The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.
Hundreds of protesters march in the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, amid recent ethnic violence in Jerusalem.
Video shows the demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags and blocking Route 65.
A similar protest was expected to be held in Taybe and a joint Arab-Jewish rally was also set to take place in Jerusalem’s Zion Square against “the violence and incitement toward the Arab population and peace activists by far-right and Lehava activists”
The march comes days after violent clashes broke out at the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City after Palestinians confronted Jewish supremacists who marched there chanting “Death to Arabs.”
Jerusalem has seen several days of violence after a number of assaults on Jews that were filmed and later uploaded to the TikTok video-sharing app, including one of an East Jerusalem teenager slapping two ultra-Orthodox boys on the light rail.
Along with the ethnic tensions, Jerusalem has seen regular clashes over the past week between Palestinian residents and police who have been blocking Palestinians from sitting on the steps of Damascus Gate. In an unofficial Jerusalem tradition, thousands of Palestinians sit in the area following nighttime prayers during Ramadan.
ام الفحم ||مظاهرة تضامنية مع القدس ويافا▪︎אום אל פחם עכשיו,הפגנת הזדהות עם ירושליים ויפו. pic.twitter.com/fLIGJjoNzb
— |فرات نصار|פוראת נסאר|FURAT NASSAR (@nassar_furat) April 24, 2021
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wraps up a meeting with security chiefs after Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired dozens of rockets into Israel overnight.
Netanyahu says he has instructed the military “to prepare for any scenario” in Gaza.
The prime minister also says they were briefed by police chief Kobi Shabtai on the recent ethnic violence in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“First of we want to ensure law and order. We are safeguarding freedom of worship like every year [for Ramadan], for all residents and for all visitors in Jerusalem,” he says in a statement.
“Right now we are demanding compliance with the law and I call for calm on all sides,” the premier adds, apparently referring to both Palestinians who have been clashing with police and violent skirmishes involving Jewish extremists.
SRINAGAR, India — For the third day in a row, India sets a global daily record with 346,786 new coronavirus cases.
That increases India’s total to more than 16 million cases, behind only the United States. The Health Ministry reports another 2,624 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing India’s confirmed death toll to 189,544.
Hospitals in New Delhi and some of the worst-hit states have reported critical shortages of beds and oxygen supplies today. Families are waiting for days to cremate their loved ones at overburdened crematoriums, with many turning to makeshift facilities for last rites.
Health experts and critics say a downward trend in infections late last year lulled authorities into complacency, and they failed to plug the holes in the ailing health care system that had become evident during the first wave. They also blame politicians and government authorities for allowing super-spreader events, including religious festivals and election rallies, to take place as recently as this month.
“It’s not the virus variants and mutations which are a key cause of the current rise in infections,” Dr. Anant Bhan, a bioethics and global health expert, tweeted this week. “It’s the variants of ineptitude and abdication of public health thinking by our decision makers.”
Syria’s oil ministry reports that a fire broke out on an oil tanker near the port of Banyas, saying it was apparently attacked by a drone coming from Lebanese territory.
The ministry didn’t identify who the tanker or drone belongs to, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the ship was Iranian. The UK-based group has had its credibility questioned in the past.
The report follows other recent reports that Israel has been targeting Syria-bound ships carrying Iranian oil and weapons.
ראשוני. בבדיקה. דיווחים על תקיפת מיכלית נפט מול חופי לבנון. עשן עולה מהמיכלית. pic.twitter.com/7jIWOHxagC
— Or Heller אור הלר (@OrHeller) April 24, 2021
Defense Minister Benny Gantz warns Gaza-based terrorists against further attacking Israel, after meeting with security chiefs following last night’s rocket fire from the Strip.
“At the moment there is calm in the south, but if the calm is not maintained, Gaza will be seriously hit… and those responsible will be the leaders of Hamas,” Gantz says in a statement from his office. “The IDF is prepared for the possibility of an escalation and will do what is necessary so the calm is preserved.”
Gantz also met with municipal leaders from the Gaza border area to update them “on the efforts to preserve calm,” according to the statement.
