The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has presented a request to President Isaac Herzog to extend the prospective prime minister’s mandate to form a government by two weeks.
Netanyahu’s 28-day mandate expires at midnight on the night of December 11. Having originally planned to form a government within days of the November 1 election, Netanyahu has found himself mired in squabbles with the various right-wing and religious parties that make up his bloc of supporters in the Knesset.
A letter to Herzog notes that Likud has signed tentative deals with all the parties expected to join his coalition, but issue remain regarding the distribution of ministerial and Knesset committee assignments. It appears to indicate that agreements have already been reached on the nascent government’s agenda.
A two-week extension is allowed by law and customarily approved. Herzog is widely expected to grant it this time as well.
Netanyahu is now expected to attempt a complicated legislative blitz before his government is sworn in, to enable the myriad agreements he has made to be honored.
Responding to the request, Yesh Atid calls it a sign of Netanyahu’s “weakness” in coalition talks.
“Even after he’s given out everything, he still has trouble forming a government and asks for an extension. It will be interesting to see what remains to squeeze out of Netanyahu,” the party says in a statement.
With COVID morbidity on the rise, Israel’s coronavirus chief Salman Zarka recommends people wear masks while in closed spaces such as shops or public transportation.
He also urges individuals who are unvaccinated or who have not had recent shots — particularly in at-risk populations — to get inoculated.
Daily positive cases are on the rise, from some 500 diagnosed cases a day two months ago to around 1,500 today. With testing now far lower than during the height of the pandemic, the actual number of daily cases could be significantly higher.
Serious cases are also up, from some 70 hospitalized patients two months ago to over 130 in recent days.
Channel 12 reports that Israel is tracking a new Iranian attempt to establish a weapons smuggling route via civilian airline flights to Beirut.
The network says Tehran is using the airline Meraj, which recently started flying a direct route between the two nations’ capitals.
The unsourced report says the new smuggling route is a result of Israel’s activities to thwart Iranian weapons transfers via Damascus.
It says Israel has warned that it could carry out strikes at Beirut International Airport to thwart weapons deliveries as it has done in Damascus. But Channel 12’s Nir Dvori notes that significant strikes on Hezbollah’s home turf could lead to reprisals by the terror group, which has significant firepower pointed at Israel, creating a dilemma for Jerusalem.
Likud MK David Amsalem, known for rowdy, blustering behavior in parliament, is currently the party’s leading candidate to be the next Knesset speaker, Channel 12 reports.
Amsalem would replace current speaker Mickey Levy of Yesh Atid.
A new bill submitted by Otzma Yehudit party chief Itamar Ben Gvir and Likud’s Yariv Levin will radically redefine the relationship between police and politicians, giving the police minister far more authority over cops than ever before in the history of the state, according to Channel 12 news.
Ben Gvir is set to become national security minister in the new government — a newly created role replacing that of public security minister — which will give him oversight of police.
The bill dictates that it is the minister, rather than the police commissioner, who sets policy, giving him far more control over the police force. Currently, the commissioner sets policy, while consulting the minister.
The bill also provides the minister broad powers to decide which issues do or do not merit tougher investigation and enforcement, the report says.
The bill stipulates that the minister will not be able to dictate the opening or closing of specific probes, such as investigations into politicians suspected of wrongdoing.
Yitzhak Klepter, one of Israel’s most well-known and well-loved musicians, has died at age 72.
Guitarist Klepter is best known for his membership in 70s-era Israeli rock band Kaveret and later the pop-rock band Tuned Tone, but his playing, composing and singing has spanned some five decades.
Klepter had suffered from chronic health problems in recent years as a result of lung disease.
More than 1,000 New York Times employees go on strike in the first industrial action of its kind at the newspaper in more than 40 years.
Journalists and other workers at the storied media outlet, often referred to as America’s paper of record, walked out at midnight for 24 hours after failing to reach an agreement with the company on a new round of contract negotiations.
The NewsGuild of New York, a union representing the striking workers, had said that a key sticking point was the management’s refusal to raise wages in line with surging inflation.
Health and retirement benefits as well as return-to-work policies following the coronavirus pandemic were also an issue.
“Over 1,100 New York Times workers are now officially on work stoppage, the first of this scale at the company in 4 decades,” the union tweeted earlier.
A three-year-old child has died after a piece of fencing collapsed on her in the town of Ness Ziona in central Israel, causing a severe head injury.
Medics rushed the girl to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in critical condition. Doctors attempted to resuscitate her, but were forced to declare her dead.
The circumstances that led to her injury are not immediately clear.
A few years ago, a story went viral about an American woman who called police to report her abusive partner while pretending to order pizza — as she could not get away from him for long enough to make the call openly.
