search
Live updates (closed)

Russian foreign minister: Ukraine can have Nazis, even Hitler ‘had Jewish blood’

Sergey Lavrov compares Zelensky, and his Jewish ancestry, to Nazi leader during interview with Italian TV

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on as he gives a press conference after meeting Ukraine's Foreign Minister for talks in Antalya, on March 10, 2022. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on as he gives a press conference after meeting Ukraine's Foreign Minister for talks in Antalya, on March 10, 2022. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)

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

‘Operating normally’: Russia shows seized Ukraine nuclear plant

This image made from a video released by Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows a bright flaring object landing on the grounds of the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, on March 4, 2022. (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant via AP)
This image made from a video released by Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows a bright flaring object landing on the grounds of the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, on March 4, 2022. (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant via AP)

Nearly two months after it was seized by Russian forces, there are few signs of the fighting for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine that sparked global fears of a potential atomic disaster.

Other than a scorched administrative building, the vast complex in southern Ukraine — Europe’s largest nuclear power plant — appears largely untouched by the clashes during a visit by AFP this weekend, part of a press tour organized by the Russian military.

There has been deep international concern over the situation at the plant, which has six of Ukraine’s 15 reactors and can create enough energy for four million homes.

Russian forces seized the site amid fighting in early March that caused a large fire at a training facility at the plant, which sits along the Dnipro river south of the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia.

There is no spike in radiation, but the clashes nonetheless caused deep worries, especially in the country that was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said last week that it was “extremely important” for IAEA monitors to be able to access the site, which was built in the early 1980s but modernized in recent years.

Russia insists it is taking all necessary precautions at the plant, where its troops now patrol in the shadows of its enormous and heavily reinforced red-domed reactors.

200,000 Muslims attend Eid prayers at Al-Aqsa compound — Waqf

Muslims take part in Eid al-Fitr prayers next to the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, Monday, May 2, 2022. Eid al-Fitr, festival of breaking of the fast, marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Muslims take part in Eid al-Fitr prayers next to the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, Monday, May 2, 2022. Eid al-Fitr, festival of breaking of the fast, marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Around 200,000 Muslims attend Eid al-Fitr holiday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to cap off the Ramadan holy month, according to the Islamic Waqf.

“There were more worshipers than we’ve seen for Eid al-Fitr prayers for many years,” Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the holy site’s chief imam, says in a phone call.

Al-Kiswani says most of those who arrived to pray today were likely Jerusalemites, as no special orders had been issued to allow West Bank Palestinians to attend. He attributes the high turnout to recent clashes at the sacred hilltop, which Jews revere as the Temple Mount, their holiest site.

Palestinian rioters hurled stones at Israeli police at the site on several occasions over the past month. Israeli forces responded with sponge-tipped bullets, tear gas and sound grenades, injuring hundreds. Similar violence helped spark a war between Israel and Hamas terrorists last May.

“People wanted to send a message that Al-Aqsa is the inviolate right of Muslims,” al-Kiswani says.

Russian foreign minister: So what if Zelensky’s Jewish, so was Hitler

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a joint press conference with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President following their talks in Moscow on March 24, 2022. (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / POOL / AFP)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a joint press conference with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President following their talks in Moscow on March 24, 2022. (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / POOL / AFP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Ukraine can have Nazis, even though its president is Jewish, since, he claims, Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry.

“The fact that Zelensky is Jewish does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Lavrov said in an interview with Italian news channel Zona Bianca.

Russia has claimed it aims to “denazify” Ukraine. Russian forces have slaughtered civilians and destroyed cities during their invasion, in what Ukrainian leaders, including Zelensky, have called a genocide and compared to the Holocaust.

Russian strikes kill 8 civilians in eastern Ukraine

A Ukrainian serviceman walks amid the rubble of a building heavily damaged by multiple Russian bombardments near a frontline in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Monday, April 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A Ukrainian serviceman walks amid the rubble of a building heavily damaged by multiple Russian bombardments near a frontline in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Monday, April 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Eight civilians die following Russian shelling attacks in Donetsk and Kharkiv, the regions’ governors say, as Moscow’s forces push deeper into eastern Ukraine.

The deaths come as the Russian army refocuses its efforts on eastern Ukraine, notably the Donbas region, which incorporates Donetsk and Lugansk.

