The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Condition said to worsen of IDF officer seriously hurt in Jerusalem terror attack
An IDF officer injured in a terror shooting this weekend near Jerusalem’s Old City has seen a deterioration in his medical condition, according to Hebrew media reports.
The reports say the officer is listed in serious but stable condition, and is sedated and on a respirator.
The Paratroopers Brigade officer, who was off-duty at the time of the attack, returned fire and managed to strike the terrorist — a 13-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem — despite his wounds.
A second person, the officer’s father, was also seriously hurt in the shooting. On Sunday, the Jerusalem hospital that he was released home in good condition.
2 injured in suspected ramming attack at West Bank junction — IDF
Medics are responding to a reported ramming incident at the Tapuah Junction in the West Bank.
The Rescuers Without Borders emergency service says its medics are treating two people, both of which are conscious. It lists their conditions as light and moderate.
The service says the vehicle that hit people at the junction fled the scene.
The Israel Defense Forces describes the incident as a suspected ramming attack, but does not provide further details.
Lawyer denies consenting to outgoing bar chief exposing himself on video chat
A female lawyer who has accused outgoing Israel Bar Association chief Avi Himi of sexual indecency says she did not consent when he exposed himself to her during a video chat.
“He was a man of status who permitted himself to behave in a way that men are not expected to toward women under their authority, women who need them for professional reasons and unfortunately, this dark behavior still happens today,” the woman, who isn’t identified, tells Channel 13 news.
“This is something that constitutes sexual harassment,” the woman adds, referring to Himi’s conduct on the Zoom call.
Accused of sexual indecency, outgoing bar head insists relation with lawyer was consensual
The outgoing head of the Israel Bar Association denies wrongdoing after a report accused him of a sexually indecent act in front of a young female lawyer.
“The past day was the hardest day of my life. I can’t look my wife and kids in the eyes,” Avi Himi says in an interview broadcast on Channel 12 news.
Himi, who announced his resignation earlier this evening, says he had an “intimate connection” with the female lawyer going back three to four years.
“You can’t say I did an indecent act,” he says, insisting the case in question was consensual.
Himi also suggests the timing of the report was suspicious, as he features prominently in protests against the new government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system.
“The timing isn’t coincidental. The timing was intentional and clear — they tried to take me out. They’ll never succeed,” he says.
Jordan king to meet with Biden at White House on Thursday
US President Joe Biden will host Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the White House on Thursday, the latter’s office announces.
“Talks will cover means to bolster the strategic partnership and ties of friendship between Jordan and the United States through expanding cooperation across various sectors,” a statement from the Royal Hashemite Court says. “Discussions are also expected to cover the latest regional and international developments, especially those connected to the Palestinian cause and the pivotal US role in this regard, in addition to the ramifications of the Ukraine crisis.”
The Jordanian monarch is currently meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Capitol Hill, as part of his visit to Washington.
Cops to examine sexual indecency accusation against outgoing head of bar association
Police announce they will examine an accusation of sexual indecency against outgoing Israel Bar Association head Avi Himi, shortly after he tenders his resignation in the wake of a TV report detailing the allegation.
A police statement says the decision to look into the accusation followed consultations with prosecutors.
Amazon Prime buys rights from MGM to Israeli film ‘The Devil’s Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes’
MGM has sold Amazon Prime the streaming rights to “The Devil’s Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes,” a film released and developed last year by the Kan public broadcaster that uses the audio of an interview with the convicted Nazi war criminal prior to his capture in Argentina by the Mossad.
“This excellent series could only be developed in one palace — Kan,” the broadcaster’s director-general Golan Yochpaz says. “The sale of the series to Amazon proves the importance of both public broadcasting in telling the history of Israel and the Jewish people and that public broadcasting is one of Israel’s best ambassadors in the world.”
Yochpaz’s comments come as new Communication Minister Shlomo Karhi pushes to shutter or at least significantly weaken Kan.
Ukraine pushes for Western fighter jets after commitments to supply tanks
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine wins support from Baltic nations and Poland in its quest to obtain Western fighter jets, but there are no signs that larger nations like the US and Britain have changed their stance of refusing to provide the warplanes to Kyiv after almost a year of battling Russia’s invading forces.
“Ukraine needs fighter jets… missiles, tanks. We need to act,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu says today in the Latvian capital of Riga at a news conference with his Baltic and Polish colleagues. Those countries, which lie on NATO’s eastern flank, feel especially threatened by Russia and have been the leading advocates for providing military aid.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov held talks with his French counterpart, saying they did not discuss specific fighter jets but did talk about aviation “platforms” to help Ukraine’s ground-to-air defense.
