The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Priest killed in French church attack named as Jacques Hamel, 84
The priest killed during a hostage-taking at his church in the northern French town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray is named by the archbishop of a nearby city as 84-year-old Jacques Hamel.
Sources close to the investigation say the attackers slit the priest’s throat.
Israel razes illegal construction in East Jerusalem, West Bank
Border Police and state inspectors demolish 20 illegally constructed buildings in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya and the West Bank village of Qalandiya.
The buildings were all subject to a demolition order and were all located close to the West Bank fence, Ynet news website reports. Most of the buildings were also in their final stages of completion and were not yet inhabited.
The pro-settlement NGO Regavim expressed satisfaction at the demolition, calling it a “first, important step” in restoring implementation of the Planning and Building Law.
Leading Israeli human rights group says Israel has demolished more Palestinian homes in the West Bank this year than it has done in nearly any other year in the last decade.
Police grill suspects in leak of alleged rape victim’s name
Police question under caution three people suspected of leaking the identity of a woman who is accusing an IDF general of rape.
Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris is to stand trial for the alleged rape and sexual assault of two female subordinates between 2010 and 2012, accusations which he denies. Buchris is also charged with conduct unbecoming an IDF officer.
The name and image of one of the two complainants were published last week on Facebook.
The three being grilled by police today — a 29-year-old woman from Modiin Illit, a 55-year-old man from Lod and a 57-year-old man from Netanya — are suspected of violating a legal order and publishing the name of an alleged sexual victim, Channel 10 reports.
Israel has very strict rules against releasing information about alleged sexual assault victims, put in place to protect complainants and encourage them to come forward. Violating them can result in criminal charges.
Pope condemns ‘barbaric’ killing of French priest
Pope Francis expresses his horror at the “barbaric” murder of a priest during a hostage-taking at a church in France.
“The pope… shares the pain and horror of this absurd violence,” says Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, adding that the attack created “immense pain and worry.”
Francis issues “the most severe condemnation of all forms of hatred” and says he is appalled “because this horrific violence took place in a church, a sacred place” and involved the “barbaric” killing of a priest.
German media: Doctor killed in shooting at Berlin hospital
The German media reports a shooting at a hospital in Berlin.
According to Bild, one doctor is dead and the perpetrator committed suicide.
Hollande: Church attackers said they were Islamic State
The attackers who killed an elderly priest at his church in Normandy “claimed to be from” the Islamic State group, French President Francois Hollande says.
The two men, armed with knives, stormed the church near the northern French city of Rouen, killing the 84-year-old cleric and taking hostages at a church before being shot dead by police.
Report: Church attacker tried to get to Syria in 2015
One of the attackers who killed an elderly priest and took people hostage at a church in France earlier today reportedly tried to get to Syria.
Ynet, citing the French media, says that the attacker attempted to reach the worn-torn country via Turkey in 2015.
According to the reports, the attacker was arrested by Turkish authorities and deported back to France, where he served in a year in prison.
Islamic State claims French church attack
Islamic State claims responsibility for today’s deadly attack on a French church.
The group says in a statement that two of its “soldiers” were behind the attack in which an elderly priest was murdered.
Prosecution pounces on Hebron soldier for inconsistencies
Military prosecutors attack apparent inconsistencies in the testimony of an IDF soldier on trial for manslaughter for killing a disarmed and wounded Palestinian attacker in Hebron in March.
Sgt. Elor Azaria tells Jaffa Military Court that he saw Abdel Fattah al-Sharif move some two minutes before shooting him. The statement appears to contradict an earlier account in which Azaria claimed to have opened fire in a split-second decision, as he feared the prone attacker was wearing an explosive vest.
“You decided to shoot him two minutes before you actually fired,” chief prosecutor Lt.-Col. Nadav Weissman tells Azaria before screening footage of the shooting to the court.
“That not true,” Azaria replies. “I didn’t stand there with a timer. You’re trying to catch me out with word games.”
Weissman then asks Azaria to identify the moment when he suspected Sharif was still armed.
After Azaria is unable to do so, Weissman tells him: “The fact that you can’t point to that point proves that you didn’t shoot out of fear, but for other reasons.”
