Amid truce talks, Qatari envoy enters Gaza from Israel with cash for salaries
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Appointments committee approves Amir Yaron as next Bank of Israel governor

Netanyahu welcomes Goldberg Committee’s decision, plans to bring decision to government vote on Sunday

Finance professor Amir Yaron. (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)
Finance professor Amir Yaron. (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

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

Police recommend indictments in Navy ship-buying graft probe

The Israel Police announces it has concluded its investigation into “Case 3000,” an alleged bribery scheme intended to influence Israel’s purchase of German naval vessels worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Authorities say they have sufficient evidence to indict several people close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though Netanyahu himself is not a suspect in the case. These include David Shimron, Netanyahu’s cousin and former personal attorney; Netanyahu’s former deputy national security adviser Brig. Gen. (res.) Avriel Bar-Yosef; former Israel Navy chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Eliezer Marom; David Sharan, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff; and Brig. Gen (res.) Shay Brosh.

Police say there is insufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu’s close confidant and former peace negotiator and adviser Yitzhak Molcho.

A key figure in the case is Miki Ganor, a former agent for German shipbuilder ThyssenKryupp and a former suspect, who in July 2017 signed an agreement to turn state’s witness.

Pentagon stops calling Mexico border mission ‘Operation Faithful Patriot’

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon quietly stops calling the deployment of troops to the US-Mexico border “Operation Faithful Patriot,” dropping the name even as thousands of American forces head to southern Texas, Arizona and California.

According to US officials, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis directed the department to stop using the name and simply describe the mission as military operations on the border. The change was ordered early this week, but no reason was given.

Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, would only say that the department is no longer using the name. But other US officials say Mattis didn’t like the name and believed it was distracting from the troops’ actual mission, which is in support of the border patrol.

The name hasn’t been formally changed or rescinded, but the Pentagon has stopped using it in press releases and documents.

Pentagon officials rolled out the name last month after US President Donald Trump controversially ordered thousands of active duty troops to the southwest border in response to a caravan of migrant families walking slowly north through Mexico toward the US. As of Wednesday, more than 5,600 troops have been deployed to Texas, Arizona and California and are mainly in staging bases. Only about 500 troops are actively supporting operations on the border, and many of those have been installing coils of razor wire and erecting tents to house US troops and border patrol.

— AP

Lawmaker slams Netanyahu over confidants’ alleged role in navy graft case

Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, is among the first opposition politicians to respond to the police recommendation announced earlier today to indict several close associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the “Case 3000” probe of alleged corruption in the Defense Ministry’s purchase of German naval vessels in recent years.

Investigators said Thursday they had concluded the investigation and recommended indictments against Netanyahu’s former personal attorney David Shimron, his former chief of staff David Sharan and his former deputy national security adviser Avriel Bar-Yosef, among others.

“If Netanyahu didn’t know, that’s very serious,” says Shelah. “If he knew, that’s even more serious. The people closest to the prime minister handled large amounts of money linked to Israel’s most sensitive defense acquisition, while they served him in his political, personal and strategic dealings. You don’t need a judicial process to see what every Israeli sees here.”

Farrakhan, in Iran, warns Trump of war that could ‘end America as you know it’

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Speaking Thursday while on a visit to Iran, the anti-Semitic American preacher Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam sect, warns US President Donald Trump not to pull “the trigger of war in the Middle East at the insistence of Israel.”

The 85-year-old Farrakhan, long known for his anti-Semitic comments, criticizes the economic sanctions leveled by Trump against Iran after America’s pullout from the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Farrakhan tells journalists in Tehran that he is “begging our president and the government that supports him to be very, very careful.”

“The war will trigger another kind of war which will bring China, Russia, all of the nations into a war,” he says. “The war will end America as you know it.”

— AP

Labor’s Gabbay slams naval graft suspicions as ‘treason,’ calls on PM to resign

Labor party leader Avi Gabbay says the suspicions against multiple confidants of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the “Case 3000” naval vessel purchasing case amount to “treason.”

“Stealing money from the defense forces is an act of treason against IDF soldiers. With this money, we could have purchased armored personnel carriers to replace the aging vehicles our soldiers used to enter Gaza four years ago,” Gabbay says in a video he releases Thursday after police announce their investigation into Case 3000 is concluded.

