The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant approves the Israeli military establishing a field hospital in Turkey following the deadly earthquake, according to the needs of Turkish authorities, his office says.
Earlier today, the Israel Defense Forces said the Medical Corps was preparing to send a delegation that would establish a field hospital in the affected area.
Gallant held an assessment with IDF chief Herzi Halevi this evening, during which they discussed the military aid to Turkey, and approving the field hospital, his office says.
The combined death toll rose to more than 2,700 for Turkey and Syria on Monday after the region’s strongest earthquake in nearly a century.
Turkey’s emergencies service said at least 1,762 people had died in the 7.8-magnitude quake, with another 1,000 confirmed fatalities in neighboring Syria, putting the total at 2,762.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders National Security Council chief Tzachi Hanegbi to assess Israel’s preparedness for an earthquake in the wake of the deadly temblor that hit Turkey and Syria.
Hanegbi will convene the meeting as soon as possible, with the participation of all relevant offices, a statement from the PMO says.
The order comes with official reports by the state comptroller and emergency services predicting that some 28,600 homes in Israel are vulnerable to serious damage, Channel 12 says.
The reports predict some 170,000 people could be left homeless, with hundreds dead and several thousand wounded.
Most of these homes are in communities like Tiberias and Beit Sha’an that lie along the seismically active Syrian-African Rift Valley. The region has been girding for a major earthquake for decades
A report by banking giant HSBC joins a chorus of warnings from the financial world that the government’s proposed legal reforms could harm the economy.
The report, which looks at the shekel, continues to recommend that customers invest in the Israeli currency, but cautions that if the overhaul goes ahead, it will likely see the value to the shekel drop.
“We can’t ignore the political developments,” the bank writes in its report.
A Maryland woman conspired with a Florida neo-Nazi leader to carry out an attack on several electrical substations in the Baltimore area, officials say.
The arrest of Sarah Beth Clendaniel, of Baltimore County, is the latest in a series across the country, as authorities warn electrical infrastructure could be a vulnerable target for domestic terrorists.
She conspired with Brandon Russell, recently arrested in Florida, to disable the power grid by shooting out substations via “sniper attacks,” saying she wanted to “completely destroy this whole city,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed today. The complaint also includes a photo of a woman authorities identified as Clendaniel wearing tactical gear that bore a swastika and holding a rifle.
Sarah Beth Clendaniel is charged with conspiracy to destroy an energy facility. She partnered with a man from Florida and planned to hit at least 5 different locations according to the charging documents. https://t.co/bHAIQwvPOX
— Jeff Morgan (@JeffMorganTV) February 6, 2023
US Attorney Erek Barron praises investigators for disrupting hate-fueled violence.
“When we are united, hate cannot win,” he says at a news conference announcing the charges.
Authorities decline to specify how the planned attack was meant to fulfill a racist motive, but suggested the defendants wanted to bring attention to their cause.
Russell has a long history of ties to racist groups and Nazi beliefs, as well as past plans to attack US infrastructure systems, according to the complaint.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to be close to bringing senior Likud MK David Amsalem into the government, in a bid to quell unrest in the party ranks, Hebrew media reports.
Amsalem is the most senior Likud MK not to get a post in the cabinet and has been openly opposing Netanyahu and stirring up discontent among his supporters in the party.
The Ynet news site says Netanyahu will offer him one of three positions: a minister in the Justice Ministry, minister for regional development, or to be ministerial liaison between the government and the Knesset.
Amsalem had demanded to be either Knesset speaker or justice minister.
Amsalem hinted at a possible entry into the government, tweeting a picture of himself with a prominent spiritual leader and saying: “Before any important decision, there is nothing like receiving a warm word and good advice from Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Ifargan, ‘The X-Ray'”
לפני כל החלטה חשובה, אין כמו לקבל מילה חמה ועצה טובה מהרב יעקב ישראל איפרגן 'הרנטגן' שליט"א. 😇
רק בריאות ובשורות טובות 🙏💙🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/tzaTYUoeXx
— דודי אמסלם 🇮🇱 (@dudiamsalem) February 6, 2023
Ifargan got his nickname for his supposed powers of diagnosing illnesses by looking at people.
President Isaac Herzog speaks to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan to offer Israel’s condolences on the losses suffered in the deadly earthquakes that hit Turkey.
Herzog briefs Erdogan on the assistance Israel is sending, and tells him that he met earlier in the day with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid and that they assured him the country is united in its desire to help Turkey, Herzog’s office says.
