The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Guatemala to move embassy to Jerusalem on May 16
Guatemala will move its embassy in Jerusalem to on May 16, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announces.
The move will be just two days after the US moves its embassy in Israel to the city and three days after Jerusalem Day, which marks the capture of East Jerusalem and the Old City in the 1967 Six Day War.
“I thank the Guatemalan president and government for the brave decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem,” says Barkat after meeting with Guatemala’s ambassador to Israel and the director-general of Guatemala’s foreign ministry on the embassy move.
“I promised them that we’ll assist as much as possible in order to enable a quick and smooth transfer of the embassy to the capital of Israel,” he adds.
Barkat also calls on other states to follow the US and Guatemala in moving their embassies to Israel.
מעבירים את שגרירות גוואטמלה לירושלים! נפגשתי הבוקר עם שגרירת גוואטמלה בישראל שרה סוליס קסטנדה, ועם מנכ"לית משרד החוץ…
Report: Anti-Semitism rises, but violence against Jews falls
Violent attacks on Jews worldwide dropped in 2017 despite a rise in other forms of anti-Semitism, researchers report , in a year characterized by normalization and mainstreaming of anti-Semitism not seen in Europe since World War II.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University say assaults specifically targeting Jews fell 9 percent last year. They record 327 cases compared to 361 in 2016, which had already been the lowest number in a decade.
But they note attacks were far more brazen. Most dramatic were a pair of cases in France, where a Jewish woman was thrown to her death out of her apartment window and a Holocaust survivor was stabbed and burned to death in her Paris home.
Threats, harassment and insults have also driven thousands of French Jews to relocate.
Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry releases the report every year on the eve of Israel’s Holocaust memorial day, which begins Wednesday at sundown.
Increased security measures are credited with reducing violence, but it may be masking a trend of anti-Semitism becoming more mainstream and acceptable, particularly in European politics. The report describes a toxic triangle made up of the rise of the extreme right, radical Islamism and a heated anti-Zionist discourse on the left accompanied by anti-Semitic expressions.
‘Get ready Russia’: Trump warns of missile strike on Syria
After Russia warns any missiles fired at Syria will be shot down, US President Donald Trump tells Moscow to “get ready.”
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” Trump tweets.
“You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” he adds.
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
Algeria says 257 people died in military plane crash
ALGIERS, Algeria — Algeria’s defense ministry says 257 people have died in military plane crash.
Civil protection agency spokesman Farouk Achour tells The Associated Press that some passengers were “extracted with deep burns caused by the fuselage catching fire.”
He says more than 300 emergency workers are working at the scene.
Algerian TV network Ennahar publishes images of body bags lined up in a field after the crash.
The crash occurred soon after takeoff from the Boufarik air base southwest of the capital Algiers.
Reports say high-level Russian delegation arrives in Syria
Russian state news agencies are reporting that a high-level Russian delegation has arrived in Syria where it is going to meet with President Bashar Assad.
The visit that RIA Novosti and TASS report on Wednesday comes amid growing expectation of US retaliation against Syria for a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town.
The two state news agencies’ reports say that the Russian delegation includes the governor of an oil-rich Siberian region and several lawmakers, who arrived earlier on Wednesday.
TASS, in a news story out of the northern Syria city of Homs, quotes lawmaker Dmitry Sablin refuting reports that Assad may have fled Syria. Sablin says Assad is in Damascus and is going to meet the Russian delegation.
Russia responds to Trump’s threat of Syria missile strike
The spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry responds to US President Donald Trump’s warning of American missile strikes on Syria.
“Smart missiles must strike terrorists, not the legitimate government that has been fighting international terrorism on its territory for several years,” Maria Zakharova says, according to the Sputnik news agency.
Trump’s threat to fire “nice and new and ‘smart'” missiles at Syria was prompted by Russia’s warning it will shoot down any missiles fired at Syria, where Moscow is backing the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Russia: US missile strike on Syria would destroy any chemical evidence
Russia’s Foreign Ministry says the “smart” missiles that US President Donald Trump has promised to send to Syria will destroy evidence of a suspected chemical weapons attack.
