10 migrants missing off coast of Greece
search
Live updates (closed)

Kerry reportedly heading to Israel next week

US secretary said set to meet with Netanyahu on Tuesday; PM speaks with French president, says they’ll meet on sidelines of climate summit

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, October 22, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, October 22, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
  • Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the Paris terror attacks on November 13, 2015, waves an Islamic State flag in this undated picture taken from a magazine published by IS. (screenshot)
    Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the Paris terror attacks on November 13, 2015, waves an Islamic State flag in this undated picture taken from a magazine published by IS. (screenshot)
  • An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector disconnects the connections between the twin cascades for 20% uranium production at Natanz nuclear power plant south of Tehran on January, 20, 2014 (Photo credit: Kazem Ghane/IRNA/AFP)
    An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector disconnects the connections between the twin cascades for 20% uranium production at Natanz nuclear power plant south of Tehran on January, 20, 2014 (Photo credit: Kazem Ghane/IRNA/AFP)
  • A screenshot of the IED the Islamic State group says it used to down the Russian plane over the Sinai Peninsula (screen capture: Dabiq)
    A screenshot of the IED the Islamic State group says it used to down the Russian plane over the Sinai Peninsula (screen capture: Dabiq)
  • File: Debris of the A321 Russian airliner lie on the ground a day after the plane crashed in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, on November 1, 2015 (Khaled Desouki/AFP)
    File: Debris of the A321 Russian airliner lie on the ground a day after the plane crashed in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, on November 1, 2015 (Khaled Desouki/AFP)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, during their meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, Pool)
    Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, during their meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, Pool)
  • Police forces and soldiers patrol in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, Wednesday, November 18, 2015.  (AP/Christophe Ena)
    Police forces and soldiers patrol in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, Wednesday, November 18, 2015. (AP/Christophe Ena)
  • Police forces operate in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. (AP/Francois Mori)
    Police forces operate in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. (AP/Francois Mori)

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

Fate of Paris mastermind unclear after safe house raid

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins says authorities are working to determine the fate of the suspected mastermind of last week’s Paris attacks after a seven-hour police raid on an apartment where he was believed to be hiding.

Francois Molins says the police began the raid Wednesday after gathering information that suspect Abdelhamid Abaaoud could be in a safe house apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.

Molins says the information was collected from tapped telephone conversations, surveillance and witness accounts.

He tells reporters in Saint-Denis after the operation was over that authorities are still working to determine who was inside. Seven people were arrested and two suspects were killed.

AP

This undated image taken from a jihadist website on Monday Nov. 16, 2015 shows Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the Paris terror attacks on November 13. (Jihadist video via AP)

This undated image taken from a jihadist website on Monday Nov. 16, 2015 shows Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the Paris terror attacks on November 13. (Jihadist video via AP)

Obama briefed on French police op

A White House official says President Barack Obama has been briefed on the law enforcement operation in a suburb of Paris. This is a French law enforcement operation, but the president asked to be updated, the official said.

Obama is in Manila for an economic summit. The official was not authorized to discuss the briefing further.

A French government spokesman says a seven-hour police operation north of Paris targeting the mastermind of the deadly Paris attacks and his accomplices, has ended.

AP

Turkey arrests ‘suspected jihadists posing as refugees’

Turkey’s state-run news agency says authorities have detained eight people at Istanbul’s main airport who they suspect could be Islamic State militants planning to make their way to Germany, posing as refugees.

The Anadolu Agency says the eight arrived in Istanbul from Casablanca, Morocco, and were interviewed by criminal profiling teams at Ataturk Airport. Citing police sources, the agency says one of the suspects had a hand-drawn picture of a planned route from Turkey to Germany, via Greece, Serbia and Hungary.

Anadolu says the eight claimed to be tourists visiting Istanbul but a hotel refuted claims they had reservations there.

AP

All 129 Paris victims identified

The French government says all 129 people killed in attacks Friday on a Paris stadium, a concert hall and cafes have been identified.

A statement released after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting says about 100 families have come to see the bodies.

At least 350 people were also wounded in the Paris attacks, with scores of people still critically injured. The death toll may still rise if some of the wounded do not recover.

