Banki family: Shira killed for defending others’ rights
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Hundreds mass at Jerusalem vigil for gay pride parade victim

16-year-old girl stabbed in Jerusalem gay pride parade dies of injuries, family mourns ‘wonderful flower’; wildfire west of Jerusalem rages out of control, damages suburb homes

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Shira Banki, in a picture dated November 16, 2013, taken from her Facebook page.
Shira Banki, in a picture dated November 16, 2013, taken from her Facebook page.

The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded.

Police close Route 1 as wildfire rages

Firefighters are combating a massive wildfire outside the Jerusalem suburb of Even Sapir, west of the city.

Entrance to the town has been closed due to the blaze, which is reportedly encroaching on homes. Police are evacuating residents and are closing traffic into Jerusalem on Route 1.

The cause of the fire is not yet clear, but temperatures in the hills around Jerusalem have been in the 90s Fahrenheit for several days.

Emergency teams are also working to fight a blaze near the West Bank settlement of Alon Moreh, near Nablus.

Israeli activists visit Dawabsha family home

Two dozen peace activists visited the Palestinian village of Duma near the West Bank city of Nablus yesterday to offer their condolences after a child was killed in a terror attack Thursday night.

According to Combatants for Peace, the activists were the first Israelis welcomed to the village since the incident in which a year-old child was killed and family members injured when their home was torched.

“We thank you for allowing us the opportunity to come here and express our shame of these actions of terror and of these people that were generated by our society,” Maytal Lochoff, a member of the group, said. “We will continue to work together to bring the occupation to end.”

Combatants for Peace members visiting the home of the Dawabsha family, whose house was torched in a terrorist attack which claimed their year-old son's life. (Combatants for Peace)

Combatants for Peace members visiting the home of the Dawabsha family, whose house was torched in a terror attack that claimed their year-old son’s life. (Combatants for Peace)

From air and land, firefighters combat blaze

Five forest firefighters from the Jewish National Fund have joined the efforts to combat the blaze outside Jerusalem.

They join at least 30 firefighting crews on the scene and four firefighting aircraft.

A wildfire rages near the Jerusalem suburb of Even Sapir on Sunday, August 2, 2015. (Gidi Bashan, JNF)

A wildfire rages near the Jerusalem suburb of Even Sapir on Sunday, August 2, 2015. (Gidi Bashan, JNF)

Fire breaks out near Ofer Prison

Another fire has broken out near the Ofer Prison, north of Jerusalem and outside the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

According to Ynet, two firefighting teams are on the scene fighting the brush fire.

Chechen police probe women said to cheat IS

Police in Russia’s province of Chechnya have opened a probe against three local women who have allegedly cheated the Islamic State group out of money.

Regional police spokesman Magomed Deniyev said that the women had allegedly created accounts on social networks to contact IS, according to a report by government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Friday.

Deniyev said the women would claim they lacked money to make a trip to Syria and ask for funds, and then erase their accounts after receiving cash. Deniyev claimed the three women earned 200,000 rubles (about $3,300).

He said they would unlikely face any punishment for fraud since it would require IS to file a complaint.

Russian officials said more than 1,000 Russian nationals have joined IS.

— AP

Route 1 reopens as fire teams fight blaze

Police have reopened Route 1 to all traffic after an encroaching wildfire threatened the highway. Firefighters are still struggling to control the fire, which has damaged three houses and several chicken coops in the town of Even Sapir, Channel 2 reports.

‘PKK suicide attack’ kills 2 Turkish soldiers

Two Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens wounded early Sunday in a suicide attack blamed on Kurdish militants, as Ankara kept up its air campaign against the rebels’ bases in northern Iraq.

The attack in the Dogubayazit district of the eastern Agri province is the first time Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants have been accused of staging a suicide attack in the current crisis, amid an escalating cycle of violence that appears to have no end in sight.

Ankara has launched a two-pronged “anti-terror” offensive against Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria and PKK militants based in northern Iraq after a wave of attacks inside Turkey.