Four are killed in shelling in the town of Lyman in Donetsk, the regional governor says.

“On May 1, four civilians were killed in Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, all in Lyman. Eleven other people were injured,” Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko says on Telegram.

Another person dies of his injuries in a town near Lyman, he adds.

Lyman, a former railway hub known as the “red town” for its redbrick industrial buildings, is expected to be one of the next places to fall to the Russian army after Ukrainian forces withdrew.

Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces appear to have made notable advances around the town, advancing on their positions by several kilometers, an AFP team in the area said.

Another three people are killed in shelling on residential areas in and around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, the regional governor Oleg Synegubov says on Telegram.

“As a result of these shellings, unfortunately, three people were killed and eight civilians were injured,” he says.

The Ukrainian army has also withdrawn from Kharkiv, its troops now in outlying positions, according to AFP journalists who recently visited the city.

President Volodymyr Zelensky recently acknowledged that the situation was “difficult” in Donbas, the eastern Ukrainian mining basin that has become the priority target of Russian troops, who invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

President Herzog speaks to PA’s Abbas for the first time since recent escalation

President Isaac Herzog speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since the start of an escalation of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

During the call, Herzog wishes Abbas a good Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Tensions have skyrocketed in recent weeks during Ramadan, as Israeli police clashed with Palestinians on the Temple Mount, Gaza terror groups fired rockets into Israel, and security officials grappled with a string of terror attacks, including by cracking down on the West Bank.

Herzog speaks to the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to wish them a good holiday.

Police find pipe bombs near central Israel kibbutz

Police find three pipe bombs in an open area near Kibbutz Nir Eliyahu in central Israel.

The bombs were ready to detonate, Army Radio reports.

The weapons were neutralized without causing any injuries.

Bennett meets Mansour Abbas for the first time since Ra’am boycotted government

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) speaks to Ra'am leader MK Mansour Abbas in the Knesset, on November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) speaks to Ra'am leader MK Mansour Abbas in the Knesset, on November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Bennett meets with Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas for the first time since Ra’am froze its participation in the coalition.

Bennett called a meeting with Abbas to calm the waters, as the Islamist party is reportedly planning to end its boycott of the coalition.

Senior sources in Ra’am tell Channel 12 that they believe the coalition is on its last legs, however.

Ra’am froze its government participation last month as it come under pressure amid tensions surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The Hamas terror party lashed Ra’am and Abbas yesterday for joining the government.

Security officials are considering stepping up protection for Abbas following the threats from Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar.

Tel Aviv cancels Independence Day fireworks show

Israelis watch a fireworks show during Independence Day celebrations in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2021, after more than a year of coronavirus restrictions. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israelis watch a fireworks show during Independence Day celebrations in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2021, after more than a year of coronavirus restrictions. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Tel Aviv cancels its Independence Day fireworks show, partially due to military veterans suffering from PTSD, the mayor says.

The fireworks show is typically a major event, with thousands gathering in the city’s central Rabin Square and watching the display across the city.

Independence Day this year starts Wednesday evening and ends Thursday.

“One of the things that influenced this decision was requests from soldiers with post-trauma that asked to cancel the show, as well as for people with disabilities,” says Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

IDF confirms Independence Day Air Force flyover will pass over Hebron

The IDF confirms the Air Force’s Independence Day flyover, a highlight during nationwide celebrations, will pass over the West Bank’s Hebron and Kiryat Arba, a Jewish enclave in the Palestinian city.

The Air Force releases a map showing it will pass over Kiryat Arba and the center of Hebron at around 2 p.m., after flying over Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Gush Etzion bloc.

The Air Force will open some bases to the public for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Bennett’s Yamina party applauds the flyby over Hebron.

“We’re also celebrating independence in Judea and Samaria, together with hundreds of thousands of settlers who for the first time will be able to see the flyover above their homes,” Yamina says.

The planned move was previously condemned by some, including Meretz MK Mossi Raz, who called it “unnecessary and provocative.”

Shufersal announces recall of its branded petit beurre biscuits

The Shufersal supermarket chain says it is recalling biscuits it markets under its own brand due to fears of nylon fibers in the baked goods.

The chain says it fears the fibers accidentally entered the biscuits during production, and it was collecting the products from stores “out of caution.”

