The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.
Polls conducted by Channel 12 and Kan show Benjamin Netanyahu’s government rebounding slightly in the polls, following the recent Gaza operation.
Channel 12 has Likud growing by three seats if elections were held today, to 27, leaving it tied with the opposition’s National Unity which had surpassed it in recent surveys.
Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc would rise slightly compared to previous polls, to 52 seats — though this is still a significant drop from the 64 it enjoys today and keeps it in the minority.
After having trailed National Unity’s Benny Gantz earlier this month on who is most suited to serve as prime minister (Gantz 41% to Netanyahu’s 31% on May 7), Netanyahu makes an impressive recovery, now leading Gantz, 38% to 37%.
Kan’s poll has Likud at 28 to National Unity’s 26, and Netanyahu’s bloc at 55 seats.
While Israel was fighting with Islamic Jihad in Gaza in recent days, Hamas top leader Khaled Mashaal was filmed attending a wedding in Qatar.
Kan news reported that some Palestinians expressed anger at Mashaal on social media, questioning his decision to celebrate while combat was ongoing in the Strip.
— ????????فَارٍس (@19fares89) May 10, 2023
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir is expected to take part in Thursday’s annual Flag March in Jerusalem as part of Jerusalem Day events.
The annual march of religious nationalists through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City is regularly a tense affair, with thousands of largely Orthodox participants rallying from Independence Park to the Western Wall to mark Israel’s reunification of East and West Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War. The march has gained notoriety over the years, as it is often marred by hate speech and sometimes violence by Jewish participants toward Palestinians.
Ben Gvir has been a regular participant in the marches, but this would be his first time doing so as a minister, and specifically the minister in charge of police.
In the past two years, the Biden administration has urged Israel to change the route of the march to go through the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, instead of Damascus Gate, thereby avoiding the Muslim Quarter, which is largely populated by Palestinians.
A senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel earlier this month that the hardline government was not likely to reroute the march.
A 7-year-old boy who fell from a fourth-floor balcony in Ashdod last week has died of his injuries.
The boy was rushed to Assuta Medical Center in the city in serious condition last week, where he succumbed to his injuries today.
He had apparently fallen after a moving company dismantled the balcony’s railing.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin is demanding that at least part of the government’s judicial overhaul be passed by the end of the Knesset’s summer session, Channel 12 reports.
According to the network, Levin says that if no agreement is reached with the opposition in ongoing compromise talks, he wants the matter done unilaterally once the state budget is approved this month.
If nothing at all is done during the current session, Levin is quoted as telling associates, “What reason have I to be in the government?”
Channel 12 news reports that Iran promised Palestinian Islamic Jihad $5 million for every day of conflict with Israel.
The network does not provide a source for the claim.
Iran is a major backer of the Gaza-based terror group, which shot some 1,500 rockets at Israel over a four-day period, before a ceasefire came into effect last night.
The Israel Defense Forces says tanks carried out strikes against two observation posts belonging to the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip, in response to the latest rocket fire on southern Israel.
Last night, a ceasefire was reached between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group after five days of fighting.
The rocket launched this evening has been blamed on a malfunction, according to a source in an umbrella group of Palestinian terror factions, which includes both Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Palestinian media outlets are reporting an Israeli strike in the northern Gaza Strip.
The reports say an observation post belonging to a terror group is hit.
The Israel Defense Forces has not yet commented on the alleged strike, which would come after a rocket was launched at southern Israel earlier.
A source in the so-called “Joint Room” of Palestinian terror factions in the Gaza Strip tells Al-Jazeera that the rocket launched at southern Israel was a result of a technical malfunction.
“The resistance confirms its commitment to the ceasefire,” the source adds.
The Israel Defense Forces says one rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip at the southern coastal city of Ashkelon.
The military says the rocket landed in an open area, without causing any damage or injuries.
The Iron Dome air defense system was not used, as the projectile was not heading for a populated area.
Incoming rocket sirens are sounding in the coastal city of Ashkelon and nearby towns close to the border with the Gaza Strip.
Residents of the area report hearing explosions.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The sirens come less than a day after a ceasefire was reached between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ostensibly ending five days of fighting.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan calls on other UN envoys to not attend a Monday event at the General Assembly marking the “Nakba,” the Palestinian term for the “catastrophe” of Israel’s establishment.
