The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Germany searching for 10 suspected Iranian spies
German authorities are conducting searches countrywide in connection with 10 suspected Iranian spies.
A spokesman for the Federal Prosecutors Office says the suspects are believed to have “spied on institutions and persons in Germany on behalf of an entity associated with Iran.”
The spokesman, Stefan Biehl, tells The Associated Press that Tuesday’s raids were prompted by a tip from Germany’s domestic intelligence service.
He declined to comment on a report by weekly magazine Focus that the suspects were spying on Israelis in Germany.
Iran urges Muslim countries not to depend on ‘foreigners’
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is calling for more solidarity between Muslim countries and for them not to depend on “foreigners” for their development.
His comments come after Washington threatened to withdraw from a landmark deal between Tehran and world powers that lifted crippling sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program.
“Only non-dependence on foreigners and increased solidarity between Muslim countries will allow us to overcome the Islamic world’s problems,” Rouhani says.
“We should… count on our own capacities” to ensure “growth and development,” he said at the opening in Tehran of a session of the parliamentary union of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Denmark charges inventor with grisly murder of journalist on his submarine
Danish prosecutor file charges against inventor Peter Madsen for murdering Swedish journalist Kim Wall on his submarine.
The charges come after Danish divers found the decapitated head, legs and clothes of Wall, who was killed after going on a trip with Madsen on his submarine.
Madsen, the 46-year-old Danish inventor has said Wall died after being accidentally hit by a 70-kilogram (155-pound) hatch on the UC3 Nautilus submarine, after which he “buried” her at sea. But police have said 15 stab wounds were found on the torso found at sea off Copenhagen on August 21. Her arms are still missing.
North Korea mocks Trump’s nuclear tweet as ‘spasm of a lunatic’
North Korea’s state-run media say US President Donald Trump’s tweet about having a bigger nuclear button than leader Kim Jong Un’s is the “spasm of a lunatic.”
Rodong Sinmun, the ruling party newspaper, lashes out at Trump in a commentary on Tuesday that takes issue with the US commander in chief’s January 3 tweet that said, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
A summary of the commentary by North Korea’s official news agency describes the tweet as “the spasm of a lunatic.”
“The spasm of Trump in the new year reflects the desperate mental state of a loser who failed to check the vigorous advance of the army and people of the DPRK,” the Rodong Sinmun commentary said, using the acronym for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “He is making (a) bluff only to be diagnosed as a psychopath.”
Boy, 13, treated for possible rabies after stray dog bite in north
A 13-year-old boy is being vaccinated against the deadly rabies virus in northern Israel after being bitten by a stray dog.
The boy, from the Upper Galilee, was taken to a hospital in the city of Safed, treated and released, medics say.
The dog has not been found.
There has been a surge in rabies cases among animals in northern Israel in the last few months, prompting fears that it could spread to humans.
Envoy in Berlin says embassy security raised, Israelis warned about Iran spies
Israel’s Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff says that Israelis are taking precautions amid reports of an Iranian spy ring in German that was targeting Israelis and Jewish targets.
“Embassy security has been stepped up, Israelis received warnings,” Issacharoff tells the Walls news site.
German authorities said today they are conducting searches countrywide in connection with 10 suspected Iranian spies, with one report saying that the suspects were members of an elite military force that had been watching Israeli and Jewish targets.
Netanyahu finds love as he tours the Taj Mahal
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara spend the day touring the Taj Mahal during his India visit.
“In India we met much love, love for Israel, and here we are in the temple of love,” Netanyahu says after visiting the iconic white marble mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara toured the Taj Mahal:
"This is a moment of relaxation on a very intensive visit. I would like to thank Indian PM Modi for allowing us this moment as well. In India we met much love, love for Israel, and here we are in the temple of love." pic.twitter.com/YX9sbH9AdC
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) January 16, 2018
Bodies of twin sisters found dead in apartment in south
The bodies of twin sisters, immigrants from Argentina, are found in an apartment in the southern city of Ashkelon in what police believe is an apparent double suicide.
Searches were launched after they after they failed to arrive for work for several days.
Hebrew media reports say the women in their 50s were immigrants from Argentina and employed at the Barzilai Medical Center in the city.
Israel Radio quotes police as saying that the deaths are believed to be suicide, but an investigation is ongoing
Chabad UK slam Jews who danced with sex offender’s donated Torah scroll
Chabad in the United Kingdom is condemning a religious ceremony hosted by one of their movement’s synagogues honoring the donation of a Torah scroll by a sex offender.
A Chabad UK spokesperson says the organization had issued a “wide and loud condemnation of the celebrant and the event” in a statement to The Jewish Chronicle yesterday about the celebration last week at the Heichal Menachem synagogue in London.
