The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened.
US President Donald Trump is still reviewing whether to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“The president has not made a decision yet and is still reviewing that,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, says at the daily briefing for reporters.
There have been multiple reports in Israeli media this week suggesting Trump will announce a move timed around his May 22-23 visit to the country. Other reports have said he has decided against the move.
Trump campaigned on a promise to move the embassy, but since assuming office has retreated from the pledge.
Jihadists preparing for a desperate last stand in Mosul are booby-trapping homes with civilians inside and welding doors shut on starving families to prevent the population from fleeing, residents say.
Iraqi forces are closing in fast on the Old City and its narrow streets, where the Islamic State group is expected to focus its significantly depleted military capabilities. The most violent group in modern jihad has repeatedly resorted to human shields to cover its movements but in Mosul the jihadists appear to be taking the tactic to new levels.
“Daesh came to our house and welded the door. They gave us a small amount of water and a white cloth and said: ‘Here’s a shroud for you,'” says one resident of Zinjili neighborhood.
The woman sent a voice message to a relative living in the “liberated” eastern side of Mosul and said she was now trapped in her own house with her husband, her four children and no food.
Police say they have found a 14-year-old boy who had been locked inside his apartment by his parents for his entire life.
Following a complaint filed with welfare authorities in the city of Hadera, police arrived at the residence, found the boy and arrested the parents, according to a police statement. The statement did not say who made the complaint.
The boy is being examined by medical and mental health services.
Police say they are investigating the case.
A one-year-old baby girl is in critical condition after she was left in an overheated car in the Avnei Hefetz settlement of the northern West Bank.
Magen David Adom paramedics say the girl was unconscious when they arrived on the scene. She’d been removed minutes earlier from the car after trapped inside for a number of hours. They administered medical treatment at the scene before transferring her to the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.
Joint (Arab) List chair Ayman Odeh announces he’s refraining from eating for one day in solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian security prisoners.
Speaking at a protest tent erected in the northern Arab-Israeli city of Nazareth, Odeh says he joined the strike “in order to raise awareness for all Israeli citizens” of the plight of the prisoners.
The hunger strike began on April 17, led by convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences over his role orchestrating deadly terror attacks in the second Palestinian intifada.
Israeli authorities say 894 Palestinian prisoners have kept up the strike, now in its 25th day, though Palestinian officials say it is more than 1,000.
Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently detained by Israel for a range of offenses and alleged crimes.
American Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson meets with Brazilian President Michel Temer and several government officials to pitch an $8 billion casino project in Rio de Janeiro.
Adelson’s visit raises rumors of imminent gambling law approval in Latin America’s largest nation, where it has been outlawed for the last 70 years.
The casino magnate and major donor to Jewish causes also met Israel’s new ambassador, Yossi Shelley, and Israel’s honorary consul in Rio, Osias Wurman, during a meeting led by Rio’s Mayor Marcelo Crivella at the city government headquarters.
Adelson has long spoken of Brazil, calling the country a “potentially very good opportunity,” although he expressed some reservations regarding the economy and called for infrastructure upgrades, including more 4- and 5-star hotels.
Russian President Vladamir Putin and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speak, via video link, at the opening ceremony of a $40 million Putin Cultural and Economic Center in Bethlehem.
The two leaders were both in Sochi, where they were meeting to discuss the Israeli Palestinian peace process and bilateral ties.
Ziyad al-Bandak, the board of directors for the Palestinian Putin Foundation for Culture and Trade, told the official PA news site Wafa that the center is 15,000 square meters and has six floors.
He pointed out that the Sports and Youth Department consists of two judo, karate and Roman wrestling rooms, and a cafeteria. The third section is a music complex and contains a training and teaching hall with a management department.
— Dov Lieber
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says his group arrested the man who assassinated one of the terror organization’s leaders in March.
“We announce to our people and nation that we discovered and arrested the direct killer of the martyr Mazen Faqha,” he says, in a press conference outside of Faqha’s home in Gaza. He did not reveal the identity of the alleged killer.
“The assassin of Mazen Faqha received orders directly from the occupation to carry out the crime,’ Haniyeh says.
Faqha, who was in charge of planning attacks against Israelis from the West Bank, was killed in his home in March, and since then Hamas has said Israel was behind the assassination.
Israel denied it was responsible for the attack.
— Dov Lieber
Police units in Jerusalem prevent a march to the Temple Mount planned for today and tomorrow by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement.
“An order was signed by the Jerusalem Police command under the authority of the Anti-Terrorism Law to prevent the march,” a police statement says.
Last year, Israel banned the radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement, accusing it of links to terrorist groups and stoking a 2016 wave of violence. After the security cabinet declared the movement illegal last September, then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon signed an edict banning any activity connected to the group.
