Germany’s Merkel: Israel-Iran escalation could bring war
Live updates (closed)

Iran didn’t notify Assad before attacking Israel — report

Channel 2 reports disquiet in Damascus over Tehran’s efforts to use Syrian soil for missile barrage against Israel

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with the Greek Kathimerini newspaper, in Damascus, Syria, in this photo released May 10, 2018. (SANA via AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with the Greek Kathimerini newspaper, in Damascus, Syria, in this photo released May 10, 2018. (SANA via AP)

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

Iran denies firing rockets at Israel — report

A senior Iranian security official denies that his country was behind a missile barrage fired from Syria at Israeli territory which prompted Israel to respond with airstrikes against dozens of Iranian targets inside Syria.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Deputy head Abu al-Fadl Hassan al-Baiji said, “Iran has nothing to do with the missiles that struck yesterday on the enemy entity,” reports the Al-Manar television network which is affiliated with Lebanon’s Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah.

Some 20 rockets were fired at northern Israeli military bases by Iranian forces from southern Syria just after midnight Wednesday, Israel said, prompting extensive retaliatory raids. The Israel Defense Forces said that it suffered no casualties, either on the ground or in the air, and that none of the rockets fired from Syria landed in Israeli territory.

First-ever Druze woman judge appointed to Haifa bench

Israel’s Judicial Appointments Committee, chaired by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, appoints Israel’s first-ever female Druze judge.

Sawsan al-Qasem is the newest judge on the Haifa Regional Labor Court.

UK’s May condemns Iranian missile barrage on Israel

UK Prime Minister Theresa May condemns Iran’s attacks on Israel and appeals to Russia to use its influence in Syria to stop any further attacks.

A spokesman for the prime minister tells reporters, “We condemn Iran’s attack on Israel. Israel has every right to defend itself.”

He adds, “We call on Iran to refrain from any further attacks and for calm on all sides. We call on Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent further Iranian attacks.”

Germany’s Merkel: Israel-Iran escalation could bring war

The latest escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran in Syria is a matter of “war and peace” for the region, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns Thursday.

“The escalation of the last hours show us that it’s really about war and peace,” says Merkel.


Bahrain issues rare expression of support for Israeli strike on Iranian forces

In an extremely rare expression of support for an Israeli military operation, the foreign minister of Bahrain says all countries in the region, including Israel, have the right to respond to Iranian aggression.

“As long as Iran continues the current status quo of its forces and rockets operating in the region, then any country — including Israel — has the right to defend itself by eliminating the source of danger,” Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa writes on his Twitter account in Arabic.

Responding to Iranian missiles fired at the Golan from Syria, the Israeli Air Force overnight launched a major operation against Iranian targets in the country, wiping out much of Tehran’s military infrastructure there, according to the IDF.

— Raphael Ahren

Syrian military says Israeli airstrikes killed 3, damaged air defense units

Syria’s military says Israeli airstrikes in the country killed three fighters, wounded two and destroyed a radar station, an ammunition warehouse, and damaged a number of air defense units.

Israel launched retaliatory attacks in Syria against Iranian forces in response to a barrage of rockets launched from Syrian territory that it blamed on Iran’s Quds Force.

Syrian Arab Army Brig. Gen. Ali Mayhoub, who reads the statement on Syrian television Thursday, says Syrian air defense systems had intercepted “the large part” of the incoming Israeli strikes.

Mayhoub does not say whether Iranian forces or Iran-backed militiamen were among those killed or wounded.

Britain condemns Iranian attack in Golan

Britain condemns “in the strongest terms” a suspected Iranian rocket attack against Israeli positions in the Golan Heights.

In a statement Thursday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urges Iran to refrain from actions that could destabilize the region. Johnson also calls on Russia to press the Syrian government, its ally, to work toward a broader political settlement.

— AP

Syria: Israeli strikes mark ‘new phase’ in ‘war on Syria’

Syria’s foreign ministry says the salvo of Israeli strikes on its territory overnight marked a “new phase” in the country’s seven-year conflict.

In a statement carried by state news agency SANA, it says Israel’s “direct confrontation… signals the start of a new phase of the war on Syria.”


Chabad-raised woman becomes Britain’s first Orthodox female rabbi

Dina Brawer, a Milan-born and Chabad-raised woman, becomes Britain’s first Orthodox female rabbi.

