The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Death toll in Italy quake rises to at least 37
Italy’s civil protection agency says at least 37 people have died in the magnitude 6 quake that struck central Italy in the early hours of the morning.
The agency says several hundred are injured and thousands are in need of temporary housing, but stresses the numbers are fluid.
Top French court to consider burkini ban Thursday
A ban on the Islamic burkini swimsuit by several French towns will come before France’s highest administrative court tomorrow, the tribunal says.
The Human Rights League is appealing a decision by a lower court in the Riviera city of Nice which upheld a ban on the outfit by the town of Villeneuve-Loubet.
Villeneuve-Loubet, just west of Nice, was among the first of some 15 French towns to ban the burkini, triggering a fierce debate in France and elsewhere about the wearing of the full-body swimsuit, women’s rights and secularity.
The Nice tribunal ruled on Monday that the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” to prevent public disorder after a succession of jihadists attacks in France, including one in Nice on July 14.
The ruling by the State Council, France’s highest administrative court, will provide a legal precedent for towns to follow around the country.
A mother of two tells AFP she had been fined on the beach in the resort of Cannes wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.
Her ticket, seen by AFP, read that she was not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism.”
“I was sitting on a beach with my family. I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming,” says the 34-year-old who gave only her first name, Siam.
Brussels Airlines drops settlement-made halva
Brussels Airlines stops supplying passengers on its planes with halva sesame snacks made by Achva, an Israeli food company based in the Barkan Industrial Park in the West Bank, near the city of Ariel.
According to the Ynet news website, the decision comes following a demand by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which claims the products are made on occupied land.
Brussels Airlines says the snacks in question are “controversial,” Ynet reports.
It’s a boy! Ramat Gan zoo welcomes baby white rhino
The Zoological Center of Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan has a new addition — a baby white rhino.
The male, born this week, is the fourth calf at the zoo for 23-year-old mom Tanda, who has been in Ramat Gan for 13 years.
Mother and son are spending a week in isolation together before joining the rest of the zoo’s 28 rhinos, according to local reports.
Stabbing attack reported near Yitzhar settlement
The IDF says a stabbing attack has been reported near the Yitzhar settlement in the West Bank.
Initial reports say 1 hurt in West Bank stabbing
One person is lightly hurt in the stabbing attack in the West Bank, Channel 2 says.
The attacker has been overpowered, the report says.
Israeli lightly hurt in West Bank attack is soldier
The man stabbed this afternoon in the West Bank is an IDF soldier, who was attacked as he chased assailants throwing stones at Israelis near the settlement of Yitzhar.
Walla says troops were pursuing a car carrying the assailants. When it stopped, one person got out and stabbed the soldier.
The attacker was shot dead at the scene.
Israeli pro-BDS lawyer seeks asylum in Canada
An Israeli supporter of a boycott of the Jewish state is seeking political asylum in Canada.
Haaretz newspaper says that Gilad Paz, a 34-year-old lawyer, has applied for asylum in Montreal, on the grounds of a reasonable suspicion of political persecution.
Paz is basing his claim on the actions of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who have decided to bar entry into Israel to foreign supporters of boycotts.
Canada’s Mounties allow women officers to wear hijab
Hoping to boost recruiting of Muslim women, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is allowing its officers to wear hijabs as part of their uniforms, the government says.
“The commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently approved this addition to the uniform,” says Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
“This is intended to better reflect the diversity in our communities and encourage more Muslim women to consider the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a career option,” he says.
The RCMP officer’s uniform — a red serge tunic, leather riding boots and wide-brimmed felt campaign hat — is an iconic Canadian symbol.
Damascus slams Turkey’s incursion into Syria
Syria’s government denounces the Turkish military incursion into its territory, describing it a “blatant violation” of Syrian sovereignty by Turkey.
According to the state-run news agency SANA, the government says in a statement that “any move to combat terrorism on Syrian territories should have been coordinated with the Syrian government and army.”
The statement also calls for an immediate end to the Turkish “aggression,” which it says is being carried out under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
“Fighting terrorism cannot be undertaken by ousting Daesh [Islamic State] and replacing it with other terrorist organizations directly backed by Turkey,” it says, calling Islamic State by its Arabic acronym.
The statement adds that Turkish tanks and armored personnel carriers crossed into Syria under the cover of US-led coalition airstrikes.
