The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.
LONDON — Britain’s interior minister says the hunt is still on for suspects in the Manchester bombing, and members of attacker Salman Abedi’s network may still be at large.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd says that “the operation is still at full tilt” and “we can’t be entirely sure that it’s closed.”
Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan descent, killed 22 people on May 22 at an Ariana Grande concert. Police have 11 suspects in custody and have searched properties across the northwest England city.
On Saturday, Britain lowered its official terrorism threat level from “critical” to “severe” after police said they had dismantled a large part of Abedi’s network.
Police release surveillance-camera images of Abedi on the night of the attack and appeal for more information about his final days.
The Shin Bet says it caught a suspected terror cell from the Tulkarem area that is believed to have carried out as many as seven shooting attacks against IDF troops, including the April 29 shooting at the Jabara checkpoint near Tulkarem.
The six-member cell includes three members of the Palestinian Authority’s security services, one of whom was previously imprisoned for terror activities and was released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange.
The arrest of the cell, whose exact date is not given in the Shin Bet statement, uncovered weapons caches including two homemade “Gustav” rifles and at least seven pipe bombs.
A seventh man, a resident of Tulkarem, is also arrested on suspicion of supplying firearms to the cell.
VATICAN CITY — For the second day in a row, Pope Francis expresses his solidarity with Egypt’s Coptic Christians following an attack on a bus carrying Coptic pilgrims to a remote desert monastery.
Francis leads thousands of people in prayer Sunday for the victims, who Francis says were killed in “another act of ferocious violence” after having refused to renounce their Christian faith.
Speaking from his studio window over St. Peter’s Square, Francis says: “May the Lord welcome these courageous witnesses, these martyrs, in his peace and convert the hearts of the violent ones.”
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, which killed 29 people.
On Saturday during a visit to Genoa, Francis prayed for the victims and lamented that there were more martyrs today than in early Christian times.
Army prosecutors reject mediation in the final appeal hearing of the Elor Azaria trial, which is taking place today at a military court in IDF headquarters in the Kirya complex in Tel Aviv.
Azaria, an IDF sergeant convicted in the shooting death of a Palestinian assailant in Hebron last year, faces 1.5 years in jail for the shooting, which followed the Palestinian’s stabbing of another IDF soldier.
Both the prosecution and the defense are appealing the verdict.
At the Sunday hearing, Judge Zvi Segal turns to the sides and urges them to “rise above” the enmity heard in the course of the contentious trial. Azaria’s attorney Yoram Sheftel takes the cue and suggest a two-week mediation process. But the prosecution refuses.
Lt. Col. (res.) Nadav Weissman, the lead prosecutor, explains: “We haven’t heard any regret. It’s important that the court rule in this case, on the facts, and on the ethical norms” expected by IDF soldiers.
The judges instruct Weissman to take the suggestion to his boss, the military advocate general Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek, and to give the court an answer within a week.
The head of the Palestinian Islamic sharia court system bans divorces during the month of fasting known as Ramadan, which began Friday.
The chief judge, Mahmoud al-Habache, says individuals who deprive themselves of food and cigarettes during the daylight hours may make hasty decisions, based on “the experience of previous years.
“Some, because they have not eaten and not smoked, create problems” in their relationship and then take “quick and ill-considered decisions,” he explains.
To avoid such cases, judges will only consider and rule on divorce applications after the month of fasting is over.
As in Israel and Lebanon, marriage and divorce in the Palestinian Authority are under the exclusive purview of religious courts.
A top Palestinian official slams the Israeli cabinet for holding its weekly meeting Sunday in the Western Wall tunnels, an excavated archaeological site under the current Western Wall.
The cabinet meeting commemorated the 50th anniversary of Israel’s capture of the ancient holy site from Jordanian hands in the Six Day War.
But in a statement, the Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat condemns “in the strongest terms the latest provocation by the Israeli government.”
He adds that the meeting, held in “occupied East Jerusalem,” sends “a clear message to the Palestinian people that the systematic violations of their inalienable rights are going to continue.”
FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany — Europe “must take its fate into its own hands” faced with a Western alliance divided by Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidency, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Sunday.
“The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days,” Merkel tells a crowd at an election rally in Munich, southern Germany.
“We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she adds.
While Germany and Europe would strive to remain on good terms with America and Britain, “we have to fight for our own destiny,” Merkel goes on.
Special emphasis is needed on warm relations between Berlin and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, she says.
The chancellor had just returned from a G7 summit which wound up Saturday without a deal between the US and the other six major advanced nations on upholding the 2015 Paris climate accords.
Merkel on Saturday labeled the result of the “six against one” discussion “very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory.”
WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump, who was uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter during his nine-day trip abroad, resumes his favorite pastime Sunday with a tweet storm in which he thunders against “fake news.”
“It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media,” he writes the morning after his return home.
“Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names it is very possible that those sources don’t exsist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!,” he writes, spelling errors and all.
Trump returned late Saturday from his first international trip as US president, geared up to combat concerns over aides’ ties to Russia including explosive reports that his son-in-law Jared Kushner sought a secret communications line with Moscow.
BROOKHAVEN, Mississippi — Authorities in Mississippi say a suspect is in custody after eight people were killed in a shooting, including a sheriff’s deputy.
Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain says the shootings occur at three separate homes Saturday night in rural Lincoln County.
Strain says charges have not yet been filed against the suspect and that it would be “premature” to discuss a motive.
It is not clear whether the suspect knew his victims before allegedly killing them.
WASHINGTON — US Homeland Security John Kelly says Sunday he is considering banning laptop computers on international flights into and out of the country, amid signs of “a real threat.”
Kelly makes his remarks during the Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest travel periods in the US, and at a time when the bombing at a concert in Manchester, England is raising concerns that further attacks — possibly involving explosives packed in electronic devices — might be planned.
“There’s a real threat — numerous threats against aviation,” Kelly tells the Fox New Sunday program, when asked about the likelihood that a wide-reaching ban on large electronics in airplane cabins could be imposed.
The US homeland security chief says terrorists are “obsessed” with the idea of “knocking down an airplane in flight — particularly a US carrier, if it’s full of mostly US folks.”
A ban could seriously disrupt flights between Europe and the US. Some 3,250 a week are expected this summer between European Union countries and the US, according to aviation industry figures.
If the laptop ban Kelly discussed is put in place, it would greatly expand on a rule he announced March 21, banning electronic devices larger than a smartphone from the cabins of flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.
BROOKHAVEN, Mississippi — Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant asks state residents to pray for the victims of a shooting rampage that left 8 dead Sunday, including a sheriff’s deputy.
Bryant notes the “sacrifice” made by law enforcement officers to protect and serve their communities.
“Every day, the men and women who wear the badge make some measure of sacrifice to protect and serve their communities. Too often, we lose one of our finest. I thank the law enforcement agencies involved for their hard work,” he says in a statement.
Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain says the shootings occurred at three separate homes Saturday night in rural Lincoln County. Two of the homes are in Brookhaven and one is in Bogue Chitto. The area is about 68 miles (109 kilometers) south of Jackson, the capital.
Strain says charges have not yet been filed against the suspect in the shootings, and that it would be “premature” to discuss a motive.
The Portland man who allegedly killed two men on a commuter train after they intervened as he spewed hate speech at two women who looked Muslim is a known local white supremacist, a local newspaper reports.
Jeremy Christian, 35, was arrested early Saturday and charged with two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation – a hate crime, and with being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon, in connection with the slayings on the MAX or Metropolitan Area Express Light Rail on Friday, the Portland Mercury reports.
Christian was harassing two women who looked Muslim, including one wearing a traditional hijab.
The Portland Police Bureau says in a report that the man “was on the MAX train yelling various remarks that would be best characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions. At least two of the victims attempted to intervene with the suspect and calm him down. The suspect attacked the men, stabbing three, before leaving the train.”
