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Islamic State claims deadly Hadera terror attack; 2 Border Police officers killed

Both officers 19-year-old; Hamas, Islamic Jihad praise deadly shootings as ‘heroic,’ with latter saying it was in response to the Negev Summit ‘of humiliation and shame’

  • Border Police officers Yezen Falah (R) and Shirel Abukarat, both 19, who were killed in a terrorist attack in the city of Hadera on March 27, 2022 (Police)
    Border Police officers Yezen Falah (R) and Shirel Abukarat, both 19, who were killed in a terrorist attack in the city of Hadera on March 27, 2022 (Police)
  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) vists the police station in Hadera, following a deadly terror attack in the northern city on March 27, 2022. (Israel Police)
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) vists the police station in Hadera, following a deadly terror attack in the northern city on March 27, 2022. (Israel Police)
  • The suspects in a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27 of the copyright law)
    The suspects in a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27 of the copyright law)
  • Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)
    Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)
  • Shell casings seen at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)
    Shell casings seen at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)
  • Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)
    Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)
  • Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)
    Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)
  • General Manager of Ben Gurion Airport, Shmuel Zakai, in the Knesset, June 24, 2014. (Flash 90)
    General Manager of Ben Gurion Airport, Shmuel Zakai, in the Knesset, June 24, 2014. (Flash 90)
  • Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)
    Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)

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

Victims of attack named as Border Police officers Yazan Falah and Shirel Abukarat, both 19

Border Police officers Yezen Falah (R) and Shirel Abukarat, both 19, who were killed in a terrorist attack in the city of Hadera on March 27, 2022 (Police)
Border Police officers Yezen Falah (R) and Shirel Abukarat, both 19, who were killed in a terrorist attack in the city of Hadera on March 27, 2022 (Police)

Police identify the two people killed in the Hadera terror attack as Border Police officers Yazan Falah and Shirel Abukarat, both 19.

“The two officers died in battle this evening with armed terrorists,” the Border Police say in a statement, adding that three other officers were injured.

Falah, a resident of the Druze village of Kisra-Sumei in the Galilee joined the Border Police a year ago and is survived by his parents and a brother and sister, police say.

Abukarat, a resident of Netanya, joined the force 6 months ago and is survived by her parents and a brother, the statement says.

“The soldiers fought with bravery, we share the sorrow and hug the families of the heroes Yazan and Shirel z’l who defended the citizens with their bodies and saved many lives,” the statement says, calling them “highly motivated young fighters who gave up their lives for the security of the people of Israel.”

 

 

 

Blinken condemns ‘senseless’ terror attack in Hadera

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meets with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meets with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemns the “senseless” terror attack in Hadera.

“We condemn today’s terrorist attack in Hadera, Israel. Such senseless acts of violence and murder have no place in society,” tweets Blinken, who is visiting Israel.

“We stand with our Israeli partners and send our condolences to the families of the victims,” he says.

Police said considering administrative detention for potential Arab Israeli attackers

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with security officials following a deadly terror attack in Hadera on March 27, 2022 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with security officials following a deadly terror attack in Hadera on March 27, 2022 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Police are considering requesting administrative detention orders for Arab Israelis who are deemed to be potential terrorist attackers, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The move would require the approval of Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

It comes after two deadly attacks in the last week carried out by Arab Israelis.

Israel routinely uses the controversial tactic against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Administrative detention enables authorities to detain people for extended periods of time without leveling formal charges against them, in a practice decried by critics as undemocratic and abusive, but defended by the security establishment as a necessary measure in cases where revealing the evidence would harm national security.

IDF to bolster forces in West Bank, along seam line after Hadera attack

Israeli soldiers stand guard near a damaged section of the border fence, near the West Bank village of Jalameh, September 6, 2021. (AP/Nasser Nasser)
Israeli soldiers stand guard near a damaged section of the border fence, near the West Bank village of Jalameh, September 6, 2021. (AP/Nasser Nasser)

The Israel Defense Forces is bolstering troops in the West Bank and seam zone area, with four additional battalions, the military announces.

The IDF says Chief of Staff Kohavi held a situational assessment this evening, following the deadly attack in Hadera.

Joint List condemns Hadera attack: ‘No justification for harming civilians’

The Joint List of predominantly Arab political factions denounces the deadly shooting attack in Hadera as a “shocking crime.”

“There is and can be no justification for harming civilians. These acts have no connection to the political struggle that the Arab public is leading for its rights,” the party says in a statement.

Bennett arrives at Hadera police station after deadly shooting attack

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) vists the police station in Hadera, following a deadly terror attack in the northern city on March 27, 2022. (Israel Police)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) vists the police station in Hadera, following a deadly terror attack in the northern city on March 27, 2022. (Israel Police)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visits the police station in Hadera following the deadly terror attack in the northern city.

According to his office, Bennett is now speaking with one of the undercover officers who killed the assailants, and will later hold a briefing with security chiefs.

Terrorists who carried out Hadera attack identified as cousins from Umm al-Fahm

Hebrew media identifies the terrorists behind the deadly shooting attack in Hadera as Ibrahim and Ayman Ighbariah, cousins from the northern Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm.

Ibrahim was arrested in 2016 by Turkish police after trying to join the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria.

Hadera terrorists suspected of affiliation with Islamic State

Security officials believe the two terrorists who killed two in Hadera tonight are affiliated with the Islamic State, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

A video circulating on social media earlier alleged to show the two terrorists embracing in front of an Islamic State flag before the attack. The video could not be independently verified, or confirmed to be the two gunmen.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the gunmen are relatives of the Ighbariah family from Umm al-Fahm.

Police says terrorists brought 1,100 bullets to Hadera, at least 3 handguns

The Israel Police say the two terrorists who carried out the shooting attack in Hadera arrived at the scene with 1,100 bullets, as well as at least three handguns and six knives.

Coalition’s Arab Ra’am party condemns ‘abominable, IS-style’ attack

The Islamist Ra’am party condemns the terror attack in Hadera.

“This is abominable Islamic State-style terror that does not reflect Arab society, whose members seek to live with dignity and according to the rule of law,” says party chief Mansour Abbas.

Abbas says “I call on all the educational, political, and religious leaders in Arab society to work together to determine practical steps to deal with this challenge of [these] criminals, who are bad seeds in Arab society.”

Gantz: Security forces ‘spread out and on alert’ in wake of terror attack

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says Israeli security forces are “spread out and on alert” throughout the country following tonight’s deadly terror attack in the city of Hadera, in which two people were killed and several others were wounded.

