ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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Netanyahu calls for ‘internal unity,’ marks Iran as today’s equivalent of Nazis

At Yad Vashem, president urges Israelis not to bring overhaul rifts to national days of unity, pans Nazi comparisons; however, anti-government activists heckle Likud MK in Tel Aviv

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the main Holocaust memorial day ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, April 17, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the main Holocaust memorial day ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, April 17, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.

Jerusalem mayor condemns terror shooting during Holocaust memorial ceremony

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion speaks in Jerusalem, July 10, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion speaks in Jerusalem, July 10, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

During a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion reacts to the Palestinian terror attack in the city this morning, in which two Jewish men were shot and injured while heading to prayers.

“The terror attack this morning occurred several blocks from here and was directed against Jews, who were shot purely because they were Jews,” Lion says at the ceremony at Safra Square.

“On this sacred day, we shall remember the heroism of our brothers and sisters, and we shall never stand helpless in the face of those who seek to harm us.”

Former AG: Reported plan to limit ministry legal advisers would ‘crush’ democracy

Former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit attends a conference organized by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), in Tel Aviv, on December 28, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit attends a conference organized by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), in Tel Aviv, on December 28, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit rails against a reported coalition plan to soon advance a divisive bill to severely limit the power of ministry legal counsels — a central part of the plan to overhaul the justice system — when the Knesset reconvenes for its summer session.

Speaking with Channel 12 news, Mandelblit says the bill, reported on yesterday by the network, would “crush the first line of defense for Israel democracy.”

According to the report, the coalition intends to put forth the most extreme version of that legislation, which would transform legal advisers and their positions from professional authorities to discretionary positions. The bill would enable ministers to appoint — and fire — their own legal advisers, and also to make legal counsels’ positions non-binding on ministers and the cabinet.

“The duty of the public service legal advisers is first and foremost before the State of Israel, and not personally to the minister,” Mandelblit says, arguing that the bill would erode the advisers’ ability to act as a gatekeeper and prevent illegal acts from being committed.

Antisemitic, anti-Israel graffiti scrawled on Barcelona’s biggest synagogue

Antisemitic graffiti is scrawled on the façade of Barcelona’s Maimonides Synagogue, the Spanish city’s largest, with vandals leaving pro-Palestinian messages on the Jewish house of worship, ahead of Israel’s Holocaust memorial day.

The message, in Catalan, reads: “Free Palestine from the river to the sea. Solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Letters are left nearby, accusing Israel of “genocide against the Palestinian people and apartheid,” saying it is “a murderous country that steals land and destroys innocents’ homes.” The letters accuse “Catalan elites” of supporting Israel.

Likud MK repeatedly heckled, forced to leave Holocaust memorial event in Tel Aviv

Even as President Isaac Herzog urges Israelis to leave societal rifts over the government’s judicial overhaul out of Holocaust memorial day, Likud MK Boaz Bismuth is forced to leave a ceremony at a synagogue in Tel Aviv after participants heckle him.

In footage on social media, people are seen shouting, “Shame” toward Bismuth during his attempt to speak, while others demand that they stop.

The dispute between the parts of the crowd heats up and almost descends to physical violence, leading Bismuth to leave the place.

Swiping at Smotrich, Lapid says Holocaust lesson is to stay moral, not ‘burn down villages’

Speaking at a Holocaust memorial day ceremony in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, opposition chief Yair Lapid swipes at Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s remark that the Palestinian town of Huwara should be “wiped out.”

Lapid says that the lessons of the Holocaust present Israel with a “dual challenge” — ensuring the survival of Jews “at any price,” while remaining moral when faced with enemies who “in their perspective, we aren’t really human.”

“Our moral test is to continue, even under these circumstances, to differentiate between enemies and innocents,” he says. “To kill our enemies without hesitation, but not to burn down houses and not burn villages, because Jews don’t commit pogroms.”

Lapid goes on to recall how his grandfather in Hungary was taken to a Nazi death camp in 1944.

“Why didn’t they fight?” he says of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust. “The only possible answer is that because they were good people, they did not believe in the existence of evil.”

