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Several injured as cops, pro-Palestinian protesters battle over Jerusalem

Demonstrations spread from capital to Haifa, Nazareth and elsewhere as tensions ramp up; two rockets shot from Gaza toward Ashkelon

Police near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on May 9, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Police near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on May 9, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Pope Francis calls for an end to Jerusalem violence

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis expresses his concern at the unrest in Jerusalem, saying: “Violence only generates violence. Let’s stop these clashes.”

“I pray so that this might be a place of encounter and not violent clashes, a place of prayer and of peace. I invite everyone to seek shared resolutions so that the multireligious identity and multicultural [character] of the holy city might be respected and so that fraternity might prevail,” he says after reciting the Regina Caeli prayer.

Netanyahu on Jerusalem: ‘We’ll safeguard freedom of worship,’ continue to build

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighs in on the recent tensions in Jerusalem at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“The pressures not to build in Jerusalem have been growing recently. We also clarify to our best friends that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and we’ll continue to build in it,” he says. “We’ll safeguard freedom of worship in Jerusalem but we won’t allow rioting.”

Variant fueling India’s COVID explosion — top WHO scientist

GENEVA — A COVID-19 variant spreading in India is more contagious and it is feared it could be dodging some vaccine protections, contributing to the country’s explosive outbreak, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist sys.

In an interview with AFP, Soumya Swaminathan warns that “the epidemiological features that we see in India today do indicate that it’s an extremely rapidly spreading variant.”

Swaminathan, an Indian pediatrician and clinical scientist, says the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in India last October, is clearly a contributing factor to the catastrophe unfolding in her homeland.

“There have been many accelerators that are fed into this,” the 62-year-old says, stressing that “a more rapidly spreading virus is one of them.”

The WHO recently listed B.1.617 — which counts several sub-lineages with slightly different mutations and characteristics — as a “variant of interest.”

Yesh Atid negotiators to hold ‘marathon’ talks on forming unity government

The centrist Yesh Atid party, whose leader Yair Lapid is currently tasked with forming a government, says its negotiating team will “conduct a marathon day of meetings” with its counterparts in other parties as part of talks to assemble a coalition of anti-Netanyahu parties.

Israel Railways temporarily halts train service in parts of south due to fire

Israel Railways says it has temporarily shuttered train service between the Ashkelon and Netivot stations due to a fire that broke out near the southern town of Sderot.

The station at Sderot is also closed temporarily.

The national railway company doesn’t say what started the blaze near Sderot, which is near the Gaza Strip, but it comes as airborne incendiary attacks from the coastal enclave resume.

Gantz on Jerusalem tensions: Facebook not sufficiently helping address incitement

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also addresses the ongoing tensions in Jerusalem at the start of the cabinet meeting, echoing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement that Israel is committed to maintaining freedom of worship.

Gantz, who is also justice minister, says that ministry is working with security officials to address incitement on social media.

“Unfortunately, I can say some of the social media firms, particularly Facebook, are not sufficiently cooperating on everything related to taking down inciteful text on the networks. I hope we get broader cooperation to calm the tensions,” Gantz says, according to a statement from his office.

‘Burn in hell’: Yamina No. 2 said to get new phone after invective from Likud activists

Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked was forced to get a new cellphone after being bombarded with nasty messages sent by activists from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party and other right-wing factions, Channel 12 news reports.

Among the messages were hundreds calling on the Yamina No. 2 not to join the prospective “change government” of anti-Netanyahu parties, the report says.

“Burn in hell,” one such message said, according to a screenshot published by the network.

Right-wing activists protested last night outside the homes of Shaked and other Yamina lawmakers.

Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on April 5, 2021, after meeting with President Reuven Rivlin for consultations on which lawmaker should form the next government. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Blast reported on oil tanker off Syrian coast

An explosion is reported on an oil tanker off Syria’s coast.

A radio station affiliated with the Assad regime claims the blast occurred while the ship was being fixed after a fire broke out onboard several days ago, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

Police sappers working to defuse balloon-borne suspicious device in south

Police sappers are near Kibbutz Gevim to defuse a suspicious device attached to a balloon was found in the area.

Police say they are also working with firefighters after a number of blazes broke out in the Sderot area.

There is no word on the cause of the fires, which come as incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza pick up again.

