The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Record number of migrants enters Europe in 2015
The International Organization for Migration says a record number of people have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe this year, now topping a half a million.
As of Tuesday, the group says 522,124 people have traveled by sea to reach the continent this year. Some 388,000 have entered via Greece, and more than 175,000 of the total came from war-torn Syria — the largest single refugee source as a country.
This year’s influx has long since passed the previous record, some 219,000 people last year.
Israeli tourism to Turkey doubles since last year
Israeli tourism to Turkey has more than doubled since last year, according to figures by Turkey’s tourism ministry. August’s numbers — more than 38,000 Israeli visitors that month — were 101 percent higher than in August 2014, the ministry says.
August’s figures were also some 30% higher than in the same month in 2013, the Ynet news site reports.
Last summer, the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza drew angry denunciations from the Turkish government, which has been increasingly at odds with Israel, and increasingly supportive of Hamas and other Islamist forces in the region, under Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Yemen death toll rises to at least 2,355
The office of the UN human rights chief says 151 civilians have been killed in fighting in Yemen over two weeks in September, taking the civilian death toll to 2,355 over the last six months.
The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights cites both sides of the conflict including a Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s government, and Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, and others. Spokesman Rupert Colville points to coalition airstrikes and “indiscriminate” shelling in residential areas.
OHCHR wants the coalition and Yemen’s government to allow “independent and impartial” investigations in Yemen.
The agency’s latest count, which dates to Sept. 24, does not include casualties from an alleged air strike of a wedding party in Taiz that UN officials say may have killed 130 people or more.
Two said injured in Jerusalem rock-throwing
Two Israelis are reported injured in the latest rock-throwing attack by Palestinians in Jerusalem.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) September 29, 2015
Indonesia criticizes Saudis for hajj response
Indonesia criticizes Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for its slow response to the hajj pilgrimage disaster in Mina, saying its diplomats only received full access to the dead and injured days after the crush.
The criticism from Indonesia, the Muslim world’s most populous country, comes as its officials, as well as those in India and Pakistan, say that Saudi officials gave foreign diplomats some 1,100 pictures of those killed in last week’s disaster.
The Saudi Health Ministry’s latest figures, released Saturday, puts the toll at 769 people killed and 934 injured in the stampede.
Saudi authorities have said that the disaster began when two large waves of pilgrims converged on a narrow road last Thursday during the final days of the annual hajj in Mina near the holy city of Mecca. Survivors say the crowding caused people to suffocate and eventually trample one another in the worst disaster to befall the annual pilgrimage in a quarter-century.
Police arrest 7 over Temple Mount violence
The Israel Police says it has arrested seven Palestinians over suspected involvement in violence at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site the previous day.
Spokeswoman Luba Samri says Tuesday the suspects were connected to Monday’s riots on the Temple Mount in which Palestinians barricaded themselves inside a mosque at the site and then threw firebombs and rocks at officers outside.
Judge orders medical checks for striking rail drivers
A court orders medical checks for Jerusalem light rail drivers who called in sick en masse Tuesday in a wildcat labor strike that has stopped rail service in the capital.
Due an ongoing labor dispute, some one-third of the drivers notified the rail’s operator Citipass that they were sick Tuesday morning, the Ynet news site reports.
The Jerusalem Labor Court judge hearing the dispute instructs all employees who did not show up for work today to get checked by a doctor.
Palestinian woman, Jewish teen arrested in Jerusalem
A Palestinian woman and a Jewish teen are arrested On Shalshelet Road in Jerusalem’s Old City amid continuing sporadic incidents of violence surrounding the Temple Mount.
The woman is held for disorderly conduct after haranguing, together with other women at the site, a Jewish family walking past. The Jewish teen is under arrest for reportedly spraying tear gas at the women.
Palestinian boy, 11, held in Jerusalem rock-throwing that injured 2
Photos emerge of the latest rock-throwing incident in Jerusalem’s Abu Tor neighborhood. An 11-year-old Palestinian boy is reportedly caught by police after throwing stones at the car of an Israeli family, lightly injuring two family members.
