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Protests muted after family of slain teen calls for pause

Family of 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Tekah says organized, ‘just and legitimate protests, without violence’ to begin after shiva mourning period ends Sunday

  • Ethiopian-Israelis and supporters take part in a protest against police violence and discrimination following the death of 19-year-old Solomon Tekah, who was shot and killed on June 30 by an off-duty police officer, in Tel Aviv, July 3, 2019. The sign reads, "An Ethiopian child also wants to get home to mother." (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Ethiopian-Israelis and supporters take part in a protest against police violence and discrimination following the death of 19-year-old Solomon Tekah, who was shot and killed on June 30 by an off-duty police officer, in Tel Aviv, July 3, 2019. The sign reads, "An Ethiopian child also wants to get home to mother." (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Israeli police officers at a protest following the shooting death of 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Tekah, in Tel Aviv, July 3, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Israeli police officers at a protest following the shooting death of 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Tekah, in Tel Aviv, July 3, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • A Meretz party activist is detained by police at a protest by the Ethiopian-Israeli community in Tel Aviv, July 3, 2019. (Naomi Lanzkron)
    A Meretz party activist is detained by police at a protest by the Ethiopian-Israeli community in Tel Aviv, July 3, 2019. (Naomi Lanzkron)
  • Police officers form a line to prevent protesters from rushing into the street at Hashalom interchange in central Tel Aviv amid a protest by the Ethiopian-Israeli community, July 3, 2019. (Naomi Lanzkron)
    Police officers form a line to prevent protesters from rushing into the street at Hashalom interchange in central Tel Aviv amid a protest by the Ethiopian-Israeli community, July 3, 2019. (Naomi Lanzkron)
  • Hadash party MK Ayman Odeh joins an Ethiopian-Israeli protest against police violence in Tel Aviv, July 3, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Hadash party MK Ayman Odeh joins an Ethiopian-Israeli protest against police violence in Tel Aviv, July 3, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

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

Amid protests, police chief says further violence won’t be tolerated

Ahead of a third day of planned protests over the Sunday shooting death by a cop of 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli man Soloman Tekah, Israel’s acting police chief, Commissioner Moti Cohen, sent a message to the police force saying no more violence would be tolerated.

Police said earlier today that 111 officers were hurt, as well as dozens of protesters and passersby, in the protests thus far. At least 136 protesters were arrested over the past two days.

“As a police force in a democratic law-abiding country, we are duty-bound to protect the delicate balance between the right to legitimate protest and enforcing the law. Restraint is a form of strength we are required to possess as professionals charged with enabling legitimate protest,” he writes.

“But, too, in a nation of laws, there are rules and there are acceptable ways to protest. Alongside the rights of the protesters, we have a duty to protect the rights of the public and ordinary citizens. There is no place for attacks on public officials, on institutions and property.”

He says the police have so far acted with restraint, “in order to allow room for the protest,” but that “some of the protesters broke the law, taking cynical advantage of our efforts to enable the legitimate protest to take place by inflicting serious violence on officers and civilians during riots and road closures.”

He warns: “No more quarter will be given to public disorder, to blocking roads or to violence. We will continue to respond proportionately, and to distinguish between those seeking to express their protest through legal means in a democratic country, and those who incite and assault.”

200 corpses said found in mass grave in Syria’s Raqqa

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Two hundred corpses, including those of people believed to have been executed by the Islamic State group, are found near the Syrian city of Raqqa, a local official and a war monitor say.

The mass grave contains the bodies of five men in orange jumpsuits of the kind typically worn by IS hostages, Yasser al-Khamees and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say.

More bodies could be uncovered as search operations continue, Khamees says.

— AFP

Palestinian FA postpones cup final after Israel denies travel

The final of the Palestine Cup is postponed after Israel denies Gaza-based players permits to travel, the Palestinian Football Association says today.

