The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Abbas thanks Qatar for using World Cup to ‘present Palestinian cause’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas thanks Qatar and its emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, for hosting a “successful” World Cup and using it to promote the Palestinian cause.
The tournament “brought pride to our souls and the souls of our Arab nations,” Abbas says according to the official PA news site WAFA. Abbas also thanks Qatar for the “support provided during this occasion to Palestine, presenting the Palestinian cause to the world in an unprecedented way.”
Qatar, which has no ties with Israel, nevertheless allowed Israeli fans to enter for the games in an unprecedented move. Palestinian flags were a common site at the World Cup, in particular among fans of the Moroccan team.
Messi wins Golden Ball for best player at World Cup
Lionel Messi wins the Golden Ball for the best player at this year’s World Cup, after leading Argentina to victory in the final against France.
Messi scored twice in the final in Doha, taking his tally of goals at the tournament to seven, and also scored in the shoot-out as Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties following a 3-3 draw after extra time.
Kylian Mbappe came second to Messi for that award, but did win the Golden Boot for the tournament’s top scorer with eight goals, one ahead of the Argentine skipper.
Iran says it won’t ‘seek permission’ to expand its relations with Russia
Iran’s Foreign Ministry says it will not “seek permission from anyone” to expand relations with Russia, dismissing US concerns over a growing military partnership between Tehran and Moscow.
Western countries have accused Iran of supplying drones to Russia, allegedly used to attack Ukraine, and slapped sanctions on Tehran, which denies the allegations.
Tehran “acts independently in regulating its foreign relations and does not seek permission from anyone,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani says. Iran’s “national interests” dictate its policies, he adds.
At Gaza funeral for drowned migrants, mourners offer rare criticism of Hamas
Thousands of people join the funerals of eight young Palestinian men who drowned off the coast of Tunisia nearly two months ago, as they tried to sail to new lives in Europe.
The drownings have reverberated across Gaza, prompting some rare public criticism of the ruling Hamas militant group.
“The government that governs us here is the reason. It’s to blame. It’s to blame,” says Naheel Shaath, whose 21-year-old son Adam was among the dead. “I blame all officials here who don’t care for the youths or provide job opportunities for them.”
Shots fired at bus of settlers near Mevo Dotan; no injuries reported
Palestinian gunmen fired at a bus carrying Israelis near the West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan, local officials say.
According to the Samaria Regional Council, the bus was returning settlers from a Hanukkah candlelighting event at the site of the former Sa-nur settlement.
At least seven shots were fired at the vehicle, local officials say.
The Rescuers Without Borders emergency service says nobody was hurt in the shooting.
There is no immediate comment from the Israeli military on the attack.
Argentina beats France on penalties in thrilling World Cup final
Argentina beats France at the World Cup final in Qatar, after a penalty shootout between the teams ended with Argentina up 4-2 over France.
Score stands at 3-3 in nail-biter World Cup final between France, Argentina
The score is 3-3 in the World Cup final game between France and Argentina.
Kylian Mbappé has scored on a penalty kick with just a few minutes remaining of extra time. That’s a hat-trick for the Frenchman.
Jared Kushner, Elon Musk spotted together at World Cup final in Qatar
Controversial billionaire Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, is spotted enjoying the World Cup final in Qatar alongside Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former president Donald Trump.
Elon Musk and former US President Donald Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner have been spotted at the World Cup final match in Qatar.@elonmusk @jaredkushner @fifaworldcup
????: @alwoozain pic.twitter.com/a2GibzBYAi
— Doha News (@dohanews) December 18, 2022
Inmate shot dead in Iran prison riot, says rights group
A prison inmate in Iran has been shot dead and over a dozen wounded in a riot that erupted when detainees protested an imminent execution, according to a rights group.
The unrest at the central prison in the northern city of Karaj began yesterday, when prisoners protested the transfer of an inmate to solitary confinement ahead of execution, says the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR).
Iranian authorities have offered a different account, saying conflict erupted between prisoners convicted of drug offenses, with one person killed after a stone was thrown at him.
IHR reports that prisoners had chanted slogans against the regime, including “Death to the dictator,” referring to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They also blocked entrances to the Karaj prison and broke surveillance cameras during the riot, IHR says.
France scores to draw World Cup final match to 2-2 against Argentina
The World Cup final match between France and Argentina could go down to the wire as France scores twice to bring the score to 2-2 with just 10 minutes left in the match.
