ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 139

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Amid outcry, Golan says she’d ‘work with all Jewish organizations’ as consul to NYC

Nomination of firebrand lawmaker to diplomatic post has stirred concerns among some US Jews, though MK vows she is ‘completely committed to the unity of the Jewish people’

Likud MK May Golan at a House Committee meeting in the Knesset, on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK May Golan at a House Committee meeting in the Knesset, on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

After World Zionist Congress brouhaha, votes critical of government to be held online

Following an attempted filibuster by the right-wing bloc at the World Zionist Congress, voting on motions critical of Israel’s government are to take place online.

Right-wing delegations to the WZC have been pushing for voting individually on each resolution — including a motion criticizing the government’s judicial overhaul, support for LGBTQ Jews, backing the current version of the Law of Return, recognition of Reform and Conservative conversions — instead of an abbreviated process.

Opponents of the resolutions say the switch in voting method is meant to drag out the process and prevent the resolutions from passing by the end of the Congress tomorrow. They say the insistence on the switch in voting method happened after it became apparent that the draft resolutions would pass.

Following protests by hundreds of delegates in the extraordinary WJC convened this week in Jerusalem, in which more than 2,000 Jewish leaders and youth from Israel and around the world participated, the presidium of the WJC, which determines procedure, voted to hold an online vote in the coming days.

“This is a victory for the center-left-liberal bloc that will result in the passage of resolutions against the government’s policy, without concessions,” said WZO Vice Chairman Yizhar Hess in a statement. “The right tried from the very beginning to prevent there being votes at this Congress. They failed at the beginning. They failed again today.”

Ex-Supreme Court chief: Coalition, opposition must reach a deal on judicial overhaul

Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak says he believes the government and opposition must come to some sort of broad agreement on the judicial overhaul.

Speaking at an event to mark the publication of his latest book, Barak says that reaching a negotiated deal “is possible without the sides giving up on their starting points.”

Barak is seen by many as the figure most responsible for Israel’s judicial changes since 2005 — many of which the government wants to overturn — and has emerged as a polarizing figure in the ongoing debate.

Muslims declare end to Ramadan, start of Eid al-Fitr

Palestinians shop at the market in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on April 17, 2023, ahead of the upcoming holiday of Eid al-Fitr. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinians shop at the market in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on April 17, 2023, ahead of the upcoming holiday of Eid al-Fitr. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Large parts of the Muslim world are marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and ushering in the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

The Islamic calendar is lunar and depends on the sighting of the moon — something Muslim religious authorities tend to disagree on. Ramadan sees worshippers fasting daily from dawn to sunset, ending with Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

Though they are amid a rapprochement, Tehran and Riyadh disagree on the start of the holiday — for Saudis, Eid al-Fitr will begin tomorrow, while officials in Iran say it starts on Saturday.

The start of the holiday is traditionally based on sightings of the new moon, which vary according to geographic location, while some countries rely on astronomical calculations rather than physical sightings to determine the start of Eid al-Fitr.

United Arab Emirates and Qatar followed Saudi Arabia and announced the holiday would begin for them on Friday, while their Gulf Arab neighbor, Oman, declared that the moon had not been sighted and the holiday would begin on Saturday.

Israeli and West Bank Muslims are ending Ramadan this evening and beginning Eid al-Fitr tomorrow.

Gallant: Iran gives Hezbollah $700m a year, is ‘driving force’ of current escalation

Hezbollah supporters wave their group and Palestinian flags, during a rally to mark Jerusalem day, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, April 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Hezbollah supporters wave their group and Palestinian flags, during a rally to mark Jerusalem day, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, April 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says Iran is the “driving force” of a recent multi-front escalation, while detailing the funding the Islamic Republic provides to its proxies across the region.

Gallant says Iran funds the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon with $700 million a year, as well as “knowledge and strategic weaponry” such as precision-guided munitions.

The Hamas terror group that rules the Gaza Strip is funded by Iran with $100 million annually, with additional funding worth tens of millions of dollars going to the second largest terror group in the Palestinian enclave, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Gallant says.

