Tel Aviv bound flight returns to Barcelona after engine catches fire
Live updates (closed)

Despite election loss, Gantz confident he’ll one day be PM

Blue and White party leader says he’s ‘100 percent’ certain he’ll eventually be premier, vows to serve ‘those who voted for me, those who didn’t’

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz speaks to supporters at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv on April 10, 2019. (Gali Tibbon/AFP)
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz speaks to supporters at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv on April 10, 2019. (Gali Tibbon/AFP)

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

Netanyahu says ICC decision not to probe US troops bodes well for Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the International Criminal Court’s rejection last week of a request to investigate the actions of American soldiers in Afghanistan is good news for Israel.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu says the purpose of the court was to try genocides and ethnic violence in states without proper legal systems, unlike democracies such as the US and Israel.

“To put on trial US or Israeli troops, or the State of Israel and the United States, is absurd. This is the opposite of the original purpose of the International Criminal Court,” he says, according to a statement from his office.

Netanyahu calls the recent ICC decision a “correction of injustice” and says it will how Israel is treated internationally.

ICC prosecutors have been investigating Israel over its settlement policy in the West Bank as well as the conduct of its forces during the 2014 Gaza war against the Hamas terror group.


Eilat woman accused of drowning son acquitted on mental health grounds

The Beerbsheba District Court acquits a woman from the Red Sea resort of Eilat accused of drowning her 4-year-old son in a bathtub.

The court cites the women’s mental state and the opinion of a psychiatrist, who argued the suspect was not fit to stand trial.

The judge orders the women be hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for up to 25 years.

Egypt’s Sissi hosts Libyan strongman Haftar in Cairo

CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi meets Sunday with Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are fighting for control of the capital Tripoli, state media reports.

They “are discussing the latest developments in Libya” at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egyptian state newspaper Al Ahram says.

Sissi has been an ardent supporter of Haftar’s forces, which control swaths of eastern Libya and launched an offensive on April 4 to take the capital.


In this file photo from November 29, 2016, Khalifa Haftar, chief of the Libyan National Army, leaves the main building of Russia’s Foreign Ministry after a meeting with the Russian foreign minister in Moscow. (Vasily Maximov/AFP)

Technical problems reported with Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp worldwide

Users of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are reporting difficulties accessing the social media sites worldwide, including in Israel.

Both Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook, with the latter widely used among Israelis for messaging.

Hundreds evacuated in Frankfurt so WWII bomb can be defused

BERLIN — Some 600 people have been evacuated from their homes in the old city of Frankfurt so specialists could remove a World War II-era bomb that was discovered in the Main River.

The German news agency dpa reports the bomb was defused, as planned, underwater on Sunday, which led to a loud detonation and a big water fountain on the river. Police tell dpa “the bomb is no longer a danger.”

Firefighters had discovered the American 250-kilogram (550-pound) bomb during diving training in the river on Tuesday.

Even more than 70 years after the end of the war, bombs and other munitions still turn up regularly in Germany, a testament to the ferocity of the fighting in World War II.

— AP

A large water fountain rises behind the Iron Bridge when a 250 kilogram US-American bomb from the Second World War in the Main River is detonated with a blast in Frankfurt, Germany, April 14, 2019. (Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa via AP)

Gaza factions said weighing resumption of balloon launches, nighttime border clashes

Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip are considering resuming the use of “hard tools” such as incendiary balloon launches and nighttime clashes along the border over what they say is Israel’s failure to honor understandings between the sides aimed at ensuring calm, the Al-Quds newspaper reports.

According to the Jerusalem-based daily, the Palestinians spoke with an Egyptian security delegation mediating between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel, which promised to press Jerusalem to honor its end of the understandings.

The newspaper says this includes Israel lifting restrictions on the export and import of certain goods to and from Gaza.

Blue and White says it’ll recommend Benny Gantz for PM

The Blue and White party says it will recommend its leader Benny Gantz be prime minister when faction heads meet with President Reuven Rivlin this week for consultations on who should form the next government.

“We will recommend Benny Gantz for the head of government. Over a million people chose us in order to lead and replace the government,” Blue and White says in statement.

Blue and White, an alliance of former military chief Gantz’s Israel Resilience and Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party, finished as the second largest party in last week’s elections with 35 seats, one less than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

In addition to heading the largest party, Netanyahu has the clearest path to assembling a ruling coalition in light of right-wing and religious parties receiving a majority of Knesset seats, making it all but assured Rivlin will give him the first shot at forming a government.

