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Just 0.2% of Israelis who got booster shot then caught COVID — report

In further indication of effectiveness of third vaccine dose, Health Ministry said to report just 88 serious cases among 1.1 million recipients of booster

A health worker administers a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at a Maccabi Health Services clinic in Jerusalem, on August 20, 2021, after Israel approved booster shots for people over 40. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
A health worker administers a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at a Maccabi Health Services clinic in Jerusalem, on August 20, 2021, after Israel approved booster shots for people over 40. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

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

Hezbollah chief says Iranian fuel coming to Lebanon in defiance of US sanctions

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gives an address on official party al-Manar TV on June 8, 2021. (Screenshot: Al-Manar)
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gives an address on official party al-Manar TV on June 8, 2021. (Screenshot: Al-Manar)

The head of Tehran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah says deliveries of Iranian fuel will arrive “in the days to come” to help solve the beleaguered country’s dire shortages.

For the second time in four days, Hassan Nasrallah says in a televised address that fuel shipments will leave the Islamic Republic for Lebanon.

Nasrallah also dismisses as “illusions” a reported US-backed initiative to ease Lebanon’s energy crisis.

In his first televised address on Thursday, Nasrallah announced the departure “in the coming hours” of a shipload of fuel for Lebanon in defiance of US sanctions on Iran.

Today, Nasrallah says the first Iranian ship loaded with fuel is “at sea.”

“A second ship will set sail in the next few days, and it will be followed by others,” he says. “We will continue this process as long as Lebanon needs it. The aim is to help all Lebanese, [not just] Hezbollah supporters or the Shiites.”

Today alone, fuel prices have soared by up to 70 percent after yet another subsidy cut, piling more pressure on people struggling to make ends meet.

The cost of hydrocarbons in Lebanon has now roughly tripled in the two months since the central bank started cutting its support for imports. The latest cut, which is expected to cause knock-on price hikes on other key commodities, adds to the Mediterranean country’s economic crisis, one of the world’s worst since the 1850s.

Fuel shortages have forced businesses and government offices to close, even threatening blackouts at hospitals.

11 coalition MKs vow to oppose budget-linked bill unless agriculture reform nixed

Eleven members of the coalition warn threaten to vote against a key law bill attached to the state budget — a move that can fell the government — if a planned agriculture reform is not scrapped.

The lawmakers, from the Blue and White and Labor parties, say in a letter to Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Agriculture Minister Oded Forer that they could vote next week against the arrangements law, a law stating the government’s economic plans that is passed each year alongside the state budget, whose passage is critical to keeping the government intact.

They oppose a reform that would reduce import barriers on agricultural products, in a move proponents say will lower the prices and increase the quality and competition, while critics say it will harm local industry.

Biden nominates Rahm Emanuel to be ambassador to Japan

Then-Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel waves as he arrives at a news conference outside of the south air traffic control tower at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, April 22, 2019. (Kiichiro Sato/AP)
Then-Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel waves as he arrives at a news conference outside of the south air traffic control tower at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, April 22, 2019. (Kiichiro Sato/AP)

US President Joe Biden has nominated Rahm Emanuel to be the next ambassador to Japan.

Emanuel, 61, who was Chicago’s mayor from 2011 to 2019, previously served as a congressman and Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff. He has attracted opposition from progressives, due to how he handled the 2014 police killing of Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager.

“I would proudly represent our nation with one of our most critical global allies in one of the most critical geopolitical regions,” Emanuel said in a statement Friday, according to the Washington Post. “Our ambassadors to Japan have a long history of distinguished public service from both parties and I am humbled to follow so many statesmen who have served in this role.”

Emanuel, whose father was Israeli, attends an Orthodox synagogue in Chicago, Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel. One of his brothers is Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent who inspired a character in the HBO show “Entourage,” and his other brother, Ezekiel Emanuel, is a prominent bioethicist.

His appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Infant girl dies hours after car crash that killed her mother

A 4-month-old baby has been pronounced dead, following a car crash, hours after her 30-year-old mother died in the accident near Mitzpe Ramon.

The girl is declared dead, after she was flown by helicopter to the hospital.

