The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Hamas: Uncovered tunnel is a ‘drop in the sea’
Hamas military wing claims the tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel that was uncovered and destroyed by the IDF is just a small part of its plans to attack Israelis.
The tunnel is “just a drop in the sea of what the resistance has prepared,” the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades says in a statement, according to Reuters.
World Bank: Arab donors fail to deliver Gaza pledges
A new report by the World Bank shows that Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab donors have delivered only a small fraction of what they promised in reconstruction aid to Gaza after Israel’s 2014 war against Hamas.
The World Bank releases its report a day before a gathering of international donor countries in Brussels, sending the meeting a stark message that donations are well behind the schedule set when pledges were made at an international conference in October 2014.
“Actual disbursements fall short of planned disbursements by around $1.3 billion, and hence, donors are urged to accelerate the disbursement of funds,” the report says. If donor funding continues at the current pace, it added, pledges are expected to be complete by mid-2019, some two years behind schedule.
Prison Service source: Jailed rabbi tricked court to get Passover leave
A source in the Israel Prison Service is accusing a jailed rabbi of “tricking” the courts into granting him leave for Passover, Walla news reports.
Yoshiyahu Pinto is currently serving a one-year sentence for bribing a police officer. Due to health issues, he is serving his sentence in the medical center of Ramle’s Nitzan Prison.
The rabbi is ostensibly leaving jail for his brother’s wedding on the eve of Passover, but the source says the request to attend the ceremony came immediately after the IPS told Pinto that he does not meet the criteria for furlough for the holiday. Prisoners are, however, legally entitled to attend the wedding of an immediate relative.
The wedding, which will take place an hour before the start of the holiday, has been organized by Pinto himself, Walla says.
Hebron soldier indicted for manslaughter
The IDF soldier who shot dead a disarmed and incapacitated Palestinian who attacked troops in Hebron last month is indicted for manslaughter at Jaffa Military Court.
The soldier, who cannot be named due to a gag order, says that he shot the attacker out of fear that he had an explosives vest, a claim that others at the scene contradict.
— Judah Ari Gross
Jordanian cops accidentally raid Muslim Brotherhood HQ
Jordanian security forces mistakenly raid the headquarters of the kingdom’s largest Muslim Brotherhood group after confusing it with the offices of an outlawed organization, the government says.
Police raid the Islamic Action Front offices after they “mixed up” the IAF headquarters with those of a nearby, unregistered branch of the Islamist group, according to government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani.
The government should “apologize for this action which touched the Islamic Action Front,” IAF spokesman Murad Adaileh says.
Swedish minister resigns over comparing Israel to Nazis
Sweden’s housing minister resigns over comments he made in 2009 comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the experiences of the Jews under Nazi Germany, Reuters reports.
Mehmet Kaplan’s resignation comes days after Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reports the remarks, made before he entered the center-left government as a representative of junior coalition partner the Green Party.
Eyal Golan cancels appearance at rally for Hebron soldier
Singer Eyal Golan cancels his attendance at a rally in Tel Aviv tomorrow to support the soldier who is charged with manslaughter for shooting dead a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month.
“I decided yesterday to go and support the soldier and embrace his family. I never thought to go against the IDF chief of staff, whom I greatly admire. I never wanted to go against the IDF, which is the people’s army,” says Golan in a statement.
“To my regret, a part of the public took this to a place of values and democracy, while all I wanted was to do was sing and embrace, in the name of art and myself as a singer, as a person. Unfortunately, I see that there are those who take my desire into the political realm, as though I am declaring war against the army.
“I have received dozens of calls from people like me, for whom on the one hand the soldier is important, and on the other hand the state and the army values are a guiding light, and as such I have decided to cancel my participation in the rally tomorrow.
“Our democracy, the rule of law and the army are of supreme value to me. I hope with all my heart that the soldier and his family stay strong.”
Hamas sentences 5 to death for collaborating with Israel
The military court in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip hands down death sentences to five Palestinians for collaborating with Israel.
Four of the five will be hanged, while the fifth will face a firing squad, Ynet reports.
The court is subordinate to Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since a 2007 coup.
Hebron soldier’s lawyer: He thought children were approaching
The lawyer for the soldier charged with manslaughter for killing a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month tells Jaffa Military Court that the defendant believed children were approaching for a Purim parade when he opened fire.
“There was a large information gap between the soldier and extensively experienced officers who had all the information,” the lawyer says, according to Walla. “He thought that the ‘adloyada’ [Purim parade] would soon be starting and the children of Hebron would enter the arena. He did not have all the information in front of him.”
