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Gantz: Israel preparing offensive options against Iran ‘if and when’ they’re needed

‘I suggest that the Iranians not test these capabilities,’ defense minister warns amid efforts by Tehran to target Israeli tourists

Defense Minister Benny Gantz gives a press conference at IDF Central Command headquarters on March 30, 2022. (Screen capture: GPO)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz gives a press conference at IDF Central Command headquarters on March 30, 2022. (Screen capture: GPO)

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

Bennett said to ask rebel MK Orbach to quit in exchange for role out of politics

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) speaks with Yamina MK Nir Orbach at the Knesset on October 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) speaks with Yamina MK Nir Orbach at the Knesset on October 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week offered rebel MK Nir Orbach from his Yamina faction to quit the Knesset and receive a role outside of politics, angering Orbach, the Makor Rishon news outlet reports.

The reported offer came during last week’s Bennett-Orbach meeting that preceded the latter’s announcement that he was no longer part of the coalition, but would give it some additional time before backing new elections.

The report says Orbach left the room in anger after Bennett made the proposal, protesting it as insufficient after years of partnership.

Bennett also reportedly asked Orbach to delay the Knesset’s dispersal until after US President Joe Biden’s visit next month. The report says Orbach said he would consider that request.

Macron set to lose French parliamentary majority, Le Pen strengthens — projections

France's President Emmanuel Macron waits for his Senegalese counterpart on the doorsteps of the at the Elysee presidential palace before their meeting in Paris on June 10, 2022. (Ludovic Marin/AFP)
France's President Emmanuel Macron waits for his Senegalese counterpart on the doorsteps of the at the Elysee presidential palace before their meeting in Paris on June 10, 2022. (Ludovic Marin/AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron’s allies are set to lose their majority in parliament after today’s elections, dealing a major blow to the centrist leader and his second-term program, projections from five polling firms show.

Macron’s “Ensemble” (Together) coalition is on track for 200-260 seats, short of the 289 needed for a majority in the National Assembly.

The left-wing NUPES alliance is set to win 149-200 seats, while Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally makes major gains and is on course for 60-102 seats.

Gantz: Israel preparing offensive options against Iran ‘if and when’ they’re needed

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a ceremony in memory of Israeli soldiers who were killed during the First Lebanon War, at the National Hall of Remembrance at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on June 14, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a ceremony in memory of Israeli soldiers who were killed during the First Lebanon War, at the National Hall of Remembrance at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on June 14, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel is preparing offensive options against Iran in case they are needed, Defense Minister Benny Gantz says in an interview with Channel 12 news.

Given what Israel has described as an imminent and concrete threat of an Iranian attack against Israelis in Istanbul, Gantz says, “We aren’t able to personally protect every Israeli anywhere in the world.”

“We are in contact with the relevant Turkish authorities, and we are of course mainly preparing offensive capabilities, (for) if and when they are needed,” he threatens. “I suggest that the Iranians not test these capabilities.”

Gantz largely evades questions about the situation with the Gaza Strip, about possible plans to nominate a new IDF chief of staff, and about whether he could join an alternative government headed by opposition chief Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bennett said to convene ministerial forum for unspecified security assessment

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened a ministerial committee known as the “quintet” earlier today, inviting four ministers for a security assessment, the Walla news site reports.

Bennett reportedly held the discussion with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar. The report noted that other party leaders such as Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz were not invited.

The report does not provide details on the topic of the meeting, but says it is not clear whether this is the first time the forum has convened.

Gorbenko finishes 5th, in best-ever result for Israeli swimmer in World Championship

Israel's Anastasia Gorbenko swims to win the 100 meters individual medley with second places Tomoe Has of Norway during World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December 19, 2021. (AP Photo/ Kamran Jebreili)
Israel's Anastasia Gorbenko swims to win the 100 meters individual medley with second places Tomoe Has of Norway during World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December 19, 2021. (AP Photo/ Kamran Jebreili)

Israeli swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko, 18, finishes fifth in the 200-meter individual medley in the World Championship final, the best result ever for an Israeli swimmer in any of the event’s races.

Gorbenko, who was considered a medal contender in the race, records a slower time than her semifinal, but still pushes past several competitors in the final stretch.

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner said on their way to Israel

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, November 29, 2020. (AP Photo/ Patrick Semansky)
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, November 29, 2020. (AP Photo/ Patrick Semansky)

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the daughter and son-in-law of former US president Donald Trump, have boarded a flight from Miami to Israel and will land at Ben Gurion Airport tomorrow morning, the Ynet news site reports.

The outlet cites eyewitnesses who saw the couple boarding an El Al plane and heading to the business class. It adds that the same plane is also transporting Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov.