פיגוע אבנים כעת בשכונת אבו טור בירושלים. במקום נפצעו 2 באורח קל. צילום: מדברים תקשורת pic.twitter.com/5Y7xb0FbKg
— אלי שלזינגר (@leizersh) September 29, 2015
Homicide suspected after body of woman, 30, found in Ariel
Police suspect homicide after finding on Tuesday the body of a woman, 30, in an apartment in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
Investigators say there are signs of violence on the body.
President Rivlin to open his sukkah to the public
President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama are opening the president’s sukkah to the general public Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30.
The “open sukkah” event is held together with the Ministry for Social Equality. The president and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel will greet visitors from 9:00 a.m., followed by a 10:45 address by Rivlin.
Rivlin is also slated to participate in the “hakhel” ceremony, on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Western Wall, that marks the end of the seventh-year agricultural sabbatical year known as “shmita.” The ceremony is open to the public, and will include the Knesset speaker, Jerusalem’s mayor, Knesset members and Israel’s two chief rabbis.
Four British jihadists face UN sanctions
Four British Islamist activists affiliated with Islamic State have been added to the UN sanctions list.
The four are identified by the broadcaster as “Omar Hussain from High Wycombe, Nasser Muthana from Cardiff, Aqsa Mahmood from Glasgow and Sally-Anne Jones from Chatham in Kent.”
The sanctions list bans them from international travel and freezes their assets in complying countries.
According to British police, over 700 UK citizens have gone to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State and other jihadist groups.
Saudi warns of $26,600 fine for overstaying pilgrims
With the hajj pilgrimage season coming to an end, Saudi immigration authorities are warning pilgrims and local businesses not to help visitors who try to overstay their visa.
Both pilgrims and businesses could be fined as much as 100,000 Saudi riyals, or roughly $26,600, merely for withholding information about delays in departure, the Arab News website reports, citing the Saudi Directorate General of Immigration.
More than 30 Kurdish rebels said killed by Turkey
Turkey’s president says more than 30 Kurdish rebels have been killed overnight in a cross-border military operation in northern Iraq.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan also says that about 2,000 rebels have been killed in military offensives both in northern Iraq and in Turkey since violence between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and Turkish security forces flared up in July.
Erdogan vows on Tuesday to keep up the fight against the rebels, saying “there will be no complacency.”
Protests in Ramallah over Temple Mount
Palestinians demonstrate in the streets of Ramallah over ongoing Jewish-Muslim violence surrounding the Temple Mount.
— Nasser Atta (@nasseratta5) September 29, 2015
Clashes with Palestinian Authority security forces are also reported in Bethlehem, where the forces reportedly use tear gas to hold the protesters at bay.
Clashes in DCO Ramallah for Al Aqsa pic.twitter.com/VlXccrpedh
— Hamuda Hassan (@HamudaHassan) September 29, 2015
Netanyahu flight to UN confab delayed
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s flight to the United Nations General Assembly in New York is an hour behind its 12:30 p.m. scheduled take-off time. The prime minister has yet to show up for the flight.
— Raphael Ahren
EU failing to protect journalists: rights group
The European Union has failed to tackle challenges to press freedom within its borders, notably from the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a rights group says.
The Committee to Protect Journalists says in a report that Brussels should do more to make member states defend media rights and that the EU’s institutions are “poorly equipped” to take such action.
“By not holding member states to account, the EU has failed to forcefully and consistently defend press freedom,” the organisation says, adding that some countries “backslide on their democratic commitments.”
In Hungary, state media had become “pro-government mouthpieces,” state advertising was used to “reward friends and punish enemies,” independent journalists had been marginalized and freedom of information laws had been tightened, the New York-based CPJ says.
But the EU had largely “procrastinated” instead of taking on Orban’s right-wing adminstration over the issue of press freedom, apart from low-level disciplinary action and European Parliament resolutions.