Trump tweeted on Wednesday that the US will be launching missiles at targets in Syria in response to the suspected chemical attack in a rebel-held area that killed at least 40 people.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, in a Facebook post later on Wednesday wonders if the chemical weapons watchdog investigating the reports has been warned that the missiles will destroy “all evidence” of the attack.
She adds: “Or is it the original idea to use the smart missiles to sweep the traces of the provocation under the rug?”
Both the Syrian government and Russia deny the attack ever took place.
Palestinian dies in work accident at West Bank industrial zone
A Palestinian laborer dies in a work accident at the Mishor Adumim industrial zone in the West Bank, police say.
Police say the man died of his injuries at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, where he was taken in critical condition after falling from a height of 10 meters at the construction site where he worked.
The Palestinian was a resident of the southern West Bank village of Yatta in his 50s, police say.
Police open a probe into the incident.
Syria: Trump missile strike threats a ‘reckless escalation’
DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria describes US President Donald Trump’s threats of missile strikes on the country in response to an alleged chemical attack as a “reckless escalation,” state news agency SANA says.
“We are not surprised by such a reckless escalation from a regime like the United States which has fostered and continues to foster terrorism in Syria,” SANA reports an official source at the foreign ministry as saying.
Turkey PM urges Russia, US to stop ‘street fighting’ over Syria
ISTANBUL — Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Wednesday tells Russia and the United States to end their “street fighting” over Syria, saying it was time to put aside a rivalry that risked harming civilians.
“It’s street fighting. They are fighting like street bullies. But who is paying the price? It’s civilians,” Yildirim says in a televised speech in Istanbul.
“Now is not the time for rivalry. It’s the time to heal the wounds in the region and to come together and to leave aside the fight,” he says.
Sources: House Speaker Paul Ryan won’t run for re-election
WASHINGTON — Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan will not run for re-election, according to people close to the Wisconsin lawmaker.
Ryan’s plans have been the source of much speculation, amid Republican concerns over keeping their majority in the House of Representatives. Two people with knowledge of the Wisconsin lawmaker’s thinking say Ryan has decided against seeking another term. Both seek anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.
They do not say why Ryan has decided not to run.
Ryan was first elected to Congress in 1998. He was elected House speaker in 2015 after former House speaker John Boehner retired. He was former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012.
Yesh Atid MK calls Netanyahu a ‘traitor’ for backing bill limiting High Court
An opposition lawmaker slams Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for backing a bill stripping the High Court of Justice of its ability to strike down laws it finds unconstitutional.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is betraying democracy and Declaration of Independence,” Yesh Atid MK Yael German says, according to the Walla news site.
“Today [Netanyahu] is a traitor. He isn’t concerned about democracy [or] the public,” she adds.
Deal reached to evacuate unrecognized Bedouin village
Residents of an unrecognized Bedouin village agree to a deal to voluntarily leave their homes and move to a nearby Bedouin town.
Under the deal, Umm al-Hiran residents will receive plots in Hura to build new homes, as well as financial compensation for the houses they are leaving in Umm al-Hiran.
The deal brings to an end a 15-year legal battle over Umm al-Hiran. In 2015, the High Court of Justice in 2015 ruled that the Bedouin have been illegally squatting on land that belongs to the state.
The village was the site of violent clashes in January 2017 after a police officer and resident were killed in controversial circumstances during an attempt to evacuate the village.
Ryan’s spokesman confirms US House speaker won’t seek reelection
WASHINGTON — Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan will not run for reelection, his office announces, injecting another layer of uncertainty as Republicans face worries over losing their majority in the fall.
Ryan’s plans have been the source of much speculation and will set off a scramble among his lieutenants to take the helm. A self-styled budget guru, Ryan had made tax cuts a centerpiece of his legislative agenda, and a personal cause, and Congress delivered on that late last year.
Ryan, 48, announces his plans at a closed-door meeting of House Republicans Wednesday morning, according to those present. His tone is somber, and he reads directly from prepared remarks.
“After nearly 20 years in the House, the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father,” Ryan adviser Brendan Buck says in a statement. “While he did not seek the position, he told his colleagues that serving as speaker has been the professional honor of his life, and he thanked them for the trust they placed in him.”
Ryan will serve out his term and retire in January, Buck says.