Netanyahu calls for ‘internal unity,’ marks Iran as today’s equivalent of Nazis

At the Yad Vashem ceremony for Holocaust memorial day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urges national unity and likens today’s Iran to Nazi Germany, as the current entity threatening the Jewish people.

The premier notes Holocaust survivor Ephraim Mol, who was supposed to recite the “El Maleh Rahamim” prayer at the ceremony, but who collapsed yesterday due to a stroke and is currently hospitalized, saying he and the nation are praying for his recovery.

Netanyahu hails the “unique victory of the Jewish people” in the aftermath of the Holocaust, reflected in the forming of families by survivors, their coming to Israel, and never forgetting Jerusalem as a national symbol.

“The peak of the victory is the independence of the State of Israel,” he says, adding: “Our state is prosperous, democratic, full of achievements.”

But he adds, this victory cannot overshadow the tragedies the Jewish people — and other people — went through during the Holocaust.

Netanyahu notes that the calls to exterminate the Jewish people have not stopped, and today they come from Iran. He stresses that past victories don’t guarantee future wins, saying Israel must be able to “defend itself by itself.”

He also warns against committing terror attacks against Israelis, saying Israel will take all necessary action against its enemies.

What Israel needs, the premier says, is “spirit, power and internal unity,” citing terror victim Leo Dee, who recently lost his wife Lucy and daughters Rina and Maia in a Palestinian shooting attack. Netanyahu hails the fact that “at his lowest point,” Dee voiced pleas for national unity and called out: “Am Yisrael Chai.”

Netanyahu notes that he wants to expand the circle of peace, likely referring to his overtures to Saudi Arabia, which do not currently appear to be particularly successful.

Herzog sheds light on victims whose bodies were set to become parts of museum of Jewish skeletons

In his Holocaust memorial day speech, President Isaac Herzog chooses to focus on a little-known, yet chilling, aspect of the Nazi project to exterminate the Jewish people.

He brings the stories of two of the 86 Jews killed at the Natzweiler-Struthof camp, on French soil, whose bodies were then sent to become exhibits in a planned “museum of skulls and skeletons of an extinct race.”

The bodies were sent to “the museum of horrors that the Nazi beast planned, at the Reichsuniversität Strasburg in France. A collection of limbs belonging to our brothers and sisters, whose bodies were cut open, chopped up, and shoved into test tubes and glass bottles to be displayed and catalogued in an orderly fashion.”

The plan, Herzog says, “reflected how, with blood-curdling cruelty, the Nazis were also thinking about the day after. The day when no living Jew would remain anywhere on earth. How would the ‘enlightened’ world, ‘cleansed’ of Jews, recall this extinct inferior race?

“This museum was supposed to provide an answer to this question. It was the finale of the Final Solution,” Herzog says.

He brings the stories of Siegbert Rosenthal and Sarah Bomberg-Birenzweig, two of the Jews whose remains were meant to be featured in the museum, highlighting the decades-long effort needed to discover the names of these unique victims.

“At first, they found numbers. Then, names. Then, the names became people. With life stories. With photographs,” he says.

“Eighty-six worlds, worlds of love, joy, and dreams, reduced to dismembered limbs,” he adds. “And they did not find perfect rest. This horrifying, depraved, sick act of murder for the purpose of public display exemplifies the depravity. The depths of the most chilling abyss in human history. Hell itself.”

Herzog says comparisons to Nazis must be avoided: ‘They, and they alone, were Nazis’

President Isaac Herzog refers again to the worsening rifts in Israeli society and the increasingly divisive discourse on various topics, including the judicial overhaul, which sometimes include comparisons of Israeli individuals or group to the Nazis.

“Citizens of Israel, this year, all the more so, I wish to add something important here: The Nazi abomination was an unprecedented evil, with no parallel by any metric. It was no mere malice. It was an infinity of horror. We must remember, repeat, and internalize, time and again: they — and they alone — were Nazis. That — and that alone — was the Holocaust,” he says.

