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Syrian media denies air defenses fired on ‘hostile targets’ in Damascus

State-run network Sana walks back report of airstrike on capital; Defense analysts suspect defense batteries triggered by Israeli radar jamming

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

A photo taken from the rebel-held town of Douma shows flames rising in the distance which are believed to be coming from Damascus International Airport following an explosion early in the morning of April 27, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / Sameer Al-Doumy)
A photo taken from the rebel-held town of Douma shows flames rising in the distance which are believed to be coming from Damascus International Airport following an explosion early in the morning of April 27, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / Sameer Al-Doumy)

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

Government to establish body for absorption of French immigrants

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett to formulate a plan to increase the immigration of French Jews to Israel.

“There has been a historic missed opportunity on the part of Israeli governments over the past few years, and it is the subject of immigration from France,” says Bennett in a statement.

“There are 200,000 Jews in France who want to immigrate here, and all the state systems are simply not prepared for this.”

Violent French protests are economic ‘catastrophe,’ says finance minister

Violence linked to the “yellow vest” protests sweeping France are a “catastrophe” for the nation’s economy, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warns.

“It’s a catastrophe for commerce, it’s a catastrophe for our economy,” Le Maire tells reporters as he visits shops in Paris hit by looting during anti-government riots a day earlier.

— AFP

Trump must not interfere in French politics, says minister

France’s foreign minister on Sunday urges Donald Trump not to interfere in French politics after the US president posted tweets about the protests rocking the country as well as attacking the Paris climate agreement.

“We do not take domestic American politics into account and we want that to be reciprocated,” Jean-Yves Le Drian tells LCI television. “Leave our nation be.”

— AFP

Iran doubles number of missile tests in possible violation of nuclear deal — report

Iran has more than doubled the number of missile tests it has performed in the past year in possible violation of the 2015 nuclear deal, the German Die Welt daily reports.

In 2018, Tehran test-fired at least seven medium-range missiles and at least five short-range missiles and cruise missiles, according to Die Welt.

The report did not specify whether the missiles were nuclear-capable ballistic weapons, which the Islamic Republic was banned from testing as part of the 2015 internationally supported agreement.

Coalition to advance bill preventing PM’s Likud rivals from forming government

Coalition heads agree to advance a bill that would limit the powers of the president in deciding who to task with forming a government after elections, a proposal seen as an attempt to prevent a potential coup within the ruling Likud party against its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The heads of coalition parties have come to an agreement in their weekly meeting to support the bill in its preliminary Knesset reading, allowing further discussions to be held on the government’s position, according to a Likud party spokesperson.

The bill, which comes in the form of an amendment to a quasi-constitutional law, would ensure that only the leader of each elected political party has the right to form a government and not any other figure on the parties’ lists.

The bill was proposed by coalition chair David Amsalem (Likud) due to claims that President Reuven Rivlin was looking at the possibility of asking Gideon Sa’ar, a potential challenger to Netanyahu in the next elections, to form a government.

Netanyahu had told Likud ministers earlier Sunday that there were “loopholes in the current law that needed to be fixed.”

— Raoul Wootliff

PM urges Haifa mayor not to appoint deputy accused of backing Hamas, Hezbollah

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls on the newly elected mayor of Haifa, Einat Kalisch-Rotem, to reverse her plan to appoint a deputy who has voiced support for terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, backed BDS and claimed Zionism inspired the creation of the Islamic State terror group.

Public outrage erupted last week as reports came out of the upcoming appointment of Joint (Arab) List council member Raja Za’atra, a member of the Communist Party of Israel which has been criticized by many in recent years for supporting Bashar Assad’s regime and its allies in the Syrian civil war.

At the outset of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu says: “This morning before the meeting I sought Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch to request that she cancel the appointment of a deputy mayor who supports Hamas and Hezbollah, which have declare their intention to destroy the State of Israel. I hope that request is heeded.”

However, Kalisch-Rotem’s associates say she rejected Netanyahu’s request during their phone call, explaining she had no intention of reneging on her coalition agreement with Za’atra’s “Haifa Front” party and adding that he is only due to become deputy mayor in two and a half years.

