The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s news as it unfolded.

Blog is now closed

Israeli aid workers under fire in South Sudan

The Foreign Ministry issues a travel warning for South Sudan due to the worsening security situation there.

Heavy fighting resumed in South Sudan’s capital Juba on Monday despite international calls for calm after deadly gun battles sent thousands of people fleeing and threatened the young nation’s shaky peace.

The United Nations expressed deep alarm over the surge in violence, which has left several hundred people dead and risks plunging the country into a new civil war.

Israeli aid workers in Juba report heavy explosions and gunfire, forcing their evacuation. The director of the IsraAID group, Shachar Zahavi, says that his team is under siege and that a neighboring hotel has been destroyed by rebel rockets.

He says IsraAID is working with the UN and other organizations to evacuate its staff.

— Raphael Ahren

Jerusalem bus terrorist gets life in prison

A Jerusalem court sentences an East Jerusalem terrorist to three consecutive life sentences and an additional 60 years in prison for killing three people in an attack on a bus in the capital in October.

Last month, Bilal Abu Ghanem was convicted of three counts of murder, seven counts of attempted murder and aiding the enemy in wartime for his role in killing three people in an attack on a bus in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem in October.

As part of his sentence, the court demands that Abu Ghanem, a Jabel Mukaber resident and Hamas supporter, compensate the people he injured and the families of the deceased.

According to the judge’s decision, the families of the three people killed will receive NIS 250,000 ($64,000), the wounded will receive NIS 150,000 ($38,000) and the bus driver will get NIS 100,000 ($26,000).

— Judah Ari Gross

Israel urges UN envoys to oppose UNESCO’s ‘one-sided’ Jerusalem draft

Foreign Ministry director Dore Gold writes an open letter to the United Nations envoys of various countries blasting the UN cultural body’s World Heritage Committee, which is set to vote on a controversial draft resolution challenging Jewish historical ties to the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and calling for a return to the “historic status quo” on the holy site.

A similar resolution was adopted by the organization’s executive board in April, a move that infuriated Israel.

Israel's Consul-General in Istanbul Shai Cohen (left) meets with Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Dore Gold and Bureau Chief Gilad Cohen on March 21, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. (MFA)

Israel’s Consul-General in Istanbul Shai Cohen (left) meets with Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Dore Gold and Bureau Chief Gilad Cohen on March 21, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. (MFA)

“Again, UNESCO is considering the adoption of a completely one-sided draft resolution on the Old City of Jerusalem that deliberately ignores the historical connection between the Jewish people and their ancient capital,” Gold writes in his letter. “The resolution also fails to acknowledge Christianity’s ties to Jerusalem. It refers to the area of the Temple Mount only as a ‘Muslim holy site of worship.’”

The letter goes on to detail the Jewish people’s historic connection to the city and argues that Israel “defends religious freedom for all of the great faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – against the tide of intolerance sweeping the Middle East region.”

It says that “UNESCO’s adoption of utterly false allegations about Israeli archaeological practices is misplaced and hypocritical, at best” and urges the UN envoys to “oppose this effort to distort history.”

— Times of Israel staff contributed

Theresa May sole British PM contender as Leadsom withdraws

Andrea Leadsom dramatically withdraws from the contest to lead Britain’s Conservative Party and become the next prime minister, leaving Theresa May as the sole contender to take over from David Cameron.

May is “ideally placed to implement Brexit on the best possible terms for the British people,” Leadsom says in a statement announcing her withdrawal.


Netanyahu meets Blair in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets in Jerusalem with former British prime minister Tony Blair, who is also the former Quartet envoy.

According to a press release from Netanyahu’s office, “they discussed the future of peace and security in the region. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s diplomatic envoy, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, also attended the meeting.”

Sanders set to endorse Clinton at an event Tuesday

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is making it official: Former Democratic rival Bernie Sanders will join her at a New Hampshire event on Tuesday where he plans to endorse her.

Clinton’s campaign is holding the event at a high school in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Sanders defeated Clinton by a wide margin in New Hampshire, in the nation’s first primary.

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders greeting each other at the CNN presidential debate in Brooklyn, New York, April 14, 2016. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images/via JTA)

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders greeting each other at the CNN presidential debate in Brooklyn, New York, April 14, 2016. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images/via JTA)

Sanders’ endorsement will come a month after the final primary. He’s pushed for policy agreements on higher education, health care and a $15 an hour federal minimum wage. Some of those policies were included in a draft of the party’s platform in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend.