Ministry data said to show 0.2% of those who got booster shot then got COVID

Just 0.2 percent of the first 1.1 million Israelis who got their booster shot have been diagnosed with COVID-19 after at least seven days passed since the shot, according to initial Health Ministry figures reported by Channel 12 news.

In absolute terms, the number of virus carriers who received their third dose is 2,790.

Of them, just 187 (0.01%) were hospitalized and 88 (0.008%) developed serious symptoms.

Fewer than 15 of them have died, with the report offering no exact number.

The figures are a further indication of the high effectiveness of the booster, which Israel has been the first country in the world to widely administer.

Currently, all citizens aged 40 and up are eligible to get it, and the eligible pool is widely expected to be expanded soon to include anyone aged 12 and up.

Science minister Farkash-Hacohen diagnosed with COVID

Orit Farkash-Hacohen. (Yanai Yechiel)
Orit Farkash-Hacohen. (Yanai Yechiel)

The office of Science, Technology and Space Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen says she has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The statement says Farkash-Hacohen has been in quarantine since last night, and therefore was not present at today’s cabinet meeting.

It adds that she is feeling well and continuing to work remotely.

Woman dies after palm tree falls on her in Tiberias

A woman in her 60s dies after a palm tree falls on her in Tiberias.

The incident occurs at a Chabad House compound in the northern city.

Taliban says ‘hundreds’ of fighters heading for holdout valley

The Taliban says that “hundreds” of its fighters are heading to the Panjshir Valley, one of the few parts of Afghanistan not yet controlled by the group.

“Hundreds of Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are heading towards the state of Panjshir to control it, after local state officials refused to hand it over peacefully,” the group writes on its Arabic Twitter account.

Study: Most Israelis say they got COVID vaccine to avoid restrictions

A new study reported by Channel 12 news shows that 58 percent of Israelis who got the COVID-19 vaccine say a significant consideration in making that decision was the desire for a Green Pass, allows its bearers to avoid extra restrictions on access to public places for the unvaccinated.

The study reportedly finds also that 26% got the vaccine out of fear of sanctions in their workplace.

The answers were consistent both times that they were collected, in March and in July, the report says.

Tropical Storm Henri makes landfall in Rhode Island

Tropical Storm Henri has made landfall in the US state of Rhode Island.

The US National Hurricane Center says Henri came ashore in the coastal town of Westerly around 12:30 p.m. (local time). Earlier in the day, it had passed over Block Island, a small but popular tourist island 13 miles (21 kilometers) offshore, in Block Island Sound.

Henri was packing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour), and it was producing 19-foot (5.8-meter) waves in some places, just before making landfall.

Health Ministry: 48 COVID deaths since this morning; 5,380 cases so far today

Updated Health Ministry statistics show 5,380 new coronavirus cases have been diagnosed in Israel so far today, with 5.42% of tests coming back positive.

There are 669 serious cases among a total of 65,780 active cases. The data shows 107 are on ventilators.

The death toll has grown by 48 since this morning, reaching 6,830 since the pandemic began.

The total cases in Israel since the pandemic started have passed 990,000 and are set to reach the 1 million mark within days.

Group representing 57 Muslim nations meets, urges peace in Afghanistan

The world’s largest organization of Muslim nations holds an extraordinary session in Saudi Arabia to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, with calls for the country not to be turned into a hub for terrorism.

The secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Yousef al-Othaimeen, points to the escalating humanitarian needs in Afghanistan and notes that “reconciliation is the key to bringing peace.”

He urges that Afghanistan not be used “as a haven for terrorism again.”

Representatives of the OIC meet at the body’s headquarters in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after Saudi Arabia called for the meeting.

The kingdom’s representative to the OIC reiterates Saudi support for a comprehensive peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and calls on the Taliban and all parties to maintain security.

7 hospitals warn they’ve reached their limit, will stop accepting COVID patients

The managers of seven public hospitals say their medical staffs have reached their limit and threaten to stop accepting new COVID-19 patients starting tomorrow.

In a press conference, the managers allege government neglect and renew a public protest campaign against what they say is continued underfunding and lack of adequate steps to support the healthcare system after 16 months of crisis.

