ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Uruguay to open diplomatic office in Jerusalem, foreign minister announces

Hours after declaring that Paraguay would reopen embassy in Jerusalem, Eli Cohen meets with Uruguayan leaders, says new mission won’t be an embassy but will advance tech ties

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets with Uruguay's President Luis Lacalle Pou (R) in Montevideo, August 16, 2023. (Foreign Ministry)
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets with Uruguay's President Luis Lacalle Pou (R) in Montevideo, August 16, 2023. (Foreign Ministry)

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

Israel to reexamine Ethiopia immigration policy amid increased fighting

Ethiopian Jews scuffle with police during a protest urging the government to bring their family members to Israel due to fighting in Ethiopia, near the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on August 13, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Ethiopian Jews scuffle with police during a protest urging the government to bring their family members to Israel due to fighting in Ethiopia, near the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on August 13, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Israel will reexamine its policies regarding further immigration from Ethiopia amid increased fighting in the African nation, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry says.

Minister Ofir Sofer appoints Brig. Gen. (Reserves) Harel Kanfo to oversee the review.

The move comes amid increased protests in Israel by the Ethiopian community and a day after Sofer said no rescue mission was being planned out of Gondar, Ethiopia, for locals who say they have Jewish roots.

Sofer’s comments were made in a meeting with activists working to increase immigration quotas from Ethiopia following their protest rally on Sunday in Jerusalem, in which hundreds of Israelis of Ethiopian descent demanded that more people be let into Israel from the African country in light of fighting between rival factions in its northern provinces.

Last week, Israel extracted 204 individuals that the government said are either Israelis or eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return for Jews and their relatives.

Amid overhaul, some 80% of new Israeli startups choosing to incorporate in the US

Tech workers march in Tel Aviv to protest against the government's planned overhaul of the judicial system, January 31, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Tech workers march in Tel Aviv to protest against the government's planned overhaul of the judicial system, January 31, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Some 80% of new Israeli startups are choosing to incorporate in the United States, particularly in the state of Delaware, the Reuters news agency reports.

Israeli entrepreneurs tell Reuters that the move is spurred both by economic advantages in the US and growing uncertainty over the judicial overhaul in Israel.

The report cites an Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) survey indicating that as many as 80% of new Israeli tech startups in 2023 chose to incorporate in Delaware, up from 20% in 2022.

IIA did not give the number of companies surveyed.

“The fact that you are shaking up the judicial system puts Israel in a very high level of uncertainty and investors don’t like uncertainty,” IIA Chairman Ami Applebaum, who is also chief scientist at the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, tells Reuters.

However, others said the decision was purely a business one, citing proximity to US investors and Delaware’s low corporate and no state sales taxes.

Existing companies as also moving abroad.

A survey of 615 firms by Startup Nation Central showed that 8% of Israeli startup/tech companies had started moving their headquarters abroad, and 29% intended to do so soon, Reuters reports.

US sanctions Lebanese environmental NGO acting as cover for Hezbollah on border

An installation of the Lebanese agricultural NGO 'Green Without Borders' that the IDF says serves as an observation outpost for Hezbollah on the Israeli-Lebanese border, publicized on June 22, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
An installation of the Lebanese agricultural NGO 'Green Without Borders' that the IDF says serves as an observation outpost for Hezbollah on the Israeli-Lebanese border, publicized on June 22, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The US State Department announces that it will be sanctioning a Lebanese NGO that has functioned as a cover for the Hezbollah terror group to operate along the country’s border with Israel.

Green Without Borders’s sites “have been used to conduct Hezbollah weapons training, to provide support for Hezbollah’s activities along the Blue Line in southern Lebanon, and to impede the freedom of movement of the UN Security Council-mandated United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL),” the State Department says.

The State Department says that the sanctions against GWB and its head
Zuhair Subhi Nahla are “part of our efforts to prevent and disrupt financial and other support for terrorist attacks in Lebanon, Israel and around the world.”

Jerusalem hospital mistakenly gives rabies shots to 5 pregnant women

Illustrative: A pregnant woman at a hospital. (iStock via Getty Images)
Illustrative: A pregnant woman at a hospital. (iStock via Getty Images)

Five pregnant women were given rabies shots at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem instead of anti-D shots earlier this week, a medical publication reports.

