The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.
Army reports gunshots heard along Lebanon border
Gunshots have been heard along the Israeli-Lebanese border, the army says.
No injuries or damage are reported.
The shots were heard from a site near the Israeli community of Metula, where the Defense Ministry is building a new concrete border wall.
The UNIFIL peacekeeping force, which operates in southern Lebanon, says it is unaware of the incident.
“At the moment the situation is calm and we haven’t witnessed any incidents or heard shots along the Blue Line. We will keep on checking,” a UNIFIL spokesperson says, referring to the internationally recognized line separating Israel from Lebanon.
— Judah Ari Gross
Ultra-Orthodox minister compares secular mayoral candidate in Jerusalem to devil
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has compared Jerusalem’s secular mayoral candidate Ofer Berkovitch to the devil, a video released today shows.
The publication of the remarks by Deri, who heads the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, comes just two days before the runoff for Jerusalem mayor, which will pit Berkovitch against Moshe Lion, the majority of whose support comes from the city’s Haredi population.
“The devil issued a tzav 8 and drafted all his soldiers to my great sorrow. The devil is enlisting everyone,” says Deri in the video released today, referring to an emergency army call-up order.
In the video, which was filmed at a Shas event in Jerusalem last week, Deri also claimed Berkovitch would “desecrate Jerusalem.”
Teen moderately hurt by tent post during IDF tryout
An Israeli teenager is moderately injured while putting up a tent during a tryout for an IDF combat unit, the army says.
The teen has been taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
The military says he was hit by a metal tent post while constructing the tent.
— Judah Ari Gross
Netanyahu and wife said to show up late to WWI ceremony in Paris
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara showed up late to a ceremony of world leaders in Paris marking 100 years since the end of World War I, Channel 10 news reports.
But a source in the Prime Minister’s Office tells the network the couple arrived on time to where they were told by event organizers to be.
Netanyahu dines at Macron’s table alongside Trump, Putin
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting 130 world leaders and dignitaries for lunch at the presidential Elysee Palace now that the ceremony commemorating the armistice that ended World War I has finished.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are at the head table near Macron. Other guests at the host’s table include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Moroccan King Mohammed VI, Spain’s King Felipe VI and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The companions of head of states and government were invited to a lunch hosted by France’s first lady, Brigitte Macron, at the Palace of Versailles west of Paris. A private concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is set to follow.
Iran upholds prison sentence for official convicted of spying
TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian appeals court has upheld the 10-year prison sentence of a former Foreign Ministry official convicted of spying.
The semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday quotes judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi as saying the court upheld Kamal Amirbeig’s sentence and fined him $200,000. The report does not provide further information.
Iran rarely discloses the names or occupations of alleged spies.
Authorities have jailed several dual nationals in recent years on espionage charges. Rights groups have criticized those detentions, suggesting hardliners in the judiciary are jailing Iranians with Western passports to use them as bargaining chips.
The US and Israel both view Iran as a regional menace, and are believed to have carried out past intelligence operations targeting its nuclear program.
Spanish, French police break up ring smuggling Palestinians into Europe
MADRID — Police in Spain and France have smashed a criminal ring suspected of smuggling hundreds of Palestinians into Europe through fraudulent asylum claims, Spanish police say Sunday.
Officers arrested nine people, including the suspected leader of the network, in the two countries as part of the operation carried out with European police agency Europol, a Spanish police statement says.
Police suspect that since January 2018 the group flew around 1,200 Palestinians living in Middle Eastern countries via Bolivia to Madrid, where they would then make a “fraudulent asylum request.”
“Instead of continuing with the administrative procedures related to their asylum request, they were transported by the organization to Belgium and Germany in minivans,” the statement says.
The ring charged around 8,000 euros ($9,000) per person to provide them with fake travel documents issued to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and organize the trip, earning at least 9 million euros ($10.2 million) with the scheme.
Five people were arrested in Spain and four in France. Police says the group’s “main base of operations” was in the northern French city of Amiens.
Spanish police started their investigation after detecting an increase in the number of Palestinians requesting asylum at Madrid airport.
Transportation minister orders expansion of key highway after fatal crashes
Transportation Minister Israel Katz orders plans to be drawn up for expanding Route 90 following a series of fatal car crashes on the highway.
The road, which is Israel’s longest, runs north to south along Israel’s eastern border from Metula to Eilat.
As part of the plan, Route 90 will be expanded to two lanes in each direction with an option to add a third lane.
The announcement comes after a number of deadly crashes on the highway, with 17 people killed in recent weeks.
Minister says ‘political prattle’ over Gaza undermining Israel’s security
Housing Minister Yoav Gallant condemns coalition infighting over Israel’s response to violence emanating from the Gaza Strip and expresses backing for the transfer of Qatari funds to the coastal enclave to pay the salaries of civil service employees.