Germany commemorates young icon of resistance to Nazism

BERLIN — Germany commemorates the 100th birthday of Sophie Scholl, a young woman who became an icon for her role in the anti-fascist White Rose resistance group.

Scholl and other group members were arrested in 1943 after scattering leaflets critical of Adolf Hitler’s regime and the war from a balcony at the University of Munich. She and her brother Hans were executed four days later after refusing to apologize.

The group’s story, including the Scholl siblings’ gradual awareness and then rejection of the horrors of National Socialist ideology and militarism, has become a staple of history lessons in German schools. It also has been regularly dramatized in films, plays and most recently an Instagram account.

Today, dozens of young people in Munich are taking part in a theatrical live performance about Scholl’s life — held in the open air due to pandemic restrictions.

Recent attempts by anti-lockdown protesters to portray Sophie Scholl as an example of the need to resist government rules on mask-wearing and social distancing have been denounced by organizations representing Holocaust survivors, including the International Auschwitz Committee.

Josef Schuster, the head of the German Central Council of Jews, criticizes the appropriation comparisons between anti-lockdown protesters and the victims of Nazi persecution as “repulsive and intolerable.”

The governor of Bavaria, Markus Soeder, paid homage to Scholl on Friday, noting that at 21 she had been willing to “sacrifice this life for freedom, for her stance, for her conscience.”

Supreme Court delays session on Sheikh Jarrah evictions after AG’s request

The Supreme Court has canceled a hearing scheduled tomorrow that could have determined whether four Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah would be evicted.

The decision to cancel comes after the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s office asked the Supreme Court to take two weeks to consider becoming a party to the case. The court gave Mandelblit until June 8 to consider the matter, meaning that the planned evictions — already approved by lower courts — will not go forward in the meantime.

Over seventy Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood are set to be evicted in the coming weeks, to be replaced by right-wing Jewish Israelis. The Palestinians live in houses built on land courts have ruled owned by Jewish religious associations before the establishment of Israel 1948.

The Palestinian families had appealed the decision to Israel’s Supreme Court, which decided to hold a hearing to discuss the appeal tomorrow, which is also Jerusalem Day, a holiday commemorating Israel’s conquest of the city in 1967 from Jordan.

Palestinians charge that a 1970 Israeli law — while not discriminatory on its face — in practice allows only Jews to reclaim lost property in East Jerusalem. No similar law exists which would allow Palestinians to claim their lost property from Israel’s War of Independence inside Israel.

The evictions have ignited uproar both among Palestinians and internationally, with both Israel’s Arab allies and the United States expressing concern over the move. Palestinians and their advocates charge that Israeli law and policy seeks to “Judaize” East Jerusalem.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has characterized the struggle as a “real-estate dispute between private parties.”

IDF deploys 3 additional battalions to the West Bank

The Israel Defense Forces has deployed an additional three battalions to the West Bank on Sunday as it seeks to curb the growing violence in the area, the military says.

These reinforcements — units that were originally meant to be in training — are on top of the additional four battalions already sent to the West Bank since the start of the month of Ramadan in April.

The military says the additional troops are specifically meant to be deployed along the border between the West Bank and Israel.

The decision was made by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi after he visited the West Bank this morning, meeting with local commanders and with Border Police officers who described a recent shooting attack against them in the West Bank, in which three Palestinian gunmen, who had been stopped as they attempted to travel into Israel illegally, opened fire at them with makeshift machine guns. The border guards and IDF troops returned fire, killing two of the men and critically wounding the third.

“Thanks to the soldiers here and especially the Border Police officers, a terror attack was prevented. The soldiers’ finger that squeezed the trigger prevented a terror attack that could have had an impact on the situation in the entire country,” Kohavi says.

Saudi Arabia summons prominent female activist for questioning

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Prominent Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been summoned for questioning by Saudi security three months after her release from prison, a relative says.

Alia al-Hathloul, who resides in exile in Europe, confirms to The Associated Press that her sister was asked to report to the office of the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Investigation, or “mabaheth,” in the capital, Riyadh. She first announced the order on Twitter.

It isn’t immediately clear why al-Hathloul had been summoned. The activist was released from prison on February 10 after 1001 days in detention, including stretches of solitary confinement and allegations she’d been tortured. She was tried and found guilty in December by an anti-terrorism court on charges related to her activism.