Pink Floyd cover band cancels concerts in Israel amid pressure from Roger Waters

A Pink Floyd cover band has canceled scheduled appearances throughout Israel scheduled amid mounting pressure from BDS activists led by the original band’s co-founder Roger Waters.

The UK Pink Floyd Experience had been slated to play in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba at the beginning of January.

Yesterday, Waters penned a post on Facebook lambasting the group’s plans.

“To sing my songs in front of segregated audiences in Israel, and contribute to the cultural whitewashing of the racist and apartheid government of that country, would be an act of unconscionable malice and disrespect,” he wrote.

“The people you intend to entertain are executing their neighbor’s children, shooting them down in cold blood every day.”

A note from Roger to UK Pink Floyd Experience:I am aghast to see you have plans to perform in Tel Aviv, Haifa and…

Posted by Roger Waters on Friday, 7 December 2018

Armenians vote for parliament; PM looks to bolster support

Armenians cast ballots in an early parliamentary election that was expected to further consolidate the power of the nation’s new prime minister.

The charismatic 43-year-old Nikol Pashinian took office in May after spearheading massive protests against his predecessor’s power grab which forced that politician to step down. Pashinian has pushed for early vote to win control of a parliament that was dominated by his political foes.

Pashinian, an ex-journalist turned politician, has won broad popularity, tapping into public anger over widespread poverty, high unemployment and rampant corruption in the landlocked former Soviet nation of 3 million that borders Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran.

Opinion polls indicate that Pashinian’s My Step alliance is set to sweep the vote, while the Republican Party that controlled the old parliament is trailing.

Pashinian exuded confidence after casting his ballot in Yerevan, saying that he was sure that his bloc will win a majority in parliament.

During the month-long campaign, Pashinian has blasted members of the old elite as corrupt and pledged to revive the economy, create new jobs and encourage more Armenians to return home.

“An economic revolution is our top priority,” Pashinian tells reporters.

— AP

UK’s May: ‘Uncharted waters’ if lawmakers reject Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May warns lawmakers that they could take Britain into “uncharted waters” and trigger a general election if they reject her Brexit deal in a crucial parliamentary vote this week.

May is fighting to save her unpopular Brexit plan and her job ahead of a showdown in Parliament on Tuesday, when lawmakers are widely expected to vote down the Brexit divorce deal she struck with the European Union. Her Downing Street office insisted that the vote will go ahead despite speculation that the government may be forced to delay it.

A defeat in the vote could leave Britain crashing out of the EU on March 29, the date for Britain’s exit, with no deal in place — an outcome that could spell economic chaos.

In an interview with the Mail, May says rejecting her deal would “mean grave uncertainty for the nation with a very real risk of no Brexit or leaving the European Union with no deal.”

“When I say if this deal does not pass we would truly be in uncharted waters, I hope people understand this is what I genuinely believe and fear could happen,” she says.

She also threatens that not backing her would empower the opposition Labour leader.

“I believe Jeremy Corbyn getting his hands on power is a risk we cannot afford to take,” she adds.

— AP

Qatar emir skips Saudi-hosted Gulf summit amid boycott

Qatar’s emir is skipping a Gulf summit hosted by Saudi Arabia, which has led a boycott of his country for more than a year.

Other leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council descended down a golden escalator and were greeted by Saudi King Salman ahead of today’s summit. Qatar sent a lower-ranking official.

GCC members Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar in the summer of 2017 over its support for Islamist opposition groups that they view as terrorists.

Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attended last year’s meeting in Kuwait, where the boycotting nations sent lower-level representatives.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa tweets that Sheikh Tamim should have accepted “the fair demands and been there at the summit.”

— AP

Half-a-billion dollar missile deal with India said in doubt

A $500 million anti-tank missile deal between India and Israel’s Rafael weapons manufacturer has hit a snag amid requests from New Delhi that the 100 surface-to-air Spike missiles undergo additional tests, The Marker reports.

According to the business daily, the request is being interpreted by Israeli officials as a sign that India is getting cold feet regarding the entire deal and is looking for a way to back out of it.

The deal had been scrapped in the beginning of the year, but Israeli officials have said that it was revived due to the recent visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India and the warming of relations between Jerusalem and New Delhi.

Boko Haram kills two soldiers in Nigeria attack

Two soldiers have been killed when suspected Boko Haram fighters loyal to factional leader Abubakar Shekau attacked a military base in northeast Nigeria, security sources tell AFP.

