The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Theresa May says division in Westminster threatening Brexit
Prime Minister Theresa May accuses her opponents of “political game-playing” and undermining the country in the upcoming talks to exit the European Union.
May says the divisions in Parliament explained her change of heart on an early election. Since becoming prime minister last July in the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the EU, May had consistently said she would not seek an early election.
Speaking outside her Downing Street residence in London, May warns that “division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit.”
May says she has concluded that the “only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.”
Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, the next general election date was to be in 2020. But an early election can take place if two-thirds of lawmakers in the House of Commons vote for it. The opposition Labour Party, which trails May’s Conservative Party in opinion polls, has said it supports such a move.
2 held over attack plot days ahead of French vote
French police arrest two men suspected of preparing an “imminent” attack, sources close to the probe say, just days ahead of the first round of France’s presidential vote.
The suspects, aged 23 and 29, are arrested by French domestic intelligence service agents in the southern city of Marseille, one of the sources says.
Labour leader Corbyn backs May’s call for early election
The head of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn announces support for Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for an early general election on June 8.
“I welcome the prime minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first,” Corbyn says in a statement posted to his official Facebook page.
Corbyn says the elections will allow Labour to offer Britons “an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.”
I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the…
PM slams NYT for Barghouti op-ed, vows to uphold ‘moral clarity’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizes The New York Times for publishing an opinion piece written by jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti over the weekend that failed to note that he is a convicted terrorist who is serving multiple life terms for the murder of Israelis.
“I read an article in the New York Times yesterday that presents the chief terrorist as a parliamentarian and a leader,” Netanyahu says during a visit the southern Negev city of Dimona.
Calling Barghouti a leader and parliamentarian “is like calling [Syrian President Bashar] Assad a pediatrician,” Netanyahu says. “These [jailed terrorists] are murderers, terrorists, and we will never lose our clarity that we are on the side of justice and morality. This moral clarity and willingness to fight against those who seek to destroy us are our greatest strengths.”
The Times on Sunday issued a clarification to Barghouti’s op-ed, acknowledging the piece “neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted.”
Netanyahu says the paper only amended the text “because we pointed it out to them.”
EU says Brexit plans unchanged by British election call
The EU says it does not expect negotiating guidelines for Britain’s exit from the bloc to be affected by the British government’s call for an early general election.
“The UK elections do not change our EU27 plans,” says Preben Aamann, spokesman for Donald Tusk, president of the European Council of the remaining 27 member states.
“We expect to have the Brexit guidelines adopted by the European Council on 29 April and, following that, the Brexit negotiating directives ready on 22 May,” Aamann tells AFP.
“This will allow the EU27 to start negotiations,” he adds.
Teen who drowned in Sea of Galilee during Passover laid to rest
One of the swimmers who drowned in the Sea of Galilee over the Passover holiday last week is laid to rest in the coastal city of Netanya.
Over 600 friends, family and classmates pay last respects to 17-year-old Liron Karadi during the funeral held in his hometown.
Karadi and two other young men drowned last week in the Sea of Galilee in separate incidents, after strong winds swept the three from shore.
Authorities launched a massive search for the missing men, and on Sunday, found the bodies of Kadari and 21-year-old Nahman Itah.
בצער רב וביגון אנו מודעים על מועד הלוויה של לירון כראדי בן ליאת ועופר היום בשעה 14 בבית העלמין באור עקיבא 😢😢😢משפחת מאיר פנים משתתפת בצערכם מי יתן ולא תדעו צער ודאבה יותר😢 מין השמים תנוחמו
Itah was buried earlier today in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit.
Police are continuing to search for the body of 19-year-old Itamar Ohana from the northern city of Kiryat Shmona.
NYT public editor says lack of Barghouti ID ‘risks credibility’ of paper
New York Times public editor Liz Spayd says the newspaper’s decision to run an op-ed over the weekend by jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti without identifying him as a convicted terrorist “risks the credibility” of the newspaper.
In her column, Spayd responds to the “rash” of responses from readers who claimed the Times distorted the characterization of Barghouti.
She says the Opinion section “need[s] to more fully identify the biography and credentials of authors, especially details that help people make judgments about the opinions they’re reading.”
How much should you know about Marwan Barghouti? More than you were told https://t.co/VwfMUGmUsn
— Liz Spayd (@spaydl) April 18, 2017
“I see no reason to skimp on this, while failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages,” Spayd writes.
She says she is “pleased to see the editors responding to the complaints, and moving to correct the issue rather than resist it. Hopefully, it’s a sign that fuller disclosure will become regular practice.”
Yesterday, the Times issued a clarification to Barghouti’s op-ed, acknowledging the piece “neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted.”
