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Eleven fires burning near Gaza said caused by incendiary kites

Firefighters battling the blazes; a day earlier, at least 13 fires were started in Gaza periphery

File: Israeli firefighters battle a blaze in a field in southern Israel caused by kites flown by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip on June 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
File: Israeli firefighters battle a blaze in a field in southern Israel caused by kites flown by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip on June 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

North Korea’s Kim calls summit with Trump ‘historic’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ahead of Tuesday’s summit with US President Donald Trump.

Kim smiles broadly in the meeting Sunday evening.

Kim tells Lee: “The entire world is watching the historic summit between the DPRK and the United States of America, and thanks to your sincere efforts … we were able to complete the preparation for the historic summit.”

— AP

Brush fire causes evacuation in southern Israeli village

A large brush fire is threatening the northern edge of the southern Israeli village of Karmei Katif.

Police are asking residents to evacuate the area, and shut Route 358, the closest highway.

At least four fire crews are battling the blaze, along with four firefighting planes.

Assad says West is fueling Syria war, hoping to topple him

Syrian President Bashar Assad says the West is fueling the devastating war in his country, now in its eighth year, with the aim of toppling him.

Assad tells the UK’s Mail on Sunday that Western nations have lied about chemical attacks in Syria and supported terrorist groups there, while Russia has supported his government against the foreign “invasion.”

He dismisses reports that Israel has conducted recent airstrikes in Syria with tacit Russian cooperation. Russia has been waging an air campaign on behalf of Assad’s forces since 2015.

Assad declines to say whether he would run for a third term in three years, when his current term expires, saying it is “too early” to discuss it.

The Syrian conflict began with a popular uprising against the Assad family’s decades-long rule.

— AP

Police continue evacuation of Karmei Katif as flames draw near

Police say the first row of houses in the village of Karmei Katif has been cleared of residents as firefighters battle a nearby brush fire.

Police are preventing anyone from entering the village, and all remaining residents have been concentrated in a central building.

Police officers managing the evacuation of the southern Israeli village of Karmei Katif as a brush fire approaches. (Israel Police)

Netanyahu offers Israeli water tech to solve Iran’s growing environmental crisis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offers Israel’s water expertise to an Iran he says faces an environmental disaster due to persistent drought.

In an English-language video posted online, Netanyahu makes “an unprecedented offer to Iran.”

He explains: “The Iranian people are victims of a cruel and tyrannical regime that denies them vital water. Israel stands with the people of Iran…. Iran’s meteorological organization says that nearly 96 percent of Iran suffers from some levels of drought. Issa Kalantari, a former Iranian agriculture minister, said that 50 million Iranians could be forced out of their homes due to environmental damage. 50 million! Millions of Iranian children are suffering due to mismanagement, to incompetence, and the theft of vital resources by the Iranian regime.”

Israel has solved many of its water challenge, the prime minister notes, by developing “cutting edge technologies to address them. Israel recycles nearly 90% of its wastewater. That’s far more than any other country on earth. We invented drip irrigation. Our technology targets individual plants with exactly the nutrients they need for the plant.”

And so, since “Iran bans Israelis from visiting,” Israel is launching a Persian-language website and Telegram channel that will give Iranians “the knowhow to prevent environmental catastrophe in Iran.”

The site includes “detailed plans on how Iranians can recycle their wastewater. We will show how Iranian farmers can save their crops and feed their families.”

In case anyone misses the political point, he explains that too. “The Iranian regime shouts ‘Death to Israel!’ In response, Israel shouts, ‘Life to the Iranian people!’ The people of Iran are good and decent. They shouldn’t have to face such a cruel regime alone. We are with you. We will help so that millions of Iranians don’t have to suffer. The hatred of Iran’s regime will not stop the respect and friendship between our two peoples.”

EU pledges $24m. to ease Jordan’s economic woes

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announces 20 million euros ($23.5 million) in aid for Jordan following a wave of anti-austerity protests that led to the prime minister’s resignation.

