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Live updates (closed)Latest: Palestinian girl arrested in Old City with knife

Police arrest girl in Jerusalem’s Old City with knife

Gaza airstrikes come after several mortars fired at Israeli troops operating to uncover tunnels near border; Rivlin, Netanyahu admit country has treated Shoah survivors poorly at Yad Vashem ceremony

  • Illustrative: Plumes of smoke after reported Israeli airstrikes on Rafah in the Gaza Strip on May 4, 2016. (screen capture: Twitter/Shehab)
    Illustrative: Plumes of smoke after reported Israeli airstrikes on Rafah in the Gaza Strip on May 4, 2016. (screen capture: Twitter/Shehab)
  • Israeli soldiers stand guard with their tank along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip near the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz on May 4, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
    Israeli soldiers stand guard with their tank along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip near the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz on May 4, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
  • Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Ahmed Shahaada, 36, during his funeral in Betunia, near the city of Ramallah, on May 4, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)
    Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Ahmed Shahaada, 36, during his funeral in Betunia, near the city of Ramallah, on May 4, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)
  • Jeremy Corbyn addressing the UK House of Commons on May 4, 2016. (screen capture: Parliamentlive.tv)
    Jeremy Corbyn addressing the UK House of Commons on May 4, 2016. (screen capture: Parliamentlive.tv)
  • The head of the Egyptian journalists' union, Yahiya Kallash, center, speaks next to members of the association during an emergency general assembly on May 4, 2016, at their headquarters in Cairo. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)
    The head of the Egyptian journalists' union, Yahiya Kallash, center, speaks next to members of the association during an emergency general assembly on May 4, 2016, at their headquarters in Cairo. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)
  • US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter addresses a press conference in Stuttgart, Germany, on May 4, 2016 after a meeting of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group. (AFP/DANIEL ROLAND)
    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter addresses a press conference in Stuttgart, Germany, on May 4, 2016 after a meeting of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group. (AFP/DANIEL ROLAND)
  • Soldiers stand guard as thousands of Ultra Orthodox Jewish men enter the Palestinian village of Kif al Harat, in the West Bank, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, to pray at the tombs of Yehoshua Ben Nun and Kalev Ben Yefune, on May 4, 2016. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
    Soldiers stand guard as thousands of Ultra Orthodox Jewish men enter the Palestinian village of Kif al Harat, in the West Bank, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, to pray at the tombs of Yehoshua Ben Nun and Kalev Ben Yefune, on May 4, 2016. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gestures during a speech with local village and town leaders at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, on May 4, 2016. (AFP/Adem Altan)
    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gestures during a speech with local village and town leaders at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, on May 4, 2016. (AFP/Adem Altan)
  • National Front party head Marine Le Pen, center, visits a stand of the "Concours Lepine" at a Paris fair, May 4, 2016. (AFP/Eric Feferberg)
    National Front party head Marine Le Pen, center, visits a stand of the "Concours Lepine" at a Paris fair, May 4, 2016. (AFP/Eric Feferberg)

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

Blast heard near troops on Gaza border, shelling reported in Strip

IDF forces operating on the Gaza border report a loud explosion next to an engineering corps vehicle, according to several Hebrew media reports.

There are no injuries in the incident near Nahal Oz and the troops return fire into Gaza, according to the reports.

Palestinian media reports Israeli shelling of the Palestinian neighborhood of Shejaiya in Gaza City.

There is no IDF confirmation of either report.

The reported possible exchange comes as tensions along the southern border have appeared to spiral in recent days. Earlier in the day, a mortar rocket was fired at an IDF position near the border, with an Israeli tank returning fire into the strip.

On Tuesday, an engineering vehicle operating on the border was hit by Gazan fire and damaged.

There were no injuries in either incident.

NATO confirms Israel to boost ties with alliance

NATO has released a statement confirming that the group will upgrade its ties with Israel, allowing Jerusalem to establish a mission at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“Israel is a very active partner of the Alliance as a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, established in December 1994. NATO has invited all partners to open diplomatic missions to the Headquarters of the Atlantic Alliance in Brussels,” the statement reads.

The statement says Israel’s ambassador to Belgium, Simona Frankel, will head the mission, but Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon says that is incorrect and it will be headed by David Walzer, who is currently Israel’s envoy to the EU and is called an envoy to NATO.

