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Ministers set to criminalize filming IDF activities

Publishing footage of soldiers' actions with the intention of 'harming state security' could carry punishment of up to 10 years in prison

  • IDF soldiers clash with Palestinians in Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of the West Bank city of Hebron, on December 31, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
    IDF soldiers clash with Palestinians in Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of the West Bank city of Hebron, on December 31, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
  • This picture taken from Kibbutz Nahal Oz across the border from the Gaza Strip shows an Israeli drone intercepting a flaming kite on June 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
    This picture taken from Kibbutz Nahal Oz across the border from the Gaza Strip shows an Israeli drone intercepting a flaming kite on June 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
  • Illustrative. Palestinians run near the barbed-wire fence with Israel during clashes following a demonstration along the border with the Gaza Strip east of Gaza City on June 8, 2018. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
    Illustrative. Palestinians run near the barbed-wire fence with Israel during clashes following a demonstration along the border with the Gaza Strip east of Gaza City on June 8, 2018. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Sheikh Yahya Cholil Staquf, leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, at his Jerusalem office, June 14, 2018 (Haim Zach, GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Sheikh Yahya Cholil Staquf, leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, at his Jerusalem office, June 14, 2018 (Haim Zach, GPO)
  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 14, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andy Wong)
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 14, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andy Wong)
  • The Jerusalem Pride Parade on July 21, 2016 passes the spot where Shira Banki was murdered at 2015's march (Times of Israel)
    The Jerusalem Pride Parade on July 21, 2016 passes the spot where Shira Banki was murdered at 2015's march (Times of Israel)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s news as it unfolded.

Palestinian said shot in Gaza border protests succumbs to wounds

A Palestinian shot in clashes with Israeli forces on the Gaza border succumbed to his wounds today, the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave says.

Ahmed al-Assi, 21, was shot east of Khan Younis on June 8, a ministry statement says.

It says he was wounded in the head and had been in critical condition.

Since major border protests broke out on March 30, at least 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, the majority of them members of terror groups, who Israel says were trying to perpetrate terror attacks under the cover of protests.

— with AFP

Far-right activist fined for rejoicing in killing of teen at 2015 pride parade

The Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court orders Kiryat Malachi resident Gilad Kleiner — the son of a former Likud Knesset member — to pay a symbolic NIS 180 fine for Facebook posts in which he praised and endorsed the 2015 murder of 16-year-old Shira Banki at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade.

The trial lasted the better part of two years, during which Kleiner’s charges were steadily reduced amid the defense’s claims that far-right views were unfairly targeted by the state prosecution.

As part of his sentencing, Kleiner agreed not to repeat his actions.

Banki was murdered by an anti-gay fanatic, Yishai Schlissel, who also stabbed five other people during the parade, on July 30, 2015.

3 construction workers injured in accident

Three construction workers are injured in a work accident at a construction site in Petah Tikva, in central Israel.

According to reports, the three fell into a five-meter-deep shaft formed by a collapse at the site.

One is in serious condition and two are moderately hurt. They are taken to the city’s Beilinson medical center.

Police open an investigation.

Hezbollah said to refuse Russian demand it clear out of sites on Syria border

The Hezbollah terror group is refusing a Russian request that it evacuate sites along the Syria-Lebanon border, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The report links the Russia demand to Israeli airstrikes on Hezbollah bases in the country.

Tunisian suspected of making ricin for terror attack in Germany

German prosecutors say they’ve thwarted an Islamic extremist plot to launch an attack with the deadly toxin ricin.

They say a 29-year-old Tunisian, identified only as Sief Allah H., who was arrested yesterday, started procuring material online, including seeds needed for the creation of ricin in mid-May.

The suspect succeeded in creating the toxin this month and investigators found it in a search of his Cologne apartment, federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe say in a written statement.

“He procured 1,000 castor bean seeds online as well as an electronic coffee grinder,” they say. The shell of the castor bean plant seed is highly poisonous and can be used to create ricin.

The authorities are still investigating exactly how the suspect planned to use the toxin, but say he was working on a “biological weapon” attack in Germany.

Prosecutors say they currently have no evidence of a connection with any extremist organization.

They don’t immediately comment on a Bild newspaper report that American intelligence tipped off German investigators.

Bild also reported that the suspect bought bomb-making material and chemicals used in the production of the ricin.

The daily newspaper wrote that H. lived in the Chorweiler neighborhood of Cologne with his wife and four children. He supposedly used instructions for the making of a ricin bomb that had been posted online by the extremist Islamic State group.

— AP

Pompeo acknowledges ‘risks’ North Korea won’t denuclearize

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns that there are “still risks” that the denuclearization of North Korea will not be achieved.

