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Netanyahu-led bloc would fall 1 seat short of majority if elections held — poll

TV survey forecasts Sa’ar’s New Hope would fail to enter Knesset if new vote called, day after failing to pass key bill that he says gov’t must approve or has no right to exist

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum during a vote on the so-called settler law, June 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum during a vote on the so-called settler law, June 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Moderna says its updated COVID shot offers 8-fold increase in Omicron protection

Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine that combines its original shot with protection against the Omicron variant appears to work, the company announces.

COVID-19 vaccine makers are studying updated boosters that might be offered in the fall to better protect people against future coronavirus surges.

Moderna’s preliminary study results show people given the combination shot experienced an eight-fold increase in virus-fighting antibodies capable of targeting the Omicron mutant, the company announces.

Right groups says Iran carried out mass execution of 12 prisoners

PARIS — Iran has carried out a mass execution of 12 inmates at a prison in its southeast, an NGO says today, as concern grows over the rising number of executions in the Islamic Republic.

The 11 men and one woman — convicted either on drugs-related or murder charges — were hanged yesterday morning in the main prison of Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchestan province close to the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) says.

They were all members of the Baluch ethnic minority who mainly adhere to the Sunni strain of Islam rather than the Shiism that is dominant in Iran, it adds.

Of the 12, six were sentenced to death for drug-related charges and six were sentenced for murder. None of the executions had been reported by domestic media or confirmed by officials in Iran, it says.

The woman executed — identified only by her surname Gargij — was sentenced for the murder of her husband and arrested in 2019, it says.

Activists have long expressed concern that executions in Iran disproportionately target members of Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities, notably Kurds in the northwest, Arabs in the southwest and Baluch in the southeast.

“Data gathered by Iran Human Rights shows that Baluch prisoners accounted for 21 percent of all executions in 2021, while only representing 2–6 percent of Iran’s population,” IHR adds.

There has also been concern over a recent upsurge of executions in Iran, as the country’s leaders are confronted with protests over price rises for basic goods.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, outlawed in the country, also says that the 12 executions had taken place in Zahedan yesterday.

US woman pleads guilty to heading all-female Islamic State unit in Syria

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — An American woman who prosecutors say led an all-female battalion of Islamic State militants in Syria pleads guilty in a case that a prosecutor called a first of its kind in the United States.

Allison Fluke-Ekren breaks down sobbing after admitting in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, a charge that carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

The guilty plea resolves a criminal case that came to light in January after Fluke-Ekren, 42, who once lived in Kansas, was brought to the US to face accusations that she led an Islamic State unit of women and young girls in the Syrian city of Raqqa and trained them in the use of automatic rifles, grenades and suicide belts.

It is the first prosecution in the US of a female Islamic State battalion leader, says First Assistant US Attorney Raj Parekh, who tells a judge that some of the more than 100 women and girls who received training may wish to speak at Fluke-Ekren’s sentencing hearing.

“Some of them may wish [for] an opportunity to address the court because we would argue that there is lifelong trauma and pain that has been inflicted on them,” Parekh says.

Charging documents in the case trace Fluke-Ekren’s travels and activities in the Middle East over the last decade, though they don’t shed light on what inspired her alleged allegiance to foreign militant groups.

Netanyahu-led bloc would get 60 seats if elections held, 1 short of majority — poll

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc would win 60 seats — one short of a parliamentary majority — if new elections are held, according a television poll released this evening, while Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party would fail to enter the Knesset.

Such an outcome would effectively replicate the current stalemate in the Knesset, where neither the opposition nor the government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has had a parliamentary majority since a member of the premier’s Yamina party quit the coalition.

According to the survey aired by the Kan public broadcaster, Netanyahu’s Likud party would be the largest in the Knesset with 35 seats if elections were held, followed by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid with 20.

The far-right Religious Zionism party is forecast as the third-largest party with 10 seats, while the ultra-Orthodox Shas faction and the coalition’s Blue and White each pick up eight seats in the poll.

The poll gives both the Haredi ultra-Orthodox UTJ and the center-left Labor party seven seats, with Bennett’s right-wing Yamina and the predominantly Arab Joint List getting six seats apiece.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman’s right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu would get five seats, according to the survey, which predicts the coalition’s left-wing Meretz faction and the Islamist Ra’am party would each get four seats.

