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Arab League chief calls for international probe of Gaza violence

At meeting Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, Ahmed Abul Gheit demands ‘credible investigation into the crimes committed by the occupation’

Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit attends the Arab Foreign Minister's meeting in Cairo on July 27, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)
Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit attends the Arab Foreign Minister's meeting in Cairo on July 27, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

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

Turkey says it’s working with Palestinians on taking Israel to ICC

Turkey’s foreign minister calls for Israel to be tried at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Turkish media reports.

“Israel should be taken to the International Criminal Court” over the deaths of some 60 Palestinians during Monday’s protests at the Gaza border fence.

“Since third parties cannot do it, Palestine needs to initiate this,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says in an interview with state broadcaster TRT, according to a translation by the Hurriyet Daily News.

Cavusoglu adds that Turkey is working to help the Palestinians initiate the war crimes appeal to the ICC.

“We are analyzing what kind of legal steps can be taken [against Israel],” he says, adding, “Israel should account for its actions.”

Iran denounces US and Saudi sanctions against Hezbollah

Iran’s foreign minister lashes out on Twitter at the US and Saudi Arabia for imposing sanctions on leaders of its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

“Israeli snipers shoot over 2,000 unarmed Palestinian protesters on a single day,” Mohammad Javad Zarif says in a tweet referring to protests and clashes on the Gaza border that killed some 60 people this week.

The “Saudi response, on eve of Ramadan? Collaboration with its US patron to sanction the first force to liberate Arab territory and shatter the myth of Israeli invincibility. Shame upon shame,” he says.

The United States and six Gulf Arab states announced sanctions Wednesday on the leadership of Hezbollah, as Washington seeks to step up economic pressure on Iran and its allies in the region after US President Donald Trump withdrew this month from the 2015 nuclear deal.

The US and Saudi-led Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center said the sanctions were aimed at Hezbollah’s Shura Council, the powerful Lebanese group’s decision-making body, led by its secretary general Hassan Nasrallah.

— AFP

Hamas says Israel rejecting prisoner exchange deal

Hamas says Israel is rejecting a prisoner exchange deal.

In a tweet, the terror group says, “We have tried to make progress and achieve another prisoner exchange deal, but all of our efforts have been rejected by the Israeli Occupation and its leadership is not ready to conclude a deal.”

There is no confirmation from Israel.

In veiled shot at Trump, Tillerson warns US democracy at risk

Former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson takes a veiled shot at US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, warning that a growing national crisis of ethics and integrity has put American democracy at risk.

In remarks to graduates of the Virginia Military Institute, Tillerson laments assaults on facts that he says would lead to a loss of freedom if not countered. And he says that only societies able to pursue the truth and challenge alternate realities can be truly free.

“When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem to be the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America,” Tillerson says. “If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society among our leaders in both public and private sector, and regrettably at times in the nonprofit sector, then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”

Tillerson does not mention his former boss by name Wednesday but alludes to some policies of the Trump administration by decrying those who neglect or ignore long-standing allies or deny that free trade is an engine of global growth.

“We must never take these long-held allies for granted,” he says, in apparent reference to Trump overruling the advice of his former top diplomat and others and withdrawing from some international agreements, threatening import tariffs.

— AP

Iran signs oil deal with UK group as France’s Total exits

Iranian state TV is reporting that the country has signed an agreement with a British consortium to develop an oil field, just as another major company, France’s Total, says it will withdraw from Iran because of the renewed US sanctions.

The new agreement is the first between Iran and a company from a key Western ally of the United States since Washington last week announced it will pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers. The US says it is reinstalling sanctions against Iran.

Managing Director of Pergas International Consortium Colin Rowley, and Bijan Alipour, managing director of National Iranian South Oil Co., sign a preliminary deed on the partnership in the presence of British Ambassador Rob Macaire in Tehran on Wednesday night.

The project, if the agreement turns into a contract, will require more than $1 billion to produce 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day during the next decade in the 55-year-old Karanj oil field. The oil field is located in the country’s oil-rich province and currently produces 120,000 barrels of crude per day.

— AP

Denmark’s Maersk Tankers ends Iran shipping after renewed US sanctions

Danish shipping group Maersk Tankers says it would cease its activities in Iran due to the US decision to leave the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions against Tehran.

Maersk Tankers will honor customer agreements entered into before May 8, but then wind them down by November 4, “as required by the reimposed US sanctions,” the company tells AFP.

The group says it “has been transporting cargoes for customers in and out of Iran on a limited basis,” without providing precise figures for its activities.

