ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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Top Democrat says judicial overhaul should not affect US military aid to Israel

Visiting Jerusalem, House of Representatives Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries says his party continues to stand behind ironclad commitment to provide for Israel’s security

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with House of Representatives Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in Jerusalem on August 7, 2023. (Haim Zach / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with House of Representatives Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in Jerusalem on August 7, 2023. (Haim Zach / GPO)

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

Russia sentences writer Glukhovsky to 8-year jail term in absentia

Dissident Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky poses for a photograph at the 23rd Frankfurt Book Fair at the Messe in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on October 21, 2022. (André PAIN / AFP)
Dissident Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky poses for a photograph at the 23rd Frankfurt Book Fair at the Messe in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on October 21, 2022. (André PAIN / AFP)

A Russian court sentences leading science fiction writer Dmitry Glukhovsky to eight years in prison in absentia for denouncing Moscow’s Ukraine offensive on social media.

Glukhovsky, who lives outside Russia, is best known for his novel Metro-2033, that has also been used as a basis for a popular video game.

The 44-year-old, who Moscow has already labeled a “foreign agent,” was found guilty of spreading “fake information” about the Russian army, the TASS news agency reports.

He was sentenced under a law adopted shortly after President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine that has been used to stifle criticism of the offensive.

Glukhovsky, who has a Jewish father and studied in Israel, has consistently denounced Moscow’s military campaign against its neighbor.

William Friedkin, Oscar-winning director of ‘The French Connection’ dead at 87

Director William Friedkin poses for portraits after interviews for his film, 'Killer Joe' in Venice, Italy, September 8, 2011. (AP Photo/ Joel Ryan, File)
Director William Friedkin poses for portraits after interviews for his film, 'Killer Joe' in Venice, Italy, September 8, 2011. (AP Photo/ Joel Ryan, File)

William Friedkin, the Oscar winning director who became a top filmmaker in his 30s with the gripping “The French Connection” and the horrifying “The Exorcist” and struggled in the following decades to match his early success has died. He was 87.

Friedkin, who won the best director Oscar for “The French Connection,” died Monday in Los Angeles, his wife, producer, and former studio head Sherry Lansing tells The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie, based on a true story, deals with the efforts of maverick New York City police Detective James “Popeye” Doyle to track down Frenchman Fernando Rey, mastermind of a large drug pipeline funneling heroin into the United States. It contains one of the most thrilling chase scenes ever filmed.

The movie also won Academy Awards for best picture, screenplay and film editing and led critics to hail Friedkin, then just 32, as a leading member of a new generation of filmmakers.

He followed with an even bigger blockbuster, “The Exorcist,” based on William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel about a 12-year-old girl possessed by the devil.

The harrowing scenes of the girl’s possession and a splendid cast, including Linda Blair as the girl, Ellen Burstyn as her mother and Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller as the priests who try to exorcise the devil from her, helped make the film a box-office sensation. It was so scary for its era that many viewers fled the theater before it was over and some reported being unable to sleep for days afterward.

It received 10 Oscar nominations, including one for Friedkin as director, and won two, for Blatty’s script and for sound.

With that second success, Friedkin would go on to direct movies and TV shows well into the 21st century. But he would never again come close to matching the success of those early works.

Other film credits included “To Live and Die in L.A.,” “Cruising,” “Rules of Engagement,” and a TV remake of the classic play and Sidney Lumet movie “12 Angry Men.” Friedkin also directed episodes for such TV shows as “The Twilight Zone,” “Rebel Highway,” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

Police station water cannon outside Golan moshav where Netanyahu is vacationing

Dozens of people are protesting outside Moshav Neve Ativ in the Golan Heights where Prime Minister Benjamin and his wife Sara are vacationing.

Police closed off the moshav and are allowing entrance to residents and guests only and have stationed a water cannon at the entrance.

The Brothers in Arms group sets up a protest camp outside the moshav.

Despite this, some 20 residents of the moshav take advantage of their status to protest outside the Panda boutique hotel, chanting “Israel is not a dictatorship,” the Ynet news site reports.

Visit by science minister to major hospitals called off due to protests by doctors

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis, arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 29, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis, arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 29, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Sheba and Ichilov hospitals called off visits by Science Minister Ofir Akunis in recent days thanks to opposition by doctors to the government’s judicial overhaul, Channel 12 reports.

