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‘A warning sign’: Israel reaches all-time low in annual corruption index

Jewish state ranked 29th out of 37 OECD countries, in what watchdog head says shows ‘phenomenon of corruption in Israel is strengthening’

Illustrative: Israelis protest against corruption, urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign, in Tel Aviv on February 16, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israelis protest against corruption, urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign, in Tel Aviv on February 16, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Knesset okays new COVID emergency law, strengthening parliamentary oversight

The Knesset gives final approval to a new law regulating the government’s emergency authorities to combat the COVID pandemic, which will be in effect until the end of 2022.

The new law strengthens the parliamentary oversight on government actions regarding the imposition of temporary restrictions.

It cancels the government’s ability to declare a “special state of emergency” which gives it the authority to ban protests, and includes a distinction between a “state of emergency” during an outbreak and a “special health situation” between waves of infections.

During the latter, the Knesset will now have to give prior approval to new restrictions, unlike the past two years when the Knesset could retroactively green-light government measures after they have entered effect.

Biden says ‘no intention’ of US or NATO forces entering Ukraine

US President Joe Biden says he has “no intention” of sending troops into Ukraine, but again warns Russia of severe sanctions if Moscow orders an attack.

Speaking to reporters, Biden says he has “no intention of putting American forces or NATO forces in Ukraine.”

Right-wing MKs slam ‘reckless’ reported plan to evacuate, rebuild Khan al-Ahmar

Right-wing opposition lawmakers Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Orit Strock (Religious Zionism) criticize the reported intention to evacuate the West Bank Bedouin hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar and rebuild it 300 meters (984 feet) away.

“This is a fake evacuation with highly dangerous repercussions,” they say in a joint statement. “The damage in legalizing Khan al-Ahmar is immense, the de facto meaning is that the State of Israel approves the Palestinian plan to take over this strategic area.

“Khan al-Ahmar must be evacuated as ruled by the court, rather than us forming a Palestinian outpost in the heard of Mishor Adumim. We urge anyone to whom the Land of Israel is important to prevent this recklessness and injustice.”

Handwritten 1967 Ben-Gurion eulogy of West Germany’s first chancellor surfaces

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, left, puts a hand on the arm of West Germany Chancellor Konrad Adenauer as they meet at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, March 14, 1960. (AP Photo)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, left, puts a hand on the arm of West Germany Chancellor Konrad Adenauer as they meet at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, March 14, 1960. (AP Photo)

A handwritten 1967 eulogy of West Germany’s first chancellor by Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion has been found among the belongings of a German journalist who covered the funeral and recently died.

Ben-Gurion flew at the time to the funeral of Konrad Adenauer, his partner for the landmark Reparations Agreement following the Holocaust and for the initiation of diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Berlin.

He wrote: “Adenauer was the man who tried and succeeded to lift up the German people from the depth of crime and misery to which the Hitler regime had condemned the people.”

The journalist’s widow has asked for her husband’s identity not to be published, according to the Ynet news site.

“A week ago, I called a colleague from Adenauer house to wish her a happy new year, and she told me that they had discovered a treasure,” says Esther Suissa of the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute. “This document is a pearl.”

Report: Israel to destroy West Bank hamlet Khan al-Ahmar, rebuild it 300 meters away

Illustrative view of the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank, on March 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative view of the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank, on March 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The West Bank Bedouin hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar will reportedly soon be evacuated and rebuilt 300 meters (328 yards) away, in a solution to a longstanding standoff that has involved intense international pressure not to raze the village.

An upcoming High Court discussion on the matter in March is forcing the government to act, Channel 12 reports. The network says an emerging compromise will be to destroy the hamlet — currently deemed illegal by Israel — and quickly rebuild it nearby, on state land.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously gone back on plans to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar following heavy European pressure.

Health Ministry said expecting serious COVID cases to soon pass all-time record

Israel is expected to soon break its all-time record in serious COVID cases, Channel 12 news cites Health Ministry sources as saying.

There are currently 845 such cases, while the record is around 1,200.

The network says ministry officials have said that the total number of hospitalized COVID patients have already surpassed the all-time record, passing 2,700.

IDF says no casualties in attempted shooting attack on West Bank army post

The Israel Defense Forces says an unknown assailant has attempted a shooting attack on an army post in the northern West Bank. No casualties were reported.

The military says forces have found bullet casings near the scene, located around Nablus and between the settlements of Elon Moreh and Itamar, and that searches for suspects are ongoing.

