February 22, 2024

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Shlomo Ne’eman is elected head of the Yesha Council umbrella organization representing local authorities in West Bank settlements.
Ne’eman, who heads the Etzion Bloc regional council, is elected unopposed after an agreement was reached among fellow council heads.
He succeeds David Elhayani who announced in July he was stepping down after a tempestuous three-year tenure.
The official Syrian SANA news agency says Aleppo International Airport is out of service following an airstrike the country has blamed on Israel.
According to SANA, Israeli jets launched a number of missiles from over the Mediterranean Sea at the airport in northern Syria, causing damage to the runway.
There are no immediate reports of injuries in the attack, the second attributed to Israel in a week.
National Unity party leader and Defense Minister Benny Gantz lays out three political scenarios following November’s elections, none of which include a government under current prime minister and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.
Gantz says that either he or Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu will form a government, or Israel will go to its sixth election since 2019.
“Together with you, and for you, I’ll form a stately unity government,” Gantz says after announcing his party’s list for the elections.
The National Unity leader is perceived as a possible third option behind Netanyahu and Lapid, and his party is currently polling between 12 and 14 seats in the next Knesset.
The official Syrian SANA news agency says Israeli jets are targeting the Aleppo International Airport.
The airstrikes come less than a week after airstrikes attributed to Israel targeted the airport’s runway and radio navigation system.
Syrian media reports say explosions are heard in the area.
The US military will test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile tomorrow, the Pentagon announces, in the second such practice operation of the country’s nuclear defense in less than a month.
“There will be an operational test launch of an Air Force Global Strike command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile early tomorrow morning, September 7, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California,” Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder says.
The announcement ahead of the launch was unusual; the Pentagon has not confirmed recent tests until after they take place.
Ryder stresses the test would be “routine,” adding that it had been long-scheduled and that the US had notified Russia and other countries of the plans.
The aim of the test “is to demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces and provide confidence in the security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent,” Ryder tells reporters.
The US Air Force successfully launched a Minuteman III ICBM August 16, after having postponed the test twice to avoid stoking tensions over Ukraine and Taiwan.
The missile carried a test re-entry vehicle, which in a strategic conflict could be armed with a nuclear warhead.
The re-entry vehicle traveled about 4,200 miles (6,760 kilometers) to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the western Pacific.
Ryder says the two tests were scheduled long in advance and are occurring close together because of the first one’s postponement.
The Interior Ministry is ordering a 12th grader and her mother to leave the country within two weeks and go back to war-torn Ukraine after 10 years in the country, Channel 12 reports.
The girl, who also plays on Israel’s handball team, was in the country legally after her mother married an Israeli.
However, he died recently and the ministry decided to revoke their residency and deny a claim for citizenship, saying that the marriage appeared to be a “fictitious relationship.”
The ministry says they found no grounds to reconsider the decision on “humanitarian grounds.”
פרסום ראשון: מדינת ישראל מגרשת לאוקראינה תלמידת י"ב, במקרה גם שחקנית כדוריד מצטיינת בנבחרת ישראל, שנמצאת בארץ כבר עשר שנים עם אמא שלה. רשות האוכלוסין דורשת מהן לעזוב תוך 14 יום, לארוז מזוודות ולחזור למחוז חרסון שמצוי תחת אש כבדה של הרוסים >> pic.twitter.com/UVo4GaxwgJ
— Inbar Twizer ענבר טויזר (@inbartvizer) September 6, 2022
Liz Truss promises that Britain would see sunnier days ahead despite the current economic gloom, as she makes her first speech as prime minister after taking over from Boris Johnson.
Heavy rain and thunder forced supporters of the country’s third female prime minister to scramble for cover as they waited for her to arrive at Downing Street.
But the clouds lifted as the 47-year-old former foreign secretary’s motorcade swept in, and she vows that the country would “ride out the storm” of double-digit inflation and soaring energy prices.
“I will take action this week to deal with energy bills and to secure our future energy supply,” she says.
“As strong as the storm may be, I know that the British people are stronger,” she adds, outlining her priorities as the economy, energy and health.
The National Unity party, an alliance formed by Blue and White and New Hope, unveils its list of candidates for the upcoming Knesset elections.
Blue and White’s Benny Gantz takes the top spot with New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar in the second slot, followed by former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, a political newcomer.