“Even in the grips of ferocious disagreements about fate, about destiny, about faith, about values, we must be careful to avoid any comparisons, any equivalences with the Holocaust or with the Nazis,” the president says.

“At the high point of this sacred day, it seems that even the obvious must be stated: for the Nazi monster, opinions within our nation made not the slightest difference. None of the ideologies, beliefs, or ways of life, none of the differences or varieties within our people, bore any meaning. For them, we were all one people… whose fate was one: death and extinction.”

Referring to overhaul rifts, Herzog says national days must be left ‘above all dispute’

President Isaac Herzog speaks at the main Holocaust memorial day ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, April 17, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
President Isaac Herzog speaks at the main Holocaust memorial day ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, April 17, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog opens his speech at the main Holocaust memorial day ceremony by urging Israelis to leave this and upcoming national days free of the deep friction caused by the government’s plan to overhaul the judiciary.

“This year is no ordinary year. And this memorial day is like no other. This year, feelings are rough and shoulders are hunched, as if to attest to the weight of the discord bearing down on us,” Herzog says at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

Referring to next week’s Memorial Day for fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims and Independence Day, Herzog adds: “I appeal to you, citizens of Israel, with a simple prayer: Let us leave these sacred days… above all dispute; let us all come together, as always, in partnership, in grief, in remembrance.”

WATCH: Main Holocaust memorial day ceremony set to begin, as Israel enters national grief mode

After months of internal turmoil and unprecedented divides over the government’s judicial overhaul plan, Israel is set to try to unite behind the memory of the Holocaust, as the national remembrance day begins.

The main ceremony will start shortly at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, where President Isaac Herzog will speak.

The ceremony is being livestreamed with an English translation.

IDF says 1 injured in Palestinian stabbing attack in Gush Etzion

The scene of a stabbing attack at Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank, April 17, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
The scene of a stabbing attack at Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank, April 17, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Israel Defense Forces says a female assailant has been “neutralized” after carrying out a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank.

According to the Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance service, a man in his 40s is being treated in light-to-moderate condition after being stabbed by the Palestinian woman.

He is being taken by MDA to the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem.

The IDF says it will provide further details later.

Israeli runner Chemtai Salpeter finishes 3rd in Boston Marathon

Israel's Lonah Chemtai Salpeter competes in the women's marathon during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Sapporo, on August 7, 2021. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP)
Israel's Lonah Chemtai Salpeter competes in the women's marathon during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Sapporo, on August 7, 2021. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP)

Israeli runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter finishes the Boston Marathon in third place, with an unofficial time of 2:21:55, some 17 seconds behind winner Hellen Obiri of Kenya.

Salpeter stayed in the lead pack of racers for the entire 42.2-kilometer route, but fell behind in the final two miles as Obiri and Amane Beriso of Ethiopia battled for the top spot.

Salpeter’s time is an improvement over her second-place finish in the NYC Marathon in November at 2:23:30.

Israel’s Salpeter in leading pack as Boston Marathon nears finish line

Israeli runner Chemtai Salpeter is one of five women running in a pack at the head of the Boston Marathon with just a few miles to go in the historic US race.

Salpeter is keeping pace with leader Emma Bates and Hellen Obiri, barely half a step behind both of them as the race winds through Boston suburb Brookline.

‘Serious’ overhaul negotiation session focuses on makeup of judge selection panel

The President’s Residence says coalition and opposition teams have concluded today’s discussions on a compromise version of the government’s contentious judicial overhaul plan, saying the sides have started discussing “core issues,” starting with the flashpoint issue of the makeup of the Judicial Selection Committee.

The coalition bill on the matter would hand the government complete control over the appointment of most judges, including Supreme Court justices, which the opposition says would erode the justice system’s independence and remove a critical check on the government’s power. The committee currently provides a mutual veto over Supreme Court picks to politicians and representatives of the court.

Today’s discussions were held “in a positive, professional and serious atmosphere, and the sides are committed to continuing the dialogue with the goal of reaching agreements,” President Isaac Herzog’s office says.

