Palestinian man arrested by IDF with knife in Hebron
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Palestinian man arrested by IDF with knife in Hebron

US, Israel officials seek Trump visit for May 22; Russian warship collides with freighter in Black Sea north of Istanbul

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Police photograph items on the pavement in Whitehall, London, Thursday April 27, 2017, after a man was arrested by police. London police say they have arrested a man for possession of offensive weapons near Britain's Houses of Parliament. (Ross Kempsell‏ via AP)
Police photograph items on the pavement in Whitehall, London, Thursday April 27, 2017, after a man was arrested by police. London police say they have arrested a man for possession of offensive weapons near Britain's Houses of Parliament. (Ross Kempsell‏ via AP)

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

Iranian minister condemns reported Israeli strike

Iran’s defense minister has condemned the reported Israeli airstrike on a Damascus airport.

Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted by Russia Today’s Arabic language broadcaster a day after he met with his Russian and Syrian counterparts in Moscow.

Lawyer jailed for sending messages for Hamas

Haifa’s District Court sentences a lawyer to 7.5 years in prison for passing intelligence to Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.

Mohammed Abed was found guilty of communicating with the Hamas leadership and communicating messages to imprisoned terror group members.

German soldier, posing as refugee, arrested in attack plot

A German soldier who pretended to be a Syrian refugee has been arrested on suspicion he planned a gun attack with racist motives, prosecutors said Thursday.

The 28-year-old suspect who was not identified was thought to have a “xenophobic background,” they said — while Die Welt daily reported he may have plotted to pin the blame for an attack on foreigners.

The strange case involved a joint police operation across Germany, France and Austria with raids on 16 locations, prosecutors in Frankfurt said in a statement.

They arrested the soldier — a lieutenant usually stationed on a Franco-German military base near Strasbourg — in the southern German city of Hammelburg on Wednesday.

On the same day they also arrested a second German man, a 24-year-old student and alleged co-conspirator in possession of objects that breach weapons and explosives laws, they said.

— AFP

Syrian official says Israeli strike aimed to help rebels

A Syrian military source quoted by the official state news agency says that Israel’s missile strike on a Damascus airport was an attempt to help rebel groups fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The SANA news agency reports that the attack “comes as a desperate attempt to raise the collapsed morale of terrorist groups due to the Syrian army’s blows and this aggression will not dissuade the army from continuing the war against terrorism and crushing it.”

Russian warship collides with freighter off Istanbul

A Russian warship has reportedly collided with a freighter north of Istanbul in the Black Sea.

The ship was a livestock carrier heading from Romania to Jordan’s port at Aqaba.

Turkish media reports that 15 Russian soldiers are missing.

— AP contributed

At least 45 people rescued from Russian warship

Private Turkish television station NTV says 45 Russian soldiers were rescued after a warship collided with another vessel in the Black Sea on Thursday.

Reuters quotes a Turkish official saying at least 78 people were evacuated from the warship.

NTV says rescue boats and helicopters have been dispatched to the area.

— AP and Times of Israel staff

Russian intelligence ship reportedly sinking in Black Sea

The Russian navy research ship Liman “sustained a hull breach due to a collision” with the ship Ashot-7, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the Bosphorus Strait, the Russia’s defense ministry says in a statement carried by Russian agencies.

The ship was reportedly sinking.

— AFP contributed

Russia warship sinks with none aboard — Turkish coast guard

Turkish coast guard says that Russian navy ship has sunk off Istanbul with nobody on board.

— AP

Jewish Home votes for party leader

Members of the national religious Jewish Home party are going to the polls today for internal elections to pick a party leader.

All 69 polling stations have opened in the Jewish Home party leadership primaries.

Polling stations opened across the country at 2 p.m. but there were issues with the computer system in 3 locations in Jerusalem, Beersheba and Efrat. The problems have been resolved and voting is underway.

In total, 30,734 Jewish Home members are eligible to vote in the election in which incumbent leader Naftali Bennett is facing challenges from former IDF colonel Yonatan Branski and Rabbi Yizhak Zagha.

Polling stations close at 9 p.m. and results are expected be released around 11 p.m.

— Raoul Wootliff

Trump may visit on May 22

A handful of Israeli reporters cite an unnamed Israeli official saying the date being discussed for a prospective visit by US President Donald Trump is May 22. Tal Shalev of Walla news says Trump would stay in Israel for a single night.

Russia urges restraint, ‘respect of the sovereignty of Syria’

The Kremlin on Thursday called for restraint after Syria accused Israel of firing several missiles at a military position near the Damascus airport.