The top eight spots on the list alternate between Blue and White and New Hope politicians. Ministers Pnina Tamano-Shata, Yifat Shasha-Biton, Chili Tropper, and Ze’ev Elkin are in spots four through seven, with Blue and White MK Michael Biton in the eighth spot
Former Yamina minister Matan Kahana is ninth.
Blue and White minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen is in the tenth spot, restarting the alternating roster, followed by MKs Sharren Haskel, Alon Schuster, Michel Buskila, and Eitan Ginzburg in spot 14.
The crowded list highlights the problems of uniting several parties, with important operators like Blue and White faction director Ginzburg left in the 14th spot and at risk of not making it into the next Knesset with the party currently only polling at between 12 and 14 seats.
Although the party previously announced that Eisenkot would bring candidates onto the list with him, he is the only non-current lawmaker to snag a realistic spot.
Among the other current lawmakers knocked out of realistic spots by the merger are environmental advocate Alon Tal from Blue and White, who is pushed to 24, and former Yamina MK Shirly Pinto, who left her former party for the 23rd spot.
The list’s two Druze candidates also occupy unrealistic spots, with Akram Hasson in 16 and MK Mufid Mari in slot 19.
National Unity also revealed “After him” as its election slogan on Tuesday, harking back to Gantz’s paratrooper past by making a play on the brigade’s historic rallying cry “After me,” indicating the initiative to lead troops into battle.
Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai announces that Israel will open a trade mission in Morocco next year.
Speaking at an economic conference focused on ties between the nations, Barbivai says the potential for economic cooperation is “tremendous.”
The move comes amid increasingly strong ties between the countries since signing a normalization agreement two years ago.
However, the progress has been marred in recent days by the recall of Israel’s envoy to Rabat amid accusations of sexual and financial improprieties.
A Saudi woman recently jailed for 45 years was sentenced for using Twitter to “challenge” the country’s king and crown prince, according to a court document seen today by AFP.
The harsh sentence for Nourah al-Qahtani, which came to light last week and drew swift international condemnation, was issued less than a month after US President Joe Biden voiced concern about human rights abuses during a controversial visit to Saudi Arabia.
The sentencing document was provided to AFP by Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a Washington-based rights group founded by slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
AFP could not independently verify it, and Saudi authorities have not responded to requests for comment on the case.
The document describes Qahtani as a mother of five in her late 40s who suffers from unspecified health issues.
She does not have a large public profile and it is not clear how her anonymous Twitter account, which has fewer than 600 followers, attracted the attention of Saudi authorities.
The court found that Qahtani had used Twitter “to challenge the religion and justice” of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s 37-year-old de facto ruler, according to the document.
It also says she incited “the activities of those who seek to disturb public order and destabilize the security of society and the stability of the state” by “publishing false and malicious tweets.”
The eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East are warming almost twice as fast as the global average, with temperatures projected to rise up to 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century if no action is taken to reverse the trend, a new report says.
The region will experience “unprecedented” heat waves, more severe and longer-lasting droughts, and dust storms and rainfall shortages that will “compromise water and food security” for the region’s 400 million people, according to a summary of the report released today.
The eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East are more susceptible to warming trends because of their unique natural characteristics, like large desert expanses and lower water levels, the study says.
The report was prepared by an international group of scientists overseen by The Cyprus Institute’s Climate and Atmosphere Research Center and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry.
Originally published in June in the journal Reviews of Geophysics, it aims to underscore the impact of climate change in the region ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Egypt this November.
A French-Israeli businessman appealing against his conviction in one of the mining sector’s biggest-ever corruption cases insists on his innocence and hopes the Swiss court will give him justice.
Mining tycoon Beny Steinmetz was found guilty in 2021 of setting up a complex financial web to pay bribes to ensure his company could obtain permits in Guinea’s southeastern Simandou region, which is estimated to contain the world’s biggest untapped iron ore deposits.
“I am innocent,” the 66-year-old tells AFP at the end of seven days of intense hearings.
The businessman, who made his fortune in diamonds, was sentenced by a Geneva court to five years in prison and ordered to pay 50 million Swiss francs ($52 million) in compensation.
But he insisted during the appeals court hearings that that verdict was deeply unfair, with his lawyers arguing the prosecution’s case was “very weak.”
“I have done nothing wrong,” Steinmetz says shortly before the court adjourned, telling the judges he had been “devastated” to hear how he was being portrayed.
President Isaac Herzog wraps up a state visit to Germany with a tour of Bergen-Belsen and invokes his father who helped liberate the concentration camp in April 1945, as an officer of the British forces.
