Ministers said to complain of media coverage of Gaza border fires
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Ministers said to complain of media coverage of Gaza border fires

‘Media reports are overblown,’ Netanyahu alleged to say in cabinet meeting, adding, ‘the media is presenting things in a warped way’

Firefighters extinguish a fire in a field caused from kites flown by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, near the border with the Gaza Strip, June 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Firefighters extinguish a fire in a field caused from kites flown by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, near the border with the Gaza Strip, June 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

Hamas chief vows ‘more intense’ border protests if blockade continues

Hamas’s political chief Ismail Haniyeh vows “more intense” protests on the Israel-Gaza border if Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of the coastal enclave are not lifted.

“Either the siege is lifted or you all will face more intense, greater and stronger marches,” Haniyeh says on Sunday during a speech at a mosque in Gaza City.

Haniyeh also says he met with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov today.

A diplomatic source told The Times of Israel yesterday that Mladenov was meeting with “all concerned parties” to help mediate a ceasefire between Israel and armed groups in Gaza as tensions flared over the weekend, with rocket barrages on Israeli towns and IDF retaliatory airstrikes hitting Hamas positions in Gaza.

— Adam Rasgon

Supermarket plastic bag use drops 80%, saving over 7,000 tons of plastic yearly

The Environmental Protection Ministry’s report for 2017, submitted to the Knesset today, says the 10 agorot (2.8 cents) per bag charge on supermarket plastic bags imposed by a 2016 law has reduced the use of plastic bags by shoppers by some 80 percent.

According to the report, last year saw some 378 million single-use plastic bags used in the major supermarket chains, compared to 1.753 billion in 2016.

The drop amounts to over 7,091 tons of non-recyclable plastic each year, the ministry says.

Other single-use plastic bags, such as garbage bags, have not seen reduced consumption, but the supermarket bag decline means the total overall reduction in use of plastic bags nationwide dropped by 53% in 2017.

The plastic bag law, which went into effect on January 1, 2017, forced the country’s largest supermarket chains to charge 10 agorot for each bag handed to consumers at its checkout aisles. It does not apply to small neighborhood grocery stores or other retail businesses.

Violence seen increasing in East Jerusalem; 44 arrested in two weeks

Police say 44 suspects have been arrested over the past two weeks in East Jerusalem during “riots and disturbances” or for Molotov cocktail, stone or fireworks attacks targeting police officers.

Twenty-nine suspects were arrested during police operations, and another 15 in followup arrests, a Sunday police statement says.

The rate of such violent incidents is increasing.

“Police operations will continue in order to prevent riots, disturbances and attacks that are endangering lives,” the statement says.

— Jacob Magid

Far-left activist indicted for informing on Palestinians who sold land to Jews

Prosecutors file an indictment Sunday against Israeli left-wing activist Ezra Nawi on charges of passing information about Palestinians who sold land to Israeli Jews to the Palestinian Preventative Security Service, thereby endangering their lives.

The indictment, filed by Jerusalem District prosecutors in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, charges Nawi with violating the law that forbids Israeli citizens from working for the Palestinian Authority’s security branches.

Selling land to Jews carries a death penalty under Palestinian Authority law.

Woman may face Saudi sex charges and jail for hugging pop star

A woman may face charges under a new harassment law in Saudi Arabia after storming a stage to hug a pop star, authorities and local media say.

The woman could face two years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 Saudi riyals ($27,000), attorney Abdulkarim al-Qadi tells the Okaz news site.

The woman, who has not been identified, was dressed in a full-length abaya and niqab face cover when she jumped on stage to hug Iraqi singer Majid al-Muhandis, whose love songs are hugely popular in the Gulf.

A police statement says the woman had been arrested on Friday night for “criminal acts as per the anti-harassment regulatory act.”

A video circulating on social media showed the woman rushing on stage toward the pop star, who tried to step aside, before she was quickly pulled away by security personnel.

Press close to the Saudi government says the woman had been attending Muhandis’s concert in the city of Taif in Saudi’s southwestern Mecca province when friends dared her to hug the star.

In May, Saudi Arabia ratified a new harassment act as the kingdom geared up to lift its longstanding ban on women driving. The ban ended on June 24.


Syria rebels begin evacuating ‘cradle’ of uprising in Daraa

Syrian rebels and their relatives begin evacuating the southern city of Daraa under a deal to bring the “cradle” of the country’s uprising back under government control.