“That is your opinion, but I shot in order to save lives,” Azaria replies. “If I did shoot him out of revenge, I would have walked up to him and shot him in the head at point black range.”
— Tamar Pileggi
Police: Doctor in intensive care after Berlin hospital shooting
Police say the doctor targeted in a shooting at a Berlin hospital is in intensive care, and was shot by a patient who then killed himself.
Initial reports said that the doctor had been killed.
A police spokeswoman says that several shots were fired at the university hospital in the well-heeled southwestern Steglitz neighborhood of the German capital. There was no sign the incident was a terrorist attack, police say.
“According to preliminary information, a patient at the hospital shot a doctor and then killed himself,” the spokeswoman says.
“The doctor is in intensive care,” she says, adding there was “no indication this was a terror attack.”
Security forces thwart Qalandiya attack
A woman tries to carry out a stabbing attack at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
The woman is shot and overpowered, and no security forces or civilians are wounded, Channel 2 reports.
Police say woman shot at Qalandiya had knife in bag
Police say a young Palestinian woman who was shot and wounded in the leg as she rushed security guards at the Qalandiya checkpoint had a knife in her bag. Initial reports said that she tried to stab the guards.
According to police, the 18-year-old from village of Aqab approached the checkpoint on foot, entered inspection area for cars and then ran at the guards, who told her to stop multiple times.
The guards fired at her legs when she didn’t respond and continued to approach, police say, adding that sappers found a knife in her bag.
The woman is lightly injured, and received treatment at the scene from Magen David Adom paramedics.
Riots are now underway in the area of the checkpoint, and police are responding with riot dispersal measures.
— Ilan Ben Zion
French Muslim leader says church attacker on police radar
A local Muslim leader says one of the men who attacked a Normandy church was on French police radar and had traveled to Turkey.
Mohammed Karabila, president of the Regional Council of the Muslim Faith for Haute-Normandie and head of the local Muslim cultural center, says that “the person that did this odious act is known, and he has been followed by the police for at least a year and a half.”
He says the attacker “went to Turkey and security services were alerted after this.”
Karabila says he hopes that interfaith dialogue in his region will not be damaged due to the assault claimed by Islamic State, in which the attackers slit the throat of an 84-year-old priest before being killed by police.
Rivlin on church killing: Free world values under attack
President Reuven Rivlin says the attack on a church in France shows the need for the free world to understand that “our values are under attack.”
“This attack shows the true face of the brutal nature and the horror of terrorism,” the president says of the attack that killed an elderly French priest. “The whole free world must understand that our values are under attack. We must fight to defend them, lest we be overtaken by waves of intolerance and hatred.”
He says: “This attack shows the true face of the brutal nature and horror of terrorism. This is an attack by radical extremists, terrorists, who have struck at the very symbol of peace and murdered in cold blood in a house of God, while they pretend to speak in His name.”
Israel, Rivlin says, “stands side by side with the people of France, and we send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.”
One held over French church attack, prosecutors say
French prosecutors say one person has been detained in the investigation into an attack on a church in Normandy earlier today that killed an 84-year-old French priest.
Islamic State says its “soldiers” carried out the attack.
IDF chief: Meddling in internal army probes is unwelcome
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot tells the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that non-military sources should stop commenting on internal military investigations, as their opinions are unwelcome and damaging.
The aim is to have a military that operates according to given orders, obeys rules of engagement on opening fire and abides by the spirit and values of the Israel Defense Forces, Eisenkot tell the committee. Anyone who prefers a gangland ethos should speak up, Eisenkot adds, according to Israel Radio.
IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria is currently standing trial for the manslaughter of a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron in March, while Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris was last week indicted by the Military Advocate General for the rape and sexual assault of two female subordinates between 2010 and 2012.
Both Buchris and Azaria deny the charges against them.
Azaria, whose actions were condemned by the IDF top brass and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, has had strong support from some right-wing MKs. Meanwhile, police are currently investigating how the identity of one of Buchris’s alleged victims came to be leaked on Facebook.
