The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
London’s High Court rejects a bid for a judicial review of the UK government’s decision to renew arms sales to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the war in Yemen.
A pair of judges at the court dismiss the case brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), after hearing arguments earlier this year.
The UK-based NGO accuses the government of contributing to breaches of international law and the world’s largest humanitarian disaster in Yemen, where conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives in recent years.
But the judges side with the British government, concluding there has been “continuing rationality” in a risk assessment performed by officials before restarting arms sales to Saudi Arabia in 2020.
The Biden administration weighs in on the controversy over Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, saying his recent performances in Germany were antisemitic.
The State Department says that Waters has “a long track record of using antisemitic tropes” and a concert he gave late last month in Germany “contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimized the Holocaust.”
The comments come in a written response to a question posed at yesterday’s State Department press briefing about whether the administration agreed with criticism of Rogers from the US special envoy to combat antisemitism, Deborah Lipstadt.
“Special Envoy Lipstadt’s quote-tweet speaks for itself,” the department says. “The concert in question, which took place in Berlin, contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimized the Holocaust,” the department says. “The artist in question has a long track record of using antisemitic tropes to denigrate Jewish people.”
Images on social media showed Waters firing an imitation machine gun while dressed in a long black coat with a red armband. Police confirmed that the costume could constitute a glorification, justification or approval of Nazi rule and therefore a disturbance of the public peace.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Saudi Arabia on a trip to strengthen strained ties with the long-time ally as the oil-rich kingdom forges closer relations with Washington’s rivals.
Blinken lands in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, a pool reporter on the plane tells AFP. He is expected to meet Saudi’s de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman during his trip, according to a US official.
The State Department has said that the issue of a potential normalization deal with Israel is on the agenda, although the US has dismissed reports that any agreement is imminent.
The head of the Israel Police unit tasked with fighting crime in Arab communities resigns amid a surge in deadly violence.
Police say Deputy Commissioner Natan Bozna submitted a request to retire and collect his pension, with neither he or the force publicly giving a reason for the move.
A statement from police says Commissioner Kobi Shabtai accepts Bozna’s resignation, “wished him success ahead and thanked him for his many years of contributing to the State of Israel’s security.”
Bozna, 60, who had served as as officer since 1984, is the 11th deputy commissioner to resign since Shabtai became police chief in 2021.
Varying Hebrew media reports gave conflicting reasons for the resignations, with some claiming Shabtai was forcing him out and others saying that Bozna was quitting due to frustrating with a lack of funding for the unit.
At least 91 members of the Arab sector in Israel have been killed in violent crimes so far this year, practically three times the figure at the same time last year.
National Unity chairman Benny Gantz says he will not join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government in order to help push a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia over the finish line.
Netanyahu has placed securing such a deal at the top of his agenda, but Saudi officials have conveyed to US brokers that an agreement will require a significant Israeli gesture to the Palestinians, in addition to major American security and economic assurances for Riyadh, a senior US official told The Times of Israel in May.
Given that MKs from every coalition party, particularly the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism factions, are ideologically opposed to advancing Palestinian sovereignty, Netanyahu may well be blocked from signing off on the type of move toward a two-state solution that Riyadh will likely demand in exchange for normalizing ties with Israel.
During an event at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Gantz was asked whether his 12-seat opposition party would be willing to swap out some of the more hardline elements of the coalition if they threaten to leave the government in the event that such a normalization proposal is signed.
Gantz said that he would provide a “strategic backup” for the government, indicating that he would vote in favor of such a deal from the opposition.
“I think that peace is always a good trend for the State of Israel, and if it needed my backup for that, it will get my backup for that, but I will not get into this government,” he said, speaking in English.
Pressed on why he was refusing to do so, Gantz said he could not ignore the political events of the last three years, referencing his decision in 2020 to form a unity government with Netanyahu only for the Likud leader to collapse the coalition before Gantz was slated to replace him in line with their rotational agreement.