A former subsidiary of the Danish maritime group AP Moller-Maersk, Maersk Tankers was in October 2017 sold for $1.17 billion to APMH Invest, a subsidiary of the investment firm A.P. Moller Holding.

Washington announced in early May that it would withdraw from the agreement and reimpose sanctions against Tehran.

— AFP

Paraguay to open Jerusalem embassy next week

ASUNCION, Paraguay — Paraguay’s government says President Horacio Cartes will open the country’s new embassy to Israel in Jerusalem on Tuesday, following similar steps by the United States and Guatemala.

Government spokesman Mariano Mercado says Cartes will leave for the trip on Saturday.

The decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem has been controversial in Paraguay. It comes less than two months before Mario Abdo Benitez replaces Cartes, and the president-elect has said he wasn’t consulted.

Israel claims the entire city as its eternal capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their future capital and were infuriated by the embassy moves.

— AP

Missile defense sirens are sounding on the Golan Heights

Missile alert sirens are sounding on the Golan Heights, including near the town of Katzrin.

There is no immediate confirmation of a rocket attack.

Residents of northern Golan told to enter bomb shelters

Northern Golan residents are ordered to enter bomb shelters.

Israel court declines to delay expelling HRW official

An Israeli court rejects Human Rights Watch’s request for its country director to remain in Israel until an appeal against his expulsion is heard, the affected official tells AFP.

HRW’s Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir, a US citizen, now has one week to leave Israel, he tells AFP.

“The judge rejected our request for an interim order that would allow me to stay in the country so the case could be heard,” Shakir says, after the ruling by a district court. “The judge gave me until May 24 to leave.”

HRW intends to appeal to the supreme court, he says.

The interior ministry announced on May 8 it had terminated Shakir’s residency permit over accusations he previously supported a boycott of Israel.

Shakir rejects the allegation and says Israel is seeking to silence his group’s criticism.

— AFP

Golan residents said to hear explosions

Golan Heights residents are reporting to Hebrew-language media that they are hearing explosions as rocket alert sirens sound throughout the northern part of the plateau.

Sirens are sounding in the villages of Kela, Shaal, Ortal, Alonei Habashan, Merom Golan and Zivan.

Golan residents say Syria-launched rocket felled by Iron Dome

No missiles land in Israeli territory on the Golan Heights after missile defense sirens sounded along the plateau’s northern border with Syria, according to initial reports.

Residents are telling Hebrew-language media that they witnessed an Iron Dome missile intercept an incoming rocket from Syria.

Petrol bomb-carrying kites start fires near Gaza border

A brush fire break out near Nahal Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border fence, after a petrol bomb-carrying kite lands in a field.

At least four fire-starting kites were flown over the Gaza-Israel border today, according to fire and rescue officials.

Golan sirens caused by drone from Syria entering Israeli airspace

A first official statement comes from authorities about the missile defense sirens heard a short time ago on the Golan Heights.

An unmanned aerial vehicle penetrated Israeli airspace over the northern Golan before it was shot down, the Golan regional council tells residents in a message.

The Israeli missile that intercepted the drone is what appears to have set off the incoming rocket alert system, the local government says.

Golan residents are clear to come out of their bomb shelters.

— Judah Ari Gross

IDF says reports of Syrian-launched drone entering Israel are incorrect

The IDF says reports of a Syrian-launched drone being shot down over the northern Golan Heights a short time ago are incorrect.

The missile defense sirens that sounded in six villages in the northern Golan were a false alarm, the army says.

The report of a drone being shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system was first made by the local council in the northern Golan Heights.

Buenos Aires teacher defends Hitler and justifies anti-Semitism

A teacher in a Catholic high school in Buenos Aires repeated anti-Semitic stereotypes and said Hitler did “good things” in a 2015 lesson caught on camera.

History teacher Denise Yanet Evequoz told her students that Hitler was demonized when the United States entered World War II and seemed to justify why Europe was “always anti-Semitic.”

“Jews took advantage of the people who needed money, they loaned the money and then they chased them to get their money back, always with interest. They had the money but they did not help Germany improve. They did not help the people to generate employment nor to create industries. This generated a certain hatred towards Jews,” Evequoz said in a lesson recorded in 2015, which was posted on social media this week.

Evequoz is a teacher at the Jesus Maestro high school in Castelar, a neighborhood in the western area of Greater Buenos Aires. The class was recorded by a student and the video since Monday has gone viral.

— JTA

Arab League chief calls for international probe into Israel ‘crimes’

Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit calls for an international probe into alleged “crimes” committed by Israeli forces against Palestinians during deadly violence along the Gaza border this week.

