The Times of Israel is liveblogged Monday’s developments as they unfolded.
Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director for Human Rights Watch since October 2016, must leave the country after Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a deportation order earlier this month following a long legal battle.
The court ordered him out of the country over his alleged support for a boycott, under a controversial 2017 law.
On Sunday, Shakir slammed the decision.
“We’re talking about a half-century-long occupation defined by systematic repression and institutional discrimination,” Shakir told The Associated Press. “That requires important, urgent work, and it’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to do it on the ground, but we won’t stop doing it.”
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said Israel was joining a “fairly ugly group of governments,” including Iran, Egypt and Venezuela, that have barred its researchers.
“They all thought that if you can somehow silence the messenger, you can then silence Human Rights Watch. It didn’t work out. We find ways to cover these countries even if our researcher is not able to be on the ground, and we’ll do the same thing with Israel,” he says.
— with AP
A few hours before boarding a plane to Sweden, deported human rights activist Shakir vows to continue and even intensify his work to highlight what he claims are widespread human rights violations in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Shakir, who directs the Israel/Palestine department at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said he will spend the next few days briefing various European governments about his case, and will ultimately return to the region to continue his work. Despite his Israeli visa having been revoked he will remain in his current position, though he will be working from Amman, Jordan.
“Today marks the culmination of a multi-year effort to muzzle Human Rights Watch and to muzzle the human rights movement more broadly,” he says at a press conference in East Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel.
— Raphael Ahren
Iran on Monday rejects a US court order for Tehran to pay $180 million in damages to a Washington Post reporter for jailing him on espionage charges.
Jason Rezaian spent 544 days in an Iranian prison before he was released in January 2016 in exchange for seven Iranians held in the United States.
On Friday, a US district court judge ordered damages be paid to Rezaian and his family in compensation for pain and suffering as well as economic losses.
The Iranian foreign ministry’s spokesman describes the journalist’s decision to seek damages as “strange.”
“Mr Jason Rezaian… was a security convict and the Islamic Republic of Iran commuted his (sentence of maximum punishment) to imprisonment,” says spokesman Abbas Mousavi.
“He was pardoned and despite having an open case… he was released,” Mousavi tells a news conference in Tehran.
“For him to go there and lodge a complaint and for American courts to lavishly determine such figures” was a course of action that Iran “rejects,” says Mousavi.
“This was a favor that the Islamic Republic of Iran did for him,” he says, adding that he could have been kept behind bars and punished more severely.
Mousavi says Iran could itself take similar legal action against the United States, without elaborating.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum has reached 1 million followers on social media and is hailing that milestone as it works to educate the world about the crimes committed by Nazi forces during World War II.
The memorial is located in southern Poland, which was under German occupation during the war. The state-run institution says the number of followers worldwide that it has on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined hit 1 million Monday.
Pawel Sawicki, a museum official who runs the social media accounts, credits celebrities and media figures for helping to spread word about its education mission.
He notes that Mark Hamill, the American actor who played Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” films, once tweeted: “It may be difficult, but @AuschwitzMuseum is the most important account I’ve ever followed.”
A Russian court will hear the appeal of an Israeli-American backpacker sentenced to 7.5 years after some 10 grams of marijuana were found in her luggage on a stopover in Russia.
Naama Issachar’s hearing is scheduled for December 12, reports say.
Police have carried out a cyber attack on a global scale against online propaganda outlets of the Islamic State extremist group, Belgian prosecutors say Monday.
The operation began as part of a Belgian judicial probe of Amaq, the media agency of the banned jihadist group, and involved international officers from Europol.
Federal prosecution spokesman Eric van der Sypt confirms the operation to AFP but he could not give a detailed breakdown of sites and accounts targeted.
“We’ve knocked them down for the moment,” he says. “But we’re not naive. A first cyberattack in 2018 didn’t stop them from bouncing back.”
Officers plan to reveal more about the operation at a news conference later in the day at Europol’s HQ in the neighboring Netherlands, he said.
