ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 139

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‘We started to fire at each other’: Israeli recounts killing gas station terrorist

Hamas attackers kills four, wound four others; 3 of the victims named as Harel Masood, 21, Elisha Anteman, 17 and Ofer Fayerman, 64; Netanyahu: ‘all options open’ in response

Israeli forensic workers at the scene of a shooting attack near the West Bank Settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Flash90)
Israeli forensic workers at the scene of a shooting attack near the West Bank Settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Flash90)

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

IDF to bolster battalions in West Bank following terror shooting

The Israel Defense Forces says it will be bolstering the West Bank with several additional battalions, following the deadly attack in the settlement of Eli earlier.

The IDF says the decision is made following a fresh assessment.

Earlier, police said it would also deploy additional cops to “sensitive areas, junctions, and crowded areas” in the West Bank.

Coalition to delay advancement of overhaul legislation in light of West Bank shooting attack

The coalition’s immediate steps to revive judicial overhaul will be delayed in the wake of this afternoon’s deadly terror attack.

The Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee announces that it will postpone a controversial discussion on a bill to limit the judicial test of reasonableness of government decisions after receiving requests to push back discussions from several lawmakers.

The committee has yet to reschedule the hearing.

Palestinian succumbs to wounds after being shot by IDF during Jenin clash last month

Palestinian health officials say a 55-year-old man has died of his wounds sustained during clashes with Israeli forces in the northern West Bank city of Jenin a month ago.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, Nasser Sinan was shot in the head during the clashes.

The ministry doesn’t give an exact date of the incident.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 127 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year, most of them during clashes or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances.

US envoy sparks outcry appearing to equate Palestinian gunmen with Israeli terror victims

United States Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides speaks at the Herzliya Conference on May 22, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
United States Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides speaks at the Herzliya Conference on May 22, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides sparks an outcry by appearing to equate Palestinian gunmen killed by the IDF with Israeli terror victims.

“Deeply concerned about the civilian deaths and injuries that have occurred in the West Bank these past 48 hours, including that of minors. Praying for the families as they mourn the loss of loved ones, or tend to those injured,” Nides tweets in reference to six Palestinians killed in an IDF raid on Jenin yesterday and 4 Israelis killed in a terror attack today near the West Bank settlement of Eli.

Among the Palestinian dead were several gunmen claimed by terror groups.

Among those criticizing Nides is former head of the Anti-Defamation League Abe Foxman.

“Unfortunate statement from Israel’s best friend and ally. It borders on moral equivalency!” Foxman replies.

Nides later issues a more specific second tweet.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the senseless murder of four innocent Israelis today — my heart is with their grieving family members,” he says.

Wounded Israeli recounts shooting, killing gas station terrorist

Morel Nikel, who shot dead a terrorist at a gas station near the settlement of Eli, and was shot and wounded in the exchange of fire, speaks from his hospital bed, June 20, 2023. (Channel 12 screenshot; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Morel Nikel, who shot dead a terrorist at a gas station near the settlement of Eli, and was shot and wounded in the exchange of fire, speaks from his hospital bed, June 20, 2023. (Channel 12 screenshot; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An Israeli who shot and killed one of the terrorists who attacked the gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, and was wounded in the gunfight, recounts his experience.

“I ran to the car — I rushed to the gas station,” Morel Nikel, a member of the settlement’s civilian security patrol, tells reporters from his hospital bed.

“I saw one of the terrorists. There was a gray Subaru. A man was sitting inside and that beast sprayed gunfire at him,” he says. “We started to fire at each other. I hit him; he hit me, to my sorrow.”

Asked if he realized he was hit during the gunbattle, Nikel replies:  “I realized. The truth is it didn’t hurt that much. I felt it. Obviously, I realized I’d been shot. Hit by a bullet. Great. A bullet in the leg, a bullet in the shoulder,” says Nikel.

“I kept firing at him until he fell. He was still moving. Those beasts apparently have more than one soul. I fired one more [bullet] and he stopped moving. Thank God I’m fine. Nothing serious was hurt,” he says.