The poll says Sa’ar’s right-wing New Hope wouldn’t clear the minimum threshold of 3.25 percent of the total vote that parties must clear to enter the Knesset.

Altogether, the parties that currently make up the government — minus New Hope — would have 54 seats; Netanyahu’s Likud and its partners would have 60, while the unallied Joint List would have six. Without a majority, Netanyahu would be unable to replace Bennett as prime minister, potentially prolonging the current Knesset gridlock.

The survey, conducted by Kantar Insights, included 552 respondents. It has a 4.4% margin of error.

The poll, which was conducted today, comes after a bill backed by Sa’ar to renew a measure extending Israeli laws to settlers in the West Bank failed to pass, in a major blow to the coalition.

Sa’ar warns coalition facing ‘downward slope’ after failing to pass settler law

After failing to pass a bill renewing the extension of Israeli laws to settlers in the West Bank, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar says he won’t take back his comments from last week that the government has no right to exist if the measure doesn’t pass.

In an interview with Channel 12 news, he blames coalition parties with members who didn’t support the bill for “breaking up the government.”

“If the coalition can’t pass bills like this, it’s on a downward slope that we know the end of,” he says.

Asked if he’ll sit with a government in Netanyahu, Sa’ar says, “I haven’t changed my opinion,” referring to past vows not to join a coalition led by the former premier.

“What happened yesterday, strengthens my opinion,” he adds.

Bennett said to tell MKs he ordered another 3,000 work permits be issued to Gazans

During the closed session of today’s Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told lawmakers that he ordered another 3,000 work permits be issued to Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

The move would raise the number of work permits to 15,000, up from the current 12,000.

Several months ago, the government raised the total number of work permits for Gazans to 20,000, but it takes time to fill the quota.

English soccer fans arrested in Munich for making Nazi salutes

BERLIN — English soccer fans are arrested for making Nazi salutes in Munich ahead of today’s Nations League tie away to Germany, according to local reports.

On the eve of the game, two England fans are reportedly arrested in Munich city center for giving the Nazi salute, which is banned in Germany.

Additionally, Munich’s fire service was called out to a city center hotel after an England fan lit a flare out of a window, which spread smoke through the building, triggering the smoke alarm.

Police in the Bavarian city were also twice called to a disturbance at one of the city’s famous beer cellars, where a group of around 300 England fans were disturbing the peace.

Yesterday, England head coach Gareth Southgate said he hoped the behavior of traveling fans would not “embarrass us.”

“You feel ashamed when you hear about it,” he admits.

Officially, England fans have been allocated 3,466 tickets for the match at the Allianz Arena, but there are fears thousands more could get in by using fake information to buy tickets from the German FA.

Israeli ambassador elected as a vice president of UN General Assembly

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan has been elected to serve as one of the vice presidents of the UN General Assembly.

Erdan will be one of 21 ambassadors to fill the role, chairing meetings and setting the agenda for the next GA session, which begins in September.

“This new position gives Israel another platform to present the truth about our country and our contributions to the world, despite the ongoing lies of the Palestinians and others at the UN,” Erdan says.

“This triumph sends a clear message to our enemies that they will not prevent us from participating in leading roles at the UN and in the international arena,” he adds, noting Iranian and Syrian opposition to his candidacy.

“Hatred must never triumph over the truth. I won’t allow it.”

Russian FM Lavrov lands in Turkey for talks on Ukraine grain exports

ANKARA, Turkey — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov begins a two-day visit to Turkey for talks on unblocking grain exports from Ukraine, which have been stalled by Moscow’s offensive.

The plane carrying Lavrov has landed at Ankara’s airport, an AFP photographer says.

US begins training Ukrainian forces on advanced rocket system

WASHINGTON — The US military has begun training Ukrainian forces on the sophisticated rocket systems that the Biden administration agreed last week to provide, but that Russia has said could trigger wider airstrikes in Ukraine.