Coalition representative Hanoch Milwidsky, a Likud lawmaker, says: “There is much to work on, but there are also partners to work with. The optimism I voiced after the previous discussion still stands, believe it or not.”

However, Walla quotes unnamed sources who took part in the talks as saying: “There was serious discussion, but the sides are far from agreement.”

The opposition Yesh Atid and National Unity parties release a joint statement stressing “the need to reach wide agreement while preserving all principles of democracy, on which we will not compromise.”

AG says Ben Gvir must make new decision on Tel Aviv police chief after faulty dismissal

Composite photo: Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben Gvir, left, during a faction meeting at the Knesset on November 21, 2022; Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara speaks at Tel Aviv University on September 28, 2022. (Flash90)
Composite photo: Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben Gvir, left, during a faction meeting at the Knesset on November 21, 2022; Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara speaks at Tel Aviv University on September 28, 2022. (Flash90)

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara says the government must make a new decision on the fate of senior police official Ami Eshed, concluding that the decision earlier this year to remove him as Tel Aviv district commander raised significant legal difficulties.

Baharav-Miara says the new decision must be made “after the officer gets an opportunity to voice his position, and after reconsidering the relevant considerations in accordance with police procedures and relevant procedures.”

After hearing the opinions of her advisers, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the police chief and other professionals, the attorney general concludes that the original decision “deviated from accepted work practices.”

She says the timing of Ben Gvir’s move, just after he publicly expressed his disapproval of Eshed’s too lenient handling of anti-government protests, “raises fear of causality” between them, which could “harm police operations and independence, especially in the sensitive contexts of preserving freedom of speech and protection of human rights.”

‘Respect their memory’: Auschwitz Memorial criticizes visitor for photo pose

The Auschwitz Memorial criticizes a visitor who picked a carefree, happy pose for a picture on the train tracks leading to the entrance to the site of the notorious Nazi concentration camp, urging visitors to respect the memory of the over 1 million people murdered there during the Holocaust.

Ahead of Israel’s national Holocaust memorial day, the museum makes the remark in a response to a Twitter user who posted a picture of another visitor posing for the photograph.

Man seriously hurt in car bomb in Rishon Lezion in likely gangland hit

A man is seriously wounded by an apparent car bomb in the central city of Rishon Lezion.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says paramedics were called to the scene after receiving reports of a burning car, in which they found the 30-year-old.

The man, who MDA says was suffering from burns all over his body, has been taken to Sheba Medical Center in nearby Ramat Gan.

Police launch an investigation into the explosion, which the force says is criminal and not terror-related. A police sapper was called to the scene.

Images from Rishon Lezion show a burning car in the middle of a street.

The blast is described by Hebrew media as a suspected gangland killing, following several similar car bombings in recent months.

Moody’s says the main factor in downgrade decision was threat to Israel’s judiciary

This August 2010 file photo shows a sign for Moody's Corp. in New York (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
This August 2010 file photo shows a sign for Moody's Corp. in New York (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Moody’s Investors Service says that the key factor that drove its decision to lower Israel’s credit outlook was concern that the planned changes to the country’s legal system would threaten the independence of the judiciary.

The statement appears to contradict claims by government figures that the move was driven more by the major protest movement against the overhaul than by the legislation itself.

Speaking at a webinar, Moody’s senior vice president Kathrin Muehlbronner says that the credit rating agency assesses fiscal policy based on monetary and macroeconomic policy effectiveness.

“The only driver for our rating action last Friday were the events around the government’s plans for judicial changes,” says Muehlbronner. “With Israel, our main concern is the executive pushing through important changes to the institutional setup of the country at such a speed and without any dialogue really — for us it is not a sign of strong institutions.”

Muehlbronner says: “The plans risk undermining the independence of the judiciary, because the government would have control of the appointment of judges — in particular, the appointment of Supreme Court judges — and it would also limit the ability of the Supreme Court to review legislation and decide on the legality of laws.”

“Having a strong and independent judiciary is important everywhere, but even more so in a system like Israel where there are really only two branches of government, the executive and the judiciary. Other checks and balances that exist in other countries are relatively weak in Israel,” she adds.

