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IDF reveals it downed Hezbollah drone along Lebanon border

IDF says it was continually monitoring the drone as it approached the border yesterday, before knocking it out of the sky

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Israeli military drones fly in formation in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: Israeli military drones fly in formation in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.

IDF reveals it downed Hezbollah drone along Lebanon border

A picture taken from Lebanon's southern Marjayoun area shows an agricultural vehicle driving down a dirt road in the Israeli town of Metula along the border fence between the two countries, on August 6, 2021. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)
A picture taken from Lebanon's southern Marjayoun area shows an agricultural vehicle driving down a dirt road in the Israeli town of Metula along the border fence between the two countries, on August 6, 2021. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces says it downed a small Hezbollah drone that entered Israeli airspace from southern Lebanon yesterday.

The military says the drone was “monitored throughout the entire event.”

The drone was not armed, the IDF says, likely indicating it was performing a reconnaissance mission of some kind.

An IDF spokesperson says the day-long delay in reporting the incident was necessary in order to investigate the device after it was brought down.

“The IDF will continue to act to prevent violations of the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” the military says.

Ministers shoot down proposal for lockdown just for elderly

Two elderly women sit on a bench on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem, on October 26, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Two elderly women sit on a bench on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem, on October 26, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Ministers in the coronavirus cabinet reportedly discussed and dismissed a proposal to institute a lockdown only on the over 60 population in Israel.

According to Channel 12 news, the idea was floated by Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, and backed by Science Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen and Minister in the Finance Ministry Hamad Amar.

But most other ministers reportedly voiced strong opposition to the move, and Deputy Attorney General Ran Nizri said it would be not be legal.

Biden on 4th anniversary of Charlottesville march: Still work to be done

US President Joe Biden speaks from the East Room of the White House, on Thursday, August 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Joe Biden speaks from the East Room of the White House, on Thursday, August 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In a statement marking the fourth anniversary of the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, US President Joe Biden says there is still work to be done in confronting hate and bigotry in America.

“Four years ago today in Charlottesville, Virginia the battle for the soul of America was laid bare for all to see,” says Biden.

“The forces of hate and violence were summoned from the shadows as neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists descended on a historic American city. With torches in their hands and veins bulging from their necks, they spewed the same antisemitic bile that was heard in Germany in the 1930s and with the same beatings and bigotry we saw in Jim Crow America for nearly a century.”

Biden adds that “we know there is more work we must do as a nation — as we saw with the mob of insurrectionists at the United States Capitol on January 6th, that joins the horror we saw in Charlottesville as shameful chapters in our history.”

University of South Carolina to open Anne Frank Center

Part of the permanent exhibition of the Anne Frank Center at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. (The University of South Carolina via JTA)
Part of the permanent exhibition of the Anne Frank Center at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. (The University of South Carolina via JTA)

The University of South Carolina announces the opening of a permanent exhibition on Anne Frank, in partnership with the museum in Amsterdam, complete with a reproduction of the desk where she wrote her diaries.

The Anne Frank Center is scheduled to launch in September on the Columbia campus with an exhibition and a learning program featuring photos, videos and artifacts.

One room will reflect the famed diarist’s experiences living in hiding from the Nazis for two years in a secret annex in Amsterdam.

The house where the family hid is a museum that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, had received more than a million visitors annually. It is an official partner of the University of South Carolina, providing the university with educational material developed at the museum and some funding.

California man guilty of plotting to bomb far-right rally

A United States army veteran who converted to Islam was found guilty of plotting to bomb a white supremacist rally in California and could be sentenced to life in prison, the US Justice Department says.

Mark Steven Domingo, 28, intended to explode two home-made bombs packed with long nails at the planned rally in Long Beach in April 2019.

He was detected early on by the FBI and, prior to his arrest, undercover officers made sure that the bombs would not function as planned, the department said.

In postings to a private online group, he said the US “needs” another mass shooting “that would give them the taste of terror they gladly spread all over the world.”

“There were mosque shootings in New Zealand. There must be retribution,” Domingo wrote in one posting. He weighed attacks on Jewish people, churches and police officers, before settling on the white supremacist rally, according to the Justice Department.

Police report 400% increase in COVID enforcement yesterday

Illustrative -- Police officers enforce COVID-19 regulations at Ben Gurion International Airport, on July 19, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Illustrative -- Police officers enforce COVID-19 regulations at Ben Gurion International Airport, on July 19, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

More than 2,000 fines were handed out by the Israel Police yesterday to those breaking coronavirus regulations, a 400 percent jump over the beginning of the week, says the prime minister’s office.

