The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
In Washington, DC, Israeli basketballer Deni Avdija took the court against the Orlando Magic with a Hebrew message on his sneaker reading “Am Yisrael Chai” or the people of Israel lives, a slogan meant to denote Jewish resilience, along with Stars of David.
The message is ostensibly in response to a series of terror attacks over the past two weeks in Israel.
Pictures of the shoes are posted by a Hebrew-language Washington Wizards account on Instagram.
As of this writing, the Wizards are leading 120-106 with less than 2 minutes left. Avdija has 6 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.
Talks between Ukraine and Russia for a possible peace agreement will resume on Friday by video, according to David Arakhamia, the head of the Ukrainian delegation
The delegations met in-person on Tuesday in Istanbul, after two weeks of meeting by video, and the faint outlines of a possible peace agreement seemed to emerge.
The Ukrainian delegation offered a framework under with the country would declare itself neutral – dropping its bid to join NATO, as Moscow has long demanded – in return for security guarantees from a group of other nations.
Russian diplomats responded positively to Ukraine’s proposal.
The United Nations chief says one-quarter of humanity — two billion people — are living in conflict areas today and the world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945 when World War II ended.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cited conflicts from Yemen, Syria, Myanmar and Sudan to Haiti, Africa’s Sahel, “and now the war in Ukraine — a catastrophe shaking the foundations of the international order, spilling across borders and causing skyrocketing food, fuel and fertilizer prices that spell disaster for developing countries.”
He tells the UN Peacebuilding Commission that last year 84 million people were forced to leave their homes because of conflict, violence and human rights violations. And that doesn’t include the Ukraine war which has already seen 4 million people flee the country and displaced another 6.5 million within the country, according to UN agencies.
Guterres says the UN estimates that this year “at least 274 million will need humanitarian assistance.” This represents a 17% increase from 2021 and will cost $41 billion for the 183 million people targeted for aid, according to the UN humanitarian office.
US President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier today to offer his condolences following the three shooting attacks in Israel that took the lives of 11 Israelis citizens in less than a week, the White House says.
Biden offered “all appropriate assistance” to Israel in the wake of the attacks, according to the US readout.
“The President emphasized that the United States stands firmly and resolutely with Israel in the face of this terrorist threat and all threats to the state of Israel,” the White House says.
It notes the two also spoke about “the importance of regional partnerships … in promoting security and improving the lives of people across the Middle East,” mentioning the Abraham Accords and the Negev Summit, which brought together US, Israeli and Arab foreign ministers in Israel earlier this week.
There is no immediate confirmation of the call from Israeli officials.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is dismissing Russia’s vows to de-escalate fighting against its neighbor, saying his army is getting ready for further fighting in the east.
“We don’t believe anyone, not a single beautiful phrase,” Zelensky says in a video address to the nation, adding that Russian troops are regrouping to strike the eastern Donbass region.
“We will not give anything away. We will fight for every meter of our territory,” he adds.
After another round of peace talks in Istanbul on Tuesday, a Russian negotiator said Moscow would “radically” scale back its attacks around the capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernigiv.
However, shelling has continued, including in areas where Russia had said it would scale back.
The Pentagon said Wednesday that
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby says over the last 24 hours it has seen some Russian troops in the areas around Kyiv moving north toward or into Belarus.
He says the US does not view this as a withdrawal, but as an attempt by Russia to resupply, refit and then reposition the troops.
“We don’t know exactly where these troops are going to go,” he tells CNN.
Kirby also says that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have continued to try to speak with their Russian counterparts but they have “not answered and they have not replied with a willingness to do so.”
In a series of tweets, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expresses solidarity with Israel following a terror attack Tuesday that left five dead, including two Ukrainian nationals.
“Terrorism knows no borders and neither does pain and grief,” tweets Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff. “[Ukraine] now understand what [Israel] has been facing for decades.”
But he says both countries “will prevail – absolutely certain.”
Yermak, Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have courted Israel’s support and pushed it to provide military aid, drawing parallels between the Russian assault on Ukraine and the Nazi Holocaust.
Today, 5 ppl killed in Bnei Brak, ????????. Two of them ????????. Terrorism knows no borders and neither does pain and grief. ???????? now understand what ???????? has been facing for decades.
— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) March 30, 2022
The Prime Minister’s Office does not announce any Ramadan restrictions after the security cabinet wraps up a briefing that discussed the past week’s series of terror attacks.
In a statement after the meeting, the PMO says participants were briefed about the attacks and efforts to stymie further violence.
Officials have decided to increase security forces’ presence in the field, reinforce border areas, repair the West Bank security barrier, carry out counter-terror operations and crack down on illegal weapons in the Arab community.
Security personnel will also revoke Israel work permits for people associated with terrorists, demolish terrorists’ homes, monitor social media and prepare for possible escalations.
There is no mention of closures of the West Bank or restrictions on who can enter Jerusalem for prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Security officials feared a potential escalation during the holiday even before the recent attacks.
Extremist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir of the right-wing Religious Zionism party gets a green light from police to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem tomorrow, pending another assessment in the morning.
The Jerusalem police decision comes as tensions soar between Jews and Arabs following a spate of deadly terror attacks in Israel.
The Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site, and is holy to Muslims as the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque, making the area a tinderbox that has erupted into conflict in the past. Jews are not allowed to pray there.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is also beginning, which can bring tens of thousands of worshipers to Al-Aqsa.
Ben Gvir is a firebrand opposition lawmaker who played a part in stoking tensions in Jerusalem ahead of last year’s war between Israel and the Hamas terror group.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is asked about the absence of Algeria at the Negev summit earlier this week during a press conference at the end of his visit to the North African nation and uses the opportunity to highlight the benefits of joining the Abraham Accords for countries who have not yet joined.
