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Mocking hacked phone, Netanyahu says Gantz won’t keep Israel safe

PM ridicules rival over alleged breach by Iran; Blue and White leader pledges parliamentary inquiry into submarines affair

  • Benny Gantz, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right. (Gili Yaari, Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Benny Gantz, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right. (Gili Yaari, Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • A body covered with a blanket next to a tram following a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
    A body covered with a blanket next to a tram following a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
  • An Israeli policeman holds back a Palestinian woman outside the Old City in Jerusalem after police closed the entrance to al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount following a firebomb attack on a police post at the site, on March 12, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
    An Israeli policeman holds back a Palestinian woman outside the Old City in Jerusalem after police closed the entrance to al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount following a firebomb attack on a police post at the site, on March 12, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
  • Omar Abu Laila, 18, the suspected terrorist in a fatal attack at Ariel Junction on March 17, 2019 (Facebook)
    Omar Abu Laila, 18, the suspected terrorist in a fatal attack at Ariel Junction on March 17, 2019 (Facebook)
  • Mourners surround the body of 47-year-old Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, who died from his injuries sustained a day earlier during a gun and knife attack, during his funeral in the West Bank settlement of Eli, on March 18, 2019.(MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
    Mourners surround the body of 47-year-old Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, who died from his injuries sustained a day earlier during a gun and knife attack, during his funeral in the West Bank settlement of Eli, on March 18, 2019.(MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
  • Mourners in the West Bank settlement of Eli, attend the funeral of 47-year-old Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, who died from his injuries sustained a day earlier during a gun and knife attack, on March 18, 2019. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
    Mourners in the West Bank settlement of Eli, attend the funeral of 47-year-old Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, who died from his injuries sustained a day earlier during a gun and knife attack, on March 18, 2019. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
  • Undated photo of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger (L) and his family. (courtesy Ettinger family)
    Undated photo of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger (L) and his family. (courtesy Ettinger family)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state ceremony for fallen Israeli soldiers whose burial place is unknown at Mount Herzl Military cemetery in Jerusalem on March 14, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state ceremony for fallen Israeli soldiers whose burial place is unknown at Mount Herzl Military cemetery in Jerusalem on March 14, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s developments as they unfolded.

Netanyahu says forces in ‘close pursuit’ of Ariel terrorist

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, visits the site of a terror attack on Sunday in which an IDF soldier and a civilian were killed.

“We know the identity of the attacker,” says Netanyahu. “The IDF, Shin Bet, and security forces are in close pursuit. We know where he lives, we have located his family. I have instructed [forces] to begin demolishing his home, and the preparations have already begun.”

Netanyahu sends condolences to the families of Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, and Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, who were slain in the combined stabbing and shooting attack.

“These are two people that I’ve heard were wonderful,” says Netanyahu. “Our hearts are with them, the heart of the people is with the family.”

The prime minister also hails construction in the area of some 840 units, which were approved two years ago, saying building in the West Bank was Israel’s response to terrorism.

US envoy blasts Abbas for ‘deafening silence’ over Ariel attack

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is criticizing PA President Mahmoud Abbas for failing to condemn the terror attack at the Ariel Junction on Sunday.

“Heartbroken by the murder of Sergeant Gal Keidan & Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger. Praying for Alexander Dvorsky. Hamas, as usual, is celebrating & Abu Mazen [Abbas], who properly joined with all civilized people in condemning the terrorist attack in Christchurch, is now deafening in his silence,” tweets Friedman.

“Israelis attacking Palestinians are condemned, prosecuted and incarcerated by the Israeli government. Palestinians attacking Israelis are celebrated, compensated and venerated by the PA leadership and/or Hamas. And there lies the problem.”

Utrecht terror alert raised to highest level after shooting

The Dutch anti-terror coordinator raises the threat alert to its highest level around the central Dutch town of Utrecht following a shooting incident on a tram in the city, with the shooter still on the run.

Anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg says in a statement that the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province,” referring to the highest level.

“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” he says in a Twitter message. He calls on citizens to closely follow the indications of the local police.

Dutch police say they are looking for a least one person who might have fled by car.

Spokesman Bernhard Jens does not exclude more people might be involved.