Police announced Thursday they would recommend indictments against, among others, Netanyahu’s former attorney David Shimron, his former chief of staff David Sharan and his former deputy national security adviser Brig. Gen. (res.) Avriel Bar-Yosef.

“If the prime minister knew about his confidants’ involvement, he must resign. If he didn’t know, he must resign because he’s unfit to lead our defense establishment,” Gabbay says.

Likud slams opposition’s linking Netanyahu to naval acquisitions graft probe

The Likud party issues a statement rejecting attempts by opposition lawmakers to link Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the graft suspicions announced by police earlier today against several of the prime minister’s closest confidants in the naval vessel-purchasing corruption probe.

Netanyahu himself is not a suspect in the case.

“The attempts of the left to stick the ‘submarines affair’ on Prime Minister Netanyahu have collapsed in the face of reality,” the party says in a statement.

“We offer our condolences to [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid and [Labor chief Avi] Gabbay, who once again have seen their hopes dashed of replacing Prime Minister Netanyahu by means of false accusations.”

Parks Authority warns hikers to expect flash floods over weekend

The Nature and Parks Authority issues a warning for hikers headed for mountainous areas of the country over the weekend to expect possible flash floods amid predictions of significant rainfall.

Desert riverbeds are dry most of the year, but occasionally experience powerful and near-instantaneous floods as they carry rainwater from the mountaintop watersheds in the center and south of the country toward the Jordan Valley. The floods can occur in areas that did not experience rainfall, as waters from elsewhere are funneled into the narrow gorges, sometimes surprising unwitting hikers in a deadly torrent.

Sudan says ready to work with US to get off terror blacklist

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan welcomes a US announcement that Washington is willing to remove Khartoum from its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism and says it is ready to cooperate.

The US State Department Wednesday said Washington was prepared to “initiate the process of rescinding Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism” if Khartoum undertakes more reforms.

It called on Sudan to engage in further anti-terrorism cooperation and improve its human rights record, and act on outstanding claims related to terrorism as well as work to resolve internal conflicts.

The announcement came after talks Tuesday in Washington between US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed.

The Sudanese foreign ministry says the talks mark the “launching of the second phase of the strategic dialogue with the United States” aimed at bolstering “bilateral cooperation” between the two countries and achieving “progress in a number of fields of mutual concern.” A statement says Sudan “welcomes” the talks.

— AFP

Amid navy graft probe, justice minister calls for ‘putting the house in order’

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is a lone voice on the Israeli right to speak out critically after police recommended indictments earlier today in the “Case 3000” naval acquisitions graft probe against multiple confidants of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The defense minister told me a few months ago he will set up an inter-ministerial committee to examine the whole issue of defense acquisitions and how they are managed in the Defense Ministry,” Shaked says at a law conference in Haifa.

“It seems we haven’t looked into this for several years, so it’s time to put the house in order.”

Of the suspects in the case, she says “it’s disappointing to see this happen, but I don’t like to convict someone [without a trial].” She insists the decision to purchase the German vessels that were the subject of the police probe was not affected by the alleged bribery.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, hospitalized after fracturing 3 ribs in fall

WASHINGTON — Eighty-five-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fractures three ribs in a fall in her office at the Supreme Court and is in the hospital, the court says.

The court’s oldest justice fell Wednesday evening, the court says. She went to George Washington University Hospital in Washington early Thursday after experiencing discomfort overnight.

She was admitted to the hospital for treatment and observation after tests showed she fractured three ribs.

In her absence, the court was going ahead Thursday with a courtroom ceremony welcoming new Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who joined the court last month. US President Donald Trump and new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker are expected to attend.

Ginsburg has had a series of health problems. She broke two ribs in a fall in 2012. She has had two prior bouts with cancer and had a stent implanted to open a blocked artery in 2014. She also was hospitalized after a bad reaction to medicine in 2009.

Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg rebuffed suggestions from some liberals that she should step down in the first two years of President Barack Obama’s second term, when Democrats also controlled the Senate and would have been likely to confirm her successor.

She already has hired clerks for the term that extends into 2020, indicating she has no plans to retire.

— AP

White House says white supremacist arrived as part of garden tour

A leading white supremacist who toured the White House grounds was part of a garden tour that is open to the public, the White House says.

