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US envoy warns time running out on visa waivers amid Likud refusal to cooperate

As Tom Nides lobbies for legislation needed for Israel to join US Visa Waiver Program, Likud says it will not back the bills, claims it’s a lost cause this year anyways

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (L) and opposiiton chairman Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Knesset on December 9, 2021. (US Embassy in Israel)
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (L) and opposiiton chairman Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Knesset on December 9, 2021. (US Embassy in Israel)

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

Auburn Tigers basketball team tours Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial

Members of the Auburn Tigers tour the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem on August 3, 2022 (Courtesy/MFA)
Members of the Auburn Tigers tour the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem on August 3, 2022 (Courtesy/MFA)

Members of the Auburn Tigers college basketball team tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem as part of their trip to Israel.

Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan shares with the team from Alabama his experiences visiting the Civil Rights Trail in the US South when he served as Israel’s Consul General in New York.

“Like my trip in the footsteps of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., your visit today to Yad Vashem is a journey through history,” Dayan says.

“The Holocaust is the representation of humanity’s lowest point, at time when all morality and justice was lost to an ideology that deemed Jews subhuman. Today we must fight hatred and antisemitism in all its forms, in order to ensure that history is never allowed to repeat itself.”

The 1st Division NCAA team from Auburn University is on a 10-day tour of Israel.

During the trip they will play three games: against the Israel U-20 National Team, against an Israel select all-star team and against the Israel National Team.

 

 

 

US envoy warns time running out on visa waivers amid Likud refusal to cooperate

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (L) and opposiiton chairman Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Knesset on December 9, 2021. (US Embassy in Israel)
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (L) and opposiiton chairman Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Knesset on December 9, 2021. (US Embassy in Israel)

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides warns that time is running out to advance the three pieces of legislation necessary in order for Israel to be able to join the US Visa Waiver Program by the end of next year.

“Continuing to work hard to get #VisaWaiverProgram done to benefit both Israelis and Americans. Can’t slow down now,” Nides tweets, including an alarm clock emoji.

The three bills granting US authorities limited access to the information of US-bound travelers — as required of all VWP members — has been held up in the Knesset due to opposition from the Likud-led opposition. Nides sought to lobby lawmakers across the spectrum to get on board with the bills, seen as overwhelmingly popular among all Israelis, before parliament dissolved itself in June.

But the effort failed and now it will take the scheduling of emergency sessions in the coming months while the Knesset is in recess to pass the legislation by end of the year. Otherwise, Israel will have to wait until 2024 to be added to the VWP, assuming it meets the criteria.

But an official familiar with the matter tells The Times of Israel that this year may be the only year that Israel will be able to qualify for the VWP, thanks to a combination of low traveling numbers due to the pandemic along with the US embassy’s effort to assist Israelis with their visa applications, which have been ridden with disqualifying mistakes. To date, Israel has never been able to keep its visa rejection rate below the three percent mark necessary to qualify for inclusion in the VWP.

Hours after Nides’s tweet, Channel 12 published an unsourced report claiming that Nides had recently met Netanyahu and sought to pressure the Likud leader to back the legislation amid fears that the effort will be delayed by an entire year if the laws aren’t advanced in the coming weeks and several months. A source familiar with the matter questioned the accuracy of the report, given that Netanyahu and Nides have not met recently.

Nonetheless, Likud issued a statement responding to the report, insisting that US law doesn’t allow for Israel’s entry into the VWP for another year, suggesting that there is no real reason for urgency.

At the end of September, US authorities will receive the visa rejection rate from the previous year. If it is below three percent as the embassy hopes, Israel will be able to join the VWP as long as it meets the other criteria.

While there is no clear deadline for when the legislation must be passed, the bills must be implemented for a period of time before Israel joins the VWP and the US ambassador also must submit a formal request for the country to be added to the program. There may not be enough time to complete all of these steps if Israel waits until after the November election, particularly given the possibility that the parties subsequently fail to form a government and the political deadlock is further extended.

Likud in its statement took issue with the legislation being advanced, claiming it violates the privacy rights of Israelis. The bill is believed to be largely a template of the legislation passed in the 40 other countries who have joined the US VWP.