Erdogan thanked Herzog and expressed his appreciation that Israel was willing to stand with Turkey in its hour of difficulty.
Erdogan also sent his deepest condolences for the terror attack that killed seven Israelis in East Jerusalem last month, the statement says.
Herzog was instrumental in restoring ties between Jerusalem and Ankara last year.
The devastating earthquakes that killed more than 2,300 people in Syria and Turkey were clearly felt in Israel, where they shook buildings and sent hundreds fleeing for cover.
The second quake struck around midday when people were in their offices. In the northern city of Haifa, buildings rumbled, sending people rushing outside as they headed for open spaces.
It was also felt in central Israel, especially Tel Aviv with its many high-rise buildings, where the structures swayed, sometimes for several minutes.
— Quds_IntelLab• (@IntellabQuds) February 6, 2023
“We were in a meeting. We all felt our chairs moving, it was very stressful,” one resident Yael, told Channel 12.
Moshe Debby, the head of a major PR and communications firm, told Army Radio that the entire high-rise building where he was in Tel Aviv shook, and that it went on for many minutes. “A lamp flew across the room… It was a very unpleasant experience.”
He said everyone in the building rushed downstairs and out.
The first temblor that struck in the middle of the night roused many from their beds.
“Because of high winds outside I thought it was the arrival of winter storm Barbara,” a Haifa resident told the Walla news site, referring to a large storm expected to hit Israel Monday. “It took a few long seconds until I realized that the shaking was inside the house.”
Earthquake os israel. 3:20am pic.twitter.com/jAU4R31MHg
— Dani Cynamon (@CynamonDani) February 6, 2023
There were no reports of casualties in Israel, but the quakes prompted several warnings from officials that the country was unprepared should a major quake strike closer to home.
Housing and Construction Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf convened an emergency meeting in his office to go over the ministry’s emergency plan.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry tells residents in the Beit Sha’an area to boil water before drinking as a precaution, as the quake led to an increase in turbidity in the groundwater that is fed into the water system.
The head of the Israel Defense Forces aid delegation to Turkey speaks to reporters hours before departing to the areas affected by the major earthquake.
“Some 150 rescue experts are prepared to leave for Turkey in the next few hours. Of these, a third are headquarters and intelligence, and two-thirds have rescue, medical, and engineering capabilities,” says Col. (Res.) Golan Vach, commander of the IDF National Rescue Unit.
The aid delegation will depart from the Nevatim airbase in southern Israel within hours, “and upon landing, will immediately begin the rescue and assistance mission,” the IDF says.
Earlier, a small IDF team departed for Turkey to survey the area to get an initial picture of the situation on the ground, before the larger delegation is expected to arrive later tonight.
Additionally, the IDF says the Medical Corps is preparing to send a delegation that will establish a field hospital in the affected area, if such a move is decided upon.
The chief of the military’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, hails soldiers of the mixed-gender Lions of the Valley Battalion who killed five members of a Hamas-affiliated cell near Jericho this morning.
“The commanders and troops who led the battle are an example of professionalism and leadership,” Fuchs says in remarks provided by the IDF, after being briefed on the overnight raid in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp.
“I appreciate every male and female soldier in the battalion. It is our responsibility to learn from this battle, to draw lessons for the battalion and the IDF, and to continue to improve in protecting the residents of the State of Israel,” he adds.
The raid targeted two gunmen who tried to attack a nearby restaurant last month. The pair, along with three other gunmen, were killed, and the IDF recovered numerous firearms.
Addressing the Knesset in honor of the parliament’s 74th anniversary, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid warns that the government’s planned judicial overhaul will tear Israeli society in two.
“The point of no return for Israeli society is only a few weeks away from us. If you pass this legislation, there will be no way to fix it. There is no going back. This will break the back and core of Israeli society,” Lapid says.
“The flames were lit in this house, but the fire extinguishers are also in this house. As long as there is a chance to stop the legislation that divides this nation in two, we will continue to fight. But if it passes — it will divide this nation in two,” he says.
The most powerful earthquake to strike Turkey and Syria in nearly a century has killed over 2,300 people, officials say as the toll continues to rise.
At least 810 people died in Syria, state media and medical sources say, while Turkish officials report another 1,498 fatalities.
The 7.8-magnitude early morning quake, followed by dozens of aftershocks, wiped out entire sections of major Turkish cities in a region filled with millions of people who fled Syria’s civil war and other conflicts.
