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3 Arab workers attacked in Jerusalem as tensions flare in capital

Jewish suspect arrested, found carrying knife; police gird for additional clashes following several days of violence between far-right Jews and Palestinians in the city

Israeli security forces push out Palestinian protesters outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on April 24, 2021. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)
Israeli security forces push out Palestinian protesters outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on April 24, 2021. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s developments as they unfolded.

Hamas urges armed groups in Gaza: Keep ‘rockets on standby’

After two consecutive nights of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip to Israel, Hamas tells armed Gaza factions to “keep their fingers on the trigger.”

“We call on our noble resistance in Gaza to keep their fingers on the trigger, to keep their rockets on standby to target the enemy’s fortresses and military and vital structures,” Hamas says in a statement.

Hamas has not claimed direct responsibility for the rocket fire, which has been claimed by two other Gaza factions, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a branch of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire from the enclave into Israeli territory, charging that it takes place with Hamas’s implicit consent.

FILE – In this May 4, 2019 file photo, Israeli air defense system Iron Dome takes out rockets fired from Gaza near Sderot, Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)

The Hamas leadership calls East Jerusalemites to continue “mobilizing in the Old City and at its gates.” Hamas also says night patrols of Palestinians ought to be formed to protect East Jerusalem residents from assaults by Jewish extremists.

“You are proving to the world, yet again, that Jerusalem is the heart of Palestine,” the terror group tells East Jerusalem Palestinians.

Turkey summons US ambassador over Armenian genocide recognition

Turkey’s foreign ministry summons the US ambassador in Ankara to protest the US decision to mark the deportation and killing of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire as “genocide.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal meets with David Satterfield to express Ankara’a strong condemnation. “The statement does not have legal ground in terms of international law and has hurt the Turkish people, opening a wound that’s hard to fix in our relations,” the ministry says.

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden followed through on a campaign promise to recognize the events that began in 1915 and killed an estimated 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians as genocide. The statement was carefully crafted to say the deportations, massacres and death marches took place in the Ottoman Empire. “We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated,” it said.

The White House proclamation immediately prompted statements of condemnation from Turkish officials, although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is yet to address the issue.

Israeli designer Alber Elbaz dies at 59 of COVID-19

Alber Elbaz, the Israeli fashion designer whose audacious billowing designs transformed the storied French house Lanvin into an industry darling before his shock ouster in 2015, has died aged 59, the Richemont luxury group says.

“It was with shock and enormous sadness that I heard of Alber’s sudden passing,” Richemont chairman Johann Rupert says in a statement.

Hebrew media reports say he died of COVID-19.

In this file photo taken on October 03, 2016 Israeli-US fashion designer Alber Elbaz delivers a speech after he received the title of Officer in the National Order of Merit by French Culture minister at the Culture ministry in Paris on October 3, 2016. (CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

Israel saw just 38 new COVID cases on Saturday, the lowest in a year

Just 38 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed in Israel on Saturday, the lowest rate in a year, according to Health Ministry data.

According to the ministry, 8,752 tests were conducted Saturday, with 0.5 percent returning positive.

Of the 1,805 active cases, there are 153 serious cases, including 91 people on ventilators. The death toll stands at 6,350.

Over 5 million Israelis have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Israelis in Tel Aviv without wearing protective face masks, April 22, 2021 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Man, 57, charged with incitement after calling for Netanyahu’s murder

A 57-year-old man has been charged with incitement to violence after threatening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on social media.

Ofer Kopelman of the West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe had written, among other things, “Only his murder will restore our country. Death to Bibi!” using the prime minister’s nickname, according to Hebrew media reports.

IDF chief meets with top officers, southern mayors after Gaza rocket fire

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi met with top IDF officers and leaders of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip after Palestinian terrorists in the enclave fired dozens of rockets toward southern Israel over the weekend, the military says.

Kohavi tells the mayors that the military is working to restore calm as well as preparing for a potential escalation in violence in the coming days.

“We are dealing with violent incidents on the Palestinian front in a number of locations and we are working to return stability and calm to southern communities. At the same time, we are preparing fully for the possibility that the situation will ramp up or widen, and we are conducting preparations for this as needed,” Kohavi says, according to the IDF.