“I don’t know how quick it will be, this response from Western allies” to Kyiv’s requests for fighter jets, Reznikov says. “I’m optimistic and I think it will be as soon as possible.”
He also lists weapons Ukraine has sought in the past year, starting with Stingers, and said the first response was always, “Impossible.” Eventually though, he says, “it became possible.’’
French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu, speaking alongside Reznikov, says there are “no taboos” on sending fighter jets. He also confirms that France is sending 12 more Caesar cannons in the coming weeks.
French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday that France doesn’t exclude sending fighter jets to Ukraine, but he laid out multiple conditions before such a step is taken, including not leading to an escalation of tensions or using the aircraft “to touch Russian soil,” and not resulting in weakening “the capacities of the French army.”
Reznikov’s trip comes a week after Western nations pledged to send Kyiv sophisticated modern tanks.
Several Western leaders have expressed concern that providing warplanes could escalate the nearly year-long conflict and draw them deeper into the war. Such fighter jets would offer Ukraine a major boost, but countering Russia’s massive air force would still be a major challenge.
Doug Emhoff visits Berlin Holocaust memorial, meets Ukrainian refugees at synagogue
BERLIN — Doug Emhoff, the husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, met with Ukrainian refugees at a Berlin synagogue and visited the city’s Holocaust memorial today as he wraps up a tour of Poland and Germany focused on Holocaust remembrance and combating rising antisemitism.
Emhoff took part in a roundtable event with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders on interfaith dialogue. He then visited Berlin’s New Synagogue, with a golden dome topped by a Star of David, which was badly damaged in the 1938 Nazi pogrom against Jews and then largely destroyed during World War II.
He met with refugees from Ukraine during his visit to the synagogue, which reopened in the 1990s after partial reconstruction.
The second gentleman later visited Berlin’s memorial to the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, a field of 2,700 gray concrete slabs near the landmark Brandenburg Gate that opened in 2005. He also was visiting other memorials to those murdered and persecuted under the Nazis — Sinti and Roma, gay people and people with physical and mental disabilities.
Emhoff is the first Jewish spouse of either a US president or vice president. His six-day tour of Poland and Germany is meant to further the Biden administration’s work combating antisemitism and to deepen ties with US partners.
He visited the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on Friday, and joined commemorations of the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. He said that he was deeply moved by that “solemn and sad” visit.
Shin Bet says settler arrested for torching Palestinian car
The Shin Bet security agency says a 22-year-old settler has been arrested for an alleged hate crime against Palestinians earlier this month.
According to the Shin Bet, on January 2, Israeli troops were called to respond to an incident of stone-throwing by Palestinians against Israeli cars on the Route 60 highway, near the West Bank town of Turmus Ayya.
While the soldiers were trying to locate the Palestinians, an Israeli man from the settlement of Ma’ale Efraim arrived in the Palestinian town and set fire to a vehicle, the Shin Bet charges.
“This is an act that harms the military force’s ability to carry out its mission and may even endanger it,” the agency says.
The Shin Bet says the 22-year-old was previously known to security forces.
An indictment charging him with a racially motivated hate crime will be filed in the coming days.
“Taking the law into one’s own hands and carrying out attacks and hate crimes, especially when these are done against uninvolved Palestinians, harms the security of the region, expands the circle of terror, and interferes with the efforts of the security forces against Palestinian terrorism,” the Shin Bet adds.
Blinken says restoring calm is ‘immediate task,’ cites concerns over ‘current trajectory’
In a press conference at Jerusalem’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, concluding his visit here, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says restoring calm is “the immediate task,” but that Washington would keep working toward a two-state solution.
“The United States,” he says, “will continue to oppose anything that puts that goal further from reach — including but not limited to settlement expansion, legalization of illegal outposts, moves toward annexation of the West Bank, disruption to the historic status quo on Jerusalem’s holy sites, demolitions and evictions, and incitement and acquiescence to violence.”
“All sides must take steps to prevent further escalation of violence and restore calm,” Blinken says.
“I heard a deep concern about the current trajectory,” the top US diplomat says about his meetings in Egypt, Israel, and the West Bank.
“I reaffirmed to Israel and its people our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” he adds.
Turning to Iran, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirms the US commitment to working with Israel to counter the threat from Tehran. But he quickly turns to Israel’s policy vis-a-vis Ukraine, saying the deepening ties between Iran and Moscow and the weaponry the Islamic Republic provides show “the importance of providing support for all of Ukraine’s needs — humanitarian, economic and security.”