“The Israel Defense Forces and all other security forces are spread out and on alert with all of the tools [needed] to restore calm and ensure the security of the citizens of Israel in every place and on every front. We will act aggressively against terror and terrorists, and we will advance the continued reinforcement of troops in the field,” Gantz says in a statement.

The defense minister makes his remarks following a meeting with top security officials, including the IDF chief of staff, the commander of Military Intelligence, the head of the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police commissioner, his office says.

In his statement, Gantz praises the plainclothes Border Police officers who shot dead the two terrorists who carried out the attack and wished a speedy recovery to the people who were injured.

Islamic Jihad says Hadera attack ‘in response to the summit of humiliation and shame’

Islamic Jihad terror leaders praise the Hadera attack that took the lives of two Israeli civilians, but do not take responsibility either.

“The self-sacrificing Hadera operation came in response to the summit of humiliation and shame in the occupied Negev,” senior terror group official Khalid al-Batsh is quoted as saying by the Palestine Today channel.

The terror attack took place during a historic meeting of Israeli and Arab foreign ministers in Sde Boker.

Hamas hails ‘valor and courage’ of gunmen in Hadera shooting attack

The Hamas terror group praises the two gunmen who killed two Israeli civilians and wounded several others in Hadera, without taking responsibility for the attack.

“We commend the valor and courage of the perpetrators of this heroic operation, which comes as retaliation for the blood of the martyrs, and in response to the aggression and terror of the occupation,” Hamas says in a statement.

Lapid updates Arab FMs on Hadera shooting attack: They all send condolences

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says he updated his counterparts from Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, and the UAE about the deadly shooting attack in Hadera.

“All the foreign ministers denounced the terror attack and asked to send condolences to the families and wishes for the recovery of the wounded,” Lapid says in a statement.

The foreign ministers are at Sde Boker in southern Israel for the Negev Summit. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also due to attend but has not yet arrived.

““The despicable terror attack this evening is an attempt by violent extremists to sow fear and strike at the fabric of life here,” Lapid says. “The State of Israel will fight terror without compromise. We stand firmly together with our allies against anyone who tries to harm us.”

Gantz consults with top security officials after deadly terror attack in Hadera

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is consulting with top security officials following the deadly terror attack in Hadera, his office says.

Among those Gantz is speaking with are IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai, and Military Intelligence commander Aharon Haliva.

Senior police officer says 2 killed in Hadera terror shooting were cops

Security officials examine a car reportedly used by the two gunmen who carried out the Hadera terror attack, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot)
Security officials examine a car reportedly used by the two gunmen who carried out the Hadera terror attack, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot)

The deputy commander of the police’s coastal district tells reporters at the scene of the shooting attack in Hadera that the two people killed were cops.

Bennett heads to scene of Hadera shooting attack

Security forces at the scene of a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot)
Security forces at the scene of a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is making his way to the scene of the deadly terrorist shooting attack in Hadera, according to his spokesperson, Matan Sidi.

Security forces suspect Hadera terrorists were Arab Israelis

Security forces at the scene of a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot)
Security forces at the scene of a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Israeli security sources tell Hebrew media outlets that the terrorists who carried out the shooting attack in Hadera are Arab Israelis from the Wadi Ara area.

Security camera footage from the scene showed the two gunmen opening fire at passersby and police officers at a bus stop in the city, soon after a bus had pulled away, close to several restaurants.

A bus pulls away from a bus stop in Hadera moments before a terrorist attack, March 27, 2022. (Channel 12 screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27 of the copyright law)

Both of the attackers were shot dead by members of a unit of undercover officers who happened to be eating at a nearby restaurant, police officials say.

Apart from the fatalities, 6 others also hurt in Hadera terror shooting; gunmen ‘neutralized’ by undercover cops

The suspects in a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the copyright law)
The suspects in a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the copyright law)

Six people wounded in the Hadera terrorism attack are being treated in the hospital, police say. Two people were killed by the terrorists, who were also killed.

Two of the wounded are in serious condition, one is in moderate condition, and three are lightly injured. They are being treated at the local Hillel Yaffe medical center.

Police say that three officers are among the wounded.

According to a police statement, a unit of undercover cops in the area “strove for contact and after a short firefight neutralized the terrorists.”

2 killed in terror shooting in Hadera; both gunmen also killed

The suspects in a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27 of the copyright law)
The suspects in a terrorist attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27 of the copyright law)

Two Israelis wounded in a suspected terror shooting in the northern city of Hadera have been declared dead, according to the Zaka emergency service.

Zaka says the two gunmen have also been declared dead.

Another two people were wounded.

The gunmen both used automatic weapons, a police spokesman said.

Officials suspect the terror attack was timed to coincide with the Negev Summit that began this evening in Sde Boker, Channel 12 news reports.

6 hurt, including 4 critically, in suspected terror shooting in Hadera

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says six people were wounded in a suspect shooting attack in Hadera, including four people critically hurt at the scene.

Another two people have been taken to the hospital in moderate condition.

It is not immediately clear whether the gunmen, who used automatic weapons, are included in the count of six people.

Security forces are treating the incident as terrorism.

2 cops wounded in suspected terror shooting in Hadera; alleged gunmen shot by officers

Police say two officers are hurt in a shooting incident in Hadera.

The alleged gunmen have been shot by officers.

Their conditions are not immediately clear.

PA: US, Arab participation in Negev Summit a ‘harsh attack against the Palestinians’

Logo for the Negev Summit, March 27-28, 2022. (Courtesy)
Logo for the Negev Summit, March 27-28, 2022. (Courtesy)

The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry condemns the Negev Summit of Arab, Israeli, and American foreign ministers beginning this evening in Sde Boker.

“This Israeli mobilization aims to cover up its actions of settlement and annexation and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state,” the PA Foreign Ministry says.

Ramallah adds that the summit is a “harsh attack against the Palestinian people,” but doesn’t directly condemn the participating Arab states.

The PA’s Foreign Ministry also slams the current Israeli government as “the government of settlers and neo-fascists, the government of murder and racial discrimination.”

Blinken asks Israel to consider providing military help to Ukraine — report

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meets with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meets with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during his meetings today with Israeli leaders that President Joe Biden still has not decided whether to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terror organization as part of a return to the Iran nuclear deal, Channel 12 news reports.

According to the network, Blinken also stressed that the United States would not return to the nuclear deal at any cost.

The report says Blinken also asked for Israel to step up its support of Ukraine, given the Russian invasion, including by considering providing military assistance.

Israel has so far only provided Kyiv with humanitarian aid, as the Jewish state tries to walk a tightrope to maintain good relations with both Ukraine and Russia.

