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Hundreds rally for soldier accused in Hebron shooting

Abbas says Palestinians reject ‘all forms of terrorist activity’; Russia said to deliver S-300s to Iran by year end; Syrian opposition chief says Golan Heights will return to Syria

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

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong seen during the welcome ceremony at the Prime Minister office in Jerusalem on April 19, 2016. (Haim Zach / GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong seen during the welcome ceremony at the Prime Minister office in Jerusalem on April 19, 2016. (Haim Zach / GPO)
  • A replica of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph is erected in Trafalgar Square, central London, on 18 April 2016.
The original arch was destroyed by the Islamic State group (IS) and the replica has been crafted using the latest 3D printing and carving technologies by the Institute for Digital Archaeology. (AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)
    A replica of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph is erected in Trafalgar Square, central London, on 18 April 2016. The original arch was destroyed by the Islamic State group (IS) and the replica has been crafted using the latest 3D printing and carving technologies by the Institute for Digital Archaeology. (AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)
  • Syrian opposition leader Riad Hijab in Geneva on April 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)
    Syrian opposition leader Riad Hijab in Geneva on April 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)
  • Iran showcases what it claims are parts of its newly received S-300 missile defense batteries in Tehran on April 17, 2016. (Fars News Agency)
    Iran showcases what it claims are parts of its newly received S-300 missile defense batteries in Tehran on April 17, 2016. (Fars News Agency)
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 19, 2016 at the chancellery in Berlin. (AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ)
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 19, 2016 at the chancellery in Berlin. (AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ)
  • Illustrative: A teen holds up a flag which reads 'We are all Kahane' at a protest in support of a soldier charged with manslaughter in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on April 19, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel staff)
    Illustrative: A teen holds up a flag which reads 'We are all Kahane' at a protest in support of a soldier charged with manslaughter in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on April 19, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel staff)
  • Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square in support of a soldier on trial for killing a Palestinian attacker in March who was incapacitated, on April 19, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel staff)
    Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square in support of a soldier on trial for killing a Palestinian attacker in March who was incapacitated, on April 19, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel staff)

The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded Wednesday.

Syrian opposition head vows to retake Golan

Syrian opposition leader Riad Hijab responds to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remark earlier this week that the Golan Heights will remain in Israeli hands “forever,” saying that the territory Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War will return to Syrian control.

“We won’t give up on our territorial completeness or on the unification of our social fabric,” Hijab says. “We won’t concede a single grain of soil. The Golan is Syrian land and it will be returned to Syria. Former Syrian president Hafez Assad is the one who gave over the Golan. That’s the truth. If it weren’t for the support of the Israeli occupation, President Bashar Assad wouldn’t remain [in power] until now.”

Senior religious settler leaders investigated for fraud

Two senior members of Amana, a far-right religious settler group, are under investigation by the police on suspicion of fraud for transferring funds without reporting it to tax authorities, Israel Radio reports.

German TV reporter held at Istanbul airport

German public broadcaster SWR says one of its reporters has been detained upon arrival at Istanbul airport.

SWR says Cairo-based TV correspondent Volker Schwenck was given no reason for his detention early Tuesday. It says he is being held in the airport’s deportation room.

Schwenck, who had planned to travel to the Syrian border to interview refugees, posted a picture on Twitter of a document titled “Inadmissible Passenger Notification Report.”

He tweeted: “Final stop Istanbul. Entry to Turkey denied. There’s a note with my name. I’m a journalist. A problem?”

SWR is part of the ARD network, one of two main public broadcasters in Germany. The other, ZDF, has become embroiled in a row with Turkey over a satirical program featuring a crude poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

— AP

Soldiers hurt after APC overturns in training

Four IDF soldiers are lightly injured after an APC overturns during a training exercise in southern Israel. They are airlifted to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment.

Erdogan: EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs EU

The European Union needs Turkey more than Ankara needs the bloc, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says, denouncing a new European Parliament report that was sharply critical of the rule of law in his country.

“The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union,” Erdogan says to cheers in a televised speech to municipal leaders in Ankara, denouncing as “provocative” last week’s European Parliament report which accused Ankara of backsliding on democracy.

— AFP

Replica of Palmyra Arch of Triumph goes up in London

A replica of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph, destroyed in the past year by the Islamic State, has been erected in London based on a 3D model of the Roman-era monument created by the Institute of Digital Archaeology, the BBC reports.

The two-thirds size model will be in London’s Trafalgar Square for three days before heading around the world.

A replica of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph is erected in Trafalgar Square, central London, on 18 April 2016, the day before it is officially unveiled. (AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)

A replica of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph is erected in Trafalgar Square, central London, on 18 April 2016, the day before it is officially unveiled. (AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)

Rabbi okays bitter herb for Passover

A rabbi in Bnei Brak rules that cannabis is kosher for Passover, for both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. Rabbi Yitzhak Zilberstein says that medicinal marijuana grown in supervised and licensed farms is permissible — but black market skunk isn’t.