He notes that one of the doctors who treated him was an Arab and links it to an incident yesterday where soccer fans jeered a player from the national team and called him a terrorist.

“I’m fine. I got [excellent] treatment here. One of the people who treated me was called Mohammed. Yesterday, there was a soccer match [between Israel and Andorra]. One of the [Israeli] players, Mohammed Abu Fani, got all kinds of [abusive] jeers [from parts of the Israeli crowd]. We must understand, these are not our enemies. These Arabs are not our enemies. They can be our friends,” he says.

“But to my sorrow, there are many, many, many — and I’ve not checked this statistically — I think it’s the majority — the majority are our enemies, they hate us and want to kill us, and do kill us. The next attack will come,” he says, calling for preemptive strikes against the terrorists.

“You don’t need to wait until someone picks up a gun and kills people, and then kill him. Nobody [who our enemies want to kill] should be hurt or scratched… This is our country… including Judea and Samaria… They are slaughtering us… Why do we have to wait?” he asks.

“If they had killed six IDF soldiers in Jenin [where eight IDF soldiers were injured in clashes on Monday]… They want to kill us. They’ll do everything to achieve that. We have to kill them before they do,” he says.

Herzog calls on settlers to show restraint after deadly Eli attack

President Isaac Herzog speaks at Bar Ilan University on June 20, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog speaks at Bar Ilan University on June 20, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog calls on West Bank settlers to show restraint after four people are killed in a shooting attack in the settlement of Eli.

Speaking at a ceremony at Bar Ilan University, Herzog expresses his condolences to the families of the victims and says he has complete faith in the Israeli security services’ ability to find those responsible.

“And I call on the entire public, especially our sisters and brothers in Judea and Samaria who are in heavy mourning to continue to show responsibility and solidarity so that we can get through this difficult moment,” Herzog says.

Settlers said throwing stones at Palestinians in Huwara, setting cars on fire

Groups of settlers are throwing stones at Palestinians in the West Bank town of Huwara and trying to set vehicles on fire, Channel 12 reports.

Videos posted to social media show several fires burning in the town.

The violence comes after a terror attack killed four Israelis near the settlement of Eli.

In February, settlers rampaged through Huwara setting homes and dozens of vehicles on fire after two Israeli brothers were shot dead in an attack in the town.

Ben Gvir not invited to security consultation: ‘A barking dog with no bite’

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at the scene of a deadly shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli, June 20, 2023. (Flash90)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at the scene of a deadly shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli, June 20, 2023. (Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir is not invited to a high-level consultation held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his security chiefs after the deadly attack in the West Bank settlement of Eli.

Channel 12 quotes senior government officials as saying the move is deliberate as the far-right minister is not trusted.

“He’s a barking dog that doesn’t bite,” one unnamed government minister tells the channel. “He’s a small child who got the security [portfolio] and the whole country is paying the price.”

Another government member tells the channel that Ben Gvir is the “weak link” in the government.

Among those attending are Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and the heads of the IDF and Shin Bet security service.

Earlier, Ben Gvir defied calls from the military not to come to the scene of the attack and called for Netanyahu to launch a wide-scale military operation.

Netanyahu holds consultation with security chiefs

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a security consultation after the terror attack at Eli on June 20, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a security consultation after the terror attack at Eli on June 20, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a high-level consultation with his security chiefs after the deadly attack in the West Bank settlement of Eli.

Among those attending are Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, and the heads of the IDF and Shin Bet security service.

Third victim of Eli attack named as Ofer Fayerman, 64

Ofer Fayerman, 64, who was killed in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Courtesy)
Ofer Fayerman, 64, who was killed in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Courtesy)

The third victim of the Eli terror attack is named as Ofer Fayerman, 64.

Fayerman was a resident of Eli.

Hamas claims both gunmen from Eli terror attack

Hamas says the second gunman who carried out the deadly terror attack near the settlement of Eli is a member of the terror group.

Khaled Mustafa Sabah fled the scene of the shooting, and was killed by Israeli special forces in the town of Tubas.