“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Jens says.

AP

Dutch military police boost security at airports, key buildings

The Netherlands has boosted security at airports and other key buildings after a shooting on a tram on Monday in which one person was killed and several were wounded, Dutch military police say.

“In connection with the situation in Utrecht, the Royal Military Police is on high alert at the airports and at other vital buildings in The Netherlands,” the force say on Twitter.

AFP

Former Mossad chief says leak of Gantz’s hacked phone must be probed

Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo says the leak to the media that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s phone was allegedly hacked by Iran is “grave” and must be investigated.

“The leak of this incident during an election campaign is grave,” he says. “In my view, it’s an attack on the democratic process.”

Tehran aims to sue US individuals over sanctions

Tehran is preparing a lawsuit in Iran against US individuals involved with economic sanctions imposed by Washington, President Hassan Rouhani says Monday.

Rouhani says the presidency’s legal affairs office as well as the justice and foreign ministers have been tasked with “drawing up a lawsuit against all those within America involved with designing and executing these sanctions.”

The case would be lodged in a “competent court inside Iran,” he says, quoted by state television.

Speaking after the last cabinet meeting of Iran’s calendar year which ends on March 20, Rouhani condemns the sanctions as a “crime against humanity” that was hitting ordinary Iranians.

“The world should know that what America has done was not against the Iranian state, it was not against Iran’s nuclear program, it was against the wellbeing of the Iranian people,” he says.

Rouhani says the sanctions targeted “the normal life of the people… the food supply… the medical supply of the people.”

AFP

Some 1,000 mourners gather to bury terror victim Ettinger

Some 1,000 mourners are gathering at the funeral of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, a 47-year-old father of 12 who was killed in a terror attack yesterday in the northern West Bank.

The burial is being held at the Segula cemetery in the central Israel city of Petah Tikva.

Undated photo of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger (L) and his family. (courtesy Ettinger family)

Jacob Magid

The funeral of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger in the central West Bank settlement of Eli on March 18, 2019 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

Settlers set up makeshift study hall at site of Ariel attack

Israelis set up a makeshift study hall at the Ariel Junction in memory of Gal Keidan and Achiad Ettinger, who were killed in a terror attack at the site yesterday.

The settler youths tell The Times of Israel that they will maintain 24/7 presence at the study hall for the time being. The building is being guarded by Border Police stationed at the junction.

Jacob Magid

Israelis set up a makeshift study hall at the Ariel Junction in memory of Gal Keidan and Achiad Ettinger, who were killed in a terror attack at the site. March 18, 2019 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

At funeral, Bennett lauds victim for confronting terrorist in his last moments

Education Minister Naftali Bennett eulogizes Ettinger at his funeral.

“Your father was a hero in his life and a hero in his death,” he says, also praising the Jewish educator and rabbi who worked in south Tel Aviv.

“In his death, he didn’t do what most people would have in that situation. He didn’t run away, but strove to confront the terrorist. He fired bullets at the murderer and paid for it with his life,” says Bennett.

“Dear children you can be proud of such a father,” continues Bennett. “He changed the reality in Tel Aviv. Sheffy Paz, a south Tel Aviv activist, told me earlier about how much Torah Rabbi Achiad spread in Tel Aviv. Who will do that from here on out?”

Jacob Magid

Ettinger remembered as a ‘hero and a fighter’ by community

Rabbi Avraham Schiller, the rabbi of Eli, praises Ettinger as a “hero and a fighter” in his eulogy, referring to his final actions when he opened fire at the terrorist.

“In your heroism you became an emissary for the entire nation of Israel. Everyone will learn from your actions, both civilians and soldiers,” he says.

Schiller also praises Ettinger’s founding of a yeshiva in Tel Aviv and mournfully laments that his wife Tamar will be raising their 12 children alone.

Jacob Magid

Shooting in Utrecht was at ‘several locations’ — Dutch anti-terror chief

Gunfire erupted at several locations in the city of Utrecht on Monday, the Dutch national counter-terrorism chief says after an incident on a tram left one dead and several injured.

“Shooting took place this morning at several locations in Utrecht,” Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg tells a news conference in The Hague. “A major police operation is under way to arrest the gunman.”

