Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria
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Trump: I don’t buy Tlaib’s tears, she hates Israel and all the Jewish people

The president calls the congresswoman an anti-Semite and claims she is the face of Democratic Party; ‘I have watched her violence, craziness and WORDS for far too long’

US President Donald Trump looks over at the media as he arrives at the White House in Washington, July 30, 2019. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Illustrative: In this Aug. 12, 2019 photo, plumes of smoke rise after an explosion at a military base southwest of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/Loay Hameed)

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

Greece says it has received no request to dock from Iranian tanker

Officials say they have not received a request from Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, now renamed Adrian Darya 1 to dock at a Greek port.

The ship has been on course for Kalamata, Greece, since leaving Gibraltar two days ago, with an estimated arrival on August 25.

“The vessel is cruising at low speed and there is still no formal announcement that it will arrive at Kalamata. The Merchant Marine Ministry is monitoring the matter along with Greece’s Foreign Ministry,” a shipping ministry spokesman tells Reuters.

The US has warned Athens against aiding the tanker, which it claims is “transporting illicit oil to fuel the Iranian regime’s and Syrian regime’s campaigns of terror and oppression.”

Iran says foreign minister Zarif to visit Macron in France

an’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to visit Paris and meet with his counterpart and the French president on Friday, state news agency IRNA reports.

“We will visit Paris on Friday to meet Emmanuel Macron and France’s foreign minister” Jean-Yves Le Drian, IRNA quotes Zarif as saying during a gathering of Iranians in Stockholm late Monday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives to speak at a high level political forum on sustainable development on July 17, 2019 at UN Headquarters in New York. (Kena Betancur/AFP)

Zarif is currently on a three-nation tour of Scandinavia and he will also visit China next week, according to IRNA.

France is a partner to the 2015 nuclear deal and has led European efforts to salvage the landmark accord since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it last year and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

— AFP

China warns of Islamic State revival in Syria

China’s Syria envoy says that “terrorist organizations” including the Islamic State group are being revived in the war-ravaged country, urging the international community not to ignore the “early warning” signs.

Xie Xiaoyan, Beijing’s pointman for the Syrian conflict, makes the comments after meeting in Geneva with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir O. Pedersen.

“There is now a danger of terrorist organizations like ISIS being revived,” Xie tells reporters, using another acronym for IS. “The international community should pay attention.”

— AFP

Police investigating allegations 15 teens raped girl for weeks

Police are investigation suspicions that 15 teenagers repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl in a northern community over a period of several.

Officials say the suspects are aged 14 to 16. They were arrested several weeks ago. All have denied the allegations made by the girl.

Authorities say the case was opened after one of the boys told the girl’s mother that she had been raped. The girl refused to cooperate at first and agreed to undergo medical tests only two months later, with the tests showing no evidence of rape — though the extended delay may have led to that result.

Liberman on surplus votes deal with Blue and White: Better than deal with Hamas

Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman responds to Likud’s criticism of his party’s signing of a surplus vote-sharing agreement with the Blue and White party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “signed a surrender deal with Hamas. I made a surplus vote-sharing deal with Blue and White. I believe that’s preferable.”

Likud earlier said the deal confirmed his intentions to try to unseat Netanyahu.

Two-month-old rescued from locked car in Beersheba

A two-month-old infant is rescued from a car in Beersheba after the father exited the vehicle and it automatically locked when he closed the door.

Passersby helped break the car’s windows and pulled the baby out safely. She was taken to a hospital for examination.

PM: Today it’s official, if you want a leftist government — vote Liberman

After Avigdor Liberman signs a surplus vote-sharing deal with Blue and White, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says: “Today it’s official… whoever wants a left-wing government led by [Yair] Lapid and [Benny] Gantz should vote Liberman.

“Whoever wants me leading a right-wing government should vote [Likud].”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on July 7, 2019. (Abir Sultan/AFP)

Netanyahu extols heritage of Ukrainian Jews in meeting with community leaders

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sara meet with Ukrainian Jewish leaders during their visit to capital Kyiv.

Netanyahu says it is a “very emotional” experience to be in the country and to have visited Babi Yar, the mass killing site of tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sara meet with Ukrainian Jewish leaders in Kyiv, Ukraine, August 20, 2019 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

“The people who were almost destroyed, who were massacred without mercy, this people now stands at the head of a strong country, steadfast, advanced, prosperous,” he says.