The report says the reason for the visit is not known.

Kushner served as a senior adviser to Trump during the latter’s time in the White House.

Israeli officials reportedly also warning against travel to UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt

Israeli officials are cautioning against visiting the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, and Egypt, in addition to the existing travel warning to Turkey, according to several Hebrew media reports.

Israel currently has a top-level travel warning to Turkey, saying there is a concrete threat of an Iranian attack against Israeli tourists in Istanbul.

Channel 13 news and Army Radio both cite unnamed Israeli security officials saying that while the threat in the other destinations is not concrete, danger could soon emerge if Tehran gets “desperate” to commit an attack.

“I would recommend Israelis not go there, and if they go they should take extra care,” an unnamed diplomatic source is quoted as saying.

Sirens heard in Jerusalem were a false alarm, military says

Sirens that were heard in some areas of Jerusalem and southern Israel earlier today were caused by a technical malfunction, the military says.

“There is no fear of a security incident,” the Israel Defense Forces adds.

Lapid to visit Turkey this week amid imminent threat of Iranian attack

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) speaks alongside his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, May 25, 2022. (Asi Efrati/GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) speaks alongside his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, May 25, 2022. (Asi Efrati/GPO)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will fly to Turkey on Thursday to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, his office announces.

The two are slated to discuss the ongoing threat of Iranian terror attacks against Israeli travelers.

Senior Israeli officials have been warning vigorously since last week that Iran is looking to avenge the killing of Iranian officials by targeting Israelis in Turkey.

An Israeli official tells The Times of Israel that the focus of the visit will indeed be the Iranian terror threat, and to ensure that the security cooperation with Ankara continues. The official stresses that Turkey, facing a difficult economic crisis, is especially concerned about the situation just ahead of the high season for tourism.

Earlier today, President Isaac Herzog spoke by phone with Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan to thank him for Turkey’s efforts to thwart attacks.

In late May, Lapid hosted Cavusoglu in Jerusalem, as ties between Ankara and Jerusalem slowly thaw, after years of tensions.

Swimming to set up ‘open category’ for transgender athletes

Swimming intends to become the first sport to set up an “open category” to allow transgender athletes to compete in a separate class at the elite level, Husain Al-Musallam, president of governing body FINA, announces.

“I do not want any athlete to be told they cannot compete at the highest level,” Al-Musallam tells an extraordinary congress of his organization.

“I will set up a working group to set up an open category at our meets. We will be the first federation to do that.”

Schools nationwide to again open at 10 a.m. tomorrow, as teachers continue strike

Classes for around 2 million children will again open late at 10 a.m. tomorrow for the second day in a row, as teachers continue their strike due to a salary dispute between their union and the Finance Ministry.

The partial strike will continue to cover all kindergartens, elementary schools, and middle schools across the country, but not special education institutions, the Israel Teachers Union announces.

The nationwide strike comes after teachers carried out a series of two-hour strikes in different areas of the country last week.

Biton, Michaeli end their meeting, without immediate breakthrough

Blue and White MK Michael Biton and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli end their meeting, with Hebrew media reporting that while it was held “in good spirits,” it hasn’t yielded an immediate solution to disagreements over transportation reforms that have prompted Biton to stop voting with the coalition.

Both politicians reportedly discussed a range of issues, and suggested multiple solutions to the transportation reform issue “that for the moment aren’t boiling down to an agreed-upon solution.”

Despite gaps remaining between their positions, efforts will reportedly be made in the coming days to find solutions.

Biton, who heads the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee, has been boycotting most coalition votes in protest over transportation reforms pushed by Michaeli that skirted his committee’s oversight.

Biton says his objections are rooted in both procedure and substance. In addition to sidelining his committee, he says the reforms — which unify public transportation prices across Israel — include price hikes that hurt poor and geographically dispersed communities.

Jerusalem, Ankara said in talks for Lapid to visit Turkey soon

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (C) speaks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, May 25, 2022. (Asi Efrati/ GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (C) speaks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, May 25, 2022. (Asi Efrati/ GPO)

Jerusalem and Ankara are reportedly in talks for Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to visit Turkey soon, against the backdrop of the threat of an Iranian attack on Israeli tourists in Istanbul.

Several Hebrew media outlets, citing no sources, say there are talks for arranging such a visit but do not say at what stage they are or when the visit is scheduled to take place.