AP

Pictures of victims are placed behind candles outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Christoph Ena)

Pictures of victims are placed behind candles outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Christoph Ena)

2 German women held for synagogue vandalism

Two women are arrested after attacking a synagogue in the east German city of Cottbus.

Police say the 21- and 36-year-old women smashed several windows of Brandenburg state’s only synagogue early Wednesday morning.

Spokesman Torsten Wendt says the women had previously been spotted by police in the vicinity of the synagogue on Tuesday morning.

He says high levels of alcohol were measured on the women’s breath. Officers are still waiting to interview them and determine whether they had a far-right motive.

AP

Netanyahu hints at partial West Bank annexation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday hints at the possibility of an Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank.

“There’s all sorts of unilateral moves and sorts of directions. Wait and see. And they’re not necessarily in the direction that people think,” he says at conference in Jerusalem, refusing to elaborate.

Last week, Netanyahu first raised the notion of unilateral steps when asked about his plan to prevent Israel from becoming a binational state in case no agreement with the Palestinians could be found. Later, his aides clarified that he was referring to unilateral steps to improve Israel’s position on the ground and that he was not considering any territorial withdrawals.

Addressing the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Netanyahu says there are three aspects to peacemaking: political agreements, security and prosperity. Asked by the paper’s diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon whether he envisions any unilateral steps if a peace deal remains elusive, the prime minister replies that Israel is already implementing unilateral steps in the security and economic realms.

“I prefer bilateral; I prefer negotiated moves,” he says. “But in the absence of security and the economy there’s room for it. Politically, I think it’s more complicated [and] not desirable.”

Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press statement regarding the Security Council's decision to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel on November 17, 2015 (Haim Zach / GPO)

Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press statement regarding the Security Council’s decision to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel on November 17, 2015 (Haim Zach / GPO)

 

Netanyahu also comments on controversial comments by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who invoked the Palestinians’ frustration when discussing Friday’s terror attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people.

Without mentioning Wallstrom by name, the prime minister says that Israel is not to blame for terrorism, whether it occurs in the Middle East or in Europe.

“We’re not to blame any more than the people of Paris are to blame for the attacks that are leveled against them,” he said. “So obviously we reject that. But now there’s a new twist: it’s not merely that we are to blame for the terror that is directed against us. We are to blame for the terrorism that is directed against them, in Paris. Now that’s a level of absurdity that … is almost comic if it weren’t so tragic.”

Raphael Ahren

Copenhagen airport terminal evacuated over suspicious bag

Danish police evacuate one of two terminals at Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport on Wednesday because of a suspicious bag, airport officials and police say.

“Terminal 3 has been evacuated. A suspicious bag has been reported. Police are investigating,” airport spokeswoman Sisse Hansen tells AFP.

“We are heading to a suspicious situation at Kastrup airport. Terminal 3 evacuated,” police confirm on Twitter.

The incident comes just hours after Danish police raised the country’s threat level by one notch to the second-highest level, citing the elevated risk of a terrorist attack after last week’s Paris attacks.

AFP

French police dog killed in raid

A French police dog named Diesel was killed Wednesday during a huge security services’ operation against jihadists holed up in an apartment to the north of Paris, police say.

“Diesel, a seven-year-old Belgian Shepherd, a female assault dog … was killed by terrorists during the operation,” according to the Twitter account of France’s police.

“Assault and explosives detection dogs are vital in the operations of RAID,” the specialist anti-terrorist unit of the French police which launched the dawn assault targeting the suspected mastermind of Friday’s attacks in Paris.

The hashtag #JeSuisChien (I am a dog) is trending on French Twitter after the announcement.

AFP

EU envoy heckled at Jerusalem conference

The European ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Anderson, is heckled at the Jerusalem Post conference.

As he condemns terrorism, a conference-goer yells “Labeling is terrorism.”

Unfazed, Faaborg-Anderson speaks on, thanking Israelis for their hospitality and reiterating the union’s support for Israel.

“The bond between the EU and Israel is unbreakable and it is indispensable and for most part our relations are thriving,” he says. “But [it’s] no secret we don’t agree on every point.”