“The thought that an international organization could mark the establishment of one of its member states as a catastrophe or disaster is both appalling and repulsive,” the letter says.
“Not only does this condone Jew-hatred, but it also gives a green light to the Palestinians to continue exploiting international organs to promote their libelous narrative,” it says.
“Attending one-sided Palestinian initiatives that falsely brand Israel as the source of all evil does not bring the conflict closer to an end, but only serves to inflame tensions. I deeply urge you not to take part in the shameful ‘Nakba’ Event.”
Erdan says the Israeli mission has “managed to convince a number of countries to boycott this despicable event” and is trying to sway others.
The commemoration of the Nakba, the first of its kind at the UN, will include a high-level special meeting at UN Headquarters in New York and a special event in the General Assembly Hall. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is traveling to New York to attend.
The General Assembly approved the event in December with a vote of 90 in favor, 30 against and 47 abstentions.
The Israel Defense Forces publishes statistics from the five-day Operation Shield and Arrow against Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
According to the IDF’s data, Palestinian terrorists launched 1,468 rockets and mortars at Israel during the conflict.
The military says 290 of the rockets, or one in five, landed short in the Gaza Strip, and another 39 landed in the sea, while 1,139 rockets crossed the border to Israel. Air defense systems intercepted 430 rockets, marking a 95% interception rate of rockets headed for populated areas.
A handful of rockets landed in populated areas, causing one death and several injuries, as well as damage. The rest of the rockets landed in open areas, which also resulted in one death and the injury of two others.
The IDF says it carried out strikes against 422 Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, including eight military sites, 19 command centers, 12 weapons manufacturing sites, 122 rocket launchers, 63 mortar launching sites, 10 squads launching rockets and mortars, and 21 targeted killings — including against six senior members.
The Air Force carried out the strikes with 120 fighter jets, 14 combat helicopters and an unspecified number of drones. The aircraft used 250 tons of munitions (a total of 390 bombs). Drones carried out a total of 115 strikes. And ground forces carried out 10 strikes.
The IDF says it killed a total of 21 terror operatives during the fighting. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza reported 33 deaths during the fighting. The IDF says at least four civilians were likely killed by failed rockets, and a number of civilians were killed during the initial strikes of the operation, targeting senior Islamic Jihad members.
Speaking to reporters, the head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, says the surprise strikes on Tuesday were key to what the military views as a very successful operation.
Toledano says defensive activities continue on the Gaza border, after the ceasefire.
Police and the Antiquities Authority say they captured five people Friday suspected of robbing a 2,000-year-old archaeological site in northern Israel.
Authorities began to suspect objects were being stolen from the Enot Shuim site, located near Ein Mahil, north of Nazareth, some three weeks ago.
“Last Friday we decided to take action to capture the robbers,” says Nir Distelfeld, inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Theft Prevention Unit.
“We ambushed them and once we saw them attempt to dig, I called in police forces… Together we caught them red-handed.”
The site houses a community dating back to the Roman-Byzantine period and contains caves thought to have been used by Jews who rebelled against Roman authorities.
A photo has emerged of the woman killed in a rocket strike in Rehovot on Thursday
Inga Avramyan, 80, died when a rocket penetrated Iron Dome defenses and slammed into the apartment building in the central town.
Her grandson said Saturday that she died as she tried to help her paralyzed husband reach shelter. He was wounded but survived.
כואב לי על אינגה.
אינגה עלתה לפני 30 שנה עם בעלה ארצה, בשנות ה-80 לחייהם הטילים הגיעו, הוא נכה מתקשה להתנייד שנלחץ מאוד, היא ניסתה לעזור לו לקום והם לא הספיקו. מחייהם – לא נותר דבר. אינגה היתה מחנכת ואשת חייל וטיפלה בו במסירות עד יומה האחרון, סרגיי שתקשר רק איתה נותר לבדו. יהי… pic.twitter.com/4Gez5PD7qd
— נועה מגיד | noa magid (@NoaMagid) May 14, 2023
Election polls close in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership of the NATO member country grappling with economic turmoil and the erosion of democratic checks-and-balances hangs in the balance after a strong challenge from an opposition candidate.
