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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA


Iran says it shot down Israeli drone near Natanz nuclear facility

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Iran claimed that it shot down an Israeli drone near its Natanz uranium enrichment facility.

The drone was targeted by a ground-to-air missile before it entered the Natanz site, Iran’s state news agency ISNA reported Sunday.

Natanz, Iran’s main uranium enrichment site with more than 10,000 centrifuges, is located southeast of Tehran.

“This act demonstrates a new adventurism by the Zionist regime,” Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said in a statement on its official website, the AFP news agency reported. “The Revolutionary Guard and the other armed forces reserve the right to respond to this act.”

Israel has not commented on the statement.

Iran and the major powers, led by the United States, agreed in July to extend the talks on Iran’s nuclear program for another four months, citing progress in a number of areas. Iran has said it does not want to reduce its number of its centrifuges, and the world powers will not accept Iran maintaining its current capacity for uranium enrichment.

An interim deal that facilitated the talks in January rolled back some sanctions placed on Iran in exchange for reducing some of its nuclear capability.

Mom of 4-year-old killed by Gaza mortar grieves: ‘I just cannot come to grips’ with his death

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Hundreds attended the funeral for Daniel Tregerman, the 4-year-old who who was killed in a mortar attack outside his home near the Gaza border.

“We were the happiest family in the world, and I just cannot come to grips with it,” Daniel’s mother, Gila Tregerman, said between sobs at the funeral on Sunday morning at a cemetery in the Eshkol Region, near the family home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

“We wanted to protect you but even the Code Red siren failed to save you. You would always run first and call your little brother [to the shelter], and then in a second it ended.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also spoke at the funeral.

“He was too young to cross the street by himself because it was dangerous, but old enough to know the Code Red siren means because that too is dangerous,” Rivlin told the mourners. “You are everyone’s child. We are burying a child for whose sake we were fighting.”

The Tregerman family reportedly had left their home during the first three weeks of Israel’s operation in Gaza, but returned last week after security officials told residents it would be safe. But rockets began hitting the area again when the cease-fire was broken on Aug. 19.

The family reportedly had planned to leave the kibbutz later on Friday, the day Daniel was killed by shrapnel from the mortar attack.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement Sunday that the mortar that killed Daniel was fired from a launching site located adjacent to the Jafar Ali Ibn Taleb School in the neighborhood of Gaza City, which is serving as a shelter for displaced Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the Times of Israel reported that most of the families living in Nahal Oz had left by Saturday, and that most of those remaining were kibbutz employees. A mortar shell scored a direct hit on the kibbutz dining hall on Saturday morning.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Saturday in a visit to southern Israel that the IDF would provide assistance to civilians leaving the area. He had been scheduled to visit Nahal Oz, but his visit was canceled by his security advisers due to the large number of rockets and mortars that struck the kibbutz over the weekend.

Israel hits Gaza apartment building, says it housed Hamas op

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel said an airstrike by its military leveled a 12-story apartment building in Gaza that housed a Hamas operations room.

No one was killed in the Gaza City attack over the weekend but at least 18 people were injured, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

The Israeli army said it called residents of the building 10 minutes before the attack and warned them to evacuate, according to Maan. A warning missile reportedly was fired five minutes before the attack.

Netanyahu: ‘No immunity’ for those who fire at Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that any building from which Hamas carries out terrorist activities is a target for Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday morning, said the Gaza operation will continue “until its goals are achieved.” As he did earlier this month, the Israeli leader again equated Hamas to the jihadist group ISIS.

He called on the residents of Gaza “to immediately evacuate any building from which Hamas is carrying out terrorist activity. Any such place is a target for us.

“In recent days we have proven there is no immunity for those who fire at Israel’s citizens,” Netanyahu said. “This is true in all sectors and regarding all borders.”

Several hours earlier, Israel had leveled a 12-story apartment building with an airstrike that its military said housed Hamas operations.

Addressing directly the Israeli citizens living in areas on the border with Gaza, Netanyahu said, “I appreciate your resilience. I appreciate your suffering and I share your pain.” He promised that the government would approve a package of assistance for southern Israeli communities for during and after the operation.

Netanyahu also said, “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. They act in the same way. They are branches of the same poisonous tree. They are two extremist Islamic terrorist movements that abduct and murder innocents, that execute their own people, that shrink at nothing including the willful murder of children.”