He acknowledges that normalizing relations with Israel is a decision that each country has to make on its own, while adding that the Negev summit provided the latest example of what they have to gain.
“This is going to have real, practical benefits for the people in the countries participating in that effort who have normalized their relations with Israel,” Blinken said. “We’re seeing that take life in terms of connections that have grown very rapidly between people, between businesses, between students, tourists… even [during] COVID.”
“My bet is that as other countries that are not part of that process see this take shape, they will conclude that this is something they want to be a part of… but, of course, it’s on us to demonstrate that it really works and that it produces results. I believe that it will,” he adds.
Hundreds of protesters gather in Bnei Brak at the site of Tuesday’s terror attack that killed five.
After the attack yesterday, a crowd gathered, chanted for revenge and accosted Public Security Minister Omer Barlev.
A Channel 13 poll today found that only 15% of Israeli approve of the government’s handling of the terror wave, while 68% say the government’s handling is “overall not good,” and the rest “don’t know.”
Hundreds of demonstrators gather in Ya’abad, the hometown of the Bnei Brak terrorist, in support of his attack.
ALGIERS, Algeria — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having a “deadly” impact in the Arab world, particularly through spiraling wheat prices, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in Algiers.
He is speaking on the final leg of a trip that began with an unprecedented Israeli-Arab summit in the Negev desert, attended by Blinken and the foreign ministers of Israel, Egypt and three Arab countries that normalized ties with the Jewish state in 2020.
Import-dependent North African countries face what Blinken describes as a “disaster” as the war in Ukraine sends shockwaves through global wheat and fuel markets. Both Russia and Ukraine are major wheat producers, while Moscow is a major global supplier of oil and gas.
The Russian military campaign has had “deadly consequences for citizens in the region”, he tells journalists in the capital of Algeria.
“It’s having a direct impact on their lives right now, particularly with regard to rising food prices… especially wheat,” he says.
Blinken flew in this morning from Algeria’s arch-rival Morocco, which in 2020 normalized ties with Israel under a deal that sparked renewed tensions between Algiers and Rabat over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Blinken met Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune after holding talks with Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, during his first visit as top US diplomat to the North African country.
The number of requests for gun permits has risen drastically over the past week in the wake of three deadly terror attacks, Channel 13 news reports.
According to figures cited by the network, 143 people applied for gun permits on March 22, the day three people were killed in a stabbing and car-ramming attack in Beersheba.
On Sunday, the same day two police officers were shot dead in the northern city of Hadera, 363 requests were filed.
That figure jumped drastically to 966 yesterday, when five people were killed in a shooting attack in Bnei Brak.
A Biden administration official reached out to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s office shortly after last night’s terror attack in Bnei Brak, urging him to issue a condemnation, a source familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel, confirming a Channel 12 report.
Abbas also received a “stern message” from Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office with a similar message that also made clear that a failure to speak out jeopardized planned Israeli measures to ease Palestinian freedom of movement during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan, two officials told The Times of Israel yesterday.
The PA leader issued a statement an hour later, “express[ing] his condemnation of the killing of Israeli civilians… [and] emphasizing that the killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians only leads the situation to deteriorate.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid rejected to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s use of the term “Arab terror” in a statement last night following the latest deadly attack over the past week, Channel 12 news reports.
Lapid, who also holds the post alternate prime minister as part of his power-sharing agreement with Bennett, raised the issue during a security assessment last night after the shooting attack in Bnei Brak.
“We need to maintain restraint. It’s not right to use terms like ‘Arab terror.’ The Americans are condemning and the Palestinians will also condemn,” Lapid is quoted as saying.
Bennett retorted that condemnations “are nice” but not enough, according to the network.
“Actions are needed. They should stop paying the salaries of terrorists who murder Jews. I’ll be more moved by that than condemnations,” the premier reportedly said, referring to the controversial Palestinian Authority policy.
Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej meets with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield in New York.
“We reaffirmed the enduring partnership between our countries, and we discussed the importance of the Abraham Accords, other normalization agreements and efforts to further cooperation, including at the UN,” Thomas-Greenfield tweets.
The Palestinian terrorist who carried out the shooting attack in Bnei Brak Tuesday entered Israel by driving through a gap in the West Bank security barrier, according to Israeli television reports.
The networks say Diaa Hamarsheh switched out the license plates on the car and brought the M-16 used in the attack with him.
Channel 12 news reports that the security establishment is currently grappling with “significant” warnings of five planned terror attacks.
WASHINGTON (AP) — US President Joe Biden announces that the United States will dispatch another $500 million in direct aid to Ukraine, the latest burst to Kyiv as the Russian invasion grinds on.
The White House in a statement says Biden told Zelenskyy during a 55-minute call on the latest developments in the war that the aid was on its way.
The US Congress earlier this month approved spending up to $13.6 billion in humanitarian and military assistance for Ukraine. The Biden administration had already dispatched $2 billion of that total before today’s announcement.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett calls on Israeli gun owners to arm themselves in public as he details various measures being taken in the wake of three deadly terror attacks over the past week.
“We are experiencing a murderous terror wave and as in all previous waves, this time we will also overcome,” he says in a video statement filmed at home, where he is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
Bennett says the security services are ramping up intelligence operations to catch potential assailants and notes the deployment of reinforcements.
The premier says the government has agreed to form a new “Border Police Brigade,” which he says was inspired by the violence in mixed Jewish-Arab cities during last May’s Gaza war. He doesn’t give further details.