He says talks of an EU boycott do not stand up to the test of reality. The envoy says Europe is not boycotting Israel and not boycotting settlements, and is opposed to boycott efforts.

Raphael Ahren

EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen (photo credit: Yossi Zwecker)

EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen (photo credit: Yossi Zwecker)

EU envoy ‘shocked’ by Nazi comparisons

The EU envoy to Israel says he was “shocked” to hear the new labeling measures of West Bank products likened to the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

He says such analogies are a “distortion of history and belittlement of Nazi crimes and memory of their victims.”

Faaborg-Anderson says those who say Israel is being singled out with the labeling are wrong.

“It’s not political step. We’re not preempting results of talks, that is up to the parties… however, until such an agreement is reached, EU will continue to make distinction between Israel and settlements,” he says.

He says Israel and the international community should discuss the status of the settlements, which the latter maintain are illegal and an obstacle to peace. How is a state commitment to a two-state solution compatible with building settlements? he asks.

The EU envoy concedes that the settlements are not the only problem, but says they are a “definitely a significant, crucial one.”

Raphael Ahren

Engaging with Assad a ‘lesser evil’ — Spain

Spain’s foreign minister pleads Wednesday in favor of engaging with Syrian leader Bashar Assad to deal with the terror threat in Europe, just days after deadly attacks in Paris.

“The lesser evil is to come to an agreement with Bashar Assad to begin a ceasefire allowing aid to reach the displaced… kickstart a political transition and above all attack our common enemy — Daesh (Islamic State group),” Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo tells TVE television.

“We have to replace the ‘Bashar yes or Bashar no’ discourse by one of peace or war. If you want peace, you are going to have get along with Assad at least on a temporary basis.”

“(Former US president Franklin D) Roosevelt was forced to come to an agreement with Stalin to finish with the Nazis, as it was a lesser evil at the time,” he says.

AFP

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (left) speaks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (right) during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 20, 2015. (AFP/Ria Novosti/Kremlin Pool/Alexey Druzhinin)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (left) speaks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (right) during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 20, 2015. (AFP/Ria Novosti/Kremlin Pool/Alexey Druzhinin)

Putin, Sissi agree on tight security cooperation

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday agree to “close cooperation” between their security services after Moscow says a bomb brought down its passenger jet over Sinai.

“In the context of the efforts to find the criminals involved in the terrorist act against the Russian airliner, close cooperation was agreed on between the security services of Russia and Egypt,” the Kremlin says in a statement after the leaders spoke by phone, adding that the intention was “to realize additional measures to assure the maximum security of air traffic” between the two countries.

AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin (front), accompanied by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, meets with top military officials at the National Defense Control Center of the Russian Federation in Moscow on November 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / ALEXEI NIKOLSKY)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (front), accompanied by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, meets with top military officials at the National Defense Control Center of the Russian Federation in Moscow on November 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / ALEXEI NIKOLSKY)

‘100,000 Muslims killed by IS this year’ — Jordan

Jordan’s monarch is optimistic the world will come together to fight terror in the wake of the Paris attacks, noting they were only the latest in a series of attacks that represent a global threat.

Abdullah II says the Paris killings are another example of the need to fight “a global war against terror.” He says 100,000 Muslims have been killed by IS in Syria and Iraq over the past year, adding the world needs a “holistic approach” on dealing with the terrorist scourge.

The king speaks to reporters Wednesday while on a visit to Austria.

AP

Southern town to be named for Gaza war child victim

A new town in southern Israel will be named “Daniel” to honor 4-year-old Daniel Tragerman, who was killed by a shell during the 2014 Gaza war, Channel 2 reports.

The community will be built in the Merhavim Regional Council, west of Beersheba.

Daniel Tragerman (photo credit: courtesy)

Daniel Tragerman (photo credit: courtesy)

10 migrants missing off coast of Greece

Turkey’s state-run media says rescuers are searching for 10 migrants who are reported missing after a boat sank on its way to Greece.

The Anadolu Agency says five Syrians were rescued Wednesday off the Aegean coast of Bodrum — the main crossing point for the Greek island of Kos.