The Gaza operation could extend into the start of the school year, the prime minister said.

Israel shuts Erez border crossing with Gaza following attacks

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel closed the Erez border crossing with Gaza after sustained attacks on the crossing that injured three civilians.

At least a dozen mortars were fired Sunday afternoon on the crossing, which is used by sick and injured Gazan civilians to receive medical treatment in Israel.

The crossing is closed “until further notice,” Israel’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement, “except for life-saving action.”

The three injured reportedly were Israeli-Arabs waiting to take people injured in Gaza to Israel for medical assistance, Ynet reported. The injured are in serious to moderate condition, according to Israel Police.

Fifty people had been expected to cross into Israel via Erez on Sunday, according to the Defense Ministry said.

Rockets fired from Syria, Lebanon strike northern Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Rockets fired from Syria and Lebanon struck northern Israel.

At least five rockets fired from Syria landed in areas across the Golan Heights early Sunday morning, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed.

No one was injured in the rocket attack from Syria, which occurred at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday amid a series of Code Red rocket alerts.

Late on Saturday night, a rocket fired from Lebanon landed on an empty house in the upper Galilee region of northern Israel; Israeli media reported that two children were injured.

Israel did not return fire but lodged a protest with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

Mashal vow: With more precise weapons, Hamas will aim only at military targets

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal vowed that Hamas would aim only at Israeli military targets if it can get more sophisticated weapons.

Mashal in an hourlong interview last Friday with Yahoo News in Doha, Qatar, also said his group is nothing like ISIS and admitted that Hamas members killed three kidnapped Israeli teens in June.

He said Hamas rejects the killing of civilians and journalists, unlike ISIS, an Islamist group that distributed a video of the beheading of an American journalist in recent days.

Asking the interviewer, “The question is, who is killing the civilians?” Mashal asserted that Israel has killed 15 journalists during attacks on Gaza.

“We do not target civilians, and we try most of the time to aim at military targets and Israeli bases,” he said, adding that Hamas’ “problem” is that it does not have the sophisticated military equipment that Israel has, “so aiming is difficult.”

“We promise that if we get more precise weapons, we will only target military targets,” Mashal said.

The interview occurred after a 4-year-old Israeli boy living near the Gaza border was killed in a mortar attack outside his home. The four-minute segment presented on Yahoo did not mention the attack.

Mashal called the comparison between Hamas and ISIS, which has been made repeatedly by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a “lie” designed to “trick” the American public.

“We are not a religious, violent group,” Mashal said. “We are fighting against aggression in our land.”

Mashal acknowledged during the interview that Hamas members kidnapped and murdered the three Israeli teens, though he said the Hamas organization did not know about the kidnapping in advance. He called the murders a legitimate form of protest against Israel.

“We understand people are frustrated under the occupation and the oppression, and they take all kinds of action,” he said.

The interview took place after two days of talks in the Qatari capital between Mashal and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Time magazine takes back charge that IDF harvests Palestinian organs

(JTA)—Time magazine retracted allegations that Israeli soldiers harvested and sold Palestinian organs.

On Sunday, the magazine deleted the allegations from a two-minute video on its website about the Israel Defense Forces and added a correction, writing at the end, “Correction: The original version of this video cited a contested allegation in a 2009 Swedish newspaper report as fact. The allegation has been removed from the video.”

The video, titled “The IDF: A look inside Israel’s powerful military,” said the “IDF is not without controversy,” reporting that “in 2009 a Swedish report came out exposing some Israeli troops of selling organs of Palestinians who died in their custody.”

According to the watchdog website Honest Reporting, “The reference is to a completely made up tabloid-style article in an obscure Swedish paper that even the author admitted was not based on any evidence.”

The allegation appeared in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. Of the allegation, the author of the piece said, “But whether it’s true or not – I have no idea, I have no clue,” according to Honest Reporting.

Israeli driver injured in West Bank rock attack

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An Israeli driver was injured when his car overturned after being attacked by Palestinians throwing rocks in the West Bank.

The driver, who was hit in the head in the Saturday night attack near Gush Etzion, was being treated  at Hadassah Hospital for internal bleeding. His wife and baby were lightly injured.

Also Saturday, a Palestinian resident of Shuafat, an Arab neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, was shot and seriously wounded by Border Police who were firing back at him, according to the Times of Israel. The gunman, 20, reportedly had been firing at homes in the Jewish eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev on Friday and Saturday.