Sanders has not yet said he will endorse Clinton but told reporters on Saturday that the two campaigns were coming together and to stay tuned.

— AP

Iran indicts 3 dual nationals, foreigner

Iran announces that three dual nationals and a foreigner held in the country have been indicted on unknown charges, part of a series of detentions in the wake of last year’s nuclear deal with world powers.

The four, who have ties to Britain, Canada and the US, all are believed to have been detained by hard-liners in Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

The reasons for their arrests remain unclear, though the husband of one of them says his family was told by the Guard she’d be released if the British government agreed to their demands.

— AP

Aly Raisman earns spot on US women’s gymnastics team

Jewish-American Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman has been named to the US women’s gymnastics team.

Raisman, 22, will compete in her second Olympics when she heads to the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She earned two gold medals in the 2012 games in London: for floor exercise and one as part of the team competition.

The team announced on Sunday is being touted as the most racially diverse. It includes two African-American gymnasts, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles; a Latina, Laurie Hernandez; Raisman and Madison Kocian.

Raisman posts a photo of the team on her Twitter feed.

At 22, Raisman is the oldest member of the team, which reportedly has earned her the nickname “Grandma.” Raisman and Douglas both competed on the gold medal-winning 2012 Olympic team.

Following the London Olympics, Raisman took time off from gymnastics to enjoy opportunities that had come her way — performing on tour with her teammates, competing on “Dancing With The Stars,” and being a special guest at the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel, the global Jewish sporting event.


Egypt offers to host direct Netanyahu-Abbas talks — reports

As part of Cairo’s efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has reportedly offered to host direct talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The tripartite summit, which would also be attended by senior Egyptian and Jordanian officials, would seek confidence-building measures in an effort to calm the 10-month surge in violence in the West Bank, Palestinian officials tell the Arabic language Al-Hayat newspaper as well as Israel’s Haaretz daily.

— Tamar Pileggi

Reform, Conservative Jews warn PM of future violence against them

The heads of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and abroad write a sharp letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, castigating him over several policy concerns and warning of future violence against their members in Israel.

The letter railed at “the lack of progress regarding the Western Wall outline, along with the advancement in the Knesset of the mikva law,” the movements say in a statement.

“The heads of the organizations warned the prime minister of a severe deterioration in Jewish-Diaspora relations,” the statement says, “and even expressed fears of violence and even, God forbid, bloodshed as a result of the unfettered, ongoing incitement by ultra-Orthodox ministers and Knesset members against Reform and Conservative Judaism and against the Women of the Wall.”

The full letter can be read here.

2 Egypt policemen killed in Sinai bombing

A roadside bombing in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula kills two policemen, according to the interior ministry.

The Islamic State group’s self-styled Amaq news agency says a bomb planted by jihadists targeted a police mine-clearing vehicle, but it was not clear whether it was referring to the same incident.

The interior ministry says a police lieutenant and a sergeant were killed when a roadside bomb tore through a convoy, also wounding two officers and a conscript.


Netanyahu says meeting with Egypt FM signals ‘an important warming’

At a Likud faction meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu tells the party’s Knesset members about his meeting yesterday with the Egyptian foreign minister.

He notes that Sameh Shoukry was the most senior Cairo official to visit Jerusalem in nine years, which, he says, “also symbolizes an important warming between Israel and Egypt.”

Netanyahu said that Jerusalem was pursuing ties with nations “on five continents,” and spoke of his African tour last week, saying it advanced Israel’s bid to secure more support at the United Nations.

“You have to understand that the automatic majority in international forums relies primarily on the bloc of African countries, and to a certain extent on the bloc of Latin American countries.

“To the extent that we succeed in cracking that, it changes our international standing with a variety of forums that make decisions regarding the State of Israel and the IDF.”

Man wounded in Kiryat Arba attack discharged from hospital

Shuki Gilboa, who was wounded in the Kiryat Arba terror attack that killed 13-year-old Hallel Ariel on June 30, is released from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Gilboa was wounded by friendly fire when members of the local security detail opened fire on the terrorist, and suffered head injuries, losing an eye.

WhatsApp-Image-20160711 (7)

Shuki Gilboa and his wife, Shulamit, upon leaving the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem on Monday, July 11, 2016 (courtesy)

US to send 560 more troops to aid Iraq’s anti-IS fight

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter says that Washington will deploy 560 additional troops to aid Iraq’s fight to retake Mosul from jihadists, further deepening US military involvement in the country.

The announcement, which will bring the total authorized number of American military personnel in Iraq to more than 4,600, comes two days after Baghdad announced the recapture of a base south of Mosul that is seen as an important step toward the eventual battle for the city.


