The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s developments as they unfolded.
Young Hamas member reveals tunnel intel to Israel
A young Hamas operative arrested by security forces revealed “extensive information” about the terror organization’s tunnels and plans for infiltrating Israel in order to carry out attacks, the Shin Bet announces Tuesday.
The minor, whose name has not been revealed due to his young age, was arrested by the Shin Bet security service on April 6, after he crossed the border from Gaza into Israel, the agency says in a statement.
The unnamed operative further revealed that Hamas is aware of Israel’s attempts at locating the group’s tunnels, but continues to construct them undeterred, the Shin Bet says.
The underage operative conveyed “extensive information on Hamas activities to dig tunnels that are to be used for Hamas fighters to infiltrate Israeli areas,” the Shin Bet says.
During his interrogations, the teenage Hamas member gave his interrogators details of the locations, building strategies and what materials are used in their construction, the security service says.
Interrogators also extracted information “about the routes of the tunnels that will be used in emergency situations by Nachba operatives, the elite unit of Hamas, and also information about the numerous tunnel shafts in the Strip,” the Shin Bet says.
The minor is indicted by a Beersheba court.
— Judah Ari Gross
Palestinian teen, 14, convicted of attempted murder
A Jerusalem court convicts a 14-year-old Palestinian on Tuesday of the attempted murder of two Israelis in a knife attack last October.
The Jerusalem District Court also found Ahmed Manasra guilty of inflicting severe injury in the attack he carried out at the age of 13 along with a 15-year-old cousin, officials say.
The two stabbed and seriously wounded a 20-year-old and a 12-year-old boy in the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev in Jerusalem.
Hassan, the cousin, was shot dead by security forces, while Ahmed was hit by a car as they fled.
The trial is held behind closed doors because of Manasra’s age.
— AFP, Times of Israel staff
Jordan says extremism a result of no Palestinian state
Jordan’s foreign minister says that Palestinian statehood is the most important issue now facing the world and that it fuels extremism gripping the Mideast.
Nasser Judeh makes the comment on Tuesday at the Arab Media Forum, an event taking place in Dubai, the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates.
Judeh says the “Palestinian cause represents the essence of the conflicts and crises in the region.”
He adds that “every day of delay where the international community does not exert pressure toward reaching a fair and just settlement of the Palestinian cause, will lead to another day of darkness where the forces of extremism and terrorism can act. Then humanity as a whole will pay the price.”
Italian police arrest 2 in terror investigation
Italian authorities say they have arrested two Afghan citizens in a terrorism and human trafficking investigation and have issued arrest warrants for three others.
Prosecutors in the southern city of Bari say that cellphone data seized from four of the suspects after they were detained briefly in December for filming in a shopping mall included numerous photos of potential targets in Bari, including the airport and port, as well as in Rome, Paris and London. Prosecutor Giuseppe Volpe tells a news conference that there was no evidence of a specific plan underway.
Prosecutors say Hakim Nasiri, 23, was being held on suspicion of international terrorism while Gulistan Ahmadzai, 29, was arrested on suspicion of aiding illegal immigration. Only one of the other suspects is believed to be in Italy.
Israel weighing revoking residency of BDS leader
Israeli authorities have refused to renew the travel documents of a leader of a campaign to boycott the Jewish state, officials say Tuesday.
Omar Barghouti is one of the most prominent campaigners in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns for a global boycott of Israel until, among other demands, the country withdraws the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israel sees it as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism — a claim BDS denies.
Barghouti was informed last month that the Interior Ministry would not renew his travel documents, which are usually granted to permanent residents of Israel who do not have full citizenship.
An interior ministry spokeswoman tells AFP that Barghouti could not yet receive his travel documents since Interior Minister Aryeh Deri was considering revoking his permanent residency.
“The minister wants to consider his status. He lives in Ramallah most of the time and part of what determines one’s permanent residency is where the center of life is,” she says. “His (BDS) activities are also part of this.”
Barghouti, whose family are Palestinian but who was born in the Gulf state of Qatar, married an Israeli citizen of Arab descent, entitling him to claim permanent residency. Barghouti denied that he had ever been permanently based in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Accomplice in fatal Jaffa stabbing indicted
A suspected accomplice in the deadly Jaffa stabbing in March in which US national Taylor Force was killed is indicted by a Jerusalem court.
Muhammad Awieda, a resident of East Jerusalem in his 30s, is indicted for driving the stabber Bashar Massalha from the West Bank city of Qalqilya to Tel Aviv.
Palestinian beautician said arrested over FB post
A Palestinian beautician is reportedly jailed over a Facebook post praising the Jerusalem suicide bus bombing last month.
