Abbas doubles down on refusal to accept tax revenues after Israeli cuts
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Family of suspected synagogue gunman ‘shocked’ by deadly shooting

Parents say all five children were raised to reject hate: ‘To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil’

Illustrative photo: Sheriff's crime scene tape is placed in front of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue, after a shooting on April 27, 2019, in Poway, California. (Sandy Huffaker/AFP)
Illustrative photo: Sheriff's crime scene tape is placed in front of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue, after a shooting on April 27, 2019, in Poway, California. (Sandy Huffaker/AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.

Abbas doubles down on refusal to accept tax revenues after Israeli cuts

PA President Mahmoud Abbas restated the Palestinians’ refusal to accept tax revenues collected on their behalf by Israel so long as the Jewish state deducts millions of dollars over a dispute about prisoners.

“Our position is as it was: We will not receive any money from Israel if it is incomplete,” Abbas tells the weekly cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “This is something we will not accept at any cost.”

Israel collects around $190 million a month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports, and then it transfers the money to the PA.

In February, Israel decided to deduct around $10 million a month from those revenues, corresponding to the amount it said the PA paid families of prisoners or directly to inmates serving time in Israeli jails. The Palestinians responded by saying they would refuse any funds where unilateral deductions had been made.

The Kan public broadcaster reports that a month’s payment — minus the $10 million deduction — had recently been transferred to PA bank accounts, in the hope the authority would quietly accept payment. But after two weeks, the money was returned to the Israeli finance ministry, according to the report.

Yesterday, Channel 12 news reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon discussed emergency plans, should the PA economy collapse over its refusal to accept the tax dividends.

— with AFP

UAE officials: Relations with Israel won’t change despite invite to World Expo in Dubai

Emirati officials tell the Kan public broadcaster that even though Israel will be participating in World Expo in Dubai next year, this does not indicate a change in the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“The invitation to participate does not signal a change in relations between the UAE and Israel, in the diplomatic arena, or any other area,” the organizers tell Kan.

Last week, the Foreign Ministry announced that Israel will participate in the 2020 Expo in Dubai, in what was seen as another sign of warming relations with Gulf Arab states.

Despite their lack of diplomatic relations, Sunni Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have quietly inched closer to Israel, seeing it as a key ally in rolling back their common adversary, Iran.

Over the past months, Israel’s backdoor relations with former Arab foes have increasingly entered public view.

Jerusalem court remands driver in hit-and-run for a week

The driver in a hit-and-run in Jerusalem last week that left an 11-year-old boy in critical condition is remanded into custody for another week.

Police investigators tell the traffic court in Jerusalem that 23-year-old Netanel Sandrusi was driving irresponsibly the night of the accident, and may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Sandrusi turned himself in to police yesterday following a weeklong manhunt for the driver. He maintains his innocence.

The child was rushed to the city’s Shaare Zedek hospital. He remains in critical condition.

Environment ministry says infestation of large black beetles not dangerous

The Ministry of Environmental Protection issues a statement reassuring Israelis that the black beetles spotted in large numbers across the county in recent days are not dangerous.

In a statement, the ministry says black beetles measuring up to 2 centimeters do not transmit diseases to humans, and therefore using pesticides on them is unnecessary.

Slovak court rejects request to ban parliamentary far-right party

Slovakia’s Supreme Court has dismissed a request by the country’s prosecutor general to ban a far-right party that has 14 seats in the country’s parliament.

In his request filed two years ago, Jaromir Cizna said the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia is an extremist group whose activities violate the country’s constitution.

But the court ruled today that the prosecutor general failed to provide enough evidence for the ban.

The verdict is final.

The party openly admires the Nazi puppet state that the country was during World War II. Party members use Nazi salutes, blame Roma for crime in deprived areas, consider NATO a terror group and want the country out of the alliance and the European Union.

If granted, it would have been the first ban on a parliamentary party.

— AP

Israeli Eurovision champ says boycott calls spread ‘darkness’

Israeli Eurovision champion Netta Barzilai says that calls to boycott this year’s event in Tel Aviv are “spreading darkness.”

Barzilai tells a group of foreign journalists that the Eurovision was established in the wake of World War II to heal a torn continent by being a “festival of light.”