A one-year-old baby girl found in an overheated car in the Avnei Hefetz settlement of the northern West Bank has died.
Magen David Adom paramedics arrived at the scene to find the toddler not breathing and without a pulse. She was taken to the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba in critical condition, but her death was declared shortly after.
Police say that the baby’s mother was supposed to take her daughter to nursery but forgot the toddler in the car. For reasons still unclear, she left the premises in a separate vehicle. After roughly five hours, the woman returned to the original vehicle to find her daughter unconscious and immediately alerted authorities.
FIFA will rule on the issue of Israeli clubs playing in the West Bank by October, president Gianni Infantino says Thursday, once again delaying a decision on the contentious issue.
FIFA’s annual Congress votes to back — by a majority of 73 to 27 percent – a proposal that pushed football’s governing body to report by March 2018, but Infantino said feedback would come before then.
“We will take responsibility and we will take a decision on this matter,” he says, adding FIFA would rule in October.
The Palestine Football Association (PFA) argues that the presence of six Israeli clubs on its territory is in breach of FIFA statutes, which forbids another member association playing on another territory without permission.
Israel argues that FIFA rules are unenforceable as there is no permanent border.
Pizza Hut Israel fires an advertising firm responsible for a Facebook ad that mocked Marwan Barghouti, the leader of a mass Palestinian hunger strike, after he was filmed snacking in his cell.
The ad on Pizza Hut Israel’s Facebook page was deleted, and the parent company said in a statement that the post was “completely inappropriate.”
In a statement released by Pizza Hut International’s Middle East Twitter account on Tuesday, the company says it apologized for any offense and said the ad “does not reflect the values of our brand.” A spokesman for Pizza Hut’s parent company in the US, Yum! Brands Inc., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Erez Rubenstein, a partner at the Israeli advertising company behind the ad, confirmed his firm had been dismissed and said the Facebook post was regrettable in hindsight. “We didn’t mean to offend anybody,” he says.
Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem hails the Foreign Ministry, Culture Ministry, the National Security Council and the Israel Soccer Association for their work in helping to convince FIFA member states to vote to delay a decision on banning Israeli clubs based in the West Bank.
“The Foreign Ministry will continue to be at the heart of the action, at both its headquarters in Jerusalem and its representative [offices] around the world,” he says in a statement.
“This was a victory in one battle of the campaign that is expected to continue in the months ahead,” he adds.
Clashes erupt in the West Bank between Israeli soldiers and hundreds of Palestinians protesting in support of hunger strikers in Israeli jails, leaving at least two people wounded.
Youths wearing hoods or masks threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded with rubber bullets and water cannons containing foul-smelling liquid.
The two Palestinians were hit by rubber bullets and evacuated on stretchers with bloodied legs.
The clashes broke out at a checkpoint at the entrance to Ramallah and near the Israeli settlement of Beit El, the site of regular demonstrations against the occupation.
The protest was called in support of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails since April 17.
President Reuven Rivlin hosts at his residence staff of the renowned UK medical journal The Lancet, after it published an issue dedicated to Israel’s healthcare system and medical innovations in Israel. The president received the special publication from Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton.
“I want to thank you, and everyone here, for the important initiative of this special magazine: to show Israel’s healthcare system to the whole world, in your respected journal. I am especially pleased this is also on your website, in English, in Hebrew, and in Arabic,” Rivlin says.
The issue’s series of articles was conceived in 2014, after Horton allowed publication of an open letter that accused Israel of a “massacre” in Gaza. Horton later wrote that he regretted the polarization caused by the publication of the letter, but did not retract it.
At the time Horton said that the journal had proposed new guidelines to deal with “submissions that lie at the difficult intersection of medicine and politics,” and called on editors to “pause, reflect, and consult before publishing any manuscript that might unnecessarily polarize, or foster or worsen political division.”
The United Nations confirms 58 cases of cholera and 47 cholera-associated deaths across war-torn Yemen in the past two weeks, the second such outbreak in a year.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says laboratory testing had confirmed the highly contagious infection in 10 governorates across Yemen, where less than half of the country’s medical facilities are functional two years into a deadly war between government forces and Huthi insurgents.
Another 2,301 suspected cases were identified in governorates including Sanaa, home to the country’s capital, where more than 30 percent of the cases were diagnosed. Cases were also reported in governorates in the north, south and along the Red Sea coast, OCHA says.
Cholera, a highly infectious diarrhoeal disease, is contracted by ingesting contaminated water or food. If not treated within hours, it can become fatal.
Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi takes over as IDF deputy chief of staff at a small ceremony in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters.
He replaces Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, who is leaving the military after 37 years to pursue “academic studies,” the army says in a statement.