“When the camp was liberated, a military convoy rolled into the site headed by an officer, who stood on a wooden crate and shouted in Yiddish, in front of hundreds of people, hundreds of human skeletons: ‘Yidden! Yidden! Es leben noch Yidden!’ In English: ‘Jews! There are still living Jews!’ There are still Jews in the world! That Jewish officer was my father, Chaim Herzog, of blessed memory, later President of Israel,” Herzog recounts.
“Four decades later, my father returned here as the Sixth President of the independent, strong, and democratic Jewish State of Israel. My father chose to begin his visit here, at the same place where I conclude my visit.”
“Here he addressed the victims of the Holocaust and said: ‘In the name of the Jewish People, and in the name of the State of Israel, I repeat our oath never to forget you, and to be forever faithful to your bequest: the imperative of life.’”
“Thus said my father, and thus say I today as President of the State of Israel, the state of the Jewish People. Here, in this terrible place, we remember the imperative that is binding on us all: the imperative of life, the imperative of the Eternity of Israel, and of the duty to work for its sake in every generation,” Herzog says.
The president says the foremost task at the moment is to preserve the memory of those who died and to help the survivors.
Charges are filed in the Haifa District Court against a couple from northern Israel accused of repeatedly raping their daughter over a period of 13 years and impregnating her twice.
Both the mother and the father, now in their 60s, are accused of raping and sexually abusing their daughter from the time she was 17.
According to the charges she became pregnant twice, on one occasion having an abortion and giving birth the second time.
The child, which suffered from rare genetic disorders, died when it was 9 months old.
Police were called when doctors treating the child performed a DNA test and discovered that the father was also the grandfather.
The charges say the mother continued to assault her daughter even after the death of the baby.
A lawyer involved in prosecuting the case tells Army Radio it is the worst case she has ever handled in her 30-year career.
The environmental advocacy organization, Adam Teva V’Din, files a Freedom of Information request to the Tax Authority for details about a compromise agreement it signed with ICL Group on payments into a sovereign wealth fund based on profits from Dead Sea mineral extraction.
The organization argues that the compromise is of public interest, particularly against years of reports about huge differences in opinion between the authority and ICL on the matter.
In late July, ICL notified the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that the two had reached a final agreement on the amounts to be paid for the years 2016 to 2020, as well as a framework for the payment mechanism to be applied from 2021 onwards.
A central issue, according to the report, was the methodology for valuing Dead Sea Works’ assets at the end of its franchise to mine minerals from the saline lake in 2030.
After public notice of the compromise, reports emerged that the Tax Authority had wiped a third off ICL’s sovereign wealth fund bill.
“The public has the right to know and understand why a compromise arrangement was reached, why more than a third of the original demand was waived, and what the principles are upon which the tax will be calculated from now,” Adam Teva V’Din argues.
Iran says that, in its protracted talks with major powers to restore its tattered 2015 nuclear deal, it is insisting on resolving “four topics.”
The four points, addressed by the government spokesman, relate to US assurances a new deal will hold, relief from punishing sanctions, and to the UN monitoring of Iranian sites.
“As Iran’s president [Ebrahim Raisi] has said, we have pursued and will pursue four topics in the negotiations,” the spokesman, Ali Bahadori-Jahromi, tells a press briefing.
On the first point, he said that “the guarantees must be reassuring,” referring mainly to Tehran’s demand that future US administrations won’t scrap the deal again, as Donald Trump’s did in 2018.
“Objective and practical verification should be foreseen in the deal,” he adds, to ensure that sanctions are lifted not just on paper, and that international companies can return to Iran and operate freely.
Bahadori-Jahromi also says the “removal of sanctions should be meaningful and sustainable” as oil-rich Iran hopes to truly reap the economic benefits of sanctions relief.
And the spokesman stressed that “political claims about the safeguard issues should be closed,” referring to Iran’s claim a UN nuclear watchdog probe into unexplained nuclear particles found at various Iranian research sites is “political” and must end before a new deal is implemented.
The original nuclear deal promised Iran relief from crippling sanctions in return for guarantees it would not obtain a nuclear weapon.
Former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani reveals that a planned meeting with then-US president Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in 2019 was scuppered by Trump wanting to publicize the meeting ahead of time.
The Iranian news site Aftab quotes Rouhani as telling confidants that he was concerned about Trump manipulating the news.