“After we form a stable government, the Likud will submit the necessary, but responsible, legislation [to the Knesset] and complete the move by March 2023, so that inclusion in the VWP will not be delayed even one day,” the party says.

Rebel MK: Even if I have no chance of crossing threshold, I won’t quit race

File: MK Eli Avidar at the opening of the Knesset summer session in Jerusalem on May 9, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
File: MK Eli Avidar at the opening of the Knesset summer session in Jerusalem on May 9, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In his first interview since announcing the formation of a new party, former Yisrael Beytenu MK Eli Avidar tells Channel 12 that he plans to run until the end, even if that means his votes will be scattered among other parties if he fails to cross the electoral threshold.

“Even if we have half a mandate two days before elections, we will not bow out,” Avidar says.

He insists that he represents between a seat and a half and two seats of Israeli voters who protested regularly against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and who will not vote for any other party in the anti-Netanyahu bloc due to their unfulfilled promises to pass legislation barring Netanyahu from running for office again.

Still, Avidar says he’ll do everything he can “not to waste votes.”

He also criticizes other parties in the anti-Netanyahu bloc who refuse to acknowledge that they’ll have to sit in a coalition with the Joint List if they want to form a coalition because the notion that the ultra-Orthodox parties will agree to join them is fantastical, according to Avidar.

Smotrich says he backs reserving spot for controversial ex-senior cop Saada on far-right list

Former deputy head of the Police Internal Investigations Department Moshe Saada speaks to Channel 12 on July 25, 2022. (Screen capture/Channel 12)
Former deputy head of the Police Internal Investigations Department Moshe Saada speaks to Channel 12 on July 25, 2022. (Screen capture/Channel 12)

In the background of heated negotiations between Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit to unify their parties, Religious Zionism chair Bezalel Smotrich wants to place Moshe Saada as a compromise candidate in the unified list’s seventh spot, according to Smotrich’s spokesman.

A reporter for the Walla news site says that Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir, who wants a Mizrahi candidate representing a peripheral town in that slot, is against Saada as the compromise candidate.

On Monday, negotiations between Smotrich and Ben Gvir appeared to reach a breakthrough, with Smotrich offering Ben Gvir five positions — including one compromise candidate — within a unified slate’s first ten Knesset candidates. Religious Zionism, which currently includes Ben Gvir’s party under its ultra-right, religious and pro-settlement tent, is currently polling between 10-13 seats — a bump attributed to firebrand MK Ben Gvir’s growing popularity.

Saada, the former deputy head of the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department, made headlines in the past two weeks for alleging that top judicial officials ignored misconduct by the then-police chief in order to preserve efforts to prosecute former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu leads the right-religious bloc that includes Religious Zionism and ultra-Orthodox parties. He previously orchestrated the marriage between Smotrich and Ben Gvir, and has reportedly urged a renewal of vows in anticipation of the November election.

Running together, Smotrich and Ben Gvir are expected to sail across the 3.25% election threshold. However, the two have butted heads in terms of approach and leadership of Religious Zionism, with Ben Gvir straining for more control of the party Smotrich currently helms.

Religious Zionism is slated to hold primaries on August 23, which if the proposed merger goes through, will only decide up to five spots in the party’s top ten.

Security officials leak to Hebrew media that they’ve sent warnings to Hamas through Egyptians not to escalate situation

A gunman affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, marches as men carry the body of Dirar al-Kafrayni, killed during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Jenin, during his funeral at the Jenin refugee camp, on August 2, 2022. (Jaafar Ashitiyeh/AFP)
A gunman affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, marches as men carry the body of Dirar al-Kafrayni, killed during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Jenin, during his funeral at the Jenin refugee camp, on August 2, 2022. (Jaafar Ashitiyeh/AFP)

Security officials have leaked to Channel 12 news that they have passed along warnings to Hamas through Egyptian mediators, cautioning the Gaza terror group not to allow Palestinian Islamic Jihad or anyone else in the enclave to escalate the situation following the IDF’s arrest of senior PIJ member Bassem Saadi last night.

First Ukraine grain ship reaches Turkish coast

Cargo ship Razoni, arrives to the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, August 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Cargo ship Razoni, arrives to the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, August 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The first official shipment of Ukrainian grain since Russia’s invasion has reached Turkish territorial waters near the entrance to the Bosphorus Strait, according to an AFP team on site.

