The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they happened.
Senior Hamas official vows to continue Gaza unrest, ‘move toward Jerusalem’
A senior Hamas official says the terror group will continue protests on the Gaza border that have resulted in violent clashes between Palestinians and the IDF, vowing not to disarm or back down.
“The Palestinian people are determined to continue the great ‘March of Return,’ to free the land and move towards occupied Jerusalem, and they are not concerned by all the sacrifices,” lawmaker Khalil al-Hayya tells a memorial ceremony of Faris al-Raqib, 29, who the Gaza health ministry says was shot in Friday’s clashes east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza as tens of thousands of people took part in the mass protests.
His death, announced Monday, raised the reported death toll to 18. The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday that at least 10 of those killed were members of Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas,
The border area is currently relatively quiet but tents erected for the protests remain.
— with AFP
Herzog slams demand for PM to speak at Independence Day ceremony
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog slams a demand to break with protocol that would allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak at the national Independence Day ceremony, which this year will mark Israel’s 70th birthday.
Herzog says that while the Knesset speaker is the only person who, by tradition, should address the torch-lighting event, he would himself demand to speak if the prime minister did also.
“If Miri Regev fights for a speech from the prime minster, she should also be fighting for me to speak,” he tells Radio 103FM. “The law says that after an appearance by the prime minister at an official ceremony, the head of the opposition appears so that the entire nation is represented.”
Culture Minister Miri Regev, who is responsible for the ceremony, is insisting on breaking with tradition to allow Benjamin Netanyahu to address the invited guests.
The current Knesset speaker, Yuli Edelstein, has threatened to boycott the event if she carries through with the proposal.
— Sue Surkes
Israel reaches landmark deal with UN on African migrants
Israel reaches an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees whereby the international body will facilitate transfer of some 16,000 African migrants to Western countries in return for a government promise to “formalize the status'” of those who remain.
“Israel has reached an unprecedented joint understanding with the United Nations commissioner for refugees to remove migrants from Israel,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says.
Under the agreement, Filippo Grandi, the UN commissioner for refugees, “will work, via understanding with different Western countries, to remove no fewer than 16,250 migrants from Israel, and Israel will formalize the status of protected populations that would have remained in any case.”
There are approximately 38,000 African asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72 percent are Eritrean and 20% are Sudanese. The vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012, illegally crossing the border from Egypt. The Africans say they fled for their lives and face renewed danger if they return.
Israel considers the vast majority of asylum seekers to be job seekers — economic migrants whose lives were not in danger in their countries of origin — and says it has no legal obligation to keep them.
Israel nabs 2 unarmed Palestinian who crossed Gaza fence
Israeli troops picked up two unarmed Palestinians who crossed the Gaza security fence and entered Israeli territory, the army says.
The suspects were arrested shortly after they crossed into southern Israel, near the Eshkol region. They were handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.
According to the army, they were not in possession of weapons.
Earlier reports indicate that three Palestinians had infiltrated into Israeli territory, but an army spokesperson says he is only aware of two.
— Judah Ari Gross
PM’s dog Kaia brought to final resting place
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’ son, Yair Netanyahu, posts a Facebook photo showing the gravestone of Kaia, the Netanyahus’ late family dog who passed away at the end of February.
The gravestone displays a photo of the Alaskan purebred above the engraving:
Our beloved dog.
10.4.2005 – 26.2.2017
We will always remember you with great love
The Netanyahu family
😢💔 we will always remember you and love you our sweet Kaya!
Yair, who posts to Facebook under the pseudonym Yair Hun, added: “We will always remember you and love you our sweet Kaya!
Kaia, who made headlines for biting several people, including her owner the prime minister, died aged 12 after an illness.
Palestinians say video shows Gaza youth being shot in head
The Palestinian health ministry is claiming that a Palestinian youth was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers yesterday and is in critical condition.
A video clip making the rounds on Palestinian social media, said to have been filmed east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, shows several youths trying to throw tires at an Israeli military position some distance away.
One of the youths, dressed in a white T-shirt and wearing a surgical mask on his face, can be seen placing a tire on other burning tires so that it too can catch fire, then turning around and, with his back to the border fence, throwing his arms up in a gesture of celebration.
The youth, identified by Palestinians as Tahrir Abu-Sabla, then drops down to the ground and as others rush towards him and pick him up to take him to an ambulance, blood can be seen flooding out from his head.
(The Times of Israel version has been edited.)
Month-old baby drowns in hotel jacuzzi in Ashdod
A month-old baby drowns to death in a hotel Jacuzzi in Ashdod after apparently slipping from his mother’s arms as she was bathing with him.
Paramedics attempted to resuscitate the infant and rushed him to the city’s Assuta Medical Center, but they were unable to save his life.
An initial investigation found that the baby’s father was asleep and his mother climbed into the jacuzzi with him but he slid out of her hands.