Moroccan FM lands in Israel, heads to Sde Boker for summit

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita arrives at Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel for the Negev Summit on March 27, 2022. (Rafi Ben Hakoun/GPO)
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita arrives at Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel for the Negev Summit on March 27, 2022. (Rafi Ben Hakoun/GPO)

Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita lands at Nevatim Air Base and is on his way to Sde Boker.

Zelensky signs law restricting reporting on Ukrainian troop movements

Ukrainian soldiers chat in the front line position close to Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian soldiers chat in the front line position close to Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed a law restricting the reporting on troop and military equipment movement, unless such information has been announced or approved by the military general staff.

The state news agency Ukrinform reports that the law calls for potential prison terms of three to eight years for violations.

The law bans “unauthorized dissemination of information about the direction, movement of international military assistance to Ukraine, the movement or deployment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, or other military formations of Ukraine, committed in a state of martial law or a state of emergency,” Ukrinform says.

Official says Negev Summit to include visit to Ben Gurion’s grave

An official close to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says there will be a series of bilateral meetings tomorrow, as well as a roundtable of all six senior diplomats participating in the Negev Summit.

The official adds that there will be a visit to the grave of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, but does not specify whether all the visiting Arab ministers will participate.

Arab Israeli singer Valerie Hamati will sing Hallelujah in Arabic, English, and Hebrew to open tomorrow’s talks.

Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita will leave early tomorrow, around 2 p.m., to prepare to receive US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Morocco.

Lapid, Arab FMs at Sde Boker discuss ‘advancing a regional security architecture’

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) welcomes his Egyptian counterpart Minister Sameh Shoukri at Sde Boker in southern Israel on March 27, 2022, ahead of the Negev Summit. (Jack Guez/ AFP)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) welcomes his Egyptian counterpart Minister Sameh Shoukri at Sde Boker in southern Israel on March 27, 2022, ahead of the Negev Summit. (Jack Guez/ AFP)

As four Arab foreign ministers arrive in Israel for the Negev Summit, an official close to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tells journalists that Israel’s top diplomat and the Arab dignitaries who have arrived at Sde Boker are discussing “advancing a regional security architecture.”

The regional architecture will deal with threats by “air, sea, and piracy,” the official says at a briefing.

The official adds that the meetings so far have been “very warm including embraces and friendly conversation.”

The Bahraini, Egyptian, and Emirati foreign ministers have arrived for the six-way summit in the Negev. Morocco’s Nasser Bourita is expected to arrive at the summit at 9 p.m.

US top diplomat Antony Blinken is set to arrive from Ramallah between 9 and 10 p.m. The diplomats will hold a private dinner after his arrival.

Netanyahu says Blinken ‘making a big mistake’ on Iran nuclear deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrive for a joint press conference in Jerusalem on May 25, 2021, days after an Egypt-brokered truce halted fighting between the Jewish state and the Gaza Strip's rulers Hamas. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrive for a joint press conference in Jerusalem on May 25, 2021. (Menahem Kahana/ AFP)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu praises the arrival in Israel of several Arab ministers ahead of the Negev Summit.

“It’s a direct result of the Abraham Accords we brought,” Netanyahu says in an English-language video statement, referring to the US-brokered normalization deals reached in 2020 when he was prime minister. “The strengthening of the Abraham Accords is a good thing for peace, it’s good for Israel.”

The ex-premier takes issue with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in Israel for the summit, following the top American diplomat’s remarks earlier today about a new Iran nuclear deal.

“I respect him personally, but I think he’s making a big mistake,” Netanyahu says.

“Iran without a nuclear agreement is a poor country, an isolated county, a country that has no international legitimacy and no immunity from a military option,” he continues. “Iran with a nuclear agreement becomes a rich country with hundreds of billions of dollars which they’ll use for terror and aggression.”

He calls for the government to oppose the nuclear deal: “Oppose this agreement now.”

Emirati FM arrives at venue of Negev Summit, is greeted by Lapid

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) welcomes his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan at Sde Boker in southern Israel on March 27, 2022, ahead of the Negev Summit. (Jack Guez/ AFP)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) welcomes his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan at Sde Boker in southern Israel on March 27, 2022, ahead of the Negev Summit. (Jack Guez/ AFP)

Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan has arrived in Sde Boker, where the Negev Summit is being hosted.

The UAE’s top diplomat is greeted by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

French FM warns Ukrainian city of Mariupol becoming a ‘second Aleppo’

A screen capture from unconfirmed video said to show the destruction in Mariupol caused by the Russian siege and bombardment of the southern Ukrainian city, March 2022. (Twitter)
A screen capture from unconfirmed video said to show the destruction in Mariupol caused by the Russian siege and bombardment of the southern Ukrainian city, March 2022. (Twitter)

DOHA, Qatar — France’s top diplomat is warning that the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol is becoming a “second Aleppo,” the Syrian commercial capital that in 2016 saw widespread Russian-backed destruction.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian tells the Doha Forum, a policy conference in Qatar, that Russia’s “siege warfare” against Ukrainian cities should induce “collective guilt.”

“Civilian populations are slaughtered, annihilated, the suffering is horrible,” says a visibly angry Le Drian.

When asked whether he agrees with US President Joe Biden’s remark in Warsaw that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power, he says only that diplomacy with both sides remained a French priority.

Le Drian says French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to avert the worst in Ukraine through talks with both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents. A ceasefire remains the most pressing task, he adds, so that parties can move onto thornier topics, such as Ukraine’s security guarantees and a possible neutral military status.

Le Drian says the world is “at a tipping point,” as the war continues to spiral, adding, “This is a crisis that affects us all.”

Egyptian FM touches down in Israel for Negev Summit

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrives at Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel for the Negev Summit on March 27, 2022. (Rafi Ben Hakoun/GPO)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrives at Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel for the Negev Summit on March 27, 2022. (Rafi Ben Hakoun/GPO)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has landed at Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel ahead of the Negev Summit.

Ukraine says another round of Kyiv-Moscow talks in Turkey to begin Monday

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sits in front of his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, foreground left, during a tripartite meeting chaired by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Antalya, Turkey, March 10, 2022. (Cem Ozdel/Turkish Foreign Ministry via AP)
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sits in front of his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, foreground left, during a tripartite meeting chaired by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Antalya, Turkey, March 10, 2022. (Cem Ozdel/Turkish Foreign Ministry via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine says that a second round of conflict talks between negotiators from Kyiv and Moscow will start in Turkey tomorrow, just over one month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Today, during another round of video negotiations, it was decided to hold the next in-person round of the two delegations in Turkey on March 28-30,” David Arakhamia, a Ukraine negotiator and politician, writes on Facebook.