AFP

‘We will miss you a lot,’ say kids of slain rabbi at funeral

A funeral officiant holds up his phone to play messages recorded in advance by Ettinger’s younger children.

“Dad, every two weeks you would take us on trips in the nature. We’d learn about the plants and the flowers.”

“I liked joining you on Friday shopping trips in the Tel Aviv market.”

“Every day when you returned from work, you made sure to take aside one of us for a conversation or a Torah lesson.”

“You were on your way home and you went back in order to save lives.”

“We will miss you a lot.”

Jacob Magid

Dutch police say suspect in Utrecht shooting a 37-year-old Turk

Dutch police release a picture of a Turkish-born man they are hunting over a shooting on a tram in Utrecht on Monday that left one dead and several injured.

“The police are asking you to look out for 37-year-old Gokman Tanis (born in Turkey) in connection with the incident this morning,” Utrecht police say on Twitter, adding: “Do not approach him.”

AFP

US Supreme Court won’t intervene in synagogue dispute

The Supreme Court is declining to intervene in a fight over the control of a historic Rhode Island synagogue and its Torah scroll adornments worth millions.

The justices’ decision Monday not to take up the case means that a lower court ruling that a New York synagogue owns Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, stays in place.

Congregation Jeshuat Israel has worshiped at Touro Synagogue since the late 1800s. It wanted control of the synagogue and the ability to sell one of its two sets of Colonial-era Torah scroll bells, called rimonim. It wanted to sell the set to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for $7.4 million.

An appeals court found that Manhattan’s Congregation Shearith Israel, which objected to the sale, owns the Touro property including the rimonim.

AP

Touro Synagogue, nestled in historic Newport, Rhode Island, is the oldest extant synagogue in the United States, on September 2, 2004. (Photo by John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

Dutch PM doesn’t rule out terrorism as motive in Utrecht attack

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says that the Netherlands has been hit by an attack in Utrecht and that terrorism isn’t excluded, after one person was killed in a tram shooting along with an unknown number of wounded.

Rutte says that “our nation was hit by an attack in Utrecht. It is clear there were shots on tram passengers in Utrecht, that there are wounded,” without specifying how many. He said that “a terror motive is not excluded.”

Rutte says that throughout the nation, “there is a mix of disbelief and disgust.”

He says “if it is terror attack then we have only one answer: our nation, democracy must be stronger than fanaticism and violence.”

Dutch authorities have named a 37-year-old Turkey-born man as linked to the tram shooting.

AP

Utrecht shooting death toll rises to 3, mayor says

The mayor of Utrecht raises the death toll in the shooting to three, according to AFP.

Reporter who broke Gantz phone story denies PM behind leak

Channel 12’s Amit Segal, who broke the story on the alleged Iranian hacking of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s phone, denies he received the information from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, amid accusations the premier leaked the report to damage his political rival.

“Making an exception due to all sort of false conspiracy theories, I am writing here explicitly what I’ve already hinted on Friday: The source of the story on Benny Gantz is not the prime minister, his associates, or anyone around him,” writes Segal on Twitter.

He also accuses critics who are calling for an investigation into the leak — which include a former Mossad chief and Blue and White — of being “hypocritical,” noting the information was cleared for publication by the military censor.

Justices say panel will reconsider donations to PM for legal fees

In a victory for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Supreme Court justices have decided that a state panel will reconvene to discuss the premier’s bid to have his relatives and associates cover his legal fees in the three corruption cases against him.

In December, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira’s office denied Netanyahu’s request for businessman Nathan Milikowsky, who is based in the US, and American millionaire Spencer Partrich to cover his legal fees.

In its decision, the Comptroller’s Permits Committee said it was inappropriate for non-Israeli benefactors to pay for the legal defense in a criminal case relating to receiving funds from wealthy benefactors.

The committee also said Netanyahu’s request failed to answer “basic questions,” including the amounts he was seeking from the donors, how much had already been contributed, and to which cases the money would be designated.

If the panel rules against him, the prime minister may be forced to return as much as  $300,000.