Across the EU, journalists also faced threats from criminal libel and blasphemy laws, surveillance that threatens their sources, and violence such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks by jihadists on the satirical magazine in Paris in January.
This failure to act by the 28-nation bloc stood in contrast to its insistence on press freedom as a key issue with candidates for membership, such as Turkey and the Balkan states, the CPJ says.
Yemen wedding death toll rises to 131
The death toll from airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition that hit a wedding party in Yemen’s Taiz province has risen to 131, Yemeni medical officials say.
Details about the strikes, which took place Monday, are sketchy but a UN official says that if confirmed, the high death toll would make it one of the deadliest incidents in the conflict.
At least 80 women were among the dead, say the Yemeni medical officials, who work in the province and have been neutral in the conflict that has torn their country apart. The Saudi-led coalition apparently struck the wedding party by mistake in al-Wahga, a village near the strategic Strait of Bab al-Mandab, according to Yemeni security officials.
Obama, Iranian FM shake hands at UN
An Iranian news agency says President Barack Obama and Iran’s foreign minister shook hands when they ran into one another on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Tuesday’s report by the official IRNA agency quotes an unnamed diplomatic official as saying Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came upon Obama “accidentally” and the two shook hands.
A White House official confirms this Tuesday, saying “there was a brief interaction at the luncheon, where they shook hands.”
It represents the first handshake between an American president and Iran’s top diplomat since the 1979 Islamic Revolution ousted a pro-Western monarchy in Iran. The two countries have had no diplomatic relations since then.
Gas prices to drop Wednesday, but not by much
Gasoline prices will drop slightly on Wednesday midnight in keeping with the falling price of oil worldwide.
Self-service 95-octane gasoline will drop by two agorot (NIS 0.02) per liter, from NIS 6.09 to NIS 6.07. The decrease is tiny, but follows on two steeper cuts since the beginning of August totaling NIS 0.56 per liter. It is also helped by a drop in value-added tax from 18% to 17%, according to the business journal Globes.
Israeli firefighting planes battle West Bank brush fire
Four Israeli firefighting planes are battling a brush fire in the northern West Bank.
The fire began west of the settlement of Hermesh, near the Palestinian village of Firasin.
Netanyahu departs for UN ahead of Thursday speech
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes off for the United States, where he will address the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday and hold a series of meetings with world leaders.
During his GA speech, he will tell world leaders what he expects from them in the aftermath of the Iran deal and the threats to Israel’s borders emanating from Syria, he tells reporters as he makes his way onto his plane at Ben Gurion International Airport.
“I will also address the issue of peace with the Palestinians, and I will emphasize Israel’s desire to reach peace,” he says. During his speech, Netanyahu plans to demand that the Palestinians cease their “incitement” and “lies” about the Temple Mount. He said he would reiterate that Israel intends to maintain the status quo on the holy site.
Palestinian rioters who bring weapons to the Temple Mount and into the al-Aqsa Mosque desecrate their holy places and are those who violate the status quo there, he says.
“Whenever I speak at the UN, I [believe it is] a great merit and responsibility to tell the nations of the world the truth about Israel, about our country,” he says, after arriving on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday after a delay of over an hour.
Netanyahu is scheduled to address the UN on Thursday at noon, when most other world leaders attending the conference will have already left New York. Later that day, he will meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. On Friday, he is scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in what will be the first meeting between the prime minister and Kerry since the Iran deal was clinched in July.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will also deliver what he calls a “bombshell” speech at the General Assembly on Wednesday at noon. Afterwards, he will attend a ceremony in which the Palestinian flag will be hoisted in front of the UN building near the East River.
— Raphael Ahren
Palestinians protest across West Bank over Temple Mount
Multiple riots break out across the West Bank between IDF forces and Palestinians protesting ongoing clashes on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Several hundred Palestinians are taking part in the demonstrations, according to Israel Radio.
