The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Authorities looking into whether 3 deaths at assisted living home caused by food poisoning
A shelter for disabled people in Holon has come under scrutiny after three of its residents died one after the other within the last several days, apparently as a result of food poisoning, Hebrew media reports.
A special team sent to the Beit Dafna shelter by the Health Ministry found severe deficiencies in its kitchen and has instructed the staff to shut down the kitchen completely until the investigation is completed.
According to reports, a few residents began feeling ill during the night between Saturday and Sunday, with some suffering from diarrhea.
One of them, who had suffered from an underlying medical condition, lost consciousness while being examined by the facility’s medical staff. Paramedics who were rushed to the scene attempted to resuscitate her, but efforts failed and she was pronounced dead on Sunday.
Three other residents were meanwhile rushed to the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, two of whom, also having suffered from underlying medical conditions, passed away Monday morning. The third resident is currently hospitalized in critical condition.
‘One of a series of responses’: Hamas takes responsibility for Ariel terror shooting
Hamas’s military wing claims responsibility for a terror shooting that left an Israeli security guard dead at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Ariel on Friday night.
“This operation is one of a series of response operations to the defiling of our Al-Aqsa [Mosque] and aggression against it,” the Izz al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades say in a statement.
A recent wave of deadly terror attacks has left 16 Israelis dead since mid-March. While Hamas has encouraged and praised the attacks, this is the first time that the terror group has taken credit for one in the current round of violence.
The attack “will not be the last one, with God’s help,” the Qassam Brigades say.
Two Palestinians — Yousef Assi and Yahya Marei — were arrested by Israeli forces in connection with the attack on Saturday from the town of Qarawat Bani Hassan in the northern West Bank.
The victim of Friday’s attack, security officer Vyacheslav Golev, 23, was laid to rest in Beit Shemesh in central Israel on Sunday.
While Hamas has consistently lauded those who have carried out terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank in recent years, such declarations of credit are far more rare, with analysts speculating that it will draw Israel to issue a response of its own.
Communications minister: Israel seeking to set up ‘Iron Dome’ against cyber attacks
Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel says Israel is seeking to set up an “Iron Dome”-like system to protect against cyber attacks, given a wave of hacking attempts targeting government websites.
“We are trying to put the right standard on communications companies in order to protect Israel and create a kind of ‘Iron Dome’ from cyber security attacks. We suffer from thousands of cyber attacks every year,” Hendel says at a press conference, according to Reuters.
“Communications networks are an attractive target for cyber attacks by hostile elements,” he says, noting how such attacks can cause the leaking of Israelis’ private information.
Hendel’s office has ordered communications firms to increase the cybersecurity measures they employ, implementing a new series of unified standards that they all will have to meet, Reuters reports
Israel said not to rule out further deterioration of Russia ties after Lavrov’s comments
At the public level, the Foreign Ministry has sufficed with characterizing the meeting it called with Russia’s ambassador to Israel a “clarification conversation,” rather than a “rebuke” for Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s comments about Hitler, antisemitism and the Jewish people, but Jerusalem is not “ruling out the possibility of a further deterioration of ties in the wake of the incident,” Channel 12 reports.
“The Russians hid the extent of their aggression from everybody, but these words [from Lavrov] are unforgivable,” the network quotes a senior Israeli official as having said, adding that Jerusalem now appears inclined to further align its stance on the Ukraine invasion with the West.
Israel has sought to avoid aligning too closely with Ukraine since the start of the war, fearing a deterioration in ties with Russia could lead Moscow to restrict its freedom of movement in the skies above Syria from which the IDF operates to target Iranian proxies.
Silman publicly urges her ‘friends in Yamina and New Hope’ to quit coalition
In her first televised interview since resigning from the coalition, Yamina MK Idit Silman tells Channel 12 that the “gradual erosion” of Israel’s Jewish identity under the watch of the current government is what led her to quit.