Doctors are among several groups of professionals that are threatening to go on strike if the judicial overhaul goes ahead.

Akunis says the opposition is harming medical and scientific work.

“It is unfortunate that hospitals are involving irrelevant political considerations in professional decisions,” Akunis’ office says in a statement. “The visits that were canceled by the hospital management were intended to advance groundbreaking research and cooperation.”

Health Ministry: From December, doctors can prescribe marijuana

Illustrative. A doctor writes a prescription for medical marijuana. (iStock)
Illustrative. A doctor writes a prescription for medical marijuana. (iStock)

The Health Ministry says that from December, doctors will be able to prescribe marijuana to patients.

The ministry publishes its reforms into the medical marijuana system, saying that it will review the system again after a year.

The reform is intended to make it easier for patients to access the drug and remove bureaucratic hurdles. Up until now, those eligible for medical marijuana had to get a special license.

The reform also removes CBD products that do not have psychoactive properties, from drug restrictions.

Top Dem Jeffries says judicial overhaul should not harm US military aid to Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with House of Representatives Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in Jerusalem on August 7, 2023. (Haim Zach / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with House of Representatives Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in Jerusalem on August 7, 2023. (Haim Zach / GPO)

House of Representatives Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries says in Jerusalem that the US must not let the fate of the judicial reform affect military support for Israel.

Speaking to Israeli journalists, the Democrat speaks of “the need to make sure that we maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, that it will still be with us regardless of where Israel lands in terms of the judicial reform effort.”

He also indicates that both countries share similar challenges regarding their democracies.

“The ties that bind us together in the context of democracy are powerful ones,” says Jeffries. “It is important during a time at which both of our countries are facing concerns that the fabric of our democracies are being undermined, that we both emerge from this period of time with democracy strengthened, not weakened.”

He adds that the protests are “a sign of a vibrant democracy.”

Jeffries also says there is no danger of his party turning away from Israel.

“The Democratic Party in the House of Representatives will continue to stand with Israel in lifting up the special relationship between our two countries and in support of Israel’s right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people and as a Jewish democratic state. Period. Full stop.

The Brooklyn lawmaker also says that his party will “continue to stand
behind that ironclad commitment to provide for Israel’s safety and security.”

Jurists slam coalition for denying High Court authority to strike down Basic Laws

President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut (center) together with Justice Uzi Vogelman (left) and Justice Isaac Amit at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, August 3, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut (center) together with Justice Uzi Vogelman (left) and Justice Isaac Amit at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, August 3, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A group of 140 jurists castigates Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition for stating that the High Court of Justice does not have the authority to strike down quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.

The Israeli Law Professors’ Forum for Democracy argues that by claiming the top court cannot intervene in the legislative process, the ruling coalition was seeking to become “a single branch of government” with no form of oversight limiting what it can do.

Heralding a potential constitutional crisis, the High Court has set hearings before expanded panels of justices to discuss the legality of two highly controversial pieces of legislation passed by the current government, both amendments to Basic Laws that critics say go against Israel’s democratic foundations.

In their statement, the jurists — including senior lecturers in academic institutions — argue that, contrary to what the coalition has claimed, the court has the power to evaluate the merits of Basic Laws, since the process of legislating them is similar to the process of regular laws.

“Therefore, the meaning of the coalition heads’ declaration is that the coalition majority can immunize any action from judicial review by giving it a headline of ‘Basic Law,’” says the statement, reported by Channel 12 news.

“Without a constitution and without self-restraint, the coalition is seeking to serve as a single branch of government, elevated above all the rest: a constituent assembly, a legislative branch, an executive branch and now also a judicial branch,” it continues.

Netanyahu meets US Democrats; calls for military option against Iran, cooperation on AI

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with a Democratic Congressional delegation in Jerusalem on August 7, 2023 (Haim Zach / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with a Democratic Congressional delegation in Jerusalem on August 7, 2023 (Haim Zach / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with a visiting US Congressional delegation from the Democratic party, reiterating his call for a credible military threat to deter Iran’s nuclear plans.

“The most important thing is to produce a credible military threat to Iran. The other thing is use it. We don’t want a world in which Iran can threaten New York or Washington or Los Angeles or anything in between with nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu tells the visiting delegation, which was organized by the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC.