In figures presented by the government, police handed out 64 fines for breaking mandatory quarantine, 72 fines for violations of the “Green Pass” system and 1,927 fines for not wearing a mask in required areas.

The coronavirus cabinet voted yesterday to expand the “Green Pass” system to all those over age 3, who will have to present proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative COVID test to enter most public attractions.

Census data shows the United States is becoming more diverse

The Staten Island Ferry departs from the Manhattan terminal through a haze of smoke with the Statue of Liberty barely visible, on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
The Staten Island Ferry departs from the Manhattan terminal through a haze of smoke with the Statue of Liberty barely visible, on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The Census Bureau issues its most detailed portrait yet of how the US has changed over the past decade, releasing a trove of demographic data.

The figures show continued migration to the South and Southwest, and population losses in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia. The numbers also indicate that the white population is aging and has fallen to its smallest share of the total population on record. The population under age 18 is increasingly diverse.

The figures were supposed to be released by the end of March, but that deadline was pushed back because of delays from the pandemic.

Serious COVID cases in Israel rise to 445

At least 445 Israelis are hospitalized with COVID-19 and are in serious condition, Health Ministry figures reveal.

According to the latest data, there are 42,366 active coronavirus cases, with 760 hospitalized, 445 in serious condition, and 72 on ventilators.

A week ago there were just 262 serious cases in the country.

Yesterday, 5,991 new cases were detected, and so far today 4,048 new cases have been confirmed.

Six people with COVID have died so far today, and 11 people died yesterday.

Diplomatic mission in Bahrain should open within a month, says Lapid

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (left) touches down in Rabat, Morocco, on August 11, 2021. (Foreign Ministry)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (left) touches down in Rabat, Morocco, on August 11, 2021. (Foreign Ministry)

Israel’s new diplomatic mission in Bahrain should open within the next month, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tells Moroccan journalists.

Lapid says he has been in touch with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani about inaugurating Israel’s diplomatic mission there.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmad al Khalifa, Bahrain’s undersecretary for international relations, arrived in Israel on Sunday for a four-day trip during which he met the president, prime minister and foreign minister.

Khalifa said on Sunday that “hopefully soon we will have Bahrain’s ambassador assuming his post in Israel.”

Khaled Yousef al-Jalahmah was officially appointed Bahrain’s envoy to Israel in June.

Witnesses say Afghanistan’s third-largest city, Herat, falls to Taliban

Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)
Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)

Witnesses and the Taliban say they have seized Afghanistan’s third-largest city, Herat.

The seizure happened on Thursday night, putting the insurgents in control of 11 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals.

Witnesses tell The Associated Press that sporadic gunfire still echoes near one government building in the city. Otherwise, the insurgents hold the rest of the city after its defensive lines collapsed in the afternoon.

The Afghan government and security forces did not immediately acknowledge Herat’s fall.

Earlier today, the Taliban captured the strategic provincial capital of Ghazni, near Kabul, and broke through defensive lines in Afghanistan’s third-largest city, further squeezing the country’s embattled government just weeks before the end of the American military mission there.

Lapid in Morocco: There is no good alternative to Iran deal

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks at a ceremony with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita Rabat, on August 11, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem, GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks at a ceremony with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita Rabat, on August 11, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem, GPO)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says that while he is not a major supporter of the 2015 Iran deal, he doesn’t see a better alternative.

“I am not a supporter of the deal. I think that the deal is not right. I’ve said it all along and I say it now, I just don’t see a Plan B,” Lapid says in comments during his trip to Morocco.

The foreign minister says there was a wide international assumption “that there would be an effort to close the deal” before Ebrahim Raisi came into office. “The person who decided otherwise was apparently [Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei,” he adds.

Lapid says that Israel is in regular contact with the US and other partners around the world about ways to keep Iran from developing its nuclear programs.

He says that the new government presented this week by Raisi “makes it easier for us to explain to the world what we are talking about… Here it is entirely clear that this is a terror state with a terror government, which deals with blood and death as a way of life.”

“Here in Morocco as well, if you ask, they will explain to you how much Iran is a destabilizing force that supports terror,” says Lapid.

