The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
A car in the southern town of Shlomit, close to the border with Egypt was hit by gunfire earlier today.
The Israeli army says troops scanned the area, and determined the bullets were likely errant shots from Egypt.
Nobody was hurt in the incident.
The Egyptian army frequently shoots at drug smugglers and jihadist groups in the northern Sinai desert, sometimes resulting in accidental cross-border fire.
A car was struck by bullets in the town of Shlomit, close to the border with Egypt earlier today. The IDF says the shots were likely errant from Egypt. pic.twitter.com/c4SdYMmzsy
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) April 21, 2022
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards say they will not stop efforts to avenge a top general killed in a US attack as a condition to end some sanctions.
General Qassem Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of the Revolutionary Guards, was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq’s capital Baghdad in January 2020.
“Enemies have asked us several times to give up avenging the blood of Qassem Soleimani, for the lifting of some sanctions, but this is a fantasy,” Guards navy commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri says, quoted by the Guards’ Sepah News website. The Guards are the ideological arm of Iran’s military.
Russia imposes a travel ban on US Vice President Kamala Harris, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and 27 other prominent Americans in retaliation for sanctions imposed over the Kremlin’s military campaign in Ukraine.
The Russian foreign ministry says the travel ban, which also includes top Pentagon officials, US business leaders and journalists, would remain in effect “in perpetuity.”
Russia’s economic outlook has worsened as a central bank survey shows a deeper contraction than previously expected and inflation soaring to 22 percent this year.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin insists the economy has managed to weather the barrage of unprecedented sanctions imposed since he sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, economists believe that the worst impact of the sanctions is still to come.
Speaking in parliament, central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina warns of “difficulties” and the “structural transformation” of the Russian economy due to debilitating sanctions.
“Difficulties are appearing across all sectors, in both big and small companies,” she says.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh holds a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on security developments in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, his office says.
According to the Palestinian Shehab news agency, Haniyeh expresses appreciation for Moscow’s support of Palestinian rights at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The head of the terror group accuses Israel of preventing worshipers from reaching the Jerusalem holy site, assaulting and arresting worshipers and vandalizing property.
Meanwhile, Shehab reports, Lavrov says Russia has “always been on the side of the Palestinian people in their right to self-determination and their right to establish their Palestinian state.”
He denounces what he calls Israel’s excessive force against civilians in the capital.
The United States will provide Ukraine with a new $500 million infusion of aid to help the government in Kyiv continue paying salaries, pensions and providing services, a Treasury official says.
The aid, which the official says is necessary to prevent the humanitarian situation in the country from growing more severe as Russia presses on with its invasion, will be announced by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during her meeting Wednesday with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Finance Minister Sergiy Marchenko.
The money follows another $500 billion package of support for Ukraine’s economy announced last month, and the official says Washington aims to get the aid to Kyiv as quickly as possible.
Meeting in Tel Aviv with a State Department delegation visiting Israel, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says Israel “is dealing with extremist Islamist terror whose entire goal is to sow violence, fear, and chaos.”
He urges regional leaders “to act and speak responsibly in order to calm the situation,” while insisting that Israel is preserving the status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
“We will not accept in any situation rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on the State of Israel.”
At the meeting is Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli & Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr, and US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.
An emergency meeting of a regional Arab committee convenes in Jordan over what it calls “illegal Israeli policies and measures” in Jerusalem.
It condemns actions taken by Israel on the Temple Mount, calling them provocative, and it calls on Israel to ensure that only Muslims worship at the site. Recent days have seen clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police officers at the holy site.
“The committee warned that these attacks and violations represent a blatant provocation to the feelings of Muslims,” according to Jordan’s Petra news agency, adding that it “threatens to ignite a cycle of violence.” Police actions to quell riots at the al-Aqsa Mosque atop the Mount last year were among the triggers of an 11-day war in Gaza last May.
The committee includes member countries that recently normalized ties with Israel, including the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority also took part.
A blast at a mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif city in Afghanistan causes dozens of casualties, a Taliban official says, the second attack against a Shiite target in three days.
“There are at least 25 casualties,” Zabihullah Noorani, head of Balkh province’s information and culture department, tells AFP.
Grisly images of victims being carried to the hospital from the Seh Dokan mosque, which was littered with broken glass, are posted on social media networks.
Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazara community, which makes up between 10 and 20 percent of the country’s 38 million people, has long been the target of attacks — some blamed on the Taliban and others on the Islamic State group.
