Report: Israel behind Syria airstrike that killed dozens of regime fighters
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Report: Israel behind Syria airstrike that killed dozens of regime fighters

American official tells CNN Israeli forces carried out raid near Iraqi border that Syrian state media has blamed on US

Illustrative. An Israeli F-15 fighter jet. (Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash90)
Illustrative. An Israeli F-15 fighter jet. (Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.

Britain takes aim at UN rights council over Israel bias

GENEVA — Britain urges the UN Human Rights Council to reform its treatment of Israel, joining the United States in demanding an end to the body’s alleged bias against the Jewish State.

Addressing the opening of the 38th council session, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson criticizes the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing alleged rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson says.

Israel is the only country with a dedicated council item.

Johnson notes however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”

— AFP

Iran hangs Sufi over killing of 3 policemen

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has executed a member of a Sufi order who rammed a bus into police as they tried to disperse a rally, killing three of them.

The official website of the judiciary says Mohammad Salas was hanged early Monday. Salas had testified in March that he was trying to get away from the clashes and had not intended to harm anyone.

The clashes broke out in February when supporters of Sufi leader Nourali Tabandeh rallied outside his home, fearing his possible arrest.

Iran’s clerically overseen government frowns on Sufism, the mystical strain of Islam. Many conservatives view it as a deviation from the faith.

Rights groups say Iran is one of the world’s leading executioners, and have repeatedly called on it to abolish the death penalty.

— AP

Greek neo-Nazi MP arrested over Macedonia name row

ATHENS, Greece — Greece arrests a neo-Nazi lawmaker who was fleeing treason accusations for his outspoken stance against a contested name agreement with neighboring Macedonia, police say.

Constantinos Barbarousis of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party had gone on the run on Friday after an arrest warrant was issued.

He is accused of treason for comments he made in parliament about an agreement to allow Greece’s northern neighbor to be called North Macedonia.

He called for the army to arrest Greece’s president, prime minister and defense minister and to “carry their heads” to the Macedonian border.

A police source says he was arrested at the home of a friend in the Athens suburbs where he had fled on Friday.

The name of the former Yugoslav state of Macedonia has been disputed for years.

Greeks say calling it Macedonia implies a claim over a region of the same name in northern Greece.

Golden Dawn leaders have been on trial for more than two years accused of running a criminal organisation linked to political and xenophobic violence.

— AFP

Zionist Union vows to oppose ultra-Orthodox enlistment bill

Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay says his party will vote against legislation enshrining into law exemptions to mandatory military service for ultra-Orthodox students.

“We want every young person to do the army or national service. At the moment this law has no sharing of the burden and no true compensation for soldiers that serve,” he says during his party’s weekly faction meeting at the Knesset.

Lapid says changes to enlistment bill would be a ‘betrayal’ of soldiers

Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid calls on the government to pass a bill formalizing exemptions to military service for ultra-Orthodox students without any changes to the draft legislation.

“If the government changes one word in this draft, this is no longer politics. This is a betrayal of every soldier who arrives at the Bakum [induction base],” Lapid says at his party’s weekly Knesset faction meeting.

“The main condition is that not even one word in [the bill] be changed. I have no expectations from the prime minister,” Lapid says, “but it can’t be that the defense minister will agree to change even a word of the draft.”

The bill, which is backed by the Defense Ministry, sets minimum yearly targets for ultra-Orthodox conscription that, if not met, would result in financial sanctions on the yeshivas where they study.

Likud faction meeting canceled due to absence of lawmakers

Coalition chairman David Amsalem cancels the Likud faction meeting due to the absence of a large number of lawmakers and ministers from the party.

Suspicious kite lands in Negev, police close off area

Police cordon off an area in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council after a suspicious kite lands there.

Police say a sapper is on his way to the scene to examine the suspicious kite, which is shaped like a Star of David.

A suspicious kite that landed in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council on June 18, 2018. (Israel Police)

Liberman: Failure to pass enlistment bill will be long-term tragedy

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman calls on both coalition and opposition parties to support his ministry’s bill formalizing exemptions to military service for ultra-Orthodox students, saying a failure to pass the law will end in “crying for generations.”

“I think this is the most balanced, nonpartisan law and I very much hope that we will bring it next week to debate at the special Knesset committee and pass it by the end of the summer session in its second and third readings,” Liberman says at his Yisrael Beytenu party’s faction meeting.

