Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says a stampede that killed at least 44 people at a Jewish pilgrimage site was one of the "worst" disasters in Israel's history. The nighttime disaster struck after pilgrims thronged to Meron at the site of the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century Talmudic sage, where mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews mark the Lag BaOmer holiday.
Fresh clashes break out between Palestinians and police after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for "calm on all sides" after several nights of unrest in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. There have been nightly disturbances since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 13, amid Palestinian anger over police blocking off access to the promenade around the walls of the Old City and a ban on gatherings.
Israel's economy has weathered the Covid-19 pandemic better than most, with a contraction in GDP of only 2.4 percent in 2020. Demand for Israeli technology exports plus its rapid vaccine rollout helped to reduce the economic impact, but there are fears that employment may take years to return to pre-pandemic levels. Also today, we look at efforts in France to push more employers to boost remote working arrangements, as lockdown is imposed in several regions of the country. Local officials are to increase inspections of businesses to ensure their compliance with government guidance.
Israelis vote in their fourth election in less than two years, with the nation deeply split on whether veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should stay in power. Netanyahu, 71, is Israel's longest-serving premier but his inability to unite a stable governing majority behind him has mired the country in political gridlock.