Brother of Palestinian suspect in teen’s killing says he’s innocent
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Major voting irregularities said suspected in Likud primaries

TV report says some candidates from the ruling party received a larger number of votes than the amount of eligible voters in a number of localities

Likud members cast their votes for candidates in the party primaries at a polling station in Tel Aviv on February 5, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Likud members cast their votes for candidates in the party primaries at a polling station in Tel Aviv on February 5, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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

20 swastikas spray-painted near Sydney’s Bondi Beach

More than 20 swastikas have been spray-painted on a mural and a shopping center near Bondi Beach in the Australian city of Sydney, with local officials and Jewish groups condemning the incident as an “expression of blatant racism.”

Police in the state of New South Wales (NSW) say Sunday in a statement to local media that “officers from Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command attended and found a section of the mural wall had been defaced with approximately 20 symbols.”

“A short time later three more were located at a shopping center at Bondi Junction.”

Vic Alhadeff, head of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, releases a statement condemning the graffiti.

“The swastika represents the ultimate in race hatred and the people of Bondi and indeed all Australians of goodwill will stand together in condemning this shocking display. The Jewish community is appalled at this expression of blatant racism,” he says.

— Michael Bachner

A swastika spray-painted on a mural at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, February 10, 2019. (Screenshot: Twitter)

5 paintings attributed to Hitler go unsold at German auction

BERLIN — Five watercolors attributed to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler from his early days as a struggling artist have failed to sell at auction in the southern German city of Nuremberg, possibly over fears they could be fakes.

The Nuremberger Nachrichten newspaper reports Sunday that no bids were received on the paintings, which had starting prices of between 19,000 euros ($21,500) and 45,000 euros ($50,900).

Three days before Saturday’s auction, prosecutors seized 63 other paintings attributed to Hitler from the auction house to investigate allegations they were fakes.

In Berlin last month, prosecutors seized three other Hitler watercolors after receiving a complaint questioning their authenticity.

As a young man, Hitler is thought to have painted some 2,000 pictures as he unsuccessfully struggled to succeed as an artist in Vienna before World War I.

— AP

A picture taken on February 8, 2019, at the Weidler auction house in the southern German city of Nuremberg shows a wicker armchair, bearing a swastika, a vase and watercolors which are presumed to have belonged to late Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. (Daniel Karmann/AFP)

Iranian FM visits Lebanon after formation of new government

BEIRUT — Iran’s foreign minister says his country is ready to cooperate with the new Lebanese government, offering support in all sectors.

Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to reporters Sunday at Beirut’s airport shortly after his arrival in the Lebanese capital.

The two-day visit comes days after the leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group urged Lebanon’s government to accept anti-aircraft weapons from Iran, as well as electricity and medicine.

Lebanon formed a new government last week after a nine-month vacuum that exacerbated the country’s economic woes. Hezbollah has three ministers in the new government.

Zarif congratulates Lebanese politicians and says Iran is ready to support the government in any way possible. He is scheduled to meet with the Lebanese president, prime minister and foreign minister during his visit.

— AP

File: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a press conference at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon on January 12, 2014. (AP/Bilal Hussein)


US-backed forces locked in fierce fighting to take last IS pocket in Syria

HASAKEH, Syria — US-backed forces are locked in fierce fighting Sunday as they press the battle against the last shred of the Islamic State jihadist group’s “caliphate” in eastern Syria.

The jihadists overran large parts of the country and neighboring Iraq in 2014, but various military offensives have since reduced that territory to a patch on the Iraqi border.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), supported by a US-led coalition, announced a final push to retake the jihadist pocket late Saturday, after a pause of more than a week to allow civilians to flee.

An SDF field commander says his fighters were battling their way forwards on Sunday morning.

“There are heavy clashes at the moment. We have launched an assault and the fighters are advancing,” he tells AFP.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group says coalition planes and artillery are bombarding jihadist positions.

“The battle is ongoing. There were heavy clashes this morning, with landmines going off,” says Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory.

Up to 600 jihadists could still remain inside, most of them foreigners, according to SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali.

But he adds the extremist group’s elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was likely not in the pocket.



Tony Blair raps Labour over response to anti-Semitism

Former British prime minister Tony Blair says the Labour Party has not done enough to address anti-Semitism in its ranks under leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“We’re supposed to be a progressive political party,” Blair says in an interview with Sky News. “How can we say it’s tolerable to have a certain level of anti-Semitism in the party?”

Blair, who led Labour from 1994 to 2007, did not directly criticize Corbyn but criticized the party leadership’s response to anti-Semitism.

“It has not been robust enough on it, and the fact that someone like Luciana Berger, who’s a smart, capable, active member of parliament doing her best for her constituents – the fact that she should even be subject to a confidence motion is shameful for the Labour Party,” he says.

Labour has been beset by anti-Semitism scandals under Corbyn, a staunch Israel critic who became party leader in 2015. Corbyn himself has faced accusations of anti-Semitism, in particular after video emerged of him saying “Zionists” do not understand English culture.

British former Prime Minister Tony Blair holds a press conference at Admiralty House, London, on July 6, 2016. (Stefan Rousseau/Pool via AP)

Highway reopens following deadly overturning of bus

Police announce that Route 443 has been reopened to traffic in both directions after a bus overturned on the highway earlier today, killing two people and injuring dozens more.

Jordan sentences 2 to death for IS-claimed attack on crusader castle

AMMAN, Jordan — A Jordanian court sentences two brothers to death on Sunday in connection with a 2016 attack claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, overturning a life sentence handed to the men last year.

The shooting attack in Karak, home to one of the region’s largest Crusader castles, killed seven policemen and two Jordanian civilians as well as a female Canadian tourist, and wounded 34 other people.

The head of the kingdom’s state security court, a military tribunal, orders Khalid al-Majali and Hamza al-Majali to be “hanged to death.”

Jordan’s cassation court, the kingdom’s highest judicial body, reverses a November ruling which sentenced the two to life behind bars.

“The actions of the defendants caused chaos, panic and horror among Jordanians and foreign tourists and threatened the country’s security and stability,” a judicial source tells AFP.


Karak castle in Jordan, seen in 2004. (CC BY-SA, Dennis Jarvis, Flickr)

Palestinian suspect in teen’s murder reenacts killing for investigators

The Palestinian suspect in the murder of an Israeli teenager reenacts the killing for investigators.

Arafat Irfayia, 29, was arrested Friday in Ramallah on suspicion of killing 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher in a wooded area in southern Jerusalem.

The Haaretz daily reports that based on the reenactment, Irfayia apparently found Ansbacher sitting on a chair and preceded to sexually assault and then kill her.

Investigators found evidence near where the reenactment took place indicating a struggle occurred between Ansbacher and Irfayia, according to the newspaper.

Early this morning, the Israeli military mapped Irfayia’s home in the West Bank city of Hebron ahead of its demolition.

The Israel Police, Shin Bet security service and IDF are still investigating the brutal murder, but increasingly suspect that Irfayia had a nationalistic motive.

Brother of Palestinian suspect in teen’s killing says he’s innocent

The brother of the Palestinian suspect in the killing of an Israeli teenager in Jerusalem denies he was the murderer.

“I don’t believe he murdered [her], he doesn’t do things like that. I grew up with him in the same house. My brother Arafat is not a murderer,” Suleiman Irfayia tells Channel 13.

Asked about his Arafat Irfayia’s reenactment of Ori Ansbacher’s murder, Suleiman reiterates his brother’s innocence.

“Whenever Israel arrests someone it claims he was the murderer and there is proof. My brother doesn’t do things like that,” he says.

Suleiman Irfayia also denies he or his brother are members of Hamas or Fatah.

Security forces at the scene where the body of a Ori Ansbacher, 19, was found in Ein Yael forest in Jerusalem, February 7, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Egypt’s Sissi elected new head of African Union

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi is elected chairman of the African Union at the continental body’s summit in Ethiopia.

The Egyptian leader addresses the summit, saying he would focus on security on the African continent.

“Our work must continue to improve peace and security in Africa in a holistic and sustainable manner,” Sissi says. “Mediation and preventive diplomacy will remain one of the priorities of the African Union.”

The new African Union chairman says that “counter-terrorism requires the identification of those who support and finance it and combating them collectively. While we are aware of the difficulty and complexity of the struggle, this remains the only appropriate way to uproot terrorism and eradicate it.”

The rights group Amnesty International warns that Sissi’s chairmanship might undermine the African Union’s human rights mechanisms.

Egyptian leaders have been absent from African Union meetings since 1995 when an assassination attempt was made on the life of former leader Hosni Mubarak.

Sissi’s election brings to an end the one-year chairmanship of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

— AP

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the new chairman of the African Union, at the 32nd African Union Summit, in Addis Ababa, on February 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Samuel Habtab)

Tabloid CEO’s lawyer says Enquirer didn’t extort Jeff Bezos

WASHINGTON — An attorney for the head of the National Enquirer’s parent company denies the tabloid committed extortion or blackmail by threatening to publish Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ explicit photos.

Elkan Abramowitz represents American Media Inc. chief executive David Pecker, who is Jewish. Abromowitz defends the tabloid’s practice as a “negotiation” in an interview Sunday with ABC’s “This Week.”

The Enquirer published a story last month that included lurid texts between Bezos and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez. Bezos said AMI later threatened to expose his revealing photos if he didn’t have his private investigators back off.

Abramowitz says the story was given to the Enquirer by a “reliable source” who was “well known” to Bezos and Sanchez.

He says he isn’t concerned about the matter jeopardizing a nonprosecution agreement between AMI and federal prosecutors.

— AP

David Pecker, chairman and CEO of American Media, addresses those attending the Shape and Men’s Fitness Super Bowl Party in New York in 2014. (Marion Curtis/AP)

PA rejects Netanyahu’s vow to deduct terror stipends from tax transfers

Palestinian Authority civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh says that the PA would not go along with Israel withholding any part of the tax money it collects on its behalf, after Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would begin doing so next week.

“The Palestinian Authority will refuse to receive any cleared funds if Israel deducts a penny from it,” he tells AFP, speaking in Arabic.

He doesn’t say what the PA’s next step would be.

Netanyahu’s comments earlier today came amid rising calls for a response following the arrest of a Palestinian man, Arafat Irfayia, 29, on Friday following the brutal murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher in a southern Jerusalem wood a day earlier.

The Knesset passed a law in July slashing Palestinian tax funds Israel transfers to the PA by the amount Ramallah pays to convicted terrorists and the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks.

The government had been refusing to implement the power given to it by the law, which is opposed by security officials who fear furthers cuts to the PA’s budget could hurt security cooperation or destabilize the West Bank.

— with AFP

Police probe anti-Semitic graffiti on Paris bagel shop

PARIS — Police are investigating anti-Semitic graffiti that was found sprayed across a bagel shop in the old Jewish quarter of Paris.

Police in the French capital say Sunday the word “Juden,” which is German for Jews, was discovered Saturday as anti-government protesters and police forces clashed in other parts of the city.

The French League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism shows a photograph of the bagel shop graffiti alongside a photo of a Berlin shop that was marked in a similar way in 1938 Nazi Germany.

The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, or CRIP, expresses “indignation and anger after the discovery of a revolting anti-Semitic tag on the window of a Bagelstein shop.”

The group says it was an “act that recalls the darkest hours of history.”

— AP

#Antisemitisme – Hier, les manifestations des Gilets Jaunes ont donné lieu à des actes de violences intolérables. Un…

Posted by CRIF on Sunday, 10 February 2019

Vandalism attack at Jewish cemetery in Manchester being probed as possible hate crime

A vandalism attack at a Jewish cemetery in Manchester is being treated by English police as a hate crime.

Three chapels at Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Whitefield were damaged, two stained-glass windows were smashed, several sinks were damaged, and the cemetery surveillance system was stolen, the Manchester Evening News reports.

In addition, dozens of headstones were damaged and the grave of a prominent Manchester rabbi was smashed open, according to reports.

The attack happened between Friday afternoon and the early hours of Saturday, police tell the Manchester newspaper.

The damage will cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. A crowdfunding page set up in the wake of the attack raised more than $9,000 in the first 17 hours.


Palestinians said to clash with Israeli troops on Gaza border

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are reportedly clashing with Israeli troops along the border.

According to reports, the demonstrators are burning tires close to the security fence near Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, and hurling explosive devices at Israeli forces.

The soldiers are said to be responding with tear gas and live fire.

Palestinian media earlier reported that members of the “night confusion units” would resume riots along the border this evening after a pause of several months.

Anti-Semitic flyers left on cars at University of Montana campus

Anti-Semitic flyers were placed under the windshield wipers of cars parked outside of student housing buildings on the campus of the University of Montana.

The flyers, discovered on Friday morning, accuse Jews of attacking the First Amendment. They are not signed by any particular group.

Missoula Police tell MTN news that it is looking at security camera footage in an attempt to identify the people that left the flyers.

In January, white nationalist flyers were left on doorsteps in Missoula and surrounding areas. In November, white nationalist recruitment flyers were posted around the University of Montana campus.

The Montana Human Rights Network says in a post on Facebook: “It’s important to condemn these efforts that target our friends and neighbors in the Jewish community.”


Anti-Semitic literature has been dropped in Missoula again. This time it was left on cars around student-family housing…

Posted by Montana Human Rights Network – MHRN on Friday, 8 February 2019

Shin Bet says murder of Israeli teen was a terror attack

The Shin Bet security agency says the murder of an Israeli teenager in Jerusalem last week was a terror attack.

It also says Palestinian suspect Arafat Irfayia clearly implicated himself in 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher’s murder while reenacting the killing for investigators earlier today.

Netanyahu tells family of Israeli teen that murder was a terror attack

Prime Minister Netanyahu informs the family of Ori Ansbacher that her murder was a terror attack.

“This is unsurprising, but I wanted to let you know,” he tells them.

Jewish Agency chair ‘outraged’ over swastika graffiti in Sydney

The chairman of the Jewish Agency condemns the spray-painting of over 20 swastikas near Bondi Beach in the Australian capital Sydney.

“We are outraged by the shameful anti-Semitic vandalism in Sydney. Bondi Beach is home to a beautiful Jewish Community. This hateful attack does not conform with Australian values of openness and inclusion,” Isaac Herzog says in a statement.

“I trust Australian authorities will find and prosecute those responsible,” he adds.

Major voting irregularities suspected in Likud primaries — report

Widespread voting irregularities are suspected in primaries held last week by the ruling Likud party, Channel 12 news reports this evening.

According to the network, candidates received a larger number of votes than there are registered Likud voters in another of localities across the country.

For example, the report says Culture Minister Miri Regev received 436 votes in Bnei Brak, despite there being only 334 eligible voters in the central city, while Science Minister Ofir Akunis got 229 votes in Mitzpe Jericho, where there are 153 Likud voters.

“Likud is proud of its primaries and the fact that it examines itself in an honest and meticulous manner,” the party said in a response to Channel 12.

It says it will publish official results in the coming days

Shas leader rules out electoral alliance with fellow ultra-Orthodox party

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri says his Shas party will not run on a joint slate with fellow ultra-Orthodox faction, United Torah Judaism, in April’s Knesset elections.

At the party’s campaign launch in Bat Yam, Deri vows the two parties will work closely after the elections and calls on ultra-Orthodox voters not to vote for non-religious factions.

“The Sephardis will vote for Shas and the Ashkenazi will for United Torah Judaism,” Deri says.

Television reports had said a merger between Shas and UTJ had received the blessing of a number of prominent rabbis and was supported by Prime Minister Netanyahu. The spiritual leader of Shas however reportedly squashed the effort because he the party to maintain its unique character as a representative of the Sephardi public.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri arrives at his Shas party’s inaugural campaign event for the upcoming Knesset elections in the coastal city of Bat Yam on February 10, 2019. (Yehuda Haim/Flash90)

Netanyahu beefs up defense team ahead of AG’s decision on indictment

Prime Minister Netanyahu adds prominent lawyer Pini Rubin to his legal team ahead of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision on whether to indict the premier in a series of corruption investigations.

Rubin has previously represented a number of high-profile clients, among them Arnon Milchan, who Netanyahu is suspected of receiving lavish gifts from in exchange for favors in one of the cases in which he is a suspect.

Mandelblit will reportedly announce later this month whether he intends to indict Netanyahu pending a hearing. The prime minister has denied wrongdoing in the three separate cases in which he has been investigated.

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Brother of Palestinian suspect in teen’s killing says he’s innocent

The brother of the Palestinian suspect in the killing of an Israeli teenager in Jerusalem denies he was the murderer.

“I don’t believe he murdered [her], he doesn’t do things like that. I grew up with him in the same house. My brother Arafat is not a murderer,” Suleiman Irfayia tells Channel 13.

Asked about his Arafat Irfayia’s reenactment of Ori Ansbacher’s murder, Suleiman reiterates his brother’s innocence.

“Whenever Israel arrests someone it claims he was the murderer and there is proof. My brother doesn’t do things like that,” he says.

Suleiman Irfayia also denies he or his brother are members of Hamas or Fatah.

Security forces at the scene where the body of a Ori Ansbacher, 19, was found in Ein Yael forest in Jerusalem, February 7, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)