“We have been abandoned at the height of the coronavirus crisis,” they say. “We have reached the worst crisis in our history.”

Dr. Ofer Marin, director of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, says: “In the current situation, we are unable to continue treatments. We have no equipment, means and salaries to pay. Our conscience forces us to stop treating coronavirus patients starting tomorrow.”

Man charged with threatening to kill Bennett

Police file an indictment against a 45-year-old Kiryat Gat resident for allegedly threatening to kill Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

According to the charge sheet, Yevgeny Gorov called police last Friday from a public phone and made the repeated threats.

“I am willing to die, but on my terms — I will take Naftali Bennett with me,” he allegedly said.

Questioned by police, he is said to have elaborated and said he knows how to get a gun and that it’s “no problem to reach the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, wait for the prime minister’s convoy when it arrives or departs and then try to harm Naftali Bennett.”

Police have asked the Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court to extend his detention for the duration of legal proceedings in the case.

Probe finds assailant who shot soldier on Gaza border hid pistol in his pants

Border Police officer Barel Shmueli who was critically wounded in a shooting on the Gaza border on August 21, 2021 (Border Police)
Border Police officer Barel Shmueli who was critically wounded in a shooting on the Gaza border on August 21, 2021 (Border Police)

An investigation of the incident yesterday in which a Border Police fighter was shot and critically wounded near the Gaza border has reportedly found that the assailant concealed a pistol in his pants and drew it seconds before he shot.

According to Hebrew media, that is the reason the shooter wasn’t identified by land and airborne troops scanning the area.

The shooter shot three bullets through a crack in the wall which was being used by sniper Barel Shmuely. One of the bullets hit him at close range in the head and he is currently fighting for his life.

Woman, 30, dies in car crash at Mitzpe Ramon; girl, 4, fighting for her life

A 30-year-old woman has been killed in a car crash at Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel.

Magen David Adom medics are trying to save the life of a 4-year-old girl who is being taken to the hospital by helicopter, and are treating an 8-year-old boy in serious condition.

Two men aged 25 have suffered moderate injuries.

Death toll at Kabul airport chaos grows to 20 — NATO official

A panicked crush of people trying to enter Kabul’s international airport has killed seven Afghan civilians in the crowds, the British military says, showing the danger still posed to those trying to flee the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

At least 20 people have been killed at the airport in the past week, a NATO official says.

“The crisis outside the Kabul airport is unfortunate. Our focus is to evacuate all foreigners as soon as we can,” the anonymous NATO official tells the Guardian.

Lapid hosts Greek, Cypriot FMs, hails regional alliance

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (center) with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias (right) and Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, August 22, 2021. (Foreign Ministry)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (center) with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias (right) and Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, August 22, 2021. (Foreign Ministry)

Speaking at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid welcomes his Greek and Cypriot colleagues back to Israel and notes that a pragmatic alliance is emerging across the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean region.

Lapid starts out by referencing the team of 16 firefighters that Israel sent earlier this month to battle huge wildfires in Greece, the firefighting planes Jerusalem sent to Cyprus in July, and the support that both countries offered Israel during last week’s major fire in the hills west of Jerusalem.

“[US] President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said that when your neighbor’s house is on fire, you lend him your hose,” says Lapid. “Well here, between us, we lent each other planes, not only a hose.”

Lapid says the three diplomats discussed local and more distant challenges but is vague on the details.

He adds that the alliance — which includes the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, and others — is a “key part of the change that is happening in the region. A moderate, pragmatic and forward-looking alliance.”

Greek FM Nikos Dendias says they discussed civil protection, climate change, and “extremely worrying developments in the wider region.”

Referencing Lapid’s regional “circle of life” idea, Dendias decries those in the region who promote religious extremism and terrorism and use migration as a foreign policy tool.

Dendias, who accidentally calls Israel “Egypt,” takes pains to note that the Taliban said that it considers Turkey — a rival of all three countries — a partner.

Cypriot FM Nikos Christodoulides calls the meeting a “visible confirmation… of the strategic nature of this cooperation, that is here to stay.”

