New satellite images show cover-up at nuclear site in Iran
The BBC reports the Israeli ambassador to the UN has visited the HQ of the Associated Press in New York to explain why Israel destroyed a building it was using in Gaza in the recent conflict. Ambassador Gilead Erdan explained that the building was being used by Hamas to try to jam its Iron Dome missile defence system. Israel’s UN envoy also offered help in rebuilding its offices in Gaza. The AP news agency welcomed the meeting but said it had yet to see evidence to back up the Israeli allegations.
The BBC and Reuters report the Israeli government has given the go-ahead for a march by religious nationalists, which was cancelled by organisers over fears it could trigger a new round of conflict. The flag march through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem was originally due to take place on Thursday, but police rejected the original route. The march will now happen next Tuesday.
The Independent follows the story of Jana Kiswani, a 16-year-old Palestinian, who bears testimony to the tensions and violence surrounding an Israeli court-ordered eviction of eight Palestinian families from homes claimed by Jewish settlers. According to her family, Kiswani was entering her home in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah when an Israeli police officer shot her in the back with a sponge-tipped bullet.
Roger Boyes writes in The Times about the importance of US President Joe Biden’s meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan next week. “Biden has promised to roll back the authoritarian tide, to renew the moral core of US foreign policy. An oped written by the American president ahead of his trip to Europe casts both the G7 and NATO summits in that light; the relatively short piece mentions democratic values 14 times. Biden’s first task, then, is how to deal with a fellow NATO leader whose democratic instincts atrophied long ago.”
The Financial Times’ Editorial Board publishes an op-ed arguing that there is no chance of rebuilding the shattered Syrian state with the “Assad tyranny” in place.
Reuters reports that France will convene a virtual meeting of countries on June 17 to drum up support for the Lebanese army as it seeks to weather an economic crisis that has put the military on the verge of collapse.
All the Israeli media report on widespread airstrikes last night in Syria. A source in the Syrian army, quoted by the official Syrian media, said the attacks were aimed at targets in the centre and south of the country. He said that only material damage was caused. Other Syrian media reports say attacks also happened in the Homs district, which borders Lebanon, as well as in the area of the city of Banias in the coastal province of Latakia. According to the UK-based Syrian Organization for Human Rights, up to 10 people were killed in the attack. Last night’s airstrikes are the first attributed to Israel since 5 May, when explosions were reported in the Latakia area, not far from the Russian Air Force base.
Commenting in Yediot Ahronot Nahum Barnea dismisses the Haredi politicians’ cries of alarm over the proposed ‘Change Government’ as “just politics,” and cites a string of political and personal reasons for what he describes as their “hysterics”. Referring to UTJ Chairman MK Moshe Gafni’s charge of “no purity of pedigree” – the possibility that non-Haredi rabbis might oversee conversions and/or marry people whom the Haredim don’t recognise as being Jewish – Barnea writes: “There isn’t a single clause in any of the coalition agreements or the government guidelines that might threaten the status quo on religion. That’s a shame, but that is the nature of the coalition that Lapid built: the parties cancel one another out.”
In Maariv, Ben Caspit argues that the ultra-Orthodox trio – Aryeh Deri, Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Litzman – “tied its fate to the fate of Netanyahu the defendant. They seem to have confused him for the Messiah himself. MK Eichler said a few days ago that Netanyahu was dragging all of the Haredim along with him into the abyss, and that description was spot on. The problem is that they found themselves clutching at the slippery slope. On their way down they lost their self-control, their self-respect and the last vestiges of morality that they still had left, cursing people who are blameless.”
Israel Hayom reports that satellite images released by Intel Lab have exposed unusual activity at Sanjarian, an Iranian nuclear site where activity toward developing shock wave generators – devices that would allow Iran to miniaturise nuclear weapons – was suspected to have happened in 2004-5. The images, first reported by Fox News, show 18 vehicles at the site on October 15, 2020, as well as excavations and more vehicles in January. The site was covered up in March, and all that is currently visible are trenches and excavation swirls. The publication comes as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is holding meetings in Vienna on a new interim monitoring agreement with Tehran. During Monday’s meeting, IAEA Director Rafael Grossi warned that the nuclear watchdog can no longer say that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons.
Army Radio reports that IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi commented this morning for the first time on the incident of the death of an IDF officer while in prison, saying the military would not divulge the reasons the officer had been in custody but said that the military would investigate the incident and draw conclusions. Kochavi said the officer committed very serious offenses but added that he had been an excellent officer who should not have died in prison. Kochavi said the army would conduct a transparent and thorough investigation.
Israel Hayom reports that Hamas officials in Gaza have claimed Israel will allow Qatari funds to be remotely transferred to Gaza by this weekend or the next. In addition, Al-Quds is reporting that Hamas leader Ismail Haniya is heading a delegation to Cairo for talks between Palestinian factions that will be held on Saturday. Other representatives of other Palestinian factions have also started to arrive in Cairo for the talks, which are expected to focus on a range of pressing issues including the Palestinian elections that were postponed by Abu Mazen, Gaza’s reconstruction and a long-term truce arrangement with Israel. Also, senior members of Hamas’ military wing are expected to meet with senior Egyptian intelligence officials to discuss a possible prisoner exchange with Israel.