The hospital has told the women that neither they nor their pregnancies will be hurt by the rabies shots.

Pregnant women with RhD negative blood are given anti-D immunoglobulin injections in case their babies are RhD positive.

The immunoglobin neutralizes any RhD positive antigens that may have entered the mother’s blood during pregnancy.

Without anti-D, the mother’s immune system will treat the baby’s blood as a foreign invader, producing antibodies to destroy blood cells from the baby and potentially leading to serious illness in the baby either in the womb or after birth.

Doctors Only, a publication for the Israeli healthcare community, quotes a Hadassah statement that the women were alerted to the mistake and that they were called back for the anti-D shots.

“The hospital administration has undertaken a deep and comprehensive investigation after this event and has drawn lessons so that such an error will not happen again,” the statement continues.

One killed, 3 injured in apparent criminal shooting near Gan Shmuel

One person was killed and three others seriously wounded in a shooting near the central Kibbutz of Gan Shmuel, police and medics say.

Police say they are investigating the incident and the motive is most likely criminal.

The Magen David Adom rescue service says that a man in his 40s was confirmed dead at the scene and three others are being taken to hospital in a serious condition with gunshot wounds.

In a separate incident, police say they are investigating a shooting near Jaljuliya in which a 21-year-old resident of Petah Tikvah was killed and a 15-year-old wounded.

The shooting is also thought to be criminal.

Gallant says military is ‘fully preparing for any scenario’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (C) Admiral of the Navy, Vice Adm. David Sa'ar Salama (R) at the Shayetet 13 base on August 16, 2023 (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (C) Admiral of the Navy, Vice Adm. David Sa'ar Salama (R) at the Shayetet 13 base on August 16, 2023 (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says the military is “fully preparing for any scenario” during a visit to the Navy’s elite Shayetet 13 unit.

“In the face of the rhetoric of our enemies, we are fully preparing for any scenario, in the air, at sea and on land,” Gallant says to the naval commandos, in remarks provided by his office.

“Don’t let the background noise distract you from the most important task, maintaining the security of the country and the peace of its citizens,” he adds, referring to national tensions over the judicial overhaul.

Gal Gadot’s ‘Heart of Stone’ number one on Netflix in 6 Arab countries

This image released by Netflix shows Gal Gadot in a scene from 'Heart of Stone.' (Robert Viglasky/Netflix via AP)
This image released by Netflix shows Gal Gadot in a scene from 'Heart of Stone.' (Robert Viglasky/Netflix via AP)

Gal Gadot’s “Heart of Stone” is number one on Netflix in 93 countries, including in six Arab nations, Channel 12 reports.

The spy thriller released on August 11, takes the top spot in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.

Several of those countries have in the past banned the Israeli star’s films.

In the film, Gadot plays Rachel Stone, a highly trained intelligence agent who is also a member of an even more secret international organization with no political or national allegiances, called The Charter, that works to preserve world peace. However, when villain Keya Dhawan (Bollywood A-lister Bhatt) steals the “heart” of the Charter, which is the source of its all its awesome technological power, Stone set off on a globe-trotting, heart-stopping, stunt-filled adventure to get it back.

Saudi Arabia says it executes American citizen convicted of killing his father

An honor guard member is covered by the flag of Saudi Arabia, in Washington, on March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
An honor guard member is covered by the flag of Saudi Arabia, in Washington, on March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Saudi Arabia executes an American citizen who had been convicted of killing his father.

The Interior Ministry identifies the executed man as Bishoy Sharif Naji Naseef and said he beat and then strangled his Egyptian father to death. It also says Naseef used narcotics, mutilated his father’s body after his slaying and attempted to kill another person before his arrest.

The statement does not identify how Naseef was executed. However, Saudi Arabia typically beheads those sentenced to death.

A lawyer for Naseef could not be immediately identified. It wasn’t known if Naseef had a home address in the United States.

The US State Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Uruguay to open interest office in Jerusalem

Uruguay says it will open an interest office in Jerusalem to “advance cooperation in the innovation arena.”

The announcement comes during a meeting in Montevideo between Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and his Uruguayan counterpart Francisco Bustillo and President Luis Lacalle Pou.

Cohen hails the move.

“We continue to strengthen the international status of Israel’s capital. Uruguay is one of Israel’s most important friends in Latin America, and the president’s decision to open an innovation office in Jerusalem will advance the relations between the countries and the economic and trade ties between us.”