Bennett dismisses Netanyahu criticism, says he’s spreading ‘hysteria and chaos’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett dismisses criticism by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu of his government’s COVID policies, quipping that “it’s nice to see that Netanyahu has stepped away from his personal issues and returned to spreading hysteria and chaos as usual.”

That is a reference to widespread reports about talks Netanyahu reportedly held over the past few weeks on a potential plea deal with prosecutors in his corruption trial that could have seen him step away from politics for years. Those talks reportedly broke down yesterday.

Bennett says that after Netanyahu, during his tenure as prime minister, imposed three lockdowns, had a million unemployed people under his watch and largely had kids study remotely, “the citizens of Israel are telling him, thanks but no thanks.”

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz tweets: “The [criminal] defendant who reopened IKEA stores before schools, the champion of lockdowns and firings, is lecturing us.”

RFK Jr. apologizes after condemnation for Anne Frank comparison

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is broadcast on a large screen as he speaks during an anti-vaccine rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 23, 2022. (Patrick Semansky/AP)
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is broadcast on a large screen as he speaks during an anti-vaccine rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 23, 2022. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

US anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. apologizes for suggesting things are worse for people today than they were for Anne Frank, the teenager who died in a Nazi concentration camp after hiding with her family in a secret annex in an Amsterdam house for two years.

Kennedy’s comments, made at a Washington rally on Sunday put on by his anti-vaccine nonprofit group, were widely condemned as offensive, outrageous and historically ignorant. It’s the second time since 2015 that Kennedy has apologized for referencing the Holocaust during his work sowing doubt and distrust about vaccines.

“I apologize for my reference to Anne Frank, especially to families that suffered the Holocaust horrors,” Kennedy says in a tweet. “My intention was to use examples of past barbarism to show the perils from new technologies of control. To the extent my remarks caused hurt, I am truly and deeply sorry.”

Kennedy’s wife, the actress Cheryl Hines of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, distances herself from her husband in her own tweet about 20 minutes later. She calls the reference to Anne Frank “reprehensible and insensitive.”

“The atrocities that millions endured during the Holocaust should never be compared to anyone or anything. His opinions are not a reflection of my own,” Hines tweets.

Macron warns Russia will pay ‘very high price’ if Ukraine attacked

French President Emmanuel Macron warns that Russia will face tough consequences if it attacks Ukraine, insisting that Paris is united with Berlin on the need for a de-escalation.

“If there is an attack, there will be retaliation and the price [for Russia] will be very high,” Macron says alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, urging a “de-escalation” and saying the two countries are “united” on this.

Top PA official says his meeting with Lapid was ‘positive,’ will have follow-ups

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Commissioner Hussein al-Sheikh. (Flash90; Wafa)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Commissioner Hussein al-Sheikh. (Flash90; Wafa)

Senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh tells Israel’s Walla news site that his meeting this week with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was positive and “opened the door” to expanding diplomatic talks, adding that they agreed to hold follow-up meetings.

“We want this door to stay open to advance in future toward renewing [peace] negotiations,” al-Sheikh says.

He says he conveyed a message to Lapid from PA President Mahmoud Abbas that he believes in a diplomatic solution and thinks it’s important that there be a diplomatic horizon for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Al-Sheikh says he raised the issue of rising violence by settler extremists against Palestinians in the West Bank, while Lapid raised the issue of PA efforts to have Israel prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.

‘A warning sign’: Israel reaches all-time low in annual corruption index

Israel continues sinking lower and lower in a global ranking of countries on corruption, scoring its lowest score since Transparency International started publishing its ranking in 2012.

According to the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Israel has scored 59 out of 100 — with a higher score meaning less corruption — after scoring 60 in 2020 and 64 in 2016.

Israel is ranked 36th out of 180 countries, after ranking 28th five years ago.

Among OECD countries, Israel is ranked 29th out of 37 countries, falling four places relative to the previous year.

Nili Arad, chairwoman of Transparency International Israel, says this year’s index “indicates that the phenomenon of corruption in Israel is strengthening.” She says this is particularly concerning in light of the COVID pandemic, “when an extra measure of transparency is needed as protection against harming the foundations of democracy.”

“Israel’s low ranking is a warning sign against moving toward signs of a corrupt state,” she adds.

Auschwitz and Sarajevo siege survivor Greta Weinfeld Ferusic dies aged 97

A survivor of both the Auschwitz death camp and the Sarajevo siege in the 1990s has died, representatives of Bosnia’s Jewish community confirm.