Stockpile food in case of attack, Germany tells citizens
Germany is urging its population to stockpile food and water in case of terrorist or cyberattack, as it adopts its first civil defense strategy since the end of the Cold War.
While acknowledging that “an attack on German territory requiring conventional defense is unlikely,” Germany should be “sufficiently prepared in case of an existence-threatening development in the future that cannot be ruled out,” a new strategy document says. It encourages people to stockpile sufficient food for 10 days, and water to last five.
Germans are taking to social media to deride the strategy, with the hashtag #hamsterkaeufe (squirreling away) and photos of the furry rodent widely circulating on Twitter.
— Schaf (@nordschaf) August 21, 2016
Gaza zoo rescue completed successfully, Israel says
Israel says the rescue of animals from a poorly maintained zoo in Gaza has been carried out successfully.
“At the initiative of Four Paws [animal welfare charity], a tiger, five monkeys, two ostriches, two gazelles, two tortoises, a swan and a porcupine left this morning,” says a statement from the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry.
The animals, which are the last remaining wildlife in the Khan Younis zoo in southern Gaza, will be rehoused in South Africa and Jordan, as well as at Israel’s Ben Shemen monkey park and Ramat Gan Safari.
— FOUR PAWS (@fourpawsint) August 24, 2016
Hospital discharges soldier hurt in West Bank stabbing
Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva discharges the soldier lightly hurt earlier today in a stabbing attack in the West Bank.
The soldier has been sent home, Israel National News says.
US urges Americans to leave Gaza ‘as soon as possible’
The United States is recommending that Americans in Gaza leave the territory, which is controlled by the Hamas terror group, “as soon as possible.”
The warning comes after the IAF strikes dozens of targets in Gaza overnight Sunday-Monday following rocket fire from the Strip on the southern city of Sderot.
In the case of Gaza, the State Department warns against “all travel” to the territory and “urges those present to depart as soon as possible when border crossings are open.”
“Gaza is under the control of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile,” the State Department says in its warning.
It issued a similar warning in December 2015.
IDF ends probes into 13 ‘irregular incidents’ in Gaza war
The Military Prosecution closes investigations into 13 so-called “irregular incidents” involving troops that allegedly took place during the 2014 war in Gaza.
The army has received 360 complaints about incidents that allegedly took place during the 50-day conflict, Walla reports.
No boycott of Israeli products, says Brussels Airlines
Brussels Airlines denies a newspaper report that it is boycotting an Israeli snack made in the West Bank.
Ynet reported earlier today that the company had stopped providing the halva snack made by Achva, following pressure from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Achva’s factory is in the Barkan Industrial Park, which is over the Green Line.
The airline writes on Twitter that the snack was discontinued as it was “not what we had ordered.”
— Brussels Airlines (@FlyingBrussels) August 24, 2016
Jewish Agency spokesman Avi Mayer also writes on Twitter that a spokesperson for Brussels Airlines says “this is not a boycott.”
According to Mayer, the spokesman says that “Brussels Airlines is not boycotting Israeli products. We have many Israeli products on board our flights.”
UK Jewry slams French police for harassing women in burkinis
The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemns what it called French police harassment of Muslim women who wore the full-body bathing suit known as burkini, in defiance of a municipal ban.
“We were very concerned to see the scenes on a French beach yesterday during which a Muslim woman was confronted by police about her modest style of dress,” a Board spokesperson says in a statement titled “Board of Deputies reacts to harassment of Muslim woman on French beach.”
In the absence of “some compelling reason — such as the infringement of the rights of others, or some demonstrable safety hazard — it is important that people of different faiths be allowed to manifest their beliefs through their dress,” the Board says.
Italy quake death toll reaches 73
At least 73 are dead in the earthquake that struck central Italy in the early hours, Italian officials say.
The powerful pre-dawn temblor devastated mountain villages, reducing scores of buildings in communities close to the epicenter to dusty piles of masonry. The quake had a magnitude of between 6.0 and 6.2, according to monitors.
Hundreds more people are said to be injured, homeless or missing.
Biden says he understands Turkey’s ‘intense feeling’ on Gulen
US Vice President Joe Biden says he understands the “intense feeling” in Turkey over the Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding the July 15 failed coup and wants to see extradited.
“I understand the intense feeling your government and the people of Turkey have about him [Gulen]. We are cooperating with the Turkish authorities,” Biden tells a press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
Biden adds that the US has “no intention of protecting a person who harms our ally.”