In response to a question on Israeli democracy in the context of the government’s planned judicial overhaul, Blinken repeats much of what he said yesterday alongside Prime Minister Netanyahu, highlighting core principles of democracy including “respect for human rights, equal justice under the law, equal rights for all, the rule of law, free press, a robust civil society.”
“To be sure,” Blinken says, “Israel has a very robust civil society.”
“With regard to the proposed reforms, there’s clearly a very vibrant debate that’s going on, a discussion that’s going on in Israel. And these debates are a very healthy part of a vibrant democracy. In fact, they’re unique to democracies.”
“And as democracies, one of the things that we recognize is that building consensus on new proposals is the best way to make sure not only that they’re embraced but that they actually endure,” he adds, regarding the proposed judicial shakeup. “All of this of course is for Israelis themselves to work out.”
“But we look forward generally speaking to working with Israel to advance the interests and values that have been at the heart of this relationship, as I’ve said, for 75 years.”
Bar association chair resigns after being accused of sexual indecency
Israel Bar Association chief Avi Himi announces his resignation, a day after a TV report accused him of a sexually indecent act during a video call with a young female lawyer.
IDF arrests 2 Syrians for attempting to smuggle 21 kilos of hash
Israeli security forces arrest two Syrian men who attempted to smuggle drugs into Israel earlier today.
The Israel Defense Forces says soldiers monitoring surveillance cameras spotted the two suspects close to the border fence near the northern Druze town of Majdal Shams.
Soldiers and police officers dispatched to the scene arrested the pair, and found them to be carrying 21 kilograms (46 pounds) of hashish.
The Syrians, aged 30 and 33, are to be brought before a court tomorrow to extend their remand, police say.
Incidents of drug smuggling on the border with Syria are thought to be relatively rare.
Meeting Abbas, Blinken mourns ‘innocent Palestinian civilians’ killed over past year
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expresses his condolences to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the “innocent Palestinian civilians” killed over the past year in the West Bank.
Israel says most of the over 30 Palestinians killed since the beginning of the year were participating in clashes with the IDF, though not all of them. A 60-year-old woman was shot dead during a military raid in Jenin last Thursday during which eight others were killed, most of them terror group members. Also last week, a father was shot dead by troops at a checkpoint in front of his son in an altercation that the army afterward said should not have ended in his death. More than 170 Palestinians were killed in 2022 — most of them while carrying out attacks on soldiers and civilians, though also uninvolved civilians — making it the deadliest year since the UN began tracking in 2005.
Blinken offers his condolences while meeting with Abbas in Ramallah at the tail end of his three-day trip to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank.
Abbas tells Blinken that Israel is responsible for the recent uptick in violence — which also included a pair of shooting attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem over the weekend, one of which saw seven people killed — highlighting Israeli “policies that undermine a two-state solution.”
He also laments a lack of effort in the international community to hold the Israeli government accountable, which he charges has allowed continued settlement expansion, land expropriation, settler violence, IDF raids into Palestinian towns, home demolitions and evictions, according to the PA’s official Wafa mouthpiece.
Blinken, for his part, tells Abbas in front of reporters that the US will continue to oppose such steps by Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Abbas also raises the Palestinian effort to secure full-member status at the United Nations — an initiative that the US opposes and has indicated to PA officials they would block, according to officials in Washington and Ramallah. Washington has a veto in the Security Council, whose approval is needed for the Palestinians to receive elevated status at the UN.
“We have taken a number of decisions, which we have begun to implement in order to protect the interests of our people after having exhausted all other options,” Abbas says, ostensibly referring to his office’s announcement last week that it was severing security coordination with Israel.
The move was denounced by the US, but Abbas privately assured visiting CIA director Bill Burns earlier this week that the cooperation has only been partially cut and can be restored once tensions subside, an official familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel on Monday.
Abbas reiterates that he remains opposed to violence and terrorism and committed to a two-state solution.
Chair of Knesset finance panel: Broad secrecy for state oil concern may be ‘anachronistic’
Concluding a discussion about the cabinet’s decision Sunday to extend secrecy rules concerning a state-owned oil conglomerate, Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni says the blanket confidentiality may “anachronistic” and require changing “in light of today’s reality.”
Gafni, a member of the coalition’s United Torah Judaism party, says he’ll ask the committee’s legal adviser whether a new public hearing can be held on the need for continued confidentiality, promising not to “make life easy” for the most visible element of the conglomerate, the Europe Asia Pipeline Company. “What was once right is no longer right,” he continues, saying he knew the reasons the extension had been requested.
Ministers voted to extend secrecy rules for another five years, despite receiving more than 300 objections, but this must still be approved by the Knesset committee.
The Europe Asia Pipeline Company — formerly the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company — is the best-known of three state companies established by Israel decades ago in a secret partnership with the shah’s Iran.