The election could grant Erdogan, 69, a new five-year term or unseat him in favor of the head of an invigorated opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who has promised to return Turkey to a more democratic path. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the race will be determined in a May 28 run-off.
Voters also elected lawmakers to fill Turkey’s 600-seat parliament, which lost much of its legislative power under Erdogan’s executive presidency. If his political alliance wins, Erdogan could continue governing without much restriction. The opposition has promised to return Turkey’s governance system to a parliamentary democracy if it wins both the presidential and parliamentary ballots.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich blasts local authority chiefs for threatening a strike over the coalition’s plan to transfer municipal tax income from wealthier cities to poorer communities.
Smotrich says the mayors “know the truth, that this bill creates justice between the municipalities in the center, which are in an attractive location and benefit from infrastructure and in any case constitute the business center of Israel, and the far-off municipalities in the periphery.”
The local government federation has been fighting against the proposal in the Finance Committee and with the Finance Ministry for the past two months, and shortly before voting on the matter today, its head, Modiin Mayor Haim Bibas, told the Finance Committee that the bill is “unacceptable.”
Smotrich says Bibas does not “have the courage to show leadership and admit that on Thursday we reached agreements with you on the bill and its wording.”
Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel opens its new and advanced “Glass Building” in Petah Tikva today. The new 40,000-square-meter structure doubles the hospital’s physical space. The seven-story glass building includes an emergency hospital that protects against conventional, biological, and chemical attacks. The two-floor protected space has a 52-bed nursery and a dialysis unit.
The new Glass Building adds many additional beds for children from around Israel and beyond by expanding departments by a factor of 1.5. The new departments will have either family rooms or rooms for only two patients, thereby reducing the risk of hospital infections.
The new building houses the only pediatric research and innovation center in Israel and one of only a few in the world. It will also have a brain disease department combining neurology, and psychiatry, and an institute for clinical brain research. The building contains an eating disorder unit, synagogue, auditorium, theater, and therapeutic garden. The hospital’s large education center is physically oriented to interface with the outside world and offers enrichment programs alongside the standard Educational Ministry curriculum.
“The Glass Building takes us into the future and is very positive news for pediatric medicine,” says Schneider director Dr. Efrat Bron-Harlev. “The hospital will advance innovation and will provide a different kind of hospitalization in terms of the physical environment, equipment, and privacy for patients and their families,”
As patients begin being transferred to the new building, work begins on gradually renovating the older hospital building nearby.
Pope Francis says he prays the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza terror groups will hold.
The pontiff says during his Sunday address at the Vatican that “weapons will not bring security and stability” to Israelis and Palestinians.
“On the contrary, they will continue to destroy any hope of peace,” he adds, lamenting that “innocent people, including women and children, have lost their lives.”
The state prosecution has decided not to appeal the acquittal of Roman Zadorov, who was released from custody earlier this year after a retrial for the 2006 murder of 13-year-old schoolgirl Tair Rada.
The decision not to appeal was made “after a careful in-depth review of the verdict” in Zadorov’s case, the prosecution says.
The gruesome murder in a school bathroom in the northern town of Katzrin has long been the subject of intense debate online and in the media, with many believing the now 45-year-old Zadorov was not the killer and had been convicted based on insufficient circumstantial evidence, while ignoring evidence that indicates the presence of another person at the scene. Others are convinced the evidence, while incomplete, leaves little room for doubt he was the culprit.
In March, Zadorov was released after serving more than a decade behind bars following a life sentence.
Far-right minister Itamar Ben Gvir says his Otzma Yehudit party will not vote in favor of funds promised to various causes under coalition deals as part of the state budget, due to his criticism of the lack of funds for development of the Negev and Galilee.
“Otzma Yehudit opposes this budget,” he says in a statement. “We cannot accept the Negev and Galilee [regions] being forgotten.” He says more funds need to be allocated “to Judaize the Negev and the Galilee.”
Party colleague Negev and Galilee Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf adds that the current allocation “is also a violation of what we were promised in coalition agreements. I hope the budget will not pass as it is.”
The two express their frustration just a week after NIS 12.4 billion of discretionary funding attached to the two-year, 2023-2024 budget was made public. The Negev and Galilee Ministry received NIS 460 million ($125 million) from the pot, according to analysis by the Berl Katznelson Foundation.
The government has until May 29 to pass the budget or face automatic dissolution.