Syria’s UN envoy: No doubt Israel working with IS
The Syrian ambassador to the United Nations says there is no doubt that Israel is collaborating with the Islamic State group.
Bashar Ja’afari makes the remarks in a letter to the UN Security Council, in which he also criticizes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow yesterday that Israel will never give up the Golan Heights, Walla reports.
Watchdog: Romanian politician said Jews inflated Holocaust death toll
A Romanian watchdog on anti-Semitism says it is worried by the mayoral candidacy of a Bucharest politician after it emerges he claimed local Jews lied for money about the number of their brethren killed in the Holocaust.
Marian Munteanu of the National Liberal Party, Romania’s second largest, made the accusation in a press statement he co-signed in 1994, when he was part of the Christian-nationalist Movement for Romania organization.
The statement says Jewish groups put the number of Romanians killed in the Holocaust at 420,000 to “obtain illicit moneys from Romanian people through disinformation and manipulation of public opinion, with the complicity of treacherous elements who infiltrated the Romanian institutional structures,” according to Evenimentul Zilei, one of Romania’s leading newspapers.
The Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of Holocaust warns that Munteanu “presents a concern” not only because of his nationalist rhetoric and “statements minimizing or denying” the Holocaust, but also for “misrepresenting” reality today, according to the Agerpres news website.
Judge: Significant evidence against youths suspected of hate cimes, arson
Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court says there is a significant evidence against two minors arrested this month on suspicion of hate crimes and arson against Palestinians, Ynet news reports.
“The evidence presented speaks of violent incidents that endangered lives,” says the judge during a court hearing on the case against the two youths, aged 16 and 17.
Top IDF officer: We are still investigating terror tunnel
A senior IDF officer says the army is still investigating the recently discovered tunnel dug from Hamas-controlled Gaza into Israel.
“We are still occupied with the tunnel, even though it is no longer in use,” the officer says according to Channel 10 television.”While there has been a breach of sovereignty, there is also a clear success. The goal is to take out all the tunnels.”
The officer adds that the army is still looking into when the tunnel was created.
German right-wing party under fire for anti-Islam comments
Germany’s right-wing populist AfD party draws heavy fire after two of its leaders label Islam incompatible with the country’s values and constitution.
The three-year-old Alternative for Germany party, which harshly opposes Merkel’s liberal refugee policy, plans to adopt an anti-Islamic manifesto at a conference this month.
The chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany Aiman Mazyek charges that “the AfD is riding a wave of Islamophobia.”
The opposition Greens’ senior lawmaker Konstantin von Notz also accuses the AfD of trying to “deliberately turn Islam into a bogeyman to capture voters.”
IDF officer: Gaza tunnel hundreds of meters long
A senior IDF officer says the terror tunnel recently uncovered between Israel and Gaza extends for hundreds of meters, Ynet reports.
He says the army has been operating around one hundred pieces of engineering equipment in the area of the Gaza-Israel border, in order to locate tunnels.
“The tunnel is disabled but we will continue to examine it,” he says.
The officer also says that the Palestinian side has so far had a low-key response to the discovery, but insists “we have enough forces” should “other situations” arise.
Report: Egypt foils major attack in Sinai
The Egyptian army thwarted a major attack on its forces in the northern Sinai, close to the border with Gaza, according to the local media.
Two soldiers are said to be injured and three militants killed in the Saturday night attack at a checkpoint near the entrance to the town of Rafah.
A spokesperson for the Egyptian army tells the Daily News Egypt: “The terrorist attack targeting El Masora checkpoint was foiled. Soldiers stationed at the checkpoint killed three militants and injured six.”
A Sinai-based journalist tells the paper that the attack was intended to mirror a similar one in March that targeted a different checkpoint and killed 15 people.
Soldier who shot attacker in Hebron named as Elor Azaria
The court lifts a gag order on the identity of the IDF soldier who shot dead a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month.
The soldier can now be named as Elor Azaria, a 19-year-old soldier in the Kfir Brigade, who lives in Ramle.
Netanyahu: Israel makes world-class breakthrough in locating tunnels
Netanyahu hails the discovery of the terror tunnel from Gaza into Israel and vows efforts will continue to uncover more.
“In recent days, the State of Israel has achieved a world-class breakthrough in the ability to locate tunnels,” he says. “The government is investing considerable capital in countering the tunnel threat. This is an ongoing effort that will not end overnight. We are investing in this and will continue to do so with determination.