She says: “For people to boycott light is spreading darkness.”

The singer’s win with the catchy pop anthem “Toy” earned Israel the honor of hosting the 2019 Eurovision competition next month.

But supporters of the BDS movement, a Palestinian-led campaign advocating boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, have been calling on artists to pull out of this year’s contest because of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

— Agencies

Sri Lanka emergency law bans face coverings

Muslim women in Sri Lanka will no longer be able to veil their faces under an emergency law ordered by President Maithripala Sirisena that bans all kinds of face coverings that may conceal people’s identities.

The law takes effect today, eight days after the Easter bombings of churches and hotels that killed more the 250 people in Sri Lanka. Dozens of suspects have been arrested but local officials and the US Embassy in Colombo have warned that more militants remained on the loose with explosives. Life on the South Asian island nation has been tense for people of all faiths.

The decision came after the Cabinet had proposed laws on face veils at a recent meeting. It had deferred the matter until talks with Islamic clerics could be held, on the advice of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

— AP

Death toll jumps to 38 after Mozambique’s latest cyclone

The death toll from Cyclone Kenneth in northern Mozambique jumps to 38, the government announces, as flooding and pounding rains hampered efforts to deliver aid to badly hit communities several days after the storm.

An estimated 160,000 people were at risk from the second powerful cyclone to hit the southern African nation in just six weeks, officials said. It was the first time in recorded history that two cyclones had targeted Mozambique in a single season.

Residents push a car through the floods in Mazive, southern Mozambique, on April 28, 2019. (Emidio Josine / AFP)

Just as most of the more than 600 deaths from last month’s Cyclone Idai were caused by flooding in the days that followed, heavy rains in the wake of Kenneth are raising fears of a similar scenario.

The storm made landfall on Thursday with the force of a Category 4 hurricane.

— AP

Second Palestinian suspected of shooting at Israeli hikers turns himself in

The second Palestinian suspect who is believed to have opened fire at a group of Israeli hikers in the northern West Bank has handed himself in to security forces, the army says.

Earlier in the day, the military says shots were fired at the hikers near the Tel Dotan archaeological site. There were no Israeli injuries. Troops on the scene, who were guarding the group, opened fire at a pair of suspects, hitting one of them. The second fled the scene, prompting a manhunt throughout the area.

“Following searches by IDF troops in the region, the suspect handed himself in to security forces. He is now being transferred [to the Shin Bet] for interrogation,” the army says in a statement.

— Judah Ari Gross

Injured Israeli recounts being chased by synagogue gunman as he tried to shield kids

The Israeli man injured in the Southern California synagogue shooting recounts to Channel 12 news how the gunman chased him through the Chabad center as he ran to shield the children from the gunfire.

Almog Peretz says that as soon as shots rang out in the lobby, he started running towards the playground where dozens of kids were playing.

“As I was running out the door [to the playground] he was behind me shooting at me,” Pertez says, showing a spray of bullet holes in the walls.

Almog Peretz, an Israeli man injured in a shooting at a US Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, on April 27, 2019. (Screenshot: Channel 12)

Peretz’s eight-year-old Noya Dahan was injured by shrapnel in the shooting.

“I picked up one of the girls, and kept running, and got all the kids and we ran to [the far end of the yard], opened the gate and herded them [outside the complex]”

He says the gunmen stood at the entrance of the playground and fired at them. It wasn’t until the shooting was over that Peretz realized he was injured.

Netanyahu backs controversial ‘Instagram page’ of young Holocaust survivor

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praises a controversial social media campaign aimed at educating younger Israelis about the Holocaust.

An “Instagram page” for a young Holocaust victim named Eva has been praised for its innovative approach, but critics have accused the project of being disrespectful and dumbing down history.

View this post on Instagram

Eva.Stories Official Trailer

A post shared by Eva (@eva.stories) on

In a video uploaded to social media, Netanyahu says he is following the Instagram account to witness the tragedies of the Holocaust unfold through the eyes of of a 13-year-old Hungarian Jewish girl named Eva Hyman.

He encourages Israelis to document other Holocaust stories on social media “to show the world and to remind ourselves what we lost in the Holocaust and what we have gained by having the state of Israel.”

