The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
Gaza doctor makes stethoscope with 3-D printer
A Palestinian-Canadian doctor creates a low-cost stethoscope using a 3-D printer, the first in a series of inventions he hopes will help alleviate medical supply shortages caused by an eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Dr. Tarek Loubani says his stethoscope can be made for just $2.50 — a fraction of the cost of leading brands — and some doctors say the equipment is just as good.
The shortage of basic medical devices in the isolated Palestinian territory “is something that I think we can translate from a big problem to a big win for us in Gaza,” said Loubani, an emergency medicine doctor from London, Canada, whose Glia Project aims to provide medical supplies to impoverished places like Gaza.
Arab MK: Failure to nab Duma attackers ‘authorizes the next attack’
MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Arab Joint List) slams Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for failing to arrest the perpetrators of the Duma firebombing.
The defense minister told a closed meeting of Likud party members Wednesday that the defense establishment knows who bombed the Dawabsha home, killing three members of the family, in the West Bank village, but that the person was not under arrest in order to avoid exposing intelligence sources in court.
“The Minister of Defense has turned a blind eye towards the extremists who are behind the death of the Dawabshe family. Now he continues to maintain this ugly and contemptuous policy, and states that although he knows who is behind the murder – the atrocious criminals will not be prosecuted. Would that also be the case if a Jewish family was murdered?” Touma-Sliman said in a statement.
“Ya’alon’s statement reveals the system’s tolerant attitude towards settlers’ terror, thus authorizing the next murder. Ya’alon and the system he is heading are fully responsible for the atrocious murder of the Dawabshe family and for the ongoing settlers’ terror against Palestinians.”
Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway reopens after massive fire put out
The main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway reopens after being closed earlier today when a truck burst into flames.
The fire spread to fields alongside road and caused the evacuation of residents in nearby homes.
There are no injuries from the fire.
The closure while emergency crews put out the fire and removed the truck led to snarled traffic along one of the country’s busiest highways.
Qalansawe resident suspected in deadly stabbing
A Qalansawe resident is under arrest on suspicion of murdering a fellow resident of the village this morning, police say.
Both the suspect and victim are in their twenties.
EU parliament backs refugee plan
The European Parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly backs plans by EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to ease the burden on the bloc’s border states from a wave of refugees mostly coming from Syria.
Legislators vote in favor of a motion welcoming Juncker’s proposals for the relocation of 160,000 asylum-seekers from Greece, Hungary and Italy and for a permanent mechanism of binding quotas to deal with future emergencies.
EU ministers to meet on refugee resettlement
EU ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting on refugee resettlement next Monday and several eastern EU nations are already voicing their opposition to a mandatory spreading of refugees to their countries.
The European Parliament backs on Thursday the plan of EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to spread out 160,000 refugees in Hungary, Greece and Italy across the other member states.
The support of the European legislature had been expected and has little impact compared with the power of the member states, which also need to back the plan.
Russia says its planes carry military goods to Syria
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russian aircraft flying into Syria are delivering military supplies and humanitarian aid — but he sheds no light on what the US and NATO worry is a Russian military buildup at a Syrian airfield.
Russia backs Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the country’s 4 ½-year civil war, providing weapons and military experts to train Syria’s military.
Lavrov on Thursday once again confirms that Russia has military personnel in Syria, but says nothing about reported deployments of additional troops.
Asked about Russian planes flying to the airfield near the Syrian city of Latakia, Lavrov says they were carrying “military goods in accordance with existing contracts and humanitarian aid.”
320 cannabis plants found in West Bank home
A 38-year-old resident of an Israeli West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem is under arrest after police find 320 cannabis plants growing in his home.
Some were growing in a hydroponic lab in his house, others on the roof and yet another batch in a closet.
Committee to appoint rabbinic judges meets for first time in four years
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz opens the first meeting in four years of the government’s Rabbinic Judges Appointments Committee, charged with appointing the judges in the country’s Jewish religious courts.
The committee has been an arena for fighting between various communities and political parties, including the nationalist-religious Jewish Home, the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party Shas and the United Torah Judaism party, an alliance of various Ashkenazi Haredi sects. Each has jockeyed for position on the committee — and thus for the right to appoint Israel’s rabbinic judges — for years.
