The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they occured.
Former New York governor Andrew Cuomo has been ordered by the state’s ethics commission to give up millions of dollars a publisher paid him to write a book about his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
An attorney for Cuomo immediately calls the action unconstitutional and promised a fight.
Cuomo is directed to turn over proceeds earned from “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” within 30 days under a resolution approved 12-1 by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, according to multiple media reports.
The order comes a month after the commission voted to rescind the ethics approval it had given Cuomo before he entered into the $5.1 million book deal.
“American Crisis” was published in October 2020, months before Cuomo resigned amid findings he sexually harassed 11 women.
Health experts have concluded that a 6-year-old boy from Netivot who died suddenly on Monday was stricken with myocarditis as a result of complications from the flu, Kan reports.
Yosef Naim, who had recovered a month earlier from the coronavirus, did not wake up Monday morning after going to sleep with a fever. His sisters were hospitalized after suffering from shortness of breath and vomiting.
The case had puzzled doctors, who investigated if the death was related to his prior coronavirus infection.
The leader of France’s far-right Zouaves group has been arrested over violence that broke out at a rally for French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, AFP reports, citing a police source.
Last week, a brawl between Zouaves partisans and an anti-racism group SOS Racisme broke out a rally for Zemmour, a child of Algerian Jews who is running on an anti-immigration platform and has two convictions for hate speech. He was injured during the fighting.
Shortly after Zemmour started speaking at the December 6 rally, fighting broke out and chairs were thrown at activists who stood up with “No to Racism” written on their T-shirts.
The country’s interior minister said Sunday he was seeking to have the Zouaves disbanded.
Meeting de #Zemmour. Partis vaillants, à l'arrivé, plus personne. #zouaves
Villepinte RER B direction Gare du Nord, après ça plus un bruit. Pourtant à chaque arrêt c'était que des noirs qui montaient. Leurs slogans étaient dans leurs têtes, plus dans leur bouche. pic.twitter.com/JI0VOL03bq
— Frederic Munsch (@frederic_munsch) December 11, 2021
Minister Eli Avidar (Yisrael Beytenu) is speaking out against new “Green Pass” rules for malls, which he says will deal a blow to business owners and citizens.
On Twitter, Avidar calls the move “rushed, with no epidemiological basis and unhinged from reality.”
“The democratic public is losing what faith it has left and those who are aiding this insanity are guilty,” he adds.
Avidar has been an outspoken opponent of health guidelines and rules meant to encourage vaccination. He refused vaccination until days before joining the government.
Mall owners and others are rejecting new rules announced earlier in the day meant to restrict entry to vaccinated individuals only, describing the passes meant to differentiate between people who have gotten immunized via vaccination or infection and those who are not as a form of “labeling” that they will not abide.
The rules call for giving passes to move freely through the mall to only those fully vaccinated or recovered, while those without the pass can enter, but only to go to certain stores deemed essential.
Beyond vowing to challenge the rules in the High Court, mall owners and other businesses say they will not cooperate with the rules, nor will they have security guards check vaccination status.
“If you want someone to check people outside the malls, send the police, border police, special forces. We will not label people and we won’t have our security guards do it, we will serve anyone regardless of race, gender or label,” they say, according to Channel 13 news.
The rules are set to go into effect Friday.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The Omicron variant appears to cause less severe disease than previous versions of the coronavirus, and the Pfizer vaccine seems to offer less defense against infection from it, but still offers good protection from hospitalization, according to an analysis of data from South Africa, where the new variant is driving a surge in infections.
The findings released Tuesday are preliminary and have not been peer-reviewed — the gold standard in scientific research — but they line up with other early data about Omicron’s behavior, including that it seems to be more easily transmitted.
Still, some experts cautioned that it’s too soon to draw conclusions about the outcomes from Omicron since the variant is still quite new and hospitalizations can lag weeks behind infections.
People who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appeared to have just 33 percent protection against infection, compared to those who were unvaccinated, during South Africa’s current Omicron-fueled wave, but 70% protection against hospitalization, according to an analysis conducted by Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest private health insurer, and the South African Medical Research Council.
The study did not look at booster shots, which are not yet prevalent in South Africa but which data from elsewhere has indicated improves protection.
Experts now say that Omicron accounts for more than 90% of all new infections in South Africa, according to Discovery Health chief executive Dr. Ryan Noach, and it is also picking up steam in other countries.
