4,500-year-old statue found in the Gaza Strip
BBC News reports a farmer in the Gaza Strip found a statue that dates back 4,500 years to the late Bronze Age. The statue is that of the Canaanite deity, Anat, the ancient goddess of beauty, love and war. The farmer, Nidal Abu Eid, discovered the statue while cultivating his land in Khan Younis. He said: “We found it by chance. It was muddy and we washed it with water. We realised that it was a precious thing, but we didn’t know it was of such great archaeological value.”
The Independent reports that Turkish activist Osman Kavala has been sentenced to life in prison in a ruling that also put another seven activists behind bars. The verdict against Kavala, who is a widely respected philanthropist, was widely condemned. He had been a vocal opponent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for many years and was accused of involvement in anti-government events. The paper describes the sentencing as having “less to do with their past actions than with Turkey’s future”. The country approaches a crucial presidential election in 2023, with Erdogan facing one of the most emboldened and increasingly popular oppositions he has ever contended with in any election cycle.
The Guardian reports on a letter signed by several former senior diplomats warning about the narrowing window to reach a new understanding with Iran over returning to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. The letter urged Iran and the US to show more flexibility and stated that the talks in Vienna were headed toward a “corrosive stalemate devolving into a cycle of increased nuclear tension”. It also said that missing an opportunity to diffuse nuclear tensions in the Middle East region would be a “grave mistake”.
The Associated Press reports that Israeli forces shot and killed an 18-year-old Palestinian during clashes in the Palestinian city of Jenin in the West Bank this morning. Another three Palestinians were injured, including a 16-year-old boy. Following the IDF raid to arrest those suspected of planning out terrorist attacks Israel released a statement saying the Palestinians “fired live ammunition at the soldiers and hurled rocks and explosive devices at them”.
In the Israeli media, Yediot Ahronot reports that Gilat Bennett, the prime minister’s wife, received an envelope yesterday containing a threatening letter and a live bullet. The specific contents of the letter, which was sent to her workplace, were not divulged, but the Shin Bet and Police have been tasked with investigating what is described as a death threat not only to Prime Minister Bennett but to his family as well. Security arrangements have been tightened accordingly. Bennett responded by appealing in a Facebook post to the public to “lower the flames of the political conversation.” Bennett called on “everyone across the entire political spectrum, and mainly on people who are active on social media—now is the time for calm and reconciliation”.
Channel 12 News adds that several other cabinet ministers have also come under threat recently, citing Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana as examples. Hendel was mentioned during an anonymous phone call that was received in which the speaker threatened to kill him, as was Kahana, who has pushed for reforms to regulations governing conversion and kashrut supervision. In the latter case, a suspect — a resident of Ashkelon in his 50s — called Kahana’s office and threatened “he would wind up like Rabin. Someone is going to take him down because he is offending the rabbis”. It is believed the suspect is not religious.
Israel Hayom writes that UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, has come under attack from Palestinian organisations after its Commissioner-General hinted that the agency might transfer some of its powers to other UN bodies. The Palestinians perceive this as an attempt to dismantle UNRWA, an act that they view as a plot to do away with the “right of return”. Hamas also called on the Palestinian public to “come out powerfully against the policy, which is leading to the agency’s erasure and killing the refugee issue in the context of a plan that is being advanced by regional and international actors”.
Also in Israel Hayom, Palestinian officials claims that Israel gave Turkey a list of Hamas members and information about their involvement in terrorist activity, prompting Ankara to deport them from Turkey. One official said that Turkey had told the Hamas leadership that “economic interests” were at play for the deportations: “The renewed ties between Turkey and Israel are supposedly diplomatic and political, but Hamas knows that Israel has influence over Turkey when it comes to security issues. A few Israeli security representatives have also visited Turkey.”
Kan Radio reports that security officials drafted a plan four years ago to obtain the release of Israelis being held in Gaza. They agreed on the price to pay for the Israelis’ return, but then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not approve the plan. Former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot initiated the deliberations, which were held by defence officials.
Walla reports that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released a statement this morning saying his family’s food expenses will be paid from his own account, and not from state funds. Bennett issued the announcement following public criticism in recent weeks of the high spending recorded at the Prime Minister’s House. Earlier this week, the Prime Minister’s Office published the current expenses at Bennett’s home in Raanana, based on data from the Prime Minister’s Office. According to the breakdown of the monthly expenses, NIS 24,700 (£6,000) a month was spent on food orders and preparations, NIS 48,000 (£11,500) on staff fees and the cost of maintenance and cleaning is NIS 15,000 (£3,600).