A 29-year-old man is taken by medics to the hospital after he was apparently assaulted near Jerusalem’s Old City.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says medics stopped the bleeding on the man’s face and took him to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital.
He told medics that he was assaulted on Ha-Nevi’im Street. The identity of the assailant is not immediately clear.
The bodies of more than 1,000 civilians are being stored in morgues in and around Kyiv after Russian troops withdrew from the region, a Ukrainian official tells AFP.
“1,020 bodies [of] civilians, only civilians, in the areas of all the Kyiv region,” Olga Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, tells AFP in Borodyanka.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz holds a meeting with leaders of communities near the border with the Gaza Strip following last night’s rocket attack.
“The defense minister noted that before the holiday [of Passover], forces and preparedness in the area were upped, and that the policy of a harsh response to all terror activities will continue,” his office says in a statement.
According to his office, Gantz tells the community leaders that “Israel is prepared to take any action necessary to maintain the security of its citizens.”
“The defense minister thanked the heads of the councils for the backing they give to the political and security echelons… and asked to wish them and all the residents of the area a happy and peaceful holiday,” his office adds.
Participating in the meeting were Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi — the town where last night’s rocket hit — and the leaders of the Sha’ar Hanegev, Hof Ashkelon, Eshkol, and Sdot Negev regional councils.
Jordan, which administers Al-Aqsa Mosque, holds an emergency meeting of a regional committee over what it calls “illegal Israeli policies and measures” in Jerusalem.
The meeting of the Arab Ministerial Committee includes member countries who have recently normalized ties with Israel, including the United Arab Emirates.
According to the Palestinian WAFA news agency, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority are taking part.
WAFA reports that “the meeting is expected to discuss the recent Israeli escalation in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and ways to stop it and restore calm.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces not to storm the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged city of Mariupol but to block it “so that not even a fly comes through.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin on Thursday that the sprawling Azovstal steel plant where Ukrainian forces were holed up was “securely blocked” while the rest of the city was “liberated,” which Putin hailed as a “success.”
Leaving the plant in Ukrainian hands, however, robs the Russians of the ability to declare complete victory in Mariupol. The city’s capture has both strategic and symbolic importance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hails Russia’s “liberation” of Mariupol after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told him Moscow controlled the Ukrainian port city with the exception of the Azovstal steel plant.
“Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape,” Putin says in a televised meeting, adding that it would be “impractical” to storm the huge industrial area, where more than 2,000 Ukrainian servicemen remain, according to Shoigu.
The Red Crescent says that 20 Palestinians have been wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces atop the Temple Mount.
Several are believed to have been injured by tear gas. Earlier, Palestinian media reports claimed that one man was wounded by a rubber bullet.
The clashes come amid heightened tensions on the final day that Jewish visitors are allowed to access the site ahead of a closure until the end of Ramadan.
The bodies of nine civilians, some showing signs of torture, have been found in the town of Borodyanka outside the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, a senior police official says.
“These people were killed by the occupiers and some show signs of torture. I want to emphasize that these people were civilians. The Russian military knowingly shot civilians who did not put up any resistance,” the head of the police in the Kyiv region says.
Four buses carrying evacuees from Mariupol have left the besieged and destroyed port city where Ukrainian forces are battling to retain control, the government said Thursday.
“Four evacuation buses managed to leave the city yesterday through the humanitarian corridor,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says in a statement on social media, adding that evacuations of women, children and the elderly will continue Thursday.
Israel Police arrest seven Palestinians from East Jerusalem for allegedly hurling firebombs from inside al-Aqsa mosque yesterday during clashes with police.
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces continue this morning at the flashpoint site, as Jewish visitors enter the site on the final day that Jews are allowed access to the Temple Mount until the end of Ramadan on May 1.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke with his Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan about increasing tensions on the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa complex, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
During the conversation, which took place last night, the two foreign ministers discussed the difficulty of dealing with anti-Israel fake news in the Arab world and agreed to keep working together to promote religious tolerance and peace between Israel and Middle Eastern Arabs.
The Emirati foreign minister also “expressed his appreciation for Israeli efforts to calm the situation and expressed understanding for the on-the-ground difficulties that Israel faces,” according to an Israeli Foreign Ministry statement.
Before ending by exchanging greetings for their respective Passover and Ramadan holidays, the counterparts also discussed the importance of bilateral relations and efforts to strengthen their ties.