She received her semicha, or rabbinic ordination, on Monday in London from British-born Israeli academic and rabbi, Dr. Daniel Sperber, after he administered a two-hour exam.

She will take the title of rabba.

She sat for her semicha test after completing a four-year program at Yeshivat Maharat in New York, according to the Jewish Chronicle. A graduation ceremony will be held in June at Kehillat Jeshurun synagogue in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Brawer is the founder of the United Kingdom branch of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, or JOFA.


Oil rises amid Syria tensions

Oil prices rose on the news that Israel launched military strikes against Iranian targets in Syria overnight in response to an Iranian missile barrage on Israel on Wednesday.

Benchmark US crude oil added 45 cents to $71.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It climbed $2.08, or 3 percent, to $71.14 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 26 cents to $77.47 per barrel.

— AP

Trump signs Holocaust property law that has angered Poland

WARSAW, Poland — US President Donald Trump signs an act that Jewish groups praise as helpful in their efforts to reclaim lost property in Poland, but which the Polish government says is discriminatory.

The White House says Trump signed the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today — or JUST — Act. It requires the State Department to report to Congress on what steps dozens of countries in Europe have taken to compensate Holocaust survivors or their heirs for assets seized under Nazi German and Communist rule.

The law does not give the US any powers to act against any country and does not single out Poland. But Poland is the only country in Europe that has not passed legislation to compensate former owners for assets seized in the upheavals of 20th-century European history, and Warsaw sees itself as the key target of the law.

The Nazis’ seizure of Jewish-owned property in Poland during World War II, and the murder of most of Poland’s Jewish population, was followed after the war by the Communist state’s seizure of large amounts of property that was nationalized. Most of the original owners of that property were not Jewish.

Since the fall of communism, some claimants have regained lost property on a case-by-case basis through courts, but so far Poland has not passed comprehensive legislation regulating the process, creating a situation that has been riddled by fraud and led to a sense of injustice.

— AP

Campaign sign for Jewish congressional candidate from Ohio defaced with swastika

The campaign yard sign of a Jewish candidate for Congress from central Ohio is defaced with a swastika.

The sign for Lawrence Cohen, a Jewish candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, had been placed on public property, Justin Shaw, director of Jewish community relations at the Jewish Federation of Columbus, Ohio, told the Cleveland Jewish News.

The swastika was discovered on May 6, two days before the state primary.

“It seems like they decided that a Jewish candidate running for Congress was not something they could tolerate and decided to deface the sign,” Cohen told the local Channel 10 news.


Hamas condemns Israeli strikes on Iranian military targets

Hamas condemns Israel’s attack on Iranian military sites in Syria.

In a statement, the Gaza-based terror group saying it regards “the Israeli occupation’s military attack on Syria as further proof of its acts of terrorism in the region and the threat it poses for the Middle East peace and stability.”

It adds: “Sovereign nations have the right to defend their soil and respond to any aggression forced upon them,” according to the group’s English-language website.

It calls on “Islamic and Arab countries” to “unite and dedicate their efforts and capabilities to deter and defend themselves from the threats aiming to liquidate the Palestinian cause and destabilize the region.”

Amsterdam kosher eatery owner says will close shop due to assaults

AMSTERDAM — The owner of a frequently vandalized kosher eatery in the Dutch capital says he will close it down unless city officials install permanent security measures outside his business.

Sami Bar-On’s lawyer, Herman Loonstein, tells the Het Parool daily Wednesday that his client feels it is “irresponsible to go on like this” at HaCarmel restaurant without permanent security measures.

A man waving a Palestinian flag smashed the windows of HaCarmel kosher restaurant in Amsterdam, December 7, 2017. (Ginopress B.V./AFP/Getty Images via JTA)

In December, a 29-year-old Syrian asylum seeker smashed the restaurant’s window while holding a Palestinian flag. He then broke into the restaurant as two police officers watched and took out an Israeli flag from inside the restaurant before they arrested him. He has been charged with vandalism in an indictment that does not include an aggravated element of a hate crime.

Since the incident, the restaurant’s windows were again smashed once and are repeatedly spat on and smeared with garbage, Bar-On said. Police beef up security after each incident but leave shortly after, he said.

Bar-On also claimed the mayor has refused to meet him on the issue. But a municipal spokesperson said that Bar-On has declined several offers by the city to have him meet lower-level officials.


