The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they unfolded.

Police: 16 arrested, nine fines handed out for disturbances at Tel Aviv protests

Police say that 16 people were arrested during tonight’s anti-government and hostage rallies in Tel Aviv.

They say an additional nine fines totaling NIS 1,000 ($270) were given out for disturbances and blocking traffic.

Police add that all roads have been opened as the demonstrations have concluded.

Police drag away, detain protesters who block Highway 4 near Netanyahu’s Caesarea home

Police drag away and detain a dozen-odd protesters who briefly block Highway 4 near Binyamina. Some of the protesters splintered off of a demonstration in Caesarea near the private residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Residents from Or Akiva, a stronghold of Netanyahu’s Likud party that borders on Caesarea, demonstrate on the shoulders of the road against the anti-Netanyahu protesters, who are wearing shirts emblazoned with slogans reading “You are the head, you are guilty” and “elections now.”

Holding a megaphone, a man from the Or Akiva counterprotest accuses the anti-Netanyahu demonstrators of being “traitors.” The anti-Netanyahu protesters chant “he destroyed the country” at the counter-demonstrators.

At the protest opposite Netanyahu’s residence, demonstrators march along Rothchild Street in the direction of his address on Hadar Street, until they reach a police barricade.

Josh Drill, a leader of the protest movement that began early last year against the Netanyahu government, tells the demonstrators: “Instead of ending the war and retrieving the hostages, Netanyahu is thinking on of himself and his political survival.” He urges the protesters to join a massive rally planned for Sunday in Jerusalem.

On a road connecting Or Akiva and Caesarea, a lone demonstrator holds up a sign that reads only “socio-political psychosis.” The man, Tzachi Livnon, 54, from Or Akiva is protesting against the anti-government demonstrators, whom he says are the psychotic ones. But many of them honk in approval as they leave the dispersing rally. Some of Livnon’s fellow Or Akivans, meanwhile, shout for him to “get lost,” mistaking him for an anti-Netanyahu protester.

“I think I need a better sign,” he says before he decides to walk back home.

200 protesters breach police barriers, demonstrate near PM’s home in Jerusalem

About 200 protesters have burst through a set of police barriers and are demonstrating about 100 yards from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on Azza Street in Jerusalem.

The protesters are facing off with a large contingent of police officers.

Kan TV, reporting from the protest, says the police have the situation under control.

Protesters carry banners in support of a deal for the release of hostages held in Gaza, demanding “Bring Them Home Now” and accusing the prime minister of placing “the life of the government over the lives of the hostages.”

Police arrest 10 at Tel Aviv protests; Ayalon reopens; demonstrators march to PM’s residence in Jerusalem

Police say they arrested 10 people at the anti-government and hostage rallies in Tel Aviv for causing disturbances.

The police in a statement also say some demonstrators have been disturbing public order and endangering police officers’ lives.

They release footage of protesters earlier tonight surrounding a police patrol vehicle and shaking it.

The police say they uphold the fundamental right to demonstrate, but will not allow breaches of public order.

The Ayalon Highway, which was blocked for more than an hour by protesters, has been opened to traffic.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, anti-government protesters break through police barriers and begin marching toward the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Police use water cannon on protesters blocking Tel Aviv highway; demonstrators block junction near Sderot

Police begin using a water cannon to disperse protesters calling for a hostage deal on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv.

Police say that demonstrators supporting a deal, as well as anti-government activists, entered the highway at multiple points, blocking them in both directions.

Meanwhile, protesters are blocking the Sha’ar Hanegev Junction near the southern city of Sderot, calling for a deal to free the hostages held in Gaza.

Protesters block roads in Tel Aviv, Beersheba, after call by hostage families to take to streets

In a photo released by anti-government activists, protesters calling for a deal to release hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip block the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, March 30, 2024. (Rony Shapiro)
In a photo released by anti-government activists, protesters calling for a deal to release hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip block the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, March 30, 2024. (Rony Shapiro)

Following a call from the Hostages and Missing Families Forum to Israelis to take to the streets, crowds of Israelis are marching along Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street urging the release of the hostages.

The families forum issued a call about an hour ago for a mass march, from Hostages Square to the Begin Gate of the Kirya and to Dizengoff Street.

The Ynet news site reports that protesters have blocked traffic on the street and are calling on those sitting at bars to join them.

Elsewhere in Tel Aviv, protesters calling for a hostage deal circumvent police barricades and block the Ayalon Highway heading north.

Demonstrators block part of the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on March 30, 2024 (Amir Goldstein / Pro-Democracy Protest Movement)

The Times of Israel witnesses two demonstrators being removed.

The police station a water cannon to the freeway and use horses to disperse protesters.

Protesters block Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway, March 30, 2024 (sha_b_p@ / Pro-Democracy Protest Movement)

In turn, demonstrators turn southward on the Ayalon and continue marching before eventually stopping and blocking off traffic.

Police hold up several demonstrators and give out fines.

In the southern city of Beersheba, demonstrators are blocking Yitzhak Rager, the main road in the city, and call for the release of the hostages and immediate elections.

