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2 injured in clashes in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood

Fighting breaks out involving Jews, Palestinians and police in flashpoint East Jerusalem neighborhood after Jewish home is firebombed, far-right MK vows to move in office

First responders at the scene of a possible ramming attack in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, February 13, 2022. (MDA)
First responders at the scene of a possible ramming attack in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, February 13, 2022. (MDA)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.

Police rule out terror motive in Sheikh Jarrah car collision

Police say a car collision that injured a Jewish youth in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was not a ramming attack, the Ynet news site reports.

The Arab driver of the car was arrested for questioning shortly after the incident.

He says he was sprayed with pepper spray before running into a man on the street, moderately injuring him.

At least 2 injured in East Jerusalem skirmishes

A Jewish man is lightly injured in a possible car ramming attack in the fraught East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The incident is being investigated. The driver of the vehicle has been arrested and claims he was doused with pepper-spray at some point, police say.

The Magen David Adom emergency services group says, “A pedestrian was injured by a vehicle in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

“Paramedics administered medical treatment to a young man with moderate injuries to his body and evacuated him to Hadassah Hospital. A man around age 20 was also evacuated from the area with a mild head injury after being hit with a rock.”

Video said to be from the scene after the alleged attack appears to show skirmishes between Jews and Palestinians in the neighborhood.

Police say in a statement that riots have started in the area. Participants clash with police and threw stones. Police use riot dispersal measures against the rioters after issuing warnings against disturbing public order.

A firebomb was allegedly thrown at the home of a Jewish family in Sheikh Jarrah earlier in the day. In response, the far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir said he would set up a “parliamentary office” in the neighborhood.

US judge denies Ghislaine Maxwell’s request to seal motions for new trial

NEW YORK — A federal judge has ruled that Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted in December of conspiring to recruit and groom teenage girls to be abused by Jeffrey Epstein, must air her bid for a new trial out in the open.

US District Judge Alison J. Nathan denies Maxwell’s request to keep her motions for a new trial temporarily under seal, saying doing so was not in the public interest. The judge says public access to the documents and any ensuing publicity would not violate Maxwell’s right to fair proceedings.

“The Court is unpersuaded by the Defendant’s concern that media interest in the motion warrants temporary sealing of the documents in their entirety,” Nathan writes in her ruling.

Maxwell’s attorneys have raised concern about the truthfulness of one of the jurors who convicted Maxwell in December of conspiring to procure and groom teenage girls to be abused by Epstein. Maxwell’s lawyers contend that the juror failed to disclose that he was a victim of sexual abuse.

In interviews to news outlets, the juror described a moment during the deliberations when he told fellow jurors that, like some of the victims of the late financier Epstein, he had been sexually abused as a child. And he said he convinced other jurors that a victim’s imperfect memory of sex abuse doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Meanwhile, Maxwell’s lawyers asked the court to vacate her convictions and acquit her, arguing that despite the jury’s verdicts on multiple counts, prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

US said to warn Israel that Russian invasion of Ukraine could begin Tuesday

The Biden administration has informed Israel that Russia could invade Ukraine in the next few days, Hebrew media reports say.

According to the Haaretz daily, the US assessment is that the Russian invasion may come as early as Tuesday. The Ynet news site reports Israel believes it has until Wednesday to evacuate Israelis from Ukraine, an assessment it says is partly based on regular briefings from the United States.

Both outlets say Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called to evacuate as many Israelis as possible from Ukraine in the coming days.

After firebombing, far-right MK to again set up ‘parliamentary office’ in Sheikh Jarrah

Far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir says he will again set up a “parliamentary office” in Sheikh Jarrah after a firebomb was thrown at the home of a Jewish family in the flashpoint Jerusalem neighborhood.

No one was home at the time of firebombing, which occurred during Shabbat. Police say an officer was lightly hurt from smoke inhalation after entering the home.

Citing initial findings from the scene that raised suspicions of arson, police say the Jerusalem district commander ordered a “substantial” increase in operations in Sheikh Jarrah, including of undercover officers.

“Additionally, he ordered the involvement of special forces in the operations, as well as to thoroughly investigate the case with all the necessary means,” a police statement says.

Despite the move by police, Ben Gvir says he will set up a makeshift “office” in Sheikh Jarrah.

“If terrorists wanted to burn a Jewish family alive and there are no cops, then I’m arriving on the scene,” he writes on Twitter.