PA’s Abbas slams plan to approve new settlement building

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a meeting of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, in a speech that was broadcast on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WAFA)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a meeting of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, in a speech that was broadcast on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WAFA)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemns an anticipated Israeli decision to add around 2,200 units in major West Bank settlement blocs.

Abbas’s office adds that the decision to add new units to the settlements contradicts the position of United States President Joe Biden, who has been critical of settlements in the past.

“It contradicts the clear American position expressed by President Joe Biden during his call with President Mahmoud Abbas, in which he affirmed the American side’s rejection of settlements and unilateral measures,” Abbas’s office said in a statement.

Abbas demands that the US and the international community “immediately and seriously work to stop this Israeli advancement,” his office says.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told reporters today in Morocco that the new government will focus on “natural growth” within existing settlements, rather than expanding into new areas.

Abbas’s statement does not mention another pending decision by Israeli authorities to advance 800 units in Palestinian areas where Israel has civilian control — a zone known as Area C, which comprises around 60 percent of the West Bank.

Israel rarely issues permits for Palestinians to build in Area C, rejecting some 98% of applications between 2014 and 2018, according to the Defense Ministry.

Investigative reporters writing book on NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware

A woman checks the website of Israel-made Pegasus spyware at an office in the Cypriot capital Nicosia on July 21, 2021. (Mario Goldman/AFP)
A woman checks the website of Israel-made Pegasus spyware at an office in the Cypriot capital Nicosia on July 21, 2021. (Mario Goldman/AFP)

Two Paris-based investigative reporters are working on a book, titled “Pegasus,” about the phone malware developed by Israel’s NSO Group, allegedly used by governments to monitor and sometimes attack journalists, human rights activists and lawyers, among others.

Authors Laurent Richard and Sandrine Rigaud run Forbidden Stories, a nonprofit journalism organization which issued an extensive report on the global scale of Pegasus last month.

“In the book they will reveal the full extent of this unprecedented surveillance operation through the stories of the people whose lives have been turned upside down by it, and takes readers behind the scenes of one of the most resounding investigations of the last 20 years,” publisher Henry Holt announces.

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow is contributing a foreword to the book, which does not yet have a release date.

Fire blazing near Kiryat Shmona forces residents to evacuate

A fire burns near Kiryat Shmona, on August 12, 2021. (Itamar Katz/KKL)
A fire burns near Kiryat Shmona, on August 12, 2021. (Itamar Katz/KKL)

A fire is blazing near Kiryat Shmona, close to the Lebanon border.

Residents close to the flames have been requested to evacuate their homes, says the Kiryat Shmona Municipality.

According to Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael (KKL), the fire broke out around 4 p.m. next to a nearby military base, and spread toward Kfar Giladi.

Firefighting services, including planes, are working to douse the flames alongside KKL employees.

Lapid in Morocco: We’ll open reciprocal embassies within two months

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks in Rabat, Morocco, on August 12, 2021. (Lazar Berman)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks in Rabat, Morocco, on August 12, 2021. (Lazar Berman)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says that he and his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, agreed this morning to each open full embassies in each other’s countries within two months.

Lapid adds that Bourita is expected to be aboard the first Royal Air Maroc flight from Morocco to Israel in either October or early November in order to open the Moroccan Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Lapid is on a historic trip to Morocco — the first high-level Israeli delegation there since the two countries reestablished diplomatic ties last year.

He met for an extended conversation with Bourita and also inaugurated the opening of an Israeli liaison office in Rabat earlier today.

Health expert: We should see effects of booster doses in two weeks

An elderly Israeli receives a third COVID-19 vaccine dose at a retirement residence in Jerusalem on August 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An elderly Israeli receives a third COVID-19 vaccine dose at a retirement residence in Jerusalem on August 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prof. Eran Segal, a top government COVID adviser, says Israel should see the effects of the COVID vaccine booster dose within a few weeks.

“I believe that in the next two weeks we will see if we’re able to see a change in the trend, to slow the rise in morbidity,” Segal tells Army Radio. “If we don’t see that, then it will seem that the booster did not do its work and we might have to further tighten restrictions.”

Israel began giving third booster doses to the population over 60 on August 1, and more than 700,000 have already received it.

Segal also says he hopes the government will soon approve the booster dose for younger populations as well.

Protesters accuse Raytheon of abuses for selling weapons to Israel

An American flag flies in front of the facade of Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems facility, in Woburn, Mass, on June 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
An American flag flies in front of the facade of Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems facility, in Woburn, Mass, on June 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

A group of activists blocks the entrance to a Raytheon plant in Rhode Island on Thursday morning to protest what they allege is the company’s role in the “killing of civilians” and “other human rights abuses.”

