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Chaos in central Tel Aviv as cops, army forces hunt for shooter on Dizengoff Street

Security forces flood scene of attack that killed 2 people; police tell the public to remain indoors as terrorist remains at large

Medical vehicles are seen on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street following a reported shooting, April 7, 2022 (United Hatzalah)
Medical vehicles are seen on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street following a reported shooting, April 7, 2022 (United Hatzalah)

The Times of Israel live blogged Friday’s events as they happened.

Police minister Barlev arrives at scene of Tel Aviv shooting

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev at the funeral of Border Police officer Yezen Falah, who was killed in the terror attack in Hadera, at the cemetery in the village of Kisra-Sumei, on March 28, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev at the funeral of Border Police officer Yezen Falah, who was killed in the terror attack in Hadera, at the cemetery in the village of Kisra-Sumei, on March 28, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who oversees police, arrives at the scene of the shooting in Tel Aviv.

He is on his way to meet with the Tel Aviv police district chief for a situational update.

Barlev has come under fire in recent weeks for a series of gaffes about security incidents, for instance, referring to “fallen” troops after a West Bank raid that injured several Israelis, but caused no deaths.

He also vowed to bring the perpetrator of a terror attack in Beersheba to justice, even though the attacker was killed at the scene.

Police reportedly angry at IDF for allowing media access during searches

Israeli soldiers search at the scene of a terror attack on Dizengoff street, central Tel Aviv. 2 people were killed and several more injured in the attack, on April 7, 2022. Photo by (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers search at the scene of a terror attack on Dizengoff street, central Tel Aviv. 2 people were killed and several more injured in the attack, on April 7, 2022. Photo by (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Police were reportedly furious with IDF troops for allowing media to tag along during searches for the Tel Aviv terrorist.

Reporters had followed troops during live broadcasts as the soldiers searched backyards and alleyways near the scene of the attack on Dizengoff Street.

Police had repeatedly moved reporters and other civilians away from hotspots during the search, apparently for their safety and to allow security forces to operate more freely. Broadcasting security operations can also compromise them by giving information to bad actors.

The IDF says it never gave permission to any reporters to document the searches, according to the Maariv news outlet.

Police look to expand search for shooter outside Tel Aviv

Soldiers at the scene of a terror attack on Dizengoff street, central Tel Aviv, on April 7, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Soldiers at the scene of a terror attack on Dizengoff street, central Tel Aviv, on April 7, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Police have asked to send incoming security forces to the Gush Dan region, outside of Tel Aviv, as they search for the Tel Aviv shooter.

Security forces will set up 100 roadblocks around Tel Aviv, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Around three hours have elapsed since the attack in central Tel Aviv and the shooter is still at large.

Troops and police have flooded to the area of the attack, with loaded weapons in hand, in a shocking scene for the coastal city reminiscent of the Second Intifada in the early to mid 2000s.

Here’s how things stand 3 hours after Tel Aviv shooting

Police and rescue workers at the scene of a shooting attack on Dizengoff Street, central Tel Aviv, on April 7, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Police and rescue workers at the scene of a shooting attack on Dizengoff Street, central Tel Aviv, on April 7, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Here is how things stand three hours after a deadly terror shooting in central Tel Aviv:

— Two young people were killed in the attack, which began a little after 9 p.m., officials say, when the terrorist opened fire with a pistol at the Ilka bar on Dizengoff Street in the crowded heart of the city.

— The two fatalities were civilians reportedly in their 20s. Medical teams are “fighting for the lives” of four other people. Two additional people have moderate to severe injuries and nine are lightly injured.

— The shooter, who eyewitnesses said was wearing black, fled the scene and is still at large. Large numbers of police and soldiers, including from elite IDF units, are scouring Tel Aviv, searching buildings, inside apartments, in alleyways and dumpsters. Authorities believe one gunman, believed to be a Palestinian from the West Bank, carried out the attack.

— Tel Aviv residents have been instructed to remain indoors and lock their doors. Many people are sheltering in buildings around the scene of the attack.

— Tel Aviv police chief Ami Eshed told reporters that while signs pointed to the shooting being a terror attack, other avenues were being investigated as well. “From what we know, there are signs this was terror,” Eshed said at a late-night briefing.