Two of those stabbed, Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, died from their injuries. Micah David-Cole Fletcher is recovering in hospital.
Christian’s Facebook page included several posts with anti-Semitic messages.
In January he wrote in a post: “Trump is the Next Hitler then I am joining his SS to put an end to Monotheist Question. All Zionist Jews, All Christians who do not follow Christ’s teaching of Love, Charity, and Forgiveness And All Jihadi Muslims are going to Madagascar or the Ovens/FEMA Camps!!! Does this make me a fascist!!! #MonotheistHolocaust FinalSolutionToTheMonotheistQuestion”
LONDON — British police say they have made another arrest in connection with the Manchester bombing, bringing the total to 12.
Greater Manchester Police say a 25-year-old man is arrested in the city Sunday on suspicion of terrorist offenses. Eleven other men, aged between 18 and 44, are in custody.
Bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people and himself in Monday’s bombing after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.
Police say they are also searching a new property in the Moss Side area of the city.
Investigators say they have dismantled a large part of Abedi’s network, but expect to make more arrests.
KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — A video advertisement that depicts a would-be suicide bomber confronted by the faithful has gone viral two days into the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
“Worship your God with love, not terror” is the main message of the three-minute ad posted Friday online by Kuwaiti telecommunications giant Zain, which operates across the Middle East.
“I will tell God everything,” says the voiceover of a child at the beginning of the ad as a man is seen preparing a bomb.
“That you’ve filled the cemeteries with our children and emptied our school desks…”
The video featuring Emirati pop star Hussain al-Jassmi has registered nearly two million views on Zain’s YouTube page and more than 4,000 shares on Facebook.
It features images from bombings across the region claimed by Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group.
But it ends on a positive note with footage of a happy wedding and cheerful children dressed in white.
“We will encounter their hatred with songs of love,” concludes a caption superimposed on a black background.
Gulf monarchies are part of the US-led coalition bombing IS extremists in Syria and Iraq. Some of them have also been targeted by attacks.
Two days after Norway’s foreign minister condemned the Palestinian Authority for naming a women’s center in the West Bank, funded in part by the Scandinavian country, after a female terrorist, the UN issues its own condemnation.
“The United Nations disassociated itself from the Center once it learned the offensive name chosen for it and will take measures to ensure that such incidents do not take place in the future,” reads a statement from Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“The glorification of terrorism, or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts, is unacceptable under any circumstances. The UN has repeatedly called for an end to incitement to violence and hatred as they present one of the obstacles to peace,” the statement says.
The UN no longer supports the center, Dujarric clarifies. “The United Nations support to this community ended last year and it has asked for the logo of UN Women to be removed immediately. Furthermore, the inauguration of the Center took place after the UN’s association with it.”
The center is located in the West Bank town of Burqa, and is named for Dalal Mughrabi, who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre. Mughrabi and several other Fatah terrorists landed on a beach near Tel Aviv, hijacked a bus on Israel’s Coastal Road and killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded over 70.
The IDF’s Home Front Command will hold an exercise in the Ben Gurion International Airport on Monday, the army says.
Beginning in the morning and lasting through the evening, travelers in the airport will notice troops moving through the terminal building and surrounding area, the army says.
The IDF “stresses that this exercise was planned ahead of time as part of the [security services’] training schedule for 2017” and is not a response to any new threat.
— Judah Ari Gross
Approximately 30 guns are found to have been stolen from a base in southern Israel today, the army says.
The head of the IDF’s Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, appoints a colonel to investigate the incident. The Military Police launches its own investigation into the incident.
It is not immediately clear from the IDF report whether the guns were stolen on Sunday or whether their theft is only discovered today.
As the case is under investigation, the details of the theft, including which base is involved, are not made public.
— Judah Ari Gross
BEIRUT — Syrian opposition activist groups say airstrikes kill at least 17 people just south of the northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State group.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 18 people are killed in the airstrikes on the road between the villages of Ratla and Kasrat. It says Sunday’s airstrikes hit buses, adding that the identity of the dead is not known.