Now, an Israeli woman, possibly inspired by that story, has done the same, dialing 100 and giving the dispatcher the same story.
It is not clear whether the call was edited, but in the recording provided by police, the dispatcher seems to immediately understand, asking the woman: “Are you being threatened?”
“Yes,” the woman answers. “I’m with a friend.”
After getting the woman’s address, the dispatcher asks if the person threatening her is there.
“Yes yes, we want olives and corn,” the woman answers.
“Is he armed?” the dispatcher asks.
“No, we don’t want coke, we’ve got some at home.”
“If there’s someone beside you, add another topping.”
“I’ll also take mushrooms.”
Another dispatcher then tells the woman: “Keep yourself safe, we’re on our way.”
Police say officers arrived at the address within minutes and arrested a suspect, a 30-year-old man who has been arrested on suspicion of assault and making threats.
Listen to the call in Hebrew below.
"עם זיתים ותירס": שוטרת שקיבלה שיחה של צעירה למוקד 100 בבקשה "להזמין פיצה" זיהתה כי היא במצוקה. לאחר תשאול, שלחה ניידת שעצרה את בן זוגה בגין חשד לתקיפה ואיומים | האזינו להקלטת השיחה@SivanSisay pic.twitter.com/O2Qv4yY6DP
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) December 8, 2022
The body of a Yazidi child who passed away at Hadassah Hospital after an attempt at life-saving surgery is stuck at Ben Gurion Airport, with the boy’s mother forced to fly to northern Iraq without it.
Seventeen-month-old Sineor was born to Yazidi refugees who fled Islamic State when the group invaded the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq in 2014. He was diagnosed with multiple congenital heart defects, and was in danger of dying without a series of complex operations. Hospitals in Iraqi Kurdistan are not capable of such procedures, and local volunteers connected his parents with Shevet Achim, a Jerusalem-based Christian organization that brings children from neighboring countries into Israel for heart surgery.
But the boy died on Monday after operations at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center Jerusalem. “It was a complex surgery, and unfortunately he passed away after surgery,” said Alain Serraf, the veteran cardiac surgeon who performed the procedure.
It is not yet clear why the boy’s body is not being allowed out, but it appears that Maman Cargo, an Israeli logistics company, is refusing to allow Sineor’s body to be loaded onto a Royal Jordanian plane to Erbil via Amman, citing security concerns. Doctors put a pacemaker in the boy’s body, and some, including Shevet Achim founder Jonathan Miles, speculated that this may be the source of the problem. But when Serraf called Maman to explain that he had put in the pacemaker and there was no threat, he was told that the holdup was unrelated to the surgery.
Maman’s security officer told The Times of Israel that he does not speak to the press. The Shin Bet agency, responsible for domestic security, did not return calls.
Shevet Achim and DHL are now trying to find a solution through Turkish Airlines.
Meanwhile, the grieving mother is back in Iraq, unable to bury her only child and with no indication of when his body will be allowed out of Israel.
US Senator Chuck Schumer is unanimously elected for another term as Senate Democratic leader, helming a bolstered 51-seat majority for a new era of divided government in Congress.
Senate Democrats met behind closed doors at the Capitol to choose their leadership team for the new Congress that begins in January.
Schumer took the helm in the weeks after the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, and led his party through the COVID-19 crisis and unexpected legislative achievements, many of them bipartisan. A former campaign chief, he steered the party to the majority and expanded it to 51 seats with Sen. Raphael Warnock’s special election win Tuesday in Georgia.
United Torah Judaism’s MK Moshe Gafni says he’s fine with yeshiva students serving in the military so long as non-Haredim go study Torah at the same time.
“When there were bloody wars during the reign of King David, the prophet came to King David and said to him, ‘Half the people will study Torah and half will serve in the army, and they’ll switch.’
“I offer that today,” he says. “Students at Ponevezh Yeshiva will go to the army, to combat roles, but bring high school students to study Torah at the same time.”
He adds that every person “does what he can to serve his country, to serve his people.”
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says a Palestinian man has been shot dead by Israeli forces near the village of Aboud in the West Bank.
The Israel Defense Forces says he allegedly hurled stones and bottles of paint at Israeli cars on Route 465, alongside others.
“IDF soldiers conducting routine activity in the area… shot at the suspects,” the military says, adding that “hits were identified.”
The Palestinian ministry says two others were also wounded in the incident. Their conditions are listed as moderate and stable.
The military formally issues a demolition order for the home of a Palestinian gunman who killed an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint near Jerusalem in October.
Udai Tamimi is accused of killing Sgt. Noa Lazar, 18, and seriously wounding a civilian guard on October 8 at a checkpoint near the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem.
