IDF confirms strikes on southern Gaza
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Ya’alon: Israel will not tolerate any Hamas aggression

Defense chief says Gaza terrorists must understand that attempts to disrupt life will be met with severe blow

  • Illustrative: The IDF excavation of a recently discovered tunnel running from Gaza into the Eshkol region of southern Israel on May 5, 2016. (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    Illustrative: The IDF excavation of a recently discovered tunnel running from Gaza into the Eshkol region of southern Israel on May 5, 2016. (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
  • This combination of pictures shows Turkish Prime Minister and leader of Turkey's ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ahmet Davutoglu (left) in Ankara on May 3, 2016 and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) delivering a speech in Ankara on February 24, 2016
(ADEM ALTAN / AFP)
    This combination of pictures shows Turkish Prime Minister and leader of Turkey's ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ahmet Davutoglu (left) in Ankara on May 3, 2016 and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) delivering a speech in Ankara on February 24, 2016 (ADEM ALTAN / AFP)
  • A World War II veteran stands next to wreaths during the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on May 5, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON)
    A World War II veteran stands next to wreaths during the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on May 5, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON)
  • Former Israeli president Shimon Peres in The Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv on July 27, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Former Israeli president Shimon Peres in The Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv on July 27, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • A World War II veteran walks past an honor guard of Israeli soldiers during the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on May 5, 2016. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)
    A World War II veteran walks past an honor guard of Israeli soldiers during the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on May 5, 2016. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)
  • Young Jews from all over the world participate in the March of the Living ceremony at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day, on May 5, 2016. (Photo by Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)
    Young Jews from all over the world participate in the March of the Living ceremony at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day, on May 5, 2016. (Photo by Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)

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

Voters in heavily Jewish north London turned away from mayoral poll

The Jewish Chronicle says that multiple voters in Barnet, a north London borough with the capital’s highest number of Jewish residents, are experiencing problems voting for the city mayor, due to polling station staff having received incorrect lists of voters.

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis says he is among those prevented from voting.

An official for Barnet Council says the problem has “affected all 155 polling stations in the borough,” the JC reports.

Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith tells voters to try again later in the day, but Mirvis says this is out of the question for him as he is departing for the Netherlands today.

Goldsmith also writes on Facebook at about noon local time that the problems are now resolved.

IDF: Area of newly found Gaza tunnel is closed military zone

The IDF says that the area around a newly discovered tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory is a closed military zone.

The closure extends to two communities in the area, to which access is currently restricted only to residents, Ynet says.

2 Gaza rockets strike southern Israel; no injuries reported

Two rockets fired from Gaza land in Israeli territory along the border with the Hamas-ruled coastal strip.

There are no injuries or damage reported in the incident in Eshkol Regional Council, Channel 2 says.

The rocket fire comes as Israel announces it has uncovered a second tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel.

Turkish PM quits, announces snap vote for successor

Ahmet Davutoglu says he is stepping down as Turkish prime minister, and announces an extraordinary congress for the ruling AKP party on May 22, which will appoint his successor.

The announcement comes a day after reports that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was considering replacing Davutoglu with someone more willing to take a backseat role in his plans for a more powerful presidency.

— Agencies

IDF: Troops come under fire from Gaza; respond with tank shells

The IDF confirms that soldiers along the Gaza border came under fire from the Strip, shortly after reports of two rocket strikes from Gaza on southern Israel.

Troops respond with tank fire toward “suspicious” locations in Gaza, the army says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Report: Saudi troops battle Islamic State in Mecca

Saudi security forces carry out a successful operation in Mecca against what state television says are Islamic State fighters, Reuters reports.

“The security authorities succeeded in their operation against a number of Daesh [IS] partisans holed up at a recreational area in Mecca,” Reuters quotes the television station as saying.

Reuters adds that while the TV report offers no further details on the operation, Jeddah’s al-Okaz newspaper says the Saudi forces killed four wanted men in a gun battle in the Wadi Noman area, south of Mecca.

Trump: No message to ‘fans’ who swamped reporter with anti-Semitic abuse

Donald Trump says he has no message for his “fans” who deluged a reporter with anti-Semitic comments after she wrote a critical profile of his wife.

“You’ll have to talk to them about it,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee tells CNN of the abusive phone calls, emails and social media posts received by Julia Ioffe after her story appears in GQ.

“I don’t have a message to the fans, a woman wrote an article that was inaccurate,” he says. Trump says he has not read the article but heard it is nasty.”

The real estate magnate’s daughter and son-in-law are Orthodox Jews. Trump has previously come under criticism for his apparent reluctance to reject an endorsement from former KKK leader David Duke.