A coast guard aircraft is also dispatched to the area to search for the missing from the air.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Turkey on Wednesday for talks with Turkey’s leaders on ways to stem the flow of migrants from Turkey into Greece and battle human smuggling.

AP

Hollande urges nation not to ‘give in to fear’

French President Francois Hollande urges the nation Wednesday not to “give in to fear” or excessive reactions in the wake of the jihadist attacks on Paris.

“No anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim act can be tolerated,” he also tells a meeting of the nation’s mayors after police carried out a massive assault in Paris targeting the alleged mastermind of the assaults.

AFP

2 more sentenced in Jewish divorce extortion ring

Two more Brooklyn men are sentenced to prison in a federal case against a group that used violence and threats to pressure husbands into granting Jewish divorces to estranged wives.

One day after Moshe Goldstein, 32, was sentenced to four years in prison in a New Jersey federal court, David Hellman, 33, and Simcha Bulmash, 32, are sentenced to 44 months and 48 months respectively, US Attorney Paul J. Fishman announces Tuesday in a statement.

All three defendants, who were arrested in 2013 in an FBI sting operation, pleaded guilty to various charges.

According to the statement, which cited court records, Hellman, Bulmash and a group of co-conspirators traveled in October 2013 from New York to a warehouse in Edison, New Jersey, with the intent of forcing a Jewish husband to give his wife a “get,” or a Jewish religious divorce.

JTA

Saint Denis rabbi says terror won’t affect Jewish life

The presence of terrorists in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis will not affect the daily life of the Jewish community there, the head of the local Chabad center says.

Rabbi Mendel Belinow says the community will only “increase the volume of its activities” following a raid Wednesday that ended with the death of two suspected terrorists and a police dog in the poor and heavily-Muslim suburb north of the capital.

No members of the Jewish community of Saint Denis, which has 15,000 to 20,000 congregants, are known to have been injured in the takeover, in which three police officers were wounded. One of the suspected terrorists, a woman wearing an explosive vest, died in an explosion she set off as counterterrorism troops were preparing to enter her hideout. Police arrested seven people.

“We are not suspending our activities, and are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah as usual,” Belinow says, adding he was “not surprised at all” by news that terrorists chose to hide in the municipality.

“It’s a difficult neighborhood, that is no stranger to extremism,” he says.

JTA

French authorities search for car that may hold attacker

A Spanish security official says French authorities have sent out a bulletin to police across Europe asking them to watch out for a Citroen Xsara car that could be carrying Salah Abdeslam, the fugitive wanted in the Paris attacks

The official speaks on condition of anonymity because of department rules preventing the official from being named.

Spain’s El Espanol digital publication first reports the bulletin Wednesday, publishing a document with the car’s description and naming Abdeslam. It is sent by Spanish authorities to border control police in the northeastern Catalonia region next to France.

The security official confirms the document was authentic but said the bulletin was sent to authorities across Europe and not only to Spain.

AP

The arrest warrant issued for 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, suspected of involvement in the November 13, 2015. terror attacks in Paris. 'Do not intervene yourself,' warns the message issued November 15, 2015.

The arrest warrant issued for 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, suspected of involvement in the November 13, 2015. terror attacks in Paris. ‘Do not intervene yourself,’ warns the message issued November 15, 2015.

Netanyahu, Putin to meet in Paris

Netanyahu and Putin speak by phone this afternoon, hours after Russia confirms the Sinai passenger jet was downed by a bomb.

The prime minister expresses his condolences to Putin, his office says. Putin and Netanyahu also discuss the Palestinian issue and the situation in Syria.

The two leaders agree to meet at the climate change summit in Paris in ten days to discuss Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, during their meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, Pool)

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, during their meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, Pool)

Some Republicans push back on refugee criticism

Some Republicans are pushing back against their party’s opposition to Syrian refugees resettling in the US — a rift that threatens to complicate the party’s outreach to minorities heading into the 2016 presidential vote.

These Republicans have joined Democrats, who liken the refugee backlash to the US government turning away Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and placing Japanese in internment camps during World War II.

