The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
South Africa says it will not be reinstating envoy recalled during Gaza protests
South Africa is not reinstating its ambassador to Israel until further notice, the country’s foreign minister announces.
“I’m very glad that I recalled the ambassador, because we could have not been in the situation that we are at now. It’s been a violation that has been going on for a long time, and we can’t be looking away,” International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says.
“We are holding back on our ambassador until we are certain that we are making headway. For us this is an unacceptable situation, completely unacceptable.”
Ambassador Sisa Ngombane had been recalled to Pretoria in May in protest of Israeli troops killing Palestinian protesters who tried to breach the Gaza border fence.
— Raphael Ahren
Iran threatens to retaliate after Dutch expel two diplomats
Iran protests against the Netherlands’ expulsion of two of its diplomats and threatened to retaliate for the “unfriendly and destructive move.”
A spokesman for the Dutch intelligence service AIVD told AFP on Friday that two employees of Iran’s embassy had been expelled on June 7, without providing further details.
The Dutch ambassador to Tehran has subsequently summoned to express Tehran’s “severe protest” at the move, Iran’s foreign ministry said in an online statement.
“As earlier announced to the ambassador of the Netherlands, the Islamic Republic reserves the right to retaliate,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi says in the statement.
The expulsion was “illogical and illegitimate” and Qassemi called on “Dutch officials to refrain from leveling baseless and absurd accusations.”
Qassemi also calls on the Dutch government to explain “its move to shelter the criminal and terrorist members” of an Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedeen.
Tehran banned the People’s Mujahedeen in 1981 and the European Union put the group on a terror blacklist between 2002 and 2009.
The two Iranian diplomats were expelled long before arrests announced on Monday by French, Belgian and German authorities of six people — including an Iranian diplomat based in Vienna — on suspicion of involvement in an alleged plot to attack a Mujahedeen rally in a Paris suburb on June 30.
Tehran has said the alleged plot was a “false flag ploy” to harm Iran and that two people arrested in Belgium were members of the Mujahedeen.
PA prime minister heading to Turkey for Erdogan inauguration, official agency reports
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is traveling to Turkey to attend Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inauguration on Tuesday, according to the official WAFA news agency.
Erdogan was re-elected to a new five-year term as Turkish president in late June.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas is not attending Erdogan’s inauguration, WAFA indicates.
The 83-year-old Palestinian leader has not traveled abroad since coming down with pneumonia in late May.
Abbas, however, is scheduled to fly to Moscow to attend the final match of the 2018 World Cup and meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, Jibril Rajoub, a senior Fatah official, told the official PA news agency two weeks ago.
The final match is scheduled to take place next Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to be in Moscow later this week as well.
— Adam Rasgon
PM says he wants ‘excellent coalition’ to last ‘almost until the end of the term’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells coalition leaders that he would like his government to stay intact “almost until the end of the term.”
If no early elections are called, the vote is slated to take place on November 19, 2019.
The prime minister referred to his coalition as an “excellent” one.
Also in the meeting, Netanyahu quarrels with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon after asking him to pass legislation granting mandatory arbitration to employees in the event of a labor dispute.
“Even your own party, they would not let you pass such legislation,” Kahlon shoots back, evidently frustrated that the prime minister was passing on responsibility for the legislation on his office.
“You are a philosopher who can only talk and let others do your work for you. You have been prime minister for ten years and four years before that. And you will be in another twenty years – and you still will never actually do anything,” he adds.
Netanyahu avoids getting into a shouting match with the minister, simply responding that other coalition leaders have prevented passing such legislation in the past, but he would like to give it another go.
Tens of thousands return home after south Syria ceasefire deal
Tens of thousands have returned to their homes in southern Syria since a ceasefire deal was struck between regime ally Russia and rebels to end more than two weeks of deadly bombardment, a monitor says.
The deal was largely holding despite airstrikes on two areas that killed four civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said, as rebel evacuations under the deal were postponed.
President Bashar Assad’s regime is determined to retake control of the key southern province of Daraa bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, seven years after protests there sparked Syria’s civil war.
Since June 19, a deadly regime bombardment campaign on the province had caused more than 320,000 people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations, many to the sealed border with Jordan.
First boys rescued from Thai cave — local reports
The first four of twelve boys trapped in a flooded Thai cave along with their football coach have been pulled out by rescue teams, according to local reports.
An ambulance has been filmed leaving the site.