On Friday, Moody’s lowered the country’s economic outlook from positive to stable, citing a “deterioration of Israel’s governance” and criticizing the “manner in which the government has attempted to implement a wide-ranging [judicial] reform without seeking broad consensus.” This, the agency warned, “points to a weakening of institutional strength and policy predictability.”

Moody’s reaffirmed Israel’s A1 credit rating backed by “strong economic growth and improving fiscal strength,” while warning that the rating “would come under downward pressure if the current tensions were to turn into a prolonged political and social crisis with material negative impact on the economy, possibly linked to substantially lower capital inflows into the important high-tech sector and relocation of Israeli firms abroad.”

Iran invites Saudi king to visit amid thaw in ties

Iran says it has formally invited Saudi King Salman to visit Tehran, following a reconciliation agreement reached last month between the two sides.

Saudi Arabia severed relations with Iran in 2016, after its embassy in Tehran and consulate in the northwestern city of Mashhad were attacked during protests over Riyadh’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The two Middle East powerhouses had held several rounds of dialogue in Iraq and Oman before reaching the agreement to mend ties on March 10 in China.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani says President Ebrahim Raisi “invited the Saudi King to visit Iran.”

Kanani says the Iranian president has already received an invitation to visit the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

The spokesman also expresses hope that Iran and Saudi Arabia will reopen their respective diplomatic missions by May 9, as scheduled in the China-brokered agreement.

“We and the Saudi side insist on activating the embassies in a very timely manner so that Iranian pilgrims can attend a calm hajj pilgrimage using the services provided by the embassy,” he tells a weekly press conference.

SpaceX delays test flight of Starship, world’s biggest rocket, minutes before takeoff

People photograph the SpaceX Starship as it stands on the launch pad ahead of a flight test from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas on April 16, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)
People photograph the SpaceX Starship as it stands on the launch pad ahead of a flight test from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas on April 16, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)

SpaceX postpones the first test flight of Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built.

Liftoff of the giant rocket was called off just minutes ahead of the scheduled launch time because of a pressurization issue, SpaceX officials say.

Anti-LGBT MK Avi Maoz says he’s in advanced talks to return as Jewish identity czar

Noam party head Avi Maoz speaks during his faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 30, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Noam party head Avi Maoz speaks during his faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 30, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Avi Maoz, the head of the one-man, virulently anti-LGBT Noam party, says he is in advanced negotiations over a return to his former post as a deputy minister in charge of a “Jewish identity” body.

Maoz was made a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and was promised some authority over school content, which caused an outcry among critics. Last month, he resigned in protest of the promised authority not being granted to him by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but said he would continue backing the coalition as a Knesset member.

Now, he tells the Kikar HaShabbat Haredi news site that “in the coming few weeks, it is possible that I will return to my post, with all the powers” promised to him.

“There are negotiations, and they have advanced quite a bit, to my satisfaction. We still need to close some details, we are continuing these discussions during these days, and I very much hope this will work out and I’ll return to my role,” he says.

Lapid slams Haredi draft bill as ‘surrender to draft evasion and refusal’

Opposition leader Yair Lapid rails against the government’s plan to lower the age at which members of the ultra-Orthodox community can get a formal exemption from military service.

The proposal would lower the age of final exemption from the army from the current 26 to 23 or 21. While soldiers are generally drafted from age 18, many yeshiva students are thought to remain in religious study programs longer than they normally would in order to dodge the draft by claiming academic deferments until they reach the age of final exemption. By lowering the permanent exemption age, the government hopes to spur those Haredi men to leave the yeshiva and enter the workforce at a younger age.

“The [proposed] draft law pushed by the government has one meaning — the end of the people’s army,” Lapid says in a video statement, referring to the ethos of the Israel Defense Forces as an army that represents the nation, with compulsory service for all 18-year-olds.

“Only our children will enlist in the army,” he says, apparently referring to the non-Haredi public. “Only our kids will endanger their lives. Those who don’t enlist will get their stipends raised, and only our children will have to be the suckers who work and pay taxes.

