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Bennett: Goal is ‘to vaccinate everyone’ by end of August

‘This is ambitious, but possible,’ PM tells HMO chiefs while calling to increase pace of vaccination to ‘five times what it is now’

Rachel Gershon, 83, receives a third Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from a Magen David Adom national emergency service volunteer, at a private nursing home, in Netanya, August 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Rachel Gershon, 83, receives a third Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from a Magen David Adom national emergency service volunteer, at a private nursing home, in Netanya, August 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

Florida breaks its pandemic record for COVID hospitalizations

ORLANDO, Florida — A day after it recorded the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida breaks a previous record for current hospitalizations, as the number of patients in hospitals because of COVID-19 once again breaks through the 10,000-person threshold.

The Sunshine State has 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the US Department of Health & Human Services.

The previous record was from more than a year ago, July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started becoming widespread, when Florida had 10,170 hospitalizations, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

Florida is now leading the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19, as hospitals around the state report having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a noticeable drop in the age of patients.

In the past week, Florida has averaged 1,525 adult hospitalizations a day, and 35 daily pediatric hospitalizations. Both are the highest per capita rate in the nation, according to Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida.

The hospitalizations and increasing cases have come as the new, more transmittable delta variant has spread throughout Florida, and residents have returned to pre-pandemic activities.

“The recent rise is both striking and not-at-all surprising,” Salemi says in an email.

Lapid: Israel to keep working with allies on formulating ‘necessary steps’ to counter Iran

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid cheers the condemnations by his US and UK counterparts of the recent deadly attack on an Israeli-operated ship near Oman that Israel, America, and Britain have blamed on Iran.

“The murderous regime in Iran and the terrorist acts it exports are a global threat,” Lapid says in a statement. “The threat posed by the terrorist regime in Iran will only increase as the ‘Hangman of Tehran’ Raisi becomes president.”

He adds: “Israel will continue to hold conversations with our allies around the world and work together to formulate the necessary steps needed against ongoing Iranian terror.”

Blinken says US ‘confident’ that Iran behind attack on Israeli-linked ship

This Jan. 2, 2016 photo shows the oil tanker Mercer Street off Cape Town, South Africa. The oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire reportedly came under attack off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, authorities said Friday, July 30, 2021. (Johan Victor via AP)
This Jan. 2, 2016 photo shows the oil tanker Mercer Street off Cape Town, South Africa. The oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire reportedly came under attack off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, authorities said Friday, July 30, 2021. (Johan Victor via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Biden administration is “confident” that Iran was behind a deadly attack on an Israeli-operated merchant ship near Oman, joining Israel and Britain in blaming Tehran for the strike.

In a statement, Blinken says the attack was carried out using explosive drones.

“There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior. These actions threaten freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway, international shipping and commerce, and the lives of those on the vessels involved,” he says.

The top American diplomat adds: “We are working with our partners to consider our next steps and consulting with governments inside the region and beyond on an appropriate response, which will be forthcoming.”

Emerging plan to reopen schools said to call for rapid tests for kids exposed to COVID carriers

Israeli students going to school in Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)
Israeli students going to school in Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)

An emerging plan to reopen schools next month proposes using rapid testing among students who were exposed to coronavirus carriers, rather than sending them directly to quarantine, according to Channel 12 news.

The network says that as part of the plan, serological tests will be performed over the coming months on kids in sixth grade or below to determine if they have antibodies.

Under the proposal, students who have antibodies will continue to study and take a single test after exposure to someone infected with COVID-19, while those without antibodies will have to undergo tests for an entire week.

Bennett: Goal is ‘to vaccinate everyone’ by end of August

Rachel Gershon, 83, receives a third Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from a Magen David Adom national emergency service volunteer, at a private nursing home, in Netanya, August 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Rachel Gershon, 83, receives a third Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from a Magen David Adom national emergency service volunteer, at a private nursing home, in Netanya, August 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks with the heads of health maintenance organizations to stress the need to get more coronavirus vaccines into arms.