Makeup artist Majd Atwan, 22, a resident of Bethlehem, is sent to 45 days in Israeli prison and is ordered to pay a $800 fine, Al-Jazeera reports.
“My daughter is not politically active; rather, her involvements are in beauty,” her father Yousef says. “Did she write stuff online? Yeah, like all other Palestinians. I really don’t understand why they chose to arrest her.”
Some 20 Israelis were injured in the bus bombing by a Hamas-affiliated suicide bomber, who was also a resident of Bethlehem.
Iran equipped with S-300, defense minister says
Iran’s army is now equipped with a Russian air defense system after a long and controversial delivery process, Defense Minister General Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying Tuesday.
“I inform our people that… we are in possession of the strategic S-300 system” and that it “serves our air force’s counterattack command,” Dehghan said, according to ISNA news agency.
Parts of the system, including missile tubes and radar equipment, were displayed on April 17 during a military parade in southern Tehran.
The United States and Israel have criticized Russia for the sale of the S-300 system to the Islamic Republic.
London mayor blasts Trump’s ‘ignorant’ view of Islam
London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday slams Donald Trump’s “ignorant” view of Islam, after the Republican presidential contender suggested Khan could be exempted from a proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Last year Trump proposed “a total and complete” ban on foreign Muslims entering the US “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Asked how that policy would affect London’s first Muslim mayor, Trump tells The New York Times that “there will always be exceptions.”
But Khan says “this isn’t just about me — it’s about my friends, my family and everyone who comes from a background similar to mine, anywhere in the world.”
“Donald Trump’s ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe — it risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of the extremists,” Khan says in a statement.
Khan, the London-born son of Pakistani immigrants, was elected last week by a wide margin after a campaign that saw his Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith accuse him of having shared platforms with Islamic extremists.
No evidence German stabber had ‘Islamist motive’
There is no evidence yet that a German man who Tuesday stabbed four people, killing one, had an Islamist motive, a spokesman for Bavaria state’s interior ministry says.
“So far we have no evidence for an Islamist motive, but the investigation continues,” says spokesman Oliver Platzer, after the prosecution service earlier mentioned an “apparently Islamist motive.”
“We have found the man had psychological and drug problems,” Platzer tells AFP.
Obama to make historic first presidential visit to Hiroshima
Barack Obama will become the first US president to visit atomic-bomb-struck Hiroshima during a trip to Hiroshima later this month, the White House says Tuesday.
“The president will make an historic visit to Hiroshima with Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe to highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” says spokesman Josh Earnest.
Herzog, Livni reportedly to meet on joining coalition
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog is to meet with Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni on Tuesday afternoon to discuss plans to join the coalition, which Livni vehemently opposes, Haaretz reports.
The report says Herzog will decide whether to form a unity government in the coming days.
A move by Herzog could split up the Zionist Union faction, with Labor party members entering the coalition and members of Livni’s Hatnuah remaining in the opposition, it says.
Police release suspects in Jerusalem stabbing
Police release the two suspects arrested this morning in connection with the stabbing in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood.
Police continue to search for the perpetrator who stabbed two elderly women adjacent to a popular promenade.
Syrian jihadists withhold bodies of slain Iranian guards
Jihadists are withholding the bodies of 12 Iranian Revolutionary Guards killed last week in Syria, an Iranian military official says Tuesday, quoted by ISNA news agency.
According to Iranian media, 13 Revolutionary Guards military advisers died last week in fighting in Khan Tuman, southwest of the battleground city of Aleppo, and 21 others were wounded.
It was Iran’s biggest loss of forces within a very short period, based on official figures. All were from Iran’s northern province of Mazandaran.
“The Takfiris (extremists) are holding 12 bodies of the Mazandaran martyrs,” says Hossein Ali Rezayi, a Guards spokesman in the region.
“As fighting is still ongoing in this region, the repatriation will be possible only after the liberation of those areas.”
Rezayi says that all other members of the forces from Mazandaran, as well as nine of the injured, had now returned to Iran.
Venezuela’s UN envoy sorry for Israel-Nazi comparison
Venezuela’s envoy to the United Nations calls his Israeli colleague to apologize for his remarks accusing Israel of seeking a “final solution” against the Palestinians, made a day after Holocaust Remembrance Day.
During the speech at a Security Council meeting on Friday, Rafael Ramirez said that council members should ask themselves: “What does Israel plan to do with the Palestinians? Will they be disappeared? Is Israel trying to impose a ‘final solution’ on the Palestinians in the West Bank?”