Meretz MK Mossi Raz accuses Ben Gvir of “trying to set the area ablaze and stir up a war, just as he did in May,” referring to fighting that erupted in Gaza after the Hamas terror group fired rockets toward Jerusalem amid tensions over Sheikh Jarrah and the nearby Temple Mount.

US F-22 fighter jets arrive in UAE after attacks by Iran-backed rebels

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — US F-22 fighter jets arrived in the United Arab Emirates today, part of an American defense response to recent missile attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeting the country.

The Raptors landed at Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi, which hosts some 2,000 US troops. American soldiers there launched Patriot interceptor missiles in response to the Houthi attacks last month, the first time US troops have fired the system in combat since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

American officials declined to say how many F-22s have been deployed or the number of airmen supporting the aircraft, citing operational security. However, they identified the unit involved as the 1st Fighter Wing, located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. A photo later released by the Air Force shows six F-22s in a line on a taxiway at Al-Dhafra.

“The Raptors’ presence will bolster already strong partner nation defenses and puts destabilizing forces on notice that the US and our partners are committed to enabling peace and stability in the region,” Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, the commander of the US Air Force’s Mideast command, says in a statement.

The deployment comes after the Iranian-backed Houthis launched three attacks targeting Abu Dhabi last month, including one targeting a fuel depot that killed three people and wounded six. The attacks coincided with visits by presidents from South Korea and Israel to the country.

A shadowy Iraqi group claimed launching a drone attack targeting the Emirates in early February, though authorities say they intercepted them.

Though overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis, the missile fire targeting the Emirates has sparked a major US response. The American military has sent the USS Cole on a mission to Abu Dhabi.

1 lightly hurt from blast in yard of Beersheba home

A loud explosion is heard in the southern city of Beersheba.

Police say one person was lightly hurt from the blast in the yard of a home. Two other people are treated for shock.

It is not immediately clear what caused the blast, which police are investigating.

Mossad helped foil 12 attack plots on Israelis in Turkey over past 2 years — TV

The Mossad spy agency has helped foil 12 plots to carry out terror attacks on Israelis in Turkey over the past two years, Channel 12 news reports.

The network, which does not cite a source, credits the Mossad’s ties with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), which it says have strengthened in recent years despite the strained diplomatic relations between the countries.

Most of the reported attack plots were linked to the Islamic State jihadist group and targeted businessmen and other Israelis in Turkey.

The report comes a day after Turkish media and a Turkish-based Israeli businessman announced the uncovering of an Iranian plot to assassinate him. It also follows recent reports in Turkey of the indictment of 16 alleged Mossad spies.

Kremlin decries US ‘peak hysteria’ over Ukraine after Biden-Putin call

MOSCOW — The Kremlin denounces US “peak hysteria” surrounding the Ukraine conflict but says Russian leader Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden have agreed to continue dialogue.

Speaking after new phone talks between Putin and Biden, the Kremlin’s top foreign policy advisor Yury Ushakov tells a conference call: “Hysteria has reached its peak.”

Ushakov says that the US side requested to arrange phone talks between Biden and Putin today even though such a call had initially been planned for Monday.

The two leaders spoke after Washington warned that an all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine could begin “any day.”

Ushakov complains about the US claims, saying that Americans even released “the date of the Russian invasion.”

“We don’t understand why false information about our intentions is being passed to the media,” he tells reporters.

He says that Putin once again complained that the West has been arming Ukraine and that Kyiv authorities have been “sabotaging” Western-brokered peace agreements to end a years-long conflict in eastern Ukraine.

At the same time Ushakov calls the one-hour phone talks between the two leaders “balanced and business-like” and added that “the presidents have agreed to continue contacts at all levels.”

Hungary’s Orban warns of refugee wave if Russia invades Ukraine

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s nationalist prime minister warns that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could send hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing across the border into his country.

Right-wing populist leader Viktor Orban, speaking in an annual address that this year kicked off his political campaign for Hungary’s parliamentary election on April 3, urges a peaceful resolution to the rising tensions in Europe that have stemmed from fears of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Orban — a firm opponent of any types of immigration — says it’s in Hungary’s best interest to “avoid war,” which he says would cause a wave of Ukrainian refugees and a disruption of the economy.

While urging a resolution of the tensions through dialogue, Orban says he opposed plans by the European Union to use sanctions against Russia — which has built up over 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders — as a deterrent.

“Sanctions, punitive policies, lecturing or any other kind of arrogance on the part of the great powers are out of the question,” Orban says.

Orban, who has led Hungary since 2010, has sought one of the closest relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin of any European leader. In a meeting with Putin in the Kremlin last week, Orban lobbied for increased gas shipments from Russia and lauded his country’s increased cooperation with Moscow in the areas of energy, trade and security.

