The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
EU foreign ministers to meet Iran FM today
British Foreign Secretary Philip discusses the negotiations with Iran ahead of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg, where he will also hold talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif.
EU diplomatic sources said over the weekend that Zarif would meet several of his EU counterparts on Monday, including Hammond, France’s Laurent Fabius, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier and EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini.
Hammond urges Iran to show more flexibility in talks on its contested nuclear program as an end-June deadline looms after years of tortuous negotiations with the West.
“There will need to be some more flexibility shown by our Iranian partners if we are going to reach a deal,” British foreign secretary Philip Hammond says.
“I think the serious negotiations are now getting underway and over the next week, I hope to start to see some progress,” he says, “We are pushing hard to get there now.”
Egypt reportedly completes Rafah border ditch
Egyptian security sources say that military engineering units of the Egyptian army completed the digging of a deep ditch along the border between the southern Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, near the city of Rafah, Israel Radio reports.
The ditch is intended to prevent smuggling of both people and goods across the border. According to the report, the ditch is 20 meters wide and 10 meters deep, and Egyptian border police officers were deployed along its length.
PM tells ministers to keep mum on UN report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed his ministers to refrain from commenting on the UN report on Israel’s war with Hamas last summer, Operation Protective Edge.
The report is to be issued in the next few minutes.
According to Army Radio, the prime minister instructed the ministers not to comment until after the PM and his staff have studied the report and formulated their response, which will be given to the ministers in writing.
UN report says Hamas rockets violated laws of war
The report by the Independent Commission of Inquiry Established Pursuant to [the UN’s ] Human Rights Council has been published, detailing the conduct of both Israel and Hamas during Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 50-day war with Hamas over the summer of 2014.
The report laments in its opening pages Israel’s lack of cooperation with the commission. The commission was initially headed by Canadian jurist William Schabas. Israel considers Schabas, who worked as legal adviser to the PLO, biased against it and refused to cooperate with the commission. The government refused to cooperate with the commission even after McGowan Davis, who is considered more balanced in her views, replaced Schabas.
Decrying the tragic loss of life on both sides, the report takes to task the use of unguided rockets by Hamas during the war:
The absence of any possible military advantage resulting from rockets that cannot be directed at a military objective, coupled with statements by Palestinian armed groups, strongly suggest that the primary purpose of the rocket attacks was to spread terror among the civilian population, in violation of international humanitarian law.
‘Israel may have used disproportionate force’
The UN report says Israel’s attacks caused extensive damage to buildings and “could amount” to a war crime:
With regard to proportionality, given the circumstances, a reasonable commander would have been aware that these attacks would be likely to result in a large number of civilian casualties and the complete or partial destruction of the building. Such circumstances differ from case to case, and include the residential nature of the targeted buildings; their location in densely populated areas; the timing of the attacks; and the frequent use of large bombs that were apparently meant to cause extensive damage. Given the absence of information suggesting that the anticipated military advantage at the time of the attack was such that the expected civilian casualties and damage to the targeted and surrounding buildings were not excessive, there are strong indications that these attacks could be disproportionate, and therefore amount to a war crime.
Regarding precautions, the Israel Defense Forces stated repeatedly that its measures were more stringent than those required by international humanitarian law. In many incidents, however, the weapons used, the timing of attacks, and the fact that the targets were located in densely populated areas indicate that the Israel Defense Forces may not have done everything feasible to avoid or limit civilian casualties.
Liberman says UN panel ‘commits war crimes by rewriting history’
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, who served as foreign minister during Operation Protective Edge, says in response to the UN report that “Israel does not commit war crimes. The UN’s Human Rights Commission and the biased panels it establishes regularly commit crimes against humanity by rewriting history and distorting a reality in which one country fights to protect its children, who are being attacked by rockets fired by a terror organization [hiding behind] where children are found.”
Liberman is the first politician to comment on the report. Earlier today, PM Netanyahu instructed his ministers to refrain from commenting on the report until the Prime Minister’s Office formulates a unified position on the commission’s findings.
WATCH: Press conference on UN report
A press conference on the UN report into the conduct of Israel and Hamas during Operation Protective Edge can be seen streaming at this link.
UN panel accepted our position, Adalah crows
Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, issues a response to the UN report on Operation Protective Edge, citing the UN commission’s accepting the demand that Israel and the Palestinian Authority must both change their system of investigating alleged offenses by their security forces.
