The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
An initial investigation by the IDF into the death of reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin this morning says she was likely near armed terrorists, and Israeli troops did not fire at her.
The troops from the elite Duvdvan unit say they did not see Abu Akleh or fire at her, the Walla news site reports.
The investigation says she appeared to have been standing near Palestinian gunmen who were shooting at IDF troops, the report says.
The Israeli troops responded with precise gunfire, which was determined by the number of rounds fired and their location, the report says.
Israeli investigators believe the Palestinian gunmen fired around 1,000 rounds at Israeli troops using various weapons.
The IDF has not ruled out the possibility that an Israeli bullet killed Abu Akleh.
Arab countries at the United Nations call for an independent, international probe into what they call the assassination of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead as she covered an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank.
“The Arab group in New York adopted a statement condemning in the strongest possible term this criminal act by the Israeli occupying authorities and demanding an international independent investigation on this crime,” says the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour.
He says it is necessary “to take those who are responsible for this crime to face the accountability regarding this crime.”
The demand for an independent international probe was sent in three identical letters to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN Security Council and president of the General Assembly, Mansour says.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz says that he regrets Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh’s death, adding that while Israeli officials cannot yet determine how she died, they intend to carry out a thorough investigation “to expose the truth.”
“Unfortunately, we do not have a way to conduct a forensic investigation, so we appealed to the Palestinians to give us the bullet [to conduct a ballistic analysis],” he says at a briefing for foreign reporters.
“We are in the middle of the investigation, and I do not want to rule out any scenario at the moment. I can say that Israel sees great importance in safeguarding human life and freedom of the press.”
Gantz adds that the incident will not stop Israel from undertaking counter-terror operations in the West Bank, and in particular Jenin — which is home to several perpetrators of a recent wave of terror attacks.
“We will continue to act against the terrorists, and at the same time we will continue to do everything possible to separate them from the population because these are our values and it is also in our interest if we want to maintain stability,” he says.
The officer in charge of the Central Command area that includes Jenin, Maj-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, tells Channel 12 news that “hundreds, even thousands of bullets” were fired by the IDF and by Palestinian gunmen in today’s gunbattle, and “I don’t know which bullet” hit Shireen Abu Akleh. “I am sorry for every innocent person who is hurt in the course of IDF operations. We do our best to avoid it,” he says. “And I’m sorry about the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.”
He presents himself as the officer responsible — in that “I am the Central Command general. I’m responsible for ensuring that terrorist attacks do not come out of Jenin. I’m responsible for sending combat troops, risking their lives, into Jenin refugee camp to extricate people who are planning terror attacks, people who have carried out attacks, and people who are making weaponry to harm Israelis.”
Entering Jenin is always dangerous, he says, since gunfire erupts from all directions. It’s not simple. It’s an urban area. And it’s dangerous.”
Asked about the concerted Palestinian campaign of blame against Israel, Fuchs says, “I don’t deal with [propaganda] campaigns. The only campaign I’m engaged in is to protect the state of Israel. In 99% of the operations against terror in urban areas, including in Jenin where we are fired on in all directions, we don’t hit innocents. We succeed at that.
“But sometimes… when you’re fighting in a refugee camp, and dozens of [gunmen] are coming at you and firing from 270 degrees, from almost all directions, sometimes innocent people do get harmed. The journalist Shireen, who was really very close to the line where the forces were — ours and the Palestinian terrorists — was hurt there.”
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan says the Palestinian Authority has refused to hold a joint investigation into the death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin this morning.
“The Palestinian Authority rushed to blame Israel without even the ability to know the facts,” Erdan says. That is why we called on the Palestinian Authority to be transparent and agree to a joint investigation. They have refused.”
“Her death is a tragedy but no one should use it for political gains, especially those who violate human rights on a daily basis.”
“Protecting freedom of the press is of critical importance to Israel, Erdan says, adding, “We express sorrow for her loss.”
Police report Palestinian rioting in northern Jerusalem, with rock-throwing and clashes.
Three cops are lightly hurt. Nine protesters have been detained.