The guest ministers will meet later in the trip with President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar.

Ministers approve Haredi enlistment law, reducing exemption age to 21

The government approves a renewed ultra-Orthodox army enlistment law that reduces from 24 to 21 the age that yeshiva students become exempt from service.

According to a compromise deal regarding the sensitive issue — previous laws have been struck down by the High Court for violating the principle of equality, while Haredi leaders view blanket enlistment as a red line — the exemption age will be gradually raised over the next three years to 23, and those aged 21-23 will only be exempt from joining the military if they perform national service first.

The plan is aimed at having more Haredim enlist to the army and be properly prepared to later join the workforce.

Ministers OK extra NIS 1.1 billion for IDF officers’ pensions

After a tense discussion, the government okays a major NIS 1.1 billion ($339.6 million) addition to the defense budget for pensions for IDF officers.

Seven ministers vote against the proposal: Labor’s Merav Michaeli, New Hope’s Gideon Sa’ar, Ze’ev Elkin and Yifat Shasha-Biton, and Meretz’s Nitzan Horowitz, Tamar Zandberg and Issawi Frej.

During the discussion, Defense Minister Benny Gantz reportedly insisted that the funds be allocated, arguing that otherwise, promised pensions would need to be retroactively reduced.

G7 to discuss Afghanistan on Tuesday, says UK’s Johnson

G7 leaders will discuss the crisis in Afghanistan on Tuesday in a virtual summit, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

“It is vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years,” Johnson tweets.

First bar mitzvah in 16 years held in Bahrain

A year after Israel and Bahrain established diplomatic ties, the Kan public broadcaster says a bar mitzvah ceremony was held over the weekend in the Gulf country’s synagogue.

It is the first such Jewish celebration in Bahrain in 16 years, the report says.

Palestinian Authority arrests 24 protesters in West Bank after PA critic’s death

Palestinian Authority police say they have arrested 24 people protesting Ramallah’s response to the death of a prominent political activist while in the custody of PA security forces.

The demonstrators planned to call for accountability in the death of Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority who died in custody on June 24 shortly after he was arrested. But police shut down the protest and arrest two dozen activists.

Police spokesman Louay Arzeigat issues a statement saying the demonstrators have not received a permit and “refused to sign the conditions for the gathering.” It does not elaborate.

Banat’s family has said he was beaten as he was taken out of his home and has accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to cover up the death.

Palestinian officials have said the matter is under investigation.

Ashkelon mayor catches COVID, feeling well

Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam during a meeting with at the Kneeset in Jerusalem on November 18, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam during a meeting with at the Kneeset in Jerusalem on November 18, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam says he has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after he took a test the morning, having felt symptoms.

Glam says he is feeling well and staying home.

System crashes hours after serology tests launched for kids, causing delays

Hours after Israel launched antibody testing for children aged as young as three, the registration system and app have crashed due to high online traffic, causing many disappointed families to leave facilities without getting tested.

In some cases, IDF Home Front Command soldiers running the facilities are doing the registration manually, according to Hebrew media reports. In others, staff didn’t arrive on time.

An IDF official tells the Kan public broadcaster that the system will be relaunched tomorrow.

Despite surging daily infections caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the government insists it wants to avoid the hardships and developmental setbacks caused by school closures.

Israel has already begun vaccinating children aged 12 and above.

The national serological survey is focused on pupils between the ages of three and 12 who are not yet eligible for the shot, nearly 1.5 million children.

It is aimed at discovering how many children developed strong antibody protection against the coronavirus after having an unrecorded or latent case, according to the Education Ministry.

Those children with sufficient antibodies will not be forced to quarantine when exposed to a COVID-19 patient, a move aimed at limiting school year disruptions.

Crowding at rapid COVID test facilities as communications system malfunctions

The Magen David Adom ambulance service, which is running facilities for rapid COVID-19 testing, says that a communications system failure has caused delays and overcrowding in the facilities.

MDA says technicians are working to fix the malfunction in the Cellcom telecom firm’s system.

Additionally, as Israel opens serological testing for all citizens aged three and up, it is being reported that a newly unveiled registration system is also down due to heavy online traffic.