In an emailed statement, the group says it is protesting the Waltham, Massachusetts-based defense contractor’s “weapon sales to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and their involvement in enforcing the US-Mexican border.”

“Raytheon profits from the killing of civilians, families and children in Palestine, Yemen and elsewhere,” the group adds.

Government tells High Court: Bennett not moving to PM’s residence anytime soon

A guard post is seen outside Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's home in the central city of Ra'anana, June 30, 2021. (Screen capture/YouTube)
A guard post is seen outside Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's home in the central city of Ra'anana, June 30, 2021. (Screen capture/YouTube)

The government informs the High Court that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett does not plan to move to the official prime ministerial residence in Jerusalem anytime soon, Haaretz reports.

The statement comes in response to a petition filed with the High Court by a series of Bennett’s neighbors in Ra’anana, who object to the beefed up security and constant protests disrupting their daily lives.

But the government tells the court that Bennett and his family cannot move to the Jerusalem residence for at least six months while it undergoes extensive security and infrastructure renovations.

Health Ministry director general: Rise in COVID cases is alarming

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash speaks during a press briefing on July 25, 2021. (Screen capture: Facebook)
Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash speaks during a press briefing on July 25, 2021. (Screen capture: Facebook)

Health Ministry director general Nachman Ash says despite the new restrictions approved by the cabinet last night, he is concerned about the current spike in COVID cases.

“The number of cases is hitting new heights, as is the number of serious cases,” Ash says in a press conference for reporters. “The situation is concerning — we cannot remain apathetic.”

Ash calls on the one million unvaccinated Israelis to get the shot as soon as possible, as well as for those over 60 to receive a third booster dose. He noted that ministry officials will be meeting tonight to decide whether to expand the booster dose campaign to those under age 60.

He reassures Israelis that there is a considerable stockpile of Pfizer vaccines in Israel as well as additional shipments on the way. Ash says the ministry will look into a new study showing that the Moderna vaccine — which Israel has a small stockpile of — is more effective than the Pfizer shot against the Delta variant.

Ash reiterates that getting vaccinated and observing the restrictions of masks, social distancing and limitations on gatherings are the only things that can prevent “drastic” measures being taken in the future.

Bidder offers up to $120 million for site of collapse Miami condo building

Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Giorgio Viera / AFP)
Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Giorgio Viera / AFP)

A private bidder is willing to offer up to $120 million to purchase the Miami-area oceanfront property where the collapsed Champlain Towers South building once stood.

The offer was revealed yesterday during a hearing before Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, who is overseeing the dozens of lawsuits that have been filed since the condominium collapsed on June 24, killing 98 people. Officials are still trying to determine what caused the building to collapse.

The judge authorized negotiation of an agreement with the bidder, who was not publicly identified. A real estate broker told the judge he had a “letter of interest” from the bidder that offered $110 million for the property, the Miami Herald reports.

“They’re willing to go to $120 million,” said Michael Fay, who has been appointed to work on the real estate deal.

“That’s the best news I’ve heard so far today,” the judge said. He then asked Fay to move as “quickly as possible” to get to a “short auction process.”

“I want to compensate these victims as soon as possible,” Hanzman said.

Bennett urges Pfizer CEO to expand COVID vaccines to those under 12

Israeli youth receive COVID-19 vaccine shots at a vaccination center in Petah Tikva, July 19, 2021. (Flash90)
Israeli youth receive COVID-19 vaccine shots at a vaccination center in Petah Tikva, July 19, 2021. (Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and urges him to speed up the regulatory approval of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine for those under age 12.

According to the prime minister’s office, Bourla tells Bennett that he views the issue with great importance, and will work to the best of his ability to speed up the process.

The pair also discuss Israel’s campaign to give third booster doses to its over-60 population, says the prime minister’s office.

Palestinians receive another 150,000 COVID vaccine doses

Palestinians receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the West Bank city of Hebron, March 27, 2021 (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Palestinians receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the West Bank city of Hebron, March 27, 2021 (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The Palestinian Authority has received another 150,000 doses of vaccine from Pfizer, as most Palestinians remain unvaccinated, PA Health Minister Mai al-Kaila says in a statement.

Around 100,000 doses will be sent to the Gaza Strip, al-Kaila says.