“We will respect the president’s decision and we thank him for the invitation to consultations,” Blue and White says.

Blue and White’s delegation to its meeting with Rivlin tomorrow will be headed by Gabi Ashkenazi, a former IDF chief and no. 4 on the party’s list, along with soon-to-be MKs Avi Nissenkorn, Orna Barbivai, Ram Ben Barak, Tzvi Hauser, Orli Froman and Omer Yankelovitch.

Members of the Blue White political party Benny Gantz (2L), Boogie Yaalon, Gabi Ashkenazi and Yair Lapid hold a press conference at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 10, 2019. (Flash90)

New Palestinian Authority government sworn in again after oath foul-up

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian Authority government ministers are sworn in for a second time on Sunday after a lawyer noticed that the oath they took the day before had been missing a phrase.

Lawyer Nael Al-Hawah spotted the omission after PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s new government was sworn in before President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday.

The oath had dropped a clause where ministers swear to be loyal “to the people and its national heritage,” he says.

“I noticed the error and I posted a status update on Facebook,” he tells AFP.

Shtayyeh called Al-Hawah to acknowledge the error and inform him that the oath would be repeated in its entirety on Sunday, he says.

Official Palestinian news agency WAFA says the oath was indeed repeated, adding that the mistake had been caused by a “typing error.”

Al-Hawah says he was familiar with the vow having closely followed Palestinian Authority governments and because it was part of his teaching for law trainees.

He says the error could have placed the government’s legality in doubt.


Mohammad Shtayeh is sworn in as Palestinian Authority prime minister in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on April 13, 2019. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Prosecutors to charge 22 people suspected of running marijuana marketplace

Police wrap up their investigation into virtual marijuana marketplace Telegrass, with prosecutors set to file charges against 22 suspects in the coming days for operating the network.

Police last month effectively shut down Telegrass, which operates on the Telegram messaging application, with the arrest of 42 suspected members in Israel, the United States, Ukraine and Germany, including founder Amos Dov Silver.

Prosecutors will request that those being charged remain in custody until the end of legal proceedings.

Rights group: Settlers executed Palestinian stone-thrower; army covered it up

Israeli rights group B’Tselem accuses two Israeli men of shooting to death a Palestinian man in the West Bank earlier this month for throwing rocks at cars.

B’Tselem says contrary to the IDF’s version of events, Mohammed Abdel Fattah was not killed during an attempted stabbing attack near the village of Hawara, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank.

According to the group, Fattah was throwing rocks at cars with Israeli license plates and hit one of them. The Israeli driver then pulled over and two gunshots were heard before he exited the car, B’Tselem says.

As Fattah hid behind a nearby dumpster, the Israeli man continued to shoot at him, and the driver of a truck that stopped at the scene also opened fire, according to B’Tselem, which says the two continued to shoot at Fattah as he lay on the ground.

B’Tselem says partial video of the incident backs its assertions, while accusing Israeli troops of erasing security camera footage from a nearby shop.

“The identity of both shooters is known. If the authorities so choose, they could easily track them down, at least for questioning. Yet given the troops’ conduct immediately after the incident, and Israel’s longstanding policy, the chances of this are slim to none,” it says in a statement.

תיעוד ראשוני מניסיון פיגוע הדקירה אמש בחווארה שנקלט דרך מצלמות אבטחה באיזור‫להצטרפות לעמוד הטלגרם שלנו ודיווחים אונליין ישירות מהשטח לחצו על הקישור הבא:

פורסם על ידי ‏ידיעות מהשטח‏ ב- יום חמישי, 4 באפריל 2019

Ukraine president holds 1-man ‘debate’ before runoff vote

MOSCOW — With one week remaining until Ukraine’s presidential election runoff, President Petro Poroshenko has come to the country’s largest sports stadium for a proposed debate where his opponent didn’t show up.

There also aren’t any spectators in Kiev’s Olimpiskiy Stadium, though a large crowd stands outside to listen to a broadcast of Poroshenko making a statement and answering journalists’ questions. He stands next to an empty lectern bearing challenger Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s name.

The event Sunday was the latest unusual scene in the race between Poroshenko and Zelenskiy, a comic actor rumored to be Jewish whom polls show holding a commanding lead.

Zelenskiy, who’s never held office, had challenged Poroshenko to a debate in the stadium two days before April 21 election, but Poroshenko wanted it to be held Sunday. Zelenskiy never agreed to the Sunday debate.