She claims that the status quo regarding the public upholding of the Sabbath along with other issues pertaining to religion and state have been violated by the government and that nobody from within is stopping it from taking place.
“Nobody is prepared to stand up to the Yisrael Beytenu party… on kashrut, conversion, the Reform Western Wall, the Temple Mount, on Torah study,” Silman tells Channel 12, listing issues regarding which the government has sought to issue reforms.
Silman claims she was not promised anything in exchange for resigning from the coalition, and instead suggests she was offered lots in exchange for staying.
“I could have gotten anything I wanted here and now,” says the former coalition whip, adding that she “followed [her] heart” and gave up on “the job of my life” by resigning from the coalition.
While she admits to having been under immense criticism for remaining in the government, Silman argues that it took “a lot of courage” to leave the coalition.
She adds that those who have intensely criticized her and her family in recent months were doing so from a place of pain, after Yamina violated its election promises.
Silman justifies her decision to leave the coalition, saying Yamina voters “got the opposite” of what they were promised before the election.
“This government has lost its way.”
Asked who will be defecting next, Silman responds that the next resignation “is only a matter of time.”
“The government is living on borrowed time… It’s not only that it has no Knesset majority, it has no majority among the people.”
Turning to “her friends” in the Yamina and New Hope right-wing coalition parties, Silman says, “The country is important and its fate is in your hands.”
“The train has already left the station,” Silman says, urging them to get on.
Syria frees 60 prisoners in presidential amnesty
Syrian authorities have freed 60 detainees, including some held in regime prisons for over a decade, in a presidential amnesty that covers terror-related convictions, a war monitor says.
“About 60 detainees have been released since Sunday, from various Syrian regions, some of whom have spent at least 10 years” in regime prisons notorious for killings and torture, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
President Bashar al-Assad has issued several amnesty decrees during the country’s 11-year war, which broke out after the regime cracked down on mostly peaceful protesters.
But human rights activists say the new decree issued is the most comprehensive in relation to terrorism charges.
The new decree calls for “granting a general amnesty for terrorist crimes committed by Syrians” before April 30, 2022, “except for those leading to the death of a person.”
This would mean that tens of thousands of detainees could be released, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory.
Many are accused of terrorism offenses, “a loose label used to convict those who are arbitrarily arrested,” he said.
Likud urges PM to bar coalition MKs from attending joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony
The Likud party issues a statement calling on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to bar members of his coalition from attending the annual joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony tomorrow evening.
Meretz MK Mossi Raz and Labor MK Ibtisam Mara’ana are slated to attend the event, which memorializes Israeli and Palestinian victims of violence.
The ceremony has been deeply controversial since its inception, particularly among the Israeli public, with right-wing critics accusing it of legitimizing terrorism and equating Israel’s fallen soldiers to those who attacked them.
Supporters say it represents an effort by those who have lost the most in the conflict to give meaning to the deaths of their loved ones by turning away from violence.
“Bennett must condemn and prevent members of his coalition from attending a ceremony commemorating terrorists and comparing them to IDF soldiers on Memorial Day,” Likud says in a statement.
US antisemitism envoy tears into Lavrov for ‘cruelly deranged’ comments on Jews
The US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism’s office tears into Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for claiming that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood” and that Jews are among the worst antisemites.
“The Kremlin’s claim that Ukraine is a hotbed of Nazism is a blatant lie and yet another of the false pretexts for Putin’s war of choice. This isn’t the first time they’ve cynically accused its neighbors of neo-Nazism and fascism as cover for its own provocations & human rights abuses,” the office says in a lengthy Twitter thread.
“Not only are the Kremlin’s accusations against Ukraine false, its disinformation detracts from real and critically-important worldwide efforts to combat antisemitism, Holocaust distortion and denial and other dangerous forms of racially- or ethnically-motivated violent extremism.”
“To invoke the lie of ‘denazification’ in Ukraine, a country with a Jewish president and a significant Jewish population living in peace among their fellow citizens, is baseless and cruelly deranged.”