— Prime Minister Bennett has been holding a security meeting with top officials in Tel Aviv including Defense Minister Gantz and IDF chief Kohavi.

— Celebrations are taking place in Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza. Islamic Jihad and Hamas have praised the attack, but have not claimed responsibility.

— The shooting comes amid a series of deadly attacks in Israel in recent weeks, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and during a government crisis. Idit Silman, a member of Bennett’s Yamina party, quit the coalition yesterday, stripping it of its parliamentary majority and making its collapse likely.

Police video shows early response to Tel Aviv shooting

Police release footage showing the early response to the shooting in Tel Aviv.

Bennett holds security briefing with Gantz, other top officials

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar (R) are seen during a visit to the security service's regional command in the northern West Bank and the security barrier, on April 3, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar (R) are seen during a visit to the security service's regional command in the northern West Bank and the security barrier, on April 3, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets in Tel Aviv with senior security officials, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, Shin Bet director Ronen Bar, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata, and Military Secretary Avi Gil.

According to a statement released by the prime minister’s office, Bennett is presented with details of the attack and the efforts to locate the perpetrator, who is still on the loose.

The forum agrees to continue sending police and Shin Bet reinforcements to Tel Aviv.

Medical teams ‘fighting for the lives’ of four shooting victims

Medical vehicles are seen on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street following a reported shooting, on April 7, 2022. (United Hatzalah)
Medical vehicles are seen on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street following a reported shooting, on April 7, 2022. (United Hatzalah)

Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital says medical teams are “fighting for the lives” of four victims wounded in the shooting attack on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.

The four seriously hurt victims are undergoing surgery. Several others are also hospitalized at the medical center, in less serious condition.

Islamic Jihad praises attack, doesn’t claim responsibility

Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group parade through the streets of Gaza City, on January 5, 2022. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group parade through the streets of Gaza City, on January 5, 2022. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

A senior Islamic Jihad official praises the apparent terror attack in Tel Aviv, without indicating whether the terror group was responsible for it.

“This heroic operation deep in Tel Aviv confirms how frail [Israel] is, how susceptible it is to being broken,” says senior Islamic Jihad member Yousef al-Hasayneh.

Palestinian reports say Israeli troops operating in West Bank

Palestinian reports say Israeli troops are carrying out operations around the Palestinian city of Tulkarm in the northern West Bank.

Early reports said the Tel Aviv attacker was a Palestinian. Two recent attacks were carried out by Arab citizens of Israel.

‘Everyone started running’: Dozens shelter in apartment near attack site

Police and rescue workers at the scene of a shooting attack on Dizengoff Street, central Tel Aviv, April 7, 2022 (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)
Police and rescue workers at the scene of a shooting attack on Dizengoff Street, central Tel Aviv, April 7, 2022 (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

Psychologist Ari Goldberger, 37, says he was eating dinner at Pankina on the corner of Gordon and Dizengoff Streets in Tel Aviv when he heard gunshots.

“It happened really, really quick,” he tells The Times of Israel. “There were gunshots outside near the corner, and I basically just ran into the restaurant, just for cover. Everyone started running into the restaurant, all at once.”

“I got to the kitchen, with everyone there, grabbed a knife, and just stayed there,” he says.

He made his way to a nearby apartment owned by an Italian couple. There are currently about 40 people, including children, sheltering in the home. An Australian tourist is among the group.

Many of the people in the apartment are praying together as helicopters fly overhead.

“We are just singing tehillim [psalms], saying Mizmor L’David, Avina Malkenu. The hosts are bringing pasta, drinks,” Goldberger says. “The hospitality is amazing. He just invited everyone to his house, next to the restaurant.”

Police: Attacker wore black shirt and pants, carried blue bag

TV networks report, without citing sources, that the attacker may be a Palestinian from the northern West Bank.

Channel 13 says security forces are looking into such suspicions.

Police say the suspect is believed to have been wearing a black T-shirt, black pants, and carrying a blue backpack.

UN Mideast envoy decries ‘heinous attack,’ blasts Hamas for celebrating

UN Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland decries the “heinous attack” in Tel Aviv and offers condolences to the families of the murdered victims.

“Deplore the welcoming of this attack by Hamas; there is no glory in terror,” he tweets.