The EU will support Jordan “with all possible means at our disposal including economic and financial means,” Mogherini says during a visit to Amman.

“This is a country that has a vital role to play in the region,” she tells a news conference. “You will have always the EU at your side fully supporting your reform work.”

The funds would “address in particular the needs of Jordanians that are particularly vulnerable,” Mogherini says.

Cash-strapped Jordan, a close US ally that relies heavily on donors, is struggling to rein in its debt after securing a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.


Trump arrives in Singapore for North Korea summit

US President Donald Trump touches down in Singapore ahead of a summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, where Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal will top the agenda.

Trump and Kim are due to hold talks — the first-ever between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader — on Tuesday, with Trump describing the meeting as a “one-time shot” at peace.

Neither Trump nor his aides made any comment to reporters on the plane.

The president waves at the top of the stairs, descending alone before breaking into a smile and greeting various officials from host Singapore.

Trump then boards his armor-plated car to head for his luxury hotel in Singapore, accompanied by a motorcade of around 30 vehicles.


Austria chancellor backs ensuring Yad Vashem access to Vienna’s state archives

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum to sign an agreement granting the Israeli institution access to Austria’s State Archives for documents “relating to the Holocaust.”

Karmei Katif brush fire put out, officials say

Officials say the brush fire that threatened the southern village of Karmei Katif has been put out.

Iran reports deadly clashes with insurgents on Iraq border

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says there had been three clashes with “terrorists” along the border with Iraq in recent days, leaving several dead.

“In recent days we have been witnessing some movements and efforts by anti-revolutionary bandits and terrorists in west and northwest border areas with the aim of deep infiltration,” says Brigadier-General Mohammad Pakpour, ground forces commander of the Guards.

He says the first attack was on Friday in the Oshnaviyeh area near the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, and left seven attackers “killed or wounded.” Two further attacks were reported between Saturday and Sunday — another in Oshnaviyeh and one further south in Sarvabad.

Pakpour says surveillance had identified these militants before they were able “to infiltrate our country’s soil.”

The clashes on Saturday and Sunday left six attackers dead and three wounded, he adds, and that a considerable amount of weaponry had been recovered.


Woman, 36, found stabbed to death in Haifa

A 36-year-old woman is found stabbed to death on Aryeh Levin Street in Haifa, police say.

There are other signs of violence on her body as well.

She is taken to the city’s Rambam Medical Center, where doctors pronounce her death.

Police launch an investigation.

Barkat: Jerusalem one of the safest cities in the world

At the AJC’s Global Forum gathering in Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat says Israel’s capital is one of the safest cities in the world.

“In Washington DC, you have 15 murders per 100,000 residents per year. In Jerusalem, terror and crime combined – one,” he says at the opening of the event.

“When I fly to America, I pray to come back home safely,” Barkat quips.

Eleven fires burning near Gaza said caused by incendiary kites

At least 11 brush fires are burning around the Gaza border, with firefighters battling the blazes.

The JNF says they were sparked by burning kites sent over the border from Gaza, according to the Haaretz daily.

Saturday saw 13 fires in the Gaza periphery, most of them suspected to have been caused by kites.

Triple Crown winner Justify partially owned by company connected to George Soros

Justify, the 13th horse ever to win the Triple Crown, is partially owned by a company controlled by the top employees of Jewish investor George Soros.

The 3-year-old colt, Justify, won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, after previously winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the three most prestigious horse racing events of the year.

The New York Times reported in the days leading up to the race that Soros’s investment firm, Soros Fund Management, is behind SF Bloodstock and SF Racing Group, an international breeding and racing operation started in 2008. Executives from the investment firm oversee the breeding and horse ownership businesses. The operation owns 15 percent of the breeding rights to Justify, who is descended from previous Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Secretariat.

Soros is a Hungarian-American Jewish business magnate and philanthropist, who donated millions to Democratic candidates, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and who is considered an enemy of the state in Hungary for his support of resettling refugees.


Police find bomb near Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs

Border Police officers locate an apparent explosive device near one of the guard posts outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Sappers are called to the scene, police say.