Hamas earlier said Muhannad Faleh, the attacker killed at the scene, was also a member.

In a statement, the terror group says the attack comes “in response to [Israel’s] crimes against the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and its aggression against Nablus and Jenin.”

First 2 victims of Eli shooting named as Harel Masood, 21, and Elisha Anteman, 17

Harel Masood, 21, of Yad Binyamin, who was killed in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Courtesy)
Harel Masood, 21, of Yad Binyamin, who was killed in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Courtesy)

The first two victims of the West Bank shooting attack are named as Harel Masood, 21, from the community of Yad Binyamin in southern Israel, and Elisha Anteman, 17, from Eli.

“There are no words to describe the shock and the pain,” says a statement from the Soreq regional council, where Masood lived.

Anteman was a 12th-grade student at the Bnei Akiva yeshiva high school, according to a brief statement by the Eli community that expressed condolences to his family.

Elisha Anteman, 17, of Eli, who was killed in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Courtesy)

The school said it was opening for students to gather and would be providing counseling services.

IDF chief Halevi tours scene of attack, instructs army to bolster forces in area

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi tours the scene of the Eli shooting attck on June 6, 2023. (IDF)
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi tours the scene of the Eli shooting attck on June 6, 2023. (IDF)

Military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi tours the scene of the terror shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, Halevi is holding an assessment with the head of the IDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, the head of the army’s West Bank division, Brig. Gen. Avi Blot, and Shin Bet and police officials.

IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari says Halevi instructed to bolster the area with more forces, carry out arrest operations in the area, and advance the demolition of homes of Palestinian terrorists accused of carrying out deadly attacks.

IDF says Eli gunmen likely affiliated with Hamas

Military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari says the two terrorists who carried out the deadly attack near the settlement of Eli were likely both affiliated with Hamas.

The Hamas terror group has named one of the gunmen, Muhannad Faleh, as a member.

“The operation south of Nablus is a clear message to the criminal occupation government,” Hamas says in a statement.

The second terrorist is named by media reports as Khaled Mustafa Sabah.

Both of the attackers are from the village of Urif, near Nablus, according to Hagari and Palestinian media.

At scene of attack, Ben Gvir calls for targeted killings and to ‘bring down buildings’

Far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to launch a major military campaign in the West Bank.

“The time has come to launch a military campaign in Judea and Samaria,” he says at the scene of the deadly attack outside the Eli settlement,  referring to the West Bank by its Biblical names.

“Yes, we need a return to targetted killings from the air, bring down buildings, set up roadblocks, expel terrorists, and finish passing the death penalty for terrorists legislation,” he says.

Netanyahu: ‘All options are open’ in response to Eli attack

In the wake of a deadly terror shooting in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns Tuesday that “all options are open” to respond to the attack.

“We have already proven in the past few months that we will settle the score with all the murderers, with no exceptions,” Netanyahu says in a video statement hours after the shooting, in which four people were killed and several others wounded.

“Anyone who harms us is either in prison or in a grave. This will also be the case here,” he says.

Netanyahu issues a call to “all those who come after us — all the options are open. We will continue fighting terror at full power and we will defeat it.”

Israeli forces find, kill second terrorist from Eli attack

Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli, West Bank, June 20, 2023. (Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli, West Bank, June 20, 2023. (Flash90)

The Shin Bet security agency says Israeli forces located and killed the second Palestinian gunman who fled the scene of the deadly terror attack in Eli.

Shin Bet officers and members of the elite Yamam counterterrorism police unit found the car which the terrorist stole from the gas station near Eli, after he and another attacker killed four people and wounded four others.

The agency says an assault rifle used in the attack was found in the car, near the Palestinian town of Tubas.

“During the arrest attempt, the suspect tried to escape from the vehicle, and was shot and neutralized by the forces,” the agency says.

Palestinian media outlets say the wanted man has died.

Gantz says opposition will support a ‘responsible’ response to terror attack

File: National Unity head Benny Gantz during a press conference in the Knesset on June 14, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
File: National Unity head Benny Gantz during a press conference in the Knesset on June 14, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

National Unity party leader Benny Gantz says the opposition will support a responsible response to the terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli.