An Israeli police sapper inspects the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip fell near houses at a kibbutz in southern Israel on April 24, 2021 (Flash90)

The military notably refrained from conducting retaliatory strikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night following multiple rocket attacks from the enclave in an apparent bid to ease tensions. This is a controversial move and goes against the IDF’s general strategy vis a vis Gaza.

Kohavi tells the mayors that this decision was not made lightly, according to Hebrew media reports.

The IDF chief also met with top officers from the IDF General Staff and Southern Command to discuss the current situation and called for “continued preparation for a variety of scenarios on the southern front,” the military says.

According to the military, Southern Command chief Eliezer Toledano, Home Front Command head Uri Gordin, Operations chief Aharon Haliva, Military Intellicence commander Tamir Hayman, Central Command chief Tamir Yadai, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians Ghassan Alian, and the Iran-focused head of the IDF Strategy and Third-Ring Directorate Tal Kalman all take part in the meetings, along with representatives from the Shin Bet and other security services.

French police arrest 5 after fatal stabbing of police official

French authorities detain a fifth person in an anti-terrorism investigation seeking to identify potential accomplices and motives after a police official was fatally stabbed at a police station outside Paris.

French police killed the 37-year-old Tunisian attacker shortly after he stabbed the unarmed administrative employee on Friday at the entrance of her police station in the town of Rambouillet.

In a news conference on Sunday, anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard says police are questioning a cousin of the suspect.

The suspect’s father, a couple who had provided him with an address for mail and other administration, and another cousin were also being questioned, Ricard says.

The victim, a National Police employee, had left the station to extend her time on a parking meter and was followed into the entry area and stabbed by the attacker. He was then shot to death by a police officer.

The attacker, identified by authorities as Jamel G., entered France illegally in 2009 and was given residency papers at the end of 2019, Ricard says. He was a practicing Muslim according to his father, Ricard adds.

He had staked out the police station ahead of time and listened to religious songs inciting to “jihad” just before the attack, according to evidence found on his mobile phone. Witnesses heard him say “Allahu akbar!” Arabic for “God is great,” during the attack, he says.

The man had no criminal record or evidence of radicalization, Ricard says, stressing that investigations are taking place to determine whether people helped or inspired the attacker, in “close coordination” with Tunisian judicial authorities.

Indonesia finds missing submarine, confirms 53 crew dead

A missing Indonesian submarine has been found cracked apart on the seafloor in waters off Bali, the military says, as it confirmed that all 53 crew were dead.

“There were parts of KRI Nanggala 402 — it was broken into three pieces,” says Navy Chief of Staff Yudo Margono.

Indonesian military head Hadi Tjahjanto, meanwhile, tells reporters that “all 53 personnel onboard have passed.”

Authorities say that they received signals from the location more than 800 meters (2,600 feet) deep early Sunday morning and that they had used an underwater submarine rescue vehicle supplied by Singapore to get a visual confirmation.

People from various religions gather to offer prayers for the 53 sailors trapped in the submarine in Surabaya on April 25, 2021, as Indonesia’s military confirmed that all 53 crew were dead. (Juni Kriswanto / AFP)

Tjahjanto says more parts from the vessel were discovered Sunday, including an anchor and safety suits worn by crew members.

On Saturday, the navy had first said fragments of the submarine, including items from inside the vessel, had been retrieved, but its location had yet to be confirmed.

The discovery comes after the submarine disappeared early Wednesday during live torpedo training exercises off the holiday island.

Fire authorities ban most Lag B’Omer bonfires due to heatwave

Ahead of the Lag B’Omer festival later this week, Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services issue a ban on setting bonfires, with some exceptions, due to extreme weather conditions.

The order goes into effect Tuesday at 8 a.m. and ends Sunday, May 2, at 8 p.m.

Under the rules, bonfires can only be lit in specially designated areas in cities and towns that received approval from the national fire authorities; in areas south of Route 25 in southern Israel; and at the pilgrimage site in Meron.