At the same event, Maj. Gen. Muni Katz is promoted from brigadier general and takes command of the army’s Depths Corps, a secretive branch of the military, responsible for IDF operations beyond Israel’s borders.
Katz will replace Maj. Gen. (res.) Tal Russo, who has served in the position as a reservist since February 2015.
Both IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman attend the ceremony, which is held in Eisenkot’s conference room.
— Judah Ari Gross
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon calls for the Security Council to address the issue of Palestinian Authority payments to convicted terrorists.
“The Security Council must act immediately to put an end to the funding of terrorists by the Palestinian Authority. Aid provided by the donor countries to the PA every year ends up funding terrorists who murdered innocent Israelis,” Danon says at a press conference outside a meeting of the Security Council.
Yesterday, Ambassador Danon sent an official letter to the Security Council presenting data showing PA payments to Palestinian terrorist.
“According to Palestinian Authority laws and regulations, every terrorist arrested, tried and imprisoned receives monthly financial payments. The more Israelis killed, the longer the terrorist is sentenced to prison, the higher payment the terrorist receives from the PA,” he wrote.
“A Palestinian terrorist who murders innocent civilians and is sentenced to over thirty years in prison receives over 3,000 US dollars a month. Put simply, this is official Palestinian blood-money, rewarding terrorists who murder Jews. The State and people of Israel want nothing more than to live in peace and security with all of our neighbors. If the Palestinians seek the same goal, then their first step must be to stop the glorification of terrorists,” Danon concluded.
Ten-man Algeria edges out the Palestinian national soccer team 1-0 at the Azal Arena in Azerbaijan to make it back-to-back wins in the Islamic Solidarity Games football competition and qualify for the semifinals from Group B.
After a first hour that featured no real chances in Baku, Algerian substitute Farid El-Melali broke the deadlock from the penalty spot.
The Palestinians started with more vigor and purpose than their opponents, in front of a vocal group of fans in the best-attended match of the four to have been played at the stadium so far. The first half-chance fell to 17-year-old Palestinian forward Oday Dabbagh, who scored a brace in the opening 2-2 draw with Oman on Monday, but his strike was blocked.
The Ukrainian referee’s penchant for awarding free-kicks led to a stagnated encounter, with the two teams cancelling each other out until Algeria won a penalty just after the hour mark. El-Malali, 19, stepped up to confidently dispatch the spot-kick to score after coming off the bench for the second time in the tournament.
Howard Lorber, a businessman and longtime friend of Donald Trump, is being tapped by the US president to serve as chairman of the US Holocaust Memorial Council.
The White House said Wednesday that Trump intends to appoint Lorber, the president and CEO of the Vector Group, a New York holding company, and chairman of the real estate giant Douglas Elliman, to lead the council. The 68-year-old Jewish businessman served as an economic adviser on Trump’s presidential campaign and arranged for Trump to serve as grand marshal of New York’s Salute to Israel Parade in 2004.
“As the Holocaust recedes in time and the survivor generation begins to diminish, the museum’s work is increasingly urgent,” Lorber says in a statement. “I look forward to helping the museum bring the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations.”
Congress established the US Holocaust Memorial Council in 1980 to commemorate the Holocaust and raise money for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
The museum’s governing board has 68 members, including presidential appointees, who serve five-year terms, along with senators and representatives and members of the education, interior and state departments.
Foreign Ministry workers have decided to delay a labor strike aimed at disrupting the expected visit of US President Donald Trump, saying they will still carry out the civil action but will wait two weeks.
Earlier they said the strike would go head as planned despite obtaining a further assurance from the Finance Ministry that a wage agreement will be implemented, Channel 2 television reported Thursday.
Although a meeting the night before between representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the treasury and the Prime Minister’s Office produced a commitment to apply a previously formulated deal, the diplomats said they will not relent until they see the agreement not only signed but also put into practice.
The fight between the diplomatic service and the Finance Ministry over diplomats’ stagnant pay has been going on for several years. The diplomats argue that past agreements are not being honored and budgets are not being approved.
An Iraqi refugee and his Belgian teacher are dismayed to have been given a French lesson book with references to bomb throwers and jails, suggesting that migrants might be extremists.
Raad Al Azzawi, 38, has been taking French lessons at a school in a Brussels suburb since September. He was given the book to learn and practice the language. The text contained sentences such as: “Daddy throws a bomb and goes to prison.”; “I am eating sandwiches in prison.”; “He shows me the bomb and the prison.”
Al Azzawi tells The Associated Press Thursday that “in Iraq, there is a lot of misery, and I saw these writings and frankly, I was very sad.”
His teacher, Catherine Lemaire, said it suggests asylum-seekers are “considered either as stupid or as terrorists and for me this is unacceptable.”
