The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
The Israeli Air Force is allegedly carrying out airstrikes near the Syrian capital of Damascus, according to local media.
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency says explosions are heard across the capital.
Other outlets in the country say that Syrian air defenses are activated to confront the apparent Israeli airstrike.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage in the attack.
Israel has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in Syria over the past decade.
The bodies of two victims of a terror shooting this weekend did not undergo autopsies, as the National Center of Forensic Medicine closed for a day, after being overwhelmed, Channel 12 reports.
Shay Silas Nigreker, 60, and his 28-year-old son Aviad Nir were killed in the West Bank town of Huwara on Saturday.
Due to the shutdown, they were buried Sunday without the autopsies taking place, as waiting would have delayed funerals by a further day.
The National Center of Forensic Medicine announced on Sunday that it would not accept more bodies for 24 hours. According to reports in several Hebrew-language new outlets, the center is on the verge of collapse due to overload of staff and facilities.
The center’s leadership decided to refuse new cases for at least one day, after 21 bodies were delivered over the Friday-Saturday weekend and only three of six doctors were available to perform autopsies. The number of bodies also outstripped the number of refrigerated units available for holding them.
The center in Jaffa, known colloquially as Abu Kabir, is the only forensic medicine institute in Israel. All cases of death not by natural causes must be investigated there. These include murder, manslaughter, deaths involving sexual assault, and suicides. Abu Kabir must prepare forensic evidence for legal cases, and also provide definitive answers about the cause of death to the families of the deceased.
The funeral procession starts for Batsheva Nigri who was killed in the shooting attack earlier in the day near Hebron in the West Bank.
The procession starts from the main street in the settlement of Beit Hagai where she lived, and heads towards the cemetery in nearby Kfar Etzion.
Nigri, a 42-year-old mother of three, worked as a kindergarten teacher in nearby Efrat.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is rushing through his plan to expand West Bank settlements and legalize dozens of outposts, in the wake of a series of deadly terror attacks, Channel 12 reports.
Smotrich sends a letter to ministers today, informing them of his intent to bring the plan to the cabinet on Monday, the report says. He encourages them to submit any comments or additional plans of their own.
The far-right minister is reportedly advancing a plan to legalize 155 wildcat outposts throughout the West Bank, capitalizing on his control of both the Finance Ministry as well as settlement affairs within the Defense Ministry.
The plan is said to map out all of Israel’s illegal outposts beyond the Green Line, with the goal of eventually legalizing all of them. To legalize the outposts built on private Palestinian land, Smotrich aims either to have them transferred to what Israel views as state land or to apply alternative legal mechanisms that would allow them to remain in place.
He also plans to allocate $180 million to settlements and outposts.
The money includes millions for services like health, education, and youth clubs, but also large amounts for promoting and expanding Israel’s civilian footprint in the West Bank, including NIS 92 million ($24 million) in discretionary funding to be used at will, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now, which said it received an advance copy of the proposal.
The redesign of Adolf Hitler’s birth house will go ahead as planned, starting on October 2, Austria’s interior ministry says.
Following years of legal wrangling, the government decided to turn the house, in the northern Austrian town of Braunau, where Hitler was born in 1889, into a police station with a human rights training center.
In a bid to prevent the building on the border with Germany from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine, the government took control of the dilapidated building in 2016.
The expropriation ended a bitter saga between the state and the former owner.
“The construction (to convert the house) is scheduled to start on 2 October 2023,” an interior ministry spokesman confirmed to AFP.
“Everything will go ahead as planned,” he added.
Addressing the monthly Security Council session on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield acknowledges Saudi Arabia’s recent appointment of a non-resident consul general in Jerusalem.
The appointment was seen as part of a concerted effort by Riyadh to deepen its engagement with the Palestinians as it engages in talks with the Biden administration about a potential normalization deal with Israel.
Saudi Arabia is expected to demand Israel take significant steps to advance a two-state solution in order to get a normalization deal across the finish line, though it seems unlikely that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current hardline government would agree to take such measures.
“We stand ready to be supportive of any and all efforts that will bring us closer to a two-state solution,” Thomas-Greenfield says, keeping her comments vague on the matter.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant blame Iran for the surge in terror attacks.
Giving a live statement from the scene of an attack earlier in the day in which a woman was shot dead and a man seriously wounded, Netanyahu says, “We are in the midst of a terrorist onslaught that is being encouraged, directed, and financed by Iran and its proxies.”
“We are working around the clock to catch the murderers,” Netanyahu says.