Under Israel’s Ottoman-inherited state religious court system, much of the country’s family and personal-status law is handled in state-run religious courts for each recognized religious denomination.
“I’m convening the Rabbinic Judges Appointments Committee after over four years in which no judges have been appointed — something that caused a dearth of dayanim [rabbinic judges], long delays and much suffering for petitioners,” Steinitz, the minister who serves as chairman of the committee for the government, says in a statement.
“Choosing dayanim is complex, but I intend to ask members of the committee to cooperate in choosing worthy and excellent judges, who understand the responsibility placed on their shoulders and who will rule with integrity and with an understanding of the unique character of the Israeli nation and Israeli society in which we live.”
Referring to the ongoing battles for control of the religious courts, he adds: “I intend to ask members of the committee not to automatically rule out judges from rabbinic traditions other their own.”
Catalonia separatists try to stage Spain breakaway
For a fourth consecutive year, hundreds of thousands of pro-independence Catalans are gearing up to rally Friday to break away from Spain, kicking off a fresh secession bid in a push to carve out a new European nation.
After the central government rejected efforts by separatists to hold an independence referendum, Catalan politicians are now heading toward a September 27 regional parliamentary election with candidates staking out positions for or against an independent Catalonia. The northeastern region of 7.5 million people is marked by fierce pride in Catalan language and traditions.
The massive rally for the Catalan National Day holiday on September 11 marks the kickoff of campaigning for secessionists who say Catalonia is culturally different from Spain, doesn’t get back what it pays in taxes — and that independence is the only way forward. The latest effort follows rebukes to requests for greater self-governance by the Madrid central government.
New human relative seen in South African bones
Scientists say they’ve discovered a new member of the human family tree, revealed by a huge trove of bones in a barely accessible, pitch-dark chamber of a cave in South Africa.
The creature shows a surprising mix of human-like and more primitive characteristics — some experts called it “bizarre” and “weird.”
And the discovery presents some key mysteries: How old are the bones? And how did they get into that chamber, reachable only by a complicated pathway that includes squeezing through passages as narrow as about 7½ inches (17.8 centimeters)?
The bones were found by a spelunker, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Johannesburg. The site has yielded some 1,550 specimens since its discovery in 2013. The fossils represent at least 15 individuals.
Researchers named the creature Homo naledi (nah-LEH-dee). That reflects the “Homo” evolutionary group, which includes modern people and our closest extinct relatives, and the word for “star” in a local language. The find was made in the Rising Star cave system.
El Al reveals it will buy 15 new 787 Dreamliners
Israel’s largest airline El Al says it is buying or leasing 15 new 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliner planes, Globes reports.
“The final composition of the deal between purchases from Boeing and leasing from airliner leasing companies will be settled when the purchase and leasing agreements for the planes are signed,” El Al says in its report to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
The purchase is revealed in a memorandum of understanding between El Al and Boeing, which also gives the airline the option of purchasing 13 787-10 planes.
Islamic State attacks in Saudi Arabia test security of hajj
The Islamic State group is extending its reach in Saudi Arabia, expanding the scope of its attacks and drawing in new recruits with its radical ideology. Its determination to bring down the US-allied royal family raises concerns it could threaten the annual Muslim hajj pilgrimage later this month.
So far, the extremist group’s presence in the kingdom appears to be in a low-level stage, but it has claimed four significant bombings since May, one of them in neighboring Kuwait. And it is rapidly ramping up its rhetoric, aiming to undermine the al-Saud royal family’s legitimacy, which is rooted in part in its claim to implement Islamic Shariah law and to be the protectors of Islam’s most sacred sites in Mecca and Medina that are at the center of hajj.
“Daesh and its followers have made it very clear that Saudi Arabia is their ultimate target,” Saudi analyst Fahad Nazer says, referring to the Islamic State group by its Arabic acronym. “Because of Mecca and Medina … That’s their ultimate prize.”
