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ISIS Claims Responsibility for Orlando Gay Nightclub Massacre

By & Reuters

The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group's official media wing has released a statement claiming credit for the deadly shooting attack at an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub on behalf of the jihadist organization.

A statement published by the al-Amaq agency - which functions as ISIS' propaganda and media wing - claimed that "the attack that targeted the Pulse Club, a nightclub for homosexuals, in Orlando, Florida that left more than 100 (Editor: Orlando police reported 59 dead as of 6 p.m. EDT) dead and was carried out by an Islamic State fighter."

Originally 50 people were reportedly murdered in the worst shooting spree in American history, and a further 53 were wounded, many of them seriously. The attack was carried out by a Muslim American named by authorities as Omar Mateen, who swore allegiance to ISIS shortly before carrying out the attack. ISIS has been encouraging its followers to carry out terrorist attacks throughout the Western world in "honor" of Ramadan, which began last week.

However, despite Mateen's reported pledge of allegiance to ISIS, it is unclear at this point whether he acted alone or under orders from ISIS' central leadership. Previous gun rampages carried out on behalf of ISIS - including the 2015 San Bernardino attack - were committed by cells acting independently, with ISIS formally claiming responsibility shortly afterwards.

Even prior to the statement by ISIS' media wing, jihadists took to social media to celebrate and gloat over the attack. Some ISIS supporters used the hashtag #Orlandoisburning, modeled after a similar hashtag used by ISIS social media accounts following recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.

President Barack Obama labeled the deadly shooting attack as an "act of terror," in his first speech following the massacre Sunday.

Mateen was shot dead by police offers who stormed the club with an armored vehicle after a nearly three-hour hostage situation.

"We know enough to say this was an act of terror and an act of hate," Obama said in a statement from the White House briefing room. "The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terror. We will go wherever the facts lead us ... What is clear is he was a person filled with hatred. This is an especially heartbreaking day for our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,".

Vice President Joe Biden also reacted to the attack, and "offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sent his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims," according to a statement from his office.

World leaders including Israeli PM Netanyahu have also lined up to offer their condolences and condemnation. Netanyahu joined the chorus of international condemnation of the attack. "In the name of the government of Israel and the citizens of Israel I send our sincere condolences to the American people following the criminal attack on the LGBT community last night in Orlando," he said in a statement issued in Hebrew.

"Israel stands shoulder to shoulder alongside the United States at this moment of tragic loss," Netanyahu added. "We send our heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims and wish a full and speedy recovery to the wounded."

Netanyahu's condemnation came just days after Islamist Hamas terrorists went on a shooting spree in central Tel Aviv, killing four people and wounding several others at the popular Sarona Market before being apprehended.

Other world leaders also rushed to condemn the Orlando attack, which was carried out by Mateen. French President Francois Hollande condemned "with horror" the slaughter, and underlined that the "full support of France and the French (is) with America's authorities and its people in this difficult time." Pope Francis similarly condemned the "homicidal folly" with "deep horror and condemnation," in a statement from the Vatican.

Despite Wednesday's Tel Aviv attack, when two Hamas terrorists murdered four people and left several others seriously wounded at the popular Sarona Market, Tel Avivians held a candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims of the deadliest gun rampage in American history.

International Database for Gett Refusers to be Launched


In an unprecedented move, rabbinates from Israel and Europe will set up a database with the names and photos of Jewish husbands who refuse to grant their wives a divorce or who remain missing. The move has been discussed over the last few days at a conference for European rabbinical judges being held in Brussels, Belgium.

The database will aid with a general effort to fight the phenomenon of husbands denying their wives a divorce, by having local communities carry out sanctions against the men.

The Rabbinical Center of Europe has made it clear that the Jewish communities under their jurisprudence will deny husbands refusing to grant a divorce any and all religious services and honors, including allowing them to join a "minyan" or offering them hospitality in Jewish homes. The move could aid in putting pressure on the husbands to agree to a Jewish divorce, or gett.

Israel's Rabbinical Courts Administration's Agunot Department Head Rabbi Eliyahu Maimon spoke at the conference, describing the at times long and acrimonious battles that refusing to grant a gett can bring about. His appeal to address the matter started a discussion among the rabbis, which eventually resulted in their decision to set up an information center for cases in Europe and Israel that would include identifying details of these husbands.

Another course of action was offered by General Director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who suggested that his organization work with leaders of the European Union and strengthen the status of rabbinical courts in European countries in order to apply sanctions on gett refusers. Margolin added that much like in Israel, rabbinical courts in Europe would request their host country to even impose jail time on men who withhold getts from their wives, as is the case in Israel.

Israeli TV Show Picked Up by Fox


Entertainment company Fox International released a statement saying that it has purchased the rights to the Israeli drama show "A Very Important Person," starring local heartthrob Yehuda Levi. Fox reportedly intends to create its own version of the show, which is partially based on Levi's life.

"I'm very excited about the transformation that the series has undergone," Levi said after the announcement was made. "Despite it being an Israeli show, its universal theme has managed to capture the heart of the American entertainment industry."

Fox Entertainment Studios and International Content Vice President Sharon Tal-Yguado joined the excitement by saying, "`A Very Important Person' is undoubtedly one of the best shows made this decade. (Series creator and writer) Shirley Moshayof's sophisticated writing and Yehuda Levi's emotionally mesmerizing acting create a rare television experience that touches the heart of its viewers."

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