URWP seeks list reshuffle after Otzma Yehudit’s Ben Ari disqualified

The Union of Right-Wing Parties sends an urgent letter to the Central Elections Committee, asking the panel to approve changes to its party list after Otzma Yehudit’s Michael Ben Ari — who was to be no. 5 on the alliance’s slate — was disqualified from running by the High Court of Justice.

In its appeal, the party asks that Otzma Yehudit’s Itamar Ben Gvir be allowed to fill Ben Ari’s spot. Ben Gvir is listed 8th on the list. The deadline to finalize the slates has passed.

US envoy leads protest over anti-Israeli ‘bigotry’ at UN council

In Geneva, the US ambassador to Germany leads protests outside the UN over what he terms the “bigotry” faced by Israel at the Human Rights Council, as nations weigh condemnations of the Jewish state.

Several hundred people join the protests which are largely focused on the council’s so-called Agenda Item 7, a fixture on the council’s schedule exclusively devoted to resolutions condemning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Israel is the only country with a dedicated agenda item, which is one of the main factors that prompted the United States to leave the rights council last year.

“This is not just a form of bigotry. It is a sign of intellectual and moral decay,” US envoy Richard Grenell tells the crowd.

“Like a drug-addiction, anti-Semitism is both a disease and a source of comfort” for states that habitually condemn Israel at the UN, says Grenell, who stirred controversy in Germany last year over his stated ambition to promote conservatives throughout Europe.

The protests were organized by the Geneva-based NGO UN Watch, which seeks to flag alleged anti-Israel bias within the UN, among other issues.

AFP

Estonia’s Jews slam moves to include far-right in government

Estonia’s tiny Jewish community voices concern over an unprecedented move to include a far-right party in the next government of the Baltic EU state.

Outgoing center-left prime minister Juri Ratas launched coalition talks last week with the far-right EKRE party after its support surged in a recent general election.

The move by Ratas, which has been roundly criticized even from within his own party, is aimed at preventing the winning liberal Reform from forming a government.

EKRE leader Mart Helme has publicly expressed xenophobic, sexist and homophobic views, and the members of his party have included people convicted of violent crimes and Nazi sympathizers.

“Many statements of this party (EKRE) are antagonistic toward national minorities and aim at dividing society into insiders and outsiders. This can only cause frustration and regret,” the Jewish Community of Estonia says in a statement.

The community also deplores as “unacceptable” a rare incident of anti-Semitism against Estonia’s chief Rabbi Shmuel Kot, who was verbally assaulted on Saturday in central Tallinn as he was on his way to the synagogue with his children.

Police on Monday detained a 27-year-old man for hurling racial abuse at Kot.

AFP

Jordanian MP salutes Ariel terrorist in parliament

A Jordanian lawmaker has saluted in parliament Omar Abu Laila, 18, the Palestinian suspected of killing an IDF soldier and Israeli man in a combined shooting and stabbing terror attack in the northern West Bank on Sunday.

Putin suggests inviting Netanyahu to Crimea for synagogue unveiling

Russian President Vladimir Putin marks the fifth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by visiting the Black Sea peninsula, as NATO and the European Union once again strongly condemn the land grab.

During a meeting with local residents that involved religious leaders, Putin says he has invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to attend the opening of a new mosque in the region and suggests also inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit a ceremony for unveiling a new synagogue.

AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 27, 2019. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool/AFP)

Trump paints possible 2020 rival Biden as ‘low I.Q.’

US President Donald Trump on Monday gives possible 2020 presidential election rival Joe Biden a taste of what to expect if he does jump in the race, with a tweeted insult about his intelligence.

Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama and is seen as potentially the most heavyweight Democrat, remains on the sidelines. However on Saturday he appeared to confirm his candidacy before correcting himself in mid-sentence, as if having made a slip of the tongue.

Trump, who delights in inventing mocking nicknames and poking fun at opponents, pounced.

“Joe Biden got tongue tied over the weekend when he was unable to properly deliver a very simple line about his decision to run for President,” Trump tweets. “Get used to it, another low I.Q. individual!”

Biden’s surprise slip — or, as some speculated, crafty hint — came during a speech in his home state of Delaware.