Belgian agents were involved in a wave of cyberattacks against Amaq last year, but the spokesman admitted they had been surprised by how quick the sources returned.
In March 2016 the Belgian capital Brussels was hit in a double suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State that left 32 people dead.
Thousands of supporters of Iran’s government converge on a square in the capital Tehran to condemn days of “rioting” that the Islamic Republic blames on its foreign foes.
Waving the Iranian flag and banners that read “Death to America,” they march from all directions toward Tehran’s Enghelab (Revolution) Square.
In a shock announcement 10 days ago, Iran had raised the price of petrol by up to 200 percent, triggering nationwide protests in a country whose economy has been battered by US sanctions.
Officials say the demonstrations turned violent because of the intervention of “thugs” backed by royalists and Iran’s enemies — the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
AFP correspondents say the square is filling up quickly with young and old, including clerics carrying portraits of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
State television shows live footage of people gathered for the demonstration.
The rally is to be addressed by Major General Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which helped put down the unrest.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictments must be ruled on in the courts, implying he would not support efforts for the Knesset to grant Netanyahu parliamentary immunity.
“I hope that at the end of this process the prime minister will come out clean as snow but the only place for that to happen is in court,” Liberman says at the opening of his party’s faction meeting in the Knesset.
From the moment Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit informs Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of his decision to indict the prime minister, expected in the coming days, Netanyahu has 30 days to decide whether he wants to ask the Knesset for parliamentary immunity.
— Raoul Wootliff
Liberman, speaking at his Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting, calls on President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to take active steps to prevent third elections by lobbying MKs to accept a unity government.
“I ask that the Knesset speaker and and president bring all the 120 MKs into a room and to sit with them until white smoke comes out,” he says.
— Raoul Wootliff
The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, threatens to “destroy” Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia if the countries violate Iran’s “red lines.”
“We have shown restraint … we have shown patience towards the hostile moves of America, the Zionist regime and Saudi Arabia against the Islamic Republic of Iran … but we will destroy them if they cross our red lines,” he says, according to Reuters.
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make every effort to prevent violence at tomorrow’s pro-Netanyahu rally called in response to last week’s announcement of indictments against the premier.
“In a democracy, the freedom to protest and to express your opinions is central and must be protected. But I call on Netanyahu and all the participants to protect and preserve the rule of law and to do everything they can to avoid and prevent the use of any violence whatsoever,” Gantz says, speaking at the opening of his faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem.
Gantz says that Netanyahu is “dragging the country to new elections” in order to protect himself from the criminal charges against him.
“He is again trying to bring us to elections for one reason: his legal situation,” the Blue and White chairman charges.
Speaking after Gantz, Lapid accuses Netanyahu of inciting violence in his efforts to denounce the indictments.
“Avichai Mandelblit has personal security. The state prosecutor, Shai Nitzan, has personal security. Taxation and economic crimes prosecutor Liat Ben Ari has personal security. They are facing death threats. There’s no question what the reason is, it’s clear. Netanyahu is inciting against them. They need security because otherwise his people will hurt them. That’s what we’ve come to,” Lapid says.
Lapid continues: “He lost the election. He has three serious indictments. He’s inciting to violence. In what country in the world could a person like that stay even one day in office?”
— Raoul Wootliff
A Jordanian diplomat says that Ghassan Majali, Jordan’s ambassador to Israel, has returned to Tel Aviv.
Jordan recalled Majali in late October to protest Israel’s detainment of two Jordanian nationals.
“The ambassador returned on November 12, 2019,” the diplomat, who works at the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv, writes in an email to The Times of Israel.
Israel held Heba al-Labadi, 32, and Abdel Rahman Miri, 29, for approximately two months under administrative detention, but returned them to Jordan just over a week after Amman recalled Majali.
Administrative detention is a measure that allows Israel to detain suspects for months at a time without charging them or presenting details of the accusations against them.
Raslan Mahajna, Labadi and Miri’s lawyer, has said Israeli authorities had suspected Labadi and Miri of maintaining ties to terror groups. He said both of his clients denied the suspicions.