Indonesian cleric makes plea for religious tolerance in Jerusalem

Indonesian cleric Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, the secretary-general one of the largest Muslim organizations in the world, makes a passionate plea for religious tolerance at a conference in Jerusalem.

“We have to alter our way in handling things,” the cleric, known as Pak Yahya, tells delegates at the AJC Global Forum. “Religion is used as a justification and as a weapon for conflict. We people of religion should ask ourselves, is it really the true function of religion?” he asks in a conversation with AJC’s Rabbi David Rosen.

“If I had to make a call to the world, I would call on the world: Let us choose rahma,” he says, referring to an Islamic term meaning compassion or caring for the other.

Pak Yahya’s organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, has about 50 million members across Indonesia.

— Raphael Ahren

Argentinean Jewish groups decry cancellation of soccer match in Jerusalem

Argentinian and global Jewish institutions decry the cancellation last week of the friendly match between the national soccer teams of Israel and Argentina, which was slated for Saturday night in Jerusalem.

“The suspension of this friendly match between Argentina and Israel was not even a negotiation with a group of violent extremists. It was a capitulation,” wrote Argentina’s Jewish political umbrella DAIA President Alberto Indij in a letter to the Argentine Football Association. “Unfortunately, not only the opportunity for two friendly countries to offer a show in peace was lost; it also has weakened us profoundly as a nation because it has demonstrated to the whole world that fear can win, without a responsible leadership showing even the slightest resistance.”

The Jewish Argentine Federation for Sports and Social Community Centers, or FACCMA, in a statement said it “strongly condemns the fact that violence and threats defeated fair play and an encounter between cultures.” The federation is the largest member of the Latin American branch of the Maccabi World Union, which has 55 affiliates and a network of 50,000 members. “In our Maccabi spirit we will continue to promote respect and are against violence and hate.”


Netanyahu: What if Trump-Kim deal was applauded in Europe, but opposed by Korea?

In a talk to the AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uses the example of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore to make a longstanding case against the Iran deal.

“We all know that in two days, President Trump will meet Kim Jong Un. The entire world prays for the success of this summit,” says Netanyahu.

“Imagine President Trump came back with some deal, and UK, France and others in Europe applauded the deal, and Japan and South Korea opposed it.

“That’s what happened with the Iran deal. This deal was applauded by many who are not in the missile range of Iran. But Israel and the Arab states opposed it.

“I think, as I told my friends in Europe this week, when Israelis and Arabs agree on something — pay attention! They must know something! We are committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

— Raphael Ahren

Sappers destroy explosive device found near Tomb of the Patriarchs

Police say sappers have detonated the explosive device found near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

The device reportedly had two gas canisters attached to it.

Police shuttered the area at the entrance to the holy site after locating the device a short time ago.

— Jacob Magid

Children find explosive device attached to incendiary kite from Gaza

Police say children in a town near the Gaza border discovered a Gazan incendiary kite with a suspected bomb attached to it.

Sappers neutralized the threat using a robot.

No one is hurt in the incident.

Police and local authorities emphasize residents should not approach incendiary kites and balloons, as some have been found with explosive devices attached.

Saudi Arabia says new Yemen missile intercepted

Saudi air defenses intercept a ballistic missile over the southern province of Jizan, after it was fired from rebel-held territory in neighboring Yemen, state media says.

“Saudi defenses intercepted a missile over Jizan, launched by Houthi militia from Yemen,” the state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV reports, without specifying if there are any casualties.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against neighboring Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition that has fought the insurgents since 2015.

The attack comes a day after three civilians were killed in Jizan, when Houthi rebels fired a “projectile” at the province, according to the coalition.


Austria’s Chancellor Kurz visits Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall

Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz visits Israel’s Western Wall in Jerusalem, June 10, 2018. (Avi Hayun/Israeli Foreign Ministry)
Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz visits Israel’s Western Wall in Jerusalem, June 10, 2018. (Avi Hayun/Israeli Foreign Ministry)
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