The second leg of the final between Balata FC and Khadamat Rafah, the winners of the West Bank and Gaza leagues respectively, was due to take place today, PFA vice president Susan Shalabi tells AFP.

Gaza-based team Khadamat Rafah requested travel permits to the West Bank for 35 people, but Israel granted just four, three of them to club officials, Shalabi says.

“The Israelis are very adamant in their refusal,” she adds, saying Israeli officials cited security concerns they did not specify.

A Khadamat Rafah official tells AFP the club is still waiting for final decisions and is hopeful it will secure more permits in the coming days.

“We are ready at any moment. If we got the permits now, in 30 minutes we will be there,” Hodaifa Lafi tells AFP. “The game has to go ahead.”

There is no immediate comment from COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs.

The first leg, played on Sunday in Gaza, ended 1-1.

— AFP

Israel returns 20 fishing boats to Gaza – report

Israel returns 20 fishing boats to Gaza that were confiscated in recent months for going past the limits of the fishing zone permitted by Israel’s blockade of the territory, according to the Hamas-linked Al-Quds news agency.

The boats were sent to Gaza harbor, and are being handed back to their original owners, says Nizar Ayash, a representative of the fishermen, according to the report.

Attempt to cancel September vote fell through, Knesset speaker says

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein says his efforts to convince lawmakers to cancel the September 17 elections have failed.

In a tweet posted today, Edelstein writes, “In recent days, I tried to push, for your benefit, the citizens of Israel, the cancellation of these unnecessary elections, saving us all billions [of shekels]. Unfortunately, not everyone would cooperate, so we’re not going to be able to cancel the elections.”

Shin Bet arrests Gazan bombmaker who entered Israel on humanitarian permit

Hamas recently sent an explosives expert into Israel using an Israeli humanitarian entry permit, with the aim of setting up an explosives lab in the West Bank and launching bomb attacks against Israelis, the Shin Bet security agency says today after the man’s arrest.

A Shin Bet statement says Fadi Abu al-Sabah was recruited by Hamas in July of 2018 and trained by Hamas’s military wing for about a year. He was taught to create explosives and bombs and instructed on how to successfully pass through the Erez Crossing into Israel.

The agency does not say exactly when al-Sabah entered Israel, but notes he was arrested by Israeli police in the Arab Israeli town of Taibe in May of this year.

Tunisia says suspected mastermind of June 27 bombings dead

TUNIS, Tunisia — The suspected mastermind of last week’s twin suicide bombings in Tunis is killed in an overnight firefight with police outside the capital, the interior ministry says today.

A policeman is also killed in the exchange in the working class suburb of Intilaka, ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag tells AFP.

“The terrorist Aymen Smiri was implicated in the twin suicide bombings on Thursday and investigations proved that he was the mastermind of the operation,” Zaag says, adding he was a “very active and very dangerous leader.”

— AFP

Hip-hop star Nicki Minaj to perform in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia says today that US hip-hop star Nicki Minaj will perform in the ultraconservative kingdom as it sheds decades of restrictions on entertainment.

The female rapper is known for her outlandish, provocative style and hits like “Anaconda,” where she raps about her “big fat” backside. Her lyrics are often laced with profanities and her skin-baring music videos often include twerking. Christian groups criticized her 2012 Grammy Awards performance, which included dancing priests and an exorcism.

Saudi organizers announce she will be the headline act at the Jeddah World Fest on July 18. The concert, which in line with Saudi laws is alcohol and drug-free, is open to people 16 and older and will take place at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium in the Red Sea city.

Reactions on social media range from shock and joy to criticism and disappointment. In a profanity-laced video posted on Twitter and viewed more than 37,000 times, a Saudi woman wearing a loose headscarf accuses the Saudi government of hypocrisy for inviting Minaj to perform but requiring women who attend the concert to wear the modest full-length robe known as the abaya. Most Saudi women also veil their hair and faces.