She is among the most prominent voices in Saudi Arabia who’d pushed for greater women’s rights and the right of women to drive a car before the ban was lifted in mid-2018.

The terms of her release from prison include a five-year travel ban and three years of probation. Many Saudi prisoners released on charges related to their activism and speech must also sign declarations before leaving prison, vowing to stop tweeting and posting on social media. Some are also routinely summoned for questioning during probation.

In recent days, al-Hathloul has shared posts about a women’s rights campaign against sexual harassment in Kuwait, and waded into the sensitive topic of Gulf Arab normalization with Israel. Recently, she wrote that many of her Saudi friends have stopped writing on Twitter altogether.

Loujain al-Hathloul poses for a photo in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2017. (Marieke Wijntjes via AP)

Yamina’s Bennett holds ‘good’ coalition talks with Islamist chief Abbas

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett meets with Ra’am chief Mansour Abbas for talks on the formation of a government.

Yamina describes the meeting as “good” and says the two discussed “various possibilities.”

“It was agreed that the negotiating teams will stay in touch and meet in the future,” the party says in statement.

The prospective unity government being negotiated between Yamina, Yesh Atid and several anti-Netanyahu parties will likely need the Islamist Ra’am to vote in favor of their coalition or abstain for it be sworn in with a majority.

Report: Israel shared Soleimani’s phone numbers with US hours before he was killed

Israel shared three cellphone numbers for Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani with the United States in the hours before he was killed last January by an American drone in Baghdad, according to Yahoo News.

The report says Israel shared intelligence with the US military as American forces kept an eye on Soleimani from the ground and skies, with liaisons from US Joint Special Operations Command in Tel Aviv working with the Israelis on tracing the Iranian commander’s phones.

In secret doc, security services said to warn hearing on Sheikh Jarrah could inflame tensions

In a legal opinion submitted to the Supreme Court seeking, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit included a secret opinion from the National Security Council, Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet and Israel Police arguing against holding a hearing tomorrow on the pending evictions of several Palestinian families in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, the Walla news site reports.

Quoting two unnamed sources familiar with the contents of the document, the report says it warned that the hearing could further fuel tensions, amid rising violence in the neighborhood and on the nearby Temple Mount.

Mandelblit referred to the ex parte affidavit in the opinion he filed with the court.

Health Ministry: Family that ignored quarantine rules infected with Chilean variant

The Health Ministry accuses a family that recently returned from overseas of ignoring quarantine guidelines, saying all the family members were confirmed as carriers of the Chilean coronavirus variant.

Contract tracing revealed the family held several social gatherings, including playdates their kids had with children in their school grades, a Health Ministry statement says.

Among the 24 contacts it traced, the ministry says it found seven confirmed infections, some of them among unvaccinated adults.

The ministry further says it has passed details on the matter to police.

The statement doesn’t specify whether any of the family members were vaccinated nor how they allegedly broke quarantine.

Video said to show Iran man burning Israel flag, which then sets him on fire

Video being shared on social media purports to show a man in Iran holding a giant Israeli flag that has been set ablaze, before the flames burn him.

The man can then be seen scurrying away with his clothes on fire, as a group of people holding up Palestinian flags move away from him.

Syria: Blaze on oil was tanker due to ‘technical failure’; monitor claims an explosion

BEIRUT — A fire that broke out on an oil tanker off northwest Syria’s Banyas refinery was due to “technical failure” in one of its engines, state media reports.

“A technical failure in one of the engines of an oil tanker parked off the coast of the city of Banyas led to a small fire and the appearance of black smoke,” SANA news agency says.

“The fire was dealt with by the tanker’s crew and it was put out immediately before causing any damage.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says an “explosion” caused the blaze.

It was the same “Iranian vessel” that had caught fire in an April 24 attack that killed three Syrians, including two crew members, according to the war monitor’s head Rami Abdul Rahman.

The monitor has previously faced questions over its credibility.

Syria’s oil ministry at the time said a drone attack was believed to have caused the blaze.

Tanker Trackers identified today’s vessel as the Panama-flagged WISDOM ship — the same ship in last month’s attack.

Banias oil refinery is located in the regime-controlled coastal province of Tartus.

Early last year, Damascus said divers had planted explosives on offshore pipelines of Banias refinery, but the damage had not halted operations.

And in February 2020, four oil and gas sites in the central Syrian province of Homs were attacked by armed drones, sparking fires and causing damage.