— JTA

Peres hosting ‘Mini World Cup for Peace’ for Israelis and Palestinians

Former president Shimon Peres is hosting a “Mini World Cup for Peace” on Monday in Herzliya, including soccer players from Israel’s Premier League, foreign diplomats, local mayors, and 300 Israeli and Palestinian children.

A team of professional soccer players will play against a team of foreign diplomats and local politicians in a tournament that will “convey a message of tolerance and and end to racism” in soccer, says a statement from the Peres Center for Peace.

The exhibition match will be held in memory of Johan Cruyff, the legendary Dutch soccer player whose son Jordi is sports director at Maccabi Tel Aviv. Johan Cryuff, says the Peres Center, “was a major supporter over the years of education for coexistence and tolerance through football in Israel.”

Shin Bet nabs Hamas terrorist, gets details on tunnels

The Shin Bet announces the arrest of a Hamas terrorist who it says has provided a great deal of information about the group’s tunnel activity.

Teh security service says 29-year-old Mahmoud Atawnah of the Hamas armed wing was arrested at the start of April when he crossed the Gaza border fence into Israeli territory, armed with two knives. During his investigation, Atawnah tells Shin Bet officials that he intended to kill Israeli soldiers or civilians.

The information from Atawnah includes details of tunnel routes in northern Gaza, Hamas excavation methods and the group’s use of homes and institutions to hide both tunnel mouths and weaponry.

— Ilan Ben Zion

PM, Ya’alon held tense talks after controversial remarks by deputy IDF chief

Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon held a “difficult” conversation overnight, before the publication of a clarification for a speech by Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan comparing the way in which some in Israel relate to the “other” with language used in Europe prior to the Holocaust.

Channel 2 says that the conversation between the prime minister and defense minister signals a deterioration in the relationship between the two.

Palestinian sources: IAF warplanes strike Gaza targets

Palestinian sources in Gaza say IAF warplanes are attacking targets in southern Gaza, in the area of the town of Rafah, Ynet reports.

Both former presidents Bush decline to endorse Trump, spokesmen say

Both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are declining to endorse Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee for president, the Guardian reports.

Spokesmen for the only two living former Republican presidents tell the paper that both will be sitting out the 2016 election. Sitting out the presidential election is a common statement in recent days from GOP politicians who will not endorse the controversial reality TV star and real estate mogul who has prevailed over all opposition in the party’s nationwide process to select a new leader.

IDF confirms strikes on southern Gaza

The IDF confirms that it has hit targets in southern Gaza, following mortar fire on troops along the border.

The army says in a statement that IAF warplanes hit four Hamas targets earlier today, in response to what it calls “ongoing attacks against Israeli forces.”

Ken Livingstone: Creation of Israel was ‘a great catastrophe’

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone tells an Arabic language TV station that the creation of Israel was “fundamentally wrong,” and “a great catastrophe.”

The Labour official, who has been suspended by his party for saying that Hitler supported Zionism “before he went mad,” tells the UK-based Al-Ghad Al-Arabi: “The creation of the State of Israel was a great catastrophe. We should have absorbed the post-WWII Jewish refugees in Britain and America. They could all have been resettled, whereas 70 years later, the situation is still very tense, and there is potential for many more wars, potential for nuclear war.”

Livingstone also advocates for an international boycott on Israeli products, telling his interviewer that “I never buy anything” that comes from Israel. “I like dates, but I don’t buy dates that come from Israel,” he says, according to the watchdog MEMRI group.

Trump says he would likely replace Yellen as Fed chair

Donald Trump says he has nothing against Janet Yellen but would likely replace her as Fed chair once her term is up.

In an interview with CNBC, the likely Republican presidential nominee says he thinks it would be appropriate for him to nominate someone else to lead the Fed since Yellen is not a Republican. President Barack Obama selected Yellen to succeed Republican Ben Bernanke. Her four-year term as Fed leader ends on Feb. 3, 2018.

Trump says he has “absolutely nothing against” Yellen, calling her a “very capable person.” While Yellen’s term as chair ends in 2018, she could remain as a governor on the Fed’s seven-member board. Her 14-year term as a Fed board member does not end until Jan. 31, 2024.

— AP

Palestinians: Youth hurt by IDF shelling in Gaza

A 21-year-old Palestinian man is lightly wounded by shrapnel when IDF tanks shell a neighborhood in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, the Walla website reports, citing Palestinian media outlets.

Hamas and the IDF have been trading fire along the border since Tuesday, and the army earlier today announced that it has uncovered a second tunnel leading from Gaza into Israeli territory.

PM convenes security cabinet over escalation in south

Netanyahu convenes an emergency meeting of the security cabinet for this evening, to discuss the escalation of violence along Israel’s southern border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot is also asked to attend the meeting, the Israeli media reports.

Report: Palestinian woman killed in IDF shelling in Gaza

A Palestinian woman is killed in IDF artillery fire in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, Channel 2 reports, quoting the Palestinian media.