While conservatives cite security concerns following the Paris attacks, others in the party fear the party’s position on refugees reeks of xenophobia. Alfonso Aguilar, a Republican who leads the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, says “a refugee is someone who has a credible fear that they’re going to be killed.”

Aguilar says moderate voters could view Republican opposition to helping refugees as extreme and intolerant and that could hurt Republican candidates in next fall’s general election.

AP

Marathon budget votes kick off

The Knesset begins some 700 votes on the 2015-2016 budget, a process that is expected to last all night.

All 120 lawmakers are present in the Knesset plenum for the votes.

Illustrative photo of a Knesset plenum session, September 7, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Illustrative photo of a Knesset plenum session, September 7, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Budget votes get off to rough start

The budget votes get off to a bumpy start with apparent technical difficulties.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein orders a new vote after an objection to the budget by Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir passes 47-43. The Knesset speaker instructs the Knesset’s tech team to examine the system since the number of votes did not add up to 120.

Edelstein then orders a new vote, prompting fierce criticism from the opposition who insists the system is working fine.

“You can’t just have another vote because you don’t like the result,” says Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich.

The votes are then presented from the beginning.

The Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi is holding up a sign “in favor” or “opposed” to instruct the coalition how to vote.

At one point, the Zionist Union’s Yoel Hasson accidentally votes with the coalition. A short while later, opposition leader Herzog makes the same mistake. The coalition rejoices.

Turkey ‘has plans’ for joint US operation against IS

Turkey’s foreign minister on Wednesday says Ankara “has plans” for a joint operation with the United States to end the presence of Islamic State militants along any part of its border with Syria.

Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu tells the state-run news agency Anatolia that IS militants still have a presence on some of Turkey’s border with northern Syria.

“We have certain plans to put an end to the control that IS is still exercising on a zone of our frontier,” he says, without specifying the nature of the plans but saying they would be jointly implemented with the US.

“When these plans are completed, our operations will continue with more and more intensity. You will see this in the days to come.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry says in an interview with CNN late Tuesday that “we are entering an operation with the Turks” to shut off 98 kilometers (61 miles) of border still not secure from IS.

— AFP

France to absorb 30,000 refugees in 2 years

French President Francois Hollande says France will absorb 30,000 new refugees in the next two years.

“30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years. Our country has the duty to respect this commitment,” says Hollande, according to ABC.

The president says “some people say the tragic events of the last few days have sown doubts in their minds,” about the migrants, but adds that it is a “humanitarian duty” to assist them. He says the refugees will undergo security checks.

“We have to reinforce our borders while remaining true to our values,” he says.

Migrants and refugees wait for a bus to be taken to the Croatian-Hungarian border in the Serbian-Croatian border village of Bapska, near the eastern Croatian town of Ilok, on September 23, 2015. (AFP/ ELVIS BARUKCIC)

Migrants and refugees wait for a bus to be taken to the Croatian-Hungarian border in the Serbian-Croatian border village of Bapska, near the eastern Croatian town of Ilok, on September 23, 2015. (AFP/ ELVIS BARUKCIC)

Sweden raises terror alert

Sweden’s security service says it has raised the Scandinavian country’s terror alert to the second-highest level.

SAPO says Wednesday it had received “concrete information” and has decided to act “with the framework of our contra-terror work.”

The agency says it has raised the alert to level four of five possible graduations. It did not elaborate but a news conference was planned for later Wednesday.

AP

IS claims it brought down Russian plane with IED

The Islamic State claims it brought down the Russian passenger jet with an IED stashed in a soda can.

In its newest edition of the Dabiq magazine, the terror group features a photo of the makeshift explosives as well as pictures of passengers who were on the flight.

It says the Russian plane was targeted due to Moscow’s airstrikes in Syria. “It was a rash decision of arrogance from Russia… And so after having discovered a way to compromise the security at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport and resolving to bring down a plane belonging to a nation in the American-led Western coalition against the Islamic State, the target was changed to a Russian plane,” it writes. “A bomb was smuggled onto the airplane, leading to the deaths of 219 Russians and 5 other crusaders only a month after Russia’s thoughtless decision.”

It also praises the Paris attacks, and the “brave knights” who carried them out.