— with Raoul Wootliff

Netanyahu said to confirm coalition talks with Herzog

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly confirmed that he was engaged in intensive talks with opposition leader Isaac Herzog over joining the coalition, after weeks of rumors.

Head of the Labor party Isaac Herzog speaks at an event on April 12, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Head of the Labor party Isaac Herzog speaks at an event on April 12, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Netanyahu told a post-cabinet meeting gathering that he and Zionist Union chief Herzog had spoken about a possible unity government, but talks were cut off after it emerged that Herzog was being investigated for campaign finance issues, according to Channel 2 news.

Herzog has vociferously denied reports that he and Netanyahu were engaged in talks.

There is no immediate response from Herzog to the report.

France to host Gulf diplomats for Syria confab

France will on Monday host talks with the Saudi, Qatari, Turkish and UAE foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Syria, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll says.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was concerned over “the halt in the negotiating process” following a surge of violence in the northern city of Aleppo which has threatened a two-month ceasefire in the war-torn country, Le Foll says following a cabinet meeting.

— AFP

Cameron tells Corbyn to stop calling Hamas and Hezbollah ‘friends’

In a heated session of Prime Minister’s Questions at the UK Parliament, British PM David Cameron repeatedly calls on Jeremy Corbyn to withdraw remarks calling Hamas and Hezbollah “his friends.”

Corbyn doesn’t address the demand but says “obviously anybody who commits racist attacks or is anti-Semitic is not a friend of mine.”

Cameron says Labour has an anti-Semitism problem and accuses some members of the party of sharing “a pattern of behavior” with extremists.

EU says it is continuing to fight anti-Semitism

The EU’s mission in Israel says that the bloc’s 28 member states are working to fight anti-Semitism, in a statement marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“It is our duty to fight against anti-Semitism on every front. We cannot and will not accept that Jewish communities in Europe do not feel safe. Attacks on Jews are attacks on all of us – against our way of living, against tolerance and against our identity,” the statement reads.

 

New possible explosion reported on Gaza border

IDF engineering troops operating on the Gaza border report a fresh possible explosion near their position near the center of the Strip, according to Hebrew media reports.

An Israeli tank returns fire into Shejaiya, according to the reports.

There are no injuries on the Israeli side in what troops beleieve may have been a mortar attack.

There is no immediate IDF confirmation of this attack or a previous reported explosion reported next to engineering troops

The incident would mark the third cross-border exchange with Gaza so far Wednesday and the fourth since yesterday, in a sign of rapidly escalating tensions.

Man given year in jail for transporting stabber from West Bank

An Israeli man has been sentenced to a year in prison for transporting a Palestinian terrorist who carried out a stabbing attack in the city of Kiryat Gat in November.

Zuheir Hozeal, from an unrecognized Bedouin town near Rahat, pleaded guilty to transporting Mohammed Tarada from his Hebron-area home to Israel, along with four other Palestinians, likely laborers, in exchange for NIS 100 ($27) each.

Tarada, who was working in Israel illegally before he carried out the attack, stabbed four people in a November 21 rampage, and was caught after a several-hour manhunt.

Hozeal, who expressed remorse, took a plea bargain in exchange for other charges against him being dropped, according to new site Ynet.

Two more Labour officials suspended in anti-Semitism row

The British Labour party has suspended two more local officials over anti-Israel and anti-Jewish comments, according to the Guido Fawkes political blog.

Newport councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi was suspended for a series of tweets he sent out comparing Israeli to Nazis and the Islamic State, and Renfrewshire councillor Terry Kelly was also suspended for blog posts in which he ranted about “the Jewish lobby.”

“The Israeli propaganda machine which Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of is now working at full speed and some gems are spewing forth to pollute the circumstances,” Kelly wrote on June 1, 2010, reacting to the Mavi Marmara incident, in a blog post that remains visible on his website.

On Monday, three other local officials were suspended for similar remarks as Labour attempts to purge anti-Semitic elements from within its ranks.

 

Hamas man freed by PA, arrested by Israel over 2010 attack

Israeli forces have arrested a Hamas man wanted for carrying out a shooting attack in the West Bank in 2010.

Ataf al-Salahi was arrested by the Palestinian security service shortly after the attack, in which two Israelis were injured, but was freed earlier today and soon after rounded up by Israel, according to a Shin Bet statement.

Salahi, a resident of Silwad near Ramallah, shot at an Israeli car at the nearby Rimonim Junction on September 1, 2010, according to the Shin Bet.

He is to be questioned, the agency says.

