The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Tremors are felt in northern Israel in what appears to be a minor earthquake centered in Lebanon.
Israel’s Energy Ministry says that shortly before 9 p.m. local time, an earthquake is felt in the north, and its source is being investigated. It later adds that the quake registered 3.9 on the Richter scale and was centered in Lebanon about 123 km. north of Majdal Shams.
Media outlets in Lebanon are reporting residents experiencing earthquake tremors throughout the country.
There have been several small quakes felt in Israel over the past two days since a massive earthquake brought devastation to Turkey and Syria early Monday morning.
Labor MK Gilad Kariv says the government’s plan to radically reform the judicial system is the best possible gift to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
“If there is a gift to the BDS movement, it is the destructive reform that you are leading against the judicial system,” Kariv says from the Knesset podium. “If there are winds of support for all those who claim that a Jewish and democratic state is an oxymoron — it is [due to] your plans.”
Police in Quebec believe that a bus driver who crashed his vehicle into a daycare center earlier today, killing two children, did so deliberately but do not know why, they say.
“We think it’s deliberate but we don’t know the motive,” says Pierre Brochet, chief of police in Laval, a suburb of Montreal.
The 51-year-old driver, who has been arrested on suspicion of homicide, had no prior criminal record, he adds.
Russia says it will respond if Britain sends warplanes to Ukraine, warning of an escalation.
“Russia will find a response to any unfriendly steps taken by the British side,” Moscow’s embassy in London says in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met earlier today in London with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as well as with King Charles.
The Israeli military informs the family of Alqam Khayri, a 21-year-old Palestinian terrorist who murdered seven people in Jerusalem last month, that their home is slated for demolition.
On January 27, Khayri went on a shooting spree in the neighborhood of Neve Yaakov, killing Asher Natan, 14, Eli, 48, and Natali Mizrahi, 45, Ilya Sosansky, 26, Rafael Ben Eliyahu, 56, Irina Korolova, 59 and Shaul Hai, 68.
Khayri was shot dead by police officers as he fled the scene.
In the days after the attack, Israeli police sealed Khayri’s home in the A-Tur neighborhood of the capital.
His family is now formally notified of the military’s intention to raze their home, the Israel Defense Forces says.
As a matter of policy, Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks. Khayri’s family can still appeal the decision to raze the home to Israel’s High Court of Justice. But such attempts rarely succeed, though in some cases the court can limit the demolition order to only the parts of the house used by the terrorist.
Dozens of leading international economists — including multiple Nobel Prize winners — have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against his government’s proposal to radically reform the judicial system.
“A strong and independent judiciary is a critical part of a system of checks and balances,” they write. “Undermining it would be detrimental not only to democracy but also to economic prosperity and growth.”
The signatories include 11 Nobel Prize winners, including Peter Diamond of MIT, Oliver Hart of Harvard, Paul Milgrom of Stanford and Edmund Phelps of Columbia.
A large Israel Defense Forces aid delegation to Turkey lands in the country’s southeast to establish a field hospital to treat victims of the devastating earthquake,
The IDF says 15 Air Force cargo planes carried hundreds of tons of equipment and 230 participants in order to set up the hospital in the coming hours.
The IDF already has some 150 search and rescue experts on the ground working to rescue civilians trapped under the rubble.
The hospital will be built near where the search and rescue teams are operating in the city of Kahramanmaraş, also known as Marash.
MARASH, Turkey — A 15-year-old girl is successfully pulled out of a collapsed building by Israeli and local rescuers.
She has been loaded into a waiting ambulance and is being taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Israeli rescue teams have already pulled out four other survivors from underneath collapsed buildings in southeast Turkey.
A bill to repeal clauses of the 2005 disengagement law which led to the evacuation of all settlements in Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank will be brought to a vote in a key government committee on Sunday and, if approved, forwarded to the Knesset for the next legislative stages.
The bill is key to the government’s goal of legalizing the illegal settlement outpost of Homesh, one of the settlements evacuated under the disengagement law — which has since been illegally rebuilt and evacuated on several occasions.
The legislative push comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked Israeli leaders to “pause” actions such as settlement construction in order to reduce tensions with the Palestinians.
The bill, advanced by Likud MK Yuli Edelstein and, during the last Knesset by National Missions Minister Orit Strock of the Religious Zionism party, would repeal the clauses of the disengagement law which ban Israelis from living in the region where the four settlements of Homesh, Ganim, Kadim and Sar-Nur previously stood.
If approved by the committee, it will move to the Knesset for a preliminary reading in the plenum the following week.