The activist-operated Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently says 17 civilians are killed in the airstrike on buses carrying civilians.
Both groups blame the US-led coalition, which has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria against IS since September 2014.
US-backed Syrian fighters have been marching toward Raqqa for weeks under the cover of coalition airstrikes.
PARIS, France — France’s new President Emmanuel Macron says he was ready for his “moment of truth” with US counterpart Donald Trump — when they shook hands for the first time.
“You have to show you won’t make little concessions, even symbolic ones,” Macron, 39, tells the French weekly Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.
Footage of the handshake as the pair met for lunch at the US embassy in Brussels ahead of a NATO summit on Thursday has gone viral.
As cameras roll, Macron holds on tight to Trump’s notorious power grip as the two men sit next to each other, the Frenchman’s mouth clenched and eyes firmly fixed at the 70-year-old tycoon’s squinty stare.
After some five seconds, Trump is the first to open his hand but Macron insists on being the last to let go.
“It’s not the be-all-and-end-all… but a moment of truth,” Macron says. “I don’t miss a thing, that’s how you get respect.”
Police investigators say the armory of the IDF base that saw 33 assault rifles stolen on Sunday was not broken into, pointing to the likelihood that the theft was carried out with help from soldiers on the base.
The same base saw a massive firearms theft a year ago, Channel 2 notes. In May 2016, thieves made away with 13 anti-tank missiles, 77 shrapnel grenades and a Matador missile.
That theft was cracked by investigators, and indictments were filed against a company commander and other suspects.
Police say the firearms are likely headed to crime organizations, and from there could make their way to terror groups.
US President Donald Trump is said to have shouted at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in Bethlehem on Tuesday, Israel’s Channel 2 reports.
According to the channel, which cites Israeli sources and reports the quote in Hebrew, Trump reportedly yelled at Abbas, “You lied to me in Washington when you talked about commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me you were personally responsible for incitement.”
Palestinian sources contradict the report, telling Channel 2 the meeting between the two leaders was calm.
In his speech after the meeting, Trump insisted that terror must not be “rewarded,” a comment seen as a criticism of the PA’s funding for families of imprisoned or killed terrorists.
WASHINGTON — Civilian casualties are inevitable in the war against the Islamic State group but the United states is doing “everything humanly possible” to avoid them, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says in an interview that airs Sunday.
A US-led international coalition has been carrying out air strikes against the IS group in Iraq and Syria since 2014, and nongovernmental organizations say the attacks are claiming ever more civilian lives.
Interviewed on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program, Mattis says that “civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation.”
But he quickly adds that “we do everything humanly possible, consistent with military necessity, taking many chances to avoid civilian casualties — at all costs.”
Some NGOs have blamed the rising civilian death toll on a push by US President Donald Trump’s administration to accelerate the pace of combat in an effort to “annihilate” the jihadists. But the Pentagon contests both the NGOs’ death counts and the charge that a new sense of urgency under Trump is to blame.
“We have not changed the rules of engagement,” Mattis says. “There is no relaxation of our intention to protect the innocent.”
PORTLAND, Oregon — Muslims in Portland, Oregon, thank the community for its support and say they are raising money for the families of two men who were killed when they came to the defense of two young women — one wearing a hijab — who were targeted by an anti-Muslim rant.
“I am very thankful as a Muslim, I am very thankful as a Portlander … that we stand together here as one,” Muhammad A. Najieb, an imam at the Muslim Community Center, says Saturday.
He says the two young women “could have been the victims, but three heroes jumped in and supported them.”
Najieb says a fundraising page launched by his group for the families of the dead men, a surviving victim and the two young women had raised $50,000 in its first hours.
Police say they’ll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of suspect Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, who is accused of killing the two men Friday. Christian’s social media postings indicate an affinity for Nazis and political violence.
The attack occurred on a light-rail train on the first day of Ramadan, the holiest time of the year for Muslims.
Christian is being held on suspicion of aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a weapon. He was arrested a short time after the attack when he was confronted by other men.
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- Israel & the Region
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