A week after a reported Israeli airstrike on Syria that left an Iranian general and a senior Hezbollah commander dead, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Sunday that Lebanon and Syria would pay the price if Israel is subject to a retaliatory attack. Hours later, Israel put concrete barriers along the border road as a precautionary measure against possible sniper fire.
Meanwhile, following an invitation to speak in Washington, and with election fever rising, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he will speak out against Iran wherever he can.
The Times of Israel tracked developments throughout the day.
Yishai, Ben-Ari discuss united list
With party lists set to be finalized on Thursday, the ultra-Orthodox paper Kikar HaShabat reports that extreme right-wing former MK Michael Ben-Ari is in talks with former Shas MK Eli Yishai to join the latter’s breakaway party.
Ex-Kadima MK said to get Zionist Camp seat
Yoel Hasson, a former Kadima and Hatnua party MK, is expected to get a reserved spot in the Zionist Camp list for the upcoming election, Ynet reports.
Hasson served in the 17th and 18th Knessets, but didn’t get a seat in the 2013 elections. He would be given the 16th slot in the joint Labor-Hatnua list.
Tel Aviv court extends terror suspect’s remand
The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court extends the remand of suspected terrorist Hamza Matrouk, who allegedly stabbed and injured 12 people on Wednesday, by an additional nine days.
PM says he’ll speak against Iran anywhere
Amid the growing row over Netanyahu’s invite to speak before a joint session of Congress, the prime minister tells the cabinet that he “will go anywhere I am invited” in order to express Israel’s stance on Iran.
Read the full story here.
Arab parties mull recommending Herzog for PM
The united Arab party list is weighing the possibility of recommending Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog as a candidate for prime minister following the elections, MK Ahmad Tibi tells the Walla news site.
“We’re all joined by the desire to depose Netanyahu,” he says. “The question is who to recommend to the president of the country.”
After elections, the leader of each party that wins representation in the Knesset is asked by the president to recommend a prime minister.
Tibi clarifies, however, that the Arab parties will not be members of the coalition even though they might be part of the bloc preventing Netanyahu from forming a government.
Initial report of Tel Aviv stabbings
Initial reports of a stabbing incident near Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market are coming in.
Two people are reportedly injured, but the circumstances of the incident are unclear at the moment.
The reported attack takes place less than a week after a terror attack in which 12 were stabbed and injured in Tel Aviv.
Ya’alon leads pack as preferred defense minister
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, whom a recent poll found is the preferred candidate for the top security job, says Israel will hold Beirut and Damascus responsible for any revenge attacks following a reported Israeli airstrike that left a senior Hezbollah commander and Iranian general dead, along with 10 others, in the Syrian Golan Heights last week.
“We bolstered our forces in order to stay ahead of them carrying out the threats they are issuing there,” Ya’alon tells Army Radio. “There is Iron Dome, and we have advanced other forces, so that if someone decides to carry out a threat, he will also pay a price for it. This is not just organizations. The ones who bear responsibility in the north are governments, regimes, and the organizations themselves.”
According to a poll published by Channel 10 on Sunday, Ya’alon beats out Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, former IDF intel chief Amos Yadlin and former general Yoav Galant as the public’s preferred candidate for the next defense minister. Of 502 respondents in a TRI poll, 35 percent prefer the former chief of staff, while Galant, Yadlin and Bennett each garner about 14%. Just over 22% are undecided.
Tel Aviv stabbing reports false
A police spokesperson says that initial reports of a stabbing incident near Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market are false.
Soccer player killed outside Kafr Qassem home
Hapoel Kafr Qasim soccer player Suhaib Freij, 27, dies after being shot outside his home Sunday. An initial police report finds that Freij was shot in the chest by unknown assailants outside his house in Kafr Qassem after returning from visiting his sister, Haaretz reports.
Police are investigating Freij’s death.
At least 11 dead in Egypt protests
Egypt’s Health Ministry says that 11 people died and 30 are injured amid clashes between police and protesters in Cairo on the fourth anniversary of the revolution that deposed president Hosni Mubarak.
Lapid pans Netanyahu’s Congress speech
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid says that Netanyahu’s anticipated March 3 speech before the US Congress is a political gambit aimed at getting a leg up ahead of the March elections.
“Netanyahu’s speech is part of his complete disconnect, it comes with the plane and the pistachio ice cream,” he tells Walla news, referring to the prime minister’s spending scandals. “This is someone who’s involved only in himself, in his survival and in the desire to sit in the [prime minister’s] chair.”
Scheduling the speech in Washington so close to the March 17 elections “is total proof that it’s not the Iranian issue that drives him, but rather giving a campaign speech which will help him here in Israel.”
Rivlin won’t meet Obama in New York
President Reuven Rivlin won’t meet with US President Barack Obama during Rivlin’s upcoming trip to the United States, the President’s Residence says.
Rivlin’s office says that it was in touch with the relevant officials in Washington concerning a possible meeting during Rivlin’s visit to New York for International Holocaust Memorial Day.
“At this point it was agreed that a meeting won’t take place during President Rivlin’s visit because of schedule constraints of the two presidents, and that a date for a future meeting will be set in the future,” it says in a statement.
Blood shortage spurs MDA to make public appeal
Magen David Adom calls on the Israeli public to donate blood this week because of a severe shortage of blood, particularly type O, at blood banks nationwide.
The shortage could hinder hospitals’ abilities to perform surgeries and emergency operations, MDA says.
For more information, check the Magen David Adom website or call 03-5300400.
Possible security incident on Lebanon border
The IDF has closed roads near the Lebanese border amid a possible security incident in the north.
Israel Radio correspondent Idan Avni reports that several suspicious persons were espied near the border fence in the Upper Galilee and local security were scrambled. He says there’s no concern about an infiltration, but that IDF troops are searching the area.
Last week a similar incident took place when several men approached the border fence separating Israel and Lebanon. No infiltration of Israeli territory was discerned at that time.
All clear on Lebanon border
The all clear has reportedly been given after IDF troops were scrambled following the sighting of people approaching the border fence from Lebanon.
IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner tweets that there was no infiltration, but the sighting “warranted safety precautions.”
@IsraelHatzolah there was no infiltration but suspicious movement on the Lebanon side of the border that warranted safety precautions.
— Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner) January 25, 2015
Labor Party announces finalized list
The Labor Party announces its finalized list for the upcoming Knesset elections.
Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, who received the party’s 11th seat, is booed by the crowd when he was named, Ynet reports.
IDF erects concrete barriers on Lebanon border
The IDF has put up concrete barriers along the road running parallel to the border out of concern for sniper fire at soldiers and civilians by Hezbollah, Channel 2 reports.
Labor chief lauds party list as ‘most Zionist’
Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog says the united list with Hatnua for the upcoming elections is moral, diverse and the most Zionist there is.
“Nobody will teach us what Zionism is, because we’re the real Zionism,” he says at a party gathering.
Livni, the No. 2 on the joint list, accuses Netanyahu of terrorizing the public, but comments that “we’re not afraid of the incitement and attacks.”
Herzog lets slip about Syria strike
While Israel officially remains mum on the airstrike in Syria, which killed a senior Hezbollah commander and an Iranian general, opposition leader and Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog told a conference at a college in northern Israel last week that he “received an update on the operation,” Channel 10 reports.
Herzog later backtracked, saying that his off-the-cuff remarks referred to receiving an update about the security situation following the attack on Syria, and didn’t refer to those responsible for the attack itself.