The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni is due to be inspected Wednesday near Istanbul by a team that includes Russian and Ukrainian officials before delivering its cargo of 26,000 tons of maize to Tripoli, Lebanon.

“The inspection of the ship by the joint inspection team will begin [Wednesday] morning,” the Turkish defense ministry says.

The delivery, which set off from the Black Sea port of Odesa on Monday, is the first under a UN-backed deal brokered with the help of Turkey last month.

But Western-backed leaders in Kyiv accuse Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain in territories seized by Kremlin forces since their February invasion and then shipping it abroad.

After social media uproar, Kiryat Motzkin zoo throws some more shade at its animals

Israelis demonstrate outside the Hai animal park in Kiryat Motzkin on July 28, 2022. (Courtesy, Campaign to Save the Animals at Hai Animal Park, Kiryat Motzkin)
Israelis demonstrate outside the Hai animal park in Kiryat Motzkin on July 28, 2022. (Courtesy, Campaign to Save the Animals at Hai Animal Park, Kiryat Motzkin)

A second shading net is added to the elephants’ enclosure at the Kiryat Motzkin Hai animal park in northern Israel, following an outcry about the animals’ exposure to the sun.

A public furor broke out several days ago after Nir David, a political activist, posted a picture on social media of two elephants apparently clinging to the wall of their compound to keep cool in its shade.

The post went viral, garnering 2,600 comments and 3,900 shares, and prompted the launch of a campaign to “save” the animals by Lauren Tobaly, a math student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who lives in Tel Aviv.

In response to the row, representatives of the Agriculture Ministry and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority visited the facility last week. They launched an investigation and prohibited the park from accepting any new animals for the time being. They said they could not comment further until conclusions have been drawn.

A statement from the Agriculture Ministry said that several “enforcement procedures” had been conducted over recent months at the park and that several “deficiencies” had been found, not all of which had been corrected.

Iran sentences three to be partially blinded in ‘eye-for-an-eye’ punishment

The flag of Iran waves in front of the International Center building with the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, in Vienna, Austria, on May 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Florian Schroetter, File)
The flag of Iran waves in front of the International Center building with the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, in Vienna, Austria, on May 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Florian Schroetter, File)

Iranian courts have sentenced three people to be blinded in one eye under the Islamic republic’s retribution laws, a newspaper reports.

Hamshahri, the Tehran municipality’s daily, says a woman was among the three sentenced to the eye-for-an-eye punishment.

She had hurled acid at another woman in a 2011 dispute, causing her to lose an eye, it says.

Hamshahri says the supreme court has upheld the sentence of having her right eye gouged out, on top of a jail term and a fine.

A man has been handed down the same punishment for causing his victim to lose an eye in a knife assault in 2017.

In a third case, dating back to 2018, a man has been convicted for blinding a friend in the left eye with a hunting weapon. Hamshahri said the plaintiff has “insisted” that his assailant suffer the same fate.

The three cases have been transferred to the Tehran prosecutor’s office to prepare for the sentences to be carried out.

Iran applies the eye-for-an-eye law at the request of victims or their families, unless they grant a pardon.

Amnesty International and other rights groups condemn such punishment in Iran as cruel and tantamount to torture.

Palestinian teen with knife arrested at Allenby crossing after claiming he wanted to kill Israelis — authorities

A knife found on a Palestinian suspect at the Allenby crossing, August 2, 2022. (Israel Airports Authority)
A knife found on a Palestinian suspect at the Allenby crossing, August 2, 2022. (Israel Airports Authority)

A Palestinian teen is arrested at the Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan with a knife, after he claimed to border guards he sought to kill Israelis, the Israel Airports Authority says.

According to the IAA, the suspect, born in 2003, told inspectors that he had a knife and he intended to kill Israelis.

“A security guard demanded the suspect take the knife out of the bag and put the knife aside, and after taking the knife out he was handed over to security forces for interrogation,” the IAA says.

Abbas expresses support for China amid Pelosi visit

China's President Xi Jinping (right), and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. (AP/Jason Lee)
China's President Xi Jinping (right), and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. (AP/Jason Lee)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s office issues a statement affirming Ramallah’s support for the People’s Republic of China, ‘its sovereignty and territorial integrity” as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in Taiwan for a visit that Beijing has billed as a provocation.