Syrian forces said to leave bases ahead of possible US strikes
Pro-government forces in Syria are clearing military bases and airfields ahead of possible US airstrikes, a monitor says.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the evacuations are taking place at major military bases and airfields in territory controlled by the Assad regime.
The report from the group comes as US President Donald Trump threatens to launch “nice and new and ‘smart!’” missiles at Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian regime.
Russia to deploy troops to Syria town hit by alleged gas attack
The Russian military says it will deploy troops to the Syrian town of Douma that was the site of a purported chemical weapons attack over the weekend.
Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces says on Wednesday that Russian military police will deploy to Douma on Thursday to ensure security of the town.
Poznikhir says that 41,213 people, including 3,354 rebels and 8,642 members of their families have left Douma with the Russian military’s assistance.
Iran hurls ‘support for terrorism’ charge back at Saudi Arabia
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Wednesday hits back at Saudi accusations that Tehran provides “support for terrorism,” pointing at alleged links between Riyadh and jihadists such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State terror group.
Countries in the region “will never forget the role played by Saudi Arabia in conspiring for, supporting and arming violent terrorists and extremists… such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh (IS) and other similar groups,” Iran’s foreign ministry says.
It also singles out Saudi support for Iraq’s fallen dictator Saddam Hussein in his 1980-1988 war against Iran, its military intervention in Yemen since 2015 and its reported rapprochement with Israel.
Iran, a bitter regional rival of Saudi Arabia with which diplomatic ties were cut in 2016, is responding to the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who Tuesday referred to Tehran’s “support for terrorism” during a visit to Paris.
Amid US threats to strike Syria, Putin hopes ‘common sense will finally prevail’
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday says he hoped that common sense will prevail in global affairs as the US threatens to send missiles into Syria.
“The state of the world cannot but provoke concern. The situation in the world is becoming more and more chaotic but all the same we hope that common sense will finally prevail and international relations will take a constructive path,” Putin says as new ambassadors present him with their credentials at the Kremlin.
Saudi TV reports missile intercepted over Riyadh
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces “intercepted a missile in the skies over Riyadh” Wednesday, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television reports, after blasts were heard in the city.
An AFP journalist in Riyadh earlier heard three explosions over the Saudi capital, which has been previously targeted by Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Israel says world Jewish population lower than before Holocaust
The number of Jews around the world is lower than before World War II, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics says Wednesday ahead of the Jewish state’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.
According to the CBS, there are approximately 14.5 million Jews in the world, compared to 16.6 million in 1939 when World War II began.
The compilation uses census figures from 2016, it says.
Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins Wednesday evening on the Jewish calendar, commemorates the six million Jewish victims murdered by the Nazis during World War II.
Nearly half of the world’s Jews — 6.44 million — live in Israel, with the United States home to the second largest population of 5.7 million.
Nearly half a million Jews live in France, 390,000 in Canada and 290,000 in Britain.
There are Jewish communities of over 100,000 in Argentina, Russia, Germany and Australia, according to the Hebrew University’s Harman Institute of Contemporary Judaism, the source for the CBS data.
The CBS says their definition of a Jew includes “persons who define themselves as Jewish, or persons of Jewish parentage with no current religious or ethnic identity.”
Saudis shoot down two Yemeni rebel UAVs in country’s airspace
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi air defenses on Wednesday shoot down two unmanned Yemeni rebel drones in southern Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for the Riyadh-led coalition fighting in Yemen says.
One of the drones was targeting the Abha international airport in Asir province, which led to a temporary suspension of air traffic, and a second was approaching a “civilian object” in Jizan province, Colonel Turki al-Malki says in a statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
Iran vows to back Syria against ‘foreign aggression’ by Israel, US
A senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader says the country will back Syria against any “foreign aggression” by Israel or the US.
“We will stand by Syria’s government against any foreign aggression … Iran backs Syria in its fight against America and the Zionist Regime (Israel),” Ali Akbar Velayati says during a visit to Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, according to Reuters.
A town in the Eastern Ghouta district was the scene of an alleged chemical attack by pro-regime forces over the weekend that US President Donald Trump has threatened to launch missile strikes in response to.