The rules come as Israel is expected to be hit with a major heatwave.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Rabbi Shlomo Amar at a bonfire during the celebrations of the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer at Mount Meron in northern Israel on May 11, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Lag B’Omer, which this year falls out on Thursday night, has become a key holiday in the Jewish mystical tradition, said to be the day of the death of Shimon Bar Yochai, and also marking the anniversary of when he first conveyed the text of the seminal Jewish mystical work, the Zohar. It also marks the end of a minor mourning period recognizing the deaths of thousands of students of Rabbi Akiva in a plague.

 

Smotrich to Bennett: You can’t be PM with party of 7 seats

Far-right Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich urges his former political ally, Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, to join a right-wing government, rather than attempting to form a coalition of his own.

“Until this moment, you haven’t lifted a finger to form a right-wing government. To the contrary, you are doing everything possible to thwart this possibility. A prime minister who heads a party with seven seats is not legitimate,” he writes in a letter to Bennett. “It’s the ruin of democracy.”

“It’s not too late to come to your senses,” continues Smotrich. “Take it back and let’s cooperate to form a right-wing government.”

Naftali Bennett (R) and Bezalel Smotrich of the right-wing Yamina party hold a press conference in Jerusalem on May 14, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

Jews in France, Israel, UK rally for justice over murder of Sarah Halimi

Protesters gather in Paris to demonstrate against the ruling of France’s highest court that the murderer of Sarah Halimi was not criminally responsible because he had smoked marijuana before the crime.

Halimi, an Orthodox Jewish woman in her sixties, died in 2017 after being pushed out of the window of her Paris flat by neighbor Kobili Traore, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic).

But in a decision earlier this month, the Court of Cassation’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld rulings by lower tribunals that Traore cannot stand trial because he was too high on marijuana to be criminally responsible for his actions.

Justice for Sarah Halimi placards, April 2021 (Crédit : Consistoire israélite du Haut-Rhin)

Three protests are also being held in Israel, all taking place at 3 p.m. in order to coincide with a demonstration by the Jewish community in Paris. The main demonstration will be in front of the French Embassy on Herbert Samuel Street in Tel Aviv.

The Jewish community in the United Kingdom was also demonstrating in front of the French Embassy in London on Sunday at 1 p.m., in solidarity with the community in France. Attendance is limited because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Additionally, protests were planned for several US cities, including in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

Virus czar: Limits on gatherings will be eased in coming days

Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash says the coronavirus restrictions on gatherings will be loosened in the coming days, without elaborating.

The general limits on gatherings (excluding venues for vaccinated, recovered COVID-19 patients) are set at 20 indoors, 100 outdoors.

Paris rally demanding justice for Sarah Halimi draws thousands

Thousands of demonstrators are attending the Paris rally to demand justice for Sarah Halimi.

At the demonstration, which was held under tight security arrangements in a cordoned-off enclosure set up on Trocadero Square, the Jewish umbrella group CRIF plays a video on a giant screen in which French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia demands another “trial of facts,” even if it ends without a sentence.

The rally Sunday is the first time in decades that a large number of French Jews have gathered to protest against organs or actions of the French state.

Jacques Essebag, a French-Jewish comedian who is known by the stage name Arthur, in a video message says he has “decided to start using drugs because in France you can do whatever you want, even kill your neighbor if you don’t like her, if you use drugs.” He then adds: “What has become of this country.”

A person holds a placard reading “Stoned justice?” as people gather to ask justice for late Sarah Halimi on Trocadero plaza in Paris on April 25, 2021 (GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

The event features many Israeli flags, French ones and those of the far-right Jewish Defense League.

The video message of Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist politician, provokes whistles and booing from many protesters at the event, which did not feature live speeches due to COVID-19 measures.

Organized by the CRIF umbrella of French Jewish communities, the rally is “to show our astonishment at a decision that conforms to the the law, but not to justice,” CRIF writes.

Netanyahu to offer Ra’am chief post of deputy Knesset speaker — report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party plans to offer Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas the position of deputy Knesset speaker, in a bid to win the Islamist party’s support for a bill to hold direct elections for prime minister, the Haaretz daily reports.

