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Latest Israel News – 13th July

Watch: Israeli Navy rehearses civilian vessel takeover and hostage abduction.

Today, Operation Sea Minister in the northern sector ended, during which naval forces exercised controlling a fleet of civilian vessels and releasing hostages

The exercise, which took place over a 24-hour period, began last night with a scenario in which a distress message was received from a hijacked civilian ship carrying hostages.

As soon as the announcement was received, a special situation assessment was conducted in which a course of action was taken to rescue the hostages and neutralize the terrorists.

Before the forces took over the ship, negotiations were held in an attempt to effect a rescue by agreement. After this attempt did not succeed, Shayetet 13 forces, in cooperation with a flotilla of missile boats and security equipment, launched a rescue mission at sea.

Brigadier General Ido, the senior commander of the Israeli Navy, said, “The nature of the naval branch’s activity requires training in complex and challenging positions, and this exercise is part of the annual training drill of the branch and its existence is necessary in view of the large number of terrorist elements in the region. To practice at all times and train its forces in order to ensure the security of the State of Israel at sea and from the sea. ”            (Arutz Sheva)

Two Palestinians said killed in clashes with IDF troops in Jenin

Israeli soldiers operating in the West Bank town of Jenin early Wednesday exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen, after coming under fire and being attacked with multiple explosive charges, the army said. Palestinian sources said two people were killed and one wounded.

“Overnight, during an IDF operation in the Jenin refugee camp, Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the forces and assailants hurled explosive devices at the forces,” the army said in a statement. “In response to the immediate threat, forces shot towards the attackers.”

Military officials said they had received reports of a Palestinian killed in the firefight. “Reports of casualties are under investigation.”

No soldiers were hurt during the incident.

According to the Palestinian Authority’s Wafa news outlet, one of the two Palestinians killed was shot in the head and died immediately, while the second was taken to a nearby hospital where doctors later pronounced him dead.

The third Palestinian was shot in the leg, according to Wafa.

The army said details of the incident were under investigation.

The IDF carried out early morning raids across the West Bank on Wednesday, arresting 21 Palestinian suspects, mostly for rock throwing and taking part in violent protests, the army said.

Three of the 21 suspects were picked up on the suspicion that they were members of the Hamas terrorist organization, the army said.

On Tuesday IDF soldiers raided the West Bank hometown of a Palestinian man who the day before carried out a car-ramming attack in which a soldier was wounded, the army said.

Early Tuesday morning, IDF troops, as well as Border Police officers and members of the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration, entered the village of Teqoa.

“The troops carried out searches in the home of the terrorist and in the homes of his family, and seized inciting material,” the army said in a statement.

Between Monday night and Tuesday, the IDF arrested 15 Palestinians in cities and towns across the West Bank who were suspected of rock throwing, taking part in riots and other forms of so-called “popular terrorism,” the military said.  (the Times of Israel)

Herzog considering Gabbay’s offer to stay on as opposition leader

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) is considering new Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay’s offer for him to remain in his position.

Contrary to some media reports, Herzog has not ruled out the offer, his spokesman said on Tuesday, and the two plan to meet and discuss the matter on Wednesday.

Gabbay cannot be opposition leader, because he is not a member of Knesset.

Gabbay never directly asked Herzog to remain opposition leader, but Gabbay said publicly several times in recent days that he would like Herzog to, including in his Monday-night victory speech.

Meanwhile, prominent Labor activist Eldad Yaniv called for Gabbay to give the job to young, firebrand Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir, who supported Gabbay in the Labor primary runoff.

Yaniv compared Gabbay’s victory to that of French President Emmanuel Macron, who, like Gabbay, had only briefly held public office before winning.

Unlike Gabbay, however, Macron founded his own party, which went on to win a large number of parliamentary seats.

“The public gave you a Macron-like victory,” Yaniv tweeted. “Now be Macron.

Let’s see you. Good luck. First Macron-like step: Appointing Stav Shaffir as opposition leader.”

However, Gabbay and Shaffir have yet to discuss any party positions, though her spokesman said she is looking forward to working with him “in the strongest, most effective way.”

With 24 Knesset seats, the Zionist Union – made up of Labor and Hatnua (formerly the Tzipi Livni Party) – is the largest faction in the opposition. The law states that an MK from the largest opposition party will be opposition leader, unless most MKs in the opposition vote to choose a different lawmaker.  (Jerusalem Post)

Polls show boost for Zionist Union after Labor runoff election

The Zionist Union received a massive boost in the polls following the victory of former environmental protection minister Avi Gabbay in polls broadcast Tuesday night on Channels 2 and 10.

The polls found that the Zionist Union, which had fallen under 10 Knesset seats in surveys months ago, would now get 20 according to a poll taken for Channel 2 by pollster Minna Tzemach and 24 according to pollster Camille Fuchs for Channel 10.

The Zionist Union still trails the Likud, which would win 25 seats according to Channel 2 and 29 according to Channel 10.

But Gabbay’s party has passed Yesh Atid, which Channel 2 predicted would fall to 18 and Channel 10 to 16.

When asked who is most fit to be prime minister, Gabbay narrowly passed Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in both polls, but they both trail Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a wide margin.

Gabbay told reporters at his Tel Aviv office Tuesday that his successful campaign would now shift gears for what he called “war” against Netanyahu and his Likud party.

Gabbay said Labor must act as if elections have already been set, even though a date had not yet been decided.

“The campaign to replace Netanyahu begins today,” Gabbay said. “Elections have been called as far as we are concerned.

We don’t know when yet. But we know we will win the 30 seats we need to defeat Netanyahu.”