The products in question were Shufersal petit beurre biscuits (500 g) and Shufersal chocolate petit beurre biscuits (500 g) expiring between October 1 and October 13 2022.

“Products in other date ranges are sound and there is no concern in consuming them,” the company says.

The announcement is the third recall in Israel in recent weeks and comes on the heels of a massive recall of products by Israel’s Strauss Group.

Father of one of Ariel terrorists said to have assisted pair following attack

The father of one of the suspected terrorists in the shooting outside the Ariel settlement last Friday assisted his son and the other assailant in the attack, the Ynet news site reports.

The father picked up the two suspects after they torched the car used in the attack in order to help them escape. He also knew about the attack ahead of time and has been arrested as an accomplice, according to Ynet.

Around 100 civilians evacuated from Mariupol steel plant — Zelensky

An initial group of around 100 civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says.

“Evacuation of civilians from Azovstal began. The 1st group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area. Tomorrow we’ll meet them in Zaporizhzhia,” he tweets, referring to a city some 220 kilometers (130 miles) to the northwest.

Lapid speaks with US climate envoy John Kerry

 

UN says ‘safe passage operation’ ongoing from Ukraine steel plant

The Azovstal metallurgical plant is seen on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, on February 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
The Azovstal metallurgical plant is seen on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, on February 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

An operation is underway for civilians to leave the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, a UN spokesman said.

“UN confirms that a safe passage operation is ongoing in Azovstal steel plant, in coordination with the ICRC and the parties to the conflict,” spokesman Jens Laerke says.

He defended Ariel ‘like a brick wall’: Guard killed in terror shooting laid to rest

Vyacheslav Golev, the 23-year-old security guard killed in Friday’s terror shooting at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Ariel, is laid to rest Sunday in Beit Shemesh. Hundreds of people attend the ceremony.

Golev is survived by his parents, seven siblings and fiancee Victoria Fligelman, who was also stationed at the guard post. Golev shielded her with his body, saving her life.

Eulogizing Golev, Beit Shemesh Mayor Aliza Bloch calls him a hero who defended the Ariel community and his fiancee “like a brick wall.”

She says the Golev family, who immigrated to Israel from Russia, are “the story of Beit Shemesh and of Israel. With the story of your lives you brought together the story of Israel and of aliyah. You are the mosaic of Israel.”

Turkey police clash with protesters on May Day, detain dozens

Turkish police have detained more than 160 protesters who were trying to hold a May Day rally in defiance of a ban imposed by the governor’s office.

AFP images show riot police clashing with protesters near Istanbul’s Taksim Square and pinning some of them forcefully to the ground before rounding them up in a police car.

The Istanbul governor’s office says that 164 people were detained after staging “an unauthorized rally” and refusing to disperse despite police warnings.

An AFP photographer says he saw around 20 protesters detained near Taksim Square.

There are often detentions during the annual May 1 workers’ holiday.

Taksim has been a flashpoint on May Day with frequent clashes since 34 people were killed there on May 1, 1977, during an unstable period in modern Turkey’s history.

A small group led by the Confederation of Turkish Revolutionary Trade Unions attended an officially approved event at Taksim Square.

Funeral for Ariel security guard killed in terror attack commences

Israeli security personnel at the scene of a shooting attack, at the entrance to Ariel, in the West Bank, on April 30, 2022. Inset: Vyacheslav Golev. (Flash90; Courtesy)
Israeli security personnel at the scene of a shooting attack, at the entrance to Ariel, in the West Bank, on April 30, 2022. Inset: Vyacheslav Golev. (Flash90; Courtesy)

The funeral for Vyacheslav Golev, who was shot dead on Friday night during his shift as a security guard outside the Ariel settlement, has commenced at Beit Shemesh’s municipal cemetery Derech Hachaim.

Golev was a former student at Ariel University. He had recently moved to live with his fiancée in the West Bank community. They became engaged just a few weeks before the attack.

High Court dismisses petition by Palestinian farmers cut off from land by security barrier

The High Court of Justice dismisses a petition calling for dismantling and moving portions of the security barrier westward to avoid cutting off Palestinian farmers from their land near the edge of the West Bank.

“I did not find that there was a justification for intervening in the decision of the army commander not to dismantle [the wall],” says Justice Yitzhak Amit, writing for the majority.

