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

Eden Golan booed at Eurovision dress rehearsal; Kan: We will not be silenced

Eden Golan of Israel performs the song 'Hurricane' during the dress rehearsal for the second semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Eden Golan of Israel performs the song 'Hurricane' during the dress rehearsal for the second semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Eden Golan performed her song “Hurricane” at the dress rehearsal for the second Eurovision semifinal earlier today, while some in the crowd booed the Israeli singer.

In response, the Kan public broadcaster issues a statement saying that “Eden stood on the stage during the dress rehearsal with pride and gave an incredible performance. They did not silence her and they will not silence us. See you tomorrow.”

In a statement, Golan says “I am proud to represent my country, particularly this year. I am receiving support and love and I am determined to give my best performance tomorrow in the semifinal and nothing will deter me from that goal!”

Israel is competing in the second semifinal tomorrow night for a shot at making it to Saturday night’s grand final. Voting from countries that do not participate in the Eurovision opens in just over an hour, and can be carried out at www.esc.vote.

Republican senator says US delaying weapons shipment is ‘obscene’ and ‘absurd’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on online child safety on Capitol Hill, Jan. 31, 2024, in Washington. (AP/Mark Schiefelbein)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on online child safety on Capitol Hill, Jan. 31, 2024, in Washington. (AP/Mark Schiefelbein)

Republican US Sen. Lindsey Graham slams the Biden administration’s decision to delay a shipment of munitions to Israel to express concern over a potential ground operation in Rafah.

“If we stop weapons necessary to destroy the enemies of the State of Israel at a time of great peril, we will pay a price,” says Graham. “This is obscene. It is absurd. Give Israel what they need to fight the war they can’t afford to lose.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says in the Senate that Biden folded “under the heat of domestic political pressure from his party’s anti-Israel base and the campus Communists who decided to wrap themselves in the flag of Hamas and Hezbollah.”

McConnell says that the decision is “devastating” and that it will “embolden Iran and its terrorist proxies.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, however, an independent, says “President Biden is absolutely right to halt bomb delivery to this extreme, right-wing Israeli government. But this must be a first step.”

Sanders says the US must now demand “an immediate ceasefire, the end of the attacks on Rafah and the immediate delivery of massive amounts of humanitarian aid to people living in desperation.”

American envoy to Israel tells rabbi that war in Gaza is ‘very unpopular’ in the US

Rabbi Moshe Hillel Hirsch meets with US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew (right) in Bnei Brak on May 8, 2024. (Screen capture/X)
Rabbi Moshe Hillel Hirsch meets with US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew (right) in Bnei Brak on May 8, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

In rare public comments, US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew is filmed explaining to a prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbi in Bnei Brak the difficult position in which President Joe Biden finds himself as he tries to defend Israel in the war against Hamas.

“It’s not easy because it’s a very hard war and it’s not a very popular war in the United States — very unpopular,” Lew is heard telling Hillel Hirsch. “He’s trying to make his positions clear while being able to continue to help Israel accomplish what it needs to accomplish — and when he needs to, saying when he thinks Israel needs to do some things differently — as friends must.”

“Since October 7, I think the world has seen that for most of his life, Joe Biden is a Zionist. He believes in Israel and believes in the need for a Jewish homeland. Since October 7, the world has seen how he responds to tragedy,” Lew adds.

State Department dismisses ‘deplorable’ comments by firebrand Likud MK

MK Tally Gotliv attends an Israel Hayom conference in Ashkelon, April 16, 2024. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90)
MK Tally Gotliv attends an Israel Hayom conference in Ashkelon, April 16, 2024. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90)

Likud backbencher Tally Gotliv receives a mention at the US State Department briefing when a reporter asks about incendiary comments she made at the Knesset earlier today.

“The US is threatening not to give us precision missiles. Well, I have news for the US: We have imprecise missiles! So maybe instead of using a precise missile to take out a specific room or a specific building, I’ll use my imprecise missiles to flatten 10 buildings. That’s what I’ll do. If you don’t give me precise missiles, I’ll use imprecise missiles,” the Likud MK declared.

Responding to the comments, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller calls them “absolutely deplorable,” adding that senior members of the Israeli government should refrain from making them. The freshman lawmaker is only part of the ruling coalition and is not a cabinet minister, nor does she chair any Knesset committees.

Miller says Gotliv’s comments will have no impact on US policy decisions, which he says are made based on the best interests of the American people and the region more broadly.

Sirens sound in Golan warning of suspected drone infiltration from Syria

An Israeli tank seen near the Israeli border with Syria, in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, on April 9, 2024. (Michael GiladiFlash90)
An Israeli tank seen near the Israeli border with Syria, in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, on April 9, 2024. (Michael GiladiFlash90)

Sirens are sounding in the southern Golan Heights communities of Yonatan and Keshet, warning of a suspected drone infiltration from the direction of Syria.

There is no immediate comment from the IDF on the incident.

Amid the war, there have been several drone attacks on Israel launched by Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria.

IDF soldier lightly wounded by rocket fired at Kerem Shalom from Rafah

A helicopter lands in southern Israel after a number of soldiers were killed in a Hamas rocket attack on the Kerem Shalom area, May 5, 2024. (Magen David Adom)
A helicopter lands in southern Israel after a number of soldiers were killed in a Hamas rocket attack on the Kerem Shalom area, May 5, 2024. (Magen David Adom)

An Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in a rocket barrage fired from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom area earlier today, the military says.

Hamas fired eight rockets in the attack, which set off sirens in the community of Shlomit.

The soldier was treated at the scene and did not require hospitalization, the IDF says.

Earlier, Hamas launched several more rockets at the Kerem Shalom Crossing from Rafah, although the IDF says those projectiles failed to cross the border.

“The Hamas terrorist organization continues to deliberately endanger Gazan civilians and carry out terror attacks from within civilian areas to attempt to attack Israeli civilians and IDF troops. Moreover, the terrorist organization continues to fire launches from populated zones in the area of Rafah toward the Kerem Shalom Crossing to attack IDF troops, as well as the functioning of the crossing,” the military says in a statement.

Report: PM’s motorcade includes ambulance since he had pacemaker installed

Illustrative: A Magen David Adom ambulance in Kiryat Yam on December 24, 2023. (Magen David Adom)
Illustrative: A Magen David Adom ambulance in Kiryat Yam on December 24, 2023. (Magen David Adom)

Ever since he had a pacemaker installed following a transient heart block last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s motorcade has included an ambulance, according to a report in the Walla news site.

The report says that the vehicle is not identifiable from the outside as an ambulance.

The news outlet cites sources in the Prime Minister’s Office confirming that the vehicle is an ambulance, but claiming that it only accompanies the prime minister on journeys to areas of Israel which are far from hospitals. However, the news outlet claims the vehicle has been seen traveling inside Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, areas with many hospitals.

TV report: Burns tells PM he still sees chance for deal; Israeli leaders respond that Hamas terms breach all red lines

File: US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns speaks at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, July 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
File: US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns speaks at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, July 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The visiting CIA chief told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders in talks today that he still sees an opportunity for a deal with Hamas, Channel 12 reports.

The network claims William Burns told his hosts that Israel should not regard the “end of war” as a “full stop,” but rather as a “comma” — to be followed by a process that could still culminate in normalization for Israel with Saudi Arabia.

In talks attended by Netanyahu, Defense Minister Gallant, Mossad chief David Barnea and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, Israel responded that Hamas’s proposal, received Monday night, “crosses all red lines in every parameter and is unacceptable,” the TV report says.

The Israelis also told Burns that Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar is pleased to see the US withholding weaponry from Israel and that this move further complicates the prospects for a deal. The TV report says Israel’s leaders consider the gaps between the sides on a possible hostage deal to be extremely wide, and therefore believe their focus needs to be on the continuing IDF operation in Rafah.

However, the report says, war cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, and his National Unity party colleague and war cabinet observer Gadi Eisenkot, are demanding that the cabinet take “strategic decisions” for the day after in Gaza before any widening of IDF operations in Rafah or elsewhere in the Strip.

Israeli ambassador to UN says Jerusalem ‘frustrated’ by US pause on bomb shipment

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting on a resolution that would have recognized the Palestinians as a full UN member state, at United Nations headquarters, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting on a resolution that would have recognized the Palestinians as a full UN member state, at United Nations headquarters, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations says his government feels let down by the US pausing a shipment of bombs to Israel.

“It’s a very disappointing decision, even frustrating,” Ambassador Gilad Erdan tells Channel 12 news. However, he says he doesn’t think the move signals a broader halt to US aid to Israel.