In this Sunday, November 4, 2018 file photo, Nicki Minaj performs on stage during the MTV EMA’s 2018 at Bilbao Exhibition Center in Bilbao, Spain. (Stuart C. Wilson/Pool via AP, File)

Such concerts are a stark change from when Saudi morality police would raid establishments that played loud music.

— AP

Neil Diamond’s life story is coming to Broadway

The life story of iconic singer-songwriter Neil Diamond will be told on Broadway in a musical. The untitled project is still in its development stages, Deadline Hollywood reports.

“I’ve always loved Broadway. The inspiration for many of my early songs came from shows like West Side Story, My Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof, so it seems only fitting to bring my songs to The Great White Way. I’m honored and excited to be working with this great team,” Diamond says in a statement.

Diamond announced in January that he would give up touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Neil Diamond in 2014. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for SiriusXM/via JTA)

Diamond has had 10 No. 1 singles, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. He received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and was honored at the Kennedy Center in 2011. He launched his career as a songwriter in the 1960s in the Brill Building songwriting factory, penning hits for groups like The Monkees. He soon launched a solo career, and his rich baritone coupled with his lively onstage presence earned him the sobriquet “the Jewish Elvis.”

— JTA

Transportation Ministry opens public hotline to deal with blocked roads

Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich orders the opening of a hotline for Israelis stuck in expected traffic jams due to Ethiopian-Israeli protests.

Protests are expected to renew this afternoon for a third day, after a police officer shot and killed a 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli man on Sunday.

The hotline will let the public notify authorities, including the traffic police, about blocked roads, speeding up police response and enabling faster reopening of roads, a statement from Smotrich’s office says.

It will also provide callers with information on blocked roads and rerouted traffic in their area.

The hotline can be reached at *8787.

Demonstrators begin gathering for third day of Ethiopian-Israeli protests

The Ethiopian-Israeli protests are gathering at several sites around the country.

According to organizers, they include: Kiryat Ata interchange near Haifa; Yokne’am interchange; Afula’s Independence Square; Poleg interchange; Azrieli interchange in Tel Aviv; in front of the Rosh Ha’ayin police station; Route 4 near Rishon Lezion and Yavne; the northwestern entrance to Jerusalem; city entrances and exits along Route 431; El Al interchange near Lod; Bilu interchange; Kastina interchange; Ashkelon Arena interchange; and the Beersheba Central Bus Station.

Erdan meets Ethiopian-Israeli leaders, promises new police anti-racism body

Leaders of the Ethiopian-Israeli community meet with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Interim Police Commissioner Motti Cohen to call on protesters not to turn to violence.

Tuesday saw hundreds of protesters clashing with police, leaving over 110 officers hurt and at least 160 protesters arrested.

In the meeting, Erdan promises to establish an internal division in the police to oversee racism claims and track disciplinary action taken against racist incidents by officers, according to a statement from the police today.

The protests follow the Sunday killing by an off-duty cop of a 19-year-old Ethiopian Israeli man, Solomon Tekah.

“I share the pain and understand the outcry,” Erdan says.

“The Israel Police has courageously and honestly acknowledged that there was over-policing [in Ethiopian-Israeli communities], and we are tackling that, including through cooperation with you,” he tells the communal leaders. “Obviously there’s a great deal more that needs fixing, but there has also been a dramatic improvement in recent years, a decline in the number of arrests and indictments, cases closed for minors, and many more initiatives are now being implemented, such as body cameras for officers.”

Kushner: PA made ‘strategic mistake’ by boycotting Manama summit

The Palestinian leadership “made a strategic mistake by not engaging” in last week’s US-led economic workshop in Bahrain, senior White House official Jared Kushner says.

“They looked very foolish by trying to fight this,” he tells reporters on a conference call, noting that he’s “not quite sure what they’re selling,” but Palestinian leaders’ reaction to the conference was “hysterical and erratic and not terribly constructive.”

Kushner says that many Palestinians are “starting to see” that it’s not the Israelis but their own leadership that is responsible for their economic woes.