US condemns ‘Iranian regime’s provocative rocket attacks’ on Israel

The US condemns “the Iranian regime’s provocative rocket attacks from Syria against Israeli citizens.”

In a statement, the White House press secretary says, “We strongly support Israel’s right to act in self-defense. The Iranian regime’s deployment into Syria of offensive rocket and missile systems aimed at Israel is an unacceptable and highly dangerous development for the entire Middle East. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) bears full responsibility for the consequences of its reckless actions, and we call on the IRGC and its militant proxies, including Hezbollah, to take no further provocative steps.

“The United States also calls on all nations to make clear that the Iranian regime’s actions pose a severe threat to international peace and stability.”

Paul McCartney won’t come to Israel to accept Wolf Prize, citing his schedule

British singer-songwriter Paul McCartney says he will not come to Israel at the end of May to receive the 2018 Wolf Prize in music, citing scheduling reasons.

“It it very flattering and I am grateful to be a winner of this year’s Wolf Prize for Music,” he writes to the Wolf Foundation, which announced him as a winner in February, adding, “It is definitely a great honor for me to be included among the greatest artists, creators, scientists and history authors of our times. But after reviewing my schedule I have to announce that I won’t be able to come on the set date.”

“We thank Sir Paul McCartney and his wife Nancy Shevell for the cooperation and respectful correspondence and expect to see them in Israel in May 2019,” says Reut Inon Berman, the Wolf Foundation’s director general.

McCartney can only receive the prize if he comes to a ceremony in Tel Aviv, held yearly in May, but has two years in which to arrive and claim the prize.

Fire rages in southern Israel village near Gaza

A brushfire is raging near the southern village of Gilat, near the Gaza Strip.

Over 50 firefighters and 22 firetrucks are deployed to the brushfire, according to the Fire and Rescue Service.

Residents are being evacuated from homes nearest to the fire.

Google acquires Israeli cloud migration startup company Velostrata

The Israeli cloud migration start up company Velostrata will be acquired by Google.

Company CEO and co-founder Issy Ben-Shaul announces that Velostrata will join Google Cloud, subject to closing conditions.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by either company. Velostrata was founded in 2014.

Velostrata’s software enables companies to move their data and applications from onsite computers to the cloud quickly and easily, and with minimal downtime. The company’s technology is used by companies in the healthcare, finance, energy and public sectors, the company said in a statement.

The company will work out of Google’s Tel Aviv offices, Eyal Manor, Google Cloud’s vice president of Engineering, said in a statement.


Top minister: Israel has ‘no desire for war’ with Iran in Syria

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan says Israel has “no intention to escalate, and no desire to get to the point of a general war” with Iran.

“We’re just insisting on our policy, supported by Arab governments, sometimes in secret, by the United States and many others, not to allow Iranian entrenchment on Israel’s border with Syria,” Erdan tells Hadashot television news.

He adds: “Nobody knows what happens next. The Iranians just suffered a serious blow. Their plan to attack Israel failed. There can be additional scenarios [i.e., attempts by Iran to attack Israel] in the coming days and we have to prepare for that. Last night we knew in every likely scenario what the IDF’s response would be and approved it ahead of time.”

Erdan: Iran now understands the IDF’s capabilities

Erdan continues: “I think the Iranians now understand the IDF’s capabilities, its intelligence abilities, our capacity to strike both Iranian [forces] and the Syrian. If they look more carefully [at the situation], they’ll understand that we can hit them even more dramatically.”

Israel’s insistence on preventing Iranian entrenchment in Syria is critical for the country’s security, Erdan says.

“It’s better to manage a calculated risk now, with the potential for [war], than to deal with this in a few years, when we may find ourselves facing a possibly existential threat directed toward us from Syria.”

Saudi Arabia tests siren after Yemen rebels fire new missiles

Saudi Arabia says it tested a new siren system for the capital Riyadh and oil-rich Eastern Province, a day after Yemeni rebels fired three ballistic missiles at the kingdom.

The Saudi civil defense posts a video on its official site of the alarm system being tested. It says in a statement the system was designed to “face risks of all kinds” and alert the population “in case of emergency.”

Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi rebels have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against neighboring Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against them.

The Shiite insurgents announced they had fired two ballistic missiles at Riyadh and a third at the southern city of Jizan near the border, on Wednesday alone.