“I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in the terrible attack at Eli and wish the injured a speedy and full recovery,” says Gantz

“At this time, determined and responsible actions are required led by the security forces. We will back up every correct decision of the government in the face of murderous terrorism,” says Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff and defense minister.

Several government officials have been calling for a broad military campaign in the West Bank.

Eli residents allowed to leave homes as infiltration warning lifted

IDF commanders organize a search for a gunman after a deadly shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (IDF)
IDF commanders organize a search for a gunman after a deadly shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (IDF)

The military’s Home Front Command has lifted movement restrictions issued for the settlement of Eli following a deadly shooting attack at a nearby gas station.

“Following the terrorist infiltration alert that was activated in Eli, the handling of the incident has ended. You can leave your homes and move around the area without restrictions,” the Home Front Command says in a statement to residents.

Earlier, an alert sounded and residents of the community were ordered to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows until further notice.

US leads 27-nation opposition to biased anti-Israel UN human rights probe

A general view taken on November 24, 2022, shows the assembly during a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Iran, at the United Nations in Geneva. (Valentin Flauraud/AFP)
A general view taken on November 24, 2022, shows the assembly during a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Iran, at the United Nations in Geneva. (Valentin Flauraud/AFP)

The United States, on behalf of 27 countries, condemns today the open-ended nature of the UN investigation into alleged human rights violations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

US ambassador Michele Taylor tells the United Nations’ Human Rights Council the group of countries was “deeply concerned” about the Commission of Inquiry (COI), with its “open-ended mandate with no sunset clause” or closing date.

The countries, including Austria, Britain, Canada and Italy, demanded an end to the “long-standing disproportionate attention given to Israel in the council.”

The COI, which is the highest-level investigation that can be ordered by the Human Rights Council, was set up in May 2021 following a surge in deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians earlier in the month.

The council established an ongoing independent, international COI to investigate “all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law” in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

It is charged with looking into “all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.”

The first-ever open-ended COI is chaired by former UN rights chief Navi Pillay of South Africa, with India’s Miloon Kothari and Chris Sidoti of Australia as the other two conducting the probe.

At a press conference in Geneva, Kothari references the calls for a sunset clause.

“We would like to see a sunset of the Israeli occupation… but until that time, an open-ended mandate is more than justified,” the former UN special rapporteur on adequate housing says.

Israel is refusing to cooperate with the investigation.

Palestinian media names dead attacker as Muhannad Faleh, 26

Palestinian media outlets name one of the terrorists who was shot dead at the scene of the shooting attack at a gas station near the settlement of Eli.

According to the reports and images circulating online showing the attacker’s ID card, he is named as Muhannad Faleh, 26, from the Nablus area.

The Shin Bet security agency does not immediately respond to requests for comment on Falah’s potential affiliation with any known terror groups.

One-year-old baby dies after being forgotten in car

A one-year-old baby girl from Acre dies after being forgotten in a vehicle, hospital officials and medics say.

Magen David Adom paramedics try to resuscitate the baby as she was extracted from the vehicle and brought to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya by ambulance.

Pediatric emergency department director Dr. Itamar Munchak says that the girl was in critical condition, not breathing and lacking a pulse, when she arrived. Several and varied attempts by medical staff to revive her were unsuccessful, leading them to declare her dead.

Munchak warns the public to never leave a child in a car, especially during the summer months when the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 70 degrees Celsius (158 Fahrenheit)

According to the Beterem – Keeping Kids Safe organization, between 2010-2020, 34 fatalities in Israel were attributed to babies and children being left unattended in parked and locked cars.

Palestinians in Nablus seen handing out sweets to celebrate deadly Eli attack

Pictures posted to social media appear to show Palestinians handing out sweets in the West Bank city of Nablus to celebrate the terror attack that killed four Israelis near the settlement of Eli.

Pictures show a plate of sweets with a sign reading “blood for blood.”

In another picture, men can be seen handing out baked goods with a similar sign.

