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After attack, French Jews spar over whether to lose skullcaps for safety

Marseille community head says protective measure necessary after teacher stabbed by Islamic State-inspired teen, but French chief rabbi retorts head covering should stay on

  • Benjamin Amsellem (right), a Jewish teacher stabbed on January 11, 2016, by a 15-year-old with a machete, leaves the main police headquarters in Marseille, France, on January 12, 2016. AFP/Boris Horvat)
    Benjamin Amsellem (right), a Jewish teacher stabbed on January 11, 2016, by a 15-year-old with a machete, leaves the main police headquarters in Marseille, France, on January 12, 2016. AFP/Boris Horvat)
  • Municipal workers clean outside the Blue Mosque near the site of a blast in Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet on January 12, 2016. (AFP/BULENT KILIC)
    Municipal workers clean outside the Blue Mosque near the site of a blast in Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet on January 12, 2016. (AFP/BULENT KILIC)
  • Soldiers aboard the newly arrived INS Rahav at a Haifa naval base on January 12, 2016. (Shimon Aran)
    Soldiers aboard the newly arrived INS Rahav at a Haifa naval base on January 12, 2016. (Shimon Aran)
  • Illustrative: Armed French soldiers secure the access to the 'La Source' Jewish school in Marseille, southern France, on January 12, 2016. (AFP/Boris Horvat)
    Illustrative: Armed French soldiers secure the access to the 'La Source' Jewish school in Marseille, southern France, on January 12, 2016. (AFP/Boris Horvat)
  • Turkish police block access to the Blue Mosque area on January 12, 2016 after a blast in Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet left 10 people dead. (AFP/OZAN KOSE)
    Turkish police block access to the Blue Mosque area on January 12, 2016 after a blast in Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet left 10 people dead. (AFP/OZAN KOSE)
  • Policemen secure an area at the historic Sultanahmet district, which is popular with tourists, after a suicide bombing that killed 10 in Istanbul, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
    Policemen secure an area at the historic Sultanahmet district, which is popular with tourists, after a suicide bombing that killed 10 in Istanbul, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
  • Firefighters at the scene where an apartment balcony collapsed, in central Jerusalem, on January 12, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Firefighters at the scene where an apartment balcony collapsed, in central Jerusalem, on January 12, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott, then defense minister Moshe Ya'alon, President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a welcoming ceremony for the new submarine 'Rahav' at the Israeli navy base in Haifa, on January 12, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
    IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott, then defense minister Moshe Ya'alon, President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a welcoming ceremony for the new submarine 'Rahav' at the Israeli navy base in Haifa, on January 12, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Erdogan: Attack was suicide bombing by Syrian

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says in a pubic statement that the Istanbul attack that killed at least 10 people and wounded 15 more was carried out by a suicide bomber of Syrian origin.

Erdogan says in televised remarks that both Turks and foreigners are among the dead. He does not provide details.

— Agencies

Germany: Stay away from Istanbul tourist sites

Germany is warning its citizens to avoid crowds and tourist sites in Istanbul after 10 people were killed and 15 wounded in a suspected terrorist attack in Turkey’s largest city.

“Travelers in Istanbul are strongly urged to avoid for now large groups of people in public places as well as tourist attractions” and to stay informed via official travel advisories and the media, the foreign ministry says.

The ministry on its website warns of possible “political tensions as well as violent clashes and terrorist attacks across the country,” adding that tourists should avoid large demonstrations.

It tells AFP later that it could not be ruled out that German nationals were hurt in the Turkish attack and said crisis teams at the ministry in Berlin and the consulate in Istanbul are working to establish the facts.

— AFP

Palestinian killed in clash with troops near Jerusalem — report

Palestinian sources report that a Bethlehem-area man has been shot dead in clashes with Israeli troops.

The Ma’an news agency reports that Srour Ahmad Abu Srour, 21, was shot with a live round during a confrontation with soldiers in Beit Jala, outside Jerusalem.

He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

There is no Israeli confirmation of the report.

Attacker shot dead during attempted stabbing near Hebron

A suspect has been shot dead while attempting to stab a soldier in the West Bank near Hebron, according to initial reports.

Police say the suspect tried to stab a soldier near the Beit Anun junction, in the southern West Bank, without offering details.

The attacker was shot and died at the scene, according to media reports.