“Trump insisted that he should break out the news about the meeting. But I knew he was an actor. He was not an ordinary man. He was acting all the time. A good actor. I was worried that he might announce the meeting and then disrupt the game,” Rouhani says.
“But at the last minute, we decided that there was no chance for an honest dialogue with Trump on equal footing,” he says.
Rouhani adds that if it was former US president Barack Obama, he would have met him.
French President Emanuel Macron had tried to broker the meeting and a compromise over the nuclear deal.
The Israel Defense Forces publishes a never-before-seen internal document from 2002, in which the Military Intelligence Directorate warned that Syria was attempting to begin pursuing a nuclear program.
The intelligence assessment was put together five years before Israel struck a Syrian nuclear reactor in the Deir Ezzor area in the pre-dawn hours of September 6, 2007, in a mission known to much of the world as Operation Orchard, and in the IDF as Outside the Box.
The publication comes 15 years after the major airstrike which destroyed Syria’s nuclear program.
“Recently it became known that secret projects previously unknown to us are being conducted [or at least were being conducted] within the framework of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission,” the cover sheet of the top-secret document from September 2002 reads.
“The information does not indicate an active military nuclear program underway in Syria, but it does indicate occupation in areas that can contribute to the development of the program, and raises suspicion of the beginning of the development of such a program,” the document adds.
Until today’s publication, the IDF previously indicated that only in late 2004 did the Military Intelligence and the Mossad spy agency begin receiving unverified information about foreign experts helping Syria develop a military nuclear program.
According to several accounts, North Korea had been working with Syria on the nuclear program since at least 2001 or 2002.
Outgoing UK prime minister Boris Johnson causes a stir when he compares himself to a Roman leader who eventually returns as a dictator.
In his farewell speech, Johnson appears to try and rule out making a political comeback saying he will back Liz Truss and compares himself to Cincinnatus, the Roman politician who relinquished power and returned to his farm to live in peace.
“Like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plow,” he says. “And I will be offering this government nothing but the most fervent support.”
But many on social media point out that Johnson’s reference has more ominous undertones, with Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus eventually being called back from retirement to become dictator of Rome.
As dictator https://t.co/lY9iR9m6aF
— Tom Holland (@holland_tom) September 6, 2022
If you are curious about Boris Johnson's reference to Cincinnatus in his goodbye speech – he was a 5th century BC Roman politician who saved the state from an invasion, then – job done – returned to his farm ('to his plough'). He was also an enemy of the people.
— mary beard (@wmarybeard) September 6, 2022
Prime Minister Yair Lapid approves a bid by Israel Petrochemical Enterprises to acquire full control of Bazan, Israel’s largest oil refinery.
He does not condition the sale on Bazan’s closure within a decade, in line with a March government decision, despite pressure to do so from Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, lawmakers such as Alon Tal, and environmental groups.
Ukraine again urges Hasidic Jewish pilgrims to skip their annual pilgrimage to the city of Uman this year because of the Russian invasion.
Every year, tens of thousands of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims come to Uman from all around the world to visit the tomb of Rabbi Nachman for Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year, celebrated this year between September 25 and 27.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) was the founder of an ultra-Orthodox movement that settled in Uman in the early 1800s.
“When the echoes of the Russian enemy explosions on Ukraine don’t stop, we must take care of ourselves,” the Ukrainian embassy in Israel says in a Facebook post.
“Please, avoid coming to Uman on Rosh Hashanah and pray that peace will return to Ukraine and the blessed pilgrimage will be renewed,” the embassy said.
Despite the war, more than a thousand worshippers have already arrived in the city.
An eight-day-old baby was hospitalized at Haifa’s Rambam hospital yesterday after suffering damage to his penis in an apparent botched circumcision, Channel 12 reports.
The baby undergoes surgery and is not in a life-threatening condition, the report says.
The Women of the Wall call for the chief rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch, to be fired from his position due to his involvement in last year’s disaster at Mount Meron, in which 45 men and boys were trampled to death.
Rabinovitch’s full title is rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Places, and in the latter capacity, he is responsible for Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s tomb on Mount Meron and for the annual mass gathering that is held there on the holiday of Lag B’Omer.
As such, Rabinovitch was one of 18 people, including former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Police Chief Kobi Shabtai, to receive letters of warning last week from a government inquiry commission informing them that they could face criminal action over last May’s tragedy.