“I think that I should not join Netanyahu who betrayed my confidence,” Gantz said.
Israel expresses concern over the harm to civilians caused by the destruction of the Kakhova dam in Ukraine — but stops short of blaming Russia for the disputed incident.
“Israel is shocked by the extensive damage to the Kakhova dam,” tweets Lior Haiat, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.
“Thousands of innocent civilians are at peril because of this terrible destruction. Such deliberate targeting of critical infrastructure and people must be strongly condemned by the entire international community,” he adds. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ukrainian people in this difficult hour.”
Ukraine accuses Russian forces of blowing up the dam, in an area that Moscow has controlled for more than a year, while Russian officials blame Ukrainian bombardment in the contested area.
Iran reopens its embassy in Saudi Arabia after a seven-year closure, reaffirming a Chinese-brokered rapprochement that has redrawn the region’s diplomatic map.
The Iranian mission resumes in its former premises in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter — near Syria’s embassy, which is also expected to reopen soon following Saudi outreach to Damascus.
“We consider today an important day in the relations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Alireza Bigdeli tells a flag-raising ceremony. “The cooperation between the countries is entering a new era.”
The reopening coincides with a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Saudi Arabia, which comes as the oil-rich kingdom has been forging closer relations with Washington’s rivals.
Blinken is expected to meet the Saudi de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah during his visit, and potential normalization with Israel is slated to be on the agenda.
The US says it is sanctioning a group of people and firms from Iran, China and Hong Kong associated with the alleged development of Iran’s ballistic missile program.
The network of seven people and six firms “facilitated procurement of sensitive and critical parts and technology for key actors in Iran’s ballistic missile development,” including Iran’s defense ministry and its affiliated firms, according to the Treasury Department.
Among the sanctions targets are the China-based firm Zhejiang Qingji, which has allegedly sold centrifuges and other materials to an Iran-based firm affiliated with the nation’s defense ministry. Also designated for sanctions are several executives at Qingji and the Hong Kong-based Lingoe Process Engineering Limited, which Treasury said served as a front company for the Chinese firm.
Also named is Iran’s defense attaché in Beijing, Davoud Damghani, who is alleged to coordinate purchases from China for Iran end-users.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant responds to Iran’s claims of developing a hypersonic missile, saying Israel will always have a solution to counter it.
“I hear our enemies bragging about various weapon developments, for any such thing, we have a better response — at air, in the sea and on land, with defensive and offensive capabilities,” Gallant says during a visit to the military’s Northern Command amid a major drill.
“We will know how to protect the citizens of Israel, and how to strike our enemies with a crushing blow if, God forbid, they start a war against us,” he says in video remarks.
Gallant meets with senior officers leading an exercise in northern Israel, part of the Israel Defense Forces’ two-week-long “Firm Hand” exercise. The drill is focused on a potential multifront war with Iran and its terror proxies across the Middle East, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah.
“If Hezbollah makes a mistake and starts a war against Israel, we will hit it hard, and send Lebanon back to the stone age,” Gallant adds.
Beilinson Hospital’s maternity ward says it is now accommodating gay couples and single men who become parents by surrogacy, following the Health Ministry directive last year expanding surrogacy access to same-sex couples, single men and transgender people.
The hospital in Petach Tikvah is providing the men with a private room. In the case of gay couples, one will be admitted as the parent-patient, and the other will accompany them as the second parent. The men will receive support and guidance from the nursing staff.
The surrogate will be admitted as usual to the maternity ward with other women giving birth. Following the birth, the men can stay at least 48 hours in the hospital practicing various bonding techniques and learning basic parenting skills like infant-first aid, feeding, diapering and bathing.
Dr. Rony Chen, director of Beilinson’s maternity ward and labor rooms, says he is happy to inaugurate such a program.