Wiesenthal Center protests Iranian FM’s visit to Chile
The Simon Wiesenthal Center calls on the president of Chile to cancel a planned visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, scheduled for later this week.
In a letter to President Michelle Bachelet, the center urges him to “take appropriate action to restore Chile’s values of coexistence and integration and to protest a state visit from a country that funds terrorist organizations, and whose officials are implicated by INTERPOL in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that left 85 dead and over 300 wounded.”
Zarif began a visit to six Latin American countries on Sunday. After leaving Cuba yesterday, he was scheduled to travel to Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela.
He is expected to arrive in Chile on Thursday.
US tells pro-Kurdish forces in Syria not to cross Euphrates
Biden says Washington made clear that pro-Kurdish forces in Syria must not cross west of the Euphrates River, a prospect alarming for Turkey.
“We have made it absolutely clear… that they must go back across the river,” Biden says at a news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
“They cannot, will not and under no circumstances [will] get American support if they do not keep that commitment. Period.”
His comments come after Turkish troops earlier today launched an operation inside Syria to cleanse the key town of Jarabulus from Islamic State.
Bennett on English studies: Less Shakespeare, more emails
Education Minister Naftali Bennett is demanding changes in the way English is taught in Israeli schools, calling for more practical lessons such as writing emails. and less emphasis on traditional literature.
Bennett, who speaks fluent English due to his American-born parents, tells the Knesset’s Education Committee that each student should be able to hold a conversation and write an email in English.
“This year we are going to focus on the English language,” he says, according to Ynet. “I want 100 percent of the children in Israel to know how to speak English, know how to write an email in English, and be eligible for any job. Without English in the next century, you will have no chance. Less Shakespeare, less literary [studies], more practical [lessons].”
Scottish police offer hijab option for Muslim officers
Scotland’s police force is introducing the option of wearing a hijab with the uniform, as part of a push to recruit more Muslim officers.
“I am delighted to make this announcement and welcome the support from both the Muslim community, and the wider community, as well as police officers and staff,” says Scotland’s Chief Constable Phil Gormley.
“I hope that this addition to our uniform options will contribute to making our staff mix more diverse and adds to the life skills, experiences, and personal qualities that our officers and staff bring to policing the communities of Scotland.”
— Police Scotland (@policescotland) August 23, 2016
Russia ‘deeply concerned’ by Turkish operation in Syria
Russia’s Foreign Ministry expresses concern at Turkey’s military operation in Syria, warning of rising tension over Ankara’s targeting of Kurdish militia fighters at the border.
“We are deeply concerned at what is happening in the Syrian-Turkish border area,” the ministry says in a statement.
Turkey’s air and ground operation risks “further degeneration of the situation in the conflict zone,” Moscow warns.
The Turkish offensive targeting both Islamic State extremists and Syrian Kurdish militias could lead to deaths among peaceful civilians and “flare-ups of inter-ethnic tensions between Kurds and Arabs,” it adds.
Militants attack American University in Kabul
Students and staff are trapped inside the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul as the complex is rocked by explosions and gunfire from a militant attack.
“I heard explosions and gunfire is going on close by… our class is filled with smoke and dust,” a desperate student tells AFP by telephone. “We are stuck inside and very afraid.”
Many other trapped students were tweeting desperate messages for help. Among them was Associated Press photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Massoud Hossaini.
“Help we are stuck inside AUAF and shooting flollowed by Explo this maybe my last tweets [sic],” writes Hossaini in a tweet that is later deleted.
No militant group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as the Taliban step up their summer fighting season against the Western-backed Kabul government.
US: Israel’s approval for Hebron housing plan ‘deeply concerning’
The US State Department says Israeli government approval for the planning of new Jewish housing in Hebron is “a deeply concerning step of settlement expansion.”
“We strongly oppose all settlement activity, which is corrosive to the cause of peace. And we’ve said repeatedly such moves are not consistent with Israel’s stated desire to achieve a two-state solution,” deputy State Department spokesman Marc Toner says during a daily briefing with reporters. He also calls the land “at least partially owned by the Palestinians.”
The government granted permission for planning infrastructure in the area on Sunday. According to the plan, the residential area will be in the military compound of Plugat Hamitkanim, formerly the city’s central bus station. Israel requisitioned the land for military use in the 1980s.
Tourism minister threatens Brussels Airlines over boycott claim
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin threatens to halt Brussels Airlines flights into Ben Gurion Airport over claims that the company is boycotting an Israeli snack made in the West Bank.