 

EU backs Turkey against terror after blast

The European Union says it stands with Turkey in the fight “against all forms of terrorism” after the explosion in the heart of Istanbul.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says both sides “must step up our efforts to counter extremist violence” and notes that this had been set as a priority at a November EU-Turkey summit in Brussels.

— AP

Jewish victim of France attack says stabber wanted to behead him

The Jewish teacher stabbed by a 15-year-old in the southern French city of Marseille believes the teen, an ethnic Kurd, wanted to decapitate him, his lawyer says.

The teenager, who told police he was acting in the name of the Islamic State group, stabbed the 35-year-old teacher in the shoulder and hand in the attack, which took place in broad daylight on Monday.

The teacher’s lawyer, Fabrice Labi, says his client had told him: “I had the feeling he wanted to decapitate me.”

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin says the weapon was blunt, which helped limit the damage. The teacher was released from hospital on Monday night.

“I told him to stop hitting me but he kept going and I didn’t think I would get out alive,”, the teacher told La Provence newspaper, adding he had seen “hatred… in the eyes of the attacker.”

The teacher was wearing a skull cap and used his Torah as a shield to fend off the assailant.

— AFP

IDF: Palestinian attacker killed near Hebron

The IDF confirms in a statement that the attacker near Hebron was killed.

It identifies the assailant as a “Palestinian armed with a knife” who tried to stab a soldier.

“Responding to the imminent threat, forces at the scene fired towards the assailant, resulting in his death,” the IDF says.

Bosnian jihadi suspects seized with weapons, IS flag

Authorities in Sarajevo say four suspected Bosnian jihadists are in custody following their arrest and the seizure of a cache of weapons along with an Islamic State flag.

One of the four, 22-year-old Senad Kostac, was detained in Turkey on the road to Syria and handed over to Bosnian authorities, reads a prosecutor’s statement.

The other three, aged 26, 27 and 55, were arrested in Kostac’s village of Velika Kladusa in northwestern Bosnia, accused of “trying to join a foreign paramilitary unit”.

During a police raid, several hand grenades, landmines, a machine gun, various bullets and a flag of the Islamic State group were seized.

According to local media, the brother of one of the three arrested in Velika Kladusa died in January last year at the Syrian front.

— AFP

Two injured in Jerusalem balcony collapse

Two people are being treated for light injuries after a second-story balcony collapsed in central Jerusalem.

The two victims are identified as a woman, 25, and a man, 65.

Fire fighters at the scene where an apartment balcony collapsed, in central Jerusalem, on January 12, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Firefighters at the scene where an apartment balcony collapsed in central Jerusalem, on January 12, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Both fell approximately five meters (15 feet) after the balcony on a historic stone building on Agron Street in the center of the capital collapsed.

The cause of the incident is being investigated.

Politicians cheer as newest submarine arrives

The fifth member of Israel’s burgeoning submarine fleet, the INS Rahav, has arrived at the port of Haifa, feted with a brass-studded celebration.

At the ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the INS Rahav, which according to foreign reports is nuclear capable, will be a key part of the country’s strategy of defensive deterrence.

“Above all else, our submarine fleet acts as a deterrent to our enemies who want to destroy us. They won’t achieve their aims,” he says. “They need to know that Israel can hit, with great might, anyone who tries to harm it.”

The prime minister adds that Israel is fighting threats in the air, on the ground, under the ground, in cyberspace, in outer space, and underwater.”

Soldiers aboard the newly arrived INS Rahav at a Haifa naval base on January 12, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson)

Soldiers aboard the newly arrived INS Rahav at a Haifa naval base on January 12, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson)

President Reuven Rivlin, also at the ceremony, says the sub will be an important part of fighting the country’s future wars.

“In the decades to come, the INS Rahav will take an active part in defending the country and its maritime territory, by acting deeper, further and longer underwater,” he says. “Seeing without being seen. Keeping a watchful eye and projecting our operational abilities on the naval front.”

 

Next submarine to be named after sunken Dakar

The next submarine to join Israel’s fleet will be named the INS Dakar, naval chief Ram Rothberg tells the Haifa ceremony, after an Israeli submarine that sank in the Mediterranean in 1968.

The Dakar was en route from Scotland to Israel when it sank with 69 Israeli sailors aboard. It was only found in 1999, between Crete and Cyprus.