South Africa twins accused of plot to blow up Jewish institutions

Twin brothers have been charged with conspiring to blow up a US mission and various Jewish institutions in South Africa.

Police spokesman Hangwane Mulaudzi says that Brandon-Lee Thulsie, Tony-Lee Thulsie and two other people who are yet to be charged were arrested in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The four were arrested before boarding a flight to Syria and had been under surveillance for nearly a year.

A provisional charge sheet says the brothers may have links to the Islamic State group.

The brothers will have the opportunity to apply for bail on July 19.


IDF taps chief rabbi who once appeared to condone rape by soldiers

Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot nominates Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim for the position of IDF chief rabbi, despite his controversial past.

In 2012, Karim was caught up in a flurry of condemnations over his response to a question, posed to him in 2002 on the religious website Kipa, asking if IDF soldiers were permitted to commit rape during wartime.

In his response, Karim appeared to condone such practices, among several prohibitions — including the consumption of non-kosher food — that soldiers were allowed to violate during wartime.

When his comments were unearthed in 2012, he published a clarification stating that he did not condone rape and that they were taken out of context.

In addition to Karim, Eisenkot nominates another 12 colonels for promotion to brigadier general, pending the approval of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim, nominated to become IDF chief rabbi, sits next to his predecessor, Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, on April 21, 2016 (Diana Khananashvili/Defense Ministry)

Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim (left), nominated to become IDF chief rabbi, sits next to his predecessor, Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, on April 21, 2016 (Diana Khananashvili/Defense Ministry)

— Judah Ari Gross

Tony Blair said to meet with Hamas officials

Former British PM and Quartet envoy Tony Blair met a month ago with Hamas representatives, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reports, citing a source close to the Palestinian group.

“Blair spoke with Hamas about the possibility of reaching a formula on Gaza,” the anonymous source is quoted as saying, adding that Blair had pitched a meeting with Hamas officials in Europe in order to secure a long-term ceasefire that would lift the blockade on the Strip.

The source is quoted as saying that other “European parties” are in touch with Hamas.

“Meetings [with Hamas] are being held regularly in certain Western countries,” the source reportedly says.

On Monday, Blair met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

British Jews congratulate Theresa May

Current Board of Jewish Deputies head Gillian Merron, a former British politician and Minister of State for Public Health, at a Labour Party Conference in 2009. (Sam Friedrich, CC-BY-SA, via wikipedia)

Current Board of Jewish Deputies head Gillian Merron, a former British politician and Minister of State for Public Health, at a Labour Party Conference in 2009. (Sam Friedrich, CC-BY-SA, via Wikipedia)

The Board of Deputies, the largest organization of British Jews, congratulates Theresa May after the path is cleared for her to become prime minister.

“We congratulate Theresa May in anticipation of her becoming Conservative Party Leader and Prime Minister, Board of Deputies Chief Executive Gillian Merron says in a statement. “She has been a great friend of the community and, during her time as Home Secretary, the Board of Deputies has had a very positive and close relationship with her.

“We look forward to that relationship continuing as she moves in to 10 Downing Street and we wish her every success in her new role at this challenging time for our country.”

UK’s Cameron says he’ll resign by Wednesday

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he will step down on Wednesday, making way for Theresa May to succeed him as leader.

Britain Home Secretary Theresa May officially launches her campaign to become prime minister in Birmingham, England, Monday July 11, 2016 (Chris Radburn / PA via AP)

Britain Home Secretary Theresa May officially launches her campaign to become prime minister in Birmingham, England, Monday July 11, 2016 (Chris Radburn/PA via AP)

Cameron says it’s clear May has “the overwhelming support” of Conservative lawmakers. He says May’s rival Andrea Leadsom made the right decision to withdraw from the race, ending the party leadership race.

Cameron says he will attend a final session of Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday before going to visit Queen Elizabeth II and tendering his resignation.

The queen has the formal role of appointing the new leader.

— AP

Netanyahu said willing to meet Abbas, Sissi in Cairo

During his meeting yesterday with the Egyptian foreign minister, Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed willingness to meet with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sissi and the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, in Cairo.

The Prime Minister’s Office does not deny the report, telling the Ynet news site that “whether that was discussed or not, Israel always says that it is willing to conduct direct bilateral negotiations without preconditions.”

Army denies its new chief rabbi condoned rape

The IDF rejects allegations that Eyal Karim, its new nominee for chief rabbi, at one time condoned rape by soldiers during wartime.