In a hearing in the High Court of Justice last month over a petition by local Palestinian landowners that the illegal Homesh outpost be removed, the justices expressed doubt that the settlement could be legalized, even were the disengagement law to be amended, given that it is built largely on private Palestinian land.
MARASH, Turkey — Israeli rescuers are about to pull out a 15-year-old girl who has been trapped under rubble of her family’s apartment building in Marash since Monday.
She is in serious condition but is conscious. Her family has asked that no photos or videos be taken of her as she emerges.
Israeli military teams operating in southeastern Turkey following the devastating earthquake helped rescue a 2-year-old boy from under the rubble, the IDF says.
Cpt. Alon Hominer, one of the Home Front Command search and rescue team members, says the engineering operation lasted several hours.
“We received a report from Turkish [authorities] that there were sounds of a baby crying, and we joined in the efforts,” Hominer says. He says the toddler is in good health and is being taken to a hospital.
IDF teams rescued a 2-year-old boy from under the rubble in southeastern Turkey, in a several hour long operation. pic.twitter.com/NxpOHlrefU
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) February 8, 2023
The head of the Geological Survey of Israel was giving an interview to the Kan public broadcaster when sirens blared in the institute’s headquarters signaling an incoming earthquake.
“If you can hear that noise behind me, our system has just registered an earthquake,” says Prof. Zohar Gvirtzman during the live TV interview. “I need to check and clarify with the seismologists here the details.”
The Geological Survey later said that the quake registered 3.3 on the Richter scale and therefore a national alert was not sent out, since there was no danger posed to residents.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) February 8, 2023
A leading United Nations official calls on quake-hit Syria’s government to facilitate aid access to rebel-held areas in the northwest, warning that relief stocks will soon be depleted.
“Put politics aside and let us do our humanitarian work,” the UN’s resident Syria coordinator El-Mostafa Benlamlih says in an interview with AFP, warning: “We can’t afford to wait and negotiate. By the time we negotiate, it’s done, it’s finished.”
The death toll from a massive earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria rises above 11,700 as rescuers race to save survivors trapped under debris in the winter cold.
Officials and medics say 9,057 people have died in Turkey and 2,662 in Syria from Monday’s 7.8-magnitude tremor, bringing the total to 11,719.
Residents across Israel report feeling tremors from a minor earthquake, amid two days of similar incidents following a major quake that struck Turkey and Syria.
The IDF Home Front Command says the quake measured 3.3 on the Richter scale and was centered in central Israel. No injuries or damage are immediately reported.
The Home Front Command says that warning sirens were not sounded because the tremor posed no danger to residents.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 20-minute call focuses on expanding cooperation in tech, trade and security, according to Netanyahu’s office.
The two were famously close during Netanyahu’s previous tenure. During Modi’s visit to Israel in 2017, the two leaders waded barefoot together into the surf with the waves gently lapping at the hems of their pants as they talked, producing iconic photos of the pair. The two then sipped drinks and took a drive in a water desalination dune buggy.
The strategic relationship continues to grow, with India taking advantage of opportunities the Abraham Accords provide New Delhi in the Middle East and in Europe.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen spoke yesterday with his Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts about the importance of the EU designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, and stopping Iran’s nuclear program, the Foreign Ministry says.
With Bulgaria’s Nikolai Milkov, Cohen asks Sofia to increase its support for Israel in international bodies, including the IAEA, where it sits on the board of governors. During his call with Romania’s Bogdan Aurescu, Cohen asks for Bucharest to push for the IRGC terror listing, and Aurescu said that he would, according to the Israeli readout.
Aurescu tweets that the call was “excellent” and that he looks forward to expanding “political and sectoral cooperation.”
Romania and Israel are celebrating 75 years of diplomatic ties this year.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the head of the IDF aid delegation to Turkey and commends him on the team’s efforts.
“You are carrying out the most important humanitarian work and are bringing great honor to the State of Israel, and showing our true face to the world,” Netanyahu tells Col. (res) Golan Vach via phone. “Do whatever you can to save lives, and stay safe.”
Vach says that Israeli rescuers have so far pulled four people out alive from the rubble and are working to save two more at the moment.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected in Paris this evening, the French presidency says, after his visit to the United Kingdom.
EU officials are then hoping he will head to Brussels tomorrow to meet European leaders in a largely symbolic but nevertheless keenly anticipated visit after months of European support for Ukraine.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky calls on allies to provide his country with air power to combat the Russian invasion, in a historic address to the British parliament.
“I appeal to you and the world… for combat aircrafts for Ukraine, wings for freedom,” he tells lawmakers of the lower and upper houses of the British parliament.