Lawyer defending reasonableness law: ‘Unthinkable that court will overturn Basic Law’

Attorney Ilan Bombach, Vice Chairman of the Election Committee, speaks at a committee meeting in Jerusalem, September 29, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Attorney Ilan Bombach, Vice Chairman of the Election Committee, speaks at a committee meeting in Jerusalem, September 29, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A lawyer chosen by Justice Minister Yariv Levin to represent the government during a High Court hearing of appeals against the reasonableness law says it is “unthinkable” that the court will strike it down.

“The possibility that the High Court will strike down a Basic Law is unthinkable. They completely don’t have the authority,” Ilan Bombach tells Channel 12 news.

Nullifying the quasi-constitutional Basic Law would be an unprecedented exercise of judicial review over the Knesset’s constituent authority. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to say whether his government would abide by such a ruling.

Bombach, who has represented the Likud party in the past and was vice chairman of the Election Committee in 2022, is chosen as outside counsel after Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara tells Levin she won’t defend the law.

The legislation, an amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary, prohibits all courts, including the Supreme Court, from using the judicial yardstick of “reasonableness” to review and potentially reverse government and ministerial decisions. It is the first law passed, and so far the only one, out of the government’s far-reaching judicial overhaul plan.

The coalition argues it is critical to restrain what it sees as an overly activist court interfering in government decisions, while opponents argue the reasonableness standard is a key tool for protecting certain rights and the independence of law enforcement officials.

A hearing on the law will be held in the High Court of Justice on September 12 with a panel unprecedented in size that will comprise all 15 Supreme Court justices.

 

 

Health Ministry warns of serious eye infection risk from swimming in Sea of Galilee

Israelis and tourists cool off in the Sea of Galilee near Tiberias on June 28, 2023. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Israelis and tourists cool off in the Sea of Galilee near Tiberias on June 28, 2023. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry warns of the risk of serious eye infections from swimming in the Sea of Galilee.

In a statement, the ministry says at least three cases have been reported in recent days of inflammation of the cornea and corneal scarring, caused by microsporidia, a fungal parasite in the water.

This fungus can enter the body via the soft tissue around the eye while a person swims.

The ministry urges those who intend to enter the lake to wear goggles. Those who are experiencing symptoms are urged to seek medical help immediately.

US army chief to visit Israel, said looking to assess damage to IDF readiness

This handout photo from March 3, 2023, shows IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, left, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) meeting with visiting Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Sivan Shachor/GPO)
This handout photo from March 3, 2023, shows IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, left, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) meeting with visiting Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Sivan Shachor/GPO)

General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, will travel to Israel next week for a meeting with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, the Walla news site reports.

The report says the visit will allow the Biden administration to assess the extent of damage to the IDF’s readiness caused by some volunteer reservists’ refusals to carry out their duties in protest of the hardline coalition’s controversial judicial overhaul legislation.

It is not yet clear if Milley will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Walla says.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the report.

Israeli sources tell Walla that the trip is also a farewell visit by Milley, who is set to leave his post in October. He had been expected to visit in June, but canceled at the last minute due to the Wagner rebellion in Russia.

Hackers demanding millions in ransom to not publish Bnei Brak hospital files

File: View of Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak, April 13, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
File: View of Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak, April 13, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Cyberhackers threaten to release sensitive medical information that they stole from a Haredi hospital on politicians and rabbis unless they’re paid a hefty ransom of millions of dollars, the Israel Hayom newspaper reports.

The hackers threatening to release data on patients of Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak make their demands known today, several days after the hack was first reported, and are demanding tens of millions of shekels, the report says.

The stolen information includes hundreds of thousands of documents, including some that relate to psychiatric treatment, containing private and confidential information, the article says.

The files are on notable personalities including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, lawmakers, rabbinical leaders and very well-known individuals in Haredi circles, the hackers reportedly say.

Netanyahu was treated in 2015 at Mayanei Hayeshua for his prostate, the Israel Hayom article says.

A hacker group called Ranger Locker targeted the hospital earlier this month, disrupting its computer system and stealing information.

The hospital says it is looking into the “implications” of the leak. The attack was “financially motivated” and the hospital isn’t negotiating with the hackers, the statement says.