In a photo released by anti-government activists, protesters block the main road in Beersheba, calling for a hostage deal and elections now, March 30, 2024. (Tanya Zion-Waldoks)

Tel Aviv hostages protest declared illegal, demonstrators clash with police

A police commander, Menashe Mansour, declares the rally for a hostage deal at Begin Street in Tel Aviv illegal and urges protesters to disperse.

While this is a weekly occurrence, such a declaration usually comes at much later stages of demonstrations.

A series of skirmishes begin between demonstrators and police, as police push protesters away while a group of men, mostly wearing Brothers and Sisters in Arms t-shirts, pushes back.

Police put out bonfire at Tel Aviv rally for hostage deal; protesters light another

Demonstrators light a bonfire amid calls for a deal to release hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, on Begin Street in Tel Aviv, March 30, 2024. (Iddo Schejter/The Times of Israel)
Demonstrators light a bonfire amid calls for a deal to release hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, on Begin Street in Tel Aviv, March 30, 2024. (Iddo Schejter/The Times of Israel)

Like in previous weeks, protesters light a bonfire on Begin Street, which police extinguish only for another one to be lit.

Many demonstrators are holding torches, as is customary in hostage protests.

Family members of hostages are speaking one after the other, and their rhetoric is notably more combative than in previous weeks. A brother of one hostage calls to release hostages “by force” if necessary.

At Tel Aviv rally, freed hostage Raz Ben-Ami urges deal: ‘They won’t last there’

Freed hostage Raz Ben-Ami speaks at the Hostages and Missing Families Forum protest in Tel Aviv's Hostages' Square on March 30, 2024. (YouTube screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Freed hostage Raz Ben-Ami speaks at the Hostages and Missing Families Forum protest in Tel Aviv's Hostages' Square on March 30, 2024. (YouTube screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Raz Ben-Ami, a freed hostage who was released from Hamas captivity 54 days ago, is urging the government to strike a deal with Hamas that would free the 134 remaining captives they are holding in the Gaza Strip.

“They [the hostages] won’t last there, no one can survive what they go through there. Believe me,” says Ben-Ami at the weekly Hostages and Missing Families forum protest in Tel Aviv’s Hostages’ Square.

“Mr. Prime Minister, on behalf of the abductees, in the name of the people of Israel, give the negotiators in Qatar the order: We will not return without a deal.”

Shira Albag, the mother of hostage Liri Albag, is calling on protesters to take up the struggle “against indifference, and in support of life.”

“It’s been 176 days that I haven’t turned a blind eye to the thoughts and fear of what Liri and the other abductees are going through,” she says.

“The people of Israel won’t forget or forgive anyone who prevents a deal that would bring them [the hostages] back to us. After 176 days, 4,224 hours, the excuses have run out,” she continues.

At Jerusalem rally, soldier’s mother fears for son’s health as gov’t fails to plan for ‘day after’ war

Naama, a mother of a combat soldier and member of the Awakened Mothers group, at an anti-government protest in Jerusalem, on March 30, 2024. (Jessica Steinberg/The Times of Israel)
Naama, a mother of a combat soldier and member of the Awakened Mothers group, at an anti-government protest in Jerusalem, on March 30, 2024. (Jessica Steinberg/The Times of Israel)

Naama, whose son is in a commando unit in Gaza and part of the Awakened Mothers group, says she doesn’t sleep or eat. She worries how her son will survive and what will be of his body, his soul, after this is all over.

“We sent our kids again to Khan Younis and our government still won’t plan for the day after,” she says.

Naama lists the names of the soldiers killed and injured in the last week “and it’s still not over,” she says. “He doesn’t want the hostages released, he doesn’t want the war to be over, he wants us scared and without hope.“

“But this country is all we have,” she says. ”We have no other country.”

Anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv join up with rally for hostage deal

Protesters on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv urge a deal to release hostages held by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, March 30, 2024. (Iddo Schejter/The Times of Israel)
Protesters on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv urge a deal to release hostages held by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, March 30, 2024. (Iddo Schejter/The Times of Israel)

The protest on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv disperses and many demonstrators join the rally on Begin Street calling for a deal to release hostages held by Hamas.

Protesters are calling out “we will not stop until they’re all home,” “enough killing, enough despair, the hostages are the most important thing,” and other chants for the release of hostages.

Hadas Kalderon, whose two children were released from Gaza while her husband still remains there, speaks from the bridge above Begin Street, which is being used as a makeshift podium.

Kalderon stresses that her children were released only through negotiations and that a deal must be made to release the rest of the hostages.

Relative of Oct. 7 survivors riles up crowd at Jerusalem rally with anti-Netanyahu chants

Shirel Hogeg, whose family survived the October 7 massacre in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, easily riles up the crowd outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem during the Saturday night protest.

“Go, go, go already!” yells Hogeg. “We’ve been yelling for 15 years already. You knew this all, you wrote it in your book,” Hogeg yells about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “You’re the leader, you’re guilty. You’re not worthy of this country.”