Do not compare IDF to terrorists, says Livni
Zionist Union co-leader Tzipi Livni says the UN report “was born in sin by a commission that attacks Israel systematically,” referring to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Commission, which appointed the special commission that penned the report on Operation Protective Edge.
“We will not accept a comparison between terrorists and IDF soldiers. We will not agree that IDF soldiers and terrorists will be mentioned in the same breath and this distinction is important for any country fighting terrorism. IDF soldiers are fighting terrorists, even if sometimes civilians are hurt. Terror organizations do not discriminate and kill civilians and soldiers. And it makes no difference if it’s Daniel Tragerman or Danny Gonen who was murdered on Friday in Dolev. That’s the aim of terror.”
She is referring to the murder of a Lod resident near the West Bank community of Dolev over the weekend and the death of a young boy from a projectile in a kibbutz in the western Negev last summer.
Livni emphasizes: “We will not accept the fact that the world investigates [the conduct of] IDF soldiers. Israel is a democracy with a strong justice system and mechanisms to check itself. The world must respect what we are doing ourselves and stop lookiing to [tarnish the image of] Israel, whether it be by a UN report or at the [International Criminal] Court at The Hague.”
Livni served as justice minister during the campaign. She was foreign minister during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s war with Gaza at the end of 2008.
Herzog says keeping civilians safe ‘always a significant factor’
“The IDF is a moral military and I don’t need any international report or commission to know this,” says Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, speaking in reference to the UN report on last summer’s conflict.. “While for Hamas killing innocents is the main goal, I can say from my own experience in many cabinet meetings that the question of hurting noncombatants is always on the table and a very significant consideration in operational decisions.”
“The one thing we must do when it comes to Gaza is prevent the next round. For this we must support an initiative that will bring the demilitarization and restoration of Gaza,” he adds.
Hotovely says report undermined by UN body that commissioned it
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely says the UN commission was out to get Israel from the start:
“From the outset, the purpose of this report was to vilify the State of Israel and the IDF, with the ultimate aim of undermining Israel’s right to defend its citizens from attack,” she says. “The Human Rights Council is a body which has completely discredited itself through its obsessive and prejudicial preoccupation with Israel, whilst turning a blind eye to genuine violations of human rights around the world.”
“The State of Israel and the IDF scrupulously abide by the highest standards of international law. Israel’s robust legal system ensures strict oversight of military operations. The measures Israel took during the Gaza Conflict to protect the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians are without parallel among other military forces,” says Hotovely, adding that “Israel is exceptionally proud of its principled conduct and will maintain its unswerving commitment to human rights and international law, irrespective of the well-orchestrated campaign to besmirch its name.”
— Raphael Ahren
Cyprus says it won’t let boats sail to Gaza
A diplomatic source in Cyprus says that the country will not let any boat leave its territory for the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reports. The official tells the radio station that Cyprus is not aware of any boats intending to leave its ports but adds that a boat may sail from the port of Famagusta, which is on the Turkish side of Cyprus.
The official says that Cyprus is careful not to allow ships to sail to ports which are under siege. He speaks as a new flotilla bound for Gaza left the ports of Italy yesterday. So far only one ship started sailing, even as organizers claims the flotilla will contain three vessels.
Netanyahu slams UNHRC for anti-Israel focus
Netanyahu, in a first response to the UN report, says the UN’s Human Rights Commission “does everything but take care of human rights. The commission spends more time condemning Israel than Iran, Syria and North Korea put together.”
The prime minister adds: “Israel does not commit war crimes but defends itself against a terror organization calling for its destruction. We will not sit idly by, but continue to act with force and determination, and in accordance with international law.”
Hamas rejects UN Gaza report
Gaza’s Hamas rulers are rejecting a United Nations report that its fighters may have committed war crimes.
Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said Monday that its rockets and mortars were aimed at Israeli military sites, not at civilians.
Hamad criticized the UN investigators for what he said was a false balance between victims and killers.
The report found that both Israel and Palestinian terror groups may have committed war crimes during the conflict last July.
Hunger striking prisoner ‘in danger of death’
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club warns that prisoner Khader Adnan, held in an Israeli prison, is in danger of death as his hunger strike nears its 50th day.
Adnan has been hunger striking for 49 days. In 2012, he held a hunger strike of more than two months.
