The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s developments as they unfolded.
Attempted stabbing near Nablus
A Palestinian attempts to stab Israelis near the West Bank city of Nablus. Soldiers on the scene shoot and disarm the would-be attacker. His condition was not immediately known.
There are no reports of Israeli casualties.
Would-be stabber reportedly dies of wounds
The Palestinian who attempted to stab Israelis near Nablus reportedly dies of his wounds.
Germany says reviving Iran ties will take time
Germany’s economy minister says that reviving economic and financial ties with Iran will take time.
Western sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program were lifted after the UN nuclear agency certified Saturday that Tehran had met all of its commitments under last year’s landmark agreement with world powers.
Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor, says in a statement Sunday that the move offers “the chance to open a new chapter in German-Iranian economic relations.”
But he adds that “the revival of German-Iranian economic, and especially financial, relations is a long-term process.”
Gabriel plans to chair a meeting of a German-Iranian economic commission in Tehran in May.
IDF confirms Palestinian would-be attacker’s death
The army confirms that the Palestinian would-be stabber has died of his wounds.
It says the assailant tried to stab Israeli soldiers at the scene, who proceeded to open fire and shoot him.
17 Syrians face charges over Istanbul bombing — report
Turkey’s state-run news agency says 17 Syrians with suspected links to the suicide bomber who killed 10 Germans are being questioned by officials at an Istanbul court where they could face charges of membership in a terror group.
The Anadolu Agency says the 17 were referred to court Sunday following police questioning. It says separate proceedings against an 18th suspect — a minor — are still ongoing.
The suicide bomber set off an explosion Tuesday near German tourists just steps away from Istanbul’s landmark Blue Mosque, killing 10 of them. Turkish officials say the bomber, a Syrian, was affiliated with the Islamic State group. No group has claimed the attack.
There is no information on the suspects or on their alleged links to the bomber.
Tight security as pope set to visit Rome synagogue
Hundreds of armed police and security personnel are deployed in Rome Sunday as Pope Francis prepares to visit the city’s main synagogue, where he will meet members of the Italian capital’s Jewish community.
Rome’s Great Synagogue is located just across the River Tiber from the Vatican, in an area still known as the Ghetto where under the orders of some of Francis’s predecessors, Jews were confined for more than three centuries until their emancipation at the end of the 19th Century.
Some 1,500 invited guests and 300 journalists are expected to witness the visit, due around 4:00pm (1500 GMT) on Sunday.
Francis is the third pope to visit the synagogue, after John-Paul II in 1986 and Benedict XVI in 2010, underlining greatly improved relations between the two faiths.
Ties have become warmer still under Francis, who has a long-standing friendship with Argentinian rabbi Abraham Skorka, with whom he jointly published a book of conversations about issues of ethics, morality and faith.
As part of his visit, the pope will view two commemorative plaques in the synagogue’s gardens, one marking an incident in 1943 when more than 1,000 Jews were rounded up and deported to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz and the other a 1983 attack on the building that left 37 injured and one dead.
Airstrikes on Syria’s Raqqa said to kill 40 civilians
Airstrikes on the Islamic State group’s Syrian bastion of Raqqa on Saturday killed 40 civilians, including children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says on Sunday.
The Britain-based group says it is unclear if the strikes were carried out by regime or Russian planes, adding that eight children were among those killed.
Air force drills in central Israel
The Israeli military is carrying out an aerial exercise over Sde Dov Airport and northern Tel Aviv.
— Judah Ari Gross
Freed Washington Post reporter leaves Iran — report
Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been released from Evin Prison in Tehran and has left Iran, his newspaper says in a statement Sunday.
The Post also says it is “pleased to see that Iran released four other Americans,” but gives no further details.
“We are relieved that this 545-day nightmare for Jason and his family is finally over,” says the statement signed by Post publisher Frederick Ryan. Rezaian leaves Iran on a plane with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, the statement says, without saying if any of the other Americans freed are also on board.
Iranian TV reports that four of the Iranian-Americans released by the US as part of the prisoner exchange are en route to Switzerland.
— AFP, Times of Israel staff
Kuwait Air to end NY-UK run over refusal to carry Israelis
Kuwait Air is ending its New York to London service after the Department of Transportation did not relent in its requirement that the airline carry Israeli passengers.
“The US Department of Transportation will not tolerate unlawful discrimination, and has mandated that the airline immediately cease that practice and allow Israeli passengers to travel between the US and London,” Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, says in a statement on Friday. “In light of our demands, Kuwait Airways has chosen to cease passenger service from New York JFK airport to London Heathrow by January 18.”