The highly symbolic transfers come as Russian-backed government forces advance in the neighboring province of Quneitra, with air strikes pounding rebel positions perilously close to the Israeli Golan heights.

After securing Damascus in May, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turned his attention to rebels in the strategically vital south, where protests against his rule first erupted seven years ago.

Nearly three weeks of bombardment saw beleaguered rebels agree with Russia earlier this month to hand over Daraa province, before reaching a similar deal for its capital this week.

In recent days, rebels have handed over heavy-duty arms and other equipment to government forces who entered the city’s rebel-held southern districts for the first time in years to plant the national flag.

On Sunday, rebels and civilians who did not want to live under regime control were granted safe passage to opposition-held Idlib in Syria’s northwest.


Netanyahu, Bennett agree on new version of ‘separate communities’ clause

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett reached an agreement on a key change to the nation-state bill that would remove the bill’s controversial clause 7B, which permits certain kinds of small towns to reject potential residents on the basis of ethnicity or religion, and replace it with a new one celebrating “Jewish settlement” in general terms.

The last version read: “The state is permitted to allow a community, including members of a single religion or nationality, to live in separate communal settlement.”

The new version reads: “The state sees in the development of Jewish settlement a national value, and will work to encourage and advance its establishment and growth.”

The former clause has been criticized as allowing under law for discriminatory acceptance policies by Jewish or Arab towns. The latter is already being panned on the right as “toothless” and a retreat from the right’s demand for explicit legal validation of separate communal settlement, and on the left as an even more explicit legal sanctioning of discrimination because of the direct reference to specifically Jewish settlement.

Tourists charged with stealing bricks from Auschwitz memorial

WARSAW, Poland — Two Hungarian tourists admit to trying to steal bricks from the ruins of a crematorium at the site of the former Nazi German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, according to police.

The 30-year-old woman and 36-year-old man were caught on Saturday when another pair of foreign tourists saw them stuffing the bricks into a bag and notified security.

“The man and woman were charged with theft of a cultural asset. They both admitted to wrongdoing,” said regional police press officer Mateusz Drwal.

“They explained that they had wanted to bring back a souvenir and didn’t realize the consequences of their actions,” he told the Polish news agency PAP.

The Hungarian tourists were each fined 1,500 zloty ($400) and handed a suspended sentence of one year in jail.


Bolton: US knows about Russia hacking, Putin must know too

US National Security Adviser John Bolton says US President Donald Trump has a stronger hand going into the Russia summit because of US charges against 12 Russian military intelligence officials related to the hacking of Democratic targets in the 2016 presidential election.

Bolton tells ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the indictments show that the American justice system is aware of Russian efforts to meddle in US elections.

He says Trump can now say to Russian President Vladimir Putin that “this is a serious matter that we need to talk about.”

Trump has said he will raise the issue when he sits down with Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

Bolton also says he finds it “hard to believe” that the Russian intelligence officials could conduct such an operation without Putin’s knowledge.

— AP

Turkey marks second anniversary of thwarting violent coup

With prayers and other events, Turkey commemorates the second anniversary of thwarting a coup against the Turkish president and the government that left nearly 290 people dead and hundreds wounded.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and top officials attend a Quran recitation in Ankara, kicking off a series of events.

On July 15, 2016, factions within the military used tanks, warplanes and helicopters in an attempt to overthrow Erdogan. Clashes took place in Istanbul, Ankara and Marmaris, where Erdogan was on holiday and reportedly barely escaped capture. Fighter jets bombed parliament and other spots in Turkey’s capital.

Turkey has blamed US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for being behind the coup attempt, but he rejects the accusation. He was once a close ally to Erdogan, but his network was declared a terror organization after the two had a falling out in 2013.

Since the failed coup, over 75,000 people have been arrested and 130,000 civil servants have been dismissed from their jobs for alleged coup ties. Among them are judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, teachers and academics. Many have protested their innocence.

— AP

IDF said to fire at Gaza cell launching incendiary balloon

Palestinian media outlets say an IDF drone fired a short time ago at Gazans launching incendiary balloons into Israel, wounding one.

The incident takes place in the northern Gaza Strip, near Beit Hanoun.

IDF deploys more Iron Dome batteries, calls up reservists

The IDF says it will be deploying additional Iron Dome missile defense batteries in southern Israel and in the greater Tel Aviv area, following large-scale clashes with the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip over the weekend.