Marine Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman, says Ukrainian troops are training on the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, at Grafenwoehr training base in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

The US agreed to send four of the medium-range, precision rocket systems to Ukraine as part of a $700 million package approved last week, and officials said it would take about three weeks of training before they could go to the battlefront.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that any Western deliveries of longer-range rocket systems would prompt Moscow to hit “objects that we haven’t yet struck.”

About 900 Ukrainian service members have received training on a variety of weapons by the US so far, including on howitzers which are being delivered to the front lines.

The HIMARS is mounted on a truck and can carry a container with six rockets, which can each travel about 45 miles (70 kilometers).

Man in France beaten, allegedly called ‘dirty Jew’ while campaigning for his wife

JTA — A group of men violently assaulted a Jewish man while he was putting up campaign posters for his wife, who is running for a legislative seat in Strasbourg, France, the victim has told police.

Initially, two men who approached Liron Rozenhaft, 41, last week called him a “dirty Jew” after reading the name of his wife, Audrey Rozenhaft, on the posters, Le Parisien reported. She is running as a candidate for the center-right Republicans party in the 1st constituency of Bas-Rhin, which includes the city’s center and multiple outer districts, in elections scheduled for June 23.

Liron Rozenhaft says that the two men pulled down the posters and followed him elsewhere on a scooter. Several other men followed in pursuit. He says he told the men that France “is still a democracy.”

In a Facebook post about the incident, Audrey Rozenhaft wrote that he was left unconscious and said that authorities have allowed for “an explosion of crime and violence” in the area. Rozenhaft was left with minor injuries, including a concussion, according to Le Parisien.

Strasbourg Mayor Jeanne Barseghian condemns the incident in a statement, writing that “we condone no violence, and when it targets democratic discourse it’s particularly shocking.”

Barseghian did not mention the alleged antisemitic element of the incident. Police are investigating the allegations, she said.

US Department of Homeland Security warns of copycat attacks after Texas school shooting

WASHINGTON — US federal authorities warn of possible copycat mass shootings after an 18-year-old gunman slaughtered 19 children and two teachers at a primary school in Texas, two weeks ago.

In an updated advisory, the Department of Homeland Security also highlights the risk of violence tied to upcoming events including a Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights, the loosening of border controls and the November Congressional elections.

“The United States remains in a heightened threat environment,” DHS says.

“In the coming months, we expect the threat environment to become more dynamic as several high-profile events could be exploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets.”

It says targets of attack could include public gatherings, religious institutions, minority groups and ideological opponents.

It says recent attacks by men acting alone demonstrated the challenge of protecting vulnerable targets and also outlined the possibilities to potential attackers.

“Individuals in online forums that routinely promulgate domestic violent extremist and conspiracy theory-related content have praised the May 2022 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and encouraged copycat attacks,” the DHS advisory says.

“Others have seized on the event to attempt to spread disinformation and incite grievances, including claims it was a government-staged event meant to advance gun control measures.”

DHS also mentioned the attack in Buffalo, New York, in which a racist 18-year-old with an assault rifle murdered 10 Black people, and a 2019 attack in El Paso, Texas, that targeted Hispanics.

“Both the Buffalo and El Paso attackers indicated they were inspired by the 2019 attacker of two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand,” DHS says.

The warning also says foreign groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, and people backed by the Chinese, Iranian and Russian government, could encourage and amplify violence and conspiracy theories to deepen divisions in US society.

Gag order lifted on name of suspect in Acre woman’s disappearance

A gag order is lifted on publishing the name of Walaa Khalaila, who is suspected in the disappearance of his partner Sapir Nachum.

Khalaila, a 34-year-old Acre resident, has previously been arrested for violent offenses and vandalism.

Police have launched a major manhunt to find Nachum, who has been missing for days. Yesterday, police said they were working on the assumption she’s still alive.

US woman to plead guilty to leading all-female Islamic State battalion in Syria

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — An American woman is set to plead guilty today to leading an all-female battalion of Islamic State militants in Syria, court records show.

A plea hearing for Allison Fluke-Ekren is to take place in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, according to a court notation. Her lawyer doesn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.

Fluke-Ekren, who once lived in Kansas, was brought to the US in January to face a criminal charge of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. She moved to Egypt in 2008 and starting in late 2016, according to prosecutors, she led an all-female Islamic State unit in the Syrian city of Raqqa that was trained in the use of AK-47 rifles, grenades and suicide belts.