He also comments on the recent tensions in Jerusalem’s Old City, saying Israel ensures “freedom of religion and worship for religions and believers, including East Jerusalem residents and all Palestinians.”
AMBOUILLET, France — French anti-terrorism investigators question three detained people, seeking to establish a motive and uncover any possible ties to extremism after a police official was fatally stabbed at a police station outside Paris.
The attack yesterday on an unarmed administrative employee at the entry to her station in the town of Rambouillet has jolted the French government to take a deeper look at what new steps are needed to counter attacks. The employee had left the station to extend her time on a parking meter.
BFM-TV reports that a secret crisis meeting today headed by Prime Minister Jean Castex was attended by the justice and defense ministers and police and intelligence officials.
French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, visits the family of the victim, a 49-year-old identified only as Stephanie. She lived in Thoiry, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of Rambouillet, where she worked. The president’s office says he wanted “to show support and solidarity with the family … very upset and very dignified.”
A steady stream of people bearing flowers hand the bouquets to police officers in Rambouillet but the station remais closed to the public.
Officers “very quickly” killed the Tunisia-born stabbing suspect who lived in the town after Friday’s attack, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin says. The attacker entered France illegally in 2009 and was given residency papers in 2020, a judicial official says.
The attacker had staked out the police station ahead of time, anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-France Ricard says. The preparation, along with statements he said during the attack and the targeting of a police official, prompted the national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office to take over the investigation.
The 37-year-old suspect, identified as Djamel G., had no criminal record or record of radicalization, French media reports. But witnesses heard him say “Allahu akbar!” Arabic for “God is great,” during the attack, says a French judicial official who was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden recognizes the Armenian genocide, a landmark step in defiance of Turkey which strongly rejects the label for the 1915-1917 killings by the Ottoman Empire.
“We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” Biden says in a statement, becoming the first US president to use the term in an annual message.
Most Israelis — including a majority of right-wing voters — prefer the formation of a government reliant on the Islamist Ra’am party than a fifth round of elections, according to a television poll aired this evening.
Among all respondents to the Channel 12 news poll, 54 percent say they prefer a coalition that would be sworn in with Ra’am’s votes or abstention rather that going to the polls again. For right-wingers, those figures were 51% and 28%, respectively.
If a government is formed with Ra’am’s support or abstention, a slight plurality — 40% — prefer a coalition that sees Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett rotate the premiership, rather than one led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, which 37% prefer.
If fifth elections are held, 43% say Netanyahu is to blame, followed by 15% who say Bennett, 12% who say New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar and 6% who say Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich.
The poll asks about Netanyahu’s assertion that Bennett didn’t really negotiate with him and the Yamina leader’s that the prime minister just wants fifth elections. Asked who they believe, 30% say Bennett, 24% say Netanyahu and 30% say neither.
Likud MK Nir Barkat leads among respondents as the person to lead the ruling party after Netanyahu, with 26% backing him, 10% Gilad Erdan, 8% Yuli Edelstein, 5% Israel Katz, 3% Yariv Levin and 1% Miri Regev.
The poll also says that if new elections were held, the allocation of seats among the blocs would remain unchanged, signaling Israel’s over 2-year political impasse will likely continue even further if no one can form a government.
The following is how many seats each party would pick up if new elections are held, per the survey: Likud 30, Yesh Atid 19, Shas 9, Labor 8, Yamina 7, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beytenu 7, Blue and White 7, Joint List 6, Religious Zionism 6, New Hope 5, Meretz 5 and Ra’am 4.
ISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses “third parties” of interfering in Turkey’s affairs, as US President Joe Biden formally recognizes the Armenia genocide.
“Nobody benefits from the debates — which should be held by historians — being politicized by third parties and becoming an instrument of interference in our country,” Erdogan says in a message to the Armenian patriarch in Istanbul.
YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan hails US President Joe Biden’s recognition of the Armenian genocide on the 106th anniversary of the 1915-1917 mass killings by the Ottoman Empire.
