The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened.
Chief of the military’s Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano says the Israel Defense Forces won’t leave any question unanswered, following this morning’s deadly shootings on the Egypt border.
“We are in a joint investigation with the Egyptians, and it will be sharp, clear, and we will not leave any question unsolved,” Toledano tells reporters at the Egyptian border.
He says the IDF is probing a possible connection between an attempted drug smuggling incident nearby, to the initial deadly attack this morning at an army post.
“We will investigate all directions, the incident happened after the smuggling, we will check the connection between the incidents,” he says.
UK pop star Robbie Williams takes the stage tonight for his long-awaited show in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park.
Thousands of fans stand as Williams, dressed in a gold tank top, takes to the stage, calling, “Tel Aviv, clap your hands!”
“My name is Robbie fucking Williams, yalla balagan!”
Audience members followed Williams’ instructions to “bounce, bounce, bounce, c’mon” during his hit “Let Me Entertain You.”
Palestinian gunmen targeted a military post near the West Bank settlement of Neve Tzuf, also known as Halamish, the military says.
The Israel Defense Forces does not immediately elaborate further on the shooting attack.
The Rescuers Without Borders emergency service says it has received a report of two Palestinians, including a 3-year-old, who are hurt by gunfire in the area.
The service says the pair are likely hurt by the gunmen’s fire at the IDF post.
A Palestinian man who allegedly carried out a car-ramming attack in the northern West Bank town of Huwara on May 21, injuring a soldier, turned himself in two days later, the military says.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, Naim Daras Hassan Daras, 34, a resident of Ramallah, turned himself in to Israeli security forces on May 23.
In the alleged attack, Daras “accelerated and rammed” into a soldier in Huwara, wounding him, before fleeing the scene. The soldier was hospitalized in moderate condition.
The IDF says Daras is being questioned by the Shin Bet over the alleged attack.
The US imposes sanctions on an Iranian Revolutionary Guard official and others it says took part in wide-ranging plots to kill former national security adviser John Bolton and others around the world, including at least one additional US government official.
The alleged 2021 plot against Bolton, one of the best-documented of the alleged assassination efforts, is part of what US prosecutors and former government officials describe as ongoing efforts by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to kill Trump-era officials behind a 2020 US airstrike that killed the head of the Iranian guard’s elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani.
In all, today’s sanctions accuse three people based in Iran and Turkey, a company affiliated with Iran’s Quds Force and two senior officials of Iran’s Intelligence Organization in global plots to kill former US officials, journalists and Iranian dissidents abroad, according to the US Treasury Department.
Hebrew media reports that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called off a planned visit to Israel next week amid tensions between Jerusalem and Washington over Iran.
However, despite the reports, no visit by Blinken had been officially planned.
The reports say that Israel is deeply concerned that the US is moving toward a new nuclear deal with Iran and leaving Jerusalem behind.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joins a chorus of voices coming out of Israel, warning that Israel will act to stop Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon.
“I hear all the publications regarding Iran, so I have a clear message to both Iran and the international community: Israel will do everything it needs to do to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu says in a video message.
The comments come after the UN nuclear watchdog yesterday closed two investigations into Iran’s nuclear program and also amid reports that Israel fears that the US is moving toward a fresh nuclear deal with Tehran, which Jerusalem bitterly opposes.
Hundreds of people are marching in Tel Aviv in support of the government’s planned judicial overhaul.
Several of the protesters are wearing orange prison jumpsuits and handcuffs and chanting “the nation chose judicial reform.”
The protesters say that the opposition is trying to steal the election win away from the government.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) June 1, 2023
Lebanese designer Elie Saab made the bridal gown for today’s royal wedding in Jordan, a spokeswoman for the haute couture outfit says.
Jordan’s royal court kept the dress’ designer a closely guarded secret, and wouldn’t comment even after bride Rajwa Alseif arrived at the wedding ceremony in a sleek gown with long sleeves, an asymmetrical neckline and a flowing train.
Marilyne Mossino, a spokeswoman for Elie Saab, confirms that the Lebanese fashion icon was behind the wedding dress.
Mossino said Britain’s Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, also wore Elie Saab, an elegant ready-to-wear pink gown with a high neck and elaborate embellishments.
