The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Iran tells UN it will hike uranium enrichment capacity
Iran tells the UN nuclear watchdog that it will increase its nuclear enrichment capacity within the limits set by the 2015 agreement with world powers.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency, is quoted by state TV as saying a letter was submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency detailing the move.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had ordered the increase in a speech yesterday, in which he vowed that the country would preserve its nuclear program despite the US withdrawal from the landmark 2015 accord.
Iran has said it has the option of resuming industrial-scale enrichment now that the US has withdrawn from the deal.
Jordan’s king appoints reformist Cabinet member as new PM
State news agency says Jordan’s king has appointed cabinet member Omar Razzaz, a leading reformer, as new prime minister.
Prime Minister Hani Mulki resigned yesterday after several days of mass protests across Jordan against a planned tax increase, the latest in a series of economic reforms sought by the International Monetary Fund to get the rising public debt under control.
Netanyahu traveling to Paris to talks Iran deal with Macron
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading to Paris as part of a European tour to rally support from allies, including France’s President Emmanuel Macron.
Netanyahu will be hosted by Macron at the Elysee Palace, after traveling from Berlin. On the agenda will be the international nuclear deal with Iran as well as how to push Iranian forces out of Syria.
French officials have said that Macron will also raise concerns regarding the uptick in tensions along the Gaza border.
Netanyahu and Macron will cap the day with a visit to an exhibit on Israeli innovations as part of events commemorating Israel’s 70th birthday.
Netanyahu says ‘not surprised’ by Khamenei threat to destroy Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he isn’t surprised that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday called Israel the “cancerous tumor” of the region that must be “removed and eradicated.”
“The day before yesterday, Ayatollah Khamenei, the ruler of Iran, declared his intention to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu says in a video message shortly after arriving in Paris.
“Yesterday he explained how he would do it — with an unlimited enrichment of uranium to produce an arsenal of nuclear bombs,” he says. “We aren’t surprised, and will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.”
Fire at Sderot college brought under control
Firefighters bring a blaze outside Sderot’s Sapir College under control, officials from the institution say.
“We would like to calm [everyone] and update you that security forces quickly got control of the fire, and college activities are continuing as planned,” Sapir says in a message to students and faculty.
“We hope that soon we will get back to taking pictures of sunflowers and not fires,” the statement reads.
עכשיו מחוץ למכללת ספיר. pic.twitter.com/94yRSngHxK
— Nitay Perets (@nitayp) June 5, 2018
— Judah Ari Gross
IS kills 45 pro-regime fighters in east Syria assault — monitor
An offensive by the Islamic State jihadist group in eastern Syria has left at least 45 pro-regime fighters dead, a monitoring group says.
IS fighters launched the offensive Sunday against Euphrates Valley villages controlled by government forces and their allies, and have retaken four of them, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Liberman: Plan to expand nuclear enrichment shows Tehran ‘panicking’
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says the order given by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to increase its nuclear enrichment capacity is a sign of the “hysteria and panic” within the government.
But, he goes on to say, Iran is a global problem, not only Israel’s. “We see Iranian subversion not only against the State of Israel, but also in Yemen, Bahrain, the Gulf and Lebanon, so it’s a regional threat.
“Anyone that has been paying attention in the last few months to the leaders of Saudi Arabia… I sound like a dove of peace compared to them,” he adds.
Arab Israeli convicted of terrorism for 2017 Haifa shootings
The Haifa District Court convicts Muhammad Shinawi on terrorism charges for the 2017 murder of Guy Kafri and the attempted murder of Yehiel Iluz in Haifa.
According to the indictment, 22-year-old Shinawi confessed to all of the charges against him, and admitted to authorities the attack last January was nationalistically motivated.
Russians withdraw from Syria-Lebanon border a day after arriving
A Russian force that deployed on Syria’s border with Lebanon has reportedly withdrawn and been replaced by Syrian troops.
The Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV, which has reporters throughout Syria, says the Russian force withdrew today from the border area on the outskirts of the town of Qusair, a stronghold of the Lebanese Hezbollah group. Russia and the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group are both fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Al-Mayadeen and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say Russian troops had deployed to the area yesterday. Neither provided details as to why they left.
