ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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Netanyahu said blocking Gallant from visiting US until he gets an invite

TV says PM twice blocked defense minister from traveling to Washington and New York with White House so far holding back from inviting Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the IDF's Northern Command headquarters on January 10, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the IDF's Northern Command headquarters on January 10, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.

Amid judicial overhaul talks, Dermer meets with ex-Supreme Court chief Aharon Barak

File: Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak in Jerusalem, December 8, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
File: Former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak in Jerusalem, December 8, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer has met with former Supreme Court chief justice Aharon Barak, the Ynet news site reports.

The report says the talks touched on the government’s judicial overhaul plans.

Dermer, a longtime confidant of Netanyahu, is representing him at talks with the opposition aimed at finding a compromise amid widespread opposition to the government’s plans, which critics say will undermine democracy.

Barak led Israel’s judicial revolution in 2005, ushering in many of the principles the current government is seeking to unwind.

He is a prominent symbol against which many right-wing, pro-reform activists rally, despite no longer holding an official position.

Barak confirms the meeting to Ynet, saying that he occasionally meets with Dermer as friends.

US, Germany announce progress in initiative to boost Holocaust education

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, right, speak together as they walk through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe following a ceremony for the launch of a U.S.-Germany Dialogue on Holocaust Issues in Berlin, June 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, right, speak together as they walk through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe following a ceremony for the launch of a U.S.-Germany Dialogue on Holocaust Issues in Berlin, June 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

The United States and Germany announce that their governments have made significant progress in their joint initiative to boost Holocaust education, combat Holocaust denial and countering the so-called rehabilitation of those who took part in Holocaust crimes.

The joint dialogue launched in 2021 by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and then-German foreign minister Haiku Maas with participation from the
US State Department, the German Federal Foreign Office, the German Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

A joint statement issued by the two governments states progress in the following areas.

Holocaust education has been integrated into the Applied Security Studies program at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany, with over 100 senior military and civilian officials from more than 30 countries participating in the pilot module last year. The program “was designed to help professionals apply lessons from the Holocaust to their own work of protecting life and democratic principles while working in a multinational context,” the joint statement says.

The joint US-Germany dialogue led to the production of research projects on Holocaust denial that will examine online material in 12 languages that will provide lawmakers in both countries quantitative data off of which they will be able to make policy recommendations.

The dialogue has also been examining the so-called rehabilitation of individuals who participated in Holocaust crimes, producing a study that will help governments and private citizens better identify the problem and provide the tools through which it can be combated.

Dozens in Sderot protest weak military response to Gaza rockets

The site where a rocket fired from Gaza into southern Israel, hit and damaged a car in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, May 2, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The site where a rocket fired from Gaza into southern Israel, hit and damaged a car in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, May 2, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Dozens of people are protesting at the entrance to the southern city of Sderot, calling on the government to take stronger action after more than 100 rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Protesters are blocking the road and chanting slogans against the government.

“The fate of Sderot should be like the fate of Tel Aviv,” organizers say. “If more than 100 rockets were launched at Tel Aviv, the government would have reacted differently.”

“The government we elected did not react appropriately,” the statement said, expressing disappointment with the right-wing coalition.

Netanyahu said blocking Gallant from visiting US until PM gets an invite

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the IDF's Northern Command headquarters on January 10, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the IDF's Northern Command headquarters on January 10, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has twice blocked Defense Minister Yoav Gallant from traveling to the US in recent weeks, apparently because the premier has not yet received an invitation to the White House, Channel 12 reports.

The report, citing an American and an Israeli source, says Netanyahu indicated to Gallant that he should not accept two invitations to Washington and New York for meetings with security officials.

The report says that the defense minister being barred from the US, Israel’s principal ally, was unusual and could have security implications.

However, the report also noted that Gallant has met top US defense officials in Israel in recent weeks.

The White House has so far refrained from inviting Netanyahu amid concern over his government’s judicial overhaul and far-right agenda.

Gallant’s office refused to comment on the report, while Netanyahu’s office called the report inaccurate.

