The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant joins the call for calmer spirits to prevail in the national discourse.
“Words have meaning, and we are entering dangerous territory,” he says.
“Even in times of deep disagreement, it is the job of public leaders to maintain national unity.”
Among his many plans for changes in the justice system, Channel 13 reports Justice Minister Yariv Levin is also working to advance a bill that would allow an outside appointment to the role of Supreme Court chief justice — changing the seniority-based system in place today.
However, the network says judicial officials believe Levin understands Supreme Court judges will not allow such a change to take place.
Current Supreme Court President Esther Hayut is set to step down in October upon reaching age 70, to be replaced with Justice Yitzhak Amit.
President Isaac Herzog calls on politicians to “lower the heat” as the coalition and opposition employ increasingly incendiary rhetoric regarding the new government’s plans to greatly limit the judiciary.
“Show restraint and responsibility,” he says to MKs.
He also adds, “The values of the Declaration of Independence are our nation’s compass. I will not allow them to be harmed.”
Herzog says he is “aware of the voices heard from both sides. I am not blind to this and am constantly occupied by it.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slaps down far-right members of his coalition calling for the arrest of opposition leaders, while also lambasting the latter for speaking of opposition to the government in increasingly strong terms.
“In a democratic country, we do not arrest the heads of the opposition,” he says in a conversation with President Isaac Herzog. “Just as we do not call ministers Nazis and a Jewish government the Third Reich, nor do we encourage civil disobedience among the citizenry.”
National Unity party leader Benny Gantz said yesterday that the government’s judicial reform plan could lead to “civil war.” Urging the public to lawfully take to the streets, he added, “It’s time to go out en masse and demonstrate; it’s time to make the country tremble.”
Echoing Gantz’s criticism of the planned judicial overhaul, Lapid told his Yesh Atid party that “this is extreme regime change” and that the reforms are “eliminating democracy.” Lapid promised to keep fighting in the streets in what he called “a war over our home.”
Otzma Yehudit MK Almog Cohen echoes the earlier comments of his party colleague Zvika Fogel, telling Channel 13 that if opposition leaders continue “their incitement and desire for bloodshed on the streets — they will be put in handcuffs.”
With Saturday’s anti-government protest in Tel Aviv seeming to lead the public agenda days later, organizers say they plan an even bigger show of force this coming weekend.
Leaders of the opposition are said to be in talks to take part in the event at Tel Aviv’s Habima Square.
The Black Flags protest group is calling on the public to “come out in unprecedented numbers this coming Saturday” or “pay the price for decades to come.”
A protest is also planned in Jerusalem outside the President’s Residence.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir concludes a meeting with police following Saturday’s large protest in Tel Aviv and ahead of another planned demonstration this coming Saturday. The meeting comes after Ben Gvir said yesterday he wants protesters who block roads arrested and wants water cannons used against unruly demonstrators, as he noted was done in Jerusalem against rowdy Haredi protesters.
With demonstrators against the new government’s judicial shakeup planning an even bigger rally this week, police officials tell the minister they plan to act with restraint and won’t change current policies — including not arresting people temporarily blocking roads — so long as protesters remain cooperative, Channel 12 reports.
Officials have said police in Jerusalem sometimes use more heavy-handed tactics due to the more combative nature of protests there as opposed to Tel Aviv, where organizers normally come to an agreement with police on blocking roads for a short period before dispersing.
The network says the minister asked for comparative data on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
However, Channel 12 says police have agreed to take a tougher line on demonstrators who use Nazi symbols in their protest signs and will confiscate such imagery.
The report says Ben Gvir wanted the same done with Palestinian flags — a small number of flags were seen in Saturday’s protest — but police told him there is no legal basis to confiscate those.
US House Representatives Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman, both Democrats from New York City, formally request an investigation into Representative George Santos for lying about his background.
Torres and Goldman file the request with the House’s ethics committee asking it to probe whether Santos’s “sparse and perplexing” financial disclosures violated laws.
They also say Santos violated trust in public officials by lying to voters about his religious background and other issues. Santos lied during the campaign about being Jewish and falsely said his grandparents were Holocaust refugees.
“Mr. Santos misled voters in his district about his ethnicity, his religion, his education, and his employment and professional history,” the request says.
“Given the revelations about his biography, as well as the public information pertaining to his financial disclosures, Mr. Santos has failed to uphold the integrity expected of members of the House of Representatives,” Torres and Goldman say.
Goldman is Jewish and Torres is an outspoken advocate of Jewish issues and Israel. Santos is a Republican from Long Island and represents an area with a significant Jewish community.
Dan Goldman and I are filing a formal complaint with the House Ethics Committee against George Santos for violating the Ethics in Government Act.