A detention memo filed by First Assistant US Attorney Raj Parekh says she trained children how to use assault rifles and at least one witness saw one of her children — approximately 6 or 7 years old — holding a machine gun in the family’s home in Syria.

Prosecutors have also said Fluke-Ekren wanted to recruit operatives to attack a college campus in the US and discussed a terrorist attack on a shopping mall. She told one witness that “she considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources,” according to an FBI affidavit.

A criminal complaint against Fluke-Ekren was filed under seal in 2019 but not made public until she was brought back to the US to face charges.

Baby dies after falling from play structure at Beersheba nursery

A 1-year-old boy in the southern city of Beersheba has died after falling from a play structure at a local nursery.

The boy was taken in critical condition to the city’s Soroka Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

According to Channel 12 news, police opened an investigation and detained a caretaker for questioning.

Israelis at risk from COVID urged to wear masks inside as infections rise

Citing rising coronavirus cases, the Health Ministry issues a statement advising Israelis considered at risk to wear face masks indoors.

Noting indoor masking is no longer required except in limited circumstances, the ministry says it still recommends that people at greater risk from COVID-19 put on a mask inside.

“We have moved to a stage in which we live alongside the virus, but the virus doesn’t take account of our desire to live alongside it,” the statement says.

Iran hands man death sentence for deadly Shiite shrine attack

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian court has sentenced a man to death over an April shrine attack in the Shiite holy city of Mashhad that killed two clerics, the judiciary says today.

The April 5 attack on the Imam Reza shrine, where pilgrims had gathered to worship during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, killed two clerics and injured a third.

Local media at the time identified the assailant as Abdolatif Moradi, a 21-year-old Sunni extremist and ethnic Uzbek who had entered Iran illegally via the Pakistani border a year earlier.

“The person who stabbed two clerics in the Imam Reza shrine at Mashhad was sentenced to death,” judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi tells a news conference in the capital Tehran.

The defense has appealed the verdict at the Supreme Court, which will review the case, the spokesman adds.

One of the clerics, Mohammad Aslani, died immediately while the death of the second, Sadegh Darai, was announced two days later.

The attack came days after two Sunni clerics were shot dead outside a seminary in the northern town of Gonbad-e Kavus.

The three suspects, also Sunnis, were arrested in late April, but were said to have “no connection with terrorist groups,” state media reported at the time.

Sunnis make up between five and 10 percent of Shiite-majority Iran’s population of 83 million people.

Health Ministry confirms 3rd monkeypox case in Israel

The Health Ministry says it has confirmed the third case of monkeypox in Israel.

According to a ministry statement, the 34-year-old was hospitalized at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital with monkeypox symptoms after returning from overseas. It doesn’t specify where he had been.

UN panel blames ‘persistent discrimination’ by Israel for violence with Palestinians

A report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Israel and the Palestinians blames Israel’s “persistent discrimination against Palestinians” for violence between the two sides.

“Forced displacement, threats of forced displacement, demolitions, settlement construction and expansion, settler violence, and the blockade of Gaza” are identified as “contributing factors to recurring cycles of violence” by the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which also covers East Jerusalem and Israel.

The 18-page report, released today, focuses on root causes of the conflict. The Commission took two trips to research the report, one to Geneva and the other to Jordan.

“Ending Israel’s occupation, in full conformity with Security Council resolutions, remains essential in stopping the persistent cycle of violence,” says commissioner Miloon Kothari in a statement released by the UN Human Rights Council. “It is only with the ending of occupation that the world can begin to reverse historical injustices and move towards self-determination of the Palestinian peoples.”

Though the report places the lion’s share of blame on Israel, it also points a finger at the Palestinian Authority for its own human rights violations and failure to hold elections, and at the Hamas terror group, ruler of the Gaza Strip, for showing little regard for human rights.

The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council session on June 13.

“The report devotes only a few paragraphs out of 18 pages to violations by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups,” says Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s Legal Adviser and UN representative. “Similarly, the report attacks foundational policies of Israel, making multiple false claims regarding discrimination in order to build a case of racism and so that this permanent COI can later accuse Israel of apartheid.”