The Palestinian Authority’s minister of prisoner affairs, Issa Karaka, says there is a “real concern” Adnan may die. During a press conference in Ramallah, Karaka charges that the Shin Bet security service made a decision to kill Adnan, NRG quotes the Palestinian minister as saying.
While Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is trying to promote legislation that would make force-feeding prisoners legal, the the bill has so far not been voted into law.
UN panel ‘cannot determine’ why Hamas dug tunnels
After months of work, a UN commission of inquiry “cannot determine” what Hamas tunnels are intended for:
The commission cannot conclusively determine the intent of Palestinian armed groups with regard to the construction and use of these tunnels. However, the commission observes that during the period under examination, the tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line, which are legitimate military targets. A resident of a kibbutz located 1.7 km from Gaza told the commission, “We hear that tunnels are mostly to harm soldiers but that doesn’t stop families from being afraid”. Another witness explained how he had not been allowed, even as an Israeli journalist following soldiers, to go into a tunnel as it was too dangerous, “because every tunnel has not one exit in and out, they have multiple hatches for Hamas to be able to surprise soldiers.”
Group says UN report based heavily on ‘biased groups’
NGO Monitor, an NGO that follows and critiques pro-Palestinian organizations, says in a press statement that the new UN report published today is an “improvement” over the Goldstone Report, which was published in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 2008-9 war with Hamas.
“The report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza War is different both substantially and methodologically than its predecessors, including the 2009 Goldstone Report,” says NGO Monitor.
“However, it still quotes extensively from biased and unreliable political advocacy NGOs. By repeating the unverified and non-expert factual and legal allegations of groups such as Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Al Mezan, the UN investigation is irrevocably tarnished.
“NGO Monitor’s initial review of the Commission of Inquiry’s ‘detailed findings’ shows that NGOs were referenced, cited, and quoted at a high volume: B’Tselem was the most referenced NGO with 69 citations, followed by Amnesty International (53), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (50), and Al Mezan (29). UNWRA and UN-OCHA were also featured throughout the report. As repeatedly demonstrated by NGO Monitor, these groups are not appropriate for professional fact-finding.”
Hamas lauds UN ‘condemnation’ of Israel
Hamas salutes the “condemnation” of Israel in the UN report on last summer’s conflict in Gaza that found both sides may have committed war crimes in the conflict.
“Hamas welcomes the report’s condemnation of the Zionist occupier for its war crimes during the last war against Gaza,” says Fawzi Barhum, a spokesman for the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
Route 4 blocked after truck overturns
Route 4 is blocked from the Ashdod interchange southward after a truck overturned nearby. Drivers are requested to use alternate routes.
Road 4 is a major highway running along Israel’s coast.
Germany frees Egyptian Al Jazeera journalist
A prominent Al-Jazeera journalist who was held in German police custody was released.
Television journalist Ahmed Mansour was arrested Saturday at a Berlin airport having been accused by Cairo of committing “several crimes.”
He was still held on Sunday pending a court decision on his further detention on an arrest warrant issued by his native Egypt. The case prompted angry questions about press freedom and German relations with Egypt under President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, but the journalist was set free this afternoon.
Cop stabbed yesterday in J’lem wakes up
The Border Police officer who was stabbed and badly wounded just outside the Old City of Jerusalem yesterday has regained consciousness and is able to communicate.
The officer is hospitalized at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
Ex-Eshkol council chief says Israeli boy ‘paid with life for IDF’s morality’
Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin, who was head of the Eshkol Regional Council before becoming an MK, says that 4-year-old Daniel Tregerman, who was killed during Operation Protective Edge, “paid with his life for the morality of the Israel Defense Forces.”
Speaking at the Knesset after the publication of the UN report on the summer war between Israel and Gaza, Jelin says “the IDF knew that in Shejaiyah [an east Gaza neighborhood] there are ten barrels aimed at Nahal Oz, but the army also knew that there were some 3,500 noncombatants. The ID did everything to save noncombatants – dropped leaflets, did the ‘knock on roof’ procedure and even then sometimes avoided firing back.”
“No one can teach me what morality means,” Jelin adds. “I live dfacing the Gaza Strip for 39 years. I came here from a dictatorial country [Jelin was born in Argentina in 1958], I served in the IDF, I lost friends because they did everything to protect the innocents on the other side. We teach to defend, while they teach to kill,” Jelin says.
The local council head is among the few Israeli civil servants who testified to the commission.