Pashinyan in a post on Facebook thanks Biden for “the powerful step towards justice and invaluable support for the descendants of the Armenian genocide victims.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid praises US President Joe Biden’s recognition of the Armenian genocide as “an important moral statement.”
Lapid has pushed in recent years for Israel to also recognize the Armenian genocide.
“I will continue to fight for Israeli recognition of the Armenian genocide, it is our moral responsibility as the Jewish state,” he says in a statement.
The US State Department’s Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs condemns the rocket fire by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip overnight.
“There is no justification for such attacks,” it says on its Twitter account.
We condemn the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. There is no justification for such attacks.
— U.S. State Dept – Near Eastern Affairs (@StateDept_NEA) April 24, 2021
Incoming rocket sirens sound in the southern town of Sderot and the surrounding area, after more than 30 projectiles were fired by Palestinian terrorists at Israel over the previous day.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The military says it is looking into the matter.
More than one billion doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered worldwide, less than five months after the first mass inoculation programs began to be rolled out, according to an AFP tally today.
At least 1,002,938,540 doses have been administered in 207 countries and territories, according to the tally compiled from official sources.
More than half, or 58 percent, have been given in three countries: the United States with 225.6 million doses, China with 216.1 million doses and India with 138.4 million.
The military confirms Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at Israel, which it says was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.
The Foreign Ministry says it recognizes the “terrible suffering and tragedy of the Armenian people,” but stops short of recognizing the early 20th century massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.
“In these days in particular, we and the nations of the world have the responsibility to ensure that events like this do not again occur,” it says in a statement.
The statement comes after US President Joe Biden recognized the Armenian genocide, the first American president to do so.
Fresh scuffles between police and Palestinians break out at the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City, which has seen nightly clashes since the start of Ramadan.
Officers clear the Palestinians from the stairs outside the gate, where this year Israel banned worshippers from sitting during Ramadan.
Further adding to the unrest in the city have been attacks on Arabs by far-right Jews and a march Thursday to the Damascus Gate by the right-wing extremist group Lehava. The violence followed a number of assaults on Jews that were filmed and later uploaded to the TikTok video-sharing app.
Police fear potential “lone-wolf” terror attacks on Jews or Arabs in light of the recent tensions, but have no current information on actual plans to carry out attacks, according to the Haaretz daily.
At an earlier press conference, Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai denounced “extremists from both sides” and said reinforcements were sent to Jerusalem to help deal with any renewed unrest.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) April 24, 2021
A fresh round of rocket sirens sound in the community of Nirim near the Gaza border.
This comes an hour and a half after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip was intercepted as it was heading toward the southern town of Sderot.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Hundreds of Palestinians march towards Israeli checkpoints across the West Bank in solidarity with East Jerusalem Palestinians, leading to confrontations between the two sides.
According to reports in the Palestinian media, Palestinians hurled stones and burned garbage cans close to Jenin’s Jalameh Checkpoint during the protest.
Palestinians also demonstrate close to Nablus’s Huwarra checkpoint and Hebron’s Bab al-Zawiyeh, which borders a crossing within the city administered by the Israeli military.
In the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians join in what Hamas media claims are “spontaneous marches” in support of their East Jerusalem co-nationalists.
A number of Gaza Palestinians march toward the fence separating Israel from the coastal enclave. The Israeli Defense Forces fired flares over the area. According to Palestinian reports, the Israeli military fires warning shots toward the marchers — without apparent casualties; an IDF spokesperson confirms the marches but not the shots fired.
The Israel Defense Forces says it identified one rocket fired from Gaza that landed near the border fence between Israel and the coastal enclave.
There are no reports of injuries or damages.
At least three people were killed in an attack Saturday on an Iranian fuel tanker off the Syrian coast, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
“At least three people died, including two members of the crew,” in the attack, which sparked a fire, says Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based war monitor, which has faced questions about its credibility.
The Border Police say they are working to clear rioters from the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank, amid growing unrest in the area over recent tensions around Jerusalem’s Old City.
A police statement says some 100 Palestinians threw molotov cocktails and rocks toward officers, and also shot fireworks at them. Police respond with unspecified riot dispersal means.