Authorities have highlighted the tiny passageway near a T-junction, or Sam Yak in Thai, as the most dangerous element of the journey for the “Wild Boars” team that began Sunday morning, but there are many other potential pitfalls in the rescue operation.
WATCH: BBC footage of ambulance leaving cave site amidst reports first boys from trapped football team have been rescued #thamluangcave #thamluang #ถ้ำหลวง #13ชีวิตติดถ้ำ #13ชีวิตรอดแล้ว #พาหมูป่ากลับบ้าน #ThailandCaveRescue pic.twitter.com/qu441ZuiJH
— Howard Johnson (@Howardrjohnson) July 8, 2018
— with AFP
German police arrest 10 after man punched in ‘anti-Semitic’ attack
German police arrests 10 people over an alleged anti-Semitic attack in a Berlin park, with local media reporting that both victim and suspects are Syrians.
The 25-year-old victim was wearing a chain with a Star of David, which police said was ripped from the victim’s neck by one of the men, while spewing “anti-Semitic insults.”
The group, aged between 15 and 25, including three women, have been detained following the assault in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Police did not give the names or nationalities of the suspects or the victim, but German daily Welt reported that all involved are Syrians.
Police said the victim had approached the group in a park to borrow a lighter, but his cigarette was snatched away.
Judge orders hearing to examine possibility of releasing Duma firebomb suspect to house arrest
A Central District Court judge has ordered a hearing later this week to examine the possibility of releasing to house arrest one of the suspects in the 2015 Duma terror attack.
The decision comes against the wishes of the State Attorney’s Office, which has requested that the 20-year-old remain behind bars until the end of proceedings against him.
Last month, a panel of Central District Court judges ruled to throw out confessions given under duress by the unnamed suspect, who was a minor at the time of the firebombing that killed three members of the Dawabsha family.
The remaining admissions of guilt that were ruled admissible in the case against did not directly tie the suspect to the 2015 attack, leading the defense to submit a request to release the 20-year-old, who has been in jail since December 2015.
The prosecution has insisted that it still has enough evidence to prosecute the alleged accomplice despite the dropped confessions.
‘Terrorist group’ kills 8 Tunisia security forces – ministry
Eight members of Tunisia’s security forces have been killed in a terrorist attack near the border with Algeria, the interior ministry said.
“Eight members of the national guard were killed in an ambush by a terrorist group” in the Ain Sultan area of Jenduba border province, spokesman General Sufyan al-Zaq tells AFP.
Mother jailed with her 4 children agrees to be deported back to Nigeria
A Nigerian mother whose joint incarceration with her four children drew heavy criticism in Israel has agreed to be deported over immigration offenses.
A spokeswoman for the Population Immigration and Border Authority tells The Times of Israel that the government is currently coordinating flights for the five of them.
Channel 10 reports that the family is already at Ben Gurion International Airport.
The mother, Marcy, arrived in Israel in 2010 and has remained in the country illegally. She had been jailed with her four children at Givon Prison for over three weeks.
The jailing of the children was first revealed in reports in the Maariv daily and Channel 10 television, with the most recent report airing on Thursday and triggering a flurry of criticism that led Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to appeal to the Nigerian embassy in Israel to convince Marcy to leave the country.
Israeli navy holds joint exercise with French army
The Israeli Navy completed an extended exercise with the French military off the southern French coast yesterday, its first time conducting such a drill in over 50 years, the army says.
Two Israeli warships, the INS Kidon and INS Eilat, took part in the exercise off the coast of Toulon in southern France.
The drill, which began in late June and ended Saturday, included a large variety of scenarios, the army says, including “cooperation with helicopters, firing cannons, training with fighter jets to simulate missiles fired at the troops’ ships, a mass casualty event, the rescue of casualties and more.”
The head of the Israeli Navy, Maj. Gen. Eli Sharvit, met with the head of the French fleet, Admiral Christophe Prazuck during the exercise.
“In the current age, in which there are many revolutions and changes, the view of the Israeli Navy needs to be global,” Sharvit said during the meeting.
“Therefore, the joint exercise with the French fleet, which gave both sides knowledge and new, meaningful capabilities, represents another turning point in strengthening the navy from the standpoint of its international activities,” Sharvit said.
In addition to the exercise, the French Navy has also sent its Dixmude helicopter carrier to Israel’s Haifa port, where it will dock from July 7 to 11, “as part of the cooperation between the two countries’ navies,” the French embassy says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Democratic House candidate pushes back on anti-Semitism accusations
A Somali-American Muslim woman running to succeed Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison in Minnesota has pushed back against accusations of anti-Semitism over comments she made against Israel.