Turkey ready to send ground troops into Syria

Turkey is ready to send ground troops into Syria if necessary, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says, after weeks of deadly rocket strikes on a Turkish region from jihadists across the border.

“If it becomes necessary then we will send the ground forces,” Davutoglu tells Al-Jazeera television in an interview, when asked if Turkey was mulling sending troops to Syria.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu greets members of parliament as he arrives for a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, on May 03, 2016. (AFP/ADEM ALTAN)

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu greets members of parliament as he arrives for a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, on May 03, 2016. (AFP/ADEM ALTAN)

“We are ready to take all measures that we need, both inside Turkey and outside, to provide for our own security,” he adds, according to a transcript published on Al-Jazeera’s Turkish website.

The Turkish border region of Kilis — which lies opposite areas controlled by Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria — has been battered since January by rocket fire from the other side of the border which has claimed 20 lives.

Turkey has hit back with artillery fire of its own against IS but has always stopped short of making any firm commitment to send its troops over the border.

— AFP

Ankara hails visa-free EU travel as step toward membership

Visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to the European Union can herald a “new page” in Ankara’s relations with the bloc, Turkey’s foreign minister says, after the European Commission gave conditional backing to the move.

“In addition to being a turning point for visa free travel for our citizens… this decision is a new page in the process ahead of us in relations with the European Union,” Mevlut Cavusoglu tells reporters in Ankara.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gestures during a speech with local village and town leaders at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, on May 4, 2016. (AFP/ADEM ALTAN)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gestures during a speech with local village and town leaders at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, on May 4, 2016. (AFP/ADEM ALTAN)

He reaffirms Turkey’s longstanding goal to achieve full membership of the European Union, after several years where the process has stalled causing impatience in Ankara.

“Our goal is full membership… We are waiting for the same sincerity from the European Union,” he says.

— AFP

US-led coalition to ramp up help for anti-IS fight

An international coalition leading the military campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has agreed to accelerate its contributions but did not publicly specify what those would be.

The group also calls on Iraqi leaders to reconcile political differences.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his counterparts from 11 coalition countries met behind closed doors at the headquarters of US European Command.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the group reaffirms its support “to further accelerate and reinforce the success of our partners on the ground and for the deployment of additional enabling capabilities in the near term.”

“We called on all of Iraq’s political leaders to commit themselves to the legal and peaceful reconciliation of political differences in order to confront the nation’s challenges and to remain united against the common enemy,” they say.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter addresses a press conference in Stuttgart, Germany, on May 4, 2016 after a meeting of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group. (AFP/DANIEL ROLAND)

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter addresses a press conference in Stuttgart, Germany, on May 4, 2016, after a meeting of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group. (AFP/DANIEL ROLAND)

The statement is not specific about what additional contributions would be offered, beyond citing resources to support the Iraqi military campaign and “various forms” of help to a civilian effort to stabilize and reconstruct areas of Anbar province devastated by war damage.

A day after a US Navy SEAL was killed in small arms fire with IS forces, Carter says that as the war intensifies, “these risks will continue.”

“Our overall approach is to enable local forces to do the fighting … but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to do any fighting at all,” Carter says. “We are putting these people are risk every day,” including the aircrews who are flying strike missions daily over Iraq and Syria, “and, tragically, losses will occur,” he adds.

— AP

Hamas claims it’s shooting at Israel — reports

Palestinian media sources are reporting that Hamas says it has fired at least one mortar at the Israeli community of Nahal Oz, near the Gaza border.

Media are also reporting that employees have evacuated the Gazan interior ministry building for fear of a reprisal strike.

The claims come on a day of rapidly escalating tensions as Israeli troops in the area have come under attack several times, returning fire into Gaza at Hamas posts.

While Hamas is the de facto ruler of the Strip it has generally shied since the 2014 war from claiming responsibility for sporadic cross-border fire, which is normally attributed to smaller Salafi groups.

Hamas joining the fight would likely mark a major escalation in Israeli-Gaza tensions.

Israel considers the group responsible for any fire out of Gaza, and often responds by bombing Hamas.

Hamas man said nabbed by Israel before he reached home from jail

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports that Atef al-Salehi, nabbed by Israel for a 2010 shooting after being let out of PA prison, was picked up before he could even reach home in Silwad after being freed.

A picture published by the site shows him being led away by a masked man in plainclothes as uniformed soldiers surround them.