“We have waited many years for [gay] couples to have children by surrogacy in Israel, and as a member of the LGBTQ community, I fully understand the adjustments necessary,” he says. “Gay parents will receive the special treatment and support that we have devised as they grow their family.”
Some 20 Jewish families from the city of Kherson in Ukraine join the stream of displaced persons Tuesday leaving the low area downstream from the damaged Kakhova dam on the Dnipro River.
The movement is part of evacuations of many thousands of civilians in southern Ukraine following the rupturing of the dam overnight. Russian and Ukrainian officials have traded accusations over responsibility for the collapse, which occurred amid fighting between troops from both armies.
The evacuated Jewish families will stay with other families of the community and communal facilities, says Rabbi Yosef Wolff, the local Chabad rabbi.
The water level is rising in the river flowing through Kherson, he says, but the city’s synagogue is about 20 meters above water level and “is expected to remain dry even after we reach the peak of the flooding, which for now is only growing,” he says.
The city’s Jewish population currently numbers 600-700 people, a fifth of its prewar size, he says. About 80% of the Jewish population left amid intense fighting in Kherson, which is situated on the edge of the area occupied by Russia.
Neighboring Mykolaiv is also at risk from flooding. It is a site for pilgrimage by some Jews because it is the birthplace of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic dynasty. Mykolaiv currently has about 150 Jewish families.
There are no signs of damage from flooding, says Sholom Gotlieb, a Chabad rabbi who’s been living in the city for the past 25 years.
The Israel Defense Forces announces it will hold a test of the siren systems and emergency preparedness in the Haifa suburb of Nesher tomorrow.
The sirens will sound in the northern city at 9:05 a.m.
Residents of the area are asked to enter bomb shelters when they hear the sirens and to ensure that their shelters are well-stocked for an emergency.
In the case of an actual attack, the sirens will sound twice, the military says.
The drill comes amid the IDF’s two-week-long “Firm Hand” exercise, involving nearly all units of the military.
Military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks with troops during a major military drill simulating a multifront war, telling them they must remain vigilant, following the killing of three soldiers on the Egyptian border over the weekend.
“The attack in the 80th Division is a difficult incident, we lost three soldiers in an operational incident against a single threat, against a single terrorist, an Egyptian policeman, and the results are certainly difficult results,” Halevi tells troops of the 334th Artillery Battalion.
“Our job is to do everything to prevent this from happening. Doing everything also means how we, the senior command, plan the missions and build the surrounding infrastructure,” he says.
“Doing everything also means among you: alertness, vigilance… and look, we really, really trust you,” he adds to the soldiers.
Troops of the 334th Artillery Battalion are participating in an exercise in northern Israel, as part of the IDF’s two-week “Firm Hand” drill, focused on a potential multifront war with Iran and its terror proxies across the Middle East.
The coalition is set to reinstate a one-year residency requirement before issuing an Israeli passport to new immigrants, starting as early as July 10 of this year, according to the committee preparing the legislation.
The Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee advances for its second and third (final) readings a bill to grant the interior minister power to refuse to issue a passport to a new immigrant who arrived under Israel’s Law of Return, until the immigrant has proven residency in Israel.
This is a rollback to policy prior to 2017, when a different amendment permitted granting passports on arrival to Jewish immigrants.
Before 2017, the Interior Ministry relied upon a 1964 directive to use one year as test for residency, and issued a temporary transit document until the year was up.
Gil Beringer, the deputy director general of the Population and Immigration Authority, tells the committee that his department observed that there was abuse of the passport-on-arrival policy, claiming a trend of new Jewish immigrants using the passports only to get visa-free access to other countries.
A number of opposition MKs who voted against the bill, including immigrants MK Ze’ev Elkin and Yulia Malinovsky, say the policy change will create disparity between immigrants with influence who can arrange expedited documents and others.
Amid talk of the potential of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the US lashes out at Tehran over its history of covert nuclear activity and refusal to cooperate with inspectors.