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “So when they say ‘How can Nazification exist if we’re Jewish?’ In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean absolutely anything.”https://t.co/YspkavRTao
On Russia’s continuing Holocaust distortion, a 🧵👇
— US Special Envoy to Monitor & Combat Antisemitism (@USEAntisemitism) May 2, 2022
Russian envoy’s meeting with Israeli official about Lavrov’s comments concludes
The conversation between the Foreign Ministry and Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov – in the wake of Russian FM Sergey Lavrov’s comments about Adolph Hitler having Jewish origins – wraps up in Jerusalem, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.
“Our message was made clear by the [Foreign Ministry’s] Eurasia director, Gary Koren,” said the official. “The two sides decided not to give any more details on the contents of the conversation.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had said earlier that Viktorov would be summoned for “a not-so-easy talk.” According to the Foreign Ministry, Viktorov was called in for a “clarification conversation.”
Yad Vashem chief accuses Lavrov of libelously blaming Jews for Holocaust
The head of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, Dani Dayan, accuses Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of a “blood libel” for claiming that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood” and that Jews are among the worst antisemites.
“If Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov asks to visit Yad Vashem to learn, we will welcome him. He crossed a red line; blaming the Jews for the Holocaust is an unacceptable blood libel,” Dayan tells Army Radio.
Erdogan, Herzog exchange holiday greetings during second phone call in weeks
President Isaac Herzog spoke on the phone earlier today with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Herzog’s office says.
Herzog wished Erdogan a happy Eid al-Fitr and the Turkish president wished his counterpart a happy independence day, according to the Israeli readout.
Erdogan also sent Herzog a formal letter congratulating Israel on its 74th year of independence, which it will be marking on Thursday.
“In the new era of relations between us, which began with the President’s visit to our country last March, I sincerely believe that cooperation between our countries will develop in a way that will serve our mutual national interests as well as regional peace and stability,” Erdogan writes in the letter.
During the call, the two discussed “the importance of “open and ongoing dialogue in order to maintain calm and stability throughout the region, especially during these days,” the Israeli readout says.
This was their second call in weeks. Erdogan called last month amid tensions surrounding Jerusalem.
Sheikh indicted over sermon calling for ‘liberation of Al-Aqsa with weapons and force’
A Muslim sheikh from East Jerusalem has been indicted for incitement to violence after he allegedly called for the “liberation of al-Aqsa with weapons and force” in a sermon to some 200 people.
Issamat Hamuri, 56, also hailed Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif in the speech, according to the charge sheet.
“There is no choice but to unite Muslim countries and act resolutely to liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he is quoted as having said.
Hamuri’s attorney says in a statement that his client’s arrest was political and that the charges will not hold up in court.
Jewish man given 5-year sentence for assaulting Arab during May Gaza war
The Tel Aviv District Court has sentenced Yaakov Attenau to five years in prison for brutally assaulting an Arab man in a racially motivated attack in Herzliya that took play during last May’s Gaza War.
Six other Jewish men were arrested in the attack targeting a man in his 60s from the town of Taibe. The Shin Bet in a statement after their arrests said the “masked men attacked the victim, spraying him with pepper spray and stabbing him with a sharp object.”
Father of convicted terrorist charged with threatening father of slain soldier victim
The father of a man convicted of murdering IDF soldier Ron Kokia in 2017 has been indicted for threatening the victim’s father and calling him a murderer.
Odeh Abu Jaudah, whose son Khaled stabbed Kokia to death in Arad, clashed with Boaz Kokia at the Beersheba District Court last month. The two confronted each other, after a hearing for the elder Abu Jaudah, a resident of an unrecognized Bedouin village, who is facing charges tied to the attack, but is not accused of involvement in murder.
“We know where you live, let’s take this outside,” Abu Jaudah shouted at Kokia, according to the charge sheet. “You are murderers, you are shit.”
It is not revealed what Kokia said or who had instigated the exchange.
