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Report: Israel warns 100 Israelis in Turkey to leave over ‘concrete’ Iran threat

TV network says there appears to be Iranian infrastructure planning ‘to act right now’; Israelis in country urged to lower profile over coming days

Istanbul's skyline, with the iconic Galata Tower, January 29, 2021. (AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel)
Istanbul's skyline, with the iconic Galata Tower, January 29, 2021. (AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel)

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

IDF issues demolition order for West Bank home of one Elad terrorist

Subhi Emad Sbeihat, left, and As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, from a West Bank town near Jenin, the alleged Palestinian perpetrators of the Elad terror attack on May 5, 2022, in which three Israelis were killed and several seriously wounded. (Courtesy)
Subhi Emad Sbeihat, left, and As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, from a West Bank town near Jenin, the alleged Palestinian perpetrators of the Elad terror attack on May 5, 2022, in which three Israelis were killed and several seriously wounded. (Courtesy)

The Israel Defense Forces has informed the family of a Palestinian terrorist that their home in the northern West Bank village of Rummanah is slated for demolition.

Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i’s family is given the chance to appeal the demolition order.

Al-Rifa’i is one of two Palestinians who are accused of carrying out a deadly axe attack in the central city of Elad earlier this month, in which three people were killed, and several others seriously hurt.

During the Palestinians’ arrest, al-Rifa’i confessed to committing the attack.

The family of the second terrorist, Subhi Emad Sbeihat, will receive a similar notice in the coming days.

Bennett’s personal assistant to leave position

Yet another departure is coming at the Prime Minister’s Office, as Naftali Bennett’s personal assistant says she will leave her position.

Naomi Sasson quits, following resignations by Bennett’s diplomatic adviser and chief of staff in recent weeks.

Roman Abramovich completes $3.2 billion sale of Chelsea

American businessman Todd Boehly applauds during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton at Stamford Bridge stadium, in London, May 7, 2022. (AP Photo/ Frank Augstein, File)
American businessman Todd Boehly applauds during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton at Stamford Bridge stadium, in London, May 7, 2022. (AP Photo/ Frank Augstein, File)

The fast-tracked purchase of English soccer club Chelsea for 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) — the highest price ever paid for a sports team — was completed today by a consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.

It marks the end of the trophy-filled, 19-year tenure of Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch who was forced to sell the club in March, after being sanctioned by the British government for what it called his enabling of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal and barbaric invasion” of Ukraine.

The government says the proceeds of the sale will be used for humanitarian purposes in Ukraine.

“We are honored to become the new custodians of Chelsea Football Club,” says Boehly, who attended some of the team’s games in recent weeks. “We’re all in — 100 percent — every minute of every match.”

Chelsea has been operating under a government license since Abramovich’s assets were frozen in March. The Boehly and Clearlake Capital consortium was one of around 250 initial proposed buyers, the club says, and that was narrowed down to 12 credible bids, and then a shortlist of three final bidders.

The British government approved the sale last week after ensuring that Abramovich could not profit from it. The proceeds will be transferred to a frozen account and then used “to support the relief and rebuilding effort in Ukraine as soon as possible,” the government says.

Report: Israel directly warns 100 Israelis in Turkey to leave over ‘concrete’ Iran threat

Istanbul's skyline, with the iconic Galata Tower, January 29, 2021. (AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel)
Istanbul's skyline, with the iconic Galata Tower, January 29, 2021. (AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel)

Channel 12 reports that the threat of Iran attacking Israelis in Turkey is “concrete and immediate.”

Israel has directly warned over 100 Israelis who are in Turkey at the moment that they are in the Iranian crosshairs, and has asked them to return, the network says.

“Evidently, there is [an Iranian] infrastructure that has planned to act right now,” reporter Nir Dvori says.

He says there had been efforts to target senior Israelis and Israeli businesspeople recently around the world, but “the Mossad thwarted this.”

Since the Iranians have not succeeded with that effort, they are widening the target to ordinary Israelis in Turkey, he says.

He says the Turks have not been happy about the publicity, “but they realize there is no choice this time. They too are working [to foil the threat as stated] in this highly unusual Israeli warning, hoping that this incident will be over in a few days.”