Americans caught trying to smuggle hundreds of pounds of Fruit Roll-Ups into Israel

At least two American couples have been caught by Israeli customs for attempting to smuggle a total of more than 650 pounds of Fruit Roll-Ups into Israel, as the country experiences a dire shortage of the snack due to a TikTok craze.

A video posted on Tuesday by Mako, an Israeli news website, appears to show a customs official at Ben Gurion International Airport sifting through at least three open suitcases each filled with hundreds of the colorful, sugary treats.

An American-accented voice off screen, in a mix of Hebrew and English, explains that he brought the snacks across the ocean for his family in Israel. When the customs official asks if the man packed clothes for himself, he responds that he has clothes in Israel.

Why did he fill two checked bags with Fruit Roll-Ups? “It has something to do with ice cream,” the man’s voice says.

The man was almost certainly referring to a viral TikTok trend, ongoing since at least March, in which users of the video social network wrap the sweet, sticky roll-up around a small scoop of ice cream, which then freezes over and becomes hard and crunchy.

Smotrich orders withholding NIS 3.2 million of PA tax revenue, transfer to terror victims

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich leads a meeting of his Religious Zionism party at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich leads a meeting of his Religious Zionism party at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich orders the continued halt in transfers of tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority and to redirect it to families of terror victims.

“The state of Israel is stopping the financing of terror by the Palestinian Authority, we won’t let this absurd situation continue,” he says.

Smotrich says Israel withheld NIS 3.2 million ($883,000) this month after deducting NIS 139 million ($38 million) in January from the revenues to offset payments the PA makes to Palestinian terrorists, attackers, security prisoners and their families.

Democrats told Netanyahu judicial overhaul makes it hard for party to defend Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (c) meets with a delegation of congressional Democrats led by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in Jerusalem on April 24, 2024 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (c) meets with a delegation of congressional Democrats led by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in Jerusalem on April 24, 2024 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

US House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and other members of a Democratic congressional delegation told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in Jerusalem last week that his government’s judicial overhaul effort makes it harder for their party to continue defending the Jewish state in Washington, Axios reports.

Members of the Democratic delegation told Netanyahu that the temporarily paused overhaul had created a lot of negative “noise” about Israel among their constituents, a source who attended the meeting tells Axios.

“They told Netanyahu it is very difficult for them to defend Israel under such circumstances, and their message was: help us help you,” the source says, adding that the message was highlighted by the Jewish lawmakers present in particular.

Two young girls wounded, one criticaly, in Berlin school knife attack

Illustrative: German federal police in Berlin, Germany, on April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Illustrative: German federal police in Berlin, Germany, on April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

A girl sustained life-threatening injuries in a knife attack at her elementary school in Berlin on Wednesday, police say, while a suspect had been detained.

A second girl was also injured in the attack at the school in the Berlin district of Neukoelln, they say.

The schoolmates, aged between seven and eight, were both rushed to hospital.

A suspect was arrested close to the school grounds following the incident.

The circumstances surrounding the attack were not immediately clear, a police spokeswoman says.

Neither was it clear whether the assailant was known to the schoolgirls, the spokeswoman says.

Berlin’s regional interior minister Iris Spranger says she was “deeply shocked” by the events at the school, confirming the girls had been attacked with a knife.

Railway line fire leads to train delays, traffic jams in Tel Aviv area

An Israel Railways train passes the Ayalon Highway, near the Arlozorov Street 'Central' train station in Tel Aviv, August 23, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
An Israel Railways train passes the Ayalon Highway, near the Arlozorov Street 'Central' train station in Tel Aviv, August 23, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A fire near a railway line in Tel Aviv is causing delays to trains running through the city with a knock-on effect of heavy traffic jams in the area.

Israel Railways says the fire damaged signaling equipment near the Rokah junction.

The fire has been extinguished and railway staff are working to repair the equipment and “restore scheduled services.”

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire.

US extends visa validity for Palestinian travelers to five years

A Palestinian man at the Rafah border crossing holds his Palestinian Authority issued passport on June 12, 2015. (Aaed Tayeh/Flash90)
A Palestinian man at the Rafah border crossing holds his Palestinian Authority issued passport on June 12, 2015. (Aaed Tayeh/Flash90)

The US State Department announces that it is extending the visa validity period for Palestinian travelers to the United States from three to five years.