Santos must be held accountable for defrauding both Congress and the public. pic.twitter.com/4zr195rgjf
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) January 10, 2023
Opposition leader Yair Lapid responds to MK Zvika Fogel’s call to have him arrested for treason.
“This is how democracy falls apart, in a day,” he says. “Ben Gvir says to use water cannons against our protesters, MK Fogel says Gantz and I should be arrested and thrown in jail for treason, and in Beersheba, a man tries to run over students [who support us] for rallying and making use of their right to free speech.”
“We will not allow ourselves or our beloved country be overrun.”
French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo doubles down on its ridicule of Iran’s religious rulers, with fresh cartoons of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei despite protests from Iran and its allies.
“The mullahs aren’t happy. The caricatures of their supreme leader… do not seem to have made them laugh,” the paper’s editor, known as “Riss,” writes in the latest edition, which hits newsstands on Wednesday.
“Laughing at themselves has never been a strong point of tyrants,” he adds.
The paper was hit by a cyber attack after publishing cartoons of Khamenei in last week’s special edition, which marked the anniversary of the 2015 attack on its Paris offices that left 12 dead.
“A digital attack doesn’t leave anyone dead, but it sets the tone. The mullah’s regime feels in such danger that it considers it vital to its existence to hack the website of a French newspaper,” Riss writes.
“It is an honor in one sense, but above all proves that they feel their power is very fragile.”
Les Basijians et autres mercenaires de Khamenei se révolteront devant l'ambassade de France à Téhéran le 11 janvier.
— Farzad Fattahi (@FattahiFarzad) January 10, 2023
During a visit to the military’s Northern Command in Safed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns Iran of Israel’s “red lines.”
“The main enemy we are facing is the terror regime in Iran and its satellites in Syria and Lebanon,” Netanyahu says in remarks provided by his office.
“We are determined to fight Iran’s attempts to develop a nuclear arsenal. We are determined to fight any attempt by Iran to entrench itself on our northern military frontier in Syria. We are determined to fight all attempts by Hezbollah to show aggression against us from Lebanon,” Netanyahu says.
“And those who need to be given a reminder of our red lines in this matter will receive it,” he adds.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who joined Netanyahu in the visit, also vows to prevent Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria and to “cut off the channels used to transfer Iranian weapons to Lebanon and Hezbollah.”
“The quiet in the north is an important goal. Therefore, along with maintaining calm, we will act powerfully against any attempt to harm Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers,” he adds.
The Israel Defense Forces will conduct a military drill in the Galilee Panhandle tomorrow morning, which will include artillery fire toward the Mount Dov area on the border with Lebanon.
The military says the exercise — which is pre-planned — will last between 9 and 11 a.m. Explosions are expected to be heard in nearby towns, the military says.
Mount Dov, also known as the Sheba Farms, is a contested area claimed by Israel, Lebanon, and Syria.
The daughter of late Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been sentenced to five years in prison, for her part in the civil unrest triggered by Mahsa Amini’s death, her lawyer says.
Women’s rights activist Faezeh Hashemi, a former lawmaker, was arrested on September 27 accused of “propaganda” and actions against public order and national security, said lawyer Neda Shams.
The authorities have arrested several prominent public figures as demonstrations continue, including athletes and artists who backed the protests.
Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of a former Iranian president, is sentenced to five years in prison for her alleged role in anti-government protests, the semi-official Mehr news agency reports https://t.co/vPN4T5cIhQ
— Bloomberg (@business) January 10, 2023
Far-right MK Zvika Fogel (Otzma Yehudit) calls for the arrest of opposition leaders and two former MKs, accusing them of “treason against the state” and saying they “are the most dangerous people right now.”
Fogel is currently slated to become head of the Knesset’s Public Security Committee in several weeks’ time.
The MK, speaking to Kan news, bristles at comments made by National Unity party leader Benny Gantz yesterday that the government’s judicial reform plan could lead to “civil war.”
He claims Gantz, opposition leader Yair Lapid and former MKs Moshe Ya’alon and Yair Golan are all “talking about war” and should therefore be arrested.
“This is crazy. These four should be arrested. These are the most dangerous people right now,” he says.
Asked by an incredulous anchor if she’d heard him correctly, Fogel doubles down.
“That’s exactly what I said. These four are now talking about war… If they were calling to protest I’d give them every right to protest. But they’re talking in terms of me being an enemy.”
He adds: “As far as I’m concerned it’s treason against the state, if I wasn’t clear enough.”
Fogel is a member of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party. Ben Gvir has been given unprecedented powers over police as part of the new coalition, with greater authority to dictate policy.