Briefing Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi about the landmark summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pompeo says “there are still risks that we won’t achieve” denuclearization, and there is “still more work to be done.”

— AFP

MK Cabel grilled for 4 hours as a suspect in Netanyahu probe

MK Eitan Cabel of the opposition Zionist Union faction emerges from a police interrogation after four hours.

Cabel was questioned under caution, along with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily and the Ynet news site, in connection with so-called Case 2000, which involves the suspicion that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to legislatively hobble the Israel Hayom daily in exchange for positive coverage from Mozes.

Mozes and Cabel reportedly were asked to respond to new information given to police by a former top Netanyahu adviser, Nir Hefetz, who has turned state’s witness in the case.

Clashes kill 39 combatants outside Yemen’s Hodeida

Heavy clashes kill 39 combatants outside Yemen’s rebel-held port city of Hodeida, as a Saudi and UAE-backed offensive to retake the key aid hub enters its second day.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels suffer 30 fatalities in the fighting, which took place two kilometers (1.2 miles) from Hodeida airport, south of the city, according to medical sources.

Nine pro-government troops are killed in the same area, according to the medics. Military sources say the deaths are caused by mines and snipers.

— AFP

Palestinians: IDF drone fires at Gazans flying incendiary balloons

An Israeli military drone fires a warning shot at Gazans who are flying incendiary balloons across the border into Israel, according to Palestinian sources.

Meanwhile, several fires rage in Israeli areas around Gaza, apparently having been started by incendiary kites and balloons.

Israel has said it could target Palestinians who send such devices across the border.

Israel confirms warning shot fired at incendiary balloon fliers in Gaza

The Israeli military confirms it fired a warning shot at Palestinians who were launching an incendiary balloon at Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip today.

“A short while ago, an aircraft fired a warning shot at a cell that was preparing to launch incendiary balloons in order to drive them away,” the military says in a statement.

The Hamas-affiliated Shehab news outlet reports that the incident occurred east of Bureij, in the central Gaza Strip.

No Palestinians are reported injured in the incident.

— Judah Ari Gross

Palestinians threaten to fly 5,000 fire kites into Israel tomorrow

Palestinians in Gaza threaten to fly 5,000 incendiary kites across the border into Israel tomorrow.

At a press conference near the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, members of a group that flies such kites into Israel threaten to extend the range of the attacks up to 40 kilometers from the border.

Tomorrow, which is Eid al-Fitr, a celebration that comes the day after Ramadan, thousands of Palestinians are expected to attend mass protests along the border with Israel.

Netanyahu meets Muslim leader

Prime Minister Netanyahu meets Indonesia’s Sheikh Yahya Cholil Staquf, who leads the largest Sunni Muslim movement in the world, the Nahdlatul Ulama, in his Jerusalem office.

According to a readout from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu tells Staquf that Muslim nations have been tightening their relationships with Israel for two reasons: Israel’s tech prowess, and the fight against Iran and the Islamic State group.

“Israel is an innovative nation, and I’m glad to see that many Arab and Muslim nations are drawing closer to Israel,” Netanyahu says.

Jordan PM swears in cabinet

Jordan’s new prime minister swears in his cabinet as he begins the difficult task of reforming the country’s struggling economy.

Omar Razzaz took office last week after widespread protests over a proposed tax increase forced his predecessor to step down. He immediately promised to rescind the tax plan.

The new cabinet must defuse public anger at economic policies seen by many as unfair, while still introducing reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

The Royal Court says the new ministers were sworn in today at Al-Husseinyah Palace. Razzaz’s cabinet does not include any members of his predecessor’s economic team.

Razzaz has promised a more inclusive approach with labor unions and other sectors of the economy. But earlier this week, he also warned that “there is no magic stick.”

— AP

Incendiary balloon from Gaza lands on college campus fence

A balloon from the Gaza Strip lands on a fence on the Sapir College campus in the town of Sderot, forcing authorities to close down the area until a police sapper can remove it, according to a spokesperson for the regional council.

It is not immediately clear if the balloon is carrying a simple incendiary device or an explosive.

“We have to wait for the sapper,” the spokesperson says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Fire balloon from Gaza wasn’t attached to bomb, sapper finds; campus reopened

A police sapper has determined that the balloon that landed on the fence of the Sapir College campus in southern Israel was attached to a simple pouch of burning material rather than an explosive device, a local government official says.

The area around the fence has been reopened.

— Judah Ari Gross

Ministers set to criminalize filming IDF activities

Ministers are set to approve Sunday a bill that would criminalize the filming of Israeli military activities, including clashes between IDF soldiers and Palestinians.