Researchers around the world are rushing to figure out what the variant will mean for the coronavirus pandemic now well into its second year. More information came Tuesday from Pfizer, which announced that its experimental pill to treat COVID-19 — separate from it its vaccine — appears effective against Omicron.
Health services identify 22 new Omicron coronavirus cases in Israel, bringing the total of confirmed infections of the new variant to 89.
Out of the total, 67 are vaccinated or recovered from the virus within the past six months.
Fifty-seven of the Omicron cases recently returned to Israel from abroad, including from South Africa, the UK, the US, the UAE, Hungary, Italy, Namibia, Tanzania, Germany and Turkey.
Twenty-one cases had contact with people returning from South Africa, the UK and France.
Another ten resulted from community spread.
Another 150 cases have a “high suspicion” of being infected with Omicron.
Out of the confirmed cases and highly suspected cases — 239 people — 94 have symptoms, 143 do not have symptoms and two are being checked.
Israel Prisons Service Commissioner Katy Perry orders immediate dismissal procedures against an intelligence officer involved in the so-called “pimping” case at Gilboa Prison.
The Prisons Service statement identifies the officer as Rani Basha and says he served as the intelligence officer at the prison four years ago, when the alleged assaults took place.
The case centers on claims that female guards at the prison were forced to act as sexual bargaining chips for high-profile inmates.
Perry’s decision came about due to the move to open an investigation earlier today, and other developments, including evidence presented in news reports.
Perry informs Public Security Minister Omer Barlev and says she welcomes the opening of the investigation.
Earlier today, State Prosecutor Amit Aisman ordered police to reopen a probe into the claims.
The case was previously closed despite several soldiers serving as guards complaining of sexual harassment and assault. The allegations resurfaced last month after a top prison official mentioned them during an inquiry into an escape from the jail.
Guards claim they were put in close contact with certain prisoners, where they were sexually assaulted or harassed, as part of a tacit bargain between wardens and inmates to keep prisoners from rioting or making other types of trouble.
The military says it will hold preparedness drills around the northern city of Haifa in the coming days.
The drills will include sounding sirens and sending out warning alerts to residents of the city and several nearby areas.
Residents are asked to practice going into shelters and check that they are ready for emergencies.
For additional information, residents can contact the Home Front Command hotline by dialing 104, text the hotline on WhatsApp at 052-910 4104, on social media, or at the Home Front’s website, oref.org.il.
The warning comes as tensions continue to climb with Iran. Israeli officials fear a conflict with Iran will draw a response from Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, including massive rocket fire on northern Israel.
A 2-year-old girl dies at a daycare center in the southern city of Kiryat Gat.
A police investigation finds the daycare’s supervisor was with a group of children outside of the center.
A 30-year-old woman who had come in as a substitute teacher did not notice that the toddler was choking, likely because she was using her phone.
Police are expected to file a charge of negligence against her.
Hamas’s armed wing will launch a military drill tomorrow, the terror group’s official television channel announces.
A source in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades tells al-Aqsa TV that the drill will begin on Wednesday, without elaborating further.
Hamas celebrated its 34th anniversary this week with parades and marches in Gaza, as well as some smaller rallies in the West Bank.
Police wrap up an investigation and release a video of a stabbing attack in Jaffa last month.
The video shows the attacker walking up behind a couple, pulling out a knife, stabbing the man, then fleeing toward a mosque.
Police and the Shin Bet internal security service have finished their investigation into the attack, police say.
They identify the attacker as Mohammad Bani Odeh, 18, from the Palestinian town of Tamun.
The victim was a 67-year-old Jewish man from Bat Yam who was walking with his wife at the time of the stabbing. He was moderately hurt in the attack.
The attacker was captured by police at a mosque in Jaffa less than an hour after the attack.
The attacker had left Tamun, in the West Bank, and traveled that day to Jaffa, next to Tel Aviv. He had previously worked illegally there as a dishwasher in a restaurant.
He is suspected of attempted murder with a nationalist motive. An indictment will be filed against him shortly, police say.
Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai says the government intends to move forward with the Western Wall compromise, despite reports that the plan had been set aside.
“The Western Wall compromise is on the government’s agenda and we will not allow it, God forbid, to enter into confrontations. During discussions, I raised it five or 10 times in different forums, including in talks with the prime minister and alternate prime minister.
“We will not set the issue aside and we intend to continue taking care of it,” Shai says, according to the Kan public broadcaster.