Palestinians from Qaffin, Akaba, and Nezlet Issa — three towns in the northern West Bank — had petitioned the court to dismantle the barrier, arguing that the effect on their livelihoods had been drastic. Farmers have to receive military permits to enter their land through a gate in the structure, which they say often prevents them from cultivating their groves and fields at all.

Israel built the West Bank security barrier in an attempt to prevent further Palestinian terror attacks during the Second Intifada. The barrier only loosely followed the West Bank’s border, however, and became the subject of ferocious controversy both inside Israel and abroad.

The Palestinian petitioners — represented by the HaMoked rights group — argued that the permit system had become an intolerable burden and severely impacted their ability to access the land. The court ruled, however, that most of the individual grievances raised by the Palestinians had since been canceled or soon would be.

Germany slashes energy reliance on Russia

A Russian construction worker in Portovaya Bay some 170 kms (106 miles) north-west from St. Petersburg, Russia, during a ceremony marking the start of Nord Stream pipeline construction, on April 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, file)
A Russian construction worker in Portovaya Bay some 170 kms (106 miles) north-west from St. Petersburg, Russia, during a ceremony marking the start of Nord Stream pipeline construction, on April 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, file)

Germany says it has made progress in sharply reducing its reliance on Russian energy, a strategic shift Europe’s biggest economy has embarked on since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Russian supplies now make up 12 percent of Germany’s oil imports compared to 35 percent previously, the economy ministry says in a statement.

Coal from Russia has also been slashed to eight percent compared to 45 percent of Germany’s purchases previously.

Dependence on gas remains substantial, but Europe’s biggest economy had also reduced its Russian sources to 35 percent of the total compared to 55 percent before Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

The government had in March laid out plans to halve oil imports from Russia by June and to end coal deliveries by the autumn.

Germany is also expected to be able to largely wean itself off Russian gas in mid-2024.

“All these steps that we have taken require an enormous effect from all players and they also mean costs that are being felt by the economy and consumers,” says Economy Minister Robert Habeck.

“But they are necessary if we no longer want to be blackmailed by Russia,” he stresses.

The reliance of Europe’s biggest economy on Russian energy has been exposed as an Achilles’ heel as Western allies scramble to penalize Vladimir Putin for his attack on Ukraine.

The export giant has since been racing to find alternative energy suppliers to replace Russian contracts.

Minister condemns death threats against far-right MK

Far-right politician MK Itamar Ben Gvir seen after visiting the Temple Mount, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on March 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Far-right politician MK Itamar Ben Gvir seen after visiting the Temple Mount, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on March 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana condemns a series of death threats made recently against far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir.

“I take the threats to the life of MK Itamar Ben Gvir very seriously. There is no room for violence in the public discourse. I hope that the security forces will soon nab these criminals,” Kahana tweets.

Earlier today, Ben Gvir published screenshots of a couple of the death threats he’s received on Facebook messenger.

“I’ve given you a bullet in the head,” reads one message.

“We will kill you and your family,” reads another, warning Ben Gvir that his actions regarding al-Aqsa will come at a price.

German leader rejects criticism over Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a media conference after an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a media conference after an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has brushed aside criticism that his government is not doing enough to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

Even though Germany reversed its policy of not sending weapons to countries at war, Scholz has been accused at home and abroad of being hesitant and slow in coming to Ukraine’s aid. In an interview published today by newspaper Bild, the Social Democratic leader defended his government’s approach.

“I make my decisions quickly — and in coordination with our partners,” Scholz is quoted as saying. “I am suspicious of acting too hastily and Germany going it alone.”

Germany broke with tradition after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 to supply anti-tank weapons, surface-to-air missiles and other military equipment to Ukraine. It has since agreed to provide Gepard anti-aircraft guns, but Scholz has faced mounting pressure to send other heavy weapons including tanks and other armored vehicles.

Scholz, who replaced Angela Merkel as chancellor late last year, says he isn’t bothered by opposition claims that he’s too hesitant and timid.

“It is part of a democracy that you are robustly challenged by the opposition,” he says.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia to discuss extending term of $3 billion loan

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia say they will discuss extending the term of a $3 billion loan to help Islamabad’s faltering economy.

The Gulf nation has long been an intelligence partner of Pakistan as well as a regular source of financial relief for successive governments.