The department had informed Kuwait Air last September that its policies were in violation of US law. The determination came after a complaint by Eldad Gatt, an Israeli citizen who in 2013 wanted to travel on an Israeli passport from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Heathrow Airport in London.
Kuwait Air in an October response to the department said that Kuwait law banned the transport of Israeli citizens/passport holders, and argued that implementing this policy in the United States did not violate US law.
UN chief hails Iran-US prisoner swap
UN chief Ban Ki-moon says he welcomes the news that a number of Americans detained in Iran, including a Washington Post journalist, have been released along with a number of Iranians held by the United States.
On Sunday he commends “moves by the governments of both countries to improve ties.”
He adds that he is “heartened by the lifting of sanctions against Iran” as part of a landmark nuclear deal reached last year.
He says “now is the moment to push the cooperation on other pressing challenges through dialogue, which should continue to guide the way toward a safer future.”
Ban is speaking in Dubai at the opening of an event about improving the delivery of international humanitarian aid.
Rouhani says skeptics of Iran deal ‘proven wrong’
President Hassan Rouhani says Sunday that skeptics who said a nuclear deal with world powers would not bring benefits to Iran “were all proven wrong.
“Within a few hours” of the nuclear deal being implemented and sanctions lifted, “1,000 lines of credit were opened by various banks,” Rouhani tells reporters in Tehran.
“This showed that those who used to say, ‘Do not believe’ were mistaken.”
Ex-Marine freed in Iran exchange, family says
Amir Hekmati, a former US Marine who was facing a death sentence in Iran as an alleged spy, has been released by Tehran, his family says Sunday, adding they were told he was on a plane leaving the country.
“Today, our brother, son and friend Amir Hekmati has been released from Iran. We have now been officially told that he is on a plane leaving the country,” the family says in a statement. “It is hard to put into words what our family feels right now. But we remain in hopeful anticipation until Amir is in our arms.”
Academic body reaffirms opposition to Israel boycotts
Days after the American Historical Association decisively rejected a resolution denouncing Israel, the Washington, DC-based Association of American Universities reaffirms its opposition to boycotts against Israeli academic institutions.
In a statement issued Thursday, the AHA says it is reissuing its executive committee’s 2013 statement on boycotts because the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association recently approved a resolution in support of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
The full membership of the anthropologists’ group — more than 10,000 scholars — is to vote on the resolution later this year. The American Studies Association and the Asian-American Studies Association have passed similar resolutions.
Czech leader says Muslims ‘impossible to integrate’ into Europe
Czech President Milos Zeman, known for his fiery anti-migrant comments, says on Sunday that it is almost impossible to integrate the Muslim community into European society.
“The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible,” Zeman says in a televised interview.
“Let them have their culture in their countries and not take it to Europe, otherwise it will end up like Cologne,” he adds, referring to the mass New Year’s Eve assaults on women in Germany and elsewhere.
“Integration is possible with cultures that are similar, and the similarities may vary,” pointing out that the Vietnamese and Ukrainian communities had been able to integrate into Czech society.
Zeman, a 71-year-old left-winger and the first-ever directly elected president of the Czech Republic, has repeatedly spoken out against the surge of migrant and refugee arrivals in Europe.
Pope welcomes 5,000 migrants in Rome prayers
Pope Francis on Sunday welcomes 5,000 migrant worshipers at a special mass at St. Peter’s to mark the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, urging them to treasure their “culture and precious values.
“Your presence here at this square is a sign of hope in God. Don’t let yourselves be stripped of this hope and joy of living,” he says at the close of his weekly Angelus prayer.
Francis has repeatedly called on European states to welcome people fleeing war and misery amid the Continent’s worst migrant crisis since World War II.
After the prayer, the pope hails “with great affection the ethnic communities present” in the Vatican City and “the people who help and welcome” the migrants.
“Dear migrants and refugees, each of you carries a story, a culture and precious values,” Francis says.
“Alas, many of you have experienced misery, oppression and fear.”
Bennett, Foreign Ministry make up
The Foreign Ministry has canceled a boycott of Education Minister Naftali Bennett after a meeting.
The education minister apologized for his comment questioning the “DNA of the Foreign Ministry,” and says he did not intend to offend the diplomatic employees. The Foreign Ministry then calls off its protest.
Particles could reveal clues to how Egypt pyramid was built
An international team of researchers says Sunday they will soon begin analyzing cosmic particles collected inside Egypt’s Bent Pyramid to search for clues as to how it was built and learn more about the 4,600-year-old structure.