Since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, Hungary under Orban has consistently opposed leveling EU sanctions against Moscow, although it has always ultimately voted for them.

Communications minister assigned additional security following threats

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel is being assigned additional security following threats against him, with guards now protecting him around the clock.

Hebrew media reports link the move to ultra-Orthodox opposition to Hendel’s advancement of reforms in the market for “kosher” cellphones, which are stripped of social media and most other apps.

El Al, Israir to offer rescue flights from Ukraine

Following Arkia Airlines, El Al and Israir are now also offering rescue flights to Israelis in Ukraine as fears grow that a Russian invasion may be imminent.

Foreign Ministry says up to 15,000 Israelis are in Ukraine

There are around 4,500 Israelis registered with the Israeli embassy in Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry tells The Times of Israel.

The ministry estimates there are between 10,000 to 15,000 Israelis in the country.

US official says ‘no fundamental change’ after Biden-Putin call

WASHINGTON — A call today between US President Joe Biden and his Kremlin counterpart Vladimir Putin brought no major change in the standoff over Russian troops massing near Ukraine, a senior US official says.

The call was “professional and substantive and lasted a bit over an hour. There was no fundamental change in the dynamics unfolding now for several weeks,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells reporters.

TV: Bennett orders ministers to not publicly comment on potential Russian attack on Ukraine

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has instructed government ministers to not publicly weigh in on Russia’s amassing of troops on the Ukraine border ahead of a possible invasion, Channel 12 news reports.

The premier reportedly told ministers not to offer their opinions on the matter and to limit any public comments to the potential evacuation of Israelis from Ukraine.

The report doesn’t give a reason for the order but notes Jerusalem’s sensitive ties with Moscow vis-à-vis Russia’s ally Syria, where Israel has been carrying out strikes on Iranian-linked targets.

Biden warns Putin of ‘swift and severe costs’ if Russia invades Ukraine

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden warned his Kremlin counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call today that the United States “will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia” should it invade Ukraine.

According to a readout from the White House, Biden stressed that “while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios.”

Bennett urges Israelis ‘to immediately leave’ Ukraine as evacuation plans readied

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett holds further talks with top officials about “the tensions between Russia and Ukraine,” his spokesperson says.

According to a statement, Bennett and the officials discussed preparations to evacuate Israelis from Ukraine, as Russia mounts troops on the border ahead of a possible invasion.

“It was agreed to raise the travel warning for the area, along with calling on Israeli citizens to immediately leave the area,” the statement says.

The statement adds that “an augmentation of civil flights on the Israel-Ukraine route will be examined.”

The officials taking part in the meeting include Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata, among others.

Israel confirms 27,417 new COVID infections over weekend; serious cases further dip

The Health Ministry says 27,417 new coronavirus infections have been confirmed this weekend, including 22,360 yesterday.

Of the over 98,223 tests performed yesterday, 22.76 percent came back positive.

Serious cases drop to 1,048, as the Omicron wave further ebbs after reaching its apparent peak.

The death toll stands at 9,458.

Ministry data also show the transition rate further declining to 0.74. The figure measures the number of other people each coronavirus carrier infects and is seen as a key measure for gauging the extent of COVID’s spread.

Phone call between Biden, Putin ends after just over an hour

WASHINGTON — A call today between US President Joe Biden and his Kremlin counterpart Vladimir Putin on the Russian troops massing next to Ukraine has ended after one hour and two minutes, the White House says.

“President Biden’s secure call with Russian President Putin was completed at 12:06” p.m. local, an official says.

Lapid speaks with Israeli diplomats in Ukraine, will hold further talks with Bennett

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks by Zoom with Israeli diplomats in Ukraine amid mounting fears that Russia may soon invade.

Lapid says the diplomats updated him on their preparations for an emergency situation and notes their families will arrive in Israel tomorrow after being told to leave Ukraine.

He also says “consular enforcements” will head to Ukraine “to assist in handling, if necessary, with the evacuation of Israelis and Jews from Ukraine.”

Lapid adds that he will soon speak again with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who is set to hold talks this evening on the matter.

Dutch carrier KLM suspends flights to Ukraine

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch flag carrier KLM says that it’s suspending flights to Ukraine until further notice as fears mount that Russia is preparing to invade its western neighbor.

“The next flight to the capital Kyiv is scheduled for tonight, but will not be operated,” the Netherlands’ main airline says in a statement, adding the decision followed a “red alert” travel advisory and an in-depth security analysis.