“Israel will respond strongly to any attempt to attack its soldiers and civilians. I am certain that Hamas understands this very well. I would like to tell the residents of the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip: The IDF is working around the clock to ensure your security and daily routine.”
Ya’alon: Rally for Hebron soldier violates IDF values
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon condemns tomorrow’s planned rally to support the soldier who shot and killed a disarmed Palestinian attacker.
“It is troubling; we are not Islamic State,” he says, according to Channel 10. “When we need to kill, we kill; when someone is incapacitated, we arrest. Those who support such [rallies] violate the values of the IDF.”
Ya’alon: Gaza tunnel dug before 2014 war, with upgrades
The newly uncovered tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel was “based on” one from 2014, with some new additions, Channel 2 quotes Ya’alon as saying.
The defense minister also issues a warning to Hamas that Israel will respond strongly to any attacks.
“We are not looking for violence, but if Hamas tries to disrupt the lives of the Gaza border residents, it will receive a heavy blow. We will not tolerate such incidents,” he tells Channel 2.
British FM makes surprise visit to Libya
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond makes a surprise visit to Tripoli in the latest show of foreign support for Libya’s UN-backed unity government.
A statement from the Foreign Office in London says Hammond discussed the priorities of prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord on security, rebuilding the economy and restoring public services.
“He also discussed their plans to tackle the threat of Daesh and countering people trafficking,” it says, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group (IS).
“Britain is at the forefront of the international community’s efforts to stabilize Libya and is committing an extra £10 million to help the Government of National Accord strengthen political institutions, the economy, security, and justice,” the Foreign Office quotes Hammond as saying.
Jordan cancels plan for security cameras on Temple Mount
Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour says Amman is halting its plan to install security cameras on the flashpoint Temple Mount due to a lack of Palestinian agreement, Ynet reports.
Palestinians earlier this month placed notices in the Jerusalem compound warning of plans to smash any security cameras installed at the site, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews and which has been at the epicenter of tensions in recent months.
Germany: Unilateral steps on Golan violate international law
Germany says a unilateral decision by Israel to keep the Golan Heights would breach international law.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman makes the comment in response to a question about Netanyahu’s claim yesterday that Israel will never withdraw from the plateau.
“It’s a basic principle of international law and the UN charter that no state can claim the right to annex another state’s territory just like that,” says German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed it in 1981, a move that was almost at once unanimously rejected by the UN Security Council.
Schaefer says Germany isn’t currently demanding the immediate return of the territory due to the security situation in Syria.
Blast on bus reported in Jerusalem
A blast is reported on a bus in Jerusalem. Casualties are reported.
Magen David Adom says the blast occurred on the Hebron Road.
Some 20 people are injured.
MDA: At least 10 hurt in Jerusalem bus blast
Magen David Adom says there are at least 10 people hurt in the bus blast on Moshe Baram Street in Jerusalem.
Police investigating circumstances of Jerusalem bus blast
Israel Police says on Twitter that it is investigating the circumstances of the explosion on a bus in Jerusalem.
Report: 15 hurt in Jerusalem bus blast
Channel 2 says at least 15 are injured in the blast on a number 12 bus in Jerusalem.
The back of the bus is currently on fire.
Police: 15 hurt in Jerusalem bus blast, 2 seriously
An Israel Police spokeswoman says medics and paramedics are treating 15 casualties from the Jerusalem bus blast, including two in serious condition.
The wounded are being evacuated to Shaare Zedek hospital in the city.
Red alert siren sounds on Gaza border
A red alert siren for rocket fire from Gaza sounds in Israeli communities in the border with the Strip.
Police: Jerusalem bus blast was terror attack
Polcie confirm that the bus blast in Jerusalem was a terror attack.
Magen David Adom says 15 are hurt, including two seriously, three moderately and five lightly.
Vehicles close to bus hit in blast also ablaze
Vehicles close to a bus hit in a terror attack in Jerusalem are also burning, Channel 2 says.
Police now not sure it was a terror attack
Now police are saying they’re not sure it was a terror attack after all, Channel 2 says.
The blast was on an empty bus. This in turn set off a fire on a second bus nearby and a private car. Most of the injured were on the second bus, the TV report says.
Police now say “all avenues of investigation being followed.”
Police: Bus was empty, wounded are from nearby vehicle
Police say the bus hit by an explosion in Jerusalem was empty at the time of the blast, and the injured are from a nearby bus. Another private vehicle is also hit in the blast.
Two people are in serious condition, six are in moderate condition and seven are lightly hurt.