Budget gap leaves 10 special needs first-graders out of school
Ten special needs schoolgirls in Ashdod are unable to go to school because the local school system lacks the funds to pay for their classroom.
According to Israel Radio, the girls, who were supposed to begin first grade on September 1, were told only days before the start of the school year that they would not start the school year with the rest of the country’s schoolchildren.
The Education Ministry says it is making an effort to find a solution for the girls.
Britain announces record number of terror arrests
British police made a record 299 terror arrests over the last 12 months, overtaking the previous highest level in the year of the London bombings in 2005, Home Office figures show.
In the year to March, 299 people were detained for terrorism-related offenses, an increase of 31 percent on the previous year.
It is the highest number since data collection began in September 2001.
The previous record was 284, set in 2005 — when four suicide bombers struck London’s transport system on July 7 in coordinated attacks that killed 52 people.
The Home Office says there has been a “marked increase” in arrests of people with British or dual nationality since 2011. This coincides with the start of the Syrian civil war and the rise of Islamic State.
Lawmakers work to cut motorcycle insurance costs
A Knesset committee approves new insurance cost-assessment guidelines for motorcyclists that will lower the cost of mandatory insurance for motorcycle owners.
A joint panel of lawmakers from the Knesset Finance Committee and the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee passes the new guidelines Thursday, but does not pass similar cost-lowering guidelines measures for cars.
Jews, Israelis loom large among ‘Politico 50’
In the latest “Politico 50” list of “the thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2015,” published Thursday by the influential Washington political magazine, Jews hold pride of place as those driving the ideas and trends in US politics — and even Israeli ambassadors make the cut.
The two names sharing the #12 slot: Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and his immediate predecessor in the post MK Michael Oren. They are the only foreign ambassadors on the list, placed there for their roles in the Iran deal campaigns and in the many feuds in recent years between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama White House.
Many prominent Jews also featured on the list, including Senator (and Democratic presidential hopeful) Bernie Sanders at #5, followed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg tied for #8, workers’ rights advocate Sara Horowitz (#16), Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen (#16), Senator Dianne Feinstein (#19), Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam (#21) and Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz (#36).
Yeshiva University head to step down in 2018
Yeshiva University president Richard Joel says he will resign as head of American Orthodoxy’s major educational institution at the end of his current term, The Forward reports.
Joel’s term, his third since he first accepted the presidency post 13 years ago, is set to end in 2018.
YU has seen annual deficits between $50 million and $100 million for the past eight years, the New York paper says, primarily driven by its medical school, the ownership of which has been transferred to a joint venture between YU and Bronx-based healthcare provider Montefiore Health System, Joel says Thursday.
Iran sends hundreds of troops to Syria-Lebanon border – report
Iran sends hundreds of Revolutionary Guards troops to the western Syrian village of Zabadani, north of Damascus, Channel 2 reports based on Israeli sources.
The move is seen as a dramatic escalation of Iranian involvement in the Syrian civil war.
“It is not an exaggeration to assess that this is being done in coordination with the Russians,” says Channel 2’s Roni Daniel.
Zabadani sits across the border from the eastern Lebanese highlands on a key strategic point on the road from Damascus to Beirut. Iranian proxy Hezbollah has suffered significant losses fighting for control of the area in recent years.
Russian troops already in Syria, says Ya’alon
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says Russian forces have arrived in Syria in recent days to aid President Bashar Assad’s beleaguered government.
Ya’alon tells reporters Thursday Moscow sent military advisers and an active force to set up an air base. He says the base, near the Syrian city of Latakia, could be used to deploy fighter jets and helicopters in strikes against Islamic State.
Ya’alon’s disclosure is the latest indication of a Russian military buildup in Syria that has concerned the United States and NATO.
Moscow has backed Assad throughout Syria’s 4.5-year civil war, in which more than 250,000 people have been killed. The US sees Assad as the cause of the crisis and has warned Moscow against beefing up its presence.
Iran still pondering what to do with excess uranium
VIENNA – Iran says it has not yet decided how to reduce its enriched uranium stockpile — which it must do under the July 14 nuclear deal it signed with six world powers.
Iranian envoy Reza Najafi says one option would be to export it to Russia or other countries. The other, he says, would be to convert it to non-enriched form.