Abbas “calls for stopping any actions that contradict the one-China policy and stresses its right to defend its sovereign, security and development interests,” the statement says.

China has been a longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Upon arrival, Pelosi says visit shows US ‘unwavering commitment’ to Taiwan

In this image taken from video, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, August 2, 2022. (Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)
In this image taken from video, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, August 2, 2022. (Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says upon arrival in Taiwan that her controversial visit demonstrated Washington’s strong commitment to the self-ruled island, which China views as part of its territory.

“Our congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” the most senior US legislator says in a statement moments after her plane landed.

Pelosi, the highest-ranked elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, says her trip “in no way” contradicted official US policy, which recognizes “one China” and has not officially recognized Taiwan as an independent state.

China vows ‘targeted military actions’ in response to Pelosi Taiwan visit

A resident walks by a man reads a newspaper reporting on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Asia visit, at a stand in Beijing, July 31, 2022. (Andy Wong/AP)
A resident walks by a man reads a newspaper reporting on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Asia visit, at a stand in Beijing, July 31, 2022. (Andy Wong/AP)

China has vowed to launch “targeted military actions” in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, as tensions flare between Washington and Beijing.

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is on high alert and will launch a series of targeted military operations to counter this, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely thwart external interference and ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist attempts,” Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian says in a statement condemning the visit.

US House Speaker Pelosi arrives in Taiwan, defying Beijing

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has arrived in Taiwan despite threats from Beijing of serious consequences, becoming the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the self-ruled island claimed by China.

Pelosi’s visit has triggered increased tension between China and the United States. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, to be annexed by force if necessary, and views visits by foreign government officials as recognition of the island’s sovereignty.

China has warned of “resolute and strong measures” if Pelosi went ahead with the trip. China’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday night it will conduct a series of targeted military operations to “safeguard national sovereignty” in response to Pelosi’s visit. It vowed to “resolutely thwart external interference and ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist attempts.”

The Biden administration did not explicitly urge Pelosi to call off the visit, while seeking to assure Beijing it would not signal any change in US policy on Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says Washington’s betrayal “on the Taiwan issue is bankrupting its national credibility.”

Religious freedom group threatens Avidar with legal action for stealing name

Eli Avidar attends the Constitution, Law and Justice committee, September 25, 2020. (Screen grab/Knesset channel)
Eli Avidar attends the Constitution, Law and Justice committee, September 25, 2020. (Screen grab/Knesset channel)

The Israel Hofsheet organization that advocates for religious freedom in Israel is threatening to take legal action against former Yisrael Beytenu MK Eli Avidar after he announced the formation of a new party with the same name, “Israel Hofsheet” or “Free Israel” in English.

“With all due respect to MK Avidar and his passing political trend, there is only one Israel Hofsheet. We will act in any legal way to prevent him from using the organization’s name for political purposes. We wish Mr. Avidar success in his new path, but we insist that it will not be on our backs,” says Israel Hofsheet CEO Uri Keidar.

Lapid’s prison visit first by a sitting PM since Peres in 1985

Prime Minister Yair Lapid meets with soldiers in  their mandatory service who are serving as prison guards while visiting the Ofer Prison amid the Gilboa Prison scandal, August 2, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid meets with soldiers in their mandatory service who are serving as prison guards while visiting the Ofer Prison amid the Gilboa Prison scandal, August 2, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

With his tour earlier today of the West Bank’s Ofer Prison for security detainees, Yair Lapid became the first prime minister to visit an Israeli prison since Shimon Peres did so in 1985.

To be clear, we’re talking about sitting premiers who are only visiting, not formers who are serving time.

Lapid met with 25 conscripted soldiers serving in prisons across the country and listened to their concerns regarding allegations that female soldiers were “pimped out” to be raped and sexually abused by security prisoners at Gilboa Prison.

“We will investigate, we will get to the truth,” Lapid said during the visit according to his office. “The State of Israel won’t stand by amid concerns that a prison guard in her mandatory service in Israel was raped or sexually harassed by terrorists.”