The extension will allow for the visa period to last the same amount of time as the validity of a Palestinian Authority passport, which is also five years.

This policy only applies to the validity of the visa, not the length of stay allotted for Palestinian travelers. Those on a B1 business visa or a B2 tourist visa will still only be allowed to remain in the US for three months at a time, but will be able to do so multiple times during the five-year period.

The extension went into effect on Tuesday, the State Department says, while clarifying that the policy is not retroactive.

“The increase of the validity period to five years reflects the United States’ commitment to facilitating Palestinian tourist, educational and business travel. It will allow Palestinians more opportunities to reconnect with family members in the United States and to travel for studies. The increased period of validity will also allow new opportunities for bilateral economic cooperation,” says the US Office of Palestinian Affairs.

 

Blinken says take Kremlin report of drone attack by Kyiv with ‘shaker of salt’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, speaks during a meeting with Czech Republic Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky at the Department of State, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, speaks during a meeting with Czech Republic Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky at the Department of State, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he is highly skeptical of any allegations made by Russia, after Moscow claimed Kyiv had launched a drone attack on the Kremlin.

“I’ve seen the reports. I cannot validate them, we simply don’t know,” Blinken says at an event in Washington.

“I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt.”

Palestinian UN envoy calls Islamic Jihad member who died on hunger strike a ‘hero’

Palestinians in Gaza City hold portraits of Khader Adnan, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group who died in Israeli custody on May 2, 2023 after an 86-day hunger strike. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
Palestinians in Gaza City hold portraits of Khader Adnan, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group who died in Israeli custody on May 2, 2023 after an 86-day hunger strike. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, tells a UN panel that the senior Islamic Jihad member who died while hunger striking in an Israeli prison on Tuesday was a “hero prisoner.”

Khader Adnan’s death after an 86-day hunger strike set off a round of fighting between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

Adnan was accused of being a spokesperson and senior leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed group designated as a terror organization by the US, EU, Israel and many other countries.

Mansour also falsely claims that Adnan was being held in administrative detention, a controversial practice in which detainees suspected of terror activities are held without charge or trial. Adnan had been charged with terror offenses and was awaiting trial.

“There has been a massive onslaught against our prisoners,” Mansour says. “He was among the hundreds who have been spending a long period of time under administrative detention.”

“I believe that the UN is seeking some kind of credible investigation as to why his life was taken away from him through negligence from the Israeli occupying authorities, negligence in health care, not addressing the needs of prisoners,” Mansour says. Adnan had refused medical care.

Mansour also decries airstrikes Israel carried out against Gaza terrorists overnight in response to dozens of rockets fired into Israel, without mentioning the rockets.

“Yesterday there was a night of hell against our people in the Gaza Strip in which there was aggression by the Israeli army and their aircraft,” he says.

He thanks Egypt for mediating a ceasefire between the sides, without mentioning Qatar, which was also reportedly involved in brokering the truce.

Judge: Tree of Life synagogue massacre suspect can face death penalty

A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, October 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, October 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The man charged in the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the US has lost another bid to get the death penalty removed as a possible punishment.

With jury selection underway at the federal trial of Robert Bowers, a judge ruled against a defense motion that challenged the government’s pursuit of the death penalty.

US District Judge Robert Colville says in his decision that Bowers’ defense team “fails entirely to establish a basis upon which the court could conclude that the government has arbitrarily sought the death penalty in this case.”

Bowers, of the Pittsburgh suburb of Baldwin, is charged with 63 criminal counts in the killings of 11 worshippers on Oct. 27, 2018, at the Tree of Life synagogue building where three congregations had gathered. The charges include 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religion resulting in death and 11 counts of hate crimes resulting in death.

Prosecutors say Bowers made antisemitic comments at the scene of the attacks and in earlier online forums.

More than 100 potential jurors have been questioned by prosecutors and the defense through the first seven days of jury selection, with a heavy focus on their views on a potential death sentence.