The latest sign of support follows a visit to Saudi Arabia by new Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who has inherited a crippling national debt, galloping inflation and a feeble rupee.

A joint statement says the kingdom would continue to support the Pakistani economy and had discussed “augmenting the $3 billion deposit with the central bank through term extension or otherwise.”

Saudi Arabia also pledged “to further enhance the financing of petroleum products” at a time when the South Asian country is suffering from frequent power cuts.

The statement comes after recent talks between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the release of funds under an existing $6 billion aid program that had stalled due to concerns about the pace of reforms.

The cash-strapped nation’s foreign exchange reserves plunged below $11 billion last month.

4-year-old Dutch boy takes mother’s car for spin, crashes into parked cars

A 4-year-old boy in the Netherlands took his mother’s car for a drive before crashing into two parked cars, police say.

Police in the central city of Utrecht were alerted when residents spotted a youngster walking in the street dressed only in pajamas and bare feet.

“We immediately responded, as bystanders were worried that the boy was suffering from hypothermia,” police write on Instagram.

As they arrived, officers received a second report of a nearby car accident involving three cars. The driver suspected of causing the accident was missing.

That car was registered to the boy’s mother, they say.

Police phoned the mother “and when she spoke to her son, he made noises resembling a car and used gestures showing turning a steering wheel,” police say.

“We then realized that the child may have been the driver.”

After a hot chocolate at the police station and some comfort from a teddy bear, the boy was reunited with his mum, police say.

The boy had woken up when his dad went to work and taken his mother’s car keys “to go for a drive,” police said.

The mother told police she had “quite a resourceful child,” while police warn the parents to hide their car keys in future.

“New Max Verstappen found in (the Utrecht suburb of) Overvecht,” police write on social media when reporting the incident, referring to the popular and current Dutch world champion Formula One driver.

“Fortunately, this mini driver’s adventure has come to an end with a sizzle,” the police write in their report.

Several Arab mayors issue statements defending Mansour Abbas after Sinwar’s slander

Ra'am chairman Mansour Abbas attends the INSS conference in Tel Aviv on April 11, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)
Ra'am chairman Mansour Abbas attends the INSS conference in Tel Aviv on April 11, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

A number of mayors of Arab towns have issued statements defending Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas after Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar lambasted the Islamist party leader as a traitor for joining Israel’s governing coalition.

“Mansour Abbas is not a traitor. He represents a large group in our (Arab) sector. Arab community leaders in the country must condemn without exception and reject Sinwar’s words,” says Tira Mayor Maamun Abd Elhai.

Similar statements have also been issued by the mayors of Kafr Qasim and Rahat.

Suez Canal chief says April revenues hit all-time record

A cargo ship sails through the town of Ismailia, Egypt, March 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Ayman Aref, File)
A cargo ship sails through the town of Ismailia, Egypt, March 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Ayman Aref, File)

Egypt’s Suez Canal says its monthly revenues hit an all-time record, raking in $629 million in April.

The unprecedented income came as the Suez Canal in March increased transit fees for ships passing through the waterway.

Adm. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, says in a statement that 1,929 vessels sailed through the Suez Canal last month, compared to 1,814 in April 2021.

He says the revenues rose by 13.9% compared to April last year, when the crucial waterway received $553.6 million.

About 10% of global trade, including 7% of the world’s oil, flows through the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean and Red seas.

The canal, which opened in 1869, is a major source of foreign currency to Egypt.

The annual revenues of the canal reached $6.3 billion in 2021, the highest in its history. The Canal said 20,649 vessels passed through the waterway last year, a 10% increase compared to 18,830 vessels in 2020.

The shipping industry is still under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine has already added to global economic concerns.

Moscow says nearly 50 civilians evacuated from Mariupol steel plant

Smoke rises from the grounds of the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP)
Smoke rises from the grounds of the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP)

The Russian defense ministry says that nearly 50 civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

“On April 30, following the implementation of a ceasefire and the opening of a humanitarian corridor, two groups of civilians have left the residential buildings adjacent to the site of the Azovstal steel plant,” the ministry says on Telegram.

“Twenty-five residents left in the afternoon. In the early evening, a second group of 21 people left and were taken to Bezimenne,” a village situated halfway between Mariupol and the Russian border.