“I’m told I get criticized by the new left. I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the United…,” he said, immediately correcting himself — “anybody who would run.”

AFP

Neo-Nazi funeral in east Germany draws hundreds of mourners

Hundreds of black-clad mourners turn up at the funeral of a neo-Nazi figure in eastern Germany’s Chemnitz, with police out in force to ward off any violence in a city previously rocked by far-right rioting.

There is no overt display of neo-Nazi insignia by the silent, mostly male crowd lining the road leading to a cemetery for the funeral of Thomas Haller, the co-founder of a group called “HooNaRa” (Hooligans-Nazis-Racists).

But security forces are not taking any chances in the city rocked by far-right riots last August over the fatal stabbing of a German man allegedly by two asylum seekers — an Iraqi and a Syrian.

The funeral is also taking place on the day a trial opened against the 23-year-old Syrian accused in last year’s killing.

Haller had for years provided security for fourth-tier football club Chemnitzer FC.

Earlier this month, fans of the club had paid tribute to him, with the stadium’s video screen showing his picture during a minute’s silence.

AFP

Jordan MPs urge expulsion of Israel ambassador as Temple Mount tensions spiral

Jordanian lawmakers on Monday seek to expel the Israeli ambassador from the kingdom in response to “ongoing Israel aggression” at holy sites in Jerusalem.

Amman is the official custodian of Jerusalem’s holy Muslim sites and the parliamentary session followed an Israeli court ruling on the Temple Mount compound, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque.

“The parliament recommended the government recall the Jordanian ambassador from Israel and expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman to confront the ongoing Israeli aggression at holy sites in occupied Jerusalem,” reports the official Petra news agency.

Lawmakers also call on the government to address the UN Security Council about “stopping Israeli violations and protecting the Palestinian people.”

Jordan is the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have a peace deal with Israel. But the treaty is overwhelmingly opposed by Jordanians, more than half of whom are of Palestinian origin.

with AFP

Palestinian terrorist who stabbed Jerusalem guard gets 22 years

A Palestinian terrorist convicted of the attempted murder in December 2017 of a Jerusalem security guard is sentenced Monday to 22 years in prison and ordered to pay NIS 200,000 ($55,000) in compensation to his victim.

In its ruling, the Jerusalem District Court notes that Yasin Abu al-Qar’a’s stabbing of Asher Elmaliach was an act of premeditated terrorism “extreme in its severity.”

Al-Qar’a, 25, from Wadi al-Fara outside Nablus, “decided to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem in protest at the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital” on December 6, 2017.

Graphic video footage from the scene of the attack four days later, on December 10, at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station showed al-Qar’a slowly handing his belongings to security supervisor Elmaliach, 47, who was helping other guards check travelers at the door to the station, before suddenly taking out a knife and plunging it into the guard’s chest.

Footage emerges of slain IDF soldier’s last music recital

Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, who was killed in the Ariel terror attack on Monday was a budding mandocello musician. Footage of his final recital has been shared on social media since his death.

Security around Dutch Jewish community buildings tightened after Utrecht attack

Security around Dutch Jewish community buildings is increased significantly as police search for the gunman suspected of killing at least three people in what the prime minister says may have been a terrorist attack in Utrecht.

The incident, in which several people were wounded, happened this morning inside a tram in the central city near Amsterdam. Police released a picture of a 37-year-old Turkey-born man named Gokman Tanis whom they suspect of shooting multiple people before fleeing.

Using the handle “HateDemocrat,” Tanis has threatened violence in the past against PowNed, a right-wing news website.

The Federative Jewish Netherlands group writes on Twitter that elite police troops are patrolling Jewish community buildings with semiautomatic weapons.

In Utrecht, the government for the first time ever raised the terrorism threat level to 5, its highest state.

JTA

Utrecht mayor backtracks on advice to residents to remain indoors

The mayor of Utrecht withdraws advice issued earlier by his municipality for the city’s residents to stay indoors in the aftermath of a deadly shooting on a tram.

Mayor Jan van Zanen says in a video tweeted by the Utrecht municipality that the earlier advice to remain indoors was based on fears that shots had been fired at more than one location in the city.

He now says “that is not the case, as far as we know.”