Bowers’ attorneys already offered a guilty plea in return for a life sentence without parole, but prosecutors refused and are seeking the death penalty, a move most of the victims’ families support. Most of the juror questioning by Bowers’ attorneys has focused on jurors’ views on the death penalty.

Israel foils attempt to smuggle guns from Gaza to West Bank

A weapon found in furniture during a smuggling attempt from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank on May 3, 2023 (Defense Ministry)
A weapon found in furniture during a smuggling attempt from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank on May 3, 2023 (Defense Ministry)

The Defense Ministry says it has foiled an unusual smuggling attempt of handguns from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

The handguns, a silencer, and several magazines are found hidden in a shipment of furniture at the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The ministry says the shipment from Gaza to the West Bank “aroused the guards’ suspicion” and upon closer look, several firearms were found.

It says that according to initial assessments, the weapons were intended to be used for terror activity in the West Bank.

Man shot dead in Shefaram in apparent 5th murder of the day

Illustrative: A Magen David Adom ambulance is seen on the coast of central Israel. (Magen David Adom)
Illustrative: A Magen David Adom ambulance is seen on the coast of central Israel. (Magen David Adom)

A 23-year-old man is shot and killed in the northern town of Shefaram medics say. The killing is the fifth in Israel today and the fourth among the Arab community.

The Magen David Adom rescue service say they found the man with gunshot wounds and were forced to declare him dead at the scene.

There was no immediate comment from police amid a deadly crime wave that shows no signs of abating.

Earlier a 26-year-old man was shot and killed and a second person critically wounded in a shooting in the southern town of Tel Sheva.

A man was shot dead in Nazareth, another man was fatally stabbed in Holon, and hours later another man was shot dead close to the city of Qalansawe in the center of the country.

The crime wave has been particularly deadly for the country’s Arab community. Many blame the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars and violence against women.

According to The Abraham Initiatives, a group that campaigns against violence, the Shefaram killing brings to 69 the number of members of the Arab community killed in violent circumstances since the beginning of the year. The watchdog says 59 of them were killed by gunfire.

Ministry launches campaign to get kids with life-threatening allergies to carry Epipens

The Health Ministry launches a social media campaign reminding young people with life-threatening allergies to carry with them a pre-filled epinephrine syringe (Epipen).

Food allergies are the most common serious allergies among children, teens, and young adults.

The campaign comes after last week a 16-year-old boy from Jerusalem with a milk allergy ate ice cream and was hospitalized with anaphylactic shock.

The Health Ministry released videos in both Hebrew and Arabic as part of its educational campaign. The Hebrew one stars actor, model, and beatbox rapper Sagi Braitner. The Arabic version stars singer Loai Ali.

For a person with an allergy, symptoms usually occur within minutes of exposure to the allergen and can include a severe rash, a narrowing of the windpipe, difficulty breathing, swelling, and vomiting.

Severe anaphylaxis involves a drop in blood pressure, slowed heart rate, confusion, and loss of consciousness leading to death if not treated in time. It is estimated that 0.05-2% of the population experiences at least one anaphylactic incident in their lifetime. Carrying and using an Epipen when needed can be lifesaving.

‘Let’s calm down’: Smotrich plays peacemaker between Netanyahu and Ben Gvir

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich leads a meeting of his Religious Zionism party at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich leads a meeting of his Religious Zionism party at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich tries to smooth over tensions between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, saying that if the government falls it will be a prize for the terrorists.

“Friends and partners in the government and coalition, let’s calm down,” Smotrich says in a video posted to social media after Netanyahu tells Ben Gvir he is welcome to leave the government and Ben Givr challenges him to fire him.

“It is possible and necessary to hold internal talks and arguments and there is a lot to improve,” he says.

“But we have to keep the government unified and not give a prize to terror and bring back the left, with their terror supporters, to rule,” Smotrich says. “We have four years to fix and improve through hard work together.”

PA says man shot by IDF troops near Bethlehem in serious condition

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says the man shot and wounded earlier by Israeli troops near al-Khader, close to Bethlehem, is listed in serious condition.

The ministry says the man was brought to a local hospital with a gunshot wound to his pelvis and shrapnel in his chest and abdomen.