Unveiling new long-range missiles, Iran vows ‘death to Israel’
Iran’s unveiling of its new long-range missiles during an Army Day parade in Tehran is reportedly accompanied by a banner reading “Death to Israel.”
The military parade in capital city showcases the Iranian-made Sayyad-3 missile for the first time, its S-300 air defense missile system and a slew of other military equipment.
Attending the ceremony is President Hassan Rouhani, who says the Iranian military is “avoiding tensions and encounters, but we need to remain vigilant in the face of plots hatched by the others and increase deterrent power.”
Army day parade in Iran. S300 and death to Israel poster pic.twitter.com/9M8ruf7gKI
— Dudi Cohen (@dudi_cohen) April 18, 2017
Hamas official says ceasefire with Israel ‘useful’ for now
A senior Hamas official says the Gaza-based terrorist group is currently not seeking another round of hostilities with Israel.
“We are not seeking a war and are committed to Egyptian-brokered ceasefire as long as Israel is,” Khalil al-Hayya says in a speech in Gaza City.
Hayya says sustaining the ceasefire is the most “useful” way of rebuilding Gaza after the destructive 2014 war with Israel, reducing the suffering of Gazans, and enabling the group to “build our strength in order to attain liberation.”
But Hayya also warns “the Zionist enemy,” saying that “if it declares war, it will find what the resistance and the Qassam brigades have to harm it.”
— Dov Lieber
Turkey’s opposition formally requests annulment of referendum
Turkey’s main opposition party files a formal request seeking the annulment of the referendum because of voting irregularities.
Bulent Tezcan, deputy chairman of the Republican People’s Party, announces the move at the Ankara offices of the electoral board. He says the results of the referendum on constitutional changes are “illegitimate” and the party would use all legal paths to challenge it.
Tezcan says that “we demand the cancellation of this referendum.”
— Seyri Sokak (@seyrisokak) April 18, 2017
Monitor says US-led coalition Syria strikes kill 20 civilians
Airstrikes by the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group killed 20 civilians in Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province yesterday, a monitor says.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the deaths came in two separate incidents on Monday.
The Britain-based monitor says a US strike on the Deir Ezzor town of Albu Kamal on Monday night killed 13 civilians, among them five children. The strike also killed three members of IS, which controls the town by the Syria-Iraq border, according to the Observatory.
Earlier on Monday, a US-led coalition strike killed seven civilians, including a child, in the village of Husseinyeh, the monitor says.
The Observatory also says 10 civilians, among them nine children, were killed in a suspected Russian airstrike on Tuesday on a town in the rebel-controlled province of Idlib.
— with AFP
Barghouti’s lawyers demand jailed terrorist be allowed access to legal team
The attorneys representing convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti reportedly submit a preliminary High Court petition to the State Prosecutor’s Office demanding the jailed Fatah leader be able to meet with his legal team while in solitary confinement.
Attorney Abir Baker tell Channel 10 yesterday’s decision by Israel Prisons Service to place Barghouti in solitary confinement for initiating a mass hunger strike among Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is “an illegal move.”
“A hunger strike should not deprive a prisoner of his right to meet with his lawyers,” Baker says. “This is a vengeful and illegal move, and we will turn to the High COurt of Justice if this continues.”
Settler who urged attacks on soldiers, Arabs convicted of incitement
The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court convicts a 24-year-old Israeli woman of incitement to violence for making statements online in support of attacks on IDF soldiers, Palestinians and Arab Israelis.
Eliraz Fein, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, pleads guilty to inciting violence on “numerous” occasions, according to court documents.
The indictment says Fein had previously expressed “pride and happiness” at the 2014 murder of a Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir by Israeli extremists, and praised the torching of a Palestinian home in 2015, in which three members of the Dawabsha family were murdered, as “a proper and appropriate act.”
The court says Fein also praised hate crimes committed against Christians, and had advocated attacking, and even killing, IDF soldiers “under certain circumstances.”
A date has not yet been set for sentencing.
Mummies discovered in ancient tomb near Egypt’s Luxor
Egyptian archaeologists unearth several mummies, colorful wooden sarcophagi and more than 1,000 funerary statues in a 3,500-year-old tomb near the city of Luxor hailed as an “important discovery.”
“There are 10 coffins and eight mummies. The excavation is ongoing,” Mostafa Waziri, the head of the archaeological mission, tells AFP.
The 18th Dynasty tomb, discovered in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis near the famed Valley of the Kings, belonged to a nobleman named Userhat who worked as the city judge, the ministry says in a statement.
It was opened to add more mummies during the 21st Dynasty, about 3,000 years ago, to protect them during a period when tomb-robbing was common, says Waziri, the head of the archaeological mission, at the site.
“It was a surprise how much was being displayed inside” the tomb, Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany tells reporters outside the tomb.
Kahlon unveils plan to increase government subsidies
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announces a new program that will increase government subsidies for childcare, give additional tax credits to working parents and cancel taxes on baby clothes.