In Syria, hundreds of millions of dollars are sent to Iranian-backed militias each year, and the Syrian regime led by dictator Bashar Assad receives billions of dollars from Iran, he adds.

Gallant says Iran-backed militias in Iraq receive funding worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year as well as weaponry; and in Yemen, the Houthi rebel group is funded by Iran with hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

“The increasing dependence [of the proxies] on Iran leads them to step over the boundaries and become more brazen,” Gallant says to reporters.

Meanwhile, the defense establishment denies there is a link between a US-backed maritime border demarcation deal with Lebanon and the recent escalation, as had been suggested by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Amid outcry, Golan says if appointed consul to NY she will ‘work with all Jewish orgs’

Likud MK May Golan at a House Committee meeting in the Knesset, on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK May Golan at a House Committee meeting in the Knesset, on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud lawmaker May Golan, who was been tapped to serve as the next consul general to New York, says she will work with all Jewish organizations if she is confirmed for the post.

“I am very flattetrd [sic] to be considered for the post of Israel’s consul general in NY,” tweets Golan. “I want to assure everyone that if I will be appointed, I will represent 100% the mainstream policies of PM Netanyahu and the Likud party to which I belong.”

Golan says she is “completely committed to the unity of the Jewish people, and that is the exact policy that I will follow.” She adds that if she is confirmed to the position, she will “work with the leaders of all the Jewish organizations – as part of the effort to strengthen the great partnership between Israel and the American Jewish communities.”

Golan’s nomination has stirred concern among Israeli and US leaders that the firebrand far-right lawmaker will not be welcomed by mainstream Jewish groups in New York due to her past comments and incendiary behavior.

Protesters to rally in support of ex-Supreme Court chief Aharon Barak

File: Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak in Jerusalem, December 8, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
File: Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak in Jerusalem, December 8, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Protesters plan to gather at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square at 8:30 this evening in support of former Supreme Court chief justice Aharon Barak, a day after right-wing protesters surrounded the jurist’s home.

Barak led Israel’s judicial revolution in 2005, ushering in many of the principles the current government is seeking to unwind through its march to unleash political power by constraining judicial authority.

He is a prominent symbol against which many right-wing, pro-reform activists rally, despite no longer holding an official position.

Protesters chose to surround Barak’s home the day after Holocaust Remembrance Day, significant in that Barak himself is a Holocaust survivor.

Planes from US, UK, Germany and Italy to take part in Independence Day flyover

Israel's air force aerobatic team flies during training for an Independence Day flyover in Jerusalem, on May 3, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel's air force aerobatic team flies during training for an Independence Day flyover in Jerusalem, on May 3, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Several foreign pilots will join the Israeli Air Force for the annual Independence Day flyover on Wednesday.

The Israel Defense Forces says aircraft from the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, and Italy will participate in the flyby, “as a sign of partnership between the countries and their unique relationship with the State of Israel.”

“The foreign planes will fly in Israel’s skies, with some of them accompanied by Israeli Air Force planes, as an expression of the cooperation and close relationship between the countries,” the IDF adds.

The Air Force displays will be made up of an aerobatics show — including fighter jets showing a dogfighting simulation — and a flyby.

The flyover, marking Israel’s 75th anniversary, will begin at 9:30 a.m. on April 26, and last until 2:30 p.m. The IAF will publish a full list of flyover sites and times in the coming days.

Hundreds attend ‘grandparents protest’ in Tel Aviv against judicial overhaul

Grandparents gather at a 'Savtot for Democracy' protest against the judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv's Habima Square, April 20, 2023. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Grandparents gather at a 'Savtot for Democracy' protest against the judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv's Habima Square, April 20, 2023. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

A dozen grandmothers board a bus to make their way from an assisted living facility in Israel’s center to Tel Aviv’s HaBima Square. Usually, their driver drops them at a philharmonic performance, but today, they join hundreds of other senior citizens as part of a grandparents’ protest against the government’s plan to increase political power by constraining the judiciary.