Gantz designates 4 alleged IS fighters as foreign terrorists, per US request
Defense Minister Benny Gantz has designated four alleged Islamic State senior members as foreign terrorist operatives, his office says.
This is the first time that the Defense Ministry has designated foreign terror operatives at the request of the United States, Gantz’s office says.
The four individuals — Farhad Hoomer, Siraaj Miller, Abdella Hussein Abadigga and Peter Charles Mbaga — are accused of setting up IS cells across the continent of Africa, raising funds and planning attacks.
The four were designated by the United States Treasury as terrorists in March.
“Israel and the United States see the need to fight terrorist organizations, anywhere and anytime,” Gantz says in a statement.
“We will continue to work to curb the capabilities of terrorist organizations and their operatives, and we will continue to strengthen our cooperation with partners around the world in the face of those who seek to undermine stability and harm [innocents].”
US diplomats hope to return to Kyiv by end of the month
The US hopes its diplomats will be able to return to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, where Washington closed its embassy days before the Russian invasion, “by the end of the month,” embassy charge d’affaires Kristina Kvien says today.
“We very much hope that conditions will permit us to go back to Kyiv by the end of the month,” Kvien said at a press conference in the western city of Lviv.
Likud reportedly wooing New Hope MK to follow in Silman’s footsteps
Senior Likud officials have reached out to New Hope MK Sharren Haskel in an attempt to woo her away from the coalition and collapse the government, the Walla news site reports.
The offer passed along to Haskel’s associates consists of a reserved spot on the Likud list as well as a ministerial position if Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu forms the next government, Walla says.
An identical offer was reportedly made to Yamina MK Idit Silman, who announced her resignation from the coalition last month, leaving the ruling bloc with just 60 MKs in the 120-seat Knesset.
Haskel’s office has denied the report.
Israeli press office launches Hebrew course for foreign reporters
Israel’s Government Press Office opens up a beginner Hebrew-language course for foreign journalists today.
Twenty reporters and photographers, including Arab and Turkish journalists, are taking part in the three-month course. They will also learn about Israeli culture, according to the GPO.
The course is being run along with the World Zionist Organization.
“We have seen that language gaps sometimes have implications on journalists’ reports,” explains GPO director Nitzan Chen. “The initiative we are opening for the first time has the power to narrow these gaps, to enable foreign journalists to experience Israel’s culture and society without middlemen, and to indirectly strengthen Israel’s hasbara in the world.”
Jill Biden to meet Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Slovakia on Mother’s Day
US First Lady Jill Biden will spend Mother’s Day meeting with Ukrainian mothers and children who fled for their lives after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war against Ukraine, the White House announces.
The May 8 meeting will take place in Slovakia, one of two Eastern European countries the first lady plans to visit during a five-day trip that starts Thursday. She also will be stopping in Romania.
Throughout the trip, Biden will also meet with US service members, US Embassy personnel, humanitarian aid workers and educators, the White House said.
After arriving in Romania on Friday, she is scheduled to meet with US service members at Mihail Kogalniceau Air Base, a US military installation near the Black Sea.
The schedule then takes her to the Romanian capital of Bucharest on Saturday to meet with government officials, US Embassy staff, humanitarian aid workers and educators who are helping teach displaced Ukrainian children. The first lady will travel to Slovakia to meet with staff at the US Embassy in Bratislava.
On May 8, Biden will travel to Kosice and Vysne Nemecke in Slovakia to meet with refugees, humanitarian aid workers and local Slovakians who are supporting Ukrainian families that have sought refuge in Slovakia.
She plans to meet with members of Slovakia’s government on May 9 before returning to the United States.
The trip will be the first lady’s second overseas by herself, following her journey to Tokyo last year for the opening of the delayed 2020 Olympic Games. The trip also will mark her latest gesture of solidarity with Ukraine.
Kushner’s memoir on time at White House to hit shelves in August
Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s memoir about his time in the Trump administration will hit shelves on August 8, Axios reports.