Before its war broke out in 2011, Syria enjoyed relative energy autonomy, but production has since plummeted, pushing the government to rely on importing hydrocarbons.

Western sanctions on oil shipping, as well as US punitive measures against Syria’s ally Iran, have complicated these imports.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Hundreds protest outside Israeli embassy in Jordan over Jerusalem evictions

Hundreds of Jordanians protest the pending eviction of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in front of the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Over seventy Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood are set to be evicted in the coming weeks, to be replaced by right-wing Jewish Israelis. The Palestinians live in houses built on land courts say was owned by Jewish religious associations before the establishment of Israel 1948.

“A nation whose leader is Mohammad will not kneel,” protesters chant, referring to the most revered prophet in Islam. “We salute Sheikh Jarrah.”

Jerusalem has seen violent days as police and Palestinian demonstrators have clashed across the city. Both sides blame one another for inciting the confrontations.

“We are with the intifada,” protesters call out, using an Arabic-language term for uprising commonly associated with the Palestinian struggle against Israel. “God is Great.”

A potentially definitive hearing on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions was scheduled to take place tomorrow, but has been delayed by the Supreme Court.

Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1993. Most Jordanians are of Palestinian descent and many oppose the treaty.

A smaller solidarity protest against the planned evictions was held by Palestinians and their supporters in Berlin.

Bennett files complaint after his ‘death notice’ published

Yamina chief Naftali Bennett has filed a complaint with the Knesset Guard after a “death notice” is published for him.

The notice was posted on Facebook by a Netanyahu supporter, according to the Ynet news site.

A screenshot shows the account behind the post, Gadi Hadday, also wrote an accompanying message in which he wished would “die” and called him a “traitor.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud party have recently been seeking to pressure Bennett to not join a government with the premier’s rivals.

Haredi MKs to Netanyahu: Let another right-winger be premier 1st for 18 months

A pair of ultra-Orthodox lawmakers allied with the ruling Likud party urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow another right-wing Knesset member who can assemble a ruling majority to serve first as premier for 18 months, as part of a rotation agreement.

The letter penned by United Torah Judaism MKs Meir Porush and Yisrael Eichler notes their Haredi party has stuck with Netanyahu through the four inconclusive national elections since April 2019.

“Your request to now maintain the Likud-religious-ultra-Orthodox bloc is completely understandable to not lend a hand to the formation of a center-left government,” they write to Netanyahu.

Nevertheless, Porush and Eichler say they have “no desire” for fifth elections, predicting a loss for the right-wing religious bloc.

“The only way to prevent a left-wing government and also prevent elections is your clear declaration before a government is formed that you will grant someone from the right-wing bloc who will succeed in uniting the 65 right-wing MKs the premiership for a year and a half in the first rotation,” they say.

While that other MK serves as premier, Eichler and Porush say, Netanyahu will be alternative prime minister and “can concentrate the diplomatic effort vis-a-vis the Biden administration, peace agreements and nuclear Iran.”

The two describe their appeal to Netanyahu as a “last effort to prevent Naftali Bennett from being pushed into the arms of Liberman and Lapid,” who are in talks on forming a unity government.

Netanyahu said he offered Bennett to serve first as premier for a year if the latter’s Yamina party joins with him. However, even if Bennett were to throw in his lot with the right-wing religious bloc, the prime minister would still be short of a majority due to the far-right Religious Zionism’s party opposition to any coalition propped up the Islamist Ra’am.

Egypt executes defrocked monk convicted of killing abbot

CAIRO — Egyptian authorities execute a defrocked monk convicted of killing an abbot in a desert monastery north of Cairo, officials say.

The 2018 killing of Bishop Epiphanius, an abbot at St. Macarius Monastery, shocked Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world and the one that introduced monasticism to the faith. The monastery was built in the fourth century.

Two defrocked monks, identified as Isaiah and and Faltaous, were convicted of killing Epiphanius and sentenced to death by a criminal court in April 2019. The Court of Cassation, the country’s highest criminal court, last year upheld the death sentence against Isaiah and gave Faltaous a life sentence.

Isaiah was executed by hanging in the Wadi Natrun prison complex in the Nile Delta province of Beheira, the officials say. They speak on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.