Mehdi Tayoubi, president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, says that plates planted inside the pyramid last month have collected data on radiographic particles known as muons that rain down from the earth’s atmosphere.
The particles pass through empty spaces but can be absorbed or deflected by harder surfaces. By studying particle accumulations, scientists may learn more about the construction of the pyramid, built by the Pharaoh Snefru.
“For the construction of the pyramids, there is no single theory that is 100 percent proven or checked; They are all theories and hypotheses,” says Hany Helal, the institute’s vice president.
“What we are trying to do with the new technology, we would like to either confirm or change or upgrade or modify the hypotheses that we have on how the pyramids were constructed,” he says.
The Bent Pyramid in Dahshur, just outside Cairo, is distinguished by the bent slope of its sides. It is believed to have been ancient Egypt’s first attempt to build a smooth-sided pyramid.
The Scan Pyramids project, which announced in November thermal anomalies in the 4,500 year-old Khufu Pyramid in Giza, is coupling thermal technology with muons analysis to try to unlock secrets to the construction of several ancient Egyptian pyramids.
Minister cancels PA-organized event in Jerusalem
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan cancels a Palestinian cultural event in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz on the grounds that it is a Palestinian Authority-sponsored event. The ministry says the PA did not have permission to hold events in Israeli territory.
“I will not permit any violation of Israeli sovereignty and give a foothold to the PA in Israeli territory,” Erdan says.
Palestinian would-be stabber named
The Palestinian who was shot dead by IDF soldiers as he tried to stab them earlier Sunday is named as 21-year-old Wesam Qasrawi of the West Bank village of Misilya, southeast of Jenin.
US imposes sanctions linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program
An official says the US is imposing sanctions linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program, AFP reports.
Details to come.
Palestinian woman attempts to stab soldier
A Palestinian woman tries to stab an Israeli soldier near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, the Walla news website reports.
The woman is reportedly arrested.
There are no reports of injuries.
US hits Iran with fresh sanctions on missile program
After the prisoner exchange and implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, the US sanctions 11 entities and people linked to Tehran’s ballistic missile program.
“Iran’s ballistic missile program poses a significant threat to regional and global security, and it will continue to be subject to international sanctions,” says Adam J. Szubin, acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “We have consistently made clear that the United States will vigorously press sanctions against Iranian activities outside of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – including those related to Iran’s support for terrorism, regional destabilization, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile program.”
Among those designated is the UAE-based Mabrooka Trading Co LLC (Mabrooka Trading) and “five Iranian individuals who have worked to procure ballistic missile components for Iran.”
1of the 4 freed Americans not on plane out of Tehran
One of the four Iranian-Americans who have been released as part of a prisoner swap was not on the plane that flew the other three out of the country, US media reports.
US officials say Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, about whom little is known, was not aboard the plane that flew the others out of Tehran to Switzerland, The Washington Post and The New York Times are reporting.
Obama set to deliver statement on Iran
President Barack Obama will deliver a statement on Iran at 15:45 GMT (5:45 p.m. in Israel) Sunday, the White House says.
The presidential statement comes after the lifting of international sanctions against Iran as part of a nuclear deal capped by a US-Iranian prisoner exchange.
Israeli woman said stabbed in her West Bank home
Channel 10 is reporting that an Israeli woman is stabbed and seriously injured in her home in the West Bank settlement of Otniel.
Security forces searching for West Bank stabber
The woman injured in the Otniel stabbing is in critical condition, Army Radio reports. She sustains multiple stab wounds, including in her head.
Security forces are searching for the stabber. Residents are advised to stay indoors.
Police are treating it as a terror attack, the radio reports.
Obama hails deal for ‘averting a war’
Obama says “ensuring the security” of US includes diplomacy with Iran.
The president says that under the nuclear deal, “Iran will not get its hand on a nuclear bomb.”
The world “will be more secure,” he goes on. The president says the deal was not designed to resolve all differences, but has “created a window” to resolve some issues.
The president continues that Iran has complied with the terms of the deal.
“Today, international inspectors are on the ground,” and will monitor Iran 365 days a year.
“If Iran tries to cheat, if they try to build a bomb covertly, we will catch them.”
The president says the deal “cut off every path” to the bomb, extending breakout time to a year.
He says, “We’ve achieved this process through diplomacy,” thus averting “another war in the Middle East.”
The president also hails the release of the US sailors and Americans held in Iran.
“Jason Rezaian is coming home,” he says, praising the Washington Post reporter’s “bravery.” He also names the others released.
