Right-wing activists protest joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day event
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Right-wing activists protest joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day event

Dozens demonstrate outside ceremony in Tel Aviv for bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, with some chanting ‘death to Arabs’

Demonstrators protest in Tel Aviv outside a joint Memorial Day event for bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families on May 7, 2019. (Adam Rasgon/Times of Israel)
Demonstrators protest in Tel Aviv outside a joint Memorial Day event for bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families on May 7, 2019. (Adam Rasgon/Times of Israel)

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

Jewish teen charged in killing of Palestinian to be released to house arrest

An Israeli court has ordered that a Jewish teen suspected of hurling a stone that struck and killed a Palestinian woman in a car in the northern West Bank last October be released to house arrest.

The suspect’s attorney tells The Times of Israel that his client will be released next Tuesday and will wear an electronic monitor.

The 16-year-old suspect, who cannot be named because of privacy laws protecting minors, was charged in January in the death of 47-year-old mother-of-eight Aisha Rabi.

Prosecutors has said DNA belonging to the suspect was found on a stone that hit the vehicle in which Rabi was traveling.

— Jacob Magid

Airstrikes in rebel-held northwestern Syria kill 4

BEIRUT — Opposition activists say government forces have intensified their bombardment of rebel-held towns and villages in northwestern Syria, striking a market where four people were killed.

The new wave of violence that began on April 30 is the worst since September, when Russia and Turkey brokered a ceasefire that averted a government offensive on Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold.

Opposition-linked first responders, known as the White Helmets, say warplanes bombed a market in the village of Ras el-Ain on Tuesday, killing four people and wounding 20. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, reported airstrikes and shelling on Idlib and northern rebel-held parts of Hama province.

The latest wave of violence was triggered by attacks by al-Qaeda-linked militants that killed dozens of troops.

— AP

Independence Day flyover to pass over south in show of support after Gaza fighting

The Israel Defense Forces says the air force’s Independence Day flyover will pass over communities in southern Israel this year following heavy violence in the Gaza Strip over the weekend, in a sign of support for local residents.

“The flyover will pass above communities of the Gaza periphery in the south and will express the IDF’s admiration for the residents of the south and the strength and resilience they displayed during the recent days of fighting and over the years,” the army writes on its official Twitter page ahead of Independence Day on Thursday.

Beginning early Saturday, terror groups in Gaza fired some 690 missiles at Israel, killing four Israelis. The IDF conducted over 300 strikes in response, with the Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry reporting 29 killed. At least 11 of those have been acknowledged by Hamas and Islamic Jihad as their members.

Ambassador to UN leads fellow envoys on tour of rocket-hit Ashkelon

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon takes fellow envoys from the United Nations to tour the southern coastal city of Ashkelon after it was hit by heavy rocket fire over the weekend during fighting in the Gaza Strip.

The ambassadors see the home of Moshe Agadi, a 58-year-old father of four killed by a rocket that slammed into his home, as well as a school in the city that was damaged.

“We came to Ashkelon in order to strengthen the residents of the south and show the world from up close the aggression of Hamas,” Danon is quoted saying in a Hebrew-language statement from Israel’s mission to the UN.

“The time has come for the Security Council to designate Hamas a terror group that carries out double war crimes and uses its citizens as a human shield, and this will be my next move at the UN,” adds the Israeli envoy, referring to the terror group that rules Gaza.

Andrejs Pildegovics, Latvia’s ambassador to the UN, says the envoys are in Ashkelon “to learn about the damage that terror leaves.”

“We’re all very worried about the results of the escalation [in violence] between Israel and Gaza and are hoping that people will come to the region,” the statement quotes Pildegovics saying.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon (fifth from left) and UN envoys from other countries visit the home of Moshe Agadi, an Israeli man killed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip that struck his house, in the southern city of Ashkelon on May 7, 2019. (Israel mission to the UN)

Egypt upholds death penalty for 13 on terror charges

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s highest appeals court has upheld death sentences for 13 people convicted of terror charges over attacks in the capital in which explosive devices killed at least two police officers.

The Court of Cassation Tuesday upholds life sentences for 17 others and lesser sentences for another nine, all on similar charges.

The defendants were accused of attempting to kill policemen and civilians by planting explosive devices outside a university campus in December 2014 and a presidential palace the following month. The attacks also wounded 12 people.

The initial sentences were handed down in 2017, with five others acquitted.

Egypt has come under international criticism in recent years for handing down mass death sentences. Most such sentences have been tied up in the courts and never carried out.