Former Yisrael Beytenu MK launches new party in last-ditch bid to remain in Knesset

Eli Avidar speaks at a press conference at the Knesset, February 22, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Eli Avidar speaks at a press conference at the Knesset, February 22, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former Yisrael Beytenu lawmaker Eli Avidar announces his new political party, Israel Free, which he says will change governance and press for his flagship legislation, a law to prevent indicted politicians from becoming prime minister.

“It’s time for a new contract with the public. Free of crooks in politics,” Avidar wrote in a statement announcing his party.

Although teasing an independent run for months, Avidar enters the November 1 Knesset race after a tumultuous year in politics. First entering the Knesset with Yisrael Beytenu in 2019, Avidar pulled away from the party after not being given a ministerial post last June. He was later coaxed back into the coalition with a ministerial post in the Prime Minister’s Office, which he also later discarded as lacking influence.

Avidar rose to fame as a protest leader against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of a weekly gathering outside of the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence on Balfour Street. His main policy goal in the outgoing Knesset was to pass a law prohibiting indicted politicians from forming a government, which would block Netanyahu – on trial for corruption charges – from reclaiming his former seat of power.

“All those who refused to pass the Criminal Defendant Bill caused the overthrow of the change government and continued the Netanyahu government policy of trampling on civil rights,” he says.

Sending a warning to other politicians, Avidar charges that coalition members who did not support his single-issue focus on passing the bill to block indicted politicians from the premiership will “pay for it at the ballot box.”

Saying that the party will fight for peace, social justice, to change Israel’s “rotten” governance system and to lower cost of living, Avidar’s platform echoes many protest-movement issues.

“This is the time for a ‘Israel free’ from dictatorship, corruption, coercion, anxiety, incitement, racism, bullying, oppression, and organized crime, and from hesitant politicians who blur positions in order to escape into Netanyahu’s arms at the moment of truth,” the politician adds.

While Avidar is still building his party list and has not shared candidate names, a spokesperson for the politician says it will include members of the protest movement.

Pelosi’s plane nears Taiwan, raising tension with China

This handout photo taken and released by Malaysia’s Department of Information, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, waves to media as she tours the parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. (Malaysia’s Department of Information via AP)
This handout photo taken and released by Malaysia’s Department of Information, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, waves to media as she tours the parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. (Malaysia’s Department of Information via AP)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is headed for Taiwan on a visit that could significantly escalate tensions with Beijing, which claims the self-ruled island as its own territory.

Flight tracker sites show her plane readying for descent on the island.

Pelosi is on an Asian tour this week that is being closely watched to see if she will defy China’s warnings against visiting the island republic, a close US ally.

China has vowed to retaliate if Pelosi becomes the highest US elected official to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years, but has given no details. Speculation has centered on threatening military exercises and possible incursions by Chinese planes and ships into areas under Taiwanese control.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington’s betrayal “on the Taiwan issue is bankrupting its national credibility.”

US successfully tests Iron Dome system it purchased from Israel

An Iron Dome battery fires an interceptor missile during a trial on the US military’s White Sands test range in New Mexico in an image published on July 18, 2022. (Defense Ministry)
An Iron Dome battery fires an interceptor missile during a trial on the US military’s White Sands test range in New Mexico in an image published on July 18, 2022. (Defense Ministry)

The US Army recently held a test of the Iron Dome air defense system it purchased from Israel several years ago, Israel’s Defense Ministry says.

During the trials — conducted at the US military’s White Sands test range — the system successfully detected, tracked, and intercepted cruise missiles, drones, rockets, artillery, and mortars, the ministry says.

The ministry says the tests are a “critical step” toward the US deploying the systems in the field.

“The testing prepares the system for US operational forces use by ensuring it meets US Army safety standards and that the system will effectively operate within the US [Air and Missile Defense] architecture,” a statement says.

Under a 2019 agreement, Israel sold two Iron Dome batteries to the United States, the first delivered in late 2020 and the second in January 2021. Since then, the US Army has been working to integrate the system into its air defense array.

The system was first tested by the US last summer, at the same test range.