Riyadh has long accused Tehran of supplying the rebels with ballistic missiles, a charge the latter rejects.


Russia and Iran will continue ‘close coordination’ on nuclear deal, Russia says

Moscow and Tehran will continue to cooperate on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program after the US pulled out of the deal, Russia’s foreign ministry says.

Deputy Russian foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov met his Iranian counterpart Abbas Araghchi in Tehran where the two sides “agreed to continue close coordination in this area,” the ministry says in a statement.

“The Russian side highlighted its commitment to preserving the agreement,” the statement adds.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday expressed his “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 deal.

Earlier in the day Ryabkov said Russia’s “European partners” should also work to keep the deal together, in comments reported by news agencies.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday called on countries that oversaw the deal to “develop steps that would preserve this document that is important for regional stability.”


Trump announces Kim summit in Singapore on June 12

US President Donald Trump announces that the summit meeting between the American leader and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will take place on June 12 in Singapore.

He posts on Twitter: “The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”

France warns Iran against ‘military provocation’ in Syria

France calls on Iran to refrain from “any military provocation” in Syria following a series of Israeli strikes on what it said were Iranian positions in the country.

A foreign ministry spokesman also warns Tehran “against any temptation for regional dominance,” a matter that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian would address in talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif next week.

The Israeli strikes in Syria come just days after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a key 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, in part because it does not attempt to curb Tehran’s role in several crises in the Middle East.

Tehran has portrayed itself as the focus of Middle East “resistance” against Israel, which struck the Syria sites in retaliation for rocket fire it blamed on Iran’s Al-Quds force.

The foreign ministry reiterates France’s “unwavering support for Israel’s security and condemns all attempts to harm it.” It also calls for “restraint by all sides in order to avoid a dangerous escalation of tensions in the Middle East.


IDF’s Golan commander says troops will defend border ‘with any means necessary’

The head of the IDF’s Bashan Division, which secures the Golan Heights, praises his soldiers for their actions during last night’s mutual air bombardments with Iranian and Syrian forces and warns that his unit is prepared to defend the border “with any means necessary.”

Brig. Gen. Amit Fisher, who took command of the division earlier this year, lauds the cooperation with military intelligence and the theater’s Iron Dome batteries, which shot down four rockets that the army says were fired by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps shortly after midnight.

“Everyone operated professionally, with great coordination and allowed us, in a few hours of combat, to bring about the significant achievements that we wanted,” says Fisher in a video statement released by the army.

“We want a quiet border [with Syria], like we’ve had for more than 40 years,” the commander says.

“Enemy forces who approach the border and try to carry out an attack against us — we’ll take care to drive them back, with any means necessary,” he says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Hamas leader predicts Friday mass breach of Israeli border

Hamas’s Gaza leader says protesters in a mass demonstration along the Israeli border next week will be unarmed and peaceful.

But Yahya Sinwar says he is holding out the possibility that the huge crowd could burst through the fence into Israel.

Speaking with foreign journalists Thursday, Sinwar compares the residents of blockaded Gaza to caged animals whose actions are impossible to predict. He also claims that Israel’s borders are not internationally recognized and do not have to be respected.

“What’s the problem if hundreds of thousands storm this fence which is not a border of a state? What’s the problem with that?” he says.

Israel says it will defend its border and accuses Hamas of exploiting civilians.

— AP

Security cabinet meets to discuss rising tensions with Iran

Israel’s security cabinet is meeting in the IDF Headquarters in the Kirya compound in Tel Aviv to discuss the rising tensions with Iranian forces in Syria.

The ministers are hearing briefings on Iranian military deployments in the country and on Iran’s expected responses to Israel’s latest retaliatory strike against Tehran’s military installations across the northern border.

Netanyahu: Iran ‘crossed a red line’ in Syria

In a Hebrew-language video, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is locked in “continuous battle” against Iran’s efforts to threaten Israel from Syria.

“Iran crossed a red line and we reacted accordingly. The IDF conducted a very extensive attack on Iranian targets in Syria. Thanks to sufficient preparations by our forces, both in defense and in offense, the Iranian operation failed. No missile landed in Israeli territory,” he says in the video.

“The Israeli nation is proud of the IDF and trusts it. We are in the midst of a continuous battle and our policy is clear: We will not allow Iran to entrench itself militarily in Syria.”