“When they entered the room, we saw the baby unconscious and they were being instructed over the phone how to give him CPR,” a Magen David Adom paramedic who treated the baby says. “We gave him life-saving medical treatment that included medicine, mouth-to-mouth and massages, and we took him to the hospital.”
18 killed in Boko Haram attack on Nigerian army base, villages
Boko Haram has killed at least 18 people and wounded scores in coordinated attacks overnight on a military camp and villages around the flashpoint Nigerian city of Maiduguri with suicide bombers, mortars and guns, Nigerian officials say.
“Eighteen Boko Haram terrorists on foot attacked the military base while seven suicide bombers targeted residents of nearby Bale Shuwar and Alikaranti villages at 8:50 pm (1950 GMT),” a senior military officer in Maiduguri, a city in north-eastern, Nigeria says. “The terrorists fired mortars at troops.
“So far we have recovered 18 dead bodies from the two villages,” Bello Dambatto, an official from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) tells AFP. “The victims were killed while trying to escape the fight between the insurgents and the military,” said Dambatto.
— with AFP
Netanyahu says Canada, Italy, Germany among countries to take Israel’s African migrants
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Canada, Italy and Germany are among the Western countries that have agreed to accept some 16,00 African asylum seekers in Israel, according to an deal by which Israel will give permanent status to the remainder — estimated at around 18,000.
Speaking at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office following the announcement of the deal with the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, Netanyahu said that the migrants “will leave, amid others, to Canada, Italy and Germany.”
He said the agreement with UN, which is to be phased in over the next five years in three stages, came about after Israel’s Supreme Court barred the implementation of a plan that would have seen Israel expel the migrants to unnamed third-party countries, believed to be Rwanda and Uganda.
“I went to the neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv, I saw the suffering of the Israelis living there and we said that we have to remove the problem. But because the Supreme Court has banned us from moving them to a country they do not want to go to we had to find another solution,” Netanyahu says.
The prime minister adds that the “hundreds of millions of shekels that we would have had to invest in absorbing the migrants — we will invest it in south Tel Aviv,” where majority of the migrants live.
Deri says remaining African migrants will go to communities that offered refuge
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri says that the some 18,000 African migrants who will be given temporary status in Israel will be put in communities that campaigned for the asylum seekers to stay in Israel.
“Let’s put them to the test,” he said in a press conference alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following an announcement of a deal with the United Nations that will see another 16,000 sent to Western countries.
“I expect those who said we shouldn’t be removing people and said ‘oh, we will take them,’ to now follow through when put to the test,” he says, instructing his ministry’s director general to “draw up a list” of the communities that offered to be “refuge cities.”
Responding to a plan that would have African migrants deported against their will to Rwanda and Uganda, more than 1,000 Israeli families signed up with NGO Miklat Israel to host the asylum seekers at risk. Some families signed along with their entire kibbutz, saying the whole community would be a “sanctuary” for refugees.
The newly reached UN agreement will see that plan canceled.
Russian foreign ministry issues travel warning on Tel Aviv due to Gaza protests
The Russian Foreign Ministry issues a travel warning to stay away from public places in Tel Aviv due to rallies by activists hoping to escalate tensions in the ongoing deadly clashes between Palestinian protesters and the Israeli army on the border with the Gaza Strip.
The ministry tweets, in Russian, “Tel Aviv rallies by left and right activists dedicated to escalation of the conflict on the border of the Gaza Strip. It is recommended to avoid places where there are mass gatherings of people.”
On Friday, some 30,000 Palestinians took part in demonstrations along the Gaza border, during which rioters threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops on the other side of the fence, burned tires and scrap wood, sought to breach and damage the security fence, and in one case opened fire at Israeli soldiers.
Bennett slams migrant deal, says will turn Israel into ‘Garden of Eden for infiltrators’
Jewish Home leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett slams a deal for the UN to help resettle in other countries some 16,000 African migrants currently in Israel in return for Israel agreeing to give temporary status to the remainder — estimated at around 18,000.
Writing in a series of tweets, Bennett says that the deal “will turn Israel into a Garden of Eden for infiltrators.”
He further described it as a “complete surrender to the false campaign spread by the media in recent months” against a plan to forcibly expel the migrants to Rwanda and Uganda.
“The original plan that the government agreed on regarding the infiltrators was moral and fair and we should act only according to it,” he says.
Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Mandela dies at 81
Winnie Mandela, the former wife of South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, has died at the age of 81, her spokesman said.
She died in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness, spokesman Victor Dlamini says.
Winnie Mandela, who was married to Nelson Mandela for 38 years, played a high-profile role in the battle to end white-minority rule.
“It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday,” says a statement issued by Dlamini, a family spokesman.
“She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.”