Just heartbreaking pic.twitter.com/WQBbwnLBF8
— Abier (@abierkhatib) February 6, 2023
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slams recent calls that appeared to back political assassination as a valid way to oppose the government.
“Democracy is majority control, not control by rifle,” Netanyahu says from the Knesset podium, denouncing calls for political murder as crossing a “bright red line.”
In recent, a prominent former pilot and senior lawyer both appeared to express support for violence to block his government’s plan to decrease judicial power in favor of the political echelon.
The pilot later recanted his statements and apologized.
The first of two Israeli teams being dispatched to assist with earthquake relief is a small Home Front Command search and rescue team whose task is to gain an initial picture of the situation on the ground. It’s already on its way to Turkey, officials say.
The second flight will contain the full IDF rescue and medical teams, the military says, adding that the operation is codenamed “Olive Branches.”
The IDF has still not decided which airport it will fly into. Adana and Malatya are both options.
The Foreign Ministry says it is weighing a third flight containing humanitarian items and medicine.
The combined death toll has risen to over 1,900 for Turkey and Syria after the region’s strongest quake in nearly a century.
Turkey’s emergency services say at least 1,121 people died in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, with another 783 confirmed fatalities in Syria, putting that toll at 1,904.
— JournoTurk (@journoturk) February 6, 2023
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells members of his Likud faction that President Isaac Herzog approached him about halting the government’s contentious planned judicial overhaul, but he told him to speak to Justice Minister Yariv Levin.
Netanyahu’s comments came during a closed-door section of the faction meeting, according to multiple Hebrew media reports.
Netanyahu says it is Levin who “envisioned, prepared and is passing” the legislation.
Critics, including Herzog, argue that the reform will undermine Israel’s democracy, while proponents say it will restore the balance between the branches of government.
Last week, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara informed Netanyahu that he cannot be involved in his government’s efforts to radically overhaul the legal and judicial system because he has a conflict of interests due to his ongoing corruption trial.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decides to delay the planned demolition of an East Jerusalem building amid concerns such a move could set off clashes among residents and security forces, Hebrew media reports.
The Jerusalem municipality confirms to The Times of Israel that the demolition has been delayed, but refuses to say why.
According to activists and Hebrew media reports, the building houses around 100 Palestinians in the Wadi Kadum neighborhood.
The building, constructed in 2014 without a permit, has been slated for demolition by city authorities for several years, but the move has been repeatedly delayed. Residents were told in May 2022 that they must evacuate within days, but the demolition was never carried out.
Hebrew media reports say Netanyahu overruled National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir who had been pressing for the move to go ahead tomorrow.
Ben Gvir, of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, has vowed to crack down on illegal building by Palestinians and Arab Israelis. Following the deadly terrorist attack in a Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhood last month, Ben Gvir declared that he would press to carry out the demolition of illegally constructed buildings in the area already slated for destruction.
Shas party leader MK Aryeh Deri slams calls from opposition leaders and President Isaac Herzog to engage in dialogue as attempts to derail the government’s judicial reform platform, which is firmly supported by Deri’s Shas party.
“We are open to discussion,” Deri says at the start of Shas’s Knesset faction meeting but then says: “You can’t use discussion to stop a process you want to stop.”
Justice Minister Yariv Levin has brushed off all attempts to slow the brisk pace of the legislative overhaul he is leading.
As protests continue to balloon against the reforms, a minority of voices have called for violence against Netanyahu and have been condemned across the political spectrum
Deri adds his own call to “uproot” these phenomena.”
“Everyone who makes such a call should know he’s an outcast from society,” Deri says.
Israel is sending two relief missions to Turkey in the next 24 hours, the Foreign Ministry announces.
The first aid team will head out in the coming hours, while a larger team will take off early Tuesday.
The decision was made in a meeting at the Foreign Ministry of senior officials from the IDF, National Security Council, Defense Ministry, and Health Ministry.
Israeli diplomats will accompany the teams.
National Unity party leader Benny Gantz spells out his conditions for dialogue on the government’s judicial overhaul plans, repeating an offer to negotiate repeatedly rebuffed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
Speaking at the start of his party’s Knesset faction meeting, Gantz says that the current rapid legislative process must be paused, that discussion should include “promoting comprehensive legislation and Basic Law legislation, with an emphasis on assistance to citizens,” and a pledge to “oppose the politicization of the choice of gatekeepers and judges.”
“There can’t be a situation in which one committee is fomenting a coup, while alongside it there is a ‘cosmetic committee’ holding idle discussions in order to silence the protests,” Gantz adds.