“The most significant change on the ground is related to Iranian financing and intent,” Gallant adds.
“Iran is looking for any way to harm the citizens of Israel. We will take several actions that will restore security to the citizens of Israel,” Gallant says, adding that “all options are on the table.”
Hundreds of Palestinians are violently protesting in the Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel.
A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces says the rioters hurled a number of explosive devices, and several attempted to infiltrate through the security barrier.
IDF forces detained a number of Palestinians in the area, and have handed them over to the Shin Bet security agency for questioning, the spokesperson adds.
The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip says eight people have been wounded by Israeli fire amid the rioting.
It is unclear why the protests are being held.
مباشر حشود وصلت الجدار الفاصل في مخيم العودة شرق مدينة غزة pic.twitter.com/3KNEshME6I
— حسن اصليح | Hassan (@hassaneslayeh) August 21, 2023
Former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley calls out fellow longshot GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who called for weaning Israel off US defense aid.
“Vivek Ramaswamy is completely wrong to call for ending America’s special bond with Israel,” Haley says.
“Support for Israel is both the morally right and strategically smart thing to do. Both countries are stronger and safer because of our iron-clad friendship. As president, I will never abandon Israel,” Haley says in a statement.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams meets interfaith leaders in Jerusalem to discuss antisemitism, opening the mayor’s three-day trip to Israel.
This evening, he is slated to meet with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, and on Wednesday, he will meet with tech industry representatives in Tel Aviv. The Mayor’s Office has not released his full schedule.
The trip is Adams’s first official visit to Israel since assuming office in 2022.
New York boasts the world’s largest Jewish metropolitan population, and Adams is considered to be close to several of the city’s Jewish communities. Adams is a former police captain and has pushed a public safety agenda, in part to counter rising antisemitic violence in the city.
Several past New York City mayors have visited Israel while in office, with visiting the country almost considered a right of passage for the city’s top official.
Adams’s visit is sponsored and funded by the New York UJA-Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, two mainstream Jewish organizations.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi tours the scene of today’s deadly shooting attack near the West Bank city of Hebron, the military says.
Halevi holds an assessment on the ongoing manhunt for the terrorists with the head of the Shin Bet security agency, Ronen Bar, and the head of the IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox.
A Palestinian man is critically wounded in clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the West Bank town of Beita, close to Nablus, the Palestinian Authority health ministry says.
In a graphic video circulated by Palestinian media outlets, a seemingly unarmed man is seen being shot while walking away from the Israeli forces.
Palestinian media reports claim that the man, named as Ameed al-Jaghoub, has died of his wounds. The PA health ministry says he is still listed in critical condition.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reports that seven other Palestinians have been wounded in the clashes in Beita.
There is no immediate comment from the military or Border Police on the clashes or the video.
— Newpress | نيو برس (@NewpressPs) August 21, 2023
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosts Opposition Leader Yair Lapid for a security briefing.
A terse statement from Netanyahu’s office gives no details on the meeting, which comes after a series of deadly terror attacks.
The meeting had been scheduled before the attacks. The prime minister is obligated by law to routinely brief the head of the opposition.
There is no immediate comment from Lapid.
The meeting takes place in Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem and is also attended by the prime minister’s military secretary Avi Gil.
A KLM flight from Tanzania to Amsterdam makes an emergency landing at Ben Gurion Airport after a passenger suffered a heart attack.
A Magen David Adom team of emergency medics boarded the plane and took the passenger to a hospital.
The condition and nationality of the passenger were not immediately clear.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade issues a statement claiming today’s shooting attack near Hebron, in which an Israeli woman was killed and a man seriously wounded.
The group does not, however, provide any evidence that the attackers, who are still on the run and whose identities are unknown, are its members.
After such attacks, it is customary for the responsible terror group to publish the name and images of the perpetrator, and sometimes videos of the operations.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade claims to be the armed wing of Fatah, the political movement ruling the Palestinian Authority, although in recent years Fatah officials have attempted to distance themselves from the terror organization.
In its statement, the group writes that the operation is a “natural response to the crimes of the occupation,” and highlights that the attack has taken place on the anniversary of the “Zionist crime” of the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969.
On August 21, 1969, a mentally unstable Christian Australian with no relation to Israel set fire to the pulpit inside the Jerusalem mosque, considered the third holiest site in Islam.
HEBRON — The head of the IDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, says Israel is in the midst of a major terror wave, following the deadly shooting attack near the southern West Bank city of Hebron today.