According to reports, the bill, sponsored by the Yisrael Beytenu party, enjoys the support of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The legislation would subject anyone caught filming or publishing footage of military activities with the purpose of harming “the soldiers’ spirit” to penalties of up to five years behind bars.

More aggravated circumstances, such as publishing such footage with the intention of “harming state security,” can carry a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

Haaretz reports that  there is agreement among coalition partners to pass the bill in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s meeting on Sunday.

Border guards arrest Palestinian with knife in Hebron

Border Police officers standing guard at one of the entrances to the Tomb of the Patriarchs shrine in Hebron arrest a Palestinian man after he draws a knife he had hidden on his person, according to police.

There are no injures, police say in a statement.

Gaza man wounded by Israeli tear gas canister transferred to Jerusalem hospital

A Palestinian man whose face was severely damaged by an Israeli tear gas canister that lodged in his mouth during a border protest last week has been allowed to leave Gaza for treatment at a Jerusalem hospital.

Haitham Abu Sabla, 24, spent three days on life support after being wounded during the protest along Gaza’s border with Israel last Friday.

The canister pierced his cheek and got stuck in his mouth. Associated Press photos showed Abu Sabla running, wobbling and falling on the ground with the acrid white smoke spewing from his mouth and nose.

Dr. Hussam al-Majayda, the surgeon who operated on Abu Sabla, says it took 45 minutes to remove the canister.

Abu Sabla’s jaw and face suffered multiple fractures, and his teeth were badly damaged.

— AP

New York sues Trump’s charitable foundation

A lawsuit filed by New York’s attorney general today says US President Donald Trump used his charitable foundation to settle personal business disputes and bolster his political image with donations directed by his staff.

The Donald J. Trump Foundation “was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” Democratic Attorney General Barbara Underwood says, as she sues to dissolve the foundation and seek $2.8 million in restitution.

The lawsuit says the foundation illegally helped support the Republican’s campaign by raising money at a nationally televised fundraiser in January 2016, then allowing campaign staffers to dictate how the money was spent in grants.

In a couple of tweets, Trump calls the case “ridiculous” and says he will not settle the lawsuit.

— AP

Man charged with attempted murder of his parents

A 25-year-old man from the northern city of Zichron Yaakov is charged with the attempted murder of his parents last month.

According to the charge sheet read out at the Haifa District Court, Mordechai Carmi was living in his parents’ apartment on the day he allegedly attacked them. His sister was also at home at the time.

Carmi was sitting and eating dates with a knife in his hand.

He allegedly went over to his father and stabbed him at least seven times, in the chest, shoulder and hands, breaking a joint in his father’s thumb.

When his mother tried to intervene, he allegedly stabbed her in the back and the hand.

Carmi’s mother was able to call her brother-in-law, as well as the police and emergency services, but when they arrived, Carmi tried to block them from entering the home, and spat on and cursed his father, who was lying on the floor.

The mother managed to get out of the house on her own and the ambulance driver and a paramedic succeeded in evacuating the father 10 minutes later. Both parents were hospitalized — the father in mortal danger — for several days.

— Sue Surkes

Police say they prevented stabbing attack in Hebron

Police assess that a Palestinian arrested with a blade earlier today outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron intended to carry out a stabbing attack.

In a statement, police say the Palestinian, a 19-year-old man, was stopped because he aroused officers’ suspicion. He was then taken aside for a more thorough examination.

At one point, the statement says, an officer noticed that the suspect had dropped a blade on the floor and was attempting to conceal it with his foot.

It was then that he was arrested and taken for questioning, police say.

Russia routs Saudi Arabia 5-0 in World Cup opening game

Substitute Denis Cheryshev scores two goals to lead host Russia over Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the World Cup.

With President Vladimir Putin watching, Cheryshev chips the ball over two Saudi defenders in the 43rd minute and shoots over goalkeeper Abdullah Al Muaiouf’s right side. He later chips the ball in for Russia’s fourth goal in stoppage time.

Yuri Gazinsky initially puts Russia ahead with a header from Alexander Golovin’s cross in the 12th minute.

After Cheryshev’s first goal, Artyom Dzyuba makes an instant impact off the bench to make it 3-0 in the 71st with a header from Golovin’s cross. Golovin adds the fifth from a free kick.

It is Russia’s first World Cup win since 2002 and ends a seven-game winless run overall.

AP

Philippines releases 8 suspected Israeli fraudsters, says arrests unjustified

The Philippine state prosecutor cuts loose eight Israelis who were arrested last week on suspicion of involvement in an online financial fraud that victimized people overseas.

The eight, who were arrested along with nearly 500 other people, are permitted to leave the country.