He also says law enforcement is continuing to crack down on illegal arms in the Arab community and says the government is looking at ways to incorporate volunteers, “citizens who want to assist.”
“What is expected of you, Israeli citizens? Vigilance and responsibility,” he says. “Whoever has a gun license, this is the time to carry a gun.”
Bennett hails the “heroism” of police officer Amir Khoury, who was killed while responding to yesterday’s shooting attack in Bnei Brak, and other members of the security services.
Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana will join tonight’s cabinet meeting through a secure terminal at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, his office says.
Kahana has been in the United States for the past week, meeting with local Jewish communities to drum up support for his proposed religious reforms.
Shortly after the cabinet meeting, Kahana is scheduled to return to Israel, as he was originally scheduled to do, his office says.
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked — who are both in London — are also expected to take part in the meeting remotely via a secure link.
Ra’am chief Mansour Abbas hits back at opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu after the latter suggested the Islamist faction’s inclusion in the coalition was preventing the government from getting tough on terror.
“Last year during [Operation] Guardian of the Walls we sat three times at [the Prime Minister’s Residence], we held negotiations about a partnership between Likud and Ra’am and a coalition agreement,” Abbas is quoted as saying by Channel 12 news, using the official designation of the May 2021 Gaza war.
“Then we weren’t the Islamic Movement?”
Netanyahu’s Likud party responds by claiming it never held coalition talks with Ra’am and being even more explicit than the former prime minister.
“A government that is dependent on the Islamist Movement can’t really fight terror,” it says.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu pays condolence calls to the families of two victims in yesterday’s shooting attack in Bnei Brak, calling for the government to act with a “strong hand” against terror.
In comments to reporters, Netanyahu hails the “heroism” of the police and says Israel is now “under a murderous terror assault,” after 11 people were killed in three attacks over the past week.
“We must restore peace and security to Israeli citizens,” he says.
“Unfortunately everyone sees a government dependent on the Islamic Movement isn’t doing this and probably isn’t capable of doing this,” he adds, referring to the coalition’s Ra’am party.
ראש האופוזיציה בנימין נתניהו הגיע כעת לנחם את בני משפחתו של הקדוש הרב אבישי יחזקאל הי"ד שנרצח אתמול בפיגוע בבני ברק pic.twitter.com/r65bpNpHcP
— kobi bornshtein | קובי בורנשטיין (@kobi_bornshtein) March 30, 2022
At a press conference at IDF Central Command headquarters, Defense Minister Benny Gantz says Israel is under a “murderous terror onslaught” after 11 people were killed in three attacks over the past week.
“We are taking offensive and defensive actions,” Gantz says. He explains orders issued earlier today, including bolstering the police with 1,000 soldiers.
Gantz says the defense establishment is leading intelligence efforts to make preventive arrests against potential attackers.
“If necessary, we will recruit thousands of reservists who will flood the streets and operate wherever operational activity is required,” he adds.
WASHINGTON — The United States announces sanctions targeting several entities it says are involved in procuring supplies for Tehran’s nuclear program.
The move “reinforces” Washington’s commitment to prevent Iran from developing ballistic missiles, says the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism Brian Nelson in a statement.
He says that while the United States continues to seek “Iran’s full return” to the 2015 nuclear deal, it “will not hesitate to target those who support Iran’s ballistic missile program.”
“We will also work with other partners in the region to hold Iran accountable for its actions, including gross violations of the sovereignty of its neighbors,” he says.
The sanctions target Iranian national Mohammad Ali Hosseini and his “network of companies” as suppliers of the program, according to the statement.
They follow “Iran’s missile attack on Arbil, Iraq on March 13 and the Iranian enabled Houthi missile attack against a Saudi Aramco facility on March 25 as well as other missile attacks by Iranian proxies against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” it says.
Iran has claimed responsibility for the March 13 missile strikes, saying they targeted an Israeli “strategic center” and warning of more attacks.
The sanctions come at a time when the United States seems close to an agreement with Tehran on returning to the nuclear deal, which former president Donald Trump unilaterally exited from in 2018.
WASHINGTON — US intelligence officials have determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about Russian forces’ performance in Ukraine, according to a US official.
The official, who speaks on the condition of anonymity Wednesday to discuss the recently declassified intelligence finding, says that Putin has felt misled by the Russian military and there is now persistent tension between him and senior Russian defense officials.
The official doesn’t detail underlying evidence for how US intelligence made the determination.
But the intel community has concluded that Putin was unaware that the military had been using and losing conscripts in Ukraine. They also have determined Putin is not fully aware of the extent to which the Russian economy is being damaged by economic sanctions imposed by the US and allies.
The findings demonstrate a “clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information” to Putin, and show that Putin’s senior advisers are “afraid to tell him the truth,” the official says.
Police release footage from the body camera of the officer who killed the terrorist in Bnei Brak yesterday after arriving at the scene with the officer killed in the shooting attack.
In the video, the officer rides on a motorcycle driven by Amir Khoury through Bnei Brak. As they near the Palestinian assailant, the officer, who police have identified only as Sgt. 1st Class “R,” can be heard saying, “careful Khoury.”
The sound of a gunshot is then heard as Khoury appears to be struck, while the other officer gets off the motorcycle and fires his pistol multiple times at the terrorist, Diaa Hamarsheh, who is killed.
The officer can be then seen taking Hamarsheh’s M-16 while calling out, “carry out searches, I took him out.”
