The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they happened.
Blue and White party chairman — and de facto opposition leader — MK Benny Gantz says Iran’s breaking of the uranium enrichment limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal leaves Israelis “united” against the threat of a nuclear-armed regime in Tehran.
“Israel is united and determined in the face of the Iranian threat,” the former IDF chief of staff says in a statement.
“Today it’s clear that Iran isn’t an Israeli problem, but an international problem. I call for a broad international alliance against Iran, stiffening of the sanctions and joint preparations for the possibility that Iran continues on its present course. At the same time, I’m certain and confident that the IDF and Israel’s security services are preparing constantly for any possible eventuality in that theater, and are capable of giving the political leadership the needed solutions to the threat to ensure that Iran never achieves a nuclear weapon.”
He adds: “In this election season, it’s important to emphasize that the Iranian threat is above all politics. We will give our backing and help to any decision the government takes to strengthen Israel’s security.”
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported earlier today that the country’s stockpile of 3.67 percent enriched uranium has now passed the 300-kilogram limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea hails the weekend meeting between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in the Demilitarized Zone as “historic,” as analysts say Pyongyang is looking to shape the narrative to its own agenda.
The two leaders agreed to “resume and push forward productive dialogues for making a new breakthrough in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the official Korean Central News Agency says.
After a Twitter invitation by the US president on Saturday, the two men met a day later in the strip of land that has divided the peninsula for 66 years since the end of the Korean War, when the two countries and their allies fought each other to a standstill. Kim and Trump shook hands over the concrete slabs dividing North and South before Trump walked a few paces into Pyongyang’s territory — the first US president ever to set foot on North Korean soil.
“The top leaders of the DPRK and the US exchanging historic handshakes at Panmunjom” was an “amazing event,” KCNA says, describing the truce village as a “place that had been known as the symbol of division” and referring to past “inglorious relations” between the countries.
KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 50 children are among nearly 100 people wounded today when the Taliban detonate a powerful car bomb in an area of Kabul housing military and government buildings, officials say.
The rush-hour blast, which sends a plume of smoke into the air and shakes buildings nearly two kilometers (1.2 miles) away, is followed by gunmen storming a building and triggering a gun battle with special forces in the Puli Mahmood Khan neighborhood of the Afghan capital.
The health ministry says at least one person had been killed and 93 wounded. Among them are 50 children, the education ministry says in a statement, adding that most had been hurt by flying glass and are in stable condition.
Some social media images purportedly taken at a hospital show wounded, stunned children in school uniforms, still clutching books as they arrive for treatment.
In its statement, the education ministry says five schools are partially damaged, and asks “all sides involved in fighting to guarantee the safety of students, teachers, education workers and schools.”
The Taliban-claimed attack comes just two days after the insurgents began a seventh round of talks with the US in Qatar as Washington eyes a breakthrough before Afghanistan’s September presidential election.
Ben Gurion Airport is preparing for a possibly rocky touchdown for a Boeing 737 plane expected to land at the airport at about 4 p.m. local time.
The plane, which belongs to Electra Air, took off from Cologne, Germany. Shortly after takeoff, ground crews in Cologne found pieces of one of the plane’s tires on the runway.
The plane has 152 passengers.
Officials don’t yet know which wheel is damaged, or the extent of the damage. As the plane comes in for a landing at Ben Gurion, it is slated to do a close fly-by of the control tower, to allow safety officials a view of the wheels.
Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid becomes the first senior UK cabinet minister in 19 years to visit Jerusalem’s Western Wall holy site.
According to a press release by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the body that administers the site, Javid, who is Muslim, related that “his father believed deeply in the connection between Jews and Muslims.”
Javid placed a note in between the stones of the wall.
Javid is on a two-day visit to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Important discussions with Palestinian National Authority PM @DrShtayyeh in Ramallah. A two-state solution is vital in ensuring long-term peace & security for Palestinians & Israelis pic.twitter.com/aDhLdQDl9i
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) June 30, 2019
Over 100 ambulances and their rescue crews are standing ready at Ben Gurion, some 45 minutes before the Electra Air 737 flight from Cologne, Germany, is set to land.
The plane carries 152 passengers, and is apparently flying with at least one severely damaged landing tire.
Ben Gurion Airport announces Emergency Condition 3, its highest emergency level as over 100 rescue crews, ambulances and fire trucks prepare to receive the Boeing 737 plane whose tire exploded during takeoff in Cologne, Germany.
Ramon Airport in the south is preparing to receive flights that might be diverted from Ben Gurion if the landing strip can’t be cleared quickly.