The National Security Council is recommending that all Israelis who are in Turkey avoid contact with strangers;not give out personal details; make sure they have the phone numbers of Israeli legations and emergency services; not discuss military service; not publicly display signs they are Israeli.

Thousands of teachers rally in Tel Aviv, demanding fair wages

Thousands of teachers are demonstrating in Tel Aviv to demand better wages.

Teachers’ unions are demanding that teachers’ starting wages stand at NIS 10,000 ($3,000).

Salaries for beginner teachers in Israel are among the lowest in the OECD.

Palestinians in Beirut mark 1972 terror attack on Israeli airport

Kozo Okamoto (C), the only surviving member of the three man cell that killed 26 people at Israel's Lod airport on May 30, 1972, attends a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Lod attack in Lebanon's capital Beirut on May 30, 2022. (JOSEPH EID / AFP)
Kozo Okamoto (C), the only surviving member of the three man cell that killed 26 people at Israel's Lod airport on May 30, 1972, attends a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Lod attack in Lebanon's capital Beirut on May 30, 2022. (JOSEPH EID / AFP)

Palestinians in Beirut mark the 50th anniversary of a deadly attack carried out by members of the Japanese Red Army at Israel’s Lod airport.

Kozo Okamoto, the only surviving member of the three-man cell that killed 26 people on May 30, 1972 at the airport near Tel Aviv, makes a rare appearance at the ceremony.

The short event is held at a cemetery on the edge of Shatila Palestinian refugee camp where Okamoto, now 74, lays a wreath on a grave honoring his fellow JRA members and flashes a V-sign.

The attack was planned by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has commemorated it every year for a half a century.

“He came to defend the freedom of people who had their lands stolen. He believes in their rights, he believes in justice and human freedom,” a PFLP official who gives his name as Abu Yusef tells AFP.

The Lod attack killed one Canadian, eight Israelis, and 17 US citizens from Puerto Rico, who had flown in on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The bloodbath at what was later named Ben Gurion Airport set off a review of global security standards in the aviation industry.

Okamoto, who was captured during the attack, was sentenced to life in prison in Israel, but released in a huge prisoner exchange deal, known as the Jibril Agreement, in 1985.

Lacking votes, coalition pulls bill reapplying Israeli law to Israelis in West Bank

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar pulls a bill to renew the application of some Israeli law to Israelis living in the West Bank from today’s Knesset agenda, after the coalition is unable to rally support to guarantee its passage.

“Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar agreed to the request of the alternate prime minister [Yair Lapid] and Prime Minister [Naftali Bennett] to postpone for a week the vote on the bill to extend the validity of emergency regulations (Judea and Samaria – Judgment of Offenses and Legal Aid), in order to maximize efforts to pass this vital law,” reads a statement from Sa’ar’s office.

Earlier today, the opposition’s right-religious bloc leaders said they would not lend a hand to pass any coalition legislation. Unsure if it has the support of Islamist Arab Ra’am party, the deadlocked coalition withdrew the bill.

Young woman killed, 7 others injured when 4×4 overturns in north

A young woman in her twenties has been killed and seven other people injured when a 4×4 vehicle overturned during a trip in the Upper Galilee.

The car was part of an off-road tour, and was carrying all eight people when it tipped over. The cause is currently unclear.

The other passengers were taken to hospitals, with their conditions ranging from light to moderate.

Iran rejects Cannes movie award as ‘biased, political’

Iran rejects as “biased and political” last week’s award at Cannes for a film about a serial killer who targeted sex workers in an Iranian Shiite shrine city.

Iranian Zar Amir Ebrahimi won the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday for her performance in the film “Holy Spider,” directed by Danish-Iranian Ali Abbassi.

Ebrahimi, who went into exile following a smear campaign about her love life, was awarded for her portrayal of a journalist trying to solve the serial murders of sex workers in Iran’s holy city of Mashhad.

The Cinema Organization of Iran, affiliated with the culture ministry, lashes out at the decision, accusing the festival of “committing a biased and political act by praising a false and disgusting film.”