— AP

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gestures as he answers to a journalist’s question ahead of the presidential elections on April 21, at the Olympic stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, April 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Satellite photos show damage from Syria strike attributed to Israel

An Israeli satellite imaging firms releases images of a Syrian military base that was targeted in an airstrike on Friday night that was attributed to Israel.

A large hangar and a number of buildings were destroyed in the attack on the base, near the city of Masyaf in the western Hama province, according to the satellite images analyzed and distributed by ImageSat International.

The structures hit were reportedly used in the production of missiles.

According to a report by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in Arabic, a number of Iranian “elements” and pro-Iranian militants were killed in the alleged attack, and 17 people were injured.

Syria’s official state news agency SANA said Israel targeted a military site in the area, but that Syrian air defenses intercepted the attack, downing some of the missiles fired. The regime mouthpiece said the interception resulted in the destruction of several buildings and the wounding of three “fighters.” The area is known to house Iranian forces and their Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

Israel does not comment on specific airstrikes in Syria, but does generally acknowledge conducting operations there.

— Judah Ari Gross

Satellite photos released by ImageSat International shows the aftermath of an airstrikes attributed to Israel that targeted a Syrian military base in Masyaf in the Hama province on April 12, 2019. (ImageSat International)

Rivlin said to ask not to sit next to Netanyahu at event for fallen soldiers

President Reuven Rivlin has asked not to be seated next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at an event in Jerusalem this evening commemorating Israeli troops killed in battle, Channel 12 news reports.

The families of soldiers will sit between them, according to the network.

“These are sensitive days of consultations with [political] factions,” organizers of the event say, referring to talks Rivlin will hold this week with party leaders on who should form the next government.

Netanyahu and Rivlin have long been reported to have a tense relationship, with the prime minister saying ahead of last week’s elections for the Knesset that the president was looking for an “excuse” to task political rival Benny Gantz with assembling a coalition.

Rivlin strongly denounced Netanyahu’s comment, with his office saying it was a “despicable attempt” to undermine the public’s trust in his choice of who should get the first go at cobbling together a ruling majority.

President Reuven Rivlin (right) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a memorial service marking 23 years since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, on October 21, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

Soldiers nab Gazan crossing into Israel with knife

Israeli troops arrest a Palestinian man who crossed into Israeli territory from the northern Gaza Strip, the army says.

The man was found to be in possession of a knife. He has been handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.

— Judah Ari Gross

Thousands of pilgrims mark Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

Thousands of Christian pilgrims are taking part in Palm Sunday celebrations in Jerusalem at the start of the Christian Holy Week.

Worshipers carry palm fronds and olive branches on Sunday and march from the top of the Mount of Olives to the Old City of Jerusalem. Israeli police say an estimated 15,000 people are taking part in the procession.

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem and is the start of the church’s most solemn week, which includes the Good Friday re-enactment of Jesus’s crucifixion and death and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The procession makes its way from the Mount of Olives past the Garden of Gethsemane where, according to Biblical tradition, Jesus was betrayed, then finally into the alleyways of the Old City.

— AP

Catholic priests carry palm fronds at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed by many Christians to be the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

AG denies ‘unprofessional considerations’ in investigations of politicians

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit strongly denies prosecutors seek to bring criminal charges against politicians who pursue policies or make appointments they disapprove of.

“In recent days, there have been different reports about unprofessional considerations regarding various appoints. I would like to make it as clear as possible that these reports have no basis. There was nothing like this and won’t be anything like this,” Mandelblit says at an event honoring the IDF’s Military Advocate General.

His remarks appear to refer to speculation by analysts for Channel 12 news over the weekend that prosecutors could seek a more severe penalty for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he is tried and convicted on corruption charges in the event that he appoints Likud minister and Supreme Court critic Yariv Levin as Justice Minister.

Amnon Abramovitch, a Channel 12 commentator, said his remarks were made in jest.

After Syria strike, Netanyahu says Israel still operating in the north

Days after a strike in Syria attributed to the Israeli Air Force, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is continuing to ensure no hostile forces can establish a military foothold on the Jewish state’s northern border.

“We are continuing to act on all fronts, including the northern one,” Netanyahu says at an event in Jerusalem for families of soldiers who died in battle.

“Strength is the guarantee of our existence and is the crucial and basic condition for achieving peace with our neighbors,” he adds.

Syria has blamed Israel for the strike early Saturday, which reportedly targeted a missile production facility near the northwestern city of Masyaf.