Kahlon says the Net Family Plan will funnel NIS 4 billion (just over $1 billion) to working Israeli families.
According to reports, Kahlon unveiled the plan at a last-minute press conference in order to preempt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of the plan.
3rd drowned swimmer pulled from Sea of Galilee
Police say the body of the third man who drowned in the Sea of Galilee during the Passover holiday last week is uncovered by search and rescue teams.
The statement says the body was pulled from the lake near where the other two victims were found yesterday is likely Itamar Ohana, 19, from the northern city of Kiryat Shmona.
Ohana, along with Liron Kardi, 17 and Nahman Itah, 21 went missing on the Sea of Galilee last Wednesday when heavy winds pushed the swimmers from shore.
Kardi and Itah were buried earlier today.
Fatah beats Hamas in student elections at major Palestinian university
A Palestinian student group affiliated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party beats the student group aligned with Hamas in elections at the largest Palestinian university in the West Bank.
In the student elections at An-Najah University in Nablus, Fatah’s party takes 41 seats, Hamas’s party takes 34, while a number of left-wing groups take a total of 6 seats.
The win for Fatah’s Shabiba party represents a turnaround from recent years that saw Hamas’s Islamic bloc party winning major university elections, especially in Ramallah’s Birzeit University.
Student elections are seen by analysts as a barometer of Palestinian street opinion in the absence of any Palestinian elections that included Hamas since 2006.
The dean of student affairs at the university, Musa Abu Dayya, tells the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa that of the 20,237 students eligible to vote, a total of 11,765 (58%) cast their ballots. The last student elections in An-Najjah took place in 2013.
— Dov Lieber
Thousands attend funeral of Binyamina mayor and wounded vet Pinhas Zoaretz
Thousands of people attend the funeral of Pinhas Zoaretz, an ex-IDF colonel and head of the Binyamina Regional Council, who died last week of a heart attack while on vacation with his family in Vietnam.
Zoaretz, 53, lost a leg in an explosion targeting his vehicle in the Gaza Strip in 2004. After returning to active duty, Zoaretz served as head of the IDF’s Southern Command from 2005 to 2010.
Attending the ceremony are ministers and top IDF officials, including Housing Minister Yoav Galant, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
הצנחנים מלווים את חברם אל״מ במיל׳ פינקי זוארץ בדרכו האחרונה pic.twitter.com/ImgTNdU5Or
— יוסי יהושוע (@YehoshuaYosi) April 18, 2017
12 soldiers dead as Saudi helicopter goes down in Yemen
Twelve Saudi soldiers, including four officers, are killed when their helicopter went down in Yemen, the Arab coalition fighting Yemeni rebels said in a statement.
The Saudi Black Hawk “fell during operations in the province of Marib” east of Sanaa, the coalition says in a statement carried by SPA state news agency, without specifying the reason.
“The causes of the incident are being investigated,” the statement adds.
Coalition spokesman General Ahmed Assiri tells AFP it was “too early” to comment on the causes of the crash, which is one of the deadliest incidents involving coalition forces in Yemen.
The rebel-controlled Saba news agency says a helicopter crashed east of the provincial capital Marib without giving further details.
Court determines Hannah Bladon’s killer fit to stand trial — report
The Jerusalem district psychiatrist reportedly says the Palestinian terrorist who stabbed a 20-year-old British student to death on the Jerusalem Light Rail tram last week is fit to stand trial.
Jamil Tamimi, 57, from East Jerusalem, murdered Hannah Bladon on Friday on his way home from a mental institution. Police officials later said that he “suffers from mental problems.”
Tamimi was ordered to undergo the psychiatric tests at a Saturday remand hearing at the Jerusalem District Court.
According to Ynet, state psychiatrists reviewed Tamimi’s prior visits to the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center and his suicide attempt earlier this year.
US-backed Syria forces set up post-Islamic State council in Raqa
The US-backed Kurdish-Arab force leading the fight for the Islamic State group’s Syrian bastion Raqa announces the creation of a “civilian council” to administer the city after its capture.
“The civilian council of Raqa will be charged with administering Raqa and the surrounding province after liberation,” the Syrian Democratic Forces say in a statement.
The council is announced during a meeting in Ain Issa, a former IS stronghold some 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Raqa, in northern Syria.
The SDF launched an offensive to capture Raqa, IS’s de facto Syrian capital, in November with support from the US-led coalition.
France’s Le Pen denounces Islamic fundamentalism ahead of vote
French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen points to “a devastating multiplication of attacks and threats of attacks” in France, after the arrest of two suspected radicals planning an attack.
In a written statement, Le Pen says this is the result of “Islamic fundamentalism” that “has expanded exponentially” in the last decade in France.
