraltar alleged the ship was bound for a refinery in Baniyas, Syria, when they seized it in early July. They ultimately let it go.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged on Twitter that the ship was still bound for Syria.

“We have reliable information that the tanker is underway and headed to Tartus, Syria,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter. “I hope it changes course.”


Poland calls for WWII redress during anniversary

Poland’s prime minister speaks of the need for redress during observances of the start of World War II as he talked about the losses that Poland suffered during almost six years of Nazi German occupation.

Mateusz Morawiecki says during ceremonies at the Westerplatte Peninsula on the Baltic coast, where the war’s first battle was fought, that the war “meant not only fire for the Polish homes, it meant the death of Poland’s hopes, Poland’s future, the end of Poland’s science, Polish universities, Polish factories.”

He says that “for this reason we should talk about these losses, we should …. demand redress.”

Poland’s nationalist government has been raising the issue of reparations from Germany ever since it took power in 2015. Germany says that matter is closed.

— AP

Fire breaks out at paper factory in Hadera

A fire breaks out at a paper factory in the coastal city of Hadera.

Firefighters are heading to the scene. There are no immediate reports of injuries.

Rivlin slams ‘contemptible’ political rhetoric as election nears

President Reuven Rivlin condemns recent pre-election rhetoric as “contemptible” and calls for national unity.

“When… the discourse becomes contemptible, I urge you not to believe in the incitement and insults, and don’t listen to the voices that are eager to polarize the discourse — from right and left,” says Rivlin.

His criticism seems partly directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Saturday railed against the Channel 12 network’s owners and accused them of carrying out a “terror attack against democracy.”

Israelis head to the polls on September 17, for the second time this year.

Hurricane Dorian strengthens to Category 5

Weather forecasters say Hurricane Dorian has intensified to a Category 5 storm, capable of inflicting catastrophic levels of destruction.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Sunday that Dorian’s maximum sustained winds have increased to 160 mph (260 kph), up from 150 mph (240 kph). It is moving west at 8 mph (13 kph)

“Devastating hurricane conditions” are expected in the Abacos Islands early Sunday, with conditions will spread across Grand Bahama Island later in the day, the center says.

In its advisory at 8 a.m. EDT, the center says the storm’s center is 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Great Abaco Island and 225 miles (360 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach.


Iran holds naval drills in Caspian Sea

The Iranian navy launches major drills in the Caspian Sea.

The wargames include “combat destroyers, missile-launching warships, fighters and helicopters,” according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

The exercises come amid sky-high tensions between Iran and the United States in the Strait of Hormuz, which has seen tankers seized and drones down over the strategic waterway in recent months.

Israeli runner breaks European record for women’s 10k

Israeli runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter breaks a European record for a women’s 10k, finishing a race in the Netherlands in 30 minutes and four seconds.

She claims the title from the UK’s Paula Radcliffe from 2003, who completed a 10-kilometer race in 30:21.

Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter reacts after winning the women’s 10,000m final race during the European Athletics Championships at the Olympic stadium in Berlin on August 8, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Tobias SCHWARZ)

Abuse charges expected against parents who chained child to shower

A man and a woman accused of chaining their 7-year-old daughter to a shower in the central town of Lod and leaving her to go to the beach will be indicted on Monday on child abuse charges, Hebrew media reports.

In mid-August, police broke down the door of their apartment where the girl was found tied up and bearing signs of severe, long-term neglect.

The parents were arrested last month and remain in police custody.

Woman injured in West Bank car-ramming released from hospital

Noam Nevis, 20, who was injured in a car-ramming attack in the West Bank on August 16 has been discharged from a Jerusalem hospital.

Her brother, Nachum, 17, remains in serious condition.

The two were injured outside the settlement of Elazar. The car rolled over after the terror attack, and when the assailant tried to emerge from it, he was shot dead by an off duty police officer who was driving behind him.

Likud ministers drop out of Channel 12 confab after Netanyahu attack

Likud ministers Israel Katz, Miri Regev, and David Amsalem have canceled their participation in a September 5 conference hosted by Channel 12, The Marker business daily reports.