He was taken for surgery at Hadassah Hospital.

Israeli PM deletes controversial ISIS tweet

(JTA)—The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office deleted a controversial tweet that used an image from a graphic beheading video released by ISIS.

After coming under widespread criticism, the office took down the hours-old tweet, which included an image of the late journalist James Wright Foley. A campaign on social media has sought to dissuade Twitter users and media outlets from disseminating either the video or images from it out of respect for Foley’s family and to deny a propaganda coup to the jihadist group ISIS, which murdered Foley.

The deleted Israeli tweet, which has been posted on BuzzFeed, juxtaposed an image, labeled “ISIS,” of Foley with his black-clad executioner with blade in hand alongside a picture, labeled “Hamas,” of a body being dragged through a street behind a motorcycle. The tweet was labeled “Hamas is ISIS. ISIS is Hamas,” repeating a statement made Wednesday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A few hours later, the tweet was deleted after the Prime Minister’s Office received criticism for using the image, according to The Wall Street Journal. Shortly after midnight last Friday, it was replaced by a similar tweet, supplanting the image of Foley with the ISIS logo in white against a black background.

The Prime Minister’s Office has stood by the sentiment expressed in the tweets. On Friday night, the office released a similar tweet, this time juxtaposing images of ISIS and Hamas performing public executions.

Well-known Turkish Jewish couple found murdered

(JTA)—A prominent Turkish Jewish couple were found murdered in their Istanbul home.

Police discovered the bodies of husband and wife, Jak Karako, 77, and Georgia Karako, 69, inside their apartment last Friday. They had been stabbed multiple times.

The Karakos were the former owners of Oren Bayan, a leading textile company in Turkey. According to media reports, the police are searching for the couple’s caretaker, whom they suspect of committing the crime.

Police entered the apartment after relatives were unable to contact the couple, the Daily Sabah newspaper reported.

Israeli boy, 4, killed by rocket fire; synagogue strike injures 3

(JTA)—Scores of rockets were fired at Israel, with one mortally wounding a 4-year-old boy in Shaar HaNegev.

The Shaar HaNegev Regional Council, in southern Israel, announced the boy’s death.

Another rocket lightly injured three at an Ashdod synagogue. Two men in their 20s and a woman in her 40s were injured by shrapnel from the rocket. They were taken to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

A senior medic told Haaretz that the rocket damaged the synagogue.

“There was a great commotion and many hysterical, frightened people,” the medic said.

Earlier in the day, heavy rocket and mortar fire on southern Israel moderately wounded another Israeli in Beersheba, Haaretz reported.

In Gaza, Hamas reportedly killed 18 Palestinians suspected of being Israeli collaborators on Friday. Seven reportedly were shot in a public execution outside and another 11 were executed at the Gaza City police headquarters.

Poll: Israeli Jews, Arabs oppose intermarriage

TEL AVIV (JTA)—Three-quarters of Israeli Jews and nearly two-thirds of Israeli Arabs would not marry someone from a different religion, according to a poll.

Conducted by Haaretz and the Dialog company on Aug. 19-20, the poll found that opposition to interfaith relationships was highest among haredi Orthodox Jews, at 95 percent. But 88 percent of traditional and religious Jews, as well as 64 percent of secular Jews, also opposed interdating.

Seventy-one percent of Muslim Israeli Arabs opposed interfaith relationships, but only half of Christian Israeli Arabs were opposed.

Across religious denominations, Israeli Jews would be much more opposed to their relatives marrying Arabs than they would be to relatives marrying non-Arab gentiles. Only a third of secular Jewish Israelis would be opposed to a relative marrying an American or European Christian, but a majority would oppose a relative marrying an Arab. Seventy-two percent of Israeli Jews overall would be opposed to a relative marrying an Arab.

Opposition to intermarriage was lowest among immigrants from the former Soviet Union. More than half would avoid having a relationship with a non-Jew, but if they were to fall in love with a non-Jew, only 35 percent would insist their spouse convert.

Two-thirds of Israeli Jews see intermarriage as a serious threat to Jews worldwide, and one-third see it as a serious threat to Jews in Israel.

The poll questioned 505 respondents and had a 4.4 percent margin of error.

Last week, a small far-right group protested in Rishon Lezion outside the wedding of an Israeli-Arab and a Jewish-born Israeli who converted to Islam.


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