Ichilov Hospital chief: Doctors fighting for the lives of seriously wounded

Roni Gamzu, director-general of Ichilov Hospital, tells the media that doctors are fighting to save the lives of seriously wounded victims in the attack.

Roni Gamzu, head of Ichilov Hospital, speaks to the media, on April 7, 2022, on the victims of a shooting attack in Tel Aviv. (Video screenshot)

Shooting victim: ‘I saw the window shatter and felt lots of blood’

One of the people wounded in the Tel Aviv shooting attack speaks to Channel 13 news.

“Shooting started outside the bar,” he says. “I saw the window shatter and suddenly I felt that I had been hit in my back. I walked and suddenly I felt lots of blood.”

“A friend helped me, neighbors, they took me into a house, held my back to stop the blood flow. Then the ambulance came and took me.”

Hamas: Resistance operations are a natural response to Israel’s crimes

Hamas officials celebrate the attack in downtown Tel Aviv.

“Resistance operations are a natural response to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people,” senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri tells Al-Jazeera television.

The terror group has not taken responsibility for the attack, however.

In Ramallah, masked men seen handing out candy in celebration

Meanwhile in the West Bank city of Ramallah, photos appear to show masked men handing out candy, a common act of celebration.

Elite military forces said participating in the searches for shooter

Hebrew media reports the elite military forces are participating in the searches for the Tel Aviv shooter, including members of Sayeret Matkal.

According to Channel 12 some 1,000 people are taking part in the manhunt.

All public transportation in central Tel Aviv being stopped

The Transportation Ministry says that at the request of police, all public transportation in central Tel Aviv is being stopped as cops continue their search for the shooter.

Police are urging the public to stay away from the scene of the attack. They say crowds gathering in the area are making it difficult for cops to operate.

US envoy ‘horrified’ by ‘cowardly terror attack’ on innocents

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides says he’s “horrified to see another cowardly terror attack on innocent civilians.”

“Praying for peace, and sending condolences to the victims and their families. This has to stop!” he tweets.

Channel 13: Info points to one shooter with a handgun

It seems there was only one shooter in the Tel Aviv attack, Channel 13’s Alon Ben David says, citing “all the evidence” thus far.

It also appears the shooter used a handgun in the deadly assault.

EU ambassador: Reports of Tel Aviv attack ‘appalling,’ we stand with Israel

The European Union’s Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev says the reports of a terror attack in Tel Aviv are “appalling.”

“The EU stands with Israel,” he says.

Large police forces reported to surround building on Dizengoff Street

Large police forces are reported to be surrounding a building on Dizengoff Street, where a shooter may be hiding.

Video shows moment of one of the shootings

A video taken from a security camera shows the moment of one of the shootings.

Two people killed, 8 wounded in Tel Aviv shooting

Officials at Ichilov Medical Center say two of the wounded in the Tel Aviv attack have died.

The hospital is treating eight other wounded: Four are being operated on and are in serious condition, two more people are in moderate-to-serious condition, and two more are mildly hurt.

Tel Aviv mayor, police chief both at scene of Tel Aviv attack

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai have arrived at the scene of the attack.

A police spokesman says large police forces are scanning the area for the assailants.

Witness: ‘We dove under the tables and people started crying’

“We dove under the tables and people started crying, it was horrible,” says Evelyn Gertz, 34, who was having dinner next door to the attack.

“Then we ran to the back of the restaurant, there was a cop directing us,” she says. “We’re now sheltering in an apartment building next to the bar we were in.”

Police: Shooter may still be at large, public should shelter indoors

Police say a shooter in the Tel Aviv attack may still be free. Officials call on the public to remain indoors and lock the doors.

Six people in serious and critical condition from shooting

Medics are now saying six people are wounded. Two are in critical condition. The others are moderate or serious.

Notably, Thursday night is one of the busiest days of the week in Tel Aviv bars. Dizengoff Street is dotted with bars that are packed with people on such days.

Unconfirmed reports that a shooter has been neutralized

There are unconfirmed reports that a shooter has been neutralized.

A video shows people fleeing the shooting near Dizengoff Square.

Bennett at IDF Headquarters, is getting updates on attack

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is being updated on the shooting in Tel Aviv.

Bennett is at IDF Headquarters in the city.