“The situation is good, but we need to increase the pace. We need the daily pace to be five times what it is now. Israeli citizens must go get vaccinated,” Bennett is quoted saying in a statement from his office.

He adds: “Our goal is to vaccinate everyone by the end of the month. This is ambitious, but possible.”

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the HMO chiefs told Bennett there has been high demand among those over 60 to get a third vaccine dose, after Israel began administering booster shots to the elderly last week.

The PMO statement also says, per an agreement with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the military will assist the HMOs in the vaccination campaign.

German COVID skeptics defy protest ban, scuffle with cops in Berlin

BERLIN — Thousands of anti-lockdown demonstrators defy a court-ordered protest ban and gather in the streets of Berlin, resulting in scuffles with police.

Police say some protesters “harassed and attacked” officers and ignored roadblocks, disrupting traffic in parts of the German capital.

“They tried to break through the police chain and pull out our colleagues. This led to the use of irritants, batons, and physical violence,” Berlin police tweets.

Several people were arrested, they add.

The protest was called by the “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) movement, which has emerged as the loudest voice against Germany’s coronavirus restrictions.

Judges had banned several of its planned demonstrations this weekend, including one for today that was expected to draw some 22,500 people.

The court said it could not allow the rallies to go ahead over fears that participants would flout rules on mask wearing and social distancing, at a time when Germany’s infection numbers are on the rise again.

Hezbollah members among those shot dead in funeral ambush — Lebanese security source

BEIRUT — At least five people, including three Hezbollah members, were killed south of Beirut today, when a funeral for a member of the terror organization was ambushed, a Lebanese security source tells AFP.

Several people were wounded in the exchange of fire in the Khalde area, between members of the Lebanese Shiite group and Sunni residents, the source says, adding that the funeral was for a man who had been killed the night before.

Bus carrying IDF troops mistakenly enters PA-controlled part of Hebron

Palestinian Authority Police escort a bus of Israeli troops that entered a PA-controlled section of Hebron earlier today, Palestinian media reports say.

A military spokesperson tells The Times of Israel that the bus accidentally entered the Palestinian side of the southern West Bank city and left shortly after.

There were no injuries, according to the IDF spokesperson.

IDF chief speaks with UK counterpart after attack on Israeli-operated ship

Military chief Aviv Kohavi speaks with his British counterpart Nick Carter, following a deadly attack on an Israeli-operated vessel near Oman.

“The two discussed the recent events in the area and the common challenges to the countries,” a statement from the Israel Defense Forces says.

The statement comes as UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab says it’s “highly likely” Iran was behind the attack, in which a British national and Romanian citizen were killed.

British FM says ‘highly likely’ Iran behind attack on Israeli-operated ship

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab looks on before signing an agreement with his French counterpart (not seen) in Paris on July 26, 2021. (Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab looks on before signing an agreement with his French counterpart (not seen) in Paris on July 26, 2021. (Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP)

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab says it’s “highly likely” that Iran was behind the attack on an Israeli-operated ship near Oman that left two dead, including a UK national.

“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” Raab says in a statement.

“Iran must end such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law,” he adds. “The UK is working with our international partners on a concerted response to this unacceptable attack.”

The comments come after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett explicitly blamed Iran earlier today for the attack, which the Islamic Republic has denied responsibility for.

Farmers protesting proposed agricultural reforms head to Jerusalem

Traffic jams are reported on the main highway leading to Jerusalem as a large convoy of farmers protesting proposed agricultural reforms make their way to the capital.

The farmers oppose proposals to make it easier to import fresh produce and to cancel local production quotas, which the reforms’ backers say will help lower high food prices.

Death toll in Turkey wildfires rises to 8

ANKARA, Turkey — The death toll from wildfires in southern Turkey rises to eight following the discovery of two bodies today, officials say, as more people including tourists are evacuated to safety.