Ranger Locker is not known to be affiliated with any organization or state, the report says.

5 MKs sign petition seeking to ease jail conditions of Palestinian family’s killer

Amiram Ben Uliel, convicted of the Duma arson murder in July 2015, in which three members of the Dawabsha family were killed, attends a hearing on his appeal, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Amiram Ben Uliel, convicted of the Duma arson murder in July 2015, in which three members of the Dawabsha family were killed, attends a hearing on his appeal, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

At least five MKs, including four from the Likud party, sign a petition calling to ease the jail conditions of a right-wing extremist convicted of killing three members of a Palestinian family in an arson attack in 2015, the Ynet news site reports.

The petition calls for Amiram Ben Uliel to be released from solitary confinement and sent a special jail ward for religious inmates, where he would receive better conditions.

Among the signatories are Likud MKs Amit Halevi, Ariel Kelner, Nissim Vaturi and  Avichai Boaron. MK Limor Son Har-Melech of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party also signs the petition.

Ben Uliel was sentenced to three life sentences plus 20 years for the deadly firebombing in the West Bank village of Duma in which Riham and Saad Dawabsha were killed along with their 18-month-old son, Ali Saad. Only the couple’s eldest son, Ahmed, survived the terror attack, with terrible burns; he was 5 years old at the time.

Ben Uliel was found guilty in 2020 of three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, arson and conspiring to commit a racially motivated crime, as part of a “terrorist act.”

The petition comes days after a prominent rabbi called for Ben Uliel to be released.

Syrian president doubles public sector wages as national currency spirals downwards

Shopkeeper waits for customers in Damascus, Syria, on Dec. 15, 2022 (AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki, File)
Shopkeeper waits for customers in Damascus, Syria, on Dec. 15, 2022 (AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki, File)

Syria’s president doubles public sector wages and pensions as the war-torn country’s national currency spiraled further downwards, reaching a new low for the year.

President Bashar Assad issues the two decrees as the Syrian pound’s value against the US dollar declined to a new low since the beginning of 2023, down from 7,000 to 15,000 pounds to the greenback. At the start of the conflict in 2011, the dollar was trading at 47 pounds.

For over a year, Damascus has been restructuring its program of subsidies for gasoline, diesel for heating, and bread. At the launch of the restructure in February last year, Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous said the move to scale back fuel subsidies would allow the program to target the poorest families more effectively as well as reducing the Syrian state’s deficit.

Though wheat and bread subsidies have not been affected, the move has sparked rare protests in the country, as families struggle to cope with skyrocketing inflation. Syria hiked fuel prices today, soon after Assad’s decree, further rolling back state subsidies.

Lapid calls on Netanyahu to fire ministers who attack army brass

File: Opposition leader Yair Lapid during a discussion and a vote at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, July 30, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
File: Opposition leader Yair Lapid during a discussion and a vote at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, July 30, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fire ministers who attack the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and top officers over the unrest in the military relating to the judicial overhaul.

“The vile and false attacks on the chief of staff in recent days, including today, by senior government ministers, coalition MKs, and even the prime minister’s son, are a direct attack on the army, Israeli society, national resilience and national security,” Lapid says.

“Nothing is sacred in the eyes of these people. They have no boundaries,” he says.

Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issued a joint statement yesterday defending the IDF and the security establishment, following repeated attacks on top IDF brass from within the coalition and from the premier’s son Yair in recent days.

The mounting attacks come as the IDF has repeatedly voiced concern over damage to military readiness caused by some reservists’ refusals to carry out their duties in protest of the hardline coalition’s controversial judicial overhaul legislation.

Person hit by train in Haifa area, delays to rail services

Passengers at Ben Gurion train station near Tel Aviv on October 28, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Passengers at Ben Gurion train station near Tel Aviv on October 28, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Rescue workers are on the scene near Haifa’s Bat Galim station after a person entered the track area and was hit by a train.

The circumstances of the incident and the condition of the person are not immediately clear.

The incident causes delays and changes to rail services in the area.

Muslim mob attacks 3 churches after accusing Christian of desecrating Quran in Pakistan

In this photo provided by the district police office, a police officer pours water into a burning house in a Christian neighborhood following an angry mob attack in Jaranwala near Faisalabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (District Police Office via AP)
In this photo provided by the district police office, a police officer pours water into a burning house in a Christian neighborhood following an angry mob attack in Jaranwala near Faisalabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (District Police Office via AP)

A Muslim mob storms a Christian locality in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, burning one church, damaging two others and demolishing the house of a man after accusing him of desecrating the pages of Islam’s holy book, police say.

