The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened.
Several Arab Israelis have been arrested for attacking Jews during ethnic unrest that rocked the country last month, the Shin Bet security service and police says.
Three of the suspects are accused of shooting at a Jewish man outside the northern village of Zalafa. Another two are alleged to have assaulted Jews in the town of Kafr Qara.
A joint statement from the Shin Bet and police says the three suspects in the drive-by shooting planned the May 13 attack and rode in a car without license plates. The man they shot at “hid from the line of fire” and was not hurt in the incident, according to the statement.
The suspects, all residents of Zalafa, are also accused of taking part in “additional violent riots” last month.
Defense Minsiter Benny Gantz hits back at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning against demolishing an illegal outpost that was recently established by national religious settlers in the northern West Bank.
“There’s no stipulation in law that requires a demarcation order [by the army] in the Judea and Samaria region to be approved by the prime minister,” Gantz’s office writes to Netanyahu, effectively telling the prime minister he had no authority over the site.
“Irrespective of the complex questions surrounding the determination of the status of land in that area, the mere act of establishing the outpost is an illegal act of exceptional scope and type,” the letter from Gantz’s office says. “It is those anomalous characteristics of this case that led to the decision to issue a demarcation order, which followed consultation with all relevant defense and legal authorities.”
In a letter to Gantz sent yesterday, Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Asher Ohayon, claimed that the head of the IDF Central Command did not have the authority to issue a “demarcation order” this week barring additional construction in the Evyatar outpost and ordering all inhabitants to vacate the site with their belongings beginning next week. Ohayon said that such sensitive military orders require the prime minister’s approval.
The sole survivor of a deadly cable car crash in Italy, Eitan Biran, is released from the hospital, local health authorities say, noting that the 5-year-old’s condition is “much improved.”
Fourteen people, including Eitan’s parents, younger brother and great-grandparents, were killed in the May 24 accident after a cable snapped on the aerial tram bringing weekend visitors to the top of the Piedmont region’s Mottarone mountain.
“Early this morning Eitan was discharged from the Isola Margherita ward of the Regina Margherita hospital,” says the Turin children’s hospital in a statement.
The child — who had suffered severe chest and abdomen injuries — returns home to Pavia, south of Milan, with his aunt, the hospital says.
“His condition is much improved now,” said the statement, adding that a full recovery will take 60 days.
The Israeli army and the family of an intelligence officer who died under unclear circumstances in military prison last month spar over the decision to continue to bar the publication of the serviceman’s name, with each claiming the other was responsible.
“The IDF Spokesperson forgot that we don’t live in the 1980s, and much in the way you can’t disappear a person you can’t brief journalists and publish irresponsible statements,” the family’s attorney, Benny Kuznitz, says in a statement.
“The contents of the statement are in violation of agreements with the prosecution that the security risks in publishing [the name] have not yet been considered by the Operations Directorate,” he says.
Kuznitz’s denunciation comes in response to claims by the military that the reason for the continued court-issued gag order on the officer’s identity, which has been widely shared on social media, is due to a request from his family, not from security concerns.
The officer was in prison at the time of his death as he was charged with severe national security offenses, the precise nature of which are also censored.
Desirae Krawczyk of the United States and Joe Salisbury of Britain win the mixed doubles title at the French Open.
The pair defeat Russian Elena Vesnina and Russian-Israeli Aslan Karatsev 2-6, 6-4, 10-5.
Their win ends Britain’s 39-year wait for a title at Roland Garros. The last British player to lift a trophy in the tournament’s five main events was John Lloyd in the mixed doubles in 1982. He played with Wendy Turnbull of Australia.
Both Krawczyk and Salisbury were eliminated in the early stages of the doubles tournament in Paris and turned their focus to the mixed doubles.
Karatsev lost in the second round of the men’s tournament.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explored a run for the presidency last month, Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site, reports.