The episode remains a deeply painful one for the state, as well as a mystery, with a conclusive theory on why it sank never set.

A number of memorials for the sub exist around the country, as well as streets named after it.

The Israel Navy's Dakar (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

The Israel Navy’s Dakar (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The new sub, slated to arrive in Israel from Germany next year, will also be fitted with a memorial to the soldiers.

Israelis attacked, called ‘dirty Arabs,’ in Dresden

Two Israeli students have been attacked in the German city of Dresden, after apparently being mistaken for Arab refugees, Israel’s Channel 10 News reports.

A group of six attackers called the two “dirty Arabs,” according to the report. The pair managed to escape and the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

Dresden has been at the center of simmering anti-migrant anger in Germany.

On Saturday, thousands of far-right protesters from the xenophobic German PEGIDA group took to the city’s streets chanting “Merkel out” and waving placards with slogans like “Rapefugees not welcome,” venting their fury Saturday against migrants after mass sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve.

Amid clashes with police, the far-right protesters took aim at Chancellor Angela Merkel, accusing her of allowing migrants to run amok through her liberal stance towards those fleeing war.

Tensions escalated when followers of the movement — about half of them violence-prone hooligans, according to police — marched and hurled beer bottles and fire crackers at police, screaming “Where were you on New Year’s Eve?”

Riot police beat back the agitated protesters with batons, teargas and water cannon in clashes that left three police and one journalist injured and in which police detained multiple demonstrators.

— with AFP

Most victims of Istanbul attack are German, Turkey says

Most of the victims of a suicide bombing in Istanbul on Tuesday that killed 10 were German, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davotoglu has told German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Turkish media.

Earlier, Merkel said German nationals were “probably” among the victims

“We don’t have all the information yet… but we fear that German citizens could be and probably are also among the victims and injured,” she told reporters.

Merkel said members of a German tour group were among the likely casualties and that German officials were working with their Turkish counterparts to determine the identities of the victims and offer assistance to their loved ones.

Merkel said the latest attack would deepen German resolve to combat international terrorism.

— with AFP

Swedish foreign minister orders probe into deaths of Palestinians

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has ordered an investigation into whether Israel carried out extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, Swedish media reports, according to Reuters.

“It is vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability,” Wallstrom said during a parliamentary debate according to Reuters, quoting local media source TT.

There was no immediate reaction from Jerusalem.

Margot Wallström, Sweden's Minister of Foreign Affairs, in her office on October 31, 2014, in Stockholm. (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in her office on October 31, 2014, in Stockholm. (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

In December, Netanyahu phoned Swedish counterpart Stefan Löfven to complain about comments Wallstrom made accusing Israel of killing Palestinians unlawfully.

Speaking to the Swedish parliament, she said at the time Israel’s response to a wave of Palestinian stabbings and car-ramming attacks was “disproportionate,” and seemed to suggest the deaths of many attackers during their terror attacks were tantamount to “extrajudicial executions.”

The Foreign Ministry in Stockholm issued a clarification of Wallstrom’s remarks following that row, arguing that they had been misinterpreted.

“The foreign minister never said that Israel is carrying out extrajudicial executions,” said Wallstrom’s office. “The foreign minister made a general statement about international law and the right to self-defense, and the importance of proportionality and judiciousness. She was referring to both sides.”

A joint statement by Löfven and Wallstrom also charged that her comments were misrepresented. “The Minister for Foreign Affairs did not, as alleged, say that extrajudicial executions occur in Israel,” read the statement.

Sweden has been among the countries most critical of Israel’s handling of the conflict with the Palestinians. Following the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris, in which terrorists killed 130 people, Wallstrom asserted that the attacks were rooted in the frustration of Muslims in the Middle East, including that of Palestinians.

Sweden recognized the state of Palestine on October 30, 2014, a move that was widely criticized by Israel.

Wallstrom says she is friend of Israel and Palestine

Wallstrom’s comments came during a question-answer period in parliament, after being challenged by lawmaker Jan Bjorklund over her perceived anti-Israel stance, Swedish media outlet Valrden Idag reports.

Wallstrom denied she is unbalanced toward Israel, saying Sweden is a friend both to Israel and to Palestine, according to the report.

During the debate, Bjorklund accused Wallstrom of complicating Stockholm’s ties with Jerusalem by recognizing Palestine.