The military initiated the process of demolishing Tamimi’s home in the refugee camp last month by notifying his family of Israel’s intention to raze it.
The seizure and demolition order for Tamimi’s home is signed by the head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Rafi Milo, as he is the relevant officer within Israeli territory, including East Jerusalem.
Milo signs the demolition order after “examining and considering the claims of the terrorist’s family and his neighbors against the intention to demolish the apartment… and deciding to reject the claims,” the IDF says.
An appeal can be submitted against the planned demolition of the home, but such attempts rarely succeed.
Otzma Yehudit MK Almog Cohen denies an earlier Kan report that he asked at-risk teen girls about their relationships with Arabs during a visit to a treatment center, saying the reporter “is attempting to paint me as a backwards racist” and threatening to sue her and the network for libel.
“It never happened,” Cohen says. “It’s all figments of the imagination of the reporter.” He asserts that the journalist “cut out the detailed response sent to her.”
In a landmark step, investigators commissioned by Germany’s main Jewish organization have concluded that abuse of power and sexual harassment did occur at Germany’s liberal rabbinical seminary — and some of it, they say, may have crossed the line into illegality.
The 44-page “executive summary” of an investigation initiated by the Central Council of Jews in Germany is the latest and most damning report about the leadership of Rabbi Walter Homolka since accusations against him broke into public view last May.
Issued yesterday after tense public conflict between the council and Homolka’s attorneys, the report concludes that structural changes are required to set Germany’s liberal rabbinical seminary, known as Abraham Geiger College, and other related Jewish institutions on the correct footing.
Homolka announced Monday that he would withdraw from all functions in the seminary that he and German-born American rabbi Walter Jacob founded in 1999. He also dropped out of the running on Tuesday for another term as chair of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany.
The Kremlin says it’s up to Ukraine’s president to end the conflict in the country, suggesting terms that Kyiv has repeatedly rejected, while Russian President Vladimir Putin vows to press on with the fighting despite Western criticism.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “knows when it may end, it may end tomorrow if he wishes so.”
The Kremlin has long said that Ukraine must accept Russian conditions to end the fighting, which is now in its tenth month. It has demanded that Kyiv recognize Crimea — a Ukrainian peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014 — as part of Russia and also recognize other land gains made by Moscow.
Putin says Russia will achieve the declared goals in Ukraine regardless of Western reactions, at a meeting with soldiers.
“It’s enough for us to make a move and there is a lot of noise, chatter and outcry all across the universe,” Putin says. “It will not obstruct us from fulfilling combat tasks.”
In his new Netflix series “Harry & Meghan,” Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, says dressing up as a Nazi at age 20 in 2005 was “probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life.”
He added: “I felt so ashamed afterwards. All I wanted to do was make it right. I sat down and spoke to the chief rabbi in London, which had a profound impact on me. I went to Berlin and spoke to a Holocaust survivor.
“I could have got on and ignored it and made the same mistakes over and over in my life, but I learned from that.”
Prince Harry Says Wearing Nazi Costume at Age 20 Was 'One of the Biggest Mistakes of My Life' https://t.co/sHQPTS8jbI
— People (@people) December 8, 2022
The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department has closed a probe into an officer accused by Otzma Yehudit party leader Itamar Ben Gvir of assaulting him in February of this year during a clash in East Jerusalem.
Ben Gvir scuffled with cops after setting up a makeshift office — a table under an awning — in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The MK fainted during the clash.
Ben Gvir claimed he was assaulted by Chief Superintendent Shahar Machsomi at the scene.
Officials have now closed the case, having found Machsomi not at fault.
The officer has been appointed head of Jerusalem’s Yasam unit, in charge of riot and crowd control.
משטרת ישראל עושה הכל כדי לפרק את הלשכה הפרלמנטרית שהקמתי בשמעון הצדיק ולהפקיר את תושבי השכונה למעשי טרור, גם אם זה כולל לפגוע באלימות בחבר כנסת. לא יעזור לכם. אנחנו נחזור לשם עד שיהיה ביטחון לתושבי שמעון הצדיק pic.twitter.com/dF9Ecmzic3
— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) February 13, 2022
US President Joe Biden says that the United Arab Emirates facilitated Brittney Griner’s release from Russia in a prisoner swap.
Biden thanks the UAE “for helping us facilitate Brittney’s return, because that’s where she landed” en route back to the United States. Biden says the basketball star will be back home within 24 hours.
Russia frees WNBA star Brittney Griner in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the US releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, American officials say. The swap, at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine, achieves a top goal for US President Joe Biden, but carries a heavy price.