— خبرگزاری تسنیم ???????? (@Tasnimnews_Fa) April 11, 2018
After Trump tweet, Kremlin says it doesn’t do ‘Twitter diplomacy’
The Kremlin spokesman comments on US President Donald Trump’s tweet warning of an imminent missile strike on Syria by saying that Moscow doesn’t engage in Twitter diplomacy.
Trump said Wednesday that missiles “will be coming” in response to Syria’s suspected chemical attack, adding “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'”
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov says in televised remarks that “we don’t participate in Twitter diplomacy.” He adds that “we support serious approaches and keep thinking that it’s important not to make any steps that could further destabilize the already fragile situation.”
He says claims of a chemical attack were fabricated and “can’t serve as a pretext for any forceful actions.”
Earlier, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry responded to Trump on Facebook, saying missiles would destroy “all evidence” of the attack. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted that “missiles must fly towards terrorists, not a legitimate government that has been fighting international terrorism in its territory for several years.”
Mattis: Pentagon ready to provide military options for Syria
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Wednesday the Pentagon is ready to provide options for a Syria strike in response to a suspected chemical attack, but notes the US and its allies are still gathering information.
“We are still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies, we are still working on this,” Mattis tells reporters when asked if he had seen enough evidence to blame President Bashar Assad’s regime for the alleged chemical attack in Douma.
“We stand ready to provide military options, if they’re appropriate, as the president determined.”
US President Donald Trump vowed on Twitter that missiles would be launched at Syria following Saturday’s alleged chemical attack, all but guaranteeing a military strike against Assad’s regime.
Zuckerberg says regulation of social media ‘inevitable’
WASHINGTON — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he believes it is “inevitable” that there will be regulation of his industry.
Lawmakers in both parties have floated possible regulation of Facebook and other social media companies amid privacy scandals and Russian intervention on the platform. It’s not clear what that regulation would look like.
Zuckerberg says at a House hearing Wednesday that it is “inevitable that there will be some sort of regulation.” But he warned that lawmakers should be careful in what they propose. He notes that larger companies like Facebook have more resources to comply with regulations than small startups.
Zuckerberg also says users whose personal information was obtained by a data-mining firm tied to US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign are being informed, starting this week.
Zuckerberg tells a lawmaker during his appearance he believes the notices about Cambridge Analytica’s possession of their information began going out Monday.
It’s unclear how many of the 87 million affected users have received their notices. Zuckerberg doesn’t elaborate because is was being pressed to keep his answers as brief as possible by Represent Anna Eshoo, the Democrat from Silicon Valley who is questioning him.
Zuckerberg says his Facebook data was included in the personal information sold to malicious third parties, a reference to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
UK’s May says Syria chemical weapons can’t go unchallenged
British Prime Minister Theresa May says “all the indications” are that Syrian forces were behind a chemical attack in the town of Douma, and insists that the “continued use of chemical weapons cannot go unchallenged.”
May says on Wednesday that Britain is working with close allies “on how we can ensure that those who are responsible are held to account and how we can prevent and deter the humanitarian catastrophe that comes from the use of chemical weapons in the future.”
The United States, France and Britain have been consulting about launching a military strike, but May has not confirmed whether UK forces will participate directly.
Britain’s Parliament is in recess until Monday. While May does not legally require Parliament’s backing for military action, it is conventional for lawmakers to be given a vote.
In 2013, Parliament defeated a call by then-Prime Minister David Cameron for air strikes in response to an earlier chemical attack in Syria.
Israeli officials said to warn Iran against retaliatory attack
Hadashot TV news reports unnamed Israeli sources warning Iran against attacking Israel amid the Syria tensions and in the wake of Monday’s airstrike.
“If Iran acts, its presence in Syria will be severely hurt,” the network quotes the sources as saying.
Rivlin: Israel will not turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism
Speaking at an official ceremony marking Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Reuven Rivlin says Israel will always fight against anti-Semitism.
“There is the Holocaust and there are Holocaust deniers and the difference between them is the truth,” he says.
Rivlin: No country can ‘legislate their forgetting’ of the Holocaust
In an apparent dig at Poland, President Reuven Rivlin says no country can “legislate their forgetting” of the Holocaust.