“There is a big difference between political disputes and boycotts,” Levin tells Army Radio, apparently unaware that the company earlier today categorically denied any boycott.
“There is no place on the Ben Gurion flights board for a company that behaves in this manner,” he adds.
The airline insists the halva sesame snack made by Achva was dropped from flights because it is not what they ordered, not for any political reasons.
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) August 24, 2016
Rivlin sends Italian president letter of condolence after quake
President Reuven Rivlin sends a letter of condolence to his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella, on behalf of the Israeli people, following the earthquake in central Italy early this morning that destroyed entire communities and claimed at least 73 victims.
“Our thoughts are with you and the people of Italy at this very difficult time, as you seek to help the injured, give shelter to those made homeless, and plan the reconstruction,” Rivlin writes, according to a statement from his office.
“Please convey our sincere condolences to the families of the victims, our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured, and our hopes that the region will soon experience a happier future,” he writes.
Clinton linking Trump campaign to far-right ideology
Hillary Clinton is ready to call out Donald Trump and his advisers for embracing a “disturbing alt-right” political philosophy that her campaign says presents “a divisive and dystopian view of America.”
She’ll try to make the case in a speech later today in Nevada.
Trump’s campaign counters that the GOP presidential nominee has never used the term “alt-right” and disavows “any groups or individuals associated with a message of hate.”
“Alt-right” is short for “alternative right,” and is often associated with efforts on the far right to preserve “white identity,” oppose multiculturalism and defend “Western values.”
Pro-Palestinian activist guilty of assault in UK university riot
A pro-Palestinian activist is found guilty of assault during a riot at an event hosted by the Israel Society at King’s College London, in January.
The Jewish Chronicle reports that North London resident Ivana Bevilaqua, 25, was given a conditional discharge for 28 days and told to pay compensation of £100 ($130) to her victim, Esther Endfield. She was also ordered to pay court costs of £200 ($260), and a victim surcharge of £20 ($26).
The pro-Palestinian activists set off fire alarms, hurled chairs and assaulted Endfield, who was one of the organizers of the event, which was to include an address by former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon.
Police were called to the college, and the British government called the riot “totally unacceptable.”
Marie van der Zyl, the vice-president of the Board of Deputies welcomes the conviction, saying it “should send out a message that this type of violent and criminal disruption will not be tolerated.”
Italy quake toll rises to at least 120
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says the death toll in the earthquake that hit his country in the early hours of this morning has risen to at least 120.
PM: I can’t fire Liberman, Bennett over Gaza war criticism
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the delicate formulation of his coalition government precludes him firing Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman or Education Minister Naftali Bennett, despite their criticism of his handling of the 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza.
“In our system of government, a coalition government, it is problematic, the government may fall,” Netanyahu tells reporters, according to Channel 2. “This is not a presidential system — I cannot fire them,” he says.
Both Liberman, who heads the Israel Beytenu party, and Jewish Home leader Bennett have lambasted Netanyahu for the way in which the 50-day conflict was managed, in particular the poor communication between the PM and then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and the rest of the security cabinet.
Russian Jews honor Elie Wiesel, who fought to free them
A Jewish organization working in the former Soviet Union inaugurates an exhibition in Moscow on the life of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.
The exhibition, called “Elie Wiesel, from Sighet to Moscow via France and Israel,” is launched by Limmud FSU, which organizes Jewish learning conferences in over a dozen countries with large populations of Russian-speaking Jews.
Prominent figures from Russian Jewry, including the country’s two chief rabbis, Berel Lazar and Avraham Shayevich, are attending the opening at the Israeli Cultural Center. The display features dozens of photos from important stations in the life of Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and prolific writer who died last month in New York at 87.
His 1966 book, “The Jews of Silence,” looked at Jews living in repression beyond the Iron Curtain under communism, and served as a catalyst for the Soviet Jewry movement.
The exhibit features a 2009 photo showing Wiesel holding a white rose while walking alongside President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to the former concentration camp Buchenwald.
Olmert seeks early release from jail
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert is asking for early release from prison, six months after starting a 19-month sentence for corruption.
The request pertains to the sentence he is serving in the Holyland real estate affair, rather than the case involving bribes from an American Jewish businessman. Olmert’s conviction in the latter case includes an eight-month jail sentence, and is still at the appeal stage.
The parole board hearing on Olmert’s request is expected to take place on December 25, Channel 10 says.
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