The rare deployment of Russian forces near the border came amid repeated Israeli warnings about Iran’s growing military presence in Syria. Israel is widely believed to have been behind an airstrike on Qusair last month that killed and wounded Hezbollah fighters.
Gaza kites believed to spark blaze outside Kibbutz Kissufim
A brush fire breaks out in a field outside Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel, apparently caused by an incendiary kite from the Gaza Strip, a spokesperson for the local fire department says.
“Firefighters from western Negev stations are working to put out the fire and prevent the blaze from spreading,” the spokesperson says.
KKL suing Hamas for environmental damage caused by arson kites
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (the Jewish National Fund) says it intends to sue the Hamas terrorist organization for environmental damage in the areas near the Gaza strip that have been heavily damaged by repeated arson attacks emanating from the Palestinian territory.
In a statement, the KKL-JNF says it will take the legal action against the terrorist organization in international court.
Chairman Daniel Atar urges the international community to hold Hamas accountable for its “criminal acts; not only against the citizens of the state of Israel, but also against nature and the environment which have been severely hurt by this criminal environmental terrorism.
“Hamas has proved that they have no humanity; not just toward human beings, but also toward animals and natural resources,” he says.
Israel has been battling major fires in recent weeks caused by kites rigged with incendiary devices, or attached to burning rags, launched by Palestinians in Gaza that have damaged thousands of acres of parkland and agricultural fields.
Netanyahu says Israel thwarted ‘many’ terror attacks in Europe
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel has thwarted many terror attacks in Europe, as he cautions against the rise in anti-Semitism across the continent.
“The main thing that must be understood is that it never ends with the Jews. Jew-hatred always spreads to a greater problem; therefore, it is possible to recruit others, for both moral reasons and the future of society,” he tells French Jewish leaders in Paris.
“Anti-Semitism in Europe in general and France in particular, these attacks, have ancient roots even though their expressions are new,” he says. “Against this there needs to be one thing: Fight it. Fight, fight and fight.”
Netanyahu goes on to say that Israel has thwarted “many” jihadist terror attacks in Europe.
“Israel is working against the threat of radical Islam which threatens Israel and the entire world. We are thwarting awful terrorist attacks including here in France,” he says. “Israel has blocked very many terrorist attacks in Europe and will continue to do so.”
German neo-Nazi trial: Defense calls for release of suspect
Lawyers for the main defendant in a high-profile neo-Nazi murder trial in Germany are asking for her immediate release, arguing she wasn’t involved in the killings, bombings and bank robberies committed by her friends.
Prosecutors accuse Beate Zschaepe of being part of the National Socialist Underground that allegedly targeted migrants, killing 10 people between 2000 and 2007.
Two other members were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide in 2011.
Three of Zschaepe’s court-appointed lawyers are arguing in court today that she could only be tried for arson. Since the 43-year-old has been in custody for over six years, any sentence would be covered by time served.
Zschaepe’s other two lawyers previously asked for a maximum sentence of 10 years.
The trial, which began in 2013, is expected to conclude in the coming weeks.
Gaza kites believed to spark blaze near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha
A blaze breaks out near Kibbuz Ein Hashlosha in southern Israel, one of multiple fires in the area that were apparently sparked by incendiary kites from the nearby Gaza Strip, a spokesperson for the local fire department says.
The spokesperson says that firefighters are working to put out the fire and keep it from spreading.
The official adds that firefighters have succeeded in bringing an earlier fire, near Kibbutz Kissufim, under control.
— Judah Ari Gross
Egypt radio announcer who claimed victory over Israel in 1967 war dies at 93
The radio announcer who claimed Egyptian troops had reached Tel Aviv when they had actually suffered a crushing defeat in the Six Day War with Israel has died at the age of 93.
Ahmed Said, who died yesterday, worked for the Voice of the Arabs, a Cairo-based station used by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to whip up Arab nationalism.
During the 1967 war, Said told listeners that Egypt had shot down dozens of Israeli warplanes. In reality, Israel had destroyed nearly all of Egypt’s air force on the tarmac.