Gantz said at a meeting Monday of his National Unity party that the government’s sweeping judicial reform plan will lead to “civil war.” Urging the public to lawfully take to the streets, he added, “It’s time to go out en masse and demonstrate; it’s time to make the country tremble.”
Echoing Gantz’s criticism of the planned judicial overhaul Lapid told his Yesh Atid party that “this is extreme regime change” and that the reforms are “eliminating democracy.” Lapid promised to keep fighting in the streets in what he called “a war over our home.”
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry claims to have busted a Mossad spy ring in the country, arresting at least 13 people.
Fars News reports the group was planning the assassination of a military official and various acts of sabotage.
It says equipment used by the alleged spies was also confiscated.
Iran occasionally reports arrests of Israeli spies, though the validity of such claims cannot be confirmed.
Some 100 law professionals sign a letter to Justice Minister Yariv Levin backing his plans for a major reform of the country’s judicial system.
The signatories call his plan to severely limit judicial oversight of the government “important steps to fixing Israel’s legal system.”
They say the justice system has “for years taken upon itself authorities that do not belong to it… which undo the balance of the three branches of government.”
They argue the planned reform to end the High Court’s veto on legislation and give politicians full control of judicial appointments “will bring back the balance between the branches and return the judicial branch to its natural place.”
The letter appears to be a response to appeals against the plan by various officials, including by dozens of retired judges who warned it would endanger Israel’s democracy, threaten internal damage, and could damage Israel’s moral standing in the eyes of the world,
A protester who was hit in the face by a police water cannon in 2020 has been awarded NIS 87,000 ($25,000) in damages from the force, as part of a settlement.
Zman Yisrael reports that Yonatan Kimmel will withdraw his lawsuit against cops under the agreement.
Kimmel was shot with a water blast from close range in a July 2020 incident caught on video and widely publicized at the time.
He was apparently shot at from a distance of less than 10 meters, while police safety guidelines stipulate the minimal distance of use at 25 meters. Kimmel said the blast caused him to lose consciousness.
לכל מי שתהו איך קרה שהאנשים ששכבו בצידי המדרכות התעלפו מהמכתזית – הנה התשובה: pic.twitter.com/GODAWYLvGO
— Achiya Schatz (@schatzah) July 24, 2020
Iran has sentenced a Belgian aid worker to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes after convicting him of espionage charges in a closed-door trial, state media reports.
The website of Iran’s judiciary says a Revolutionary Court sentenced 41-year-old Olivier Vandecasteele to 12.5 years in prison for espionage, 12.5 years for collaboration with hostile governments and 12.5 years for money laundering. He was also fined $1 million and sentenced to 2.5 years for currency smuggling.
Iran has detained a number of foreigners and dual nationals over the years, accusing them of espionage or other state security offenses and sentencing them after secretive trials in which rights groups say they are denied due process. Critics accuse Iran of using such prisoners as bargaining chips with the West, something Iranian officials deny.
Iran has not released any details about the charges against Vandecasteele. It is unclear if they are related to anti-government protests that have convulsed Iran for months or a long-running shadow war with Israel and the US marked by covert attacks on Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
A woman was delayed as she entered a train station in Tel Aviv earlier because she was wearing a shirt of an anti-government protest movement.
A security guard told the woman her attire “may cause a provocation,” in a video the woman uploaded online. Asked if a pro-Netanyahu shirt would have also been banned, the guard answered “Yes, unequivocally.”
The woman was eventually let in.
In response to the incident, Israel Railways says: “It is forbidden to demonstrate or enter train stations with protest items of any kind (including signs, flags etc.). For this reason the passenger was asked to wait several moments while the guard conferred with staff, who approved her entry.”
Iran has sentenced another man to death in connection with the protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, the judiciary says.
Javad Rouhi was sentenced to death on charges of “corruption on Earth,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reports.
The sentence, which can still be appealed, brings to 18 the total number of people the judiciary have announced have been condemned to death in connection with the protests.
Rouhi was found guilty of “leading a group of rioters,” “inciting people to create insecurity,” as well as of “apostasy by desecration of the Quran by burning it,” Mizan Online reports.
The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approves an expansion of the so-called Norwegian Law for its first reading.
The expansion would allow a greater number of downlist candidates to replace ministers in their Knesset seats per party.
Inspired by a similar provision in Norway, the Norwegian Law allows a number of cabinet members from each party within the government to resign their Knesset seats while retaining their ministerial posts, and be replaced by the next candidates on their faction’s election rosters.
Last expanded in 2020, the current law states that factions with four to six MKs can replace up to three ministers, factions with seven to nine can swap out up to four ministers, and factions with at least 10 lawmakers can switch out up to five ministers.