The largest protest takes place near Ramallah, where rioters throw firebombs and stones at soldiers. Two Palestinians are lightly wounded from rubber bullets fired in response. Protests are also held in Hebron, Tulkarm and Bethlehem.
Several injured in Dead Sea hotel fire
Several people are injured after a fire breaks out on the tenth floor of the Leonardo Privilege Hotel on the Dead Sea.
Firefighters evacuate the building and say the fire is under control, but searches continue in the resort complex for possible injured.
Firefighting squads from Dimona and Beersheba joined local teams to battle the fire.
Authorities did not disclose the number or identity of the injured, or the severity of their injuries.
100,000 Israelis visit national parks as Sukkot holiday begins
Some 100,000 Israelis take advantage of the holiday season this week to visit the country’s national parks, according to the Parks Authority.
Galilee rivers are especially crowded, with the Snir and Banyas rivers drawing large crowds, along with the Banyas and Tel Dan nature preserves, and the Hurshat Tal and Gan Hashlosha national parks.
Russian police searching for missing Israeli teenager
Yehudit Gitelman, a 17-year-old Israeli, is missing since last week in the northwestern Russian city of St. Petersburg.
According to the Walla news site, the Israeli consulate in the city confirms the girl’s disappearance. She was last seen leaving her home in the city on September 25 with a passport and laptop.
Local police are searching for her, the site reports.
Israeli teen missing in Russia contacts family
An Israeli teen reported missing today in Russia makes contact with her family, the Walla news site reports.
Yehudit Gitelman, 17, was last seen in the northwestern Russian city of St. Petersburg on September 25, and local police were searching for her in cooperation with the Israeli consulate in the city when Gitelman made contact with her family Tuesday evening.
Poland looks to bring home ethnic Poles in central Asia
Poland’s prime minister says her government will take steps to bring in tens of thousands of ethnic Poles now living in Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
The long-neglected issue was raised recently amid heated debates over 7,000 refugees from the Middle East that Poland is to host. Critics of the European Union refugee program say Poland’s first obligation should be toward ethnic Poles expelled from their homes under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, and to their descendants.
Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said Tuesday the Cabinet will earmark 30 million zlotys ($8 million) for the “repatriation” of ethnic Poles.
Poland has already brought in a handful of families from Kazakhstan and conflict-torn eastern Ukraine.
Dozens of Israel flights delayed by Cyprus air traffic troubles
More than 30 flights face delays of over three hours at Ben Gurion Airport due to air traffic control problems in nearby Cyprus.
Flights out of Tel Aviv nearly always fly westward over the Mediterranean, taking them over Cypriot airspace, so delays in Cypriot traffic can cascade into delays for Israeli flights.
Delays are expected to continue until 7 p.m., Channel 2 reports.
Syria state media praise Putin’s UN speech
Syria’s state media praises Vladimir Putin’s speech before the UN General Assembly in which the Russian leader defended Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Syrian newspapers say the speech drew “clear outlines” for what is needed to “fight terrorism” on a global level.
In his address Monday in New York, Putin urged the world to stick with Assad, saying it was a “huge mistake” not to engage the Syrian military in the fight against the Islamic State group.
The Al-Baath daily of Assad’s ruling Baath party says the essence of the Russian plan for combating terrorism is “simple and clear.” Al-Baath adds that “the Russian step is pivotal in the history of the region and the world to prevent the expansion of devastation.”
The daily Al-Thawra says Putin entered the United Nations “from the Syrian gate,” adding that “the Russian surgeon came to fix flabbiness in the international legitimacy.”
Al-Thawra says Putin struck in his speech at “American charlatanism about fighting terrorism.”
Israeli dies from fall in Romanian mountains
A Romanian rescue official says an Israeli tourist has been killed in a fall in the Fagaras mountains in central Romania.
Nicolae Plesita, head of the Curtea de Arges mountain rescue team, says the unidentified victim is a 45-year-old Israeli man who had been trying to help a member of the group he was walking with.
The man then slipped and fell about 15 to 20 meters (50 to 66 feet), Plesita tells The Associated Press by telephone on Tuesday.