Red alert on Gaza border is false alarm
The red alert siren for incoming rocket fire that sounds on the Gaza border is a false alarm, Walla reports.
Fire service: No one trapped in burning buses in Jerusalem
The fire service says that no one is trapped in the buses that are alight following a blast on one of the vehicles in Jerusalem.
WATCH: Smoke rises over buses set alight in Jerusalem
Footage from the scene of the two burning buses in Jerusalem shows smoke billowing into the sky from the vehicles.
16 hurt in Jerusalem were on both burning buses
The 16 people wounded in Jerusalem came from the bus that was set ablaze and a nearby one that was also set alight, Channel 2 says.
Police are still trying to establish if it was a terror attack.
Police urge vigilance in wake of Jerusalem blaze
The police are calling on Israelis to be vigilant after two buses are set alight in Jerusalem. The authorities are still trying to determine whether this is a terrorist incident.
Israel Police spokeswoman Luba Samri urges people to report any suspicious incidents.
Israel Police: Not ruling out terror attack in Jerusalem
Israel Police spokeswoman Luba Samri says authorities are not ruling out the possibility that the blazes on two buses in Jerusalem are the result of a terrorist attack.
All avenues are being examined, Samri says.
Jerusalem police: No advance intel on imminent attack
A spokesman for Jerusalem police says there was no advance intelligence of an imminent terror attack in Jerusalem .
Egged official: Hard to believe this was not terror
An official in the Egged bus company, whose buses were hit in the Jerusalem blaze, says it is hard to believe that the incident was not the result of a terror attack, the NRG website reports.
Fire service: Jerusalem blast occurred inside one of the buses
Jerusalem fire service says that the blast that set two buses alight in the city took place inside one of the vehicles.
“This is definitely an irregular incident,” a member of the fire service tells Channel 2.
Jerusalem mayor: Explosive device caused bus blast
The blast on a Jerusalem bus was caused by a small explosive device, Mayor Nir Barkat tells Channel 2.
He says however that it is still unclear whether this is a terrorist attack.
The mayor calls on Jerusalem residents and all Israelis to be alert but to primarily carry on with their normal routine.
Eisenkot: IDF will keep investing in efforts to counter tunnel threat
IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot says the army will continue to invest greatly in efforts to locate and destroy the tunnels dug by Hamas from Gaza into Israel.
“The exposure of the tunnel is a reminder of the threats, but also of our commitment to the security of the residents,” he says, hours after the army announces it recently uncovered a tunnel dug under the border.
Barkat spokeswoman: Jerusalem blast definitely caused by bomb
A spokeswoman for Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says that the explosion that set two buses alight and wounded 16 people was definitely caused by a bomb, Reuters reports.
The comment comes after Barkat tells Israeli TV that a small explosive device detonated inside one of the two buses caught up in the incident.
Supreme Court upholds jail term for Islamic Movement leader
The Supreme Court rejects a request by the head of the radical Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement Raed Salah to appeal his conviction for inciting violence, but cuts his prison sentence from 11 months to nine.
Jerusalem bomber may be among injured in bus blast
Police are increasingly certain that the blast on a Jerusalem bus is a terror attack, Channel 2 says, and believe that one of the people seriously injured in the blast on a Jerusalem bus may be the bomber.
IDF releases video of newly uncovered terror tunnel
The IDF releases video of the tunnel from Gaza into Israel that was recently uncovered by troops.
The footage shows the “access point” to the tunnel, which reportedly runs 30 meters below ground and has its mouth in southern Gaza.
— Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner) April 18, 2016
Israeli, Palestinian envoys have shouting match at UN debate
A UN Security Council debate turns into a shouting match between the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors, who exchange cries of “Shame on you!” over the ongoing violence.
Israel’s envoy Danny Danon breaks away from his address to the council and demands that the Palestinian representative condemn acts of terrorism.
“Shame on you for glorifying terrorism!” Danon says.
“Shame on you for killing Palestinian children!” Riyad Mansour shoots back.
After being called to order by the council president, Danon once again turns to Mansour and says: “You cannot say it here. Palestinian children are looking at you right now.
“‘I condemn all acts of terrorism’: one sentence you cannot say. Shame on you for that,” he insists.
“Let my people be free! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! You are an occupier,” Mansour hits back.
Jerusalem police: Trying to determine who placed bus bomb
A Jerusalem police spokesman says a bomb definitely went off in the bus hit in an explosion, and that the authorities are still trying to determine where the bomb came from, and who placed it.