“Certainly we’re not going to have one in which they could annihilate Israel, which they call a one-bomb country. It’s an abhorrent statement but it tells you where they are. We will do everything in our power, with or without this or that agreement, to defend ourselves,” Netanyahu tells the group led by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and AIPAC president Michael Tuchin.

Netanyahu also calls for Israel and the US to lead the way in developing artificial intelligence police.

He says AI presents massive potential for the world, but also grave threats.

“I’ve been studying this now for the past few months, having studied before that cybersecurity and having made Israel, and I’ve committed to have it become, one of the five cyber powers. AI is much, much, much bigger. The hype is not hype. It’s real,” Netanyahu says.

“The future belongs to those who innovate but the future also belongs to the free societies who cooperate with each other to assure that our people, our citizens, get the benefits of AI and not its curses. We have plenty of both,” he says.

DeSantis finally acknowledges Trump’s 2020 election defeat: ‘Of course he lost’

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a fundraising event for U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a fundraising event for U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis says definitively that rival Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, an acknowledgment the Florida governor made after years of equivocating answers.

“Of course he lost,” DeSantis says an interview with NBC News posted today. “Joe Biden’s the president.”

DeSantis has often sidestepped questions about whether he believes the 2020 election results were legitimate. But in recent days he has started publicly questioning the lies that Trump and his allies have made about the election’s legitimacy.

Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general said there was no credible evidence the election’s outcome was affected by fraud. The former president’s allegations were also roundly rejected by courts at the time, including judges he appointed.

Last week, Trump was charged by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith with four felonies related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the run-up to the violent riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

DeSantis’s shift in rhetoric has come as he seeks to reset his stagnant 2024 White House campaign. Trump, who remains widely popular with the Republican Party base, is the early and commanding front-runner in next year’s GOP presidential primary.

Top UN official condemns Gaza death sentences

Illustrative: A gallows is prepared for an execution in Gaza in 2013. (AP/ Gaza Interior Ministry/ File)
Illustrative: A gallows is prepared for an execution in Gaza in 2013. (AP/ Gaza Interior Ministry/ File)

A senior United Nations official condemns the Hamas terror group that rules the Gaza Strip for issuing a series death sentences.

“Yesterday, the military appeal court in #Gaza upheld 6 death sentences and converted a life sentence to one of death – all against civilians,” tweets
Lynn Hastings, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Palestine.

She notes that 9 other death sentences have been upheld this year and that “authorities in Gaza have executed 5 of the 28 men sentenced to death since 2022.”

“The death sentence should be abolished as per international obligations and rights to a fair trial of all persons being prosecuted be guaranteed,” she says.

Musk says he may need surgery before cage fight with Zuckerberg

FILE - This combo of file images shows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.   (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, Stephan Savoia, File)
FILE - This combo of file images shows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, Stephan Savoia, File)

Elon Musk says he may need to get surgery before a proposed “cage match” with Mark Zuckerberg.

The two tech billionaires seemingly agreed to an in-person face-off in late June. It’s unclear if a physical fight will actually end up happening, but Musk and Zuckerberg have continued to fuel interest in the potential match through online jabs at one another — most recently on Sunday, when Musk said the fight would be live-streamed on his social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

Musk added that the fight’s proceeds would go to a charity for veterans. On his Threads social media account, Zuckerberg responded: “Shouldn’t we use a more reliable platform that can actually raise money for charity?” In a follow-up post, the CEO of Facebook’s parent company Meta said he wasn’t “holding his breath” for a fight.

“I’m ready today. I suggested Aug 26 when he first challenged, but he hasn’t confirmed,” wrote Zuckerberg, who is actually trained in mixed martial arts and posted about completing his first jiu jitsu tournament earlier this year. “I love this sport and will continue competing with people who train no matter what happens here.”

Earlier yesterday, Musk said was training for the fight by lifting weights. He later addressed the timing of the fight — noting the date “is still in flux” due to a scheduled MRI and the potential of surgery.

“I’m getting an MRI of my neck & upper back tomorrow,” Musk wrote. “May require surgery before the fight can happen. Will know this week.”

Doctors group says they won’t show up for work if government ignores High Court orders

Prof. Hagai Levine (center), a leader of the White Coats – Healthcare Professionals for Democracy and head of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, leads the chanting at the doctor's protest rally in Jerusalem, July 23, 2023. (Renee Ghert-Zand/Times of Israel)
Prof. Hagai Levine (center), a leader of the White Coats – Healthcare Professionals for Democracy and head of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, leads the chanting at the doctor's protest rally in Jerusalem, July 23, 2023. (Renee Ghert-Zand/Times of Israel)

The White Coats – Healthcare Professionals for Democracy group announces that its members will refuse to show up to work should a constitutional crisis arise from the government’s refusal to abide by Supreme Court decisions.