According to al-Kaila, some 2 million vaccines have been distributed between the West Bank and Gaza at this point. However, health officials have said vaccine uptake has been low, with many Palestinians declining the shot.

Ramallah has also been rocked by repeated scandals centered around the coronavirus vaccine. Before the shot was made available in the West Bank, senior officials, their children, and even the Palestinian soccer team allegedly got first dibs.

The PA was also widely criticized by Palestinians for a deal with Israel in June in which Jerusalem would loan millions of soon-to-expire Pfizer doses to Ramallah. In exchange, Israel would get fresh doses of the vaccine that the PA had already purchased, but which were set to arrive later. The PA withdrew from the deal after widespread public backlash.

Recorded coronavirus infections remain low in the West Bank and Gaza, with only 2,723 active cases. But health officials warn that relatively little testing is being done, meaning that the virus could be spreading widely undetected.

Death toll from Turkey’s flash floods rises to nine

An aerial view shows a destroyed in a flooded area following heavy rainfalls near Kastamonu, on August 11, 2021. (Demiroren News Agency (DHA) / AFP)
An aerial view shows a destroyed in a flooded area following heavy rainfalls near Kastamonu, on August 11, 2021. (Demiroren News Agency (DHA) / AFP)

The death toll from flash floods that swept across several Black Sea regions of Turkey rises to nine.

Heavy storms descended on Turkey’s northern stretches just as rescuers reported bringing hundreds of wildfires that have killed eight people since late July under near total control in the south.

Turkey has been grappling with drought and a rapid succession of natural disasters that world scientists believe are becoming more frequent and violent because of climate change.

Heavy rains late Tuesday produced flash floods that turned streets into running rivers and sparked mudslides that buckled roads in three northern regions.

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli warned yesterday that the area was facing “a disaster that we had not seen in 50 or 100 years.”

Fauci to recommend a COVID booster shot for the immunocompromised

Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 20, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 20, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, says an additional COVID-19 booster shot will be recommended for previously vaccinated people with weakened immune systems.

Fauci tells NBC’s “Today” show that he expects the booster recommendation to come “imminently.”

Israel began administering third booster doses of the COVID vaccine to the immunocompromised a month ago. On August 1, it rolled out the campaign to all those over age 60, and it is expected to expand it to other age groups next week.

Fauci says when it comes to the elderly, data is being collected to determine if or when their protection goes “below a critical level” and “that’s when you’re going to be hearing about the implementation of boosters” for others.

He adds that, “at this moment, other than the immune compromised, we’re not going to be giving boosters.” But he expects that “inevitably there will be a time when we’ll have to get boosts,” because ”no vaccine, at least not within this category, is going to have an indefinite amount of protection.”

Lebanese protesters block roads after de facto end to fuel subsidies

A Lebanese man kicks a teargas cannister as Lebanese army and security forces clash with demonstrators near the parliament in downtown Beirut on August 4, 2021. (AFP)
A Lebanese man kicks a teargas cannister as Lebanese army and security forces clash with demonstrators near the parliament in downtown Beirut on August 4, 2021. (AFP)

Angry residents are blocking roads across Lebanon, a day after the central bank said it could no longer afford to prop up fuel imports except at the black market rate.

As Lebanon’s economy crumbles and its foreign reserves dwindle, the decision is considered a de facto lifting of fuel subsidies. The national news agency says people blocked roads in the north, south and east of the country.

AFP correspondents saw motorists in long queues outside gas stations still open, after they rushed to fill up before the Energy Ministry officially announced the new prices. The cost of gas is expected to at least triple, according to projections by the Information International think tank.

President Herzog invites king of Morocco to meeting

Moroccan King Mohammed VI waves to a crowd as he arrives for the opening session of the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat, Morocco, on October 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
Moroccan King Mohammed VI waves to a crowd as he arrives for the opening session of the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat, Morocco, on October 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

President Isaac Herzog has invited Moroccan King Mohammed VI to visit Israel.

Herzog sends a letter to the king through Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who is visiting Rabat today as part of the first official Israeli delegation since the countries reestablished diplomatic ties last year.

“Your majesty, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you in the near future,” the letter reads. “We are committed to deepening the strength of our relations and I hope that they further expand and flourish over time.”

Government denies demanding ‘silence’ from hospital directors

The government denies a report that it “demanded silence” from the directors of hospitals in Israel as part of a secret deal.