“A year earlier, on “19 September 2014,” France haughtily began executing airstrikes against the Khilāfah. Like Russia, it was blinded by hubris, thinking that its geographical distance from the lands of the Khilāfah would protect it from the justice of the mujāhidīn. It also did not grasp that its mockery of the Messenger would not be left unavenged. Thus, the Islamic State dispatched its brave knights to wage war in the homelands of the wicked crusaders, leaving Paris and its residents ‘shocked and awed.’

“The eight knights brought Paris down on its knees, after years of French conceit in the face of Islam. A nationwide state of emergency was declared as a result of the actions of eight men armed only with assault rifles and explosive belts. And so revenge was exacted upon those who felt safe in the cockpits of their jets.”

The magazine also praises stabbing attacks on Israelis.

IS says it executed Norwegian, Chinese captives

The Islamic State group says it has killed a Norwegian and a Chinese captive after demanding ransom for their release two months ago.

The announcement comes in the latest issue of the extremist group’s English-language magazine on Wednesday, which contains a page that appeared to show the bodies of the two captives.

It bears the caption “executed after being abandoned by kafir nations and organizations.” ”Kafir” is the Arabic word for infidel.

The group had earlier identified the Norwegian man as Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad, 48, from Oslo, and the Chinese man as Fan Jinghui, 50, a freelance consultant from Beijing. It did not say when or where the two were captured.

AP

Man who housed Paris suspects ‘didn’t know they were terrorists’

A man who says he lives in the apartment raided by French SWAT teams says he let some people stay there as a favor and “didn’t know they’re terrorists.”

Jawad Bendaoud, who was detained during Wednesday’s raid on suspects linked to last week’s Paris attacks, spoke to BFMTV as he was being led away by police.

Speaking outside the building in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, he says “I learned it was at my place, and the individuals barricaded themselves in my place …I didn’t know they’re terrorists.”

He said someone had “asked me to put some people up for two, three days, and I provided this service.”

He says “I don’t know where they come from … If I would have known, I wouldn’t have let them stay.”

Bendaoud’s lawyer confirmed the man in the footage was his client, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for killing his best friend in a 2006 fight.

AP

Iran begins dismantling nuclear facilities — IAEA

Iran has begun dismantling parts of its nuclear program, as agreed under July’s landmark deal with major powers, a UN atomic watchdog report shows Wednesday.

Iran “has started removing centrifuges and related infrastructure” at both the Natanz and Fordo enrichment facilities, says the restricted International Atomic Energy Agency quarterly report, seen by AFP

AFP

An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector disconnects the connections between the twin cascades for 20% uranium production at Natanz nuclear power plant south of Tehran on January, 20, 2014 (Photo credit: Kazem Ghane/IRNA/AFP)

An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector disconnects the connections between the twin cascades for 20% uranium production at Natanz nuclear power plant south of Tehran on January, 20, 2014 (Kazem Ghane/IRNA/AFP)

10 US Jewish groups join call to absorb Syrian refugees

Ten Jewish groups are among 81 that sent a letter to Congress members urging them not to roll back plans to accept Syrian refugees into the United States.

“To turn our back on refugees would be to betray our nation’s core values,” says the letter sent Tuesday, as Congress began considering measures that would put a stop to the Obama administration’s plans to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.

“It would send a demoralizing and dangerous message to the world that the United States makes judgments about people based on the country they come from and their religion,” the letter says.

Among the Jewish groups signing are the Union for Reform Judaism, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.

“We call on members of Congress to oppose any effort to limit the acceptance of Syrian refugees, just as we urge public officials and figures across the US to reject divisive and inflammatory statements that do not reflect our history as a nation founded by descendants of those who fled persecution in search of freedom,” says a statement by the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center.

JTA

Dutch municipality that segregated Jews to erect Holocaust memorial

A Dutch municipality where a local school had segregated Jewish pupils from members of the royal family decided to erect a monument commemorating Holocaust victims.

The municipality of Baarn near Utrecht, 25 miles from Amsterdam, announced last week it would erect the monument near its central station in January 2016 at a cost of $13,000, the news website rtvutrecht.nl reported.