— Adam Rasgon
Ukraine’s top diplomat condemns swastika vandalism on a monument to prominent Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem outside Kyiv’s synagogue.
In a tweet, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko denounces the anti-Semitic act as “disgusting, appalling and in need of prompt investigation.”
Israeli Ambassador Joel Lion tweets that “Ukraine has to wake up,” urging authorities to track down the culprits, bring them to justice and also “educate against hatred.”
— with AP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urges Arab countries to engage with Israel for the sake of regional stability.
“It’s time for Arab countries to abandon boycotts and engage #Israel. #MiddleEast divisions = instability. Arab thinkers who risk their lives to bravely advocate a regional vision of peace and coexistence shouldn’t face retribution. We need dialogue,” he says.
He shares an article on a new Arab group that has called for an end to the boycott of Israel.
It’s time for Arab countries to abandon boycotts and engage #Israel. #MiddleEast divisions = instability. Arab thinkers who risk their lives to bravely advocate a regional vision of peace and coexistence shouldn’t face retribution. We need dialogue. https://t.co/1iBo1WQcWX
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 25, 2019
The clothing items of Israeli women murdered by their partners are on display at the Tel Aviv municipality, in an exhibit timed with International Day to End Violence against Women.
The exhibit, titled “She’s Gone,” comes as 13 Israeli women were killed by family members in 2019, including three in the last month. Some 163 women were murdered in the past 14 years, according to Channel 12.
Human Right Watch Israel/Palestine director Omar Shakir arrives at Ben Gurion Airport ahead of his deportation from the country.
He is accompanied by anti-occupation activists who come to see him off.
An Iranian man who ran an opposition social media site was gunned down earlier this month in Istanbul, local media reports on Monday.
Massoud Molavi, said to be in his mid-30s, was murdered on the street while walking with a friend in the Sisli district of Istanbul on November 14, according to the DHA news agency.
Bullet casings were found at the scene. CCTV footage, released by another agency, IHA, appeared to show the moment of the killing.
Molavi helped run a channel on Telegram called Black Box, which published corruption allegations against members of the government, judiciary and intelligence services, and claimed to have contacts within the Revolutionary Guards.
Turkish police tell DHA that investigations were ongoing, and that they have no information at present on Molavi’s background.
Iran’s intelligence services are known to have a sizable presence in neighboring Turkey, where many exiled Iranians live, and many more come on vacation.
A British Jewish man meets the Muslim woman who came to his defense on the London underground when a passenger launched an anti-Semitic diatribe.
The man, who does not want to be identified, says he is “extremely grateful” to Asma Shuweikh, 36, the Jewish News reports.
“We are certain that without her intervention and distraction, he would have continued his abuse which could have escalated to physical violence,” he says.
“This Tube journey has left me with mixed feelings about society,” he adds. “On the one hand my wife, my children and I were subject to vile abuse in a full Tube carriage. However, I am grateful for those who stood up for me.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says efforts to build a unity government of Likud and Blue and White are ongoing.
But sources in the centrist party deny there are any open channels.
“We still have a mission to build a unity government,” Netanyahu says in a meeting with mayors. “The contacts haven’t stopped, they’re ongoing. This [a unity government] is necessary for reasons I can’t discuss.”
Sources in Blue and White tell the Ynet news site no such talks are being held.
Israel appears set for a third round of elections in a year after both Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz failed to form a government. The mandate to form a coalition now rests with the Knesset until mid-December, during which time any candidate can be nominated by a majority of MKs to attempt to form a government. Such a prospect is seen as unlikely, however.
Arab League foreign ministers denounce the Trump administration’s announcement that it no longer considers Israeli settlements to be a violation of international law.
In an emergency meeting convened Monday, a week after the US announcement, Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit called the decision “unfairly biased and unacceptable.” He says the US has forfeited its role as a neutral arbiter between Israel and the Palestinians.
Columbia College Student Council votes in favor of holding a campus-wide referendum over divesting from Israeli companies.