In a 2012 tweet, Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar accused Israel of “evil doings” as the Israeli military carried out an aerial campaign meant to halt rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other terror groups.
“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,” she wrote at the time.
Amid heightened scrutiny over the tweet as she runs for the congressional seat in Minnesota’s 5th district, Omar told ABC News on Sunday she is not anti-Semitic and accused critics of “bigotry.”
“These accusations are without merit. They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe,” she said, without retracting her claims from the 2012 tweet.
Second minor earthquake of the day felt in northern Israel
A minor earthquake is reported near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel for the second time today.
The temblor, measuring at 3.9 on the Richter scale, was felt in the area surrounding the Sea of Galilee, according to Israel’s Geophysical Institute, and follows an earlier quake which was measured roughly 3.
IDF: No injuries after Palestinian hurls explosive at troops and flees
A Palestinian man threw an explosive at the Jit Junction in the northern West Bank, causing neither injury to nearby Israeli troops nor damage to their post, the army says.
IDF troops have launched a search for the culprit, focusing on the nearby Palestinian city of Nablus, the military says.
Soldiers are checking those entering and exiting the city, as well as sweeping the surrounding area.
— Judah Ari Gross
Palestinian dies from gunshot wound sustained during celebration of matriculation test results
Ramez Daoud, 18, died on Sunday in the Gaza Strip after suffering a gunshot wound to his head during celebrations related to the announcement of Tawjihi scores, Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the coastal enclave, says to reporters in a text message.
The Tawjihi is a standardized test that Palestinians take in high school. It plays a pivotal role in determining what they can study in university.
Speaking to the Hamas-linked al-Rai news site on Saturday, Ayman Batniji, a spokesman for the Hamas-run police, warned Palestinians in Gaza against shooting guns to celebrate exam scores.
He also said “resolute measures” would be taken against anyone who opens fire in celebration of the test results.
— Adam Rasgon
Military court releases 8 of 9 Khan al-Ahmar demonstrators
An Ofer Military Court judge has ordered the conditional release of eight Palestinians who were arrested last week during clashes with Israeli security forces at the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, which is slated for demolition.
Eleven demonstrators, among them residents of the central West Bank hamlet, were arrested last Wednesday trying to block demolition equipment from reaching the encampment.
Two were released later that day while nine others remained in prison through the weekend.
The judge has extended the remand of the last suspect until Monday after the military prosecution said that it intends to indict her for stone throwing.
Rescue of others trapped in Thai cave paused – commander
Efforts to extract the remaining boys who are trapped in a flooded Thai cave have been paused for at least 10 hours, the operation commander tells reporters after four were rescued.
“The next operation is not expected to start for at least another 10 hours,” rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn tells reporters, as remaining members of the group remain trapped inside.
Qatari mediator: Prisoner swap only way Hamas will agree to return IDF bodies
A Qatari mediator between Israel and Hamas says that the Gaza-ruling terror group will not return the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul unless Israel releases Palestinian security prisoners in exchange.
“The rehabilitation of Gaza in exchange for the return of the Israeli captives is not possible. Only the formula ‘prisoners in return for prisoners’ will work, Muhammad al-Amadi tells the Kan public broadcaster.
The interview comes amid reports that Israel has offered to establish a seaport in Cyprus for Gaza in exchange for the release of the remains of Goldin and Shaul.
Amadi says that Hamas will not agree to any deal that does not include the return of the security prisoners who were rearrested after being released in the 2011 prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit.
French far-right leader says withheld funds doom her party
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has lashed out at a decision to withhold the payment of a public subsidy for her party, saying it amounted to “certain death” for the National Rally.
Le Pen says that two judges decided to withhold a payment of 2 million euros (approximately $2.35 million), or nearly half of the 4.5 million euros ($5.29 million) the party was supposed to get for the year.
She says the money due to be dispersed on Monday is essential for the party, formerly called the National Front, to meet its payroll, rent, and other running costs. Le Pen said the decision to withhold the subsidy is like imposing “a death penalty.”
The decision comes amid an investigation into whether funds for European Parliament assistants were misused.
Italy wants to extend migrant rescue curbs to navy ships
The right-wing interior minister who closed Italy’s ports to those aid groups that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean says that he wants to extend the prohibition to foreign navy ships.