Released captive Aviva Siegel to PM: Stop treating hostage talks ‘as if they are a children’s game’

Freed hostage Aviva Siegel speaks at weekly rally in Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, on March 30, 2024. (YouTube screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Freed hostage Aviva Siegel speaks at weekly rally in Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, on March 30, 2024. (YouTube screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Freed hostage Aviva Siegel is calling on Prime Minister Netanyahu and other members of the government to stop treating hostage negotiations “as if they are a children’s game” at this week’s rally in Tel Aviv organized by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.

“You cannot bring back the delegation from Qatar without a deal,” she says onstage, referring to ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas in Doha.

“Do you hear me Bibi? I don’t know if my husband is alive. Stop talking about victory, stop talking about military pressure. Nothing will work. Nothing has worked until now. They’re dying there every day,” she continues.

Her husband, Keith Siegel, remains in Hamas captivity. He is one of 130 hostages who have remained captive in the Strip for 176 days.

“There is no feeling more difficult than that I can’t be there for him, for Keith. At the moment he needs me most, I’m not there, and I can’t do anything. I feel like someone who wanders the world empty inside, I am broken on the inside. I’m asking you all, how am I supposed to live like this?” she says to the crowd.

Siegel, who was freed amid a truce deal with Hamas that saw dozens of Israeli hostages released, recalls her harrowing time spent in Hamas captivity.

“When I was in Gaza, it took me a long time to realize that I was a hostage… The moment they grabbed me by the hair and pushed Keith onto the ground, I understood that I didn’t have the right to decide anything,” she says.

The rally is taking place only a couple hours after a group of families under the banner of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum spoke to the press outside the Kirya military base, publicly denouncing Netanyahu’s conduct toward negotiations as “criminal” and urging his ouster.

Yehuda Cohen, father of soldier held hostage in Gaza, says PM should step aside, let someone else secure captives’ release

Yehuda Cohen, father of Nimrod Cohen, a soldier kidnapped on October 7, speaks at a demonstration in Tel Aviv, March 30, 2024. (Iddo Schejter/The Times of Israel)
Yehuda Cohen, father of Nimrod Cohen, a soldier kidnapped on October 7, speaks at a demonstration in Tel Aviv, March 30, 2024. (Iddo Schejter/The Times of Israel)

Yehuda Cohen, father of Nimrod Cohen, a soldier kidnapped on October 7, is speaking at the main demonstration.

In a fiery speech, Cohen says he spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this week and asked him what price Israel is willing to pay to return his son but did not get an answer.

He adds that if Netanyahu cannot bring his son home, then he should resign and let someone else try.

IDF chief praises Shifa op in visit to troops, vows it will continue until mission completed

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops in the area of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, March 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops in the area of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, March 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi hails the military’s ongoing operation at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, during a visit to the medical center on Friday.

“Almost two weeks, very, very successful, and this is an operation… to plan it in a war, to carry it out in a war, to execute it correctly in a war, [is] very, very complex,” Halevi says to troops.

“So far, very great achievements… no one can roll back such a large amount of arrested terrorists, such a large amount of dead terrorists, so many senior people,” he says.

Halevi says the operation has “achieved its goal,” but adds that it will continue “thoroughly until it is announced that we are done.”

Israel said to agree to release Palestinians re-imprisoned after 2011 Shalit deal in exchange for soldiers’ bodies held since 2014

Israel reportedly agrees to release Palestinian security prisoners who were detained after being freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal, in order to secure the release of the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014.

The Kan public broadcaster reports that the offer has been handed to Hamas, but the terror group has yet to respond, three officials involved in the talks say.

It is believed that 130 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. Three hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 11 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 34 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding the bodies of Shaul and Goldin, as well as two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Israel, Hamas to return to truce talks in Cairo Sunday

Truce talks between Israel and Hamas will resume on Sunday in Cairo, Egypt’s Al Qahera News TV reports, citing a security source.

Haaretz on Saturday quoted an unnamed Israeli source saying the talks have been deadlocked because Hamas has refused to show any flexibility on its demand for all northern Gazans to be allowed to return and its conditioning of any further hostage releases on an Israeli commitment to ending the war and withdrawing all IDF forces. Israel has rejected both of these demands out of hand.

On Monday, Hamas rejected compromises hammered out between Israel, Egypt, Qatar and the United States in Doha, causing Jerusalem to recall most of its negotiating team.

Protesters chant for PM to resign outside his private residence in Caesarea

Amos Malka, former head of the IDF Intelligence Directorate, protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Caesarea on March 30, 2024. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)
Amos Malka, former head of the IDF Intelligence Directorate, protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Caesarea on March 30, 2024. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)

Several hundred people throng a main traffic artery in Caesarea near the private residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, carrying signs and chanting for him to resign.

The protest Saturday night in the affluent coastal town halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv is one of several rallies in recent weeks that protesters say are designed to “increase the pressure on him so he goes to a new election,” as one protester, a local from Caesarea named Hannah Zissel, tells The Times of Israel.

Amos Malka, a former head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Military Intelligence Directorate, kicks off the speaker’s portion of the rally with a speech in which he accuses Netanyahu of “abandoning the hostages” the Hamas is holding in Gaza.