The film presents “a distorted image of Iranian society and openly insults the beliefs of Shiites,” the organization says in an official statement.

It says the film “follows the same path as Salman Rushdie in ‘The Satanic Verses,'” in reference to the Booker Prize-winning British-American novelist of Indian descent.

“Holy Spider” is inspired by the true story of a working-class man who killed sex workers in the early 2000s and became known as the “Spider Killer.”

Israel, UAE to boost economic ties with free trade deal

Israeli and United Arab Emirates flags line a road in the coastal city of Netanya on August 16, 2020. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Israeli and United Arab Emirates flags line a road in the coastal city of Netanya on August 16, 2020. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Israel and the United Arab Emirates are set to officially sign a free trade agreement tomorrow in a bid to boost trade between the two countries, says Israel’s Economy and Industry Ministry.

The signing ceremony for the “free, full, first trade agreement with an Arab state,” as Israel’s Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai described the deal, will take place Tuesday in Dubai.

The terms of the agreement were finalized last month in Jerusalem with Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi.

The agreement covers regulation, customs, services, government procurement, e-commerce, and protection of intellectual property rights.

Some 96% of products traded between the countries, including food, agriculture, cosmetics, medical equipment, and medication, will be exempt from customs duty, says the ministry. A number of products will be exempt immediately, while others will gradually be granted exemptions.

Existing Israel-UAE trade was estimated at $2.5 billion since the 2020 Abraham Accords, Zeyoudi said in Davos last week. Over $1 billion of that sum was recorded in trade in the first quarter of 2022, he said.

Zeyoudi said that in 2023-2024, trade between the two countries is forecast to reach $5 billion.

Barbivai says the visit to the UAE is “of strategic importance to the economic relations between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”

“Together we will remove barriers and promote comprehensive trade and new technologies, which will form a solid base for our joint path, will benefit citizens, and make it easier to do business. This is a free, full, first trade agreement with an Arab state, which is taking place so soon after the establishment of diplomatic relations,” says Barbivai in the ministry announcement.

The UAE and Israel signed a normalization agreement in 2020 as part of the US-backed Abraham Accords. Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco also normalized ties with Israel in the framework of the accords.

Biden rules out sending rocket systems ‘that can strike into Russia’ to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden speaks to the media on the south lawn of the White House on May 30, 2022 in Washington, DC (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP )
US President Joe Biden speaks to the media on the south lawn of the White House on May 30, 2022 in Washington, DC (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP )

US President Joe Biden says he will not send rocket systems to Ukraine that could hit targets well inside Russian territory, despite urgent requests from Kyiv for long-range weapons.

“We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia,” Biden tells reporters in Washington.

Pro-Western Ukraine has received extensive US military aid since Russia invaded in late February, but says it needs long-range rockets equivalent to those Moscow’s forces use.

Kyiv has asked the United States for mobile batteries of long-range rockets, the M270 MLRS and the M142 Himars, which can launch multiple rockets at the same time with a range of up to 187 miles (300 kilometers), eight times or more the distance of artillery in the field.

This could give Ukrainian forces the ability to reach, with great precision, targets far behind Russian lines, though it is unclear if that is their intent.

“If the West really wants Ukraine’s victory, maybe it is time to give us long-range MLRS?” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak tweeted recently.

Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile is 18 times over 2015 deal limit, IAEA says

The UN nuclear watchdog says it estimates Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has grown to more than 18 times the limit laid down in Tehran’s 2015 deal with world powers.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says in its latest report on Iran’s nuclear program that it “estimated that, as of May 15, 2022, Iran’s total enriched stockpile was 3,809.3 kilograms.” The limit in the 2015 deal was set at 300 kg of a specific compound, the equivalent of 202.8 kg of uranium.

Rights group: Israeli strike on Gaza warehouse last year amounts to chemical attack

An Israeli strike on an agrochemical warehouse in the Gaza Strip during last May’s war was tantamount to “indirect deploying of chemical weapons,” Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq alleges in a new report.

The investigation’s details were reported upon by The Guardian.

It says the artillery attack on Khudair Pharmaceutical and Agricultural Tools in the Strip’s north set fire to hundreds of tons of pesticides, plastics and other toxic substances, creating a huge plume that has caused persistent health issues in those who live nearby.