Greta Weinfeld Ferusic died yesterday aged 97, members of Sarajevo’s Jewish community tell AFP.

Born in northern Serbia in 1924, Ferusic was deported to Auschwitz in 1944 along with several family members who were later murdered at the camp in Poland. She was the lone survivor from her family.

Following the end of World War II, she returned to Serbia, studied architecture in Belgrade and later moved to the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. She worked as a professor at the University of Sarajevo’s architecture faculty, rising through the academic ranks to become the school’s dean.

But amid the violent break-up of Yugoslavia, Ferusic was again caught in the crossfire of war.

During Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war, Ferusic refused to be evacuated as Serb forces surrounded Sarajevo in what became a years-long siege where an estimated 11,000 people, including 1,600 children, were killed.

France slams ‘unacceptable’ verdict against French man held in Iran

France slams as “unacceptable” an eight-year jail sentence on spying charges handed by an Iranian court to French citizen Benjamin Briere.

“This verdict, which nothing can justify, is unacceptable,” the foreign ministry says in a statement, adding that Briere was arrested “while traveling as a tourist” in Iran.

Netanyahu slams government handling of Omicron, nixing of quarantine for kids

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu slams the government’s handling of the current COVID wave, claiming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid “aren’t doing anything” to stop rampant infections and rising death rates.

Netanyahu, who faced similar accusations from the opposition when he was in power, says the current government has failed to contain the Omicron outbreak and to prevent hospitals from facing immense strain.

He lambastes the planned cancelation of quarantine for children exposed to COVID carriers, set to take effect on Thursday.

“Despite evidence from the United States about severe symptoms harming kids who had Omicron, the government decided that in two days, we will switch to a policy of mass infection of all Israeli children,” he argues. “Without quarantine, without enforcement, without orderly tests — everyone will get infected.”

He says that apart from long-term symptoms some will experience, many children will infect adults, calling it “a real danger.”

Likud MK hospitalized after fracturing spine on way to TV interview

Likud MK Keren Barak speaks during a protest outside the the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem, on November 9, 2020. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Likud MK Keren Barak speaks during a protest outside the the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem, on November 9, 2020. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Likud MK Keren Barak is hospitalized with a spinal fracture after slipping on a puddle while entering TV studios for an interview this morning.

Barak slipped and fell after exiting her car outside the studio of Channel 13’s morning show. She was interviewed anyway, entering the studio on an office chair since she couldn’t step on her foot.

An x-ray has shown she has a spinal fracture and she will spend the night in hospital. She’s expected to be released tomorrow.

Herzog to make historic trip to UAE next week, will meet crown prince

Composite image shows Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, left, and President Isaac Herzog, right. (Markus Schreiber/AP, Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Composite image shows Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, left, and President Isaac Herzog, right. (Markus Schreiber/AP, Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog will fly to the United Arab Emirates next Sunday for a two-day visit, the first by an Israeli president to the Gulf state, his office announces.

Herzog was invited by Abu Dhabi’s powerful Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, known colloquially as MBZ and seen as the UAE’s de facto ruler.

Herzog is slated to meet with MBZ, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Dubai ruler Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, senior government officials and members of the Jewish community in the country.

The president will also open Israel’s national day at Dubai Expo 2020 on Monday.

“We have the privilege of making history by making the first visit of an Israeli president to the United Arab Emirates,” says Herzog in a statement. “This important visit comes as the Israeli and Emirati nations are busy laying the foundations of a new shared future. I believe that our bold new partnership will transform the Middle East and inspire the whole region. We are a peace-loving nation, and together we will expand the historic circle of peace of the Abraham Accords and create a better, more tolerant, and safer world for our children.”

The president will travel with his wife Michal.

Health Ministry said planning to reinstate quarantine for kids if PIMS cases rise

As new rules are set to go into effect Thursday nixing quarantine for kids who come in contact with confirmed COVID patients, the Health Ministry is said to have decided the move will be reversed if there is a rise in pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS) cases, Channel 12 news reports.

The report says rises in such cases among kids have been recorded abroad, emerging 30-45 days after infection.

Pandemic has seen rise in cyber-bullying, anxiety among Israeli children — report

The COVID pandemic has seen a rise in anxiety and distress among children and adolescents, according to an annual report published by the Israel National Council for the Child.

The report says that 864,630 kids — 28.7% of Israeli children — live in poverty.