Erdan suggests the decision stems from political pressure on the Biden administration from Congress, the nationwide campus protests and the upcoming US presidential election. He says President Joe Biden was at once urging people to remember that the war started with Hamas’s attack on October 7, while at the same time holding back “the means intended to destroy Hamas.”

“You can’t win the war without allowing Israel to win it,” Erdan says.

Meanwhile, according to a report in the Axios news site, senior Israeli officials warned their US counterparts that the Biden administration’s decision to pause some weapons shipments to Israel could jeopardize ongoing hostage negotiations.

US says no aid entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom; IDF releases footage showing trucks crossing

A truck carrying humanitarian aid arrives for processing at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza on April 15, 2024. (AFP)
A truck carrying humanitarian aid arrives for processing at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza on April 15, 2024. (AFP)

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller says that while Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing this morning, no trucks carrying humanitarian aid actually went through the gate today due to logistical and security concerns.

Hours earlier, though, the IDF released drone footage showing the entry of trucks carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip today via the crossing.

Miller also says at the press briefing that despite assurances from Israel, the Rafah crossing into Gaza wasn’t opened to fuel shipments either, and urges Israel to immediately ensure the delivery of aid into Gaza.

Defense sources tell The Times of Israel that the Rafah crossing with Egypt will remain closed amid the ongoing IDF operations on the Gazan side of the crossing. The IDF hasn’t given any timeline regarding its operation in eastern Rafah or what will subsequently happen with the border crossing with Egypt.

Controversial IDF officer to be released after being passed over for promotion again

Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset, on October 22, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset, on October 22, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A controversial senior officer in the IDF, who has been without a role for nearly two years, is finally being let go from service after being passed over for promotion yet again.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Herzi Halevi told Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter that he would be released from the army after not being promoted in the latest round of appointments, the Ynet news site reports.

The move has sparked backlash among some lawmakers, mostly from the right, and activists who had hoped that Winter would finally be given a promotion.

“[Defense Minister Yoav] Gallant’s careless and irresponsible conduct — giving up an outstanding and valued officer like Ofer Winter is a direct continuation of his poor conduct and failures over the past months,” says far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on the X social media site.

Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman, whose military secretary at the time was Winter, calls the move to dismiss the officer a “scandal.”

Winter came under considerable criticism in the 2014 Gaza war for comments he made at the time that framed the operation as a religious fight, for allegedly passing information to politicians without proper approval, and for his actions during the highly controversial “Black Friday” battle in Rafah.

Since the war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, Winter’s career has stagnated, despite him previously having shown significant promise for advancement to the upper echelons of the IDF.

Winter was promoted from colonel to brigadier general in 2015 and was made chief of staff for the Central Command. In 2017, he was appointed military secretary to then-defense minister Liberman, and only in 2019 was he given command over a division. Winter served as head of the 98th Division until September 2022, and has been without a role since.

In the army’s normal trajectory for promotion, Winter would have been on track to take command of a division in 2018, but he was passed over for promotion by then-IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Winter is often held up as a shining example of the national-religious community. Right-wing activists have repeatedly called for him to be promoted in the military.

Alongside Winter, another two brigadier generals were told by Halevi that no role was found for them and they were to end their service, Ynet reports.

State Department to miss deadline for report to Congress on Israeli weapons use

IDF troops operate in the central Gaza corridor, in a handout image published May 1, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in the central Gaza corridor, in a handout image published May 1, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller says his office will not be able to meet today’s deadline for submitting a report to Congress determining whether the Biden administration has accepted assurances from Israel that it is using American weapons in accordance with international law.

Miller says the report will be submitted “in the coming days.”

Miller also joins the line of Biden officials confirming the decision to hold a shipment of bombs for Israel due to concerns regarding Rafah, and adds that other transfers are being reviewed.

Last night, a senior Biden administration official confirmed a report that the US had also delayed a sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) to Israel, but clarified that this transaction was in a much earlier stage than the shipment of heavy bombs it held up last week.

IDF strikes building in Lebanon it says belongs to Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force

Smoke billows during an Israeli strike on the southern Lebanese border village of Odaisseh on May 8, 2024. (Rabih DAHER / AFP)
Smoke billows during an Israeli strike on the southern Lebanese border village of Odaisseh on May 8, 2024. (Rabih DAHER / AFP)

A building belonging to Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force in southern Lebanon’s Jabal Rezlane was struck by fighter jets earlier today, the military says.

Fighter jets hit additional buildings belonging to Hezbollah in Khiam, Odaisseh, Blida, Maroun al-Ras and Ayta ash-Shab, the IDF adds.

Ex-IDF chief says military was focused on Iran before October 7, not Hamas

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a conference of the Gazit Institute in Tel Aviv, November 4, 2022. (Gideon Markowicz/ Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a conference of the Gazit Institute in Tel Aviv, November 4, 2022. (Gideon Markowicz/ Flash90)

Former IDF chief of staff Aviv Kochavi, who completed his term in January 2023, says in rare comments since October 7 that the military was more focused on the threat from Iran than from Gaza ahead of the Hamas onslaught.

In comments recorded at an event in the US and aired on Channel 12 news, Kochavi says that “we understood perfectly what’s going on there [in Gaza], their underground facilities and the number of rockets, it did not come as a surprise.”

But Kochavi, who has made few public comments since the start of the war, says that to the IDF “Iran was the top priority, we were preparing the military vis-à-vis Iran.”

“We did not perceive the Gaza Strip and Hamas as an existential threat, the grand strategy was to focus on Iran and the northern arena, to prepare the military and to do whatever we can to pacify the other arenas, that is to say, Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and the Gaza Strip… to sustain and contain the threats from the Gaza Strip via other methods and other means,” Kochavi says.

There was, however, an attempt to eliminate Hamas chiefs Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, but “it’s hard, in a very densely populated, heavily built-up areas — it’s very hard, so we had been working for months in order to procure the operation but we couldn’t,” he says.

Speaking about the current state of the war against Hamas in Gaza, Kochavi says, “I don’t think there is a way to bring back the hostages without halting for the time being the war.” Overall, he adds, “I don’t think we can achieve complete victory in months, forget it, it will take years.”

3 Palestinian Islamic Jihad members killed in Israeli strike on Lebanon

Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Kfarkila near the border on May 8, 2024. (Rabih DAHER / AFP)
Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Kfarkila near the border on May 8, 2024. (Rabih DAHER / AFP)

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad announces the deaths of three members in an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon earlier today.

The terror group says the trio are Syrian fighters, part of the Ali al-Aswad Brigade, named after an Islamic Jihad engineer allegedly assassinated by Israel in Syria last year.

The IDF said earlier it targeted several sites belonging to Hezbollah following attacks on northern Israel.

Since October 8, Hezbollah has named 290 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria.

In Lebanon, another 59 operatives from other terror groups — including Islamic Jihad — a Lebanese soldier and at least 60 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

US Treasury issues guidelines to help banks identify transfers tied to terror groups

File: The Treasury Department is seen in Washington, Jan. 18, 2023. (AP/Jon Elswick)
File: The Treasury Department is seen in Washington, Jan. 18, 2023. (AP/Jon Elswick)

The US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issues an advisory meant to help banks and financial institutions identify potentially illicit transactions related to Iran-backed terrorist groups, Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and groups in Iraq and Syria.

The advisory comes “in light of intensified terrorist activity in the Middle East,” according to the Treasury.

“As we witness continuing instability and violence in the Middle East, we are issuing this Advisory to help financial institutions protect the financial system from abuse by terrorists and to encourage financial institutions to stay vigilant in identifying and reporting related suspicious activity,” says FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki.

The advisory lists the ways that terror groups use to raise funds, and how to identify them. For instance, Hamas has a history of using fake charities to raise funds, where donations are often placed in bank accounts in third countries such as Lebanon, Qatar and Turkey. Hezbollah uses a network of front companies and legitimate businesses as well as cryptocurrencies to raise, launder and transfer funds.

The US Treasury says Hezbollah financiers use free trade zones and countries with weak regulatory frameworks to establish import-export companies to build out money laundering schemes, using companies often held in the name of a relative of the financier.

IDF says Hamas’s Gaza City naval chief killed in airstrike

Smoke billows from Israeli strikes on eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024. (AFP)
Smoke billows from Israeli strikes on eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024. (AFP)

The commander of Hamas’s naval forces in Gaza City was killed in a recent airstrike in the Gaza Strip, the IDF and Shin Bet security agency announce.