“If the families knew how small the gap is, which Netanyahu is refusing to close” in negotiations with Hamas, “they would explode,” says Malka. “This is more evidence of his unsuitability to serve.”

Speaking to The Times of Israel, Malka, a leader of the protest movement against Netanyahu’s government, clarifies that “the failures leading up to October 7 are shared among many, across the defense and establishment community. But what happened since,” that’s on Netanyahu.

Anti-government demonstrators gather outside Kirya in Tel Aviv

Anti-government protesters rally outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 30, 2024. (Iddo Schejter/The Times of Israel)
Anti-government protesters rally outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 30, 2024. (Iddo Schejter/The Times of Israel)

Groups of demonstrators are gathering outside the Kirya Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv to protest against the government for various reasons.

The predominant message of the main protest on Kaplan Street outside the Sarona shopping center is for early elections to be held and for the current government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be dismissed.

Nearby, a demonstration, led by a group of Israel Defense Forces veterans from the 1973 Yom Kippur War standing on a fake tank, is calling to end the draft exemptions that ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students receive.

At the Kirya’s entrance on Begin Street, a demonstration organized by Brothers and Sisters and Arms, a reservist group that was among the leaders of last year’s anti-judicial overhaul protests, is calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas.

There is a large police presence throughout the area. Police have barricaded large chunks of Begin and Kaplan streets, as well as some of the exits to the Ayalon Highway to prevent protesters from blocking that road, as they do every week.

Some hostages’ relatives to Netanyahu: You are the obstacle to a deal; we will hound you until you are ousted

Einav Zangauker, mother of Matan Zangauker, who is held hostage in Gaza, demands the ouster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on March 30, 2024 (Facebook screenshot).
Einav Zangauker, mother of Matan Zangauker, who is held hostage in Gaza, demands the ouster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on March 30, 2024 (Facebook screenshot).

Twenty families of hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the failure in talks to return their loved ones, urge his ouster and vow to hound him until he is removed from power.

Relatives include Ayala Metzger, whose father-in-law Yoram Metzger is held in captivity, and Einav Zangauker, mother of Matan Zangauker, who is also held in Gaza.

Speaking to the press at a demonstration in Tel Aviv, the relatives say that Netanyahu has rejected offers to release hostages and has hardened the Israeli position in negotiations with Hamas.

“He is the obstacle to a deal,” they say, stating that the prime minister is making decisions without consulting the cabinet, and is only serving his own interests.

Relatives also say the coalition has conducted a smear campaign against the hostages’ families.

Einav Zangauker, in her prepared statement, says Netanyahu’s handling of the hostages issue has been “incomprehensible and criminal.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu, after you abandoned our families on October 7, and after 176 days when you didn’t bring a deal [for their return], and because you are continually engaged in torpedoing a deal, we have realized that you are the obstacle to the deal. You are the obstacle. You are the one who stands between us and the return home of our loved ones,” she says.

“You are the obstacle deliberately thwarting a deal, so we have to do everything in our power to move this obstacle — you — aside. We have no choice,” she goes on.

“We have realized that if we don’t immediately act to move you away from the steering wheel, we won’t get to see our loved ones returning home alive and fast, and we won’t get to see our dead returned for burial in Israel, and therefore it won’t be possible for the State of Israel to recover from the great disaster. So today we are compelled to begin a new stage in our struggle.”

“From now,” she pledges, “we will work to immediately replace you. We have concluded that that is the fastest way to bring a deal… We will demonstrate and demand your ouster. We will publicly hound you.”

With the support of the public, Zangauker concludes, “We won’t stop until you give up your position to a different leader who can save our loved ones from captivity in Gaza.”

Jordan’s FM says ‘famine’ in Gaza can be avoided if all Israeli crossings opened

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (L) meets with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) and France's Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (outside frame) at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry's Tahrir Palace headquarters in central Cairo on March 30, 2024. (Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)
Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (L) meets with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) and France's Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (outside frame) at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry's Tahrir Palace headquarters in central Cairo on March 30, 2024. (Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

CAIRO, Egypt — Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Saturday that “famine” in Gaza can be dealt with in a short time if Israel opened the land crossings for aid to enter.

Safadi made the comments at a press conference with his Egyptian and French counterparts in Cairo.

Israel blames the ailing humanitarian situation on aid agencies’ failure to distribute supplies, and on Hamas and armed groups who have looted trucks entering the Gaza. The agencies say their work has become far more difficult amid the fighting and a lack of security for aid convoys.

Aid currently enters the Strip after inspections by Israeli authorities at Egypt’s Rafah crossing, Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing, and a recently opened crossing near the southern community of Be’eri.

Drone and rocket sirens in north false alarms — IDF

Drone and rocket sirens that blared in the Western and Upper Galilee this afternoon were false alarms, the army says.

Rocket sirens sound in Kiryat Shmona, Metula, northern border towns

Incoming rocket alert sirens sound in northern communities near the Lebanese border.

Sirens sound in Kiryat Shmona, HaGoshrim, Beit Hillel, Dafna, Kfar Yuval, Ghajar and Metula.