Moldova’s ambassador to Israel Alexandr Roitman sends a scathing letter to Shas MK Yinon Azoulay after he made derogatory comments about the eastern European nation.
Addressing the Knesset plenum yesterday, Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman said the Vilna Gaon — a vaunted 18th-century rabbi — studied math and astronomy in his spare time, in a rebuke of ultra-Orthodox schools that don’t teach Education Ministry prescribed core subjects.
Firing back, Azoulay called Liberman “the ignoramus from Moldova,” where Liberman was born and grew up.
“I could not ignore such an unjustified statement towards my country. I urge you to refrain from such statements in the future,” Roitman says in his letter to Azoulay.
“Using such language is unacceptable, especially in light of hundreds of years of shared history between the Moldavian people and the Jewish people,” he writes.
Hundreds of people are marching through the central city of Modiin to protest outside the home of Justice Minister Yariv Levin over his judicial overhaul plans.
The demonstrators are carrying Israeli flags and 150 placards with the names of laws the government is trying to pass that they say will undermine Israel’s democracy.
צועדים כעת במודיעין מול ביתו של יריב לוין pic.twitter.com/vtQbADyDIe
— דמוקרטTV (@Democrat_TV) June 1, 2023
Chana Tova Chaya Nachenberg, who died yesterday after 22 years in a coma since being critically wounded in the deadly 2001 Sbarro suicide bombing, is laid to rest.
Dozens of mourners gather in the central city of Modiin for her funeral.
Nachenberg was 31 years old on the day a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 15 civilians, including seven children, and wounded over 100 others at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem.
She became the 16th fatal victim of the bombing, among the deadliest during the Second Intifada.
Born in New York, Nachenberg was at the pizzeria that day with her daughter, Sarah, three years old at the time, who escaped from the attack physically unharmed.
Israel blasts the closure of an International Atomic Energy Agency investigation into a suspicious Iranian site, calling it “a matter of great concern.”
“The explanations provided by Iran for the presence of nuclear material at the site are not reliable or technically possible,” says Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat.
“Iran continues to lie to the IAEA and deceive the international community.”
Earlier this week, the IAEA called off its investigation of traces of man-made uranium found at Marivan, some 525 kilometers (325 miles) southeast of Tehran.
Analysts had repeatedly linked Marivan to Iran’s secret military nuclear program and accused Iran of conducting high-explosive tests there in the early 2000s.
Haiat warns that closing the case “could have extremely dangerous consequences” and that it sends a message to the Iranians that they can “continue to deceive the international community on their way to achieving a full military nuclear program.”
He also charges that the decision “severely damages the professional credibility of the IAEA.”
Lebanon’s military tribunal charges five men with the killing of an Irish UN peacekeeper in December, a senior judicial official says. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, alleges all five are linked with the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
The indictment followed a half-year probe after an attack on a UN peacekeeping convoy near the town of Al-Aqbiya in Lebanon’s south, a stronghold of Hezbollah. The shooting resulted in the death of Pvt. Seán Rooney, 24, of Newtown Cunningham, Ireland, and seriously wounded Pvt. Shane Kearney, 22. The wounded peacekeeper was medically evacuated to Ireland. Two other Irish soldiers sustained light injuries.
The indictment includes evidence from bystanders’ testimonies, as well as audio recordings and video footage from surveillance cameras, the Lebanese official says. In some of the recordings of the confrontation, the gunmen reportedly could be heard telling the peacekeepers that they are from Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has denied any role in the killing, and a spokesperson for the group declines to comment on the indictments.
Far-right activists call off a planned “beast march” that was set to counter the Jerusalem Pride Parade.
A message is sent to activists by extremist leader Michael Ben Ari, who has previously been barred from running for the Knesset over his racist views.
The message says that they remain “opposed with all our souls to the abomination parade in Jerusalem and the other cities in Israel.”
However, they call on activists to oppose the “normalization” of Pride with “protests and an intellectual struggle.”
“Humiliating them will play into their hands, as there will be no conversation about the essence of the issue, but about the insults,” it says.
In previous “beast marches,” participants paraded through the city with donkeys.
Jordan’s newest royal couple is now officially married.