“Last September, Iran ended hopes that a mutual return to JCPOA implementation may be near by demanding that safeguards obligations be implemented differently in Iran than in all other states with a comprehensive safeguards agreement,” Laura Holgate, the US ambassador to the UN’s international organizations, tells a hearing of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
“As we know, such demands are simply impossible to accept,” adds Holgate. “Nowhere in the world would IAEA inspectors ignore possible undeclared nuclear material and activities, and the detection of nuclear material particles at multiple undeclared locations.”
Holgate adds that Iran “continues to expand its nuclear activities far beyond JCPOA limits,” calling on it to “cease its nuclear provocations that pose grave proliferation risks.”
A man in his 60s is stabbed in Jerusalem in what is believed to be an incident that is not terror related.
According to first responders, the man is discovered on Weizmann Street near the entrance to the capital, and is brought to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in moderate condition with stab wounds.
The health of a son of Libya’s late leader Moammar Gaddafi is deteriorating three days into a hunger strike to protest his detention in Lebanon without trial, his lawyer says.
Hannibal Gaddafi is suffering from headaches, muscle pain and difficulty in moving around, his lawyer Paul Romanos says. He started his hunger strike Saturday.
He has been detained in Lebanon since 2015 after he was briefly kidnapped from neighboring Syria, where he had been living as a political refugee. He was abducted by Lebanese militants demanding information on the whereabouts of prominent Lebanese Shiite cleric Moussa al-Sadr who went missing in Libya 45 years ago.
Romanos says Gaddafi is also suffering from back pain due to being held in a small room where he cannot move freely or exercise.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Malinovsky calls Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “traitor, a liar and a fraudster,” then quickly apologizes.
Malinovsky makes the comments on Channel 12 news after she was asked about the prime minister’s ongoing activities on the judicial overhaul in public versus behind closed doors.
“Bibi is the same Bibi, the sun is the same sun, he’s a traitor, a liar and a fraudster,” says Malinovsky, as the other members of the panel immediately react angrily to her words.
Malinovsky then implies that she was referring to Netanyahu cheating on his wife Sara (which the prime minister admitted to in 1993), and says “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that, I shouldn’t get into people’s personal lives.”
The Hebrew word boged is widely used to mean a traitor as well as someone who cheats on their significant other.
The word holds heavy significance in Israeli politics, in part because it was used as a label by some extremists against prime minister Yitzhak Rabin before he was assassinated.
Several Palestinians are wounded during clashes with the Israeli military near the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, following the funeral there of a toddler who was mistakenly shot by troops last week, Palestinian media outlets report.
According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, one person is hit by live fire in the foot, another is hit with a rubber-tipped bullet, and a number of others are treated by medics for tear gas inhalation.
A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces tells The Times of Israel that the army is looking into the circumstances of the clashes.
— قناة الأقصى الفضائية (@SerajSat) June 6, 2023
Mohammed Tamimi was buried earlier today, after dying at an Israeli hospital yesterday. The two-and-a-half-year-old was mistakenly shot by IDF troops near the village on Thursday, after Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the adjacent settlement of Neve Tzuf.
The IDF says it is investigating the soldiers’ conduct, after which a decision will be made on whether a probe should be opened and charges be possibly filed.
Hundreds of Palestinians gather for the funeral of a three-year-old boy who died after being accidentally shot by the IDF in the West Bank last week.
Mohammed al-Tamimi died in an Israeli hospital yesterday, after Israeli soldiers shot him and his father last week in Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah.
Tamimi’s mother, Marwa, weeps as she embraces her son for the final time, his body wrapped in the traditional black and white Palestinian keffiyeh scarf.
The IDF said yesterday that soldiers had “responded with live fire” following a shooting attack on the nearby settlement of Neveh Tzuf. The army said that two Palestinians were wounded, adding that it “regrets harm to civilians,” and said an investigation was under way.
Al-Tamimi is the youngest person killed in the conflict this year.
Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai warns that the police force is not prepared for a “multi-front” outbreak of violence across the country.