Ahmed Ali, according to the military, was involved in advancing attacks against Israel and troops in the Gaza Strip amid the war.

In recent weeks, Ali was involved in attacks on IDF troops operating in central Gaza’s Netzarim Corridor, the military says.

The IDF also says that in recent years Ali had been managing various projects for Hamas’s naval forces.

Aid for Gaza being loaded onto ship in Cyprus after US pier completed

A truck carrying aid for Gaza heads for the container ship Sagamore on dock at Larnaca port, Cyprus, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A truck carrying aid for Gaza heads for the container ship Sagamore on dock at Larnaca port, Cyprus, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Aid for Gaza is being loaded onto a ship in Cyprus in what is expected to be the first cargo to be delivered using a US pier built to expedite supplies to the besieged enclave.

Containers are being stacked on the US-flagged Sagamore, docked at the port of Larnaca. Some containers going to the ship are labeled as aid from the United Arab Emirates.

“We are completing the loading of aid onto a US vessel now in Larnaca, and once the platform is in place, this part of the process [shipment] can commence,” says Konstantinos Letymbiotis, a Cyprus government spokesperson.

It is unclear when the vessel would depart. The Pentagon said yesterday that it had completed construction of the pier and was hoping to move it off the coast of Gaza later this week.

IDF says around 30 gunmen killed in ongoing Rafah operation so far

Israeli troops enter eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, late May 6, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops enter eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, late May 6, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli military releases footage from the launch of its operation in eastern Rafah late Monday, as well as clips from the fighting in the area in recent days.

The IDF says some 100 targets were struck in the area as the 162nd Division pushed in, capturing the Gazan side of the Rafah Crossing.

Troops are currently carrying out raids in the area, searching suspicious sites and buildings from which Hamas operatives opened fire at troops, the military says.

Hamas has also launched several rockets from Rafah at southern Israel in recent days.

According to the IDF, troops have killed some 30 gunmen amid the ongoing operation. Air Force drones have also hit dozens of targets amid the fighting.

Lebanese official says Israeli airstrikes have caused $1.5 billion in damage

This picture taken from Kibbutz Malkia along the border with southern Lebanon, shows smoke billowing above the Lebanese village of Mays al-Jabal  during Israeli strikes on May 5, 2024. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
This picture taken from Kibbutz Malkia along the border with southern Lebanon, shows smoke billowing above the Lebanese village of Mays al-Jabal during Israeli strikes on May 5, 2024. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

Israeli shelling of south Lebanon in seven months of cross-border hostilities with Hezbollah has caused more than $1.5 billion in damage, a Lebanese official says.

Lebanon’s Southern Council, an official body tasked with assessing the destruction, estimates that since October 8, 2023, when Hezbollah began attacking Israel following the Hamas assault launched from Gaza a day earlier, the cost of “damage to buildings and institutions stands at more than one billion dollars.”

Infrastructure, including water, electricity, roads and health services, has also suffered damage estimated at around an additional $500 million, according to the figures provided by council chief Hashem Haidar.

The Southern Council estimates that some 1,700 buildings have been completely destroyed, while around 14,000 have been damaged. Emergency personnel have reported huge damage and villages emptied of residents.

Jewish groups protest visit of Iran’s Ahmadinejad to university in Hungary

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pictured at his office in Tehran, in April 2017. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pictured at his office in Tehran, in April 2017. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Hungarian Jewish organizations and the Israeli embassy condemn a public university for inviting Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to an event this week.

The Budapest-based Ludovika University of Public Service invited the politician — who has said Israel is doomed to be “wiped off the map” and that the Holocaust was a “myth” — to an academic meeting.

Two Hungarian Jewish congregations, together with a Jewish advocacy group, are the latest to protest the visit of “openly antisemitic” Ahmadinejad in a joint statement today. They urge the university “to consider whether it wishes to give Ahmadinejad the opportunity to spread his dangerous and poisonous ideas within the walls of the institution.”

Ludovika University does not respond to AFP’s request for comment. Hungary’s Foreign Ministry says the government “does not interfere in university programs.”

White House says talks on possible truce, hostage deal are ongoing

Talks aimed at reaching a Gaza truce-for-hostages deal are ongoing, and Israel and Hamas are close enough to an agreement that they should be able to close the gaps, the White House says.

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tells reporters aboard Air Force One, as President Joe Biden flies to Wisconsin, that Biden has confidence in his team helping the negotiations.

CIA chief William Burns is currently in Israel, and met earlier today with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in talks aimed at advancing the negotiations.

US defense chief: No ‘final determination’ made on paused shipment to Israel

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testifies during a House Committee on Armed Services hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on February 29, 2024.(Brendan Smialowski/AFP)
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testifies during a House Committee on Armed Services hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on February 29, 2024.(Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

President Joe Biden’s decision to hold up delivery of high payload munitions to Israel was taken in the context of Israel’s plans to carry out an offensive in Rafah that Washington opposes without new civilian safeguards, says US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“We’ve been very clear… from the very beginning that Israel shouldn’t launch a major attack into Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians that are in that battlespace. And again, as we have assessed the situation, we have paused one shipment of high payload munitions,” he tells a Senate hearing.

“We’ve not made a final determination on how to proceed with that shipment.”

IDF: 8 rockets fired from Rafah toward southern Israel; no injuries reported

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 8, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 8, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A barrage of eight rockets was launched from the Rafah area in southern Gaza at southern Israel around an hour ago, the IDF says.

Sirens sounded in the community of Shlomit, some 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the Gaza border.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, saying it targeted a military position near Kerem Shalom.

There are no reports of injuries or damage.

100 EU staffers stage pro-Palestinian protest in Brussels

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, center, chairs a meeting of the College of Commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, June 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, center, chairs a meeting of the College of Commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, June 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

More than 100 staff members of European Union institutions gather in Brussels to protest Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Protesters lay three rolled-up white sheets with red stains on them on the square outside the European Commission’s head office in the Belgian capital.

On the three “bodies,” the words International Law, EU Treaties and Genocide Convention are written, in a protest of the way Israel has waged its war against the terror group following its October 7 attack.

“We’re coming together in a peaceful assembly, to stand up for those rights, principles and values that the European institutions are build on,” EU Commission staff member Manus Carlisle tells Reuters. “The reasons why we work here and love to work here. Those values of human rights, human dignity and freedom especially.”

‘Could be a hot summer’: Gallant vows displaced northern residents will be able to go home safely, hints at possible escalation

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to troops in northern Israel, May 8, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to troops in northern Israel, May 8, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Speaking to troops in northern Israel, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vows to return the tens of thousands of Israelis displaced by Hezbollah’s attacks back to their homes, saying “it could be a hot summer,” hinting at the possibility of an escalation on the northern border.

“We have pushed Hezbollah away from the lines of contact to significant distances, but this does not mean that it has disappeared,” he says to artillery reservists in the 91st Division.

“To return the residents safely, an agreement process or an operational process is needed. I am determined to return the residents to their homes safely and to rebuild the things that were destroyed,” Gallant says.

“We have very significant, very heavy firepower, and we will make sure to activate it if there is a need and a reason,” he says, referring to the possibility that Israel will go to war to force Hezbollah away from the border.

“You have proven yourselves until today, I think in an impressive way,” he tells the soldiers. “Now you have to prepare for the upcoming [missions], and this summer could be a hot summer.”

WHO claims south Gaza hospitals have three days left of fuel

People walk near the ravaged building of al-Salam hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis on April 7, 2024. (AFP)
People walk near the ravaged building of al-Salam hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis on April 7, 2024. (AFP)

Hospitals in the southern Gaza Strip have only three days of fuel left, the head of the World Health Organization says, due to the closure of border crossings.

“The closure of the border crossing continues to prevent the UN from bringing fuel. Without fuel all humanitarian operations will stop. Border closures are also impeding delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Hospitals in the south of Gaza only have three days of fuel left, which means services may soon come to a halt,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus writes on X.

Hezbollah says it launched missiles, mortars at military post in northern Israel

Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Kfarkila near the border on May 8, 2024. (Rabih DAHER / AFP)
Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Kfarkila near the border on May 8, 2024. (Rabih DAHER / AFP)

Anti-tank guided missiles and mortars were launched from Lebanon at the Malkia area a short while ago.

Hezbollah claims responsibility for the attack, saying it targeted a military position in the area.

The IDF has not yet released information on possible casualties in the incident.