There has been a rise in cyber-bullying and suicidal tendencies among children and teenagers, as well as a 10% rise in the number of girls at women shelters and a 19% rise in the number of kids exposed to violence between their parents, according to the report.

Anti-vaxxer sued over smear campaign against top Health Ministry official

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health at the Health Ministry, addresses a meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on November 28, 2021. (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset Spokesperson)
Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health at the Health Ministry, addresses a meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on November 28, 2021. (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset Spokesperson)

Prosecutors file a NIS 250,000 ($78,500) lawsuit on behalf of senior Health Ministry official Sharon Alroy-Preis against an anti-vaccine activist who is accused of leading a smear campaign against her.

Yosefa Barak-Tamir allegedly published “false and offensive social media posts against Dr. Alroy-Preis, while using her relatives, including her underage son,” as part of a “systematic campaign that included over 60 publications meant to smear Dr. Alroy-Preis,” according to prosecutors.

One of the posts allegedly said: “Your time is running up, psychoPreis.”

As serious COVID cases rise, hospital ICUs said nearing ‘edge of capabilities’

As serious COVID cases continue rising — reaching 856 — immense strain is reported on Israel’s hospitals and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz says “we’re reaching the edge of the capabilities of intensive care units.”

According to Channel 12 news, Kaplan Medical Center near Rehovot was earlier this week forced to close its emergency room for a few hours because the hospital was overwhelmed.

Some patients are reportedly being transferred to other hospitals due to the overload.

In general, hospitals are experiencing huge pressure, with limited beds, as some 10,000 medical personnel nationwide are not working because they have COVID or are otherwise quarantined, the report says.

Yosef Taieb sworn in as MK instead of Shas leader Deri, who resigned in plea deal

Yosef Taieb is sworn in as a Knesset member for the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

He is replacing Shas leader Aryeh Deri, who has resigned from the parliament as part of a plea deal in a corruption case against him that will see charges downgraded in exchange for him leaving politics, at least until the next election.

Video said to refute senior cop’s claim that he acted to ‘secure’ crime scene he fled

Israel Police commander Jamal Hakrush attends a Public Security Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel Police commander Jamal Hakrush attends a Public Security Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 8, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Newly revealed video footage negates claims by a senior police official that he worked to secure a crime scene he allegedly fled, showing him immediately driving away from the incident.

Yesterday, Haaretz published video footage showing Israel’s top Arab cop Jamal Hakrush — a deputy commissioner in the force and the head of the unit for fighting crime in the Arab Israeli community — rushing away from the scene of a stabbing in Kafr Kanna in September 2020 and stumbling over the victim who was lying in a stairwell.

In a series of media interviews last night, Hakrush insisted that he had acted in a professional manner, telling the Kan public broadcaster that he had left the building in order to “secure the location” and to preserve the crime scene as “sterile.” Hakrush said that as a police officer, his primary concerns were to ensure that the criminal behavior did not continue and to detain the suspect while summoning backup.

But new video published by Haaretz purports to show Hakrush’s vehicle exiting the scene of the crime exactly one minute after he was seen leaving the building.

UK warns Russia of unprecedented Western sanctions if it invades Ukraine

Russia faces Western sanctions “heavier than anything we’ve done before” if it invades Ukraine, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says after allied leaders held talks on Moscow’s threats.

“We cannot bargain away the vision of a Europe whole and free” that arose after the end of the Cold War in 1989, “because Russia has placed a gun to Ukraine’s head,” Johnson tells parliament.

In ‘masquerade’ trial, Iran jails French man for 8 years on spying charges

A court in Iran has sentenced a French man to eight years in jail on spying charges, his Paris-based lawyer says, denouncing his trial as a “masquerade.”

Benjamin Briere, 36, who was arrested in May 2020 while traveling in Iran and is currently on hunger strike, has also been given an additional eight-month sentence for propaganda against Iran’s Islamic system, his lawyer Philippe Valent says in a statement.

100 European politicians gather at Babyn Yar, urge legislation on Holocaust studies

A delegation of some 100 ministers, MPs, senators and ambassadors from across Europe gather at Babyn Yar, Ukraine, calling for legislation on integrating Holocaust studies into schools across the continent.

The two-day delegation, two days ahead of International Holocaust Memorial Day, is organized by the European Jewish Association, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine.

Babyn Yar is the site of a brutal mass shooting in which more than 30,000 Jews were murdered by Nazis and their collaborators in Kyiv in just two days and were buried in a mass grave.