“We call for a credible international investigation into the crimes committed by the occupation,” Abul Gheit says at the opening session of an extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Thursday to discuss the violence.

Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting for seven weeks to be able to return to their historic homes they fled in 1948 and which later became part of Israel. The violence happened on the same day that the United States opened its Israel embassy in Jerusalem.

— AFP

IDF repeats warnings to crop dusters not to fly close to Gaza

The IDF on Wednesday night barred Israeli crop dusting planes from flying near the Gaza border out of fear that they could be hit by gunfire from the territory.

Machine gun fire from Gaza struck homes in the Israeli city of Sderot Wednesday.

In a letter sent to area residents, Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority said the Air Force would not allow crop sprayers within six kilometers (3.5 miles) of the border.

On Thursday afternoon the army relaxed its ban and allowed planes to go within 1.5 kilometers of the border.

Police say Jerusalem stabbing attack prevented on Jerusalem Day

The Israel Police reveal that Border Police officers arrested a 30-year-old Palestinian on Sunday after he attempted to enter Israel at the Qalandiya checkpoint with an expired entry permit and a knife.

In questioning, investigators learned he allegedly intended to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Sunday, when Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day.

Prosecutors filed paperwork in preparation for an indictment at the Ofer Military Court in the West Bank, and the man’s remand is extended by eight days on Thursday.

He is expected to be charged with attempted murder, preparations for carrying out a terror attack, and illegal possession of a knife.

EU vows to block blow of US Iran sanctions

The EU says it will begin moves to block the effect of US sanctions on Iran as efforts to preserve the nuclear deal with Tehran deepen a transatlantic rift.

The decision comes as Russia and China take some of their most concrete moves yet to extend their economic influence in Iran, in the face of renewed US efforts to choke off Tehran.

US President Donald Trump last week controversially pulled Washington out of the 2015 international deal with Iran that placed limits on its nuclear program in return for easing economic sanctions.

European companies that invested in Iran after the deal are already taking fright, with French energy giant Total warning it could pull out, and Danish shipping giant Maersk and German insurer Allianz also saying they plan to wind down activities there.

After EU leaders discuss Iran at a Thursday meeting in Bulgaria, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker says the bloc would start measures on Friday to ease the effect of the US sanctions on European companies.

“We will begin the ‘blocking statute’ process, which aims to neutralize the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions in the EU. We must do it and we will do it tomorrow morning at 10:30,” Juncker says at the summit in Sofia.

— AFP

Israel denies Hamas claim that it walked away from prisoner exchange talks

Israel’s top official charged with recovering the bodies of two fallen soldiers held by Hamas in Gaza and two Israeli citizens being held by the terror group denies Hamas’s claim today that Israel is refusing to discuss prisoner exchanges.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar echoes the group’s Twitter statement earlier today and claims that Israel has retreated from talks on returning the Israelis.

Yaron Blum says the claim is untrue, and that Hamas is welcome to contact the intermediaries who pass messages between Israel and the group in order to jumpstart talks on a prisoner exchange.

4 held for stabbing, critically wounding Eritrean asylum seeker

Four Israelis are arrested on suspicion of stabbing and critically wounding an Eritrean asylum seeker in Netanya on Sunday after he refused to give them money.

One of the suspects has a history of being hospitalized for mental illness, according to the Haaretz daily.

Security cameras at the scene of the incident documented the attack.

Police are not commenting on a possible racist motive behind the attack. The investigation continues.

Merkel signals no wide-ranging compensation over Iran sanctions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is signaling it won’t be feasible to offer wide-ranging compensation to European companies affected by US sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.

US President Donald Trump last week withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but European signatories vowed to salvage it. Merkel says Thursday after EU leaders met in Bulgaria that “all European Union member states still stand by this agreement.”

But she is cautious about possible compensation for companies that do business with Iran. She says that “we can see whether we can give small and medium-sized companies certain relief. That is being examined.”

However, Merkel adds: “As for compensating all businesses in a comprehensive way for such measures by the United States of America, I think we cannot and must not create illusions.”

— AP

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IDF repeats warnings to crop dusters not to fly close to Gaza

The IDF on Wednesday night barred Israeli crop dusting planes from flying near the Gaza border out of fear that they could be hit by gunfire from the territory.

Machine gun fire from Gaza struck homes in the Israeli city of Sderot Wednesday.

In a letter sent to area residents, Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority said the Air Force would not allow crop sprayers within six kilometers (3.5 miles) of the border.

On Thursday afternoon the army relaxed its ban and allowed planes to go within 1.5 kilometers of the border.