“I think there is truly wide consensus for this law from all the factions — both the coalition and the opposition — and not passing it in its current version will simply be a long-term tragedy,” he adds. “I call on everyone to truly leave aside all the disputes and score settling and to unite over the draft the defense establishment formulated.”

Bennett backs ultra-Orthodox enlistment bill, dismisses coalition crisis talk

Education Minister Naftali Bennett expresses backing for a bill formalizing exemptions to military service for ultra-Orthodox students while dismissing talk of a coalition crisis over the legislation.

“I think this is a measured law that gives an anwer to both the IDF and the ultra-Orthodox, who want the same think — a moderate and measured enlistment of ultra-Orthodox, without coercion or force,” Bennett says at his Jewish Home party’s weekly Knesset faction meeting.

Bennett dismisses talk of a crisis in the coalition over the bill amid ultra-Orthodox opposition.

“I think this is a ‘fake crisis,'” he says. “I think story is completely solvable.”

Iraqi militia accuses US of killing 22 of its fighters in Syria

BAGHDAD — An Iraqi paramilitary force accuses the United States of killing 22 of its fighters in an overnight air raid just inside Syria’s border with Iraq that a monitor said left dozens dead.

“US planes fired two guided missiles at a fixed position of Hashed al-Shaabi units on the border with Syria, killing 22 fighters and wounding 12,” the Iran-backed Hashed says, locating the raid at “700 meters (yards) inside Syria.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier that nearly 40 foreign fighters allied to Syria’s regime were killed in the raid in eastern Syria.

— AFP

Bennett: Army must shoot at flaming kite flyers, not near them

Education Minister Naftali Bennett calls for the army to begin directly targeting flaming kite flyers in the Gaza Strip rather than use warning fire to deter them.

“Explosive kites and burning balloons are not a children’s toy. They are a deadly weapon meant to kill our kids,” he says during his Jewish Home party’s weekly Knesset faction meeting.

“We must stop shooting near the target and move to shooting directly at it,” Bennett adds.

Ex-minister charged with spying for Iran

Former minister Gonen Segev was extradited to Israel from Guinea and charged with spying for Iran last month, the Shin Bet security service reveals.

The disgraced former politician, who was a member of the Tzomet and Yiud parties, has been living abroad since being released from prison after he was found guilty of drug smuggling in 2006.

According to the Shin Bet, Segev has knowingly been in contact with Iranian intelligence officials since 2012, meeting them in Nigeria and in Iran.

“Segev gave his operators information about [Israel’s] energy sector, about security locations in Israel and about buildings and officials in diplomatic and security bodies, and more,” the Shin Bet says.

In mid-May, Segev traveled from Nigeria to Equatorial Guinea where he was arrested by local police and sent back to Israel, the Shin Bet says.

Last Friday, he was indicted in a Jerusalem court on charges of spying for the enemy in war-time and a number of other related crimes.

Following his indictment, the court partially removed its gag order on the case, allowing some details to published.

— Judah Ari Gross

Abbas aide slams reported US plans to raise funds for Gaza

RAMALLAH, West Bank — A Palestinian Authority official condemns reported US plans to secure Gulf funding for major economic projects in blockaded, impoverished Gaza.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, an aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, alleges Monday that such efforts aim to further separate the Gaza and the West Bank which flank Israel. Abbas runs parts of the West Bank and the Islamic terror group Hamas controls Gaza.

Israel, citing security, has prevented most travel between the two territories sought for a future Palestinian state.

US President Donald Trump’s adviser, son-in-law Jared Kushner, is expected to visit Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia this week to discuss the situation in Gaza and the administration’s proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Abbas halted contacts with the administration in December, to protest what he says are blatantly pro-Israel policies.

— AP

Netanyahu: Government won’t interfere in Eurovision programming

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will not interfere in programming when it hosts the 2019 Eurovision song contest.

“The government will act according to European Broadcasting Union rules. However, there are pending legal matters regarding Eurovision,” the Prime Minister’s Office says, including a court case over legislation that would separate the public broadcaster from its news division.

“The prime minister ordered the legal aspects of this topic be examined with the relevant parties before making a decision,” his office adds.

The statement comes after Netanyahu met with Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit regarding hosting next year’s Eurovision.

13-year-old Gazan said to die after hospitalization for gunshot wound

A 13-year-old Palestinian who was wounded by Israeli gunfire during clashes on the Gaza border has died of his wounds, the Hamas-run healthy ministry says.

The ministry says Zakaria Bishbash had been hospitalized at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital after being shot in the chest a few days ago.