According to Israeli medics, the suspect attempted to assault troops. The Israeli military has not yet commented on the circumstances.

Ukraine says it had ‘nothing to do’ with alleged Kremlin drone attack

A view of empty Red Square closed for Victory Parade preparation with the Historical Museum, right, and the Kremlin Towers in the background in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, April 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
A view of empty Red Square closed for Victory Parade preparation with the Historical Museum, right, and the Kremlin Towers in the background in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, April 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Ukraine says it had “nothing to do” with an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin, which Moscow said was a Ukrainian attempt on President Vladimir Putin’s life.

“Ukraine has nothing to do with drone attacks on the Kremlin,” presidential spokesman Mikhaylo Podolyak says.

“Ukraine does not attack the Kremlin because, firstly, that does not solve any military aims,” he ads.

Medics: Palestinian tries to attack troops, is shot and arrested

A Palestinian suspect has been shot and detained after allegedly attempting to assault troops in the West Bank, medics say.

According to the Rescuers Without Borders emergency service, the suspect got out of a vehicle while waiting to be questioned near the town of al-Khader near Bethlehem, and tried to attack troops.

During the incident, the suspect was shot in the lower body, the service says.

It adds that no soldiers are hurt.

The Israeli military has not yet issued a statement on the incident.

https://twitter.com/hadafps/status/1653740879981469698

Ben Gvir challenges Netanyahu to fire him if he doesn’t want a right-wing government

Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir gives a press statement in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, May 3, 2023. (Flash90)
Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir gives a press statement in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, May 3, 2023. (Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, vows his party will not vote in Knesset with the government until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopts more right-wing policies, and challenges him to fire him.

Ben Gvir makes his comments after his party slammed the government’s “feeble”  response to the rocket attacks from Gaza on Tuesday, but also points to the failure to pass judicial reforms and to demolish the illegal Palestinian Bedouin encampment Khan al-Ahmar.

“If you don’t want Otzma Yehudit in the government you are welcome to fire us, if you don’t want a real right-wing government you are welcome to send us home,” Ben Gvir tells Netanyahu from a private home in Sderot where his party ministers and MKs are spending the day.

“I am giving notice here that we, Otzma Yehudit, will not be present for votes in the Knesset until the prime minister understands and internalizes that the goal of this government is to be a real right-wing government,” the ultranationalist minister continues.

Ben Gvir also insists that he be included in security deliberations such as those regarding the response to the Gaza rocket fire.

“I am saying as explicitly as possible — if he wants us in the government he needs to invite us to these deliberations and not as has been in the last four months when the decisions have already been made,” says Ben Gvir.

“If we are partners then we need to be invited and more importantly have influence. If the PM wants that we will be happy, if not we will not come to votes.”
He does not stipulate, however, precisely what terms are needed in order for his party to resume voting in the Knesset.

Netanyahu’s Likud party earlier said that if Ben Gvir was unhappy, he was welcome to leave the government.

Russia accuses Kyiv of trying to kill Putin in drone strike on Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Altai Territory Governor Viktor Tomenko during their meeting via videoconference in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 2, 2023. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Altai Territory Governor Viktor Tomenko during their meeting via videoconference in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 2, 2023. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The Kremlin says it shot down two drones launched by Ukraine and accused Kyiv of attempting to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Two unmanned vehicles were aimed at the Kremlin… the devices were put out of action,” the Kremlin says in a statement, calling the operation “a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the President of the Russian Federation.”

Lapid warns extremism could lead to downfall of Jewish state

Yesh Atid party MK Yair Lapid speaks during a Knesset debate, on May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yesh Atid party MK Yair Lapid speaks during a Knesset debate, on May 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition leader Yair Lapid warns against extremism undermining the future of the Jewish state at a special Knesset session to mark the 163rd birthday of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.

“For 2,000 years Jews learned one central lesson, that extremism leads to the destruction of the [Jewish] homeland. That is our national trauma,” says Lapid.

“It is inconceivable that after 75 years of sovereignty, we have forgotten this already. And it’s inconceivable that we have forgotten that part of being Jewish is to accept the non-Jews who live among us,” he says noting that in the Bible, the commandment “to love the stranger because we were strangers in Egypt” appears 36 times.