The flight, with 152 people on board, is scheduled to land at Ben Gurion in about 30 minutes, at 4:05 p.m. local time.
Neri Yarkoni, an expert in airplane safety, urges Israeli media not to exaggerate reports of the emergency landing taking place at Ben Gurion.
“We need to calm down. If it were so desperate, the plane wouldn’t have come this entire way, but would have landed in Europe,” he says of the Boeing 737 whose tire apparently exploded during takeoff in Cologne, Germany.
“The best thing for the pilots to do now is to land normally, and there’s a procedure for preventing the other wheels from exploding. The landing has to be as gentle as possible,” Yarkoni says.
Israeli Air Force jets are taking off to meet the damaged Boeing 737 headed to Ben Gurion.
At least one of the plane’s tires exploded on takeoff in Cologne a few hours ago, but officials don’t know which tire or what other damage might have been sustained to the plane’s landing gear.
The military jets will conduct close fly-bys of the plane to examine the damage and give authorities at Ben Gurion a clear sense of what to expect in the emergency landing, now slated for about 4:15 p.m.
The damaged Boeing 737-400 plane coming in to land at Ben Gurion Airport is now circling over the Mediterranean in order to shed fuel and reduce its weight when it lands.
Air Force fighter jets who have reached the Electra Air plane say the blown tire is one of the back left tires.
A Boeing 737-400 plane has two tires on each side, and two more under the nose.
The damaged tire has sent Ben Gurion Airport into its highest emergency level, level 3, for the first time in eight years.
There are 152 people aboard the plane.
The Boeing 737-400 with a blown tire is preparing to land, circling over Ben Gurion Airport.
Ben Gurion Airport freezes all landing and takeoffs moments before the damaged Electra Air flight is meant to land.
The damaged Boeing 737 plane lands safely at Ben Gurion Airport after officials had earlier declared the highest level of emergency over fears a blown tire could lead to a problematic landing.
The plane brakes with its engines in full reverse to avoid pressure on tires, officials say.
The Electra Air flight carries 152 people from Cologne, Germany, to Tel Aviv.
Rescuers are treating passengers for anxiety attacks, while firefighters are examining the damaged Boeing 737 after it lands safely at Ben Gurion Airport despite a blown tire.
VIENNA — The UN’s nuclear watchdog confirms that Iran has exceeded a limit on its enriched uranium reserves set by a 2015 nuclear deal.
The International Atomic Energy Agency “verified on July 1 that Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile exceeded 300 kilograms,” a spokesperson says, shortly after Tehran announced it had crossed the limit in retaliation over new US sanctions.
BEIRUT — The US military says it has struck an al-Qaeda leadership and training facility in northern Syria where attacks threatening Americans and others were being planned.
The US Central Command says in a statement that the strike occurred on Sunday near the northern province of Aleppo.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-linked war monitor, says today that the strike killed eight members of the al-Qaeda-linked Horas al-Din, which is Arabic for “Guardians of Religion.”
The Observatory says the dead include six commanders: two Algerians, two Tunisians, an Egyptian and a Syrian.
Al-Qaeda-linked groups control wide parts of northern Syria, mostly in Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the war-torn country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praises the rescue services and the Air Force for “outstanding” preparedness ahead of the landing of the damaged Electra Air flight from Cologne.
The plane, which carried 152 people, blew a tire during takeoff in Cologne, Germany, and officials in Israel feared the weakened landing gear might not support the plane when it touched down. Ben Gurion Airport declared its highest level of alert, Emergency Level 3, and over 100 ambulances and fire trucks were on the tarmac during the landing. Air Force jets were dispatched to meet the incoming plane and assess the damage to the wheels.
“Good news from Ben Gurion,” Netanyahu tweets after the plane landed safely. “I salute the emergency and rescue crews and the Air Force for their outstanding preparations.”
After the safe landing of the Electra Air flight from Cologne despite a blown tire, Ben Gurion Airport issues an official notice that all is well and the airport is returning to regular operations.
BEIRUT — Lebanese troops enter refugee settlements in a town near the Syrian border today to make sure that brick and concrete walls have been torn down, Lebanon’s state-run news agency says.
Lebanese authorities have undertaken their most aggressive campaign yet to make Syrian refugees return home, and prevent them from putting down roots. Earlier this year, the military gave refugees until July 1 to remove any wall taller than waist high.
The National News Agency says only four of the 20 settlements that the troops visited in Arsal still had walls. The town is home to 60,000 refugees living in informal camps in the surrounding fields.