Hundreds of congregants attended a celebration for the inauguration of a Torah scroll commissioned and paid for by Menachem Mendel Levy, a Londoner from the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Golders Green in the British capital’s north who was jailed for three years in 2013 for sexual assault on a girl younger than 16.
The event featured dancing and singing as the new Torah scroll was introduced into the ark.
UK Landlords Union under fire for using Auschwitz photo in news release
The Landlords Union, an organization in the United Kingdom, is under fire for using a photo of Auschwitz to illustrate a news release about new government policies against rogue landlords.
The image reportedly first appeared on the news release on the union’s property118.com website two weeks ago, the British tabloid Metro reports, but was only removed yesterday.
An apology was posted today in which Neil Patterson, identified as a member of The Landlord’s Union, says “I had no idea that the image I selected was one of Auschwitz and I certainly didn’t intend to offend the memorial or indeed anybody else.”
He says he found the photo after searching for the keyword Prison on the Pexels stock images website. He added that Pexels also has since removed the image.
In addition to the apology, Patterson made a donation to the Auschwitz Memorial.
— The Landlords Union (@Property118) January 16, 2018
Israeli town names cinema for ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot
A cinema in northern Israel is to be named after Israeli Hollywood celeb Gal Gadot, star of the blockbuster hit “Wonder Woman,” the town of Nazareth Ilit says.
“We are going to name the new cinema after Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress who brings honor to this country,” municipal spokeswoman Orna Yosef tells AFP.
“This is a message for our young people because Gal Gadot is an example of success, who has shown that dreams can be attained.”
Netanyahu urges India to do away with bureaucracy
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a conference in India, urges his hosts to learn from Israel’s example and cut bureaucracy.
Netanyahu says that the source of Israel’s military prowess is the economic power to pay for jet fighters, submarines and “lots of intelligence.”
But Netanyahu says this can only come when the economy can flourish without being hindered by government bureaucracy.
“The main job of India and Israel is to reduce bureaucracy,” he says.
In India, Netanyahu calls on democracies to unite against radical Islam
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a conference in India, calls on democracies like Israel and India to unite together against threats like radical Islam.
Netanyahu says that only democracies that value human rights can ensure a world of “international communities that protect those norms.”
“The quest for modernity is being challenged by radical Islam,” Netanyahu says, calling for an “alliance of democracies … to ensure our common futures.”
The prime minister calls on India and Israel to step up economic, diplomatic and military cooperation to achieve these goals.
Gravestones vandalized in Jewish cemetery in Eritrea
Dozens of gravestones were toppled and broken in a Jewish cemetery in Eritrea.
The damage at the cemetery located in the capital of Asmara is believed to have happened in recent days, according to two Jewish news outlets that received photos of the vandalism.
The Israel-based Haaretz published photos of the smashed gravestones, reported to be the first time that the Jewish cemetery has been targeted.
“The cemetery suffered vandalism and a large number of graves were defaced,” Danny Goldschmidt, from the Aden Jewish Heritage Museum located in Tel Aviv, tells Haaretz. He said that the police have not made any arrests in the incident.
The London-based Jewish Chronicle also was sent photos of the damage by an unnamed reader in London of Eritrean descent, who did not want his name published for fear of retribution against family members who remain in Eritrea.
Erdogan to meet pope for talks expected to focus on Jerusalem recognition
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Pope Francis at the Vatican next month for talks likely to focus on the controversial US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Erdogan’s first trip to the Holy See will be on February 5, the Vatican says. It follows phone calls between the two leaders who share concerns over the crisis and agree the status quo should remain.
Investigation dropped against Manchester rabbi arrested in fraud case
An investigation is dropped against a British rabbi in Manchester who heads an investment firm and was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Benji Silverstone, who heads the HBFS Wealth Management office in the British city, has worked there for nearly five years after serving over nine years as the Manchester director of the Jewish outreach group Aish Hatorah.
He was arrested in late December in the wake of other arrests at the company.
His attorney tells the Jewish Chronicle that London police released Silverstone from bail and are not pursuing any criminal charges against him.
Iran’s Khamenei says Muslim world has ‘totally ignored’ Palestine issue
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seems to think that the Muslim world has “totally ignored” the Palestine issue and but that the struggle against Israel will one day “bear fruit.”
“Palestine is an important issue of the Muslim World which has been totally ignored,” Khameini says in a tweet.
But he also predicts that Israel will eventually be defeated.
“Defeating the Zionists in a soft war is possible just as it is during hard war,” he tweets. “I believe that this struggle against the Zionist regime will bear fruit, just as the #resistance has progressed today.”
#Palestine is an important issue of the Muslim World which has been totally ignored. Defeating the Zionists in a soft war is possible just as it is during hard war.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 16, 2018
Jewish woman advances to finals of Miss Germany contest
A Jewish woman has qualified for the final round of the Miss Germany 2018 contest.
