Violent clashes in Jerusalem
In the UK media, the BBC reports that dozens of people were injured during violent clashes in Jerusalem between far-right Jewish activists, Palestinians and Israeli police last night. Hundreds of ultranationalist Jews shouting “Death to Arabs” confronted Palestinian demonstrators at the city’s Damascus Gate. Tensions have been rising for several days.
The Telegraph, Independent and the Guardian report that Israel’s military has acknowledged that its air defences failed to intercept a missile fired from Syria on Thursday night that traversed 125 miles of its highly protected airspace before it blew up in midair and parts landed near the Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev desert.
The Times reports that the ruler of Dubai has refused to cooperate with UN investigators who are requesting “meaningful information” on the conditions in which Princess Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, 35, is being held. There are concerns whether the ruler’s daughter, who was recaptured at sea after trying to run away, is still alive. “The statement issued by the Emirates authorities merely indicating that she was being ‘cared for at home’ is not sufficient at this stage,” the UN investigators said, referring to a statement made after a video in which the princess appealed for help.
The Guardian notes that at least 120 asylum seekers are feared dead after their rubber boat capsized in stormy seas off the coast of Libya while they were attempting to reach Europe. Dozens of bodies were spotted near a capsized vessel on Thursday, a rescue charity said. According to an initial reconstruction of events, the European humanitarian group SOS Méditerranée was alerted on Tuesday by the volunteer-run Mediterranean rescue hotline Alarm Phone to the presence of three boats in distress in international waters off Libya. Waves in the area were reaching heights of up to six metres.
The Times reports that a Turkish cryptocurrency trader is believed to have fled the country with $2bn of his investors’ assets, garnered from fraudulent sales. Faruk Fatih Ozer, who has allegedly carried out one of the largest ever cryptocurrency scams, was photographed going through passport control at Istanbul airport and police suspect he has fled to either Albania or Thailand.
The Guardian reports that anti-arms trade campaigners have been given permission to challenge the British High Court over the UK government’s decision to resume the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the war in Yemen. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) won leave to seek a judicial review of a decision taken by international trade secretary, Liz Truss, last summer, which was followed by £1.4bn worth of arms exports soon after. A full hearing is expected to take place in a few months, renewing a legal battle between the campaign group and the British government that has previously resulted in UK arms sales to Saudi being halted pending a review.
In the Israeli media, all the papers focus on the violent clashes in Jerusalem last night following a march by far-right Jewish activists and a counter Palestinian demonstration. A hundred and five Palestinians were wounded, with 22 being hospitalised in moderate condition, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. At least 50 people were arrested, including both right-wing extremists and Palestinians. The march organised by the far-right, anti-Arab group Lehava followed after a number of videos of Palestinians assaulting Jews in the area of Damascus Gate were posted on TikTok. The Palestinian counter-protesters also clashed with police, who used stun grenades and so-called skunk water on both groups of protesters. Footage that circulated online showed several Palestinians kicking a Jew who was lying on the ground in the Wadi Joz neighbourhood. Other footage from the neighbourhood showed a vehicle in flames. The Damascus Gate area has witnessed numerous clashes between Palestinians and police in the past week after barriers preventing people from sitting in the plaza were placed at the start of Ramadan.
All the papers also report on the suicide attempt by Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the co-founded of the ZAKA emergency response organisation who last month was accused of taking advantage of his status to sexually attack women and children after an investigation was revealed by Haaretz. MDA teams evacuated Yehuda Meshi Zahav to Shaare Zedek Medical Center yesterday after finding him unresponsive at his home. He apparently left a suicide note, which was leaked over the internet, leading family members and his lawyer to claim that the letter was forgery. Zahav’s lawyer then published an email that the former ZAKA chairman sent him a few hours before the suicide attempt, in which he laid out his response to the investigation. Zahav denied the allegations against him, claiming that these were “plots and lies”.
Maariv and Yediot Ahronot report that Israel’s Ambassador to the US and the UN Gilad Ardan attended a special ceremony yesterday at the Emirates’ Embassy in Washington. As part of Earth Day, Ambassador Ardan planted an olive tree with UAE Ambassador to the US Yusuf al-Utayba. Ambassador Erdan said, “Now that the Abraham Accords have unlocked the tremendous potential for cooperation between our peoples, we can lead the way in developing the green technologies that will power a green economic recovery, for our countries, our region and the entire world.” Ambassador al-Utayba added: “The warm relations between the two countries will help us cool the planet. Normalisation is already accelerating climate cooperation between the UAE and Israel. These efforts in innovation, promotion and finance will help deliver the benefits of low-carbon, sustainable economic growth across the region and world.”
Walla reports that a high-level Israeli security delegation to Washington next week will reveal sensitive intelligence on Iran’s nuclear programme to try and influence the position of the Biden administration. In a first visit to the US by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, the delegation includes Mossad director Yossi Cohen, National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and head of IDF Military Intelligence Tamir Hayman. They will stress Israel’s objection to a US return to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss the contents of the talks in Vienna. The delegation will also lay out what changes it believes are required to the JCPOA, such as increased oversight of Iran’s nuclear programme and indefinite limitations to Iran’s uranium enrichment and development. Prime Minister Netanyahu convened a meeting on Thursday with those officials as well as Minister of Defence Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to discuss the policies to be presented in Washington. Netanyahu reportedly stressed that Israel is not a party to the nuclear deal and therefore it is not bound by it in any way.
Yediot Ahronot reports that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is expected to indict United Torah Judaism co-leader and Construction Minister Yaakov Litzman with charges of bearing false witness and fraud and breach of trust in the Malka Leifer affair for allegedly trying to influence psychiatrists tasked with assessing her mental fitness. Leifer was a former an ultra-Orthodox school teacher who was accused of sexually assaulting several of her former underaged students in Australia. At his investigation with police, Litzman denied knowing Leifer. The ultra-Orthodox MK is also suspected of trying to influence Health Ministry officials to prevent the closure of a restaurant whose poor sanitation conditions led several customers to fall ill.
The Jerusalem Post reports that five current and former EU members of the UN Security Council – Estonia, France, Ireland, Belgium and Germany – have called on Israel to allow the Palestinian Authority to hold elections in East Jerusalem for its elections next month. “We call on the Israeli authorities to facilitate the holding of elections across all of the Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem, in line with commitments made in the Oslo Accords as well as to facilitate the participation of international observers across all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” the countries said. It comes after Palestinian officials have threatened to delay or cancel the elections, citing Israel’s failure to respond to their request to hold the vote in Jerusalem.
The Health Ministry announced this morning that 35,027 COVID test were conducted in the past 24 hours and 129 people tested positive for the virus – around 0.4 per cent. There are 160 patients in serious condition, with 97 on ventilators. The death toll in Israel from COVID-19 is 6,346.