‘All we could see at all the bars were fallen tables and broken glass’

Medical vehicles are seen on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street following a reported shooting, on April 7, 2022. (United Hatzalah)
Medical vehicles are seen on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street following a reported shooting, on April 7, 2022. (United Hatzalah)

Tel Aviv resident Sam was having dinner nearby when the shooting started.

“We were sitting at a restaurant on Dizengoff and suddenly there was a huge racket and a wave of people as everyone started running. Tables were falling and we got swept up in it and ran,” he says. “No one knew what was going on.”

He says that he and his wife immediately headed toward home. “As we walked along Dizengoff all we could see at all the bars were fallen tables and broken glass.”

 

Police are asking the public to stay away from Dizengoff Street

Police are asking the public to stay away from Dizengoff Street.

It is not yet clear whether the shooter or shooters have been captured or shot.

‘People just took off running,’ witness to shooting says

“People just took off running,” says Daniel Rubenstein, 38, a tour guide who heard shots “ten meters behind me” and ran.

Rubenstein speaks with The Times of Israel from the stairwell of a nearby apartment building, where he is staying along with several other Israelis seeking shelter from the attack.

“No one knows yet if this incident is over,” says Rubenstein. “A lot of people are pretty scared.”

Reports of 6 people hurt in shooting in Tel Aviv

Channel 12 news says it appears that four people have been hurt on Dizengoff Street.

Channel 13 news says six people have been hurt, and three of them are in serious condition.

The attack appears to have been spread across several locations on the street.

Shooting reported in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street; several said hurt

Storm clouds gather over Dizengoff Square in central Tel Aviv, on December 15, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Storm clouds gather over Dizengoff Square in central Tel Aviv, on December 15, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

There are preliminary reports of a shooting on Tel Aviv’s central Dizengoff Street.

According to initial media reports, several people are said to be hurt, but this can not be immediately verified.

The background of the incident remains unclear.

Russia rejects suspension from UN rights council as ‘illegal’

Russia considers its suspension from the UN Human Rights Council to be “illegal,” the foreign ministry in Moscow says.

Russia considers the vote to suspend it, taken by the UN General Assembly earlier Thursday, to be “illegal and politically motivated, aimed at ostentatiously punishing a sovereign UN member state that pursues an independent domestic and foreign policy,” the foreign ministry says.

Palestinians: Israeli right may exploit ‘political chaos’ to ‘escalate aggression’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses as he listens during a joint statement with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on May 25, 2021, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool, File)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses as he listens during a joint statement with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on May 25, 2021, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool, File)

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry says right-wing Israeli politicians may exploit “political chaos” in Israel to “escalate [Israeli] aggression,” in Ramallah’s first response to the coalition crisis in Israel.”

“The ruling right-wing parties may utilize this political chaos to bring about what they have hitherto been unable to in terms of settlement projects,” the Foreign Ministry says, warning of an attempt to “definitively close the door on the two-state solution.”

US official: Israeli political turmoil will not impact relations with Washington

In the first reaction to Israel’s coalition crisis by a Biden administration official, US Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert says that the political turmoil will not impact Washington’s relations with the Jewish state.

Speaking during a White House pre-Passover briefing with Jewish community leaders, Lempert acknowledges that it’s too early to draw major conclusions but that the US is ‘watching closely.'”

“No matter the shape of the Israeli coalition and government, the US-Israeli relationship is going to be strong and enduring; that is what is meant when we say ‘ironclad,'” she says. “We look forward to continuing it whatever the coalition is in Israel.”

Liberman to Silman: You made a mistake, but you can still fix it

Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, on January 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, on January 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman calls on Yamina’s Idit Silman to walk back her decision to quit the coalition.

“You made a mistake, but you can still fix it,” he says in a statement.

He says she “shouldn’t count on Netanyahu too much. I know the man. Consider your actions carefully.”

He adds: “To those counting on new elections, you shouldn’t. I suggest you prepare to stay in the opposition for a long time.”

Kremlin concedes ‘significant’ Russian troop losses in Ukraine

Russian troops have suffered “significant losses” in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, while rejecting allegations of a massacre in the town of Bucha as “a well-staged insinuation.”