“We are in the middle of an escalation, a terror wave, the likes of which we have not seen in a long time,” Fox tells reporters at the military’s Judea Regional Brigade base near Hebron. “The IDF and security forces are operating daily in every area, to foil terror.”
“We are trying to get ahead of the enemy and thwart [their plans]. Most of the time we succeed, today, and this week, we didn’t,” Fox says, referring to today’s deadly attack near Hebron and the killing of an Israeli father and son in Huwara on Saturday.
“We will chase down our enemies in Huwara and Hebron, and in any other place,” he says. “We will learn from the incidents, investigate, and draw lessons,” he adds.
Responding to a question by The Times of Israel regarding fears that the ongoing terror wave, which has mostly been in the northern West Bank, is spreading to its south, Fox says that the military had foiled numerous attacks in the Hebron area already .
“It is true that most of the overt terror in the recent period has been in Shomron area,” Fox says, referring to the northern West Bank by its biblical name. “But here too we have foiled dozens of attacks, if not more, including terror cells in the Judea region [southern West Bank].”
“I very much hope we can improve the situation in the northern Shomron too, and in Judea, and foil terror before it is carried out,” he adds.
Right-wing activists launch a social media campaign calling on the government to fire IDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox.
A poster circulating online calls to “fire Fox immediately,” with a picture of the general surrounded by 24 recent terror victims.
Activists hold Fox responsible for the recent wave of terror attacks, accusing him of not cracking down on Palestinians.
The criticism has also been echoed in recent days by several right-wing politicians in the coalition.
כמעט כל אלוף פיקוד מרכז מצא את עצמו בקו האש, אבל במקרה של יהודה פוקס נראה שנחצים כל הגבולות. אסור להסתפק בגינויים של השר והרמטכ״ל: הגינויים צריכים להישמע ובהקדם מראש הממשלה וההנהגה הפוליטית של המתנחלים pic.twitter.com/X7TrxLlJo8
— יוסי יהושוע – Yossi Yehoshua (@YehoshuaYosi) August 21, 2023
Fitch Ratings defends its decision to buck widespread pessimism on Israel’s economy over the judicial overhaul and maintain the country’s A+ credit rating.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Cedric Berry, Fitch’s lead analyst on Israel, says the agency believes the overhaul has been sufficiently watered down so that it won’t cause long-term damage.
He also does not see Israel electing another hard-right government again.
“Even if Israel’s government lasts four years, it’s unlikely that a similar coalition would be formed afterward, so it would take a very strong reform drive to inflict a significant amount of damage,” Berry says.
He also downplays a drop in investments and a trend of high-tech companies and workers relocating abroad.
“Even if there is a bit of movement outwards of talent and capital, there is still quite a lot of activity that will remain in Israel and be sufficient to drive the economy,” Berry says. “It’s always a question of scale.”
“One of the big questions for the future of Israel is whether uncertainty is temporary or a sign of a structural change in investor perception,” he tells Bloomberg. “It would likely require a stronger and a more detrimental reform agenda from the government to structurally change that perception.”
Protests spread in two government-held provinces in southern Syria amid widespread anger over the crash of the Syrian pound and the dwindling purchasing power of many people in the war-torn country, opposition activists said.
The rare protests are still limited to southern Syria and are far from government strongholds along the Mediterranean coast, the capital Damascus and the largest cities, including Aleppo and Homs.
The protests came a week after Syrian President Bashar Assad issued two decrees doubling public sector wages and pensions, sparking inflation and compounding economic woes for others.
The US dollar has strengthened from 7,000 Syrian pounds at the beginning of 2023 to 15,000 now. At the onset of Syria’s uprising turned-civil war in 2011, the dollar was trading at 47 pounds.
The protests were concentrated in the southern city of Sweida, home to the country’s Druze minority, and the nearby province of Daraa, often considered the birthplace of Syria’s uprising 13 years ago. Sporadic protests in Sweida against the government and corruption have intensified and turned violent, while Daraa, back under government control since 2018, has experienced high crime and clashes between militias.
There was no immediate comment from the government about the second day of protests in Sweida and Daraa.
Gay couple and their kids blocked from using family pass at national park because they’re ‘not a family’
A gay couple and their three children were denied entry to a national park with their family pass because they were deemed to “not be a family,” Channel 12 reports.
The incident occurred on Saturday, and the family was only allowed to enter the Nahal Yehudia reserve in the Golan Heights after the intervention of a supervisor.
In a video of the interaction, a woman can be seen refusing to open the gate. One of the men asks her, “Repeat that. Say that we are not a family.”