Lapid greets Bahraini FM as he arrives in Sde Boker for Negev Summit

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid greets his Bahrain counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani at the Kedma hotel in Sde Boker on March 27, 2022, ahead of the Negev Summit. (Screen capture: Channel 12)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid greets his Bahrain counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani at the Kedma hotel in Sde Boker on March 27, 2022, ahead of the Negev Summit. (Screen capture: Channel 12)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid greets his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani as he arrives at the Kedma hotel in Sde Boker, where the Negev Summit is being held.

Israeli fighter jets touch down in Greece for major international aerial drills

An Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter takes off during the Blue Flag multinational aerial exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, on October 24, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
An Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter takes off during the Blue Flag multinational aerial exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, on October 24, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Israeli Air Force jets have landed in Greece to participate in a major international aerial exercise, simulating operations against air defense systems and large airstrikes, the military says.

Eight other countries are joining Greece in its Iniochos exercise this year: the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Cyprus, Slovenia, Austria and Israel. The exercise is scheduled to last through April 8.

The Israel Defense Forces says its delegation includes F-16 fighter jets and Gulfstream G550 surveillance planes.

“The exercise is part of strengthening aerial cooperation through mutual learning and training, as well as strengthening cooperation between the participating countries,” the IDF says in a statement.

Egypt, Albania, Austria, North Macedonia, the United Kingdom, India, Kuwait, Croatia, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia are sending observers to the drill, according to the Hellenic Air Force.

Emirati FM lands at Israeli air base ahead ahead of Negev Summit

Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan touches down at Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel ahead of the start of the Negev Summit this evening.

PM’s office: ‘No special significance’ to Bennett using term ‘West Bank’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office denies any significance to saying “West Bank,” after the premier was subjected to right-wing criticism for not using the biblical term “Judea and Samaria” during a press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Usually the prime minister uses the term ‘Judea and Samaria’ both in Hebrew and English. This was an accidental remark and no special significance should be attributed to it,” his office says in a statement.

Bahraini foreign minister arrives in Israel for Negev Summit

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani arrives at Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel for the Negev Summit on March 27, 2022. (Rafi Ben Hakoun/GPO)
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani arrives at Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel for the Negev Summit on March 27, 2022. (Rafi Ben Hakoun/GPO)

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani has landed at the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel for the Negev Summit.

Zayani is the first Arab foreign minister to arrive for the meeting. His counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Egypt will also take part in the summit, as will Lapid and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Blinken meets Gantz, hails Israel for ‘making normalization normal’

Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Continuing his talks with Israeli leaders ahead of the Negev Summit, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Defense Minister Benny Gantz at a Jerusalem hotel.

Gantz thanks Blinken for the recent approval of US funds for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and for taking part in the “historic” summit meeting starting this evening with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and their counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt.

Blinken says bilateral cooperation on “the great challenges we have is better than ever” and thanks Israeli leaders for “making normalization normal,” referring to the 2020 US-brokered Abraham Accords that established diplomatic ties between Israel and several Arab states.

“This is a positive and very important force in people’s lives for years ahead,” he says, according to a statement from Gantz’s office.

He also thanks Gantz for his work in “changing the lives of Palestinians,” noting the government’s approval today of additional work permits for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Women seriously hurt in Beersheba terror attack released from hospital

Hila Avisror, one of the two wounded in the fatal terror attack that occurred in Beersheba on March 22, 2022. (Soroka Medical Center's Spokesperson)
Hila Avisror, one of the two wounded in the fatal terror attack that occurred in Beersheba on March 22, 2022. (Soroka Medical Center's Spokesperson)

Hila Avisror, one of two people wounded in the deadly Beersheba terror attack last week, has been released from Soroka Medical Center, the hospital says.

The condition of the second victim hospitalized at Soroka has also improved and she is being moved from the ICU to a general ward.

Red Cross denies role in forced evacuations of Ukrainians to Russia

GENEVA — The International Committee of the Red Cross has denied accusations that it helped organize or carry out forced evacuations of Ukrainians to Russia.

“The ICRC does not ever help organize or carry out forced evacuations. This applies everywhere we work. We would not support any operation that would go against people’s will and our principles,” the Geneva-based humanitarian organization says in a statement.

The ICRC statement, headlined “Addressing misinformation about ICRC’s activities,” doesn’t specify what has given rise to the strong denial, saying only “over the past days, false information about the ICRC has been circulated that we must address.”

However, the statement appears to be a response to accusations by Roman Rukomeda, a Ukrainian political analyst who spoke to the Euractiv online media yesterday.

In those comments, Rukomeda said “there is evidence of strange behavior by the International Committee of the Red Cross and its head, who announced the decision to open an office in Russian Rostov to assist Russian terrorists in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian citizens.”

The ICRC warns that such “false information” could have a major impact on people affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

“This misinformation is also putting at risk Red Cross staff and volunteers on the ground and could jeopardize our access to people in need of urgent aid,” the statement adds.

The ICRC did say that it had been involved in two evacuation operations for Ukrainian people, on March 15 and March 18 when they “facilitated the voluntary safe passage of civilians” out of the northeastern city of Sumy.

“On both occasions people willingly took buses leading them to another Ukrainian city, Lubny,” further from the Russian border, the ICRC says.

UN: Over 3.8 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded

Refugees walk at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland, after fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine, March 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Refugees walk at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland, after fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine, March 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

GENEVA — More than 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion a month ago, UN figures show today, but the flow of refugees has slowed down markedly.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says 3,821,049 Ukrainians have fled the country — an increase of 48,450 from yesterday’s figures.

Around 90 percent of them are women and children, it adds.

Of those who have left, 2.2 million have fled for neighboring Poland, while more than half a million have made it to Romania. Nearly 300,000 have gone to Russia.

Before the crisis began a month ago, EU member Poland was home to around 1.5 million Ukrainians.

In total, more than 10 million people — over a quarter of the population in regions under government control before the February 24 invasion — are now thought to have fled their homes, including nearly 6.5 million who are internally displaced.

Ukraine’s refugee crisis is Europe’s worst since World War II.

Ukraine’s FM urges boycott of French retailer for maintaining presence in Russia

The logo of French retailer Auchan is pictured on a shopping center in Moscow on March 24, 2022. (Natalie Kolesnikova/AFP)
The logo of French retailer Auchan is pictured on a shopping center in Moscow on March 24, 2022. (Natalie Kolesnikova/AFP)

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba calls for a global boycott of French retail giant Auchan, with pressure mounting on international brands to quit Russia over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Apparently, job losses in Russia are more important than the loss of life in Ukraine. If Auchan ignores 139 Ukrainian children murdered during this month of Russian invasion, let us ignore Auchan and all their products,” he writes on Twitter.