The twin gun and suicide attacks happened early Saturday evening at Gulumba village, in the Bama district of Borno state.

The use of human bombs is a hallmark of the Shekau faction, which is known to operate in the area. Last month, Shekau released a video claiming attacks against troops in Gulumba.

“We lost two soldiers and two more were injured in the attack by the Shekau faction,” says one military source.

“The terrorists came in nine gun trucks with a suicide bomber at about 5:50 pm (1650 GMT) and attacked the base.”

A second source says the suicide bomber tried to infiltrate the base but was “neutralized” by troops. He also says two soldiers were killed and two others were injured.

“The terrorists faced stiff resistance and were forced to withdraw,” he adds.

Neither source wanted to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Attacks by fighters loyal to Shekau have reduced considerably in recent months, which sources attribute to the firebrand leader’s ill health.

Instead, the IS-backed Boko Haram faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) has been blamed or claimed responsibility for a wave of attacks against the military since July.

— AFP

Saudi king calls on international community to ‘protect the Palestinian people’

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opens the GCC summit calling on member countries to protect the Palestinian people.

“The Kingdom calls on the international community to carry out its duty by taking the necessary measures to protect the Palestinian people from Israel’s aggressive practices that are considered a provocation to Arabs and Muslims,” the National quotes the monarch as saying.

Salman says that Saudi Arabia is working to ensure the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Nobel peace winners demand action against sex abuse

One of the winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize says the attention the prize has drawn to sexual violence against women in war zones must be followed by action against the abuses.

Dr. Denis Mukwege speaks at a news conference with Nadia Murad of Iraq, with whom he shared the 9-million Swedish kronor ($1 million) prize. Mukwege was honored for his work helping sexually abused women at the hospital he founded in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Murad, a Yazidi, won for her advocacy for sex abuse victims after being kidnapped and raped by Islamic State militants.

Mukwege says “what we see during armed conflicts is that women’s bodies become battlefields and this cannot be acceptable during our time.” He says “we cannot only denounce it, we now need to act.”

— AP

PM to Likud ministers: Liberman supported transfer of Qatari funds to Hamas

Prime Minister assures Likud ministers that Avigdor Liberman had supported the transfer of Qatari funds to Hamas despite the former defense minister’s claims to the contrary.

“There may have been disagreements in the cabinet over what to tackle next, the northern front or on the southern front — but there was no question of whether to stop (our operations) in Gaza — and that includes the resigning minister,” Channel 10 quotes Netanyahu as saying.

The prime minister also added that Liberman did not object to the transfer of Qatari funds to Hamas employees in Gaza in 2016 either.

IDF warns Lebanese border towns to evacuate as it prepares to destroy tunnels

The IDF is advising residents of a pair of Lebanese border towns to evacuate as it prepares to blow up a pair of cross-border attack tunnels that were dug under their homes.

In a pair of tweets, the army’s Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee tells residents of Kfar Kila and Ramya that military is unsure how their homes will be impacted by demolition of underground passages.

“We advise you to seriously consider temporarily leaving your homes… in order to stay safe,” he tweets in Arabic.

Abbas: Palestinians soon to dissolve PA parliament after not meeting for a decade

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said the Palestinians will soon dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the PA parliament.

Abbas made the remark Saturday evening at a conference at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

“In a legal manner, we will dissolve the [Palestinian] Legislative Council and this will occur soon,” Abbas said, two people who attended the event told The Times of Israel.

Since the latter half of 2007, the PLC has not convened, essentially becoming defunct. Hamas ousted the Fatah-dominated PA in 2007 from the Gaza Strip.

— Adam Rasgon

IDF probes shooting of Palestinian in the back

The IDF says it has opened an investigation into the death of a 22-year-old Palestinian man in the West Bank after a video surfaced appearing to show him being shot in the back.

The security-camera video, obtained from a local restaurant in the town of Tulkarem, shows Mohammed Habali walking in an alleyway holding a stick when he is shot from behind and falls down on his face.

Several other young males are standing nearby or walking away in the same direction — sometimes looking back — apparently to keep their distance from Israeli troops. No soldiers are seen in the video.