Lebanon, UN peacekeepers hold memorial for Irish UNIFIL soldier killed by gunfire
The Lebanese army and UN peacekeepers hold a memorial at the Beirut airport for an Irish soldier killed by a mob that opened fire last week at two vehicles belonging to the UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, a traditional stronghold of the militant Hezbollah group.
The attack that killed 24 year-old Pvt. Seán Rooney of Newtowncunningham took place near the southern town of Al-Aqbiya on Wednesday night, as he and seven other Irish peacekeepers from the UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNIFIL, were on their way to the Beirut airport.
A person familiar with the investigation says local residents were angered and became aggressive when two UNIFIL armored vehicles took a detour through Al-Aqbiya, which the residents say is not part of the area under UNIFIL’s mandate.
“We shall always keep in mind our fallen comrades in arms, as they represent an example of an unwavering commitment to UNIFIL and this country,” UNIFIL chief, Maj. Gen. Aroldo Lázaro, says at the memorial.
Argentina up 2-0 over France as World Cup final underway
Angel Di Maria has made it 2-0 for Argentina in the World Cup final with 10 minutes to go in the first half of the game in Qatar.
That follows Lionel Messi scoring on a penalty to make it 1-0 for Argentina against France — Messi’s 12th World Cup goal.
US calls for investigation of disputed deadly West Bank car crash
The US calls for an investigation into a crash over the weekend in the West Bank in which two Palestinian brothers were believed to have been run over and killed by an Israeli driver.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the Muteir family after two brothers, Mohammad and Muhannad, were killed this weekend outside of Nablus as they were repairing a tire on their vehicle. We support a thorough police investigation into this tragedy,” tweets the US Embassy’s Office of Palestinian Affairs.
The incident occurred Saturday evening between Rechalim Junction and Tapuach Junction on Route 60, the West Bank’s main north-south artery.
The official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa said the two were returning from the West Bank city of Nablus when they had to stop to fix a punctured tire.
The Israel Police said that from its initial assessment, the collision occurred when the Israeli vehicle hit the two men and their vehicle while they were making repairs to their car on the side of the road. Police said the Palestinian-owned vehicle’s lights appeared to have been off as it stood on the side of the dimly lit highway.
Some Palestinian media reports have described the incident as a ramming. The Israeli driver was briefly treated at a hospital before being released.
Herzog lights first Hanukkah candle at World Cup final watch party
President Isaac Herzog lights the first candle of Hanukkah at the start of a World Cup final watch party he is hosting for youth from across the country.
The president has invited children and teenagers from a range of institutions — including the Ayanot and Johanna Jabotinsky youth villages and the Gan Raveh Regional Council, children from Bu’eine Nujeidat and Mitzpe Netofa, students from schools in Jerusalem, a sports group for youth with disabilities, and representatives of Hapoel Jerusalem — to watch the big game at the President’s Residence.
World Cup final in Qatar between Argentina and France gets underway
The 2022 World Cup final between Argentina and defending champion France has started.
Lionel Messi is making a record 26th appearance at the World Cup, breaking a tie with Germany great Lothar Matthäus.
Messi’s games have been spread over five World Cups, starting in 2006. He has 11 goals in total, tied for sixth in the all-time list.
Messi has said this is likely to be his last World Cup.
Palestinian man handed life sentence for role in deadly 2016 shooting attack
An Israeli military court sentences a Palestinian man to life plus 32 years in prison over his involvement in a 2016 shooting attack in Jerusalem that killed a border policewoman.
Bilal Abu Zeid was convicted of supplying a gun and driving the attackers who killed Hadar Cohen, 19. He is also ordered to pay NIS 1.5 million ($430,000) to Cohen’s family, and an additional NIS 250,000 ($72,000) to another policewoman wounded in the attack.
Abu Zeid was not present during the attack itself, since he “wanted to stay alive and kill Jews,” military prosecutors quoted him as saying.
He had been convicted of intentionally causing the death of Cohen, as well as a series of security offenses. The main charge is equivalent to murder in the West Bank military court.
The court accepted the prosecution’s position that Abu Zeid was guilty of the attack due to his involvement in the planning and execution, even though he was not present at the time of the shooting.
Otzma Yehudit MK says Lapid should ‘be behind bars’
Almog Cohen, a Knesset member with the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, suggests that outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid should be thrown into prison.
“In a proper country he would be behind bars,” says Cohen of Lapid. The MK suggests that Lapid is guilty of “trying to convince an IDF officer to revolt.”