Najafi, Iran’s chief envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, speaks to reporters Thursday outside a board meeting of the 35-nation agency.
Uranium can be enriched to levels all the way to weapons-grade, which is used in the fissile core of nuclear arms. Iran says it is not interested in such weapons and enriches only to produce energy and for peaceful research.
Rabbinic judges panel at loggerheads
The Rabbinic Judges Appointments Committee is at loggerheads as different religious political parties push for the election of rabbinic judges who agree with their views on Jewish law, Channel 2 reports.
The committee is meeting in Jerusalem for the first time in four years. It has long been a battleground between Zionist Orthodox rabbis close to the Jewish Home party and its predecessors and ultra-Orthodox rabbis tied to Shas and United Torah Judaism.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a committee member, is pushing for modern Orthodox Zionist rabbis close to her Jewish Home party, while Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef leads the fight to appoint ultra-Orthodox judges.
The committee must appoint 31 new dayanim, or rabbinic judges, to Israel’s state rabbinic court system — some one-third of the total number of judges.
Serbia charges 8 over Srebrenica massacre
Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor on Thursday charges eight men with participation in the 1995 slaughter of some 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
Arrested in March, the eight are accused of ordering and participating in the execution of several hundred Muslims in a single day at a warehouse in the eastern Bosnian town of Kravica, near Srebrenica, a prosecutor’s statement says.
If found guilty, they face the maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.
The indictment is a “message that there will be no impunity for war crimes and that the victims will not be forgotten,” prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic tells AFP.
Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed and their bodies dumped in mass graves during the massacre, which became a symbol of the horror of the 1990s Balkan wars that accompanied the collapse of the former Yugoslavia.
Key Iran vote set in Senate, Democrats on track to prevail
A Thursday afternoon vote in the US Senate will seal the outcome of US President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal on Iran. Democrats are confident they have the votes to block a disapproval resolution pushed by Republicans.
That will be an important victory for Obama on his top foreign policy priority, despite unanimous GOP opposition.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Democrats not to use procedural tactics to block final passage of the disapproval resolution. But Democrats intend to do just that.
For their part, House Republicans have abandoned work on the disapproval resolution after seeing it would probably get stopped in the Senate. They are moving forward on other measures aimed at throwing up roadblocks to the Iran deal — but none of it looks likely to go anywhere.
UN set to back raising Palestinian flag at its HQ
The United Nations on Thursday is expected to allow the Palestinians to raise their flag at its headquarters in New York, in a symbolic move highlighting Palestinian aspirations for statehood.
The General Assembly is set to vote at 3 pm (1900 GMT) on a draft resolution that diplomats say is almost certain to garner a majority in the 193-nation forum.
“It is a symbolic thing, but another step to solidify the pillars of the state of Palestine in the international arena,” says Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the UN.
The resolution would allow the flags of Palestine and the Holy See — both of which have non-member observer status — to be hoisted alongside those of the member states.
853 Israelis treated for sandstorm-related health problems
Hundreds of Israelis are treated by rescue services for breathing difficulties due to the dense sandstorm passing through Israel’s skies since early Tuesday.
More than 853 people are treated by Magen David Adom for sandstorm-related health problems, the organization says. At least 565 of them suffer from shortness of breath, asthma attacks and lung diseases, and more than 288 from worsening heart disease symptoms.
“MDA is on alert due to the dust and the accompanying heatwave,” says MDA director Eli Bin, and calls on Israelis to pay close attention to those who may be especially susceptible to the unusual weather, including those with heart or breathing difficulties, the elderly and children.
Meteorologists say the dust and heatwave are expected to last at least another two days.
I’ll meet Abbas anywhere, even in Norwegian fjords, says PM
Speaking to UK lawmakers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offers a colorful recap of his comments earlier today to British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“I had the opportunity now to discuss with Prime Minister Cameron how to seize the opportunities and how to meet the challenges, and this is what I’d like to start my remarks with,” he tells a gathering of some 120 British MPs who are members of parliamentary Israel friendship associations.
