The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s developments as they unfolded.
Hundreds at funerals of 2 teenagers killed in flood
Hundreds of mourners attend the funerals of two teenagers killed in the flash flood in southern Israel last Thursday.
Romi Cohen is laid to rest at 12 p.m. in the village of Maor, near Hadera, while Gali Balali’s funeral begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Nahalat Itzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv.
Seven of the 10 students swept away in the Tzafit River disaster were buried on Friday.
The final victim, Adi Raanan, will be buried at 6 p.m. in her home village of Mikhmoret on the coast.
Police raid offices of pre-military academy, seize computers
Police raid the Bnei Zion pre-military academy in Tel Aviv, seizing documents and confiscating computers.
Israeli police are investigating whether the organizers of a hike that resulted in the deaths of 10 teenage students in flash floods Thursday lied to participants about the safety of the desert trail they planned to take, as well as about their coordination, or lack thereof, with relevant authorities.
Police on Friday arrested the head of the Bnei Zion pre-military academy and the group’s tour guide on suspicion of negligent homicide, after a trip arranged by the Tel Aviv-based institution turned deadly as a result of heavy rains.
— With Raoul Wootliff
In Saudi Arabia, Pompeo says Iran ‘destabilizes entire region’
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is using the Middle East leg of his first trip abroad as America’s top diplomat to call for concerted international action to punish Iran for its missile programs.
“Iran destabilizes this entire region,” Pompeo says in brief remarks to journalists with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, taking no questions.
Al-Jubeir says the kingdom “supports the policy of the Trump administration against Iran and to improve the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Netanyahu to discuss Iranian ‘aggression’ with Pompeo
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will discuss the Iran nuclear deal, as well as the Islamic Republic’s “increasing aggression,” during his meeting later Sunday with US State Secretary Mike Pompeo.
Washington’s newly appointed secretary of state, who visited Saudi Arabia on Sunday, is set to fly to Israel.
“We will today welcome with open arms State Secretary Mike Pompeo, a true friend of Israel,” Netanyahu tells ministers at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting.
“It is significant that he comes to Israel in his first official tour,” Netanyahu says. “I will discuss the increased Iranian aggression with him and of course the nuclear agreement with Iran, on which a decision should be made soon.”
Medics: Man stabbed, moderately hurt outside Jerusalem mall
Medics say a man in his 30s has been stabbed and moderately injured outside the Hadar Mall in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood.
He sustains wounds to his upper body, the Magen David Adom emergency service says.
The attacker has been “neutralized,” it adds, without elaborating.
Israel orders suspected French arms trafficker held through trial
A French consulate worker charged with smuggling arms from Gaza to the West Bank will remain in custody throughout his trial, an Israeli court rules Sunday.
Romain Franck, a French citizen, was charged last month along with several Palestinian suspects with belonging to a gun-running network that sold the weapons to arms dealers between November and February.
According to prosecutors, Franck took advantage of reduced security checks for consular vehicles to transport the weapons out of the Palestinian enclave.
Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service said Franck was motivated by money, with the indictment alleging he was paid a total of around $5,500.
At the Beersheba district court on Sunday, Judge Nasir Abu Taha orders that Franck remain in custody for the duration of his trial, after his attorney Abed Abu Amir agrees there was “alleged evidence” against his client, court documents read.
Speaking with reporters after the hearing, Abu Amir says Franck was being kept in custody because he could not meet the conditions for house arrest: two guarantors staying with him around the clock.
“We have one person and he can’t stay with him all the time,” he says. “We hope soon to find another guarantor and we can bail him out.”
Iran newspaper head arrested over ‘prostitutes’ report
The head of Iran’s reformist newspaper Shargh was arrested after residents of a northeastern city accused the paper of defamation over a report on “prostitution” there, Iranian media says.
Mehdi Rahmanian was “summoned (by the courts) after a complaint by a group of residents of the Shahid Rajai neighbourhood of Mashhad,” the semi-official ISNA news agency reports, quoting the city’s deputy prosecutor Hassan Heydari.
“The newspaper had described some of the district’s women as prostitutes.”
Mashhad’s Khorassan newspaper says Rahmanian had been detained after failing to pay bail set at 500 million riyals (around $9,000/7,500 euros).