Van Zanen says police are hunting for a suspect in the shooting that left three dead and nine injured. He says “there could be other suspects, we don’t know yet.”

AP

Fire breaks out in Ramon prison; no injuries

A fire breaks out in a wing of Ramon prison. There are no injuries.

According to Channel 12, the blaze was ignited by a Hamas prisoner who was protesting a ban on cellphone use.

Netanyahu: If Gantz can’t protect phone, how will he protect Israel?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is casting doubt on rival Benny Gantz’s ability to protect Israel, with a jab about the Blue and White leader’s hacked phone, allegedly by Iran.

“If Benny Gantz can’t protect his phone, how will he protect our country?” asks Netanyahu.

The slight comes ahead of Gantz’s first press conference.

Gantz accuses PM of benefiting from subs purchase, green-lighting sales to Egypt

Gantz opens his press conference by vowing to establish a parliamentary commission of inquiry into Netanyahu’s ties to the multibillion shekel purchase of submarines from Germany’s Thyssenkrupp, and his alleged green-lighting of sales of some advanced naval weaponry to Egypt.

According to Channel 13, the State Comptroller’s Office recently discovered that Netanyahu and his cousin Nathan Milikowsky were shareholders in a graphite electrodes manufacturing company GrafTech International, which is used in the production of steel. The firm is a longtime supplier of Thyssenkrupp, the Channel 13 report said.

“I tell you that we will establish a parliamentary inquiry to investigate it,” says Gantz, accusing the prime minister of personally earning NIS 16 million from Israel’s purchase of the submarines.

With Raoul Wootliff

Lapid echoes call for probe in submarines affair

Blue and White’s Yair Lapid joins the call for a deeper investigation into the affair.

“As someone who gave evidence in the submarine affair, as the one who managed some of the negotiations with the German government, I join the clear call — this is the biggest national security corruption scandal in the history of the country and Netanyahu is at its center. It is unavoidable: he will be investigated,” says Lapid.

Among other things, Lapid demands that Netanyahu explain why he was invested in a company that supplied materials to Thyssenkrupp and why he denied the approval of sales to Egypt.

With Raoul Wootliff

Dutch police say suspected Utrecht gunman arrested

Dutch police on Monday arrested the suspect in a shooting on a tram in the city of Utrecht in which three people were killed, a police chief says.

“We have just been informed that the suspect has been arrested,” Utrecht police chief Rob van Bree tells a news conference.

Police had earlier said they were searching for Turkish-born suspect Gokmen Tanis, 37, and issued a picture of him.

The head of the Dutch national counter-terrorism service, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, confirms “the arrest of the main suspect for the shooting.”

He says authorities had lowered the threat level in Utrecht from the maximum level five as a result of the arrest.

AFP

Netanyahu continues to ridicule Gantz over phone breach

The prime minister continues to ridicule Gantz over his hacked phone, allegedly by Iran.

“Netanyahu hacked the Iranians and stole all of their information,” the prime minister tweets, alongside a photo of himself and the nuclear archive smuggled out of Tehran by Israeli agents.

“The Iranians hacked Gantz and stole all of his information,” the post continues.

‘If he did it, he must be punished,’ says estranged father of Utrecht suspect

The father of the Turkish-born man suspected of killing three people in an attack Monday in the Dutch city of Utrecht said his son should be punished if found responsible, a Turkish news agency reports.

“If he did it, he must be punished,” the DHA agency quoted Mehmet Tanis, father of 37-year-old suspect Gokmen Tanis, as saying after what Dutch officials said was likely a terror-related attack.

His father revealed he had lost contact with his son, having returned to his homeland in 2008 after divorcing his wife, DHA reports.

She remained in the Netherlands with Gokmen.

Mehmet Tanis says he had since remarried and now lives in the central province of Kayseri.

“I have had no dialogue, no contact with my son for 11 years. We have not spoken to one another since 2008,” he tells DHA.

AFP

British Holocaust denier David Irving leading tour of Nazi death camps

British Holocaust denier David Irving is planning to lead a tour of Nazi death camps.

Irving is taking deposits on his website for the tour of Nazi historical sites scheduled for September, the UK Jewish News reports.