Likud’s plan would keep the limits for smaller factions, but eliminate the five-seat cap for factions with more than 18 MKs. Instead, larger parties will be able to replace up to a third of their slate, allowing the 32-seat Likud to be able to bring in 10 new MKs.
NATO and the EU vow to bolster their backing for Ukraine to fight off Russia’s invasion and ramp up cooperation between Europe and the US-led alliance.
“We must continue to strengthen the partnership between NATO and the European Union. And we must further strengthen our support to Ukraine,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says after signing a joint declaration with the EU’s top officials.
Countries in NATO and the EU — which share 21 members — have funneled billions of dollars of arms to Kyiv that have helped it push back Moscow’s forces.
The United States, Germany and France have announced they will now also supply Ukraine with armored fighting vehicles — but Kyiv has pleaded for modern heavy tanks to be sent as well.
“I think that Ukraine should get all the necessary military equipment they need and they can handle to defend the homeland,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says.
Two residents of central Israel in their twenties have been arrested on suspicion of firing at the home of a Tel Aviv resident a few months back.
Police suspect the cause for the incident is a monetary dispute.
The US Navy seized over 2,100 assault rifles from a ship in the Gulf of Oman it believes came from Iran and were bound for Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, a Navy spokesman says. It is the latest capture of weapons allegedly heading to the Arab world’s poorest country.
The seizure last Friday happened after a team from the USS Chinook, a Cyclone-class coastal patrol boat, boarded a traditional wooden sailing vessel known as a dhow. They discovered the Kalashnikov-style rifles individually wrapped in green tarps aboard the ship, says Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet.
The Chinook, along with the patrol boat USS Monsoon and the guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans, took possession of the weapons. They resembled other assault rifles previously seized by the Navy, suspected to be from Iran and heading to Yemen.
“When we intercepted the vessel, it was on a route historically used to traffic illicit cargo to the Houthis in Yemen,” Hawkins says. “The Yemeni crew corroborated the origin.”
The Yemeni crew, Hawkins adds, will be repatriated back to a government-controlled part of Yemen.
Iran is weaponizing the death penalty to frighten the public and crush dissent, and its execution of protesters without due process amounts to state-sanctioned killing, the UN says.
Tehran has executed four people in connection with nearly four months of demonstrations in the country, with two more executions scheduled imminently and at least 17 other individuals reportedly sentenced to death, the United Nations Human Rights Office in Geneva says.
“Criminal proceedings and the death penalty are being weaponized by the Iranian government to punish individuals participating in protests and to strike fear into the population so as to stamp out dissent, in violation of international human rights law,” UN rights chief Volker Turk’s office says.
The Islamic Republic has been rocked by a wave of protests since the death in custody on September 16 of Kurdish Iranian Amini, 22, following her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.
“The weaponization of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights — such as those participating in or organizing demonstrations — amounts to state-sanctioned killing,” Turk says.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group condemns cartoons of Iran’s supreme leader published last week by the French weekly Charlie Hebdo, calling on Paris to punish the satirical magazine.
The magazine says the caricatures of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were published in support of protests in Iran sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, after her arrest for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.
Tehran’s close ally Hezbollah calls on “the French government to take firm measures to punish the perpetrators of this act, who attacked what is sacred and flouted the dignity of an entire nation.”
Khamenei “is not just the leader of a great country — he is a religious reference for tens of millions of followers,” the Shiite movement says in a statement.
Police arrest a driver who threatened protesters in Beersheba with his car.
At a rally against the new government’s planned judicial reforms, the man drove onto the sidewalk where the protesters were and braked dangerously while shouting at the demonstrators.
Police officers at the scene arrested the man, a 26-year-old resident of Elad.
An eyewitness tells the Srugim website the man was shouting “Leftist anarchists, get out of here, we’ll wipe you out.”
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid says in response: “The government’s incitement will end in bloodshed. [The driver] was drunk with power and insanity driven by [National Security Minister Itamar] Ben Gvir and [Justice Minister] Yariv Levin. It’s a miracle no one was hurt. You won’t be able to run over us.”
סטודנטים באונ' בן גוריון בבאר שבע: "ניסיון דריסה".
לפני זמן קצר בהפגנת סטודנטים נגד פסקת ההתגברות, עלה על המדרכה עליה עמדו המפגינים הרכב הלבן שבתמונה. הסטודנטים עמדו במיקום החץ האדום.
לדברי הסטודנטים הנהג יצא מהרכב, החל להתעמת עם המפגינים בקריאות: "אנרכיסטים", ונעצר ע"י המשטרה pic.twitter.com/uARt2rZPgN
— Or-ly Barlev ~ אור-לי ברלב (@orlybarlev) January 10, 2023
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