An Israeli military field hospital that will treat victims of the earthquake in Turkey is expected to be established tonight, officials say.
A short while ago, two Israeli Air Force heavy transport planes carrying the field hospital equipment and officials took off for the affected areas in southeastern Turkey, after a preliminary team arrived early this morning to scout out the area.
Speaking to reporters, the head of the aid delegation, Col. (Res.) Golan Vach, says the Israeli teams have been the most successful so far, with four successful rescues and another two currently being worked on.
“The Israeli delegation is the largest with the exception of Azerbaijan, which sent 400 people. I believe that by tonight we will reach over 420 people,” Vach says.
“We have conducted the highest number of rescues so far. I think that the State [of Israel] and the Home Front Command know how to carry out such tasks in a short time. The speed with which we reached the scene is what brought us to these results and I hope we will achieve more results soon,” he adds.
Vach says such IDF aid delegations usually last between nine and 14 days, and in this case, the team is ready to remain in Turkey that long.
Russian President Vladimir Putin likely decided to supply the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, but there is no realistic prospect of prosecuting him or others, investigators say in announcing a halt to the probe.
Investigators say there are “strong indications” Putin personally approved the transfer of the missile to pro-Russian separatists during fighting in eastern Ukraine in 2014, citing intercepted phone calls.
But the probe is being suspended because “all leads have been exhausted” into the shooting down of the plane, which crashed with the loss of all 298 people on board.
The announcement comes less than three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian of murdering those aboard MH17, after trying them in their absence.
MARASH, Turkey — Israeli military forces are preparing a new, concerted effort to reach a man trapped inside a collapsed building in the city of Marash in southern Turkey.
After hours of failing to reach the man, who is trapped in a two-meter wide by two-meter long by 80-centimeter high space on what was once the building’s second floor, the IDF Home Front Command search and rescue unit is trying a bold new tack.
Instead of trying to reach the man from the side, they will instead dig underneath the building and drill up from below into the space where he has been stuck since the building came down more than two days ago.
The head of the team says he has spoken to the man, who is in his 50s and has some chest pains and difficulties breathing but no other injuries.
Two construction workers are killed when a wall collapsed on them inside a construction site at an engineering college in Ashdod, according to police and first responders.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says paramedics declared the two men, both said to be around 50, dead at the scene following unsuccessful lifesaving efforts.
Fire and Rescue Services say they pulled the two men out from underneath the wall and ascertained that nobody else was trapped inside.
Israel Police say they have opened an investigation into the incident.
MARASH, Turkey — Eren sent his wife, kids and in-laws to Istanbul after a massive earthquake demolished whole neighborhoods of his hometown of Marash, and then turned around and came back to help in the recovery efforts.
“I had to help and I couldn’t do that if I was worrying about the safety of my wife and children,” he tells The Times of Israel, speaking in accented but fluent English.
Eren, who declines to give his last name, says his family lived in a newer part of the city so while they acutely felt the tremor, their home was spared. But that wasn’t the case in the central neighborhood where Eren used to live and where a number of friends and acquaintances still live.
“My university professor lived in that building,” he says, pointing to a fully collapsed multistory apartment building. “They think he’s still inside.”
Eren is one of the many people who either live in Marash or just came to help, who have no proper training but are willing to do whatever is asked of them to assist rescue workers in their missions.
Some are taking on the work entirely themselves, grabbing shovels, pickaxes, sledgehammers and light power tools to extricate the remains of people trapped in the rubble. But even with this concerted effort, it will likely take weeks if not months to sort through the debris.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives in the UK on a Royal Air Force plane at London Stansted airport north of the capital. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak greets him on the tarmac, tweeting a photo of him embracing the Ukrainian leader.
“The United Kingdom was one of the first to come to Ukraine’s aid. And today I’m in London to personally thank the British people for their support,” Zelensky says on Instagram.
Zelensky and Sunak pose briefly for photos in front of the famous black door that leads into the UK prime minister’s residence. Staff inside 10 Downing St. can be heard applauding as the Ukrainian leader enters.
At the start of the leaders’ meeting, Zelensky thanks Britain for its “big support from the first days of full-scale invasion.”
Zelensky will later address Parliament as well as meet with King Charles III and UK military chiefs during his visit.
A protest by workers at Ben Gurion Airport has left long lines, delayed flights and stranded passengers.
For several hours, workers halted check-in as part of a protest against working conditions and what they say are contractual obligations not being met. Flights have been delayed and passengers have been kept waiting both in the terminal and aboard airplanes.
The protest is slated to end at 2 p.m. local time, although delays are still expected.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid comes out in support of a worker’s strike on Monday in protest of the government’s judicial overhaul plan.