It does not provide details on the circumstances of his injury or when exactly it occured.

Netanyahu appoints his chief of staff as acting PMO director-general

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taps his chief of staff Yoav Horowitz to serve as acting director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Eli Groner, the outgoing director-general, is expected to step down in the coming days.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) listens to his chief of staff Yoav Horowitz (R) as he attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on September 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Abir Sultan)

IS-backing sword attacker hated British queen, court told

LONDON — A man who attacked police with a Samurai sword outside Buckingham Palace hated Queen Elizabeth II, considering her among the “enemies of Allah,” a London court hears Monday.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 27, who supported terrorism by the Islamic State jihadist group, fought with officers who tried to disarm him after confronting him on August 25 last year, jurors are told.

After his arrest following the incident outside the monarch’s official residence in London, an alleged suicide note to his sister was found.

“Tell everyone that I love them and that they should struggle against the enemies of Allah with their lives and their property,” it read.

“The Queen and her soldiers will all be in the hellfire they go to war with Muslims around the world and kill them without any mercy.

“They are the enemies that Allah tells us to fight.”

Taxi driver Chowdhury, from Luton, northwest of London, denies preparing acts of terrorism, claiming he only wanted to get killed.

— AFP

Palestinian killed in West Bank car crash with Israeli vehicle

A Palestinian is killed and two other people injured in a car crash between a Palestinian and Israeli car in the West Bank, police say.

Police close Route 505, the northern West Bank road on which the accident occurred, in both directions because of the crash.

Ex-minister said to claim Iran contacts were to help Israel

Former minister Gonen Segev admitted to investigators was in contact with Iranian officials, but claims he did so in order to help Israel, according to Hebrew media reports.

Channel 10 quotes Segev as saying he had no ideological or financial motive in reaching out to Iranian officials and that he did not hand over any classified information.

The reports say Segev was held in solitary confinement for nine days after he was brought to Israel and was not allowed contact with his lawyers.

The Shin Bet and Israel Police announced earlier today that Segev was indicted for spying for Iran.

Italian interior minister takes aim at Roma with census

ROME — Italy’s hard-line interior minister, who recently sparked a Europe-wide showdown by refusing entry to a rescue boat packed with 630 migrants, is now taking aim at Italy’s minority Roma community.

Minister Matteo Salvini tells a Lombardy television Monday that he has wants to conduct a census of Roma in Italy to identify them.

Salvini tells TeleLombardia TV: “I’ve asked the ministry to prepare a dossier on the Roma question in Italy.” He calls the current situation of Roma, also known as Gypsies, “chaos.”

His remarks spark immediate denunciations from center-left politicians, who warn that Italy had a “terrible” history with its Fascist-era census of Jews.

Italy has a sizable Roma community. Authorities periodically clear out the squatter camps where many Roma on the outskirts of big cities.

— AP

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, center, attends a local election rally in Cinisello Balsamo, near Milan, Italy, on June 17, 2018. (Matteo Bazzi/ANSA via AP)

Air Force strikes Hamas positions after flaming balloon launch

Israeli aircraft strike Hamas positions in Gaza, the military says, after flaming balloons were launched near a “terrorist cell” in the southern Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory.

Report: Ex-minister Segev was doctor for Israeli officials in Nigeria

Former minister Gonen Segev had access to Israeli diplomats and officials in Nigeria at the same time he was allegedly spying for Iran, Channel 10 reports.

Segev, a medical doctor whose license was revoked in Israel, acted as the go-to doctor for Israelis stationed at embassy in Abuja, and in one case, received a letter of praise from the Foreign Ministry for saving an Israeli security guard’s life, according to the network.

In Amman, Netanyahu discusses US peace plan with Jordan’s king

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, in Amman today, the Prime Minister’s Office says.

The two discussed the US peace plan, according to the PMO, ahead of the American peace team’s trip to the Middle East this week, for meetings with regional leaders.

They also spoke about other regional developments, the PMO says, as well as how to promote economic ties between Israel and Jordan.

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to preserving the status quo at holy sites in Jerusalem. Jordan is the custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Report: Israel behind Syria airstrike that killed dozens of regime fighters

Israel was behind a strike in Syria last night that killed more than 50 pro-Syrian fighters, a US official tells CNN.

Official Syrian media and an Iraqi militia fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime blamed the strike in eastern Syria on the US, but the official says no US strikes were carried out in the area.

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