Haifa factory gets $5 million fine for harmful emissions

The northern port city of Haifa, seen from the Bahai Gardens on Mount Carmel, September 14, 2017. (Yossi Zamir/FLASH90)
The northern port city of Haifa, seen from the Bahai Gardens on Mount Carmel, September 14, 2017. (Yossi Zamir/FLASH90)

The Environmental Protection Ministry slaps an NIS 18.7 million (just over $5 million) fine on the Carmel Olefins factory in Haifa, northern Israel, for breaching its emissions permit.

The ministry accused the plant, part of the Bazan oil refinery complex, of dragging its feet for 18 months over installing a system to reduce emissions from its steam tanks. The ministry notes this is one of the highest fines it has ever imposed on a company or factory.

Carmel Olefins manufactures polypropylene and polyethylene for the plastics industry. In 2017, the company was fined NIS 2.17 million (then worth around $600,000) for violating the Clean Air Act. In 2022, the ministry filed a criminal indictment against it for emitting nearly 100 tons of potentially harmful gases into the air and violating both its emissions permit and its business license. Bazan denied the latter allegations.

In March 2022, the cabinet voted to shut down Bazan within a decade to allow for the rehabilitation of the polluted Haifa Bay and its transformation into a clean, green, residential and business hub.

Police arrest 33 people while clearing pro-Palestinian tent encampment at DC university

In this screenshot taken from video, anti-Israel protesters stand outside near the campus of George Washington University, in Washington, May 8, 2024. (WJLA via AP)
In this screenshot taken from video, anti-Israel protesters stand outside near the campus of George Washington University, in Washington, May 8, 2024. (WJLA via AP)

Police clear a pro-Palestinian tent encampment at George Washington University and arrest 33 demonstrators, hours after dozens marched to the home of the school’s president.

District of Columbia police say officers moved to disperse demonstrators because “there has been a gradual escalation in the volatility of the protest.” It says 33 arrests were made, including for assault on a police officer and unlawful entry. Some protesters were pepper-sprayed as police blocked them from the camp.

George Washington University had warned of possible suspensions for continuing the camp on University Yard. Protesters carrying signs that read, “Free Palestine” and “Hands off Rafah” also marched to school president Ellen Granberg’s home last night.

“While the university is committed to protecting students’ rights to free expression, the encampment had evolved into an unlawful activity, with participants in direct violation of multiple university policies and city regulations,” a school statement says.

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith were called to testify this afternoon at the Republican-led House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, but the hearing was canceled after the arrests.

IDF says it’s treating Palestinians wounded by gunfire at Kerem Shalom Crossing

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published May 8, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published May 8, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The military says it received reports of gunfire directed at a vehicle with Palestinian workers in it on the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom Crossing earlier today.

Several wounded Palestinians were treated by IDF medics in the area, the military says.

“The circumstances of the shooting are being investigated,” the IDF says.

This morning, Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom Crossing for aid trucks, after it was closed for several days following a deadly Hamas rocket attack on troops in the area.

Netanyahu wraps up meeting with visiting CIA chief Burns

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a US Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 11, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)
CIA Director William Burns testifies during a US Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 11, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

The meeting between CIA chief William Burns and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ended, an Israeli source tells The Times of Israel.

The meeting took place at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Palestinian arrested in connection with West Bank explosion last month

An explosive-laden Palestinian flag on the side of a highway in the West Bank seen April 21, 2024. (Screenshot/X used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)
An explosive-laden Palestinian flag on the side of a highway in the West Bank seen April 21, 2024. (Screenshot/X used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

A Palestinian accused of setting up an explosive-laden Palestinian flag on the side of a highway in the West Bank last month, which wounded an Israeli man, has been detained, the Shin Bet security agency says.

Muhammad Attullah Abu Alia, 22, a resident of Mughayir, was detained on May 4 over his alleged involvement in the April 21 attack, the Shin Bet says.

In his initial interrogation, the Shin Bet says Abu Alia “implicated himself” in building the bomb and carrying out the attack.

The agency says during his arrest by the IDF, troops also seized materials that Abu Alia allegedly used to build the bomb.

The Israeli man lightly wounded in the incident was an off-duty IDF reservist.

Ex-Netanyahu aide gets 6 months’ community service, $190,000 fine for fraud conviction

State witness Ari Harow testifies in the trial against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a court hearing at the Jerusalem District Court, May 24, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
State witness Ari Harow testifies in the trial against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a court hearing at the Jerusalem District Court, May 24, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Ari Harow, a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is sentenced to six months’ community service and a NIS 700,000 ($188,000) fine by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court for his conviction in January on a charge of fraud and breach of trust.

Harow was convicted in a plea bargain in which he agreed to serve as a state witness in cases 1000 and 2000 in Netanyahu’s criminal trial on corruption charges.

Harow was convicted for having engaged in a “fictitious sale” of a political consultancy company he had owned, which he had been required to sell as part of his conflict of interest agreement when he became Netanyahu’s chief of staff in 2014.

The fictitious sale preserved Harow’s connections to the company, which he took full ownership of a year after “selling” it. During that year, Harow acted to benefit the company while serving as the prime minister’s chief of staff.

IDF says over 20 Hezbollah targets bombed today

Israeli fighter jets and artillery struck more than 20 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon’s Ramyeh earlier today, the military says.

The targets included buildings used by Hezbollah and additional infrastructure, according to the IDF.

The IDF says it identified secondary blasts after the strikes, indicating the sites were used to store munitions.

Additional Hezbollah sites were struck in Marwahin and Kafr Kila, the military adds.

Unlike Tel Aviv counterpart, Jerusalem Pride Parade to take place this year

An Israeli Border Police guard stands guard as people draped in rainbow flags march during the 21st annual Jerusalem Pride Parade in Jerusalem on June 1, 2023. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
An Israeli Border Police guard stands guard as people draped in rainbow flags march during the 21st annual Jerusalem Pride Parade in Jerusalem on June 1, 2023. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Organizers of Jerusalem’s Pride and Tolerance March announce that the event will be held on May 30 along the traditional march route, as part of the struggle for the return of the hostages.

The Jerusalem Open House, which organizes the march, states that the city’s annual march is normally a protest event and a display of tolerance, hope, communal strength and optimism for a better future, and is different in character and feel from Tel Aviv’s more festive event, which will not take place this year and will be replaced by a rally for the Gaza hostages.

This year’s Jerusalem parade will be a demonstration of the entire LGBTQ community in Israel, who will come to the capital city demanding equal rights, according to the Jerusalem Open House.

Border Police officer injured during West Bank raid succumbs to his wounds

A Border Police officer critically injured during a battle with Palestinian gunmen amid a raid in the West Bank over the weekend has succumbed to his wounds.

Chief Inspector Yitav Lev Halevi (Israel Police)

He is named by police as Chief Inspector Yitav Lev Halevi, 28, a commander in the elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit.

He was wounded during an operation in the West Bank town of Dayr al-Ghusun, near Tulkarem, on May 4.

Halevi is the son of former Jerusalem District chief Deputy Commissioner (ret.) Yoram Halevi.

Five Palestinian gunmen, members of a Hamas cell responsible for the murder of an Israeli and the injury of others in recent terror attacks in the West Bank, were killed amid the raid.

No breakthrough in hostage talks, but Israeli delegation remains in Cairo — official

Israel sees no sign of a breakthrough in Egyptian-mediated talks on a truce with Hamas that would see Gaza hostages go free, an Israeli official says.

However, Jerusalem’s delegation of mid-level negotiators will stay in Cairo for now, the official adds.

UAE ‘strongly condemns’ Israel’s takeover of Rafah Crossing

The United Arab Emirates says it “strongly condemns” Israel’s takeover of the Gazan side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and warns of the consequences of military escalation.

Histadrut head urges early elections, hints at potential future general strike to force them

File: Histadrut chief Arnon Bar-David declares a general strike in protest of the judicial overhaul, at a press conference in Tel Aviv on March 27, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
File: Histadrut chief Arnon Bar-David declares a general strike in protest of the judicial overhaul, at a press conference in Tel Aviv on March 27, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The head of the powerful Histadrut labor federation urges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to set a date for early elections, indicating that if the premier refuses, the organization could take steps aimed at forcing his hand.

Speaking at a conference hosted by the Yedioth Ahronoth news outlet, Arnon Bar-David declares that Netanyahu and his government “cannot avoid responsibility” for the failures of October 7, when invading Hamas terrorists murdered 1,200 people and kidnapped 252, of whom 128 are still held in Gaza.

Last year, when protests against the same government’s divisive judicial overhaul plan reached a tipping point following Netanyahu’s firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the Histadrut declared a general strike, helping force the prime minister to walk back that decision and to pause the overhaul.