Kuleba calls for a “boycott” of the retail group as well as French DIY retailer Leroy Merlin and sporting chain Decathlon, all of which operate under the Association Familiale Mulliez.

Auchan CEO Yves Claude this week defended the company’s decision to remain in Russia citing the need to keep staff employed.

“Leaving would be imaginable from an economic point of view, but not from a human point of view,” he told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

According to its company website, Auchan has 41,000 employees and operates more than 300 stores in Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used an address to France’s parliament last Wednesday to call on French companies still working in Russia to “stop sponsoring” aggression against his country.

He named in particular Auchan, Leroy Merlin and Renault. The car giant subsequently announced an immediate suspension of operations at its Moscow factory.

Israel said to up defense readiness in south over fears of aerial threats to Negev Summit

Attendees arrive at the Kedma hotel ahead of the Negev Summit, at Sde Boker in southern Israel on March 27, 2022. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Attendees arrive at the Kedma hotel ahead of the Negev Summit, at Sde Boker in southern Israel on March 27, 2022. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Israel has raised its defense readiness in the south of the country amid concerns of aerial threats during the Negev Summit meeting of foreign ministers, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

According to the report, the Israeli Air Force has put several planes in the air ahead of the expected arrival of the foreign ministers from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt.

Also attending the summit are Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is already in Israel.

Bennett criticized by right wing for using term ‘West Bank’ while meeting Blinken

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 27, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 27, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is taking flak from settler leaders and right-wing media after using the term “West Bank” during a press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, rather than using the Biblical names of “Judea and Samaria” to refer to the area.

“Another moral lapse by the government,” says Yigal Dilmoni, the CEO of the Yesha Council settlements umbrella group.

Beit El Mayor Shai Alon calls Bennett a “danger to Israel.”

0404, a fringe news site known for its support of former premier Benjamin Netanyahu, carriers a headline branding Bennett’s remarks “full-on leftism.”

Ukrainian military intel: Russia may try to split up country ‘under Korean scenario’

A Ukrainian soldier sits in an armored car in the suburbs of Kyiv on March 26, 2022, amid Russia's military invasion of Ukraine. (Fadel Senna/AFP)
A Ukrainian soldier sits in an armored car in the suburbs of Kyiv on March 26, 2022, amid Russia's military invasion of Ukraine. (Fadel Senna/AFP)

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s military intelligence chief says that Russia could try to break Ukraine in two.

Kyrylo Budanov says in remarks released today by the defense ministry that Russian President Vladimir Putin has realized “he can’t swallow the entire country” and would likely try to split the country under “the Korean scenario.” That’s a reference to the decades-old division between North and South Korea.

Budanov says that “the occupiers will try to pull the occupied territories into a single quasi-state structure and pit it against independent Ukraine.” He points to Russian attempts to set up parallel government structures in occupied cities and to bar people from using the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia.

Budanov predicts that Ukrainian resistance will grow into a “total” guerrilla warfare, derailing Russia’s attempts.

Blinken: ‘Deal or no deal’ we’ll keep working with Israel to counter Iran

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022 (Screen grab)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022 (Screen grab)

Speaking after Bennett, Blinken touts the Biden’s administration’s “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security and notes the recent Congressional approval of funds for the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

“We also share and are united in addressing the challenges posed by Iran, including it’s nuclear program. There is no daylight between us on the fundamental proposition that Iran must not be allowed to acquired a nuclear weapon.”

He says the US will maintain that stance regardless if a new Iran nuclear deal is reached.

“Deal or no deal, we will continue to work together and with other partners to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region,” he says.

He hails Israel’s “important diplomatic efforts” to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv, and praises Israeli humanitarian support such as the establishment of a field hospital in western Ukraine.

Blinken also reiterates US support for a two-state solution and welcomes meetings between Israeli ministers and top Palestinian Authority officials, “including Defense Minister Benny Gantz.”

Bennett tells Blinken Israel ‘concerned about the intention to delist’ IRGC as terror group

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022 (Screen grab)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022 (Screen grab)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hold a joint press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

“Today is a historic day. We’re hosting the Negev Summit here in Israel,” Bennett says.

“The Middle East is changing and it’s changing for the better,” he adds. “We’re working together to overcome the forces of darkness and build a new future.”

The premier thanks Blinken for his efforts “to further and expand” the Abraham Accords.

“We’re concerned about the intention to delist the IRGC… their proxy the Houthis just this weekend carried out a horrific attack on Saudi Arabia,” Bennett says.

He adds that he hopes the US will listen to “concerned voices” from the region on the matter.

He also says Israel is working “to improve the lives” of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

“While we can’t solve everything, we can improve the lives of people on the ground… Even if you can’t solve everything, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything,” he says.

Concerning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Bennett says Israel is committed to doing everything “to stop the bloodshed” and stresses Israeli support for the Ukrainian people. He also notes Israel is providing humanitarian aid.

“I’m proud of what Israel is doing,” he says.

He also says Israeli diplomatic efforts to end the war “are in coordination” with the US and other countries.

In Jerusalem, Bennett and Blinken discuss Ukraine war, Abraham Accords, Iran nuclear deal

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 27, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hosts US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for talks at his office in Jerusalem.

Bennett’s office says the two discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Israeli mediation efforts; regional issues and “strengthening” the normalization agreements between Israel and Arab nations; and Iran’s “regional aggression,” with the premier noting this weekend’s attack on Saudi Arabia by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen.

“The prime minister again stressed Israel’s position regarding the Vienna talks and the nuclear deal, emphasizing Israel’s opposition to removing the Revolutionary Guards from the the list or terror organizations,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says.

There is no immediate readout from the State Department on what was discussed during the meeting.

Germany mulls purchase of Israel’s Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system

The Arrow 3 missile defense system that was delivered to the Israeli Air Force on January 18, 2017. (Defense Ministry)
The Arrow 3 missile defense system that was delivered to the Israeli Air Force on January 18, 2017. (Defense Ministry)

Germany is considering purchasing Israel’s Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system to defend against the threat of Russian missiles, German daily Bild reports.

Social Democratic Party MP Andreas Schwarz, who sits on the Bundestag’s budget committee, confirms Berlin’s interest in the missile defense system, telling the newspaper it’s a “good solution” and noting that Arrow 3’s powerful radar systems could help in defending neighboring countries.

France’s Macron warns against ‘escalation’ after Biden brands Putin a ‘butcher’

France's President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he talks to the press on the second day of a European Union summit at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, on March 25, 2022. (Ludovic Marin/AFP)
France's President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he talks to the press on the second day of a European Union summit at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, on March 25, 2022. (Ludovic Marin/AFP)

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron warns against verbal “escalation” with Moscow, after US President Joe Biden called Russian leader Vladimir Putin a “butcher” over his invasion of Ukraine.