A document published online describing the White House’s economic peace plan, which was unveiled at the Manama summit and proposes some $50 billion in investments in Palestinian areas and the wider Middle East after a peace deal is reached, was downloaded more than a million times, he says, exceeding his expectations.

— Raphael Ahren

Commuters head home early, take trains to avoid blocked roads

Major city centers are already experiencing unusual traffic jams due to the Ethiopian-Israeli protests, which are only starting up at several points around the country.

In Tel Aviv, tech companies urge workers to go home early so they don’t get stuck in hours-long jams experienced over the past two days.

In Jerusalem, the Yitzhak Navon central train station is limiting entry to the station due to overcrowding as commuters turn to the rail network to escape clogged highways.

Liberman calls to shift funds from Orthodox seminaries to public safety

Responding to ongoing and at times violent protests led by the Ethiopian-Israeli community, Yisrael Beytenu chair Avigdor Liberman proposes cutting budgets for the Religious Affairs Ministry and Orthodox religious seminaries in order to allocate more funds for public security.

Writing on Facebook, Liberman says his “heart goes out” to the family of Solomon Tekah, a 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli who was shot dead on Sunday by an off-duty police officer and whose death sparked the mass protests.

“I understand the feeling and the need of young people to demonstrate and protest,” he says.

“But it is forbidden for a legitimate demonstration to turn into anarchy with serious violence,” the former defense minister adds. “I appeal to the protest leaders, their supporters and the heads of the Ethiopian community to uphold law and order.”

Saying that Tuesday’s violent protests “testify to the poor priorities of the government” and citing recent budget cuts for both the public security and welfare ministries, Liberman says the government must immediately “cut budgets for the Ministry of Religious Affairs and yeshivas” in order to fill the gap and restore security.

— Raoul Wootliff

Tourism up 18% last month compared to the same period last year

Some 365,000 tourists arrived in Israel in June, a 17.7 percent spike from the same month last year, the Tourism Ministry says.

The first six months of 2019 saw a 10% increase from the same period last year, according to the ministry’s figures.

Vast majority of Palestinians say independence more important than prosperity

An overwhelming majority of Palestinians supports the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership’s decision to boycott the US-led economic workshop in Bahrain, and prioritizes political independence over economic prosperity, says a poll published today.

Seventy-nine percent of Palestinians say they support the move, while 15% say they oppose it, the survey says.

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) conducted the poll, which surveyed 1,200 Palestinians in 120 randomly selected locations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem between June 27 and 30.

The conference in Bahrain focused on the economic portion of the American administration’s peace plan, which proposes billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure projects in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and neighboring Arab countries.

The Palestinian leadership has asserted that the confab’s economic focus sought to undermine Palestinian aspirations for statehood. It also has accused the US of attempting to use the gathering to normalize Israel’s status in the Arab world.

Ninety percent of Palestinians say they do not trust the Trump administration when it states that the goal of the Bahrain gathering was to improve Palestinian economic conditions, whereas 6% say they do, according to the survey.

Asked to choose between independence and economic prosperity, 83% of Palestinians opt for the former and just 15% select the latter, the poll finds.

— Adam Rasgon

Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp slowdown reported in US, Europe, Israel

Reports are emerging in the US, Europe and Israel of a dramatic slowdown in Facebook’s three major mobile platforms, the Facebook social network, the Instagram photo-sharing site and the WhatsApp messaging app.

Facebook is not responding yet to requests for comment on the apparent difficulties.

Protests are quiet after police warnings

The Ethiopian-Israeli protests are quiet for now.

Hundreds of protesters are gathered at Kiryat Ata Interchange near the entrance to Haifa and at Azrieli Interchange in central Tel Aviv, among other places, but the past two days’ scenes of violence are not being repeated.

The quiet comes after police warned earlier today it would not tolerate a renewal of the violence or blocking of roads.