Stabbed woman dies of wounds
The Israeli woman stabbed in Otniel dies of her wounds.
She is said to be in her 30s.
US, Iran to ‘deepen coordination’ to find Levinson
Obama says Iran has agreed to deepen coordination to locate Robert Levinson, who is Jewish, and disappeared in the Islamic Republic years ago.
“So nuclear deal — implemented. American families — reunited,” he says.
He says the US is settling a “long-standing” financial dispute.
“We still have sanctions on Iran for its violations of human rights,” support for terrorism, and ballistic missile programs, he says.
He adds that the US will not “waver” on security of allies.
Obama says US can leave world ‘safer’
Obama says the US can leave “the world safer” for future generations.
He thanks the nuclear deal negotiation team.
Obama says he hopes this signals “the opportunity” for Iran to deepen cooperation with the world.
Army says terrorist broke into Otniel house
The army confirms the stabbing is a terror attack.
“A terrorist murdered a civilian in her home, in the community of Otniel,” the IDF says in a statement. “The attacker broke into the house and stabbed the victim to death. Forces are in pursuit of the terrorist.”
The residents of Otniel are on lockdown after the attack. Flares are seen over the settlement as soldiers sweep the area for the attacker.
Paramedic describes ‘difficult’ scene
Magen David Adom paramedic Noam Bar describes a “difficult” scene in Otniel.
“It was a difficult thing to see. We saw an approximately 40-year-old woman unconscious, not breathing with no pulse. She had a number of penetration wounds on her upper body. We performed CPR for an extended period of time, but in the end were forced to pronounce her dead.”
— Judah Ari Gross
Victim’s daughter may have been home during attack
The daughter of the stabbing victim — a 38-year-old woman — may have been home during the deadly attack, Channel 2 reports.
Yehuda Glick urges Arab leaders to condemn attack
Otniel resident Yehuda Glick, the right-wing activist who survived an assassination attempt in October 2014, tells Army Radio the community is in mourning.
“Deep mourning has descended on the settlement tonight,” he says. “An active resident and a mother was murdered. The feelings are very difficult.”
Glick says the moderate Arab leaders “must come out against attacks.”
“The terrorist is a lone [attacker], but the atmosphere exists,” he says.
US to pay Iran $1.7 bn in debt and interest
The United States is to repay Iran a $400 million debt and $1.3 billion in interest dating to the Islamic revolution, Secretary of State John Kerry says Sunday.
The repayment, which settles a suit brought under an international legal tribunal, is separate from the tens of billions of dollars in frozen foreign accounts that Iran can now access after the end of nuclear sanctions.
But the timing of the announcement, one day after the implementation of the Iran nuclear accord, will be seen as pointing to a broader clearing of the decks between the old foes.
US President Barack Obama defends the settlement in a televised statement from the White House, saying it was for “much less than the amount Iran sought.”
“For the United States, the settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran. There was no benefit to the United States in dragging this out,” he says.
Kerry says the claim was in the amount of a $400 million trust fund used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States prior to the break in diplomatic ties, plus $1.3 billion in interests.
Woman struggled with terrorist; 3 kids were home
Channel 10 reports that the Israeli woman struggled with the terrorist for several minutes in her Otniel home as he stabbed her to death.
The woman’s three children were home during the attack, it says.
Pope hails ties with Jews on landmark synagogue visit
Pope Francis makes his first visit on Sunday to a synagogue as pontiff, citing an “unbreakable” bond between Jews and Christians as hundreds of armed security personnel were deployed for the Rome visit.
Francis is the third pope to visit the Great Synagogue in Italy’s capital after John-Paul II in 1986 and Benedict XVI in 2010.
Evoking “the unbreakable bond between Jews and Christians,” the pope delivers a message of peace.
“Violence against men is in contradiction with any religion worthy of the name, and in particular the big monotheist religions,” he says.
The pope is greeted with applause as he arrives and is met on the synagogue steps by Rome’s chief rabbi Riccardo Di Segni.
Francis in turn greets some 1,500 invited guests who filled the religious site to witness the pontiff’s visit.
Freed Iranian ‘poses no danger’ to US — lawyers
Attorneys for one of the Iranians freed in a prisoner swap with the United States say their client “poses no danger to the American people.”
Ali Saboonchi of Parkville, Maryland, was one of seven Iranians who were released Saturday in a negotiated exchange between the two countries.
Saboonchi had been convicted of unlawfully exporting goods to Iran in violation of international sanctions and was serving a 2-year sentence.