The “Eva’s Story” Instagram page will go live at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, with stories, videos and excepts of the girl’s diary.

Israel’s UN ambassador demands accountability for NY Times anti-Semitic cartoon

Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon demands that the New York Times hold accountable those responsible for publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon, despite an apology issued by the newspaper.

Danon tells journalists ahead of a Security Council meeting on the Middle East the cartoon published in the international edition last week “could have been taken from the pages of Der Sturmer, the Nazi propaganda paper, and yet these actions have gone unpunished.”

The cartoon depicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog wearing a Star of David collar and leading a blind Donald Trump — who was wearing a kippah, or a Jewish skullcap.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon addresses the United Nations Security Council, at UN headquarters, on January 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The newspaper apologized for the cartoon, saying: “The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it.”

“Those who engage in anti-Semitism must be punished, whether it’s here at the UN, political leaders, editors, policy pundits or college professors,” Danon says. “I am not in a position of accepting or not accepting the apology, but if somebody make a mistake, I think somebody should be accountable.”

Mandelblit defends handling of Netanyahu cases, says ‘nobody is above the law’

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit denies any political bias in his office’s handling of the criminal investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“There is no bias or persecution against the prime minister, and certainly nobody is being framed,” he says according to the Ynet news site. “These allegations are nonsense and are designed to delegitimize law enforcement.”

Mandelblit says there is “great importance” to the pre-indictment hearing process, and says that the decisions made in regard to Netanyahu’s cases so far prove “the supreme status of the rule of law in Israel.”

“Nobody is above the law,” he says.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing in all three corruption cases, and claims the investigations are a “witch hunt” involving the left, the media and the police, relentlessly pressuring a “weak” attorney general.

US measles cases top 700, with largest outbreaks in NY Jewish communities

Measles continues to spread in the United States, with more 704 cases reported so far this year in 22 states.

US health officials update the national tally, which has already eclipsed the total for any full year since 1994, when 963 cases were reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year’s count includes 44 people who caught the disease while traveling in another country. Some of them triggered US outbreaks, mostly among unvaccinated people. That includes the largest outbreaks, in Orthodox Jewish communities in and around New York City.

A sign warns of measles in the Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in New York City, April 10, 2019. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/via JTA)

Three-quarters of those who caught the extremely contagious disease are children or teenagers.

No deaths have been reported but 66 patients were hospitalized.

Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

IS chief Baghdadi appears for first time in 5 years in propaganda video

The elusive chief of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, appears for the first time in five years in a propaganda video released by the jihadist organization.

It is unclear when the footage was filmed, but Baghdadi refers in the past tense to the months-long fight for Baghouz, IS’s final bastion in eastern Syria, which ended last month.

“The battle for Baghouz is over,” he says, sitting cross-legged on a cushion and addressing three men whose faces have been blurred.

UN Security council holds moment of silence for California synagogue victims

At the request of Israeli ambassador Danny Danon, the US Security Council opens its session with a moment of silence for Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in the shooting at Chabad of Poway.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in our society,” Danon tells representatives. “It’s time to take action, to criminalize any and all acts of anti-Semitism, no matter where they occur.”

IDF chief taps Gil Messing as new military spokesman

IDF Chief Aviv Kohavi names Gil Messing as the next spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, to replace Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis.

The appointment was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister.

Messing is due to take over the position in the coming months, the army says.

Messing, who has served as a spokesperson for the Israeli food producer Strauss and for former minister Tzipi Livni, has little military experience compared to his past three predecessors. His appointment appears to be a change in tack for the military’s public relations effort.

— Judah Ari Gross

Trump complains that NY Times apologized for anti-Semitic cartoon, but not for ‘fake news’

US President Donald Trump is complaining that the New York Times has apologized for printing an anti-Semitic cartoon last week, but has not apologized for publishing “fake and corrupt” news items about him.

In a tweet, the US president says the paper has “reached the lowest level of ‘journalism.'”

The cartoon, which appeared in the international edition on Thursday, depicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog wearing a Star of David collar and leading a blind Donald Trump — who was wearing a yarmulke.

The newspaper apologized for the cartoon over the weekend, saying: “The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it.”

