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

Morocco World Cup team greeted as heroes at home

Supporters cheer and light flares as Morocco's national football team arrives to the center of the capital Rabat, on December 20, 2022, after the Qatar 2022 World Cup. (Fadel Senna/AFP)
Supporters cheer and light flares as Morocco's national football team arrives to the center of the capital Rabat, on December 20, 2022, after the Qatar 2022 World Cup. (Fadel Senna/AFP)

Tens of thousands of Moroccans throng the capital to welcome home their national football team, the first Arab or African squad ever to reach the semi-final of a World Cup.

The team and their coach Walid Regragui wave from an open-topped bus as they are driven from the airport and around central Rabat, accompanied by dozens of police cars and motorbikes with flashing lights and wailing sirens.

The crowd cheers and some wave flares as fireworks crackle in the sky over the seaside capital.

IDF confirms shooting attack near Nablus, says no soldiers hurt

File: Israeli soldiers block the entrance to the West Bank city of Nablus on October 13, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
File: Israeli soldiers block the entrance to the West Bank city of Nablus on October 13, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces confirms reports of a shooting attack toward a military post near the West Bank city of Nablus earlier this evening.

The IDF says that during scans in the area, troops came under fire again.

No soldiers are hurt, the IDF says.

Troops returned fire toward the source of the shooting, the IDF adds.

Ex-police chief says he would recommend plea deal in Netanyahu trial

Former Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich arrives to testify before the Meron Disaster Inquiry Committee, in Jerusalem, January 11, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich arrives to testify before the Meron Disaster Inquiry Committee, in Jerusalem, January 11, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former Israel Police commissioner Roni Alsheich says he believes the attorney general should reach a plea deal with Benjamin Netanyahu in his ongoing corruption trial.

“I think, in the current situation, I would definitely recommend for it to end” with a plea deal, Alsheich says during an interview on Channel 12 news, stressing that he is speaking as a private citizen.

Haredi lawmaker condemns those who heckled Gantz at Western Wall candle lighting

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, second from right, arrives for a Hanukkah candle lighting at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, December 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, second from right, arrives for a Hanukkah candle lighting at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, December 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

United Torah Judaism chief MK Yitzchak Goldknopf criticizes those who heckled outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz earlier this evening as he arrived at a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall.

As Gantz arrived at the site, a small group of mostly Haredi youth surrounded him, and one could be heard shouting “shame on you!” — the second-such incident in recent months.

“I condemn the vicious attack against Minister Benny Gantz at the Western Wall this evening,” says Goldknopf in a statement. “The Western Wall belongs to every Jew… it is forbidden to publicly humiliate any person, and certainly someone who devotes his life to the State of Israel.”

Gunfire toward IDF posts reported in two separate instances near Nablus

Israeli soldiers stand watch during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators in Beit Dajan, near Nablus, on December 16, 2022. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)
Israeli soldiers stand watch during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators in Beit Dajan, near Nablus, on December 16, 2022. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

The Lion’s Den terror group claims responsibility for at least two shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the Nablus area in the northern West Bank.

The Israel Defense Forces says the incidents are under review.

No injuries are reported.

The Nablus-based Lion’s Den publishes videos purportedly showing members opening fire at a military post near the West Bank city and soldiers and civilians near the ‘Awarta checkpoint.

US envoy Nides attends Reform candle lighting at Western Wall egalitarian plaza

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides attends a Hanukkah candle lighting at the egalitarian plaza of the Western Wall in Jerusalem on December 20, 2022.(Reform Movement in Israel)
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides attends a Hanukkah candle lighting at the egalitarian plaza of the Western Wall in Jerusalem on December 20, 2022.(Reform Movement in Israel)

US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides attends a candle-lighting ceremony hosted by the Reform movement at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall for the third night of Hanukkah.

During a short speech before the candle lighting, Nides proudly identifies himself as a Reform Jew, drawing applause from the crowd.

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef had called for the chief rabbi of the Western Wall to cancel this year’s candle-lighting ceremony at the egalitarian section, as ultra-Orthodox lawmakers demanded that laws be passed to bar egalitarian and other alternative prayers services at the holy site as part of coalition negotiations.

Nides’ participation in the event, which was also attended by Labor MK Gilad Kariv, was taken by the beleaguered movement as a sign of support.