In a statement, the military confirms that it was conducting an “operational activity” in Tulkarem last week when dozens of Palestinians began hurling stones at the soldiers. It gave no further details on the operation, but the military often carries out arrest raids in the West Bank.

The army says that soldiers responded to the stone throwers with “riot dispersal means” and live fire.

It says military police are now investigating the shooting. It gave no details on when the probe would be completed.

— AP

China summons US envoy over exec’s detention

China has summoned the US ambassador to protest the detention of an executive of electronics giant Huawei in Canada at Washington’s behest.

The official Xinhua News Agency says Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng “lodged solemn representations and strong protests” with Ambassador Terry Branstad against the detention of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, while she was changing planes in Vancouver, Canada, last week. Meng is reportedly suspected of trying to evade US trade curbs on Iran.

Xinhua quotes Le as calling Meng’s detention “extremely egregious” and demanded the US vacate an order for her arrest. It quoted Le as calling for the US to “immediately correct its wrong actions” and said it would take further steps based on Washington’s response.

The move follows the summoning of Canadian Ambassador John McCallum on Saturday over Meng’s detention and a similar protest.

— AP

UN sends aid to hundreds of thousands in war-torn Syria

The United Nations has begun sending desperately needed aid from Jordan to hundreds of thousands of civilians in war-torn Syria.

The UN’s humanitarian office said on Sunday that 369 trucks will carry one month’s worth of supplies to Syria. It’s the first cross-border aid shipment since the Syrian government recaptured a trade crossing with Jordan from Syrian rebels and reopened it in October.

Anders Pedersen, a top UN humanitarian official in Jordan, says the aid is being delivered in a “major logistical operation” aimed at mitigating the suffering of Syrians.

Pedersen says the UN agency expects the aid to reach 650,000 Syrians.

The UN says about 13 million Syrians suffering from the fallout of the country’s seven-year civil war are in urgent need of food, water, and medical supplies.

— AP

New poll shows strong anti-Arab sentiments among Israeli Jews

A new poll shows particularly strong anti-Arab sentiments that exist among Israeli Jews.

The survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute polled 500 Israelis from across the religious divide. The results showed that secular Israelis were far more tolerant of Arabs, whereas the more religious respondents had a bigger issue accepting the other.

Twelve percent of respondents said the statement “Most Jews are better than most non-Jews because they were born Jews” and 11% said it was pretty correct. Only 43% rejected the statement completely.

Sixty percent of respondents were at least a little disturbed by the fact that half the pharmacists in Israel are Arabs.

Fourty-four percent of respondents were at least a little disturbed by the fact that an Arab-Israeli justice, Moshe Kara, headed the panel that convicted former president Moshe Katzav of rape.

Seventy-four percent of respondents said they get at least a little disturbed by hearing conversation in Arabic while in a public space.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they would be disturbed to some degree if their son were to befriend an Arab girl. The number climbed to 90% when respondents were asked about their daughter befriending an Arab boy.

IDF chief of staff calls on UNIFIL to destroy cross-border attack tunnels

IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot met with the head of the Lebanon-based UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col, calling on him and the Lebanese military to destroy the cross-border attack tunnels that Israel says Hezbollah has dug into northern Israel from southern Lebanon, the army says.

Last week, Israel launched Operation Northern Shield to find and destroy these tunnels. It has exposed two tunnels so far, and the army says it is aware of several others.

“IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot showed [Del Col] the operation’s progress and noted the importance he sees in UNIFIL troops working to neutralize the tunnels on the Lebanese side,” the army says.

The two met at the Israel Defense Force’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Eisenkot also called the Hezbollah tunnels a violation of UN Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War and required all army groups besides the Lebanese military to remain north of the country’s Litani River.

UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces are meant to enforce the UN resolution.

“The chief of staff stressed that the responsibility for the digging of the tunnels by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon is on the Lebanese government,” the army says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Saudis reject extraditions to Turkey over Khashoggi murder

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister rejects demands to extradite suspects connected to the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as sought by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We do not extradite our citizens,” Adel al-Jubeir tells a news conference at the end of a summit of Gulf Cooperation Council states.

“It’s interesting to me that a country that would not provide us with information within a legal format… would issue arrest warrants.”