In an interview with Britain’s Sky News, he said the military casualties were “a huge tragedy for us” but did not specify a toll. Russia in late March said it had lost 1,351 soldiers with another 3,825 wounded.

Blinken: ‘We must assume’ Russians committing more atrocities in Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says it is likely that Russian forces are carrying out more “atrocities” in parts of Ukraine after bodies were found in the town of Bucha.

“For every Bucha, there are many more towns Russia has occupied and more towns that it is still occupying, places where we must assume Russian soldiers are committing more atrocities right now,” Blinken tells journalists after meeting foreign ministers from NATO and Ukraine in Brussels.

Ukraine tells NATO members to send arms before it’s ‘too late’

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba gives a press conference, after meeting with his Russian counterpart for talks in Antalya, Turkey, on March 10, 2022. (AFP)
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba gives a press conference, after meeting with his Russian counterpart for talks in Antalya, Turkey, on March 10, 2022. (AFP)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says he expects NATO members to send Kyiv the weapons it needs but insists they have to act quickly as Russia readies another major offensive.

“Either you help us now — and I’m speaking about days, not weeks, or your help will come too late, and many people will die, many civilians will lose their homes, many villages will be destroyed. Exactly because this help came too late,” Kuleba says after meeting NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

“I have no doubts that Ukraine will have weapons necessary to fight. The question is the timeline. This discussion is not about the list of weapons. The discussion is about the timeline,” he tells journalists.

Ukraine is pushing the West to increase its arms supplies with heavier weaponry including air defense systems, artillery, armored vehicles, and jets, as Moscow refocuses its offensive on the east of the country.

With Israeli backing, UN General Assembly suspends Russia from Human Rights Council

Vote results at the UN General Assembly on a motion to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. (Courtesy)
Vote results at the UN General Assembly on a motion to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. (Courtesy)

The UN General Assembly votes to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine.

Of the 193 members of the assembly, 93 vote in favor of suspension while 24 vote against and 58 abstain.

It is the second-ever suspension of a country from the council. Libya was the first, in 2011.

Israel is one of the backers of suspension. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says in a statement: “The vote today does not change our position toward the UNHRC, a body that is extremist, morally deficient, biased and anti-Israeli at its core, and which has been used since its founding as a political tool by countries that are the world’s chief rights abusers, among other things, to attack Israel.”

US military chief opposes ‘terror’ delisting for Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force

Mark Milley, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says he opposes delisting the Iran Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force as a terror organization.

“In my personal opinion I believe the IRGC Quds Force to be a terrorist organization and I do not support them being delisted from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list,” Milley tells US lawmakers.

It is not immediately clear whether Milley is referring only to the Quds Force, or to the entire IRGC.

Delisting the IRGC is reportedly being considered by Washington as part of a potential new nuclear deal with Iran.

Second Iranian cleric dies after knifing at shrine

A suspected jihadist attack at a revered shrine in Iran has claimed the life of a second Shiite Muslim cleric, state television says.

The death of Sadegh Darai is reported as thousands of mourners attend the funeral of another Shiite cleric, Mohammad Aslani, stabbed by the same suspected Sunni extremist.

A third cleric was wounded in Tuesday’s attack at the Imam Reza shrine in Iran’s second-largest city of Mashhad, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Darai, seriously wounded during the knifing, died in hospital, state television says.

Lapid: We’ll do everything to prevent more toxic and divisive elections

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 3, 2022. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 3, 2022. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, the senior partner of Naftali Bennett in the coalition, issues his first response to the political crisis.

“We will do everything so that the government lasts for a long while yet,” he says. “We will do everything so that the country is not dragged to more toxic and divisive elections.”

He says the current government “represents the essential notion that our existence must be together.”

Likud: Bennett trying to take revenge, his ‘trick’ won’t work

Likud issues a statement in response to Yamina’s intention to oust MK Amichai Chikli from its ranks.

“With Bennett’s weak government collapsing, he will stop at nothing and is attempting to take revenge on Amichai Chikli, an MK on his slate who was chosen with right-wing votes and remained loyal to the values for which he was elected,” the party says.

“Bennett’s trick will not work and we will fight it in every public and legal way.”

