The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened.
Education Minister Yoav Kisch’s effort to dismiss Yad Vashem director Dani Dayan is the result of a gripe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife has with the head of the national Holocaust memorial, Channel 12 news reports.
According to the report, which is unsourced, Sara Netanyahu was angered that Dayan invited singer Keren Peles to perform at the official ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in April. Netanyahu reportedly was upset with Peles for appearing in a “Handmaid’s Tale” outfit — which has become ubiquitous at demonstrations against the government’s judicial overhaul — during a concert in Tel Aviv.
The network says Dayan signed a contract with Peles months before her protest but things have been frosty since between him and the Prime Minister’s Office, leading to the push for his removal.
The premier’s office responded to the report by claiming it was false.
BEIRUT — A senior US envoy visiting Beirut says that Washington is looking into possibilities for solving a decades-old border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, a year after he brokered a deal on the maritime frontier between the two nations.
Amos Hochstein, a senior advisor to US President Joe Biden, also expresses disappointment with Lebanon’s reluctance to implement reforms amid the country’s historic economic meltdown. He speaks to reporters at the end of a two-day visit to Lebanon during which he met with the caretaker prime minister, the parliament speaker and other officials.
Hochstein last year brokered a maritime border deal between Lebanon and Israel paving the way for gas exploration in the area, in what many hope will eventually help pull Beirut out of its economic crisis. Lebanon and Israel have formally been at war since Israel’s creation in 1948.
Asked whether he is coming to mediate between Lebanon and Israel over their disputed land border, Hochstein says that he listened to the views of the Lebanese government, then visited the border area “to learn more about what is needed in order to be able to achieve an outcome.”
Hochstein adds that he now plans to hear the Israeli view “and to make an assessment if this is the right time and if we have a window of opportunity to be able to achieve it.” He adds that the US “always supports what enables stability and security.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with US President Joe Biden on September 21 when both leaders are in New York for the annual UN General Assembly, according to a diplomatic source.
The sit-down is scheduled for the same day Netanyahu is slated to address the UN.
It remains unclear whether there will be an additional meeting at the White House in Washington, as Netanyahu has been seeking.
The Israeli soldier killed in the truck-ramming terror attack near Modiin this morning is named as Cpl. Maksym Molchanov, 20, an immigrant from Ukraine who lived in the coastal city of Herzliya.
Molchanov is posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.
He served in the 411th Battalion of the 282nd Regiment in the IDF’s Artillery Corps, and was off-duty at the time of the attack at the Maccabim checkpoint.
The Foreign Ministry hails the Security Council decision extending UNIFIL’s mandate, praising the peacekeeping force’s role in “maintaining security” in southern Lebanon.
“We call on the international community to adopt a firm stance against the efforts by the Hezbollah terror organization to create provocations and bring about an escalation,” says a ministry statement.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant wraps up a security assessment with top defense officials following a recent string of deadly terror attacks, including a truck-ramming attack earlier today.
“The State of Israel is under a terror offensive, against civilians, mainly on the roads, and against IDF soldiers who are guarding them on the roads and in the settlements,” Gallant says in a video statement.
“Unfortunately, there have been very heavy prices, both today and in the last few weeks,” he says.
“We will reach every terrorist and we will settle the score. Anyone who sets out to harm Israel, anyone who sends [attackers], will end his life in the cemetery or in prison,” Gallant says.
“We will know how to protect our citizens and win this campaign,” he adds.
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara strongly rejects criticism leveled at her yesterday by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, insisting that she had an obligation to tell the government when its actions are not commensurate with the law.
Baharav-Miara adds that she and her staff will “not be deterred” from fully carrying out their responsibilities in pointing out problematic government activity and legislation by threats of dismissal.
Levin alleged in his letter that Baharav-Miara’s frequent opposition to government policy and legislation had left it without representation in court and asserted that there was no working relationship between the two sides, a situation which could be grounds to fire the attorney general.
“The Attorney General’s Office under my leadership will continue to fulfill its role to assist the government in achieving its policies within the boundaries of the law,” writes Baharav-Miara.
“At the same time, the expectation that the Attorney General’s Office will transgress its role and avoid overseeing the executive branch to its satisfaction, will mute its voice clarifying petitions in the High Court of Justice, or will be deterred from serving as a gatekeeper is an illegitimate expectation,” continues the attorney general.