Participants have attended a symposium on combating antisemitism, heard testimonies from Holocaust survivors, seen a detailed presentation about the Babyn Yar massacre, and established inter-parliamentary working groups to tackle the issue, as well as “new antisemitism — the de-legitimization of the state of Israel,” according to a statement.

Most Israelis believe life will get worse for Jews in Europe in near future — poll

On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Hebrew University poll finds most Israelis — 53% — believe life for Jews in Europe will get worse in the near future, with 25% saying it will stay the same.

The survey — conducted among 1,000 Israeli adults, Jews and Arabs — finds that France is the European country perceived as the most antisemitic, with 39% of respondents branding it as such. It is followed by Poland (33%) and Germany (15%). Germany ranks first for Haredi Jewish respondents, France is highest among religious and traditional Jews, and Poland is first among secular Jews. Arabs ranks Poland and Germany the highest.

A third of Jewish respondents say criticism of Israel is inherently linked to antisemitism, with a majority among Jewish Israelis saying that sometimes there is a link between the two.

Asked whether the EU’s policies are motivated by antisemitism, 27% of Jews say they are and an equal share reject the notion outright, with 40% saying some are and some aren’t. Among Arabs, 53% reject any link between EU policies and antisemitism.

IDF says it foiled smuggling of dozens of guns from Jordan

The Israel Defense Forces says it foiled an attempt to smuggle dozens of guns into Israel from Jordan earlier today.

“IDF troops and troops from the Israel Police identified three suspicious vehicles a short while ago, which were caught in the area of the Route 90 highway, with weapons inside them,” the military says.

According to the IDF, inside the cars were 39 handguns, 10 Kalashnikov rifles and four M-16 rifles.

The police say four people who were in the cars were arrested and the three vehicles were seized.

The police indicate that the guns were likely to have been sold to Arab Israelis and estimates the value of the 53 guns at some NIS 3 million ($940,000).

“This confiscation is another success for the Northern District Police in finding sources of illegal weapons for the Arab community, while eliminating smuggling routes and the trade through them,” the police say.

Palestinian museum pulls Arafat caricatures after outrage

The Yasser Arafat Museum says it has removed artwork depicting the former Palestinian Authority leader that exaggerated his facial features, after accusations they are insulting to the late president.

The 35-piece exhibit at the museum in Ramallah, in the West Bank, faced immediate backlash after it was installed on Sunday.

Shehab News Agency published a picture of the caricatures showing a smiling Arafat in his trademark keffiyeh headdress with his nose and mouth oversized and slightly distorted.

Supporters of Arafat, who died in 2004, took to Twitter posting photographs with the caption: “This is the icon we know.”

Activists from Fatah, the Palestinian movement Arafat founded, has demanded an investigation into how the images came to be displayed.

In a statement, the museum insists the images are merely artistic impressions of a revered Palestinian leader.

“The displayed drawings, while some of them are somewhat controversial, represent the viewpoint of their makers regarding their support for the Palestinian cause and the late president Yasser Arafat,” the statement says.

A museum spokesperson confirms that pieces have been taken down.

British PM Johnson vows to cooperate with police probe

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament, in London, June 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament, in London, June 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his staff will “fully cooperate” with London police as they investigate a number of parties held in Downing Street during COVID lockdowns, a spokesman says.

Johnson believes it is “entirely right” for the Metropolitan Police to investigate, his spokesman tells reporters, adding: “It will provide the public with welcome clarity and help draw a line under these events.”

As tensions rage, Russia launches new military drills near Ukraine, in Crimea

The Russian military says it has launched exercises involving some 6,000 troops and at least 60 fighter jets in southern Russia near Ukraine and in Moscow-annexed Crimea.

Russian news agencies quote the southern military district describing the live-fire drills as a combat readiness check, as tensions rage between Moscow and the West over Crimea.

Lapid to head to Austria for International Holocaust Remembrance Day comemmorations

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem on November 6, 2021. (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem on November 6, 2021. (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will depart tomorrow for Austria to take part in a ceremony at the Mauthausen concentration camp on Thursday marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner and local Jewish communal leaders will also participate.

Afterward, Lapid is set to participate in the “We Remember” ceremony at Vienna’s new Holocaust memorial. He will be joined by Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen, Nehammar and Austrian politicians.

Lapid will be joined by Aliza Bin-Noun, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Europe.

NSO chairman steps down amid outrage over spyware use by Israel Police

Asher Levy, the chairman of the controversial NSO Group, has stepped down amid a scandal over Israel Police’s use of its spyware Pegasus against civilians, the Calcalist business news site reports.

