An unidentified passenger on Belgian train line hijacks PA system and makes anti-Semitic announcement.
Passengers aboard a Belgian train from Namur to Brussels were stunned to hear an unusual message on the train’s PA system: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching Auschwitz. All Jews are requested to disembark and take a short shower.”
The Janaury 31 incident led the Belgian rail company SNCB to file a police complaint over incitement to hatred.
TV station RTL reported that the unidentified passenger hijacked the PA system at 5 pm, peak time. He made his anti-Semitic remarks in French, according to the station.
The incident was reported to Viviane Teitelbaum, a Jewish lawmaker in the assembly of the Brussels region.
Teitelbaum told RTL he spoke to a person who was on the train, who told the lawmaker he suspects the passenger is a part of a group of teenagers who managed to grab a conductor’s keys, that allowed them to gain access to the PA system.
A similar incident occurred in 2012 on the same train line, when the perpetrators – who were never caught – said “Welcome to this train heading to Auschwitz. All Jews are requested to disembark at Buchenwald.”
Chief of staff warns Tehran’s enemies and regional states against military action, calling American threats ‘political bluff’
In the latest in a series of warnings against the US, Iran’s chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi warned the Islamic republic’s foes that Iran is prepared for a “decisive battle” if attacked.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on stage during a meeting with Iranian air force commanders in Tehran
“We are ready for the decisive battle with America and the Zionist regime (Israel),” Fars news agency quoted Firouzabadi as saying Wednesday.
He also warned neighboring nations not to allow any attack to be launched on Iran from their soil.
“We do not have any hostility toward regional states, but if we are ever attacked from the American bases in the region we will strike that area back,” he said.
Washington has many military bases in the region, including in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said late last month that if diplomacy with Iran fails, “the military option of the United States is ready and prepared to do what it would have to do.”
But Firouzabadi accused the US of bluffing.
“Over the past decade, they brought their forces but came to the conclusion that they can’t attack us, and left,” he said, dismissing the US military threat as nothing but a “political bluff.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the West should not have any delusions about using a military option.
“I say explicitly, if some have delusions of having any threats against Iran on their tables, they need to wear new glasses. There is no military option against Iran on any table in the world,” he said.
On Sunday, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy Commander Ali Fadavi said the US knows that its aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf would be sunk if it launched a military strike on Iran.
“The Americans can sense by all means how their warships will be sunk with 5,000 crews and forces in combat against Iran and how they should find its hulk in the depths of the sea,” said Fadavi, according to Fars news agency.
“They cannot hide themselves in the sea since the entire Middle East region, Western Europe, the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz are monitored by us and there is no place for them to hide.”
Also Sunday, Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan touted the Iranian military’s ability to respond to an American attack, Fars reported.
“The Iranian Armed Forces are an intertwined and coherent complex that can give a decisive response to any threat at any level and any place under the command of the commander-in-chief,” Dehqan said in a ceremony marking the 35th anniversary of the revolution that brought the current Islamic regime to power.
“The enemy can never assess and think of the range of the response given by the powerful and mighty Armed Forces of the Islamic Iran,” he added.
The bellicose rhetoric follows Saturday’s announcement by an Iranian admiral that Iran had dispatched warships to the North Atlantic, while Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced the Americans as liars who, while professing to be friends of Tehran, would bring down his regime if they could. He also said it was “amusing” that the US thought Iran would reduce its “defensive capabilities.”
On Friday, Iranian state TV ran a documentary featuring a computerized video of Iran’s drones and missiles bombing Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ben-Gurion Airport and the Dimona nuclear reactor in a simulated retaliation for a hypothetical Israeli or American strike on the Islamic Republic.
Iran is due to resume talks on Monday in Vienna with the P5+1 — Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany — aimed at reaching a comprehensive nuclear accord following a landmark interim agreement struck in November.
Western nations have long suspected Iran of covertly pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian program, allegations denied by Tehran, which insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.
Neither the United States nor Israel has ruled out military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, if diplomacy fails.