Elected student representatives voted 25 to 12 on Sunday evening by secret ballot to hold the referendum on whether the university should divest “from companies that profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s inhumane acts against Palestinians,” the campus student newspaper the Columbia Spectator reports.
The vote will be scheduled in the coming months.
It is the third time that the student council has voted on whether to hold such a referendum, in initiatives spearheaded by the camps organization Columbia University Apartheid Divest. Some 34 campus organizations supported the initiative, according to the Spectator.
The council said at Sunday night’s meeting, which heard students speaking on both sides of the issue, that the vote would be gauging students’ perspective on the issue, not taking a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Likud Minister Ze’ev Elkin says he’s not sure Netanyahu will seek parliamentary immunity, shortly after Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman appeared to torpedo the possibility.
“I’m not sure the prime minister even wants to request immunity,” Elkin tells Army Radio.
Netanyahu faces criminal charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The indictments were announced Thursday.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper says President Donald Trump gave him a direct order that a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq be allowed to retire without losing his SEAL status.
Esper tells reporters at the Pentagon Monday that was the reason he announced Sunday evening that Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher would be allowed to retire with his Trident Pin, retaining his status as a SEAL.
Esper also accuses Navy Secretary Richard Spencer of secretly offering to the White House to rig the Navy disciplinary process to ensure the Gallagher not lose his Trident. Esper fired Spencer on Sunday.
Gallagher was acquitted of murder in the stabbing death of an Islamic State militant captive but was convicted of posing with the corpse while in Iraq in 2017.
The Human Rights Watch country director left Israel for Germany Monday after being expelled over claims he supports a boycott of the Jewish state, he and an airport website say.
A flight to Munich took off from Tel Aviv Monday evening, Ben Gurion Airport’s official website confirms.
American Omar Shakir, the New York-based rights group’s director for Israel and the Palestinian territories, confirms to AFP he has boarded the plane, ending a long campaign against his expulsion.
A rocket has reportedly been fired from Gaza, falling in an open area in southern Israel, according to Channel 12.
Rocket warning sirens were not triggered.
Shas leader Aryeh Deri asks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appoint members of his party as ministers of agriculture and welfare, two portfolios currently held by the prime minister.
Netanyahu is expected to relinquish his ministerial portfolios — which also include health and diaspora affairs — due to the criminal charges against him.
Under Israeli law, ministers who are indicted must resign. The law does not explicitly address the case of a prime minister.
A mortar shell appears to have struck an open field in the Eshkol region, a spokesperson for the area says.
The IDF confirms that one projectile was fired from the Gaza Strip, but doesn’t comment on where it landed.
The launch triggered warnings on the IDF Home Front Command’s smartphone application, but there were no sirens as the projectile was not heading toward a populated area.
“The matter is being checked and searches are being carried out in the area,” the Eshkol spokesperson says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Mohammed al-Emadi, Qatar’s envoy to the Gaza Strip, announced on Monday that postal banks in the coastal enclave will start to distribute the latest installment of small grants from Doha to impoverished Palestinian families in the territory, the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee says in a memo on its website.
Emadi says 70,000 poor families will each receive $100 beginning Wednesday, according to the memo.
In the past year, the banks have distributed $100 Qatari grants several times to tens of thousands of needy families in Gaza.
Doha has agreed to provide the grants to poor families in Gaza as a part of recent ceasefire understandings between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.
— Adam Rasgon
At a Likud event in Hod Hasharon, Netanyahu challenger Gideon Sa’ar says the right-wing party has reached a “dead end” politically and must make changes or risk losing power.
Sa’ar is challenging Benjamin Netanyahu for the leadership of the party.
“Despite all that was said about me by the prime minister and his son and the vitriol on social media, I supported and continue to support the prime minister,” says Sa’ar. “But my obligation is to warn us if I see that we’ve reached a dead end.”
“I am looking ahead with great concern that if we don’t make an essential change, we may transfer our power to our political rivals on the left,” he says.
“Everyone deserves their opinion. I am expressing mine, and it’s not clear that I’m correct. Who decides? Likud members,” he tells activists.