“We made a placard with little grandchildren all around it and we wrote how many we have,” in total 92, says Rossie Gelb, 81, one of the protesting residents.

Tonight’s protest is the second organized by “Savtot for Democracy,” the Hebrew term for grandmother.

Founded only six weeks ago by Anne Berkeley, 70, a Glaswegian who made her home in Israel in 1978, the movement hopes to add what Berkeley calls overlooked voices among the panoply of protest organizations that have sprouted in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s plans.

“A lot of people don’t see or hear older ladies… we get to a certain age, our hair gets greyer, and we kind of become invisible in a way,” Berkeley says.

Gelb, who herself immigrated to Israel from Montreal in 1961 and raised her four children in Israel, echoes the sentiment, saying that this new addition to the protest scene gives her a sense of “support.”

Gathered in HaBima Square, the women are joined by other grandparents, as well as their children and grandchildren who came in support.

“Where are your grandchildren?” someone asks an elderly woman. “In the army!” she smiles.

Labor MK Efrat Rayten addresses the crowd, saying that for the past 15 weeks, protesters like those assembled “woke up because [the government is] talking about taking our very basic rights, those rights that we fought for.”

“Shame!” one of the protesters shouts, prompting the crowd to break out into chants.

US Reform chief says May Golan as NY consul will ‘harm not help Israel’s cause’

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, stands in his office in New York in May 2022. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, stands in his office in New York in May 2022. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, slams Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for tapping far-right lawmaker May Golan as the next consul general to New York.

“We need a thoughtful, diplomatic, morally credible new consul general in NY. May Golan is none of those,” tweets Jacobs. “Her brand of Zionism is antithetical to the majority of our community. She will harm not help Israel’s cause.”

Golan, a member of Likud who also ran unsuccessfully for Knesset with the far-right Otzma Yehudit, first rose to prominence by advocating for deporting African migrants and refugees living in south Tel Aviv, once referring to herself as a “proud racist.”

Iran boasts its army has received 200 new ‘strategic’ drones

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami at Tehran's Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory, in the capital Tehran on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami at Tehran's Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory, in the capital Tehran on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran’s defense ministry has delivered the army more than 200 new drones equipped with missile capabilities and electronic warfare systems, state media reports.

In a ceremony broadcast on television, Defense Minister Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani hands over “more than 200 long-range strategic drones” to army chief Abdolrahim Mousavi, the official news agency IRNA says.

Produced by the Iranian defense ministry, the drones are designed for reconnaissance and strike missions, and can carry air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, IRNA says.

Netanyahu calls on all elected officials to leave arguments ‘outside the cemeteries’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony for victims of terror, at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, April 14, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony for victims of terror, at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, April 14, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls on public officials to put all arguments aside ahead of Memorial Day and Independence Day this year, despite the ongoing rift over the judicial overhaul.

“In the past few months, an important debate has been raging among us over our democracy, but during these days, I ask all elected officials — from the right and left — to put the argument aside, to leave it outside of the cemeteries,” says Netanyahu in a video statement. “To allow the bereaved families, and all of us, to mourn in silence the memory of our loved ones.”

The prime minister says that “unity” is the demand of the hour, and the bereaved families “deserve to experience these days with the entire nation of Israel standing united, behind our heroes, without any arguments.”

At request of bereaved families, government shares list of ministers at Memorial Day ceremonies

Illustrative: People and soldiers visit graves during a Memorial Day which commemorates fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terror at Nahalat Yitzhak military cemetery in Tel Aviv on May 4, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Illustrative: People and soldiers visit graves during a Memorial Day which commemorates fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terror at Nahalat Yitzhak military cemetery in Tel Aviv on May 4, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The government makes public the list of ministers attending official Memorial Day ceremonies on Tuesday, as tensions are high over expected political demonstrations and outbursts during proceedings.