In June, the Nieuw Israelitsche Weekblad, a Jewish weekly, reported on the findings of a historian, Bart Wallet, whose research showed that classes which the princesses Irene and Margriet would have attended in 1952 were split and the children of Jewish descent were placed in a parallel class. Jewish parents protested the move, to little effect.

In its statement, the city made no reference to this episode, which received extensive coverage in Dutch media.

“A memorial wall will be erected and fitted with a plaque with the names of 45 Jewish victims” who were deported from Baarn or otherwise captured and murdered, Baarn Mayor Mark Röell said in a statement.

JTA

Why is there an inflatable toilet outside the UN?

A giant inflatable toilet is set up outside the United Nations headquarters in New York ahead of World Toilet Day on Thursday.

The annual event raises awareness about the 2.5 billion people worldwide who lack access to sanitation.

A giant inflatable toilet is set up outside the UN to mark World Toilet Day (Times of Israel staff)

A giant inflatable toilet is set up outside the UN to mark World Toilet Day (Times of Israel staff)

Eagles of Death Metal urges ‘love and compassion’

Eagles of Death Metal, the US band whose audience was massacred in the Paris attacks, on Wednesday calls for “love and compassion” and put its shows on hold.

The California rock band, in its first full statement since Friday’s bloodbath, says it is “horrified” and “still trying to come to terms with what happened.”

“Although bonded in grief with the victims, the fans, the families, the citizens of Paris, and all those affected by terrorism, we are proud to stand together, with our new family, now united by a common goal of love and compassion,” the band says in a statement.

“Vive la musique, vive la liberte, vive la France and vive EODM,” the band writes, playing with France’s slogan of “liberty, fraternity and equality.”

The band, which confirmed it had returned home, says it is suspending shows until further notice.

AFP

Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal. Hughes was scheduled to perform, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, with the band at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP, File)

Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal. Hughes was scheduled to perform, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, with the band at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP, File)

Diplomats warn Iran keeping nuclear tech on standby

Iran has started cutting back on some nuclear technology, which could be reengineered to make nuclear weapons, in line with a deal with six world powers, a UN nuclear agency report said Wednesday. However, diplomats familiar with the report caution that the country is keeping thousands of machines that could be used for such a purpose on standby.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency report and the diplomats’ assessments present a mixed picture of the pace of Iran’s moves to comply with the July 14 deal it signed with the six countries and come about a month after October 18, the official date for the start of the deal’s implementation.

Since then, the report showed that Iran has reduced the number of centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium, which can produce nuclear fuel, isotopes for research or the core of an atomic bomb, depending on the degree of enrichment.

It said 11,308 centrifuges were standing at Iran’s main enrichment center as of November 15 — over 3,000 fewer than before implementation day for the deal. It also noted reductions at a smaller facility.

But the diplomats said all of the machines that have been taken out were idle. The thousands of centrifuges that were spinning uranium into enriched levels used for fuel are no longer online but remain on standby and can be restarted at short notice.

The two diplomats who spoke to The Associated Press demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the contents of the restricted report being circulated to the UN Security Council and the 36-nation IAEA board.

AP

German minister warns Paris attacks ‘probably not the last’

The jihadist attacks in Paris may be part of a wider series of strikes the Islamic State group plans in Europe, Germany’s interior minister warns Wednesday.

“From everything we know so far, Paris was the result of — or part of — a coordinated series of attacks by the so-called Islamic State,” says Thomas de Maiziere at a police conference in the western city of Mainz.

“If this were confirmed, this would be first IS attack in Western Europe, but probably not the last,” he says, adding that last Friday’s attacks revealed “well-trained perpetrators and lengthy, highly conspiratorial planning.”

AFP

Sweden police seeking terror suspect

Police in Sweden are looking for a suspect who is planning a terror attack, AFP reports.

Details to come.

Arrest warrant issued for Swedish terror suspect

Swedish police are hunting for a man wanted for “planning a terrorist act”, security services say, with the country on high alert following the deadly terror assault in Paris last week.

An arrest warrant has been issued for the suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, the head of domestic intelligence and counter-terrorism Anders Thornberg tells a press conference, saying no link had yet been proven with the Paris attacks.