The incident happened Monday in bad weather in the Valea lui Stan area, known as a beautiful spot which is difficult to access.
Plesita says the victim was accompanied by two women and another man, all from Israel. They are rescued and questioned about the incident Tuesday morning.
In Germany, refugee housing grows overcrowded
Authorities in some parts of Germany waive housing standards to cope with an unprecedented influx of migrants this year.
An Associated Press survey finds that at least three of Germany’s 16 states have lowered their requirements for refugee shelters, including for the minimum amount of space given to each refugee. Six states had no minimum requirements or said it was up to inspectors to approve conditions on a case-by-case basis. Two didn’t respond.
Rights groups warn Tuesday that overcrowding is causing stress in refugee shelters, citing a mass brawl between up to 400 residents at one refugee tent city last weekend.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere dismisses their concerns, saying “we can’t offer any luxury and we don’t want to offer any luxury.”
New US sanctions illustrate sprawling Islamic State network
The US government announces sanctions Tuesday against 25 people and five groups connected to the Islamic State, disclosing intelligence that depicts a sprawling international organization with tentacles across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The moves by the Treasury and State departments aim at disrupting the activities of Islamic State financial, logistical and recruiting operatives who may not be suitable targets of American bombs or drone strikes. Many of them reside outside the theaters of war in Iraq and Syria.
The sanctions, the largest such effort against the Islamic State, also demonstrate how far and wide the group’s ideology has spread.
The State Department designates as foreign terrorist organizations Islamic State regional spin-offs in Russia’s Caucasus region, Algeria, Indonesia and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Among the individuals designated as terrorists was Sally Jones, a British native and the widow of an operative killed recently in an American drone strike.
The State Department also designates as terrorists three French nationals and a Russian. Russia, France and other countries cooperated with the US in supplying information that contributed to the sanctions, officials say.
King Tut’s tomb may have hidden chambers
Egypt’s antiquities minister says King Tut’s tomb may contain hidden chambers, lending support to a British Egyptologist’s theory that a queen may be buried in the walls of the 3,300 year-old pharaonic mausoleum.
Mamdouh el-Damaty said Tuesday during a visit to Luxor that he will ask for final approval for the use of radar inspection of the tomb in the famed nearby Valley of the Kings.
El-Damaty is visiting the area with Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, who recently theorized that Queen Nefertiti may be buried in the walls of the tomb.
El-Damaty says “there’s probably something” behind the walls, but that if anyone is buried there it is likely Kia, who is believed by some Egyptologists to be the mother of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, popularly known as King Tut.
US adds sweeping new sanctions on IS
The United States takes aim at the Islamic State jihadist group with 35 terror and sanctions designations targeting new IS affiliates, three French nationals and four Britons.
The broad list also includes groups and individuals from Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and other countries — a move which US officials say demonstrates the global threat the group poses.
“It’s a problem that the global community faces… it’s a problem that we all share,” says a senior official in the administration of President Barack Obama, insisting on anonymity.
The announcement comes as dozens of international leaders gather Tuesday for a summit focusing on the IS threat, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting.
The designations add 15 individuals and groups to the State Department’s official “designated global terrorist” list, and include two groups which have recently pledged loyalty to IS.
Obama meets Raul Castro in New York
US President Barack Obama meets his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro on Tuesday at the United Nations, where a day earlier both had called for an end to the American trade embargo against Havana.
The leaders of the former Cold War rivals shake hands at the start of what is their second meeting, after their historic encounter in April at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
Close neighbors but long-time foes, the United States and Cuba restored diplomatic ties in July after a five-decade stand-off.
The two countries have re-opened their embassies in each other’s capitals and are engaged in a dialogue to resolve their remaining political differences, but the economic sanctions remain.
US failing to stop most people trying to join ISIS: report
The House Homeland Security Committee says the US is failing to stop most people trying to go overseas to join terrorist groups, including the Islamic State.