Residents have reported skin problems and two miscarriages that may have been caused by the fumes, though it is not clear there is direct evidence for the latter.

Hungary busts Israeli-led money-laundering and fraud ring

Hungarian police say they busted an international money-laundering ring based in Hungary led by an Israeli man that cheated people in dozens of countries through online investment frauds.

Around 44 million euros ($47 million) were transferred from some 94 companies set up by the gang, police spokesman Peter Farkas tells reporters in Budapest.

The gang was led by a 48-year-old Israeli man living in Hungary, one of five suspects arrested during coordinated raids on May 9 across Hungary.

The fraud schemes were typically online and related to so-called “account-switching” and cryptocurrency investments, says Farkas, speaking at a press conference where seized phones, laptops and some 250 SIM cards were on display.

Opposition’s right-wing camp says won’t back government legislation

The heads of the opposition’s so-called “Nationalist Camp” say they will not help the government pass legislation.

In a Knesset press conference, Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich says “We won’t be its crutches.”

The statement is well-timed, as the coalition is expected to bring to vote today a bill required to renew extension of Israeli law over the West Bank’s Area C — a measure ideologically supported by all of the Nationalist Camp heads.

“It’s prohibited to support this government in any law,” says Shas party leader Aryeh Deri, who left the Knesset as part of a plea deal earlier this year.

Deri adds that the Nationalist Camp wants to reshuffle seats within the current Knesset to form an alternative government headed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. “That’s our goal, that’s where we’re heading.”

Police minister joins call to outlaw far-right Lehava and La Familia

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev also says the far-right Lehava and La Familia groups should be outlawed.

Barlev says he had sought such action even before becoming a cabinet minister.

“I intend to once again appeal to the attorney general in order to outlaw them,” he says. “They undoubtedly harm Israel’s security, Israel’s internal security.”

Wayward MK Biton has agreed to resume committee work, vote with coalition

Blue and White MK Michael Biton leads an Economic Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on December 7, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Blue and White MK Michael Biton leads an Economic Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on December 7, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Blue and White MK Micahel Biton, head of the Knesset Economic Committee, has agreed to resume voting with the coalition and return to work at the commitee.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met this morning with Biton in order to discuss resolving Biton’s coalition strike.

A spokesperson for Bennett shares that the two reached an agreement to return the Economic Committee to its regular operating schedule, after almost a week of inactivity.

Biton, citing frustration with the government’s planned transportation and agriculture reforms, announced last week that he would cease work at the committee he oversees and not vote with the coalition, with the exception of blocking any no-confidence vote.

Also in attendance were representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office and the budget division.

According to a spokesperson for Bennett, “the Prime Minister heard the Economic Committee Chair’s issues with the reform and decided to review over the next two weeks the reform and its effects on different population groups.”

Bennett is also expected to spend the next two weeks in dialogue with several coalition leaders in order to address the crisis Biton kicked off last Wednesday.

Bennett condemns ‘extremists’ at Flag March, but hails event itself

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on May 8, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on May 8, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

After meeting with Jerusalem police officers, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemns the “group of extremists” behind the violence at yesterday’s Jerusalem Day Flag March and says they will be brought to justice.

Despite the violence, Bennett says the march through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City — and not through a less contentious alternate route — “strengthens sovereignty and governance” in East Jerusalem.

“If we hadn’t done it through the normal route, we would effectively never be able to go back to it. It could have been a withdrawal of sovereignty,” he says. “We proved that the State of Israel acts based on what’s right and not based on threats.”

This is in reference to threats made by Hamas and other terror groups against the march through the Muslim Quarter. Similar threats were made last year before Hamas launched a number of rockets at Jerusalem from the Gaza Strip, sparking an 11-day miltary conflict known in Israel as Operation Guardian of the Walls.i

Netanyahu: Costs of living rising because of funds to Arab interests

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in his trial, at the District Court in Jerusalem on May 11, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in his trial, at the District Court in Jerusalem on May 11, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu attacks the government for Israel’s rising cost of living.