Macron tells broadcaster France 3 that he saw his task as “achieving first a ceasefire and then the total withdrawal of (Russian) troops by diplomatic means. If we want to do that, we can’t escalate either in words or actions.”

Blinken: US not seeking regime change in Russia, Putin’s position ‘up to the Russians’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2022. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2022. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s position is “up to the Russians,” playing down President Joe Biden’s comments that suggested a desire for regime change in Moscow.

Biden’s point, Blinken says in Jerusalem, is that “Putin cannot be empowered to wage war, or engage in aggression against Ukraine, or anyone else.”

Speaking in Warsaw yesterday, Biden sparked controversy when he called the Russian leader a “butcher” and added: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

That raised questions of whether the United States was advocating non-democratic “regime change” in Russia.

“As you’ve heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else for that matter,” says Blinken.

“As in any case, it’s up to the people of the country in question. It’s up to the Russians,” he says.

Government approves establishment of 5 new Negev communities

Government ministers vote to approve the establishment of five new communities in the Negev during today’s cabinet meeting.

The five communities — four Jewish and one Bedouin — are slated to be built around the southern city of Arad.

“Our highest obligation is to provide personal security for the residents of the south; we have started on this journey and we will not stop. At the same time, we are continuing to settle and develop the Negev,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says.

During the cabinet meeting, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar reportedly traded barbs with Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, who voted against the proposal.

“You have a fierce hatred for Jewish settlement,” Sa’ar is quoted as saying by the Kan public broadcaster.

“We’ve completely lost it, sorry to spoil the joy and praise,” Zandberg is said to respond.

Blinken, Herzog say their countries will work together for regional cooperation

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Israel's President Isaac Herzog pose for a photo as they meet at the Presidency, March 27, 2022, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Israel's President Isaac Herzog pose for a photo as they meet at the Presidency, March 27, 2022, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Giving a joint statement with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, President Isaac Herzog  says the US and Israel “will work together to find further regional cooperation and for the benefit of all peoples in the region and for the benefit of peace, and of course preventing any threats against Israel.”

The president finishes in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, saying to participants in the Negev Summit Sunday and Monday: “Welcome to the State of Israel.”

Blinken says the summit “would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. What we’re seeing is normalization becoming the new normal for this region and I think it’s going to attract more and more countries as they see the benefits of these partnerships among so many of the leading countries of the region.”

Blinken says that the US is working to deepen the relationships with the countries Israel already normalized relations with, and to find new partners.

“The United States has a deep attachment to this country, to this relationship, to this partnership, to this alliance,” Blinken declares.

“We have a sacrosanct commitment to Israel’s security. President Biden reaffirmed that again recently with the provision of $1 billion toward Iron Dome, something that has saved lives in the past and if necessary will do so again in the future,” he says.

The officials do not mention Iran or Ukraine in their statements.

Iran says nuke deal within reach if US ‘realistic’ in demands, as EU envoy visits Tehran

Various centrifuge machines line a hall at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, on April 17, 2021. (screenshot, Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting - IRIB, via AP)
Various centrifuge machines line a hall at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, on April 17, 2021. (screenshot, Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting - IRIB, via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — A leading European Union diplomat is holding talks in Tehran, Iran’s state-run media reports, amid hopes that an agreement to restore Iran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers can be completed.

The meetings between the EU’s envoy, Enrique Mora, and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani come at a sensitive moment for talks to revive the deal, as the glimmers of a resolution to some of the thorniest issues in the negotiations have emerged.

The report on the talks in Tehran gives scant detail, saying only that the diplomats discussed the latest on the nuclear agreement, with Kani repeating that Iran believed a deal was within reach if America was “realistic” in its demands.

Former US president Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal in 2018 and re-imposed crushing sanctions. Iran gradually publicly breached the agreement with a massive expansion of its nuclear work.

Nuclear talks broke off earlier this month as last-minute wrangles in Vienna coincided with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and financial sanctions imposed by the West on Moscow.

Bennett: ‘Old peace’ of Egypt is meeting the ‘new peace’ of the Abraham Accords

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, chairs a cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022. (Abir Sultan/Pool via AP)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, chairs a cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022. (Abir Sultan/Pool via AP)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting that Israel is enjoying a period of good foreign relations.

“To anyone who has not noticed – Israel’s foreign policy is in a good period,” he says. “Israel is an important actor on the world and regional stage. We are cultivating old ties and building new bridges.”

He says “the old peace” — with Egypt — is meeting “the new peace” of the Abraham Accords.

Turning to the Iranian threat, Bennett says, “In the Middle East today, there are those who create violence and backwardness, and there are those pushing cooperation, economic development, and cooperation.”

“The thought that the [IRGC] will be taken off the terror list, from the FTO, is extremely worrying and not only for us. We are still hoping and working to make sure it doesn’t happen,” he says referring to reports the United States may delist Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as part of a revived nuclear deal.

Blinken says Israel, US ‘eye to eye’ on preventing Iran getting nuclear weapon

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022 (Screen grab)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022 (Screen grab)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in his press conference with Yair Lapid that “we see eye to eye,” on the most important issue on Iran’s nuclear program — keeping Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon.

At the same time, he says that the JCPOA is the best way “to put Iran’s nuclear program back in the box it was in.”

“Beyond its nuclear efforts, Iran continues to engage in a whole series of destabilizing activities,” he says.

He also condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi and Emirati civilians and infrastructure.

“The US will continue to stand up to Iran when its threatens us or when it threatens our allies and partners,” he says.

“We are fully committed to expanding cooperation through the Abraham Accords,” says Blinken, ahead of today’s Negev Summit with foreign ministers from Arab countries.

He thanks Lapid for his leadership in finding new opportunities for the Abraham Accords.

“We greatly appreciate Israel’s strong repudiation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” he says. He adds that he appreciates Israel’s efforts to not be used as a sanctions bypass.

Blinken was briefed by Israel’s senior expert on the issue before the press conference.

The top US envoy praises Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s mediation efforts in Ukraine, and the Shining Star field hospital in Ukraine.

He says the people of Israel are standing with Ukraine, citing protests in Tel Aviv and the work of United Hatzalah.

Blinken says he will discuss the effects of the Ukraine conflict in the region with regional partners at the upcoming Negev Summit.

“Normalization is becoming the new normal,” he says.

He points to the US funding of Iron Dome system, and condemned last week’s stabbing attack in Beersheba.