“The responsibility lies with the decision-makers, and I don’t see that they are trying to fix the situation,” Bar-David says today, likely referring to the government’s ongoing failure to return the remaining hostages for over seven months, which has drawn fresh fiery protests.

Declaring that he has no trust in the government, whose members have avoided taking responsibility for the October 7 failures, Bar-David says: “I am calling for agreed-upon elections that will stop the chaos in the State of Israel.”

Asked about Netanyahu’s Likud party contending that the government will serve out its full four years, Bar-David says: “Eventually we’ll likely need to lead him” to call elections.

However, he says the timing for this needs to be right, arguing that declaring a general strike now would not help: “The moment we arrive at a situation in which it is entirely up to the Israeli government and it won’t seek a hostage deal, then I think we will be able to apply more pressure and there will be more chaos, both by citizens and by workers.”

Visiting CIA chief meets Netanyahu, Mossad chief and others

The meeting between CIA chief William Burns and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ongoing, an Israeli source tells The Times of Israel.

Netanyahu is joined by Mossad head David Barnea, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and other top Israeli officials.

Tel Aviv Pride Parade won’t be held this year, will be replaced with assembly for hostages

People participate in the 25th annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade on June 8, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
People participate in the 25th annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade on June 8, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The famous Tel Aviv Pride Parade won’t be held this year in its usual festive version, and the city will instead hold an assembly focused on “pride, hope and liberty” in honor of the 132 hostages — 128 of them abducted on October 7 and four who have been held for nearly a decade — still in terrorist captivity in Gaza, Mayor Ron Huldai announces.

“This is not the time for celebrations,” Huldai writes in a statement on X, adding that the country is going through “one of its most difficult periods ever.”

Huldai adds that some of the budget intended for the march — which was planned for June 8 — has been redirected to support the Tel Aviv Municipal LGBT Community Center.

“See you at the Pride Parade in June 2025,” he concludes.

War in Gaza has cooled Israel’s once red-hot business ties with UAE, officials say

The war in Gaza has cooled Israeli business activity with the United Arab Emirates, with the once-celebrated relationship now conducted away from public scrutiny amid anger in the Arab world over the conflict.

The UAE became the most prominent Arab state in 30 years to establish formal ties with Israel under a US-brokered agreement in 2020, dubbed the Abraham Accords. It has maintained the relationship throughout Israel’s more than seven-month war in Gaza.

In the wake of the accords, Israeli entrepreneurs began flocking to the Gulf state on direct flights from Tel Aviv, establishing new business ties and expanding existing relationships that were once kept a secret. Deals announced before the war included investments in cybersecurity, fintech, energy and agri-tech.

Ten Israeli officials, executives and entrepreneurs have told Reuters that business ties with the influential Gulf state remain intact but, in a sign of how the conflict has dented enthusiasm, they have declined to discuss any recent deals.

“It’s still happening. It’s happening less; it’s less in your face,” says Raphael Nagel, a German Jewish entrepreneur living in the UAE who heads a private business group that promotes business ties between Israel and the Gulf Arab state.

Six bankers and lawyers in the UAE also say business ties between Israeli and Emirati companies have endured the war but that few new deals are happening.

The UAE government is wary about promoting relations with Israel, they say. In Israel, meanwhile, many businesses have had staff called up for military service, impacting operations.

A UAE official does not directly respond to Reuters’ questions about how the economic relationship with Israel has been affected by the war. The official says, however, that the UAE’s diplomatic and political dialogue with Israel has facilitated humanitarian efforts to assist the people of Gaza.

The UAE is the only Arab state still hosting an Israeli ambassador. Jerusalem recalled its diplomats from other Arab states it has ties with for security reasons following the October 7 onslaught by Hamas that prompted the war.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry does not respond to a request for comment.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

IDF says small reconnaissance drone has crashed in Kfar Saba

A small Israeli military drone crashed in the central city of Kfar Saba earlier today, the IDF says.

The drone, a Skylark model, was on a reconnaissance mission — likely over the West Bank — when it fell out of the sky for as-yet-unknown reasons.

According to the IDF, there is no fear of information leaking from the aircraft, and it will collect the device from the police.

The “sky rider,” as it’s known in Hebrew, is a tactical surveillance drone created by Elbit Systems and operated by the IDF’s Artillery Corps.

The miniature UAV can be launched by one or two people, depending on the model, and once airborne provides a live video feed to soldiers on the ground.

Many such comparatively inexpensive UAVs have crashed, often in hostile territory, over the years.

Rejecting petitions, High Court says Chief Rabbi Yosef can receive Israel Prize

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef attends a prayer for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, at Rachel's Tomb, near the Palestinian West Bank city of Bethlehem, October 25, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef attends a prayer for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza, at Rachel's Tomb, near the Palestinian West Bank city of Bethlehem, October 25, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The High Court of Justice rejects petitions requesting that it order Education Minister Yoav Kisch not to award the Israel Prize to Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef in the field of Torah literature, petitions that cited controversial comments he has made regarding ultra-Orthodox enlistment to the IDF.

Yosef threatened in March that if ultra-Orthodox men were to be legally required to enlist in the army, the Haredi community would leave Israel, generating outrage from civil society groups and politicians, including from the coalition.

The Israel Democracy Guard organization filed a petition to the High Court arguing that Yosef’s comments, made during wartime, “disparaged and discriminated against the sector of the public that bears the burden of the state’s security,” and contending that Yosef’s warning was “a blatant violation of the obligation of loyalty to the state to which he is committed by virtue of his position.”

Writing for the majority, High Court Justice Isaac Amit says that the accumulated corpus of jurisprudence regarding the Israel Prize demonstrates there is no legal reason to intervene in the decision of the education minister to adopt the recommendation of the Israel Prize judges panel.

Amit writes that “Yosef’s outrageous and inappropriate statements throughout the years of his term in office should be viewed with great severity, precisely due to his being a public servant and a spiritual-halachic authority for a large public.”

But he concludes that Yosef’s comments are not connected to the professional field for which he was awarded the prize, and adds that due to “the near-immunity of the prize committee’s recommendation from intervention,” there is no room for the court to overturn the decision.

Justices Ruth Ronnen and Khaled Kabub both concur, with Kabub adding that in light of this ruling and numerous others, the time has come “to say in a clear voice: There is no room for petitions attacking the decision of the education minister to award the Israel Prize to any candidate, however ugly and disparaging his comments might be.”

Suspect said questioned in murder of Israeli in Egypt; victim’s wife says motive based on his nationality

The Egyptian investigation team looking into the murder of an Israeli-Canadian Jewish businessman yesterday in Alexandria has identified the perpetrator, according to the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. He is being interrogated, sources tell the Egyptian outlet.

A number of suspects were interrogated, according to the report.

The Egyptian team includes members of the Public Security, Criminal Investigation, and National Security agencies.

“More information and results about the investigations will be forthcoming in the coming hours,” says an Egyptian source, adding that the investigative team was looking at people who had dealings with the victim in Beheira and Alexandria, where the victim’s company has administrative headquarters in the Smouha district.

Reports in Arabic-language media have identified the victim as Ziv Kipper, the CEO of OK Group LLC, an Egyptian company that specializes in exporting frozen fruits and vegetables.

Kipper’s wife Oksana has told the Kan public broadcaster that she is convinced her husband was killed because of his identity as a Jewish Israeli, adding that he wasn’t being robbed during the incident.

Asked if she’s afraid, she says: “On one hand I’m neither Israeli nor Jewish, but on the other hand I’m the wife of an Israeli, so maybe due to this people will want to harm me. In any case, I have no intention of staying in Egypt.”

Amid Memorial Day preparations, IDF chief acknowledges many new bereaved families this year

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy, center, alongside Shin Bet head Ronen Bar and Mossad chief David Barnea, at a wreath-laying ceremony of laying at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, ahead of Memorial Day, May 8, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash 90)
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy, center, alongside Shin Bet head Ronen Bar and Mossad chief David Barnea, at a wreath-laying ceremony of laying at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, ahead of Memorial Day, May 8, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash 90)

Military officials across the country are placing memorial candles, flowers, and miniature flags at half-staff by the graves of soldiers, police officers and other security personnel who have died throughout the history of the State of Israel and the Zionist movement, as the state prepares to mark Memorial Day next week.

Speaking at a flag-placing ceremony at the memorial hall for fallen soldiers at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says the military will “continue to fight together for the defense of our country and to ensure our existence here.”