“If the government and its ministers refuse to carry out the decisions of the Supreme Court, or order public workers to act in opposition to the court’s decisions, then it will be a criminal dictatorship regime that should not be obeyed,” the organization says in a statement.

White Coats members were the first in the healthcare community to protest the government’s judicial overhaul plans. As the Knesset vote on the “reasonableness law” neared, others, including the Israeli Medical Association, joined the protest.

The White Coats would place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the government should a constitutional crisis force a strike by medical staff, causing disruptions in the health system.

“We call on the Israeli Medical Association, the Histadrut (Organization of Workers in Israel), and all citizens, companies, and organizations loyal to the law to announce ahead of time that a constitutional crisis will result in a general strike of the economy until the prime minister and his ministers return to following the law,” the statement said.

Netanyahu expresses support for Shin Bet amid onslaught from his coalition

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, at a pre-Passover toast on April 4, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, at a pre-Passover toast on April 4, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the head of the Shin Bet security service Ronen Bar to back him in the wake of an onslaught of criticism from far-right members of the government.

Netanyahu expressed “his support for him and the members of the service for the important work they do around the clock for the security of the people of Israel,” says a terse statement from Netanyahu’s office.

The statement comes after several coalition lawmakers denounced Bar for reportedly warning that terrorist acts by Jewish Israelis are fueling Palestinian terrorism, asserting that “ideas of the left have reached the top” of the security agency and that senior defense officials do not know how to “distinguish between the enemy and your own people.”

Japan raises concerns over Iran nuclear program, supply of drones to Russia

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, left, meets with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Kishida's office in Tokyo Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP)
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, left, meets with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Kishida's office in Tokyo Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP)

Japan expresses concern over Iran’s advancing uranium enrichment program and the Middle East country’s suspected supplying of combat drones to Moscow for Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi raised the two issues during talks with his visiting Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, the foreign ministry in Tokyo says. A statement from the ministry says Hayashi appealed for Iran to act constructively in the matter but did not elaborate.

Iranian drones have been a key element of Russia’s continued war on Ukraine. Tehran has offered conflicting accounts about the drones — first denying Iran has supplied them to Russia and later claiming the unmanned aircraft were only sold before the Russian invasion.

However, the number of Iranian-made drones used in the conflict shows a steady supply of the bomb-carrying weapons. In June, the White House said Iran was providing Russia with materials to build a drone manufacturing plant east of Moscow as the Kremlin looks to lock in a consistent stream of weapons.

As US ally and a member of the Group of Seven advanced nations, Japan has joined sanctions against Moscow while providing Ukraine with humanitarian support and non-lethal defense equipment, largely because of fear that Russia’s invasion could embolden an already assertive China in Asia.

Iran’s state television says Amirabdollahian denied providing drones to Russia and insisted Tehran is focused on efforts for dialogue and finding a political solution to end the war. The report also quotes the top Iranian diplomat as saying the United States and the West should stop what he described as baseless accusations against Iran.

Gallant hosts Greek counterpart, touts increasingly close defense ties

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) greets his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, at the military's headquarters in Tel Aviv, August 7, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) greets his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, at the military's headquarters in Tel Aviv, August 7, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hosts his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, at the Defense Ministry at the military’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.

According to a readout from the Defense Ministry, Gallant and Dendias discussed “ways to strengthen security ties between the countries… and the joint fight against terrorism.”

“The ministers agreed to tighten cooperation between the defense industries and between the defense establishments,” the ministry says.

In a statement after their meeting, Gallant says: “The close relations between the countries send a clear message to our friends and enemies, Israel and Greece stand side by side for regional stability.”

Gallant also notes the wildfires that ravaged the Greek island of Rhodes in recent weeks and Israel’s firefighting aid.

“Israel and Greece stand together even in challenging times. As you have helped us in the past, we are committed to helping you deal with the fires today,” he says.