Warning: Graphic content
תיעוד מצלמות הגוף – השוטרים מקבלים את הדיווח ומנטרלים את המחבל בבני ברק pic.twitter.com/a2VpARzRKB
— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) March 30, 2022
The terrorist who carried out the deadly shooting spree in Bnei Brak yesterday previously served 2.5 years in prison for planning to take part in a suicide bombing.
Diaa Hamarsheh, a 27-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank village of Ya’bad near Jenin, killed four civilians before he died in a shootout with a police officer, who was his fifth victim.
He previously served time in Israeli prison for membership in a terror group and weapons dealing.
According to Hebrew media reports, in 2011, Hamarsheh went on social media and asked members of the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror groups to help him obtain an explosives belt.
However, he was reportedly defrauded by an Islamic Jihad operative he was in touch with and never received the suicide belt he paid for.
He was later arrested and convicted as part of a plea deal.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz has signed administrative detention orders against two East Jerusalem men over their alleged ties to the Hamas terror group.
Gantz’s office says the orders were issued due to information about planned violent activities that they intended to advance, and the threat they pose to national security.
The announcement comes ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, set to begin at the end of this week. The month is seen by security forces as a time of greater possibility of Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
The two Ukrainian nationals killed yesterday in the Bnei Brak terror attack have been named as Victor Sorokopot and Dimitri Mitrik.
“He was a really good person. We were married for almost six years,” Victor’s wife Kristina, who lived with him in Bnei Brak, tells Channel 12 news. “We don’t have kids… I don’t know what to do because there are a lot of problems in Ukraine.”
The two men were foreign workers, employed in construction, who both lived in the city.
Menahem Englander, a Bnei Brak resident and paramedic, tells Channel 12 that he came face-to-face with the terrorist, who pulled the trigger of his gun several times but it didn’t fire.
Englander says he heard sounds of gunfire from his home, where he was with his wife and children, and started to get reports on his Magen David Adom communications network about civilians being fired at.
He told MDA he was nearby and went down to the street.
“A neighbor called out, ‘Menahem, watch out!’
“I took a few steps back,” he recalls, but didn’t see anything untoward.
“Then, two seconds later, the terrorist was standing in front of me, three to four meters away… He aimed his gun at me, and pulled several times [on the trigger], simply trying to shoot. The Almighty protected me. I have no other explanation. I don’t know if the gun jammed or was out of bullets…”
“It all happened in seconds. I turned back, ran into the staircase [of my building], went up to my home and locked the door… fearing that he was chasing after me.”
Watching security camera footage of the attack this morning, he says that he now knows the terrorist, rather than following him, headed off down the street and continued the deadly attack elsewhere.
When he could see from his window that it was safe, he says he went back outside to offer assistance to the injured.
“I can’t get the moment [when he came faced the terrorist] out of my head… I hardly slept all night. I’m slowly taking in what happened,” says Englander. “If it wasn’t for the Almighty, I wouldn’t be here talking to you.”
Police announce the arrest of three settlers from the northern West Bank after several cars were vandalized in a pair of Palestinian villages.
Along with the damage to the vehicles in Marda and Asira al-Qibliya, police say graffiti reading “Jewish blood isn’t cheap” was found spray-painted, apparently referring to several deadly terror attacks in Israel over the past week.
According to a police statement, officers found incriminating evidence while searching a vehicle carrying the suspects, two of whom are minors.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extends the remand of two of the suspects until Friday, while one of the minors will remain in custody until tomorrow.
הפלסטינים מדווחים על תג מחיר הלילה בכפר עסירה אל קיבלייה, במקום רוסס "יהודים להתעורר, דם יהודי לא הפקר!". אירוע שישי בתוך שבוע בלבד – בתגובה לשלושה פיגועים רצחניים pic.twitter.com/qK6Hwpxhqt
— שחר גליק (@glick_sh) March 30, 2022
Ahmad Hamarsheh, the father of the Bnei Brak terrorist who killed five Israelis, tells The Times of Israel that discovering his son’s participation in the attack was a “surprise.”
“If I knew what he was going to do, I would never have let him go,” Hamarsheh says, adding that he last saw his son six hours before the attack. “Does anyone want to have their son die like that?”
Hamarsheh’s son Diaa, 27, slipped through a breach in the fence to enter Israel. On Monday night, he opened fire at Israelis in Bnei Brak in the bloodiest single terror attack since 2014.
Diaa was a “serious” man, but “I would never have guessed that he had this idea in his head,” Hamarsheh says.
“We must end this cycle of violence,” he adds.
But Hamarsheh says that he won’t call his deceased son a terrorist.
“Would anyone call the soldiers who kill our children and shot at us terrorists?” Hamarsheh asks rhetorically. “As soon as they do so, I’ll get up the next morning and call my son a terrorist.”
Police are asking the government and Finance Ministry to allocate budgetary funds to pay for the recruitment of another 4,000 officers, according to Hebrew media reports, following several deadly terror attacks in Israeli cities.
“The police force has had its fill of temporary solutions,” an unnamed senior office is quoted saying by several outlets.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has once again denied women entry to a soccer stadium to watch an international match, leaving hundreds of ticketed fans locked out, Iranian media says.
The World Cup qualifier against Lebanon last night, won 2-0 by Iran, was played at the Imam Reza stadium in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
“About 2,000 Iranian women, who had bought tickets for the Iran-Lebanon match, were present in the perimeter of Imam Reza stadium, but could not enter the stadium,” ISNA news agency says.
“For this match, 12,500 tickets were sold, of which 2,000 were for women,” it adds.
Mohsen Davari, governor of Mashhad, tells IRIB state television: “I apologize that many people couldn’t enter the stadium…
“Unfortunately, a large number of people outside the stadium were deprived of watching the game.”
