Israel media review

Girding for war: 8 things to know for April 24

Israel bracing for violence next month when US moves embassy to capital, Palestinians mourn ‘catastrophe’ of Israel and Jews celebrate Jerusalem reunification

A Palestinian protester hurls a rock at Israeli forces during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City on December 9, 2017, following US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
A Palestinian protester hurls a rock at Israeli forces during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City on December 9, 2017, following US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

1. Israel is “closely monitoring” the latest efforts to convince the US to stay in the Iran nuclear deal as the May 12 deadline for the international pact draws closer, and will coincide with a politically tense week in Israel, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported.

  • The daily’s front page says Israel is girding for potential violence during the second week of May, which, in addition to the Iran deal cutoff, will also see the US and Guatemala move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; Palestinians mark Nakba Day (mourning the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation); Israelis mark Jerusalem Day (celebrating the 1667 reunification of Jerusalem); and the start of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. Recent weeks have also seen thousands of Gazans protesting against Israel along the border,
  • In an interview with Yedioth, former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said “there hasn’t been a May this dangerous since ’67 or ‘73. We aren’t on the eve of a war, but there are a number of things that could lead to one, and all of them are occurring between the 12th and 15th of May.”

2. US President Donald Trump is hosting French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House as European nations battle to save the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump vows to scuttle unless it is revised to include limits to Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

US President Donald Trump, left, walks with French President Emmanuel Macron at Mount Vernon, the estate of the first US President George Washington, in Mount Vernon, Virginia, April 23, 2018. (Ludovic MARIN/AFP)
  • He told a crowd of supporters in Tabriz the Iranian nation and government would “strongly resist” any plots by those who sit in the White House. He didn’t elaborate except to say Tehran has abided by commitments.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to reiterate Israel’s position that it will never allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. On Monday, he said the nuclear deal gives Iran a full path to a nuclear arsenal. “This is why this deal has to be either fully fixed or fully nixed,” Netanyahu said.

3. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned that if Russian-made air defense missiles in Syria would be launched at Israel, the IDF would retaliate, but downplayed reports that Jerusalem opposed Moscow’s purported plans to outfit the regime with the powerful defense system.

  • “What’s important to us is that the defensive weapons the Russians are giving Syria won’t be used against us,” Lieberman told the Ynet news site. “If they’re used against us, we’ll act against them.”
  • Yesterday, Russian media reported hat Moscow was getting closer to delivering the S-300 missile defense system to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, despite Israel’s efforts to prevent it.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry later denied parts of the article, saying that a decision about the transfer of the S-300 had yet to be made. Liberman also downplayed the report in the Ynet interview, saying it “had no basis in reality.”

4. The army said it arrested two Palestinian men who crossed into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, armed with a grenade and a knife on Tuesday morning.

  • The suspects, who were picked up shortly after they entered Israeli territory, were handed over to the Shin Bet Security service for further questioning.

5. The IDF has demolished the home of an alleged Palestinian terrorist for his role in the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach near the West Bank settlement of Havat Gilad earlier this year.

A Palestinian terrorist’s home after it was demolished by the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank city of Jenin on April 24, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • The military said troops knocked down the home of Ahmed Kunba in the northern West Bank settlement of Jenin.
  • During the demolition, the IDF said shots were fired and explosive devices hurled toward troops. A Border Police officer was lightly injured.

6. Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett is threatening to boycott coalition legislation if ministers don’t approve his party’s controversial bill designed to rein in Supreme Court within 10 days.

  • Yesterday, the powerful Ministerial Committee for Legislation postponed voting on the bill by a week at the behest of Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, who is scheduled to discuss the bill with Netanyahu on Sunday.
  • A poll conducted by the Israel Hayom daily that was published Tuesday revealed that 17 of 22 ministers support the so-called Override Bill. According to the right-wing daily, the major opponents of the bill include Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon, who is urging for the legislation to only be passed in a format agreed upon by the courts, and Likud’s Yuval Steinitz, who is calling for a “more balanced” version of the proposed law.
  • Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said he would consider supporting the legislation only if a minimum of 70 Knesset members voted to do so. The Ynet news site said the court is prepared to accept the legislation if it would require a two-thirds majority, or 80 MKs, but that Hayut may compromise on 75 MKs being able to overturn a High Court ruling.

7. Toronto police said the suspect in the van rampage that killed 10 people last night is scheduled to appear in court at later on Tuesday.

  • Twenty-five-year-old Alek Minassian was quickly captured in a tense but brief confrontation with police officers a few blocks away from where his van jumped the sidewalk Monday.
A body lies covered on the sidewalk in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a number of pedestrians on April 23, 2018. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP)
  • In addition to the 10 killed, 15 others were injured in what many said seemed a deliberate attack.

8. A French manifesto calling for certain passages of the Quran to be removed on the grounds of rising anti-Semitism is drawing backlash from Muslims who said their religion was being unfairly “put on trial.”

    • The open letter blamed “Islamist radicalization” for what it said was “quiet ethnic purging” in the Paris region, with abuse forcing Jewish families to move out.
    • But Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, said the manifesto “subjected French Muslims and French Islam to an unbelievable and unfair trial. It creates a clear risk of pitching religious communities against one another,” he said in a statement.

9. Controversial Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich was suspended by Twitter for 12 hours due to a post in which he said a Palestinian teen protester who was filmed slapping an IDF soldier should have been shot.

  • Smotrich expressed regret that Ahed Tamimi, a 17-year-old Palestinian sentenced to eight months behind bars for slapping an Israeli soldier, had emerged unscathed. “In my opinion, she deserved a bullet, at the very least to the kneecap. That would put her under house arrest for the rest of her life,” Smotrich said.

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