The snubs come after Netanyahu attacked the network over its coverage of the criminal investigations against him. According to a Haaretz report, the prime minister urged his ministers not to attend “so as not to give them legitimacy.”

There is one exception, however: Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, who is seen as a possible successor to Netanyahu, still plans to attend.

Anti-tank guided missile fired at Israel from Lebanon

An anti-tank guided missile was fired at Israeli territory from Lebanon, the army says.

The military says more information will be released shortly.

The attack occurs near the community of Avivim in the Galilee region of northern Israel.

Judah Ari Gross

Bomb shelters opened in towns near Lebanon border

The army orders border towns in northern Israel to open their public bomb shelters.

Communities up to four kilometers from the Lebanese border are given the directive, amid fears of a Hezbollah attack.

IDF shells Lebanese sites after anti-tank missile attack — report

Lebanese media reports that the Israeli military has begun shelling sites near the Lebanese border town of Maroun al-Ras following an anti-tank guided missile attack that struck outside of the northern Israeli community of Avivim.

The Israeli military does not immediately comment on the matter.

Judah Ari Gross

IDF says several anti-tank missiles fired at Israel, and some ‘struck targets’

Several anti-tank guided missiles were fired from Lebanon at an IDF base and military vehicles near the border, the army says.

The military says several of these struck their targets.

“The IDF returned fire at the sources of the launches and at targets in southern Lebanon,” the military says in a statement.

It’s unclear if there are injuries.

Judah Ari Gross

Hezbollah takes responsibility for anti-tank missile fire, claims IDF vehicle hit

The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah claims the anti-tank guided missiles fire on northern Israel.

Hezbollah claims an Israeli military vehicle has been destroyed on a road in Avivim, al-Mayadeen reports.

There is no confirmation from the army.

with Adam Rasgon

Netanyahu briefed on border fire, pulled from meeting with Honduran leader

The attack in northern Israel comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, met with the Honduran president in Jerusalem, his office says.

Netanyahu is briefed on the developing situation, according to the PMO.

Hezbollah claims Israelis injured in cross-border strike

Hezbollah claims Israelis are injured in its cross-border strike. The army has yet to comment.

“In a statement, the Islamic resistance announced that at 4:15PM Sunday afternoon on September 1, 2019, the Hassan Zabeeb and Yasser Daher Group destroyed a military vehicle on the Avivim barracks road and… injured those in it,'” the Lebanese state-run National News Agency reported.

Likud minister says unaware of Israeli casualties in Hezbollah strike

Likud minister Yoav Gallant, who sits on the high-level security cabinet, tells Army Radio he is not aware of any Israeli casualties in the Hezbollah strike.

“To the best of my knowledge, there are no injuries in the incident,” he says.

Lebanese PM seeks US, French intervention to end Hezbollah-Israel clash

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri calls US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and an aide to French President Emmanuel Macron, seeking US and French intervention to end the border clash between Hezbollah and Israel, the Lebanese Daily Star reports.

Cabinet ministers ordered to avoid interviews

Cabinet ministers have been ordered not to give media interviews on the Israel-Hezbollah border clash, reports say.

The directive from the Prime Minister’s Office comes shortly after Likud minister Gallant speaks to Army Radio and says he’s unaware of Israeli casualties in the fighting.

Rivlin warns Hezbollah: Israel will defend its citizens

President Reuven Rivlin warns the Hezbollah terror group that Israel will defend its citizens “without hesitation.”

UN peacekeepers in contact with Israel, Lebanon to contain violence

United Nations peacekeepers are in contact with Israeli and Lebanese officials in an effort to contain the outbreak of violence along the border, following a Hezbollah anti-tank guided missile attack on IDF targets in northern Israel.

“As UNIFIL is following up on the firing across the Blue Line, UNIFIL Force Commander and Head of Mission Major General Stefano Del Col is in contact with the parties urging the maximum restraint and asked to cease all activities endangering the cessation of hostilities,” the peacekeepers say in a statement.

Judah Ari Gross

Tense quiet takes hold along Israel-Lebanon border

A tense quiet takes hold along the Israel-Lebanon border after Israel pauses its strikes on Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, according to Israeli television and residents of the area, and the sounds of explosions fade after an hour and a half.