One report, by the Ynet news site, says the goal is to demonstrate the growing cooperation between the countries in thwarting the Iranian attacks.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu recently visited Israel, and President Isaac Herzog spoke today on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In minor breakthrough, rebel coalition MK meets minister to discuss transportation reforms

MK Michael Biton attends his Blue and White party's faction meeting at the Knesset, May 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)
MK Michael Biton attends his Blue and White party's faction meeting at the Knesset, May 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

New headway is being made toward resolving one of the rebellions by coalition lawmakers that have put the government on the brink of collapse.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Blue and White MK Michael Biton are meeting for the first time in weeks, according to Biton’s spokesman.

Biton, who heads the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee, has been boycotting most coalition votes in protest over transportation reforms pushed by Michaeli that skirted his committee’s oversight.

Biton says his objections are rooted in both procedure and substance. In addition to sidelining his committee, he says the reforms — which unify public transportation prices across Israel — include price hikes that hurt poor and geographically dispersed communities.

Biton is possibly the coalition’s least troublesome headache. Although he has temporarily stopped voting with the coalition, he is not ideologically conflicted about the government and has established conditions for his return — namely, progress on the transportation reform issue.

Authorities complain pumping renewed without coordination in area of leak near Dead Sea

Aerial photo of Nahal Tze'elim, the site of a Dead Sea Works leak, June 5, 2022. (Nature and Parks Authority)
Aerial photo of Nahal Tze'elim, the site of a Dead Sea Works leak, June 5, 2022. (Nature and Parks Authority)

The Environmental Protection Ministry and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority complain that the ICL manufacturing company has informed them – without prior coordination — that it is renewing the flow of Dead Sea water in a portion of the Dead Sea Works’ canal near the Tze’elim Stream, where a damaging leak took place earlier this month, killing plants in an area populated by herbivores such as gazelles.

While the law doesn’t require a permit for the flow of water, both bodies say they would have expected ICL, the parent company of Dead Sea Works, to present a plan for preventing such a leak in the future, to obtain approval from authorities, and to start to implement that plan, before renewing the water’s flow.

The canal brings water from the Dead Sea into huge evaporation pools used for the commercial extraction of minerals. The water’s high salinity makes it deadly to most plants and animals.

Later this month, the ministry will hold a hearing for ICL over accusations that it violated clauses of the Water Law.

Woman, 50, found dead in home in northern Israel

A woman has been found dead in a home in the northern city of Ma’alot-Tarshiha, Hebrew media reports.

The woman, said to be 50 years old, has been pronounced dead by medics called to the scene.

No further details are immediately available.

Suspect in fatal Ramat Gan shooting says he didn’t realize he had a live weapon

A man suspected of shooting dead his daughter-in-law’s father is remanded into custody for a week after pleading in court that the incident was a misunderstanding and that he did not realize he was holding a live weapon.

The victim has been identified as Yossi Yosefia, 60, who was shot dead in his home yesterday in Ramat Gan. The man in custody, whose name is barred from publication, has been widely reported to be a 70-year-old man from Petah Tikva whose son was in the middle of messy divorce proceedings from Yosefia’s daughter.

According to police, the shooter arrived at the victim’s home and shot him at close range in the building’s stairwell. According to reports from family members, the suspect threatened the victim’s daughter and his own grandchildren and aimed his weapon at them, though they were physically unharmed.

Israeli died of epileptic seizure during dive in Sinai, lifeguards didn’t know CPR — husband

Orit Peled, an Israeli woman who drowned while on vacation with her husband in the Sinai Peninsula over the weekend, had an epileptic seizure while diving, and local lifeguards didn’t have sufficient knowledge of CPR to save her life, her husband charges.

Peled, 49, died while staying with her husband at a resort in the city of Sharm el-Sheikh, located on the southern tip of the Egyptian peninsula — a popular tourist destination for Israelis.

Her husband, Itzik, tells Channel 13 news that Orit was an experienced diver who traveled to Sinai two or three times a year to dive.

“She said there was no place like it in the world,” he says, adding that she was an “amazing person.”

He says that while Orit had epilepsy, “she was with a guide at all times who held her hand. She took medications and didn’t have seizures all the time.”

On Friday, the couple went to a beach familiar to Orit, where she wanted to snorkel.

“I was afraid, but she wanted it,” he says. “She took me with her and I dived. After 30 minutes I went onto the wharf and she continued. I suddenly saw something wasn’t okay. I called a lifeguard and told him to go in the water, but they didn’t know how to perform CPR. They had no equipment. There was a tourist who did CPR on her, but it didn’t help.”

Amid reported warming of ties, ex-Israeli foreign minister meets Saudi prince in Baku

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni meets Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud during a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia during which he will reportedly discuss warming ties between the nations.

In a tweet, Livni wishes Biden luck in his upcoming visit.

In Erdogan call, Herzog hails cooperation with Turkey on foiling Iranian terror

President Isaac Herzog speaks by phone with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to discuss ongoing efforts to thwart Iranian attempts to harm Israeli travelers in Turkey.