Patrick Casey, who leads Identity Evropa, posted photos Wednesday on Twitter of him posing on the White House grounds.

“Evropa has landed at the White House!” he said.

Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, tells JTA in an email: “He was one of more than twenty-five thousand people who came to the White House Fall Garden Tour, which is open to the public. Free tickets are made available to anyone who wants to attend.”

Identity Evropa coined the phrase “You will not replace us,” which refers to a conspiracy theory that Jews are masterminding a plan to replace whites with non-whites.

Identity Evropa participated in the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 that ended with violence and a deadly attack on counterprotesters allegedly carried out by a white supremacist. During that march, the Identity Evropa slogan was echoed in the phrase “Jews will not replace us.”

President Donald Trump equivocated on condemning the march, blaming both sides for the violence and saying that both the marchers and the counterprotesters included “fine people.” White supremacists and neo-Nazis praised Trump for his reaction. An array of Jewish groups and lawmakers from both parties criticized him.

— JTA

Texas Jewish food truck vandalized in anti-Semitic attack

A crowdfunding campaign raises more than $12,000 to help the owner of a Texas food truck that serves kosher-style food after it is vandalized in an anti-Semitic attack.

Scotty Grossbard opened his Jew Hungry? food truck in Austin, Texas, eight months ago. It serves traditional Jewish foods, including matzo ball soup, latkes and deli sandwiches.

On October 31 he received a phone call while on vacation in Florida to tell him that his truck had been vandalized.

In addition to a broken windshield and window, appliances were destroyed and kosher food ingredients were stolen. Grossbard also discovered an iron cross formed out of coins on the driver’s seat of the truck. He told local media that when he saw the cross he knew it was an anti-Semitic attack.

The Iron Cross was a German military medal adopted by the Nazi regime in the 1930s, and is used today by white supremacists as a hate symbol.

“It was ransacked, glass everywhere. And that’s when I saw the cross and the change on my driver seat. I got upset. I started crying. I cried most of the day yesterday,” Grossbard said after he returned from vacation to survey the damage.

Grossbard opened a GoFundMe page on Saturday night in order to try to raise the estimated $2,000 to repair the immediate damage to the truck and equipment in order to allow him to reopen. That estimate has gone higher as more equipment was discovered to be damaged, including his fryer. The goal was surpassed in one day by 74 donors and the total stood on Thursday morning at more than $12,000.

He announced on the page that he will reopen with sandwiches and soups while waiting for the equipment repairs.

There have been at least 32 reported anti-Semitic or white supremacist incidents in Austin since January 2017, according to the ADL.

— JTA

Palestinian shot last month in Gaza border protest dies

A Palestinian shot last month during protests on the Israel-Gaza border has succumbed to his wounds, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says.

Ahmad al-Najar, 21, was shot by IDF troops during a violent protest east of Khan Younis and was later transferred to the West Bank for treatment, a health ministry spokesman says in a statement.

He died yesterday, the spokesman adds.

— Agencies

Sheriff identifies bar shooting suspect as ex-Marine with mental health issues

Authorities identify the suspect in a mass shooting at a Southern California bar as 28-year-old Ian David Long.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean says Long is believed to have killed himself late Wednesday at the Borderline Bar and Grill in the city of Thousand Oaks.

Dean says his department had several previous contacts with the former Marine including a call to his home in April, when deputies found him acting irate and irrationally.

The sheriff says a mental health crisis team was called at that time and concluded that Long did not need to be taken into custody.

Dean says the other prior encounters were a traffic accident and an incident when he was the victim of a battery at a bar.

Long was found dead in the Borderline Bar and Grill after 12 people were shot to death late Wednesday.

— AP

LA police arrest man for ripping wigs off heads of Orthodox Jewish women

Los Angeles police arrest a man who they say has been snatching wigs off the heads of Orthodox Jewish women in North Hollywood, California.

Police believe the man targeted the women because of their faith and are investigating it as a hate crime. He was arrested at his home in Sherman Oaks on Wednesday night.

Two of the incidents took place in September and one earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reports.

One of the incidents took place on Yom Kippur. The man grabbed a wig off the head of an 80-year-old woman, smiled and handed it back to her, police tell the newspaper. Later that same day he ripped the wig off the head of a 36-year-old woman.