The outlet quotes Levy and NSO as saying it is a standard move since Levy was chairman on behalf on English fund Novalpina Capital, and once the fund ended its involvement with NSO and was replaced by Berkeley Research Group, a new chairman has been appointed, Finbarr O’Connor.

Levy was NSO chairman starting in April 2020. Numerous revelations have since emerged about alleged rights violations by governments using the firm’s Pegasus spyware.

Over the past week, Calcalist has revealed that Israeli police used it for years against Israeli civilians, allegedly without oversight and against people not suspected of crimes. Police have denied the charges, though they have appeared to acknowledge using Pegasus.

Construction worker killed in Tel Aviv after ceiling collapses

A construction site in Tel Aviv where a ceiling collapsed on January 25, 2022. (Magen David Adom)
A construction site in Tel Aviv where a ceiling collapsed on January 25, 2022. (Magen David Adom)

A construction worker in his 30s has died after a ceiling collapsed at a building he was renovating in Tel Aviv, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

Another man is lightly injured in the incident.

Police close Zrubavel Street, where the incident occurred.

Protesters angered by government policy for ailing businesses throw eggs at photos of ministers

Representatives of the tourism and restaurant sectors stage a protest against the government’s handling of the economic fallout of the current COVID wave.

According to the latest government outline, a loan fund will be expanded and payments to government contractors and eligible bodies will be expedited, with bureaucracy eased for the self-employed, but no direct payouts will be issued to affected businesses.

Protesters in Tel Aviv play speeches made by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in favor of handouts when he was in the opposition. They also throw eggs at cutout figures of government ministers.

Ceiling collapses in Tel Aviv building under renovation, trapping worker

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says a ceiling has collapsed in a building currently under renovation in Tel Aviv, with an employee trapped in the rubble.

MDA says medics are trying to rescue the worker at the scene in the city’s Zrubavel Street.

ADL, 6 other US Jewish groups denounce ‘ongoing terrorism’ by settler extremists

Seven American Jewish organizations release an open letter calling on Israel’s top leaders to take “unequivocal action” to stop “ongoing terrorism and political violence committed by Jewish Israeli extremists in the West Bank against Palestinians, Israeli civilians, and IDF soldiers.”

“We urge the entire Israeli government to unite in strong condemnation against these acts, to work decisively to hold those responsible accountable, and to confront the growing threats posed by these extremists with the determination and seriousness that this grave situation requires,” they write.

The letter is signed by the Anti-Defamation League, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Israel Policy Forum, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. It is addressed to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as well as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

The letter, which does not use the word “settler,” notes the damage done by such incidents to Israel’s “image and relations with the United States government, American people, and American Jewry” as well as to Israel’s status as a democracy.

Violent attacks perpetrated by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank in 2021 exceeded the previous year’s attacks by nearly 50%. The Biden administration has signaled that it is monitoring the phenomenon and last month the US State Department’s annual terrorism report included extensive reporting on settler violence.

Pfizer, BioNTech begin Omicron vaccine trial

Pfizer and BioNTech have begun enrollment for a clinical trial to test the safety and immune response of their Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine in adults aged up to 55, the companies say in a statement.

The company’s head of vaccine research Kathrin Jansen says that while current data shows that boosters against the original COVID strain continue to protect against severe outcomes with Omicron, the company is acting out of caution.

Hundreds attend former chief justice Miriam Naor’s funeral in Jerusalem

Then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, August 31, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, August 31, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hundreds of mourners gather to pay their last respects to former Supreme Court chief justice Miriam Naor — who died earlier this week at the age of 74 — as she is laid to rest in her native Jerusalem’s Sanhedria cemetery.

A wide range of officials attend the ceremony, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, President Isaac Herzog, current Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut, Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Acting Knesset Speaker Eitan Ginzburg.

“A little over four years ago, when she left the Supreme Court, Miriam said the following: ‘Even today, as the decades have passed and I have served in all the courts, I am grateful that my path led me to being a judge,’” says Herzog. “Now that we say goodbye to you prematurely, we can fully say that you have fulfilled your role to the end. Spreading light into the distance. You will be remembered by the future generations of Israel as the queen of justice.”

Speaking after Herzog, Bennett begins his eulogy with a quote from Ecclesiastes: “Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard.”

“This is what Miriam Naor did. In the decades she served, her words were wise and clear, and they were heard calmly,” he says. “One of the most significant judges of our time.”

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