The Prime Minister’s Office responds to a report in Israel Hayom that the government demanded senior hospital officials not speak to news outlets about their lack of preparedness to deal with an influx of COVID patients — in exchange for the government approving the hiring of hundreds more health care workers. Yesterday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the approval of 2,000 new positions in hospitals nationwide.

The report is “false and unfounded,” the PMO says. “There was never any such demand of hospital directors, neither officially nor implied, neither written nor verbal.”

“Any attempt to impeach their professional integrity belittles the best of our doctors,” says the statement, “who are at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus day and night.”

Kabul said to offer Taliban power-sharing to end violence

Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)
Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)

Afghan government negotiators in Qatar have offered the Taliban a power-sharing deal in return for an end to fighting in the country, a government negotiating source tells AFP.

“Yes, the government has submitted a proposal to Qatar as mediator. The proposal allows the Taliban to share power in return for a halt in violence in the country,” the source says.

Lapid inaugurates Israeli liaison office in Rabat, Morocco

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) inaugurates Israel’s Liaison Office in Rabat, Morocco, on August 12, 2021, alongside Moroccan Deputy Foreign Minister  Mohcine Jazouli (center) and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (left). (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) inaugurates Israel’s Liaison Office in Rabat, Morocco, on August 12, 2021, alongside Moroccan Deputy Foreign Minister Mohcine Jazouli (center) and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (left). (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid inaugurates Israel’s Liaison Office in Rabat, Morocco, this morning, alongside Moroccan Deputy Foreign Minister Mohcine Jazouli.

Welfare Minister Meir Cohen and Yesh Atid MK Ram Ben Barak attend the ceremony. Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, who met with Lapid yesterday, is not present.

Until now, Israeli diplomats stationed in the city worked out of a hotel. The new office will be replaced when Israel finishes renovating the building that housed Israel’s diplomatic mission in Morocco until ties were suspended with the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000.

Bennett heading north for vacation, cancels Sunday’s cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, his wife Gilat and their four children at the Knesset on June 13, 2021. (Naftali Bennett/Instagram)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, his wife Gilat and their four children at the Knesset on June 13, 2021. (Naftali Bennett/Instagram)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is taking time off to spend with his family this weekend and is therefore canceling the cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday.

The prime minister’s office says Bennett will “continue to receive updates during his vacation days” while he is traveling in the north of the country. He is expected to return to work on Monday.

23 people nabbed at Ben-Gurion with forged COVID tests

Travelers at Ben Gurion International Airport on August 5, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)
Travelers at Ben Gurion International Airport on August 5, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

Twenty-three individuals were removed from a plane heading from Israel to New York yesterday with faked negative COVID tests.

According to the Health Ministry and the Israel Police, United Airlines alerted health authorities at Ben-Gurion International Airport that they suspected the tests, which are required for entering the United States, were forged.

The tests were discovered to have been faked and the suspects were detained for questioning before being released on bail and fined, and their details were handed over to US authorities, say police. Additional punishments for the individuals are under consideration.

IDF Home Front Command to assist with serological tests in schools

A Magen David Adom worker takes blood for a serological test for COVID-19 from an child in the ultra-Orthodox town of Kiryat Ye'arim (Telz-Stone), outside Jerusalem, on August 9, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A Magen David Adom worker takes blood for a serological test for COVID-19 from an child in the ultra-Orthodox town of Kiryat Ye'arim (Telz-Stone), outside Jerusalem, on August 9, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The IDF Home Front Command will assist the Health Ministry in carrying out serological testing for coronavirus antibodies at schools around the country, reports Hebrew media outlets.

The testing is being carried out to mark the beginning of the school year under a program designed to reduce the need for quarantine among students and allow them to remain in in-person instruction. Those who are found to have COVID antibodies will be exempt from quarantine if a classmate tests positive for the coronavirus. Under a plan approved by the government, all 1.6 million kids in kindergarten and grades 1-6 will undergo a serology test to check if they have COVID-19 antibodies. Those who are found to have recovered from the disease will receive a “Green Pass.”

year under a program designed to reduce the need for quarantine among students and allow them to remain in in-person instruction. Those who are found to have COVID antibodies will be exempt from quarantine if a classmate tests positive for the coronavirus. Under a plan approved by the government, all 1.6 million kids in kindergarten and grades 1-6 will undergo a serology test to check if they have COVID-19 antibodies. Those who are found to have recovered from the disease will receive a “Green Pass.”

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