The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Labour MP outed for Facebook post supporting Israel’s relocation
A member of parliament for Britain’s Labour party is revealed to have published a 2014 Facebook post of an image calling for Israel to be relocated to the US.
According to British political blogger Guido Fawkes, Naz Shah says she is sorry for the graphic, which she posted before becoming an MP for Bradford, in northern England.
Guido Fawkes says that although Shah promised yesterday to make a full apology, she has yet to do so.
The graphic was posted during Israel’s 2014 conflict with Hamas in Gaza, and makes reference to military aid given to the Jewish state by the US.
The revelation of Shah’s post is the latest in a string of controversial comments about Israel and Jews made by Labour members in recent months, many of which have led to suspensions from the party.
Polls open in 5 US states’ presidential primaries
Polling stations open in Connecticut, the first of five US states to begin voting in the day’s primaries, which mark a critical juncture in the presidential nominating race.
Residents of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island will also cast ballots in primaries, as Hillary Clinton seeks a knockout against Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump remains confident of extending his lead despite rivals joining forces against him.
Voting stations in Connecticut open at 6 a.m. (1000 GMT), with polling in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania opening one hour later. Rhode Island precincts are to begin welcoming voters at various times, 7 a.m. at the earliest.
Polls across all five states close at 8 p.m. (0000 GMT Wednesday).
Hamas said preventing rocket fire on Israel from Gaza
Security sources in Gaza say that Hamas is deploying additional forces to prevent the firing of rockets into Israel, Channel 2 reports.
According to the sources, the additional Hamas forces have already stopped three attempts to fire rockets from Gaza into Israel.
Turkey’s parliament speaker seeks religious constitution
Turkey should have a religious constitution, parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman says, in comments that will likely add to concerns of creeping Islamization under the ruling AKP party.
“As a Muslim country, why should we be in a situation where we are in retreat from religion?” state-run news agency Anatolia quotes him as saying.
“We are a Muslim country. As a consequence, we must have a religious constitution,” the AKP lawmaker tells a conference in Istanbul. “Secularism cannot feature in the new constitution.”
Critics accuse President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted AKP of eroding the secular values laid by modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk since it took power in 2002.
FIFA opens medical center in Tehran
World soccer association FIFA inaugurates a new medical center in Tehran, which it says will “provide the country’s elite athletes with the highest standards of medical care.”
The association says on its website that the Iran Football Medical Assessment and Research Center (IFMARC) is the first facility of its kind in central Asia, and “has been designed to provide excellence in sports medicine, rehabilitation and fitness assessment.”
FIFA says the center will offer “the highest level of services for male and female players, match officials and coaches.”
The center includes a gym, rehabilitation suite, treatment rooms and a hydrotherapy center.
Sweden checking reports of IS plan to attack Stockholm
Sweden’s security service says it is “working to assess information” on a reported plot by Islamic State militants to attack Stockholm.
Swedish newspaper Expressen daily says Baghdad informed the Swedes that “seven or eight terrorists” from IS had traveled to the country. The daily, quoting unidentified sources, adds that the security service, known as SAPO, is sending people to Iraq to obtain more information.
SAPO says in a statement that action has been taken, but does not elaborate, while Swedish media reports that security at train stations and airports is not being tightened.
Swedish media is also speculating that the celebrations for Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf’s 70th birthday on Saturday could be a possible target. Such an event brings together members of the royal family, government officials and European royals.
Report: 2 Waqf officials arrested for attacking Jews on Temple Mount
Two officials from the Waqf, the Jordanian-run religious trust that oversees the Islamic presence on the Temple Mount, are arrested for allegedly attacking Jewish visitors to the site, Israel National News reports.
The report gives no further information, and does not offer any details of events leading up to the arrests.
Labour MP quits top post after comments on Israel, Jews revealed
Labour MP Naz Shah steps down as a senior aide to the party’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell after her social media posts about Israel and Jews are revealed.
“I deeply regret the hurt I have caused by comments made on social media before I was elected as an MP,” the Jewish Chronicle quotes Shah as saying in a statement.
She adds that she “made these posts at the height of the Gaza conflict in 2014, when emotions were running high around the Middle East conflict. But that is no excuse for the offence I have given, for which I unreservedly apologize.
“In recognition of that offence, I have stepped down from my role as PPS [parliamentary private secretary] to the shadow chancellor John McDonnell. I will be seeking to expand my existing engagement and dialogue with Jewish community organisations and will be stepping up my efforts to combat all forms of racism, including antisemitism.”
Egyptian rights groups: 237 arrested in Cairo protests
An Egyptian coalition of rights groups says that police arrested at least 237 people during yesterday’s protests in Cairo against a government decision to hand over to Saudi Arabia control of two strategic Red Sea islands.