Crown Prince Hussein, 28, and Saudi architect Rajwa Alseif, sign an Islamic marriage contract in a star-studded ceremony attended by international dignitaries at Jordan’s Zahran palace.
Guests start clapping and ululating as he places a ring on her finger, and crowds at public viewing areas erupt in applause.
The ceremony takes place in an open-air gazebo surrounded by landscaped gardens for a traditional Muslim wedding ceremony known as “katb al-ketab.”
— قناة الإخبارية (@alekhbariyatv) June 1, 2023
Around the capital where viewing screens and venues were set up, a jolt went through the crowd as the royal couple sealed their vows and exchanged rings. After several minutes of stillness thousands of Jordanians were on their feet, waving flags and shrieking with excitement.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir is jeered by participants in the Jerusalem Pride Parade as he walks past the gathering area.
Participants shout “Shame” and “Nazis out” at the far-right minister who in 2006 was involved in the “Beasts parade” hate march against the LGBT community, although he has recently moderated his stance and called LGBT people “my brothers and sisters.”
מהומה וקריאות "בושה" לבן גביר במצעד הגאווה בירושלים pic.twitter.com/0UpzsvHKmJ
— יוני בן מנחם yoni ben menachem (@yonibmen) June 1, 2023
Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, a key architect of the government’s controversial judicial overhaul plans, condemns plans to protest coalition lawmakers at New York’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade.
“To the leaders of the protest against Israel’s democratically elected government, I say today: Is it not enough that you worked to damage critical unity among our fighting forces, and have both incited to and committed violence in Israel?” Rothman says.
He says protests at Sunday’s parade, in which he plans to march, will be “yet another violation of an important Jewish and democratic value.”
He calls on President Isaac Herzog “to condemn the organizations who stand ready to destroy the State of Israel’s most important relationship with world Jewry just to gain points in a domestic political struggle.”
The protesters, part of a network of Israeli activists called UnXeptable, oppose the government’s judicial overhaul plans and have been holding regular rallies in and around New York City since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government announced the proposals earlier this year.
Organizers said they have collected information on 10 lawmakers who are visiting New York for the parade.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir says his priority as the Jerusalem Pride Parade starts is to ensure there is not another “crazy” incident like the 2015 murder of Shira Banki.
“It is clear that in my role as national security minister, I do and will do everything so that there will not be a crazy case, like the murder of the girl Shira Banki,” says the far-right minister as he arrives at the police command to oversee security for the march.
Ben Gvir also reiterates his support for a counter-protest to the march.
“That’s their right as long as they don’t break the law and I told the police that I don’t want to see pictures of ultra-Orthodox or religious people who walk the streets of Jerusalem and are kicked off the streets because they are religious, because they wear a kippah or because they wear skirts,” he says.
The Jerusalem Pride Parade is the subject of heavy security and restrictions after an ultra-Orthodox extremist, Yishai Schlissel, stabbed Banki to death at the parade in 2015. Schlissel carried out the attack just a few weeks after he was released from prison after serving 10 years for stabbing and injuring marchers at the 2005 parade. He is currently serving life in prison.
Yehonatan Elitzur from Mevaseret Zion says he’s attending the Jerusalem Pride Parade to “fight for equality and against hatred,” adding that the LGBT community still suffers from discrimination and intolerance.
“I feel this hatred. I’ve felt it at work, in my military service, and in Jerusalem especially I feel a dark cloud of intolerance,” says Elitzur, who grew up in the capital.
He says he’s “happy to see so many people not necessarily from the LGBT community” attending the parade to “fight for all that is decent.”
Elitzur says he comes from “a totally liberal background” and so finds it “hard to accept radical views, filled with hatred.”
He says he doesn’t believe the anti-Pride protest should be permitted, arguing, “There’s a difference between freedom of speech and throwing poison around.”
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warns that Israel may be required to act in the face of “intensifying” threats against Israel, notably recent developments regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
“The dangers facing the State of Israel are intensifying and we may be required to fulfill our duty in order to protect the integrity of Israel and especially the future of the Jewish people,” says Gallant during a ceremony for the promotion of two new major generals.