According to a statement from Herzog’s spokesman, the president stresses “that the threat has not yet passed and that the counterterror efforts must continue.”

The two leaders highlight “the great contribution of this cooperation to the trust being built between the governments and nations,” according to the statement, and agree to keep channels of dialogue open.

Since early last week, Israeli officials have been sounding urgent warnings that Iranian terror cells are looking to avenge the killing of a senior Revolutionary Guards officer in May, by targeting Israelis in Turkey.

This is the fourth time the leaders have spoken by phone since Herzog visited Turkey in March amid gradually warming ties. Most recently, Herzog wished Erdogan and the Turkish people a happy Eid al-Fitr in early May, while Erdogan sent a congratulatory letter ahead of Israel’s Independence Day.

Last Wednesday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Turkey’s top diplomat Mevlut Casuvsoglu to thank him for Ankara’s efforts to protect Israeli tourists from attempts by Iran to harm them.

Ramallah demands Israel hand over rifle that allegedly killed journalist Abu Akleh

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh during a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 9, 2020. (Abbas Momani/Pool Photo via AP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh during a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 9, 2020. (Abbas Momani/Pool Photo via AP)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh demands that Israel turn over the rifle suspected to have been involved in the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to the Palestinian Authority.

“We demand that they hand over the rifle that assassinated Shireen Abu Akleh,” Shtayyeh says at a ceremony marking 40 days to the journalist’s death under disputed circumstances in Jenin.

Israeli military officials have said that they have identified a rifle that could have fired the shot that killed Abu Akleh, but that confirmation would require ballistic analysis to match the gun to the bullet. Ramallah has refused Israeli calls to hold a joint investigation or turn over the bullet to Israel.

“We refused a joint investigation, because they who fabricated the history of a people, stealing land and homeland, can fabricate a narrative. We do not trust them,” Shtayyeh says.

Court publishes name, photo of sex crimes suspect, in rare step

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court greenlights the publication of the name and photo of a suspected sex criminal, to enable more potential victims to come forward and press charges.

Ramzi Jaba, 25, an ultrasound technician from East Jerusalem, is suspected of using his position to commit indecent acts against a woman who came for a medical examination. Police suspect he may have harassed more clients, leading to the rare measure.

Jaba worked at a clinic run by health fund Meuhedet in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Illit.

Jaba’s remand has been extended by three days.

Ministers advance motion upping punishment for attacks on health staff

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation gives an initial okay to a proposal to stiffen the punishment for assaults on medical staff, after several such cases made headlines recently.

The motion, proposed by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, would increase the maximum punishment for attacks on medical staff on duty from the current three years in jail to five years.

The proposal includes first-aid personnel and paramedics, unlike today’s law which only applies to some medical teams. Also, the proposal would apply to attacks occurring during any medical treatment, whereas the current law only applies to assaults taking place during life-saving or emergency treatments.

The motion still needs to pass three Knesset votes to become law.

Israeli rhythmic gymnasts win 5 medals on second day of European Championships

Israeli gymnast Daria Atamanov performs during the rhythmic gymnastics all-around final at the 2022 Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships in Tel Aviv, June 18, 2022. (Israel Gymnastic Association/Courtesy)
Israeli gymnast Daria Atamanov performs during the rhythmic gymnastics all-around final at the 2022 Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships in Tel Aviv, June 18, 2022. (Israel Gymnastic Association/Courtesy)

After winning gold medals in both the individual and team all-around events at the rhythmic gymnastics European Championships, Israelis continued with their successes today in the individual apparatus contests, snagging four silver medals and a bronze.

All-around gold medalist Daria Atamanov, 16, continues her strong performance by winning silver medals in three apparatuses — the hoop, the clubs and the ribbon. Israel’s Adi Katz takes the bronze in the ribbon.

The Israeli team gets another silver medal in the hoop event, with Italy finishing first and Azerbaijan getting the bronze.

Ministers allocate funds to research heritage of Jews in Arab countries, Iran

The government okays allocating more than NIS 6 million ($1.73 million) for recording and researching the heritage of the historical Jewish communities in Arab countries and in Iran.

The motion has been pushed by Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen and Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper.

Shaked heading to Morocco tomorrow for diplomatic visit — office

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked will travel to Morocco tomorrow for a diplomatic visit, her office says.

The statement says Shaked is expected to meet Morocco’s interior minister, foreign minister, planning minister, economy minister and other senior officials in the kingdom, which normalized its relations with the Jewish state last year.

Shaked is also planning to facilitate cooperation with Rabat on bringing foreign workers from Morocco to Israel to work in construction and nursing.

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