Rights lawyers Gamal Eid and Mohammed Abdel-Aziz — both members of the Front for the Defense of Egyptian Protesters — say that all those detained were in custody by midnight, when the front made its last tally.
The number of those still held could be lower since police have been intermittently releasing the detainees, they say. It’s unclear if anyone has been referred to prosecutors.
Number of visitors to Sea of Galilee on Passover reaches 100,000
The local authority for the Sea of Galilee says that the number of people visiting the lake this Passover has reached 100,000.
The authority also says that it has collected 90 tons of garbage since the start of the Jewish holiday, the NRG website reports.
UK Jewish group slams Labour MP’s ‘appalling’ comments on Israel
A spokesperson for the Board of Deputies of British Jews says a Facebook post by Labour MP Naz Shah that calls for Israel to relocate to the US is “simply appalling.”
“Naz Shah’s comments about relocating Israelis to the United States are simply appalling. She has since apologized and stepped down as John McDonnell’s PPS [parliamentary private secretary]. The Board of Deputies of British Jews has sought an urgent meeting for clarification of her views on Israel and the UK Jewish community,” the spokesperson says.
Russia: We will supply S-300 to Iran ahead of schedule
The head of Russia’s military exports says Moscow will provide Iran with the S-300 missile defense system ahead of schedule, Channel 2 reports.
The official also says the two countries are also conducting negotiations on the supply of other military equipment. “The negotiations are solely on authorized equipment that is not on the UN’s [banned] list,” he says.
Iran summons Swiss ambassador over US Supreme Court ruling
Iran’s state TV says the Iranian foreign ministry summoned Switzerland’s ambassador to Tehran over a recent US Supreme Court ruling to permit the families of victims of attacks linked to Iran to collect nearly $2 billion of frozen funds from the Islamic Republic.
Switzerland acts as an intermediary between the US and Iran, who have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, when Iranian students stormed the embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a foreign adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, describes the court ruling as an act of robbery, the official IRNA news agency reports.
“Iran is insistent on safeguarding its rights and will retrieve the money,” Velayati is quoted as saying. “The way to confront Americans is to resist their ambitions.”
PA unveils Ramallah statue to Nelson Mandela
The Palestinian Authority unveils a statue of Nelson Mandela at the square named after him in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The 6-meter bronze statue is a gift from Johannesburg, which is twinned with Ramallah.
“The presence of this statue in the city of Ramallah is uniquely symbolic for the Palestinian people, as Mandela is a universal symbol of peace and an inspiration,” says Ramallah municipality in a statement.
Dozens of wildfires break out as Israel hit by heatwave
Firefighters battle dozens of brush fires across Israel as temperatures soar in a heatwave.
The hottest weather is felt in the center of the country, where the temperatures exceed those in Eilat, Haaretz says.
The Dan region sees temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius, while the Arava in the south and the coastal plain in the center reach 40 degrees — as opposed to the 36 degrees registered in Eilat.
Basketball coach David Blatt ‘under consideration for Lakers job’
Israeli basketball coach David Blatt is reportedly under consideration for a post with the Los Angeles Lakers, after being fired earlier this season as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Blatt is listed this week in an ESPN report, citing unnamed league sources, as one of 10 potential candidates on the NBA team’s “long list” to replace Byron Scott, who the Lakers say will not be returning next season.
The Israeli coach is also rumored to be in the running for head coach of the New York Knicks, though reports circulating this week say his candidacy for the position is a smokescreen to hide the team’s intention to hire interim coach Kurt Rambis.
Fugitive Hasidic rabbi spends Passover in South African prison
A fugitive Hasidic rabbi charged with sex abuse is spending Passover in a South African prison while authorities determine whether or not to extradite him to Israel.
Rabbi Eliezer Berland, 78, was arrested in early April in Johannesburg, four years after first fleeing sex abuse charges in Israel. A founder of the Shuvu Bonim religious seminary in Israel and a member of the Breslov Hasidic branch, Berland denies accusations that he sexually assaulted several of his female followers.
Haaretz says that the rabbi is facing a bail hearing today.
Approximately 700 Hasidic supporters of the rabbi reportedly protest outside the South African Embassy in Ramat Gan on yesterday.
US general: Number of foreign fighters entering Iraq, Syria plummets
The number of foreign fighters entering Iraq and Syria has plummeted over the past year or so, a US general says.
Major General Peter Gersten tells Pentagon reporters that when he arrived in Baghdad about a year ago, between 1,500 and 2,000 foreign fighters were joining the Islamic State group’s ranks each month.