It isn’t immediately clear whether the two malfunctions are linked.

Iran’s COVID deaths at new daily high as curbs lifted

Iran’s health ministry reports more than 680 daily COVID-19 deaths for the first time, as nationwide curbs to contain the spread of the virus are lifted.

The ministry says the deaths of 684 people in the past 24 hours have brought the total number of fatalities to 102,038.

Iran also registers 36,419 new infections, raising the total since the pandemic started to 4,677,114.

Iranian health officials have acknowledged that the ministry’s figures understate the real toll, but even they make Iran the worst-hit Middle Eastern country.

Last week, Iran tightened curbs to contain the spread of the virus. The six-day restrictive measures that ended yesterday included the closure of government buildings, banks and non-essential shops.

A nationwide ban on private car travel between provinces remains in force until August 27.

Nobel Prize laureate Aumann joins Likud party ranks

Israeli Nobel Prize winner Prof. Robert Yisrael Aumann speaks at a Times of Israel Presents event produced in partnership with Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem, December 12, 2018. (Dana Bar Siman Tov)
Israeli Nobel Prize winner Prof. Robert Yisrael Aumann speaks at a Times of Israel Presents event produced in partnership with Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem, December 12, 2018. (Dana Bar Siman Tov)

Israeli-American Nobel Prize laureate Yisrael (Robert) Aumann has officially registered as a supporter of the opposition Likud party, saying he is doing so to support former MK Uzi Dayan in future party primaries.

The 91-year-old, who won the Nobel in Economic Sciences in 2005, says after joining Benjamin Netanyahu’s party that Dayan is an “excellent” candidate. Dayan thanks him in a statement of his own.

Dani Dayan appointed chair of Yad Vashem

Dani Dayan speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Jerusalem, on July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Dani Dayan speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Jerusalem, on July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Dani Dayan, the former Israeli consul-general to New York, is appointed to serve as the next chairman of Yad Vashem.

The position has been left unfilled since Avner Shalev resigned from the role last June.

In a statement, Dayan thanks Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and the Israeli government for appointing him to the job.

“Leading Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, is more than a position; it is a mission and one I take on with awe and reverence,” Dayan says.

“Yad Vashem is not just a commemorative endeavor. On our shoulders rests the responsibility to research and educate, to document and disseminate, to validate fact-based historical truths about the Holocaust and reject all forms of distortion, in order to safeguard the memory of the Shoah and to ensure that the Jewish people and humanity will forever continue to remember this event,” he adds.

Dayan ran for Knesset this year with Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party, but failed to make it into the Knesset when the party did not win enough seats.

Turkish bombardment kills two civilians in Iraq

Two civilians have been killed in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region by a Turkish army bombardment as forces battle the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels, local officials say.

Turkey regularly targets northwest Iraq in operations against the PKK, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.

The Kurdish separatists have waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey, and maintain bases in the rugged mountains across the border in Iraq.

The latest violence comes six days before a regional summit in Baghdad.

The Iraqi civilians were killed in Iraq’s Zakho district, an area bordering Turkey, says local mayor Farhad Mahmoud.

“They had gone to an area where it is advised not to go,” Mahmoud says, adding that they were not from the area, but had been visiting from the city of Mosul. “They were caught in a Turkish bombing and died.”

PKK fighters say clashes are ongoing.

Ministers to meet tonight to discuss opening of school year

The so-called coronavirus cabinet will convene tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The ministerial panel, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, will discuss details of the plan to open the school year amid rising COVID cases.

The meeting has been pushed off from 6 p.m.

Government approves NIS 12.5 million to allow outdoor prayers on High Holidays

The government approves allocating NIS 12.5 million ($3.87 million) toward preparations to hold outdoor prayers during the upcoming Jewish High Holiday period next month, as rampant COVID-19 cases make it unlikely indoor synagogue services will be possible.

The funds will go toward purchasing equipment enabling the outdoor prayers on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot to go ahead.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked says: “We have managed to get a significant budget so that local authorities will be able to allow worshipers to hold the prayers in an orderly fashion.”

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