Ukraine has sanctioned Israeli-Georgian millionaire Mikhael Mirilashvili

Russian-Israeli businessman Michael Mirilashvili at his offices in the city of Petah Tikva, on November 17, 2020. (Emmanuel Dundand/AFP)
Russian-Israeli businessman Michael Mirilashvili at his offices in the city of Petah Tikva, on November 17, 2020. (Emmanuel Dundand/AFP)

Ukraine has sanctioned Israeli-Georgian millionaire Mikhael Mirilashvili, accusing him of supporting the Russian invasion, reports Zman Yisrael, the Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site.

Mirilashvili is considered close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mirilashvili is the owner and president of Watergen, a company that developed a patented technology that processes air to generate clean drinking water.

His son owns the right-wing Channel 14 TV news channel.

 

Israel sending firefighting team to help battle massive Cyprus wildfires

An Israeli fire-fighting team ahead of their departure for Cyprus on August 7, 2023 (Courtesy)
An Israeli fire-fighting team ahead of their departure for Cyprus on August 7, 2023 (Courtesy)

Israel is sending a firefighting team to Cyprus to join a multinational force that is helping the island nation fight stubborn wildfires in the summer heat.

Prime Minister Benjamin  Netanyahu announces that he has responded to a personal request from Cypriot leader Nikos Christodoulides.

The delegation, which is a joint operation between the military and civilian firefighting teams, will include two firefighting planes with a team of four pilots, a team of on-the-ground firefighters, fire-control experts, and some six tons of flame retardant material.

The team could end up working shoulder-to-shoulder with other regional teams, including from Lebanon, Greece and Jordan.

Thousands protest over Bangladesh Quran burnings

Thousands of people mounted furious protests after dozens of Qurans were burned in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, leaving several officers injured, police say.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a crowd of “at least 10,000 people” overnight from Sunday to Monday as they tried to attack the two men accused of destroying the holy books, police officer Ajbahar Ali Shaikh tells AFP.

Another police officer says at least 14 policemen were injured in the clashes, but did not have details of injuries among protesters.

The two men were arrested in the northeastern city of Sylhet — one of the most conservative parts of Bangladesh — and said that they had burned the Qurans as they were “very old and some had printing mistakes.”

Shaikh, naming the accused as school principal Nurur Rahman and Mahbub Alam, said police had “seized 45 copies of the burned Quran.”

Some Muslim scholars say disposing of a Quran that is no longer usable is permissible if done respectfully.

Minister May Golan confronted at airport: ‘Collaborator with the dictatorship’

Minister for the Advancement of Women May Golan is confronted by an anti-government activist at Ben Gurion airport.

Golan, who was there with her mother, is met with calls of “shame.”

“You are a collaborator with the dictatorship against the rights of women,” one woman is seen shouting at her in a video posted to social media.

In a statement, Golan’s office says that she physically protected her 76-year-old mother “from two anarchists” until security intervened.

“The situation ended when half of the terminal stood up and applauded Minister Golan, who refused to leave the scene,” the statement says.

Gantz: Smotrich freezing millions earmarked for Arab towns ‘reeks of racism’

Leader of the National Unity Party MK Benny Gantz leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Leader of the National Unity Party MK Benny Gantz leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Benny Gantz, leader of the opposition National Unity party, slams Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for his decision to freeze millions in grants earmarked for Arab municipalities, saying the move “reeks of racism.”

“Treating crime in the Arab community is in the interest of all of Israeli society and not just the Arab community, Gantz says. “Police enforcement alone is not enough; there needs to be widespread and serious investment across all spheres: education, infrastructure, welfare and more.”

“This decision by Finance Minister Smotrich to hold up NIS 200 million that was promised to the Arab authorities reeks of racism and not only harms them, but the entire society,” he says.

Death toll in Tehran building collapses reaches 5

Rescue personnel recover the body of victim from under the rubble of a collapsed building in Tehran on August 6, 2023. (TASNIM NEWS / AFP)
Rescue personnel recover the body of victim from under the rubble of a collapsed building in Tehran on August 6, 2023. (TASNIM NEWS / AFP)

Five people including two policemen were killed and at least 11 others injured during the collapse of several buildings in Iran’s capital, local media report.

The policemen were securing the planned demolition on Sunday of “unauthorized buildings” in Tehran’s southwest, ISNA news agency says. Another news agency, Tasnim, says two of the officers were killed.

The overall “toll from the collapse” has reached five, spokesman for Tehran’s fire department, Jalal Maleki, tells Fars news agency.

According to ISNA, authorities had begun the demolition of one building when five others collapsed.