Meretz head says Israel shouldn’t have cold-shouldered UN panel
Meretz chair Zahava Gal-on says Israel was wrong to boycott the UN’s commission. “When a team doesn’t show up for the match, the referee calls it a technical,” she says.
Israel missed an opportunity to use the commission as an arena to influence global public opinion, and the commission’s findings should raise a red flag,” says Gal-on.
Ashkelon mayor ‘not surprised’ by UN report
Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni says following the publication of the McGowan Davis Report on Operation Protective Edge that when it comes to Israel’s security “we can count only on ourselves.”
“We, in Ashkelon, suffered losses in lives and in property,” says Shimoni. “There are tens of thousands of children in Ashkelon and in the whole area suffering serious anxieties following the last round of fighting that was forced upon us, but I am not surprised by [the content of] the recent UN report and we did not expect any other outcome.”
“When the Goldstone Report came out, following Operation Cast Lead, the anti-Israel slant was clear and decided, and this again strengthens our feeling that when it comes to Israel’s security, we can count only on ourselves.”
“In Ashkelon, we continue with preparing and readying for emergencies. As far as we are concerned, fighting in Gaza will not end so long as Hamas is sovereign in the Strip and sadly, every few weeks are painfully reminded that the terrorists will use every opportunity to harm innocents,” says the mayor.
Deri lends his voice to stewardesses’ protest
Minister of Economy Aryeh Deri joins the stewardesses’ protest and turns to two senior Economy Ministry staffers — the director of equality in the work place and the director of employment security — asking them to act to “eliminate these norms from work places.”
Stewardesses recently voiced their anger in response to a directive from El Al, Israel’s national carrier, forcing air hostesses to wear high heels.
According to the minister, “Unless this is about significant security risks, for me this amounts to nothing less than abuse in the workplace and discrimination against women in its worst form, since such duties do not exist for the rest of the public.”
Joint (Arab) List supports MK’s decision to join flotilla
“The Israeli blockade of Gaza is a great crime, like the war and the killing of civilians,” says the Joint (Arab) List in a press statement.
The party — third largest in the Knesset — issues a statement expressing its backing of one of its members, MK Basel Ghattas, in his decision to join a flotilla that took off from Italy on Saturday and is headed for Gaza.
“We support the humanitarian flotilla with the participation of MK Basel Ghattas, which is intended to raise to the agenda the terrible suffering of the residents of Gaza, who live in a massive prison,” says Joint (Arab) List Chairman Ayman Odeh, according to the statement.
“It is our duty to support the struggle to end the blockade and to enable the rebuilding of Gaza after the immense destruction wrought by Israeli airstrikes,” Odeh continues.
The party says the “Freedom Flotilla” has proven that the international community supports ending the blockade on Gaza “and the rights of the Palestinians to live in liberty, in peace, and honorably.”
Name change of ‘kill Jews town’ in Spain becomes official
A town in northern Spain has officially changed its name from “kill Jews town.”
On Monday, the town formerly known as Castrillo Matajudíos published its new name — Castrillo Mota de Judios, or Castrillo Jews’ Hill — in the official state gazette.
The official renaming comes a year after the some 50 residents of the town voted to change its name at the suggestion of Mayor Lorenzo Rodriguez, who submitted the proposal to change the name back to the original Castrillo Mota de Judios. He said the name was changed during the Spanish Inquisition.
The name change was approved by the regional government of Castilla y Leon.
In parts of Spain, especially in the north, locals use the Spanish term for “killing Jews” to describe the traditional drinking of lemonade spiked with alcohol at festivals held in city squares at Easter, or drinking in general.
PM publishes video statement on McGowan Davis report
PM Benjamin Netanyahu publishes video statement on the McGowan Davis report:
‘Foreign Ministry’s Dore Gold meets Turkish counterpart in Rome’
Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold met in Rome with his Turkish counterpart, Feridun Hadi Sinirlioğlu, Channel 2 reports.
The two discussed ways to get Israeli-Turkish relations back on track after a rift that was heightened over a statement by Turkish President and former prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against the Jewish state and the government.
The countries have all but cut diplomatic ties; neither Israel nor Turkey has an ambassador posted in the other’s country.
Head of commission says ‘no bias’ in UN report
Mary McGowan Davis, who headed the UNHRC panel on the Gaza war last summer, tells Israel’s Channel 2 that the commission was correct in treating the IDF and Hamas as bound by “the same principles” of the laws of war.