The abbot was killed in the middle of the night in a part of the vast monastery not covered by security cameras. Prosecutors said he was killed with blows to the head by an iron bar.

The abbot’s killing has exposed a side of the church that few in Egypt — Muslim or Christian — knew existed, including the growing power and independence of monks in remote monasteries who appear to be at odds with Pope Tawadros II and the church’s central leadership.

Among these monks are some who espouse a policy of isolationism and see themselves as guardians of the true faith. They are pitted against a more mainstream faction that favors building bridges with other churches and lending political support to the government.

Fauci says US has ‘no doubt’ undercounted COVID deaths

WASHINGTON — The United States, which has reported the world’s worst overall COVID-19 death toll, has “no doubt” been undercounting fatal cases, top pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci says.

The country has officially lost over 581,000 people to the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus — but a University of Washington study released Thursday estimated deaths at more than 900,000.

“That’s a bit more than I would have thought the undercounting was,” Fauci tells NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“But I think there’s no doubt… that we are and have been undercounting.”

The United States has reported over 32.6 million cases since the virus was first identified at the end of 2019 in China.

America was battered by a spike in cases and deaths after the end-of-year holidays, but since January, new infections have come down as vaccination rates have jumped.

Gaza balloons spark 39 fires in south since the morning

The Israel Fire and Rescue Services says 39 fires sparked in the south today were caused by balloon-borne incendiary devices flown from Gaza.

Most of the blazes were small brush fires, though the Be’eri nature reserve and three wheat fields were significantly damaged, according to a statement.

Clashes break out between Palestinians, cops outside Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Clashes erupt between Palestinians and police outside the entrance to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem campus on Mount Scopus.

The Palestinians throw rocks at the cops, who respond with stun grenades.

Police say three suspects were arrested and three officers were injured.

It is not immediately clear what precipitated the clashes.

Head of ultra-Orthodox Shas party reiterates that it’s backing Netanyahu

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri reiterates his Haredi Shas party’s support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after two lawmakers from the fellow ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism call on the premier to let another right-wing MK serve first as prime minister for 18 months.

“Shas is consistent in its opinion and promise to the electorate and will continue to do everything for the formation of a right-wing government,” Deri says in a statement.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri speaks during a press conference at the Knesset on May 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Military to hold exercise Monday to simulate attack on Tel Aviv HQ

The military will hold an exercise in its Tel Aviv headquarters on Monday simulating a terror attack and rioting on the base, the Israel Defense Forces says.

People near the base, known as the Kirya, can expect to hear the sounds of explosions and sirens and may see smoke and large numbers of troops moving through the area, the military says.

Some roads surrounding the base will also be closed, the IDF says.

The army says the exercise is not connected to the current unrest in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but was scheduled in advance, as part of its annual training program.

Israel closes Gaza fishing zone after spate of arson balloon attacks

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians says the navy is closing the Gaza Strip’s fishing zone in response to the dozens of balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from the enclave that sparked over 100 fires in southern Israel throughout the day and in response to a mortar attack last night.

The military liaison, Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, known formally as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, says the closure will go into effect immediately and will last until further notice.

Alian blames the de facto ruler of the Strip, the Hamas terror group, for the violence, saying it will “bear the consequences of the violence.”

The closing of the zone comes after Israel suspended a decision this morning which would have allow senior Gaza businessmen to exit the coastal enclave for the first time in months. The businessmen — who hold special permits that allow them to enter Israel — were scheduled to resume travel into Israel for economic purposes today.

Egypt summons Israeli envoy over Temple Mount violence

Egypt summons the Israeli ambassador to Cairo, Amira Oron, over the recent violence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City during Ramadan.

“During the meeting, Egypt emphasized its stance, rejecting and denouncing the Israeli authorities’ storming of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. The officials stressed the necessity of respecting Islamic sanctities, providing protection for Palestinian civilians, and safeguarding their rights to practice religious ceremonies,” a statement from the Egyptian foreign ministry says.

It adds: “The Israeli ambassador was asked to convey a message to Israeli officials stating the need to provide protection for worshipers and allow them to pray in safety and freedom, and for the Israeli authorities to assume their responsibilities and control the security situation in Jerusalem.”

Representing the Egyptian side was Ambassador Nazih Al-Najari, the assistant minister of foreign affairs.