North Korea warns US of ‘terrifying price’ over nuke tensions
North Korea warns the United States that it will pay a “terrifying price” if the Korean Peninsula sinks into deeper tensions, stepping up its rhetoric hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry blasted Pyongyang for its nuclear program.
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho tells a regional security conference in Laos that his country is ready to face any sanctions, and was mindful of all possible sanctions when it took the “inevitable strategic decision” to develop nuclear weapons to counter the “never-ending nuclear blackmails of the US.”
“We are ready to show that even a [powerful] country will surely not be safe if it tries to torment and harm a small country,” Ri says, according to the text of his speech released to the media. “The United States will have to pay dearly a terrifying price.”
His comments come after Kerry tells the same conference, known as the ASEAN Regional Forum, that North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons — when the world is trying to rid itself of them — is “very provocative and deeply concerning.”
Ri strikes a slightly conciliatory tone in later comments to reporters, published by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, saying: “As a responsible nuclear state, we will not carelessly use our nuclear weapons unless we come to face an actual threat, [or] a threat of invasion from another nuclear state.”
He adds that North Korea’s decision on conducting another nuclear test will “entirely hinge on the United States’s attitude.”
Report: Church attacker was 19-year-old inmate on furlough
One of the two attackers who murdered a priest in his church in northern France earlier today was on morning release from prison, where he was serving a sentence for trying to reach Syria using his cousin’s ID.
The Paris-based Marianne magazine identifies the attacker as a 19-year-old with the initials AK. It says he was jailed after his second attempt to travel to Syria and had become radicalized following the attacks in Paris in January 2015. He was allowed furlough every day from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., according to Marianne.
His parents live in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, where the attack took place, the magazine says.
Both attackers were shot dead by police.
European Jewry: Attack on French church is attack on all religions
The attack on a Catholic church in northern France that left an 84-year-old priest dead is an attack against all religions, the head of the European Jewish Congress says.
“An attack against a religious institution and a man of God is an attack against all religions and faith itself,” says EJC president Moshe Kantor. “This dastardly attack will only strengthen our resolve to defeat the enemy of Islamist terrorism.”
Kantor adds: “This attack targets us all decent Europeans, Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.”
Firebombs hurled at Hasidic luminary’s grave in Ukraine
Unidentified individuals hurl firebombs at the gravesite of a Hasidic luminary in the central Ukrainian city of Shpola.
The incident in the city located 120 miles south of Kiev occurred Sunday evening, according to Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee.
Dolinsky writes on Facebook that the perpetrators intentionally tried to set on fire a structure built near the gravesite of Aryeh Leib, who died in 1811 and was an important disciple of Dov Ber of Mezeritch, an influential 18th-century Hasidic rabbi.
Ukraine city petitioned over ‘Star of David’ in coat of arms
Some 200 people in the west Ukrainian city of Ternopil present local authorities with a petition to remove from the city’s coat of arms a shape they say is the Star of David.
The coat of arms of Ternopil features a fortress above the star shape, which has six points and comprises 12 triangles – half of them khaki colored and the rest blank. Under the star is a horizontal crescent, divided into a khaki half and a blank one. The shield bearing those symbols is crowned by the Ukrainian trident — the Sign of Princely State of Volodymyr the Great, which is the main national symbol and the country’s coat of arms.
The petitioners demand the city “replace the Jewish Star of David with the traditional Ukrainian octagon” and “complement the star and crescent with a Christian cross, which must go back to the top of the trident,” the news website Ukraina Moloda reports.
They cited the writings of a Ukrainian fundamentalist Christian who said the Star of David is “associated with the symbol of the antichrist.”
Police: Woman shot at Qalandiya had Hamas scarf, knife
Police say the young Palestinian woman shot in the leg by security guards at the Qalandiya checkpoint this afternoon had a knife and a scarf from the Hamas terror group in her bag.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld posts an image of the two items on Twitter, shortly after the incident at the West Bank crossing. The woman was shot and wounded when she refused to heed the guards’ calls to stop.
The 18-year-old is under arrest and is currently being treated at a Jerusalem hospital for light to moderate injuries.