The deal, the second such exchange in eight months with Russia, procures the release of the most prominent American detained abroad. Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist whose months-long imprisonment on drug charges brought unprecedented attention to the population of wrongful detainees.
Biden’s authorization to release a Russian felon once nicknamed “the Merchant of Death” underscores the escalating pressure that his administration faced to get Griner home, particularly after the recent resolution of her criminal case and her subsequent transfer to a penal colony.
The swap is confirmed by US officials with direct knowledge of the negotiations. Biden spoke with Griner on the phone while her wife, Cherelle, was in the Oval Office.
A Jewish Ukrainian soldier has been killed fighting Russian forces, says a spokesman for top Ukrainian rabbi Moshe Azman.
Vladislav Shain, 21, was active in the Jewish community in Dnipro, according to Azman.
“Vladislav gave his life defending his nation,” says Azman. “ He fought bravely since the beginning of the invasion.”
Azman says the whole Jewish community is praying for the wounded soldiers and for an end to the fighting, and calls on the world to intervene to bring about a ceasefire.
A psychotherapist has been charged at the Lod District Court for allegedly sexually assaulting numerous patients while supposedly treating them.
Yariv Cohen, 52, of Even Yehuda in central Israel, is accused of raping and abusing clients while administering ostensible “physical psychotherapy.”
Five women have filed complaints against Cohen.
Cohen’s website declared that his expertise was treating trauma victims and the treatments he provided included conversation and touch.
France condemns the first known execution by Iran over the protests that have shaken the regime since September.
“This execution comes on top of other serious and unacceptable violations,” French foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre tells reporters, condemning in the “strongest terms” the execution earlier today by Iran of Mohsen Shekari, 23.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration has been using spyware developed by an Israeli company as part of its investigative work, The New York Times reports.
The report cites five individuals with knowledge of the matter.
The DEA is using the software Graphite made by Israel’s Paragon, the report says. The spyware allows users to collect data backed up from an individual’s phone to the cloud.
The report cites a DEA official as saying the agency has only used it outside the US in its efforts to stop drug cartels.
Kan news reports that during a visit to a center for at-risk teen girls outside Jerusalem yesterday, three MKs from the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties asked girls about their relationships with Arab men and discussed “assimilation,” meaning concern over interfaith coupling.
The report said Almog Cohen (Otzma Yehudit), Limor Son Har-Melech (Otzma Yehudit) and Michal Waldiger (Religious Zionism) also encouraged employees at the center in Moshav Ora to strengthen Jewish identity and content for the girls.
An unnamed welfare official who spoke to Kan said “discussing assimilation within such a sensitive environment could harm the girl’s rehabilitation process.”
The official said “there is concern that this radical right-wing agenda, no doubt rooted in racism toward Arabs, will enter welfare treatment programs.”
German officials say they expect more people to be detained in connection with an alleged far-right plan to topple the government that saw 25 people rounded up yesterday, including a self-styled prince, a retired paratrooper and a judge.
The plot was allegedly hatched by people linked to the so-called Reich Citizens movement, which rejects Germany’s postwar constitution and the legitimacy of the government.
Georg Meier, the top security official in Thuringia state, tells public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that he expects a second wave of people being detained as authorities review evidence.
Meier accuses the far-right Alternative for Germany party of fueling conspiracy theories like those that allegedly motivated the plotters detained across the country this week.
The Czech foreign minister says that China closed two “police stations” in Prague after an international uproar over claims that such centers may have been used to harass dissidents.
Spanish-based organization Safeguard Defenders says China has set up 54 such police facilities around the world, including in Israel.
Critics say they were used to silence Beijing’s political opponents. China says these offer services — such as driver’s license renewals — to nationals abroad.
“Czech diplomacy has repeatedly raised the issue of ‘police stations’ with the Chinese side,” Minister Jan Lipavsky tells AFP.
“I discussed this with the Chinese ambassador this week and he assured me the Czech ones have been closed,” he adds.
Last month, the Netherlands ordered China to close its two “police stations” there, and the Canadian federal police is also investigating similar centers.
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara shuts down an attempt by incoming police minister Itamar Ben Gvir to cancel the appointments of several top police officials, which were approved in recent days by Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai and the outgoing police minister, Omer Barlev.
The Otzma Yehudit party leader had argued that such appointments days before his expected entry into the post are illegitimate and may be an attempt to tie his hands.
Baharav-Miara replies that the appointments, including of a new chief of Border Police in the West Bank, were indeed “problematic” and should have been done only after seeking counsel with her office, and yet “the appointments have already entered into effect and are a done deal, and the ability to intervene legally is limited.”
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