Senior Likud officials who sought to remove Netanyahu from his post as prime minister as a way to solve the ongoing political crisis suggested the option to him in mid-May while Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid held the mandate to form the next government. “Are you sure this thing has a majority?” he asked them, referring to votes in the Knesset. The officials assured Netanyahu that he did, but promised to explore the possibility and even seek to have members of Knesset sign his candidacy papers.
The inquiries were conducted in secret by senior Likud officials along with representatives of the prime minister’s office, who came to the conclusion that Netanyahu would be able to beat out any candidate, including Isaac Herzog, who was ultimately elected to the position in early June.
At the same time, Netanyahu’s top advisers held consultations with legal experts who came to the conclusion that Netanyahu’s potential election to the presidency would not be struck down by the High Court.
The senior Likud officials returned to Netanyahu promising that he had a majority of support in the Knesset, only to receive the cold shoulder from the prime minister who had already decided against the move. “I am not interested,” he said. “It’s better to be the head of the opposition than to be president.”
Queen Elizabeth II will host US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden in her royal residence on Sunday, after the couple leaves the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, southwestern England.
Biden will be welcomed with a military Guard of Honor and afternoon tea with the queen when he meets the monarch at Windsor Castle.
The monarch will greet the Bidens in the castle’s quadrangle, where assembled soldiers from the Queen’s Company First Battalion Grenadier Guards will give a royal salute and the US national anthem will be played.
The president will then be invited to inspect the Honor Guard and watch the military march-past with the queen.
Biden will be the 13th American leader to meet the monarch, with Lyndon B. Johnson the only one the queen has not met. She has received four other US presidents at Windsor Castle: Donald Trump in 2018; Barack Obama in 2016; George W. Bush in 2008; and Ronald Reagan in 1982.
The military prosecutor’s office files an indictment against a Palestinian man over a deadly West Bank drive-by shooting attack in May that left one Israeli student dead and two injured.
The indictment states that Muntasir Shalabi, 47, was equipped with ammunition, identified the hitchhikers as Jews, and began firing. He then escaped, changed his clothes and haircut.
Shalabi, a father of seven, is from the nearby town of Turmus Ayya and is not believed to have any affiliation with Palestinian terror groups, the Shin Bet security service said at the time of his arrest.
Uzia Galil, one of the founding fathers of Israel’s tech ecosystem, dies at the age of 96.
Galil, who received the Israel Prize, the nation’s highest accolade in 1997 for his development of the tech industry, was a founder of Elron Electronic Industries, the first high-tech multinational holding company based in Israel, in Tel Aviv, and operating globally.
Since 1962 the firm has helped set up, fund and develop some 30 technology-based companies in a variety of fields, including medical imaging, defense electronics, communications, machine vision and semiconductors, and enabling the flourishing of the local tech industry.
Catering to the local population, McDonald’s announces that for the first time in Israel and the world, its Israeli branches will sell some of its fast food dishes in pita bread.
The Mac Kebab and the Mac Falafel — which will both include tahini, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles — will become regulars on the new menu from next month.
.The McDonald’s restaurant chain is the largest fast-food chain in Israel, operating some 210 branches throughout the country.
Just six new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Israel yesterday, according to the Health Ministry.
There are currently 208 active cases in the country.
In mid-January, there were close to 9,000 new cases per day and more than 80,000 active cases.
An Iranian destroyer and support vessel are now sailing in the Atlantic Ocean in a rare mission far from the Islamic Republic, Iran’s state TV reports, without offering the vessels’ final destination.
The trip by the new domestically built destroyer Sahand and the intelligence-gathering vessel Makran comes amid US media reports, citing anonymous American officials, saying the ships were bound for Venezuela. The Associated Press could not immediately confirm the ships’ destination.
The vessels departed last month from Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas, said Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, Iran’s deputy army chief. He described their mission as the Iranian navy’s longest and most challenging voyage yet, without elaborating.