The nine-day tour, which costs $3,650, is scheduled to visit Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec and Majdanek. Publicity for the tour calls the death camps “controversial.”

It also will visit the bunker headquarters of Adolf Hitler known as “The Wolf’s Lair” and the headquarters of SS chief Heinrich Himmler.

Irving is described on the promotional material as a Hitler expert. He led a similar tour in 2013.

Irving lost a libel suit that he brought against Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt in 2000. The suit was dramatized in the movie “Denial” starring Rachel Weisz as Lipstadt.

JTA

TV: Facebook demands Netanyahu stop collecting users’ info

Facebook has demanded that Netanyahu’s official Facebook page stop collecting information on users in violation of the social media platform’s policies, according to Channel 13.

The television report says the social media giant complained about a data-gathering chatbot that automatically sends messages to users interacting with Netanyahu’s page.

Both the Likud campaign and Facebook declined to comment on the report.

TV: Gantz signals that he’s still open to government with Likud

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is not ruling out sitting in a future government with the Likud party or ultra-Orthodox parties, according to Channel 13, which cites recordings from closed-door meetings.

“I chose the phrase ‘in the current situation,’ so as not to close the door [on a coalition with the Likud] all the way and lock it,” Gantz says. “It will be closed, not locked.”

“Now, as we’ve seen, life is dynamic, the situation can change, Trump will present a [peace] plan, I’ll win… okay, what now?”

Netanyahu “simply sold out the country,” Gantz is quoted as saying. “Now he’ll propose a French law [to shield him from prosecution], so should I now stay indifferent to this and not sell my soul and not form a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox?”

Fatah official badly beaten in Hamas-run Gaza

A senior official with the Palestinian party Fatah is badly beaten up in the Gaza Strip on Monday, with the group accusing the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas of responsibility.

Hamas denies the claim and pledges to investigate the attack, which comes amid days of violent crackdown by its security forces on protests in Gaza.

Atef Abu Seif, spokesman for Fatah in Gaza and a member of its central committee, was beaten by a group of men near his home in the enclave, the official Fatah-aligned Palestinian news agency Wafa says.

Pictures posted on Wafa show Abu Seif with a bandaged head and leg, with his clothes speckled with blood.

Mahmoud Aloul, deputy chairman of Fatah, accuses Hamas of carrying out an assassination attempt.

Iyad al-Bozum, spokesman for the interior ministry in Gaza, condemns the incident, telling AFP “the police are investigating the attack.”

Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since seizing it from Fatah in 2007, has faced a series of protests in recent days over rising prices.

AFP

New Right campaign ad has Shaked modeling ‘Fascism’ perfume

A campaign ad by the New Right party has Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked modeling a fragrance called “Fascism.”

The black-and-white slow-motion ad, which mimics perfume ads, has Shaked flipping her hair, walking in an art gallery, and descending stairs. It is overlaid with text outlining the party’s goals: judicial reform, governance, and limiting the High Court powers.

It ends with Shaked spraying herself with “Fascism.”

“It smells more like democracy to me,” she says.

The ad is poking fun at accusations against the right-wing minister by opposition leaders that she is pushing Israel toward fascism.

Naftali Bennett, the New Right leader, shares the ad with the caption: “The perfume that left-wingers will be less fond of.”

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Gantz accuses PM of benefiting from subs purchase, green-lighting sales to Egypt

Gantz opens his press conference by vowing to establish a parliamentary commission of inquiry into Netanyahu’s ties to the multibillion shekel purchase of submarines from Germany’s Thyssenkrupp, and his alleged green-lighting of sales of some advanced naval weaponry to Egypt.

According to Channel 13, the State Comptroller’s Office recently discovered that Netanyahu and his cousin Nathan Milikowsky were shareholders in a graphite electrodes manufacturing company GrafTech International, which is used in the production of steel. The firm is a longtime supplier of Thyssenkrupp, the Channel 13 report said.

“I tell you that we will establish a parliamentary inquiry to investigate it,” says Gantz, accusing the prime minister of personally earning NIS 16 million from Israel’s purchase of the submarines.

With Raoul Wootliff