The comparison, drawing a link between Israel and Nazi Germany, drew immediate outrage from Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
“These are blunt anti-Semitic statements coming from the Venezuelan ambassador towards the Jewish nation,” said Ambassador Danny Danon, according to a statement by Israel’s mission to the UN.
US military school denies request to wear headscarf
The Citadel military school in South Carolina has denied a request by a newly admitted student to wear a traditional Muslim headscarf.
The Citadel said last month it was considering the woman’s request to wear the head covering known as a hijab. But college president retired Lt. Gen John Rosa says in a statement Tuesday that after considerable review, the college has denied the request.
He says the cadet system is based on a common uniform and standardization of cadets in appearance, actions and privileges is essential to the military system.
The statement says the college recognizes the importance of the spiritual and religious beliefs of cadets and makes accommodations for prayer and dietary needs.
He says he still hopes the student, whose name hasn’t been released, will enroll.
Turkish police targeted in Diyarbakir bomb attack
A bomb attack targeting police rocks the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, AFP reports.
Details to come.
UK cops apologize for Muslim phrase in terror exercise
British police apologize on Tuesday after officers shouted the Arabic phrase “Allahu akbar!” during a terror training exercise in a shopping center in northern England.
In video footage of the exercise broadcast on British television, a masked man dressed in black could be seen running into the complex in Manchester shouting the words before setting off a bomb and falling to the floor.
“On reflection, we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam,” says Garry Shewan, a senior officer at Greater Manchester Police.
In a statement, Shewan said the scenario had been based on “a suicide attack by an extremist Daesh-style organization” — Daesh being an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group — but added: “We recognize and apologize for the offense that this has caused.”
PM reportedly unwilling to change government guidelines
Netanyahu is unwilling to change the government’s guidelines or boot the Jewish Home party from the coalition if the Zionist Union were to join, Channel 2 reports.
The prime minister will hand over several ministerial portfolios, but won’t shift to the left on other matters, the TV report says.
The meeting between Herzog and Livni comes to an end.
Sources close to Herzog tell Haaretz the Zionist Union leader is eager to join, but the prime minister is not offering him enough.
Casualties reported in Diyarbakir bombing
A bomb attack targeting police on Tuesday rocked the majority-Kurdish Turkish city of Diyarbakir, causing casualties, reports say.
The explosion went off in the district of Baglar in the center of the city and was a “terrorist” attack, the state-run Anatolia news agency says. The Dogan news agency adds that several people were wounded.
Diyarbakir and its region have in recent months been hit by repeated attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as the military presses a relentless offensive against the Kurdish militants.
Memorial services begin for Israel’s 23,447 fallen
The first official ceremony begins, marking Israel’s Memorial Day for the 23,447 fallen soldiers and terror victims.
A siren will sound at 8 p.m. and tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. in memory of the victims.
Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein speak at the Yad L’Banim memorial.
“We will not give up on the hopes of reconciliation with our enemies, but firstly we will reconcile among ourselves, and there is no deeper expression of our shared fate than when we remember, with love, and salute our heroic sons and daughters who fell so that we could live in our country,” says Netanyahu.
Edelstein says: “We ought to look at reality straight on and declare sorrowfully: We don’t want to live by the sword, but for now, our enemies don’t give us another choice.”
59 disabled soldiers died this year of wounds
Some 59 permanently disabled Israeli soldiers died this year as a result of their injuries, and were posthumously recognized as fallen troops.
In Israel today, there are 9,442 bereaved parents and 4,917 widows who lost a son or spouse in Israel’s wars or terror attacks.
Livingstone quits Labour national executive committee
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who was suspended from the UK Labour party for saying Hitler was a Zionist, quits the party’s national executive committee, The Guardian reports.
“I had little choice because it is unlikely that my case will have been resolved by June when the nominations closed,” he says.
“It is a shame but I will be supporting the left slate of candidates and hope they win and keep supporting Jeremy. I do not blame Jeremy at all,” he says of party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Belgian terror suspect ‘took orders from Paris ringleader’
A Belgian man on trial over a foiled jihadist plot tells a court on Tuesday that he obeyed detailed orders from Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the late ringleader of the deadly Paris attacks.
Mohamed Arshad, 27, says he acted on instructions from Abaaoud to buy walkie-talkies and ingredients for explosives, rented two vehicles and a flat in the town of Verviers, purchased furniture and worked to obtain false papers.
Arshad is one of seven men who went on trial in Brussels on Monday accused of belonging to a cell plotting to kill Belgian police officers, which was dismantled in a deadly raid in Verviers in January 2015.