“The tasks are heavy and the challenges are great. The reality in which we find ourselves is complex, but the State of Israel, the IDF, and all the security agencies will know what to do to ensure Israel’s security in the present and in the future, with the help of you, the current and joining members of the General Staff,” the defense minister adds, according to remarks provided by his office.
Yesterday, Iran resolved two outstanding inquiries from the International Atomic Energy Agency over highly enriched uranium particles and a site where man-made uranium was found, easing pressure slightly on Tehran, according to the Associated Press.
At the ceremony at the IDF’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, Nimrod Aloni and David Zini are given the rank of major general before they join the General Staff, a forum of senior commanders responsible for the various branches and departments of the military.
Aloni will be appointed as head of the Depth Corps and Military Colleges and Zini will be appointed as head of the Training Command and General Staff Corps.
Participants in the Jerusalem Pride Parade are gathering under tight security for the annual march.
Those entering the parade gathering point have to go through two security checkpoints and the central Jerusalem gathering point is being secured by dozens of police and riot police forces.
And a strict separation zone has been zone set up between the parade and a cordoned area set up for a protest against the march organized by far-right activists.
“It’s stressing people out,” says Noam Adkin, who came from Haifa for the parade.
“The security feels stricter than previous years — stricter regulations and more riot police,” he continues.
Adkin says he and a bunch of friends were verbally abused by a group of youths as they made their way to the parade.
“The most hateful people are in the government right now so the parade feels more important than ever,” he adds.
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week urging him not to move forward with legislation that would significantly limit Israeli civil society groups’ ability to accept donations from foreign governments, the Axios news site reports.
The government took the bill off Sunday’s agenda in the wake of reports of opposition from foreign governments, including from the US, France and Germany.
The Axios report, citing US and Israeli officials, says that among the opposing voices was a letter directly from Nides to Netanyahu.
The report says that in addition to the letter, Nides and other US diplomats privately worked for weeks to urge the Israeli government to back off from the bill.
The bill states that any nonprofit group that engages in public advocacy two years before or after receiving a donation from a foreign government will lose its status as a public institution and will no longer be eligible for tax exemptions. In addition, those nonprofits will be hit with a 65 percent income tax.
It is viewed as targeting left-wing groups that are considered adversaries by Netanyahu’s right-wing government.
A seven-year-old girl was forgotten in her parents’ locked car overnight in Jerusalem and rescued by a passerby this morning.
Police were called to the scene and reunited the girl with her parents, American citizens, in the city’s Ramat Sharet neighborhood.
The parents were later taken in for questioning, where they explained they had returned home at midnight and apparently forgotten their daughter in the vehicle.
The girl was unharmed and did not require medical attention.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir says the police have to ensure the rights and “free speech” of those holding a counter-protest against today’s Jerusalem Pride Parade.
“The job of the police is first and foremost to protect the marchers. In addition, the police force has to do all it can to allow the counter-protesters to exercise their freedom of speech and protest,” says Ben Gvir.
“These are fundamental rights in a democracy and must be protected. People must not be turned away or detained solely because of their religious appearance or their intention to demonstrate against the parade,” he says.
Ben Gvir announces his intention to be present at the police command center despite calls from Pride organizers for the far-right minister to stay away from the event given his past support for anti-LGBTQ groups.
Unlike its Tel Aviv counterpart, the Jerusalem Pride Parade is the subject of heavy security and restrictions after an ultra-Orthodox extremist, Yishai Schlissel, stabbed teenage marcher Shira Banki to death at the parade in 2015. Schlissel carried out the attack just a few weeks after he was released from prison after serving 10 years for stabbing and injuring marchers at the 2005 parade. He is currently serving life in prison.
Iranian advisers are in Syria arming terror groups there with powerful roadside bombs to step up attacks on US forces there, the Washington Post reports.
The report, citing leaked documents and intelligence officials, say this is part of a move by Iran, in cooperation with Russia, to try to drive the US from the region.
The report says elite Quds Force unit members are equipping and training local groups with “powerful armor-piercing roadside bombs intended specifically to target US military vehicles and kill US personnel.”
The report says groups have already tried unsuccessfully to carry out such attacks, including in February when US-allied Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria seized three bombs.