“The Navy is improving its seafaring capacity and proving its long-term durability in unfavorable seas and the Atlantic’s unfavorable weather conditions,” Sayyari says adding that the warships will not call at any country’s port during the mission.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “not yet reconciled” to losing power, but his Likud party MKs generally are, Channel 12’s political correspondent Yaron Avraham says.
“Netanyahu is still battling… He’s still hoping that something will go wrong [in the eight-party coalition set to be sworn in Sunday]… that there’ll be another [Avichai] Chikli” — the Yamina MK who has said he will vote against the new government. “He hasn’t given up.”
Avraham notes that Netanyahu has no intention of quitting politics if the new government wins Knesset approval. “He’ll go into the opposition… And I’m not sure there’ll be a [festive] ceremony [when he hands over power to Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett].”
As for Likud MKs, says Avraham, however, they are already eyeing which Knesset committee roles they might seek, “and how they’ll be able to build their [personal] power bases in subsequent Likud primaries.”
“So, I’d distinguish between Likud, where there is reconciliation [to the imminent end of their term in office], and the man who is still at the top, for whom the penny has not yet dropped.”
Leading Likud MKs Miki Zohar and David Bitan have both acknowledged in the past two days that the so-called change government, which anticipates a 61-59 majority, is likely to win Knesset approval. Channel 12 says the two members of Ta’al faction of the mainly Arab Joint List might not vote against the new coalition, potentially enabling a 61-57 majority for the incoming Bennett-Yair Lapid coalition, with two abstentions.
Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir is reportedly on his way to the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City to protest the decision to bar him from marching from the site to the Temple Mount.
Yesterday, police barred the Religious Zionism MK from a planned march Thursday with the Israeli flag through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, and a visit to the Temple Mount, amid fears he could reignite violence in the city and beyond.
The Knesset Guard informed Ben Gvir that Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai had decided to prevent his visit, intended to protest the postponement of a flag march through the city by nationalist Jewish groups and a refusal to let them march through the Damascus Gate and Muslim Quarter.
Ben Gvir tells Channel 12 news that he will not attempt to enter the Old City.
“I’ll go to the Damascus Gate but no further today. I won’t confront the police,” he says.
Israel Police have so far not been informed of any planned mass protests against the new government set to be sworn in on Sunday, Channel 12 news reports.
As the so-called “change government” has become increasingly likely, right-wing social discourse has become increasingly alarmist, with frequent declarations that the government could doom Israel and bring about dark times; angry protests outside politicians’ homes; the burning of political posters; and allegations of treason issued via traditional and social media.
Despite numerous protests against the new government in recent weeks, however, only a cluster of anti-Netanyahu groups has announced that it will hold a demonstration outside of the Knesset on Sunday.
The parties in the prospective coalition hold a wafer-thin majority of 61 of the 120 votes. If confirmed, the unlikely alliance of right-wing, left-wing, centrist, and Islamist parties would remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power, to be replaced by Yamina’s Naftali Bennett, and, two years later, Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid.
A Hamas delegation pays a visit to the temporary bureau of Al Jazeera in Gaza and lauds the Qatari news agency for its coverage of the recent conflict between Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave.
Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya tells Al Jazeera reporters that they “demonstrated their belonging to the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people,” according to a statement from the Islamist group.
“What distinguishes the Palestinian journalist [from others] is that he has a national message,” Hayya says. “We saw a high level of nationalism and a national tone in Al Jazeera’s coverage.”
The senior Hamas official also lauds the agency’s “high professionalism” and noted the sacrifice of its reporters, whose office was leveled by the IDF on the fifth day of the 11-day conflict. Israel says Hamas had been using several offices in the al-Jaala media tower, including one where operatives were working on technology that could jam the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir arrives at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City to protest the decision to bar him from marching from the site to the Temple Mount.
Saying that he would not confront police, Ben Gvir nonetheless slams the police’s decision to prevent him from getting to the Temple Mount.