“I said in 10 Downing Street now, again, here’s the acid test. It’s simple. I’m willing right now, without any preconditions, any preconditions whatsoever, to sit down with President [Mahmoud] Abbas and negotiate this peace. I’m willing to go to Ramallah, yes, a nightmare for my security people. I often do that when I stop at falafel stands. They’re going to have to deal with it. Okay? Or President Abbas can come to Jerusalem, or for God’s sake, we can take up some of these suggestions for retreats in Sicily or fjords in Norway. Whatever. Anytime, anywhere, now, without preconditions.”
Jewish teen assaulted near Paris
A Jewish young man reports being assaulted near Paris by three black men, who hit him and called him a “dirty Jew.”
The incident occurs Tuesday in Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris, according to a report Thursday by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism — a French watchdog group known locally by the initials BNVCA.
The alleged victim, identified as 18-year-old Ruben Am, says he was approached by a tall African man near Montreuil’s Robespierre metro station, who asked him for a lighter. Then the man asked Am about his religion. Feeling threatened, Am said he was a Moroccan Muslim. But his interlocutor reportedly punched him in the face, saying he could not be Muslim as he attended the Daniel Mayer Jewish vocational school.
He also called Am a dirty Jew, according to the report, and was joined by two other men, also African, who covered their faces with their hoodies. The three then fled the scene. The victim sustained several cuts to his face from the hits, BNVCA President Sammy Ghozlan writes.
2 arrested in beating of Jewish teen in England
Two teens are arrested in connection with the beating of a Jewish teenager in England that left him in a coma.
The teens are arrested early Thursday morning on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and violent disorder in the attack at a train station in the heart of north Manchester’s Jewish community. Manchester police also are calling on witnesses to the attack to come forward.
The 17-year-old victim, identified as Moshe Fuerst, was hospitalized after the attack with serious head injuries. He came out of a coma on Monday night. He is one of four young Orthodox Jews assaulted on the night of September 5 by three men at the train station near Heaton Park.
“These arrests demonstrate that the police are taking this incident very seriously, which I hope gives reassurance to the Jewish community and the wider public,” Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd tells the London-based Jewish Chronicle.
Lloyd says police are treating the attack as a hate crime.
US sanctions aim at Saudi-Hamas finance link
New US Treasury sanctions Thursday take aim at financial links between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which the US labels a terrorist group.
The Treasury names Hamas political bureau member Saleh Aruri; Saudi-based Hamas financier Mahir Salah; Abu-Ubaydah Khayri Hafiz Al-Agha, a Saudi citizen and “senior Hamas financial officer”; and al-Agha’s company Asyaf International Holding Group for sanctions.
It says Aruri has since 2013 “overseen the distribution of Hamas finances” and works closely with Salah.
Salah, a dual British and Jordanian citizen, has led the Hamas Finance Committee in Saudi Arabia, which the Treasury calls “the largest center of Hamas’s financial activity.”
The Treasury also names Egyptian Mohammed Reda Mohammed Anwar Awad, a money exchange owner who has transferred funds to Hamas, to the sanctions blacklist.
The sanctions freeze all assets of the designated individuals and company that are in the United States and forbid any US individual or company from doing business with them.
Saudi gives $10m for Islamic law center at Yale
A Saudi businessman donates $10 million to Yale Law School to establish what school officials hope will become the country’s top center for the study of Islamic law.
Abdallah S. Kamel makes the award after meetings with university representatives including Yale President Peter Salovey. Kamel, chief executive of the Dallah Albaraka Group banking and real estate enterprise in Saudi Arabia, has sponsored a lecture series on Islamic law for the last three years.
Yale officials say the Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization reflects a growing interest at Yale and other institutions in Islamic law, history and culture.
For two decades, Harvard Law School has had its own Islamic legal studies program, established with support from the Saudi king.
13-year-old falls in north, suffers head injury
A 13-year-old youth was moderately injured by falling from a height of three meters (9 feet) in Ma’ale Gilboa, in the north of Israel.
Magen David Adom paramedics were treating the youth, who suffered a head injury. A Magen David Adom helicopter was scrambled to evacuate the youth to a hospital.
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