Turkey seeks arrest of Gulen over Russian envoy’s killin
A Turkish court issues arrest warrants for eight people, including the alleged mastermind of the 2016 failed coup, Fethullah Gulen, over the murder in Ankara that year of the Russian ambassador.
Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot dead in December 2016 by off-duty Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, while inaugurating a photo exhibition.
Turkey has said the murder was a plot carried out by the group of Gulen, a US-based Islamic preacher who stands accused of staging the 2016 coup bid.
According to the warrants, the eight suspects are charged with seeking to overthrow the constitution and pre-meditated murder, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Palestinian shot as he rushes West Bank checkpoint
Security forces shoot and arrest a Palestinian at a West Bank checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem.
The man reportedly ran at a guard manning the Te’enim checkpoint near the West Bank settlement of Avnei Hefetz.
There were no injuries to Israelis in the incident.
The incident comes amid high tensions on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip where tens of thousands of Palestinians clashed violently with the IDF on Friday.
US Supreme Court rejects appeal from Israel terror attack victims
The US Supreme Court rejects an appeal from American victims of terrorist attacks in Israel that took place more than a decade ago.
The justices rule not to overturn decision by a lower court which tossed out a $654 million verdict against the PLO and Palestinian Authority in connection with attacks in Israel in 2002 and 2004 that killed 33 people.
The Trump administration sided with the Palestinians in calling on the high court to leave the lower court ruling in place. The federal appeals court in New York said US courts cannot consider lawsuits against foreign-based groups over random attacks that were not aimed at the United States.
The victims sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, passed to open US courts to American victims of international terrorism.
— with AP
US says eager to work with Egypt’s re-elected Sisi: official
The United States wants to build on its “strategic partnership” with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the US State Department says, despite expressing concerns over political freedom in his country.
“The United States values its strong partnership with Egypt and will continue to work to advance our shared objectives,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert says, after Sissi won a second term with 97 percent of the vote.
But Nauert adds: “We have noted reports of constraints on freedoms of expression and association in the run-up to the elections.”
Germany denies it was asked to take in African migrants from Israel
Germany says it has not been consulted about any plans to resettle there African migrants currently in Israel, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu naming the country as a possible location to move asylum seekers, under a new agreement with the United Nations.
Some 16,250 African migrants in Israel will be resettled in “developed” Western countries, while a similar number will be allowed to stay and given temporary residency, under a new agreement reached with the UN refugee agency, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier.
“This agreement will allow for the departure from Israel of 16,250 migrants to developed countries like Canada or Germany or Italy,” Netanyahu said, without elaborating.
The German embassy in Israel however, told The Times of Israel that is does not know of any such plans.
“Germany has always fully complied with its humanitarian obligations in recent years, i.e., through the admission of resettlement refugees, and will continue to do so in the future,” a statement says.
But it adds, “a request to accept refugees living in Israel, in particular from African countries, as part of the resettlement program of the UNHCR in Germany, is not known to us.
— with Raphael Ahren
UN confirms deal with Israel to resettle African migrants in West
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirms an agreement reached with Israel to help resettle in other countries some 16,000 African migrants currently in Israel in return for Israel agreeing to give temporary status to the remainder — estimated at around 18,000.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the State of Israel today signed a Framework of Common Understanding to promote solutions for thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese living in Israel. A joint working group will be set up with a series of objectives and a timetable to implement solutions for some 39,000 people over five years. As a result of the Framework of Common Understanding signed today, the Government of Israel will not pursue its non-voluntary relocation policy,” the agency says in a statement on its website.
“UNHCR appreciates the collaboration with the Government of Israel to find a way out for thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese. This agreement will ensure that protection is provided to those who need it,” says Volker Türk, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, who signed the agreement on behalf of UNHCR.
The statement adds that the UNHCR will help Israel “design programs to encourage Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to move out of the neighborhoods in South Tel Aviv where they have mostly congregated.”
Netanyahu says African migrants who remain will be sent to kibbutzim
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that thousands of African migrants who are allowed to stay in the country instead of being deported, as was previously planned, will be removed from Tel Aviv, where they currently reside, and sent to kibbutzim, and other communities.
In a Hebrew-language video posted to his Facebook page Netanyahu defends the newly unveiled plan that drew criticism from Education Minister Naftali Bennett and residents of south Tel Aviv, who have been campaigning for the removal of tens of thousands of African migrants housed in their neighborhood.
“I am a full partner in the desire to get all of the infiltrators out of here,” Netanyahu says. “But sometimes there are surprises. The third country didn’t stand up to the pressure, and it withdrew from the agreement. Therefore, I needed to get a new deal, even better. It removes 16,000 people, in contrast to the deal with a third country that would have removed 14,000.”
Netanyahu says that the migrants who remain will be removed from south Tel Aviv and sent to agricultural communities, kibbutzim, to “strong communities, so that the burden will not fall on the weaker neighborhoods.”