Tamar Morali, 21, won the title of Miss Internet over the weekend, which qualifies her to compete against about 20 other women who have won in other categories to become Miss Germany.
She was chosen among the 10 contestants in the final round by a panel of celebrity judges, as well as in online voting, following evening gown and bathing suit competitions, as well as a personal interview.
Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert
Japan’s public broadcaster mistakenly sends an alert warning citizens of a North Korean missile launch and urging them to seek immediate shelter, then minutes later corrected it, days after a similar error in Hawaii.
NHK television issued the message on its internet and mobile news sites as well as on Twitter, saying North Korea appeared to have fired a missile at Japan. It said the government was telling people to evacuate and take shelter.
“North Korea appears to have fired a missile,” NHK said, adding that a government warning had been issued. “The government: Seek shelter inside buildings and basements.”
The false alarm came just days after Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency sent a mistaken warning of a North Korean missile attack to mobile phones across the state, triggering panic.
IDF soldier detained for calling to avenge slain rabbi
An IDF soldier has been detained for distributing pamphlets calling for revenge following the killing of a rabbi in a West Bank shooting attack last week.
Military police found the pamphlets, calling for attacks on Palestinians, on a base where he was serving.
The army says the soldier was detained on suspicion of preparing and distributing the inciting pamphlets.
Raziel Shevach, a father of 6, was murdered as he was driving near his home last week. His funeral was marred by calls for revenge.
Bannon arrives to testify in Congress in wake of explosive book on Trump
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is expected to be peppered with questions on the Trump campaign’s links to Russia in closed testimony to the House Intelligence Committee today.
Bannon, who has been mostly quiet since the release of an incendiary book about US President Donald Trump in which he figured prominently as a source, was seen arriving in Congress for the hearing.
His insider role during the Trump election campaign and in the White House could provide crucial details to the committee, which is seeking to understand the extent of contact between Trump and his advisors and Russia, which is accused of interfering with the 2016 election.
It come after the release of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by Michael Wolff, who notably quotes Bannon as saying a pre-election meeting involving Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr. and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer was “treasonous.”
Five seriously wounded when car collides with camel in Negev
Five people are seriously wounded when a car collided with a camel that wandered onto a road in the Negev desert.
One of the wounded is said to be in a critical condition, the Ynet news site reports. Reports say two helicopters are on their way to take the wounded to hospital.
Stray camels have caused a number of traffic fatalities despite attempts by authorities to get their owners to coral them.
Palestinians hand father suspected of stabbing daughter to Israel police
Palestinian authorities have handed an Arab Israeli man suspected of stabbing his daughter over to Israeli police.
Police say that the man’s wife has also been detained. They will appear before a court tomorrow.
The daughter, a 19-year-old student from the Galilee, was stabbed and critically injured in the dormitories of the Arab American University in the West Bank city of Jenin yesterday.
Her father was one of a number of people held.
Recent years have seen several instances of family members attacking young Arab women in suspected honor killings.
Missing Briton’s belongings found in Israel desert – police
Israeli police say they have found sheets of paper with prayers in the country’s desert south believed to belong to a British tourist missing since November.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tells AFP that Oliver McAfee, 29, had been last sighted in northern Israel.
But some of his belongings, including his bicycle, were found in the Negev desert near the southern town of Mitzpe Ramon, which stands at the edge of the world’s largest erosion crater.
Rosenfeld says Christian religious passages belonging to McAfee, who is originally from Northern Ireland but resident in England, were also discovered.
“Pieces of paper, with prayers, etcetera, were found in the desert,” Rosenfeld said, adding they had been placed under stones arranged in circles.
“We know 100 percent that they belong to him, including the bike, including papers that he had written on, his camera.”
Rosenfeld says the missing man’s passport, phone and sleeping bag had not been found.
13-year-old dies of injuries from car-camel collision
A thirteen year old boy who was critically injured when the vehicle he was travelling in collided with a stray camel in the Negev desert has died, medics say.
Magen David Adom medics tried to revive the child but were unsuccessful and forced to declare him dead.
A man and woman in their 40’s are also in a serious condition, while two other children are in a moderate condition, medics say.
Cyprus, Greece and Jordan pledge to partner in fight against terror
The leaders of Cyprus, Greece and Jordan are pledging a new partnership with tighter cooperation on fighting terrorism.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades says that three-way talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras aim to jointly bolster security in the eastern Mediterranean.
Abdullah says his country is working with others to close off all routes for extremists and that there can be no let-up despite successes in Iraq and Syria.
“Terrorist groups cannot be allowed to regroup and establish footholds elsewhere,” says Abdullah.
