The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
A doctor who was suspended after being falsely accused of praising a Palestinian terror suspect being treated under his care will return to work following a drawn-out dispute over the incident, the Hadassah Medical Center says.
Dr. Ahmad Mahajneh, a resident at Hadassah Medical Center Ein Kerem, protested his innocence since the October 26 incident, and will now return to work with his name cleared, the hospital says.
Mahajneh was accused of giving patient Muhammad Abu Qatish, 16, a plate of sweets, congratulating him, and calling him a “shahid,” or martyr. Abu Qatish seriously wounded an Israeli man in a stabbing attack on October 22, in the Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat HaMivtar, according to Israeli authorities.
The hospital says an investigation concluded that Mahajneh never made such comments.
According to Mahajneh, the knafeh and other food given to Abu Qatish were leftovers from food he had ordered to celebrate passing his residency exams, and were offered to all patients as part of a policy of equal treatment, though he was not the one to give it to Abu Qatish.
The Israeli military informs the family of Muhammed Souf, an 18-year-old Palestinian terrorist who murdered three Israelis near the West Bank settlement of Ariel in November, that their home is slated for demolition.
On November 15, Souf went on a stabbing and car-ramming spree at the Ariel Industrial Park and a nearby highway, killing Tamir Avihai, 50, Michael Ladygin, 36, and Motti Ashkenazi, 59, as well as seriously wounding three others.
Souf was shot dead by soldiers and armed civilians some 20 minutes after beginning his rampage.
In the days after the attack, Israeli troops measured Souf’s home — the first step before its potential demolition — in the village of Hares.
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.
Souf’s family can still appeal the decision to raze the home to Israel’s High Court of Justice. 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.
Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai says he believes the current open-fire rules are suitable, but would not directly negate Public Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s stated plans to relax them.
“In my opinion, how I see it, the current open-fire rules provide police officers with the answers they need in various situations,” Shabtai says in an interview with Channel 12 news.
But Shabtai does not directly contradict Ben Gvir, saying that “the minister may be talking about certain scenarios” and that he does not need “to give any answer” before an in-depth discussion on the issue is held.
Ben Gvir has said he believes security forces’ open-fire regulations should be relaxed to permit them to shoot anyone holding stones or Molotov cocktails, representing a potential threat.
Shabtai has been critical of Ben Gvir’s policies in the past, but has taken a more neutral tone since the minister took office.
In the interview, Shabtai also blames “the media” for creating a charged atmosphere ahead of last night’s mass protest in Tel Aviv, saying the police only noted the possibility that violence could break out at the rally.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid meets this evening with Histadrut union chief Arnon Bar-David to discuss the potential of a wide labor strike in protest of the current government, reports Channel 13 news.
According to the TV report, Lapid is hoping to garner Bar-David’s support to launch a wide labor strike in protest of the government’s plans to massively overhaul the judiciary system.
But Channel 13 reports that Bar-David is unlikely to get on board with such a measure, and is even expected to push back against a narrower labor dispute by prosecutors as well.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant bids farewell to outgoing military chief Aviv Kohavi ahead of tomorrow’s handover ceremony.
“I thanked him for the four years in which he led the IDF in many operational successes in all arenas, and for the fact that the IDF today is an army that is more adapted and ready for the diverse challenges around us,” Gallant says in a Facebook post, after meeting Kohavi at his office in Tel Aviv.
“Tomorrow the chief of staff will end 40 years in IDF uniform, most of them at the forefront of operational and command activities, and in the most significant and challenging arenas,” Gallant says. “I have no doubt that the citizens of Israel cherish and appreciate this,” he adds.
Deputy Attorney General Sharon Afek says that state attorneys in Israel have an obligation to the entire Israeli public, and not any individual or political movement.
“We owe a duty of loyalty to the entire public,” says Afek at a conference of the Attorneys Union at a hotel near the Dead Sea, addressing the current government proposal to massively overhaul the judicial system.
“Not to a particular person, not to a particular minister, and not to a particular party,” Afek adds. “We owe loyalty to the entire public. We owe the public a double duty — both to promote the government policy that the public chose and also to protect the public interest and the rule of law.”