Reeling from Idit Silman’s departure, Yamina moves to oust rebel MK Amichai Chikli

MK Amichai Chikli at a conference organized by the Makor Rishon newspaper at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, February 21, 2022(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Amichai Chikli at a conference organized by the Makor Rishon newspaper at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, February 21, 2022(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yamina declares rebel MK Amichai Chikli a defector on Thursday afternoon, sending a strong message to its parliamentarians MK Nir Orbach and MK Abir Kara, both under close scrutiny as potential next members to leave the coalition following coalition whip MK Idit Silman’s dramatic departure on Wednesday.

The action will need to be ratified by the Knesset House Committee, which will convene to discuss it on April 25.

Chikli has been a Yamina MK in name only since last June, when he refused to support the formation of the coalition in protest against its partnership with Islamist party Ra’am. He is not counted among the coalition’s then-61 — and now 60 — members, and has refused to vote for key legislation, including the state budget. However, the party had thus far declined to take the step of labeling him a defector, hoping to court Chikli’s support on selected matters.

The designation is a blow to Chikli’s political aspirations, as Knesset rules will now prevent him from running with any faction currently sitting in the Knesset in the next elections (which, if the government collapses without an alternative proposal from the opposition, could be soon).

Chikli, however, could potentially form a new political faction, something he has recently hinted that he is considering.

The move is a warning to MKs Orbach and Kara, both of whom met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett yesterday, without issuing statements.

It’s also a threat to Silman, who herself may be labeled a defector and sanctioned, which would destroy her chances to run next in the next elections with Likud, as is reportedly her plan. Likud is also said to have made overtures to Silman about becoming health minister, which would be highly unlikely if she were not first elected to Knesset.

Knesset rules do leave an escape valve for MKs who wish to leave their parties. If more than 30% of a party splits off to create a new faction — in Yamina’s case, three MKs — then they cannot be sanctioned as defectors.

UN humanitarian chief says Bucha investigations are ‘next step’

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths says during a visit to the town of Bucha outside the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that investigators will probe civilian deaths uncovered after Russian troops withdrew.

“The world is already deeply shocked,” Griffiths says in the town that was strewn with bodies after Moscow’s forces pulled out, adding that “the next step is conducting investigations.”

Griffiths is accompanied by Amin Awad, the UN’s coordinator on the Ukraine crisis, for a three-hour visit that includes a stop at the site of a mass grave that Ukrainians dug near a church.

Evidence of civilian killings in Bucha and other towns around Kyiv — which Ukraine has blamed on Russian troops, allegations denied by Moscow — have shocked the world and triggered calls for new sanctions on Moscow.

Liberman agrees to delay cancellation of daycare subsidies for yeshiva students

Amid efforts to stabilize the coalition, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman has agreed with Yamina MK Nir Orbach to delay to 2024 a planned cancellation of daycare subsidies for kids of full-time yeshiva students.

Liberman’s desired changes would have seen subsidies granted only if both the child’s parents work at least 24 hours a week. The move would have effectively ended subsidies for some 21,000 children.

Orbach had demanded that Liberman’s move be reversed as a condition for remaining in the coalition following the departure of Yamina’s Idit Silman, which has deprived the government of its parliamentary majority.

Turkey says Bucha killings ‘overshadow’ Russia-Ukraine talks

A body of a civilian man with hands tied behind his back lies in the street as a communal worker prepares a plastic body bag to carry him to a waiting car in town of Bucha, not far from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on April 3, 2022. (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)
A body of a civilian man with hands tied behind his back lies in the street as a communal worker prepares a plastic body bag to carry him to a waiting car in town of Bucha, not far from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on April 3, 2022. (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)

Images of bodies found in the Ukrainian town of Bucha and other areas near Kyiv in the wake of a Russian pullback have scuppered the positive atmosphere of recent talks between Russia and Ukraine, Turkey says.

“The images from Bucha, Irpin and other regions are unacceptable. These scenes have overshadowed the negotiations,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tells journalists after a NATO meeting in Brussels.

“The emerging positive atmosphere, unfortunately, was overshadowed.”

NATO member Turkey, which has friendly ties to Russia and Ukraine, has been mediating for an end to the six-week war. Turkey hosted talks last week between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators. On March 31, Cavusoglu had said the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers could meet within two weeks.