“Seven months have passed since we all faced a heinous and unprecedented attack… we have a lot of responsibility for the security of the country, we have a lot of responsibility in this event and its painful results,” he says.

“The coming days are days of national remembrance, in which the members of the bereaved families will go to the cemeteries, to be united with their loved ones at their final resting place. There are those who have been doing this for many years, and there are many for whom this is the first Memorial Day, and this hurts a lot,” Halevi says.

“These days we stand by their side, salute their loved ones for their acts of heroism,” he adds.

Russia demands that Israel comply with international law in Rafah

The Russian foreign ministry insists that Israel strictly observe international humanitarian law after its tanks entered the border city of Rafah.

At a briefing, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says Russia — which itself has been universally accused of systematically ignoring international law since its invasion of Ukraine two years ago — sees the Rafah incursion as “an additional destabilizing factor” in an area with more than a million civilians, and therefore “we demand strict observance of the provisions of international humanitarian law,” the RIA Novosti state news agency reports.

IDF says it killed several gunmen, located terror tunnels during Rafah op

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published May 8, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published May 8, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The military says troops have killed several gunmen and located tunnel shafts during operations in eastern Rafah over the past day.

The tunnels discovered in the area are being prepared to be demolished by combat engineers, the IDF says.

In one incident in eastern Rafah, the IDF says troops of the Givati Brigade spotted an RPG-wielding operative and killed him.

In the area of the Rafah Crossing with Egypt, the military says the 401st Armored Brigade is carrying out raids on the Gazan side, following “indications and intelligence information that terrorists are taking advantage of the crossing area for terror purposes.”

The Air Force, meanwhile, struck more than 100 targets across the Strip over the past day, including buildings used by terror groups, observation posts and rocket launchers, the IDF adds.

Lebanese media reports wave of Israeli strikes in country’s south

Lebanese media reports a large wave of Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon.

The strikes are reported in the Ayta ash-Shab, Ramyeh, Marwahin and Jabal Blat areas.

There is no immediate comment from the IDF.

Sirens that sounded a short while ago in northern Israel were caused by the Israeli strikes.

Two Houthi drones shot down off Yemen — US military

International forces have shot down two drones after a series of launches by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the US military says.

A third drone has crashed into the Gulf of Aden and the Iran-backed Houthis have also fired an anti-ship ballistic missile at the busy trade route, US Central Command (CENTCOM) says.

The Houthis, who control much of Yemen, have launched dozens of drone and missile strikes into the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since November, describing their attacks as an act of retaliation for the Israel-Hamas war.

In the latest attacks late on Monday and early on Tuesday, a coalition ship intercepted one drone and US forces “successfully engaged” another, CENTCOM says.

“It was determined that these weapons presented an imminent threat to both coalition forces and merchant vessels in the region,” it says in a statement.

There is no immediate comment from the Houthis.

The rebel attacks have prompted reprisal strikes by US and British forces and the formation of an international coalition to protect the vital shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

IDF bars farming work near Gaza border following fresh assessment

Foreign workers work in agriculture near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, southern Israel, during the ongoing war in Gaza, December 25, 2023. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
File: Foreign workers work in agriculture near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, southern Israel, during the ongoing war in Gaza, December 25, 2023. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Following a new assessment, the IDF says farmers will not be allowed to do agricultural work near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Activities in fields outside of communities within four kilometers of the border will require special approval by the regional brigade, the military says.

It adds that there are otherwise no changes to instructions for civilians at this time, and roads that are open remain open.

Texas mega-church leader vows to fight antisemitism, head Holocaust commemoration delegations

Pastor Larry Huch, seventh from right, Edna Weinstock-Gabay, CEO of  Keren Hayesod, and the Keren Hayesod World Chair Sam Grundwerg hold up an Israeli flag in Auschwitz with other Christian and Jewish allies at Auschwitz in Poland on May 7, 2024. (Courtesy)
Pastor Larry Huch, seventh from right, Edna Weinstock-Gabay, CEO of Keren Hayesod, and the Keren Hayesod World Chair Sam Grundwerg hold up an Israeli flag in Auschwitz with other Christian and Jewish allies at Auschwitz in Poland on May 7, 2024. (Courtesy)

At the end of Holocaust commemoration events in Hungary and Poland, Pastor Larry Huch of the New Beginnings mega-church in Texas vows to fight antisemitic attacks on Jews in Israel and abroad.

“To those who wish to harm our Jewish brothers and sisters, we say: You’ve got to come through us first,” Pastor Huch tells The Times of Israel from Poland.

Huch is in Europe to attend events connected to the March of the Living commemoration ceremonies in Poland and Hungary, where the 80th anniversary of the Holocaust in that country is being commemorated.

Huch is heading the first Holocaust commemoration delegation by New Beginnings. The delegation comprises 25 community leaders affiliated with New Beginnings, which has thousands of followers, and which has raised roughly $2.5 million for Israel in the wake of the October 7 onslaught.

Amid surging antisemitism in the wake of October 7, the New Beginnings delegation sends “a very important message to Jews everywhere about how they are not isolated, even if it sometimes feel that way,” says Sam Grundwerg, the world chairman of the Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal.

Most of the money raised by New Beginnings is funding rehabilitation programs in Israel headed by Keren Hayesod.

IDF spokesman appears to play down US arms shipment holdup

The Israeli military appears to play down an arms shipment holdup by a US administration concerned by the prospect of a looming major IDF operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, saying the allies resolve any disagreements “behind closed doors.”

When asked about the issue at a conference hosted by the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper as the Gaza war enters its eighth month, chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari describes coordination between Israel and the United States as reaching “a scope without precedent, I think, in history.”

The Times of Israel contributed.

Reuven Kahane, cousin of extremist rabbi, said arrested in NYC for ramming anti-Israel protesters

New York City police have arrested Reuven Kahane, 57, cousin of the infamous extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, several US and Israeli media reports say, after he allegedly rammed anti-Israel protesters in Manhattan.

An argument reportedly broke out yesterday between Kahane and a group of dozens of protesters who were demonstrating next to the Upper East Side home of a Columbia University board of trustees member. As the protesters were leaving, Kahane allegedly drove toward the group, hitting one person.

The Daily Beast reports that police have said they have arrested Kahane and two of the protesters — Maryellen Novak, 55, who was hit by the vehicle, and John Rozendaal, 55.

Kahane has been charged with second-degree assault, reports say citing an NYPD spokesperson.

Netanyahu and other top officials to meet CIA chief this afternoon — source

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and other top Israeli officials will meet with CIA chief William Burns at 1:30 p.m. today amid intensive efforts to hammer out a hostage deal with Hamas, an Israeli source tells The Times of Israel.

Burns has been shuttling between the capitals of the mediators in the talks in recent days, with stops in Cairo and Doha.

Freed hostage Elma Avraham leaving hospital after 5-month recovery

Elma Avraham with Soroka Medical Center staff and her family ahead of her release from the hospital on May 8, 2024. (Soroka Medical Center)
Elma Avraham with Soroka Medical Center staff and her family ahead of her release from the hospital on May 8, 2024. (Soroka Medical Center)

Elma Avraham, an 85-year-old woman who was in critical condition when she was freed after 51 days as a hostage in Hamas captivity, is finally leaving the hospital where she has been recovering from her ordeal for five months.

Footage from Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba shows Avraham alongside hospital staff ahead of her release.

“I had the strength to return to you, to see all of you, and mainly my children and family,” she tells reporters, adding that the remaining 132 hostages “must be freed now.”

Qatar calls for ‘urgent international action’ to prevent Rafah ‘genocide’

Qatar calls on the international community to prevent a “genocide” in Rafah following Israel’s seizure of the Gazan city’s crossing with Egypt and threats of a wider operation.

In a statement, the Gulf state, which has been mediating between Israel and Hamas, appeals “for urgent international action to prevent the city from being invaded and a crime of genocide being committed.”

Days after Hamas attack forced closure, Israel reopens Kerem Shalom Crossing to aid

A truck carrying humanitarian aid arrives for processing at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza on April 15, 2024. (AFP)
File: A truck carrying humanitarian aid arrives for processing at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza on April 15, 2024. (AFP)

Israel has reopened the Kerem Shalom Crossing with the Gaza Strip for humanitarian aid after it was shuttered on Sunday following a deadly rocket attack.

Four soldiers were killed in the rocket strike from Gaza at a staging ground near the crossing. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories says the crossing was reopened this morning to trucks to enter Gaza, per the “directives of the political echelon.”

COGAT says the aid continues to undergo Israeli inspection before entering Gaza.