According to a 2011 news article in another Palestinian outlet, Salehi and another man were sentenced to three years each over the attack, but ended up serving nearly six years.

It was not immediately clear why he served extra time in PA prison or what the fate is of the second man.

After raid, Egypt journalists call for heads to roll

Hundreds of Egyptian journalists have demanded the firing of the interior minister in a raucous meeting at the Journalists’ Syndicate, after an unprecedented police raid to arrest two reporters.

Police cordoned off streets leading to the syndicate headquarters in downtown Cairo but allowed members to gather in and around the building for their general assembly, where they chanted “the interior ministry are thugs.”

Hundreds of reporters stood outside the syndicate headquarters, yelling: “Hold your head high, you’re a journalist.”

The head of the Egyptian journalists' union, Yahiya Kallash, center, speaks next to members of the association during an emergency general assembly on May 4, 2016, at their headquarters in Cairo. (AFP/KHALED DESOUKI)

The head of the Egyptian journalists’ union, Yahiya Kallash, center, speaks next to members of the association during an emergency general assembly on May 4, 2016, at their headquarters in Cairo. (AFP/KHALED DESOUKI)

Inside, hundreds who packed a conference room roared their approval as an official read out a statement demanding President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi apologize and Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar be sacked.

The statement also demanded the release of jailed reporters.

— AFP

Egypt journalists threaten strike if demands not met

According to Egypt’s al-Ahram news outlet, the journalists union there has threatened to call for a strike next week if their demands are not met.

The list of demands, according to Ahram, is:

1. An official apology from the Egyptian presidency for the storming by security forces of the Journalists Syndicate on Sunday.
2. The dismissal of Madgy Abdel-Ghaffer from his position as minister of interior.
3. To stop publishing the name of Abdel-Ghaffer directly and to instead publish camera negative photos of him as a sign of derision until he is dismissed.
4. The release of all detained journalists.
5. To put a “No to media gag orders” banner on all publications including printed newspapers and online websites.
6. Legislation to be introduced against attacking journalists.
7. A denouncement of “American government interfere” in Egypt’s political issues.

Hamas official in Gaza: Israel should be wary of testing us

As tensions ramp up on the southern front, senior Hamas official Musheer al-Masri has warned Israel that it will not suffer cross-border exchanges quietly.

“The Israeli occupation should avoid testing the Palestinian resistance’ tolerance,” Masri tells the Ma’an news agency, adding that “the enemy should realize that the toll would be in proportion to the Israeli crimes.”

Masri calls Israeli shelling of Hamas positions in Gaza “dangerous developments and an obvious breach of the ceasefire in Gaza.”

Israel fired into Gaza following several incidents of mortars being shot at troops in Israel Wednesday and a shooting attack a day earlier, a major escalation of violence in an area that has remained mostly quiet since the end of a devastating war in 2014.

 

Britain to accept some child refugees already in Europe

Britain’s government has bowed to a lobbying effort led by a Labour peer rescued from the Nazis by a “kindertransport” in the 1930s and agreed to take in some unaccompanied children from Syria who have made their way to Europe.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s office says children who registered in Greece, Italy or France before March 20 — when the European Union struck a deal to return many migrants to Turkey — would be eligible to come to the UK. It did not specify how many Britain would accept.

Britain has already agreed to resettle up to 3,000 vulnerable child refugees from the Middle East and Africa by 2020, as well as 20,000 Syrians from Middle Eastern refugee camps.

A boy plays outside a shelter in a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees at the the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni on May 3, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZ)

A boy plays outside a shelter in a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees at the the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni on May 3, 2016. (AFP Photo/Tobias Schwarz)

But the government had argued that accepting children already in Europe would encourage others to make the dangerous journey.

People look at flowers laid in memory of Britain's Sir Nicholas Winton on German-born Jewish sculptor Frank Meisler's 'Kindertransport' (German for children transport) memorial statue outside Liverpool Street Station in London, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

People look at flowers laid in memory of Britain’s Sir Nicholas Winton on German-born Jewish sculptor Frank Meisler’s ‘Kindertransport’ (German for children transport) memorial statue outside Liverpool Street Station in London, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Labour peer Alf Dubs, who came to Britain on the 1930s “kindertransports” of Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Europe, led a campaign to get Cameron’s Conservative government to change its mind.

“I trust the prime minister will be true to his word and move swiftly to ensure the Home Office works closely with local authorities to find foster families to give these young people a stable and secure home,” Dubs says.