Reservists from air defense units are also being called up to provide additional manpower for these batteries, the military says.

“The IDF is determined to continue to defend Israel’s citizens and is prepared for a variety of scenarios,” the army says in a statement.

— Judah Ari Gross

ESPN drops Australian football pool participant for ‘Burnthejews’ screen name

International sports media mega-company ESPN has removed a participant in its Australian Football League footy tips competition who had registered his screen name “Burnthejews” and has banned the person from reregistering.

The sport is known in Australia as AFL but to its myriad of supporters across the country it is affectionately called footy. It is to many Australians what baseball and football is to Americans, and soccer and cricket are to other sporting nations.

ESPN runs an online competition in which participants forecast results weekly.

The company acted swiftly when this user name was brought to its attention. A spokesperson for ESPN told J-Wire: “A footytips user created an account name that violated our rules. The language used is offensive and unacceptable, does not reflect our values and has no place on our site.”

Peter Wertheim, the co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told J-Wire: “As a leading global sports media company, ESPN reaches audiences in virtually every country in the world…. ESPN is to be commended for taking prompt action to bar that person permanently from its platform.”


Australian PM visits Sydney yeshiva with grandson, prepares challah

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull takes his 4-year-old grandson to a community kitchen housed in the Sydney Yeshiva’s complex on Grandparents Day and helped him prepare challah.

Turnbull’s grandson Jack rose to the occasion and went home on Friday with the fruits of his labor.

During the visit, the prime minister presented a $48,000 grant to improve security arrangements for the Harry Triguboff Centre in Flood Street which currently is under renovation. The center is home to the Sydney Yeshiva, the Yeshiva school and Our Big Kitchen, a large commercial kitchen which prepares food for needy members of the Jewish community and in which 150 people were busy preparing food on Friday to be distributed to the needy.


UK’s Theresa May: Trump told me to ‘sue the EU’ over Brexit

US President Donald Trump has advised British Prime Minister Theresa May to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Britain’s impending exit from the bloc, May says.

The American president told reporters Friday at a joint press conference with May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May says with an amused expression: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.”

She quickly follows with a laugh: “Actually we’re going into negotiations with them.”

She adds: “Interestingly, what the president also said at that press conference was ‘Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.'”

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant, but the revelation caps a series of explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

— AP

Government to ask court for 7-month extension on ultra-Orthodox draft bill

The government plans to ask the High Court of Justice to delay its deadline for passage of a new ultra-Orthodox draft bill by seven months, from September 1 to April 1 next year.

The request comes as the Knesset is set to conclude its parliamentary business on July 19, ahead of that weekend and the official end of the spring term on July 22. It will only reconvene in mid-October.

Democratic senator says Putin may outwit Trump at summit

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says he is worried about US President Donald Trump meeting one-on-one with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during their summit in Finland.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia says, “We know that Trump doesn’t do a lot of prep work for these meetings. He kind of goes in and wings it.”

Warner notes Putin’s KGB background and fears Putin could “take advantage” of Trump during Monday’s summit.

Warner says he would “feel much better if there were other Americans in the room making sure that we make the point that the first and top point of this agenda should be no further Russian interference in our elections.”

Warner tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Trump “has been completely reluctant to call out Putin as a bad actor.”

— AP

World Cup: France leads 2-1 after 1st half of milestones

Records are falling like the rain coming down on the field after a wild first half of the World Cup final in Moscow.

France has a 2-1 lead over Croatia courtesy of the first own-goal and the first video-reviewed penalty in a World Cup final. The own-goal off the top of Mario Mandzukic’s head was the 12th of the tournament. That’s double the previous World Cup record of six.

Croatia rallied to equalize on a terrific left-foot strike by Ivan Perisic, but France took the lead right back when Perisic handled the ball in the area. Argentine referee Nestor Pitana initially did not call the handball, but spoke into his headset with colleagues in the video booth, then made the box-shaped symbol for a video review. He awarded the spot kick shortly afterward, which Antoine Griezmann sent into the net to put France back in front.

This is the first World Cup in which video review is being used.

— AP

France clinches World Cup with win over Croatia

France clinches its second World Cup title with a 4-2 win over Croatia, in a dramatic final in Moscow featuring a series of firsts and a pitch invasion orchestrated by Russian protest group Pussy Riot.