The direct vote for premier has been promoted by Netanyahu, though he does not appear to have the support to advance it in the Knesset.

The parliament has four deputy Knesset speakers, a post Abbas held in the 23rd Knesset.

Mansour Abbas, head of the Ra’am party, leads a faction meeting, in the Israeli parliament on April 19, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel mulls sending medical aid to COVID-battered India

Israel is considering sending medical aid to India as its healthcare system buckles under the strain of new coronavirus patients, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The report says officials at the Foreign Ministry discussed the matter Sunday but have yet to make a decision.

For the fourth straight day, India on Sunday set a global daily record for new infections, spurred by an insidious, new variant that emerged there, undermining the government’s premature claims of victory over the pandemic.

The 349,691 confirmed cases over the past day brought India’s total to more than 16.9 million, behind only the United States. The Health Ministry reported another 2,767 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing India’s COVID-19 fatalities to 192,311.

AP contributed to this report.

TV: Government rejects plan for military operation in Gaza

The government has rejected a plan by Israel’s defense establishment to carry out a wide-reaching military operation in the Gaza Strip, following the weekend rocket fire on southern Israel, Channel 12 reports.

Israeli officials are seeking to quell the tensions along the southern border, but are preparing to take military action if the rocket fire continues, the network says.

High Court orders state to consider Darfur asylum requests by end of year

The High Court of Justice orders the government to consider the asylum applications of refugees from Sudan’s Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions by the end of the year.

If the government does not process their requests by late December, the asylum-seekers will automatically receive temporary residency, the justices rule.

Egypt’s national soccer team coach contracts COVID

Egypt’s national team coach has tested positive for the coronavirus, the country’s soccer association announces.

Hossam el-Badry was diagnosed with COVID-19 after his daughter tested positive earlier this month, the Egyptian Football Association says in a statement. He has been isolated at his home, it says.

Egypt secured a spot last month in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and is hoping to reach the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar. The record seven-time African champions would play in Group F along with Gabon, Angola and Libya.

The 61-year-old el-Badry, who was appointed to lead Egypt’s national team in 2019, is the latest player or coach on the national team to test positive for the virus.

Mohamed Elshenawy, goalkeeper of the national team and Cairo’s Al-Ahly soccer club, tested positive earlier this month and missed a game against archrival Zamalek in the local league.

In November, Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah tested positive after he traveled to Cairo to play in Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Togo.

At the time, Salah attended his brother’s wedding and was seen — sometimes without a face mask — dancing among dozens of people.

In recent weeks, Egypt has seen a “slight but continual” spike in confirmed coronavirus cases. Health Minister Hala Zayed said Saturday that authorities have registered a weekly increase of up to 10% in some areas amid a third wave of the pandemic. She did not provide specific numbers.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with over 100 million people, has reported at least 221,570 confirmed cases, including some 13,000 deaths. However, the actual numbers of COVID-19 cases, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher, in part due to limited testing.

Egypt’s president receives first dose of COVID vaccine

Egypt’s president has received his first dose of coronavirus vaccine, although his office does not say what type of vaccine was used. Egypt in general uses China’s Sinopharm or the AstraZeneca vaccines.

Abdel Fattah el-Sissi got the dose as part of the national vaccination campaign, his office says in a Facebook post.

El-Sissi’s vaccination appeared aimed to encourage more people to get vaccinated, particularly health care workers.

Health Minister Hala Zayed on Saturday called for health workers to register to be vaccinated. She said only 50% of the targeted health care workers have signed up.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi speaks at the “G20 Investment Summit – German Business and the CwA Countries 2019” on the sidelines of a Compact with Africa (CwA) in Berlin, Germany on Nov. 19, 2019. (John MacDougall/Pool via AP)

COVID-19 outbreaks in high schools send hundreds into isolation

Even as Israel’s virus caseload remains extremely low, local outbreaks are recorded at several high schools in Tel Aviv and Pardes Hannah, according to the Ynet news site.

Hundreds of students are in isolation, according to the report.

Shas leader Deri expresses solidarity with Halimi protesters

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, the leader of the Shas party, expresses his solidarity with protesters demonstrating for justice for Sarah Halimi in Paris, Israel, and elsewhere.