In a statement, the Reform movement says the ceremony sent “a clear message: The Western Wall belongs to everyone. Attempts to prevent Jews’ and Jewesses’ prayer at the Western Wall will not succeed because there is more than one way to be a Jew or Jewess.”

The movement adds that it was “happy to host US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides and to increase the light emanating from the Western Wall.”

Taliban declares women will be banned from Afghan universities

Students attend their class after private universities were reopened in Kabul on September 6, 2021. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP)
Students attend their class after private universities were reopened in Kabul on September 6, 2021. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP)

Taliban authorities order an indefinite ban on university education for Afghan girls, the ministry of higher education says in a letter issued to all government and private universities.

“You all are informed to implement the mentioned order of suspending education of females until further notice,” says the letter signed by Minister for Higher Education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem.

The spokesman for the ministry, Ziaullah Hashimi, who tweeted the letter, confirms the order in a text message to AFP.

White House says ‘we don’t anticipate any progress’ on rejoining Iran nuclear deal

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House, November 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House, November 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A senior White House official said the US will not rejoin the Iran nuclear deal anytime soon, the same day a recording of US President Joe Biden saying that the deal was “dead” surfaced on social media.

In a phone briefing with reporters, John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, says that “there is no progress happening with respect to the Iran deal now, we don’t anticipate any progress anytime in the near future. That’s just not our focus.”

In the recording purportedly from last month, Biden tells a supporter that while the deal “is dead,” he won’t make any official announcement saying so.

Toddler declared dead after being wounded in Nazareth shooting that killed his father

Illustrative: Police in the town of Tel Mond, July 10, 2018. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Police in the town of Tel Mond, July 10, 2018. (Flash90)

A two year old is declared dead after he was hurt during a shooting earlier today in Nazareth that killed his father.

According to police, a suspect or suspects opened fire on the car in which the man, 33, was driving along with his young son.

The father, named in the media as Firas Heib, was declared dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. The toddler was brought to the hospital in serious condition and later also declared dead.

Police believe that the shooting was linked to underworld activity. Police officers are hunting for suspects on the ground and by helicopter.

US planning to reconvene Israeli-Arab ‘Negev Summit’ early next year

Closing their talks at the Negev Summit, (from left) Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, and United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, pose for a photograph, March 28, 2022, in Sde Boker, Israel. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
Closing their talks at the Negev Summit, (from left) Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, and United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, pose for a photograph, March 28, 2022, in Sde Boker, Israel. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

The United States is planning a meeting early in 2023 between Israel and Arab nations that recognize it, as the Americans push the incoming right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu to show restraint, says a US official.

A senior US official says the US is planning a meeting “probably in the first quarter” of 2023 of foreign ministers from the so-called Negev summit in March. The location of the next summit is not immediately clear.

The meeting brought to the Israeli desert the foreign minister of Egypt, the first Arab state to make peace with Israel, and his counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, which normalized relations in 2020 in the so-called Abraham Accords.

The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that the Abraham Accords are “near and dear to the heart of Prime Minister [designate] Netanyahu and so I imagine that he wants to continue to see that move forward… I think Israel has to factor that in.”

Speaking at the J Street confab earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed the Negev Summit, and added that “early next year, working groups will meet to expand collaboration on key issues in the areas that we’ve set out for cooperation under Negev, including health, food security, tourism, regional security.”

In October, The Times of Israel reported that foreign ministers would be reconvening in January, but the meeting was pushed back.

2 suspects arrested after hitting cop with their car in suspected criminal incident

Illustrative: Medics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service treat an Israel Police officer and border guard that were injured when a car rammed through a checkpoint outside of Jerusalem on October 13, 2016. (Magen David Adom)
Illustrative: Medics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service treat an Israel Police officer and border guard that were injured when a car rammed through a checkpoint outside of Jerusalem on October 13, 2016. (Magen David Adom)

Two suspects are arrested for hitting a police officer with their car after refusing to stop at a checkpoint near the southern town of Carmit.

According to police, the suspects were caught and arrested in the Beduin village of Hura, where they live, and the car was also recovered.

According to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, the policewoman has been checked over by a doctor and was only lightly harmed in the incident.

Police reportedly believe the car was attempting to escape inspection and was not intending to intentionally harm police officers.