Earlier this week, the UAE summoned Israel’s envoy for a dressing down over the clashes in Jerusalem, the first such public rebuke since the two countries normalized relations a year and a half ago.
Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi slams Prime Minister Naftali Bennett over the recent escalation, claiming that coalition member Ra’am is really the one calling the shots.
“[Mansour] Abbas and Ra’am are setting the conditions on the Temple Mount,” Davidi tells the Kan public radio. “Hamas is holding the residents of the south hostage and not paying any price,” he adds.
The city of Sderot lies just one kilometer from Gaza and is a frequent target of rocket fire.
Davidi, who ran for Knesset with Bennett’s Yamina faction last year but decided not take his seat in parliament, says that “the government of Israel sees waving a flag as a provocation in Jerusalem, and it’s no surprise that we in Sderot are paying double the price,” referring to yesterday’s controversial right-wing flag march through the capital’s Old City.
IDF spokesman Ran Kochav says the overnight exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza “is the most significant since Operation Guardian of the Walls,” the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas last May.
“The strikes tonight were the most significant since Operation Guardian of the Walls,” Kochav tells Army Radio, adding that the IDF utilized “special means” to strike a rocket-manufacturing plant as well as underground targets, without elaborating.
Kochav says that while terror factions in Gaza aimed an anti-aircraft missile at Israeli planes, “they are using outdated weapons, the chance of them hitting our fighter jets is low, but is always possible.”
The IDF spokesman says that at the moment “we are trying to deescalate the situation and separate the fronts,” he says of the rocket from Gaza and the clashes atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Gaza has become the more stable front,” he adds, saying that he is hopeful for a quiet final day of Passover on Friday.
As Israeli police clash with Palestinian rioters at al-Aqsa Mosque after a tense night of Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli strikes, Hamas terror chief Ismail Haniyeh says “we are still at the beginning of the battle.”
“As we defeated the so-called Flag March, we will defeat the policy of invading [Al-Aqsa],” Haniyeh says.
The clashes broke out as Jewish visitors prepared to visit the site this morning. Israeli authorities barred Jews from visiting the holy site from Friday until the end of the Ramadan holy month, a standard policy in recent years.
Israeli police barred Jewish nationalists from marching through the Old City’s Damascus Gate on Wednesday. A similar planned march last year was one factor in the buildup to the war between Israel and Hamas.
The three Israelis lightly wounded in falls while running to bomb shelters during overnight Red Alert sirens have been released from the Barzilai Medical Center shortly after checking in for treatment, the hospital says.
Heavy clashes have broken out on the Temple Mount between Israel Police and Palestinian rioters.
Police have entered the compound and are employing riot dispersal measures against the demonstrators.
Footage shows heavy firing of fireworks at Israeli forces as they try and confine the rioters to inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The officers appear to be preparing to allow Jewish visitors onto the site for the last time on Thursday until the end of Ramadan on May 2.
The presence of nationalist Jews on the Temple Mount has sparked extreme tensions in recent days.
ובמקביל בירושלים: כוחות נכנסו הבוקר להר וסגרו את המתפללים במסגדים תוך כדי מה שנראה כמו אמצעים לפיזור הפגנות – ככה"נ לקראת עליית היהודים להר pic.twitter.com/tp4oX3Lzif
— Nurit Yohanan (@nurityohanan) April 21, 2022
The IDF says a rocket launch from Gaza that fell inside the enclave is what triggered Red Alert sirens in an open area near an Israeli town bordering the Strip.
The IDF issues a statement clarifying that what it initially announced had been a salvo of four rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israel at around 2:00 a.m. were actually gunshots.
The bullets mistakenly triggered Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which launched a series of intercepter Tamir missiles into the air.
Ironically, footage of interceptor missiles lighting the sky were quickly picked up by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s spokeswoman as well as the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby as proof of the Iron Dome’s effectiveness.
The army says it is looking into how bullets could’ve managed to trigger the air defense system.
Watch this video closely.
This is Israel’s Iron Dome Aerial Defense System intercepting incoming rockets fired just now by terrorists in Gaza at the homes of innocent Israeli families who had hoped to sleep peacefully tonight.
All the rockets were successfully intercepted. pic.twitter.com/03mjTlQMDv
— Keren Hajioff (@kerenhajioff) April 20, 2022
Red Alert sirens have gone off in an open area near a Gaza border town, the IDF says, adding that it is looking into what triggered them.
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