US senator says Libya shipments could end UAE arms sales

A Democratic senator warns today that the United States could cut off arms sales to the United Arab Emirates if proven that it shipped US missiles to Libyan rebels, as the US ally denies it is involved.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, demands an investigation and asks for explanations by July 15 on arms agreements with the UAE.

“You are surely aware that if these allegations prove true you may be obligated by law to terminate all arms sales to the UAE,” Menendez says.

He warns that the transfer would be a “serious violation” of US law and “almost certainly” break the UN arms embargo on Libya.

The New York Times reported on Friday that forces loyal to Libya’s unity government had discovered four Javelin missiles at a base used by men under the command of Khalifa Haftar, who has waged a months-long offensive to take Tripoli.

The newspaper said that markings on the US-made missiles indicated they had been sold to the United Arab Emirates in 2008.

The UAE foreign ministry on Monday said it was committed to the UN resolutions on the arms embargo and said it was “denying the ownership of weapons found in Libya.”

— AFP

Iran state TV blasted over report on secret oil sales

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian officials slam the country’s state television today for airing a program on oil sales to China that contravene US sanctions, saying the report went “against national interests.”

The “Hello, Good Morning” talk show featured on Tuesday a program on the Salina, an Iranian-flagged tanker under US sanctions that reportedly had delivered 1 million barrels of crude oil to China’s Jinzhou port in late June.

China — along with Britain, France, Germany and Russia — is one of the partners in the nuclear deal and has rejected US President Donald Trump’s administration’s efforts to cut Iranian oil exports to zero.

“This shows that sanctions are ineffective and Iran’s path to sell its oil is not blocked,” the program’s host said, showing what he claimed were satellite photos of the tanker berthed at the Chinese port.

The state broadcaster comes under fire from local media who call the program “suspicious,” with officials weighing in the next day.

“This will hurt (Iran’s) national interests,” semi-official ISNA news agency quotes Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying. “Thank God I don’t watch TV.”

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh says the program “has undone what the ministry set out to do.” He had said previously that Iran was keeping up oil sales through “unconventional” means kept secret to skirt US sanctions.

State television responded by saying the information was already public, pointing to a Financial Times report published last week.

— AFP

Two held in Rishon Lezion for carrying firebombs at protest

Two protesters are arrested in Rishon Lezion at a demonstration by Ethiopian Israelis and supporters after police find Molotov cocktails on their persons.

Protesters scuffling with police in central Tel Aviv

Protesters are scuffling with police at the Hashalom interchange in central Tel Aviv.

There are no reports of injuries or arrests at the site.

PA security forces conduct massive drill in 4 West Bank cities

The Palestinian Authority security forces carry out a large exercise in four cities in the West Bank which include all the PA’s security arms, a PA official says.

The exercise on Tuesday sought to evaluate how PA security forces work together in simultaneous “complex security situations,” Abdel Karim Abu Arqoub, a senior aide to PA security forces spokesman Adnan Damiri, says in a phone call.

The drill took place in Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and Bethlehem, and hundreds of members of the PA security forces participated in it, Abu Arqoub adds, noting that he expects similar exercises to take place in the coming months.

“The initial results of the drill are very positive,” he says.

— Adam Rasgon

Germany hands back Nazi-looted painting to Jewish heirs

BERLIN, Germany — Germany returns Wednesday a painting looted by the Nazis which ended up in the spectacular art hoard of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Third Reich-era art dealer.

“Quai de Clichy. Temps gris” by Paul Signac is handed back to the family of French real estate broker Gaston Prosper Levy, in the sixth such return from Gurlitt’s trove.

Investigators looking into the provenance of paintings in the stash left behind by Gurlitt found eyewitness accounts of German soldiers seizing the Signac work from Levy’s property in France in 1940.

“A countless number of the mostly Jewish collectors of art and cultural goods like Gaston Prosper Levy were persecuted, robbed or expropriated by Nazis,” says Germany’s Culture Minister Monika Gruetters.