“He who thinks that Judaism is a call to hate Arabs is apparently reading the wrong book,” Lapid says.

Likud tells Ben Gvir if he doesn’t like way Netanyahu runs government he can leave

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir of Otzma Yehudit in the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 6, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir of Otzma Yehudit in the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 6, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Likud party issues a blunt statement to Public Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir after his party boycotts Knesset votes, telling him that if he does not like the way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu runs the government he can leave the coalition.

Citing the government’s “feeble” response to the past day’s barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip, members of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party announced this morning that they would boycott Knesset votes taking place throughout the day.

“The prime minister, defense minister, the IDF, and security agencies are the ones who handle the sensitive and complete security incidents that Israel is dealing with,” Likud says.

“The prime minister is the one who decides who is a relevant participant in the discussions. If this is unacceptable to Minister Ben Gvir he does not have to remain in the government,” the statement says.

It is the latest in a series of fissures to emerge in Netanyahu’s hardline right-religious government, which has faced mounting internal pressure over its currently shelved plans to overhaul the judiciary, along with the skyrocketing cost of living and deepening conflict with the Palestinians.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seizes tanker in Strait of Hormuz

This still image from video released by the U.S. Navy shows the Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels in the Strait of Hormuz Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Iran seized a Panama-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday, the second-such capture by Tehran in recent days, the U.S. Navy said. (U.S. Navy via AP)
This still image from video released by the U.S. Navy shows the Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels in the Strait of Hormuz Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Iran seized a Panama-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday, the second-such capture by Tehran in recent days, the U.S. Navy said. (U.S. Navy via AP)

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard seizes a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the second such capture by Tehran in under a week amid heightened tensions over its nuclear program.

The taking of the oil tanker Niovi renews concerns about Iran threatening maritime traffic in the strait, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all crude passes. It also comes amid the disappearance of a crude oil tanker in southeast Asia believed to be carrying Iranian crude oil amid reports it may have been seized by the US.

The US Navy published surveillance footage shot by an aerial drone of about dozen Guard vessels swarming the tanker around 6:20 a.m. The drone had been on a routine patrol in the area and saw the seizure, though the Navy did not receive a distress call from the Niovi itself, 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins says.

IDF announces a series of appointments to General Staff

Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano (IDF Spokesman)
Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano (IDF Spokesman)

The Israel Defense Forces announces a series of appointments in the General Staff, a forum of senior commanders responsible for the various branches and departments of the military.

Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, who currently is the head of the Southern Command, will be appointed as the officer in charge of Iran affairs and the Strategic Planning Division.

Brig. Gen. Yaron Finkelman will replace Toledano as head of the Southern Command, and will be promoted to major general in the coming months.

Brig. Gen. Nimrod Aloni will be appointed as head of the Depth Corps and Military Colleges; Brig. Gen. David Zini will be appointed as head of the Training Command and General Staff Corps; and Rear. Adm. Eyal Harel will be appointed as head of the Planning Directorate.

All three will also be promoted to major general in the coming months.

The IDF says the appointments made by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi are approved by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Man shot dead in Tel Sheva in apparent 4th murder of the day

Police at the scene of a fatal shooting in the southern town of Tel Sheva on May 3, 2023 (police)
Police at the scene of a fatal shooting in the southern town of Tel Sheva on May 3, 2023 (police)

A 26-year-old man is shot and killed in the southern town of Tel Sheva and a second man is critically wounded, police and medics say.

Police say they are investigating the incident and searching for suspects in the apparent fourth murder in less than a day as a deadly crime wave shows no signs of abating.

A man was shot dead in Nazareth, another man was fatally stabbed in Holon, and hours later another man was shot dead close to the city of Qalansawe in the center of the country.

The crime wave has been particularly deadly for the country’s Arab community. Many blame the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars and violence against women.

According to The Abraham Initiatives, a group that campaigns against violence, the Tel Sheva killing brings to 68 the number of members of the Arab community killed in violent circumstances since the beginning of the year. The watchdog says 58 of them were killed by gunfire.

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