Shargh on April 8 published a report on the murder of a 6-year-old Afghan girl in the impoverished Shahid Rajai district of Mashhad, the second-largest city in Iran. The article quoted an official from an association for children and poor people who said the district was home to several brothels and that drugs were sold there. Khorassan said the article had provoked an angry protest by residents in front of the local mosque three days later.
Arrest made in Brooklyn attack on Orthodox Jewish man
Police arrest a man accused of attacking an identifiably Jewish man who was walking home from Shabbat services in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
James Vincent, 40, was arrested on Friday morning, after he appeared in Brooklyn Criminal Court on an unrelated case, the New York Daily News reports.
He is charged with strangulation, assault and unlawful possession of marijuana in the April 21 attack on Menachem Moskowitz in Crown Heights.
Moskowitz, a 52-year-old father of nine, was walking home from prayer services at about 1:30 on Saturday afternoon. He told the CrownHights.info news website following the attack that he said “good afternoon” to the man who was smoking a cigar on a street corner.
“As soon as [I greeted] him he began yelling at me ‘you fake Jews, who are you saying hello to? Your fake Jews and you stole all my money and robbed me, and stole my mortgage and my house. I want to kill you!’” the news website quoted him as saying.
Moskowitz said he walked away from the man quickly but that the assailant caught up with the Jewish man and put him in a choke-hold and threatened to kill him. Two women passersby separated the men and called on Moskowitz to run away.
Moskowitz sustained several rib fractures and a black eye from the attack.
Pompeo didn’t seek PA meetings during visit — report
A Palestinian Authority official says US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not request a meeting with any Palestinian officials during his visit to the region.
But Nabil Shaath adds, in an interview with Haaretz, that any such request, had it been issued, would have been rejected by the Palestinians.
The Palestinians have been boycotting the US administration since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.
French man who brandished rifle at Holocaust museum held in psychiatric ward
A 20-year-old man who brandished a weapon at a Holocaust museum in western France is now hospitalized at a psychiatric institution.
The man shouted and waved around an unloaded rifle Tuesday at the Memorial for the Deported Museum in Mayenne, Le Parisien reported Friday.
The man used the weapon, a hunting rifle, to threaten an employee at the entrance to the small museum, according to the report. Sources at the regional prosecutors’ office told the newspaper they estimate the man was not “responsible for his actions” at the time of the incident on Tuesday at around 3 p.m.
Security personnel overpowered the man. Police found anti-Semitic literature in his backpack, including Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, “Understanding the Empire” by the far-right Holocaust denier Alain Soral, and “The Jewish Psychoanalysis” by Herve Ryssen.
Prosecutors also said the man was a “nationalist” with a history of mental illness that has landed him at psychiatric hospitals twice in the past few years, most recently in 2017.
Iraq sentences 19 Russian women to life for joining IS
Iraq on Sunday sentences 19 Russian women to life in prison for joining the Islamic State group, according a judicial source.
The head of Baghdad’s Central Criminal Court, which deals with terrorism cases, said the women were found guilty of “joining and supporting IS,” according to an AFP journalist at the hearing.
Pompeo skeptical Iran deal pullout will affect N. Korea talks
Pompeo, while en route to Israel, was asked whether a US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal would complicate negotiations with North Korea.
“I don’t think Kim Jong Un is staring at the Iran deal and saying, ‘Oh goodness, if they get out of that deal, I won’t talk to the Americans anymore. There are higher priorities, things he is more concerned about than whether the Americans stay” in the accord, Pompeo says.
Netanyahu, Pompeo meet in Tel Aviv
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at military headquarters in Tel Aviv for talks the Israeli leader said would focus on Iran.
Pompeo, sworn in only on Thursday, met Saudi leaders on Sunday as part of his first trip since taking office.
He is due in Jordan later in the day.
— with AFP
Pompeo says he has a ‘special place in my heart’ for Israel
In Israel, Pompeo tells Netanyahu he has “a special place in my heart” for the Jewish state, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Netanyahu says Israel is proud Pompeo decided to visit the country on his first official tour as US secretary of state.
‘No decision’ by Trump on Iran nuclear deal — Bolton
US President Donald Trump has not decided whether or not to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, US National Security Advisor John Bolton says Sunday.
“He has made no decision on the nuclear deal, whether to stay in or get out,” Bolton tells Fox News Sunday.
Iran confirms arrest of British-Iranian professor
Iran’s judiciary has confirmed the arrest of a British-Iranian university professor on security charges.