Turkey: Nine German nationals among attack victims

A senior Turkish government official says at least nine of the victims of Tuesday’s suicide bombing in Istanbul’s historic district are German nationals.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of Turkish rules that bar officials from speaking to journalists without authorization.

The official did not have information on the other victim. It is unclear whether the death toll includes the bomber.

— AP

Far-left activist Nawi accused of making contact with a foreign agent

Far-left activist Ezra Nawi is being accused by police of making contact with a foreign agent, a day after being arrested while trying to leave the country.

Nawi sparked a political furor after being filmed saying he helps the Palestinian Authority track down Palestinians who sell land to Jews for punishment or execution, in a segment aired on an investigative TV program last week.

Police at an arraignment hearing requested Nawi be ordered to remain in prison for at least 10 days, according to Haaretz.

Other details of the investigation remain under gag order.

Iranian fighter jet crashes, killing 2

An Iranian F-4 Phantom fighter jet crashed during training exercises near the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, killing both pilots, state television reports.

State TV quotes a local security official as saying the plane had crashed about 65 kilometers (40 miles) from the city of Konarak in Iran’s southern Sistan-Baluchistan province.

“Unfortunately a military training aircraft crashed today due to technical problems,” killing the pilot and co-pilot, Ali Asghar Mirshekari, the provincial deputy security chief, tells the channel.

— AFP

Four charged in beating death of Eritran man during terror attack

Four people, including a soldier and an officer in Israel’s prison service, have been charged in the beating death of an Eritrean national mistaken for a terrorist during an attack in Be’ersheba last year, Channel 2 reports.

Haftom Zarhum, 29, died of his wounds on October 19, 2015, a day after he was shot and beaten by a mob that mistook him for an assailant in the terror attack in Beersheba on October 18 in which IDF soldier Omri Levy, 19, was killed. (Courtesy)

Haftom Zarhum, 29, died of his wounds on October 19, 2015, a day after he was shot and beaten by a mob that mistook him for an assailant in the terror attack in Beersheba on October 18 in which IDF soldier Omri Levy, 19, was killed. (Courtesy)

Despite the fact that Haftom Zarhum died after being shot and beaten, the four were charged with aggravated assault and not manslaughter or murder.

Zarhum was shot by responding forces during a deadly October 18 shooting attack at the Be’ersheba bus station, after being mistaken for the attacker. As he lay bleeding on the ground, a crowd of people kicked him, threw metal benches on him and kept an ambulance from reaching him.

A doctor later said the beating likely contributed to his death.

French Jewish politician found beaten to death

The body of French Jewish politician from a Paris suburb has been found severely beaten.

Alain Ghozland, 73, a municipal counsilor in Creteil, is believed to have been murdered, but police have no leads in the investigation into his death, French media reports. Police say they are not ruling out any avenues of investigation, and are awaiting an autopsy .

Ghozland’s body was found Tuesday morning after his brother called police because Alain Ghozland failed to show up at their synagogue, as he usually does each morning, the news channel RTL reported.

Ghozland’s apartment was ransacked, possibly by the intruders, with bank cards and other valuables missing, according to police.

Creteil, about seven miles from the heart of Paris, was the site of a rape and robbery committed in December 2014 against a Jewish couple by robbers who said they were targeted because they were Jews.

— with JTA

Istanbul bombing work of Islamic State, Turkey says

The Istanbul suicide bombing that left 10 people dead, mostly Germans, was carried out by a jihadist from the Islamic State extremist group, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says.

“We have determined that the perpetrator of the attack is a foreigner who is a member of Daesh,” Davutoglu says in Ankara, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

Municipal workers clean outside the Blue Mosque near the site of a blast in Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet on January 12, 2016. (AFP/BULENT KILIC)

Municipal workers clean outside the Blue Mosque near the site of a blast in Istanbul’s tourist hub of Sultanahmet on January 12, 2016. (AFP/BULENT KILIC)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier confirmed the bomber was of Syrian origin.

— AFP

Video shows officials checking out new sub

Video from the ceremony to welcome Israel’s newest submarine shows large crowds and top official on hand to greet the INS Rahav.

Netanyahu is seen going down a ladder to check out the multibillion dollar piece of hardware and then emerging shortly after.

The prime minister fares considerably better than in 2009, when he nearly took a dip in the ocean while descending onto a dingy during another ceremony.