In a report Tuesday, the committee says more than 250 Americans have joined or tried to join terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. It says dozens have been able to successfully return to the United States.
The committee says the government lacks a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorists and people trying to travel abroad to join terrorist groups as a so-called foreign fighter.
Terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, are also becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to recruit US citizens and other Westerners to join the fight.
Jewish history scholar named a MacArthur ‘genius’
A Princeton professor of Jewish history is one of 24 people from the arts and sciences who have won this year’s “genius grant” awards from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The prize comes with $625,000 over the next five years that can be used any way the recipient likes.
Marina Rustow, 46, is a professor at Princeton’s Department of Near Eastern Studies and Department of History.
According to the MacArthur Foundation, “Marina Rustow is a historian using the Cairo Geniza texts to shed new light on Jewish life and on the broader society of the medieval Middle East. The Cairo Geniza (or Genizah) comprises hundreds of thousands of legal documents, letters, and literary materials—many of them fragmentary—deposited in Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagogue over more than a millennium. Rustow’s approach to this archive goes beyond decoding documents, in itself a formidable task, to questioning the relationship between subjects and medieval states and asking what that relationship tells us about power and the negotiation of religious boundaries.”
— AP and Times of Israel staff
Lithuania calls Putin’s UN speech ‘neo-Stalinist’
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite on Tuesday slams her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for a speech he delivered at the United Nations General Assembly that she says was reminiscent of Soviet-era totalitarianism.
The outspoken leader of the formerly Soviet-ruled, EU state says Putin’s criticism of the West suggests he “was still living in the 20th century.”
“I would even call it a ‘neo-Stalinist’ speech when dictatorships are praised, where democracy is criticized and the West is blamed for everything,” Grybauskaite says, drawing a comparison with dictator Joseph Stalin.
“We have heard this rhetoric for almost 100 years, and nothing has changed,” she tells Lithuania’s LRT public broadcaster according to segments released by her office.
Apple sells 13 million new iPhones in 3 days
Apple says it sold more than 13 million iPhone 6s and 6s Plus phones in the three days since its iPhone launch, topping last year’s early sales mark.
Apple sold 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models during their first weekend last year. This year’s results include sales in China, which was included in the initial launch for the first time.
Apple said previously that preorders were so strong that it expected to surpass last year’s record.
PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster says results came in at the high end of his expectations for sales of 12 million to 13 million. He estimates China added about 2 million in sales.
Palestinian economy worsens for third year
The World Bank says the Palestinian economy has worsened for a third consecutive year.
In a report released Monday, the World Bank cites a number of factors, including reduced donor aid, Israeli restrictions and political instability that has deterred investors.
It also points to the failure of donors to follow through on contributions to rebuild the war-battered Gaza Strip, and a continued shortage of construction materials, despite a new international mechanism to bring in goods from Israel.
The report says the economy has been shrinking on a per capita basis since 2013. Unemployment remains high, hitting 60 percent among Gaza youths, and 25 percent of Palestinians live in poverty.
Steen Lau Jorgensen, the World Bank’s country director, says the “volatile reality increases anxiety and uncertainty” about the future.
Moscow slams US-led counterterror summit at UN
Moscow on Tuesday slams the holding of a US-led counter-terrorism summit at the United Nations, calling it disrespectful.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama sat down with more than 100 leaders at the UN to push ahead with a US-led campaign against the Islamic State group.
Russia was invited to the counter-terrorism summit but President Vladimir Putin is pushing a rival plan to create a broad UN-led coalition to fight the Islamic State jihadists.
“This initiative seriously undermines UN efforts in this direction,” Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin is quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
“The UN has its own anti-terror strategy and everything could easily be done within the UN framework.”
“But Americans would not be Americans if they did not seek to demonstrate their leadership,” Churkin says.
NATO commander warns Russia may seal off Syria airspace
NATO’s top military officer warns Russia is building an air power umbrella in Syria that may be intended to prevent Western powers from operating freely in the country.