Afek says that some may think that “the professionalism and independence of legal advisers is a problem, but life has taught us that they are important asset of the state.” Afek says that damaging the independence of the judiciary “will be a source of constant regret.”
Israeli inflation stood at 5.3 percent in December over the previous 12 months, remaining at a 14-year high for a second consecutive month, and putting further pressure on the Bank of Israel to hike interest rates again next month.
The consumer price index (CPI), a measure of inflation that tracks the average cost of household goods, rose by 0.3% in December, compared with analysts’ expectations of between 0.3% to 0.4%, bringing annual inflation over the past 12 months to 5.3% — similar to the figure in November, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The annual CPI is the highest since inflation hit 5.5% in October 2008.
The increases were seen in the cost of transportation, which went up 1.1%; housing and medical services, which rose 0.6% each; and apartment maintenance, up 0.2%. These were offset by declines in prices of fresh fruit and vegetables, down 2.8%, culture and entertainment down 1.4%; and clothing and footwear, down 1%, according to the statistics bureau. Since the start of the year, the CPI rose 5.3%, the bureau said.
Ukraine can expect more deliveries of heavy weapons from Western countries soon, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says in an interview with German media.
“The recent pledges for heavy warfare equipment are important — and I expect more in the near future,” Stoltenberg tells the Handelsblatt daily.
“We are in a decisive phase of the war,” Stoltenberg says. “Therefore, it is important that we provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to win.”
Stoltenberg says Russian President Vladimir Putin made a mistake by attacking Ukraine.
“He overestimated the strength of his own armed forces. We see their missteps, their lack of morale, the leadership problems, the poor equipment,” he says. But the Russians “have demonstrated that they are prepared to take heavy losses to achieve their goals.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with outgoing military chief Aviv Kohavi ahead of tomorrow’s handover ceremony.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says the pair discussed the Israel Defense Forces under Kohavi’s tenure, from “operations, personnel and force buildup.”
“The two discussed the main challenges facing the IDF in the future,” the PMO says.
Netanyahu thanks Kohavi for his over 40 years of military service and for “his significant contribution to the security of the country,” the statement adds.
Tomorrow Herzi Halevi will be replacing Kohavi as the IDF’s top soldier. The handover, originally set for January 17, was moved up a day.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol receives an honor guard welcome on a trip to the United Arab Emirates as he hopes to expand his country’s military sales here.
Yoon’s visit comes as South Korea conducts business deals worth billions of dollars and stations special forces troops to defend the UAE, an arrangement that drew criticism under his liberal predecessor. Now, however, it appears the conservative leader wants to double down on those military links even as tensions with neighboring Iran have already seen Tehran seize a South Korean oil tanker in 2021.
Yoon arrives at Qasr Al Watan palace in Abu Dhabi and is greeted by Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who took office in May after serving as the country’s de facto ruler for years.
An honor guard of traditionally dressed Emiratis greet Yoon and his wife, Kim Keon Hee. After the ceremony, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quotes Sheikh Mohammed as saying the UAE plans to invest $30 billion in South Korea. “We decided to make the investment with confidence in the Republic of Korea that keeps its promises under all circumstances,” he says.
The government cabinet approves transferring certain authorities to MK Avi Maoz — who has pushed misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ policies — for his newly created “Jewish identity” office within the Prime Minister’s Office.
In a statement, the government says only that it “decided to transfer various responsibilities from the Education Ministry and the Social Equality Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office as per the coalition agreements.”
In a statement, Likud Education Minister Yoav Kisch says he is working in coordination with Maoz, “and if there are crazy things in the ministry, we’ll remove them,” pointing to the example of a memorial for Palestinian victims.
Kisch says reports that Maoz has been handed an independent budget are untrue: “The plans stay in the Education Ministry, the money stays in the Education Ministry — the Education Ministry alone is responsible.”
An Israeli bus driver reports coming under gunfire on the Route 60 highway, near the West Bank town of Halhul, not far from Hebron.
The Rescuers Without Borders emergency service says there are no injuries aboard the bulletproof bus traveling between the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba and Jerusalem, but damage is caused to the vehicle.
The military is looking into the report.