The White House said yesterday that Israel had assured the US it would reopen the crossing today following the closure.

Smotrich accuses Netanyahu of blocking funds for lowering cost of living, amid escalating feud

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attend a Knesset vote on the state budget, February 7, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attend a Knesset vote on the state budget, February 7, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich accuses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of hindering an initiative to lower the soaring cost of living by making use of some of the money Israel has withheld from the Palestinian Authority over its stipends to terrorists.

“Unfortunately, you are preventing the advancement of the law for unclear reasons,” Smotrich charges. “It can’t be that the concern for the Palestinian Authority is greater than for the citizens of Israel.”

The attack comes a day after a report — denied by the finance minister — said Smotrich has been refusing to meet with Netanyahu to discuss the cost of living, using the issue as leverage to demand a Rafah offensive first.

Smotrich has repeatedly criticized Israel’s war tactics in Gaza, demanding more decisive military action and fewer concessions in hostage deal talks. He has gone as far as threatening to bolt the government if what he terms a “surrender” deal is approved.

According to Shalom Yerushalmi, an analyst for The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site, Zman Yisrael, Netanyahu is likely trying to pin the blame for the rising cost of living on Smotrich.

Smotrich, says Yerushalmi, is seen by Netanyahu as only caring about West Bank settlements, having allegedly struck a deal handing the management of the country’s economy to Bank of Israel officials and to the ministry’s Budget Department.

“Israel’s economy is too much for him,” a senior official in Netanyahu’s office says. “Smotrich entered the Finance Ministry for the first time in his life. It took him time to understand what was happening, so he decided to make a deal… he told them, ‘You take care of this, just give me the settlements.'”

Anti-Israel protesters occupy Amsterdam university overnight, local media reports

Anti-Israel protesters have spent the night occupying one of the locations of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), local media reports, a day after student protesters and police clashed in the Dutch capital.

Police say in a statement that the UvA did not ask them to stop the protest, contrary to Monday evening when riot police broke up an encampment at UvA.

UvA said in a statement just after midnight that it would like to come to a solution with the students who have been protesting since Monday, adding that the protest has “caused considerable damage” to its buildings.

The university will keep several locations closed today due to the blockades.

At the University of Utrecht, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Amsterdam, local police have ended a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the library, the university says in a statement.

Israeli woman who fell to her death in Brazil identified as Alma Bohadana

The Israeli woman who fell to her death in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro is named by Hebrew media as Alma Bohadana, in her early 20s, from Kibbutz Yasur in the Western Galilee.

Citing Brazilian reports, Hebrew media says the woman was walking with her partner through Rio de Janeiro and saw a motorcyclist who they feared was trying to rob them. While apparently trying to flee, the woman jumped over a wall, and the 15-meter fall into a forest led to her death.

Alma Bohadana, who died in Brazil on May 7, 2024, after falling from height. (Courtesy; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

However, Brazilian reports cited by the Daily Mail say Bohadana was vacationing alone in the country for three months, with the man who had been with her during the incident saying he had only met her at the hostel in Rio, where Bohadana arrived 10 days ago.

The man has reportedly given several different testimonies to police, saying once that a motorcycle was heading toward them and once that it had been a red vehicle.

The investigation by local police is ongoing.

Tel Aviv highway reopens to northbound traffic after being blocked for 20 minutes

Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway reopens to northbound traffic after it was blocked for some 20 minutes by activists demanding a hostage deal.

Protesters demanding hostage deal block Tel Aviv highway’s northbound traffic

Activists for the release of the hostages in Gaza have blocked the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv during the morning rush hour.

The protesters, who include relatives of hostages, blocks northbound traffic at Rokach Interchange ahead of CIA chief Bill Burns’ arrival in Israel, demanding a deal with Hamas to release the abductees.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry says shooting of Jewish businessman was ‘criminal’

After news that an Israeli-Canadian Jewish businessman was shot dead yesterday in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, Egypt’s Interior Ministry says that “a Canadian businessman permanently residing in the country was subjected to a criminal shooting incident” in the city.

Hebrew media yesterday reported that the incident was a suspected terror murder.

The ministry statement says an investigation is underway, with a team formed to determine the circumstances.

Unconfirmed reports in Arabic-language media have identified the man as Ziv Kipper, the CEO of OK Group LLC, an Egyptian company that specializes in exporting frozen fruits and vegetables.

IDF says it hit Hezbollah targets overnight in 6 areas of southern Lebanon

The IDF says it carried out strikes against Hezbollah positions in six different areas of southern Lebanon overnight, following repeated attacks by the terror group.

Fighter jets hit buildings used by Hezbollah in Kafr Kila, Ayta ash-Shab, Khiam and Maroun al-Ras, the military says.

Other Hezbollah infrastructure was hit in Houla and Aitaroun.

The IDF adds that troops also attacked areas near Tayr Harfa and Jebbayn to “remove threats.”

US confirms it’s holding up transfer of bombs, fearing Israel will use them in Rafah

Smoke billows following Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024. (AFP)
Smoke billows following Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024. (AFP)

The Biden administration confirms reports that it held up a shipment last week of 2,000 and 500-pound bombs that it fears Israel might use in a major ground operation in Rafah.

This is the first time since October 7 that the US has held up a weapons shipment earmarked for Israel.

Washington adamantly opposes a major offensive in the southern city of Gaza, convinced that there is no way for Israel to conduct one in a manner that would ensure the safety of the over million Palestinians sheltering there.

A senior Biden administration official tells The Times of Israel that the US held a pair of virtual meetings with top Israeli officials in recent months to express their concerns regarding a potential Rafah operation and to present alternatives for how Israel could target Hamas in the city instead of a full-scale invasion.

Those talks will continue, but the White House determined that they were insufficient in getting its concerns across, the senior official says.

“As Israeli leaders seemed to approach a decision point last month on such an operation, we began to carefully review proposed transfers of particular weapons to Israel that might be used in Rafah,” the official says.

The review resulted in the pausing last week of a shipment of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs, the official says, noting that the White House was particularly concerned that Israel would use the 2,000-pound bombs in densely populated Rafah, as it has employed in other parts of Gaza.

The official clarifies that no final determination has been made regarding the particular shipment paused last week.

The senior official also appears to confirm a report that the US delayed a transfer of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) to Israel, but clarifies this holdup occurred much earlier than the shipment of bombs delayed last week.

“For certain other cases at the State Department, including JDAM kits, we are continuing the review. None of these cases involve imminent transfers. They are about future transfers,” the official says.

The senior official emphasizes that the weapons shipments under review are drawn from previously appropriated funds from years ago, and are not part of the aid that Congress approved for Israel last month.

“We are committed to ensuring Israel gets every dollar appropriated in the supplemental,” the senior administration official stresses, noting that the US just approved another $827 million worth of weapons and equipment for Israel.

US military says Iran-backed Houthis launched 3 drones; no injuries or damage reported

The US military says that Iranian-backed Houthi militants launched three “uncrewed aerial systems” (UAS) from Yemen, but caused no injuries or damage.

A coalition ship successfully engaged one UAS, US Central Command forces successfully engaged the second UAS, and the final UAS crashed in the Gulf of Aden, Central Command says in a statement.

Israel deports 12 Malawians sent to work on farms amid war for ‘breach of contracts’

LILONGWE, Malawi — Malawi says Israel has deported 12 workers who had walked off farms and orchards, left deserted by the Gaza conflict, that they had been sent to work on.

The workers “in breach of their contracts… abandoned their lawful employment at the farms to start working at the bakery”, Malawi’s government spokesman Moses Kunkuyu says in a statement.

Since November, hundreds of Malawians have flown to Israel as part of a government labour export program aimed at finding jobs for young people and generating desperately needed foreign exchange.

Many Malawians remain without work as the country has been gripped by an economic crisis that has seen massive government spending cuts.

Israeli farms, a valuable part of the economy, have lost thousands of labors since the devastating October 7 Hamas terror attacks, which triggered the Gaza war.

Dozens of foreign workers were among the 252 people kidnapped during the Hamas-led onslaught.

Lilongwe cautions the remaining workers, many of them young men and women, that a breach of contract will “not be tolerated.”

Kunkuyu urges workers to “desist from such behavior as it puts this country into disrepute.”

After being processed, four of the 12 workers arrived back in the southern African country on Tuesday while the other eight would arrive on Wednesday, the state says.