Israel says Swedish foreign minister’s comments help terror

Israel’s Foreign Ministry is accusing top Swedish diplomat Margot Wallstrom of giving support to terrorism, after she called for a probe into possible extrajudicial killings by Israel during the current round of violence with the Palestinians.

“With this irresponsible and delusional statement the Swedish Foreign minister gives backing to terrorism and thus promotes violence,” the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Wallstrom said at a parliament debate that an investigation was needed to clarify if Israel had killed Palestinians without cause.

The comment came as she defended a statement she made in December, seemingly accusing Israel of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, for which she was widely pilloried by officials in Jerusalem at the time.

— with Raphael Ahren

Palestinians to go after AirBnB over settlement offerings

Palestinian officials are pledging to take action against Airbnb over rooms for rent in settlements in the West Bank being listed on the website as located within Israel.

Dozens of Jewish settlers advertise their homes for rent in a number of locations across the West Bank.

Husam Zomlot, ambassador at large for the Palestinian government, says it is seeking an immediate change of policy from the company.

“Certainly we will take further action. This is strikingly illegal,” he tells AFP, accusing the company of “illegally profiting from occupation”.

An AirBNB listing in the settlement of Kfar Adumim, accessed on January 12, 2016. (Screen capture: AirBnB)

An AirBNB listing in the settlement of Kfar Adumim, accessed on January 12, 2016. (Screen capture: AirBnB)

“Such acts by international firms and the private sector have been a main contributor to the continuity and escalation of the situation.”

US-based Airbnb declines an interview, providing only a short statement.

“We follow laws and regulations on where we can do business and investigate concerns raised about specific listings,” it says.

— AFP

Marseilles Jews told to lose skullcaps in wake of attack

Jews in Marseilles are being warned not to wear skullcaps, a day after a Jewish man wearing one was attacked by an Islamic State-inspired teen wielding a machette in the French city.

Zvi Ammar, who leads the Jewish community there, says Jews should avoid wearing religious garb in public “until better days.”

Benjamin Amsellem,right, a Jewish teacher stabbed the day before by a 15-year-old with a machete, leaves the main police headquarters in Marseille, southeastern France, on January 12, 2016. AFP/BORIS HORVAT)

Benjamin Amsellem,right, a Jewish teacher stabbed the day before by a 15-year-old with a machete, leaves the main police headquarters in Marseille, southeastern France, on January 12, 2016. AFP/BORIS HORVAT)

He says the exceptional nature of the attack, in which teacher Benjamin Amsallem was stabbed and fought off his attacker with a Torah, calls for the extraordinary measure, saying life is sacred and must be protected at all costs.

— with AFP

Syrian troops reported to retake key Alawite town

Syria’s official news agency says the army has seized “full control” of a strategic rebel-held town in the northwestern province of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar Assad.

SANA says army units backed by pro-government militiamen from the National Defense Forces captured Salma on Tuesday.

Salma is in the mountains of Latakia province and is predominantly inhabited by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

The SANA report cannot be immediately confirmed. If true, the development would mark a significant military victory for Syrian troops.

Opposition activists earlier reported fierce clashes between Syrian pro-government troops and insurgents in and around Salma.

— AP

Israel being taken to US court over flotilla injuries

Three Americans and a Belgian are suing Israel in US court for injuries sustained when Israeli naval commandos turned back a flotilla attempting to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Washington, the Washington Post reported.

The plaintiffs were aboard the US-flagged Challenger 1, one of the six ships in a May 2010 flotilla that was said to be carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza Palestinians but had a stated goal of breaking the Gaza blockade.

According to the suit, the plaintiffs suffered injuries including partial loss of sight from a stun grenade and a broken nose from a rubber bullet.

The Challenger 1 was carrying media equipment and 17 passengers and crew members, according to the Post.

The Mavi Marmara being tugged out of Haifa harbor long after the raid (photo credit: Herzl Shapira/Flash 90)

The Mavi Marmara is tugged out of Haifa harbor long after the raid (photo credit: Herzl Shapira/Flash 90)

Nine Turks and a Turkish-American were killed on another ship, the Mavi Marmara, during a melee as commandos raided the ship.

The plaintiffs are Americans David Schermerhorn and Mary Ann Wright, a retired US diplomat; a dual US-Israeli citizen, Huwaida Arraf, and Belgian national Margriet Deknopper.