IDF: Gunmen opened fire on diners at hummus restaurant before attacking gas station

The Palestinian gunmen who carried out the terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli arrived by car and first targeted an adjacent restaurant, according to the army’s initial investigation.

After opening fire at people eating at the Hummus Eliyahu restaurant, the gunmen targeted people at the gas station.

At one point an armed civilian shot dead one of the terrorists, while a second terrorist apparently stole a running vehicle and fled the area.

“IDF soldiers are pursuing additional suspects and roadblocks have been set up in the area,” the military says in a statement.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad praise Eli attack: A natural reaction to Israel’s crimes

First responders at the scene of a shooting attack inside a restaurant at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Magen David Adom)
First responders at the scene of a shooting attack inside a restaurant at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Magen David Adom)

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups praise the deadly attack near Eli as a “natural response” to the crimes of the occupation.

“This is a natural response to the escalation and crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people,” Islamic Jihad says.

“The reaction was swift against the crimes of the occupation in the Jenin refugee camp and the storming of Al-Aqsa,” Hamas says.

Yesterday six Palestinians were killed in an IDF raid on Jenin, while eight Israeli soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle.

Neither terror group went as far as to claim responsibility for the attack.

Gallant to hold security assessment after deadly terror attack

First responders at the scene of a shooting attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Magen David Adom)
First responders at the scene of a shooting attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Magen David Adom)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will hold a security assessment after a terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli killed four Israelis and wounded four, his office says.

Gallant “is being briefed on the details of the recent terror attack in the community of Eli, and receiving updates on the efforts to apprehend the attackers,” the statement says.

Gallant will hold an “operational situation assessment” with the IDF chief of staff and the head of the Shin Bet, along with other top security officials, his office says.

Medics say four people killed, four wounded in West Bank shooting

The scene of a suspected shooting attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023 (Courtesy)
The scene of a suspected shooting attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023 (Courtesy)

Four people have been killed in the shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli, medics say.

According to the Magen David Adom ambulance service, eight people were treated at the scene of the attack at a gas station.

MDA says four were declared dead at the scene, and four others are being taken to hospitals in Israel.

One of the wounded victims is listed in serious condition, two are in moderate condition, and the fourth is in good condition, MDA says.

Medics say 6 people hurt – 3 of them seriously – in Eli shooting attack; IDF searching for additional gunmen

The scene of a suspected shooting attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023 (Courtesy)
The scene of a suspected shooting attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023 (Courtesy)

The Magen David Adom ambulance says there are six people wounded in the shooting attack near the settlement of Eli.

Two people, a man in his 20s and a 38-year-old man, are taken to hospitals in Israel in serious condition.

Another four victims, three of whom are unconscious, are being treated at the scene.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, one of the Palestinian gunmen who opened fire at the gas station was shot at the scene.

“IDF forces have begun a pursuit of additional suspects,” the military says.

Infiltration alert in Eli settlement after shooting attack at nearby gas station

A suspected infiltration alert sounds in the West Bank settlement of Eli following a shooting attack at a nearby gas station.

The military orders residents of the community to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows until further notice, as troops carry out scans in the area.

At least 2 people wounded in shooting attack near West Bank settlement of Eli

The scene of a suspected shooting attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023 (Courtesy)
The scene of a suspected shooting attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023 (Courtesy)

The Israel Defense Forces says a shooting attack has taken place near the West Bank settlement of Eli, but does not immediately provide further details.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says its medics are treating at least two people suffering gunshot wounds at the scene of the shooting near Eli.

It says some of them are conscious.

It is not immediately clear how many casualties there are at the scene.

According to initial imagery from the scene, at least one Palestinian gunman has been shot.

There is no immediate comment from the military on the incident.

Moldova bans party of pro-Russia Israel-born oligarch

A man walks by electoral posters advertising the candidates of the Shor Party, led by Israeli-born Moldovan businessman Ilan Shor, in Chisinau, Moldova, February 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A man walks by electoral posters advertising the candidates of the Shor Party, led by Israeli-born Moldovan businessman Ilan Shor, in Chisinau, Moldova, February 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Moldova’s constitutional court outlaws the opposition party of fugitive pro-Russian oligarch Ilan Shor, whom the pro-European government accuses of trying to topple it.