“Others have had to sell their property far below its value or leave it behind while fleeing or emigrating. We can never make good on the suffering and injustice.” Such returns are important, the minister says, as they offer “at least a little bit of historical justice.”

More than 1,500 artworks were discovered in 2012 in the possession of Munich pensioner Gurlitt. His father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, had worked as an art dealer for the Nazis from 1938.

— AFP

Police form cordon holding back protesters at Tel Aviv’s Azrieli interchange

Police close sections of Tel Aviv’s Azrieli interchange and form a cordon to block protesters demonstrating against the killing of a young Israeli-Ethiopian man on Sunday.

Dozens of officers, some in riot gear, block the junction as traffic begins to build up in surrounding areas.

One demonstrator, wearing a t-shirt from the left-wing Meretz party, is detained by officers.

— Naomi Lanzkron

Kushner wants ‘pragmatic’ solution on Palestinian refugees

Jared Kushner hints today that his Middle East peace plan will seek to better integrate Palestinian refugees inside Arab countries as he finalizes proposals despite being shunned by the Palestinian leadership.

A week after he convened an economic workshop in Bahrain that dangled the prospect of $50 billion in investment under a peace deal, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser says he will announce the next steps “probably next week.”

Kushner, promising a fresh approach to Middle East peacemaking after decades of failed attempts, says the Trump administration deliberately opened with economic incentives and will later give details on core political questions.

But in a conference call with Arab media, Kushner appears to favor normalization of the status of Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced out of Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948, as well as their descendants.

Noting that a similar number of Jews fled or were expelled from Arab countries, Kushner says: “What’s happened to the Jewish refugees is they’ve been absorbed by different places, while the Arab world has not absorbed a lot of these refugees over time.

“This situation exists because it exists. And when we put out a political solution, we’re going to try to put forward the best proposed solutions that we think are pragmatic, achievable and viable in this day and age,” he says.

Asked about Lebanon — where Palestinian refugees are mostly denied citizenship and many live in squalid camps — Kushner says he believed that the country, long torn by communal tensions, wants a “fair” solution.

“I also think that the Palestinian refugees who are in Lebanon, who are denied a lot of rights and don’t have the best conditions right now, would also like to see a situation where there is a pathway for them to have more rights and to live a better life,” Kushner says.

Israel has adamantly opposed a right of return by millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees, saying it would effectively end the Jewish state.

— AFP

Scuffles break out at Tel Aviv protest as several detained

Scuffles break out between demonstrators and police at Tel Aviv’s Azrieli intersection as police detain several protesters in the crowd.

Protesters shout “shame.”

— Naomi Lanzkron

Tekah family calls to stop protests until next week

A spokesman for the Tekah family asks protesters to stop the demonstrations that have rocked Israel over the past two days — until the seven-day shiva mourning period for their son Solomon concludes next week.

Solomon Tekah was shot and killed by an off-duty cop in an altercation Sunday in the northern city of Haifa, sparking sometimes violent protests by Ethiopian-Israeli youth who say the killing, which is now being investigated, is part of a pattern of police violence and racism toward their community.

“We lost a son, and we ask the public not to hold public protests until the shiva ends [on Sunday], and to act with restraint and patience. At the conclusion of the shiva, we will hold our just and legitimate protests in an organized fashion, in coordination with all the relevant parties, and without disrupting public order, certainly without violence,” the statement concludes.

Some 20 protesters in Rishon Lezion throw rocks at police

Some 20 Ethiopian-Israeli protesters are throwing rocks at police officers in a protest in Rishon Lezion, amid otherwise largely nonviolent demonstrations this evening over the Sunday killing of an Ethiopian-Israeli man.

The incident takes place near the Rishon Lezion interchange after police stop the protesters from rushing onto the road and blocking traffic.