With an interim agreement reached and signed in Geneva between the P-5+1 and Iran on Saturday, the US Government seems content while subsequent events clearly indicate Iran is not planning on keeping its end of the bargain leaving Netanyahu no option but to order a strike.
A couple of quick pen strokes signaled the sealing of the (interim) agreement in the early hours of Sunday after four long days of negotiations. Soon thereafter, near-euphoric headlines emerged around the world notifying the international community of this happening. Yet there is little to rejoice about.
A 3.3-magnitude earthquake rattled the Sea of Galilee region in northern Israel on Tuesday morning. It was the fifth earthquake to strike northern Israel in the past week.
The epicenter of the earthquake was underneath the Sea of Galilee, 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) northeast of Kibbutz Ginosar. No injuries or damage were reported.
On Sunday, two 3.6-magnitude quakes shook the Sea of Galilee region, just four hours apart. The Geophysical Institute of Israel said that the epicenters of the two earthquakes were on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee. The tremors were felt most strongly in Tiberias, Hazor, Safed and the village of Majar. Residents of the Golan Heights reported that the second earthquake was felt there as well.
Two other earthquakes hit the same area on Thursday and Friday.
According to the Geophysical Institute of Israel, it is impossible to tell whether the series of small earthquakes indicates a stronger earthquake will take place in the near future.
“The sequence of earthquakes does not indicate anything about the future,” said institute Director Dr. Uri Frieslander. “We can’t rule out a stronger earthquake, but it is certainly possible that these small quakes will not lead to anything. Small quakes have preceded a strong earthquake in the past, but in the same vein, there were incidents in which that did not happen.”
In light of the recent string of earthquakes, Tiberias and Safed have announced they will hold earthquake exercises. Also, the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion announced on Monday that it will host a drill in three hours that will test the readiness of national emergency services for a major earthquake.
The Israel Defense Forces Homefront Command has updated its directives for the public, primarily emphasizing that during a quake it is preferable to leave buildings and get into an open space, as opposed to a missile strike, when the opposite is advised. If quickly getting to an open space is impossible, the next best option is to seek shelter in a fortified room or in the stairwell. The Homefront Command also told the public that during a quake the coast should be avoided by at least 1 kilometer, due to concerns over large waves, or to climb to at least the fourth floor of a building.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee on Home Front Preparedness chairman MK Eli Yishai (Shas) said, “The wave of earthquakes hitting our region obligates us to conduct a comprehensive examination of the state and homefront’s readiness for any possible scenario that could arise as a result of an earthquake. We cannot and must not ignore from this phenomenon that is hitting us with increased strength recently.
“Moreover, I have called for a special meeting of the committee for the beginning of next week, to examine the country’s readiness, to highlight deficiencies if they exist and demand that they be fixed as soon as possible. It is our obligation to consider any possibility and not be caught complacent.”
The committee will meet to discuss the issue next Monday.
Gadi Ofer, the chief engineer for the Better Housing Association, said data for apartment buildings in Israel showed that some 60 percent would not withstand a strong earthquake. However, this figure is not accurate, and may be even higher because it disregards over 400,000 structures build prior to the legislated implementation of construction standards meant to protect against earthquakes.
“I am not certain how much we can trust buildings that were constructed even after the implementation of the earthquake standard, because these buildings plans were not professionally tested — for objective reasons — and only settled for a signed declaration by the building planner to that effect,” Ofer warned.
Better Housing Association CEO Reuven Tzadok, meanwhile, sought to alleviate concerns.
“Earthquakes cannot be prevented,” he said, “but it is possible to prepare for them and therefore minimize the damage they cause. Since it is impossible to predict the date and time of earthquakes, it is advisable to be prepared for them at all times.
“Being prepared, first and foremost, means making sure the building we live and work in can withstand an earthquake. In Israel there is a special statute (413) from 1980, which tells the engineer how he must plan the various elements of a building so that it can endure the forces created during a strong ground shift. The statute defines the minimum requirements for preventing the loss of life, but for preventing property damage. We encourage the private housing committees to make use of our engineering consultation service or consult with the center’s main office.