— JTA

Liberal group MoveOn throws weight behind Sanders

The liberal activist movement MoveOn.org endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, handing the Vermont senator important grassroots support in the early primary states.

Nearly 79 percent of 340,665 members casting votes selected Sanders, an Independent, over the other candidates for the Democratic nod, Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former secretary of state who is the front-runner in national polls, and Martin O’Malley, a former Maryland governor.

The endorsement could boost Sanders, 74, ahead of the first primary states, where the Jewish lawmaker is competitive with Clinton, despite trailing her in national polls.

“MoveOn will mobilize in support of Sanders with initial focus on turning out 43,000 Iowa and 30,000 New Hampshire MoveOn members — early states where polling shows a neck-and-neck race just weeks out,” the organization said Tuesday in a statement.

Defeating Clinton in the early primaries could convert Sanders, a Social Democrat, from a long shot into a serious contender.

— JTA

Tzipi Livni: Sweden should mind its own business

Opposition MK Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister, speaks out against comments by Sweden’s Margot Wallstrom calling for a probe into possible ‘extrajudicial’ killings of Palestinians, saying Israel won’t accept international intruding in its business.

“We won’t accept any comparison between our security forces fighting against terror and terrorists,” she says at a speech at Tel Aviv University, according to news site Walla. “Israel has a moral army and strong judicial system, and therefore there’s no chance we will accept Sweden or any other country meddling in our internal affairs.”

Iran to sell heavy water from Arak to US — official

Iran will sell part of its stock of heavy water to the United States under its nuclear deal with world powers, its deputy atomic chief says.

“Iran will sell 40 tons of its excess heavy water to the United States through a third country,” Zarean, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, is quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

Iran's heavy-water nuclear facility is backdropped by mountains near the central city of Arak, Iran, on January 15, 2011. (AP/ISNA, Hamid Foroutan, File)

Iran’s heavy-water nuclear facility is backdropped by mountains near the central city of Arak, Iran, on January 15, 2011. (AP/ISNA, Hamid Foroutan, File)

“Six tons of the exported heavy water will be used in nuclear facilities and the rest in American research centers,” he says.

Iran has a heavy water production plant in its Arak nuclear site, which has been operating for several years.

— AFP

EU anti-Semitism czar to focus on online hate speech

The new European Union coordinator to combat anti-Semitism says among her top priorities will be to tackle the spike of hate speech on the Internet and to make sure European states properly enforce legislation on hate crime.

Katharina von Schnurbein presented her goals in Prague on Tuesday to her counterparts from member states, the US and Israel.

Von Schnurbein was appointed recently after Jewish groups and some others were urging the EU to create such a position to help stop the rising hatred of Jews on the continent.

She says she will also hold consultations with Jewish communities across Europe on the current situation.

U.S. envoy Ira Forman called Von Schnurbein’s appointment and the Prague meeting “an extremely good sign.”

— AP

Liberman: Swedish FM one step away from stabbing Jews

Avigdor Liberman, another opposition lawmaker who previously served as foreign minister, leaves little room for doubt in his response to Sweden’s Margot Wallstrom over her call for a probe into possible ‘extrajudicial’ killings by Israel.

“The only thing the foreign minister of Sweden hasn’t done is physically joined the Palestinian terrorists and stabbed Jews,” he writes on Twitter. “Given her management so far, we need to hope it won’t happen.”

French chief rabbi calls to keep kippas on

Haim Korsia, the chief rabbi of France, has rejected a call by the leader of Marseille’s Jewish community for Jews in the city to stop wearing skullcaps to avoid being targeted by extremists.

“We should not give an inch, we should continue wearing the kippa,” says Korsia, reacting to a call by a Jewish community leader in Marseille, which has witnessed a string of attacks on Jews.

— AFP

Obama to meet Jordan’s Abdullah in coming months

President Barack Obama and Jordan’s King Abdullah plan to meet in the next few months, an official says, amid questions about why they did not hold talks in Washington this week.

“A meeting with the president will be arranged during an upcoming visit, likely to take place within the coming month or two,” a Jordanian official tells AFP.

Obama did not host close ally Abdullah — who is currently in Washington — at the White House this week because of scheduling problems, aides say.