Update to Kalandia crossing attempted attack. Knife and Hamas scarf found at the scene. 18 yrs old female arrested. pic.twitter.com/Rdxx9iHU0u
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) July 26, 2016
Turkey condemns Jerusalem construction over Green Line
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issues a statement condemning Israel’s approval of 770 additional housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, which lies beyond the Green Line.
“It is not possible to accept such unlawful activities violating the ground for a two-state solution,” the statement says.
— Raphael Ahren
US condemns France attack in ‘strongest possible terms’
The United States is condemning in the “strongest possible terms” an attack on a French church that left its elderly priest dead.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, which was carried out by two people who were shot and killed by police.
White House spokesman Ned Price says France and the United States are committed to protecting religious liberty for all faiths. He says that commitment will not waver because of the attack in the small northwestern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
Price also commends what he says is “quick and decisive response” by French law enforcement.
Reports: Man shot in Swedish mall, gunman flees
Local reports say a man has been shot and wounded in a shopping mall in the Swedish city of Malmo.
According to the Sydsvenskan newspaper, the gunman is still on the run.
“It’s messy in there, but one man has been shot – probably in the leg. He has been taken to hospital,” Swedish news website thelocal.set quotes a police officer at the scene as saying.
The victim is hospitalized with leg wounds, the website says.
Bereaved parents heckle PM at Gaza war memorial service
The parents of fallen soldiers heckle Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a memorial service at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem to mark the second anniversary of the 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza.
“We do not believe you,” shouts Yoram Tal, whose 22-year-old son Yoram was killed in the fighting. “My son fell for democracy, not for this regime.”
“As a bereaved brother, I understand your pain,” Netanyahu says in response. The prime minister’s brother, Yoni Netanyahu, died in the raid on Entebbe in 1976.
Tal then storms out of the ceremony, Ynet reports.
Netanyahu is later heckled by another bereaved father, who demands that the government hold an inquiry into how the 50-day conflict — known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge — was conducted.
“The families are asking the prime minister, like prime ministers before him… to set up a commission of inquiry into the events of Protective Edge,” says Moti Matt, who lose his 19-year-old son Lee in the conflict.
Lee’s mother, Smadar, also calls for an inquiry, in the form of “an external, state commission, headed by a judge, which will review all the events of Protective Edge.”
She also slams Netanyahu for his reluctance to hold an inquiry.
“This is the entire demand, but the prime minister comes along and paints everything rose-colored and everything will be fine,” she tells Netanyahu. “So what do you care whether there is a committee?”
Despite social media scandal, Ran Baratz joins PMO as comms chief
Ran Baratz begins work at the prime minister’s office, months after the discovery of his less-than–flattering comments on social media about Obama and senior Israeli officials seemed to scupper his appointment as Netanyahu’s comms chief.
According to the NRG website, Baratz will still effectively be leading Netanyahu’s communications, albeit with a different and as yet undecided title.
Former Finance Ministry spokesperson Boaz Stembler, who was named as an interim replacement for Baratz, will stay on in the role, NRG says.
PM: Palestinian bid to sue UK is doomed to fail
Netanyahu dismisses as futile the Palestinian Authority’s plan to sue the British government over the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 letter by then-UK foreign secretary Arthur Balfour that paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel.
Speaking at a service on Mount Herzl to mark the 112th anniversary of the death of Theodor Herzl, the PM says “the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is their refusal to accept the existence of a Jewish state within any borders. This is and will remain the heart of the conflict.”
The PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told Arab League leaders gathered in Mauritania yesterday that London is responsible for all “Israeli crimes” committed since the end of the British mandate in 1948.
Rabbi caught on tape admitting to rape
A rabbi accused of sexually assaulting female followers, including a minor, is caught on tape admitting that he raped of one of them, Channel 2 reports.
Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who founded the Shuvu Bonim religious group, fled from Israel to Morocco in 2013 amid the allegations. He was extradited from South Africa last week, and detained upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion airport.
“She was raped from start to finish,” Berland is heard to say. “Afterwards she thought it was permissible, she thought it … the first time I raped her,” he says.