On Tuesday, the suspect, who has not been identified, pulled the wig off of a 58-year-old woman, apologized in what police called a “sarcastic manner,” and threw the wig on the ground, according to the newspaper.

Police believe there may have been other unreported incidents.

“The suspect appears to have battered the women and targeted their wigs because of their religious beliefs. Orthodox Jewish women often wear wigs, scarfs or hats to cover their hair as a symbol of modesty,” the Los Angeles Police Department says in a statement.

— JTA

Palestinian said killed in central Gaza amid truce talks

Palestinian media reports say IDF troops killed a Gazan man along the border between Israel and the central Gaza Strip a short time ago.

There is no immediate confirmation from the IDF about any incident along the border fence, and no information about the circumstances surrounding the incident from Palestinian media.

If the report is true, it would mark the first Palestinian death from IDF fire in Gaza in 10 days as both Israel and Hamas are negotiating a truce via Egyptian mediators.

Sheriff cites Pittsburgh synagogue shooting after gunman kills 12 in California

The sheriff presiding over the investigation into a mass killing Thursday in Thousand Oaks, California, cites the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre last month when he is asked what to draw from the event.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean speaks to the media after a gunman killed 12 people at a nightclub, including a police sergeant who was responding to the shooting. The shooter, a US Marines veteran who was believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, was killed. No motive is known.

“I went and spoke at a Jewish synagogue after the tragedy on the East Coast,” Dean says, referring to the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue complex in Pittsburgh, in which an anti-Semitic gunman killed 11 worshipers. “When I talked to the parishioners there, I followed up on the rabbi. I said, ‘we’ve got to do something about the hate and we’ve got to do something to just spread the love.’”

It’s not clear which rabbi Dean is referring to. The Tree of Life rabbi, Jeffrey Myers, since the shooting has called repeatedly for a tamping down of vitriol.

“Stop the words of hate,” Myers said at a memorial in Pittsburgh the day after the shooting.

— JTA

Gaza-area high schoolers reach Jerusalem after protest trek against rocket fire

Some 6,000 high school students from Gaza-area towns and their supporters gather in Jerusalem at the end of a 160-kilometer trek from Sderot to the Knesset to protest continued rocket fire, incendiary balloons, and attempts to cross the border by Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza.

The rocket fire from Gaza began in 2001, during the Second Intifada, and has continued off and on ever since. The high schoolers growing up near Gaza have lived all their lives in its shadow.

The protest trek is being called “apolitical” by its organizers, all of whom are students at the Shaar Hanegev High School in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council near the Gaza border.

Appointments committee approves Amir Yaron as next Bank of Israel governor

The top advisory committee for appointments to the most senior posts in the public service, the so-called “Goldberg Committee,” approves the nomination of economist Amir Yaron as Israel’s next governor of the Bank of Israel.

The committee, headed by former top judge Eliezer Goldberg, is charged with examining candidates’ past and credentials before they are appointed heads of Israel’s most important state bodies, especially the security services.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes the committee’s decision. “I’m certain that Prof. Amir Yaron will lead the Bank of Israel responsibly, and will contribute to the continued success of the Israeli economy,” he says in a statement.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon are planning to bring the appointment to a vote at the next cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Syria says military freed 19 Druze hostages held by IS since July

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syrian troops have liberated 19 Druze women and children hostages held by the Islamic State group since July in a military operation in the country’s center, ending a months-long crisis that has stunned Syria’s Druze religious minority, state media reports. An opposition war monitor says the release was part of an exchange.

SANA news agency says in its report that the operation occurred in the Hamima area east of the historic town of Palmyra. It says all IS fighters in the area where the hostages were held have been killed.

The Suwayda 24 activist collective quotes local officials as saying the women and children held by IS have all been freed.

“My happiness is huge,” Nashaat Abu Ammar, whose wife, two sons, and daughter are among those freed, tells The Associated Press by telephone.

The 19 women and children were among 30 people kidnapped by IS in the southern province of Sweida on July 25 when members of the extremist group ambushed residents and went on a killing spree that left at least 216 people dead.

— AP

France says no homage to Nazi collaborator Petain after outcry

PARIS, France — French President Emmanuel Macron says there would be no official homage to Nazi collaborator Philippe Petain as part of World War I ceremonies this week, a day after sparking outrage by saying his inclusion would be “legitimate.”