“It was not very well thought out. I did what was asked of me,” Arshad says in a deposition to the court, adding that Abaaoud had put “pressure” on him during calls the latter made from Turkey.
Abaaoud was killed in a French police raid days after the November 13 Paris gun and bombing attacks in which he allegedly played the role of ringleader. He also had close links to the cell behind the March 22 Brussels airport and metro attacks.
Likud denies unity deal with Zionist Union reached
The Likud party denies that it reached a deal with the Zionist Union to include the center-left party in the coalition.
Meanwhile, the divide within the Zionist Union widens, with MK Mickey Rosenthal slamming Herzog for selling out the party “at liquidation [prices].”
“Even if the negotiations fail and the Labor party doesn’t join Bibi’s government, Herzog has already caused damage with the talks,” he writes on Twitter. “The legitimacy he gave Netanyahu’s government has undermined, to a large degree, our ability to criticize it in the future.”
Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova writes on Twitter that the party won’t serve as a “fig leaf in this extremist government.”
Israeli court rejects hunger striking prisoner’s appeal
Israel’s Supreme Court rejects on Tuesday an appeal to free a Palestinian jailed without charge and on hunger strike for more than two months, the Palestinian Prisoners Club says.
“The occupation authorities confirmed their decision to keep Sami Janazra, who has been on hunger strike for 69 days to protest against his detention,” says Jawad Boulos of the prisoners club.
Under what it calls administrative detention, Israel can hold suspects for renewable periods without charging them.
Janazra, 43, was arrested in November 2015 and placed in administrative detention for six months, Boulos says, which was recently renewed for a further four months. The lawyer says Janazra had been refusing food since March 3, only drinking water.
Janazra was transferred to Soroka hospital in southern Israel where he was “under observation,” Israeli prison authorities tell AFP.
Talks to restore Israel-Turkey ties postponed
Talks to restore Israeli and Turkish diplomatic ties “will have to wait until the composition of the new Turkish government on May 22,” says Israel’s consul-general in Istanbul Shai Cohen, according to Reuters.
“I believe it will take another round or two in order to conclude the deal … Most of the issues between Israel and Turkey are already, to a certain extent, clear,” he says.
Closure in West Bank through Independence Day
Israel imposes a general closure on Palestinian towns in the West Bank until the end of the Independence Day celebrations on Thursday night, Channel 2 reports.
Kerry says businesses using US sanctions as excuse to avoid Iran
Businesses around the world are using the United States as an excuse to avoid doing business with Iran, US Secretary of State John Kerry says Tuesday as he declared the Iranian Republic “open for business” for European banks.
Kerry, ahead of a meeting on Iran with European bankers, says it is unfair and inaccurate for businesses to blame US sanctions for their decision to stay away. He says the US had an obligation to live up to the nuclear deal with Iran by clarifying what’s now permitted as a result of that accord.
“If they don’t want to do business or they don’t see a good business deal, they shouldn’t say, ‘Oh, we can’t do it because of the United States,” Kerry tells reporters in London. “We sometimes get used as an excuse in this process.”
The top US diplomat’s comments came as the US works to address Iran’s complaints that it hasn’t received the sanctions relief it was promises in exchange for rolling back its nuclear program. Under the deal, broad US sanctions on Iran’s economy were removed, clearing the way for foreign companies to do business with most Iranian companies.
3 killed, 42 wounded in Turkey car bombing
Three people were killed Tuesday and 42 others wounded when a car bomb attack blamed on Kurdish militants struck a police vehicle in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, officials say.
The armored minibus was carrying detainees accused of “terror” crimes when the car bomb exploded in the center of Diyarbakir, the office of the regional governor says in a statement.
The state-run Anatolia news agency blames militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the attack.
PM backtracks on 2011 ‘threat’ of Cairo raid
The Prime Minister’s Office clarifies that in 2011, Israel planned a “coordinated, and not unilateral” operation to retrieve its staff from the Cairo embassy, rather than threatening a raid, as Netanyahu earlier Tuesday said.
“We thank the Egyptian military and are happy that it dealt with the crisis responsibly and solved the problem,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office says. “Prime Minister Netanyahu very much appreciates the relations with Egypt and the upholding of the peace agreement which is an important element in the region’s stability.”
Siren set to sound in memory of slain Israelis
A one-minute siren will sound nationwide at 8 p.m., in some 15 minutes, in memory of Israel’s fallen.
Immediately following the siren, the main memorial will begin at the Western Wall. President Reuven Rivlin will speak at the event.
Israel’s pick for Rome envoy withdraws candidacy
Israel’s pick for ambassador to Italy, Fiamma Nirenstein, has withdrawn her candidacy for the position, Haaretz reports.