113-year-old Ukrainian synagogue damaged by Russian shelling — local reports
A Russian shell struck a 113-year-old synagogue in the eastern Ukrainian city of Huliaipole yesterday, damaging the building, local media reports.
A photograph of the damage, which was shared by the city’s historical society, shows a large hole in one of the building’s brick walls.
“The city continues to be destroyed daily. The destruction of the historical part of the city is catastrophic,” the group says.
🤬💥Оккупационные войска ударили по синагоге в Гуляйполе
Это здание постройки 1909 года регулярно страдает от российских обстрелов. pic.twitter.com/6x9FlRXRr3
— Serg (@NHunter007) January 31, 2023
One of Ukraine’s chief rabbis, Moshe Asman, furiously condemns the strike on the synagogue. “In a normal world, it should be accepted that holy places are out of bounds, but even this agreement has been violated by the Russians. I expect leaders of the world to fiercely denounce this criminal act,” he says in a statement.
MK Ze’ev Elkin, who immigrated to Israel from Ukraine, also denounces the strike, noting that his family originally hails from Huliaipole and used to pray at the synagogue.
“How sad and infuriating. Striking holy places and houses of prayer, even during war, is an event that must be condemned clearly and we must demand that it not occur again,” Elkin says in a tweet.
Netanyahu talks with Greek FM about energy, UN votes and Iran
In his meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu focuses on energy cooperation, telling National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi to put together a trilateral meeting with Greek and Cypriot leaders to discuss the issue.
Dendias is the first foreign minister of an EU state to visit since the current Israeli government came to power in late December.
Netanyahu also says that he hopes the strong bilateral ties between Jerusalem and Athens will be reflected in Greece’s votes at the UN.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the two also discuss preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Dendias tweets that the conversation focused on the eastern Mediterranean, energy and investment. “Excellent bilateral relations reaffirmed,” he writes.
Netanyahu is joined by Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, Hanegbi, Military Secretary Avi Gil, Israel’s envoy to Greece Noam Katz and Greek Ambassador Kyriakos Loukakis.
Earlier in the day, Dendias met with Foreign Minister Eli Cohen. In his public statements after the meeting, Dendias blasted Turkey, which “systematically violates our territory, our airspace, uses hybrid tactics, escalates tension, issues open threats… of invasion and aiming ballistic missiles at Athens.”
Cohen calls the strategic partnership between Israel and Greece “an Israeli, regional, and European interest” that can help solve the global energy crisis.
Blinken meets civil society leaders, stresses democratic values
In a meeting with young leaders from Israel’s civil society, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returns to the importance of democratic values, a theme he has been focusing on in his public statements with Israeli officials.
Civil society, he says, “can be our North Star, keeping us focused and honest when it comes to making sure that we’re adhering to the principles that we all espouse. And reminding us of what’s truly important in the work that we’re doing, which is to try to make sure that each of us is treated with the dignity that we deserve as human beings.”
Blinken sat with representatives from ROPES, a nonprofit promoting regional Arab-Israeli integration; the Netzach Educational Network, which help Haredim work toward their Bagrut certificate; Tikkun Olam Makers, which tries to create innovations to met the needs of disabled people; the Israel Gay Youth organization; Loop, a tech NGO that seeks to integrate Arab youth into Israel’s high-tech community; and Shavot, which promote female professional leadership.
Binken also met with young civil society leaders in Egypt and in Ramallah.
Iranian couple jailed for 10 years for viral video of them dancing romantically
PARIS — An Iranian court has handed jail sentences of over 10 years each to a young couple who danced in front of one of Tehran’s main landmarks in a video seen as a symbol of defiance against the regime, activists say.
Astiyazh Haghighi and her fiance Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, both in their early 20s, had been arrested in early November after a video went viral of them dancing romantically in front of the Azadi Tower in Tehran.
Haghighi did not wear a headscarf in defiance of the Islamic Republic’s strict rules for women, while women are also not allowed to dance in public in Iran, let alone with a man.
A revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced them each to 10 years and six months in prison, as well as bans on using the internet and leaving Iran, the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) says today.
The couple, who already had a following in Tehran as popular Instagram bloggers, were convicted of “encouraging corruption and public prostitution” as well as “gathering with the intention of disrupting national security,” it adds.
Iranian bloggers and partners Astiaj Haghighi (21) and Amir-Mohammad Ahmadi (22) have been sentenced to 10.5 years in jail, each, and banned from leaving Iran or using social media for two years because of publishing a video of their dance at Tehran's Azadi (Liberty) Square. pic.twitter.com/pgSVZRe3p9
— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) January 30, 2023
HRANA cites sources close to their families as saying they had been deprived of lawyers during the court proceedings while attempts to secure their release on bail have been rejected.