Halimi, an Orthodox Jewish woman in her sixties, was pushed out of the window of her Paris flat in 2017 by neighbor Kobili Traore, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic).

Deri calls Halimi’s killing an “anti-Semitic murder” and condemns the decision by a top French court to deem Traore not criminally responsible for his actions as he was under the influence of marijuana.

High Court to government: Appoint justice minister within 48 hours

The High Court of Justice urges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to appoint a permanent justice minister within 48 hours.

There has been no justice minister since early this month after Gantz’s maximal 3-month term as acting justice minister expired. Under the power-sharing agreement between Gantz and Netanyahu, the former is the only one who can select a minister. But Netanyahu has blocked a required cabinet vote to approve such a candidate.

The High Court also says the remaining offices that remain without ministers should be filled by next week. This includes the Science and Technology Ministry, the Social Equality Ministry and the Higher Education Ministry — all vacated by resigning ministers in recent months as the government collapsed.

Critics have accused Netanyahu of intentionally seeking to weaken the justice system due to his ongoing corruption trial, as he hopes to appoint a minister who will be friendlier to his cause.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the swearing-in ceremony for the 24th Knesset, April 6, 2021 (Knesset spokesperson)

Plans to extend gas-fired power station in Hadera stalled

The Haifa District Planning Committee orders that the National Infrastructure Committee relegate to its “lowest priority” plans to extend an existing gas-fired power station in the northern coastal city of Hadera, OPC 2.

The Association of Cities for Environmental Protection (Sharon Carmel), which includes 18 local authorities and represents some 700,000 residents, opposes the plan for OPC 2, especially as would be located close to schools, kindergartens and residential neighborhoods.

Hadera already suffers pollution from the Orot Rabin power station, whose four coal-fired units are set to close next year.

The Health and Environmental Protection Ministries have also questioned the wisdom of OPC 2.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz is pushing forward with plans for several new gas-fired power stations, overriding the opposition of the Environmental Protection Ministry, which does not want any.

Some time this summer, the NIC will convene to discuss which of a clutch of power plant plans to advance for government consideration. Two of them are opposed by the energy minister — Kesem, near Rosh Ha’ayin and the Arab city of Kafr Qasim in the center of the country, and the so-called Meeting of Peace, being pushed by the Reindeer Partnership, comprising Siemens, the Phoenix Insurance Company and two Israelis, for a site between Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv, and the nearby Palestinian city of Qalqilya in the West Bank.

Dorad in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon and OPC Rotem on the Rotem plain in southern Israel’s Negev Desert will also be considered.

Gantz orders army to remain on high alert amid Gaza tensions

Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructs the military to remain on high alert in light of the threat of continued rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, his office says.

According to the ministry, Gantz’s position is that Israel “respects everyone’s freedom to worship,” an apparent reference to ongoing tensions in Jerusalem between Jewish and Muslim residents of the city. “But Israel will do what is necessary to defend its citizens from all aggression,” his office says.

Earlier today, the defense minister met with top security officials in military headquarters in Tel Aviv, including IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman, as well as other top IDF generals, Gantz’s spokesperson says.

“At the end of the situational assessment, Gantz stressed the importance of the readiness of troops and plans in case there is an escalation of violence and to remain in contact with local councils in the Gaza periphery and to prepare the home front,” his office says.

Ra’am: We’ll pick a side, but won’t abstain, on formation of Bennett government

Officials in Ra’am reportedly indicate the Islamist party won’t abstain in the vote on the establishment of a prospective government led by the right-wing Naftali Bennett, should such a coalition be presented to the Knesset.

“We won’t abstain on the establishment of a Bennett government, we will either support it or oppose it,” a Ra’am official tells Channel 12 on condition of anonymity. The official adds that the party would more readily support a fifth round of elections than abstain on the formation of the next government.

Amid the protracted political crisis, Ra’am’s four seats could tip the balance on whether a government is formed and determine who leads it.