UN chief calls to stamp out anti-Semitism and ‘loathsome’ online rhetoric

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is demanding that the world “step up to stamp out anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred, persecution of Christians and all other forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and incitement.”

The UN chief says that, beyond the recent murders of worshipers, “there is loathsome rhetoric” aimed not only at religious groups, but at migrants and refugees. He also decries “assertions of white supremacy, a resurgence of neo-Nazi ideology (and) venom directed at anyone considered the ‘other.'”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference after his meeting with the Russian foreign minister in Moscow, June 21, 2018. (AFP Photo/Yuri Kadobnov)

Guterres says “parts of the Internet are becoming hothouses of hate, as like-minded bigots find each other online, and platforms serve to inflame and enable hate to go viral.”

Guterres says he has launched initiatives to tackle hate speech and to see how the UN can contribute to the safety of religious sanctuaries.

Islamic State leader says Sri Lanka attacks revenge for Syria defeat

The leader of the Islamic State group praises the attack in Sri Lanka and calls it revenge for the fall of Baghouz, Syria, the last territory the extremist group held there or in Iraq.

The US-based SITE Intelligence Group says the acknowledgement of the Sri Lanka attack by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi comes during his first propaganda video in nearly five years.

This image made from video posted on a militant website on April 29, 2019, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, being interviewed by his group’s Al-Furqan media outlet. (Al-Furqan media via AP)

The 18-minute video released by the Islamic State’s al-Furqan media arm earlier today suggests al-Baghdadi filmed the video prior to the Sri Lanka attack.

It is his first video appearance since he delivered a sermon at the al-Nuri mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, declaring himself the “caliph” of the territory IS held.

The Easter bombings in Sri Lanka killed over 250 people.

AP

FBI got tip minutes before synagogue attack, too late to identify suspect

The FBI says it got tips about a threatening social media post about five minutes before a deadly attack on a synagogue near San Diego, but it was too late to identify the suspect.

In a statement to The Associated Press, the FBI said Monday that it got word about the anonymous post through its tip website and phone line just before Saturday’s attack on the Chabad of Poway.

The FBI says the tips included a link to the post but did not offer specific information about its author or the location threatened.

San Diego county sheriff deputies stand in front of the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshipers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

The bureau says its employees immediately took action to identify who wrote the post, but the shooting took place before they finished.

The attack killed one member of the congregation and wounded the rabbi and two others. A 19-year-old man surrendered to police a short time later.

— AP

Family of alleged synagogue gunman ‘shocked’ by deadly shooting

The family of the suspect in the California synagogue shooting says they are “shocked and deeply” saddened by the deadly attack.

In a statement released through a San Diego law firm, the family of John T. Earnest says he and his five siblings were raised in “a family, a faith, and a community that all rejected hate.”

The attack Saturday at Chabad of Poway killed one woman and wounded three others, including the synagogue’s rabbi.

Alleged San Diego shooter John Earnest (YouTube screenshot)

The family says it is a “terrifying mystery” what attracted their son to “such darkness.”

“Our sadness pales in comparison to the grief and anguish our son has caused for so many innocent people,” the statement says.

“To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries.”

— with AP

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Abbas doubles down on refusal to accept tax revenues after Israeli cuts

PA President Mahmoud Abbas restated the Palestinians’ refusal to accept tax revenues collected on their behalf by Israel so long as the Jewish state deducts millions of dollars over a dispute about prisoners.

“Our position is as it was: We will not receive any money from Israel if it is incomplete,” Abbas tells the weekly cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “This is something we will not accept at any cost.”

Israel collects around $190 million a month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports, and then it transfers the money to the PA.

In February, Israel decided to deduct around $10 million a month from those revenues, corresponding to the amount it said the PA paid families of prisoners or directly to inmates serving time in Israeli jails. The Palestinians responded by saying they would refuse any funds where unilateral deductions had been made.

The Kan public broadcaster reports that a month’s payment — minus the $10 million deduction — had recently been transferred to PA bank accounts, in the hope the authority would quietly accept payment. But after two weeks, the money was returned to the Israeli finance ministry, according to the report.

Yesterday, Channel 12 news reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon discussed emergency plans, should the PA economy collapse over its refusal to accept the tax dividends.

— with AFP