— AP

Army declares Nahal Oz area a closed military zone

The Israeli army has declared the area around the community of Nahal Oz a closed military zone, after several incidents of cross-border fire with Gaza.

At least two mortars were fired at troops operating in the area of the kibbutz, which sits less than a kilometer from the Gaza border.

Funeral held for Palestinian in car-ramming attack

Palestinian mourners have held a funeral for Ahmed Shahaada, 36, who was shot dead by Israeli troops after ramming his vehicle into three Israeli soldiers in the West Bank a day earlier.

The funeral, held in Beitunia, a suburb of Ramallah, comes after Israel quickly released the body of Shahaada Tuesday night, marking a change in policy from a practice of holding onto bodies of attackers.

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Ahmed Shahaada, 36, during his funeral in Betunia, near the city of Ramallah, on May 4, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Ahmed Shahaada, 36, during his funeral in Betunia, near the city of Ramallah, on May 4, 2016. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

The move, which came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu transferred authority over the decision to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, angered some right-wing politicians in Israel.

One soldier was seriously injured in the attack and was airlifted to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, and two others were moderately hurt.

— with AFP

Female lawmakers gather in Jordan to push for equality in politics

Some 260 women lawmakers from more than 60 countries have come together in Jordan to find ways to close a global gender gap in politics more quickly.

The founder of the “Women in Parliaments” network, former European legislator Silvana Koch-Mehrin, tells the conference that the gap remains wide. She says 80 percent of parliamentarians and 95% of heads of state in the world are men.

It is not clear if Israel, whose Knesset is 24% female, has a representative at the conference.

Participants say encouraging more women to get into local politics, pushing legislation to stamp out discrimination and setting quotas in parliaments help accelerate change.

They say studies show equality between men and women produces significant economic growth.

The conference in Jordan marks the first meeting of the parliamentarians in the Middle East, which scores lower than other regions on most aspects of gender equality.

— AP with Times of Israel

UN warns eastern Aleppo may be besieged by Syrian regime

The Syrian government has refused a UN request for humanitarian aid access to rebel-held eastern Aleppo, the UN says, warning that the area could soon be besieged.

“The horrific fighting and bombardment in recent days, especially in and around Aleppo, is creating new areas with endless suffering and no access for humanitarians,” says Jan Egeland, who heads an international humanitarian taskforce for the war-ravaged country.

Syrian security forces evacuate medical staff after rockets reportedly fired by rebels hit Al-Dabbeet hospital the in government-controlled neighbourhood of Muhafaza in the northern city of Aleppo on May 3, 2016. (AFP/GEORGE OURFALIAN)

Syrian security forces evacuate medical staff after rockets reportedly fired by rebels hit Al-Dabbeet hospital the in government-controlled neighbourhood of Muhafaza in the northern city of Aleppo on May 3, 2016. (AFP/George Ourfalian)

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the taskforce created in February by the 17-nation International Syria Support Group, he says the situation in Aleppo needed to change immediately.

“If not, eastern Aleppo may even become a besieged area,” he warns.

Syria’s second city has over nearly two weeks been hit by a wave of violence, including numerous attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities, that has killed more than 270 people.

— AFP

Kasich to make statement, fueling speculation he will drop race

Ohio Governor John Kasich, the last Republican candidate standing against presumptive nominee Donald Trump, has canceled a planned rally in Virginia and will give a statement later today from Columbus, Ohio, CNN reports.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, his plane never left Ohio for Dulles airport outside Washington, DC as planned and his campaign later put out a statement reading: “Today’s press gaggle in Dulles has been cancelled. Gov. Kasich will deliver a statement in Columbus at 5:00PM EDT today — location TBD.”

Speculation around the announcement has centered on Kasich possibly announcing he will drop out of the race, clinching Trump’s path to the GOP nomination.

Kasich has remained in the race despite drawing little support outside of his home state. On Tuesday night, second place Ted Cruz suspended his campaign after fairing poorly in Indiana, despite Kasich agreeing to not campaign in the state to give him a better chance.

Kasich trails Trump by nearly 900 delegates.

Earlier in the day, Kasich’s campaign posted on Facebook that the Indiana results “are not going to alter Gov. Kasich’s campaign plans.”

“Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention. The comments from Trump, on the verge of winning in Indiana, heighten the differences between Governor Kasich and his positive, inclusive approach and the disrespectful ramblings from Donald Trump,” the statement added

Kasich pledged to stay in the race, with his campaign manager saying the governor would continue to “offer the voters a clear choice for our country.”