In just six days, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
Said was buried this afternoon, the 51st anniversary of the start of the war.
Firefighters battling 6 blazes sparked by incendiary kites from Gaza
At least six fires have broken out in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, apparently as a result of so-called “fire kites” from the Gaza Strip, according to the local regional council.
Area firefighters and security personnel are working to put out the blazes, as smoke fills the surrounding communities, according to the Eshkol region spokesperson.
The six fires are located near the communities of Kissufim, Nirim, Ein Hashlosha and Reim. Additional fires were reported earlier in the day near Kibbutz Nir Am and Nativ Ha’asara.
— Judah Ari Gross
Palestinians threaten to disrupt Argentina’s World Cup bid for playing Israel
Protesting Argentina’s upcoming friendly soccer game against Israel, the Palestinians are threatening to torpedo the Latin American country’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup.
“It is with regret that we hereby declare that, should the Argentinian National team continue its plans to play in Jerusalem, we will launch a worldwide campaign to question Argentina’s eligibility to host the FIFA World Cup 2030,” the Palestinian Football Association says in a statement.
The Argentine squad, led by its superstar striker Lionel Messi, are set to play Israel on Saturday evening in the capital’s Teddy stadium. It is the team’s last match before the World Cup in Russia starting later this month.
Argentina, a two-time world champion and again a contender to win the cup this summer, has confirmed its bid to host the 2030 tournament, together with Paraguay and Uruguay.
“The Palestinian Football Family calls upon the Argentinian Football association, and the Argentinian national team, to refrain from being used, by politicians in the Israeli Government, as a tool to normalize the illegal annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem, and to whitewash the Israeli systematic violations of international law and human rights,” the statement reads.
By agreeing to play “in the occupied city of Jerusalem,” Argentina risks being considered “unworthy” of hosting the 2030 World Cup, the statement says.
The fact that the friendly follows much international condemnation of the US’s December 6, 2017, decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “will undoubtedly send a message that the stars of Argentina are lending legitimacy to the illegal actions of an occupation that systematically abuses the human rights of around 5 million Palestinians struggling under its yoke,” the statement reads.
— Raphael Ahren
IDF says Gaza medic killed in protests not shot intentionally
An initial IDF investigation finds that the Palestinian medic shot dead on Friday during clashes along the Gaza border was not intentionally targeted, the army says.
“During the incident, a limited number of bullets were fired and no gunfire was directly or intentionally fired at her,” the army says.
This appears to indicate that the medic, Razan Najjar, was hit either by a ricochet or a missed shot.
The army says the investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
The IDF General Staff has also launched its own probe into the event, the findings of which will be presented to the Military Advocate General to determine if criminal proceedings are necessary.
— Judah Ari Gross
Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape, sex charges
Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape and criminal sex act charges in New York.
Weinstein quietly answered a series of yes and no questions from the judge asking if he understood his rights at the hearing in Manhattan after a grand jury indicted the former movie mogul last week on charges involving two women.
One alleged victim, who has not been identified publicly, told investigators that Weinstein cornered her in a hotel room and raped her. The other accuser, former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her account of Weinstein forcing her to perform oral sex at his office in 2004. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults unless they come forward publicly.
Dozens more women have accused him of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault.
The 66-year-old Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has challenged the credibility of his alleged victims and says his client is confident he is going to clear his name.
Brafman called the rape allegation “absurd,” saying that the accuser and Weinstein had a decadelong, consensual sexual relationship that continued after the alleged 2013 attack.
UN rights office voices concern about Egypt arrests
The UN human rights office voices concern over a recent wave of arrests of activists and bloggers in Egypt.
Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says the arrests indicate a “significant escalation in the crackdown against the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.”
She says arbitrary detention has become a “chronic problem” in Egypt.
Egypt has intensified a long-running crackdown on dissent since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s re-election in March.
Among those arrested are blogger Wael Abbas, pro-democracy activist Shady el-Ghazaly Harb, young comedian Shady Abu Zeid and activist Amal Fathy. They face an array of charges, including disseminating false news and belonging to an outlawed group.