Abbas Edalat, a computer scientist and mathematician at Imperial College London, was reportedly arrested earlier this month by the Revolutionary Guard, which has detained several dual-nationals in recent years.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency on Sunday quotes judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi as saying Edalat had been detained on “security charges,” without elaborating. It is the first official confirmation of his arrest.
On Thursday, the semi-official Fars news agency said Edalat was one of several people arrested by the Guard over accusations of being part of a “network affiliated with Britain.”
Edalat had actively campaigned against Western military action targeting Iran.
Ombudsman to probe pre-military academy trip after flood kills 10
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira opens an investigation into a trip by a pre-military academy last week, during which 10 students were killed by a flash flood in southern Israel, which went ahead despite serious weather warnings.
The Education Ministry and Defense Ministry have exchanged accusations over which body was supposed to approve trips by the pre-military academy. The principal of the academy, Bnei Zion, and an instructor have been arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide.
Hamas slams German parliament for endorsing Israel as Jewish state
The Hamas terrorist group on Sunday “strongly condemned” Germany’s parliament for a resolution passed last week in honor of Israel’s 70th birthday, which calls for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and urges the government in Berlin to confront groups opposed to Israel’s existence.
In a lengthy statement, the terror group criticizes the German lawmakers for failing to criticize Israel for alleged crimes against the Palestinian people.
On Thursday, the Bundestag passed with an overwhelming majority a five-page resolution hailing the various aspects of bilateral ties, including Berlin’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security. All parties, including two opposition lists, voted in favor of the text, except one on the far left, which abstained.
“At the time the Palestinians expected a strong support from the Federal Republic of Germany on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the Bundestag did not mention the seven-decade long aggression of the Israeli occupation on our people, as well as not denouncing the Israeli racist and fascist policies,” Hamas’s statement says.
— Raphael Ahren
Pompeo: If Trump can’t fix ‘flawed’ Iran deal, he will withdraw
After meeting with Netanyahu, Pompeo says Trump will exit the Iranian nuclear deal if the US administration “can’t fix it.”
“President Trump’s been pretty clear, this deal is very flawed. He’s directed the administration to try and fix it and if we can’t fix it he’s going to withdraw from the deal,” says Pompeo.
“It’s pretty straightforward,” he adds.
Europe backs Iran deal as ‘best way’ to counter nuclear threat
The leaders of Britain, France and Germany reiterate their commitment to the Iran nuclear deal “as the best way of neutralizing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran,” Downing Street says Sunday.
Prime Minister Theresa May talked by phone with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday and Sunday when they agreed the current deal also left out some “important elements,” it says.
“Our priority as an international community remained preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” it says.
“They agreed that there were important elements that the deal does not cover but which we need to address –- including ballistic missiles, what happens when the deal expires, and Iran’s destabilizing regional activity.
“They committed to continue working closely together and with the US on how to tackle the range of challenges that Iran poses –- including those issues that a new deal might cover.”
US urges release of detainees as show of sincerity by North Korea
US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser says the release by North Korea of three Americans detained there would be a “demonstration of their sincerity” in the run-up to a historic summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump has said the US is working hard to win freedom for the Americans.
National security adviser John Bolton says Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that a decision by North Korea to release the Americans “would be a demonstration of their sincerity” ahead of the still-unscheduled meeting. He says the administration is waiting to see what North Korea decides to do.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim discussed the Americans earlier this month when Pompeo visited North Korea in his role as CIA director.
Comey dismisses House report that found no Russia collusion
Former FBI Director James Comey is dismissing a House Intelligence Committee report that found no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Comey says Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he considers the report, issued Friday by Republicans, to be a “political document.” He says the most important investigation is being done by special counsel Robert Mueller.
He says his understanding of the facts at the time of his firing last May do not support President Donald Trump’s assertion that there is zero evidence of collusion and that the Russia investigation is a hoax.
Comey says that though he had a “fine and professional” relationship with the committee’s chairman, GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the panel’s work had become too politicized. Nunes was criticized for being too close to the White House.
Head of academy’s lawyers: He’s ‘heartbroken,’ cooperating with police
Attorneys representing Yuval Kahan, the head of the pre-military academy whose trip for prospective students resulted in the deaths of 10 teenagers, say he is “heartbroken” by the incident and is cooperating with investigators.