AFP

Paris mastermind killed in police raid — reports

French media is reporting the Paris terror attacks mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in the police raid in St. Denis earlier today. There has been no official confirmation.

This undated image taken from a jihadist website on Monday Nov. 16, 2015 shows Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the Paris terror attacks on November 13. (Jihadist video via AP)

This undated image taken from a jihadist website on Monday Nov. 16, 2015 shows Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the Paris terror attacks on November 13. (Jihadist video via AP)

Paris mastermind killed, senior intelligence sources say

Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in the St. Denis raid, intelligence sources say, according to The Washington Post.

Prime suspects not arrested in raid — French prosecutor

A French prosecutor says prime suspects Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam are not among those arrested in the St. Denis raid outside Paris.

At least two suspects are killed, and eight are arrested, he says. The prosecutor adds that police were tipped off that the Paris mastermind was in the St. Denis apartment, which was subsequently raided.

He says police officers were wounded in the pre-dawn operation. Some 5,000 rounds of ammunition are fired during the standoff, and the reinforced door resisted attempts to blow it up, he says. The operation was very complex, requiring grenades, assault rifles and more, he says, and the third floor collapsed.

Three people are wounded, and the police are still working to establish their identities. He says a body was discovered in the rubble that hasn’t been identified. Eight people are remanded in custody, seven men and one woman. Their identities have not been established.

The prosecutor says they believe a woman blew herself up, but the investigation is ongoing. “So far the information is tentative, and I cannot give the identities and number of people killed, he stresses. But there were at least two,” he says.

He adds that police had to slow down the investigation because the building is on the verge of collapsing.

With regard to the broader investigation, the prosecutor says a cellphone was found outside the Bataclan theater. A text message was sent at 10:30 p.m. on Friday stating “here we go, we’re starting.” The weapons cache used by the Paris terrorists “shows there were willing to go all the way with this,” he says.

With regard to the safe houses, he says there were four, including two hotel rooms.

‘Kerry coming to Israel, will meet PM Tuesday’

US Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Israel next week and will meet Netanyahu on Tuesday, Channel 2’s Udi Segal reports.

US special envoy on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Frank Lowenstein, will arrive in Israel tomorrow, he reports.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, October 22, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, October 22, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Netanyahu speaks to Hollande

Netanyahu speaks to French President Hollande on the phone from the Knesset plenum, expressing “Israel’s solidarity with France in the fight against terrorism,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that both the problem and the solution are international. Hollande thanked the prime minister. The two leaders agreed to meet in Paris in 10 days at the international climate conference.

French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers at the Elysee Palace, Paris, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in the wake of a series of terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish grocery store. (AP/Thibault Camus)

French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers at the Elysee Palace, Paris, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in the wake of a series of terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish grocery store. (AP/Thibault Camus)

Knesset debate follies pile up

A coalition lawmaker accidentally votes with the opposition, creating a 60-60 tie on one of the opposition’s objections to the two-year budget. The Finance Committee must now convene to discuss the objection, dragging out the proceedings further. According to Channel 2, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel was the guilty party.

Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli writes a letter to the Knesset speaker asking him to postpone Thursday’s debates on the mandatory draft law. The opposition MK signs the letter as “coalition” whip.

And Netanyahu himself nearly votes in favor of one of the clauses, but corrects himself in time.

Likud MK Oren Hazan, who was hospitalized earlier this week for an asthma attack and sinus infection, is sitting in the Knesset plenum with an oxygen tank and a doctor on hand.

read more:
comments
Live updates (closed)

10 migrants missing off coast of Greece

Turkey’s state-run media says rescuers are searching for 10 migrants who are reported missing after a boat sank on its way to Greece.

The Anadolu Agency says five Syrians were rescued Wednesday off the Aegean coast of Bodrum — the main crossing point for the Greek island of Kos.

A coast guard aircraft is also dispatched to the area to search for the missing from the air.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Turkey on Wednesday for talks with Turkey’s leaders on ways to stem the flow of migrants from Turkey into Greece and battle human smuggling.

AP