Police say officers have closed off the highway in both directions in the area following the apparent attack.
A majority of Israelis support the ability of the Supreme Court to strike down Knesset laws that contradict democracy, according to a special 20th-anniversary edition of an annual survey released today by the Israel Democracy Institute.
Amid the hardline right-wing government’s plan to push through a judicial overhaul, the IDI reveals that an average of 42% of the public trusted the Supreme Court in 2022, significantly lower than the two-decade average of 59.5%.
When broken down according to political affiliation, 80% of Israelis who define themselves as left-wing, 62% of those in the center, and 29% on the right said they trusted the Supreme Court as of October 2022.
According to an average of five measurements since 2010, a majority of Israelis (55.6%) support the Supreme Court having authority to strike down laws passed by the Knesset “if they are found to be contrary to the principles of democracy,” with more Arabs (87%) than Jews (51%) backing the court in this role.
In October 2022, 58% of respondents believed the court should have that authority. Only 37.5% of those in the right wing supported it, while 70% in the center and 89% on the left backed the court being able to strike down laws. Overall, 56% of Jews and 71% of Arabs supported that ability.
Italian energy giant Eni announces what it describes as a significant gas discovery offshore of Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean.
Eni says the discovery at the Nargis-1 exploration well was made in the Nargis offshore area concession.
Eni says it will further develop the offshore area thanks to a recent award of several exploration blocks. The concession area measures some 1,800 square kilometers (about 700 square miles).
Organizers of the mass protest last night in Tel Aviv vow to return to the streets again this weekend to protest the government’s planned mass judicial shakeup.
In a statement, the organizers say they intend for this weekend’s protest to take place on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv near the government complex that includes the IDF headquarters — instead of at Habima Square — in order to allow for more people to attend in a somewhat less residential area.
“The journey to stop this coup has just begun,” organizers say. “This is a determined and uncompromising fight to save democracy, and the people of Israel are coming out en masse to protest.”
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel says meanwhile that they intend to stay in Habima Square for this Saturday evening’s protest.
Eliad Shraga, chairman of The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, says “we will continue together to lead and organize this fight for the character and identity of the State of Israel as a democratic and liberal nation. We will fight in the streets, the squares and on the bridges — in the courts and in the Knesset.”
The death toll from a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in the southeastern city of Dnipro rises to 23, the local government reports, as rescue workers scramble to pull survivors from the rubble.
Emergency crews worked through the frigid night at the multi-story residential building, the site of the worst casualties from a barrage of Russian strikes yesterday on Ukrainian cities. The attacks, which also targeted the capital, Kyiv, and the northeastern city of Kharkiv, ended a two-week lull in Moscow’s widespread strikes on Ukraine’s power infrastructure and urban centers.
Russia fired 33 cruise missiles yesterday, of which 21 were shot down, according to Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces.
In Dnipro, workers use a crane as they try to rescue people trapped on upper floors of the apartment tower where about 1,700 were living. Some residents signal for help with lights on their cellphones.
The Dnipro city government reports that at least 72 people are wounded and 43 people reported missing. It says 39 people were rescued so far.
The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry condemns as an “execution” the killing of a Palestinian man by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in the West Bank earlier today.
The ministry slamms the “heinous execution” of Ahmad Kahla, 45, who was shot dead by troops near the village of Silwad north of Ramallah.
According to the IDF, troops identified a suspicious vehicle near the Ofra settlement that allegedly refused to stop for a routine inspection.
“Following the identification of this suspicious activity, the soldiers used riot dispersal means in order to detain one of the suspects in the vehicle,” the IDF said in a statement. The army said a “violent confrontation” began, during which the suspect attempted to grab a soldier’s gun. “The soldiers used live fire toward the suspect,” the IDF said, adding that he was hit.
The man’s son, Qusai Kahla, tells AFP he was in the car with his father when they were stopped at the checkpoint.
“Soldiers came and they sprayed pepper spray on my face and pulled me out of the car,” the 18-year-old says. “I don’t know what happened after that.”
Starting today, individuals who lived in the UK for more than six months can now donate blood in Israel — after 24 years of being banned from doing so — says Magen David Adom.