Netanyahu says the government can’t control housing, food, and gas prices because it funds causes supported by Arab parliamentarians.

“Every week, they transfer billions to political blackmailers, terror supporters and Israel haters. Israeli citizens are forced to pay high taxes in order for the government to pay the Abbas tax, the Tibi tax, the Zoabi tax,” Netanyahu says. “And for whom is nothing left? Nothing is left for Israeli citizens.”

The Likud leader repeats accusations he made before that the government directs public funds to projects supported by Arab lawmakers in order to achieve political aims. “Instead of fighting to lower prices and lower taxes, this weak and extortive government is concerned solely with its survival,” Netanyahu says.

Netanyahu was reportedly himself willing to transfer significant funds to Arab interests during 2021 talks with Ra’am if it would support his own prospective government.

Gantz: Time to consider designating La Familia and Lehava as terrorist organizations

Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrives to a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrives to a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says the “time has come” to consider designating the far-right groups La Familia and Lehava as terrorist organizations, after they were seen at the forefront of the violence and inflammatory rhetoric at yesterday’s Flag March through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

Both La Familia and Lehava have been tied to cases of violence against Arabs and Muslims in Israel over the years. La Familia is nominally a fan club of Jerusalem’s Beitar soccer team, though the team has repeatedly distanced itself from the organization for its racist rhetoric and violent antics. Lehava is an anti-miscegenation and anti-homosexual organization that regularly employs violence for its aims, mostly against Arab men. Its members have also been involved in arson attacks on churches and mixed Arab-Jewish schools and one of them was recently indicted for sexually assaulting a female member of the organization.

“As defense minister, I believe that the time has come to consider terrorist organization designations for groups like La Familia and Lehava. I know that the subject has been brought up to security organizations and I trust the heads of the organization to make that consideration in the cleanest and best way possible,” Gantz says.

The defense minister delivers his remarks during his Blue and White party’s faction meeting in the Knesset, following yesterday’s Jerusalem Day celebrations, in which members of both groups were seen attacking Arab residents of the Old City and screaming racist chants like “Death to Arabs” and “Your village should burn,” among others.

In his comments, Gantz says these only made up a small portion of the 70,000 participants in the flag march. He adds that some “extremist Muslim rioters and terrorists” were also violent yesterday on and around the Temple Mount.

TV personality Modi Bar-On dead of cancer at 59

Israeli television presenter Modi Bar-On in Jerusalem on June 3, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli television presenter Modi Bar-On in Jerusalem on June 3, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

TV presenter and sports commentator Modi Bar-On has died at age 59, at home, after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Beyond sports, Bar-On was a scriptwriter, theater director, journalist, actor and comedian.

Man arrested after smearing Mona Lisa’s glass with cake at Louvre

A 36-year-old man has been arrested and placed in psychiatric care after he smeared a glass screen encasing the Mona Lisa with cake, prosecutors say, in a purported protest against artists not focusing enough on “the planet.”

Officials at the Louvre Museum in Paris, where the enigmatic portrait holds pride of place, decline to comment on yesterday’s bizarre incident, which was captured on several phones and circulated widely on social media.

The treasured work by Leonardo da Vinci, which has been the target of vandalism attempts in the past, was unharmed thanks to its bulletproof glass case.

Iranian news agency names 5 Israeli intel and tech experts Tehran could target

Five Israelis that Iran's Fars agency says could be targeted by the regime, May 29, 2022 (Courtesy)
Five Israelis that Iran's Fars agency says could be targeted by the regime, May 29, 2022 (Courtesy)

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has issued details on five Israelis it has warned could be targeted by Tehran, as the Islamic Republic continues to seethe over the killing of a top Revolutionary Guards official it has attributed to Israel.

Under the headline “Zionists who must live in secret,” the agency claims that the five, their families and colleagues are “under close surveillance day and night” and that many others were potential targets as well.

The agency, citing “internal government sources,” claims the five were “involved in sabotage against Islamic countries and the assassination of activists of the Islamic Resistance.”