“All of the civilians were given accommodation, food and necessary medical help,” the Russian authorities said, without specifying where the first group had been taken.

A defense ministry video showed a convoy of cars and buses traveling in the dark, marked with a “Z”, the letter used by the Russian forces in the conflict.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian forces guarding the Azovstal site had said that 20 civilians, including children, had been evacuated to the city of Zaporizhzhia.

The Russian defense ministry also confirms that “near Odessa, high-precision Onyx missiles destroyed a hangar at a military aerodrome housing weapons and ammunition from the United States and European countries, and the runway was also destroyed.”

Health Ministry audit cites Strauss failures, pigeons in report on salmonella spread

The Strauss Group's offices in Karmiel, northern Israel. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
The Strauss Group's offices in Karmiel, northern Israel. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

A new Health Ministry report slams the Strauss Group for a series of oversights and failures that it believes led to the spread of salmonella at the company’s factory in Nof Hagalil, which has prompted a massive recall.

According to the Health Ministry, out of 300 samples taken so far from the factory in question, about 30 have come back positive for traces of salmonella.

The massive recall of Strauss’s Elite products was first announced last Monday, and expanded over several days to include a wide range of chocolates, wafers, cakes, cookies, ice cream, gum and candy. On Thursday, Health Ministry director Nachman Ash said the factory would be shut down for three months while it works to investigate and repair the damage.

In its report, the Health Ministry cited a range of issues that it blamed on Strauss, including construction work at the factory that was undertaken without concern for its effects on production; an infiltration of pigeons into the factory that could potentially have played a role; the unfilled role of a director of food safety at the factory; and improper thawing conditions for dairy fats used in chocolate production.

Shooter opens fire at Kfar Saba home of Holocaust survivor in apparent case of mistaken ID

An unknown assailant fired eight bullets at the home of a Holocaust survivor in Kfar Saba, the Ynet news site reports

The incident appears to have been a case of mistaken identification as the shooter was trying to target the family of a local gang, according to Ynet.

Seven of the bullets pierced the door and landed near the survivor’s bed. The woman and her caregiver were frightened by the incident but were physically unharmed, Ynet says.

Ahead of 74th Independence Day, Israeli population hits 9.5 million, thanks to 1.9% bump since last year

Ahead of Independence Day, the Central Bureau of Statistics issues updated figures on Israel’s population.

The number now stands at 9,506,000: 73.9% Jews, 21.1% Arab and 5% other.

The population has risen by 176,000, or 1.9% since last Independence Day. During the past year, some 191,000 babies were born, 38,000 people immigrated to Israel and 55,000 people passed away.

Israel’s population was 806,000 when the country was established in 1948. At the time, 82.1% were Jews and 17.9% were Arabs.

Since the establishment of the state, 3.3 million Jews have immigrated to Israel — 44.7% of whom did so from 1990 onward.

In 2030, Israel’s population is slated to stand at 11.1 million people, according to the CBS. In 2040, the number will climb to 13.2 million and in 2048, the number will be 15.2 million.

At the end of 2020, roughly 45% of world Jews were living in Israel. Roughly 79% of Israeli Jews were born in Israel.

Roughly 28% of Israel’s current population is under the age of 15 and 12% is aged 65 and older.

Russia using troll factory to target Kremlin critics — UK

Russia has turned an old factory in Saint Petersburg into a so-called troll farm to spread disinformation and target Kremlin critics, including world leaders, according to UK government-funded research.

The site in the Russian city is allegedly being used to “spread lies” on social media and in comment sections of popular websites, Britain’s foreign ministry says in a statement detailing what it called a “sick” operation.

The ministry, which will share the research with social media platforms, claims it found paid employees of the troll factory were targeting politicians as well as musicians and bands, in countries including Britain, South Africa and India.

They use online platforms to recruit and co-ordinate new sympathizers who then target the social media profiles of Kremlin critics, spamming them with comments backing Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine, it adds.

The trolls have targeted the accounts of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other UK ministers, alongside those of world leaders including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, according to the ministry.

Cabinet approves deputy attorney-general appointment

Avital Sompolinsky's appointment as deputy attorney-general is approved by the government on May 1, 2022. (Noam Moskowitz)
Avital Sompolinsky's appointment as deputy attorney-general is approved by the government on May 1, 2022. (Noam Moskowitz)

The cabinet has unanimously approved the appointment of Avital Sompolinsky to the position of deputy attorney-general.