“I know the prime minister’s people tried to lead a compromise initiative that I would march here; unfortunately that did not happen,” he says. “Unfortunately, the commissioner rejected this proposal.”
Yesterday, police barred a planned march Thursday with the Israeli flag through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, and a visit to the Temple Mount, amid fears it could reignite violence in the city and beyond.
“The very fact that an MK in Israel cannot march in the Old City is a surrender to Hamas and terrorism; it is a victory of terrorism,” Ben Gvir charges. “Of course, we will not give up Jerusalem, we will not give up the Old City. “
Three people are arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace during a Jewish nationalist protest near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, police say.
Dozens of protesters are protesting the decision to postpone a march from there to the Temple Mount for fear that it could cause an escalation in the city.
Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir joins the protesters.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi hold a meeting of the General Staff Forum to review last month’s Guardian of the Walls operation.
Gantz opens the meeting by expressing his appreciation to the senior officers, noting that the campaign was “one of the most well-planned, precise and effective operations militarily in the country‘s history, both offensively and defensively.”
Yesh Atid and Meretz sign a coalition agreement ahead of the swearing-in of the government scheduled for Sunday.
Meretz is the first party to formally sign a coalition agreement with Yesh Atid, whose leader Yair Lapid was tasked with forming the government.
All coalition agreements between the eight parties in the nascent coalition must be made public by Friday.
A 28-year-old Frenchman who described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right “patriot” is sentenced to four months in prison for slapping President Emmanuel Macron around the face.
Damien Tarel was also banned from ever holding public office in France and from owning weapons for five years over the swipe, which caught Macron’s left cheek with an audible thwack as the French leader was greeting a crowd.
During today’s trial, Tarel testified that the attack was impulsive and unplanned, and prompted by anger at France’s “decline.”
Another man arrested in the ruckus that followed the slap, identified by the prosecutor as Arthur C., will be judged at a later date, in 2022, for illegal possession of weapons.
The French prosecutor’s office says that as well as finding weapons, police who searched the home of Arthur C. also found books on the art of war, a copy of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf,” and two flags, one symbolizing Communists and another of the Russian revolution.
Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen announces that Israel will open its borders to regular tourists from July 1.
“It is time for Israel to open up to tourism and take advantage of its status as a vaccinated country for the benefit of its economy,” Farkash-Hacohen says on Twitter.
Currently, only small groups of vaccinated or recovered tourists or first-degree relatives of Israeli citizens are allowed to enter the country.
Clarifying comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week in which he claimed, “We are witnesses to the greatest election fraud in the history of the country and in my opinion, the history of democracies,” his Likud party releases a statement saying that Netanyahu would nonetheless respect the outcome of the election if a new government is sworn in on Sunday.
“When Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks about ‘election fraud,’ he isn’t referring to the vote counting process in Israel, in which he has complete confidence. There is also no question about the peaceful transition of power. There always has been a peaceful transfer of power in Israel and there always will be,” the party says.
It says that Netanyahu’s claims of fraud refer to how Bennett broke promises to voters that he would not form a government with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and the Islamist Ra’am party.
“In doing so, Bennett hijacked votes from the right and shifted them to the left in direct contradiction to his pledges. If this isn’t fraud we don’t know what is,” the statement says. “Bennett’s actions are akin to US electors unilaterally switching the voters’ choice for president against the will of the electorate.”
After Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to Damascus Gate, and during rioting that followed, the Hamas military wing issues a statement saying it is watching the developments.
“The Al-Qassam Brigades and the leadership of the resistance are closely following the provocative and aggressive actions by the usurpers and their leaders in Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the terror group says in a statement.
“They warn against harming Al-Aqsa, and salute her free defenders in Jerusalem for their confrontation and resistance of the desecration of Al-Aqsa and the aggression against it.”
Channel 13 news reports that despite ongoing negotiations between most of the parties in the new coalition, all the coalition agreements between them are set to be presented to Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin by 2 p.m. on Friday.