“This isn’t a draft law, it’s a complete surrender to draft evasion and refusal. It’s a renunciation of the values upon which the State of Israel was founded.”

IDF tells High Court it will reevaluate some parts of plan to open units to women

Female soldiers operate a tank in the Negev desert in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)
Female soldiers operate a tank in the Negev desert in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

The State Attorney’s Office has issued a response on behalf of the Israel Defense Forces over an ongoing appeal to the High Court over apparent gender inequality in military units.

The response details a series of moves the IDF has carried out over the past year to enable women to serve in some elite units that had been previously closed off to them.

The IDF says it will continue a pilot program of female soldiers in the elite Unit 669, the Air Force’s elite helicopter-borne search and rescue unit, and Yahalom, an elite combat engineering unit.

The first female soldiers in Unit 669 will draft in November. Twelve female soldiers were drafted to Yahalom this past March, and will undergo a lengthy training period. More female soldiers are expected to draft to Yahalom in November.

The IDF meanwhile says it is delaying a plan to allow women to serve as drivers in an infantry brigade. The initial plan — which had few details and no expected start date, and the specific infantry brigade was not chosen — will be reevaluated, the IDF says.

Similarly, the IDF says it is delaying and reevaluating plans to possibly include female soldiers in the Armored Corps. This plan also had no specific details when it was initially discussed by the IDF.

Female soldiers will continue to serve in a tank unit in the Caracal mixed-gender light infantry battalion, which is stationed on the border with Egypt.

Ahead of Holocaust memorial day, Blinken stresses need to combat antisemitism, bigotry

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during an interview with AFP in Niamey, Niger, on March 16, 2023. (Boureima Hama/AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during an interview with AFP in Niamey, Niger, on March 16, 2023. (Boureima Hama/AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken releases a statement ahead of Israel’s national Holocaust memorial day, saying that “we remember and honor the six million Jews and the millions of others the Nazis murdered including Roma, LGBTQI+ persons, Slavs, and persons with disabilities.”

“We find in their memory the strength to stand against all forms of antisemitism, hatred, and bigotry, and to insist the Holocaust is remembered and taught accurately,” he adds.

“Among the most powerful lessons we can learn from the Holocaust is that the mass murder of six million Jews was not a sudden or singular act, but rather the culmination of countless incremental steps designed to vilify and dehumanize people. That’s why we must remember now, and always.”

Ben Gvir tours Lod after spate of murders; mayor says he’s disappointed with government

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, center, speaks with Lod Mayor Yair Revivo, left, during a tour of the city, April 17, 2023. (Flash90)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, center, speaks with Lod Mayor Yair Revivo, left, during a tour of the city, April 17, 2023. (Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tours the city of Lod following three murders there in the past week, saying it will take time and work until he can fulfill his central election promise to reduce crime in the Arab community.

The mayor of the mixed Jewish-Arab city, Yair Revivo, says he is disappointed by the government’s conduct and lack of focus on the matter.

“Since this is Arabs who are being murdered by Arabs, the state cares less,” Revivo says ahead of the visit.

He urges Ben Gvir to launch a campaign to locate and seize illegal weapons in Lod, conveying residents’ distress at the frequent violence and gunfire in the city.

EU slams ‘outrageously harsh’ sentence for Kremlin critic

The European Union condemns Russia’s sentencing of opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza to 25 years in jail on “politically motivated charges.”

“Today’s outrageously harsh court decision clearly demonstrates yet again the political misuse of judiciary in order to pressure activists, human rights defenders and any voices opposing Russia’s illegitimate war of aggression against Ukraine,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell says.

Delegation from Haifa’s Rambam hospital takes part in March of the Living for 1st time

A member of a Rambam Medical Center delegation to the March of the Living visits a Holocaust memorial site, in Poland, April 16, 2023. (Courtesy: Rambam)
A member of a Rambam Medical Center delegation to the March of the Living visits a Holocaust memorial site, in Poland, April 16, 2023. (Courtesy: Rambam)

A delegation from Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center is in Poland and will participate tomorrow in the March of the Living. This is the first time the hospital has sent a group to the annual international event at Auschwitz marking Israel’s national Holocaust memorial day.