Israel donates 17 generators to darkened Ukraine

Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky (right) shakes hands with a Ukrainian official in front of a donated generator on December 20, 2022. (Israeli Embassy)
Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky (right) shakes hands with a Ukrainian official in front of a donated generator on December 20, 2022. (Israeli Embassy)

Israel’s Embassy in Ukraine has donated 17 electricity generators to the war-torn nation as it suffers from widespread power cuts.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the embassy transferred the generators to the Kherson region in southeast Ukraine, which has been hard-hit by the war. The generators were funded by Mashav, a state-funded humanitarian group.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry says the generators will power hospitals and water infrastructure in the region.

“There is special significance to donating generators during Hanukkah,” says Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky. “We are helping to bring light back to the homes of Ukrainians and helping the Ukrainian people in this difficult and dark period.”

Roman Abramovich spotted at Western Wall for son’s bar mitzvah

Roman Abramovich and his son, Aaron Alexander Abramovich, arrive at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on December 20, 2022, for Aaron's bar mitzvah ceremony. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)
Roman Abramovich and his son, Aaron Alexander Abramovich, arrive at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on December 20, 2022, for Aaron's bar mitzvah ceremony. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is photographed visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem for the bar mitzvah of his son, Aaron, according to local reports.

Abramovich, 56, the former owner of the Chelsea football club in London, has been sanctioned by Canada, Britain and the EU for his purported support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich holds Israeli citizenship, and has been spotted in Israel several times since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

Hundreds of Palestinians march and fire into the air, after prisoner dies of cancer

Palestinians hold posters of Palestinian prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid during a protest, Dec. 20, 2022, in Ramallah, after he died of lung cancer in Israel. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians hold posters of Palestinian prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid during a protest, Dec. 20, 2022, in Ramallah, after he died of lung cancer in Israel. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of masked gunmen firing into the air, take to the streets as stores are shuttered across the West Bank to protest the death of a veteran prisoner in Israeli custody.

Palestinian factions called for the general strike and urged people to confront Israeli troops after Nasser Abu Hamid, a mass-murderer and former leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, died of lung cancer.

Hundreds of people march in honor of Abu Hamid in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority government. Demonstrators hoist Palestinian flags and yellow Fatah flags, while others hold posters of Abu Hamid on a visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. A group of black-clad gunmen march through the city, firing into the air.

Businesses across the West Bank closed for the day, and smaller demonstrations are taking place in several West Bank towns and cities, as well as in the Gaza Strip.

Police officer hurt in suspected car ramming in southern town

Illustrative: Firemen and police officers at the scene where a car exploded in Rishon Lezion on July 3, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Illustrative: Firemen and police officers at the scene where a car exploded in Rishon Lezion on July 3, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

A policewoman is moderately hurt in a suspected car-ramming incident near the town of Carmit in southern Israel, police and medics say.

According to police, officers signaled to a suspicious vehicle to stop, and then it rammed into the policewoman.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says it is taking the 22-year-old to Soroka hospital in Beersheba.

The driver apparently fled the scene.

Fire at key Russian gas pipeline kills three, says governor

A fire blazing at a Russian gas pipeline in the village of Yambakhtino on December 20, 2022. (Screenshot used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A fire blazing at a Russian gas pipeline in the village of Yambakhtino on December 20, 2022. (Screenshot used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Three people die in a fire at a key gas pipeline in western Russia that sends supplies through Ukraine and on to Europe, the regional governor tells state-run television.

Images circulating on social media show a large ball of fire billowing over one- and two-story buildings in a snow-blanketed village, with residents moving closer to inspect the blaze.

“According to preliminary data, four people were working [at the site]. Unfortunately, three of them died when gas suddenly ignited,” Oleg Nikolayev says. “One person, a driver, survived and is in a state of shock.”

The fire, which emergency services say has been extinguished, erupted near the village of Yambakhtino, around 600 kilometers (372 miles) east of Moscow.

Knesset freezes votes for nearly a week, buying Netanyahu time to swear in coalition

President Isaac Herzog, right, grants Likud party chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form a new government, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on November 13, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
President Isaac Herzog, right, grants Likud party chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form a new government, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on November 13, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin announces that the Knesset will halt plenum activity until Monday, effectively buying prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu more time to finalize legislation before swearing in his coalition.