“Doing so would severely harm the rule of law, the proper functioning of government, and in practice the public,” she adds.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi holds an assessment at the scene of the truck-ramming terror attack near the central city of Modiin, in which an off-duty soldier was killed and six other people were wounded.
Halevi meets with the commander of the IDF’s West Bank division, Brig. Gen. Avi Blot, and head of the Efraim Regional Brigade, Col. Netanel Shamaka.
“We are increasing activities in [the West Bank], and we will also draw lessons immediately from the investigation of this attack,” Halevi is quoted as saying in a statement.
The resolution approved today by the Security Council demands that the Lebanese military and Hezbollah terror group stop blocking the movement of the UN peacekeeping force and guarantee its freedom to operate, “including by allowing announced and unannounced patrols.”
Lebanese officials had pushed to remove a provision in the resolution, first introduced last year, that allows the peacekeepers to patrol without giving prior notice to the Lebanese army.
Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Lebanese militant group and political party Hezbollah, said in a speech Monday that the provision is a violation of Lebanese sovereignty, and that the United States wants the UN peacekeeping force “to be spies for the Israelis.”
But the council ignores the request, instead voting to strengthen last year’s text and reaffirming that under the agreement between the United Nations and the Lebanese government, the peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL “does not require prior authorization or permission to undertake its mandated tasks.”
Israel’s mission to the UN says the vote protected UNIFIL’s freedom of action, allowing the peacekeepers to continue operating without coordination with the Lebanese army.
The resolution also expresses the Security Council’s concern over the Green without Borders, an environmental organization seen by Israel, the US and others in the West as a cover for Hezbollah military activities along the border.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan praises the decision and pledges to continue demanding from Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah’s military buildup, “which could lead to a dramatic escalation in the region.”
Israel has repeatedly accused Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, of impeding UNIFIL peacekeepers from carrying out their mandate. Hezbollah battled Israel to a stalemate in a month-long war in 2006, and in 2019 Israel destroyed a series of what it said were attack tunnels dug under the border by Hezbollah.
UNIFIL was created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after a 1978 invasion. The mission was expanded after the 2006 war so peacekeepers could deploy along the Lebanon-Israel border to help Lebanese troops extend their authority into their country’s south for the first time in decades. That resolution also called for a full cessation of Israeli-Hezbollah hostilities, which has not happened.
Schools across Israel will open as planned tomorrow for the start of the new academic year, after the Finance Ministry and the Secondary School Teachers Association reach an agreement on salaries.
The union, which represents high school teachers, had vowed to strike tomorrow if no deal was reached.
ATLANTA — Former US president Donald Trump pleads not guilty and waives arraignment in the case accusing him and others of illegally trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.
That means he won’t have to show up for an arraignment hearing that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee had set for next week. The decision to skip an in-person appearance averts the dramatic arraignments that have accompanied the three other criminal cases Trump faces in which the former American president has been forced amid tight security into a courtroom and entered “not guilty” pleas before crowds of spectators.
Trump and 18 others were charged earlier this month in a 41-count indictment that outlines an alleged scheme to subvert the will of Georgia voters who had chosen Democrat Joe Biden over the Republican incumbent in the presidential election.
Several other people charged in the indictment had already waived arraignment in filings with the court, saving them a trip to the courthouse in downtown Atlanta. Trump previously traveled to Georgia on August 24 to turn himself in at the Fulton County Jail, where he became the first former president to have a mugshot taken.
The case, filed under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, is sprawling, and the logistics of bringing it to trial are likely to be complicated. Legal maneuvering by several of those charged has already begun.
The United Nations Security Council votes to extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, hours before it was due to expire.
The vote is 13-0, with permanent members China and Russia both abstaining.
It was not immediately clear if the terms of the mandate had changed and Israeli officials did not initially respond as they reviewed the mandate.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, has attempted to maintain calm in southern Lebanon since its creation in 1978, and is currently tasked with enforcing a UN resolution barring armed operations by Lebanese terror group Hezbollah near the ceasefire line that forms the de facto border.
TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian man originally sentenced to death in connection with last year’s protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini died in the hospital today, the judiciary says.
“Javad Rouhi, an inmate in Nowshahr city prison, was transferred to Shahid Beheshti Hospital in the city early Thursday after suffering a seizure while in prison,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reports.
“Unfortunately, he died despite the actions of medical staff, and a legal case has been filed to follow up on the reason for his death,” it adds.
Rouhi, whose original death sentence had been overturned by the supreme court, died almost a year after a nationwide protest movement was triggered by the September 16 death in custody of Iranian Kurd Amini.