“Colonel Karim wishes to clarify that his words were only uttered in response to a theoretical hermeneutical question, certainly not to a practical halachic question,” the army says. “Rabbi Karim never wrote, said, or even thought that an IDF soldier is permitted to sexually harm a woman during wartime.”

It says that Karim’s “moral approach is evidenced by his years of activity in command, fighting and rabbinical posts, in which he displayed utter loyalty to the values and spirit of the IDF, and especially as regards peoples’ dignity, no matter who they are.”

Christian Friends of Israel welcome Theresa May appointment

Christian Friends of Israel congratulates Theresa May on her expected upcoming appointment as UK prime minister.

“CFI would like to congratulate Theresa May on the news that she is set to become the UK’s next Prime Minister,” a statement from CFI’s leaders says. “Theresa is a long-standing friend of Israel and the UK’s Jewish community, with a proven track-record in combating anti-Semitism.

It adds: “This represents an exciting new chapter in the UK-Israel relationship and CFI looks forward to working with Theresa to further strengthen the relationship between the United Kingdom and Israel.”

Elderly woman shot in Jerusalem, lightly hurt

An elderly woman in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood is shot in the head and lightly wounded while walking in the street.

Police say it is unclear who shot the 77-year-old, but that they are investigating and searching the area.

The Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem says doctors dislodged a slug that was embedded in the woman’s skull.

Doctors say she suffers from a fractured skull but is stable and fully conscious.

Hadassah sends this picture of the slug extracted from her head:

A slug extracted from the skull of a Jerusalem woman on Monday, July 11, 2016 (Hadar Elboim/Hadassah Hospital)

A slug extracted from the skull of a Jerusalem woman on Monday, July 11, 2016 (Hadar Elboim/Hadassah Hospital)

Evidence said still insufficient to warrant Netanyahu interrogation

A senior official involved in a preliminary probe of Prime Minister Netanyahu tells Channel 10 that at the moment there isn’t sufficient evidence to summon Netanyahu for an interrogation under caution.

Meanwhile, Channel 2 reports that the Israel Police have been given the go-ahead to conduct what amounts to a full, albeit unofficial, investigation.

The allegations against Netanyahu reportedly involve suspicions of large illicit donations from foreign businesspeople.

State prevents former minister, activists from entering Ramallah

The security establishment recently prevented former Knesset member Yossi Beilin from traveling to Ramallah with a group of peace activists, Channel 10 reports.

According to the report, Beilin, who heads the Geneva Initiative, and other members of the initiative, applied for a Defense Ministry permit to enter the Palestinian city, but were denied.

They were planning to meet with Muhammad Al-Madani, the Palestinian Authority’s liaison to Israel who is also an aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Reportedly, several days after Beilin submitted the request, Abbas himself expressed his desire to meet with the group.

At the time, the Defense Ministry claimed that “security considerations” were behind its decision to turn down their request. Now, however, a Defense Ministry official is quoted by Channel 10 as saying that the decision was spurred by suspicions that Al-Madani has been orchestrating “subversive” anti-Israel actions.

Those alleged actions, on whose details the Defense Ministry has refused to elaborate, were cited in a decision by the ministry last month to revoke Al-Madani’s permit to enter Israel.

Cameron sings after announcing departure

David Cameron has gone out not with a bang, nor a whimper, but a mystery tune.

Seconds after the British prime minister finished telling reporters of his intention to step down from office this week, he walked back through the door of his Downing Street residence — and the live microphone he was still wearing caught him in an unguarded musical moment.

“Do doooooooo, do doooo,” he sang to himself, according to the clip sent by BBC reporter Daniel Sandford.

It wasn’t immediately clear what tune Cameron was singing, but the social media world poured forth with often-satirical suggestions. One writer opined that Cameron had just unwittingly revealed the secret “Open Sesame” musical code for the Downing Street door. Another theorized that it was Cameron’s personal “game over” videogame hook. Some thought they detected a hint of “The West Wing” theme tune.

Soon, hastily remastered clips of Cameron’s doings accompanied to the beats of Dr. Dre were doing the social media rounds.


Republican draft platform reinstates Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘undivided’ capital

The Republican Party in the latest draft of its platform has reinstated a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital and removed a reference to “Palestine.”

The language shared with members of the Platform Committee by the Republican National Committee at an orientation on Sunday night is first reported by CNN.

The 58-page draft platform, which supports a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, could change several times before the start of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 18.

In the party’s 2012 party platform, the word “undivided” was deleted from the platform of four years earlier and the reference to Palestine was added.