Israel could soon face a shortage of doctors, says a report released today by the 38-member Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The report says shortages could be faced as early as 2025 and points out that the country does not have a proper system in place to manage manpower in the medical profession.
“There is a need to move away from crisis management mode to establish a more permanent governance structure,” the report says.
It also calls on Israel to increase the number of medical students and accredit an additional new medical school.
An anti-government protester confronts Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis as he eats a meal by the swimming pool of a Los Angeles hotel.
In a video posted to social media, the activist shouts at Akunis, “It is still an embarrassment” as security guards try to keep him away.
“You stole, you lied, we will not leave you alone,” he shouts.
Switching to English, he calls on Americans eating with Akunis to “educate yourselves.”
“This is not a chichi event, we are about to lose the country.”
Akunis pulled out of a Los Angeles event yesterday amid a protest at the venue against the government’s contentious planned judicial overhaul.
הפתעה לאופיר אקוניס בלוס אנג׳לס בבריכה.
חובה לרדוף את פושעי ההפיכה ועוזריהם בכל מקום! ???? pic.twitter.com/9KZvHIpEIH
— קומי ישראל ????????????️???????? (@kumiiisrael) June 1, 2023
Police in the central city of Ramat Gan say that forces opened fire on a suspicious motorcyclist after he refused to stop for a check.
Police say the rider tried to get away at high speed and officers, who were endangered, opened fire at the bike’s wheels but missed.
During the attempt to flee, the motorcycle hit a bystander, moderately wounding him.
Police are carrying out searches for the motorcyclist.
Col. Omer Cohen takes command of the military’s Oz Brigade, also known as the Commando Brigade, replacing Col. Meni Liberati, who held the position since August 2021.
The brigade brings four of the army’s elite units — Egoz, Rimon, Maglan and Duvdevan — under one roof, with the goal of cutting away inefficiencies and allowing for greater cooperation. It was formed in 2015 under the Central Command’s 98th Division.
During a ceremony at the army’s Beit Lid base east of Netanya, 98th Division Commander Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus lauds Liberati for his work as the unit’s leader during the past two years.
“Meni, you are completing two years commanding [the unit], in which you impeccably and inspiringly led an unprecedented number of operational activities with exceptional quality. You dealt with difficult incidents — operational and non-operational — with dignity, with extraordinary self-criticism, you knew how to embrace, strengthen, raise your head, be devoted, and lead everyone forward,” Goldfus says.
The “difficult non-operational incident” Goldfus was likely referring to was a deadly case of friendly fire in the Egoz unit in January 2022.
Liberati will be taking a break from military service for academic studies.
Cohen, the new commander, previously led the Duvdevan unit.
Two Palestinian men from the Gaza Strip who attempted to infiltrate into Israel in late April have been indicted.
One of the men, Baha Abu Dahr, 31, is also accused of being a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) terror group.
According to the indictment, on April 30, Abu Dahr and his neighbor from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, Yasser Abu Madif, arrived at the border with bolt cutters and a Palestinian flag.
The pair cut through the first fence, before being detained by Israeli troops in the buffer zone.
The indictment said Abu Dahr joined the DFLP in 2007, and until 2014 was involved in guard duties in the event of an Israeli incursion. Between 2012 and the date of his arrest, Abu Dahr would observe Israeli military activity on the border and report his findings to DFLP commanders, the indictment read.
Abu Dahr is charged with membership in a terror group, weapons offenses, providing information to the enemy, infiltration, and damaging property.
Abu Madif is only charged with infiltration and damaging property.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip frequently attempt to illegally enter Israeli territory, often with hopes of fleeing the beleaguered enclave.
Russia says it had used jets and artillery to thwart an attempt by Ukrainian troops to “invade” its southwestern Belgorod region.
“At about 3:00 am (0000 GMT), Ukrainian units comprising up to two motorized infantry companies, reinforced with tanks, attempted to invade,” the Russian defense ministry says.
Moscow used jets and artillery to repel the attacks and prevent Ukrainian troops from crossing over into Russia, the ministry adds.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
I'm proud of our coverage of this government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, including the political and social discontent that underpins the proposed changes and the intense public backlash against the shakeup.
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