Gantz, who has previously suggested creating a cross-Knesset working group to shape judicial reform, is alone within the opposition in making such an offer. While Yisrael Beytenu’s and Labor’s leaders completely reject talks, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid has requested that President Isaac Herzog form an impartial panel on the matter.
Israel will send blankets, tents and medicine to earthquake-ravaged Syria after receiving a request for aid, the Kan public broadcaster reports.
The decision was made at a meeting of senior government and security officials. Israel will also consider accepting wounded Syrians for medical treatment if it receives such a request, the report says, citing a senior government official.
Israel remains in a state of war with Syria, but has treated wounded Syrian civilians during the country’s civil war.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the site of last month’s deadly terror attack in Jerusalem’s Neve Ya’akov neighborhood and plants an olive tree in memory of the seven victims.
“A proper response to terror is to uproot the terror and plant our own roots deep in our land,” Netanyahu says.
Netanyahu visits the site on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat, also called the new year for trees, which was how farmers in biblical times knew the age of a tree and the appropriate tithe to donate. As Jews scattered across the world, the holiday became a symbol of connection to the land.
Netanyahu also meets with relatives of the victims.
A request for Israel to send aid to Syria following a devastating earthquake came from Russia, which has a large military presence in the country, Channel 13 reports.
The unsourced report does not give further details.
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel had received requests through diplomatic channels to assist in Syria, and that aid would be provided there.
Israel considers Syria a hostile state, and the two do not have diplomatic ties. However, during the neighboring country’s bloody civil war, the IDF set up a mechanism to provide medical treatment to Syrian civilians.
An Istanbul-based rabbi says he has been in contact with the Jewish communities in the areas of Turkey hit by two powerful earthquakes and “they are all fine — praise God.”
Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, the head of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, says that while the Jewish community members all seem to be safe, he is not yet sure if there was any damage to their synagogues.
Chitrik, a Chabad rabbi who leads the country’s Ashkenazi Jewish community, says he is heading to southern Turkey now.
It took several hours for Chitrik to get in touch with the Jewish communities in the Turkish cities of Adıyaman, Malatya, Antakya, Gaziantep, and Kilis, following the devastating tremors that have claimed the lives of over 1,300 people across Turkey and Syria.
Please keep on praying for our friends and colleagues whom we are unable to contact in Adıyaman, Malatya, Antakya, Gaziantep, and Kilis💔🇹🇷
— Rabbi Mendy Chitrik (@mchitrik) February 6, 2023
At least 560 people were killed across Syria after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck neighboring Turkey before dawn on Monday, the government and rescue workers said.
The official news agency SANA, citing the health ministry, said at least 339 people were killed and 1,089 injured in government-controlled areas of the war-torn country. The White Helmets rescue group said at least 221 were killed and 419 injured in rebel-held areas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel is preparing to send aid to both Turkey and Syria following a devastating earthquake.
“In accordance with the request of the Turkish government, I have directed the dispatch of search and rescue and medical teams,” says Netanyahu.
The prime minister adds that “a request was also received to do this for the many who were injured in the earthquake in Syria,” and therefore he has “instructed that this be done as well.”
Israel and Syria remain in a state of war, and have no diplomatic relations.
The Israel Defense Forces says it is preparing to send a Home Front Command search and rescue delegation to Turkey following the earthquake.
The military says the delegation has been put together under orders by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says offers for help have been received from some 45 countries in the aftermath of today’s deadly earthquake and powerful, still ongoing aftershocks.
In a televised address, Erdogan announces that Turkey’s death toll has reached 912, adding that about 5,400 people were injured, while around 2,470 people have been rescued from collapsed structures.
Israel is one of the countries that has offered to send assistance to Turkey, and is readying teams and aid to ship out in the coming hours.
Israelis in the greater Tel Aviv area report feeling waves from the second earthquake that hit Turkey on Monday afternoon, although no damage has been reported within the country.
One Israeli tells Army Radio that he left his high-rise apartment building in Tel Aviv as the upper floors shook, rattling furniture and knocking over some items.
Israel is currently experiencing a winter storm including high winds that have caused damage in some cities, downing trees and power lines.
A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck southeast Turkey this afternoon, the US Geological Survey says, hours after an earlier quake killed more than 1,200 people in the region.
The shallow quake hit at 1:24 p.m. (1024 GMT) four kilometers (2.5 miles) south-southeast of the town of Ekinozu.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
I'm proud of our coverage of this government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, including the political and social discontent that underpins the proposed changes and the intense public backlash against the shakeup.
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