Blinken says he will reiterate to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas the Biden administration’s commitment to strengthening ties with the PA.

Lapid, alongside Blinken, says Israel and US will work together to prevent nuclear Iran

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022 (Foreign Ministry)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 27, 2022 (Foreign Ministry)

In his press conference alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says that military and diplomatic strength “guarantees peace.”

After emphasizing that the US and Israel shared “a vision of peace through strength,” Lapid says he and Blinken discussed the Iran nuclear talks and the war in Ukraine.

Lapid again condemns the Russian invasion by name, as he has since the first day of the war.

“The world cannot afford a nuclear Iran,” he says, also saying it couldn’t afford the IRGC spreading terror around the globe.

Israel and the United States will continue to work together to prevent a nuclear Iran, Lapid pledges.

Evacuation corridors to open, including from Mariupol

Dead bodies are placed into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, as people were unable to bury their dead because of heavy shelling by Russian forces, March 9, 2022. (Mstyslav Chernov/AP)
Dead bodies are placed into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, as people were unable to bury their dead because of heavy shelling by Russian forces, March 9, 2022. (Mstyslav Chernov/AP)

Two evacuation corridors will open today for civilians, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk says.

One of the routes will be from the besieged city of Mariupol.

Residents of the city will use their own vehicles to travel to Zaporizhzhia, she says, according to The Guardian.

Ukraine says Kharkiv nuclear facility again hit by Russian shelling

Firefighters work at the site in the aftermath of the first strike that involved Russian rockets that hit an oil facility in an industrial area in the northeastern outskirts of Lviv, Ukraine, March 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Firefighters work at the site in the aftermath of the first strike that involved Russian rockets that hit an oil facility in an industrial area in the northeastern outskirts of Lviv, Ukraine, March 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s nuclear watchdog says that a nuclear research facility in Kharkiv again has come under shelling by Russia and the fighting makes it impossible to assess the damage.

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate says that the neutron source experimental facility in the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology came under fire.

Ukrainian authorities have previously reported that Russian shelling damaged buildings at the Kharkiv facility, but there has been no release of radiation.

The newly built neutron source facility is intended for the research and production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial needs. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that the nuclear material in the facility is always subcritical and the inventory of radioactive material is very low, reducing the risks of radiation release.

Kharkiv has been besieged by Russian forces since the start of the invasion and has come under repeated shelling of its residential buildings and critical infrastructure.

Ukraine’s nuclear facilities have been threatened by the Russian invasion.

UK says Russia concentrating efforts on attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces in east

A Ukrainian soldier stands next to rifles of dead and injured troops, close to the military school hit by Russian rockets the day before, in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, on March 19, 2022. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)
A Ukrainian soldier stands next to rifles of dead and injured troops, close to the military school hit by Russian rockets the day before, in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, on March 19, 2022. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)

The latest UK intelligence report says Moscow is concentrating its forces on an attempt to encircle Kyiv’s troops in the east of Ukraine.

“Russian forces appear to be concentrating their effort to attempt the encirclement of Ukrainian forces directly facing the separatist regions in the east of the country, advancing from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south,” the UK Ministry of Defense says.

“The battlefield across northern Ukraine remains largely static with local Ukrainian counterattacks hampering Russian attempts to reorganize their forces,” the ministry says.

Health official: Virus cases rising, but no increase in patients in serious condition

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash at a press conference in Tel Aviv, January 4, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)
Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash at a press conference in Tel Aviv, January 4, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash says that while the number of new virus cases is increasing, similar increases are not being seen in the number of patients in serious condition, showing that the new strain of the Omicron appears to cause no more serious disease than the original variant.

“The number of patients in critical condition has not increased in recent days and this indicates that the new variant is probably causing the same disease as the Omicron. It’s part of living alongside the virus,” Ash tells Army Radio.

Israel has seen an increase in the transmission rate and new daily cases in recent days, but hospitalizations of patients in serious condition are holding steady.

Health officials have in part attributed the current rise in cases to the BA.2 variant, a subvariant of Omicron.

BA.2 is believed to be more infectious than Omicron, but not necessarily more severe.

Zelensky warns Moscow it’s sowing a deep hatred for Russia among Ukrainians

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky remotely addresses by video-link the Doha Forum in Qatar's capital on March 26, 2022 (KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky remotely addresses by video-link the Doha Forum in Qatar's capital on March 26, 2022 (KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky angrily warns Moscow that it is sowing a deep hatred for Russia among his people, as constant artillery barrages and aerial bombings are reducing cities to rubble, killing civilians and driving others into shelters, leaving them to scrounge for food and water to survive.

“You are doing everything so that our people themselves leave the Russian language, because the Russian language will now be associated only with you, with your explosions and murders, your crimes,” Zelensky says in an impassioned video address.

He also reiterates a call for planes while urging allies to supply Ukraine with more weapons.

“We need more ammunition. We need it to protect not only Ukraine but other Eastern European countries that Russia threatened to invade,” he says.

“During the meeting… with our American colleagues in Poland, we made it clear again,” he says.

“What is NATO is doing? Is it being run by Russia? What are they waiting for? It’s been 31 days. We are only asking for one percent of what NATO has, nothing more.”

Second black box of crashed China Eastern plane recovered, Chinese state media says

In this photo taken by mobile phone released by Xinhua News Agency, a piece of wreckage of the China Eastern's flight MU5735 is seen after it crashed on the mountain in Tengxian County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on March 21, 2022. (Xinhua via AP)
In this photo taken by mobile phone released by Xinhua News Agency, a piece of wreckage of the China Eastern's flight MU5735 is seen after it crashed on the mountain in Tengxian County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on March 21, 2022. (Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING — The second black box has been recovered from a crashed China Eastern passenger plane, state media reports.

The jet was flying between the cities of Kunming and Guangzhou on Monday when it nosedived into a mountainside with 132 people on board, all of whom were killed.

The cause of the disaster is not yet known.

“The second black box from China Eastern flight MU5735 was recovered on March 27,” Xinhua news agency reports.

The plane was equipped with two flight recorders: one in the rear passenger cabin tracking flight data, and the other a cockpit voice recorder.

The latter was found on Wednesday and sent to Beijing for analysis, which is expected to take several more days.

The second black box contains data such as speed, altitude and heading.

With both now recovered, investigators should be able to begin to piece together what caused the plane to fall more than 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) in just over a minute.

Lviv governor says man detained at site of rocket attack on suspicion of espionage

Dark smoke and flames rise from a fire following an air strike in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, on March 26, 2022. (Ronaldo Chemidt and Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)
Dark smoke and flames rise from a fire following an air strike in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, on March 26, 2022. (Ronaldo Chemidt and Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)

LVIV, Ukraine — The governor of the Lviv region says a man was detained on suspicion of espionage at the site of one of the two rocket attacks that rattled the city yesterday.