The appointment was proposed by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar earlier this year. Since 2017 Sompolinsky has been the Knesset’s legal representative in the courts, where she has been responsible for formulating the Knesset’s position in constitutional petitions and representing the Knesset in the High Court of Justice.

Sa’ar tells the cabinet ahead of the vote that “the professional path taken by Adv. Sompolinsky in the State Attorney’s Office and then in the Knesset Legal Bureau, by representing the state and the Knesset before the High Court of Justice on significant constitutional and public issues was optimal for the position.”

IDF announces West Bank, Gaza crossings to close for Memorial Day, Independence Day

Illustrative: IDF soldiers at a checkpoint in the West Bank. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Illustrative: IDF soldiers at a checkpoint in the West Bank. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The Israeli army announces it is imposing a closure on border crossings between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip during Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzma’ut.

The closure will begin Tuesday at 3 p.m., and last until midnight between Thursday and Friday, May 6.

The Israel Defense Forces says the border crossings for Palestinians will reopen “subject to a situational assessment.”

Such closures are standard practice during festivals and holidays, in what the military says is a preventative measure against attacks at those times, which are seen as periods of increased tension.

A closure was imposed during the first and last days of Passover but was not extended over the entire holiday. During the holiday of Purim in March, the military skipped it all together for the first time in five years.

Exceptions will be made for humanitarian and other outstanding cases, but will require the approval of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Yemen truce could help reverse humanitarian crisis — UN

File: In this photo taken on August 30, 2019 A fighter of the UAE-trained Security Belt Force, dominated by members of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) which seeks independence for south Yemen, walks with a separatist flag past an oil tanker set ablaze during clashes between the separatists and the Saudi-backed government forces at the Fayush-Alam crossroads on the eastern entrance Aden from the Abyan province in southern Yemen. (Nabil HASAN / AFP)
File: In this photo taken on August 30, 2019 A fighter of the UAE-trained Security Belt Force, dominated by members of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) which seeks independence for south Yemen, walks with a separatist flag past an oil tanker set ablaze during clashes between the separatists and the Saudi-backed government forces at the Fayush-Alam crossroads on the eastern entrance Aden from the Abyan province in southern Yemen. (Nabil HASAN / AFP)

The United Nations has warned of a “worsening” humanitarian situation in Yemen but says a fragile two-month truce since early April could help reverse the situation.

“The worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen is a reality that we need to urgently address,” UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, says in a statement released late Saturday.

“Over 23 million people — or almost three-quarters of Yemen’s population — now need assistance… an increase of almost three million people from 2021,” he says.

Gressly urges donors to take advantage of a UN-brokered truce that has largely held since April 2.

“The UN-led truce is a vital opportunity for aid agencies to scale up life-saving assistance and to reach more people in acute need quickly, including in areas where access was limited due to armed conflict and insecurity,” he says.

The truce, which can be renewed, has provided the impoverished country with a rare respite from violence.

It has also seen oil tankers begin arriving at the port of Hodeida, potentially easing fuel shortages in Sanaa and elsewhere.

The truce also involved a deal to resume commercial flights out of Sanaa’s airport for the first time in six years, though the inaugural flight planned for late April was postponed indefinitely, with each side blaming the other for holding it up.

Egypt frees 3 as president appears to reach out to critics

In this photo provided by Egypt's presidency media office, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, speaks at an international youth conference, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday, January 10, 2022. (Egyptian Presidency Media Office via AP)
In this photo provided by Egypt's presidency media office, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, speaks at an international youth conference, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday, January 10, 2022. (Egyptian Presidency Media Office via AP)

Egyptian authorities have freed three journalists, the head of a journalists’ union says, the latest in a string of releases as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi appears to be reaching out to critics of his administration.

Ammer Abdel-Moneim, Hany Greisha and Essam Abdeen walk free from jail after they spent around a year and a half in detention in separate cases.

Diaa Rashwan, head of the Journalists’ Union, posts images showing the three journalists wearing white jail uniforms and embracing their families in the street.

They are released pending investigations into initial charges of misuse of social media and joining a terrorist group, in an apparent reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization since 2013. The three have yet to face trial.