In the face of the controversy, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi today orders the interior ministry to look into the incident.
In January, women were allowed to attend an international for the first time in almost three years, for a World Cup qualifier against Iraq.
The Islamic Republic has generally barred female spectators from soccer and other sports stadiums since it was established in 1979.
Clerics, who play a major role in decision-making, argue women must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere and sight of semi-clad men.
But world soccer’s governing body FIFA ordered Iran in September 2019 to allow women access to stadiums without restriction and in numbers to be determined according to demand for tickets.
President Herzog arrives back in Israel after his meeting in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian military says that Russian troops have intensified their activities in the country’s east.
The Ukrainian general staff says today that the Russians have scaled up their activities around Izyum, south of Kharkiv, after redeploying some units from other areas. It also says that the Russian forces have intensified shelling and attacks in the eastern Donetsk region, focusing on trying to win control of Mariupol, Popasna and Rubizhne.
The Russian military has said it has shifted its focus to Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, the Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014.
President Isaac Herzog thanks Jordan’s King Abdullah II for condemning yesterday’s deadly terror attack in Bnei Brak.
“We must fight together against any type of terror and cooperate for the benefit of the security of our nations,” he says during their meeting in Amman, according to a statement from Herzog’s office.
“We share common values of prosperity and peace, based on our peace agreement… Together, we must now move forward, and we are offering an alternative,” Herzog continues. “As against the horrible scenes of yesterday, we offer a different alternative of people-to-people dialogue, of respect, of speaking to each other, of showing the region that there could be a different way.”
Herzog also alludes to concerns of escalating tensions during Ramadan, a key issue in recent talks between Israeli and Jordanian leaders.
“As we enter these holy days, for all three religions, with Easter, Passover, and of course Ramadan, we must move towards enabling everyone to practice their beliefs in safety, in security, in calm circumstances,” he says.
“We know that there is a constant dialogue between the Israeli government and your government towards that goal, as well as all other partners in the region.”
President Isaac Herzog meets with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman on the eve of a potentially explosive Ramadan holy month.
Herzog and Abdullah are meeting less than a day after five Israelis were killed in the worst single terror attack since 2014.
Abdullah condemns “tragic attacks that target civilians on both sides, including yesterday’s attack,” his office says.
“Every life matters,” Abdullah tells Herzog, according to the Royal Court.
The Jordanian monarch also tells Herzog not to impede the freedom of Palestinians to worship during Ramadan. Israel often issues hundreds of thousands of permits for Palestinians to head to the Al-Aqsa holy site in Jerusalem during the holiday.
Jordan was the sole Arab nation that has normalized ties with Israel not to attend the recent Negev Summit. Abdullah instead held a state visit to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“The region has great opportunities for cooperation and economic integration, However, this process cannot be exclusionary… this must include our Palestinian brothers,” Abdullah says.
KYIV, Ukraine — A senior Ukrainian official says that the Russian military has continued shelling areas around the Ukrainian capital.
Oleksandr Pavliuk, the head of the Kyiv region military administration, says today that there were 30 Russian shellings of the residential areas and civilian infrastructure in the Bucha, Brovary and Vyshhorod regions around the capital over the previous 24 hours.
The barrage came despite a Russian pledge to reduce military activities around Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv after yesterday’s talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in Istanbul.
Olexander Lomako, the secretary of Chernihiv city council, says in a voice message to The Associated Press that military action increased in intensity overnight and “the city was bombed, shelled by artillery and heavy weapons,” with a library and a shopping mall among places that were hit.
President Isaac Herzog is received by an honor guard at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, where Israeli flags are prominently displayed.
Herzog and King Abdullah II then hold a private meeting, followed by a diplomatic meeting with both delegations.
KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces struck a Red Cross facility in the besieged and destroyed southern Ukraine port city of Mariupol, Ukraine says today, where officials have warned of an unfolding humanitarian disaster.
“In Mariupol, the occupiers aimed at the building of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova says in a statement on social media, adding the building was targeted by aircraft and artillery.
Newly released security camera footage from yesterday’s terror attack in Bnei Brak shows several children flee from the Palestinian assailant as he runs down a street in the city armed with a M-16.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) March 30, 2022
Defense Minister Benny Gantz has ordered 1,000 IDF soldiers allocated to help bolster police forces following the string of deadly terror attacks in Israel, his office says.
The troops will be combat soldiers still in training.
Gantz says 12 battalions have been sent to the West Bank and another two to the Gaza border since four people were killed in a shooting and car-ramming attack in Beersheba, the first of three deadly attacks over the past week.
The security services will focus on locating potential attackers on social media, foiling attempts of Palestinians to illegally enter Israel, and weapons sales, Gantz says.
The moves come following a meeting with top security and military officials.
ALGIERS, Algeria — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Algeria, a Moscow ally and major gas producer that has faced calls to boost exports to Europe after prices soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Blinken touched down at Boumediene Airport and is heading to meet Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra on his first visit as top US diplomat to the North African country.
He had flown in from Algeria’s archrival Morocco, which in 2020 normalized ties with Israel under a deal that sparked renewed tensions over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Relations between Washington and Algiers have soured since the deal struck under then-president Donald Trump.
At time, the Trump administration recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the phosphate-rich desert territory, where Algeria has long backed the Polisario independence movement.
Blinken was to spend six hours in Algeria, including a working lunch with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
He may use the trip to urge Algeria to reopen a pipeline that carried Algerian natural gas through Moroccan territory to Spain, to help European countries reduce their energy dependence on Russia.