Zilberstein brought some of that sticky icky bitter herb to the head of the Lithuanian community, Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, and let him smell the bud, whose aroma, he said, had “medicinal properties.”

Polish reporter finds local rabbi not rabbi

A local journalist in a western Poland city discovered that the local rabbi is not a rabbi, never lived in Israel, is not familiar with Jewish customs, and does not speak or understand Hebrew.

Jacoob Ben Nistell, aka Yaakav – he used different forms of this name — claimed he was from Haifa. Members of the Poznan Jewish community believed him and decided to embrace him as a community rabbi, where he reportedly has served for several years

He admitted two weeks ago during an interview that he is not a rabbi. Krzysztof M. Kazmierczak, a reporter for “Glos Wielkopolski” or “The Voice of Wielkopolska,” discovered that the alleged rabbi in fact is Jacek Niszczota and comes from Ciechanow, a town in north-central Poland.

— JTA

Bus bombing victim describes attack

Michael Cheshin was on his way to a Krav Maga lesson when Jerusalem’s number 12 bus he was on exploded yesterday.

“I only saw the noise and the fire,” he says with a heavy Russian accent in his hospital bed.

Cheshin’s right hand was completely covered in bandages, the result of his cellular phone battery exploding in the attack. He also had pieces of metal in his leg that were removed in surgery and ruptured eardrums.

Dr. Ofer Merrin, the head of Shaare Zedek’s Trauma Center, discussed the critically injured person from the attack, who has yet to be identified.

“He has combined injuries: Severe burns, unfortunately, from the fire and severe injuries to his limbs from the explosion. [The injuries] are to both his upper and lower extremities,” Merrin says.

“There’s no ID yet. They are working on that a lot, and there are a number of thoughts about his identity. But we’re just dealing with his medical condition,” he adds.

The other people injured also had some combination of burns and explosion-related injuries, he says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Israeli jets said to enter Syrian airspace

Israeli fighter jets are reportedly flying over southern Syria.

‘Erdogan, Steinitz met in Washington last month’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz last month on the sidelines of a conference in Washington DC, the first meeting of its kind between senior Israeli and Turkish officials, i24 reports.

PM, Singapore counterpart meet in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with visiting Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who invited him to visit the Southeast Asian state. Lee’s visit is the first since bilateral relations were established in 1969.

The two discussed increased cooperation in technology, security and trade, the Prime Minister’s Office says in a statement.

“Today we are anchors of stability and strength in our respective regions. And we are working together in many fields, diverse fields, including water management, biotechnology, and we’re going to talk on this visit about intensifying our cooperation in cyber security, and of course in many, many other fields,” Netanyahu says.

Lee says in response that “our business-to-business ties are strong. Israel is the second largest contributor of foreign direct investments in Singapore from the Middle East, and we admire your technical prowess and ecosystem. You have the highest number of scientists, technicians, technologists, engineers per capita in the world. You have the third highest number of patents per capita, and I know that many Singaporean firms are interested in doing business with you, investing in Israel, as some have already done.”

Russia to deliver S-300s to Iran by year’s end

Russia will finish delivery of sophisticated S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran by the end of this year, Russia’s Interfax news agency quotes the head of a Russian state-owned tech conglomerate saying, Reuters reports.

IDF: Anti-tunnel barrier to be ready in 2 years

The IDF estimates it will have a barrier to prevent terror tunnels from penetrating into Israeli territory within two years.

The assessment comes days after the military announced the discovery of a Hamas-built tunnel running under the border into southern Israel.

Herzog: Rally for Elor Azaria ‘aims to weaken IDF’s values’

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog says that the protest planned this evening in support of a soldier charged with manslaughter for shooting a Palestinian last month “is an attempt to weaken IDF values.”

The protest in support of Elor Azaria is set to take place this evening in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

Herzog says that the IDF’s disciplinary and internal investigation system “is under a brutal, vicious, cynical and destructive assault.”

“I call upon the family of the soldier not to turn this grave and complicated incident into a campaign against the IDF. Whoever comes to this protest comes to a protest of the radical right whose aim is to weaken the IDF’s values,” he says.

Fatah hails Jerusalem bus bombing

Fatah responds to yesterday’s Jerusalem bus bombing by lauding the attack.

“The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades bless the self-sacrificing operation in Jerusalem. For our Jerusalem and our Al-Aqsa Mosque, the good news of victory keeps arriving today, in a display we have not seen in a long time – a bus bombing operation in the occupied city of Jerusalem, in which dozens of Zionists were injured,” the party’s armed wing says in a statement translated by Palestine Media Watch.

The group said on its Facebook page that the attack was “a natural response to the occupation’s crimes,” calling such terror attacks “the best option of response” to Israel.