Turkey is suffering the worst fires in at least a decade, official data show, with nearly 95,000 hectares (235,000 acres) burned so far this year, compared with an average of 13,516 hectares at this point in the year between 2008 and 2020.

Two bodies are found in Manavgat town in Antalya province, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweets.

The Turkish national and a German died in their fire-damaged home, according to state news agency Anadolu.

Since the fires broke out Wednesday, 864 people have received medical treatment, the health minister says.

Several neighborhoods in the tourist city of Bodrum were evacuated, the mayor says, as strong winds from nearby Milas district fan the flames.

Over 1,100 residents were taken to another part of Bodrum aboard nearly 20 boats, mayor Ahmet Aras says, since it was not possible to evacuate people by road.

Education Ministry reports over 6,800 active COVID cases among students, staff

Exactly a month before the new school year starts, Education Ministry figures show 6,854 students and teaching staff are currently infected with COVID-19.

Another 51,147 students and teaching staff are in quarantine.

Bennett’s office says final school reopening plan to soon be presented to him

A final plan to reopen schools will be presented to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the coming days, his office says as he wraps up his meeting with senior officials on the matter.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says officials from the Health, Education and Finance ministries are working together on the plan.

MDA to administer 3rd vaccine shots in senior living homes

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says starting tomorrow, it will begin administering third doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Israelis in senior living homes.

Israel last week began giving booster shots to those over 60 years old, making it the first country to do so.

Tunisian forces arrest 2 more Islamist MPs critical of president

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisian security forces have arrested two MPs of an Islamist party opposed to a power grab by President Kais Saied, their party says today.

Maher Zid and Mohamed Affes of Al-Karama have been placed in provisional detention in connection with a military investigation, party head Seifeddine Makhlouf says on Facebook.

Their arrest last night came a day after the detention of an independent MP, Yassine Ayari.

Ayari was arrested for branding Saied’s decision last Sunday to suspend parliament and sack the prime minister and other top officials as a “military coup.”

Al-Karama is linked to the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, the main opponent of the president.

Bennett meets with senior officials to discuss school reopening plans

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with senior officials in the Education and Health ministries to discuss plans for reopening schools, as the two ministries tussle over Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton’s proposal for returning to the classroom.

Unexploded bazooka rounds found at site of 1967 battle in Jerusalem

A handout photo from police shows an unexploded bazooka round discovered at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on August 1, 2021. (Israel Police)
A handout photo from police shows an unexploded bazooka round discovered at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on August 1, 2021. (Israel Police)

A pair of unexploded bazooka rockets from the Six Day War are uncovered at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, the location of a fierce battle between Israeli and Jordanian troops during the 1967 military conflict.

Police sappers arrive at the scene to take the explosives, which were found during infrastructure work at the site.

A police statement cheers the discovery as the “closing of a circle,” noting there was once a police academy at Ammunition Hill.

Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko finishes 6th in women’s triple jump finals

Israel's Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko competes in the women's triple jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP)
Israel's Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko competes in the women's triple jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP)

Israeli long jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko finishes in sixth place in the finals of the women’s triple jump, falling short of an Olympic medal.

Gold medal winner Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela sets a new Olympic record by jumping 15.67 meters.

20,000 Israelis age 60 and up so far reported to have received 3rd COVID shot

An Israeli man receives a third coronavirus vaccine shot at a Maccabi Healthcare Services vaccination center on August 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An Israeli man receives a third coronavirus vaccine shot at a Maccabi Healthcare Services vaccination center on August 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Some 20,000 Israelis age 60 and up have received a third coronavirus vaccine dose out of around 180,000 who have so far registered to do so, according to HMO figures cited by Channel 12 news.

Israel last week became the first country to begin administering booster shots to its older population.