— AFP

Key Democrat says Trump allegations could be ‘impeachable’

A key Democratic lawmaker says that if new allegations against US President Donald Trump are proven, they would amount to “an impeachable offense.”

As the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler would play a central role should the new Congress, now with a Democratic majority in the House, move to open impeachment proceedings.

Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether federal court filings Friday alleging that Trump directed his personal attorney to make illegal hush-money payments to two women constituted impeachable offenses, Nadler says “they would be,” if proven.

But as he and other Democrats wrestle with the politically explosive question of how to respond to the investigations touching Trump and his inner circle — including the question of possible collusion with Russia before the 2016 election — they cautioned that much remains unknown.

“You don’t necessarily launch an impeachment against the president because he committed an impeachable offense,” Nadler says. The alleged offenses must be proven, and their gravity be found sufficient to act, he adds.

— AFP

Yemen peace talks in Sweden focus on prisoner swap deal

Yemen’s warring parties have met for a fourth day in Sweden to try hammer out details of a prisoner exchange, which could eventually include all prisoners held by both sides in the four-year civil war.

Askar Zouail, from the delegation of the Saudi and US-backed, internationally recognized government, tells reporters that the talks were “progressing toward implementation” of the swap, and about how to group together thousands of prisoners for evacuation.

He says the “atmosphere is positive” and added that “we are optimistic.”

He was speaking from the venue in a castle near Stockholm.

The Iran-supported rebels, known as Houthis, say a committee is discussing the matter and that they are ready for the exchange. The rebels say many of their fighters are held at undisclosed locations abroad.

— AP

Ombudsman says PMO’s furniture refurbishment prior to Trump’s visit could have been criminal

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira is investigating the legality of furniture purchases for the Prime Minister’s Residence ahead of US President Donald Trump’s May 2017 visit to Israel. He is expected to pass the probe back to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and recommend opening a full criminal investigation, Channel 10 reports.

Mandelblit is also expected to open a criminal investigation into the matter, the TV channel says.

Singer Yigal Bashan, a legend of Israeli music, dies aged 68

Israeli singer, songwriter and actor Yigal Bahsan has died at the age of 68.

He was found in his Tel Aviv apartment and paramedics declared him dead at the scene.

His family said in a short statement announcing his death that he was “a warm and loved family man.”

Bashan began his musical career while still a teenager and over the following 50 years produced some of country’s most well-loved songs including “I have a small bird in my heart,” “Aunt and Uncle,” “Let’s make a festival for ourselves,” “Speak to me without words,” and “Father, tell me why.”

Nearly 1,000 still in custody over Paris unrest

Paris’s chief prosecutor says that nearly 1,000 people, nearly 100 of them minors and most without police records, are being held in custody after weekend protests in the French capital that turned violent.

Remy Heitz also says at a news conference that the prosecutor’s office was seeking preliminary charges against the person believed to be primarily responsible for graffiti scrawled on the Arc de Triomphe last weekend. Thirteen others were already handed preliminary charges over vandalism of the monument.

Heitz says that most of those in custody were men under 40 from various regions who came to Paris for the fourth Saturday of protests by a ballooning grassroots movement angry about a fuel tax hike and other issues.

— AP

Top GOP senator Rubio needs to know more about Trump’s UN pick

A leading Republican senator on foreign policy issues says he does not yet know whether President Donald Trump’s pick to be UN ambassador has the expertise and background to capably handle the job.

Trump wants former Fox News reporter and current State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert (NOW’-urt) to replace Nikki Haley as ambassador. Nauert had little foreign policy experience before taking the State Department post.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee would consider Nauert’s nomination, and one committee member, GOP Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “I most certainly think she has the ability to do the job well.”

But he adds, he first wants to meet with Nauert and have her testify before he decides whether to support her.

“Does she have detailed knowledge of foreign policy to a level that will allow her to be successful at the United Nations? I don’t know.”

— AP

Women accuse Brazilian spiritual healer of sexual abuse

Ten women in Brazil have accused a self-styled spiritual healer of sexually abusing them at a clinic in the central-western state of Goias.

The accusations against Joao Teixeira de Faria, known as John of God, were made Saturday night on the Globo TV network.

It was not immediately clear if Farias was being investigated by prosecutors.

In a statement to the G1 news portal, Faria’s press office says: “John of God vehemently denies having committed any inappropriate behavior during his treatments.”