Ra’am said expected to actively support Bennett-Lapid government

The Islamist Ra’am party is expected to actively back a unity government led by Yamina chief Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, but will not be part of it, the Ynet news site reports.

In return, the government will honor the list of demands Ra’am made to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party, according to the report.

Bennett met earlier today with Abbas, and Channel 12 news says the two are expected to sit down again tomorrow with Lapid.

The report also says significant progress was made in coalition negotiations between Yesh Atid and Yamina today.

Top Jerusalem cop says no decision on whether to allow nationalist ‘flag march’ until morning

Jerusalem Police District Commander Doron Turgeman says a final decision on whether to change the route of the Jerusalem Day “flag march” through the Old City will not be made until a situational assessment tomorrow morning.

In a briefing ahead of Jerusalem Day, which begins this evening, Turgeman also says a decision on whether to allow Jews on the Temple Mount will be made tomorrow.

“We’re prepared for any scenario,” he is quoted as saying by the Ynet news site.

Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s conquest of the city from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, is mostly celebrated by national religious Jews.

Concerns have been raised that this year’s celebrations could further fuel violence in Jerusalem, which seen major clashes in recent days on the Temple Mount and nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Leader of Hasidic political faction reiterates backing for Netanyahu

Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism reiterates his support for Prime Minister Netanyahu, after two members of his Hasidic Agudath Israel sub-faction call on the premier to let another right-wing MK serve first as prime minister for 18 months.

“Agudath Israel is unified in its support of Benjamin Netanyahu throughout all recent election campaigns,” Litzman says in a statement.

He also stresses any decision will be made by Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages.

Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism speaks during a press conference at the Knesset on May 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli TV report on Jerusalem violence: ‘A call for a religious war’

"We, the youth of Jerusalem, declare war." Channel 12 reporter Ohad Hemo with interviewees at Damascus Gate on May 8, 2021 (Channel 12 screenshot)
"We, the youth of Jerusalem, declare war." Channel 12 reporter Ohad Hemo with interviewees at Damascus Gate on May 8, 2021 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Channel 12’s reporter Ohad Hemo presents a report from East Jerusalem and the Old City, including during Friday night’s violence, which he says adds up to “a call for a religious war.”

On the Temple Mount on Friday and last night, he shows crowds of thousands of Muslims on the Temple Mount shouting: “Qassam brigades, come on. Hit Tel Aviv!” and “We swear by Allah, we will protect the Al-Aqsa.”

One bearded East Jerusalem man in his 20s tells Hemo: “This will be a religious war. Not the kind of war the world is expecting…. You’re a Jew and I, a Muslim. We’ll go on fighting. There won’t be peace between us.”

At Damascus Gate last night, another young man tells him: “If they want clashes, we’re ready.”

Adds another: “We’re ready at any moment.”

Clashes at Damascus Gate in a report by Channel 12’s Ohad Hemo on May 8, 2021 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Not long after, petrol bombs and stones began to fly at police in the area, he reports, and police fired stun grenades among other crowd dispersal means.

Hemo, now wearing a protective helmet, asks another man, “Is this a war for Jerusalem?” The man replies: “You’re the ones causing a war for Jerusalem. We came to pray.”

Adds a woman next to him: “This is our land. We came to pray.”

“This is our land, we came to pray.” Channel 12 reporter Ohad Hemo with interviewees at Damascus Gate on May 8, 2021 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Another man joins in and, red-faced with the veins bulging in his neck, screams at Hemo: “This is Jerusalem. If a settler comes here, we’ll beat him up. We, the youth of Jerusalem, are declaring war. We are hereby declaring war. It doesn’t matter where the border is, we don’t want to see soldiers or anything else here. Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is only the Arabs’.”

Hemo notes the youngsters are no longer deterred from directly confronting the cops. “Why should I be afraid” of the cops, another interviewee says. The cops “are nothing to us.” Asked about the annual Jerusalem Day flag march scheduled to pass through the Old City tomorrow, this man vows: “In the name of Allah, no settler will pass through here.” Told tens of thousands are expected at the march, he says: “If only the ground would open and swallow them up, one after the other.”

The interviews are interspersed with footage of running street battles between police and young Palestinians, some of them masked, with glass smashing, small fires burning in the street, stun grenades and fireworks flying.

Hemo says many of those confronting the police are from northern Israel. One young man confirms this, telling Hemo he’s “from the North.”

“From Israel,” says Hemo.