He notes that many of Israel’s greatest early cultural icons such as Hayim Nahman Bialik, Shaul Tchernichovsky, Ahad Ha’am and Ze’ev Jabotinsky had come from Ukraine. “The Jewry of Ukraine gave us some of our greatest geniuses.”

Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

Jihadists and allied rebels withdrew from a key area of northwestern Syria Tuesday, a war monitor says, as President Bashar Assad’s forces press an offensive against the jihadist-run Idlib region.

Turkey has warned Damascus “not to play with fire” a day after a Syrian regime air strike sought to deter a new Turkish military convoy from entering the area.

After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to Assad’s Russia-backed government. Since January, it has been administered by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is led by jihadists from Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate.

Syrian government forces gather near the town of Khan Shaykhun in the southern countryside of the rebel-held Idlib province on August 18, 2019 (AFP)

The region of some three million people was supposed to be protected by a buffer zone deal signed last September by Moscow and rebel backer Ankara, but government and Russian forces have subjected it to heavy bombardment since late April, killing almost 880 civilians.

— AFP

Education minister considering banning cellphones from schools

Education Minister Rafi Peretz says the ministry is considering banning cellphones from schools, Channel 12 reports.

“We will look at upsides and downsides,” he tells a gathering of school principals from central Israel. “You face this challenge every day, so I will soon hold a meeting in my office with principals from all sectors and all age groups” to consider the matter.

Illustrative: Children using smartphones. (SvetaOrlova, iStock by Getty Images)

Educators have expressed concerns over the effects of rampant cellphone use by children, particularly the access they give young kids to unsafe internet content.

Italian PM Conte to resign amid crisis with far-right League party

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says he will resign, lashing out at far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for pursuing his own interests by pulling the plug on the government coalition.

“I’m ending this government experience here… I will go to the president of the republic to inform him of my resignation,” he says.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte gestures as he speaks during a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, on August 8, 2018. (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP)

“It is irresponsible to initiate a government crisis,” Conte says after Salvini began his efforts to bring down the government in a bid for snap elections he hopes will make him premier.

Conte was speaking following a week of fallout from Salvini’s decision to back out of the alliance on August 8, plunging the eurozone’s third-largest economy into political turmoil.

— AFP

Pompeo: Islamic State persists despite territory loss

The Islamic State group remains a threat in Syria and Iraq, and in some areas has even gained power despite the elimination of its “caliphate,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.

“There are places where ISIS is more powerful today than they were three or four years ago,” Pompeo tells CBS’s “This Morning” show.

“But the caliphate is gone in their capacity to conduct external attacks, it’s been made much more difficult,” he says.

“We’ve taken down significant risk. Not all of it, but a significant amount. We’re very pleased with the work that we’ve done.”

US President Donald Trump declared early this year that US-led forces in Syria and Iraq had achieved “100 percent victory” over the Islamic extremist group after a campaign to eliminate their redoubt in the Euphrates river valley in Syria.

— AFP

Russia denies report it sought to stop Netanyahu from honoring Holodomor victims

Russia is denying a report in the Maariv newspaper that it attempted to prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from attending a wreath-laying ceremony in Ukraine for victims of the Holodomor.

The Holodomor was a man-made famine brought about by the Soviet Union in 1932-1933 that killed millions.

Maariv had quoted an unnamed source in the Russian Embassy in Israel as saying Moscow, which rejects blame for the disaster, had tried to convince Netanyahu not to attend the ceremony. The source claimed that while Netanyahu did not agree to that request, he did agree not to speak at the ceremony.

The Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv tells the Times of Israel: “Russia does not interfere in the bilateral ties between Israel and Ukraine.”

— with Raphal Ahren

Egypt says security forces kill 11 militants in Sinai

Egyptian security forces have killed 11 Islamist militants from a local affiliate of the Islamic State group based in the restive North Sinai region, the interior ministry says.

The militants, armed with weapons and explosives, were killed in a shootout during a raid on their hideout near a police station in the provincial capital El-Arish, the ministry adds.

A picture taken on July 26, 2018, shows Egyptian policemen driving on a road leading to the North Sinai provincial capital of El-Arish. (AFP PHOTO / Khaled DESOUKI)

According to intelligence from the national security department, the militants used the hideout as “a base to launch their hostile operations,” it says.

Egypt has for years been fighting an insurgency in North Sinai, which escalated following the military’s 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests. Since then, hundreds of police officers and soldiers have been killed in jihadist attacks.