It’s unclear whether the Israeli air raids and artillery strikes will resume.

It also remains unclear whether there are any injuries on the Israeli side.

Bahrain criticizes Lebanon over Hezbollah fire at Israel

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa criticizes Lebanon in a tweet for allowing the Hezbollah terror group to operate on its territory.

He accuses Beirut of standing idly by as Hezbollah attacks Israel.

IDF confirms: No Israeli casualties in Hezbollah strike

The Israeli military says there are no casualties in the Hezbollah missile attack on one of its jeeps along the border.

The IDF says two to three anti-tank missiles were fired from southern Lebanon. One of them struck a military ambulance and the other hit an IDF post near the border.

The military says it is not yet sure if this missile attack amounts to the full extent of Hezbollah’s retaliation for an Israeli airstrike on Saturday night against an Iranian-controlled base in Syria in which several operatives were killed, including two Hezbollah members.

Judah Ari Gross

IDF fires 100 mortar shells at southern Lebanon

In its raids on southern Lebanon, the military fired 100 mortar shells, including at the cell that fired on Israel, the IDF says.

Palestinian worker killed in hit and run in south

A Palestinian worker has been killed in a hit-and-run in the southern city of Rahat, according to reports.

Police are searching for the driver.

Netanyahu: No Israelis so much as scratched by Hezbollah fire

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the opening of a Honduras diplomatic office in Jerusalem, says no Israelis were so much as “scratched” by the Hezbollah bombardment in northern Israel.

“There are no Israeli injuries, not even a scratch,” says a smiling Netanyahu.

Lapid says Netanyahu ‘playing politics at expense of security’

Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid appears to blame Netanyahu for the Hezbollah fire on northern Israel. He says the prime minister — who is also defense minister —  has shifted away from the military’s longstanding policy not to comment on Israel’s operations in neighboring countries, in a bid to drum up political support ahead of the September 17 elections.

“The children in the north are in shelters for one reason: Because Bibi [Netanyahu] violated the successful policy of ambiguity because of the elections,” tweets Lapid. “This is what happens when the prime minister plays politics at the expense of security.”

He praises the security forces in the north.

Gantz says suspending political campaign due to security situation

Two weeks before the national election, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, says he’s freezing his party’s political campaign due to the tense security situation in northern Israel.

He says there is “no opposition and no coalition” when it comes to Israel’s fight against its enemies.

“In light of the security situation, I have ordered our campaign frozen at this stage until the security incidents are clarified,” Gantz writes.

IDF lifts all security restrictions on civilians in northern Israel

The IDF removes all restrictions on Israeli civilians in northern Israel, following an attack from southern Lebanon by the Hezbollah terror group.

Judah Ari Gross

Exit polls: Far-right AfD surges in east German vote

The far-right Alternative for Germany party surges strongly in elections in two eastern states on Sunday, public television exit polls say, reflecting anger with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government.

In Saxony, the anti-immigration AfD scores 27.5 percent, up sharply from 9.7% five years ago, broadcasters ARD and ZDF forecast.

It wins between 22.5 and 24.5% in Brandenburg state, compared to 12.2% in 2014, say the initial projections.


Hurricane Dorian hits northern Bahamas with staggering 180 mph winds

Hurricane Dorian unleashes “catastrophic conditions” Sunday as it hits the northern Bahamas, lashing the low-lying island chain with devastating 180 mph (285 kph) winds, the most intense in its modern history.

Residents of the Abaco Islands closest to the storm are warned to “seek elevated shelter immediately,” as US forecasters predict a towering storm surge of 18 to 23 feet (about 5.5 to 7 meters).

Many Abaco islands residents are reported to have opted to ride out the monster hurricane rather than heed government warnings to evacuate.

The Nassau Guardian quotes local resident Troy Albury as saying that 150 people stayed behind in Guana Cay, in the center of the Abaco Islands, to face the storm’s fury. Only eight left on the last ferry out, he says.

Power went out as the storm approached, a resident of Man-o-war Cay in the Abacos tells AFP.

“Catastrophic conditions occurring in the Abacos Islands,” the Miami-based National Hurricane Center says in a bulletin at 1500 GMT.