“You’re a family?” she asks. “Go speak to him,” she says, referring to the supervisor.
In response to the incident, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority apologizes for the incident, calling it “an unfortunate isolated incident that does not represent the policies of the authority.”
A British judge sentences Lucy Letby to spend the rest of her life in prison for murdering seven babies and attempting to kill six others while working as a neonatal nurse at a hospital in northern England.
Justice James Goss imposes the most severe sentence possible under British law on Letby.
Following 22 days of deliberation, a jury at Manchester Crown Court convicted Letby, 33, of killing the babies during a yearlong spree that saw her prey on the vulnerabilities of sick newborns and their anxious parents.
The victims, including two triplet boys, were killed in the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England between June 2015 and June 2016.
The IDF says it is bolstering its forces in the West Bank with an additional infantry battalion and two companies, following two recent deadly terror attacks.
The IDF says the additional forces will assist in the manhunts for the terrorists who carried out the shooting near Hebron today, as well as the gunman who killed two Israelis in Huwara on Saturday.
The forces will also be tasked with carrying out guard duty in the area, as the military fears that an ongoing escalation in the northern West Bank could spread to its south.
Following the deployment, there will be 23 battalions in the West Bank, a sharp increase from the typical 13.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decides to bring forward a planned meeting of the security cabinet to next week following two deadly terror attacks, his office says.
The meeting was originally scheduled for September 10.
A source in his office tells the Walla news site that the decision has nothing to do with the demand made by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to immediately convene the top-level forum.
President Isaac Herzog appears to warn against settler vigilante attacks and says support should be given “only” to the IDF and security forces following the deadly terror shooting in the West Bank.
In recent months several terror attacks have been followed by rampages by extremist settlers through Palestinian towns.
“The people of Israel have always known how to be united, determined, and responsible and to support and back up the IDF and the security forces — and only them — in our constant and uncompromising struggle against terror,” Herzog says.
Saudi Arabia is refusing to grant Israeli TV the rights to broadcast its soccer league as long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains in power, Channel 12 reports.
Following a massive spending spree, the Saudi league now boasts some of the world’s top stars like Ronaldo and Neymar.
But repeated Israeli requests to acquire the broadcast rights have been rebuffed, the report says.
“We rule out the possibility of broadcasting the Saudi League in Israel,” Channel 12 quotes a source close to the monarch as saying. “We will allow sale to Iran and North Korea, and not to any Israeli body. They have already submitted a request more than once and we refused, even to those who broadcast in Arabic we refused.”
The source says the reason for the refusal is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his hardline government.
“When Netanyahu is gone, we will even allow Israeli Jews and Arabs to play in Saudi Arabia, but with an extreme Netanyahu government, no and no,” the source says.
The comments come despite US efforts to broker a normalization agreement between Israel and the Saudis.
Denmark’s decision to supply Ukraine with American F-16 fighter jets to fend off Russia’s invasion represents an “escalation” of the conflict, Russia’s ambassador to Denmark warns.
Denmark and the Netherlands on Sunday announced they would provide the advanced jets to strengthen Kyiv’s Soviet-era air force, as it pursues a grinding counteroffensive against Russian forces in the east.
During a visit by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to Denmark on Sunday, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her country would deliver 19 of the jets, six of them by the end of this year, eight next year and five in 2025.
“The fact that Denmark has now decided to donate 19 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine leads to an escalation of the conflict,” Russian ambassador to Denmark Vladimir Barbin says in a statement to AFP.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in July that Moscow would consider the F-16s a “nuclear” threat because of their capacity to carry atomic weapons.
Several far-right ministers blame the deadly terror attack in the southern West Bank on Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and call on him to reimpose widespread military roadblocks throughout the territory.
An Israeli woman was shot dead and a man was seriously wounded in a terror attack close to the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
The pair, both in their 40s, came under fire from a passing vehicle while driving on the Route 60 highway, close to the Beit Hagai junction.
Minister of National Missions Orit Strock, from the Religious Zionism party, blames the defense minister.
“Another bloody attack made possible just because of the lack of a decision. Roads in Judea and Samaria should not be a green light to terror,” she says referring to the West Bank by its biblical name.
“Defense minister, the decision is in your hands. Make it before the next attack,” she says.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit party also calls the defense policy “too lenient.”
He demands that a meeting the security cabinet be called to address the issue of the roadblocks.
“We are in the midst of a wave of terror and our policy is too lenient,” he says.
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