“The political prattle on security issues is damaging us and it is advisable to stop it,” Gallant says at a real estate conference.
“If we fight we don’t stutter,” he adds.
Gallant does not directly call out any ministers, though Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett have engaged in an ongoing public squabble over Israel’s security policy toward Gaza since the start of Hamas-led clashes on the border in March.
Asked his opinion on the transfer of $15 million in Qatari cash to Gaza on Friday, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was meant to help stave off a humanitarian crisis in the Strip, Gallant says Israel should exhaust all other options before launching a war.
“War is the last option. I know what I’m talking about. I brought Hamas to its knees,” says Gallant, who was head of the IDF’s Southern Command during the 2008-2009 Gaza war.
Netanyahu speaks with Putin in Paris — Russian media
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin while the two were in Paris for Armistice Day commemorations, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports, citing the Kremlin.
The news agency does not report on any details of Netanyahu’s conversation with Putin.
Netanyahu’s office had been working to organize a sit-down with Putin while the prime minister was in Paris in what would be their first meeting since Syrian air defenses downed a Russian military plane during an Israeli airstrike in Syria.
Russia has blamed Israel for the incident, in which 15 Russian servicemen were killed, a charge rejected by Jerusalem.
Netanyahu says talks with Putin ‘good, substantive’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describes talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin Paris as “good,” “substantive” and important” but does not reveal any details on what was discussed.
Netanyahu is giving a press conference to Israeli reporters in Paris.
Netanyahu again denies knowledge of corruption in submarines case
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deflects questions from reporters on police recommendations to indict a number of his close associates over alleged corruption in the purchase of naval vessels.
“Wait for the end of the field trial. There are field trials and media trials,” Netanyahu says, while reiterating he was unaware of any wrongdoing in the case.
Netanyahu says doing everything possible to avoid ‘unnecessary war’ in Gaza
Netanyahu says he’s doing everything he can to avoid an “unnecessary war” in Gaza.
The prime minister is speaking at a press conference in Paris, where he was asked about the transfer of Qatari funds to Gaza to pay the salaries of civil service workers.
Netanyahu: Goal in Gaza is to reach ‘lasting ceasefire’
Netanyahu says his goal for the Gaza Strip is to reach a “lasting ceasefire.”
Speaking at a press conference in Paris, he says his top priority is to achieve a sustained decrease in violence along the border and only then to work on reaching a long-term agreement with Hamas.
The prime minister also warns Israel is prepared to “employ force” in Gaza if the relative decrease in violence dissipates.
UN chief sees ‘parallels’ between run-up to WWII and present day
PARIS — UN chief Antonio Guterres warns of “parallels” between the present day and the unstable and dangerous 1930s as he marks the centenary of World War I in a speech in Paris.
“As I see it, several elements today have many parallels with both the start of the twentieth century and the 1930s, giving us grounds to fear that an unpredictable chain of events could ensue,” Guterres says at the Paris Peace Forum.
Merkel warns against ‘blinkered nationalism,’ threats to EU
PARIS — German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns of “blinkered nationalism” and the danger of people questioning the “European peace project” in a speech to mark the centenary of World War I on Sunday.
“The concern I have is that blinkered nationalist views may gain ground once again,” Merkel tells an audience of fellow leaders at the Paris Peace Forum.
Merkel warns that the benefits of international cooperation, “the peaceful balancing of interests, even the European peace project — people are calling them into question again.”
Polish leaders mark alongside far-right to mark country’s rebirth after WWI
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s president, prime minister and other top leaders lead an Independence Day march that includes members of nationalist organizations, the first time Polish state officials have marched with the far-right groups.
Some 200,000 people march in Warsaw to mark the 100th anniversary of Poland’s rebirth as an independent state at the end of World War I, according to an initial estimate by police.
Over the past decade, nationalist organizations have held Independence Day marches on November 11 which have included racist slogans, flares and in some years, acts of aggression.
President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the powerful leader of the conservative ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, march in a group led by soldiers with a large flag bearing the words “For You Poland.”
Walking a small distance behind them are the nationalists, many of them burning flares, creating flashes of red light and smoke. Many in that contingent carry national flags, but a handful of other emblems are observed.
Those include the flag of the National Radical Camp, a far-right group that was one of the main march organizers. The camp’s flag has a falanga, a far-right symbol dating to the 1930s of a stylized hand with a sword.
There are also a few flags of Forza Nuova, an Italian group whose leader, Roberto Fiore, describes himself as fascist.
Abbas accuses US, Israel and Hamas of blocking Palestinian statehood
Palestinians on Sunday mark 14 years since the death of their late leader Yasser Arafat, with his successor as Palestinian Authority president laying a wreath at his tomb in Ramallah in the West Bank on Sunday.