Some bereaved family groups have called on ministers who did not serve in the IDF to stay away from official ceremonies and military cemeteries. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has said that ministers must be allowed to attend, but has called on all lawmakers to avoid political statements.

According to Ynet, the list was publicized at the request of bereaved family groups, and is not normally distributed ahead of the holiday. No coalition lawmaker is slated to attend events in Haifa.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who did not serve because he was barred due to his extremist background, is slated to attend a ceremony in Beersheba, where he is likely to be met by protesters.

Minister May Golan, who did not serve after purportedly lying about being religious, is slated to attend an event in Rishon Lezion. UTJ lawmakers Yitzhak Goldknopf and Meir Porush and Shas’s Michael Malkieli — none of whom enlisted — will also be attending ceremonies.

US denies Iranian claim that it ‘forced’ US submarine to surface in Gulf

Iran says Thursday it “forced” a US submarine to surface as it was crossing the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, a claim the Americans promptly deny.

Admiral Shahram Irani, the commander of Iran’s navy, tells state TV the USS Florida nuclear submarine was “approaching and passing in complete silence” when it partly entered Iranian waters.

An Iranian submarine then forced it to “surface and cross the strait,” he says, adding that Tehran would raise the matter with “international authorities.”

In a Twitter statement, the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet says the claim is “absolutely false” and “represents more Iranian disinformation.”

The “US 5th Fleet continues to operate wherever international law allows,” it adds.

Delegates to World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem spar over votes

Delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem are sparring over votes on resolutions that were expected to pass easily.

According to those in attendance, electronic voting was expected to take place on a range of resolutions, including support for LGBTQ Jews, backing the current version of the Law of Return, and recognition of Reform and Conservative conversions. Instead, right-wing delegations to the WZC have sought to push for voting individually on each resolution to delay their adoption, potentially forcing delegates to stay late into the night.

Separately, some delegates to the WZC marched earlier this morning from the Jerusalem International Convention Center to the Supreme Court in order to express solidarity with the anti-overhaul marchers who have been protesting across the country for several months.

SpaceX’s Starship, world’s biggest rocket, explodes during test flight

The SpaceX Starship lifts off from the launchpad during a flight test from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on April 20, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)
The SpaceX Starship lifts off from the launchpad during a flight test from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on April 20, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)

SpaceX’s Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, explodes during the first test flight of the spacecraft designed to send astronauts to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The gigantic rocket successfully blasted off at 8:33 a.m. Central Time (1333 GMT) from Starbase, the private SpaceX spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas.

The Starship capsule had been scheduled to separate from the first-stage rocket booster three minutes into the flight but separation failed to occur and the rocket blew up.

“As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation,” SpaceX tweets.

Court extends remand of Palestinian teen who carried out Sheikh Jarrah shooting

Medics and police at the scene of a shooting in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, April 18, 2023. (Magen David Adom)
Medics and police at the scene of a shooting in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, April 18, 2023. (Magen David Adom)

A Jerusalem court extends the remand of a Palestinian teenager accused of carrying out a shooting attack in the capital earlier this week, which wounded two Israeli men.

Police say the 15-year-old from the Askar refugee camp who was detained by security forces in Nablus yesterday will be held until April 27 at least.

In the attack on Tuesday, the teenager opened fire with a makeshift submachine gun at point-blank range at a car with two Israeli men in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, wounding them moderately.

After fleeing the scene, the suspect reportedly went to school. He made his way to the West Bank city of Nablus, where he was captured less than 24 hours after the shooting.

At cabinet meeting in Sderot, PM promises city NIS 1.6 billion

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a cabinet meeting in Sderot on April 20, 2023. (Haim Zach / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a cabinet meeting in Sderot on April 20, 2023. (Haim Zach / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to invest NIS 1.6 billion ($440 million) into the city of Sderot, during a cabinet meeting held in the rocket-battered city near Gaza.

In opening remarks, Netanyahu recounts the state’s past programs to strengthen the city, saying that “today we are continuing such efforts with an additional program of NIS 1.6 billion.” The program includes developing public areas, boosting education, strengthening the local economy as well as increasing its prepardeness for emergencies.