The 22-year-old had been detained for allegedly breaching the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
During months of protest, which Tehran called foreign-instigated “riots,” thousands of Iranians were arrested and hundreds killed, including dozens of security personnel.
Seven men have been executed in cases related to the protests that involved killings and violence against members of the security forces.
Rouhi was sentenced to death on the charge of “corruption on Earth” in Nowshahr in the northern province of Mazandaran for “leading a group of rioters,” “inciting people to create insecurity,” and “apostasy by desecration of the Koran by burning it,” Mizan says in January.
The then 31-year-old was also found guilty of “setting fire to and destroying property in a way that causes severe disruption to the country’s public order and security,” it adds.
However, the supreme court overturned his death sentence in May and referred his case to another court for re-evaluation.
In January, Amnesty International said that Rouhi had been subjected to physical torture.
Two people have been injured in a stabbing incident at a highway junction outside the central city of Rehovot.
Police suspect that a man stabbed a woman before turning the blade on himself.
The two have been taken to a local medical center.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party files a police complaint after a protester against the government’s judicial overhaul brandished a sign of the premier with caption “Mein Kampf,” charging the placard constitutes incitement to violence.
The sign, which was displayed this morning during a rally in Tel Aviv, portrays Netanyahu ripping the Declaration of Independence in half under the words “Mein Kampf,” or “my struggle” in English, the title of Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler’s antisemitic political manifesto.
“Propaganda that displays the prime minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, on a background with Nazi motives gives others permission to kill him,” says a letter sent to police by a lawyer for Likud.
A young boy is seriously wounded after being shot in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says paramedics brought the 7-year-old to a Beersheba hospital in serious but stable condition with a gunshot wound.
Police announce an investigation into the shooting and say officers are searching for suspects.
Israel has summoned Belgium’s ambassador for a dressing-down after a Belgian minister claimed Israel was destroying entire Palestinian villages.
Israeli Ambassador Idit Rosenzweig-Abu also sent a protest letter to the Belgium foreign ministry and Development Cooperation Minister Caroline Gennez, calling the latter’s comments “libelous and defamatory.”
In an interview with Flemish daily De Morgen, Gennez claimed, “in the occupied Palestinian territories, for example, the situation is becoming unsustainable. Entire villages are being wiped off the map by the Israelis. The periods of escalating violence are shorter than before, but more frequent and more intense.”
A few dozen demonstrators gather in Gaza to express their “support and gratitude” to the Libyan people for rejecting normalization with Israel.
“By dismissing their foreign minister, the Libyan people have shown that they reject any type of normalization with the Zionist entity and their unrelenting support is for the Palestinian people,” Ismail Radwan, a Hamas leader in the enclave, tells the Gaza-affiliated Shehab News.
Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush was fired on Monday after her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen announced that the two had held a meeting in Italy. The revelation sparked outrage and protests in Libya.
LONDON — Grant Shapps is appointed UK defense secretary, succeeding Ben Wallace who formally stepped down after a key role shaping the country’s military backing for Ukraine against Russia.
Wallace, a popular lawmaker once tipped as a potential leader of the ruling Conservative party, was the longest-serving Tory defense secretary since Winston Churchill.
He had announced in a newspaper interview in July that he would step down before the next government reshuffle and not run in the next general election, which is expected in 2024.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office announced Shapps’s appointment today, around an hour after he was seen entering 10 Downing Street.
Shapps, who is Jewish, writes on social media that he is “honored” to be appointed, saying Wallace had made an “enormous contribution” to UK defense and global security.
“I am looking forward to working with the brave men and women of our armed forces who defend our nation’s security,” he posts on X, formerly Twitter. “And continuing the UK’s support for Ukraine in their fight against Putin’s barbaric invasion.”
Shapps, 54, who has no military experience, briefly served as home secretary last October in Liz Truss’s short-lived government and before that as transport secretary under Boris Johnson.
He was also business secretary under Sunak before taking over as minister responsible for energy security and net zero.
Last week, he visited Kyiv to pledge UK support to fuel Ukrainian power plants through the winter.
He also toured a kindergarten attended by the young son of a Ukrainian family he has hosted at his home since Russia’s invasion.
The National Security Council puts out an updated set of travel warnings ahead of the Jewish High Holidays next month, placing a particular emphasis on the threat of kidnapping abroad by Iranian-backed groups and within Israel by Hamas.