Earlier this week, The Times of Israel reported that Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana told aides that the government had decided to freeze the plan due to violent confrontations at the Western Wall, and because opposition politicians were latching onto the plan to disparage the government.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, and health professionals, after a joint meeting, decide on new virus containment measures.
A “Green Pass,” indicating up-to-date vaccination or recovery from the virus, will be required to shop at malls. Unvaccinated people will only be allowed into essential businesses, such as pharmacies, inside malls.
Travelers returning from “red” countries who are vaccinated will be required to quarantine at home, and unvaccinated arrivals will need to quarantine in designated hotels.
The new rules will go into effect on Friday.
Mall operators say the rules will reduce revenue by 30% and vow to appeal the move.
Channel 12 says more countries will be designated as “red” high risk areas tomorrow.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tests negative for COVID-19 after flying with a virus carrier yesterday.
Bennett and his office will remain in quarantine until they receive a negative result from a PCR test on Thursday.
A passenger on the prime minister’s flight back to Israel from the United Arab Emirates tested positive for the coronavirus, the Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday.
All passengers arriving at Ben Gurion Airport are tested upon landing.
Bennett arrived back in Israel on Monday after his landmark trip as the first Israeli prime minister to visit the Gulf nation.
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog says advances made by Iran since the 2015 nuclear deal’s collapse means there will have to be changes to the original agreement.
“The reality is that we are dealing with a very different Iran,” International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Mariano Grossi tells the Associated Press. “2022 is so different from 2015 that there will have to be adjustments that take into consideration these new realities so our inspectors can inspect whatever the countries agree at the political table.”
“There’s no other country other than those making nuclear weapons reaching those high levels” of uranium enrichment, Grossi says of Iran. “I’ve said many times that this doesn’t mean that Iran has a nuclear weapon. But it does mean that this level of enrichment is one that requires an intense verification effort.”
Grossi says the restrictions faced by his inspectors in Iran threaten to give the world only a “very blurred image” of Tehran’s program.
“If the international community through us, through the IAEA, is not seeing clearly how many centrifuges or what is the capacity that they may have… what you have is a very blurred image,” hea said. “It will give you the illusion of the real image. But not the real image. This is why this is so important.”
He says he wants Iran to know that there is “no way around” his inspectors at the IAEA if the Islamic Republic wanted to be “a respected country in the community of nations.”
“We have to work together,” Grossi says from a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, after he visited that country’s first nuclear power plant. “They must work together. I will make sure they understand that in us they will have a partner.”
Grossi’s insistence that the Vienna-based IAEA remained “an auditor” for the world came hours after the chief of Iran’s civilian nuclear program insisted his country would refuse the agency access to a sensitive centrifuge assembly plant in Karaj.
Grossi dismisses as “simply absurd” an Iranian allegation that saboteurs used the IAEA’s cameras in a June attack on the Karaj centrifuge site, which has been blamed on Israel. Tehran has offered no evidence to support the claim, though it’s another sign of the friction between inspectors and Iran.
The United Arab Emirates is threatening to walk from a massive arms deal with the US that includes billions of dollars worth of F-35 fighter jets and reaper drones, saying US security requirements meant to keep the arms safe from Chinese spying are too restrictive, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Emiratis have told the US the talks are off, but officials appear to be viewing it as a bargaining move and do not believe the deal is necessarily dead, the paper reports.
The US is wary of growing ties between the UAE and China, which it fears could leave its technology vulnerable to Beijing’s espionage, according to the WSJ.
The $23 billion deal, one of the largest arms deals ever, was a byproduct of the UAE’s agreement to normalize ties with Israel over a year ago. Israel, which can object to US arms sales that degrade its qualitative military edge in the region, signed off on the agreement following the normalization deal, despite claims that aspects of it had been kept from senior Israeli defense officials.
Israel is currently the only country in the region with F-35 jets. The reaper drones will give the UAE access to weapons that even Israel has not been allowed to purchase.
A person who allegedly threatened Public Security Minister Omer Barlev online has been arrested, the Ynet news site reports.
The suspect, 27, wrote online of Barlev that “I hope you get lynched, you traitor,” according to the site.
Barlev has come under fire over the past day for denouncing “settler violence” in a meeting with a US official.
The suspect’s lawyers call the arrest “unnecessary and harmful,” but a judge orders him kept behind bars until Wednesday.
The site also reports that the head of the Ra’am party, MK Mansour Abbas, has gotten a security detail after threats against him for joining the governing coalition.