IDF, Shin Bet name senior Hamas terrorists killed at Shifa

L-R: These handout images show Hamas commanders Mahmoud Khalil Zakzuk, Zakaria Najib, and Fadi Dweik, who the IDF says were killed by troops at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, March 30, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
L-R: These handout images show Hamas commanders Mahmoud Khalil Zakzuk, Zakaria Najib, and Fadi Dweik, who the IDF says were killed by troops at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, March 30, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF and Shin Bet security agency name additional senior Hamas operatives killed by troops at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital in recent days.

Troops have been raiding buildings at the hospital complex, following intelligence indicating that top officials in the terror group are holed up there.

In one incident, the IDF says troops of the Navy’s Shayetet 13 unit, Givati Brigade’s Shaked Battalion and Duvdevan unit encountered and killed a group of armed Hamas operatives who ran out of Shifa’s emergency room.

Among them was senior Hamas commander Raad Thabet — named by the IDF on Thursday as the head of the terror group’s recruitment and supply acquisition — and Mahmoud Khalil Zakzuk, who the IDF says is the deputy commander of Hamas’s rocket unit in Gaza City.

In another incident, troops of the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance killed senior Hamas operatives Fadi Dweik and Zakaria Najib during a chase at Shifa’s maternity ward, according to the IDF.

The IDF and Shin Bet say Dweik was a senior member of Hamas’s intelligence division. He perpetrated the 2002 terrorist shooting attack in the West Bank settlement of Adora, killing four civilians, and was exiled to the Gaza Strip in the 2011 Shalit deal with Hamas, in which Israel released 1,027 Palestinian terror convicts in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

In Gaza, he continued to advance attacks in the West Bank, defense authorities say. Najib, according to the IDF and Shin Bet, was a senior operative in Hamas’s so-called West Bank headquarters, tasked with advancing attacks against Israel from the West Bank.

He is accused of involvement in the 1994 abduction and killing of Nachshon Wachsman, and was also released in the 2011 Shalit deal.

Other Hamas gunmen have been killed by troops in and around the hospital, the IDF says, adding that troops have seized weapons and intelligence documents.

Drone infiltration sirens sound again in northern communities

Suspected drone infiltration alarms are sounding in northern communities in the Upper Galilee, near the Lebanese border, shortly after sirens were activated in the Western Galilee

The alerts sound in Mevuot Hermon Regional Council, Dishon, Iftach, Malkia and Ramot Naftali.

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Drone infiltration sirens blare in northern communities

Suspected drone infiltration alarms are sounding in northern communities in the Western Galilee, near the Lebanese border.

The alerts sound in Avdon, Hossen, Neveh Ziv, Manot, Kfar Vradim, Mi’ilya, Hila, Maona and Ma’alot Tarshicha.

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

IDF strikes Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon after morning rocket fire

The IDF says it struck sites used by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon’s Taybeh, Naqoura and Hanine a short while ago.

Since Saturday morning, Hezbollah fired several rockets and missiles at northern Israel. The IDF says it shelled the launch sites with artillery.

Second aid shipment for Gaza leaves Cyprus port with 400 tons of food

The ship Jenifer of the World Central Kitchen carrying food aid for the Gaza Strip stands close to the port of Larnaca in Cyprus on March 30, 2024. (Iakovos HATZISTAVROU / AFP)
The ship Jenifer of the World Central Kitchen carrying food aid for the Gaza Strip stands close to the port of Larnaca in Cyprus on March 30, 2024. (Iakovos HATZISTAVROU / AFP)

LARNACA, Cyprus — A second shipment of aid carrying almost 400 tons of food for Gaza left Cyprus’s Larnaca port on Saturday, a Reuters witness said.

A cargo vessel already anchored outside the port carrying aid was joined by a salvage vessel and a platform also carrying aid and which had previously been moored in port, the witness said. The salvage vessel will be towing the aid.

It will be the second dispatch of aid via Cyprus where Cypriot authorities have established, in cooperation with Israel, a maritime corridor to facilitate pre-screened cargoes arriving directly to the besieged Palestinian enclave.

IMF confirms more than doubling Egypt’s bailout loan to $8 billion

CAIRO — The executive board of the International Monetary Fund confirms a deal with Egypt to increase its bailout loan from $3 billion to $8 billion, in a move that is meant to shore up the Arab country’s economy which is hit by a staggering shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation.

In a statement, the board says its decision will enable Egypt to immediately receive about $820 million as part of the deal that was announced earlier this month.

The deal was achieved after Egypt agreed with the IMF on a reform plan that is centered on floating the local currency, reducing public investment and allowing the private sector to become the engine of growth, the statement says.

Egypt has already floated the pound and sharply increased the main interest rate. Commercial banks are now trading the US currency at more than 47 pounds, up from about 31 pounds. The measures are meant to combat ballooning inflation and attract foreign investment.

The Egyptian economy has been hit hard by years of government austerity, the coronavirus pandemic, the fallout from Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and most recently, the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. The Houthi attacks on shipping routes in the Red Sea have slashed Suez Canal revenues, which is a major source for foreign currency. The attacks forced traffic away from the canal and around the tip of Africa.

