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Media Summary

Bomb scare at Tel Aviv airport

BBC News and The Guardian report on an incident at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in which a US family caused a bomb scare. While touring the Golan Heights the family picked up an unexploded artillery shell and packed it in their luggage. It was found during a routine security examination at the airport. The family was subsequently allowed to board their flight after security cleared them.

The Independent, Financial Times, Associated Press and Reuters cover Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Saudi Arabia. This is a significant development between the two countries, as the relationship was strained following the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in the fall of 2018. Erdogan is looking for opportunities to increase economic cooperation with the region as Turkey faces its worst economic crisis in two decades, with inflation standing at 61 per cent and the lira falling to 44 per cent in value against the US Dollar in just the last year. Erdogan will also seek to improve “relations in all their dimensions” according to remarks he made ahead of the trip.

BBC News covers a report released by the Norwegian-based Iran Human Rights group, which showed a dramatic rise in executions in the Islamic Republic. Over 333 people were executed in Iran in 2021, marking at 25 per cent increase on 2020 figures. A UN expert had previously said that executions in Iran were “an arbitrary deprivation of life”.

Reuters reports that according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has moved parts for making centrifuges to its Natanz nuclear facility. The machines can build critical parts needed for the centrifuges which are needed for enriching uranium. According to the IAEA, the parts now give Iran a functioning workshop that can create operational centrifuges. Previously the facility was only used for enriching uranium.

The Telegraph reports that a retired British geologist has been sentenced to death in Iraq after being accused of trying to smuggle shards of pottery out of the country. Jim Fitton was detained in late March along with a German citizen. Since then, his family has launched a petition pressing the UK government to intervene.

The Times reports that a Judge will today sentence Alexanda Kotey, the last member of the ‘ISIS Beatles’ currently on trial in the US. The Judge will sentence him to at least five life sentences, sparing him from the death penalty.

The Economist writes about Lebanon’s legislative elections on 15 May, amid the worst economic crisis the country has ever faced. The report notes that “If ever there was a moment for a throw-out-the-bums vote, this should be it … but translating anger into votes will be hard. Campaign-finance laws are weak and favour deep-pocketed incumbents”.

Ahead of Memorial Day next week all the Israeli media prominently cover the Ministry of Defence’s updated figure of 24,068 for the number of fallen IDF soldiers. Fifty-six soldiers were killed during their military service since Memorial Day last year. Another 84 disabled veterans passed away due to injuries resulting from their service.

All the Israeli media cover yesterday’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. Ynet reports President Isaac Herzog speaking about the lessons Israeli society can learn from the Holocaust. “Number one: the State of Israel, as diverse as it is, with such an immense diversity of communities and faiths, is the national home of the Jewish People. We shall therefore forever preserve our ability to defend ourselves by ourselves. Number two: the Jewish People and Israeli society must sanctify the value of mutual responsibility and refuse to forgo it, even in times of discord and arguments. The lessons of the past and the challenges of the moment compel us to know how to work together. Number three: love of man, because ‘beloved is man, for he was created in the image of God’” (quoting from Ethics of Our Fathers). Earlier in the day Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also gave a speech about national unity and warned of increased division and incitement in society. Yediot Ahronot’s Sima Kadmon comments on the difference between Bennett’s speech and those made by his predecessor, Netanyahu: “It was not a coincidence that Bennett chose to devote part of his speech on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day to the divisive conversation in Israeli society. This is the first time in many years that the central topic in the speech was not the Iranian nuclear threat, but rather another, no less dangerous bomb, which is ticking beneath our feet, which he called the ‘factionalism gene.’”

For the second time this week, a member of Prime Minister Bennett’s family received a death threat in the post. This time, his 16-year-old son Yoni received a letter that contained a live bullet and a warning: “We can get to you.” Earlier in the week Bennett’s wife, Gilat, received a similar threat at work. That letter also included a live bullet. According to Yediot Ahronot, it is believed that both letters were sent by the same person. This is because both were printed, both included the same type of bullet (5.56 mm) and both gave an explicit ultimatum to Bennett that if he doesn’t resign, his wife and son would be attacked. The second letter, which arrived yesterday, was sent to the prime minister’s home in Raanana but was intercepted during a security check before reaching the home.

Israel Hayom covers the urgent warning from the Foreign Ministry for Israeli citizens in the Moldovan Transnistria region, on the Ukrainian border, to leave immediately. The warning came after a series of explosions hit key sites in Transnistria, including the Ministry of State Security building and Russian radio stations in the separatist region. There is concern that Transnistria’s pro-Russian government will blame Ukrainian forces and use this as pretext for an attack against Ukraine from the area.

Haaretz reports on the European Commission’s coordinator on combating antisemitism’s visit to Jerusalem yesterday. Katharina von Schnurbein condemned Russian claims of fighting Nazis in Ukraine, warning that such propaganda “trivialises the Holocaust” and constitutes a “real threat” to the Jewish community. “The whole idea of talking about denazification and of using language that in the end trivialises the Holocaust is unacceptable and is also dangerous,” she said.

Kan Radio News reports that Iranian hackers took control last night of the 100 FM radio station website and broadcast pro-Iranian content against the background of a photograph of al-Aqsa Mosque. The station issued a statement saying its servers had not been hacked and that video services to the website are provided by an outside company.

In Maariv Ben Caspit notes the Knesset’s summer session will start in just over a week. In his view, “the coalition is reaching it in critical but stable condition. Critical, because it has lost its majority. Stable, because the bleeding has been stemmed.” He describes designating Amichai Chikli as a renegade “a strategic move” that now “the chances of him serving in the next Knesset are very slim”.

Yediot Ahronot also includes an interview with the head of the IDF Operations Division, Maj.-Gen. Oded Basiuk, who claims that Israel is succeeding in preventing Iranian entrenchment in Syria. He is quoted saying, “there is no slowdown in attacks in Syria. We are thwarting any strategic weapons that go through there.”