Some reports say the rally was in protest of the death of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh.
The Israel Defense Forces says an explosion heard over central Israel a short while ago was likely a sonic boom caused by Israeli jets breaking the sound barrier amid a drill.
“There is no fear of a security incident,” the IDF says.
Several hundred people protest in Haifa over the death of Al Jazeera’s Abu Akleh, Haaretz reports.
Demonstrators block the city’s Ben Gurion Boulevard, wave Palestinian flags and chant against the Shin Bet security service.
Several dozen people also demonstrate in Nazareth, the report says.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tells Channel 12 news he believes the US and Europe have accepted Israel’s position that it is not yet clear who is responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.
He says Israel’s offer of a joint investigation has helped it show it is determined to seriously look into the circumstances surrounding the reporter’s death.
Of course, Lapid goes on, nothing can help with the Palestinians, “where we are immediately blamed.” But public diplomacy lessons have been learned and implemented from previous incidents, he says.
Meanwhile, the network reports that the bullet extracted from Abu Akleh’s body during a Palestinian autopsy was a 5.56mm caliber M16 bullet — but that M16s are used by both Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen, so this does not help determine who shot her. An expert examination of the bullet could help do so, however, it says.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield joins the chorus of officials condemning the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh during an IDF raid in Jenin this morning.
“I send my deepest condolences to her family,” she tweets, noting that she met her during her visit to the West Bank last year.
“We must ensure journalists performing critical work amidst conflict are protected, and we call for an immediate and thorough investigation into this tragedy,” Thomas-Greenfield adds.
Israeli and Palestinian officials are in advanced talks for cooperation in the investigation into the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Channel 13 reports.
The report cites an unnamed Israeli security source. It says a ballistics probe is needed to determine whether Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire.
The UN human rights office says it is “appalled” at the killing of a veteran Al Jazeera reporter in the West Bank and demands a transparent investigation.
Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, was shot dead as she covered an Israeli army raid in Jenin.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s office says it is on the ground and trying to verify the facts.
“We urge an independent, transparent investigation into her killing. Impunity must end.”
Police say the suspect in Jerusalem was holding a suspicious object and wielding it like a knife while rushing at officers and shouting “Allahu Akbar” at them, leading them to shoot him.
He was taken to a hospital in serious condition.
Police do not say what the man was actually holding, though it seems it was not, in fact, a knife.
A 50-year-old hotel worker was killed earlier at Jerusalem’s Vert Hotel when a freight elevator collapsed on him, crushing him.
Paramedics who arrived at the scene found the man suffering from a severe head injury and were forced to declare him dead at the scene.
Police are investigating the circumstances of the accident.
A Palestinian teenager died after being struck by an Israeli rubber-tipped bullet during clashes near Ramallah this morning, the Palestinian Authority health ministry says.
Palestinian health officials name the victim as 18-year-old Thair Khalil al-Yarouzi. According to the ministry, the bullet struck him directly in the heart, killing him.
The Israeli army confirms that troops fired rubber bullets at Palestinians who threw stones at an Israeli military outpost near the Psagot settlement, and says they hit several people.
Israeli security forces frequently use rubber-tipped steel bullets as a form of crowd control. The rounds can maim, blind or even kill their targets; rights groups have advocated strongly limiting their use.
Five Egyptian soldiers and seven jihadists were killed earlier when the army was attacked in the Sinai region, the Egyptian military says, the second such deadly jihadist attack in days.
Jihadist fighters attacked at dawn, an army spokesman says in a statement.
“One officer and four soldiers were killed and two other soldiers were wounded,” the statement read, adding that seven jihadists were killed.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday’s attack.
A Palestinian shouted “Allahu akbar” and lunged at police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City, police say.
The man was shot by officers near one of the entrances to the Temple Mount.
Police did not say if the suspect was armed.
There are no other injuries.
According to Palestinian media reports, police have closed off the area.
The opposition has managed to pass in its preliminary reading a bill to form a state commission of inquiry into the police’s use of spyware to snoop after Israelis.