Lebanese PM condemns ‘targeting’ of UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati meets with France's foreign minister at the government palace in Beirut on February 6, 2024. (Joseph Eid/AFP)
Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati meets with France's foreign minister at the government palace in Beirut on February 6, 2024. (Joseph Eid/AFP)

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemns the “targeting” of UN forces in southern Lebanon that wounded three observers.

Hamas-run health ministry: Gazan death toll in war now 32,705

The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza says that at least 32,705 people have been killed in the territory during more than five months of war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group.

The toll includes at least 82 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement says, adding that 75,190 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war was triggered by the devastating Hamas-led onslaught against Israel on October 7.

The Hamas-run ministry’s figures, which are unverified, do not differentiate between fighters and civilians, and are also believed to include Palestinians killed by terrorists’ misfired rockets.

UNIFIL confirms observers hurt in south Lebanon, says probing origin of strike

BEIRUT –Three United Nations observers and one translator were wounded today when a shell exploded near them as they were carrying out a foot patrol in southern Lebanon, the UN peacekeeping mission says, adding it’s still investigating the origin of the blast.

The UNIFIL statement says the targeting of peacekeepers is “unacceptable.” Two security sources had told Reuters the observers were wounded in an Israeli strike but the Israeli military denied striking in the area.

Palestinians say 5 killed by gunfire, stampede during aid delivery in northern Gaza

The Palestine Red Crescent says five people were killed and dozens wounded by gunfire and a stampede during an aid delivery today in Gaza.

AFP video footage shows a convoy of trucks moving quickly past burning debris near the distribution point in pre-dawn darkness as people shout and gunfire echoes — some of which were warning shots, according to unnamed witnesses quoted by the French news agency.

The Red Crescent says it happened after thousands of people gathered for the arrival of around 15 trucks of flour and other food, which were supposed to be handed out at Gaza City’s Kuwait roundabout, in the territory’s north.

The roundabout has been the scene of several chaotic and deadly aid distribution incidents, including a deadly incident on March 23 that drew intense international scrutiny.

The Red Crescent says three of the five killed earlier today were shot.

Eyewitnesses tell AFP that Gazans overseeing the aid delivery shot in the air, but Israeli troops in the area also opened fire and some moving trucks hit people trying to get the food.

The Israeli military tells AFP it “has no record of the incident described.”

Judoka Sagi Muki says anti-Israel protesters in Japan stole his uniform jacket

Sagi Muki of Israel (white) reacts after defeating Vedat Albayrak of Turkey (not pictured), at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam Judo Championship on February 17, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Sagi Muki of Israel (white) reacts after defeating Vedat Albayrak of Turkey (not pictured), at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam Judo Championship on February 17, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Israeli judoka Sagi Muki says pro-Palestinian demonstrators protesting against Israel stole the jacket from his national team judo uniform when he confronted them in Japan.

In a video, Muki says he decided to speak with the protesters after coming across the “pro-Hamas demonstration,” as he was upset “they are ignorant” about the ongoing war in Gaza triggered by Hamas’s October 7 terror attack.

“I tried to explain [to them], to fight for the truth and the State of Israel,” Muki says. “It was much harder than training, it exhausted me, but we won’t give up.”

According to Muki, some of the protesters snatched his judogi and ran off with it. An earlier photo shows him pointing to the Israeli flag on the uniform above his heart, while standing in front of the demonstrators.

Muki did not say he responded, but vowed “to continue representing Israel in the international sphere.”

3 UN observers, Lebanese translator said wounded in strike on car

A security source tells Reuters that a car was carrying three UN technical observers and one Lebanese translator when it was struck in southern Lebanon.

That source, and a second security source, say the strike — which they charge was carried out by Israel — left several of those in the car wounded.

IDF denies striking vehicle with UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon

The IDF denies carrying out a strike against a vehicle with United Nations peacekeepers in southern Lebanon.

“Contrary to reports, the IDF did not attack a UNIFIL vehicle in the Rmeish area this morning,” the military says in a statement.

Lebanese media claimed several UNIFIL observers were wounded in the strike.

There was no immediate comment from the peacekeeping force.

Israeli strike in southern Lebanon hit car carrying UN observers — security sources

Illustrative: A UNIFIL patrol at the site of an overnight Israeli strike in the southern Lebanese village of Kafra, on February 29, 2024. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)
Illustrative: A UNIFIL patrol at the site of an overnight Israeli strike in the southern Lebanese village of Kafra, on February 29, 2024. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

BEIRUT — An Israeli strike this morning hit a vehicle carrying United Nations observers outside the southern Lebanese border town of Rmeish, two security sources tell Reuters.

There is no immediate comment from the UN peacekeeper mission in southern Lebanon UNIFIL, which accompanies technical observers monitoring the Blue Line, which delineates the border between Lebanon and Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the strike, which was first reported by outlets linked to Hezbollah.

Palestinian teen said killed by Israeli fire during raid in northern West Bank

The Palestinian Authority’s official news agency reports that a 13-year-old was killed by Israeli fire during a raid in the northern West Bank.

He is named as Moatasem Nabil Abu Abed, 13, of Qabitya. The report says two other young men were also wounded, one seriously, during confrontations between soldiers and Palestinians in Qabitaya, and that the first Israeli forces to enter the town did so in vehicles bearing Palestinian license plates.