Fresh mortar attack on troops outside Gaza; none injured

Hebrew media are reporting on at least one fresh mortar attack on Israeli troops operating outside of the southern Gaza Strip, near Sufa.

There are no injuries reported.

Palestinian media report that an Israeli tank shell hit a power station inside the Strip, causing a fire.

The attack brings the number of mortars shot at troops Wednesday to five.

According to the IDF, engineering troops coming under attack near Nahal Oz have been working to uncover Hamas tunnels dug beneath the Gaza border fence and into Israel.

Kasich dropping White House bid, sources say

Campaign sources tell The Associated Press as well as American networks NBC and ABC that Kasich will in fact drop out of the presidential race later today, as has been widely speculated.

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich eats pickles while having lunch at PJ Bernstein's Deli Restaurant on April 16, 2016 in New York City.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich eats pickles while having lunch at PJ Bernstein’s Deli Restaurant on April 16, 2016 in New York City. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)

Sources in the campaign tell the Cleveland.com news site that Kasich had planned to fly to Washington for a campaign rally earlier in the day, but canceled the appearance and announced the Columbus statement after consulting with close advisers.

Israel warns Hamas it will hit back if fire doesn’t halt

Israeli officials have issued a sharp warning to Hamas that it will respond militarily if fire on troops operating near the border continues, according to Hebrew media reports.

Arabic media reports indicated that Israeli jets had made passes over the Gaza Strip.

The threat comes after Hamas warned Israel not to test it, after several cross-border exchanges over the day.

In a possible sign Israel thinks the violence could persist, the Ynet news website reports that farmers near the Gaza border have been told to avoid working their fields.

Israeli shelling reported in Gaza

Sources in Gaza on Twitter are reporting Israeli shelling in the Shejaiya area of Gaza, east of Gaza City.

There is no immediate word from the Israeli military on any fire into the Gaza Strip.

Elsewhere in the Strip, others report a breathtaking sunset.

Israeli airstrikes reported in southern Gaza

Reports are now filtering in of Israeli airstrikes in the area of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip.

The reports, carried in Palestinian media, are unconfirmed.

Video appears to show Israeli strikes in Gaza

A video posted on social media appears to show Israeli airstrikes on Rafah.

In the video two large plumes of smoke can be seen, as well as what sounds like explosions.

IDF declines to comment on airstrike reports

IDF Spokesman Peter Lerner declines to comment to The Times of Israel on reports of Israeli airstrikes in Rafah.

“As soon as we have something to say, we’ll say it,” he says.

— with Ilan Ben Zion

Holocaust Remembrance Day begins with official ceremony

Despite tensions in the south, in Jerusalem, the main state ceremony to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day begins at the Yad Vashem memorial and museum.

The solemn event will be marked by music, speeches by leaders, the lighting of memorial candles and the saying of Kaddish, a sacred Jewish prayer for the dead.

Jets reported to strike Hamas targets in Rafah, Gaza City

Israel’s Army Radio reports that Israeli jets struck Hamas sites in Rafah and Gaza City.

A Hamas statement on Twitter, quickly deleted, says the terror group “holds the Israeli occupation fully responsibly for the escalation in east Gaza and call on the parties concerned to shoulder their responsibilities to stop it.”

 

Rivlin: Israel has not treated survivors correctly

In Jerusalem, President Reuven Rivlin at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony admits Israel has erred in the way it treated survivors, begging forgiveness and noting that while they were suffering in Europe, Jews in mandate Palestine, himself included, were living free lives.

“The Holocaust survivors living among us become fewer and fewer. It is time to conduct some soul-searching before you. We must admit that we were wrong. Holocaust survivors have never received the respect they deserved. Even to the present day, the State of Israel does not take every measure it can in order to take care of the Holocaust survivors,” he says.

“I ask each one of you, before it is too late, for forgiveness. We did not understand, we did not want to understand, and we have not done enough,” he adds.

 

Rivlin: British left, European right part of chronic anti-Semitism

Rivlin goes on to say that anti-Semitism has not disappeared with the end of the Holocaust, mentioning the ongoing scandal in the British Labour Party and the rise of far-rightists in Europe.

“Anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews are not a fad, or one that can be taken lightly,” he says. “It is a difficult chronic disease that penetrates deep into the heart and history of nations. We find it today in the voices that can be heard in the heart of a different Europe – from the British left and the extreme right in Eastern Europe and in Europe as a whole, and in areas across of the Arab world.”

More airstrikes reported near Rafah in southern Gaza

Fresh Israeli strikes are being reported in southern Gaza, near a former airport outside of Rafah.

A Palestinian official confirms the airstrikes to AFP.

Netanyahu: Rivlin is right that we haven’t done enough

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, says that Rivlin is correct in admitting that the country has failed in allowing survivors to live comfortably.

“For years we haven’t done enough,” he says, but adds that the government will increase its support for survivors “because it’s our obligation.”

IDF confirms it hit five Hamas targets in Gaza

The IDF says it hit five Hamas targets in southern Gaza in response to several mortar attacks over the day, and warns it could strike again.

“A short time ago, Israeli planes attacked five targets used for terror infrastructure belonging to the terror group Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip,” a statement reads.

The statement adds that Israel sees the mortar fire as a breach of its sovereignty and alludes to the fact that the Israeli troops attacked by mortar fire were working to uncover cross-border tunnels.

“The IDF will continue to act decisively and as much as needed to destroy all underground tunnels,” the statement reads.

 

PM at Shoah ceremony: Europeans joining Islamists in inciting against Jews

Netanyahu at Yad Vashem also used his speech to strike out at Islamist extremists and Europeans for continuing to incite against Jews and question Israel’s right to exist, which he says is tantamount to anti-Semitism.

“Slander comes before destruction. Today millions in the Muslim world read and hear threatening lies about the Jewish people. They say Jews are the descendants of monkeys and pigs, they say Jews drink the blood of their enemies,” he says, adding that Hitler and Goebbels would not have been surprised by the comments on social media.

“This incitement comes from Islamic extremism and the Arab world. But in the last years it has been joined by incitement no less destructive from the Western world. British parliamentarians, Swedish officials and French thought leaders.”

“If over the years, anti-Semites portrayed Jews as enemies of humanity, today they portray the Jewish state as the enemy of humanity. There is no end to these lies,” he adds.

Hamas says no casualties from Israeli strikes

The Hamas-run Gazan interior ministry tells AFP no casualties have been reported as a result of Israeli airstrikes near Rafah.

Reports earlier had indicated Hamas fighters had evacuated positions in anticipation of Israeli airstrikes.

 

Hamas militant wing demands Israel halt tunnel-finding work

In a statement, Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades military wing warns Israel to stop its digging work near the border, which Jerusalem says it is doing to detect tunnels dug underneath the Gaza border into Israel.

The statement calls the digging work an incursion into Gazan territory and a breach of the 2014 ceasefire.

“[Al-Qassam Brigades] will not allow this aggression and the enemy should not make any pretexts whatsoever, and leave the Gaza Strip immediately,” the statement reads.

Labour support plummets among UK Jews, poll shows

A poll published by the London-based Jewish Chronicle shows Jewish support for the Labour Party has plummeted, amid a roiling anti-Semitism scandal.

Just 8.5 percent of respondents told pollsters they would vote Labour if elections were held tomorrow, down from the 18% who said they voted Labour in the last national elections two years ago.

The poll conducted earlier this week, shows that just 20.5% of Jews think Labour head Jeremy Corbyn is doing a “good” job of dealing with the anti-Semitism fracas, while 66.4% say he has not done enough.

The survey however, also shows that sliding Jewish support for Labour is not necessarily been brought on by Corbyn, with only 32% saying they had even considered voting for Labour in the last 10 years.

US announces ceasefire deal with Russia in Aleppo

The United States and Russia have persuaded Syria’s government and moderate rebels to extend the country’s fragile truce to the northern city of Aleppo, although sporadic clashes continue, US officials say.

The agreement was reached late Tuesday and took effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday Damascus time.

Since Wednesday’s truce in Aleppo started, “we have seen an overall decrease in violence in these areas, even though there have been reports of continued fighting in some locations,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner says.

“It is critical that Russia redouble its efforts to influence the regime to abide fully,” he says, while “the United States will do its part with the opposition.”

— AP

Palestinian girl arrested in Old City with knife

Police say they’ve arrested a 17-year-old Palestinian girl in Jerusalem’s Old City in possession of a knife.

The girl raised the suspicions of Israel Police and Border Police officers and was arrested after she attempted to flee. A large knife was found in her bag and she was taken in for questioning, police say.

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