The GME pipeline closed last year after Algiers declined to renew a 25-year export deal following a spike in tensions.
Algerian media reported this month that the government had rejected a request by Blinken’s deputy Wendy Sherman to reopen the conduit.
US State Department official Yael Lempert says Blinken is to “discuss regional security and stability, commercial cooperation and advancing human rights and fundamental freedom.”
Blinken earlier this week attended an unprecedented summit in Israel with Arab foreign ministers.
MOSCOW — The Kremlin today plays down hopes of a breakthrough following peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegates in Istanbul a day earlier.
“We cannot state that there was anything too promising or any breakthroughs,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters.
“There is a lot of work to be done,” Peskov says.
He adds that Moscow considers it “positive” that Kyiv has started outlining its demands in writing.
“We carefully avoid making statements on the matters” that are discussed at the talks because “we believe that negotiations should take place in silence,” he adds.
Following talks in Istanbul yesterday that Moscow’s main negotiator described as “meaningful,” Russia said it would be significantly reducing its military activity near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and the city of Chernihiv.
However, Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces bombarded the northern city of Chernihiv today despite Moscow’s earlier claims.
In a joint statement with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid offers a message of unity in Hebrew.
“The goal of terrorism is not only to strike innocents, but to cause us to hate and be angry at one another,” he says. “To undermine, and to pull apart Israeli society from within.”
“The terrorists want to see violent riots on Israel’s streets,” Lapid continues in Hebrew.
Lapid stresses that expressions of hatred do not enhance security, but instead create fear and making the work of security forces more difficult.
“We won’t let the terrorists determine our policy, and we won’t let the terrorists tear us apart from within,” he says. “In the face of the difficult sights, we must unite and maintain self-control.”
Turning to Schallenberg in English, Lapid says events like the Negev Summit earlier this week are “the best response to terror.”
“Peace and friendship are the alternative to violence and chaos,” he continues. “We choose peace through strength.”
This was the ministers’ first meeting since January, when Lapid told the story of his grandfather’s death at a ceremony at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, and embraced Schallenberg after his address.
Schallenberg, speaking in English, starts by sending his condolences to the families of the victims of the “hideous attack.”
“I want you, and I want the people of Israel, to know that Austria stands side-by-side with you,” he says. “We are conducting this fight together.”
GENEVA — More than four million Ukrainians have now fled the country to escape Russia’s “senseless war,” the United Nations says.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, says 4,019,287 Ukrainians have fled across the country’s borders since the February 24 invasion, with more than 2.3 million having headed west into Poland.
“Refugees from Ukraine are now four million, five weeks after the start of the Russian attack,” UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi says on Twitter.
“I have just arrived in Ukraine. In Lviv I will discuss with the authorities, the UN and other partners ways to increase our support to people affected and displaced by this senseless war.”
The number of refugees has surpassed UNHCR’s initial estimate that the war could create up to four million.
The agency says the speed and scale of the displacement is unprecedented in Europe since World War II.
President Isaac Herzog takes off from Israel to Jordan, to meet with King Abdullah II at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman.
They will hold a one-on-one meeting, then will hold a meeting with their advisors present as well.
The leaders are expected to discuss deepening bilateral ties, stability amid the current wave of terrorism in Israel, and opportunities for regional cooperation.
The Israel Defense Forces says it has mapped out the home of the terrorist who killed five in Bnei Brak, ahead of a potential demolition.
The military publishes a video of troops operating in the West Bank town of Ya’bad near Jenin.
Several suspects were detained overnight in the town, the IDF says, including the brother of the attacker.
Israel demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as a matter of policy. The efficacy of the policy is controversial even within the Israeli security services and human rights activists have denounced it as unfair collective punishment.
IDF troops mapped out the home of the terrorist who killed 5 in Bnei Brak, in the West Bank town of Ya’bad near Jenin, ahead of a planned demolition. pic.twitter.com/0VKPed0RbK
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) March 30, 2022
Hundreds of mourners attend the funeral of Ya’akov Shalom, 36, one of the five victims in the Bnei Brak terror attack.
Shalom, a father of four, was shot dead while driving his car.
His funeral is attended by Shas leader Aryeh Deri.
Shalom was the son of Rabbi Meir Shalom, a prominent leader of the Yemenite community in Beni Brak who died last year of COVID.
“A year and a half ago we were here to mourn your father, the late Rabbi Meir, and we did not think we would be back here so fast,” one of the mourners says in a eulogy, according to the Srugim website.
KYIV — Ukrainian authorities say that Russian forces bombarded the northern city of Chernihiv despite Moscow’s earlier claims that it was “radically” scaling back military activity in the area.
“The enemy has demonstrated its ‘decrease in activity’ in the Chernihiv region with strikes on Nizhyn, including airstrikes. Chernihiv was shelled all night,” regional governor Vyacheslav Chaus writes on social media.
Air raid sirens were also heard through the night in Kyiv.
The embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Israel tweets its condemnation of the deadly terror attack in Bnei Brak in which five people were killed.
“The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Tel Aviv condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Israel, the embassy also expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and shares its prayers to the injured and their families, wishing them a speedy recovery,” the embassy tweets in English.
It issues the same statement in Hebrew and Arabic.
The Turkish Embassy in Israel condemns last night’s deadly terror attack in Bnei Brak in a further sign of warming ties between the two nations.
“We are saddened that at least 5 people lost their lives in the terrorist attack carried out on the evening of 29 March in Bnei Brak. We condemn this terrorist attack,” the embassy tweets.
“We are concerned that these attacks, which have increased in recent days, will drag the region back into conflict ahead of the upcoming month of Ramadan and Passover Holiday,” the tweet reads.