She says that “it’s time to put back France in order,” using one of her campaign’s mantras.
Le Pen, who is campaigning on anti-immigration, anti-European themes, is among the four top contenders for the presidential race.
The top two candidates in Sunday’s vote advance to a May 7 runoff.
Turkey extends state of emergency declared after failed coup
Turkey’s parliament approves a three-month extension of the state of emergency declared in the wake of last year’s failed coup.
Government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus told parliament Tuesday that the state of emergency serves to purge the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey blames Gulen and his supporters for orchestrating the July 15 coup attempt, a charge he denies.
The state of emergency allows the government to rule by decrees.
Kurtulmus says the unusual powers are needed to effectively combat Kurdish militants, the Islamic State group and other threats from Syria. He says it has not negatively affected the public.
An estimated 100,000 people have been dismissed from their jobs with decrees and more than 40,000 arrested since the state of emergency came into effect on July 21.
‘Facebook killer’ commits suicide in Pennsylvania after police chase
The US man wanted for killing an elderly man in Ohio and then posting a video of the murder on Facebook fatally shoots himself after a brief pursuit in neighboring Pennsylvania, police said.
Steve Stephens, 37, had been the subject of a nationwide manhunt in the wake of Sunday’s killing in Cleveland.
The incident was the latest grisly crime posted on Facebook, reviving questions about videos posted on the world’s largest social network, and how — or if — they can be monitored. The footage was eventually taken down.
Stephens “was spotted this morning by PSP members in Erie County. After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself,” Pennsylvania State Police say on Twitter.
Stephens was accused of fatally shooting Robert Godwin Sr in Cleveland, Ohio as the 74-year-old grandfather was walking home from dinner on Easter Sunday.
Stephens is believed to have videotaped his actions and published it on Facebook, along with another video threatening to kill others and claiming he had already killed 13 people.
Steve Stephens was spotted this morning by PSP members in Erie County. After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself.
— PA State Police (@PAStatePolice) April 18, 2017
UN ‘closely’ monitoring Palestinian hunger strike, urges restraint amid clashes
The United Nations says it is closely following a hunger strike by more than 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and urged restraint following clashes with the strikers’ supporters on the West Bank.
“We are obviously aware of the situation and following the developments closely,” says UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Dujarric notes that clashes have taken place in the West Bank in support of the prisoners, adding: “We call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint.”
Dujarric said that “as a matter of principle, wherever it may be, we always call for prisoners to be treated in a humane way.”
The UN Security Council will discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during an open debate on Thursday.
France’s Sarkozy endorses presidential candidate Fillon
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy expresses his support for conservative candidate Francois Fillon ahead of Sunday’s first round of the French presidential election.
Sarkozy says in a video posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts that Fillon “has the experience, the will, the project that will enable France to ensure a political change after the five disastrous years we have known.”
Sarkozy, who lost to Fillon in the conservative primary in November, is calling on voters to unite behind his former rival.
“I worked five years with Francois Fillon, he was my prime minister, I know we can trust him,” he said.
Latest polls suggest he is one of the four candidates who have a chance to be among the two top Sunday and advance to the runoff on May 7.
US intercepts 2 Russian bombers off Alaska’s coast
The US military says it intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace off Alaska’s coast.
Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, says a pair of F-22 Raptor aircraft intercepted the Russian TU-95 Bear bombers on Monday.
Ross says the intercept was “safe and professional.”
North American Aerospace Defense Command monitors air approaches to North America and defends the airspace.
Fox News says the Russian planes flew within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of Alaska’s Kodiak Island.
It says the American jets escorted the Russian bombers for 12 minutes. The bombers then flew back to eastern Russia.
Taba Border Crossing into Egypt to remain closed to Israelis
The Taba Crossing into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which was closed last week, will remain shut to Israelis, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau says in an announcement.
Before the Passover holiday last Monday, the Transportation Ministry shut down the Taba Crossing — also known as the Menachem Begin Crossing — to Israelis hoping to enter Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, citing fears of an imminent terror attack by the Islamic State terror group.
The crossing was due to reopen today, but in light of a “situational assessment,” the Counter-Terrorism Bureau is opting to keep it closed for Israeli travelers.
Israelis visiting Sinai can still use the crossing to return to Israel and are encouraged to do so. Foreign nationals can cross into Egypt freely.
“The decision will be revisited continuously in the next few days, in accordance with the situation,” the Counter-Terrorism Bureau says in its statement.
— Judah Ari Gross
Explosives, guns, IS flag found in French election terror plot probe
French authorities uncover three kilos of explosives, several guns and an Islamic State jihadist flag after arresting two men suspected of plotting an attack, just days before France votes in presidential polls, a prosecutor says.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins tells reporters it was not clear when or where the suspects planned to strike, but he said their attack had been “imminent.”
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