Save the Children spokeswoman Joelle Bassoul says up to 3,000 homes are slated to be demolished in Arsal, adding that less than half were demolished by the refugees. She says they have reports the army moved into three camps and demolished some homes. “There are many children and women in these camps and now they are becoming more vulnerable moving from solid structures into tents,” Bassoul says.
Lebanon hosts the highest concentration of refugees per capita in the world — 1 million amid a Lebanese population of nearly 5 million — putting pressure on the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz visited Abu Dhabi this week to take part in a UN climate conference, his office says.
At the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting, which ends today, Katz met with an unnamed “senior UAE official” to discuss “regional issues and relations between the countries,” which do not have formal diplomatic ties.
The meeting focused on “the need to deal with the Iranian threat related to the nuclear issue, missile development, Iran’s support for terrorism in the region, and the violence employed by Iran against the interests of the region,” Katz’s office says.
The two officials also discussed cooperation and bolstering economic ties, especially in the fields of high-tech, energy, agriculture and water.
Such visits, which are not bilateral but involve an Israeli official attending an international conference in the Gulf emirate, are nevertheless rare for Israeli leaders. In 2018, Likud ministers Ayoub Kara and Miri Regev visited Abu Dhabi, both times as participants in international conferences.
Katz also met in Abu Dhabi with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, where he raised Israel’s concern for the civilians and bodies of fallen soldiers held by Hamas in Gaza.
Katz says he also presented his “Tracks for Regional Peace” initiative, a proposal to link Israel’s rail network through Jordan to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, opening the countries to travel and trade with each other, and giving the Arab states access to Israel’s Mediterranean ports.
In a statement, Katz promises to continue to advance Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “normalization through strength policy that we’re leading, whether in the fields of defense and intelligence or in civilian affairs.”
HONG KONG — Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong swarm into the legislature’s main building today, tearing down portraits of legislative leaders and spray-painting pro-democracy slogans on the walls of the main chamber.
The sharp escalation in tactics comes on the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China, a city holiday, and reflects mounting frustration with Hong Kong’s leader for not responding to protesters’ demands after several weeks of demonstrations.
The protesters whacked away at thick glass windows until they shattered and broke and pried open steel security gates and propped them open with barricades to get inside. Police in riot gear retreated as the protesters entered about 9 p.m., avoiding a confrontation and giving them the run of the building.
They stood on lawmakers’ desks in the main legislative chamber, painted over the territory’s emblem high up on a wooden wall and wrote slogans calling for a democratic election of the city’s leader and denouncing now-suspended extradition legislation that sparked the protests. Many wore yellow and white helmets, face masks and the black T-shirts that have become their uniform.
Police announces about 10:30 p.m. that they will clear the area, asking protesters to leave and warning they will use “appropriate force” if they encounter resistance.
Hong Kong has been wracked by weeks of protests over a government attempt to change extradition laws to allow suspects to be sent to China to face trial. The proposed legislation, on which debate has been suspended indefinitely, increased fears of eroding freedoms in the territory, which Britain returned to China on July 1, 1997.
A senior Russian diplomat says that US sanctions have provoked Iran’s move to break the limit set on its uranium stockpiles.
Iran acknowledged today it had exceeded the limit set on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles by a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, its first major departure from the agreement a year after Washington unilaterally withdrew from it.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov notes that Iran had warned of its move in advance. He urged all parties to “avoid escalation,” saying that Iran’s move “causes regret, but shouldn’t be overdramatized.”
Ryabkov says the development is a “natural result” of the US’s maximum pressure campaign.
He adds that Iran is facing “unprecedented and unthinkable” US sanctions, including an oil trade embargo, which are an attempt to “strangle” the country.
LONDON — British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt says Britain is “deeply worried” by Iran’s announcement that it has exceeded the limit on enriched uranium stockpiles set by a 2015 nuclear deal.
“Deeply worried by Iran’s announcement that it has broken existing nuclear deal obligations,” Hunt, a candidate to become Britain’s next prime minister, says on Twitter.
“UK remains committed to making deal work (and) using all diplomatic tools to deescalate regional tensions. I urge Iran to avoid any further steps away from JCPOA (nuclear deal and) come back into compliance,” he added.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said earlier today that Iran had crossed the limit, Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA reported, in a move seen as retaliation for new US sanctions.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, confirmed the development a short time later.
Paris inaugurates a square named for Jerusalem, sparking protests by pro-Palestinian activists.