Mansour Abbas, head of the Ra’am party, gives a press statement after meeting with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on April 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel plans to scale back virus rules, allow crowds of up to 500 outdoors

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announces plans to scale back coronavirus restrictions further, canceling the limits on public transportation and restaurant capacity and allowing gatherings of up to 500 people outdoors.

In addition, gyms, swimming pools and other attractions would be opened to the unvaccinated. Those sites, in addition to sit-down dining at restaurants and large events, are currently only accessible to the vaccinated and recovered patients under the “Green Pass system.”

The new rules, which are expected to be presented to the government and go into effect by next Thursday, would also permit 50 people to gather indoors. The current limits are 20 indoors, 100 outdoors.

People exercise on a street in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021, after authorities announced that face masks for COVID-19 prevention were no longer needed outside (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Gantz to nominate himself as justice minister during Tuesday cabinet meeting

The cabinet will convene by Tuesday to discuss the appointment of a permanent justice minister, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is refraining from committing to naming a candidate during the meeting, according to Hebrew media reports.

Netanyahu, in his response to the High Court of Justice plea to appoint a justice minister by Tuesday, confirms he’ll hold a cabinet meeting within the next two days but indicates the outcome of the discussion remains to be seen.

A short while later, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz tweets: “I will demand at the cabinet meeting that I be appointed permanent justice minister in order to continue to maintain democracy, and in accordance with the agreement signed with Likud.”

FILE – In this March. 11, 2021 file photo, an election campaign billboard for the Blue and White party, the opposition party led by Benny Gantz, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party, left, hangs on a street in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

“I will not give Netanyahu even a foothold. You do not need 48 hours for this, you can bring this to a vote within 48 minutes and stop violating the rule of law,” he says, in comments directed at Netanyahu, who is likely to strongly oppose handing Gantz the portfolio.

The High Court says that if the cabinet doesn’t appoint a justice minister on Tuesday, it’ll hold another hearing that same day on the issue, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

IDF to test siren systems in Modiin-Maccabim-Reut on Monday

The Israel Defense Forces announces it will hold a test of the siren systems and emergency preparedness in the area of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut in central Israel tomorrow.

The sirens will sound in various parts of the municipality from 10:05 a.m. to 10:25 a.m. and then again from 7:05 p.m. to 7:25 p.m.

Residents of the area are asked to enter bomb shelters when they hear the sirens and to ensure that their shelters are well stocked for an emergency.

In the case of an actual attack, the sirens will sound twice, the military says.

Israel receives 3 more F-35 fighter jets

Three more F-35 fighter jets have landed in Israel’s Nevatim Air Base from the United States, the military says, bringing the country’s fleet to 27.

By 2024, an additional 23 F-35 planes are due to arrive in Israel, to bring the total number of the aircraft to 50.

Israel has agreed to purchase additional F-35 stealth fighters from the United States, though the exact number has not been decided yet.

An F-35 fighter jet pilot and crew prepare for a mission at Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, August 5, 2019. (Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury/US Air Force via AP)

Biden polls positive for first 100 days in office

A majority of Americans approve of President Joe Biden’s performance during his first 100 days in office, three new polls found Sunday.

Overall, the polls showed a range of 52-58 percent of US adults who say they approve of the job Biden is doing, compared with 39-42% who say they disapprove.

But the positive ratings are divided along party lines: about 90% of Democrats say they approve of Biden’s performance, while only 9 to 13% of Republicans do.

Biden’s performance is far higher than predecessor Donald Trump achieved in his entire presidency.

Trump spent most of his presidency with ratings in the low 40s, and left office on January 20 with a Gallup poll approval of just 34%, a record low.

President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House on April 14, 2021, about the withdrawal of the remainder of US troops from Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

A poll by CBS gives Biden the highest ranking, with 58% approval and 42% disapproval.

NBC found that 53% of adults approve, while 39% disapprove.

And a poll by ABC and The Washington Post showed a 52% overall approval rating and a 42% disapproval rating.

Biden’s strongest performance across the board was for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with 64-69% approval.

However, the polls found that vaccine hesitancy has increased, with CBS showing that 19% of Republicans say they might get the vaccine, and 30% saying they will not get it at all.