After paying tribute to “the leader of the nation and the leader of the martyrs,” Mahmoud Abbas accuses Israel and the United States of seeking to sabotage Palestinian statehood through a nascent peace plan that President Donald Trump calls “the ultimate deal.”
“There is an American conspiracy through the ultimate agreement and the Israelis are conspiring to implement it,” he says.
Abbas suspended diplomatic contact with Washington following Trump’s 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Abbas adds that Hamas, his bitter rival which rules the Gaza Strip, was also hindering the cause.
“Another plot, by Hamas, aims to disrupt the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” he says.
Government freezes bill allowing seizure of church lands
Israel has postponed discussion on a bill that would allow the state to seize church lands that have been sold to private developers.
Under pressure from church leaders, the Israeli government on Sunday freezes debate on the contentious bill. Israel’s churches have repeatedly blocked the legislation, claiming it could allow Israel to expropriate valuable properties.
The bill’s sponsor, lawmaker Rachel Azaria, says church leaders have misinterpreted the bill. She says she is trying to protect thousands of residents living in buildings built on leased church lands.
Azaria says residents could face massive price hikes or even eviction from private developers when their leases expire in the coming decades. The uncertainty has caused property values to plummet.
Azaria says she hopes to reach a settlement with the churches in the coming weeks.
Gabbay calls on Netanyahu to resign for saying no diplomatic solution to Gaza
The head of the opposition Zionist Union alliance calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign for saying there is no diplomatic solution for the Gaza Strip.
“Netanyahu transfers money to Gaza in suitcases, and to the children of the Gaza area, he says, ‘I have no solution,'” Avi Gabbay says in a statement, referring to the entry of Qatari money into the Strip over the weekend.
“They will continue to sleep at night because of the terror threat. A prime minister who says he has no solution to terror must lay down the keys,” he adds.
Gabbay calls for the return of Palestinian Authority control over Gaza, describing his solution as “strengthening the moderates and not paying protection money to Hamas.”
Report: Netanyahu says he’s ready to step down but has no suitable successor
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a former senior legal official he is willing to resign as premier, but there is no one sufficiently qualified to replace him, Channel 10 news report.
“I’m ready to leave my role as prime minister tomorrow, but I have no one with whom to leave the keys,” it quotes Netanyahu as saying.
Though the report does not say when the conversation took place, it says the prime minister was not speaking with his unnamed interlocutor in reference to ongoing criminal investigations in which he is a suspect.
Netanyahu’s Likud party denies the prime minister every said such a thing.
“We suggest that everyone not to rely on this,” it tells the network.
Netanyahu said to warn crisis with Russia over downed plane worse than thought
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the security cabinet that the crisis in ties with Russia following the downing of a Russian jet by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles during an Israeli strike is worse than initially believed, Hadashot TV news reports.
“The crisis with Putin is far worse than we thought,” the network quotes Netanyahu saying following his trip to Bulgaria last week.
Russia has blamed Israel for the downing of the plane, a charge denied by Jerusalem, and, in recent weeks, has ramped up its criticism of Israeli airstrikes in Syria.
“Putin sees the downing of the plane as a personal affront to his prestige and this is an important component in his perception of power,” Netanyahu reportedly said.
“Therefore, this is a strategic blow that made the crisis worse,” he is said to have added.
Police defend handling of submarines probe after criticism by ex-defense chief
The Israel Police defend their probe into alleged corruption in the purchase of naval vessels after a former defense minister implies they sought to prevent publication of details in the case.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is not a suspect in the case, has come under fire in recent days, from opposition figures who have questioned his assertion he was not aware of alleged criminality by a number of his close associates.
“We wish to clarify that the investigation was conducted in a thorough and professional manner with the sole purpose of clarifying the truth. The claims that Case 3000 was limited or narrowed by any senior law enforcement officials is a false claim, without any factual basis,” police say in a statement.
The statement comes shortly after former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, who has accused Netanyahu of corruption in relation to the case, wrote a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit questioning the thoroughness of the investigation.
“The manner in which the investigation was conducted raises tough questions for me of a deliberate effort not to uncover the truth in this affair, which deals with the holy of holies of the state’s security,” Ya’alon writes.
Israeli drones said to launch strikes in Gaza
Israeli drones conduct a series of raids in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian media report.
The nature of the strikes is not immediately known.
The air raids are said to target sites near the Gaza city of Khan Younis.
The Israeli military refuses to comment on the reports.
— Judah Ari Gross
Southern Israelis told to stay near bomb shelters amid reports of Gaza clashes
Residents of southern Israel are instructed to remain close to bomb shelters or other protected spaces following reports of clashes between the IDF and the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.
“In accordance with army instructions: You should remain close to a protected space, or the most protected space possible,” residents of the Eshkol region of southern Israel are told in a text message.
The Eshkol region has been one of the hardest hit areas in the sporadic rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip in recent months.