The bill was submitted by Likud MK Yoav Kisch in the wake of media claims that shook the country earlier this year, that law enforcement had used spyware – including NSO Group’s Pegasus software – to illegally spy on citizens through their phones without court orders.
The bill passed with 59 MKs in favor and 58 against.
Police and the State Prosecution investigated the claims that originated in the Calcalist newspaper and found that though spyware has been used, it was done with court approval.
The US demands an “immediate and thorough” investigation into the killing of American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an IDF raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.
“We are heartbroken by and strongly condemn the killing,” says US State Department spokesman Ned Price.
We are heartbroken by and strongly condemn the killing of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank. The investigation must be immediate and thorough and those responsible must be held accountable. Her death is an affront to media freedom everywhere.
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) May 11, 2022
“Those responsible must be held accountable,” he tweets, stopping short of assigning blame.
“Her death is an affront to media freedom everywhere.”
The European Union condemns the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and demands an independent investigation into the circumstances of her death.
The statement, issued by the EU’s External Action service, comes after the Al Jazeera television reporter was shot dead while covering an Israeli operation in Jenin.
US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib lambastes “Apartheid Israel that continues to murder, torture and commit war crimes.”
In a tweet following the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American says the reporter was “murdered by a government that receives unconditional funding by our country with zero accountability.”
Nine people were wounded in the brawl at Tel Araf Junction in the south earlier, of whom two are in serious condition and four are in moderate condition, Magen David Adom says.
The paramedics note that several of those hurt suffered “penetrative wounds,” though they do not give further details.
The circumstances of the incident are not yet clear.
Likud MK Miri Regev attacks the prime minister for continuing to depend on the Islamist Ra’am party for his government’s existence.
“I don’t know in which direction Bennett prays — Jerusalem or Mecca,” she quips to Channel 12.
Far-right MK Avi Maoz of Religious Zionism’s anti-gay rights Noam faction says “members of the coalition have lost their moral compass.”
Israel Defense Forces chief Aviv Kohavi says the military is sorry for the death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin this morning, and vows to fully investigate the circumstances.
“At this stage, it is not possible to determine whose shooting she was hit by and we are sorry for her death,” Kohavi says in a statement published by the IDF.
Israel has indicated that the journalist may have been hit by bullets fired by Palestinian gunmen, but has not provided proof for this claim.
“In order to get to the truth, we have set up a special team that will clarify the facts and present them in full and as soon as possible,” he said.
The team will be headed by Col. Meni Liberati, head of the IDF’s Commando Brigade.
“The soldiers operated under fire, and showed courage and determination to protect the citizens of the country, and we will continue to do so wherever we are required,” Kohavi adds.
The Moscow-installed authorities in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region says they plan to appeal to President Vladimir Putin for the region to become part of Russia.
Kherson was the first major city to fall to Russian forces after the start of their military operation in Ukraine on February 24. Moscow gained full control of the region in late April.
“There will be a request to make Kherson region a full subject of the Russian Federation,” says Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the civilian and military administration, Russian news agencies report.
He adds that “by the end of the year” Kherson will be fully governed by Russian law.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin says the possibility of her country joining NATO is for the security of its citizens and calls for the international community to unite in stepping up sanctions against Russia during talks in Japan.
Non-aligned Finland and Sweden are set to announce their positions on NATO membership this week in what could be a serious blow to Russia as its military struggles to make decisive gains in Ukraine.
“If Finland makes this historical step it is for the security of our own citizens,” Marin tells a news conference after holding talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. “Joining NATO will strengthen the whole international community that stands for common values.”
Marin says she and Kishida discussed “Russia’s horrible aggression against Ukraine and its consequences.” She says that sanctions against Moscow need to cover energy, finance and transport sectors “more broadly than now.”
Palestinian coroners have begun an autopsy of the Al Jazeera journalist killed earlier today during an Israeli military operation in Jenin.
So far, officials say only that Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by a bullet to the head that was fired from at least several meters away.
Further results are pending.
Police say they are responding to a brawl in the southern Tel Arad intersection, east of Beersheba, that included gunfire.