Israel leads world in investments in plant-based alternative proteins — report

Pardes Hanna-based startup Yo! Egg makes a plant-based egg alternative that has the look and texture of real fried or poached eggs. (Yo! Egg)
Pardes Hanna-based startup Yo! Egg makes a plant-based egg alternative that has the look and texture of real fried or poached eggs. (Yo! Egg)

The Good Food Institute Israel reports that Israel leads the world in investment in plant-based alternative proteins, and comes second only to the US in money invested in the alternative protein industry as a whole.

Around $320 million was invested in blue-and-white alternative protein startups and companies by the end of June, compared with $857 million in the US.

More than $160 million was put into Israel’s plant-based initiatives, equivalent to 22 percent of the world’s total, and enough to put it slightly ahead of the US in this sector.

In fermented proteins, which use microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, Israel is in second place to the US, taking 38 percent of global investment in this field.

The US, however, is way ahead of all of its competitors on cultivated products, which harvest cells from animals and then grow them to create alternative meat and dairy products.

In third place overall came China, with investments of $120 million, followed by Singapore ($104 million), and France ($96 million). These three countries are involved solely or primarily in plant-based alternative protein products.

Total investments in alternative protein stood at around $1.7 billion in June, with Israel taking 18 percent of it, according to the GFI.

Lapid congratulates Biden on killing of al-Zawahiri

US President Joe Biden holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, on July 14, 2022. (Emil Salman/POOL)
US President Joe Biden holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, on July 14, 2022. (Emil Salman/POOL)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweets his congratulations to US President Joe Biden over the CIA’s killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

“Terrorist groups and their sponsors must know: You’re living on borrowed time. The forces of freedom will bring you to justice,” Lapid tweets.

Did US use secret ‘ninja’ missile to kill al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri?

As seen on a computer screen from a DVD prepared by Al-Sahab production, al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri speaks in Islamabad, Pakistan, on June 20, 2006. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
As seen on a computer screen from a DVD prepared by Al-Sahab production, al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri speaks in Islamabad, Pakistan, on June 20, 2006. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

Notorious al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by two missiles fired at his Kabul home — but pictures showed no sign of an explosion, and US officials say no one else was harmed.

That points to the use again by the United States of the macabre Hellfire R9X, a warhead-less missile believed equipped with six razor-like blades extending from the fuselage that slices through its target but does not explode.

Never publicly acknowledged by the Pentagon or CIA — the two US agencies known to undertake targeted assassinations of extremist leaders — the R9X first appeared in March 2017 when al-Qaeda senior leader Abu al-Khayr al-Masri was killed by a drone strike while traveling in a car in Syria.

Gantz warns those ‘threatening Israeli citizens’ on tour of West Bank

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi tour the West Bank on August 2, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi tour the West Bank on August 2, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

During a tour of the West Bank security barrier area, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warns against attempts to harm Israelis amid a high alert for an Islamic Jihad attack on the Gaza Border.

“Our policy is clear: Those who want to work and live in a good neighborhood will receive an outstretched hand,” Gantz says.

“With the other hand, we will attack anyone who wishes to harm the citizens of Israel and perpetrate terrorism,” he says.

“Any threat to the citizens of Israel will be met with a powerful response and we will of course be prepared for any scenario,” Gantz adds.

IDF confirms reopening of some Gaza area roads as fears of PIJ reprisal shrink

Israeli soldiers block roads near the border with the Gaza Strip on August 2, 2022. (Flash90)
Israeli soldiers block roads near the border with the Gaza Strip on August 2, 2022. (Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces issues an update on roads along the border with the Gaza Strip that were closed as a precautionary step against possible attacks from the coastal enclave.

Route 232 between Mefalsim and Sa’ad and access roads for farmers nearby are closed, but the road between Sa’ad and Kerem Shalom has been reopened for traffic.

Route 242 and 2410 are shuttered, as is Route 4 from Zikim Junction toward the Erez Crossing, and Route 34 between Yad Mordechai Junction and Nir Am Junction.

All towns along the border have alternative routes to exit, apart from Kerem Shalom and Kibbutz Nahal Oz, which are currently blockaded due to the restrictions.