Gantz orders IDF to prepare to assist in evacuating Israelis from Ukraine

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the possibility of helping evacuate Israelis from Ukraine, according to his office.

His office says any IDF assistance will “depend on the scenarios and assessments of the situation.”

Gantz held security consultations earlier today on the matter, his office adds.

Diaspora minister: ‘Emergency immigration’ must be offered to Ukrainian Jews if Russia attacks

Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai says Israel must begin readying plans for the “emergency immigration” of Jews from Ukraine in case of a Russian invasion.

“Israel is the national home of the Jewish people. If the Jewish community in Ukraine encounters hardship as a result of a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we must offer them an immediate solution of emergency immigration to Israel, now,” Shai writes on Twitter.

Biden, Putin speak by phone as US warns Russia could soon invade Ukraine

MOSCOW — Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have begun their closely watched call on Ukraine as the US warns that a Russian invasion of its neighbor may be imminent.

Their call began today at 11:04 a.m. EST, the White House says.

US officials have warned anew that Russia’s buildup of offensive air, land and sea firepower near Ukraine has reached the point where it could invade on short notice.

A State Department travel advisory today says most American staff at the Kyiv embassy have been ordered to leave and other US citizens should depart the country immediately as well.

Putin wanted the telephone call to take place on Monday, but Biden pushed for it to be held sooner as US intelligence has picked up on what the White House has said are increasingly signs that Russia may soon invade Ukraine.

In call with Macron, Putin calls invasion warnings ‘provocative speculation’

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin tells his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that accusations Moscow plans to attack Ukraine are “provocative speculation” and could lead to a conflict in the ex-Soviet country.

Putin and Macron discussed what Moscow called “provocative speculation related to an allegedly planned Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine,” the Kremlin says after phone talks, adding that “conditions are being created for possible aggressive actions of the Ukrainian security forces in the Donbass.”

9 injured in mass brawl between fans of rival Tel Aviv soccer teams

Fans of rival soccer teams clash in the streets ahead of this evening’s game between rivals Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says it took nine people hurt in the mass brawl to local hospitals, including a 27-year-old man who was in moderate condition from a head wound.

Police announce the arrest of six people involved in the brawl.

PA urges Palestinians in Ukraine to leave, orders families of diplomats to depart

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki is calling on Palestinians in Ukraine with no essential reasons to be there to leave the country, amid growing concerns that Russian may soon invade.

The families of Palestinian diplomats and embassy workers have been ordered to leave Ukraine immediately, according to a statement on the PA’s official Wafa news agency.

The statement cites “fears of a security escalation” in Ukraine, but doesn’t mention Russia.

Israeli airlines to offer flights out of Ukraine as Russian attack feared imminent

Arkia Airlines will offer rescue flights to Israelis seeking to leave Ukraine amid increasing warnings that a Russian invasion may be imminent.

The flights out of Ukraine will be on Monday and Tuesday.

Arkia’s announcement came after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held an emergency meeting earlier today with top officials about readying plans to evacuate Israelis from Ukraine if needed.

Yesterday, the Foreign Ministry said Israelis currently in Ukraine should consider leaving, but did not instruct them to immediately do so as some Western nations have done.

Pentagon orders withdrawal of nearly all remaining US troops from Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The United States is withdrawing nearly all of its remaining soldiers from Ukraine, the Pentagon announces today, as tensions soar over a possible Russian invasion of the eastern European country.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “has ordered the temporary repositioning of the 160 members of the Florida National Guard,” who were in the country “advising and mentoring Ukrainian forces,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby says in a statement.

Macron tells Putin ‘sincere dialogue’ on Ukraine incompatible with ‘escalation’

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron tells Russian leader Vladimir Putin that “sincere dialogue” is incompatible with escalation as tensions mount over fears that Russia will invade Ukraine.

The two spoke for one hour 40 minutes, the French presidency says, amid a flurry of diplomacy aimed at dissuading Putin from marching into his western neighbour. US President Joe Biden is due to speak to the Russian leader later today.

Macron and Putin “both expressed a desire to continue dialogue” on how to “advance the Minsk accords” on the restive Donbass region as well as “security conditions and stability in Europe,” the presidency adds.

Weeks of tensions that have seen Russia surround Ukraine with more than 100,000 troops intensified when the Kremlin launched its biggest naval drills in years across the Black Sea.

The exercises off the coast of Ukraine’s Odessa added urgency to a hastily arranged call today between Biden and Putin aimed at defusing one of the gravest crises in East-West relations since the Cold War.

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