Netanyahu has less than two days left to announce to President Isaac Herzog that he has put together a government. While he will still need to inform the president that he has formed the government by tomorrow night, the Knesset freeze — reportedly agreed to by the incoming opposition and coalition — will mean Netanyahu will not have to swear it in for almost two more weeks.

Netanyahu is granted seven days from the time the coalition is presented to the full Knesset plenum in order to swear in the government. If the plenum is closed, the coalition will not be presented until it reopens next week.

His political partners have demanded several legislative changes as conditions for joining the government, which have yet to be completed in the Knesset. A plenum closure will give Netanyahu a few more days to apply legislative pressure.

Man shot dead in Nazareth, toddler son seriously wounded in incident

Illustrative: Police inspect the scene of a murder in the northern city of Nazareth on Sunday evening, September 23, 2019. (Israel Police Spokesperson)
Illustrative: Police inspect the scene of a murder in the northern city of Nazareth on Sunday evening, September 23, 2019. (Israel Police Spokesperson)

A 33-year-old man is shot dead in Nazareth, according to police and first responders.

A toddler who was in the car with the man was also seriously hurt. Police say they believe the shooting is linked to underworld activity.

According to first responders, the man was shot multiple times and brought to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

‘Ben Gvir bill’ that aims to boost political control of police passes 1st Knesset reading

MK Itamar Ben Gvir, left, and Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai attend a special committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 14, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir, left, and Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai attend a special committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 14, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A contentious bill that would expand political control over the Israel Police advances in the Knesset, clearing its first reading 63-53 after a 4.5-hour filibuster staged by the incoming opposition.

Pressed by expected incoming national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the bill would put the force’s leadership and some of its policy explicitly under Ben Gvir’s control.

While made “subordinate” to Ben Gvir, the police commissioner is also described in the legislation as the police’s “highest commanding authority.”

The bill now returns to committee tomorrow in preparation for its second and third — final — readings, expected as early as next week.

Pakistani special forces raid kills all Taliban hostage-takers at police center

Local residents watch smoke rising from a counter-terrorism center after security forces starting to clear the compound seized earlier by Pakistani Taliban members in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Muhammad Hasib)
Local residents watch smoke rising from a counter-terrorism center after security forces starting to clear the compound seized earlier by Pakistani Taliban members in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Muhammad Hasib)

Pakistan’s special forces raid a police center in a remote northwestern district, killing all Pakistani Taliban members who earlier this week overpowered guards at the facility, seized arms and took hostages, officials say.

The militants killed two hostages before the rescue operation, according to the country’s defense minister.

The swift operation is successful, according to security and intelligence officials, but it is not immediately clear how many Taliban members were killed — or how many officers had been held by the hostage-takers at the center in Bannu, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, since the brazen takeover on Sunday.

Ukraine’s Zelensky pays visit to besieged frontline city

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talks to soldiers during a visit to Kherson, Ukraine, November 14, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talks to soldiers during a visit to Kherson, Ukraine, November 14, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

President Volodymyr Zelensky visits the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut, now the epicenter of fighting in Russia’s nearly 10-month invasion of Ukraine.

Zelensky meets military officials and hands out awards to Ukrainian servicemen, who have been holding back a fierce and months-long Russian military campaign for the city.

“I’d like to wish there was light but the situation is so difficult that there is light and then there is no light. The main thing is that there is light inside,” Zelensky is cited as saying by state media.

6.4-magnitude earthquake strikes off the coast of northern California

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern California early Tuesday but there is no tsunami threat, seismologists say.

The relatively shallow quake hit 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of the port city of Eureka, in Humboldt county, the US Geological Survey says. In a preliminary assessment, the USGS said there is a low likelihood of casualties but some damage was possible.

Power supplies appear to have been hit, with nearly 60,000 customers without electricity in Humboldt County, according to poweroutage.us.

IDF says troops downed suspected Hezbollah drone on Lebanon border

A suspected Hezbollah drone the IDF says it downed near border with Lebanon on December 20, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
A suspected Hezbollah drone the IDF says it downed near border with Lebanon on December 20, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces says troops downed a small drone that flew into Israeli airspace from Lebanon.

The military says it suspects the small off-the-shelf device was launched by the Hezbollah terror group.

According to the IDF, the aircraft was monitored during its flight until it was downed near the border town of Zar’it.

The military did not specify how the drone was brought down as it entered Israeli airspace; however, it was believed to have been using electronic warfare means.

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