“Today we are much more prepared than we were in the past, during Guardian of the Walls [when violence broke out in several mixed Arab-Jewish cities], to deal with a large number of sites, stronger, more prepared, but we’re still not where we need to be,” Shabtai tells a hearing of the Knesset State Control Committee.
“We won’t be able to deal with such a scenario if there will be a multi-front incident in the entire State of Israel,” Shabtai adds, pointing to a lack of “manpower, resources, means and equipment” which are preventing the police from “rising to the occasion.”
Shabtai points out that the police station in Lod — which saw the most intensive violent clashes during the 2021 war — is missing 30% of its manpower, which amounts to 56 officers: “If the issue of salaries for Israel Police officers is not improved, I don’t see an improvement in the manpower situation,” he says.
Yossi Shelley, the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, implies in a radio interview that the government’s judicial overhaul plan is as good as dead.
“I’m not a politician but I think the public understands what happened,” Shelley tells Kan Reshet Bet. “We have to stop talking about it and talk about other issues,” including the Eilat port and the Ashkelon gas pipeline: “Talk about that a little, what’s this nonsense?” he adds.
Pressed on the issue, Shelley says: “Stop talking about it, it’s going to disappear anyway.”
In response to pushback, Shelley issues a statement saying that he did not mean to imply that “we need to withdraw from the legal reform, which we are committed to,” but rather to stress that the government is also involved in many other issues at the same time.
Kyiv calls for the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting following the partial destruction of a major Russian-held dam in southern Ukraine.
“Ukraine calls an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council and brings the issue of the Russian terrorist act to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says in a statement.
The Israel Defense Forces says it is probing the theft of ammunition from a military base in southern Israel overnight.
According to the IDF’s initial investigation, more than 20,000 assault rifle rounds are missing from an ammunition bunker at the Tzeelim training base.
A joint investigation between the IDF’s Military Police and the Israel Police has been launched.
For years, the military has struggled with thefts from its bases, both by soldiers and by criminal gangs.
A Polish government delegation is visiting Israel to meet government officials as the countries seek to mend their frayed ties, the Kan public broadcaster reports.
Citing a Polish readout, the news outlet says the meetings are dealing with “stopping the Russian aggression against Ukraine,” as well as bilateral cooperation on economic, cultural and educational matters.
Warsaw’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski is meeting National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Foreign Ministry director general Ronen Levy.
Kan reported last week that during the visit, the Polish officials would ask Israel to support the country on the international stage the same way Warsaw defends Israel from “European Union efforts to limit its ability to defend itself.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Saudi Arabia today to strengthen strained ties with the long-time ally as the oil-rich kingdom forges closer relations with America’s rivals.
Blinken’s three-day trip will also focus on efforts to end conflicts in Sudan and Yemen, the joint battle against the Islamic State group, and the Arab world’s relations with Israel.
He is due to land in the Red Sea city of Jeddah this evening and is expected to meet Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, before heading to Riyadh tomorrow for a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting.
The visit is Blinken’s first since the kingdom restored diplomatic ties with Iran, which the West considers a pariah over its contested nuclear activities and involvement in regional conflicts.
The US hopes that Saudi Arabia will eventually agree to normalize relations with Israel, which already built ties with several other Arab countries under the Abraham Accords brokered by the Donald Trump administration.
On the eve of his Saudi trip, Blinken reiterated that “the United States has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.” He said Washington has “no illusions” that this can be done quickly or easily but stressed that “we remain committed to working toward that outcome.”
Last month, reports swirled for days that Jerusalem and Riyadh were working toward a US-brokered deal to allow direct flights from Tel Aviv to Jeddah next month for the Hajj annual Muslim pilgrimage that could lead to a larger normalization deal, although the US sought to downplay such reports.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
I'm proud of our coverage of this government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, including the political and social discontent that underpins the proposed changes and the intense public backlash against the shakeup.
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