“Germany couldn’t buy the Jews forgiveness, just as no nation can legislate their forgetting [of the Holocaust],” says Rivlin.
“The Jewish people will always carry the banner of the struggle against anti-Semitism and racism. No political, diplomatic or political interest will cause us to ignore them, neither in Europe or anywhere else,” he adds.
Netanyahu speaks with Putin amid growing Syria tensions
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak by phone amid increased tensions in Syria following an airstrike on a military base blamed on Israel.
“Upon an initiative of the Israeli side, a telephone conversation took place between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Syrian issue was discussed, including in connection with the recent missile strikes on the T-4 airfield in Homs by the Israeli Air Force,” the Kremlin said, according to Russia’s Sputnik news agency.
“Vladimir Putin stressed the fundamental importance of respecting the sovereignty of Syria, called for refraining from any actions that might further destabilize the situation in this country and pose a threat to its security,” the Kremlin added.
‘Don’t test Israel’s resolve,’ Netanyahu warns Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns Iran not to “test Israel’s resolve” after Tehran threatened to respond to an airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel that killed seven Iranian military officials.
“The events in recent days teach us that standing up to evil and aggression is the mission imposed on every generation,” he says at the official ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“Our policy can be summed up in three words: ‘Steadfastness against aggression.’ Steadfastness on defense, steadfastness on deterrence [and] steadfastness against anyone who threatens to destroy us,” he adds.
Referring to Iranian threats of retaliation over the alleged Israeli airstrike, Netanyahu warns Iran against attacking the Jewish state.
“Don’t test the resolve of the State of Israel,” he says.
Directly addressing Iranians, Netanyahu says “our two ancient peoples will be able to live together again” after the Islamic Republic falls.
Border cops fire at vehicle that blows through West Bank roadblock
A car blew through a Border Police checkpoint in the West Bank after ignoring orders to stop, prompting officers to open fire at the vehicle, Border Police say.
The car fled the scene, Border Police report.
Border Police say no officers appear to have been wounded in the incident, which took place near the West Bank village of Deir Qaddis, and that it is looking into the incident.
Poland stops ceremony for author accused of anti-Semitism
WARSAW, Poland — Polish officials have intervened to prevent an author accused of anti-Semitism from receiving an award at a Polish diplomatic outpost in the United States.
A private US-based Polish organization had planned to give awards at the Polish consulate in New York next week to three people. One, Polish author Ewa Kurek, has claimed that Jews had fun in the ghettos during the German occupation of Poland during World War II.
Kurek’s views are offensive to relatives of Holocaust survivors. Never Again, an anti-racism association in Warsaw, raised alarm this week about the nature of Kurek’s writings. Polish media have reported on the controversy.
The initiative was threatening to become another public relations headache for Poland’s government, which has been dealing all year with an international backlash to a Holocaust speech law that angered Israel and many see as attempted historical revisionism.
Andrzej Pawluszek, an adviser to Poland’s prime minister, says Wednesday that the award was never a government initiative, but authorities acted to stop an event that would have been divisive.
One of the others set to receive an award at the consulate event was Matthew Tyrmand, an American right-wing political activist and contributor to Breitbart News.
Tyrmand expresses relief that the Polish government withdrew permission for a room to be used to honor a “divisive” person such as Kurek.
“Common sense prevailed,” Tyrmand says. “Nobody wanted to be in a room with her, including me.”
Bolivia asks for Security Council talks over ‘threats’ against Syria
Bolivia is asking for emergency consultations of the UN Security Council on “the threats of unilateral military action” against Syria.
Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Sacha Llorentty Soliz, who has supported Russia on Syria in council votes, says he requested a briefing from a senior UN official during closed consultations for Thursday morning.
Llorentty Soliz tells reporters on Wednesday at UN headquarters that Bolivia asked for the meeting not based just on US President Donald Trump’s latest tweets that the United States will launch missiles at Syrian targets in response to the suspected chemical attack in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.
He also cites escalating rhetoric and said “there’s a consistency in his threats.”
Llorentty Soliz says Bolivia is concerned because any unilateral action would violate the UN Charter’s principles and purposes.