She adds that the commission operates under secrecy, without revealing who is writing the reports for the panel and how the three commissioners were selected.

The probe was triggered during a special session of the council on May 27 — following fighting between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip — when the UN Human Rights Council decided to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate “all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law” in Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

The commission is set to report to the Human Rights Council each year, starting next week.

Health Ministry expected to advise those at-risk to mask indoors amid COVID uptick

The Health Ministry will advise older Israelis and others deemed at risk to don a face covering indoors, according to Hebrew media reports, amid an uptick in coronavirus cases.

According to ministry figures, 3,731 new infections were recorded yesterday — the highest since late April — and 17.7 percent more cases have been confirmed over the past week compared to the preceding seven days.

Serious morbidity is also up, with 103 patients currently hospitalized in serious condition, though new fatalities have been lower over the past week than the week before.

Numerous lawmakers have tested positive amid the recent rise in cases, with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev becoming the latest politician to announce he’s tested positive for COVID-19.

“I fell well and will continue to work from home,” Barlev tweets.

Russia claims partial control of flashpoint Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia reports its forces have taken full control of residential neighborhoods in Ukraine’s flashpoint city of Severodonetsk, after Kyiv said its troops were fighting on in the eastern hub despite being outnumbered.

“The residential areas of the city of Severodonetsk have been fully liberated,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu tells a defense ministry meeting today.

The Russian army is still seeking to establish control over the city’s “industrial zone and the nearest settlements,” he adds, amid conflicting reports of who is in control of what.

Moscow has been pushing for control of the strategic industrial hub as part of its bid to conquer a vast swath of eastern Ukraine but Kyiv’s forces have so far managed to hold out.

“Our heroes are holding their positions in Severodonetsk. Fierce street fights continue in the city,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address late yesterday.

After being repelled from other parts of the country, including Kyiv, Russia has concentrated its assault on the eastern Donbas region and had been making slow but steady progress.

Severodonetsk — the largest city still in Ukrainian hands in the Luhansk region of the Donbas — has been the focal point in recent weeks.

Meretz’s Frej hints fellow party member should resign for opposing settler law

Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej joins criticism of fellow Meretz lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi for helping defeat a coalition bill to renew the so-called settler law, appearing to suggest she should resign.

“She made a mistake. In her place, I would resign if I were against a certain vote in principle,” he tells the Kan public broadcaster’s Arabic-language station.

US-backed Kurds threaten to turn to Damascus if Turkey launches incursion

BEIRUT — The US-backed and Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria say that they will turn to the government in Damascus for support should Turkey go ahead with its threat to launch a new incursion into the war-torn country.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, says today after a meeting of its command that its priority is to reduce tension near the border with Turkey but also prepare for a long fight if Ankara carries out its threat.

The announcement appears to be a message directed at the United States and meant to elicit pressure from Washington on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to put aside his offensive plans.

Erdogan has repeatedly said over the past weeks that he’s planning a major military operation to create a 30-kilometer (19 mile) deep buffer zone inside Syria along Turkey’s border, through a cross-border incursion against US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters — an attempt that failed in 2019.

Analysts have said Erdogan is taking advantage of the war in Ukraine to push his own goals in Syria — even using Turkey’s ability as a NATO member to veto alliance membership by Finland and Sweden as potential leverage.

On the ground, the situation has been tense with near daily exchanges of fire and shelling between the US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters on one side and Turkish forces and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition gunmen on the other.

Sa’ar rails at right-wing opposition for voting against settler law renewal

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar hits out at opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious Knesset bloc for refusing to support a government-backed bill extending Israeli law to settlers in the West Bank, after a proposal to renew the measure was defeated yesterday with the help of several coalition lawmakers.

“People who definite themselves as ‘right-wing’ are voting against the ability of Israel to rule in Judae and Samaria [West Bank]. They are in fact saying, ‘I’m in the opposition now so I’ll vote against everything and the country can burn,'” Sa’ar tells a group of high schoolers, according to the Ynet news site.

Spanish judge to visit Israel to take testimony from NSO chief on Pegasus spyware

BARCELONA, Spain — A Spanish judge will travel to Israel to seek testimony from the head of tech company NSO, the maker of the controversial Pegasus spyware used in tapping politicians’ phones in Spain, the country’s National Court says today.