— AP

Iran’s FM: If US and its Mideast allies don’t feel safe, it is their own fault

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says it is the fault of the United States and not Iran if it and its allies in the Middle East do not feel safe.

In a post on his Twitter account, Zarif implies Israel and other US-backed countries in the region were behind the American decision to dispatch an aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf, writing “the B-Team is at it again.” Zarif said last month the “B team” consists of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

Germany ends probe into doctor from Chile-based Nazi sect

BERLIN — German prosecutors say Tuesday they have dropped their probe against a former doctor in the “Colonia Dignidad” Nazi pedophile sect that was based in a remote compound in Chile.

Hartmut Hopp, 74, was a physician in the notorious group that abused members — adults and children — and was used to torture and “disappear” regime critics during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Prosecutors in the city of Krefeld say that “after exhausting all promising investigative leads, it was not possible to substantiate a sufficient suspicion under any legal aspect necessary for an indictment.”

Hopp was the right-hand man of the late convicted pedophile Paul Schaefer, a former Wehrmacht soldier and lay preacher who in 1961 founded the commune that indoctrinated residents and kept them as virtual slaves.

The scale of the atrocities committed at the fenced-in 13,000-hectare (32,000-acre) mountain commune some 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of Santiago came to light only after the end of Pinochet’s regime.

— AFP

This file photo taken on August 12, 1997, in Chile shows Hartmut Hopp, a German doctor and deputy leader of Chile’s secretive “Colonia Dignidad” enclave, after being arrested by Chilean police on charges of complicity in the rape of young boys in the Andean colony. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

Netanyahu: Israel will continue working to bring home bodies of missing troops

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a ceremony held at the Yad Lebanim memorial for fallen soldiers ahead of the start of Memorial Day this evening.

“We are not eager for battle but we know our willingness to sacrifice is the guarantor of our fate,” Netanyahu says at the event in Jerusalem.

He also vows Israel will continue working to bring home the bodies of troops who went missing battle, noting the return of the remains earlier this month of IDF soldier Zachary Baumel after nearly 37 years.

Iranian FM Zarif to meet Russian counterpart in Moscow

MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif in Moscow tomorrow, the Russian foreign ministry says.

The two diplomats, longtime allies on a number of issues including the Syrian conflict, will discuss “key issues of the international and regional agenda” as well as bilateral cooperation, the ministry says in a statement.

“Cooperation with Iran is an important condition of ensuring our country’s national interests” and stability in the South Caucasus and the Middle East, it says.

Moscow has backed Iran since helping orchestrate the multi-country nuclear deal in 2015 under which Tehran agreed to halt its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

While Washington has pulled out from the nuclear deal, Russia argues that Tehran “remains a responsible participant,” the ministry said.

The United States on Monday warned it would deploy an aircraft carrier strike group to the vicinity of Iran in response to “indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Zarif would not be meeting President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

— AFP

File: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrive for a joint press conference with the Russian and Iranian presidents at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 28, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Sergei Karpukhin)

Europe could reimpose sanctions if Iran violates nuclear deal — French official

A French presidential official is warning the European Union could reimpose sanctions on Iran if it violates parts of the 2015 nuclear deal limiting its nuclear program.

“We do not want Tehran to announce tomorrow actions that would violate the nuclear agreement, because in this case we Europeans would be obliged to reimpose sanctions as per the terms of the agreement,” the unnamed official tells Reuters. “We don’t want that and we hope that the Iranians will not make this decision.”

The comments come as Iranian state-media reports that the country would unveil new measures Wednesday meant to counter American sanctions that were reimposed on Iran as part of US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal last year.

Jewish schools seek piece of public grants for security

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Students and staff members at Jewish day schools near the Pittsburgh synagogue that was the site of October’s mass shooting are asking state lawmakers for help paying for security measures.

They are at Pennsylvania’s Capitol on Tuesday along with delegations from other cities around the state to meet with lawmakers about including non-public schools in a year-old $60 million school security grant program.

The state program was spurred by last year’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people.

Jewish day school parents and staffers say they’re particularly alarmed after synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and last week in California.

Samara Sofian is director of development for the Silver Academy in Harrisburg. She says that parents are asked to pay a security fee that rises every year but that it doesn’t go far enough.

— AP

Palestinians turn to EU to counter Trump peace plan

The Palestinians are asking the European Union to pick up the mantle in defense of a two-state solution if the upcoming US peace plan ditches Palestinian statehood, their UN envoy says Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to unveil the long-awaited plan, possibly as early as next month, but the Palestinians have already rejected it as heavily biased in favor of Israel.