“The president regrets that he is unable to meet with him personally on this visit due to scheduling conflicts, including the State of the Union address,” a White House spokesperson says.

— AFP

Israel joins world in condemning N. Korea over disputed H-bomb test

Nearly a week after North Korea said it tested a nuclear weapon, and as the international community has increasingly cast doubt that the country managed to detonate a hydrogen bomb, Israel has condemned Pyongyang.

“Israel condemns North Korea’s nuclear test, and joins the international community in expressing concern of the danger that this act poses to regional stability and international peace and security,” the foreign ministry says in a statement. ” This act by the DPRK must be met with a swift response by the international community. A clear message must be sent to the DPRK and to other countries, that such activities are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”

World powers are looking for ways to punish the North over its disputed bomb test, which, even if not of a hydrogen bomb, still likely pushes Pyongyang closer to its goal of a nuclear-armed missile that can reach the US mainland.

North Korea says its nuclear test was not intended to be a provocation or threat, but laid out plans for a weapons system capable of obliterating the entire United States Tuesday.

A lengthy commentary by the official KCNA news agency underlined the North’s claim that last Wednesday’s test was of a powerful miniaturized hydrogen bomb which marked a “new high stage” in the country’s search for a credible nuclear deterrent.

Experts have largely dismissed the claim, saying the test yield was far too low for a full-fledged thermonuclear device and was similar to the simple fission implosion devices it has tested three times in the past.

Outside experts say the yield from Wednesday’s test was around six kilotons, while an H-bomb would have been at least 100 times more powerful.

— with Raphael Ahren and agencies

French Jewish leader says no kippa call ‘defeatist’

Roger Cukierman, the head of France’s umbrella grouping of Jewish organizations, CRIF, has joined France’s chief rabbi in deflecting a call for Marseille Jews to lose their skullcaps, saying it reflects “a defeatist attitude.”

The warning by Marseille Jewish leader Zvi Ammar came the day after an attack in broad daylight on Jewish teacher Benjamin Ansellem, who was wearing a skullcap and carrying a Torah.

Ansellem’s wife Mazal says her husband has already decided not to wear a skullcap “and encourages the community to do the same, not because he is afraid or ashamed to be Jewish, quite the contrary, but for security.”

“We have to hide ourselves a little bit,” he tells AFP, adding that making such an appeal made him “sick to the stomach.”

Monday’s attack by a 15-year-old Turkish Kurd was the third on Jews in recent months in Marseille, which counts some 70,000 Jews in a population of 855,000, making it the second largest Jewish population in France after Paris.

— AFP

 

 

Court to sentence 2 suspects in Abu Khdeir killing

A Jerusalem court on Wednesday is to hold a sentencing hearing in the case of two young Jewish men convicted last year of the kidnap and murder of a Palestinian teenager.

The two were minors at the time of the chilling 2014 attack in which they snatched Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, from an East Jerusalem street and subsequently burned him alive.

They cannot be identified, by court order, and Wednesday’s deliberations, due to begin at 2:30 p.m. (12:30 GMT), are to be held behind closed doors.

Yosef Haim Ben-David, 31, is said to have led the attack on Abu Khdeir. But his lawyers say he suffers from a mental illness and was not responsible for his actions at the time.

The court has found that he committed the crime, but is yet to rule if he is mentally competent. Justice officials say he will not be in court on Wednesday.

AFP

The parents and sister of Muhammed Abu Khdeir attend the Jerusalem District Court during the trial discussion on the murder of Abu Khdeir, on June 8, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The parents and sister of Muhammed Abu Khdeir attend the Jerusalem District Court during the trial discussion on the murder of Abu Khdeir, on June 8, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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Next submarine to be named after sunken Dakar

The next submarine to join Israel’s fleet will be named the INS Dakar, naval chief Ram Rothberg tells the Haifa ceremony, after an Israeli submarine that sank in the Mediterranean in 1968.

The Dakar was en route from Scotland to Israel when it sank with 69 Israeli sailors aboard. It was only found in 1999, between Crete and Cyprus.

The episode remains a deeply painful one for the state, as well as a mystery, with a conclusive theory on why it sank never set.

A number of memorials for the sub exist around the country, as well as streets named after it.

The Israel Navy's Dakar (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The Israel Navy’s Dakar (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The new sub, slated to arrive in Israel from Germany next year, will also be fitted with a memorial to the soldiers.