“We’re Arabs from 1948,” he and his friends reply.

“That means Israeli Arabs?” persists Hemo.

“No, no, no. I’m Palestinian,” the young man insists.

“You’re Palestinian, not Israeli,” says Hemo. “But you’re from the State of Israel. From the north of the State of Israel.”

Says the young man: “That’s what you think.”

Hemo ascribes the surge in violence and hostility to many factors, but notes in particular the planned eviction of Arab families from Sheikh Jarrah and “the feeling of many here that Israel is doing everything it can to push them out.”

Ahmad, a resident of the Old City, says residents are repeatedly approached by men in business attire offering “open checks” to encourage them to sell up and fly overseas.

Rocket warning sirens sound in southern communities near Gaza

Incoming rocket sirens sound in the city of Ashkelon and nearby communities.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The military says it is investigating what triggered the alarms.

Rocket shot down by Iron Dome — IDF

Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward the city of Ashkelon and surrounding communities, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

One of the projectiles was intercepted over the city by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the military says. The second appears to have landed in an open, unpopulated area.

Video footage from Ashkelon shows at least two interceptor missiles being fired into the air and then detonating, apparently shooting down one of the rockets.

Arab Israelis in Haifa, Nazareth hold marches in support of Jerusalem

Arab Israelis in northern Israel are demonstrating against Israeli policies in Jerusalem, including Israeli forces’ storming of the al-Aqsa Mosque to subdue a riot and the pending eviction of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah.

In Haifa, what appear to be hundreds of Arab Israelis march through the city’s downtown, chanting slogans. The participants sing “My Homeland,” an unofficial pan-Arab anthem.

“From Sheikh Jarrah to Silwan, we want to end settlements,” demonstrators chant.

Hundreds of Arab Israelis also demonstrate in Nazareth, waving Palestinian flags, as they march down the city’s main thoroughfare.

“With spirit and blood we shall redeem you, O Aqsa!” some protesters chanted.

Police crack down on Sheikh Jarrah protesters

Police appear to be attempting to clear out demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah, leading to some low-level scuffles.

Videos show police on horseback and foot pushing people away from a main demonstration site and reports indicate sound grenades are also used to clear out the area.

Another video, apparently from earlier, shows rival camps of Palestinians and Israeli nationalists chanting and singing while on opposite sides of a street in the Jerusalem neighborhood, the site of simmering tensions over the last several days.

Police: Jerusalem demonstrators were shooting fireworks at homes

Jerusalem police say in a statement that they moved to clear out demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah after protesters “disturbed the peace” and fireworks were launched at homes in the neighborhood.

Police say they are using unspecified “methods” to remove dozens of protesters “in order to restore calm and prevent clashes between those disturbing the peace and the rest of the neighborhood’s residents.”

Protesters said to attack Iran consulate in Iraq after activist slain

Protesters in the Iraqi city of Karbala have reportedly attempted to set fire to Iran’s consulate there amid widespread fury over the shooting death of a leading anti-Iran critic.

Ihab al-Wazni, a coordinator of protests in the Shiite shrine city of Karbala, was a vocal opponent of corruption, the stranglehold of Tehran-linked armed groups and Iran’s influence in Iraq.

He was shot overnight outside his home by men on motorbikes using a gun equipped with a silencer, in an ambush caught on surveillance cameras. His death was confirmed by security forces and activists.

A video posted on Twitter by analyst Bilesa Shaweys purports to show protesters setting fires near the embassy. A second video claims to testify to live fire being used against the protesters.

Demonstrators at Wazani’s funeral earlier Sunday chanted “Iran out!” and “The people want the fall the regime!” as he was buried in the Shiite holy city.

— with AFP

Clashes reported between police and protesters in Jerusalem, Haifa

Clashes between police and pro-Palestinian demonstrators are reportedly taking place in East Jerusalem and Haifa.

At Damascus Gate, police move in against some 200 protesters after rocks are thrown at officers, according to the Ynet news site.

In Haifa as well, police are scuffling with protesters, shooting stun grenades and chasing them down a street. Ten protesters are arrested in the northern city, Haaretz reports.