Cohen is likely referring to a recent claim by prime-minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu that Lapid had a conversation with an IDF general and reportedly told him that “the extreme right in every country always tries to seize power over the army — by instigating conflict between soldiers and their commanders.”
Court allows government to seize digital currency from wallets linked to terror funding
An Israeli court has allowed the Defense Ministry to seize cryptocurrency from digital wallets previously used to fund terror groups.
Outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office publishes a statement revealing that the Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court approved such a seizure for the first time on Thursday.
In the past, Israel has seized cryptocurrency allegedly used for funding terror groups, but not additional funds.
According to the statement, Israel has seized NIS 116,000 ($33,500) from digital wallets used to funnel funds to the Hamas terror group last year. In December 2021, Israeli authorities seized NIS 2.6 million ($750,000) in cryptocurrency from the same wallets.
At least 150 digital wallets were sanctioned by Israel, and additional funds currently in them could be seized based on the new court ruling.
Israel Philharmonic to hold Hanukkah concert in Abu Dhabi
The Israel Philharmonic, led by music director Lahav Shani, is set to perform in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday evening, the third night of Hanukkah.
The philharmonic will appear at the Emirates Palace, and is slated to perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23.
“Music is the universal language, and we are proud that the Israel Philharmonic and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi have partnered for this historic cultural moment,” says Danielle Ames Spivak, CEO of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic.
Car crashes into bakery, toppling doughnut trays ahead of Hanukkah
A driver crashes her car into a bakery in Rishon Lezion, toppling displays of doughnuts and pastries but not harming anyone in the store.
“Shelves collapsed and doughnuts flew through the air,” says one eyewitness.
Most bakeries across Israel are packed with doughnuts, known as sufganiyot, a traditional treat for Hanukkah, which begins tonight.
נהגת איבדה שליטה והתנגשה במדפי סופגניות במאפיה בראשון לציון. אין נפגעים@SivanSisay pic.twitter.com/1YQIFYnjhk
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) December 18, 2022
Erdogan issues Hanukkah greeting to Turkey’s Jewish community
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issues a congratulatory message ahead of Hanukkah, calling the country’s Jewish citizens “an inseparable part of our society.”
“While antisemitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia threaten social peace today in many countries, as well as global peace, the unity and solidarity all our citizens display in our country with mutual respect, love and understanding — without any discrimination — sets an exceptional example to the entire world,” he says, adding that he hopes the holiday brings “wellbeing” to all Jews.
Hanukkah begins tonight at sundown.
Likud MK blasts Ben Gvir for excessive demands: ‘Enough is enough’
Likud MK Danny Danon slams Otzma Yehudit chief Itamar Ben Gvir for his ongoing list of demands during coalition talks.
“Every morning we wake up to another demand. Enough! Let’s establish a government, and after that make improvements and argue — we’re partners,” Danon says in an interview on Knesset TV. “We should have already said this two or three weeks ago: Enough is enough, come and sign” a coalition agreement.
Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has already requested an extension from President Isaac Herzog to form the next government, and his extended mandate is slated to expire this week.
UTJ’s Gafni: I’ll work to erase everything Liberman has done
United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni says his party will work to undo anything that outgoing Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman did while in office.
“Everything that has even a hint that Yvette Liberman was involved with, I will do everything to erase,” Gafni says to the Knesset plenum, using Liberman’s original Russian name.
Liberman, a staunch secularist, has long been seen as an enemy by the Haredi political parties, and has often campaigned against religious coercion.
The Haredi parties have demanded that the slated incoming government undo two key pieces of legislation they strongly oppose: a tax on sugary drinks and a tax on disposable tableware.
One dead, several injured in strikes on Russian region near Ukraine, says governor
Strikes on the Russian region of Belgorod that borders Ukraine killed one person and injured five others, the regional governor says, two days after renewed attacks by Moscow battered the Ukrainian energy grid.
Four people were injured in the regional capital Belgorod, governor Vyacheslav Gladkov writes on social media, adding that there was also “one dead and one injured” in the district near the main city.
Iran announces plans to launch two satellites into space within months
Iran plans to launch at least two satellites into space in the next three months, Telecommunications Minister Issa Zarepour announces.
Western governments fear that Iran’s satellite launches will test technologies similar to those used in ballistic missiles which are capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, something Iran has always denied wanting to build.
“At least two satellites will be launched into space by the end of this year,” Zarepour tells the IRNA agency, referring to the end of the Iranian year, on March 20, 2023.
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