He says his decision to run is not related to Netanyahu’s legal troubles but is rather a result of the longstanding political deadlock and refers to the Likud leader as “one of the greatest statesmen in the world.”
At least 146 demonstrators were killed across Iran since leaders ordered security forces to stamp out protests that followed fuel price rises on November 15, Amnesty International says Monday.
“According to credible reports… those killed include at least 143 people,” says the London-based rights group. “The deaths have resulted almost entirely from the use of firearms.”
A former adviser to US President Donald Trump who admitted lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russians announces Monday he is running for a US Congress seat in California.
“I’m running for the 25th congressional district,” George Papadopoulos tells Fox News.
“I’m here to promote the America-first agenda, and to enact legislation that has real-life consequences for the American people.”
The seat, in the suburbs of Los Angeles, was vacated this month by Democrat Katie Hill, who resigned amid lurid revelations about her private life and the publication of nude photos without her consent.
A special election will be held in May.
Papadopoulos, 32, was a member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory panel when he ran for US president in 2016. He was catapulted from obscurity when he pleaded guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about contacts with a professor who promised to connect him to senior Russian officials.
Papadopoulos pursued a back channel that led him to contact with individuals who claimed Moscow had “dirt” on Trump’s Democratic election opponent Hillary Clinton.
He cooperated with investigators led by Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who conducted a two-year probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Papadopoulos spent 12 days in jail after his guilty plea, and subsequently wrote a book about what he describes as “the plot to bring down President Trump.”
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit says Benjamin Netanyahu need not resign as prime minister of the caretaker government or be forced into a leave of absence due to the criminal charges against him.
He announces the decision in a statement.
The panel of top legal officials that is discussing the implications of the Netanyahu indictment has yet to debate whether the prime minister must relinquish his other ministerial portfolios, and whether he may form a government in the future, the statement says.
An Air Europa flight from Tel Aviv to Madrid has been delayed after the pilot faints several minutes before takeoff, according to Hebrew reports.
Dutch Fox Sports on Monday suspends former Netherlands star Marco van Basten for a week for saying “Sieg Heil” on air as a “joke of bad taste.”
The broadcaster says it will pay Van Basten’s salary for the week to the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide studies.
Van Basten, 55, made the comment on Fox Sports pay-to-view channel after an interview ahead of the Eredivisie clash between Ajax and Heracles.
His words could be heard in the studio moments after TV presenter Hans Kraay’s interview in German with Heracles’ German manager Frank Wormuth.
“Not too pretty, sieg heil, pfannkuchen (pancake),” Van Basten said, using the Nazi German salute.
“It was not my intention at all to shock people. I only wanted to ‘explain’ Hans’ German,” a contrite Van Basten said.
Fox says Van Basten’s pay for the week “will be paid to the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, in order to promote knowledge of the history of the Second World War.”
At an event earlier in the day, Likud’s Gideon Sa’ar was heckled by pro-Netanyahu activists and called a “traitor.”
In an interview with Channel 13, Sa’ar — who is challenging Benjamin Netanyahu as Likud leader — downplays the incident, calling them a vocal minority.
Sources close to Netanyahu tell the station: “As the Likud activists clarified today to Gideon Sa’ar at the conference in Hod Hasharon — Likud is a family and you don’t betray your family.”
Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich is demanding Netanyahu hand over the Diaspora Affairs Ministry to him, Hebrew reports say.
The attorney general is set to decide whether Netanyahu must relinquish the ministerial portfolios he holds — welfare, agriculture, diaspora affairs, health — due to the criminal indictment against him.
According to a report in June by Channel 13 news, Netanyahu dismissed the hardline MK’s request to head the Diaspora Affairs Ministry outright, wary of sparking additional tension with Jews abroad by appointing a lawmaker who has expressed desire for Israel to “return to the days of David,” when it was governed by Jewish law.
Thousands in Tel Aviv protest violence against women, marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Some 13 women have been murdered in Israel by their partners or family members since the start of 2019.