Rescue operations were underway to find others who may be trapped under the rubble, ISNA and Tasnim reported.

More than 3,000 US troops arrive in Red Sea area amid Iran tensions

This handout photo from the U.S. Navy, shows the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan in the Atlantic Ocean on July 20, 2023. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danilo Reynoso/U.S. Navy, via AP)
This handout photo from the U.S. Navy, shows the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan in the Atlantic Ocean on July 20, 2023. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danilo Reynoso/U.S. Navy, via AP)

More than 3,000 United States military personnel have arrived in the Red Sea aboard two warships, part of a beefed-up response from Washington after tanker seizures by Iran, the US Navy says.

The deployment adds to a growing US military buildup in tense Gulf waterways vital to the global oil trade and led Tehran on Monday to accuse the US of inflaming regional instability.

The US military says Iran has either seized or attempted to take control of nearly 20 internationally flagged ships in the region over the past two years.

The US sailors and Marines entered the Red Sea yesterday after transiting through the Suez Canal in a pre-announced deployment, the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet says in a statement.

They arrived on board the USS Bataan and USS Carter Hall warships, providing “greater flexibility and maritime capability” to the Fifth Fleet, the statement from the Bahrain-based command adds.

The deployment adds to efforts “to deter destabilizing activity and de-escalate regional tensions caused by Iran’s harassment and seizures of merchant vessels,” Fifth Fleet spokesman Commander Tim Hawkins tells AFP.

Far-right minister: IDF, police have adopted Palestinian view that settlers are guilty

Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu arrives at a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 29, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu arrives at a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 29, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, says the Israel Defense Forces and the police automatically side with the Palestinians versus settlers.

“The spirit that entered the IDF, police and [security] services in the last three decades has brought about an adoption the world view of the Palestinian population, that automatically views the settlers as guilty,” he tells the Ynet news site.

Eliyahu’s comments are the latest from far-right government members attacking the security services in the wake of the killing of a Palestinian on Friday by settlers.

Army says explosive device hurled at West Bank security barrier

Palestinians hurled an improvised explosive device at the West Bank security barrier, the military says.

The Israel Defense Forces says the IED that exploded near the barrier close to the Palestinian village of Araqah caused no injuries or damage.

Footage published to social media shows the blast.

Araqah is close to the northern West Bank settlements of Shaked, Hinanit, and Tal Menashe, which are on the western, or Israeli, side of the barrier.

Palestinian youth who hurled firebomb dies days after being shot by IDF troops

A Palestinian teenager who was shot by Israeli troops after hurling a firebomb at a settlement in the West Bank last week succumbs to his wounds, Palestinian health officials say.

The Palestinian Authority health ministry says 17-year-old Ramzi Fathi Hamed was shot and critically wounded near the West Bank town of Silwad early on August 3, and died this morning.

The official PA news agency, Wafa, citing the mayor of Silwad, says Hamed was in a car that was driving near the nearby settlement of Ofra when he was shot by an Israeli settler. Though the teen’s father, Fatehi Hamed, tells The Associated Press that his son was shot by Israeli troops after throwing firebombs at soldiers operating near Silwad.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces tells The Times of Israel that forces operating near Silwad identified a Palestinian suspect hurling a Molotov cocktail at the nearby settlement of Ofra.

“The force responded with gunfire,” the military spokesperson says, adding that the suspect was hit and later was reported to have died.

“The circumstances of the incident are under investigation,” the spokesperson adds.

Netanyahu: Key ties with Saudi will develop even without a peace deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Bloomberg on August 7, 2023 (Screenshot)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Bloomberg on August 7, 2023 (Screenshot)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is confident that Israel will reach a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia, but key ties will continue to develop even if there is no formal peace agreement.

Speaking to Bloomberg News, Netanyahu says that there is “an economic corridor of energy transportation and communication that naturally goes through our geography from Asia through the Arabian Peninsula to Europe. We are going to realize that.”

“And my sense is that we are going to realize that whether we have formal peace or not,” says Netanyahu, calling the moment “a pivot of history.”

Netanyahu declines to say what concessions he would make on the Palestinian issue to achieve a deal with the Saudis, but suggests that it is no longer a key issue, rather calling it “a checkbox.”

“Is that what is being said in corridors, is that what is being said in discreet negotiations — the answer is a lot less than you think,” he says.

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