The eye of the Category 5 hurricane was still 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the Abaco Islands, but the slow-moving hurricane’s core was expected to move directly over Great Abaco, and possibly also Grand Bahama Island later Sunday and Monday, US forecasters say.

The NHC says Dorian had become “the strongest hurricane in modern records for the northwestern Bahamas.”


2 Israelis arrested in Crete on suspicion of rape

Two Israeli men have been arrested in Crete on suspicion of raping a 19-year-old German tourist, according to Hebrew reports.

The Foreign Ministry confirms the arrests, without elaborating on the suspicions.

The suspects are 29- and 35-years-old.

IDF retracts claim vehicle targeted by Hezbollah was marked as ambulance

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus retracts his claim that the vehicle struck in the Hezbollah missile attack had been clearly identified as an ambulance.

Conricus says that while the armored vehicle has been used as an ambulance, it did not have a red and white Jewish star painted on the side, which would identify it as such.

Judah Ari Gross

Bahrain urges citizens to leave Lebanon amid Israel-Hezbollah tensions

Bahrain urges its citizens to leave Lebanon after Hezbollah and Israel exchange fire across the border.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain calls on all citizens in the Republic of Lebanon to leave immediately, given the events and developments in the country that require everyone to take precautions,” it says.

Earlier, Bahrain’s foreign minister criticized Lebanon for hosting the Iran-backed terror group on its territory.

Poll: Blue and White overtakes Likud by a seat, Liberman still kingmaker

A Channel 13 poll of 701 respondents sees Blue and White overtake Likud by one seat (32 of the Knesset’s 120 seats vs. 31) to become the largest party.

Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu remains the potential coalition kingmaker, with 11 seats.

Neither Blue and White nor Likud have a clear path to forming a coalition without Liberman or each other, the survey suggests.

The poll indicates that the nationalist Moshe Feiglin’s retreat from the election race last week does not boost Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud or Ayelet Shaked’s Yamina. Rather, it appears to give a modest bump to the far-right Otzma Yehudit, which remains under the electoral threshold.

The poll, published 16 days before the election, has a margin of error of 4 percent.

US envoy backs Israel after Hezbollah missile strike

US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, in a tweet, backs Israel’s right to defend itself from Hezbollah.

Bezeq’s Elovitch, former CEO Handler to be indicted, pending hearing

The State Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday summons Bezeq telecom’s former majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch to a pre-indictment hearing on charges of fraud, obstruction of justice, and violations of Israel’s Securities Law.

Several other former Bezeq employees and senior members are also summoned on similar offenses, including former Bezeq CEO Stella Handler, Elovitch’s son and former company director Or Elovich, and the former CEO of Yes, Bezeq’s satellite TV subsidiary.

The securities fraud investigation was the precursor to the so-called Case 4000, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Netanyahu looks to boost security coordination with Ethiopia

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday calls for strengthened security cooperation with Ethiopia, during a meeting in Jerusalem with his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed.

“We believe that we can offer some experience, some shared experience that we have garnered because of our unfortunate need to defend ourselves,” Netanyahu tells Ahmed, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.

He hails the prime minister of the Horn of Africa country as “one of the most important and influential leaders in Africa.”


France engaged in ‘multiple contacts’ to quell Israel-Hezbollah tensions

France is engaged in “multiple contacts” aimed at averting an escalation of hostilities on Lebanon’s southern border between Hezbollah and the Israel Defense Forces, the French foreign ministry says Sunday.

Earlier, Lebanon’s prime minister urged the United States and France to “intervene” after the Hezbollah movement traded cross-border fire with Israel.Prime Minister Saad Hariri contacted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and French President Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic adviser to ask for intervention by their countries “and the international community in facing the developments on the southern border,” Hariri’s office said in a statement.


Zehut members approve dropout from election race

Members of the nationalist libertarian Zehut party approve a deal inked with Likud to drop out of the election race in exchange for a future ministerial post and the liberalization of the medical marijuana market.

According to Channel 12, 73 percent of Zehut members voted in favor of the deal in a referendum.

Netanyahu has been putting intense pressure on several small right-wing factions to drop out of the election in September so that their votes are not “wasted” if they fail to clear the 3.25% threshold for entering the Knesset.

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