Earlier this month, Haaretz had reported that Italy had called on Israel to reevaluate the appointment of Nirenstein.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi dispatched a “discreet” message to Netanyahu asking him to pick someone else besides the former Italian MP who immigrated to Israel ahead of her appointment last August. The paper cited an anonymous source saying the opposition to Nirenstein’s appointment stems from dissatisfaction with her among the Jewish community, the Italian Foreign Ministry and the armed forces. It noted that, in violation of diplomatic protocol, Nirenstein continued her journalistic activity in Italy while her appointment as ambassador to Rome was being confirmed.
Nirenstein was also called out by the daily several weeks ago for an article she wrote in 1996 that was fiercely critical of Sara Netanyahu.
Israel comes to standstill as Memorial Day begins
Israelis pause for a minute as the memorial siren rings out.
The candle-lighting ceremony begins at the Western Wall (it can be watched live here).
We are still fighting war of independence, president says
The president speaks at the Western Wall memorial.
“Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, I stand in front of you and my heart is broken, my heart is torn. Your children, your loved ones, the fruit of your hopes, the subject of your adoration. There is no limit to the sorrow and suffering, there is no answer for the silent call — only the silence of death,” the president says.
“For over sixty-eight years we have been fighting the same war, the war for our independence; an ongoing campaign that changes its face and form. It is a painful battle that all the time adds fresh scars to the body and spirit of this ancient and robust people. Inherent in the stones behind me, the stones of the Western Wall, the ‘wall of tears and hope,’ is testament that we are not men of war. We did not go into battle hungry for war, but with the desire for peace, with a lust for life, and a hated of death.
“But we realize the bitter and horrible truth – that there is a terrible price – which you have paid – to be a nation determined to protect its citizens and its independence. We will stand strong against anyone who dares to put our resolve to the test in any way,” he says.
“You, who did not have the chance to finish bestowing love, it is thanks to you that we can love. You, who did not manage to see your children grow up; it is thanks to you that our streets are filled with life, with boys and girls playing. You, who did not manage to fulfill your dreams; it is because of you that we can dream.”
The president concludes by mentioning the soldiers whose place of burial is unknown.
“On this occasion we remember, and are reminded, of our commitment to our kidnapped children and those missing in action. We remember and are reminded of our responsibility to bring to Israel for burial, those of our sons whose graves are unknown. May the memory of our sons and daughters, who are loved and cherished, be engraved on our hearts forever.”
IDF chief urges public to support IDF amid controversy
In his Memorial Day remarks, IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot urges Israelis to rally around the IDF.
Soldiers must know “the nation entirely supports them and is entirely behind them even when there are arguments,” Eisenkot says, referring to recent controversy over a comparison made by the IDF deputy chief between Israel and pre-WWII Europe, and ongoing debate over the manslaughter indictment of an IDF soldier who shot dead a disarmed Palestinian stabber in Hebron.
“Unity is not necessarily agreement,” says the IDF chief.
“Even when there are differences, the public’s trust in the IDF is essential for us to achieve our goals,” he says.
Slain cop’s father says mourner’s prayer at Western Wall
The father of Hadar Cohen — the 19-year-old policewoman who was killed by Palestinian terrorists at Damascus Gate in February — says the mourner’s prayer at the Western Wall ceremony, not far from where she was killed.
Closing with anthem, ceremony ends
The ceremony at the Western Wall concludes with the national anthem, Hatikvah.
Soldier badly hurt in car-ramming ‘dying to return’ to unit
The IDF soldier who was critically injured in a car-ramming attack in the West Bank last week wakes up on Monday night.
On Tuesday, Matan Rodger tells Channel 2: “I’m dying to return to my platoon.”
“I can’t remember the moment [of the attack] itself,” he says, “but just the seconds beforehand.”
Israel reportedly strikes Hezbollah weapons convoy
Israeli jets strike a Hezbollah arms convoy near the village of Anjar, on the Syrian-Lebanon border, according to Syrian and Lebanese reports.
There is no official response from Israel and no immediate reports of casualties.
Bennett praises Israeli heroism in fighting terrorists
Education Minister Naftali Bennett praises Israeli heroism in the wave of terror since October.
In his Memorial Day remarks, the minister mentions by name victims Nehemia Lavi, Tuvia Yanai Weissman, and Dafna Meir, all of whom were killed protecting other people.
“This year was the year of Israel’s heroism. Of simple people. The heroism of the man on the street who could have run away, but took a guitar and set out toward an armed terrorist,” he says.
“This year, the Jewish people all deserve a medal,” the minister adds.