This is the second condemnation issued within a week by the embassy, which is still without an ambassador, in another sign that the Turkish Foreign Ministry wants to see relations with Israel back on track following President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara for a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Israel issues a statement condemning the “heinous” terror attack in Bnei Brak last night, confirming that two Ukrainian nationals are among the five killed.
“With deep sorrow we confirm, that two citizens of Ukraine were among victims,” the embassy says in a Facebook post. “We express our condolences and sympathy to the families of the deceased. The upscale [sic] of violence and terrorism is unacceptable and it must be stopped.”
Police say the two Ukrainians, aged 23 and 32, were killed as they sat by the entrance to a grocery store on the city’s Bialik Street when terrorist Diaa Hamarsheh, 26, opened fire.
The two were not formally identified and it was unclear how long they had been in Israel.
An 18-year-old man from the southern city of Rahat has been arrested for alleged affiliation with the Islamic State jihadist group.
The suspect will be brought before a Beersheba court later today to extend his remand.
“The Israel Police and the Shin Bet security service take very seriously any involvement or affiliation of Israeli citizens in terror activity, and will continue to work to investigate the truth while prosecuting those who seek to harm citizens and security forces,” police say in a statement.
The announcement comes days after two police officers were killed in an attack in Hadera, committed by two Arab Israelis who were apparent supporters of Islamic State.
Last week, four people were killed in a ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba by a man who had served four years in prison for plotting to join the fundamentalist terror group in Syria.
The chair of the Likud faction, opposition MK Yariv Levin, demands an immediate special Knesset discussion on the wave of terror attacks.
Levin sends a letter to Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, saying that the parliament should be recalled from recess for talks on the “murderous wave of terrorism in the country,” according to a statement from Levin’s spokesperson.
Eleven Israelis have been killed over the past week in three terror attacks, in Beersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak.
The attacks come amid heightened tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
A 32-year-old man has been lightly hurt in a stabbing in the northern city of Netanya, medics say.
According to the Magen David Adom emergency service, the victim is being taken to the city’s Laniado hospital.
The alleged assailant has been detained at the scene.
Police say the incident is not terror-related.
At funeral of Bnei Brak man killed in terror attack, brother says he took the bullets to save his child
The brother of Bnei Brak resident Avishai Yehezkel, 29, who was killed in the terror attack, eulogizes him at the funeral.
According to reports, Yehezkel had taken the young child down to the street in his stroller in an attempt to get the boy to sleep, when he was shot dead on Tuesday evening during a deadly rampage by a Palestinian terrorist.
Ovadia Yehezkel says Avishai called to warn him that there was a gunman, and when he was confronted by the terrorist, used his body to shield his son, saving the child who was then left alone in the street after his father was killed.
“Last night the world turned upside down. You called me and said ‘I hear shots, be careful, stay inside the house.’ And that’s it. I heard no more from you. You cared for us more than you cared for yourself,” says Ovadia, according to the Haaretz daily.
“You cared for your son, you did not give up, you took the bullets like an eagle. You said: ‘It would be better for him to hurt me than the child,'” Ovadia says, citing the Biblical allegory of the bird that protects its young.
Police say two men were arrested in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market for attacking cops during an attempt to question them.
The incident is not believed to be a terror attack.
One of the suspects was shot in the leg and lightly hurt amid the arrest.
One officer is also slightly hurt after they were hit by the suspects.
Two arrested in Mahne Yehuda according to footage from the scene. Unclear if they attempted to attack cops or passersby. pic.twitter.com/E2o304PF0i
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) March 30, 2022
Police say the two unnamed victims in the Bnei Brak terror attack are Ukrainian nationals.
The two were aged 23 and 32 and were killed at a grocery store on Bialik Street.
The men were sitting at the entrance to the store when terrorist Diaa Hamarsheh, 26, opened fire.
No further details are given on their identities and it is not known how long they have been in Israel for.
The other three victims have been named as police officer Amir Khoury, 32; Yaakov Shalom, 36, and Avishai Yehezkel, 29.
The funeral is set to begin for Bnei Brak resident Avishai Yehezkel, 29, who was killed in the Tuesday attack.
Yehezkel is survived by his pregnant wife and a two-year-old son.
According to reports, he had taken the young child down to the street in his stroller in an attempt to get the child to sleep, when he was shot dead by terrorist Diaa Hamarsheh, 26 during his deadly rampage.
The victim’s brother, Ovadia Yehezkel, tells Kol Chai radio that Avishai used his body to shield his son, saving the child who was then left alone in the street after his father was killed.
“Avishai was a special man. He protected his baby with his body. Miraculously the boy survived. We have not digested the loss. I have no doubt that he is a martyr,” he says.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh releases a statement in which he personally welcomes the deadly attack in the town of Bnei Brak, which had already been praised by his terror group.
“We are proud of the Palestinian people and the free people of the nation in the face of the heroic attack that struck all of Israel,” he says.
“Our people were born out of the womb of these heroes in Jenin, the Negev and the Triangle, with the ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ brought by Gaza during last Ramadan,” Haniyeh says, referring to the terrorists who carried out the recent attacks in Bnei Brak, Beersheba and Hadera, as well as the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Gaza terror groups.
Yehezkel Tomer Ben Or, 51, a police officer from the southern town of Meitar who was seriously wounded in the shooting attack in Hadera on Sunday, has regained consciousness at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, the hospital says.
Four others remain hospitalized: One in moderate condition, and three in mild condition.
On Sunday, two police officers were killed in a shooting attack in Hadera. The Arab Israeli gunmen were affiliated with the Islamic State jihadist group.