The named individuals are Amos Malka, a former head of the IDF Intelligence Directorate; Amir Levental, a cybersecurity expert; Gal Ganot, a former senior officer in the IDF’s 8200 intelligence unit; Inbal Arieli, a tech executive who is also a former 8200 officer; and Amit Meltzer, another cyber expert.

The agency publishes photos of the five under the word “Wanted.”

Liberman: No reason to fund Haredi institutions that teach ‘idleness’

Finance Minister and Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, on January 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister and Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, on January 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

At the Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman says there is no reason to fund Haredi institutes that teach “idleness.”

Liberman says that institutions that refuse to teach core subjects such as English and math can “do it at your expense, not that of taxpayers.”

He adds: “They sit there at the kollelim [where Talmud is taught], they come in the morning, eat a sandwich, drink coffee and talk politics, peruse through some books and go home. Idleness studies are not holy studies.”

Lapid: Jerusalem Day events were tainted by extremists, racists

Young participants in a Jerusalem Day march wear t-shirts showing a Magen David and an assault rifle, in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem on May 29, 2022, on "Jerusalem Day" (Claire GOUNON / AFP)
Young participants in a Jerusalem Day march wear t-shirts showing a Magen David and an assault rifle, in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem on May 29, 2022, on "Jerusalem Day" (Claire GOUNON / AFP)

In comments made during his Yesh Atid party’s faction meeting, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says that the tense Jerusalem Day events yesterday passed relatively “peacefully,” but that they were “tainted by extremists” and “taken over by “racists.”

“Instead of a day of happiness, they tried to make it a day of hate,” the foreign minister says of violent participants at the so-called Flag March in Jerusalem’s Old City. “These people aren’t patriots.”

He adds: “Jerusalem deserves better.”

“We cannot accept that these are the images left at the end of Jerusalem Day. The Israeli majority must take back the Flag March, and Jerusalem, and the State of Israel. We are the majority. They are an extremist minority.”

Yesterday, Lapid struck out against right-wing group Lehava, after videos circulated on social networks in which flag-waving Jews chanted “Muhammad is dead” at the entrance to the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

Lapid says that the Temple Mount status quo whereby Muslims can visit and pray, but Jews may only visit, remains Israeli policy.

“The status quo on the Temple Mount hasn’t changed and won’t change on our shift,” Lapid says, while acknowledging that “maybe there are people who violate it.”

During yesterday’s heated Jerusalem Day, videos circulated of Jews praying and prostrating themselves on the Temple Mount. Israeli police removed several of them.

IDF: Troops targeted in drive-by shooting in West Bank town overnight, none hurt

The Israel Defense Forces says troops were targeted in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank town of al-Bireh overnight.

According to the IDF, a vehicle drove near troops and one person inside opened fire. The force returned fire at the vehicle, and no soldiers were hurt in the incident, the IDF adds.

The military says troops found several shell casings in the area, and have launched a manhunt for suspects. The IDF does not elaborate on what troops were doing in the Palestinian city.

Iran Guards accuse ‘Zionists’ of assassinating colonel

People walk past a banner showing Iran's Revolutionary Guard Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei who was killed on Sunday, prior to his funeral ceremony, in Tehran, Iran, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
People walk past a banner showing Iran's Revolutionary Guard Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei who was killed on Sunday, prior to his funeral ceremony, in Tehran, Iran, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards accused “Zionists” of shooting dead a colonel in Tehran earlier this month, days after Israel reportedly told the US it was behind the killing.

Guards Colonel Sayyad Khodaei, 50, was fatally shot on May 22 outside his home in the east of the Iranian capital by assailants on motorcycles. He was hit with five bullets, according to official media.

It was the most high-profile killing inside Iran since the November 2020 murder of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh — an act Tehran also blamed on Israel.

Khodaei was killed “by the most vicious people, the Zionists, and God willing, we will avenge his death,” head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Major General Hossein Salami says during a visit to his family, according to the Guards’ Sepah News website.

“The enemy pursued him from the heart of the White House and Tel Aviv for months and years, door to door and alley to alley to martyr him,” Salami adds.

The New York Times reported last week that Israel has told the United States that the Jewish state was behind the killing of Khodaei. The US daily cited an anonymous “intelligence official briefed on the communications.”