Officials in Thailand begin counting votes in a general election touted as a pivotal chance for change nine years after incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha first came to power in a 2014 coup. He is now running against the daughter of the politician who is the military’s top nemesis.
The polls closed at 5 p.m. and some results are expected in early evening, with a fuller picture coming later Sunday night. Thai elections use paper ballots that are counted publicly at polling stations.
The opposition Pheu Thai Party, headed by Paetongtarn Shinawatra, is widely predicted to win at least a healthy plurality of the seats in the 500-member lower House. After casting her ballot, Paetongtarn said every vote is important for effecting change in Thailand and that she has high hopes for the final result.
But who heads the next government won’t be decided by Sunday’s vote alone. The prime minister will be selected in July in a joint session of the House and the 250-seat Senate. The winner must secure at least 376 votes and no party is likely to do that on its own.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Sunday that his country is preparing a counteroffensive designed to liberate areas occupied by Russia, not to attack Russian territory.
Speaking during a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Zelensky says Ukraine’s goal is to free the territories within its internationally recognized borders.
There has been speculation that Ukraine might try to capture areas in Russia proper and use them as bargaining chips in possible peace negotiations to end the war launched by Moscow in February 2022.
Pressed by reporters on the issue, Zelensky says: “We don’t attack Russian territory, we liberate our own legitimate territory.”
“We have neither the time nor the strength [to attack Russia],” he says, according to an official interpreter. “And we also don’t have weapons to spare with which we could do this.”
Iranian authorities have arrested eight people for “leading” a workers’ strike at a key gas site in the south of the country, local media reports.
“Eight main leaders of the workers’ strike in the South Pars projects have been arrested by the intelligence services,” Akbar Pourat, the deputy local governor, is quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
Some 40,000 people are employed at the South Pars/North Dome mega-field, the largest known gas reserve in the world, which Iran shares with Qatar.
In early May, local media reported the arrest of external contractors involved in supporting strike calls in the same area. The authorities announced in late April that they had begun replacing 4,000 workers who were striking to demand better wages and working conditions.
The Daily Mail claims that King Charles III is considering a trip to Israel in the near future.
If such a visit takes place, it would make Charles the first British monarch to make the trip (though Charles visited in the past, prior to ascending the throne).
Conservative member of the House of Lords Stuart Polak tells the Mail: “There is no doubt that Charles will be the one to break this pattern. The preparation has been done by his team to pave the way for this visit.”
The Health Ministry announces that the quarantine requirement for those infected with COVID-19 will end at 12 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16.
“Cancellation of compulsory quarantine is normalizing our response to COVID and is a meaningful milestone. Israel’s overcoming the pandemic and returning to routine are impressive accomplishments. However, we must exhibit mutual responsibility and stay isolated if we are infected to prevent infecting others,” says Prof. Salman Zarka, Israel’s COVID czar from July 2021 until last month and director of Ziv Medical Center in Safed.
Notwithstanding the decision, the ministry reminds the public that COVID is a serious infectious disease and can be life-threatening for medically at-risk individuals. Anyone who feels unwell is advised to take a COVID test and avoid being in contact with others until symptoms have passed. A person who tests positive for COVID should isolate themselves at home until they are no longer symptomatic. If they must go out, they should avoid crowded locations and wear a mask.
Finally, the Health Ministry encourages all Israelis — especially those in at-risk groups — to get vaccinated against the disease according to the ministry’s guidelines.
“We have defeated the pandemic but not the virus, which is still here and endangers the health — and even life — of those who are vulnerable, and we must always take that into consideration,” Zarka adds.
Municipal leaders are threatening a strike over the government’s plans to form a fund that would pool money from property taxes in well-to-do towns and transfer it to poorer areas.
The government plans to approve the establishment of such a fund as part of the new state budget. It would force local authorities to allocate a certain percentage of property taxes received from local businesses (10%-28% depending on various factors) to the fund, which would be used to encourage new construction in disadvantaged towns.
“This is an attempt to harm education, welfare, culture and our ability to provide municipal services to our residents,” the Federation of Local Authorities says in a statement. “It is not our responsibility to provide budgetary resources for national crises.”
The leaders say they will start a strike in local authorities starting tomorrow unless plans for the fund are nixed.
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