According to Channel 2, the incriminating recordings were made four years ago by two of Berland’s followers. They were told to burn all the tapes and other potentially incriminating material “in case the police do not cooperate.”
But some of the tapes survived, and were handed over to police yesterday.
Hollande calls pope after deadly church attack
French President Francois Hollande calls Pope Francis to express his “chagrin” after two men attacked a Normandy church during Mass and slit the throat of the priest, killing him and seriously injuring a church-goer.
Hollande tells the pope that “when a priest is attacked, it is all of France that has been hurt,” according to a statement from the president’s office.
He assures the pope that everything will be done to protect the churches of France and other houses of worship.
Head of pre-army academy who slurred gays: Room for all in IDF
The head of a pre-army academy who referred to gays as “deviants” says there is room for all in the Israeli army and insists his words were misinterpreted.
“My words were interpreted by many in a way I did not intend, as though I am seeking to exclude some sector of the population from the army,” Rabbi Yigal Levinstein writes in a letter to Defense Ministry chief Udi Adam, according to Ynet.
“There is a place for everyone in the IDF, regardless of background, worldview or personal tendencies,” he says.
Adam summoned Levinstein to the Defense Ministry for clarification last week, after he was filmed telling a Jewish law convention that, “under the framework of pluralism, soldiers and officers are taught to refer to [LGBT people] as ‘proud,’ but I don’t dare call them that… ‘deviants’ is what I call them.”
The Defense Ministry department responsible for the pre-military academies issued a statement “vigorously condemning” the rabbi’s comments, and “demanded clarifications from the academy.”
At least 86 Russian athletes banned from Rio so far
At least 86 athletes from the 387-strong Russian Olympic team announced last week are so far barred from the Rio Games in connection with the country’s doping scandal.
The vast majority of the barred athletes are in track and field, where 67 would-be competitors were ruled out last week when a ban on the Russian team was upheld at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Some appeals are likely.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells Russian media that the president has discussed the issue with his national security council.
Argentine Jewry seeks guarantees over arrival of 3,000 Syrian refugees
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Jewish leaders in Argentina have called on the country’s authorities to provide security guarantees as Argentina gears up to receive 3,000 Syrian refugees as part of an agreement with the European Union.
The heads of Argentine Jewish political umbrella DAIA meet with defense authorities to discuss the community’s need for security guarantees.
“My grandfather came from Damascus, Syria. This country opened its arms to the immigrants. We agree with the humanitarian ideal,” says Ariel Cohen Sabban, president of the DAIA. “The intention is very good but the reality could be complicated. It is important to undertake it very carefully to avoid lack of security and complications.”
Referencing previous attacks on a Buenos Aires Jewish center and the Israeli embassy, Argentina’s secretary-general Marcos Pena says the government “will not do anything to increase insecurity in our country.”
Teacher arrested after getting pregnant by teen student
Police arrest a teacher in southern Israel for having sexual relations with a 15-year-old student and getting pregnant by him.
The woman, in her 30s, is arrested after a complaint is made to the police, and it becomes clear that she is pregnant as a result of the abuse, Channel 2 reports.
The teacher is detained for five days as police continue with their investigation. Welfare services in the teacher’s area are also informed.
DNC staffer questioned Holocaust Remembrance Day statement
Democratic National Committee staff members questioned Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s request for the group to put out a statement in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, leaked emails show.
In an email chain from May released as part of the batch of DNC emails leaked by Wikileaks this week, a staffer wrote that an statement marking the day was unnecessary. The chain was first reported by the Daily Caller.
“We aren’t going to do statements for every Jewish holiday unless she wants to do them for every religious holiday and trust me, this Catholic can give you a list of them,” wrote staffer Kate Houghton. “Also when she does an official statement it makes very little sense to have two statements out there in her voice.”
Houghton’s colleague, Senior Communications Adviser Ryan Banfill, replied, “This is about remembering the Holocaust. Never forget,” to which Houghton replied that other genocides should be commemorated in the same way.
“Yup… or Darfur or Armenia or Rwanda or Bosnia (which PS is where my husband served),” she wrote. “Does she want us to do one for each other those remembrance days as well?”
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