The Israel Defense Forces says the Israeli military said a number of Palestinian gunmen had shot at its troops, who returned fire.

Father of lone soldier held in Gaza: Winning war seems more important to PM than return of hostages

Ronen and Orna Neutra hold portraits of their son Omer Neutra, 22, as relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas terrorists, gather before the start of a four-day march to Jerusalem calling for their release, on February 28, 2024, at the site of the Supernova music festival in southern Israel. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Ronen and Orna Neutra hold portraits of their son Omer Neutra, 22, as relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas terrorists, gather before the start of a four-day march to Jerusalem calling for their release, on February 28, 2024, at the site of the Supernova music festival in southern Israel. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

The father of kidnapped US-born lone soldier Omer Neutra says that he does not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief priority in the war against Hamas is the return of the hostages, after the premier met directly with families of captive IDF soldiers for the first time since October 7.

“He is working [for the return of the hostages], but victory in the war is more important,” Ronen Neutra tells Kan public radio. “We did not receive any details about the negotiations. He claimed we’re holding assets that Hamas really wants.”

Rocket lands in open near Lebanon border; no sirens activated

A rocket apparently fired from Lebanon explodes after landing in an open area in the Upper Galilee, without setting off any warning sirens.

Video show smoke rising from the impact site.

 

Malaysia arrests 3 on suspicion of supplying firearms to Israeli man

Malaysian authorities have arrested three people suspected of supplying firearms to a 36-year-old man carrying an Israeli passport, who was detained this week at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, police say.

The man, arrested with a bag containing six handguns and 200 bullets, had arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport from the United Arab Emirates on March 12 using what authorities believed to be a fake French passport, Inspector-General of Police Razarudin Husain told a press conference late on Friday.

The suspect turned over an Israeli passport upon questioning by police, Razarudin said, adding that the man, who has not been publicly identified, had ordered the weapons after arriving in Malaysia and paid for them with cryptocurrency.

The Israeli embassy in Singapore did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Malaysia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations.

Police did not rule out the possibility that the man could be a member of Israeli intelligence, though the suspect told authorities he had entered Malaysia to hunt down another Israeli citizen due to a family dispute.

“We do not fully trust this narrative as we suspect there may be another agenda,” Razarudin said, adding that the man had stayed at several hotels while in Malaysia.

IDF says troops killed gunmen, seized weapons in ongoing raid at Shifa Hospital

Troops operate in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released for publication on March 30, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)
Troops operate in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released for publication on March 30, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)

Fighting against Hamas has continued over the past day at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, as well as in southern Gaza’s al-Qarara and the al-Amal neighborhood of Khan Younis, the IDF says in a morning update.

The IDF says at Shifa, troops — from the 401st Armored Brigade, Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance unit and Navy’s Shayetet 13 commando unit — killed gunmen, seized weapons and located sites belonging to the terror group in the area.

In al-Amal, troops of the Givati Brigade killed several gunmen, including some who tried to attack them with explosive devices, the IDF says.

The Israeli Air Force carried out dozens of strikes across Gaza over the past day, mostly in al-Amal and al-Qarara, which the IDF says was to support the maneuvering ground troops.

The IAF also struck three tunnel shafts in an area from which a rocket was fired toward the border community of Kissufim on Friday, the IDF says.

Meanwhile, in central Gaza, the IDF says troops of the Nahal Brigade killed several terror operatives over the past day.

In one incident, the IDF says Nahal troops spotted a cell moving weaponry and called in a drone strike against them. Large secondary blasts were seen after the strike, according to the IDF. A fighter jet later struck the building the cell was seen leaving, the IDF says.

Two more Hamas cells were struck by drones in northern Gaza after being identified by the 215th Artillery Regiment. Fighter jets later also struck a building used by those operatives, the IDF adds.

High winds, turbulence force Tel Aviv flight to New Jersey to be diverted to New York state

High winds and turbulence forced a United Airlines flight from Israel to be diverted Friday from its destination of Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, New York, authorities say.

Approximately 200 passengers were onboard, Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus says in a statement. Some passengers were taken to local hospitals for evaluation, while the rest were brought to Newark.

None of the passengers had serious injuries, Neuhaus says.

The flight originated in Tel Aviv, ABC 7 New York reports. Stewart airport is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of New York City.

UK police probing if Iran International journalist stabbed in London was attacked due to his job

British counter-terrorism detectives are investigating after a journalist working for a Persian language media organization was stabbed in London amid fears he had been targeted because of his job, police say.

Police say the man, aged in his 30s, was attacked and sustained an injury to his leg in the incident in Wimbledon, southwest London, on Friday afternoon.

Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) says the victim was prominent British-based Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati, who hosts a show on the Persian language television news network Iran International which is critical of Iran’s government.

Police said his injuries were not believed to be life-threatening and he was in a stable condition.