The book takes readers “inside debates in the Oval Office, battles at the United Nations, meetings in Arab palaces, and intense negotiations in North Korea, China, Mexico,” publisher Broadside Books says in a statement to Axios.
In it, Kushner recalls “negotiating the largest trade deal in American history, passing bipartisan criminal justice reform, and achieving several of the most significant breakthroughs in diplomacy in the last fifty years: the peace deals known as the Abraham Accords,” the publisher adds.
Iranian operatives used fake Facebook account to gather intel on Israeli targets — Shin Bet
The Shin Bet security agency says it has uncovered an Iranian operation that tried to recruit Israeli civilians to collect information on targets in Israel.
The network used a fake Facebook profile under the name “Sara Puppi,” who was presented as a young Jewish woman with connections and business in Israel, according to the agency.
The profile had thousands of friends, mostly Israelis. After a connection was established, conversations would continue over WhatsApp, the Shin Bet says.
According to the Shin Bet, Puppi asked Israelis, including Shin Bet officers, to locate information about Israelis who are of interest to Iranian intelligence, as well as Arab diplomats and businessmen in Israel, in return for thousands of dollars as payment.
The Shin Bet says the operators of the profile also used emotional and romantic manipulation to get the information they were seeking.
In addition, the Iranian operators asked Israelis to place an “inciting” banner on billboards against Russian President Vladimir Putin, “with the aim of harming Israel-Russia relations,” the Shin Bet says
The agency says it had been monitoring the alleged Iranian operation from the start.
Summer may bring resurgence of Delta variant, Ben Gurion U research indicates
The Delta variant of the coronavirus may well see a resurgence this summer after scientists had begun to believe that the 2021 strain had been wiped out by Omicron, according to a new study published by researchers at Ben Gurion University.
The BGU researchers monitored Beersheba’s sewage water from December 2021 to January 2022 and found that while the Omicron variant may subside in the coming months, it has not completely eliminated Delta; and the latter strain appears poised to reemerge.
The wastewater samples indicated that even as testing numbers continue to fall, traces of COVID-19 are still active in notable quantities.
The model used by the researchers “predicts that Omicron is burning itself out while Delta is just biding its time,” according to a press statement from BGU.
Police announce arrests of 3 Palestinians suspected of vandalizing Israeli flags
Police say they have arrested a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem in his 20s who is suspected of having burned an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount.
Police say they also arrested a 19-year-old who was filmed stomping on an Israeli flag near the Ma’ale Adumim settlement in a video that was uploaded to social media last week.
In addition, law enforcement says officers arrested a 14-year-old suspected of tearing an Israeli flag off a police car last week.
Police arrest East Jerusalemite for hanging Hamas banner at Temple Mount
Police announce they have arrested a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem in his twenties on suspicion that he hung a Hamas banner at the Temple Mount compound during Eid prayers earlier today.
“We take every act of incitement, threats, support for or identification with terrorist organizations seriously,” police say in a statement.
‘Operating normally’: Russia shows seized Ukraine nuclear plant
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
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.
Ukraine FM responds to Lavrov: ‘He can’t hide the deeply rooted antisemitism’
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba lashes out at his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov for saying Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood” and that Jews are among the worst antisemites.
“This is the perverted logic of the Russian elite,” Kuleba says in a video statement sent to the Kan public broadcaster.
“Even Minister Lavrov, who knows what diplomacy is, he cannot hide anymore the deeply rooted antisemitism — the antisemitism that is deeply rooted into Russian elites.”
“Let’s admit the fact that Russians hate other nations. They believe in the supremacy of their own nation over others, and this is why this regime must be stopped in its aggressive plans and actions,” he adds.
שר החוץ האוקראיני לכאן חדשות על דברי לברוב: "הרוסים מאמינים בעליונות שלהם ושונאים עמים אחרים, האנטישמיות מוטמעת אצלם עמוק"@AmichaiStein1 pic.twitter.com/j1n8TMn8sr
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 2, 2022
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