Faria’s faith-based healing skills drew the attention of TV host Oprah Winfrey, who said on her website that she interviewed him at his clinic in 2013 and saw him performing psychic surgeries.

Faria’s website says he has treated former US President Bill Clinton and Brazil’s ex-President Luiz Inacio da Silva.

— AP

A Gulf country tried purchasing advanced UAVs from Israel, which declined — report

A country in the Gulf reached out to Israel in an effort to purchase drones from the Jewish state, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The TV channel says that Israel declined the offer after the country — which was not identified — requested an advanced attack drone.

2 injured in shooting attack north of Jerusalem — paramedics

Two people are injured in a shooting attack near the settlement of Ofra, north of Jerusalem, the Magen David Adom paramedic service says in a statement.

MDA says a woman, around 30-years-old, is being rushed to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem in serious condition. The other person is being treated at the scene for light injuries.

Reports in Hebrew-language media say the injured woman is pregnant.

The IDF says its investigating the incident.

Paramedics say woman shot outside Ofra is pregnant

The Magen David Adom emergency service says the woman critically injured in a shooting attack outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra is pregnant. According to a statement, the woman is being rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem with a gunshot wound to her upper body.

MDA says a total of six people are injured in the shooting, including a 21-year-old man with moderate injuries, who is also en route to Shaare Zedek.

Another three people, including two teen girls, are being taken to Hadassah Hospital Mt Scopus.

Syrian media says air defenses fire on ‘targets’ near Damascus airport

Syrian air defenses open fire on “hostile aerial targets” near Damascus airport, according to state media.

“Our air defenses engaged hostile aerial targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport,” the official SANA news agency says.

Reports in Hebrew-language media say the air strikes were targeting Iranian military installations near the airport.

— with AFP

IDF says manhunt underway for Ofra shooters

The IDF says security forces are searching the area near Ofra for the men who opened fire on people waiting at a bus stop outside the West Bank settlement earlier this evening.

The IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division commander, Brig. Gen. Eran Niv, is at the scene of the attack, according to a statement.

Pregnant woman shot in terror attack unconscious, on ventilator

The pregnant woman critically injured in the drive-by shooting outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra is unconscious and is hooked up to a ventilator, a local official says.

The spokesman for the Shomron Regional Council, where the attack took place, says the woman’s husband was shot in the leg in the attack.

IDF seals off al-Bireh as manhunt launched for Ofra shooters

The Palestinian town of al-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, is sealed off in the wake of a shooting attack nearby, the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa reports.

The IDF launched a manhunt in the central West Bank area to locate the perpetrators, who escaped after opening fire on a group of people waiting at a bus stop outside the settlement of Ofra.

Five people were injured in the attack, including a pregnant woman who sustained critical injuries from gunshot wounds to her upper body. Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital says the woman who is 21 weeks pregnant is unconscious and on a ventilator.

Adam Rasgon and Jacob Magid

Syrian state media denies strikes on Damascus airport

The Syrian state media outlet Sana says the Damascus International Airport was not the target of an airstrike, walking back its report from earlier this evening.

Sana reported earlier that Syrian air defenses opened fire on “hostile aerial targets” near the Damascus airport. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the sound of explosions rocked the area close to the airport and fire from air defense was also heard.

Later, the news agency removed the report and accompanying social media posts, saying there was no strikes at or near the airport.

Defense analysts and other war monitors say Syria’s air defense systems did fire surface to air missiles, but that they were triggered as a result of Israel jamming the radar.

Doctors deliver baby of woman critically injured in Ofra shooting

Doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital deliver the baby of the woman who was critically injured in a drive-by shooting outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra.

The 21-year-old mother remains unconscious and on a ventilator, according to doctors at Shaare Zedek. She is currently undergoing emergency surgery. The baby is said to be in stable condition.

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Saudi king calls on international community to ‘protect the Palestinian people’

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opens the GCC summit calling on member countries to protect the Palestinian people.

“The Kingdom calls on the international community to carry out its duty by taking the necessary measures to protect the Palestinian people from Israel’s aggressive practices that are considered a provocation to Arabs and Muslims,” the National quotes the monarch as saying.

Salman says that Saudi Arabia is working to ensure the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.