Yemen arrests Jewish man for ‘helping smuggle Torah’

Yemeni security officials say a member of the country’s Jewish minority has been detained over allegations he helped smuggle an 800-year-old scroll to Israel.

The officials say Yahia Youssef Yaish is being interrogated by the intelligence service run by Shiite Houthis rebels, who control the country’s capital, Sanaa.

The officials also said on Tuesday that three airport employees have also been detained over the same allegations. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

In Israel, Avi Mayer, the spokesman for the Jewish Agency, confirmed the Torah scroll was smuggled out of Yemen with a rabbi and 18 Yemeni Jews who left to Israel last month.

Yemeni intellectuals issued a statement demanding Yaish’s release and describing allegations against him as “fabricated.”

— AP

IDF charges Palestinian with murder after victim’s family appeals

Following an appeal by the family of Avraham Hasano, an Israeli man killed in a suspected West Bank car-ramming attack in October, the IDF military prosecutor changes the charge against Sahban Titi from manslaughter to intentional killing, a charge equivalent to murder in the civilian courts.

Sweden’s deputy PM calls 9/11 ‘accident’

Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Asa Romson calls the 9/11 terrorist attacks an “accident” in an interview with Sweden’s SVT this morning.

Speaking about resigned housing minister Mehmet Kaplan’s resignation for comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to Nazi Germany, Romson said Kaplan “has been chairman of Young Muslims in tough situations like the September 11th accidents,” The Local reports.

Abbas: Palestinians reject ‘all forms’ of terrorism

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking a day after an attack on a bus in Jerusalem that wounded at least 21 people, says his administration rejects violence against civilians.

Abbas said during a visit to Germany on Tuesday that “we are against all forms of terrorist activity that affect Israeli and Palestinian civilians.”

After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told reporters that Palestinians “want to achieve an end to the occupation and the building of settlements through diplomatic means, and through peaceful resistance by the Palestinian people.”

Merkel condemned Monday’s attack, saying there could be “no justification for violence.” She also urged a halt to Israeli settlement activity on disputed land.

— AP

Police escort left-wing activist out of Rabin Square protest

Police escort a B’Tselem activist out of Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, where a right-wing protest in support of a soldier on trial for manslaughter is taking place, saying they were “protecting his life and maintaining the peace,” Times of Israel reporter Judah Ari Gross reports.

Hundreds gather in Tel Aviv to protest for soldier on trial

A photo of the protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square uploaded by Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer appears to show a few hundred people taking part in the demonstration in support of Elor Azaria, a soldier charged with manslaughter for apparently shooting a Palestinian attacker in Hebron.

“Neutralizing terrorists — that’s the obligation of soldiers. Charges against them — that’s the crime,” says one of the signs held by one of the protesters.

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square in support of a soldier on trial for killing a Palestinian attacker in March who was incapacitated, on April 19, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel staff)

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in support of a soldier on trial for killing a Palestinian attacker in March who was incapacitated, on April 19, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel staff)

About 1,000 take part in Tel Aviv protest

Roughly a thousand people are estimated to be taking part in the rally in support of a soldier charged with manslaughter in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, far fewer than police projected.

Not all of the people present are far right-wing extremists, but one teen was among radicals present who held up a flag which reads “We are all Kahane,” referring to the assassinated extremist party leader Meir Kahane whose party was outlawed in Israel.

A teen holds up a flag which reads "We are all Kahane" at a protest in support of a soldier charged with manslaughter in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on April 19, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel staff)

A teen holds up a flag which reads “We are all Kahane” at a protest in support of a soldier charged with manslaughter in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on April 19, 2016. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel staff)

Kuwait calls Arab League meeting about Golan

Kuwait calls an emergency Arab League meeting for Thursday to discuss Netanyahu’s remarks earlier this week that Israel would never give up the Golan Heights, Al Arabiya reports.

Rally participants said to attack reporter

Several participants in the Tel Aviv rally in support of a soldier charged with manslaughter reportedly attacked a Channel 10 reporter.

Undercover police spotted the altercation and pulled the reporter out of the crowd, Channel 10 reports.

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German TV reporter held at Istanbul airport

German public broadcaster SWR says one of its reporters has been detained upon arrival at Istanbul airport.

SWR says Cairo-based TV correspondent Volker Schwenck was given no reason for his detention early Tuesday. It says he is being held in the airport’s deportation room.

Schwenck, who had planned to travel to the Syrian border to interview refugees, posted a picture on Twitter of a document titled “Inadmissible Passenger Notification Report.”

He tweeted: “Final stop Istanbul. Entry to Turkey denied. There’s a note with my name. I’m a journalist. A problem?”

SWR is part of the ARD network, one of two main public broadcasters in Germany. The other, ZDF, has become embroiled in a row with Turkey over a satirical program featuring a crude poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

— AP