Matteo Salvini says he would bring up Italy’s desire to keep navy ships carrying rescued migrants from its ports when European Union interior ministers meet this week in Austria. Salvini made the statement on Facebook after the Irish navy ship Samuel Beckett arrived in the Sicilian port of Messina with 106 migrants, after participating in an EU-sponsored mission.
“Unfortunately, Italian governments over the past five years have signed agreements (in exchange for what?) so that all these ships disembark immigrants in Italy,” Salvini wrote. “With our government, the music has changed and will change.”
The EU’s border control force, Frontex, operates a search-and-rescue operation in the Mediterranean using air and sea resources contributed from a variety of countries. Italy’s coast guard coordinates the rescues and tells Frontex ships where to disembark.
Salvini’s anti-migrant League party is governing Italy in a coalition with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. Since the new government took office on June 1, it has launched a major crackdown on migration while the number of people embarking for Europe from Libya is much lower than in previous years.
By closing Italy’s ports to boats operated by humanitarian groups, Salvini has forced other EU countries to take in rescued migrants.
Incendiary balloon lands in backyard of home in southern Israel
An incendiary balloon has landed in the backyard of a home in southern Israel.
Police sappers have arrived at the scene in an effort to defuse the explosive.
In recent months, Gazans have flown flammable kites, balloons and other objects into Israel, starting hundreds of fires that have torched fields along the coastal enclave’s border.
An appeals court in Brazil orders ex-president Lula’s release
A Brazilian appeals court delivers a surprise ruling ordering the release of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 72, who has been jailed since April for corruption, and could now be released within hours.
Leftist firebrand Lula — who was convicted of accepting a seaside apartment as a bribe from Brazilian construction company OAS — has been battling to overturn his 12-year sentence in the hopes of making another presidential bid in elections in October.
Judge Rogerio Favreto rules in favor of several deputies of Lula’s Workers’ Party, who on Friday had submitted a habeas corpus application on the former president’s behalf.
On the heels of the ruling, top anti-corruption Judge Sergio Moro — who originally sentenced Lula — said the judge did not have the power to secure the leftist’s release, declaring the decision “monocratic.”
“Lula free now!” reads the popular politician’s Twitter account, praising “the end of the illegal imprisonment of Lula.”
But even if released, Lula — who ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2011, leaving office with sky-high ratings — could see his candidacy invalidated by the South American country’s electoral court.
Despite his jailing, Lula has consistently led presidential polls.
He insists he is innocent and has branded the accusations of accepting the apartment as a conspiracy aimed at thwarting his electoral bid.
Ten killed, 73 injured in Turkey train derailment — state TV
A train packed with 360 weekend passengers derailed in northwest Turkey on Sunday, leaving 10 dead and 73 injured, state TV reports.
“There are a large number of injured and we have fatalities,” Tekirdag governor Mehmet Ceylan tells the NTV channel. “The accident happened because of adverse weather conditions,” he adds.
The train was travelling from Kapikule on the Bulgarian border to Istanbul, reports said.
Hamas returning forces to Gaza border in effort to restore quiet — report
In an effort to restore quiet, Hamas is returning some of its forces to the Gaza border with Israel for the first time since the start of deadly clashes in late March, Hadashot news reports.
The specific soldiers deployed have in the past been responsible for preventing other terror groups and lone wolves from firing at Israel.
The move is believed to be in response to clashes between Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. On Friday, a militant belonging to the latter group mistakenly hurled a grenade at a group of Hamas fighters, killing one and injuring several others.
Hadashot news says the Hamas forces have been stationed at at least two different points along the border.
Three apartment buildings in Tiberias ordered evacuated following earthquakes
Municipal officials have ordered that three apartment buildings in the city of Tiberias be evacuated after inspecting the damage caused by recent earthquakes that have struck northern Israel.
Two minor earthquakes rocked the area surrounding the Sea of Galilee earlier today.
Netanyahu to ask High Court to give Knesset more time to pass Haredi enlistment law — report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to ask the High Court of Justice for more time to pass legislation regarding ultra-Orthodox army enlistment, Hadashot news reports.
In striking down the Knesset’s last version of the law, the top legal body gave the government until September 1 to pass a more acceptable version.
Last week, the new bill passed its first reading in the Knesset, but ultra-Orthodox ministers have vowed to oppose the legislation in upcoming readings — a move that would lead to snap elections.
Accordingly, Netanyahu is expected to ask the High Court for a 10-month extension, which will likely be at least partially accepted.