The attack occurs in the district of Faisalabad in eastern Punjab province, local police chief Rizwan Khan says. He says the mob attacked the Christian colony after some of the Muslims living nearby accused a local Christian, Raja Amir, and his friend of desecrating pages of the Quran.

Khan says the accusations angered Muslims who had begun gathering there, and the demonstrators then started attacking multiple churches before they were dispersed by police swinging batons. Authorities are trying to restore order with help from elders and clerics in the area of Jaranwala where the attack happened, he says.

Police say they are registering cases against those who desecrated the Quran.

He says all those Muslims who were involved in the attacks on churches and the properties belonging to Christians would also be traced and arrested. “Our first priority was to save the lives of all of the Christians. We have deployed additional police at the Christian colony,” he says.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or Islamic religious figures can be sentenced to death. While authorities have yet to carry out a death sentence for blasphemy, just the accusation can cause riots.

England beats Australia 3-1 to move into Women’s World Cup soccer final against Spain

England's Alessia Russo celebrates after scoring her side's third goal during the Women's World Cup semifinal soccer match between Australia and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
England's Alessia Russo celebrates after scoring her side's third goal during the Women's World Cup semifinal soccer match between Australia and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

England moves to its first Women’s World Cup championship game with a 3-1 victory over co-host Australia, ending the Matildas captivating run through the tournament.

Australia superstar Sam Kerr started her first match of the tournament and scored for the Matildas but it wasn’t enough to hold off European champion England.

Ella Toone scored in the 36th minute to put England up 1-0 and the Lionesses dominated possession in the first half.

Kerr’s equalizer in the 63rd gave the 75,000-plus crowd some hope, but England sealed it on goals from Lauren Hemp in the 71st and Alessia Russo four minutes from the end of regulation time.

England and Spain will each be playing in the Women’s World Cup final for the first time when they meet at Stadium Australia on Sunday. Australia will play Sweden for third place on Saturday in Brisbane.

Swiss issue international warrant for Assad uncle over 1980s war crimes

Late Syrian President Hafez Assad (R) with his youngest brother Rifaat (L) at a military ceremony in Damascus, January 1, 1984. (Handout/AFP)
Late Syrian President Hafez Assad (R) with his youngest brother Rifaat (L) at a military ceremony in Damascus, January 1, 1984. (Handout/AFP)

A Swiss court last year ordered an international arrest warrant for the uncle of Syria President Bashar Assad for war crimes allegedly committed in the 1980s, according to the ruling only published today.

The decision was published a year after Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court ordered the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) to issue the warrant.

The office of the Swiss attorney general had asked that the ruling be kept secret for fear that Rifaat Assad might take measures to dodge arrest, the Keystone-ATS news agency reports.

The attorney general’s office had already in 2021 requested the issuance of an international arrest warrant for the 85-year-old, but the justice ministry had balked, arguing Switzerland did not have jurisdiction to pursue him.

At the time, it pointed out that he was neither a Swiss citizen nor residing in the country, and that no Swiss citizens were among the victims of the 1982 massacre in the Syrian city of Hama, which the accusations center around.

But the court did not share that interpretation, highlighting that Rifaat Assad had been staying at a Geneva hotel when Swiss prosecutors first launched their investigation into him in 2013.

The warrant is meanwhile likely to go unheeded: The younger brother of former Syrian president Hafez Assad returned to Syria in 2021, after 37 years in exile.

The complaint against Rifaat Assad was first filed a decade ago by TRIAL International, a rights group that works with victims and pushes Switzerland to prosecute alleged international criminals.

TRIAL said that much of the evidence it had compiled against him relates to his role in suppressing the 1982 Hama rebellion, where thousands of people were estimated to have been killed.

He was at the time in command of the Syrian Defense Forces, which is accused of “executions, enforced disappearances, rape and torture on an unimaginable scale,” according to TRIAL, citing estimates that as many as 40,000 people were killed in the span of three weeks.