Maksym Kozytskyy says police found the man had recorded a rocket flying toward the target and striking it.

Police also found on his telephone photos of checkpoints in the region, which Kozytskyy said had been sent to two Russian telephone numbers.

Rockets hit an oil storage facility and an unspecified industrial facility, wounding at least five people. A thick plume of smoke and towering flames could be seen on Lviv’s outskirts hours after the attacks.

Russia takes control of town where Chernobyl nuclear plant staff live

A man walks past a shelter covering the exploded reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine, April 15, 2021. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)
A man walks past a shelter covering the exploded reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine, April 15, 2021. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

KYIV — Russian forces have taken control of a town where staff working at the Chernobyl nuclear site live and briefly detained the mayor, sparking protests, Ukrainian officials say.

“I have been released. Everything is fine, as far as it is possible under occupation,” Yuri Fomichev, mayor of Slavutych, says by phone, after officials in the Ukraine capital Kyiv announced earlier he had been detained.

Earlier, the military administration of the Kyiv region, which covers Slavutych, announced that Russian troops had entered the town and occupied the municipal hospital.

They also said that the mayor had been detained.

Residents took to the streets, carrying a large blue and yellow Ukrainian flag and heading towards the hospital, the administration said. Russian forces fired into the air and threw stun grenades into the crowd, it added.

It also shared on its Telegram account images in which dozens of people gathered around the Ukrainian flag and chanted: “Glory to Ukraine.”

Fomichev posted a video on Facebook saying that at least three people had died, without elaborating on what had happened.

“We haven’t yet identified all of them,” he added, but said that civilians were among the dead.

While they had defended their town, they were up against a larger force, he said.

The Chernobyl plant was taken by the Russian army on February 24 on the same day that Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Some 25,000 people live in the town 160 kilometers (99 miles) north of the capital, built after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident.

Lapid and Blinken to meet in Jerusalem, then head south for ‘Negev Summit’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken  (right) greets Foreign Minister Yair Lapid ahead of their meeting in Rome, on June 27, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) greets Foreign Minister Yair Lapid ahead of their meeting in Rome, on June 27, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will host his counterparts from the US, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt today, in a historic summit highlighting the shifting political landscape in the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel last night and arrived in Jerusalem, where he will meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Blinken and Lapid will hold a joint press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem this morning, before heading south for the so-called Negev Summit with Arab leaders in the Sde Boker kibbutz.

The summit at the Isrotel Kedma hotel will begin this afternoon. The diplomats will dine together at the hotel this evening.

The ministers will hold bilateral working meetings tomorrow.

The focus of the summit will be on regional threats, challenges, and opportunities. Among the issues expected to be at the center of the meetings are the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, and the Russia-Ukraine war.

The UAE, Bahrain and Morocco normalized relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

The summit is seen as a display of diplomatic unity against Iran. It is also the latest indication that the Biden administration is determined to throw its weight by the Abraham Accords, which were brokered the Trump administration, while Israel was led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s current government has also made strengthening the Abraham Accords a top priority.

Blinken will meet with other Israeli leaders and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the trip.

Bennett visited Egypt last week for the first-ever trilateral summit with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan — another development likely made possible by the Abraham Accords.

Yesterday, Bennett condemned attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia, with which Israel does not have formal relations.

Zelensky says needed weapons are ‘covered with dust’ in western storage

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a video speech posted online, March 26, 2022. (Screenshot)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a video speech posted online, March 26, 2022. (Screenshot)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky again lashes western allies and pleads for help during his nightly video address.

“Everyone in Ukraine has united and has been devoting all their energy to the defense of our state for more than a month already,” he says, while weapons Ukraine needs are in the hands of its western partners, “covered with dust at their storage facilities.”

He asks for “one percent” of NATO aircraft and tanks, echoing a plea he has made before.

“One percent. We did not ask for more, and we do not ask for more,” he says.

“Ukraine cannot shoot down Russian missiles using shotguns,” he says, “and it is impossible to unblock Mariupol without a sufficient number of tanks, other armored vehicles and, of course, aircraft.”

“The United States knows that. All European politicians know. We told everyone. And this should be known as soon as possible by as many people on Earth as possible, so that everyone understands who and why was simply afraid to prevent this tragedy.”

“So who runs the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it still Moscow, because of intimidation? Partners need to step up assistance to Ukraine.”

“This is the security of all of Europe.”

Ukraine is united in its desire to live freely, to live independently and for the sake of its own dreams, not other people's sick fantasies.

Posted by Володимир Зеленський on Saturday, March 26, 2022

UK intelligence says Russia firing missiles from its own airspace

The cockpit of a Russian Su-30SM fighter jet as it flies over Belarus during joint drills in a video released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, February 7, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
The cockpit of a Russian Su-30SM fighter jet as it flies over Belarus during joint drills in a video released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, February 7, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

The UK’s Ministry of Defense says in its latest intelligence update that Russia continues to carry out airstrikes against densely populated civilian areas in Ukraine.

Russian aircraft are launching “stand-off” munitions from within Russian airspace to reduce their exposure to Ukrainian air defenses, the update says. Stand-off missiles are fired from a long range to avoid coming close to enemy air defenses.

The US has said Russia’s stand-off missiles have a failure rate of 60%, and Russia’s stocks are dwindling, meaning they will increasingly revert to less sophisticated weaponry, or put their aircraft at greater risk.

Ukrainian officials say troops took back territory near Mariupol and Kharkiv

A Ukrainian soldier in a trench on the outskirts of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, March 26, 2022.(AP/Petros Giannakouris)
A Ukrainian soldier in a trench on the outskirts of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, March 26, 2022.(AP/Petros Giannakouris)

Ukrainian forces recaptured two villages from Russia, according Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia regional military administration.

The counterattack takes place 63 miles (103 kilometers) northwest of the besieged city of Mariupol.

“The Melitopol Territorial Defense Battalion, together with other units of the Zaporizizhia Defense Forces, have successfully liberated the villages of Poltavka and Malynivka east of Huliaipole from the Russian occupiers,” the administration says, according to CNN.

Satellite imagery indicates heavy fighting took place in the two villages in the past day.

Separately, a Ukrainian counterattack that began on Friday near Kharkiv recaptured several villages, local officials say.

The communities are about 12 miles (20 kilometers) east of central Kharkiv.

Unverified videos posted online claim to show combat in one of the villages, called Vilkhivka.

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