“As we see the very capable air defense [systems] beginning to show up in Syria, we’re a little worried about another A2/AD bubble being created in the eastern Mediterranean,” NATO Allied Command Operations in Europe Supreme Allied Commander, General Philip M. Breedlove tells an audience at the German Marshall Fund Monday, the Washington Post reports.
The Post adds:
A2/AD stands for anti-access/area denial. During the early stages of warfare, A2/AD could have been a moat around a castle, or spikes dug into the ground—anything to keep the enemy off a certain swathe of territory. In the 21st century, however, A2/AD is a combination of systems such as surface-to-air missile batteries and anti-ship missiles deployed to prevent forces from entering or traversing a certain area—from land, air or sea.
According to Breedlove, the introduction of an A2/AD bubble in Syria would be Russia’s third denial zone around Europe. The first and oldest he said, was in the Baltics where the Russian naval base in Kaliningrad has robust anti-air capabilities. The second zone—originating from Russian-occupied Crimea—covers the Black Sea.
Kerry: Russia, Iran might stop Assad’s barrel bombs
US Secretary of State John Kerry suggests Russia and Iran may persuade Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad to stop indiscriminately dropping barrel bombs on his own people.
In an interview with MSNBC News on Tuesday, Kerry suggests that the cooperation might go deeper than that and that Moscow and Tehran, Assad’s staunch allies, might also help rein him in.
He says that he had discussed the matter with Iranian officials and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, whom he is to meet again this week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
“I did talk with Lavrov about it and I talked with the Iranians about it,” he says, adding: “They are both in a position, in exchange perhaps for something that we might do, they might decide to keep Assad from dropping barrel bombs.”
The top US diplomat has not said what he might offer Moscow or Tehran in exchange for halting the bombing, but his comment comes as both are being drawn into efforts to fight Islamic State.
Assad’s barrel bombs have become emblematic of the cruelty of his campaign to suppress a revolt against his rule — crude explosive devices packed with shrapnel and dropped from helicopters.
Obama says Assad must go, pushes anti-IS campaign
US President Barack Obama says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go if the Islamic State group is to be defeated, as he rallies world leaders to reinvigorate the coalition campaign against the jihadists.
A day after clashing with Russian President Vladimir Putin over how to handle the crisis in Syria, Obama hosts a counterterrorism summit at the United Nations to take stock of the one-year air war against IS fighters in Iraq and Syria.
“In Syria (…) defeating ISIL requires, I believe, a new leader,” Obama tells the gathering of some 100 leaders held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Russia snubs the meeting, sending a low-level diplomat after Putin stole the limelight with his UN speech calling for a broad coalition to fight IS that would include Syria’s army.
Arab list leader backs MK who harangued Jews on Temple Mount
Arab Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh says his party stands firmly behind a fellow Arab lawmaker who harangued Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount today.
“Our position is clear and uncompromising. The al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to the Muslims, and the only way to defend it is to continue our struggle for the end of the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the ’67 borders whose capital is East Jerusalem,” Odeh says in a statement Tuesday.
“The things my friend, MK Jamal Zahalka, said today represent the position of the entire Joint List,” he adds. “It is the government of Israel that is violating the status quo, that continues to act in the service of the settlers in what looks like a conscious attempt to incite and enflame the entire region to a religious war.”
Zahalka took to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem Tuesday morning to confront Jewish visitors to the site, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews.
“Crazy criminals, you’re all Kahanists, fascists, racists, get out of here, you hurt Muslims,” he could be seen shouting at a group of Israeli Jews in video footage of the incident.
A police officer at the scene stood between Zahalka and the group, at which point the MK told him, “Why are you letting them in? It’s a disgrace, only to hurt Muslims’ feelings. This is not yours, get out of here, go home, you’re not wanted.”
“This is my home,” Zahalka later told the group. “You need to get out of my house. You put crazies in here. You have no god.” He then told the police officer who was trying to calm him down that “you, too, have no place here.”
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