The Women of the Wall, which fights for women to be able to worship freely at the Western Wall, has no great love for Rabinovitch due to his staunch and open opposition to their aims, as well as his unwillingness to use the powers at his disposal to restrain the at-times violent demonstrators who protest against Women of the Wall’s prayer services each month.
In the letter to Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Women of the Wall call for Rabinovitch’s immediate dismissal both due to his involvement in the Meron tragedy and his management of the Western Wall.
“In his public position, there are no term limits, violating democratic values. It is his duty to ensure safety for all worshipers at the sites under his management. For years, he has allowed violence against female worshipers at the Western Wall to ensue without consequence. Rabinovitch’s negligence is now compounded by his potential role in the Meron tragedy. It is time for this government to remove him from his position,” the group writes.
Troops foil an attempt to smuggle marijuana into Israel from Egypt this morning, the Israel Defense Forces says.
According to the IDF, soldiers seized some 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of hashish, estimated to be worth NIS 500,000 ($146,000) near the border.
No arrests are made, as the suspects who apparently hurled the package over the border fled back to Egypt. The drugs are taken by police for investigation.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid says it is too soon to know if Israel has succeeded in thwarting the emerging nuclear agreement with Iran.
Lapid, who is on a visit to the Nevatim airbase in southern Israel, which houses the Israeli Air Force’s fleet of F-35 fighter jets, also issues a warning to Iran.
“It is still too early to know if we have indeed succeeded in stopping the nuclear agreement, but Israel is prepared for any threat and any scenario,” Lapid says in remarks provided by his office.
“If Iran keeps trying, it will discover Israel’s long arm and capabilities. We will continue to act in all areas against terror and against those who seek to harm us,” he says.
“As agreed between me and [US] President [Joe] Biden, we have full freedom of action to do whatever is appropriate to prevent Iran from the opportunity of becoming a nuclear threat,” Lapid adds.
Israel has been pressuring the US not to reenter the deal.
Liz Truss becomes Britain’s next prime minister after meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, who asked her to form a new government as the country faces an acute cost-of-living crisis.
Truss, 47, takes office in the carefully choreographed ceremony with the monarch a day after the ruling Conservative Party announced that Truss was elected as its leader.
Her predecessor, Boris Johnson, formally stepped down during his own audience with the queen at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.
Hadas Klein, a key witness in the corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is reduced to tears during an exchange with Netanyahu’s lawyer.
Klein, an assistant to billionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer, has been testifying about gifts the Netanayhus allegedly demanded from the tycoons.
As the trial resumed, she burst out crying during cross-examination by Amir Hadad, Netanyahu’s lawyer, bemoaning the abuse she has received from parts of the public in the wake of her testimony.
“I had no time off, every second I was called a thief and told I was guilty. I suffer personal suffering, I am not a police agent, I have a family and children,” Klein says, asking Hadad to condemn it.
“I condemn it, you are just a witness and I have no complaints against you. What is being done to you is not fair,” he says.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at Queen Elizabeth II’s estate in Scotland to formally offer his resignation to pave the way for Liz Truss to succeed him amid an acute cost-of-living crisis facing the country.
Johnson will finally leave office following a carefully choreographed audience with the monarch at Balmoral that is taking place two months after he announced his intention to step down.
Truss, who was named leader of the ruling Conservative party on Monday, will be appointed prime minister during her own meeting with the queen a short time later.
ROME — Alleged antisemitic chants by Juventus and Inter Milan fans are being investigated by Italian soccer authorities.
The chants, which allegedly included references to Jews, occurred on Saturday during Juventus’ 1-1 draw at Fiorentina and Inter’s 3-2 loss to AC Milan in the Milan derby.
“We have been Brothers of the World since 1908,” Inter tweeted late yesterday. “It is a commitment we have always made. It is in our history, it is who we are. Brothers Universally United #NoToDiscrimination.”
The federation also announces it’s investigating Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri for insulting the referee and the entire referees’ corps during a 2-1 home loss to Napoli.
MOSCOW  — An array of Russian rabbis are calling for an end to the fighting in Ukraine and expressing concern about the conflict creating tension for Jews in Russia.
The gathering of rabbis was organized by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia, one of the country’s two largest Jewish organizations.
“Relations between Russia and the rest of the world have rapidly deteriorated since the invasion began in February, resulting in economic uncertainty and, of significant concern to the Jewish community in particular, a sense of fear and isolation not felt in decades,” says a statement from the federation.
The conference issues a resolution calling “for peace and the cessation of the bloodshed,” the statement says.
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