— AFP

Reports of strike in Iraq on base of militia with ties to Iran

Arabic media is reporting that a base of a Shiite militia in Iraq with ties to Iran has been attacked.

Photos on social media show smoking coming from the al-Bakr base in the Saladin Governorate north of Baghdad.

Some on Twitter are blaming Israel for the strike. Israel has been alleged to have been behind several recent strikes on militias in Iraq which are back by Iran, though Jerusalem has not confirmed any such action.

Iraqi security officials confirm explosion at arms depot of Iran-backed group

Iraqi security officials confirm an explosion has happened in an arms depot belonging to an Iranian-backed militia faction north of Baghdad.

The Associated Press calls the explosion “the latest in a series of mysterious blasts that have rocked military bases and weapons depots around the country recently.”

Taxi driver suspected of raping 19-year-old American tourist

A taxi driver from the city of Ashkelon has been arrested on suspicion of raping a 19-year-old American tourist.

The man, 30, is alleged to have sexually assaulted the young woman while driving her from the Tel Aviv Port to Ramat Gan, a city in the Tel Aviv district, on Friday.

His remand has been extended by three days as the investigation continues.

Trump: I don’t buy Tlaib’s tears, she hates Israel and all the Jewish people

US President Donald Trump is once again attacking Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who held a press conference with colleague Ilhan Omar on Monday after Israel banned the pair from visiting the West Bank. Tlaib visibly teared up as she spoke of her Palestinian grandmother who she would not get to see.

“Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears,” Trump says. “I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite.

“She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”

Tlaib was eventually allowed by Israel to travel to visit her grandmother as a humanitarian gesture, rather than as part of an official visit, but she refused.

Likud joins Otzma Yehudit petition to bar Arab parties from running in election

The ruling Likud party has joined extremist party Otzma Yehudit’s petition to the High Court of Justice to block the Arab Joint List from running in the September 17 election, Channel 12 reports.

The Joint List includes all four Arab-majority parties: Ra’am, Ta’al, Hadash and Balad. A few days ago the Central Elections Committee rejected efforts to bar the Joint List from running.

The High Court is unlikely to accept the appeal.

Arab MK: Netanyahu deserves to be prosecuted in The Hague for his crimes

MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Arab Joint List has attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel’s efforts to encourage Palestinian emigration from Gaza, calling the practice “ethnic cleansing.”

Netanyahu, Touma-Sliman said, “deserves to be prosecuted in The Hague for all the crimes he’s committed and plans to commit.”

Speaking at the campaign launch for her party, she said the Joint List wanted to provide the citizenry with “the struggle that needs to take place… to fight in your name against the occupation, against the crimes of the settlements, to speak out loudly against the [US administration’s] deal of the century.”

MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) speaks at a campaign launch event for her party in Tel Aviv, August 20, 2019 (Omer Sharvit)

NY Rabbi drowns after he jumps in lake to save his 2 children

Emergency crews have recovered the body of a New York rabbi who drowned after jumping into a lake to rescue two of his children.

Greenwood Lake police say 38-year-old David Traub rented a pontoon boat Sunday from a marina in New Jersey. His family then traveled out on the lake, which stretches about seven miles between West Milford, New Jersey, and Orange County in New York.

Two of Traub’s children went swimming around 5:20 p.m. but eventually struggled to get back in the boat, so Traub entered the water to help them. Traub got the children safely back into the boat, but he then disappeared underwater.

Authorities soon began a search, but that was suspended Sunday night due to severe weather. The search resumed early Monday, and Traub’s body was found shortly before noon.

— AP

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Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

Jihadists and allied rebels withdrew from a key area of northwestern Syria Tuesday, a war monitor says, as President Bashar Assad’s forces press an offensive against the jihadist-run Idlib region.

Turkey has warned Damascus “not to play with fire” a day after a Syrian regime air strike sought to deter a new Turkish military convoy from entering the area.

After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to Assad’s Russia-backed government. Since January, it has been administered by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is led by jihadists from Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate.

Syrian government forces gather near the town of Khan Shaykhun in the southern countryside of the rebel-held Idlib province on August 18, 2019 (AFP)

The region of some three million people was supposed to be protected by a buffer zone deal signed last September by Moscow and rebel backer Ankara, but government and Russian forces have subjected it to heavy bombardment since late April, killing almost 880 civilians.

— AFP