Security services arrest the brother of the Palestinian terrorist who killed five people in Bnei Brak before being shot dead, Hebrew-language media reports.
The man is detained as IDF troops raid the West Bank home of gunman Diaa Hamarsheh, 26.
A number of other individuals are reportedly questioned as security services investigate whether the terrorist had any further accomplices.
As the soldiers converge on the home in Ya’bad near Jenin, a large crowd gathers, leading to clashes between the troops and locals, reports say.
There are no immediate reports of casualties.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) March 30, 2022
A vehicle was torched and a home was vandalized in what was the sixth apparent hate crime carried out by Jewish extremists targeting a West Bank Palestinian village in the past week.
The home in Asira al-Qibliya southwest of Nablus is graffitied with the Hebrew phrase, “Jews wake up! Jewish blood is not cheap,” in apparent reference to three recent deadly terror attacks in Israel, including one last night in Bnei Brak.
— غرب آسيا (@WestAsia21) March 29, 2022
IDF troops raid the West Bank home of the Palestinian terrorist who killed five people in Bnei Brak before being shot dead.
As the soldiers converge on the home in Ya’bad near Jenin, a large crowd gathers, leading to clashes between the troops and locals, reports say.
There are no immediate reports of casualties
Security officials identified the terrorist as Diaa Hamarsheh, 26, who was in Israel illegally.
Donald Trump calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched an invasion of Ukraine last month, to reveal any compromising information he might have on US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
The former Republican president returns to accusations he repeated many times during his unsuccessful campaign against Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
In an interview excerpt broadcast Tuesday by Real America’s Voice “Just the News” show, Trump claims that the wife of the mayor of Moscow gave $3.5 million to Hunter Biden.
“That’s a lot of money,” he says. “She gave him $3.5 million so now I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it.”
“I think we should know that answer,” he adds.
Trump has long claimed, without providing evidence, that the younger Biden received the funds from Elena Baturina, wife of the late Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, in a bid to curry favor with Joe Biden.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in 2019 for trying to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into digging up what he alleged was compromising information on Biden’s son, who had once worked for a Ukrainian energy company.
Hezbollah supporters in Beirut are seen dancing in the streets and waving their flags to celebrate the deadly terror attack in Bnei Brak that killed five Israelis.
In videos posted to social media, they can be seen handing out candy to passing motorists.
— Joe Truzman (@JoeTruzman) March 30, 2022
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issues a condemnation of the recent terror wave in Israel, which has taken the lives of 11 citizens.
“Such acts of violence can never be justified and must be condemned by all,” says a statement from Guterres’s office.
“In the spirit of the upcoming religious holy days, the secretary general calls for an immediate end to violence, which only serves to undermine the prospects for peace,” the statement adds.
Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya tells the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the “demilitarization of Russia is well underway.”
Since the beginning of the invasion into Ukraine, Kyslytsya says the Russian occupiers have lost more than 17,000 military personnel, over 1,700 armored vehicles and almost 600 tanks.
He also says Russia has lost 300 artillery systems, 127 planes and 129 helicopters, almost 100 rocket launchers systems, 54 air defense systems and seven ships.
Kyslytsya says that is “an unprecedented blow to Moscow, where the numbers of Soviet losses in Afghanistan pale in comparison.”
Earlier Tuesday, Russia announced it will significantly scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital and a northern city, as the outlines of a possible deal to end the grinding war came into view at the latest round of talks.
Negotiations are expected to resume Wednesday, five weeks into what has devolved into a bloody war of attrition, with thousands dead and almost 4 million Ukrainians fleeing the country.
US Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar condemns the terror attack outside Tel Aviv that killed five people.
“Horrific, appalling terror attack. Violence only begets more violence. Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones,” tweets Omar, who is a fierce critic of Israel and has faced accusations of antisemitism.
Horrific, appalling terror attack. Violence only begets more violence. Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. https://t.co/mDxGubkJOD
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 30, 2022
Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office passed along a “stern message” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to condemn tonight’s deadly terror attack in Bnei Brak, two officials familiar with the matter confirm to The Times of Israel.
Less than an hour after receiving the message, Abbas issued a condemnation — a rare step that was not taken by the PA leader after the other two terror attacks that took place in Israel over the past week.
The Israeli security establishment has been pushing a series of moves to ease restrictions on Palestinians ahead of the holy month of Ramadan that begins in early April.
Those steps are in jeopardy following the Bnei Brak attack, but they would’ve been further at risk had Abbas kept silent, one of the officials tells The Times of Israel.
Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai speaks with Jaris Khoury, father of police officer Amir Khoury, 32, who was killed in a shootout with the terrorist in Beni Brak.
The father tells Shabtai that they are a police family and that he is a veteran of the Tel Aviv police department.
Shabtai says his son’s death, confronting the attacker, is “a great tragedy for the police.”
“Alongside the tragedy, it is important for me to tell you that your son saved the lives of many civilians,” Shabtai says. “His actions will become a legacy and memory of heroism for the whole country.
Khoury was one of two motorcycle cops who responded to the attack, killing the Palestinian terrorist.
He was hit in the exchange and later died in hospital.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken joins the chorus of condemnations of tonights terror shooting.
“We strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack in Bnei Brak, Israel, that killed five innocent victims,” Blinken says in a statement.
“This comes after two other recent horrific terrorist attacks in Hadera and Be’er Sheva, Israel. This violence is unacceptable.
“Israelis — like all people around the world — should be able to live in peace and without fear. Our hearts go out to the families of those killed in the attacks,” Blinken adds.
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