Such moves are “good for the citizens [of Sderot] and good for all of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu adds.

PM officially offers firebrand MK May Golan position of consul-general in New York

Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and May Golan in the Knesset on December 29, 2022. (Netanyahu's office/courtesy)
Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and May Golan in the Knesset on December 29, 2022. (Netanyahu's office/courtesy)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially offers the job of Israel’s consul-general in New York City to May Golan.

Golan, a Likud minister who rose to prominence campaigning against African migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in south Tel Aviv, had been promised a job as the newly created minister for the status of women. A Likud spokesperson denies that the change is motivated by Netanyahu’s desire to break apart a restive camp within Likud led by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, insisting it was “because of her excellent hasbara abilities in English.”

Her appointment, if accepted, is sure to raise an outcry among liberal Jews in the US. In 2013, Golan ran on the list of the Otzma L’Yisrael party, an Otzma Yehudit precursor that failed to make it into the Knesset. She more recently joined the Likud party, serving briefly in the Knesset in 2019 before re-entering parliament in 2020.

The appointment might upset some on the right as well. Israeli reporter Uri Misgav points out that Golan avoided military and national service by declaring that she was religious, but stated in a 2012 interview that “I am not religious.”

A Foreign Ministry official tells The Times of Israel that the appointment has yet to reach its office.

The post, usually filled by a political appointee, is particularly significant in that New York and the surrounding region is home to the largest Jewish community in the world outside of Israel.

Israeli hospital officials meet with Kyiv mayor in Ukraine’s capital to discuss collaboration

Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko (center) and Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine (to his left) meet with Sheba Medical Center officials in Kyiv, April 20, 2023. (Israel Embassy Kyiv)
Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko (center) and Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine (to his left) meet with Sheba Medical Center officials in Kyiv, April 20, 2023. (Israel Embassy Kyiv)

With a menorah and Hebrew Bible on his office shelf, Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko meets with Sheba Medical Center-Tel HaShomer officials responsible for the hospital’s international projects.

The Israelis — the same group that led the Israeli field hospital project in Lviv last year — are in Ukraine to explore ways to join the Kyiv municipality’s new rehabilitation initiatives.

For now, the Sheba officials are looking at training local professionals in physical and psychological rehabilitation, especially for soldiers. There is a possibility that down the road that there will be a standalone Israeli rehab center in Ukraine, Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky tells The Times of Israel.

On May 30, the embassy will host a conference in Lviv in which Israeli medical centers and rehab facilities will showcase their capabilities and meet with Ukrainian officials to understand the country’s needs. The first ladies from both countries are expected to participate by videoconference.

The embassy in Kyiv is also planning to mark Israel’s Independence Day in the coming weeks. Next Friday, it is planning to unveil a mural in central Lviv depicting local Jewish poet Naftali Herz Imber, author of “Hatikvah”, Israel’s national anthem. The embassy has already overseen the creation of a mural in Odessa celebrating Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and in Dnipro depicting the poet Zelda.

The embassy is hosting a reception in the capital on May 15 to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary.

Gallant tells ministers, MKs to avoid political statements during Memorial Day

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrives at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrives at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has sent a letter instructing ministers and members of Knesset to avoid making political statements during Memorial Day.

Gallant notes that the day is “one of the most sensitive and sacred” days of the year, and “now more than ever” politicans must send a message of unity.

In the letter, the defense minister notes the intense public debate over the presence of politicians at Memorial Day ceremonies, as the country remains sharply divided over the government’s judicial overhaul plans.

Gallant says he believes lawmakers should attend such ceremonies, but “must not include political comments in the ‘holy of holies,’ the military cemeteries.” Instead they should convey messages of Zionism, cooperation and unity, and honor bereaved families.

He also praises an initiative by opposition MK Chili Tropper, who has signed 100 MKs onto a commitment not to make political statements during the day.