France led 2-1 at halftime, courtesy of the first own-goal and the first video-reviewed penalty in a World Cup final. The own-goal off the top of Mario Mandzukic’s head was the 12th of the tournament. That’s double the previous World Cup record of six.

Croatia rallied to equalize on a terrific left-foot strike by Ivan Perisic, but France took the lead right back when Perisic handled the ball in the area. Argentine referee Nestor Pitana initially didn’t call the handball but awarded the spot kick after a video review. Antoine Griezmann converted the penalty to put France back in front.

Four pitch invaders disrupted the game in the 52nd minute for about a minute before being dragged away by security and police. Punk rock group Pussy Riot quickly claimed responsibility for the pitch invasion via social media, saying it was a protest aimed at ending illegal arrests of protesters and to allow political competition in Russia.

Play resumed and France quickly took a 4-1 lead, with goals from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe in the 59th and 65th minutes before Mario Mandzukic pulled one back for the Croatians in the 69th.

Croatia was playing in its first World Cup final. For France, it was a first World Cup crown since winning on home soil in 1998.

— AP

Ministers said to complain of media coverage of Gaza border fires

Hadashot television news broadcasts unsourced transcripts from Sunday’s closed cabinet meeting that allege that ministers complained of the media’s coverage of the Gaza border fires.

The alleged complaints come amid growing criticism of the government for failing to stop the daily incendiary kite and balloon attacks that have burned thousands of acres of southern Israeli farmland, forests, and brush.

As the cabinet meeting is closed-door, the purported quotes appear to have been supplied to Hadashot by one of the ministers at the meeting.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz is said to have told his colleagues, “They keep saying ‘Israel is on fire,’ ‘Israel is burning.’ Israel is not burning.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then reportedly replied: “The media reports are overblown. The media is feeding this [perception] and presenting things in a warped way.”

N. Korea, US hold talks on war dead repatriation

North Korean and US military officials meet Sunday to discuss repatriation of the remains of American troops killed during the Korean War, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.

Returning the remains of the US soldiers who perished during the 1950-53 conflict was part of a deal signed by the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, during their summit last month in Singapore.

The latest talks began at the truce village of Panmunjom on the inter-Korean border, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.

In a statement, Pompeo says the meeting was “productive and co-operative and resulted in firm commitments.” He adds that further talks would start on Monday to arrange details including the transfer of remains already held in North Korea.

“Additionally, both sides agreed to re-commence field operations in the DPRK to search for the estimated 5,300 Americans who never returned home,” he says, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.


‘It’s wonderful,’ French coach Deschamps gushes after World Cup triumph

France coach Didier Deschamps hails his side’s “wonderful” World Cup victory, after a 4-2 victory over Croatia in Sunday’s final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

The 49-year-old becomes only the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and a coach, after leading France to their maiden title in 1998 as captain.

“It’s so beautiful, so wonderful,” Deschamps tells French TV channel TF1.

“I’m really happy for this group… It wasn’t always easy, but by working hard, listening, they are on top of the world for four years.”


Emirati prince flees to Qatar, criticizes Abu Dhabi — report

An Emirati prince is seeking asylum in Qatar after fleeing the UAE, saying he feared for his life because of a dispute with the rulers of oil-rich Abu Dhabi, the New York Times reports.

Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad al-Sharqi, 31, is the second son of the emir of Fujairah, one of the seven monarchies making up the United Arab Emirates.

He arrived in Doha on May 16, the report says.

Abu Dhabi is the capital and richest emirate of the UAE.

Speaking to the New York Times, Sheikh Rashid accuses Emirati rulers of blackmail and money laundering, but does not offer evidence to back up his claims.

He also speaks of tensions within Emirati elites over the UAE’s commitment of troops in the war in Yemen.


EU urges Trump to protect world order, dismisses foe claim

EU leaders and top diplomats urge US President Donald Trump to protect the world order at his summit with Vladimir Putin and dismiss his assertion that Europe was a US trade foe.

Trump triggered fresh concerns from European Council President Donald Tusk at an EU-China summit in Beijing, and from EU foreign ministers in Brussels, one of whom — Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders — urged the US president to stand up for non-EU Ukraine and Georgia against Russia.

Trump said the European Union was a foe in trade while also calling Russia and China foes in some respects, before his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

“America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news,” Tusk tweeted late Sunday from Beijing, without naming Trump directly.

Trump often uses the term “fake news” when he disagrees with news reports.


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