German intel said to intercept Russian communications on murder of civilians

Workers line up bodies for identification by forensic personnel and police officers in the cemetery in Bucha, north of Kyiv, on April 6, 2022, after hundreds of civilians were found dead in areas from which Russian troops have withdrawn around Ukraine's capital, including the town of Bucha. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)
Workers line up bodies for identification by forensic personnel and police officers in the cemetery in Bucha, north of Kyiv, on April 6, 2022, after hundreds of civilians were found dead in areas from which Russian troops have withdrawn around Ukraine's capital, including the town of Bucha. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)

German intelligence services have intercepted Russian soldiers’ radio messages discussing the murder of civilians and captured soldiers, Der Spiegel reports.

The paper says soldiers were heard talking in two separate communications of questioning individuals before shooting them.

The findings would undermine Russia’s denials that its soldiers were responsible for atrocities in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha and other locations.

Tel Aviv court convicts second man in Bat Yam mobbing of Arab Israeli

Screen capture from video of a crowd of Jewish protestors pulling an Arab man from his vehicle in Bet Yam, on May 21, 2021. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of a crowd of Jewish protestors pulling an Arab man from his vehicle in Bet Yam, on May 21, 2021. (Twitter)

The Tel Aviv District Court convicts Yaakov Cohen, 32, of assault during last May’s mobbing of Arab Israeli Saeed Mousa.

Cohen admitted to taking part in the attack on Mousa as part of a plea deal. He is the second person to be convicted in the case, and several others have been charged.

Cohen is alleged to have struck Mousa’s car and kicked him after he was pulled out of the vehicle by the crowd.

Cohen’s sentencing will take place at a later date.

 

German lawmakers reject mandatory COVID shots for over-60s

In this April 26, 2021 file photo, a nursing student administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at UNLV, in Las Vegas (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
In this April 26, 2021 file photo, a nursing student administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at UNLV, in Las Vegas (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

German lawmakers reject a bill requiring all people 60 and over in the country to be vaccinated against the coronavirus — a compromise solution the government had hoped would get a parliamentary majority.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his health minister originally called for a vaccine mandate to apply to all adults in Germany, but some government lawmakers and most of the opposition balked at the idea.

The vote prompts joy from anti-vaccine activists, who staged a march through Berlin’s government district banging drums, blowing horns and carrying banners with slogans such as “We are the red line” or simply “No.”

The bill was put forward by a cross-party group after months of haggling. It envisaged requiring older people to get the shot, but for there to be compulsory counseling for all adults to help them weigh the advantages and risks of vaccination against COVID-19.

In the end, 378 lawmakers vote against the bill, 296 are in favor and nine abstain.

Yamina defector Silman to Zman Yisrael: ‘I’ve been given no promises for the future’

Yamina MK Idit Silman chairs a Knesset Arrangements Committee meeting on November 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yamina MK Idit Silman chairs a Knesset Arrangements Committee meeting on November 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yamina defector Idit Silman speaks exclusively to our sister site Zman Yisrael.

Silman denies reports she has sealed a deal with Likud for future governmental positions in exchange for leaving the coalition.

“I’ve been given no promises for the future. There are no agreements. On the contrary, I’m being offered everything to stay. I’m being offered the role of health minister. But I won’t go for it.”

She insists that “there is no opportunism here on my part. I don’t need jobs. I had a a great job” as coalition whip.

She says she left because of an erosion of her party’s right-wing values, and not specifically because of the much-publicized fight over hametz in hospitals on Passover.

She insists that a right-wing government is possible, apparently believing New Hope and its leader Gideon Sa’ar may be persuaded to reconsider their refusal to serve under Benjamin Netanyahu.

Russia accuses Ukraine of changing demands since Istanbul talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Moscow on March 15, 2022. (MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Moscow on March 15, 2022. (MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP)

Russia accuses Ukrainian negotiators of changing their demands since last month’s talks in Istanbul, claiming that Kyiv is not interested in ending fighting.

“Yesterday, the Ukrainian side presented its draft agreement… It shows a departure from the most important provisions spelled out at the meeting in Istanbul on March 29,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says. “We see this as a manifestation of the fact that the Kyiv regime is controlled by Washington and its allies, who are pushing President Volodymyr Zelensky to continue hostilities.”