Palestinian Authority Ambassador Riyad Mansour tells reporters that he urged European officials during recent meetings in Brussels to seize the initiative and not allow the United States to be the preeminent player in the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinians urged the EU to call for an international conference that would reaffirm the global consensus of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reject the US approach.

PA Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour speaks during a Security Council meeting on December 18, 2017. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

“We are engaging them,” Mansour tells reporters about his meetings with EU officials. “They have to act.”

“We would be extremely happy to show that there is more than one player in the field, trying to determine how we move forward.”

The Palestinians have also urged European countries – in particular France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg — to recognize a Palestinian state.

UN resolutions have advocated a two-state solution providing for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, and stressed that this outcome is to be agreed by the parties.

Mansour says the Palestinians also wanted Russia to step up its Middle East diplomacy and suggested that the United Nations could convene the Middle East peace quartet.

— AFP

Israel comes to standstill as Memorial Day siren sounds

Israelis across the country stand silently as sirens sound to mark the start of Memorial Day.

Rivlin: ‘We will not cease’ until all missing soldiers have been returned

President Reuven Rivlin speaks during the state ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for Memorial Day, sending his condolences to families of fallen soldiers and terror victims.

“Our wellbeing is bound up in yours,” Rivlin says. “I know that you think and believe that we do not understand. That we will never understand… But today, we ask you – despite everything – to tell us.”

“Tell us about her, about him, tell us about the person. Take us to that space which is so full, crammed full, that they left behind in your hearts. Allow us to remember them,” he adds.

Rivlin turns to the return last month of the remains of Brooklyn-born IDF soldier American Zachary Baumel, who was killed in fighting during the 1982 First Lebanon War.

“In this way, the State of Israel kept its promise to every mother and father in Israel, the obligation to bring home the men and women who did not return from battle. This is a commitment that we continue to make to the families of every one of the missing soldiers of the IDF and those fallen soldiers whose place of burial is unknown,” the president says.

“We will not cease until they have all been brought back.”

Rivlin adds that Israel is also committed to “the promise that the state that we have been building here for almost 71 years will be a country fit for our children and grandchildren – strong and secure, and at the same time just and fair.”

“These two promises, to build by the sweat of our brow a life worth living for our children, quiet and secure and to bring them home even if they did not return from battle, these are the commitments at the heart of our lives here… They are the basis of the Israeli covenant,” he says.

IDF chief to families of fallen soldiers: ‘There is no consolation but there is meaning’

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at the official state ceremony for Memorial Day, noting the siren that played just minutes before to begin the commemoration for Israel’s fallen soldiers.

“This is a unique moment that let’s us feel the heart’s cry and the storm of emotions,” Kohavi says.

The IDF chief praises the values demonstrated by Israel’s soldiers and says the army is constantly working to prevent future casualties.

“The greatest expression to the the holiness of life is to do everything in our capabilities to minimize the number of injured during routine [operations] and war,” he says.

Echoing President Rivlin, who spoke before him, Kohavi says the IDF is committed to returning the bodies of soldiers who are still missing.

“There is no consolation but there is meaning,” Kohavi says in a direct message to mourning families. “We have a state, an army that defends it and therefore, the families, [have] an eternal right to exist.”

Palestinian-born activist says CIA notified Norway of threat against him

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Palestinian-born activist living in Norway was reportedly whisked away to a secure location after the CIA informed Norwegian officials of an unspecified threat against him, according to reports Tuesday.

Iyad el-Baghdadi, who is outspoken on Twitter and was researching several issues related to Saudi Arabia, is quoted by Norway’s news agency NTB as saying Norwegian officials came to his home on April 25 and told him he may be in danger before taking him to a safe place.

He is quoted as saying it is unclear what the threat was, but that “something came on the radar of the CIA.” He says Norwegian security agency PST told him the threat is not imminent.

The Guardian, which first reported the incident, said the CIA had warned Norway that el-Baghdadi faced a potential threat from Saudi Arabia. It quoted el-Baghdadi as saying that after Norwegian authorities took him to a secure location, they warned him he was in possible danger from an unspecified threat emanating from the kingdom.

The CIA declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press, referring any questions to authorities in Norway. El-Baghdadi did not immediately respond to an AP request for comment. The Saudi Embassy in Washington cannot be immediately reached for comment.

— AP

Right-wing activists protest joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day event

Dozens of right-wing activists are participating in a protest against the joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony in Tel Aviv, with some yelling racist chants.

“Death to Arabs,” some of the protesters call out. “Arabs are sons of bitches.”

— Adam Rasgon

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