“On Monday we are all heading to Jerusalem to protect and defend our country,” Lapid says in a video message on social media. “Employers need to allow all workers who want to go to Jerusalem to fight for the country, to fight for our democracy, and to say: ‘No more. We won’t allow you to destroy our democracy.'”
Protest organizers — including former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon — say dozens of organizations, including companies and civil society groups, have joined the planned strike, which is slated to coincide with a large protest outside the Knesset.
The British government announces a fresh round of sanctions targeting Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly says the new sanctions on organizations that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military relies on will “accelerate the economic pressure on Putin — undermining his war machine to help Ukraine prevail.”
The announcement comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lands in Britain, where he is set to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III.
The death toll from a massive earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria rises above 11,200 as rescuers race to save survivors trapped under debris in the winter cold.
Officials and medics say 8,574 people have died in Turkey and 2,662 in Syria from Monday’s 7.8-magnitude tremor, bringing the total to 11,236.
Syria makes an official plea to the European Union for help after the deadly earthquake that struck it and Turkey on Monday, the bloc’s commissioner for crisis management says.
The EU introduced extensive sanctions against the Bashar Assad regime in 2011 to punish it for deadly crackdowns against protestors.
The European Commission is “encouraging” EU member countries to respond to Syria’s request for medical supplies and food, while monitoring to ensure that any aid “is not diverted” by the sanctioned government in Damascus, Janez Lenarcic says.
The EU delegation to Israel declines to comment on whether it will offer to transfer Israeli humanitarian aid to Syria, but does tell The Times of Israel that “the EU is considering all viable options to activate additional resources to be deployed to all affected areas as soon as possible.”
“We will seek to make sure that additional assistance reaches people both in government-controlled and in non-government-controlled parts of Northern Syria.”
Israel Defense Forces delegates have rescued four trapped people so far, including children, according to deputy chief of mission Nadav Markman.
He adds that IDF teams in Turkey are working around the clock in coordination with local authorities following the devastating earthquake.
MARASH, Turkey — Every few minutes the frenzy of rescue efforts on Haydar Aliyev Boulevard in Marash comes to a screeching halt and the area goes almost completely, eerily silent to let rescue workers better hear if a person trapped inside a collapsed building is able to respond.
Once they hear a response to their calls — either verbally or, more frequently, tapped out on concrete — the din of heavy construction vehicles, generators and shouting resumes.
The air is thick with dust and smoke, blown into people’s eyes by the cold, gusty winds.
In one building, Israeli military and civilian rescuers are trying to free a man trapped beneath the rubble. To that end, they’ve called on local residents to break into the surrounding cars, almost all of them totaled, to get their jacks in order to raise the concrete slabs slightly to help the rescue effort.
More than 200 legal advisers in prominent Israeli institutions sign a public letter decrying the government’s plan to overhaul the justice system and supporting Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and other legal officials who are pushing back against it, the Ynet news site reports.
The letter warns the planned legislation will harm the independence of the judiciary and the public sector which are “the pillars of a democratic society.”
“The government’s steps will have unprecedented repercussions on the State of Israel’s power and cohesion, including regarding economic and global aspects,” they write.
Volodymyr Zelensky will visit the UK today, Britain says, in the Ukrainian leader’s second overseas trip since Russian troops invaded his country nearly a year ago.
London uses the announcement of the visit to say it will offer fighter jet training to Ukraine, as Western allies debate how much military aid to give Kyiv amid warnings of an impending Russian offensive in the east.
Downing Street says Zelensky will meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and address parliament, announcing that the UK is planning “to train fighter jet pilots and marines” from the Ukrainian armed forces.
“The prime minister will offer to bolster the UK’s training offer for Ukrainian troops, including expanding it to fighter jet pilots to ensure Ukraine can defend its skies well into the future,” Sunak’s office says.
The training will “ensure pilots are able to fly sophisticated NATO-standard fighter jets in the future,” it adds.
Sunak will also “offer to begin an immediate training program for marines,” it adds.
MARASH, Turkey — Israeli rescuers are working with Turkish operators to retrieve someone trapped beneath a collapsed building in the city of Marash, one of the hardest-hit cities in the earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria.
The person inside is believed to be alive but is trapped beneath layers of concrete flooring.
The destruction in Marash is devastating, with whole neighborhoods completely flattened by the tremors. This has placed an enormous strain on rescuers, who have more assignments than they are able to complete.
“It is the hardest thing as a rescuer, to say no to someone,” one Israeli rescue worker from the United Hatzalah group says.
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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