Brazil’s top court denies Bolsonaro’s request for passport return to travel to Israel

Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro speaks to the press outside his home after Federal Police agents carried out a search and seizure warrant in Brasilia, Brazil, May 3, 2023. (AP/Eraldo Peres)
Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro speaks to the press outside his home after Federal Police agents carried out a search and seizure warrant in Brasilia, Brazil, May 3, 2023. (AP/Eraldo Peres)

Brazil’s Supreme Court denies a request by former president Jair Bolsonaro’s lawyers that his passport be returned to him so that he can travel to Israel, according to an official document.

Bolsonaro’s lawyers said in a statement on Thursday that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had invited Bolsonaro to an event in May, and requested the Supreme Court to restore his passport.

“It is absolutely premature to remove the restriction imposed on the investigated person,” Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes writes in his decision, which is in line with a recommendation from the prosecutor general’s office cited by Moraes.

Bolsonaro’s passport was taken, precisely, to prevent him from leaving the country, given “the danger to the development of criminal investigations and the possible application of criminal law,” the prosecutor general’s office said earlier in its opinion.

Federal Police seized Bolsonaro’s passport in February during a raid related to an investigation into whether he and top aides plotted to ignore the 2022 election results and stage an uprising to keep the defeated leader in power. Bolsonaro lost the election to his rival and successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Matisyahu tackles Oct. 7, antisemitism in new music video shot at scenes of attack

American Jewish reggae musician and rapper Matisyahu has released a new single on the October 7 attacks and the rise of antisemitism, with a clip shot in Israel in the aftermath of the attacks.

“I’m proud to share the official music video for my new song ‘Ascent’ — the video was shot in Israel in the aftermath of the October 7th attacks at the site of the Nova Music Festival, and various Kibbutzim that were massacred on that horrific day,” he writes on X.

“Help me stand up to anti-semitism and share this video far and wide to show the world that we the Jewish people stand proud and that our light will not be put out.”

Lyrics include “I sense my fame under attack, we used to getting shot in the back,” and “No one to blame but the Jew, are you insane, this is not new.”

 

Israel contests UN-backed report on imminent famine in Gaza

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in southern Israel, March 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in southern Israel, March 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Israel is contesting a recent UN-backed report on the humanitarian situation in Gaza that said famine was imminent and likely to occur by May in northern Gaza.

The report by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) further heightened global concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in the war-torn Strip.

COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, says in response that “the report contains multiple factual and methodological flaws, some of them serious.”

It argues the report grossly underestimated the amount of water available per person per day, notes a lack of data acknowledged by the report and reliance on information from Hamas, and notes reports in Palestinian media “every day” of “food markets filled with food of all types and kinds” in various parts of Gaza.

It says: “We outright reject any allegations according to which Israel is purposefully starving the civilian population in Gaza.”

“Even at the height of hostilities, in a war that was forced upon it, Israel places no limits on the amount of aid that can enter Gaza, and absolutely does not limit the entrance of food. Israel also facilitates entry of complementary products such as cooking gas and diesel fuel for the operation of the aid centers, bakeries etc. additionally, 14 million liters of water are supplied by Israel.

It adds that “In recent months between 150 and 200 trucks are admitted per day, most of which are food trucks. This is an 80% spike in comparison to the daily average food trucks that entered Gaza pre October 7.”

Polish PM Tusk warns Europe has entered ‘pre-war era’

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk warns of the “real” threat of conflict in Europe, saying that for the first time since the end of World War II the continent has entered a “pre-war era.”

“War is no longer a concept from the past. It is real, and it started over two years ago. The most worrying thing at the moment is that literally any scenario is possible. We haven’t seen a situation like this since 1945,” Tusk says in an interview with the European media grouping LENA on Friday.

“I know it sounds devastating, especially for the younger generation, but we have to get used to the fact that a new era has begun: the pre-war era. I’m not exaggerating; it’s becoming clearer every day.”

US says it welcomes nomination of new Palestinian Authority cabinet

The US welcomes the nomination of a new Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet, the US State Department says.

“A revitalized PA is essential to delivering results for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza and establishing the conditions for stability in the broader region,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller says in a statement.

Trump posts video with an image of a hog-tied Biden, drawing rebuke

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump draws criticism for posting a video on social media that contains the image of a hog-tied President Joe Biden painted on the tailgate of a passing truck.

The Biden campaign is quick to condemn the video for suggesting physical harm to the sitting Democratic president. Biden has portrayed his likely 2024 opponent as someone who freely evokes Nazi imagery with regard to immigrants, while also stressing in speeches that Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 elections ultimately led to an assault on the US Capitol.

“Trump is regularly inciting political violence and it’s time people take him seriously — just ask the Capitol police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on January 6,” says Michael Tyler, the Biden campaign’s communications director.

Zelensky says without US aid, Ukraine forces will have to retreat

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky answers media questions during his press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky answers media questions during his press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says in an interview that if Ukraine does not get promised US military aid blocked by disputes in Congress, its forces will have to retreat “in small steps.”

“If there is no US support, it means that we have no air defense, no Patriot missiles, no jammers for electronic warfare, no 155-milimetre artillery rounds,” Zelenskiy tells the Washington Post.

“It means we will go back, retreat, step by step, in small steps,” he says. “We are trying to find some way not to retreat.”

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