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

Palestinian said critically injured in fresh Gaza border clashes

A Palestinian man was critically wounded by IDF sniper fire during clashes today on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says.

It says the man was shot east of Jabalya in northern Gaza and was evacuated to a hospital.

Friday is the fourth consecutive week of mass violent protests on the Gaza border as part of the “March of Return.”

The demonstrations have been encouraged by the Hamas terror group, which controls Gaza and is committed to Israel’s destruction.

Saudis intercept ballistic missile fired by Yemeni rebels

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi air defenses intercepted a “ballistic missile” fired by Iranian-backed Yemeni rebels at the kingdom’s southern coastal city of Jizan, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels says.

It is the latest in a series of such attacks.

“Saudi air defenses intercepted a ballistic missile launched by the Houthi militias targeting Jizan,” the coalition says in a statement.

The Houthis, in a statement on their news outlet Al-Masirah, claim that they fired a “Badr 1” ballistic missile and say it struck Jizan Regional Airport.

AFP is unable to reach the airport for comment, but open-source flight information appears to show flights arriving and departing on time.

Saudi Arabia has since March 2015 led a coalition of Arab states fighting to roll back the Houthi rebels in Yemen and restore its neighbor’s internationally-recognized government to power.

Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed in the conflict, in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

In March, an Egyptian laborer became the first known fatality in a rebel missile attack on the Saudi capital.

Saudi Arabia accuses its rival Iran of smuggling missiles to the Houthis — a charge Tehran denies.


Large area of Berlin center evacuated for WWII bomb disposal

BERLIN — Berlin police evacuate thousands of people from a central area of the German capital Friday and shut down the main train station in preparation for the removal of an unexploded World War II bomb found during recent construction work.

Some 10,000 residents and workers are being forced to leave a two-square-kilometer (almost a square mile) area, including the train station, while bomb experts defuse the 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) British bomb dropped during the war.

Trains are prevented from stopping at the busy station from 10 a.m., and through traffic is being shut down at 11:30 a.m. before experts begin their work, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said.

Rail traffic is tentatively planned to resume at about 1 p.m. but it’s not clear yet how long the bomb disposal operation will take. Some 300,000 travelers use the station daily, according to Deutsche Bahn.

The evacuation area, a circle around the construction site north of the train station where the bomb was discovered during digging, also includes a hospital, the main office of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, and parts of both the economy and transportation ministries.

Even 73 years after the end of the war, such discoveries remain common in major German cities.

— AP

Palestinian dies of wounds in clashes — Gaza ministry

A Palestinian man critically wounded by IDF sniper fire during clashes today on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip has died, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says.

It names the man as 25-year-old Ahmad Aqel.

Army looking into reports of Palestinian killed in Gaza clashes

An army spokesperson says the IDF is looking into reports that a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli sniper fire during clashes today on the Gaza border.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry named the man as 25-year-old Ahmad Aqel, who it says was shot in northern Gaza.

Romanian president blasts plan to move embassy to Jerusalem

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romanian President Klaus Iohannis sharply criticizes plans announced by the head of the ruling party to move the country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Iohannis had “not been consulted or informed over this process,” his office says in a statement, adding that in his opinion the decision was “not based on firm, wide-ranging evaluations.”

On Thursday evening the head of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, told the Antena 3 TV channel: “The decision has been taken… procedures [for the move] have started.”

However, the government of Prime Minister Viorica Dancila has not officially confirmed the news and a government spokesman refused to comment on the issue when asked by AFP.

Due to a previous two-year suspended prison sentence for electoral fraud, Dragnea could not take up the post of prime minister after the PSD won legislative elections at the end of 2016, but he is still as having a key role in party decisions.

Iohannis, who is from the center-right and has expressed numerous disagreements with the government, claims he has the authority to “take decisions relating to Romania’s foreign policy” and underlines that Bucharest’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “had not changed.”

“At this stage a transfer of the embassy would represent a violation of international law,” he says.

“The government’s initiative could eventually represent, at the most, the beginning of a process of evaluation… which could only be finalized after the conclusion of peace talks,” Iohannis adds.


Second Palestinian said killed in Gaza border clashes

A second Palestinian man was killed by Israeli fire during clashes on the Gaza border, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says.

It says 40 Palestinians have been injured during today’s demonstrations, some by inhaling tear gas.

Separately, Hebrew media reports put turnout at the protests at 1,500, a far significantly smaller size than past weeks.

Liberman tours Gaza area, credits IDF for smaller protest turnout

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tours the Gaza area, where he meets with troops as weekly Friday clashes take place on the border.