But so far the bombardments have focused far more on the Kurdish rebels — with Turkish official media claiming that 260 suspected PKK members have been killed — and the militants have retaliated inside Turkey.

There is also growing controversy over possible civilian casualties in the Turkish bombings, and the local Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq on Saturday urged the PKK to spare civilians.

The suspected PKK suicide bomber drove a tractor laden with two tons of explosives up to the military station in the Dogubayazit district, the official Anatolia news agency reported, quoting the local governor’s office.

— AFP

Fire traps several in monastery near Even Sapir

At the Monastery of St. John in the Wilderness, just outside Moshav Even Sapir, police and emergency rescue teams are working to evacuate several people trapped therein, Ynet reports.

Firefighters have ramped up their efforts to contain the blaze outside Jerusalem, deploying a total of eight aircraft and more than 100 rescue workers.

Knesset to discuss pride, price tag attacks

The Knesset will hold a special session Tuesday to discuss Thursday’s stabbing at the Jerusalem gay pride parade and the torching of a Palestinian home which killed a year-old baby.

Wildfire encroaches on Hadassah Hospital

Changing winds have started blowing the fire outside Jerusalem toward Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem. There is no immediate threat to the medical center, and no evacuation order has been given, Israel Radio reports. Cars parked on the lower slopes, in the direction of the fire, are advised to be moved.

Because of the high levels of airborne pollution, residents of towns and Jerusalem neighborhoods near the fire are advised to close windows and remain indoors.

6 nabbed for throwing stones on Temple Mount

Police arrest six Palestinians after they allegedly threw stones at police on the Temple Mount, then barricaded themselves inside al-Aqsa Mosque.

The police say additional arrests are expected.

Soldiers evacuated from Ofer military base

The IDF says that it’s evacuated soldiers from the Ofer military camp, north of Jerusalem, as firefighters battle a brush fire nearby. Four rescue teams are on site to fight the blaze.

It isn’t immediately clear whether the section of the complex housing the military prison was evacuated.

Girl hurt in Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade attack dies

The girl stabbed in the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade has died of her wounds, Hadassah Hospital announces.

Sixteen-year-old Shira Banki, who was in serious condition after Thursday’s attack, succumbed to the injuries inflicted by stabber Yishai Schlissel.

Banki’s family to donate her organs

The family of Shira Banki, the 16-year-old who died Sunday from wounds inflicted in a stabbing at the Jerusalem gay pride parade, say they’ll donate the girl’s organs.

Israeli backpacker missing in Georgia

An Israeli backpacker has gone missing in Georgia. Dor Cohen, 22, of Jerusalem hasn’t been in contact with his family for six days. His brother is looking for him in the Caucasus mountains where he was last seen.

J’lem mayor offers condolences to Banki family

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat expresses his condolences to the family of Shira Banki, who was killed in the Jerusalem pride parade attack.

“The murder at the pride parade in the streets of Jerusalem is a criminal act, and we won’t let it achieve its objective. We’ll continue to allow complete free expression in the city for everyone, continue to support all the groups and communities in the city and Open House (an LGBT organization). We’ll continue the education to accept the other and tolerance in the education system and won’t be deterred by those who try to prevent this by foul methods,” he said in a statement.

PM: We won’t let Banki’s killer undermine our values

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sends his condolences to the Banki family as well, saying “Shira was murdered because she supported with determination the principle that says everyone is entitled to live their life with dignity and security.”

“We won’t allow the loathsome murderer to undermine the basic values upon which Israeli society is founded,” he says. “We condemn with disgust the attempt to impose hatred and violence in our midst, and we will work to bring the killer to justice.”

Jerusalem vigil for girl killed in pride march

The Jerusalem Open House is holding a vigil in memory of Shira Banki, the girl killed in the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade stabbing, this evening at 8 p.m. in Zion Square in central Jerusalem.

Body of Israeli backpacker found in Georgia

Rescue teams have found the body of Dor Cohen, the 22-year-old backpacker from Jerusalem who went missing while hiking in Georgia. His family has been informed.

Banki family: Shira killed for defending others’ rights

The family of the girl killed in the attack on the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade issues a statement:

“Our wonderful Shira was murdered only because of the fact that she was a happy 16-year-old girl, full of life and love, who came to support the rights of her friends and every person to live according to their own way.

“Without purpose, and because of stupid evils and carelessness, our wonderful flower’s life was cut short,” the Banki family says.

Lapid joins prayer session for Palestinian terror victims

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid arrives at a prayer session in the West Bank for the Dawabsha family, victims of a terrorist attack targeting their home near Nablus. Roughly 200 Israelis and Palestinians are in attendance.

“No God wants babies to be burned or killed,” he says.

— Melanie Lidman

Heat wave triggers blackouts in Tel Aviv area

The extreme heat afflicting the country has caused power outages in central Israel. The Israel Electric Corporation clocked record power usage countrywide during the current heat wave.

Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, in the Jordan Valley, hit a walloping 50° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit), and the temperature in Jerusalem broke 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit).

Dust storms force Amman-bound planes to land in Israel

Two airliners bound for Amman, Jordan, have landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport because of severe dust storms in the Hashemite Kingdom, Israel Radio reports. Once the storms subside, they’ll continue on to Queen Alia International Airport.

Cabinet okays administrative detention for Jewish terror suspects

The cabinet approves administrative detention and extending laws for combating terrorism to Jewish terror suspects.

The Prime Minister’s Office says that Israel will take a “firm hand” and “all steps necessary” to address the issue.

Fire raging outside Jerusalem under control

After eight hours of battling the flames, the wildfire raging outside Moshav Even Sapir, a small agricultural community on the outskirts of Jerusalem, is under control, firefighters say.

The community’s citizens are still not given permission to return home, however. The prevailing theory is that negligence caused the blaze, Channel 2 reports.

Ministerial panel to propose means of combating Jewish terror

Israel’s security cabinet will set up a ministerial committee, headed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, tasked with proposing additional measures to the government to combat Jewish terrorism that targets Palestinians.

Crowds gather for vigil honoring Banki in Jerusalem

Hundreds have turned out at Jerusalem’s Zion Square to attend a memorial vigil in honor of Shira Banki.

The central plaza in the capital is filling up with well-wishers to pay respects to Banki, who died Sunday from injuries inflicted by Yishai Schlissel at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade on Thursday.

Iran invents WikiLeaks cable to smear human-rights probe

Iranian state-run news agencies and semi-official outlets are reporting on WikiLeaks cables that show that the UN human-rights investigator who is probing the Islamic Republic’s violations took bribes from Saudi Arabia. The only problem is that the cables are fabricated, The Guardian reports.

In what the newspaper calls “a concerted effort aimed at discrediting Ahmed Shaheed in the eyes of the general public,” the Iranian news outlets are quoting a cable that WikiLeaks, itself, denies having published.

The forged document, the report says, appears to be fabricated by digital editing of recently released Saudi diplomatic cables.

Bennett to vigil attendees: ‘Don’t be afraid to be who you are’

Speaking at the vigil for Shira Banki in Jerusalem, Education Minister Naftali Bennett says she was “murdered because of radicalism that raised its head.”

“Because we don’t know how to accept the other. Students in Israel need first of all to know: Don’t be afraid to be who you are and what you are,” he says, according to Ynet.

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Banki family: Shira killed for defending others’ rights

The family of the girl killed in the attack on the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade issues a statement:

“Our wonderful Shira was murdered only because of the fact that she was a happy 16-year-old girl, full of life and love, who came to support the rights of her friends and every person to live according to their own way.

“Without purpose, and because of stupid evils and carelessness, our wonderful flower’s life was cut short,” the Banki family says.