The warnings, put out by the NSC’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, indicate that Iranian forces and their proxies are continuing their efforts to contact Israelis abroad under the guise of businessmen, in order to kidnap them. Jews and Israelis in countries bordering Iran, or in Africa or the Mediterranean Basin, face a particular threat from Iranian operatives.
Within Israel, says the NSC, Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad are eager to kidnap Israelis to use as bargaining chips. They also may seek to kidnap Israelis abroad, according to the warning, noting that indirect negotiations for the return of Israelis held in Gaza have reached an impasse.
Last year, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said that if Israel does not come to a prisoner accord with the terror group, it will kidnap more Israelis. “We have four prisoners, and if Israel is not convinced by that, then we will add to our stash,” Haniyeh said at the time in comments circulated in official Hamas media.
Israel adds that there is an elevated threat in Sweden and Denmark in the wake of recent Quran-burning incidents.
The NSC also warns of the threat of attacks from antisemitic far-right elements in the US and in Europe around the High Holidays.
Many Israelis head to the Sinai Peninsula over the holidays and Israel warns tourists to stay at known sites protected by security forces, and not to travel into the interior of the peninsula.
In the wake of the kidnapping in Iraq earlier this year of Israeli researcher Elizabeth Tsurkov, Israel reiterates the total ban on traveling to enemy countries.
An Israeli military court hands down a life sentence plus 26 years to a member of a Palestinian terror cell that carried out a deadly shooting attack in the West Bank in January 2018.
Ahmed Kunba, a resident of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, was part of the group that opened fire and killed 35-year-old Raziel Shevach near the outpost of Havat Gilad.
On January 9, 2018, the group of gunmen opened fire and killed Shevach, a father of six, on a highway near the then-illegal outpost of Havat Gilad. The terrorists fled the scene, and Israeli security forces launched a manhunt for them over the following weeks.
Kunba was convicted in July of intentionally causing the death of Shevach. The charge is equivalent to murder in the West Bank military court.
He was additionally convicted of a number of other security-related offenses, as well as plotting and carrying out a number of other attacks along with the leader of the cell, Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, who was killed by Israeli troops less than a month after the attack.
In addition to the life sentence, Kunba is also ordered to pay a total of NIS 1.5 million ($394,000) to Shevach’s family.
BAGHDAD — An Iraqi court has sentenced an Iranian and four Iraqis to life in prison for the murder of US civilian Stephen Troell in Baghdad last November, judicial sources say.
Baghdad’s Karkh court “sentenced five people to life imprisonment, one of Iranian nationality and four Iraqis,” a judicial source tells AFP on condition of anonymity.
The five men had “confessed” to the shooting murder and said that their intention had been to kidnap Troell for ransom, not to kill him, the source says.
A woman shot dead in an apartment in Haifa is the 162nd member of Israel’s Arab community to be killed in a homicide this year, according to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence advocacy organization.
Among the victims, most of whom were killed in shootings, nine have been women.
The Israel Defense Forces confirms that the fatality in this morning’s truck-ramming terror attack near the central city of Modiin is a soldier.
The Palestinian assailant ran over a group of off-duty soldiers who were walking on the side of the road near the Maccabim checkpoint, before fleeing to the nearby Hashmonaim checkpoint where he was shot dead.
The slain soldier is not immediately named.
Medical officials have pronounced the death of woman who was shot at an apartment in Haifa.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service said paramedics found the woman in her 40s with bullet wounds and no signs of life and declared her death at the scene.
Another person was hurt in the shooting and taken to a local hospital. His condition is listed as moderate.
Police said officers were investigating the shooting and searching the area for suspects.
ATHENS, Greece — Fires in Greece this summer will burn an area of at least 150,000 hectares (370,600 acres), the Greek prime minister says today, including a large blaze in the north which has been burning for nearly two weeks.
Greece has been ravaged by deadly wildfires this summer, with the ravaged area amounting to just under the size of London, according to the premier.
The area burned by fires “will exceed 1,500,000,000 square meters (150,000 hectares) including the fire in the Dadia forest,” says Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, referring to the forest fire that the EU has branded the largest ever recorded in the bloc.
Firefighters have been battling the flames currently burning in northeastern Greece for 13 days.
Since it began on August 19, the blaze has claimed the lives of 20 people, 18 of them migrants whose bodies were found in a region that is often used as an entry point from neighboring Turkey.
In the wake of two attacks in the West Bank over the past day that left multiple casualties, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a situation assessment this evening with top security officials at the IDF’s Kirya base in Tel Aviv, his office announces.
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