Poll: Plurality of Israelis oppose letting hametz into hospitals on Passover

A poll by the Israel Democracy Institute on the hot button issue of allowing hametz into hospitals and army bases during Passover finds a plurality of Israelis oppose letting hametz into the former, and a majority oppose allowing it into the latter.

Some half of respondents (49%) say it should be banned from hospitals during the holiday (compared to 44% who say it should be permitted). And on military bases, the ratio is 58% against letting it in and 37% in favor.

The poll was held between March 29 and April 1, with 605 men and women interviewed in Hebrew and 156 in Arabic. The maximum sampling error was ±3.59%.

The High Court of Justice has ruled that hospitals cannot bar visitors from bringing leavened products onto their premises during the holiday.

Yamina minister Kahana: I’m praying for government’s continued existence

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana speaks during a conference in Jerusalem on February 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana speaks during a conference in Jerusalem on February 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yamina’s Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana says he is “praying for the continued existence of this important government and doing my best to ensure this happens.”

In a Facebook post, Kahana says the act of forming the government was “courageous,” with ideologically divergent parties coming together for the good of the country.

“We all knew we could not fulfill our deepest ideological wishes” within it, he notes, but moved ahead with it “in order to save Israel from the place it was careening toward.”

He assails the Benjamin Netanyahu-led opposition for “disseminating lies and fake news” and for doing “anything to intensify polarization and deepen the divide within the people.”

But he also warns left-wing members of the coalition to avoid scoring political points with their base at the expense of the right, and says the government must keep its commitments to its right flank, including settlement construction in the West Bank.

“We need to get back to the basic understandings with which we set out,” he says.

Moscow vows response to latest US sanctions

FILE - Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaks to journalists in Moscow, Russia, December 23, 2021. (AP Photo)
FILE - Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaks to journalists in Moscow, Russia, December 23, 2021. (AP Photo)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia intends to respond to US sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s daughters as it sees fit.

“Russia will definitely respond, and will do it as it sees fit,” Peskov says.

The US yesterday announced that it is sanctioning Putin’s two adult daughters as part of a new batch of penalties on the country’s political and economic systems in retaliation for its alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Peskov tells a conference call with reporters that the sanctions “add to a completely frantic line of various restrictions” and the fact that the restrictions target family members “speaks for itself.”

“This is something that is difficult to understand and explain. But, unfortunately, we have to deal with such opponents,” Peskov says.

 

Yamina MK: Likud offering me ‘everything’ to defect, but has no alternative government

Yamina MK Abir Kara tells Kan news he’s getting offers from the Likud party to defect from the coalition, but signals he’s in no hurry to do so.

Likud “offers everything, anything you want,” he says. “But do they have a [potential] government? If they do, great, but they don’t.”

He says he does not see an alternative to the current government.

Kara says he suggested to Yamina’s rebels Amichai Chikli and Idit Silman that they form a new faction together “and be three critical fingers that get everything we want in the existing coalition.” But he says the idea has so far not panned out.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Abir Kara, on April 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitousi/Flash90)

G7 says ‘time to suspend’ Russia from UN Human Rights Council

The Group of Seven industrialized nations call for Russia to be suspended from the UN’s human rights body, over “atrocities” in Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.

“We are convinced that now is the time to suspend Russian membership of the Human Rights Council,” G7 foreign ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States say in a statement.

Ukraine warns civilians of ‘last chance’ to flee Russian attacks in east

A Ukrainian serviceman walks on an abandoned Russian army tank in Andriivka, Ukraine, April 5, 2022 (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)
A Ukrainian serviceman walks on an abandoned Russian army tank in Andriivka, Ukraine, April 5, 2022 (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

A Ukrainian official in the east of the county warns residents remaining there that time is running out to flee mounting Russian attacks, saying the entire region is being targeted.

“These few days may be the last chance to leave,” Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday writes to residents on Facebook.

“All cities of the Lugansk region are under enemy fire. One person was killed as a result of shelling this morning in Kreminna,” he adds, referring to a town in the region with a population of around 20,000 people.

There have been desperate evacuation attempts from eastern Ukraine over recent days as Ukrainian authorities warn of an imminent Russian offensive, following the devastation around Kyiv that has shocked the world.

“Do not wait to evacuate,” he says. “The enemy is trying to cut off all possible ways of getting people out.”

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