“There is no doubt that this was a terror attack,” the officer tells Channel 2, but declines to confirm that one of the two people who are in serious condition is the bomber.
“There are two people who are badly hurt and we are trying to confirm their identities,” he says.
Police: Bomb went off at back of Jerusalem bus
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri says sappers find that a bomb exploded at the rear of the Jerusalem bus hit by a blast, injuring passengers and causing a massive blaze that spread to another bus and private vehicles.
Samri says the wounded include two people in critical condition.
Police are asking the public to report any unusual incident and say extra security forces are deployed throughout the city.
Security forces investigating whether Jerusalem bomber is among wounded
The security forces are investigating whether a would-be suicide bomber is behind the blast on a Jerusalem bus and whether he is one of the people who is critically hurt in the explosion, Ynet reports.
PM: We will settle accounts with those behind Jerusalem bombing
Netanyahu says that Israel will find the people responsible for today’s attack on a bus in Jerusalem that wounded more than 20 people.
“We will find out who placed the bomb, we will reach those who dispatched them and we will also get to those who stand behind them, and settle accounts with these terrorists,” he says.
The prime minister also sends wishes for a speedy recovery to those injured in the bombing.
Tel Aviv mayor: Don’t come to rally for Hebron soldier
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai urges Israelis to boycott a rally in the city tomorrow to support the soldier who is charged with manslaughter for killing a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month.
“Don’t come,” Huldai tells Israelis in an interview to Channel 2, praising the singers who have cancelled their participation and urging other performers to do the same.
“The rally harms the most vital parts of Israeli democracy, and we cannot let that happen,” he says.
Shaare Zedek treating 10 hurt, including 1 with serious burns
Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center says it is treating 10 of the people wounded in today’s bus bombing.
Of the 10, one is in critical condition with burns all over his body; two are moderately wounded; and the rest lightly hurt. One of the wounded is currently undergoing surgery, the hospital says.
Arab League: Netanyahu remarks on Golan are ‘new escalation’
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi denounces Netanyahu’s remarks on Israel keeping the Golan Heights as a “new escalation.”
Arabi says Netanyahu’s statement is “a new escalation that represents a brazen violation of international law.”
Hamas: Jerusalem bombing is natural response to Israeli crimes
Hamas praises the attack on a bus in Jerusalem that wounded more than 20 people, but does not claim responsibility.
A statement on the group’s website says that “Hamas welcomes the Jerusalem operation, and considers it a natural reaction to Israeli crimes, especially field executions and the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
— Dov Lieber
Ex-nominee for police chief questioned under caution
Brigadier General (res.) Gal Hirsch is questioned under caution as part of an investigation into a company he owns, which won the tender for mine-clearing in a section of Rishon Lezion beach.
Hirsch was briefly tapped last year by the government as the new head of the Israel Police, but his candidacy ended after it emerged that the FBI and the Israel Police conducted a two-year undercover corruption investigation into businesses linked to him.
Obama, Putin agree to strengthen Syria truce — Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama agree during a phone call today to strengthen a Syria ceasefire brokered by their two nations, the Kremlin says.
“The leaders discussed in detail the situation in Syria, confirming in particular their intention to facilitate the strengthening of a Russian-US initiated ceasefire in this country as well as access for humanitarian aid,” says the Kremlin in a statement.
Islamic Jihad: Jerusalem bomb shows intifada continues
The Islamic Jihad terror group praises the Jerusalem bus bombing, saying it “sends a strong message that confirms the continuation of the intifada.”
— Dov Lieber
Jerusalem bus driver: I knew at once it was a terror attack
The driver of the Jerusalem bus hit in today’s bombing says he was caught up in traffic when he suddenly heard a blast, and knew at once an attack had taken place, Channel 2 reports.
“I reached Moshe Baram Street in Talpiot and stopped in traffic. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion from the back of the bus and I immediately realized it was a terrorist attack,” says Moshe Levy from Shaare Zedek hospital, where he is being treated for light injuries.
“I opened the doors to save people,” he says. “The people fled quickly. I immediately ran to the cars stuck in traffic and told them to call the police because there had been an attack.”
Hebron soldier allowed home for Passover
The IDF soldier charged with manslaughter for shooting dead a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month is to be allowed to go home for the first night of Passover, Channel 10 reports.
The judge at Jaffa Military Court rules that the soldier can spend the seder with his family, and rejects a request by the prosecution to keep Sgt. Elor Azaria in custody until the end of legal proceedings against him.
The judge also casts doubt on the strength of the evidence against Azaria.
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