Asked about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s rush to dismiss the report, McGowan Davis comments: “Well, I would say that he’s wrong. I doubt he had time to read all 183 pages” of the report. “He’s a busy man” after all, she adds.
McGowan Davis rejects accusations that the commission was biased: “I think we tried very hard to be even-handed, and there’s no bias at all in the report,” she claims.
Asked about juxtaposing the Israeli army and Hamas, the New York-based jurist says that “Israel and the armed groups operate under the same principles, the same international human rights principles,” and therefore it was correct to juxtapose their conduct during the conflict. “You had the IDF on one side and armed groups on the other,” and they were measured by the same principles.
Asked whether she sees the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas as “equivalent,” McGowan Davis comments, “I didn’t say equivalence.”
And asked if she views Hamas as a terror group, the head of the panel refuses the bait. “I am not going to go into that. They obviously didn’t abide by the rules of international law. We use that label a lot in my country and I try to stay away from labels like ‘terrorists.’”
Rivlin is ‘proud of IDF’s moral strength’
President Reuven Rivlin says he is “proud” of the IDF’s “moral strength,” in a statement issued in response to the McGowan Davis report published this afternoon.
“Last summer, the IDF proved its strength, ability, and above all, its uniqueness, and the ethical and moral place it holds,” says Rivlin.
“I am proud, as all of Israel should be proud, of the moral strength, and the military abilities of the Israel Defense Forces. I do not see how anybody could judge us and tarnish our name. The moral dilemmas that we face require split-second decisions, when we have a duty and a right to defend the citizens of Israel — women, children, babies — under attack, and when our enemy tramples international law and uses its people as human shields,” he continues.
“As strong as we are, and as sophisticated as our capabilities are, it is incumbent upon us to ask: When do we use force, how do we use it and for what purpose? I have no doubt that the soldiers and officers of the IDF know to ask this question in a timely manner, and to make difficult decisions in real time, without the need for investigations by external bodies. Only one who understands what force is, understands its limits.”
Arrests at Tel Aviv demo of Ethiopian-Israelis
Ethiopian protesters in Tel Aviv are clashing with police officers, some of whom are in plainclothes.
There are approximately 500-1,000 protesters at the rally and — according to Channel 2 — a staggering 700 police officers.
At least two people are detained, and are seen carried by four officers wearing heavy riot gear.
Elder religious leaders of the Ethiopian community arrived in an effort to temper the crowd, but the riot turns violent nevertheless.
Mounted policemen deployed at Tel Aviv demo
Mounted police officers are deployed at the protest of Ethiopian-Israelis in Tel Aviv.
Protesters are screaming, “Police state.”
According to the law, at 10 p.m. — in an hour from now — their permit will expire. At this point, if necessary, police will disperse the rioters by force.
Rivlin visits family of terror victim Danny Gonen
President Reuven Rivlin visits the family of Danny Gonen, who was murdered in a terror attack on Friday.
The president expresses his deep sorrow for their loss. Danny’s mother, Devorah, tells the president of Danny’s love for the land of Israel, and how he would go walking and hiking at every opportunity. She says, “Danny was a kind man, with a good heart. Our loss is unbearably heavy.”
Danny’s sister Rotem tells Rivlin that Danny, as the eldest, was a father figure to his younger siblings ever since their father passed away.
The president listens closely and says, “I am sure that the security forces will find the murderer, and will bring him to justice.”
Netanel Hadad, who was hiking with Danny and was injured in the attack, tells the president about the assault. Rivlin is greatly moved and responds, “You are a special family, strong-spirited and with tremendous strength. There is no comfort in the face of such horror, in the face of all you are forced to deal with.”
The president is also moved to hear the stories of those who received the donation of Danny’s organs after his death. He comments, “Many will carry in their hearts Danny’s very special spirit, and the donation of his organs is another example of what a kind man he was, even after he was taken from us.”
Some 15 arrested in Tel Aviv demo, police say
Fifteen demonstrators are arrested during the protest by members of the Ethiopian community, the Israel Police says in a tweet. The protest continues.
US ‘just received’ McGowan Davis report, needs time to study it
The US still needs time to study the McGowan Davis report, State Department spokesman John Kirby is quoted by MCT journalist Hannah Allam as saying in a briefing.
Kirby allegedly says that the State Department has concerns about the mechanism and method of inquiry used by the commission, continues Allam.