“They understand the mission well, they are determined and they are best people the nation of Israel can count on,” Liberman tweets about IDF troops.

He also says: “Thanks to the IDF’s activity, week by week there is a drop in the number of participants in the riots.”

Hebrew media reports put turnout at today’s protests at 1,500, significantly smaller than the 10,000 at last Friday’s demonstration. In the two weeks before, there were an estimated 20,000 and 30,000 protesters, respectively.

Army: 3,000 Palestinians taking part in riots on Gaza border

The Israel Defense Forces say 3,000 Palestinians are taking part in clashes Friday along the Gaza border.

The army says riots took place at five different locations along the border fence, with demonstrators trying to approach security infrastructure, burning tires near it and trying to fly kites with burning objects to attached to them.

“A number of kites crossed into Israeli territory and were extinguished as needed,” the army says.

The IDF says soldiers are using riot dispersal means and live fire to prevent the demonstrators from approaching the border.

“The IDF will not allow harm to security infrastructure and the [border] fence, which protect Israeli citizens and will act against violent rioters and terrorists involved in this,” the army says.

Hamas-run health ministry ups number of wounded to 83

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says 83 Palestinians have been injured during clashes today on the border with Israel, many from tear gas inhalation.

It earlier said two Palestinians were killed by Israeli sniper fire during the riots.

IDF: Hamas flies swastika-adorned kite carrying firebomb into Israel

The Israel Defense Forces say a kite adorned with a swastika carrying a firebomb was flown by Hamas into Israel during weekly clashes on the Gaza border.

“Moments ago, terrorist #Hamas sent a Molotov cocktail over the Gaza border into Israel,” tweets IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Cornicus. “Flew it with their true colors.”

In recent weeks, Gazans have adopted the tactic of flying kites carrying firebombs over the border fence into Israel.

Earlier today, the IDF said a number of kites crossed into Israel and that they were “extinguished as needed.”


126 Palestinians now said injured in Gaza clashes

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says 126 people have now been injured in clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza border.

It says of those injured, 81 were taken to hospitals for treatment.

The health ministry does not detail the circumstances of the injuries.

Hamas leader arrives at Gaza protests in show of support

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the Hamas terror group in Gaza, arrives at clashes along the border to show support for the protesters.

“If [PLO leader] Yasser Arafat was alive today, he would be in one of two places: With us here or in the operations room as commander,” Channel 10 reports Sinwar as saying.

Gaza ministry: 445 Palestinians injured in border riots

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says 445 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli troops on the border.

It says 174 of those injured have been taken to the hospital, including 96 wounded by live fire.

No details are provided on the circumstances of the injuries.

Two more Gazans said killed in border clashes

Two more Palestinians were killed during violent protests with Israeli troops on the Gaza border, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

It says one was a 15-year-old and the other a 29-year-old.

The two are the third and fourth people the ministry says were killed in today’s clashes.

Cabinet approves restoration of heritage sites for Independence Day

The cabinet approves funding for the restoration of seven heritage sites in honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day in a special cabinet meeting held at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv.

NIS 11 million ($3.1 million) will be set aside for the sites, which include founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s home in Tel Aviv.

“We are holding this festive Cabinet meeting today in the context of the marvelous celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel,” says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the meeting.

“Several months ago we decided to restore and refurbish this building. It is fitting that the restored Independence Hall be a main heritage site in our country and so it will be,” he adds.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) leads a special cabinet meeting marking Israel’s 70th Independence Day at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv on April 20, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Democrats sue Trump, Russia for alleged collusion

NEW YORK — The Democratic National Committee sues US President Donald Trump’s campaign, his son, his son-in-law, the Russian Federation and WikiLeaks, saying they conspired to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

The DNC files the lawsuit Friday in federal court in Manhattan. It seeks unspecified damages and an order to prevent further interference with DNC computer systems.

The lawsuit says Trump and his associates had relationships with Russia that enabled creation of a Trump-Russia conspiracy.

The DNC says Russia “mounted a brazen attack on American democracy” beginning with a cyberattack on its computers.

It says the hack penetrated DNC computers and phone systems and extracted tens of thousands of documents and emails.

Trump has said repeatedly there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.

— AP

US President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arriving at Palm Beach International in West Palm Beach, Florida on April 18, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Hamas health ministry: 645 injured in Gaza border clashes

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says 645 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli troops on the border.

It says 124 of those injured were wounded by live fire.

It does not provide details on the circumstances of the injuries.

Hamas health ministry says 729 injured in border clashes

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says 729 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli troops on the border Friday, including 156 from live fire.

It does not provide details on the circumstances of their injuries.

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