GOP lawmakers allege Biden’s Iran envoy sent classified docs to personal email, phone

US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley in Vienna, Austria, June 20, 2021. (Florian Schroetter/AP)
US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley in Vienna, Austria, June 20, 2021. (Florian Schroetter/AP)

WASHINGTON — Two Republican lawmakers say they believe the security clearance of Rob Malley, who is on unpaid leave from his post as US special envoy for Iran, was suspended because he allegedly sent classified documents to his personal email account and downloaded them to his personal mobile phone.

Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul did not provide any source for the allegations in a May 6 letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The letter was first reported by the Washington Post and reviewed by Reuters.

“We understand that Mr. Malley’s security clearance was suspended because he allegedly transferred classified documents to his personal email account and downloaded these documents to his personal cell phone,” says the letter, which gave the most detailed potential public explanation to date for the suspension of Malley’s security clearance.

“It is believed that a hostile cyber actor was able to gain access to his email and/or phone and obtain the downloaded information,” they add, criticizing the Department for not providing more information about Malley’s case and posing 19 questions about it to Blinken.

A State Department spokesperson says Malley remains on leave, adding that “under longstanding policy going back for decades, the Department does not comment on individual security clearances.”

Malley declines to comment on the letter in an emailed response to Reuters.

Appointed soon after US President Joe Biden took office in 2021, Malley had the task of trying to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after then-president Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to abandon the pact and reimpose US sanctions on Tehran.

That effort has failed, and the United States and Iran are increasingly at odds on issues from Iran’s nuclear program to its support for proxy forces across the Middle East and its first direct attack on Israeli territory on April 13.

CIA chief due in Israel later today for talks with Netanyahu and other top officials

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a US Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 11, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)
CIA Director William Burns testifies during a US Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 11, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

US Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns will arrive in Israel today for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials, a source familiar with his travels tells Reuters.

Israeli woman falls to her death in Brazil while reportedly fleeing feared robbery attempt

A young Israeli woman has been killed in Brazil after falling from height in Rio de Janeiro, the Foreign Ministry says.

The ministry says its department for Israelis overseas, Israel’s consul general in Brasilia Neta Avrahami, and Keren Hayesod representative in Rio de Janeiro Mariano Hirsch are helping the grieving family and dealing with bringing the woman’s body to burial in Israel.

Citing Brazilian reports, Hebrew media says the woman was walking with her partner through Rio de Janeiro and saw a motorcyclist who they feared was trying to rob them. While apparently trying to flee, the woman jumped over a wall, and the fall led to her death.

NYPD says 3 arrested after driver struck protester following anti-Israel demonstration

NEW YORK — Three people have been arrested after a driver hit a pro-Palestinian protester on a Manhattan street, police say.

New York Police Detective Melissa Delacruz says the incident happened around 8:45 a.m. near the intersection of 72nd Street and Park Avenue on the Upper East Side.

About 25 protesters had been wrapping up a demonstration outside a building and were walking away when two of them got into an argument with a driver. The 57-year-old driver then struck a 55-year-old protestor with his vehicle.

The demonstrator was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. The motorist, the demonstrator and another demonstrator were taken into custody, Delacruz says. Police aren’t releasing their names as the charges are still pending, she says.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office says it cannot provide any information about the incident until the defendants are arraigned.

The demonstration was one of three protests Tuesday morning in front of the homes of university trustees, according to members of the student group Columbia University Apartheid Divest. The group organized a protest encampment against Israel on campus that sparked similar demonstrations at other colleges across the US in recent weeks.

US: Hamas claimed to accept ceasefire offer, but ‘that’s not what they did’

FILE - US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller during a news briefing at the State Department, July 18, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard, File)
FILE - US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller during a news briefing at the State Department, July 18, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard, File)

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller pushes back on Hamas’s claim yesterday that it had accepted the ceasefire proposal that was on the table.

Israel had agreed to what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described as a “generous” hostage deal proposal late last month,” Miller explains at a press briefing. “That’s the offer that was on the table.”

“Hamas seemed to make clear in their public statements that they accepted that offer yesterday. That is not what they did. They responded with amendments or a counter-proposal, and we’re working through the details of that now,” he says, noting that CIA chief Bill Burns is in Cairo along with delegations from Israel, Hamas and Qatar.

This appears to be the first time that one of the mediators has publicly issued a clarification regarding Hamas’s claim from yesterday after roughly 24 hours of silence on the issue.

Earlier today, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby added to the confusion by saying that Hamas’s response “suggests that [the sides] should be able to close the remaining gaps.”

Miller notes that most media outlets reported Hamas’s statement that it had accepted the Qatari and Egyptian mediators’ hostage deal proposal at face value.

“I don’t blame the reporting. It’s what the [Hamas] statement said. But it’s not an accurate reflection of what happened… Hamas did not accept a ceasefire proposal. Hamas responded and in their response made several suggestions.

Federal judge in Florida indefinitely delays Trump’s classified documents trial

Former US president Donald Trump, followed by his attorney Todd Blanche, walks to speak to reporters following the day's proceedings in his trial, May 7, 2024, in New York. (Win McNamee/Pool Photo via AP)
Former US president Donald Trump, followed by his attorney Todd Blanche, walks to speak to reporters following the day's proceedings in his trial, May 7, 2024, in New York. (Win McNamee/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON — The federal judge in Florida presiding over the classified documents prosecution of former US president Donald Trump has canceled the May 20 trial date, postponing it indefinitely.

The order from US District Judge Aileen Cannon had been expected in light of still-unresolved issues in the case and because Trump is currently on trial in a separate case in Manhattan charging him in connection with hush money payments during the 2016 presidential election. The New York case involves several of the same lawyers representing him in the federal case in Florida.

Cannon says in a five-page order that it would be “imprudent” to finalize a new trial date now, casting further doubt on federal prosecutors’ ability to bring Trump to trial before the November presidential election.

Trump faces dozens of felony counts accusing him of illegally hoarding at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida classified documents that he took with him after he left the White House in 2021, and then obstructing the FBI’s efforts to get them back. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

Trump faces four criminal cases as he seeks to reclaim the White House, but outside of the New York prosecution, it’s not clear that any of the other three will reach trial before the election.

The Supreme Court is weighing Trump’s arguments that he is immune from federal prosecution in a separate case from special counsel Jack Smith charging him with plotting to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia have also brought a separate case related to election subversion, though it’s not clear when that might reach trial.

Israeli-born Eurovision singer for Luxembourg qualifies for grand final

Tali of Luxembourg performs the song 'Fighter' during the first semifinal at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Tali of Luxembourg performs the song 'Fighter' during the first semifinal at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Israeli-born Luxembourg Eurovision singer Tali Golergant, who goes by the mononym Tali, qualifies for the grand final after her performance at the first semifinal tonight.

Luxembourg returned to the competition this year after a 31-year absence. Tali, who was born in Israel and raised in Chile, Argentina and Luxembourg, won the right to represent the tiny European nation during a TV contest earlier this year.

Israel’s Eden Golan will be performing on Thursday in the second semifinal, hoping to also make it to the grand final on Saturday evening, where 26 countries will compete for the top spot.

The song contest has been heavily overshadowed by politics, with large protests expected Thursday against Israel’s participation in the competition. In an interview with The Times of Israel last month, Tali said she has also faced online hate over her background, but doesn’t let it affect her.

Also qualifying tonight are Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Finland, Serbia, Portugal and Slovenia.

US, Saudi Arabia condemn attack by Israelis on Jordanian aid convoy bound for Gaza

Israeli security forces guard aid trucks making their way to the Gaza Strip while people protest them, on Route 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, May 6, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Israeli security forces guard aid trucks making their way to the Gaza Strip while people protest them, on Route 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, May 6, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The US and Saudi Arabia have issued statements condemning the latest attack by Israeli extremists on a Jordanian aid convoy en route to Gaza.

In a call with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “strongly condemned” the attacks and “reiterated that the United States expects the government of Israel to take full and appropriate measures to prevent those attacks and hold those responsible accountable,” the State Department says in a readout from their call earlier today.

Israeli police have arrested several suspects but the government has yet to speak out publicly against the phenomenon led largely by right-wing, Orthodox extremists.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry issued its own condemnation, saying “that the repetition of these attacks is the result of the Israeli occupation forces’ failure to carry out their responsibilities under international humanitarian law.”

“This is considered a systematic collusion to prevent the arrival of necessary humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip,” the Saudi statement says.

Israel is obligated under international law to ensure that is is not blocking humanitarian aid from reaching those in need.

Riyadh “stresses the kingdom’s call for the international community to take all necessary measures towards holding the Israeli occupation accountable for its violations of international law and international humanitarian law.”

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