Unarmed Gazan arrested after crossing into Israel
The IDF says an unarmed Palestinian man who sneaked across the border fence from the Gaza Strip into Israel has been arrested.
Two other Palestinians who were trying to cross the border with him fled back inside the Strip when Israeli soldiers approached the area, the army says.
The Gazan man is transferred to Israeli security forces for questioning.
Firefighters battling another fire sparked by Gaza kites
Another brush fire has broken out in southern Israel, outside Kibbutz Beeri, apparently sparked by an incendiary kite from the Gaza Strip.
The local fire department says its firefighters are working to put out the fire and prevent it from spreading.
— Judah Ari Gross
Indian army airlifts Israelis injured in India crash to larger hospital
The Israelis injured in a deadly road accident on a remote mountainside in India yesterday are airlifted from the town of Kullu to a larger hospital in northern India for further treatment.
Israel’s foreign ministry says consul Eli Sneh accompanied the four injured tourists to Chandigarh in a military helicopter.
The ministry says the Chandigarh is has better, more advanced medical equipment. One of the four Israelis is in serious condition.
Earlier today, the ministry announced that 36-year-old Adva Ben Dahan was killed in a road accident in a remote mountainside in India.
The accident happened after the vehicle hit a bus and veered off the road, plunging more than 150 meters down a ravine.
Trump appeals court ruling he can’t block Twitter critics
The US Department of Justice says it will appeal a federal judge’s ruling last month that US President Donald Trump cannot legally block Twitter users who disagree with him.
The appeal notice, filed yesterday before the US appellate court in New York, refers to the May 23 ruling by Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald. She ruled that the blocking of Trump critics violated the free speech rights of those users guaranteed in the Constitution’s First Amendment.
The president’s @realDonaldTrump account has more than 52 million followers and is his favorite public communication tool in the face of what he calls “fake news” media, which publish investigative articles about him and his administration.
PA warned Paris that Gaza border clashes financed by Iran — report
The Palestinian Authority informed the French government last month that Iran was financing and encouraging the weeks of violent protests along the Gaza border, Channel 10 reports.
“Iran is fully financing and pushing the Hamas demonstrations,” the Palestinian ambassador to France told a government official last month. “The PA has no choice but to support the demonstrations because so may of the participants are demonstrating against the economic situation.”
While Ramallah does not support the Hamas-led protests, the Palestinian ambassador says the PA “does condemn Israel’s response, because most of the protesters are non-violent.”
Netanyahu meeting with Macron to discuss Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting France’s President Emmanuel Macron as part of his European tour, amid deep differences over how to contain Iran’s ambitions in the Middle East.
Netanyahu is holding talks with Macron in Paris following his visit to Berlin, focusing on the international nuclear deal with Iran as well as how to push Iranian forces out of Syria.
Former Lebanese spy chief testifies at Hariri murder trial
A Lebanese spy chief once jailed in connection to the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri is giving testimony to the international tribunal tasked with trying the crime.
Jamil Al Sayyed, the former director of Lebanon’s General Security intelligence agency, is called to the stand in the Netherlands as a witness for Hassan Oneissi, one of the four defendants on trial. All four are at large and are being tried in absentia.
Sayyed, who won a seat in Parliament in a May 6 election, is expected to give testimony through Thursday.
He was detained months after the February 14, 2005 killing but released nearly four years later without charges.
The terrorist group Hezbollah, which is suspected of being behind the killing, has called for the tribunal to be defunded.
Designer Kate Spade found dead in NY home in apparent suicide
Fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead in her apartment Tuesday in an apparent suicide, law enforcement officials say.
The officials say housekeeping staff found her hanging inside her Park Avenue apartment at about 10:20 a.m. They say she left a note at the scene. The officials were not authorized to divulge details of an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The officials didn’t know what the note said.
Spade, who was 55, created a line of sleek handbags in the early 1990s that created a smash.
Her company, Kate Spade New York, has over 140 retail shops and outlet stores across the US, and more than 175 shops internationally.