Video from the clashes at Jerusalem’s Old City shows an Israeli police officer slapping a Palestinian man in the face.
It is unclear from the short clip, which begins with the slap, what preceded the incident.
After the cop slapped him, the Palestinian man appeared to briefly push out toward the cop, then lowered his arms. The officer then grabbed the man and a brief struggle broke out as onlookers seemingly tried to intervene. Other officers came and escorted the man into a police post at the Damascus Gate.
שוטר סוטה לנער ערבי בשער שכם ואז עוצר אותו. pic.twitter.com/YYyCVfpU5U
— סולימאן מסוודה سليمان مسودة (@SuleimanMas1) April 24, 2021
The Palestinian Red Crescent reports that during clashes this evening with police at Damascus Gate, six Palestinians have required medical care, including one taken to the hospital for treatment.
It does not specify how they were injured.
Palestinian terrorists fire a mortar shell from Gaza toward the Israeli community of Nahal Oz, but the projectile fails to clear the border and lands inside the Strip, according to Palestinian reports.
The launch does not trigger sirens, as it was heading toward an unpopulated area, but does cause an alert on smartphones in the area
Hundreds of Palestinians are taking part in demonstrations along the Gaza border over the ongoing unrest in Jerusalem and the rising tensions between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.
According to Palestinian media, the IDF has fired a number of flares into the air around the protest sites, notably near the shuttered Karni border crossing, where some 700 people were taking part in the demonstration. The IDF has also reportedly fired stun grenades to keep people away from the security fence.
The Palestinian Authority health ministry reports that four Palestinians choked on tear gas during clashes with Israeli security forces in Nablus. Another was lightly wounded by a rubber-tipped bullet fired by Israeli forces, the ministry says.
All five were taken to a Nablus-area hospital with light injuries, according to the health ministry.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will chair a snap meeting of Fatah’s Executive Committee tomorrow, the official WAFA news agency reports.
“This meeting will discuss the dangerous events in Jerusalem, and to review the movement’s preparations for the electoral process, especially in the context of the Palestinian leadership’s insistence that there will be no elections without Jerusalem,” says Fatah Central Committee member Sabri Saydam.
The Palestinians are scheduled to head to their first national vote in 15 years on May 22 — less than a month from now. Over the past week, senior officials in Ramallah have hinted that they may seek to delay the vote, blaming Israel for not responding to a request to allow elections to take place in East Jerusalem.
Abbas, known popularly as Abu Mazen, is widely unpopular. In videos uploaded to social media, dozens of Palestinian demonstrators at Damascus Gate on Saturday could be heard chanting: “Abu Mazen you spy, we’ll yet stomp on your head.”
כמה עשרות צעירים קוראים בשער שכם: "אבו מאזן יא משת"פ, עוד נדרוך לך על הראש!". pic.twitter.com/JpI2wUOmnE
— סולימאן מסוודה سليمان مسودة (@SuleimanMas1) April 24, 2021
Two policemen are lightly hurt during rock-throwing incidents in East Jerusalem.
Another cop was hit in the face in the Old City, and taken to receive medical treatment. A suspect was arrested.
An Israeli man who was badly beaten by a Palestinian mob Friday night during rioting in Jerusalem, and who was subsequently hospitalized, believes he was “a hair’s breadth from death” and describeד the events in the city as “a Third Intifada.”
Eli Rozen, 27, was the second person in as many nights whose beating by rioters was caught on camera and caused outrage in the country.
Rozen was out walking his dog around 1 a.m. in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood in the capital when he was accosted by dozens of angry Palestinians amid confrontations with police in the city. Video shared on social media shows Rozen getting kicked, beaten with a club and hit with rocks. As he runs off, a man hurls a shopping cart at him.
ניסיונות הלינץ האלה מזעזעים.
אלי רוזן בן ה27 עדיין מאושפז עם צלעות שבורות pic.twitter.com/qFuXFTLHqo
— אייבי בנימין (@AybeeBinyamin) April 24, 2021
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