Suriname to open an embassy in Jerusalem in the near future

Suriname will open an embassy in Jerusalem in the near future, Surinamese Foreign Minister Albert Camdin tells Foreign Minister Yair Lapid during their meeting today in Jerusalem.

The Dutch-speaking South American republic will join the US, Guatemala, Honduras, and Kosovo, which have full embassies in Israel’s capital. Several other countries maintain embassy branches or trade missions in Jerusalem, including Australia, Hungary and Czechia.

Lapid and Camdin sign a consultation agreement between the foreign ministries. and Lapid offers to send humanitarian aid to Suriname to help deal with the effects of severe flooding in March.

IDF to hold test of siren systems in Herzliya area Tuesday

The Israel Defense Forces announces it will hold a test of the siren systems and emergency preparedness in Herzliya tomorrow.

The sirens will sound in the western part of the city at 10:05 a.m. and in the center of the city and the adjacent Kibbutz Glil Yam at 10:15 a.m.

Residents of the area are asked to enter bomb shelters when they hear the sirens and to ensure that their shelters are well-stocked for an emergency. In the case of an actual attack, the sirens will sound twice, the military says. The drill comes amid the IDF’s monthlong “Chariots of Fire” exercise, involving nearly all units of the military.

Bennett and visiting Georgian PM talk ‘geopolitical changes, regional challenges’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets his Georgian counterpart, Irakli Garibashvili, at his office in Jerusalem, May 30, 2022 (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets his Georgian counterpart, Irakli Garibashvili, at his office in Jerusalem, May 30, 2022 (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets his Georgian counterpart, Irakli Garibashvili, at his office in Jerusalem.

According to a statement from Bennett’s office, the two leaders speak about “geopolitical changes and their implications, regional challenges, and mutual opportunities between Israel and Georgia.”

The vague topics are likely euphemisms for the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Iran’s nuclear program.

Georgia, which neighbors Russia, was invaded by Russian forces in 2008, and is seeking to join the European Union and NATO. Today Russia occupies roughly 20% of Georgia’s territory.

Garibashvili also meets with Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy in the Knesset. “Iran is providing ammunition to Hezbollah incessantly,” says Levy during their meeting. “It is funding terror and undermining quiet in our region. We won’t allow this to happen.”

Georgia, a close ally of Israel and top travel destination for Israelis, celebrated its national day last week, and the two countries mark 30 years of diplomatic relations this week.

Mayor describes fierce street fighting in Ukraine’s Sievierodonetsk

The mayor of a Ukrainian city at the epicenter of the Russian offensive says that fierce street battles are going on there.

Sievierodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Striuk tells The Associated Press in a telephone interview that “Russian troops have entered the city and street fighting is going on.” He adds that the Ukrainian defenders are fighting to push the Russians out.

Striuk addes that “the Russian troops have advanced a few blocks toward the city center.”

He says that “we have no power and no communications. The city has been completely ruined.”

The mayor says that 12,000-13,000 civilians left in the city are sheltering in basements and bunkers to escape relentless Russian bombardment. He says that “the number of victims is rising every hour, but we are unable to count the dead and the wounded amid the street fighting.”

 

UAE condemns ‘storming of Al-Aqsa courtyard by extremist settlers’

Jewish religious nationalists wave an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount, May 29, 2022. (Screen grab)
Jewish religious nationalists wave an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount, May 29, 2022. (Screen grab)

The United Arab Emirates issues a statement strongly condemning what it calls “the storming of the courtyard of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque by extremist settlers” yesterday “under the protection of the Israeli forces.”

The Israeli ally’s foreign ministry calls for ceasing “provocative violations” at the mosque. It calls on Israel to avoid escalation at the holy site and exercise “maximum restraint” there.

A record 2,600 Jews visited the Temple Mount yesterday to mark Jerusalem Day, prompting rebukes from Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

The visits were orderly, and made under police guard.

The Temple Mount — which also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque — is administered by the Waqf, a religious trust run and funded by Jordan. The site is the holiest place for Jews, as the place of biblical temples, and Al-Aqsa is the third holiest shrine in Islam, turning the area into a major flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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