Eritrean stabbed in Tel Aviv bus station brawl
A 30-year-old man is stabbed and seriously injured during a brawl at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.
According to reports, the brawl was the result of a disagreement between three Eritrean men.
Police responding to the scene arrest 6 people for their involvement in the violent fight.
UN tells US to ‘immediately halt’ separation of families at border
The United Nations human rights office calls on the Trump administration Tuesday to “immediately halt” its accelerating policy of separating children from their parents after they cross the US border with Mexico, insisting there’s “nothing normal about detaining children.”
Ravina Shamdasani , a spokeswoman for the UN high commissioner for human rights, scolds the United States over the hundreds of children removed from parents who were jailed for entering the country illegally. She said that border control appears to take precedence over child protection and care in the US.
“The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles,” Shamdasani says during a briefing in Geneva. “The child’s best interest should always come first.”
The Trump administration has adopted a new “zero tolerance” policy that has accelerated separations of children and their parents at the border. The policy, announced in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, directs authorities to prosecute all instances of illegal border crossings.
The issue has fanned a political debate in the United States ahead of midterm congressional elections in the fall.
Officials say most fires sparked by Gaza arson kites extinguished
Most of the fires in the Gaza periphery have been extiguished, according to local government officials.
“There are two more fires that are still being taken care of, but are almost under complete control,” a spokesperson for the Eshkol region says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Pre-army academy that organized fatal hike closing for a year to ‘reorganize’
The Bnei Zion pre-military academy, whose 10 students were killed in a flash flood in April, will not re-open its doors next academic year, Channel 10 reports.
The academy will take that time “reorganize and take responsibility” after the tragedy. Yesterday, all members of Bnei Zion’s board of directors resigned.
Last month, police recommended that Bnei Zion’s counselor, Aviv Bardichev, be indicted for manslaughter, while academy director Yuval Kahan — who has since resigned — be charged with the lesser offense of negligent homicide.
France reportedly relaying messages from Israel to Tehran
At Israel’s request, France has begun relaying messages from Jerusalem to Tehran regarding its buildup of troops in southern Syria, Channel 10 reports.
A French official told the TV station that Israel approached the French government several weeks ago asking for a message to be conveyed to senior Iranian military officials.
The official declined to say what the message contained, but said that Paris had relayed a number of similar messages to officials in Tehran recently.
He added that France sent the message to the office of President Hassan Rouhani, who in any case does not support the IRGC presence in Syria, and so the influence of the messages so far has been limited.
Netanyahu urges Macron to impose sanctions on Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urges French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to impose economic sanctions on Iran to help dissuade it from pursuing a nuclear weapon.
“The nuclear archive proved that Iran is interested in a military nuclear program, and I think it’s time to put pressure on the Islamic Republic,” he says at a joint press conference in Paris after a closed-door meeting between the two leaders.
Netanyahu predicts Iran deal will collapse under pressure of US sanctions
Netanyahu says he did not ask Macron to withdraw France from the multi-national nuclear deal with Iran because renewed US sanctions against the Islamic Republic would sink the 2015 accord anyhow.
“I didn’t ask President Macron to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran because I think it is going to collapse anyway soon under pressure from US sanctions,” he says at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron warns of risk of ‘escalation’ over Iran nuclear deal
French President Emmanuel Macron is warning of an “escalation” in the Iranian nuclear standoff after Tehran announced plans to boost uranium enrichment capacity to pressure Europeans scrambling to save a landmark deal.
At a press conference with visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the French leader calls on “everyone to stabilize the situation and not give into this escalation which would lead to only one thing: conflict.”
Macron says that while France shares Israel’s concerns regarding Iran’s actions in the region, but that his government stands by the nuclear agreement. He says the international community should seek to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program through a separate deal, and not by re-vamping the existing agreement.
— with AFP
Macron criticizes US embassy move, says ‘people dying not a celebration’
Macron slams the US transferring its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying the move sparked deadly violence in Gaza and did not promote peace.
“If [moving the embassy] leads to people dying, it’s not a celebration,” he says at a joint press conference alongside Netanyahu.
Macron goes on to say that France wants to help alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.