According to an observer group, a number of Iranian “elements” and pro-Iranian militants were killed in the attack, with 17 people injured.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes in recent years in Syria on targets linked to Iran, which it has accused of working to establish a military presence opposite the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at an event in Jerusalem honoring the families of Israeli soldiers killed in battle, on April 14, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Iran summons French ambassador over colleague’s tweet

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reports that the country’s foreign ministry has summoned France’s ambassador to Tehran, over remarks made on Twitter by his colleague in Washington.

Ambassador Philippe Thiebaud was asked on Sunday to explain why the French Ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, had tweeted that “sanctions could be reimposed” on Iran, once the 2015 nuclear deal expires after 10 years.

Araud said Saturday that because “Russia is providing enriched uranium” to Iran, Tehran should not need to be “massively enriching uranium after the JCPOA,” using the acronym for the nuclear deal signed with world powers, including France.

ISNA says Iran’s foreign ministry has called Araud’s remarks “unacceptable” and in “open violation” of the nuclear deal.

Under the nuclear deal, Iran capped its uranium enrichment activities in return to ending sanctions.

— AP

Netanyahu said leaning toward picking Supreme Court critic as justice minister

Prime Minister Netanyahu is leaning toward appointing Likud lawmaker Yariv Levin as justice minister, if the ruling party receives the portfolio in the next government, Channel 13 reports.

The possibility that Levin could be tapped for the post has sparked consternation in light of his staunch criticism of the Supreme Court, with some speculating that prosecutors could seek harsher penalties against Netanyahu in a series of graft cases, if Levin is in fact appointed justice minister.

Earlier this evening, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit denied any political motivations on the part of prosecutors, in apparent reference to the speculation surrounding Levin.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin speaks at the 15th annual Jerusalem Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group, on February 12, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Despite election loss, Gantz confident he will one day be PM

Despite his Blue and White party losing by a seat to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud in elections last week, Benny Gantz is sure that he will be premier, one day soon.

In a clip from an interview with Channel 12’s “Uvda” investigative news program to be aired Sunday evening, Gantz took a glass full approach to the election outcome, noting that Blue and White received 35 seats, despite not having existed two months before.

“First of all, let’s look at the size our accomplishment [in the elections]. This is truly unprecedented,” says Gantz, a former military chief.

With Likud as the largest party and Netanyahu in the clearest position to form a ruling majority, Gantz appears destined for the opposition benches during the next Knesset, but vows to work on behalf of all Israelis in whatever role he occupies.

“I will serve all of Israeli society,” he says. “Those who voted for me, those who didn’t.”

While acknowledging he would not immediately be moving to the Prime Minister’s Residence, Gantz expresses confidence he will be there in the future.

“One day, I will definitely be prime minister,” he says.

Asked if he was sure about this, Gantz says, “100 percent.”

Tel Aviv bound flight returns to Barcelona after engine catches fire

A flight operated by the Israeli airline Arkia, from Barcelona to Tel Aviv, returns to Barcelona shortly after taking off due to engine troubles.

Israel’s Channel 13 news says the engine caught fire. There are no reports of any injuries.

Arkia says the aircraft was a Boeing plane owned by an Italian airline.

“The passengers got off the plane and Arkia is working on an alternative solution to bring them to Israel as soon as possible,” the company is quoted saying by the Ynet news site.

Trump said to warn Netanyahu security co-op could be harmed due to Israel-China ties

US President Donald Trump has warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that security ties between the United States and Israel may be harmed if the latter does not the brakes on its warming relationship with China, Channel 13 reports.

According to the network, Trump issued the warning shortly after signing an order recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory during Netanyahu’s visit to the White House last month.

“If you don’t limit the Chinese penetration into Israel, security cooperation with the US will be harmed,” Trump was quoted saying.

Similar messages have reportedly been relayed in the past by top Trump administration officials, such as National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Citing unnamed Israeli officials familiar with the meeting, the report says Netanyahu told Trump that Israel is working on establishing an oversight panel to examine Chinese investments in the country, but it is being held up by government infighting.

read more:
Live updates (closed)

Tel Aviv bound flight returns to Barcelona after engine catches fire

A flight operated by the Israeli airline Arkia, from Barcelona to Tel Aviv, returns to Barcelona shortly after taking off due to engine troubles.

Israel’s Channel 13 news says the engine caught fire. There are no reports of any injuries.

Arkia says the aircraft was a Boeing plane owned by an Italian airline.

“The passengers got off the plane and Arkia is working on an alternative solution to bring them to Israel as soon as possible,” the company is quoted saying by the Ynet news site.