“Now we have been fighting this enemy for a year, our estimates are down to 200 (per month) and we are actually seeing now an increase in desertion rates of these fighters,” Gersten says.
Trump angry at aide’s push to make him more presidential
Leading Republican candidate Donald Trump is “bristling” over efforts by his adviser Paul Manafort to make him appear more presidential, sources close to the campaign tell Politico. According to the report, the sources say Trump “has expressed misgivings” about Manafort for “overstepping his bounds.”
Politico quotes the sources as saying that Trump was “upset” when he discovered last week that Manafort told party chiefs he was “projecting an image” for voters and that “the part he’s been playing is evolving,” in order to appeal to voters.
2 killed, 2 hurt in car accident in southern Israel
Two people are killed and two are injured in a car accident near Nevatim, some eight km from the southern city of Beersheba.
The Walla website says that the fatalities are a man in his 40s and a 15-year-old boy.
The two injured are a 12-year-old girl in serious condition and a man in his 30s who is moderately hurt.
Magen David Adom paramedics take the wounded to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
PM orders incitement probe for school that hosted terrorist’s family
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks the attorney general to look into possible incitement by an East Jerusalem school that hosted the parents of a terrorist who murdered three Israelis on a Jerusalem bus in October.
The school in the neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber invited the parents of Baha Allyan, who was killed in the attack, to address students.
Allyan, along with Bilal Ranem, killed Richard Lakin, 76; Haviv Haim, 78; and Alon Govberg, 51. Ranem is in Israeli custody.
Haifa man suspected of raping, murdering 4 women
A 26-year-old man from the northern city of Haifa is suspected of raping and murdering four women in the last two years.
Walla names the man as Fyodor Beijanri, and says he was arrested about a month ago.
Beinjari’s lawyer says the police have not yet offered proof linking his client to the crimes, Army Radio says.
“Fyodor is a new immigrant with no criminal past, and he denies the allegations against him,” the attorney says. “His only claim is that the investigator has harmed his basic rights, and furthermore he has been detained for more than 40 days. Even so, the police have yet to present significant proof linking him to the crimes attributed to him and are therefore preventing him from defending his innocence.”
Muslim association buys Marseille synagogue, plans to make it into mosque
A synagogue in Marseille is sold to a Muslim association that is planning to turn it into a mosque.
The Or Thora synagogue on Saint Dominique Street was sold a few months ago for approximately $400,000 to the Al Badr Association ahead of its reopening in the summer, the local daily La Provence reports.
The switch reflects a demographic shift in which, over the past 16 years, tens of thousands of Marseille Jews have left its once heavily Jewish center for the city’s more affluent suburbs, the paper says.
Saint Dominique Street already has one mosque operated by the Al Badr Association, according to La Provence, but the group is looking for another one because it is so crowded that Muslim worshipers pray on the sidewalk on Fridays. Meanwhile, Or Thora, which has a capacity of 250, sometimes has as few as 10 worshipers.
Israel fears IS-affiliated group on Golan may use chemical weapons
Channel 10 says the defense establishment is monitoring the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, a terrorist group affiliated to Islamic State and based on the Syrian side of the Golan, out of concern that it may be planning to test chemical weapons.
According to the report, the group has managed to obtain some of the chemical weapons belonging the Assad regime, and Israel fears that it will soon try to experiment with artillery and mortar shells containing mustard gas.
Germany opens files on Nazi pedophile sect in Chile
Germany is declassifying its files on Colonia Dignidad, a sect in Chile run by a Nazi pedophile, Germany’s foreign minister says, admitting the diplomatic service’s failure to stop the abuses.
Colonia Dignidad was a German commune founded in 1961 by convicted pedophile Paul Schaefer and a group of fellow German immigrants in a remote part of Chile, where residents were indoctrinated and kept as virtual slaves over three decades.
Schaefer also collaborated with the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, whose secret police used the colony — which lies some 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of the capital Santiago — as a place to torture opponents.
“The handling of Colonia Dignidad was not a glorious chapter of the history of the foreign ministry,” says German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
“For many years, from the 60s to the 80s, German diplomats looked the other way, and did too little to protect their citizens in this commune,” he says as the ministry screened a movie about the case starring Emma Watson and Daniel Bruehl.
UN rebuffs Netanyahu claim on Golan ownership
The UN Security Council rejects Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that the Golan Heights will “forever” remain under Israeli control.
The 15-member council agrees that the status of the Golan, which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War, “remains unchanged,” says Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who holds this month’s council presidency.
The council statement follows remarks made by Netanyahu earlier this month when his cabinet held its first meeting on the plateau.
Council members “expressed deep concern” over the Israeli statements and “stressed that the status of the Golan remains unchanged,” says Liu.