At Least 3 Killed, 7 Wounded in Shooting Attack at Food & Retail Center in Tel Aviv

At least three people were killed and seven people were wounded in a shooting attack at a food and shopping center in Tel Aviv, after two gunmen, said to be disguised as ultra-Orthodox Jews, opened fire on passersby.

All of the wounded were evacuated to nearby hospitals. One of the shooters was captured by police and taken in for questioning, and the other was taken to Ichilov Hospital in serious condition.

Netanyahu, who arrived on Wednesday from Moscow, is convening a security briefing in Tel Aviv.

Seven of the wounded have been evacuated to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and another was taken to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. One of the wounded was said to be in critical condition, four in serious condition currently and two are in light condition. The casualty at Sheba is in moderate condition.

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The attack took place at Sarona Market, an upscale food and retail center located opposite to the military headquarters in central Tel Aviv and near government buildings. Police said they received a call at 9:30 P.M. regarding shootings heard at Sharon. As emergency forces were making their way to the scene, there was another of a shooting incident at near the food and shopping center.

Tel Aviv district police chief Moshe Edri said there was no prior terror alert before the shooting occured and there was no information about an additional terrorist at large.

According to initial reports, two armed man opened fire at passersby near the Benedict restaurant. The shooter then reportedly opened fire at the nearby Ha’arbaa Street. Read the rest of this entry »


Netanyahu Forms New Israel Government

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61-seat majority leaves Netanyahu little margin for error

TEL AVIV— Nicholas Casey and Joshua Mitnick report: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finalized a deal late Wednesday to establish a new governing coalition, concluding weeks of negotiations after his March 17 election landslide victory.

“The present government is going to be even more dysfunctional than the last government given how narrow it is. Something has got to give.”

— Sam LehmanWilzig, a political-science professor at Bar Ilan University

At a joint news conference with Naftali Bennett, the leader of the pro-settler Jewish Home party and the last hold out in the coalition haggling, Mr. Netanyahu said he planned to immediately inform Israel’s president as required by law that he had successfully formed a majority coalition.

“No one was surprised that the negotiations were drawn out with all the parties, but no one was surprised that it ended on time.”

— Benjamin Netanyahu

Mr. Netanyahu’s struggle to form a coalition was a turn of fortune for the Israeli leader after his Likud party won a decisive mandate for a fourth term in the March vote. He opted to dissolve parliament and call early elections with the hope of forming a more cohesive and stable coalition. Now, he faces the prospect of more instability instead.

Mr. Netanyahu’s new majority numbers just 61 seats held by right-wing and religious factions, leaving Mr. Netanyahu with little margin for error in the 120-seat parliament, called the Knesset.

Analysts say that while such a government might be hard to topple from the outside—it will be solidly right-wing—such a narrow majority could leave it vulnerable to pressure from demands from individual lawmakers within his coalition that could endanger his government. Read the rest of this entry »


ISRAEL ELECTION LIVE BLOG: Likud Cements Victory with Nearly All Votes Counted

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With nearly all votes counted, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Lkud party is set to emerge as the election’s big winner with 29 seats. The Zionist Union trails behind with 24 seats. The Joint List of Arab parties is the third-largest party at this point, followed by Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Habayit Hayehudi, Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism, Meretz and Yahad.

President Reuven Rivlin said he would work for a national unity government.

Ballots were cast at 10,372 polling stations throughout Israel. Read the rest of this entry »


Israel Once Again Disappointed by Kerry’s Pathological Incompetence

Secretary of State John Kerry and the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, at the State Department on Wednesday. Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry and the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, at the State Department on Wednesday. Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

For the NYTimesIsabel Kershner writes:  In an unusually pointed rebuke of an ally, Israel said on Wednesday that it was “deeply disappointed” by Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks a day earlier that appeared to lay primary blame on Israel for the crisis in the American-brokered Middle East peace talks.

The Israeli-Palestinian dispute that has brought the talks to the brink of collapse appeared to be developing into an open quarrel between Israel and the United States, even as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were said to be planning a third meeting here this week with American mediators to try to resolve the crisis.

“Poof, that was sort of the moment. We find ourselves where we are.”

— Secretary of State John Kerry’s infamous “poof speech”

In a sign that the sides were still far from reconciled, Israel on Wednesday directed its government ministers and senior ministry officials to refrain from meeting with their Palestinian counterparts, a move that officials said could delay bilateral projects.

The ban on contacts does not apply to the negotiators, and Israeli officials signaled that coordination between the two sides on security issues would continue. But it was intended to send a message that there would be no business as usual. Read the rest of this entry »