It says Haghighi is now in the notorious Qarchak prison for women outside Tehran, whose conditions are regularly condemned by activists.
Iranian authorities have clamped down severely on all forms of dissent since the death in September of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the headscarf rules, sparked protests that have turned into a movement against the regime.
Lapid claps back at Netanyahu over charge opposition seeking to hurt economy
Opposition leader Yair Lapid responds to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s charge that his political rivals are seeking to hurt the economy in protest of the new government’s efforts to overhaul the judiciary.
“It’s not fun to be a defendant in criminal cases, but you don’t need to turn the bitterness into the destruction of Israel’s democracy and economy,” Lapid, who heads the Yesh Atid party, writes on Twitter in reference to Netanyahu’s ongoing trial on graft charges and his judicial shakeup plans.
Netanyahu said earlier today, “It’s not pleasant to lose elections… but you don’t need to turn this bitterness into harming the Israeli economy.”
Couple suspected of abandoning baby at airport after refusing to buy him ticket
A couple has been detained at Ben Gurion Airport on suspicion of abandoning their baby when told they must buy him a ticket for a Ryanair flight to Brussels.
According to Hebrew media reports, the parents refused to pay for the ticket, instead leaving the baby in a stroller and advancing toward the passport control before being detained.
Blinken meets with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is now holding talks in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The meeting comes amid escalated Israeli-Palestinian tensions, following a deadly military raid in Jenin last week during which nine Palestinians died in gun battles with Israeli forces, and one more days later. The IDF said Thursday’s operation was necessary to stop imminent attack plans by an Islamic Jihad cell that readied explosives and weapons.
A day later, a Palestinian terrorist shot dead seven Israelis in Jerusalem’s Neve Ya’akov neighborhood, the most deadly such attack since 2011. And on Saturday, a 13-year-old Palestinian shot two Israelis near the Old City in Jerusalem, seriously wounding two of them.
Netanyahu accuses political rivals of trying to harm the economy
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses his political rivals of trying to harm the economy, as his right-religious coalition has come under criticism over its proposals for a major shakeup of the judicial system.
“It’s not pleasant to lose elections… but you don’t need to turn this bitterness into harming the Israeli economy,” Netanyahu says during an event at the Haifa Port following the recent completion of its purchase by a consortium of firms led by India’s Adani Group.
“First off, it won’t help, because the economy is so strong and the smart investors come here,” he adds. “I suggest you simply join us and do the right thing: Build our economy, continue to open up and nurture our free market [economy], and together we’ll ensure a wonderful future.”
Bar association head said planning to resign in wake of sexual indecency allegation
The head of the Israel Bar Association is planning to resign in the next few days, the Haaretz daily says, after a television report accused him of performing an incident sexual act in front of a young female lawyer during a video chat.
Citing sources close to Avi Himi, the newspaper says he will not take part in an event tonight for lawyers who recently passed the bar.
Abbas meets with intel chiefs of Egypt and Jordan before hosting Blinken in Ramallah
Before hosting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas holds talks with the intelligence chiefs of Egypt and Jordan, according to the PA’s official Wafa news agency.
There are no details on what was discussed.
Hundreds of tech workers rally against judicial shakeup plans for 2nd week in a row
For a second consecutive week, hundreds of workers in the tech sector hold a brief strike, marching at 16 locations including in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Netanya and Haifa, as they protest the government’s contentious plans to overhaul the judicial system.
Protesters gather at various locations — the Sarona complex in Tel Aviv, a tech complex in Herzliya, the Airport City business park, and University of Haifa — many of them carrying Israeli flags.
In addition to last week’s signs in Hebrew, which read “Without democracy, there is no high tech,” and “No freedom, no high tech,” demonstrators this week also hold large signs in English that read: “Save our startup nation” and: “No balances – no checks.”
During the strike, demonstrators at Tel Aviv’s Sarona complex go onto busy Kaplan Street, where they briefly try to block some traffic and clash with the police.
The planned overhaul has drawn intense criticism, even from longtime proponents of judicial reform, and has sparked weekly mass protests and public petitions by various officials, professionals, private companies and other bodies.
Israeli companies, moneymakers, and business organizations have been stepping up efforts to voice concern over the judicial overhaul plan, which they say threatens democracy and will harm the thriving local tech industry. Many fear that a weakening of the judiciary system will create uncertainty and reduce the likelihood that foreign investors will inject funds into companies in the country. This in turn could force local and international businesses to leave and set up shop elsewhere.
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