Additionally, Biden received the weakest marks for how he has dealt with the migration situation at the US-Mexico border.

The ABC poll found that only 37% of adults approved of his approach to the border, while NBC found that only 33% of adults approved.

While Biden’s overall performance so far is generally higher than Trump’s, it is lower than that of Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president.

Obama had an average of 60% approval in his first half year and his predecessor George W. Bush had 53.9%.

Trump, by contrast, had an average approval rating of 41.4% in his first six months.

According to data from the fivethirtyeight.com site, Trump was the first president in half a century not to enjoy a honeymoon period with substantially better polling in the first six months.

Jewish youth assaulted, lightly hurt in Ramle

Police say a young Jewish man who was distributing religious pamphlets has been attacked in the central Israel city of Ramle.

He was hospitalized at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center.

Police have arrested a suspect, a 19-year-old resident of the city, and are investigating.

 

Israel warns Hamas, via Egypt, against additional rocket fire — TV

Israel has warned Hamas, through Egypt mediators, that it will not tolerate sporadic rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel, Channel 13 reports.

The Gaza rulers respond by saying that they will try to prevent rocket fire, but offer no guarantees, the network says.

The IDF remains on high alert along the southern border in anticipation of further attacks.

Netanyahu to Gantz: Let’s form government, you’ll be PM first in rotation

In a bid to resolve the political deadlock, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly offered a premiership rotation deal to Benny Gantz, which would see the Blue and White leader assume the top office first.

Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site, reported last week that Likud officials were considering enabling Gantz to become prime minister for the next two years while Netanyahu serves as his alternate.

Channel 12 reported the proposal during its primetime broadcast Sunday.

It says Netanyahu called Gantz two days ago and offered to form a government together, under a deal that envisions Gantz becoming prime minister for a year, followed by Netanyahu for two years, and then Gantz for another year. Netanyahu would remain in the official Prime Minister’s Residence and Gantz would remain defense minister, the TV report says.

Gantz told Netanyahu the prospect of such an agreement was unlikely.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz (left) is seen with his back to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the Knesset approves a preliminary reading of a bill to dissolve parliament, December 2, 2020. (Danny Shem-Tov / Knesset spokesperson’s office)

Netanyahu is considering extending the same offer to Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, the network says.

Under their rotation deal in the previous power-sharing government, Gantz was set to become prime minister in November after Netanyahu, but the government collapsed before the handover of power in what many analysts saw as a deliberate maneuver by the Likud leader.

Channel 13 reports that Netanyahu is expected to offer the premiership in rotation to one of the leaders of the so-called “change bloc,” without elaborating.

TV: Netanyahu, Gantz tried to OK military operation without security cabinet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attempted to approve a military operation without the approval of the high-level security cabinet, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Though they intended to entirely bypass the panel, at the last minute, Netanyahu summoned several ministers to approve the mission — not for legal reasons, but rather for consultations due to the complexity of the operation and its possible ramifications, Kan says.

The ministers ultimately authorized the mission, which was meant to “send a message to the other side.”

No details were offered by the network on the military activities.

The Prime Minister’s Office calls the report a “total lie.”

Gazans break through security fence, enter buffer zone

Palestinians broke through a security fence and entered the buffer zone between Israel and the Gaza Strip, absconding with some construction material, during a demonstration along the border, according to footage shared by Palestinian media outlets.

In the footage, a group of young men can be seen rushing through a break in the fence, grabbing a number of plastic pipes, holding them up triumphantly and then running back into the Strip.

The men do not appear to have entered Israeli territory, but were instead in a buffer zone between the two areas.

The incident comes amid lingering tensions between Israel and terror groups in the Strip, after dozens of rockets were fired into southern Israel over the weekend.

3 Arab workers attacked in Jerusalem; Jewish suspect found carrying knife

As ethnic tensions flare up in Jerusalem, three Arab sanitation workers are attacked on Ben Sira Street in the capital, the Ynet news site reports.

A group of Jews is suspected of the assault. One of the suspects has been arrested and is found to be carrying a knife, according to the report.

Police gird for more violence in Jerusalem

Police are anticipating further clashes between Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem tonight, following several days of violence in the capital.

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