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe undermines recent White House explanations about the firing of FBI Director James Comey during testimony before a Senate committee Thursday.
Since President Donald Trump’s surprise ouster of Comey on Tuesday, the White House has justified his decision, in part, by saying that the director had lost the confidence of the rank and file of the FBI as well as the public in general.
“That is not accurate,” McCabe says in a response to a senator’s question about the White House assertions. “I can tell you also that Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day.”
The firing of Comey left the fate of the FBI’s probe into Russia’s election meddling and possible ties to the Trump campaign deeply uncertain. The investigation has shadowed Trump from the outset of his presidency, though he’s denied any ties to Russia or knowledge of any campaign coordination with Moscow.
A six-year-old girl has died after falling from a nine-story building in the Kafr Aqab neighborhood in East Jerusalem, Israel Radio reports.
She was taken to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus in critical condition but was was declared dead soon after arriving.
Police have opened an investigation into the incident.
The Palestinian Football Association says “political pressure” was behind a decision of the international football body FIFA to delay a vote on banning Israeli clubs based in West Bank settlements.
“We are disappointed that FIFA has decided to allow political pressure to win over the FIFA statutes,” it says in a statement.
FIFA will rule on the issue of Israeli clubs playing in the West Bank by October, president Gianni Infantino said Thursday, once again delaying a decision on the issue, in what Israel hailed as a diplomatic victory.
FIFA’s annual Congress voted to back — by a majority of 73 to 27 percent — a proposal that pushed soccer’s governing body to report by March 2018, but Infantino said feedback would come before then.
“We fear Mr. Infantino’s action of today has set a precedent where governments decide the agenda for a FIFA congress, and violations of the statutes and misuse of its legal devices become so common in a way that encourages those who allow football to be used as a tool to normalize oppression,” the statement adds.
Denmark’s Jewish community is filing a complaint over an imam accused of calling for the murder of Jews in a case sparking political opprobrium.
Imam Mundhir Abdallah preaches in the working class Copenhagen suburb of Norrebro at the Masjid Al-Faruq mosque, which media have previously linked to radical Islam. He is being accused of citing a hadith or Koranic narrative on March 31 calling for Muslims to rise up against Jews.
“Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them,” begins Abdallah’s address in footage on YouTube, according to a transcript of the original Arabic provided by US organisation the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, the head of the Jewish community in Denmark, urged police to open an investigation into a possible case of incitement to racial hatred.
“We fear that weak and easily-influenced persons could interpret this kind of preaching as an appeal to visit acts of violence or terror on Jews,” Asmussen told the Politiken daily.
Three mass graves have been discovered in Iraq’s western province of Anbar containing the bodies of civilians and members of the security forces, officials say.
It was not yet clear how many bodies the graves contained, a police lieutenant colonel says, adding that the victims had been executed by the Islamic State jihadist group.
The three sites are in the Saqlawiyah region, north of Fallujah, in the Karma area, east of Fallujah, and behind the old central library in central Ramadi, the province’s capital.
“Samples have been taken from the graves and it has been confirmed that the bodies belong to civilians and soldiers,” the officer says, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said there appeared to be several dozen bodies in the three graves but added no definitive number was yet available.
Six top US intelligence officials tell Congress they agree with the conclusion that Russia acted to influence last year’s election, countering President Donald Trump’s assertions that the hacking remains an open question.
Asked whether they believed the intelligence community’s January assessment that Russia was responsible for hacking and leaking information to influence the elections was accurate, all six spy and law enforcement bosses appearing before the panel say “yes.”
They include Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA director Mike Pompeo and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, newly installed after Trump fired the agency’s chief James Comey this week.
In an overview, Coats told the panel: “We assess that Russia is likely to be more aggressive in foreign global affairs, more unpredictable in its approach to the United States, and more authoritarian in its approach to domestic policies and politics.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells Likud supporters that he believes all foreign embassies based in Israel should move to Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and it is therefore appropriate that all the embassies, and first and foremost our friends the United Sate, move to Jerusalem,” he says at a gathering of party activists.
Despite campaign promises to do so, President Donald Trump is still reviewing whether to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
“The president has not made a decision yet and is still reviewing that,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said Wednesday at the daily briefing for reporters.
There have been multiple reports in the Israeli media this week suggesting that Trump will announce a move timed around his May 22-23 visit to the country. Other reports have said he has decided against the move.
The US State Department has approved the possible sale of 160 missiles to the United Arab Emirates for an estimated $2.0 billion, the Pentagon says.
The UAE government has requested the possible sale of 60 Patriot missiles with canisters and 100 Patriot guidance enhanced missiles, among other military equipment, according to a Department of Defense statement.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of an important ally which has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” it says.