— Judah Ari Gross
Southern residents ordered to stay indoors
Residents of communities that border the Gaza Strip and several other towns in Israel’s south have been ordered to stay indoors by the IDF’s Homefront Command, amid reported Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets.
Israeli drones bombed a number of targets near the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday night, killing two people, including a senior Hamas commander, according to Palestinian media reports.
Rocket sirens heard in Israeli towns on Gaza border
Rocket sirens sound in southern Israel, sending thousands of Israelis to bomb shelters, amid clashes between Israel and the Hamas terror group.
The alarms are heard in the Eshkol region, east of southern Gaza.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
With PM abroad, PMO unable to say who is in charge of calling security cabinet
The Prime Minister’s Office is not immediately able to say which government minister has been appointed in charge of calling a security cabinet meeting, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu currently abroad.
Since coming to power in 2009, Netanyahu has never named a permanent designated replacement, who would automatically take over leadership of the country if he were unexpectedly indisposed or removed from office by impeachment.
Instead, each time he travels abroad, Netanyahu names a different senior Likud minister as his temporary stand-in. Sometimes, that minister is not a member of the Security Cabinet — which is tasked with outlining and implementing foreign and defense policy — and another minister is therefore tasked with calling that forum if needed.
Netanyahu returns from France tomorrow.
— Raoul Wootliff
Five Palestinians said killed in airstrikes
The Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry updates the number of people killed in clashes with the IDF to five, including a battalion commander in the terror group’s military wing.
Seven other people are said wounded in gunfights with Israeli troops and raids by Israeli aircraft.
PM holding operational consultations from abroad
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly holding operational consultations with IDF commanders, while currently abroad in France.
His office has not yet said whether the prime misntier plans to cut his trip short.
He is currently scheduled to meet with French President Emanuel Macron tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time, before rerunning to Israel.
With Netanyahu abroad, Regev and Liberman left in charge
With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of the country, Culture Minister Miri Regev is the acting premier.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, however, is in charge of convening the high-level security cabinet, of which Regev is not a member.
Army imposes restrictions on Israeli schools, work near Gaza
The Israeli military orders that schools be closed in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip tomorrow in light of ongoing clashes in the Palestinian enclave.
Israelis in the border communities will also only be allowed to go to work if they have ready access to a bomb shelter.
The number of people allowed to gather indoors is also limited to 300.
In addition, farmers will not be allowed to work in their fields near the border, the army says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Gaza fighting said sparked by IDF special op gone awry
Hamas says elite Israeli soldiers crossed the border into Gaza in a civilian car in a special operation to assassinate a terror group commander.
According to the terror group’s account, the Israeli unit was unmasked, prompting air forces to come to its aid and extract the troops from the territory.
The Israeli army has yet to publicly give a detailed account of what prompted the violence clash, but said all of the Israeli soldiers are “back in Israel.”
“IDF operated in the Gaza Strip, exchange of gunfire ensued. All IDF soldiers back in Israel. Several alarms have sounded in Southern Israel. More to follow,” says spokesman Jonathan Conricus.
Quick recap so far: IDF operated in the Gaza Strip, exchange of gunfire ensued. All IDF soldiers back in Israel. Several alarms have sounded in Southern Israel. More to follow.
— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) November 11, 2018
Hamas confirms military commander assassinated
Hamas’s military wing confirms the assassination of commander Qassam Brigades Nour Barakah by Israeli special forces, who had been driving a “civilian vehicle” three kilometers from the Gaza border.
The Israeli squad became exposed after taking out Barakah and was forced to retreat back to the other side of the fence under the cover of aerial bombardment, the statement from the military wing says.
Which led to the martyrdom of a number of our people, and the event continues and our forces are dealing with this dangerous Zionist aggression.
— Shehab News (@ShehabAgencyEn) November 11, 2018
— Jacob Magid
Hamas identifies 6 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza identifies the casualties in the exchange of fire that followed the assassination of senior Hamas commander Nour Baraka as: Nouriddin Salama, 37, Mohammad al-Qarra, 23, Alaa Qweeder, 22, Mustafa abu-Odeh, 21, and Mahmoud Musabbeh, 25.
— Jacob Magid
IDF says photo of alleged car used in Gaza raid is ‘totally fake’
A photo of the alleged “civilian vehicle” used by Israeli special forces in Gaza circulates on social media.
The IDF says it is “totally fake.”
— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) November 11, 2018
Israelis in south gird for tense night ahead
Israelis in the south are facing a tense night ahead, after a violent Israeli-Hamas clash in Gaza, the details of which remain hazy.
Rocket sirens have sounded half a dozen times since the outbreak of fighting, with the army saying two rockets were fired from Gaza and intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Israeli pundits are describing the incident as “exceptional” in its seriousness. But the army has yet to provide its account of the fighting, several hours after the firefight.