His public defenders, Lucius Outlaw and Elizabeth Oyer, say Saboonchi was born in the US and is raising a family here. They say his arrest and incarceration were “devastating” to his friends and family and that he’s grateful for his release.
They describe him as “a beloved and hard-working family man and American” and say “he has a bright future ahead.”
Police gathering evidence at attack scene
Police are taking forensic samples from the scene of the deadly stabbing attack in Otniel and questioning witnesses as security forces continue to hunt the terrorist, who fled.
29 killed, 289 injured in terror wave since September
The Magen David Adom service says that 29 people have been killed and 289 injured in attacks since the terror wave began.
The summary begins with the September death of Alexander Levlovitz, whose car was pelted with stones, resulting in a fatal car accident.
Among those injured, 25 are seriously injured, 8 are moderately-to-seriously injured, 11 are lightly-to-moderately injured, and 202 are lightly injured. More than 105 people have been treated for shock.
The emergency service says it provided medical treatment for 89 rock-throwing attacks, 79 stabbings, 21 car-ramming attacks, and 13 shooting attacks.
Settlement sealed off as manhunt continues
The settlement of Otniel is sealed off in both directions as the manhunt for the terrorist who killed an Israeli woman in her home continues.
Only residents are permitted to enter and exit the settlement.
— Judah Ari Gross contributed
Victim named as Dafna Meir, 38
The stabbing victim is Dafna Meir, 38, of Otniel.
Meir is survived by her husband and four children.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Victim’s 15-year-old daughter witnessed attack
The 15-year-old daughter of Dafna Meir witnessed part of the stabbing attack, according to Channel 2. The attacker fled after mortally wounding her mother.
The teenager then notified the army.
The daughter was one of the three children home during the stabbing.
Meir was nurse, foster parent to two kids
Dafna Meir, the victim of the stabbing attack, is remembered as a “joyful” person by her neighbors, who was a nurse by profession and a foster parent to two children.
Meir worked at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center and was also a pre-marital counselor for brides, according to the Ynet news website. She was the biological mother of four children, and foster parent to two others.
“She was a happy woman, joyful, optimistic, driven, responsible, loving,” a neighbor, Yishai Klein, told Ynet. “Everyone in the settlement who was in pain knew they could call her 24 hours a day.”
דפנה הי"ד, הותירה אחריה בעל, והילדים רננה (17) עקיבא (15) נעה (11.5) אהבה (10). ושני ילדי אמנה, יאיר בן 6 ויניב בן 4 pic.twitter.com/FEE6jXbfjx
— אלי שלזינגר (@leizersh) January 17, 2016
Killer ‘will pay’ for ‘heinous murder’ — PM
Netanyahu says the terrorist “will pay” for the death of Meir.
“Dafna Meir, mother of six, was brutally murdered this evening by a Palestinian terrorist inside her home in Otniel,” he writes on Facebook. “In the name of all Israelis, I want to give strength to all the children of the family. All of us are hurting and share in the painful grief. We will find the terrorist, and he will pay the full price for this heinous murder.”
Israeli woman lightly hurt in rock-throwing attack
An Israeli woman is lightly injured after assailant throw stones at her car in northern Israel.
The attack takes place near Gan-Nur.
The woman is evacuated to a hospital in Afula for treatment.
Otniel residents allowed to leave homes
Residents of the settlement of Otniel are now permitted by the army to leave their homes after several hours under lockdown.
Security forces continue to comb area for the terrorist.
Missing Jewish woman found dead in NJ river
A missing Orthodox Jewish New Jersey woman was found at the bottom of the Passaic River.
A car registered to Devorah Stubin, 22, was pulled from the New Jersey river on Saturday evening, the New Jersey Record reports.
The body inside was identified as Stubin on Sunday morning. Her funeral is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Stubin was last seen Thursday night when she was stopped by police for driving without headlights. Stubin reportedly suffered from a form of epilepsy.
Her father reported her missing after midnight on Friday morning. She had left the house at 8:30 p.m. Thursday to pick up her brother and was stopped ten minutes later by police. Her parents picked up her brother at her request following the traffic stop.
Dozens of volunteers from the Orthodox Jewish communities in Passaic and Clifton searched for Stubin through Friday night and into Saturday.The car appeared to have run through a fence near the river and fell down a steep embankment into about 10 feet of water.
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) January 17, 2016
Funeral arrangements for Dafna Meir
Dafna Meir will be laid to rest on Monday morning at 11 a.m. at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem, according to Hebrew reports.
The procession will begin in Otniel at 9 a.m. and head to the capital.