With the swearing-in ceremony of the new government set for Sunday, parties have until tomorrow evening to publicize the agreements.
So far, only the agreement between Yesh Atid and Meretz has been signed.
The autopsy of an intelligence officer who died in a military prison last month found traces of antidepressants in his blood, Channel 13 news reports.
Key details about the case, including the officer’s identity and the exact nature of his alleged crimes, remain barred from publication under a court-issued gag order. This decision was made despite the fact that the serviceman’s name and photograph have been widely shared online in recent days.
According to the IDF, the officer, who was found in serious condition in his cell last month and pronounced dead in the hospital a short time later, had been accused of “knowingly committing a number of actions that seriously harmed national security.”
Iran accuses the UN nuclear agency of having taken “a counterproductive approach,” after its head said Tehran had not clarified queries over possible undeclared nuclear activity.
Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voiced concern in a report to its members that Iran had not clarified the long-outstanding queries. The regular report comes at a delicate time when world powers are meeting to bring the US back to the Iran nuclear deal and Tehran back into compliance with it.
Iran Ambassador Kazem Gharib Abadi tells the IAEA’s board of governors’ meeting that the latest agency report is “not credible,” calling it “deeply disappointing.”
Iran insists it is cooperating with the IAEA as it seeks clarity on several undeclared Iranian sites where nuclear activity may have taken place, mostly in the early 2000s.
“The secretariat has taken a counterproductive approach at the expense of its own credibility,” he says, warning this “could turn into an obstacle for future good-will interactions between the two sides.”
Fourteen Palestinians were arrested in Jerusalem after disturbances following a press conference by far right-wing MK Itamar Ben Gvir denouncing restrictions on a controversial march, police say.
Nationalist groups had been due to hold the March of the Flags on Thursday, processing through flashpoint areas of East Jerusalem that have seen repeated clashes in recent months between Israeli security forces and Palestinians.
Israeli authorities have said the march can go ahead next week if the route is changed.
Scuffles flared, as Ben Gvir, accused by police of stirring unrest in Jerusalem, spoke outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, the site of clashes last month between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
“The police dispersed hundreds of demonstrators at the Damascus Gate, some of them having caused disturbances to public order,” a police statement reads.
An array of Jewish groups calls on US President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented migrants.
In a letter addressed to Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the groups say such a pathway should be included in “in any economic recovery or infrastructure legislation.”
Bend the Arc, a liberal social justice advocacy group, initiated the letter. Organizations representing the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements signed on, along with a number of major mainstream groups, including HIAS, the main Jewish immigration advocacy group.
Others included the Anti-Defamation League, the National Council for Jewish Women, Jewish Women International, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for public policy groups. In addition to 19 national groups, a number of state-level Jewish groups signed.
Ilhan Omar walks back remarks in which she grouped Hamas and the Taliban with the United States and Israel, but says the request for clarification from a dozen Jewish Democrats in Congress was Islamaphobic, exhorting her colleagues to call first next time.
“On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ongoing International Criminal Court investigations,” Omar says. “To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the US and Israel. I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”
She adds, however: “It’s shameful for colleagues who call me when they need my support to now put out a statement asking for ‘clarification’ and not just call,” she said. “The Islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable.”
Omar’s tweet Monday said, “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity.… We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”
Legal adviser said to decide date of Netanyahu’s exit from PM’s residence will be agreed with Bennett
The top legal adviser at the Prime Minister’s Office did not set a date for when Benjamin Netanyahu must leave the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, instead deciding that the matter would be agreed upon by the outgoing premier and his slated successor, Naftali Bennett, according to the Haaretz daily.
The newspaper reports that at a meeting of legal advisers on Wednesday, Shlomit Barnea Fargo also said Netanyahu will no longer receive state funding for various services that prime ministers are entitled to, such as cleaning, laundry and haircuts.
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