Top soldier and his security aide tend to car accident victim until paramedics arrive
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz in action during a live fire exercise for battalion commanders on the Golan Heights, September 4, 2012. (photo credit: Shay Wagner/IDF/Flash90)
When Magen David Adom paramedics arrived at the scene of a car accident on Road 4 north of Ashdod Saturday night, they were surprised to find that somebody had beaten them to the punch.
“From afar, we saw flashing lights and thought police had arrived before us,” MDA paramedic Ravit Martinez told Yedioth Ahronoth. “But when we got closer, we saw that they weren’t police cars, but civilian security vehicles that had closed off the area safely.”
It turns out that IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz had been on the way home from dinner when he passed a car that had collided with the safety rail. He and his security attaché stopped to evacuate the driver from the car and began giving him medical assistance until paramedics arrived. Gantz was not in uniform.
“When we arrived they gave us the details of the crash and the first aid they’d administered to the injured man,” the paramedic said. “I tapped the shoulder of one of them, a tall, sturdy guy who was standing next to me, and asked him to help me lift the injured man onto the stretcher. He said ‘no problem at all’ and helped. I was focused on work and didn’t really pay attention to the person I was talking to. Only afterwards in the ambulance did I realize that the person who was helping me so much there was the chief of staff.”
The IDF said in a statement: “That is exactly what an officer is expected to do when he arrives at the scene of an accident. Even if he is not in uniform, it is on him to do all that he can to help.”
This isn’t the first time that Gantz has been in the news for Good Samaritan actions.
In December 2011, he was eating at a restaurant in Ra’anana when a woman had a stroke and fainted. He and his security detail administered first aid until paramedics arrived.
A year later, Gantz ordered his helicopter to turn around in order to evacuate a paratrooper who had been injured during a routine drill in the Jordan Valley.
This past July, Gantz, who was at sea in a navy vessel, changed course and then worked side-by-side with the IDF’s rescue unit to pull an F-16 pilot and navigator to safety after they ejected when their fighter jet malfunctioned off the Gaza coast.
“If the chief of staff finds the time, we’d be very happy to see him volunteer with us on a regular basis,” joked MDA spokesman Zehi Heller. “He certainly displayed resourceful and exemplary citizenship.”
Shimon Peres invites Facebook followers to submit questions which he will personally answer
President Shimon Peres launched a new social media application on his Facebook page Monday, urging readers and followers to submit their questions to him, without specifying the limits to the genre of queries people are invited to send. It’s safe to assume they will be moderated.
The project, which sets a deadline of October 31, is called “You ask, President Peres answers.”
Peres’s office indicated that the questions with the most “likes” will personally be answered by the president in writing and/or video messages.
The application “creates a direct link between President Peres and people all over the world who are interested in the State of Israel,” his office said in a statement announcing the new initiative.
As of Monday, the president had just over 182,000 followers on Facebook. Throughout his presidency, he and his team have remained avid social media users, publishing pictures, statements, videos — and even a music jam titled “Be my friend for peace” featuring the nonagenarian — on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
His online presence is dubbed “Peres 360,” which creates “transparency and accessibility to the president through social media,” his office said.
Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a personal friend of Pope Francis, says the pope has raised the possibility of visiting Israel in March 2014 • “We are planning to visit Israel together in the coming year,” Skorka says.
While the exact date is not yet known, Pope Francis will visit Israel in 2014, likely in March or July.
While the exact date is not yet known, Pope Francis will visit Israel in 2014, likely in March or July.
The trip has not yet been coordinated with Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
In May, President Shimon Peres invited Pope Francis to visit Israel, and the pope responded that he intended to. Two weeks ago, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) met with Pope Francis and also invited him to visit Israel. The pope told Edelstein that he was considering coming in July to mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s historic 1964 visit to the Holy Land.
Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a personal friend of Pope Francis, said that in a recent conversation the pope had raised the possibility of visiting Israel in March.
“We are planning to visit Israel together in the coming year,” Skorka said.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said, “The Holy See announced that he plans to visit Israel.”