Israel, Germany holding talks on potential sale of Arrow 3 system

An image of Israel and the US's test launch of the Arrow 3 missile defense system on July 28, 2019. (Defense Ministry)
An image of Israel and the US's test launch of the Arrow 3 missile defense system on July 28, 2019. (Defense Ministry)

Israeli and German officials this week launched discussions on the potential sale of Israel’s Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system to the European nation.

“The advanced negotiations were launched this week in Germany, with the aim of drafting a detailed agreement for the delivery of the Israeli Arrow 3 system to the German Ministry of Defense,” the Israeli Defense Ministry says.

Germany has sought to purchase the Arrow 3 system from Israel for at least a year now.

As the system was co-developed with the United States, the export process to Germany is contingent on the approval of the US.

Protesters heckle Ben Gvir at police Independence Day toast

Israeli reserve soldiers, veterans and activists protest against National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir outside the Israel Police National Headquarters in Jerusalem April 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli reserve soldiers, veterans and activists protest against National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir outside the Israel Police National Headquarters in Jerusalem April 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Around 100 anti-government protesters demonstrate against National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir as he participates in a ceremony at the Israel Police national headquarters in Jerusalem.

The protesters, from the Brothers in Arms organization of IDF reservists, along with a forum led by former police commissioners, chant against Ben Gvir and wave banners proclaiming that the role of police minister “is too much for you.”

Inside the police compound, where the ceremony was held outdoors ahead of Israel’s 75th Independence Day next week, the ruckus from the demonstration was audible to participants.

“Even during internal disputes, we are brothers,” Ben Gvir says in acknowledgment of the noise. “Even those who shout outside are our brothers.”

IDF: 17 wanted Palestinians detained overnight; 1 soldier lightly hurt

IDF troops operate in the Dheisheh refugee camp near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, April 20, 2023. (IDF)
IDF troops operate in the Dheisheh refugee camp near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, April 20, 2023. (IDF)

The Israel Defense Forces says troops detained 17 wanted Palestinians during overnight arrest raids across the West Bank, including six in the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem.

The IDF says that during the operation in Dheisheh, Palestinians hurled explosives, Molotov cocktails and stones at troops, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire in the air.

One soldier is lightly hurt after being hit by a rock, the IDF says. He was taken to a hospital for further treatment.

The 17 suspects are handed over to the Shin Bet for further questioning.

Golani soldiers who deserted base in protest over new commander get light punishment

Golani soldiers leave the Tzeelim base in southern Israel in protest of a new commander, April 18, 2023. (Social media: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Golani soldiers leave the Tzeelim base in southern Israel in protest of a new commander, April 18, 2023. (Social media: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A military officer has meted out a light punishment to a company of Golani troops who deserted their training base earlier this week in apparent anger over being given a new commander.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, Col. Yiftah Norkin, the commander of the 7th Armored Brigade, has ruled that the soldiers be given a suspended jail sentence.

Additionally, the soldiers will have to complete an educational program in the coming days before being able to return to duty.

“The commanders will teach the soldiers material on discipline, military culture, spirit, and values. After that, they will return to their training program,” the IDF says, adding that their return to operational activity would be examined after their training period is up.

Golani soldiers have a history of mass desertion over alleged unfair treatment in the military.

Three men indicted over gang rape of 13-year-old girl in Netanya

View of the abandoned hotel in Netanya where a 13-year-old girl was allegedly drugged and raped, April 2, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
View of the abandoned hotel in Netanya where a 13-year-old girl was allegedly drugged and raped, April 2, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Three men are charged with the gang rape of a 13-year-old girl in an abandoned hotel in Netanya last month.

The men are named for the first time as Omar Amash, Ibrahim Jourban and Hassan Jourban, residents of the towns of Wadi Ara and Jisr az-Zarqa, according to prosecutors.

Seven individuals were arrested in connection with the case, in which the main suspect, a 24-year-old from Wadi Ara, is alleged to have connected with the teen on Instagram and provided her with alcohol and drugs, before he and two friends raped her after she lost consciousness.

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