Tel Aviv mayor to boycott light rail opening ceremony to protest government

File: Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai speaks during a protest march as part of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Tel Aviv, November 24, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
File: Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai speaks during a protest march as part of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Tel Aviv, November 24, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai says he will boycott the opening ceremony of the Tel Aviv light rail tomorrow in protest of the government.

“This is my protest,” says Huldai, noting that Transportation Minister Miri Regev only invited him this morning.

Huldai says he will nevertheless be among the first passengers when the Red Line, which stretches over 34 stations from Bat Yam to Petah Tikvah, officially opens to the public on Friday.

Huldai calls the opening historic and says he has waited for this day for 23 years. He also reiterates his call for the light rail to operate on the Sabbath, “as it should in a liberal and democratic country.”

Offshore drilling rig arrives in Lebanese waters ahead of work near Israel border

The drilling ship Tungsten Explorer is seen off the coast of Dbayeh, north of Beirut, Lebanon, on May 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)
The drilling ship Tungsten Explorer is seen off the coast of Dbayeh, north of Beirut, Lebanon, on May 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)

An offshore drilling rig arrived at its location in the Mediterranean Sea off Lebanon’s coast and will start operations in the coming weeks to search for gas, Lebanese Cabinet ministers say.

The rig is expected to begin drilling in September in Lebanese waters near the border with Israel after the two countries reached a deal last year on their maritime border. Lebanon and Israel have formally been at war since Israel’s creation in 1948.

Cash-strapped Lebanon hopes that future gas discoveries will help the small Mideast nation pull itself out of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history.

Minister of Transport Ali Hamie wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the rig arrived this morning at the location where it is scheduled to begin work. The rig faces the southern port city of Tyre.

“We hope that Lebanon will become an oil state,” Lebanon’s Energy Minister Walid Fayyad tells reporters in Beirut, adding that the results of the drilling are expected in two or three months.

Top IDF officers brief Knesset on military readiness amid reservist protests

Israeli military reservists sign a declaration of refusal to report for duty to protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to overhaul the judicial system, in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Israeli military reservists sign a declaration of refusal to report for duty to protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to overhaul the judicial system, in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Senior military officials brief lawmakers on the readiness of the military amid tensions over the judicial overhaul, during a closed-door meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The meeting was jointly held with members of two other defense-related subcommittees.

A Knesset spokesperson says the senior Israel Defense Forces officers provided the lawmakers with a “detailed report on the competence and readiness of the army in the face of existing and future needs.”

More than 10,000 reservists who show up for duty on a voluntary basis have said in recent weeks that they would no longer do so in protest of the judicial overhaul, charging that the government’s plans will turn Israel into an undemocratic country.

“In the meeting, the matter of preparations for future effects of the public controversy on the military’s competence and readiness was brought up,” the spokesperson says.

“Additionally, the matter of dealing with those who fail to show up for duty was brought up. The phenomenon is being handled and the steps to prevent its spread were presented,” the spokesperson adds.

AG wont defend reasonableness law at High Court, allows Levin to get outside counsel

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara tells Justice Minister Yariv Levin she won’t defend the reasonableness law in a High Court hearing and says the government can employ outside counsel.

Baharav-Miara’s decision comes over disagreements between her and the government over the law and she plans to recommend that the court overturn the legislation, which she says is “not legal,” Hebrew media reports.

“The AG’s decision is based on the fact that this is an exceptional event, in view of the fact that the petitions deal with precedent-setting and particularly sensitive constitutional issues,” she writes.

The legislation, an amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary, prohibits all courts, including the Supreme Court, from using the judicial yardstick of “reasonableness” to review and potentially reverse government and ministerial decisions. It is the first law passed, and so far the only one, out of the government’s far-reaching judicial overhaul plan.

The coalition argues it is critical to restrain what it sees as an overly activist court interfering in government decisions, while opponents argue the reasonableness standard is a key tool for protecting certain rights and the independence of law enforcement officials.

A hearing on the law will be held in the High Court of Justice on September 12 with a panel unprecedented in size that will comprise all 15 Supreme Court justices. Last week, the High Court issued a procedural injunction against the law,  requiring the government to explain why the petitions against it should not be struck down by the court.

Nullifying the quasi-constitutional Basic Law would be an unprecedented exercise of judicial review over the Knesset’s constituent authority. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to say whether his government would abide by such a ruling.

 

 

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