Several dozen people staged a protest rally Sunday in Paris’s 17th district as Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Jewish community leaders applauded the unveiling of the sign honoring the Israeli capital.
Paris used to have a Jerusalem Square until 1893, when it was renamed. Joel Mergui, president of the Consistoire Jewish communal organization, requested the municipal naming committee to rededicate a square for Jerusalem. The committee voted in favor of the move in April.
Following the approval, the city council members of the France Unbowed far-left movement demanded it be annulled, arguing that naming a square for Jerusalem at present does not advance a vision of the city serving as the capital of a Palestinian state as well as Israel.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo rejected this argument.
“Amid this resurgence of racist and anti-Semitic violence, it’s good to recall the ties between Paris and the Jewish community and to celebrate the friendship that unites Paris with the State of Israel,” she said in a statement.
AMSTERDAM — Campaigners for boycotting Israel say they will stay away from this city’s World War II monument, where their supporters have staged incidents of anti-Semitic hate speech and violence.
Gustav Draijer, a leader of Holland’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, announced Sunday that regular, so-called one-man protests by BDS protesters at Dam Square are off, citing opponents’ “aggression, intimidation.”
The municipality in April vowed to limit the long-standing presence of anti-Israel protesters on the square, as well as to counter more recent counter-demonstrations. The mayor’s office sent a cease-and-desist letter in April to members of both parties, a spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
On June 16, a woman named Celine Sleiman was filmed delivering a tirade against Jews on Dam Square. “Killers, haters. Talmud calls you to f***k girls. Talmud tells you to plague humanity,” she was filmed telling Israeli tourists. The CIDI watchdog group against anti-Semitism filed a complaint against her for hate speech.
Security guards bar worshipers affiliated with the Chabad movement from entering a synagogue in Krakow, Poland, amid a property dispute between its Chabad-affiliated rabbi and the city’s separate Orthodox Jewish community.
The Chabad community has been leasing the building from the Jewish Community of Krakow, which is not affiliated with Chabad, since 2008, according to the daily Gazeta Wyborca. A representative of the Chabad congregation tells the paper that it has a valid lease on the building.
But on Monday, guards from a private security firm wearing balaclavas blocked the entrance to what is commonly known as the Izaak Synagogue. The regular worshipers prayed outside the locked synagogue and called police, who arrived at the scene.
The Jewish Community of Krakow — which last month faced protests for its leasing of a former synagogue to serve as a bar cafe — had also recently shut down the building’s water and electricity supply in a bid to get the Chabad congregation to leave, according to the report.
An explosive device is found in front of a home in a village in the Eshkol Regional Council area, apparently carried there by a balloon launched from the Gaza Strip, according to a council statement.
The device is identified by residents, and police sappers are called in to neutralize it. No one is hurt and there is no damage to the home.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman defends his controversial decision to be photographed using a sledgehammer in a ceremony yesterday unveiling a new archaeological site in the City of David area, south of Jerusalem’s Old City walls. The site was excavated under Palestinian homes in what Palestinians view as part of the Silwan neighborhood.
“It was the appropriate tool with which to symbolically open a historic underground excavation. If we were opening a bridge we’d probably use something else,” he tells The Times of Israel.
Friedman rejects critics who say his attendance at the East Jerusalem site would signal US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the area.
“The City of David is at once in a century discovery of enormous historical significance to many Americans, as well as Israelis. That’s why I attended. No political message was intended.”
Friedman reiterates his view, delivered earlier this week in a newspaper interview, that he does not think the Israeli government would ever consider handing this part of Jerusalem to the Palestinians in a future peace agreement.
“This is my view based on the facts. This does not prejudge the outcome of future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” he says.
— Raphael Ahren
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces he is appointing Likud MK David Amsalem as communications minister.
Amsalem, coalition chairman in the last Knesset, is a veteran Likud party operative who was a leader in the party’s Jerusalem branch. As an MK, he was an outspoken backer of Netanyahu.
The appointment follows the resignation earlier this week of Ayoub Kara, former Likud MK and the party’s top-ranked Druze, over his disappointment at what he called Netanyahu’s failure to support his reelection bid. Kara did not make it into the 21st Knesset in the Likud primaries ahead of the April 9 elections.
Netanyahu is thought to be prohibited from serving as acting communications minister because he is the subject of a criminal investigation into allegations that he used his position as communications minister in the past to attempt to exchange positive media coverage for regulatory decisions.
Likud MK David Amsalem thanks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his “trust,” after the PM announces Amsalem will be appointed communications minister.