“It was never a question of celebrating him individually,” Macron says in Maubeuge as he tours WWI sites in northern France this week ahead of the 100th anniversary of the armistice on Sunday.

Petain was hailed as a national hero after WWI for leading French forces to victory, but during World War II he became head of the French government which collaborated with occupying German forces and helped deport tens of thousands of Jews to death camps.

Macron had indicated Wednesday that Petain would be among the eight army chiefs honored at the Invalides military museum on Saturday, saying he had earned the nation’s gratitude.

“He was a great soldier, it’s a fact,” he said, though he stressed that Petain had made “disastrous choices” during World War II.

His comments were denounced by rival politicians and Jewish leaders, and set off a flurry of criticism on Twitter.

“The only thing we will remember about Petain is that he was convicted, in the name of the French people, of national indignity during his trial in 1945,” said Francis Kalifat of the CRIF association of French Jewish groups.

— AFP

Air Force orders planes not to land at Ben Gurion, no reason given

The Israeli Air Force orders all civil flights into Ben Gurion Airport to steer clear of the facility. There is no immediate information on the reason for the order.

Flights in and out of Ben Gurion Airport resume after half-hour delay

Flights in and out of Ben Gurion International Airport are suspended for approximately half an hour this evening, an aviation official says.

The spokesperson for the Israel Aviation Authority says the take offs and landings were delayed by approximately half an hour, but refuses to say what prompted the measure.

The Ynet new site reports that the delay was requested by the Israeli Air Force.

The Israeli military does not immediately comment on the matter.

— Judah Ari Gross

Amid truce talks, Qatari envoy enters Gaza from Israel with cash for salaries

The Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, enters the Gaza Strip today with some $15 million in cash meant to pay salaries to Palestinian Authority officials who have gone largely unpaid for many months.

Al-Emadi carries the money in three suitcases through the Erez Crossing from Israel, after Israel grants its approval for the shipment.

The move is a sign of the successful advance of truce talks between Israel and Hamas.

Google reforms sexual misconduct rules after criticism

SAN FRANCISCO — Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture at Google facilities worldwide, including in Israel.

CEO Sundar Pichai spells out the concessions in an email sent Thursday to Google employees. The note of contrition comes a week after the tech giant’s workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest management’s treatment of top executives and other male workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct involving men. The protest’s organizers estimated about 17,000 workers participated in the walkout.

“Google’s leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you’ve shared,” Pichai writes in his email. “We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

Google bowed to one of the protesters’ main demands by dropping mandatory arbitration of all sexual misconduct cases. That will now be optional under the new policies. It mirrors a change made by ride-hailing service Uber after the complaints of its women employees prompted an internal investigation concluding its rank had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment

— AP

Jewish Democrat Kim Schrier takes Washington House seat from Republicans

Kim Schrier, a Jewish Democrat in Washington state running for Congress, has won her race in a district that was Republican.

Schrier garnered nearly 53 percent of the vote against Republican Dino Rossi in the 8th District, according to The New York Times. She will be among 11 Jewish women, including nine in the House, to be elected in the midterms in a record-setting year for women voted into Congress.

With Schrier’s victory, Democrats have gained at least 30 seats in the US House of Representatives, with about a dozen still undecided. Democrats took control of the chamber in Tuesday’s election, while Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate.

Schrier is a pediatrician who says she was partly inspired to run after seeing the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. She was endorsed by former president Barack Obama.

— JTA

Air Force confirms short freeze on flights into Ben Gurion, calls it ‘routine’

The Israeli military confirms it requested that Ben Gurion International Airport temporarily suspend its takeoffs and landings earlier today for a short period. An army spokesperson says it was part of “routine cooperation” between the Air Force and the civilian Israel Aviation Authority.

“It was nothing irregular,” the spokesperson says.

— Judah Ari Gross

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Amid truce talks, Qatari envoy enters Gaza from Israel with cash for salaries

The Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, enters the Gaza Strip today with some $15 million in cash meant to pay salaries to Palestinian Authority officials who have gone largely unpaid for many months.

Al-Emadi carries the money in three suitcases through the Erez Crossing from Israel, after Israel grants its approval for the shipment.

The move is a sign of the successful advance of truce talks between Israel and Hamas.