The 48-strong contingent includes Jewish, Muslim and Christian doctors, nurses, administrators and maintenance staff.

Since arriving in Poland yesterday, the delegation has also visited other Holocaust-related sites, including the Treblinka and Majdanek death camps.

The group is led by Rambam’s director Prof. Michael Halbertal, who notes that “it has been emotionally trying for all the participants. The sights and the feelings they evoke are challenging, but also moving.”

“We, representatives of all religions together, and from all of the hospital’s departments, are getting an overview perspective of contemporary Israel — of the primacy of the sanctity of life, a common destiny, and the necessity for mutual responsibility,” he says.

IDF soldier charged with reckless homicide over killing of comrade in January

Cpl. Baruch Kabarta, who was killed by a suspected accidental discharge at a military base near Jerusalem on January 3, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Cpl. Baruch Kabarta, who was killed by a suspected accidental discharge at a military base near Jerusalem on January 3, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

An Israeli soldier has been charged with reckless homicide for the killing of a comrade on an army base near Jerusalem earlier this year.

The Israel Defense Forces says the Military Police soldier, ranked private, “carried out an action with his gun” which ultimately resulted in the death of Cpl. Baruch Kabarta on the night of January 2.

According to an indictment, the soldier is also charged with obstruction of justice after he allegedly tried to dissuade another soldier from giving details about the shooting.

The soldier, who was detained shortly after the incident, will remain held until at least May 1 during the ongoing trial.

Navy forces nab 4 Gazans suspected of attempted smuggling

The military says Navy forces detained four Palestinians off the coast of the Gaza Strip early this morning over suspicions they were involved in a smuggling attempt.

One of the suspects was wounded by a sponge-tipped bullet fired by the Navy troops, the Israel Defense Forces says.

The four suspects and the vessel have been handed over to the Shin Bet security agency for further investigation.

Attempts at smuggling via the maritime route from northern Egypt to Gaza are believed to be frequent.

Kremlin critic Kara-Murza sentenced to 25 years in jail

Russia sentences Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza to 25 years in jail on charges including treason, amid an intensifying crackdown on opposition voices since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Following a closed-door trial, the court says it has found Kara-Murza guilty of high treason, spreading “false” information about the Russian army, and being affiliated with an “undesirable organization.”

‘This is chaos’: Labor MKs plan rebellion against party leader Michaeli

Labor leader Merav Michaeli, center, with Labor party MKs Gilad Kariv, second from right, and Naama Lazimi, left, after the results of the Labor party primaries were announced, in Tel Aviv, August 9, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Labor leader Merav Michaeli, center, with Labor party MKs Gilad Kariv, second from right, and Naama Lazimi, left, after the results of the Labor party primaries were announced, in Tel Aviv, August 9, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Fed up with the conduct of leader Merav Michaeli, Labor party lawmakers have decided to take steps against her with the goal of eventually pushing her out of the party, according to senior Labor officials.

The three other Labor MKs — Gilad Kariv, Efrat Rayten and Naama Lazimi — have decided to force Michaeli to make all decisions only with the agreement of all four lawmakers, eroding her authority as party leader, reports Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site.

The plan was devised in extensive talks held over the past few weeks, in light of a series of opinion polls predicting Labor could be wiped off the political landscape in the next election.

The feeling is that Michaeli has lost the remaining public legitimacy she had and is dooming the party, which led Israel for its first three decades.

In almost every conversation with one of the other three lawmakers, the anger at her is evident, including over the election campaign last year and the critical decision not to join forces with the Meretz party, which failed to enter the Knesset as a result.

If Michaeli doesn’t agree to their demands, the MKs — who believe they are stronger than her in party institutions — intend to pass a series of decisions against her.

“We’re going backward. We have no preparations, renewal, nothing. This is chaos,” says a senior Labor official. “In the current situation, we have no way other than removing Michaeli.”

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