The decision comes after Chisinau — which says the party is acting against the country’s national interest — asked the court to rule on its constitutionality.

In the last months, the Shor party staged several anti-government demonstrations in the capital Chisinau and other cities across the country, blaming President Maia Sandu for high electricity bills and accusing her of trying to drag Moldova into the war in Ukraine.

The authorities in Chisinau argue the protests are part of a Russian plot to overthrow the current government and replace it with a Kremlin-friendly one.

Shor is a businessman born in Israel — where he has resided in exile since 2019.

 

 

Rothman publishes bill to bar courts invalidating ‘unreasonable’ government decisions

MK Simcha Rothman at the Knesset in Jerusalem on May 29, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Simcha Rothman at the Knesset in Jerusalem on May 29, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

MK Simcha Rothman, one of the architects of the government’s judicial overhaul program, publishes a draft bill that would prevent the courts from using the judicial test of reasonableness to invalidate government and ministerial decisions and political appointments.

According to the bill, the courts, including the High Court of Justice, would no longer be able to even hold hearings over the reasonableness of a decision, or invalidate such decisions made by the cabinet, government ministers, or other elected officials merely based on the “reasonableness of their decisions.”

Rothman and Justice Minister Yariv Levin have argued that use of the reasonableness test, which allows the courts to judge whether the considerations behind a government or ministerial decision were assigned the proper weight, gives the High Court far too wide a scope to intervene in decisions which should be in the purview of the government and elected officials.

Opponents counter that critical concerns, such as making schools in the Gaza border region rocket-proof and religious rights, were upheld by the court’s use of the reasonableness doctrine and that it is, therefore, a critical tool for the judiciary.

Rothman’s bill would also mean the High Court could not strike down ministerial appointments, like when it ordered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remove Shas leader Aryeh Deri from his posts as interior and health minister earlier this year. The court ruled that the appointment was “unreasonable in the extreme” due to Deri’s previous criminal convictions, although also used the doctrine of estoppel to invalidate his appointment.

Amid long lines, Levin extends Israel Bar Association vote until 8 p.m.

People stand in long lines to vote for the new head of the Israel Bar Association on June 20, 2023 (Screencapture/Twitter: Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
People stand in long lines to vote for the new head of the Israel Bar Association on June 20, 2023 (Screencapture/Twitter: Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Justice Minister Yariv Levin extends the voting hours for the election of the new head of the Israel Bar Association until 8 p.m. The original closing time was 5 p.m. in most places.

The move comes after the association sent a second  “urgent” appeal to him amid long lines and reports of voting delays in the tightly charged election.

Levi agrees to the extension on condition that it is done in an “equal way” and applies to all ballot booths across the country.

IBA sends 2nd ‘urgent request’ to extend voting hours; Levin ignored first one

Lawyers cast their ballots for the head of the Israel Bar Association at a voting station at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, June 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Lawyers cast their ballots for the head of the Israel Bar Association at a voting station at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, June 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israel Bar Association sends a second “urgent request” to Justice Minister  Yariv Levin to extend voting hours for the new head of the organization.

The request notes that Levin had not responded to an earlier request sent two hours before.

The association says there are still long lines at voting stations across the country.

By 2:50 p.m., 23.6% of eligible voters had cast their ballots. Previous elections have seen overall turnout of under 30%.

The vote is seen as key to the government’s judicial overhaul plans as the association will elect two representatives to the Judicial Selection Committee, which selects judges to all courts in Israel.

Levin, who chairs the committee, seeks to overhaul the judiciary which he claims is too activist and unduly obstructs government decisions, policy and legislation.

Opponents say the justice minister could refuse to allow longer hours for the vote if he believes high turnout could harm his preferred candidate in a vote seen as key to his judicial reform efforts

There was no immediate comment from Levin’s office.