Jordan summons top Israeli diplomat amid Jerusalem anger

Jordan’s official Petra news agency reports that the foreign ministry in Amman has summoned the charge d’affairs of the Israeli embassy there to emphasize the kingdom’s opposition to what it says are Israeli violations at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

The announcement comes hours after King Abdullah released a statement in which he condemned Israeli actions in the capital, including the powder keg Old City holy site and Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families may be evicted.

It also comes after Egypt’s foreign ministry summoned the head of Israel’s embassy in Cairo, also over Jerusalem tensions.

Solidarity protests held in Ramallah, London, Berlin

Reports indicate that 15 people have been arrested in Haifa for throwing stones.

Meanwhile, demonstrations in support of Jerusalem Palestinians have taken place in several cities outside of Israel, including Ramallah, London and Berlin.

Palestinians protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 9, 2021, in solidarity with Palestinian families facing Israeli eviction orders in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Police make fresh push in Sheikh Jarrah, as clashes intensify

Police say they are acting against demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah who set a car alight and hurled stones at police vehicles dispatched to the scene.

“Forces are using methods to disperse the demonstrators,” police say in a statement.

Israeli diplomat in Jordan defends Israeli police action on Temple Mount

Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirms that its charge d’affairs in Amman  was summoned for a dressing down over “events in Jerusalem.”

It says Sammy Abu Ghanab told Jordan that Israel is protecting freedom of religion for all religions, and is seeking to prevent harm to Jews ability to pray at the Western Wall, Kan reports, referring to police actions on the Temple Mount Friday meant to keep stones from being thrown at Jewish worshipers below.

Video shows fireworks shot at Jewish home in East Jerusalem

A video posted online by Kan shows protesters throwing stones and shooting fireworks at a Jewish-owned home in Maaleh Hazeitim, a settlement-like Jewish enclave in East Jerusalem’s Palestinian Ras al-Amud neighborhood.

In the video, the inhabitants of the home can be heard complaining that there are no police around to stop the perpetrators.

“Dozens of people on the street, not afraid, throwing stones, shooting fireworks at us, damaging our home,” a man is heard saying.

In videos from other parts of the city, large bangs can be heard echoing amid a heavy police presence, either from fireworks or security forces’ flashbangs.

Red Crescent: 14 injured in Jerusalem fighting

The Palestinian Red Crescent says 14 people have been treated for injuries amid clashes in the capital.

It says at least 560 people have been treated for injuries in the last three days.

Jerusalem police release pictures showing Border Guard officers treating a driver whose car was attacked by stone throwers in the capital earlier in the evening.

Police treating a driver attacked by stone-throwers in Jerusalem on May 9, 2021. (Courtesy: Police Spokesperson’s Unit)

Meanwhile, clashes are reportedly continuing in Jerusalem and there are reports of gatherings at West Bank checkpoints near Ramallah.

In Sheikh Jarrah, videos posted online show a car in flames, the second time in days a vehicle in the neighborhood has been torched.

Jewish rescue group says ‘numerous’ injuries from stone-throwing in capital

The United Hatzalah rescue service says it has treated “numerous injured people who have suffered minor injuries, contusions, abrasions, and injuries,” after being pelted by rocks in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah.

The wounded included some who needed to be transported to a hospital for treatment, the paramedic service says.

Two more rockets fired at Israel; they fall short, landing inside Gaza

The IDF says two more rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza a few minutes ago. They fell short of the border, landing in open ground inside the Strip.

These were the third and fourth rocket launches of the night.

About two-and-a-half hours ago, two rockets were fired toward the Ashkelon area. One was intercepted over the city by the Iron Dome missile defense system, while the second fell in an open area.

Police chief hopes Flag March will proceed as usual; final decision in morning

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai says he hopes tomorrow’s Jerusalem Day Flag March will go ahead as planned, and is doing everything he can to ensure this, the Walla news site reports.

A further situation assessment is to be held early tomorrow morning, however.

The march, which annually draws tens of thousands of participants, usually proceeds into the Old City via Damascus Gate and on through the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall.

However, the Damascus Gate area and Old City have seen days of clashes, including a major eruption of violence on the Temple Mount on Friday night, and police and security chiefs are still assessing plans for tomorrow’s Jerusalem Day events.

Jerusalem Day celebrates the unification of Jerusalem, with the capture of East Jerusalem and the Old City from Jordan in the 1967 war, and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city.

Security officials reportedly warned the cabinet earlier today that the contentious Flag March could lead to a further escalation in violence.

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