Netanyahu: World must prevent Iran’s Quds Force from entrenching in Syria

Netanyahu continues in the video:

“Yesterday I conveyed a clear message to the Assad regime: Our activity is directed against Iranian targets in Syria. But if the Syriam army takes action against us, we will act against it.”

“That is exactly what happened yesterday, Syrian army batteries launched ground-to-air missiles against us, and therefore we hit them.”

“The international community needs to prevent Iran’s Quds Force from entrenching itself in Syria. We need to unite to cut its tentacles of evil spreading there and everywhere.”

“I repeat: If anyone hurts us — we will hurt them sevenfold. And if anyone prepares to harm us — we will take preemptive action to harm them first. That’s what we did and what we will continue to do.”

Jerusalem police arrest Fatah member for funding party activities in the capital

Jerusalem Police arrest a Fatah party representative in Jerusalem for transferring funds to the Palestinian faction’s activities in Jerusalem, which is illegal under Israeli law, a police spokesperson says.

The man, age 42, is also suspected of tax offenses valued at hundreds of thousands of shekels, apparently linked to the transfers.

The suspect will face a court hearing on Friday.

The police action “prevented the illegal transfer of sums of money for illegal Fatah activities in Israel,” the spokesperson says.

Security cabinet meeting ends, minister said to urge further Syria strikes

The security cabinet meeting at the IDF’s headquarters in Tel Aviv concludes.

Hadashot television reports from the meeting that a debate was held between several people in the meeting.

Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a retired IDF major general, urged continued bombardment of Iranian military positions in Syria.

The IDF’s top brass reportedly opposed continued strikes for the moment.

Golan residents return to routine, but bomb shelters remain open

Channel 10 reports that residents of the Golan are returning to their routine, even as rocket volleys are exchanged with Iran.

While bomb shelters on the Golan Heights will remain open in the coming days, schools are open as usual and the region’s many hiking trails are open.

Golan tourism sees steep decline amid rising tensions with Iran

Some 90% of rooms ordered at hotels and bed-and-breakfasts on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights were canceled over the past three days, Channel 10 reports.

Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin asks the government to find compensation funds to ensure the local tourism industry doesn’t collapse as tensions rise along the northern border.

Iran didn’t notify Assad regime before attacking Israel — report

Iranian forces in Syria reportedly did not ask the Syrian government, or even notify Syrian leaders, before launching 20 missiles at Israel last night, Channel 2 reports.

The report suggests that there is some disquiet in Damascus over Iran’s policy of using Syrian soil to attack Israel.

Russian leaders, too, are unhappy with Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and are not planning on using Moscow’s significant forces in Syria to limit Israel’s operations against Iran.

UN chief urges immediate halt to ‘hostile acts’ in Syria

The United Nations says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging “an immediate halt to all hostile acts” and provocative actions to avoid “a new conflagration” between Israel and Iran.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric tells reporters the UN peacekeeping force on the Golan Heights has maintained contact with the Syrian and Israeli militaries, “urging both parties to exercise maximum restraint” and abide by the 1974 cease-fire agreement.

He says the secretary-general followed “with utmost concern” overnight reports of missile launches from Syria targeting Israeli positions and retaliatory strikes by Israel and is relieved at Thursday’s “partial normalization of the situation.”

Dujarric says Guterres is “very engaged” and has been in contact “with various people at various levels” about the attacks.

— AP

Merkel calls Rouhani, condemns missile strike on Israel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office says she has condemned an Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the Golan Heights in a phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

She also reaffirmed European powers’ continued support for the Iran nuclear deal.

Merkel’s office says the two leaders spoke Thursday. It says in a statement that Merkel underlined the support of Germany, France, and Britain for the nuclear deal so long as Tehran continues to fulfill its obligations under that agreement. Merkel advocated opening talks with Iran on its ballistic missile programs and its activities in countries such as Syria and Yemen.

The statement says Merkel condemned the overnight attacks on Israeli positions “and called on Iran to contribute to de-escalation in the region.” It didn’t say how Rouhani responded.

— AP

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
Live updates (closed)

Germany’s Merkel: Israel-Iran escalation could bring war

The latest escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran in Syria is a matter of “war and peace” for the region, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns Thursday.

“The escalation of the last hours show us that it’s really about war and peace,” says Merkel.