“We continue to consider that all countries need to refrain from any kind of actions that lead to an increase in tension in this already restive region and call for respect of the sovereignty of Syria,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

— AFP

Man arrested with knife near UK parliament

London police arrest a man for possession of weapons near Britain’s Houses of Parliament.

The Metropolitan Police force say no one was injured in the incident, which brought armed police flooding into the area around Parliament.

Witnesses report seeing armed police blocking off Whitehall, a street lined with government buildings, and a man on the ground.

A photo shows a forensic officer looking at a black bag and what appeared to be two knives on the ground.

Security has been increased around Parliament after an attacker drove an SUV into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge on March 22 before stabbing a police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. The attacker, Khalid Masood, was shot dead by police.

Thursday is Parliament’s last sitting day before Britain’s June 8 election.

— AP

Trump starts Twitter tirade against Democrats

US President Donald Trump launches a tweetstorm against the Democrats, variously accusing the rival party of bailing out banks at the expense of the military, encouraging illegal immigration, stalling healthcare and shutting national parks.

4,000 take part in May Day march in Tel Aviv

Approximately 4,000 people are marching through central Tel Aviv to mark May Day — four days early. The march was held early because May 1 is Israel’s Memorial Day.

The march ends outside the Histadrut labor union’s headquarters, where a rally will take place.

2 US soldiers killed in battle with IS in Afghanistan

Two US troops were killed and another wounded while fighting an Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan, the US military says.

US Forces-Afghanistan says the troops “came under attack during a raid against insurgents in Nangarhar province” late Wednesday.

The troops were working with partnered Afghan soldiers in the raid against IS Khorasan, a local offshoot of the jihadist group based in Iraq and Syria.

— AFP

Special needs organization opens new facility

Shalva, an organization for disabled children, formally opened its new Jerusalem facility on Thursday, with the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, Mayor Nir Barkat and a host of other dignitaries and supporters present.

Livni ‘full of hope’ for ‘historic opportunity’ with Trump visit

Zionist Union lawmaker Tzipi Livni says US President Donald Trump’s anticipated visit to Israel is an “historic opportunity.”

Trump “could be the man that connects all the events and points in the region, there is a historic opportunity here that we must make the most of.” She says she is “full of hope.”

Patriot missile fired in northern Israel

A Patriot missile battery fired on an aircraft that approached northern Israel.

The IDF says it’s investigating the incident.

Israel downs drone that entered from Syria

Israel downed a drone aircraft that entered Israeli airspace from Syria, just hours after a reported Israeli airstrike on the Damascus airport, Channel 2 reports.

Patriot missile downs aircraft over Golan Heights

A Patriot interceptor missile was launched in northern Israel on Thursday night at an as yet unidentified aircraft apparently from Syria, the army said.

According to the IDF, the Patriot missile successfully intercepted the target.

The IDF said it was investigating the incident to determine what type of aircraft was involved and where it came from.

On Wednesday, Arab media reported that Israel attacked a Syrian Army air base near Damascus.

— Judah Ari Gross

Palestinian man arrested in Hebron with knife

A Palestinian man was arrested by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron in possession of a knife and bullets. The suspect reportedly approached soldiers stationed near the Tomb of the Patriarchs holding the knife, Army Radio reports.

The suspect was taken in for questioning.

Syria to buy latest Russian anti-missile system: Assad

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Damascus is negotiating with regime ally Moscow to buy the latest Russian anti-missile system to repel Israeli and American attacks.

“It’s natural that we should have such systems,” he said, quoted by Syria’s official SANA agency on Thursday, the same day as Damascus accused Israel of firing several missiles at a military position near its international airport.

“Israel has been committing aggressions on the Arab states surrounding it since its creation in 1948,” Assad said in the interview with Venezuelan channel Telesur.

“It is natural for us to negotiate with the Russians now with a view to strengthening (our) systems, whether to face any Israeli threats from the air or the threats of American missiles.”

“That has become a real possibility after the recent American aggression on Al-Shayrat air base in Syria,” he added.

— AFP

Housing minister pushes plan for 25k apartments in Jerusalem, most over Green Line

The Housing and Construction Ministry is planning a major apartment development project encompassing areas across Jerusalem, both over the Green Line and within Israel’s pre-1967 lines.

According to a Channel 2 report, the plan includes 10,000 apartment units across the city, and another 15,000 units over the Green Line — 10,000 of which are slated for the area around the former Jerusalem airport at Atarot in the city’s northern extreme.

Housing Minister Yoav Galand is behind the development plan and seeks to get the municipality and government on board ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit at the end of May.

The overall cost, says Channel 2, is estimated to be around NIS 4 billion — slightly over one billion dollars.

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