The court says that José Luis Calama has decided to lead a judicial commission that will travel to Israel to “take testimony from the CEO of the company that commercializes the Pegasus program.”

Shalev Hulio is the CEO of the Tel Aviv-based NSO Group. The court gives no date for the judge’s trip.

The information is made public after the judge removed the seal of secrecy from the case concerning the hacking of the cellphones of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Spain’s ministers of defense and interior in May and June 2021.

The cyberattack coincided with a diplomatic rift between Spain and Morocco. But Spain’s government, which took the case to Spanish court on discovering the hacks last month, has only said that the hacks came from an “external” power.

NSO says that it only sells its Pegasus spyware to governments for security purposes. Pegasus has been linked to the hacking of other political leaders and activists in other countries. NSO has denied playing any part of this apparent misuse of its evasive technology that has come to light thanks to the work of digital-rights groups inspecting individual phones.

Pro-Kremlin separatists confirm Russian general’s death in Ukraine fighting

MOSCOW — Pro-Kremlin separatists in Ukraine confirm the death of another Russian general during Moscow’s military campaign in the country.

The death of Major General Roman Kutuzov was reported earlier by a war correspondent for Russian state TV but has not been confirmed by officials in Moscow.

The leader of Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, today expresses his “sincere condolences to the family and friends” of Kutuzov, “who showed by example how to serve the fatherland.”

“As long as our generals fight shoulder to shoulder with soldiers, our country and our nation will be invincible,” Pushilin says on Telegram, posting a black and white photo of Kutuzov.

The announcement comes as Russian forces and their separatist allies are carrying out a major assault on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, with fierce fighting taking place for the city of Severodonetsk.

Since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, Ukraine’s forces claimed to have killed several of Russia’s top brass but their exact number is not known as Moscow is tight-lipped on its losses.

In late March, hundreds gathered in Russia-annexed Crimea for the funeral of Andrei Paliy, the deputy commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, who died in combat near Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol.

In April, a funeral for Major General Vladimir Frolov was held in Russia’s second city, Saint Petersburg, with local authorities confirming that he met a “heroic death” in Ukraine.

Russia says it destroyed artillery pieces that West gave Ukraine

MOSCOW — The Russian military says it has destroyed several artillery systems provided by the West in the latest series of strikes on Ukrainian targets.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says today that the Russian artillery hit a howitzer supplied by Norway and two other artillery systems given to Ukraine by the United States. He says that the Russian artillery barrage destroyed other Ukrainian equipment in the country’s east while the Russian air force hit Ukrainian troops and equipment concentrations and artillery positions.

Konashenkov’s claims can’t be independently confirmed.

Motion to censure Iran tover undeclared nuclear work submitted to UN watchdog

VIENNA — The United States, Britain, France and Germany have submitted a motion to the UN atomic energy watchdog to censure Iran over its lack of cooperation with the agency, two diplomats say today.

“The text was submitted overnight,” a European diplomat tells AFP. A second diplomat confirms the news.

The resolution urging Iran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) marks the first time since June 2020 when a similar motion censuring Iran was adopted.

It is a sign of growing Western impatience after talks to revive the 2015 landmark nuclear accord with Iran stalled in March.

The vote is likely to happen on Thursday during the weeklong meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors, one of the diplomats said.

In a report late last month, the IAEA said it still had questions that were “not clarified” regarding traces of enriched uranium previously found at three sites, which Iran had not declared as having hosted nuclear activities.

Bennett ally: Rebel MK showed ‘she’s no longer part of Yamina’ by bucking coalition

Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana suggests rebel MK Idit Silman, a fellow member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, could be declared a defector after she opposed the coalition yesterday on a pair of key votes.

“Yesterday she proved with her actions that she is no longer part of Yamina,” Kahana tells the Democrat TV conference. “I believe there will be consequences for this.”

Kahana, a close ally of Bennett, also brushes off the coalition’s failure to reappoint him as religious affairs minister last night.

“Whether I’m religious affairs minister or deputy minister is less important. What is important is the government’s stability,” Kahana says.

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