“I’m happy for the great privilege to serve the people of Israel as communications minister. I thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his trust. With God’s help, we will be successful,” he says in a brief statement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls on European states to impose sanctions on Iran, after it said it breached an agreed ceiling on its enriched uranium reserves.
“You committed yourselves to act as soon as Iran violated the nuclear agreement,” a statement from his office quotes him as saying. “So I say to you: Do it. Just do it.”
Iran said Monday that it had exceeded a limit on its enriched uranium reserves set under a 2015 nuclear deal that has edged towards collapse, as the US imposes a “maximum pressure” campaign on the Islamic Republic. The United States withdrew from the nuclear deal last year and reimposed biting sanctions on Iran’s crucial oil exports and financial transactions as well as other sectors.
Tehran, which has sought to pressure the remaining parties to save the deal, on May 8 announced it would no longer respect the limit set on its enriched uranium and heavy water stockpiles.
“Israel will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon,” Netanyahu says in the statement. “I am also calling on all European countries. Honor your commitment. You committed to activate the automatic sanctions mechanism set by the (UN) Security Council.”
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who visited Jerusalem this morning amid a two-day diplomatic trip to Israel, enthuses on Twitter over the “absolutely breathtaking melting-pot of history, culture & religion,” and posts photos of his meetings with religious leaders and sites from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Fascinating morning in Jerusalem’s Old City visiting some of the holiest sites in the world. An absolutely breathtaking melting-pot of history, culture & religion (1/4) pic.twitter.com/osmfWVjY47
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 1, 2019
A truly powerful & moving moment placing a note of reflection in the Western Wall – the focus of Jewish worship for generations. (2/4) pic.twitter.com/ISCqlsy0OU
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 1, 2019
Honoured to be first British Cabinet Minister to say a prayer at Al Aqsa Mosque, and visit the beautiful Dome of the Rock (3/4) pic.twitter.com/6UFydl3vE8
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 1, 2019
Meeting Christian leaders at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Holy Land’s Christian community are an ancient part of a beautiful tapestry. (4/4) pic.twitter.com/yP72tzjEtW
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 1, 2019
Thousands of protesters continue to demonstrate in Kiryat Haim, a neighborhood of Haifa, over the deadly shooting on Sunday of a local Ethiopian-Israeli teenager by an off-duty cop.
Protests are also taking place near Bilu Junction near the southern city of Ashdod, where police closed parts of Route 40, after protesters marched onto the road.
Solomon Tekah, 19, was killed by the officer after the latter apparently intervened in a scuffle between teenagers.
The officer claims to have been in mortal danger when he fired. Some eyewitnesses have said otherwise.
The officer, who has not been identified, as the investigation is underway, was suspended for 15 days, with top police officials promising a transparent investigation.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today urges Iran to stick to its commitments under the nuclear deal and address differences through a dispute mechanism, his spokesman says.
Iran earlier said it had exceeded a limit established under the deal on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
“It is essential that this issue, like other issues related to the implementation of the plan, be addressed through the mechanisms established in the JCPOA,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric says.
The JCPOA is the formal name of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is known.
Guterres encourages Iran “to continue implementing all its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA,” says Dujarric.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier said Iran had crossed the 300 kilogram limit imposed under the nuclear deal.
Protesters in Kiryat Ata, near Haifa, are demonstrating late into the night demanding a murder indictment against the police officer who shot and killed 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Tekah on Sunday.
Police say hundreds of officers are preparing to safeguard Tekah’s funeral, slated for tomorrow at noon.
Thousands protested throughout the day today in multiple locations around the country.
Ethiopian-Israeli activists have long claimed that they suffered from over-policing and police violence.
The officer at the center of the storm, who has not been publicly identifies, says he fired in self-defense, and did not aim for Tekah when he fired.
Police announce new road closures, as today’s protests over the shooting death of an Ethiopian-Israeli teen by a cop carry on into the night.
Solomon Tekah, 19, was killed Sunday in an incident that some eyewitnesses insist amounted to murder, but that the police officer, now under house arrest, insists was an act of self-defense.
Route 40 near Akron Junction, south of the central city of Rehovot, is closed.
Route 4 is closed to traffic in two places: at the northern entrance to the coastal city of Ashkelon and at the Yavneh Interchange at the entrance to the town of Yavneh.
Route 25 is closed at Netivot Junction, near the southern town of Netivot.
Kiryat Ata Junction, a major eastern entrance to the Haifa metropolitan area, remains closed to cars, as it has been throughout the day, with hundreds of protesters still in the streets.