Kahan has been in police custody since early Friday. He is suspected of negligent homicide for failing to heed the weather warnings.
TV: Trump weighing allowing Pollard to come to Israel
Hadashot News reports that US President Donald Trump will likely come to Israel for the US Embassy opening in May.
According to the TV report, the US president is also considering allowing former Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to come to Israel.
Pollard, who was released on November 2015, cannot leave US soil under his parole terms.
TV: Forecaster says it told pre-military academy weather was ‘dangerous’
The Air Force weather forecasting company that was consulted by the pre-military academy Bnei Zion informed the Tel Aviv-based institution that it was “dangerous” to travel to southern Israel, due to the heavy rains, Hadashot News reports.
Citing testimony from the company, the TV report says the forecasters were insistent that they had not given the academy the go-ahead to visit the Tzafit River, where 10 students were killed by flash floods on Thursday.
The head of the academy, Yuval Kahan, was informed by the forecaster of heavy rain. A student counselor, who is also under arrest, called on Thursday and was likewise told of the perilous conditions. The trip went ahead nonetheless.
The weather forecasting company’s testimony strengthens the negligent homicide suspicions against the head of the academy and instructor, who are both in police custody, the report says. The two will be made to face each other during an interrogation on Monday and confronted with new details, according to the report.
Over the weekend, the two suspects traded blame when interrogated separately.
TV: Saudi crown prince blasts Abbas, says Palestinians must stop ‘complaining’
According to Channel 10, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman tells American Jewish leaders the Palestinians must accept the peace offers presented to them or “be quiet and stop complaining.”
The Palestinian leadership, over the past four decades, has “squandered opportunities again and again” to reach a peace deal, he is quoted as saying.
The report quotes Salman as saying the Palestinian issue was not pressing for the kingdom, citing the threat of Iran as a far more urgent matter.
“Nonetheless, there must be diplomatic progress between Israel and the Palestinians for us to agree to a normalization of ties [with Israel],” the Saudi crown prince is quoted as saying.
The comments were made in a meeting in New York with US Jewish leaders in late March, according to the report.
Rouhani tells Macron Iran nuclear deal ‘not negotiable’
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday tells his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the nuclear deal his country reached with international powers was “not negotiable.”
“The nuclear deal or any other subject under its pretext is not negotiable in any way,” Rouhani tells Macron in a telephone call, quoted by the website of the Iranian presidency.
“Iran will not accept any restrictions beyond its commitments,” he says, after new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of Iran’s “ambition to dominate the Middle East,” during a visit to Israel.
Iran newspaper chief freed after arrest
The head of Iran’s reformist newspaper Shargh is freed Sunday, a day after being arrested over a report on “prostitution” in a northeastern city that angered residents, Iranian media says.
Mehdi Rahmanian, the director of the newspaper, is released in the afternoon after paying bail of 500 million rials ($9,000 dollars), the ILNA news agency reports.
The courts had summoned him “after a complaint by a group of residents of the Shahid Rajai neighbourhood of Mashhad,” the semi-official ISNA news agency reports, quoting the city’s deputy prosecutor Hassan Heydari.
“The newspaper had described some of the district’s women as prostitutes.”
Mashhad’s Khorassan newspaper says Rahmanian had been detained after initially failing to pay the bail.
IDF fires on Gazans breaching security fence, kills one
IDF troops fire on two Palestinians who were spotted damaging the Gaza security fence and entering Israeli territory, killing one of them, the army says.
The second suspect is taken into custody and handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.
The army refuses to specify what type of munitions it used against the Palestinians, but residents in the area reported hearing loud explosions, indicating a tank was used.
— Judah Ari Gross
As The Times of Israel's environment reporter, I try to convey the facts and science behind climate change and environmental degradation, to explain - and critique - the official policies affecting our future, and to describe Israeli technologies that can form part of the solution.
I am passionate about the natural world and disheartened by the dismal lack of awareness to environmental issues shown by most of the public and politicians in Israel.
I'm proud to be doing my part to keep Times of Israel readers properly informed about this vital subject - which can and does effect policy change.
Your support, through membership in The Times of Israel Community, enables us to continue our important work. Would you join our Community today?
Sue Surkes, Environment Reporter
We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month.
That’s why we come to work every day - to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.
So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.
For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.