Bar Association candidate: Judges should be chosen for professionalism, not ideology

Arkady Eligulashvilli, a candidate for the chairmanship of the Israel Bar Association, in Jerusalem on June 20, 2023 (Jeremy Sharon/Times of Israel)
Arkady Eligulashvilli, a candidate for the chairmanship of the Israel Bar Association, in Jerusalem on June 20, 2023 (Jeremy Sharon/Times of Israel)

Arkady Eligulashvilli, a candidate for the chairmanship of the Israel Bar Association in today’s elections, labels the campaign of fellow candidate Efi Nave “a disgrace” owing to his recent criminal conviction for smuggling his lover past border control in Ben Gurion airport.

But Eligulashvilli also castigates frontrunner Amit Becher for what he says is Becher’s politicization of the IBA due to his strident campaign against the government’s judicial overhaul agenda.

As to considerations regarding the judicial ideology of judges seeking appointment, Eligulashvilli is more cautious, saying that “professionalism,” not ideology, should be the only factor.

“The IBA needs to give recommendations for judges which it thinks are the most professional, who have the best judicial temperament, who can contribute to the culture of debate with their knowledge and professionalism,” Eligulashvilli tells The Times of Israel outside the IBA’s Jerusalem offices.

“The whole dialogue around activist or not-activist judges reduces the level of debate at the expense of the issue of professionalism. If the judge is professional, can do justice, can be effective, then activism shouldn’t be taken into consideration.”

The elections to the IBA’s institutions have taken on heavy significance this time since the association will elect two representatives to the Judicial Selection Committee, which selects judges to all courts in Israel.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who chairs the committee, seeks to overhaul the judiciary which he claims is too activist and unduly obstructs government decisions, policy and legislation.

Opponents of Levin’s agenda argue that assertive judicial review is necessary to uphold civil and human rights in the absence of other checks and balances to executive and legislative power.

Sharp drop reported in new housing starts

Apartments under construction in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. (Lior Mizrahi/ Flash90)
Apartments under construction in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. (Lior Mizrahi/ Flash90)

Home building in Israel drops by some 25% in the first quarter of this year, according to figures released by the Central Bureau for Statistics.

The report showed that from January to March construction started on 14,981 new apartments, compared to some 20,000 in the same period last year.

Analysts say the drop is a result of the cooling of the real estate market due to significantly higher interest rates in recent months.

Former news site editor at Netanyahu trial: No one got special treatment like he did

Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in his trial at the Jerusalem District Court on May 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in his trial at the Jerusalem District Court on May 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

A former senior news editor at the Walla news site testifies that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received special treatment from the editorial board.

“No other person being covered by Walla received the same treatment that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family did,” says Avner Borohov, during testimony at Netanyahu’s corruption trial.

“It was an anomaly by any standard, systematic. An editor-in-chief could assign something, but there was always a discussion about it. Here, we were just told ‘because you have to,’ without taking into account professional considerations,” he says.

Netanyahu is on trial in three corruption cases.

Case 4000 involves suspicions that Shaul Elovitch, the majority shareholder of Bezeq telecommunications company, ordered the Walla news site, which he owned, to grant positive coverage to Netanyahu and his family in exchange for the prime minister advancing regulations benefiting Elovitch.

Bar Association calls for extended hours for key vote as long lines reported at polls

Election campaign posters for the head of the Israel Bar Association, outside a voting station at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, June 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Election campaign posters for the head of the Israel Bar Association, outside a voting station at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, June 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Lengthy lines at polling stations for the Israel Bar Association (IBA) elections are reported at numerous voting places around the country, as tens of thousands of attorneys seek to vote in a ballot that could have huge consequences for the judiciary and the country at large.

Footage posted on social media shows lines with dozens if not hundreds of people and accounts by voters who said it took two hours or more to vote.

As a result, the IBA sent a request to Justice Minister Yariv Levin to extend voting hours at the polling stations, although the minister is yet to respond to the request.
According to the IBA, the voter turnout as of 1:45 p.m. was 20.8% of eligible voters. Previous elections have seen overall turnout of under 30%.

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