Russian-Israeli tennis player Aslan Karatsev wins silver for Russia in mixed doubles

Russia's Elena Vesnina (L) talks to Russia's Aslan Karatsev during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic mixed doubles tennis final match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Tiziana Fabi/AFP)
Russia's Elena Vesnina (L) talks to Russia's Aslan Karatsev during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic mixed doubles tennis final match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Tiziana Fabi/AFP)

Russian-Israeli tennis player Aslan Karatsev, representing the Russian Olympic Committee at the Tokyo games, wins a silver medal after losing in the mixed doubles final.

Karatsev and his doubles partner Elena Vesnina went down in three sets to another Russian duo, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev.

Israel’s Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko reaches last stage of women’s triple jump finals

Israel’s Olympic long jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, on July 30, 2021. (Israel Olympic Committee)
Israel’s Olympic long jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, on July 30, 2021. (Israel Olympic Committee)

Israeli long jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko has completed three leaps in the women’s triple jump and advances to the last stage of the finals.

Knyazyeva-Minenko will now haw three more attempts.

Ministers take recess from meeting on budget approval

A cabinet meeting to approve the 2021-2022 state budget is now recessed and will resume at 4 p.m.

Home Front Command’s search and rescue unit gets new training base

The new training base in Ramle for the IDF Home Front Command's Search and Rescue Brigade. (Defense Ministry)
The new training base in Ramle for the IDF Home Front Command's Search and Rescue Brigade. (Defense Ministry)

After 37 years, the training base of the IDF Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue Brigade training base will move from Tzrifin to a new complex near Ramle, the Defense Ministry says.

The ministry’s engineering and building division says it recently finished building the base, which includes specialized facilities for search and rescue, as well as for training for a nuclear, biological or chemical incident.

The move is part of a project to relocate military complexes from the Tel Aviv metropolitan area to open up land for development.

The new training base, known in Hebrew as Bahad 16, is located next to the Home Front Command headquarters near Ramle.

Ismail Haniyeh elected to another term as Hamas chief

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh flashes the victory sign before he speaks to journalists after his meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, in Beirut, Lebanon, June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh flashes the victory sign before he speaks to journalists after his meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, in Beirut, Lebanon, June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

A source close to Hamas confirms that Ismail Haniyeh has been selected to serve another term as the Gaza-ruling terror group’s politburo chief.

Haniyeh is now set to remain politburo leader until 2025.

Haniyeh’s reelection comes several months after Yayha Sinwar, the Islamist organization’s leader in Gaza, was selected to serve a second term.

New deputy defense secretary holds first meeting with IDF chief

Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster meets with IDF Chief Aviv Kohavi on August 1, 2021. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster meets with IDF Chief Aviv Kohavi on August 1, 2021. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster meets with Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi for the first time since entering the role.

The sit-down is part of a series of meetings Schuster is holding with officials upon taking office.

The two spoke about the upcoming tasks of the deputy minister, a statement from Schuster’s office says.

IDF to test warning sirens in southern towns on Monday

The military announces it will hold a test of the warning siren systems in a number of communities in southern Israel tomorrow.

The Israel Defense Forces says the test is meant to ensure that the alarm system is working properly.

The alarms will sound in Bnei Netzarim at 3 p.m., in Naveh at 3:25 p.m. and in Zru’a at 6 p.m. for 30 seconds, and then for 15 seconds in Avshalom and Sde Avraham at 4 p.m., Kissufim at 4:40 p.m., Kfar Maimon at 5:20 p.m., Or Haner at 6:35 p.m. and Erez at 7 p.m.

In the case of an actual attack, the sirens will sound twice, according to the IDF.

Ministers okay granting 15,000 work permits to Palestinian construction workers

Palestinian workers enter Israel through the Mitar checkpoint in the southern West Bank on May 5, 2020. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Palestinian workers enter Israel through the Mitar checkpoint in the southern West Bank on May 5, 2020. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Government ministers approve granting another 15,000 permits for West Bank Palestinians to work in the Israeli construction sector.

“This is an important step that will strengthen the Palestinian and Israeli economies and our shared interests,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweets.

The move comes amid calls by some Israeli officials to boost the Palestinian Authority’s struggling economy.

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