MDA, which operates Israel’s national blood bank service, says in a statement that the Health Ministry has “adopted the FDA directives” on the issue and has decided “to remove the restrictions of receiving blood donations from those from Britain.”
Since 1999, anyone who had lived in Britain for more than six months between 1980 and 1996 or received a blood transfusion there during that time was turned away from donating blood over fears they could have been infected with Mad Cow Disease.
MDA says that, effective today, the restriction is lifted, after the US Federal Drug Administration ruled last year that the “risk does not justify turning away blood donors in the same way as in the past” since the risk is in fact “negligible.”
“We’re pleased to tell all our loyal blood donors, who continued to approach us and asked us to change the regulations that this day has finally arrived!” says Prof. Eilat Shinar, deputy director general of blood services at MDA.
The soldier killed in a grenade blast at the Kfir Brigade training base in the Jordan Valley last night is named as 18-year-old Denis Zinoviev, the Israel Defense Forces says.
Zinoviev, a new recruit from the central city of Petah Tikvah, was posthumously promoted to the rank of corporal.
During the incident last night, three other soldiers were wounded, including one seriously.
According to an initial probe, one soldier brought a grenade he found during a training exercise back to the base and kept it in his bag — in an apparent violation of IDF protocol — where it later exploded.
The IDF says it will temporarily halt training exercises to search for more unexploded ordnance near training bases.
The chief of the IDF Ground Forces, Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, also orders the establishment of a panel of experts, headed by Col. Hanoch Dauba, to investigate the circumstances of the deadly incident.
Police say that a man arrested last week after threateningly swerving toward a group of anti-government protesters has been charged with reckless driving and making threats.
According to a statement from police, the driver endangered the group of protesters in Beersheba and continued to threaten them after exiting his car.
Police requested that the suspect, a 26-year-old man from Elad, be kept in custody until the end of judicial proceedings.
A military investigation into the death of a soldier in October during a shooting attack in the northern West Bank points to “several errors” made by troops, the Israel Defense Forces says.
The soldier, Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch, of the Givati infantry brigade’s reconnaissance unit, was killed on October 11 while securing a march held by settlers near the Palestinian town of Sebastia. He was stationed near an interchange.
The gunmen, members of the Lion’s Den terror group, opened fire at Baruch from a passing vehicle and fled the scene at a high speed, according to the IDF’s probe of the shooting. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition, where he later died.
The IDF says the investigation found that the Samaria Regional Brigade and Givati Reconnaissance Unit “successfully completed their defensive mission, but did so at the heavy price of the death of Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch.”
But the probe also uncovers “several errors,” the IDF says.
“The soldiers were not positioned behind protection posts in the area of the interchange, and the manner in which they were positioned at the post where the incident had occurred was inadequate.” the IDF says.
Outgoing IDF chief Aviv Kohavi orders that lessons learned from the investigation be implemented in all units across the West Bank.
Baruch’s family was updated on the findings of the probe, the IDF adds. The gunmen behind the attack have not yet been apprehended.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hails a “positive dynamic” in the Ukraine offensive after Moscow claimed victory over the frontline city of Soledar, which Kyiv has denied.
“There is a positive dynamic. Everything is developing according to plans,” Putin says, answering a question from a journalist on the special operation in Soledar, adding, “I hope that our fighters will please us more than once again.”
A day after an estimated 80,000 people turned out to a mass protest in Tel Aviv against the government’s proposed judicial overhaul plan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue with the massive reform plan regardless.
“We will complete legislating the reforms in a way that will correct what needs correcting, totally protect individual rights and restore the public’s faith in the justice system, which so badly requires this reform,” Netanyahu says at the outset of the weekly cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu says that two months ago, “millions of people took to the streets in order to vote in the election,” and their voices should be heard as well.
The prime minister rejects the suggestion that voters who backed his government do not support the proposed shake-up of the judicial system: “The millions of citizens who voted for the right-wing camp knew about the intention to make deep reforms in the judicial system. More than that: they demanded it from us.”
Netanyahu says there must be a “substantive, in-depth and serious dialogue” about the plans, instead of being “swept away by inflammatory slogans about civil war and the destruction of the state.”
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