A man is also seriously wounded in the shelling, reports from Gaza say.

Police probing killing of Palestinian siblings at West Bank crossing

Israel Police are investigating whether the killing of two Palestinian siblings by a security guard at the Qalandiya crossing into the West Bank last month is unlawful.

Maram Hassan Abu Ismail, 23, and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim Saleh Taha were shot dead after Abu Ismail hurled a knife at Israeli forces, according to the Israeli military.

The details of the investigation are under gag order imposed by Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

Hamas official: We don’t want confrontation with Israel

A senior member of the Hamas political echelon in Gaza says that the terror group does not wish to enter into a fresh conflict with Israel.

“We are not seeking a new confrontation with Israel, but are able to fight any violation of ceasefire understandings” from 2014, says Khalil al-Hayya, according to Ynet.

“We place responsibility for the aggression on Israel and continue contacts with Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations in order to restore calm,” he says, as the IDF and Hamas trade fire across the Gaza border.

 

David Duke: Trump victory wrests control from ‘Jewish extremists’

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praises Donald Trump’s Indiana primary victory, which makes him the presumptive GOP nominee, saying it has wrested control of the country from “Jewish extremists.”

Duke makes the statements on his radio program yesterday, a day after the primary win and on the same day that Trump’s two Republican rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, quit the race. The remarks are first reported by the watchdog group Right Wing Watch.

“[T]hese Jewish supremacists who control our country are the real problem, and the reason why America is not great,” Duke says during a six-minute rant. “Jewish chutzpah knows no bounds.”

— JTA

Pew: Clinton supporters more pro-Israel than Sanders supporters

Supporters of Hillary Clinton are more likely to favor Israel over the Palestinians (47 percent to 27 percent), while backers of Sen. Bernie Sanders are more likely to favor the Palestinians (39 percent to 33 percent for Israel), according to a survey by the Pew Research Center published today.

The survey finds that some 27% of millennials say they are more sympathetic to the Palestinians than Israel — a threefold increase from 2006, when the figure was 9%. The share of those favoring Israel has held steady at about 43 percent.

— JTA

At least 28 said dead in strikes on Syria refugee camp

At least 28 people are reported dead in a series of air strikes on a refugee camp in Idlib province, in an area of northern Syria held by rebels.

The BBC says that there is not yet any confirmation of reports that either Syrian or Russian warplanes are responsible for the strikes on the Kamounia camp, close to the Turkish border.

Ya’alon warns Hamas: Israel won’t tolerate attacks on its people

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warns Hamas that Israel will not tolerate any attempts to disrupt the lives of its citizens.

“Terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip need to know that if they try to disrupt our lives, they will receive a severe blow,” says Ya’alon at a service to mark the end of Holocaust Remembrance Day, after two days of tensions along Israel’s Gaza border.

“We will not tolerate a return to a routine of shooting and attempts to harm our civilians and soldiers,” the defense chief says.

“We will take firm action and with an iron fist, as we have in the past few days, against the terrorist organizations in the Strip, led by Hamas, which is responsible for the shooting and events in Gaza.”

ADL: Trump must disavow David Duke comments on Jews

ADL chief Jonathan A. Greenblatt calls on presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump to disavow comments by former leader KKK David Duke that his victory in the Indiana primaries has wrested control of the country from “Jewish extremists.”

“David Duke’s latest remarks – smearing Jews and Jewish Republicans specifically – are as unsurprising as they are hateful,” says Greenblatt in a statement released by the organization.

“The onus is now on Donald Trump to make unequivocally clear he rejects those sentiments and that there is no room for Duke and anti-Semitism in his campaign and in society,” he says. “Mr. Trump can and should speak up now. If not, his silence will speak volumes.”

Rivlin blasts Likud for engaging with Europe’s far-right

President Reuven Rivlin lays into his own Likud party for engaging with members of the far-right in Europe.

“A few weeks ago, Christian Strache, the leader of the Austrian party that brazenly calls itself the Freedom Party visited the country,” Rivlin says at a ceremony at Kibbutz Lohamei HaGeta’ot (the ghetto fighters kibbutz) to mark the end of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“He did not come as a courtesy call or for tourism, but due to an official invitation from representatives of the Israeli political world, and unfortunately, he is not the only one,” says Rivlin, in remarks carried by Haaretz newspaper.

“Sometimes I’m amazed at what appears to be an erosion of our national honor, in the face of a crackpot union with fraudulent voices on the extreme right in parts of Europe,” he says.

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IDF confirms strikes on southern Gaza

The IDF confirms that it has hit targets in southern Gaza, following mortar fire on troops along the border.

The army says in a statement that IAF warplanes hit four Hamas targets earlier today, in response to what it calls “ongoing attacks against Israeli forces.”