Officers are at the scene and working to restore order.
Several people are wounded at the scene, though it is unclear if any were wounded by gunfire.
Iranian archaeology professors have published an open letter calling on parliament to step back from a draft law that would allow trade in antiquities, Iranian media reports.
“A group of archaeology professors from across the country called for the withdrawal of a bill that would allow the trade of ancient artifacts,” the ISNA news agency reports.
According to the news agency, 46 out of 290 MPs proposed the draft law earlier this week, dubbed the “optimal utilization of ancient objects and treasures.”
Lawmakers said they hope to turn Iran into a “regional center” for antiquities trade, aiming to prevent the “cheap smuggling of national heritage,” ISNA said, citing the text of the draft.
Iranian media regularly report arrests of individuals accused of smuggling artifacts out of the country.
In their letter, the professors strongly criticize the MPs for proposing the bill “without any consultation with official archaeological institutions.”
“Not only does this plan not prevent the destruction of heritage and unprofessional excavations, it legally authorizes looters to destroy our heritage,” the letter warns.
As expected, Likud has now pulled its bill to dissolve the Knesset after realizing it did not have the votes to pass it.
A decades-long building project to house the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Jerusalem’s Museum Hill gets a major boost with a $3 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
“The Antiquities Authority thanks the Helmsley Charitable Trust for its significant donation, which gives renewed impetus to the project, and will allow the authority to move to the campus by the end of 2022,” says Eli Eskozido, director of the Antiquities Authority.
Designed in 2002 by architect Moshe Safdie, the 33,445 square meter (360,000 square foot) Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel broke ground in 2010. Most of the construction was completed within a few years, after which the future headquarters of the IAA sat empty despite earlier estimates of completion and habitation by 2014.
Currently, the IAA spreads its Jerusalem offices between the technological park at Har Hotzvim, the Israel Museum, and the East Jerusalem Rockefeller Museum.
The new campus aims to display “millions of excavated artifacts that will be assembled and displayed for the public for the first time,” according to the IAA, as well as house the IAA staff offices and laboratories. The Dead Sea scrolls laboratory will also be open to the public, according to the IAA website.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to take part in tomorrow’s funeral for slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Palestinian-American Abu Aqleh was killed this morning during an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, with Israel and Palestinians trading accusations of responsibility.
She was shot in the head while covering an Israeli army operation in the city, which has seen high tensions in recent days. In footage from the scene after she was shot, Abu Akleh can be seen wearing a press vest and helmet.
The European Union will no longer require masks to be worn at airports and on planes starting next week amid the easing of coronavirus restrictions across the bloc, authorities say.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency says it hopes the joint decision, made with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, will mark “a big step forward in the normalization of air travel” for passengers and crews.
The new guideline “takes account of the latest developments in the pandemic, in particular the levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity, and the accompanying lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries,” the two agencies say in a joint statement.
“Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky says. “And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”
While the new recommendations take effect on May 16, rules for masks may still vary by airline beyond that date if they fly to or from destinations where the rules are different.
French judges at the Paris Tribunal open an investigation into torture allegations against Interpol President Maj. Gen. Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi of the United Arab Emirates.
Two British citizens, Matthew Hedges and Ali Issa Ahmad, who had both been detained in the UAE before al-Raisi was elected president of the France-based world police agency, will today give evidence against him at the Specialized Judicial Unit for Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes of the Paris Tribunal, their lawyers say.
The two Britons filed a criminal complaint against al-Raisi with the prosecutors of the Paris Tribunal in October under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
Al-Raisi was elected for a four-year term as Interpol president in November. He has been accused by human rights groups of involvement in torture and arbitrary detentions in the UAE.
With Ra’am announcing it is giving the government a second chance, Likud is now expected to pull its bill to dissolve the Knesset, as it seems it would not have a majority to pass it in its preliminary reading.
The development breathes new life into the floundering coalition, which has teetered on the edge of collapse ever since it lost its parliamentary majority last month with the defection of Yamina MK Idit Silman.
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