FBI: Man threatened Muslim candidate, synagogue in posts

A North Carolina man charged with anonymously threatening to lynch a Muslim-American political candidate in Virginia also is accused of posting an anti-Semitic threat on a Florida synagogue’s Facebook page.

An FBI agent outlined those allegations against 52-year-old Joseph Cecil Vandevere in an affidavit unsealed before Vandevere’s initial court appearance today in Asheville, North Carolina.

Investigators link Vandevere to a threatening comment posted in February 2018 on the website of a synagogue in Plantation, Florida, the affidavit says. A rabbi at Ramat Shalom Synagogue contacted the FBI after somebody using the name Bob Smith posted a “disturbing” comment in response to the rabbi’s post showing support for the Parkland, Florida, high school where a gunman killed 17 people earlier that month, the agent writes.

Vandevere is charged with interstate communication of a threat to injure a person in connection with a tweet directed at Virginia state Senate candidate Qasim Rashid. The tweet included a picture of a lynching and read, “VIEW YOUR DESTINY.”

Rashid posted a screenshot of the threatening tweet in March 2018 and reported it to the FBI.

The FBI subpoenaed Facebook records associated with the “Bob Smith” account after the Florida rabbi reported the anti-Semitic comment, which called for “public arrests and executions” of “dual citizen Jews.” Responses to the Facebook subpoena and a separate subpoena to telecommunications company Charter Communications linked the account to Vandevere, the agent writes.

“The review of the Facebook search warrant results disclosed that the Facebook account was used by Vandevere mainly to harass other people,” the affidavit says, noting that Vandevere called it his “attack dog” account.

— AP

Protests seen quieting down around the country

Protests are quieting down around the country, possibly in response to the call by the Tekah family to stop the demonstrations until after the seven-day shiva mourning period ends on Sunday.

Hundreds are still demonstrating peacefully in central Tel Aviv, and hundreds more are in Kiryat Ata marching quietly from the local police station toward the site of Solomon Tekah’s killing by an off-duty cop on Sunday.

Protesters block entrance to Yavne police station, six arrested

Dozens of protesters are blocking the entrance to the Yavne police station in the southern town, throwing rocks at officers.

Officers are clearing the protest, according to a police statement.

Six protesters are arrested.

Swedish neo-Nazis disrupt exhibition of Holocaust survivors’ portraits

Neo-Nazis in Sweden block the entrance to an exhibition of portraits of Holocaust survivors and intimidate visitors already viewing the display.

In the incident Tuesday in the southern city of Visby, several men from the Nordic Resistance Movement gathered outside the venue displaying the exhibition “Fading Stories – pass them on” by the Raoul Wallenberg Academy and photographer Sanna Sjosward.

Last year, intimidation by the Nordic Resistance Movement led a Jewish community in northern Sweden to dissolve itself, citing security concerns.

In this week’s incident, the men tried to block the entrance but one woman pushed passed them, leading them to follow her inside.

“Three Nazis followed and also went into the room,” she told Expressen. “Inside they yelled “F***ing myths.”

Police arrived at the scene but did not arrest the neo-Nazis, who left the premises.

“It was unpleasant. It was very clear that they were here intimidate,” another witness told Expressen.

In 2015 and 2017, skinheads twice disrupted lectures in Swedish schools by Holocaust survivors.

— JTA

Ethiopian-Israeli police officers kept out of front ranks facing protesters

Police say a decision has been taken not to place Ethiopian-Israeli police officers among the units sent to contain the community’s protests over the killing of 19-year-old Solomon Tekah.

“We’re aware of the sensitivity of the situation for those officers, so it was decided not to place those officers in the ranks that will face the protesters, assigning them instead to other assignments,” a senior police source tells the Walla news site.

Some 900 Ethiopian-Israelis serve in the Israel Police.

Election poll shows Netanyahu is preferred PM, but doesn’t have a coalition

Channel 13 publishes an early poll ahead of the September 17 election that shows a plurality of Israelis favoring Benjamin Netanyahu for premier, but suggests he may have a hard time leading a right-wing coalition.

The results in Knesset seats are:

Likud 31
Blue and White 29
Joint (Arab) list 9
Yisrael Beytenu 8
Labor 7
Shas 7
Ehud Barak’s party 6
United Torah Judaism 6
New Right 5
Jewish Home-National Union 4
Zehut 4
Meretz 4

That leaves a clear right-wing coalition short of the 61-seat majority, at 57 seats, and grants Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party the final 8 Netanyahu will need to form the coalition. Liberman’s demands on issues linked to the ultra-Orthodox draft prevented the formation of the last coalition — when Liberman had just five seats at his command.

But when Israelis are asked in the poll which candidate is most fitting to be prime minister, the results heavily favor Netanyahu:

Benjamin Netanyahu 46%
Benny Gantz 24%
Ehud Barak 10%

Competing poll by Channel 12 shows similar coalition troubles for Netanyahu

Channel 12 also publishes its first election poll tonight, showing slightly different figures from Channel 13 but leaving Netanyahu with the same coalition-building problems.

The results in Knesset seats are:

Likud – 32
Blue and White – 31
Arab (Joint) List – 12
Yisrael Beytenu – 9
Labor – 8
Shas – 7
United Torah Judaism – 7
Jewish Home-National Union – 5
New Right – 5
Meretz – 4
Ehud Barak’s party – 0 seats (at 3% of the vote, it falls under the 3.25% threshold for entering the Knesset)
Zehut – 0 seats (2.1% of the vote)

That gives 56 seats to a right-Haredi coalition, five short of the 61-seat majority required to hold together a coalition. And, as with the Channel 13 poll also published tonight, it grants Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party the final seats (9 in all) that Netanyahu will need to form a stable coalition.

Channel 12 also asks which candidate is most fitting to be prime minister. The results are good for Netanyahu — and terrible news for Barak.

When the choice was Netanyahu or Blue and White’s Benny Gantz, 40% prefer Netanyahu, 30% Gantz.

When Netanyahu faces off against Barak, 41% prefer Netanyahu, 16% Barak.

Egyptian officials to visit Gaza to discuss calm with Israel

A delegation of Egyptian intelligence officials is due to arrive in the Gaza Strip tonight to discuss last month’s agreement with Israel to stop violence along the border, Palestinian media reports.

The visit comes after Netanyahu earlier today visited the Gaza border region and said Israel seeks ongoing calm, but stands ready to carry out a broad military offensive against Hamas “if it becomes necessary.”

The current quiet came after waves of rocket attacks and repeated round of border violence by Hamas and other Gazan terror groups in recent weeks.

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Competing poll by Channel 12 shows similar coalition troubles for Netanyahu

Channel 12 also publishes its first election poll tonight, showing slightly different figures from Channel 13 but leaving Netanyahu with the same coalition-building problems.

The results in Knesset seats are:

Likud – 32
Blue and White – 31
Arab (Joint) List – 12
Yisrael Beytenu – 9
Labor – 8
Shas – 7
United Torah Judaism – 7
Jewish Home-National Union – 5
New Right – 5
Meretz – 4
Ehud Barak’s party – 0 seats (at 3% of the vote, it falls under the 3.25% threshold for entering the Knesset)
Zehut – 0 seats (2.1% of the vote)

That gives 56 seats to a right-Haredi coalition, five short of the 61-seat majority required to hold together a coalition. And, as with the Channel 13 poll also published tonight, it grants Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party the final seats (9 in all) that Netanyahu will need to form a stable coalition.

Channel 12 also asks which candidate is most fitting to be prime minister. The results are good for Netanyahu — and terrible news for Barak.

When the choice was Netanyahu or Blue and White’s Benny Gantz, 40% prefer Netanyahu, 30% Gantz.

When Netanyahu faces off against Barak, 41% prefer Netanyahu, 16% Barak.