The prosecutor concludes that the arrests were unwarranted and that some were based on mistaken identification.

The Israeli men were arrested “while in the act of managing, operating and manning the three target buildings” while the Filipinos were caught communicating and doing online transactions with foreign clients from Europe, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Russia, police said at the time of their arrest.

— with AP

Netanyahu attends Russian National Day celebrations in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Netanyahu participates in the Russian embassy’s National Day reception in Jerusalem — the first-ever such event by a foreign country that is not in the Tel Aviv area.

Speaking at Sergei’s Courtyard, a historic complex in the Jerusalem neighborhood known as the Russian Compound, which Israeli authorities handed to Russia a decade ago in a goodwill gesture, Netanyahu expresses hope that “we’ll celebrate many more Russia Days in Jerusalem.”

He mentions that, as a child, he read Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and has “great respect” for Russian culture.

Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov, in his speech, hails bilateral ties, which he says were “significantly upgraded” in recent years. He thanks Netanyahu for participating in the National Day celebration, saying it sends “a very positive message.”

Viktorov mentions the fact that the celebration is in Jerusalem, noting Moscow’s April 2017 recognition of western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. However, he stresses that this recognition implied that the eastern part of the city should become the capital of a future State of Palestine.

“We stand ready to facilitate such an agreement,” he says.

— Raphael Ahren

Gunmen said to assassinate south Syria negotiator

Gunmen today assassinated a member of a committee charged with negotiating with Syria’s regime the fate of rebel-held southern territory, a monitor says, taking to a dozen the number of them killed in three weeks.

“At dawn, armed assailants killed a doctor who is part of the Daraa reconciliation committee,” says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding the attack took place in a rebel village in the northwest of the province.

Another 11 committee members have been killed by unidentified assailants since the end of May, says Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

The killings come as regime ally Russia holds talks with regional powers to sort out the future of the region bordering Jordan and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, and attempt to avoid a government military operation.

But rebel groups, which control 70 percent of the region, mainly in the provinces of Daraa and Quneitra, have been refusing to negotiate or reconcile with the regime.

The committee is made up of influential local figures who negotiate the fate of rebel-held land with Damascus and its ally Moscow, says Abdel Rahman.

— AFP

Early elections ‘back on the table’ as rabbis issue ultimatum on enlistment law

A rabbinical decision-making body for a key political partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls on lawmakers to leave the coalition if a law proposing to formalize limited ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF passes in the Knesset.

The ultimatum prompts senior coalition sources, quoted by Channel 10, to say that “the danger of early elections is again on the table,” after disagreements over the issue almost dissolved the government several months ago.

The Council of Torah Sages, the rabbinical decision-making body for the Hasidic members of the United Torah Judaism party (UTJ), instructs the four Hasidic MKs out of the party’s six seats to try and change the currently proposed bill, and quit the coalition if it is promoted without their approval.

— Michael Bachner

Watchdog report faults Comey as ‘insubordinate’

The Justice Department issues a stinging rebuke to the FBI for its handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

The report released today calls former FBI Director James Comey “insubordinate” and says his actions were “extraordinary.”

But the report by the department’s watchdog does not find evidence that Comey was motivated by political bias or preference in his decisions.

The report criticizes Comey for publicly announcing his recommendation against criminal charges for Clinton. It also faults him for alerting Congress days before the 2016 election that the investigation was being reopened because of newly discovered emails.

US President Donald Trump has been eager for the report in hopes that it would vindicate his decision to fire Comey and undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

— AP

Ministers back bill criminalizing filming of IDF soldiers in clashes

Cabinet ministers authorize a bill that would criminalize the filming of certain Israeli military activities, including clashes between IDF soldiers and Palestinians.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which sets the coalition’s position on Knesset legislation, votes in favor of the proposal, despite opposition from Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit who says he will not be able to defend the law.

The controversial bill, sponsored by the Yisrael Beytenu party with the support of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, would subject anyone caught filming or publishing footage of military activities with the purpose of harming “the soldiers’ morale” to up to five years behind bars.

More aggravated circumstances, such as publishing such footage with the intention of “harming state security,” can carry a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

The committee, seen as a key bellwether of a bill’s chances to become law, sends the bill to the Knesset. The first preliminary vote is slated for Wednesday.

— Raoul Wootliff

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3 construction workers injured in accident

Three construction workers are injured in a work accident at a construction site in Petah Tikva, in central Israel.

According to reports, the three fell into a five-meter-deep shaft formed by a collapse at the site.

One is in serious condition and two are moderately hurt. They are taken to the city’s Beilinson medical center.

Police open an investigation.