Mosque torched near Bethlehem in apparent hate crime

Palestinian Imam Ibrahim Abu Luha shows the damage at a mosque that was torched overnight in the West Bank village of al-Jaba, southwest of Bethlehem, February 25, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/MUSA AL-SHAER)

Palestinian Imam Ibrahim Abu Luha shows the damage at a mosque that was torched overnight in the West Bank village of al-Jaba, southwest of Bethlehem, February 25, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/MUSA AL-SHAER)

Anti-Arab graffiti sprayed on walls of building; worshipers arriving for prayers put out the fire

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Weather plays havoc with final hours of Obama visit

Winds, dust clouds ground presidential choppers, lead to cancellation of formal airport farewell ceremony

Bethlehem on Friday, awaiting a belated President Obama amid a sandstorm (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)

Bethlehem on Friday, awaiting a belated President Obama amid a sandstorm (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)

SOURCE

The arrival of inclement Mideastern weather Friday deeply disrupted the final hours of the visit to Israel and the West Bank by US President Barack Obama.

The air was filled with dust Friday morning and early afternoon, blown by strong winds. Visibility was minimal in and around Jerusalem, in the nearby West Bank area, and at Ben-Gurion Airport.

The president was supposed to be in Bethlehem at 12:30 p.m., for a visit to the Church of the Nativity, but only left Jerusalem shortly before 2 pm. He therefore met for far longer than expected at the King David Hotel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — an intended brief, summing-up meeting that extended for some three hours.

Obama had then planned to fly by helicopter from Bethlehem, his final stop, to the airport, but that appeared impossible.

The Bethlehem visit was the Christian component of his Holy Land trip, and an element he was reportedly reluctant to cancel. In Bethlehem itself, Palestinian Authority security forces waited for hours for his arrival.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced that the planned farewell ceremony at the airport would be canceled because of winds whipping the tarmac, and that a smaller ceremony would be held without the press.

From the airport, Obama is slated to fly to Amman.

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US Issues Yesha Travel Warning

The State Department issued a warning to employees, and to all U.S. citizens, to stay out of Judea and Samaria, if it can at all be helped

Arab unrest. illustration

Arab unrest. illustration     Flash90

SOURCE

The U.S. State Department on Monday issued a travel warning to employees, and to all U.S. citizens, to stay out of Judea and Samaria, if it can at all be helped. Employees of the U.S. government in Israel are, at least for now, banned from traveling to Bethlehem, and official travel to the rest of Judea and Samaria is “limited.”

 

The reason, according to a securitymessage from the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem and distributed to U.S. diplomatic personnel and U.S. citizens on the Consulate’s mailing list, is the ongoing Arab unrest in Judea and Samaria. “Due to demonstrations occurring at locations across the West Bank, the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem has temporarily limited official travel to the WestBank by U.S. Government personnel,” the message says. “In addition, personal travel to Bethlehem by U.S. Government personnel is temporarily suspended.”

 

Although the message does not directly restrict Americans currently in Israel from visiting Judea and Samaria, “U.S. citizens are advised to defer non-essential travel to and within the West Bank and to exercise an extra measure of caution during this period,” according to the Consulate.

 

“The U.S. Consulate General takes this opportunity to remind U.S. citizens that demonstrations, even peaceful ones, can turn violent with little or no warning. U.S. citizens should be aware of their surroundings at all times, and avoid large crowds,” the message adds.

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