Their release come a few days after authorities freed 41 detainees — including several prominent writers and activists — who had been held for months also without trial. Long pre-trial detentions have been a major concern for rights groups in recent years.

El-Sissi also reactivated a presidential pardon committee and appointed new members. The committee, in charge of reviewing cases of prisoners held for political crimes, was created in 2016 and had been mostly ineffective in recent years.

First birth of an Asiatic cheetah in captivity takes place in Iran

This Monday, May 26, 2014, photo shows a 7-year-old male Asiatic Cheetah, named 'Koushki,' at the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge in Jajarm, northeastern Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
This Monday, May 26, 2014, photo shows a 7-year-old male Asiatic Cheetah, named 'Koushki,' at the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge in Jajarm, northeastern Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

An Asiatic cheetah gave birth to three “healthy” cubs in Iran, the head of the environment department says, calling it a first in captivity for the endangered species.

“Iran,” one of only a dozen cheetahs found in the Islamic Republic, delivered three “healthy” cubs by C-section, Ali Salajegheh tells IRNA news agency.

“This is the first birth of an Asiatic cheetah in captivity,” he says. “By preserving these cubs, we can increase the cheetah population in captivity and then in semi-captivity,” Salajegheh adds.

The cubs were born in the Touran Wildlife Refuge in the Semnan province east of Tehran, where the mother and her babies are being monitored in intensive care.

The world’s fastest land animal, capable of reaching speeds of 120 kilometers (74 miles) per hour, cheetahs once stalked habitats from the eastern reaches of India to the Atlantic coast of Senegal and beyond. They are still found in parts of southern Africa, but have practically disappeared from North Africa and Asia.

Iran is one of the last countries in the world where the Asiatic cheetahs live in the wild and began a United Nations-supported protection program in 2001.

Minor earthquake shakes northern Israel

Illustrative: A researcher shows seismograph sensor readings from an earthquake in Mexico, on July 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
Illustrative: A researcher shows seismograph sensor readings from an earthquake in Mexico, on July 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

A 3.5 magnitude earthquake shakes northern Israel, with the the epicenter 116 kilometers northwest of the northern city of Nahariya, according to the Israel Defense Force Home Front Command.

The quake did not endanger residents of the area and no alert was triggered as the impact was relatively minor, says the Homefront Command.

Russia says it could seize assets of ‘hostile’ countries

Russia suggests that it could seize the Russian-based assets of countries it deems hostile in retaliation for a US proposal to sell off Russian oligarchs’ assets and pay the proceeds to Ukraine.

“As far as companies based in Russian territory are concerned whose owners are citizens of hostile countries and where the decision has been taken” to seize Russian assets, “it is fair to take reciprocal measures and confiscate assets,” says the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin.

“And the proceeds from the sale of these assets will be used for our country’s development,” he says on his Telegram channel.

Volodin accuses “a certain number of hostile countries — Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and even the United States” — of flouting international law and “resorting to pure theft.”

Volodin says that “today, Russian businessmen are buying foreign companies operating in Russia, and purchasing the shares of partners who want to quit our market.”

PM hits back at Sinwar, swiping at Netanyahu: ‘Maybe Hamas misses suitcases of cash’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett arrives for a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on May 1, 2022. (Menahem KAHANA / POOL / AFP)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett arrives for a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on May 1, 2022. (Menahem KAHANA / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hits back at Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar for his threatening speech a day earlier, at the same time taking a swipe at his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu for allowing millions of dollars of Qatari cash to flow into the Gaza Strip under the terror group’s control.

“It seems to me that it is already quite clear at this stage that Hamas does not like this government. Maybe they miss the suitcases of dollars, and maybe they just do not like the possibility of us all working together to improve the living conditions of Arab Israeli citizens,” Bennett says at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“This is the time that the masks come off and it is clear to everyone who wants what. That Hamas wants to overthrow our government, says it all. And in that, too, Sinwar must not be allowed to win,” Bennett says.

Under Netanyahu’s government, Israel allowed millions in Qatari cash to flow into Gaza on a monthly basis in order to maintain a fragile ceasefire with Hamas.

The “suitcases full of cash” policy was excoriated by Bennett and his government as a system to fund terror, and it was replaced with a new aid distribution mechanism involving the United Nations.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed