Amid probe, PM admits to as many as five daily calls with Israel Hayom editors
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Amid probe, PM admits to as many as five daily calls with Israel Hayom editors

Mengistu family rallies in Tel Aviv for son Abera's release from Hamas; Trump on attacking North Korea: 'We'll see'

  • Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson (left) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony at Ariel University in the West Bank on June 28, 2017. (Ben Dori/Flash90)
    Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson (left) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony at Ariel University in the West Bank on June 28, 2017. (Ben Dori/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Abir Sultan)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Abir Sultan)
  • US President Donald Trump speaks with military personnel at Ellington Field, Texas, on September 2, 2017. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
    US President Donald Trump speaks with military personnel at Ellington Field, Texas, on September 2, 2017. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
  • Lee Mi-Seon, a director of the National Earthquake and Volcano Center, shows a map of an area in North Korea during a briefing about the nuclear test in North Korea, at the Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul on September 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-Je)
    Lee Mi-Seon, a director of the National Earthquake and Volcano Center, shows a map of an area in North Korea during a briefing about the nuclear test in North Korea, at the Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul on September 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-Je)
  • David Sharan, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
    David Sharan, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
  • Construction workers begin work on the new settlement, Amichai, meant to resettle the evacuees of Amona, June 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Construction workers begin work on the new settlement, Amichai, meant to resettle the evacuees of Amona, June 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • African migrants take part in a protest in Tel Aviv on June 10, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    African migrants take part in a protest in Tel Aviv on June 10, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • An American U2 reconnaissance plane (Public Domain, Wikipedia)
    An American U2 reconnaissance plane (Public Domain, Wikipedia)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

Netanyahu says most African migrants are ‘illegal infiltrators,’ not refugees

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to remove the vast majority of African migrants currently residing in the country, saying at Sunday’s cabinet meeting that only “a tiny fraction of them are refugees.” The remainder, he tells cabinet ministers, are “illegal infiltrators.”

“I want to emphasize, this is the problem. Not refugees, but illegal labor migrants. And we have the right, as any country does, to watch our borders and remove from our borders anyone who comes here illegally,” he says.

He goes on to announce the formation of a “special team of ministers that will hold its first meeting next week together with representatives of the residents [of southern Tel Aviv], among other areas [where many African migrants reside]. We will meet every few weeks in the first months to look for practical solutions to this problem. The main goal will be to return these neighborhoods to their residents and to send away from Israel, just as we’ve already done with 20,000 [migrants], all the illegal infiltrators whose place is not here.”

Record-breaking US astronaut Peggy Whitson returns to Earth

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — Astronaut Peggy Whitson returns to Earth late Saturday, wrapping up a record-breaking flight that catapulted her to first place for US space endurance.

Whitson’s 665 days off the planet — 288 days on this mission alone — exceeds that of any other American and any other woman worldwide.

She checked out of the International Space Station just hours earlier, along with another American and a Russian. Their Soyuz capsule lands in Kazakhstan shortly after sunrise Sunday — Saturday night back in the US.

Whitson was the last one carried from the Soyuz. She immediately received a pair of sunglasses to put on, as she rested in a chair on the barren, wind-swept Kazak steppes. Medical personnel took her pulse, standard practice. She then received a bouquet of flowers with the greeting, “Welcome back, Peggy.”

Besides duration, Whitson set multiple other records while in orbit: world’s oldest spacewoman, at age 57, and most experienced female spacewalker, with 10 spacewalks. She also became the first woman to command the space station twice following her launch last November.

— AP

Ministers okay NIS 60m. for new settlement for Amona evacuees

The cabinet approves funding for the new settlement of Amichai, the first new West Bank settlement established by an Israeli government decision in decades.

The new village is to house the evacuated settlers of the illegal outpost of Amona, who have long complained of government inaction in fulfilling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to build for them an alternative settlement.

A budget of some NIS 60 million is approved under the aegis of the Interior Ministry for the construction of the new settlement.

Saudi Arabian ‘honesty’ app takes internet by storm

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Fizzing with boyish exuberance, Saudi programmer Zainalabdin Tawfiq could be mistaken for a college freshman, but the popularity of his “honesty” app has shined a spotlight on the conservative kingdom’s nascent tech scene.

Tawfiq catapulted to fame when he took time out of his day job as a business analyst last year to develop an anonymous messaging tool called Sarahah — honesty in Arabic — that subsequently topped the charts for app downloads.

Initially conceived as a tool for soliciting bluntly frank workplace feedback, Sarahah has found its way into the smartphones of millennials worldwide, even as critics have raised alarm about trolling and privacy issues.

“Sarahah is the digital equivalent of an old-school suggestion box,” 29-year-old Tawfiq told AFP, adding that it is built on the premise that stripping users of their identity promotes ruthless honesty.

The app has a frugal design and a simple prompt that encourages users to “leave a constructive message :)” with the recipient not allowed to reply but only share it on social media or block the sender.

Its mass appeal stems from the appetite in the Arab world — notorious for online censorship — for unfiltered platforms for expression, though Tawfiq says it has also gained a strong popularity in Western countries.

— AFP

Iran sent warnings to US aircraft twice in 6 months – report

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s Arabic language TV station al-Alam is reporting that the country’s air defense base sent two warnings in the last six months to US spy aircraft that approached Iranian airspace.

The TV’s website quotes the country’s chief of air defense, Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili, as saying Iran issued a warning to a U2 reconnaissance aircraft on March 21. He does not mention the location.

He also says the country’s air defense issued a second warning to an American drone on Aug. 26.

Gen. Esmaili says: “We do not allow such rabid aircraft to enter our territory and if necessary, will not hesitate to destroy them.”

— AP

Trump: ‘Rogue nation’ North Korea an ’embarrassment to China’

US President Donald Trump labels North Korea a “rogue nation” and says it has “conducted a major nuclear test.”

North Korea “has become a great threat and embarrassment to China,” he adds, “which is trying to help but with little success.”

China starts radiation monitoring at N. Korea border

BEIJING, China – China starts emergency monitoring for radiation along its border with North Korea in response to the country’s largest nuclear test so far on Sunday.

The environment ministry announces on its social media account that it began “emergency radiation monitoring” along its northeastern border shortly before noon.

The emergency response was set at “level 2,” the second-highest grade on a four-tier system.

It does not indicate whether any radiation had been detected.

The decision follows what North Korea has described as the successful detonation of a hydrogen bomb. The resulting explosion was considerably larger than previous tests and was felt by residents in Chinese cities hundreds of kilometers from the North’s border.

— AFP

N. Korea must abandon nuclear program, EU says

The European Union’s foreign policy chief says North Korea’s sixth nuclear test represents a “major provocation” and “a grave threat to regional and international security.”

Federica Mogherini also says in a statement that Pyongyang “must abandon its nuclear, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and immediately cease all related activities.”

Mogherini says she will meet Monday with Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to discuss North Korea.

North Korea’s nuclear test Sunday was apparently its most powerful yet. The country’s state-controlled media say it was a thermonuclear device and a “perfect success.”

— AP

NATO chief calls N. Korea ‘a threat to international security’

NATO’s secretary-general strongly condemns North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, calling it “yet another flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.”

Jens Stoltenberg also says in a statement that “NATO is concerned by Pyongyang’s destabilizing pattern of behavior, which poses a threat to regional and international security.”

He calls on North Korea to “immediately cease all existing nuclear and ballistic missile activities in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner, and re-engage in dialogue with the international community.”

North Korea’s nuclear test Sunday was apparently its most powerful yet. The country’s state-controlled media say it was a thermonuclear device and a “perfect success.”

— AP

Soccer fans’ Nazi chants a ‘shame on Germany,’ coach says

BERLIN, Germany – Germany coach Joachim Loew dubs as “shameful” Nazi-era -style chanting by a hardcore group of “so-called fans” during a World Cup qualifier.

The chants of “Sieg Heil” (Hail Victory) came from a 200-strong group of traveling fans in Friday’s 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Prague. They also whistled during the minute’s silence before kick-off for two deceased Czech officials.

The chants were particularly embarrassing from a German perspective as they came on the anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, which started World War II in 1939.

“I can’t turn directly to sporting questions without commenting on what happened in Prague,” Loew says at the start of a press conference ahead of Monday’s qualifier against Norway in Stuttgart, victory in which could secure Germany’s place in Russia next year.

“I’m full of anger and I’m very much shaken to see that some so-called fans use football, and an international match, for their deplorable demonstrations. They bring shame on our country,” Loew says, hailing his players’ decision to not applaud the block where away fans were gathered at the end of the match, as is customary.

He urges “very severe sanctions against these troublemakers. We don’t want them, we’re not their national team, and they’re not our fans.”

— AFP

Annual five-day hajj in Saudi Arabia comes to an end

MECCA, Saudi Arabia — The annual five-day Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia known as hajj is officially over.

Khalid al-Faisal, governor of Mecca, announced Sunday the formal end of the pilgrimage at a news conference in the holy city.

Hajj draws people from around the world to Saudi Arabia each year. The crowds, squeezed shoulder to shoulder in prayer five times a day, fill the city of Mecca and surrounding areas to perform a number of physically demanding and intricate rites.

The pilgrimage is required once in a lifetime of all Muslims with the means to go. Its goal is remission of past sins and drawing Muslims closer to God.

The governor said no accidents were reported this year. In the past, construction accidents, disease and stampedes have harmed and killed pilgrims.

— AP

3 Florida teens charged with murder of Jewish MMA fighter

Three Florida teens are arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Orthodox Jewish professional mixed martial arts fighter Aaron Rajman.

The teens were arrested Friday and on Saturday a judge in Palm Beach County Criminal Court ordered them held without bond, according to local reports. They also face charges of two counts of armed home invasion robbery with a firearm.

The teens have been named as Roberto Ortiz and Jace Swinton, both 18, and high school junior Summer Church, 16. Church reportedly was a friend of Rajman’s after meeting him in January at a convenience store and Swinton is her ex-boyfriend.

Aaron Rajman. (Facebook via JTA)

Rajman, 25, was killed on the evening of July 3 when several men entered his home in West Boca Raton. The men reportedly argued with Rajman and shot him before driving away.

Summer Church’s mother Judith said that on the day of the murder her daughter was forced at gunpoint by Ortiz and three other unidentified gunmen to call Rajman to see if he was home and was then let out of the car before they drove to the fighter’s home, the Palm Beach Post reported.

— JTA

US to prepare new draft sanctions on N. Korea

WASHINGTON – The US Treasury Department will prepare a package of sanctions that would “cut off North Korea economically” following the isolated regime’s latest nuclear test, the department chief says.

“I’m going to draft a sanctions package and send it to the president for his strong consideration so anybody (who) wants to do trade or business with them will be prevented from doing trade or business with us,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says on “Fox News Sunday.”

“We will work with our allies. We will work with China. But people need to cut off North Korea economically. This is unacceptable behavior,” he says.

— AFP

Former defense chief: World response to N. Korea will affect Iran’s behavior

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon says the international community’s response to the latest North Korean nuclear test “will affect the behavior of the Iranian regime on the nuclear issue in the near future.”

In a Twitter post, he says, “Despite the fact that the nuclear test is not connected to us, the tension [it has caused] should worry us.”

Palestinians say man hurt during IDF arrest dies of wounds

A Palestinian official says a 21-year-old Palestinian man, Raed Al-Salihi, has died of wounds incurred during an arrest by Israeli soldiers in August.

According to Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, Salihi, who was reportedly a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, was arrested from his home in the Deheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem on August 9.

During his arrest, Salihi was reportedly shot and critically wounded by IDF forces. He was being treated at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.

There is no immediate response to the report from Israeli sources.

— Dov Lieber

Alleged crime boss, 32 accomplices arrested in massive sweep

An alleged crime boss is arrested along with 32 other suspects on suspicion of dealing in weapons and drugs, in a massive police operation that follows a year-long undercover operation.

In an arrest sweep involving over 250 cops and special forces, Michael Mor is detained along with dozens of alleged members of his crime gang from across the country. In searches following the arrests, police seize 13 weapons, NIS 200,000 in cash, vehicles and drugs — including cocaine and marijuana, police say.

Mor is arrested at his home in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, but he is suspected of heading a crime gang based in the northern city of Nahariya, which police think had recently spread to other areas in the north of Israel including Acre, Migdal Haemek and parts of Haifa.

Police released a video of the overnight arrests.

Woman and child killed in car accident in south

A woman and child are killed in a car accident on Route 25 in the country’s south, near Ar’ara Junction.

Police shut the road and launched a probe into the circumstances of the accident.

Two additional people, a 12-year-old boy and 20-year-old man are moderately hurt, according to early reports.

Both are taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

Italy calls up defender Zappacosta for soccer qualifier against Israel

MILAN, Italy – Chelsea defender Davide Zappacosta is called up to the Italy squad for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Israel just days after signing for the Premier League champions.

The 25-year-old former Torino player has four caps for Italy, but has not featured in the squad since March.

“Davide Zappacosta has been called up to the squad for the Israel match. He’ll be available for training in the afternoon (Sunday),” the Italian team says.

Italy will be looking to bounce back against Israel after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Spain left them three points behind the Group G leaders in second place.

Zappacosta, who can play at right-back or right wing-back, will give Italy boss Giampiero Ventura more defensive options in the clash at Reggio Emilia in northern Italy.

— AFP

Man arrested in hit-and-run that seriously injured NY rabbi

Police arrest a New York man and charge him with a hit-and-run accident that seriously injured an elderly rabbi.

Rabbi Jordan Kelemer, 71, is the long-time rabbi of the Young Israel of West Hempstead on Long Island.

He was hit in December while crossing the street in front of the synagogue; the driver fled without stopping. A passerby found the rabbi and called police. Kelemer suffered a severe head injury in the accident, but has returned to work in the synagogue.

Benitez Rodolfo, 46, of Far Rockaway, New York was arrested Friday and charged with leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with physical evidence, according to Nassau County police. He pleaded not guilty at First District Court in Hempstead on Saturday, Newsday reported.

Police do not believe the rabbi was targeted by the driver. The accident reportedly was captured on the synagogue’s surveillance camera, though the license plate numbers were not clearly visible.

— JTA

Warsaw residents join Sabbath dinner to mark anniversary of WWII

WARSAW, Poland – Warsaw residents participate in a Sabbath dinner to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Gołda Tencer, the director of the Jewish Theater and the Shalom Foundation, organized a Sabbath dinner held on Friday night for the inhabitants of Warsaw on the square in the center of the Polish capital. A few hundred people, mostly non-Jews, took part and for most it was the first time they ever sat at a Jewish Sabbath table.

Among the guests was David D’or, an Israeli singer; Krystyna Willenberg, the wife of Samuel Willenberg, a Treblinka survivor who died last year; and representatives of the Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

“On September 1, 1939, 78 years ago, World War II broke out. Just like today, it was Friday,” Tencer said during the evening. “When the Polish Jews sat down to the Sabbath dinner in the evening, they had to feel fear, but none of them could have foreseen that the end of their world would begin that day. Let us remember them today at this Sabbath dinner, and remember them always.”

Next to the square where the Sabbath dinner was held, the building of the Jewish Theater had stood. It was demolished earlier this year. A modern skyscraper will be built in its place. “There is not our building today, but the dybbuks of that place are coming with us,” Tencer said.

— JTA

Ex-Netanyahu chief of staff named as aide arrested in submarine probe

A former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is among those arrested in Sunday morning raids as part of the ongoing corruption investigation into a multi-million dollar purchase of naval vessels from Germany, police confirm Monday.

Following a court remand hearing, police say that David Sharan, who served as chief of staff in the prime minister’s bureau for two years, was among six people, including former military officers, who were detained in the raids.

Sharan was appointed as chief of staff in November 2014, replacing long-time Netanyahu confidant Ari Harow. Last month, Harow agreed to turn state’s witness in two separate corruption investigations involving the prime minister, known as Case 1000 and Case 2000.

Sharan resigned as chief of staff in August 2016 following a decision to cancel his appointment as cabinet secretary. He has since served as the CEO of the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company.

David Sharan, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

— Raoul Wootliff

Remand extended by five days for former Netanyahu chief of staff

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extends the remand of former Netanyahu chief of staff David Sharan by five days, until September 7 at 4 p.m.

Sharan’s arrest in the so-called submarines affair was cleared for publication by the court on Sunday evening.

US police delegation arrives for meetings with Israeli counterparts

A delegation of 52 American police and other law enforcement officers land in Israel for a tour of the country and meetings with Israeli counterparts.

It is the second year in a row for the program, and includes participation in Israel’s annual commemoration ceremony for those killed in the 9/11 terror attacks on the US, which takes place outside Jerusalem.

Rabbi of Houston congregation opens bar mitzvah to all

The rabbi of a roving congregation in Houston opens a bar mitzvah service to the entire Jewish community in the wake of catastrophic flooding.

Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss’s home was so damaged by the flooding that he was unable to hold services there this weekend, a week after Hurricane Harvey hit the area. So he arranged to have this Shabbat’s services for his Shma Koleinu roving Jewish congregation at Congregation Brith Shalom in Bellaire, Texas and he opened the Bar Mitzvah service and celebratory meal for 13-year-old Doran Evan Yustein to the entire Jewish community, the Associated Press reports.

“We wanted people to come and celebrate the Bar Mitzvah, but also offer prayers for the community, because there’s been so much sadness, and so many lives have been affected,” Doran’s mother, Gabrielle Moses, tells AP.

Many came to the service because they were invited, and others came because they needed to feel connected after such a difficult week.

Last week, Hausman-Weiss held a Friday night service for his congregants on Facebook since they were busy getting their homes ready for the storm or had left town.

— JTA

Trump on attacking North Korea: ‘We’ll see’

TOKYO — North Korea has claimed a “perfect success” for its most powerful nuclear test so far, a further step in the development of weapons capable of striking anywhere in the United States.

US President Donald Trump, asked if he would attack the North, says, “We’ll see.”

The president was meeting later Sunday with his national security team. North Korea’s nuclear test was the first since Trump took office in January.

In a series of tweets, Trump said the latest provocation from the isolated communist country reinforces the danger facing America. He said “talk of appeasement” is pointless because “They only understand one thing!”

After attending church in Washington, the president made his “We’ll see” comment in response to a question from reporters.

— AP

Amid probe, PM admits to as many as five daily calls with Israel Hayom editors

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with editors of the right-leaning Israel Hayom newspaper as many as five times daily during the run-up to the March 2015 election, according to information provided by the Prime Minister’s Office following a freedom of information appeal.

According to the information, provided to Channel 10’s investigative report Raviv Drucker after a lengthy court process, Netanyahu’s calls to former editor Amos Regev and the newspaper’s publisher, American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, often took place late at night, shortly before the closing of the next day’s edition.

If Netanyahu directly coordinated campaign publicity with the newspaper, then the many millions of shekels Adelson spent on the newspaper may count as illegal campaign financing, critics say.

Netanyahu confidant MK David Bitan responds Sunday to the Channel 10 report by filing his own Freedom of Information Act request to the Prime Minister’s Office demanding the release of similar information about phone calls to newspaper editors by former premiers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon.

According to data already released by the PMO, Netanyahu spoke with ex-editor Regev 235 times in three years and with Adelson 120 times in the same period.

Mengistu family rallies in Tel Aviv for son Abera’s release from Hamas

Dozens of people gather in support of Abera Mengistu, an Israeli citizen who has been held in Gaza by the Hamas terrorist group for three years, in central Tel Aviv’s Habima Square.

Many of the people attending come from Mengistu’s Ethiopian Jewish community, and others come from various Israeli youth groups.

“Unfortunately, today we are commemorating three years that Abera has been in captivity,” one of Mengistu’s brothers tells the crowd.

“There isn’t one day that mom doesn’t pray for you to come home. We’ll continue to yell, to fight, until you come home, healthy and whole.”

Mengistu’s father addresses the crowd in Amharic. “We only see darkness. We don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Mengistu’s mother says she can’t understand how Hamas can keep her son, who has been diagnosed with mental illness, locked up for this long. “Are their hearts made of stone? Do they not have children?” she says through tears.

— Judah Ari Gross

Iran confirms 2 jailed Americans lost their appeal

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran confirms that an Iranian-American businessman and his 81-year-old father have lost an appeal over their 10-year prison sentences.

The semi-official ISNA news agency on Sunday quotes Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi as confirming that Siamak and Baquer Namazi lost their appeals.

The report also provides Iran’s first acknowledgment that Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese man who is a permanent US resident, has also lost his appeal. Zakka advocates for internet freedom and has done work for the US government. He was sentenced to 10 years last year on espionage-related charges.

The Namazis are among a number of dual nationals held in Iran after the 2015 nuclear deal.

— AP

China urges North Korea not to launch ICBM

SEOUL, South Korea — China warns North Korea against proceeding with its reported plans to launch another ballistic missile, saying it should not worsen tensions.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang tells reporters Monday that North Korea “must be very clear” that UN Security Council resolutions prohibit such activities.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry says that North Korea appeared to be planning a future missile launch, possibly of an ICBM.

In Beijing, Geng says China hopes all parties, especially North Korea, “exercise restraint and refrain from further escalating tensions.”

Geng also says that China had lodged “stern representations” with the North Korean Embassy in Beijing after the North conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.

— AP

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