Police arrest 29 accused of massive billion shekel fraud
Police say that they have arrested 29 people accused of swindling the state out of more than NIS 1 billion ($300 million)
The suspects, including a senior official at a major bank, are believed to have issued fictitious receipts in the construction industry.
The Walla news site says two heads of a crime family were arrested in Spain.
Air Force appoints first female aviation squadron commander
The Israeli Air Force names its first female female commander of an aviation squadron, the army says.
The major, who can only be referred to by the first Hebrew letter of her name, “Tet,” will receive a promotion to lieutenant colonel in order to take over as head of a squadron of transport planes.
“She will be the first female pilot to have this position and to have this rank,” the army says.
There have been non-pilot female officers with this rank and who have commanded ground-based IAF squadrons.
“In addition, Maj. ‘Mem’ was appointed to command the [air force’s] operational command and control unit and will be promoted to lieutenant colonel. She will be the first female air traffic controller to reach this rank,” the army adds.
— Judah Ari Gross
Abbas harsh speech said a reaction to Saudis showing him Trump peace plan
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided to deliver his harsh speech that effectively ended the peace talks after the Saudis informed him of the parameters of the Trump peace plan, Hadashot news reports.
In the speech Abbas called the plan the ‘slap of the century,” and preemptively rejected it.
According to the report, the plan leaves Israel in control of overall security, Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley and land swaps — but not based on the 1967 lines. It also ruled out Israel evacuating any settlements.
These are all key Israeli demands.
The plan also leaves the status of Jerusalem up to a future agreement between the two sides.
The White House told Hadashot news that the Palestinians had not yet seen the plan, which has not been completed and were trying to “create a false impression.”
Amid crisis with Palestinians, US peace envoy to arrive in Israel
US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Jason Greenblatt, was due in Israel on Wednesday amid a crisis in relations between the US and the Palestinians.
Greenblatt is set to take part in meetings with members of the so-called Middle East Quartet — the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, Channel 10 reports.
The meeting comes amid Palestinian anger at Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and over the content of the Trump peace plan, which Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is calling “the slap of the century.”
Abbas has refused to meet with US officials and says the US can no longer be a broker in the peace process.
Austrian Jews to boycott Holocaust ceremony if far-right ministers attend
A Jewish leader in Austria says community officials will not attend the nation’s official Holocaust commemoration ceremony if lawmakers from the far-right Freedom Party are present.
“If there will be ministers there for the Freedom Party, and I’m sure there will be, I will not be able to shake their hands, so the Jewish community will not attend,” Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Community in Vienna, tells the Makor Rishon daily of the annual Jan. 27 ceremony organized by Jewish groups for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Jewish community has boycotted the Freedom Party, which entered the government last month and is led by Heinz-Christian Strache, now the vice chancellor of Austria.
A former SS officer founded the party in the 1950s, and several of its leaders today have made anti-Semitic statements. Strache has said his party rejects anti-Semitism, but Deutsch has called the statement a facade.
Hebrew grammar book from 16th century returns to Prague
A 16th century book that belonged to Prague’s Jewish community before World War II and surfaced at a New York City auction last year was brought back to the Czech Republic today.
Titled “Mikne Avram – Peculium Abrae,” the recovered volume is a grammar book published in both Hebrew and Latin in 1523. It was written by Abraham ben Meir de Balmes, an Italian Jew, and published in Italy.
It belonged to the library of Prague’s Jewish community before the war, and it is not clear under what circumstances it disappeared.
“It’s an exceptional moment for us that such a rare book returns to Prague after such a long time,”says Leo Pavlat, director of the Jewish Museum in Prague, the legal successor to the Czech capital’s pre-war Jewish community.
US withholds $65M from UN agency for Palestinians
The United States sent $60 million to keep the UN relief agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) in operation but withheld a further $65 million while it urges others to pay more, a State Department official says.
“There is a need to undertake a fundamental re-examination of UNRWA, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded,” the official says.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to cut funding for the agency after the Palestinians boycotted US officials over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem.
— with AFP
Saudi Arabia to transfer $2 billion after urgent Yemen plea
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman orders the transfer of $2 billion to Yemen, a day after Yemen’s Saudi-backed prime minister made an urgent appeal on the kingdom and its allies to save the local currency from “complete collapse.”
Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghir had called on the kingdom and its allies to act “now, not tomorrow,” and said saving the Yemeni rial means “saving Yemenis from inevitable famine.” In his letter, he said Yemen needed a bailout.
For nearly three years, a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen against Iranian-allied rebels, known as Houthis, after the rebels overran the capital of Sanaa and forced Yemen’s government into exile.
The war has killed more than 10,000 civilians, displaced some 2 million people and pushed millions to the brink of famine. The United Nations calls Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Saudi Arabia says in a statement that the funds would be deposited in Yemen’s Central Bank to help address the “deteriorating economic situation faced by the Yemeni people.”