Israeli researchers say they have uncovered a key mechanism that causes neurodegenerative disease ALS, which may unlock a way to delay or reverse the condition which affects thousands of people annually.
The team from Tel Aviv University, along with researchers from Sheba Medical Center and from institutes in Germany, France, the UK and US, found that a buildup of a protein called TDP-43 near neuromuscular junctions, which translates neural signals into motor activity, causes motor neurons to degenerate and die by inhibiting mitochondrial production. This leads to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which causes sufferers to lose the ability to walk, talk or even breathe.
“The paralysis caused by the disease results from damage to the motor neurons, which leads to the degeneration nerve endings and to the loss of muscle innervation,” Prof. Eran Perlson, who led the study with doctoral students Topaz Altman and Ariel Ionescu, says in a news release. “This consequently leads to the degeneration of the nerve and the death of motor neurons in the spinal cord, however until now we could not understand the basic biological mechanism causing the initial damage behind this vicious cascade.”
By using a molecule to break down TDP-43 in animals, the scientists were able to restore motor neuron activity, opening the door for possible drugs that can cure ALS in humans if found before the damage becomes too severe, the researchers said.
“This discovery can lead to the development of new therapies that could either dissolve the TDP-43 protein condensates or increase the production of proteins essential to mitochondrial function, and thereby heal the nerve cells before the irreversible damage that occurs in the spinal cord,” Perlson says. “We are tackling the problem on the other end – in the neuromuscular junction. And if in the future we could diagnose and intervene early enough, maybe it will be possible to inhibit the destructive degeneration in ALS patients’ muscles.”
The peer-reviewed study is published in the journal Nature Communications.
Hamas is blaming rival Fatah for a deadly shooting at a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon on Sunday, as it buries three members killed in the incident.
Hamas official Ayman Shanaa tells mourners that Fatah militia members were behind the shootings, which took place at a Hamas-organized funeral in the Burj Shamali camp on Sunday. He calls it a “heinous and cowardly crime.”
Shanaa also calls the shooting “a premeditated crime” that aims to undermine security and stability in the refugee camps in Lebanon.
He calls for handing the perpetrators “known to all” to the Lebanese security agencies.
The comments are made as thousands attend a funeral for the three in the southern city of Sidon, many of whom raise the green Hamas flag.
A state comptroller report finds that Israelis made fewer official complaints about state bodies or services during the third and fourth waves of the coronavirus pandemic than during the first two waves, but also highlights a number of troubling incidents regarding enforcement of health rules.
According to the report, 1,687 complaints related to the pandemic were filed between December 1, 2020, and October 15 of this year, down from 2,637 in a previous report that dealt with the start of the pandemic until the end of November 2020.
Among the complaints detailed in the report is a case where the son of a woman who died after getting COVID-19 got calls from the police weekly asking if she was staying in quarantine. According to the Health Ministry, the woman did not die from the virus, and so her name was never taken off the rolls of people requiring isolation. Her son maintains that she was one of the over 8,000 coronavirus victims nationwide.
Another case involves a teenage boy who recovered from COVID and finished isolation, but got an NIS 5,000 ($1,600) fine for not being in quarantine. The ticket was supposed to be sent to his home, but never was, and by the time his parents found out about it and tried to fight it, they were told the deadline for appeals had passed.
Israeli defense officials have been told that the US will not be able to supply it with new refueling tankers until late 2024, the New York Times reports, possibly putting a damper on any plans to carry out an airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities before then.
According to the paper, Defense Minister Benny Gantz asked US counterpart Lloyd Austin if he could hurry up an order of Boeing KC-46 refueling planes when they met last week, but instead was told to cool his jets, as production backlogs meant the planes could not be delivered for several years.
While Austin told Gantz he would work to alleviate the delay, the US Air Force is also champing for the new tankers to bolster its Pacific presence, the Times reports.
The tankers, which will replace an aging fleet, are seen as a key element for Israeli planes to be able to make it to Iran and back without needing to stop to refuel, should it decide to embark on a military strike.
State Prosecutor Amit Aisman has ordered police to reopen a probe into claims that female guards at Gilboa Prison were forced to act as sexual bargaining chips for high-profile inmates.
The case, which has been described as “pimping,” was previously closed despite several soldiers serving as guards complaining of sexual harassment and assault. The allegations resurfaced last month after a top prison official mentioned them during an inquiry into an escape from the jail.
Guards claim they were put in close contact with certain prisoners, where they were sexually assaulted or harassed, as part of a tacit bargain between wardens and inmates to keep prisoners from rioting or making other types of trouble.
Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern tells Army Radio that Syria cannot be allowed to obtain chemical weapons, after a report Monday that Israel targeted the country’s chemical weapons facilities.
Stern refuses to directly comment on the report in the Washington Post that said that Israel struck Syria on two occasions — once this year and once last year — in a bid to block attempts to rebuild its chemical weapons stockpile. But he hints that Israel cannot accept such weapons in the hands of its enemy to the north.
“We have a neighbor that has already proved that it doesn’t hesitate to use chemical weapons even against its own people,” he says. “(Syrian President Bashar) Assad must not have chemical weapons.”
Israeli officials have declined to comment on the Washington Post report.
Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg has been released to house arrest after nearly a month in prison, Hebrew-language media reports.
Hogeg and seven others were arrested on suspicion of involvement in a large fraud related to cryptocurrency investments.
According to court documents, Hogeg is suspected of 21 offenses, including money laundering, theft, and fraud, as well as a number of sex crimes including trafficking and underage prostitution offenses.
Last month, a well-known model said that Hogeg sexually assaulted her years ago, when she was 17. Channel 13 cited the model saying Hogeg entered her hotel room and tried to force himself on her, but she managed to fend him off. Hogeg denied the accusation and said the sexual interaction was consensual, adding that he had taken a lie detector test confirming his version.
Deputy Public Security Minister Yair Golan is pushing back against Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s characterization of settler violence as a “marginal” phenomenon.
In a tweet, Golan says that “settler violence … is systematic action endorsed by politicians. We can’t let extremists set the agenda in Israel.”
Bennett’s comments came in reaction to Golan’s boss, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, discussing settler violence with a senior US official.
Golan, an MK with the dovish Meretz party, is a former deputy IDF chief.
Pfizer says that clinical trials confirm its anti-COVID pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths among at-risk people by almost 90 percent when it was taken in the first few days after symptoms appear.
The results are based on trials of more than 2,200 people and back up findings announced last month from preliminary trials. The drug maker also said the treatment appears to be effective against the Omicron variant.
The Combatants for Peace group, which brings together Israeli and Palestinian victims of violence, condemns Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for speaking out in support of settlers after his police minister discussed attacks on Palestinians with senior US official Victoria Nuland.
The group says Bennett, who characterized settlers attacking Palestinians as “marginal elements,” gave “full backing to depraved settler violence which has reached new heights under his watch.”
“Bennett gave a green light to the Wild West [atmosphere] in the territories and a shot in the arm to hilltop youth — the settler movement’s armed wing.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett joins other right-wing politicians in lashing out at Public Security Minister Omer Barlev for discussing settler violence with a top US official.
Amid a marked increase in attacks by settlers on Palestinians, Bennett says Israelis in the West Bank “are suffering from violence, every day, for decades.”
He urges the nation to thank the settlers, whom he refers to as the nation’s “defensive wall,” and to buttress them “with words and actions.”
“Every community has marginal phenomena, and every effort should be expended to deal with them, but you can’t tar a whole public,” he writes on Twitter.
Several windows at a mosque in the eastern German city of Leipzig were broken after dozens of people set off fireworks, set fire to garbage cans and threw bottles at cars, police say. It isn’t clear whether the mosque was targeted deliberately.
The windows were broken on Monday evening, police tell news agency dpa. Before that, the group of about 80 people had marched nearby and thrown paint and stones at a police patrol car. Police estimated the total value of the damage caused during the incident at 30,000 euros (nearly $34,000).
The mosque — run by the the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, or DITIB — appeared to be the only building that was damaged, but police don’t say whether that was on purpose and there was no word on whether there was any political motive.
There were no arrests, though officers took 12 people to a police station to register their identity. Police initially linked the damage to a march by what they believed was a left-wing group. They have opened an investigation into suspected breach of the peace.
Israeli security forces have arrested 11 students from An-Najah National University in Nablus who are suspected of supporting the Hamas terror group on campus, a military spokesperson says.
According to the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic-language spokesman, the 11 suspects were members of the university’s Islamic Bloc, a Hamas-affiliated organization that exists on many Palestinian campuses.
The spokesman, Lt. Col. Avihay Adraee, says the students are suspected of transferring funds to Hamas, organizing pro-Hamas rallies and spreading propaganda for the terror group “under the supervision and guidance of senior Hamas officials.”
Adraee says the arrests were conducted by the IDF and Shin Bet security service in recent weeks.
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