Gabbay said his defeat of six other Labor leadership candidates, which culminated in Monday’s runoff race, created “electricity,” which Labor would use to move forward for continued success.

He said the website for joining Labor had crashed since his victory. He vowed to double Labor’s membership from 52,000 to more than 100,000 by the next general election.

“I tell the public, if you believe me, join Labor,” he said.

Earlier Tuesday, Gabbay took questions from reporters outside his Tel Aviv home.

He said he had received messages congratulating him from all sectors of the population.

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon did not rule out joining the Zionist Union under Gabbay in a Facebook chat Tuesday.

He said the gap between him and Labor had been too wide until now but that could change, especially if solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stops being one of the banner issues for the party. (Jerusalem Post)

US envoy: Trump plans to relaunch Israel-PA talks ‘soon’

Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, met with Palestinian officials in Jerusalem on Tuesday, relaying the American president’s plan to declare renewed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians “soon,” the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat reported Wednesday.

Following the meeting, a White House official issued a statement saying that “Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, accompanied by U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome, introduced Ambassador David Friedman to members of the Palestinians’ senior negotiating team. They had an open, cordial, and frank discussion on many topics related to peace negotiations.”

“The [American] administration believes that in order to give everyone the best chance to reach an ultimate deal, it is critical to have negotiators that are close with the president and that is why the team includes senior adviser Jared Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman,” the statement continued.

The meeting reportedly included chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, head of Palestinian intelligence Majid Faraj and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ economic adviser Mohammed Mustafa.

The White House official’s statement came in the wake of reports in the Israeli media suggesting that Friedman’s presence at Greenblatt’s meeting with the Palestinian delegation had angered the Palestinian Authority leadership.

On Wednesday, Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Media outlets reported that Greenblatt was also planning on meeting with Abbas later in the week.  (Israel Hayom)

Rwanda’s Kagame seeks investments on Israel visit

Rwanda is open for business with Israel, the West African nation’s president Paul Kagame said Monday as he met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

“Cooperation between our countries has blossomed in many areas, among them technology, agriculture, and energy, as well as security. We appreciate what Israel has to offer in these and other fields, and we are very happy to be working with you,” said Kagame.

“Rwanda is open for business and we look forward to welcoming private sector delegations from Israel even more frequently in the future,” Kagame added at a press conference with Netanyahu and Rivlin. “Ever since the Prime Minister’s visit to West Africa last year, Israel has continued to follow through on its commitments and objective of scaling up engagement across Africa this is a very positive trend which can only be welcomed and merits our support.”

Netanyahu, who has made relations with Africa one of his top foreign policy agendas, said Rwanda had been instrumental in helping Israel’s push into the continent.

“I would say you were the indispensable bridge on which we marched to make our return to Africa, step by step, with very sound advice, very, very wise counsel,” Netanyahu said. “I want to thank you Paul for helping Israel,” he added.

Following up on statements during a recent visit to West Africa that it was time for African countries burgeoning relations with Israel to be reflected in international fora, Netanyahu said Rwanda and Kagame had already taken that step.

“We see how you stand up for Israel in international forums, and you already expressed a simple principle that we did, which is that bilateral relationships should be reflected in multilateral forums,” the prime minister said.

Referring to last week’s vote at UNESCO denouncing Israel’s presence in the Old City of Jerusalem as illegal and also registering the Tomb of the Patriarchs as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, Netanyahu told Kagame there was still a “dissonance between us and a few other nations.”

“We saw that in the absurd voting in UNESCO … These absurdities still take place in international forums, and they cause damage to those forums,” Netanyahu said. “They cannot change the truth. My hope is that over time, over a decade, this will change in international forums.”

Kagame and Netanyahu later held a working meeting where they discussed the deepening of bilateral cooperation in various fields.  (Ynet News)

Eyal Shani expanding to New York and Australia

Israeli chef Eyal Shani will be expanding his ever-growing restaurant empire to two new continents by the end of the year.

Shani, who is best known in Israel for being a long-time judge on the hit show Master- Chef, is set to open branches of his popular chain Hamiznon in New York City and Melbourne.

“New York has been the aspiration for a long time,” Moshe Pines, the director of the Miznon group, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “To arrive there, to Manhattan, to New York, to America… it’s where things happen and it’s where we want to go with our unique concept – it’s a very natural choice.”

The Manhattan location, which is slated to open sometime in October or November, will be located in the bustling downtown food court of Chelsea Market.

The original branch of Hamiznon opened in Tel Aviv in 2011, and was followed by two more, also in Tel Aviv. Then Shani opened a kosher version in Paris, followed by another location in Vienna last year.

And next up is Melbourne, where the sixth branch is set to open in mid-August, said Pines.

“We’re jumping across the ocean this year for the first time,” he said. “One of our partners in New York lives in Melbourne and he suggested we go there… food like Eyal Shani’s that has a lot of vegetables and is vegetarian – and vegan-friendly is something that is very connected to the agenda of Melbourne cuisine over the past few years.”

Unlike the Paris branch, Pines said, neither of the new locations will be kosher.

But he said Shani is strongly considering the possibility of opening a kosher branch in New York.

Regardless, the new outposts will stick to the roots of the original concept. The critically acclaimed eateries are known for serving up a variety of dishes – both vegetarian and meat – all stuffed inside of a pita. The chains also offer Shani’s signature dish, a whole-roasted cauliflower.

“The concept of Hamiznon will remain the same,” said Pines. “Every time Eyal Shani opens in a new place he looks for some adaptation to connect to the place, the community, the colors and the city,” he added. “But the basis of Hamiznon, the atmosphere and the magic-making and of course the food – the Israeli cuisine – will remain the same.” (Jerusalem Post)