Imam prays for ‘Jews’ annihilation’ in sermon at Mecca Grand Mosque

Imam Saleh Bin Al-Humayd gives a  sermon at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on July 29, 2022. (Screen capture/Twitter)
Imam Saleh Bin Al-Humayd gives a sermon at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on July 29, 2022. (Screen capture/Twitter)

Imam Saleh Bin Al-Humayd prayed for God to “bring annihilation upon the plundering and occupying Jews” and to protect the Muslims from their evil during a Friday sermon at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute.

The sermon came less than two weeks after Israeli journalist Gil Tamari illegally entered the site where non-Muslims are banned.

Lapid to hold security briefing following arrest of senior Islamic Jihad member

New Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds a meeting with security chiefs at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, July 1, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
New Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds a meeting with security chiefs at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, July 1, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid is slated to hold a situational assessment with the security echelon following last night’s arrest of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad member in the West Bank, after which the IDF was placed on high alert.

In the meantime, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi will tour the West Bank and receive an overview of last night’s events.

Environmental activists lose appeal against planned highway in Jerusalem’s ‘green backyard’

Artist's rendering of the new neighborhood of Reches Lavan and the two-tier transportation system being proposed. (YouTube screesnhot)
Artist's rendering of the new neighborhood of Reches Lavan and the two-tier transportation system being proposed. (YouTube screesnhot)

Environmental and social activists lose an appeal to the National Planning and Building Committee to cancel a planned two-level road at the Ora junction on the edges of southwest Jerusalem.

A spokesperson for the Society for the Protection of Nature, which has actively campaigned against the split-level road as well as plans to build some 5,000 residential units at Reches Lavan, a popular, pastoral site of agricultural terraces and springs nearby, says it is considering its next steps.

Reches Lavan (White Ridge) — named for its light, chalky rock — is located near the Jerusalem Zoo and the southwest neighborhoods of Kiryat Hayovel, Givat Masua and Ein Kerem, and Moshav Ora just outside the city.

Home to Mediterranean vegetation and large mammals such as mountain gazelles and hyenas, the whole area, with its natural springs and spring-fed pools, serves as a green backyard for Jerusalemites and a popular weekend meeting place.

MK Touma-Sliman: Lock up men who threaten violence against women

MK Aida Touma-Sliman leads a Status of Women and Gender Equality Committee meeting at the Knesset on November 21, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Aida Touma-Sliman leads a Status of Women and Gender Equality Committee meeting at the Knesset on November 21, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Chairwoman of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality MK Aida Touma-Sliman is calling on the police and State Attorney’s Office to arrest and indict men who threaten violence against women.

Her comments follow a spate of murders in the last two months committed by men against women, as well as a highly contentious court decision that ordered a threatened woman to enter a women’s shelter against her will. The ruling by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court was overturned yesterday following an appeal by the woman in question, referred to as “Yud” to protect her identity.

Speaking to the Times of Israel, Touma-Sliman points out that Israel’s criminal code provides for a punishment of up to three years’ incarceration for making threats of various kinds, including threatening physical harm to someone.

“We need a change of attitude by the police and the State Attorney’s Office,” says Touma-Sliman.

“It is the freedom of the men [making such threats] that should be restricted,” the MK asserts.

She adds that the police were failing in their duty to protect threatened women and more broadly failing to impose law and order in the Arab sector.

IDF reopens some Gaza-area roads while still on high alert for Islamic Jihad reprisal attack

Israeli soldiers block roads near the border with the Gaza Strip on August 2, 2022. (Flash90)
Israeli soldiers block roads near the border with the Gaza Strip on August 2, 2022. (Flash90)

While the military’s level of alert along the border with the Gaza Strip remains high, several of the roads closed earlier this morning as a precautionary step against possible attacks from the coastal enclave are to be reopened, according to the Ynet news site.

The high tensions come after Israeli security forces arrested the West Bank head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group in Jenin last night.

Bassem Saadi was taken in along with his son-in-law and aide Ashraf al-Jada. Another member of the terror group, 17-year-old Dirar al-Kafrayni, was killed in a gun battle with troops.

Palestinian reports said Saadi was hurt after being bitten by a military dog during his arrest. The Israel Defense Forces in response leaks images to reporters ostensibly showing Saadi in good condition, with the aim of calming tensions.

In response to Saadi’s arrest, the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad announced it was declaring a state of “alertness” and raising its fighters’ “readiness.”

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