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Hezbollah takes responsibility for drones launched at Karish gas field

Lebanese terror group says UAVs successfully accomplished ‘reconnaissance mission’ and ‘a message was conveyed’; Gantz: ‘Israel will continue to protect its assets’

A drone launched by the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, shortly after being intercepted by an Israeli fighter jet over the Mediterranean Sea, July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
A drone launched by the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, shortly after being intercepted by an Israeli fighter jet over the Mediterranean Sea, July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

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

Lapid to sleep at ‘secure’ apartment near PM’s residence, amid construction work

The Prime Minister's Residence on Balfour Street, Jerusalem. (Yaakov Saar/GPO)
The Prime Minister's Residence on Balfour Street, Jerusalem. (Yaakov Saar/GPO)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and his wife Lihi will spend the night at a “secure” apartment on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, as the nearby prime minister’s official residence is undergoing renovations to upgrade its security.

The Shin Bet security agency’s head, Ronen Bar, tells Lapid during a meeting that “most of the infrastructure shortcomings detailed in the State Comptroller’s report” have yet to be fixed, according to a statement from the PMO.

“It was agreed that [the Shin Bet] would examine the fastest course of action in order to expedite the security and infrastructure renovation at the Balfour residence,” it says.

Lapid will meanwhile stay at the Shin Bet’s “secure compound” —  which is an apartment that has served as a barracks for Shin Bet guards, and before that was used by the Guatemalan embassy.

The Shin Bet will also install security measures at Lapid’s private Tel Aviv home.

Bar says they will be “necessary and minimal,” so as to not disrupt the routine of Lapid’s neighbors.

To cut costs, existing security measures will be transferred from other areas, Bar says to Lapid, according to the PMO statement.

Hezbollah takes responsibility for drones launched at Karish gas field

A drone which the Israeli military says was launched by the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, is seen shortly before being intercpted by an Israeli fighter jet over the Mediterranean Sea, July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
A drone which the Israeli military says was launched by the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, is seen shortly before being intercpted by an Israeli fighter jet over the Mediterranean Sea, July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Lebanese Hezbollah terror group claims responsibility for launching three drones at the Karish gas field in Israel’s territorial waters earlier today, which were shot down by Israel.

Hezbollah says the drones were intended to carry out a “reconnaissance mission” in the area, adding that the mission was accomplished successfully and ” a message was conveyed.”

The IDF said earlier that one UAV was downed by an F16 fighter jet and the other two by missiles launched from a ship.

Israel says the drilling platform is in part of its UN-recognized exclusive economic zone, but Beirut insists it is in a disputed area.

Lebanon and Israel — which have no diplomatic relations and consider each other enemy states — have been holding indirect talks brokered by the US for close to two years to resolve a maritime border dispute.

Likud responds to Prime Minister Lapid’s first address

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset ahead of the vote to dissolve parliament, June 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset ahead of the vote to dissolve parliament, June 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

In a brief response to Yair Lapid’s first speech as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party issues a statement without commenting on the speech’s content and using its frequent talking points.

“No statement by Lapid will hide the fact that it was revealed: that he sent his CEO with an open check to the [Islamic Movement’s] Shura Council,” the Likud statement says, referring to comments made by a former diplomatic adviser to Naftali Bennett.

“The only government he can form is with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Joint List,” the Likud says. The predominantly Arab Joint List party has never been in an Israeli coalition government.

“The choice is a blackmailed Lapid government that includes the Muslim Brotherhood and the Joint List or a strong national government led by Netanyahu and the Likud that will return hope to Israel,” the statement adds.

In a later post on Facebook, the Likud responded to several points in Lapid’s speech, and added that he failed to mention the rising costs of consumer goods.

Lapid, in first TV speech as PM, decries political extremism, reaches out to Palestinians, warns Iran

Prime Minister Yair Lapid gives a first televised address to the nation, July 2, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid gives a first televised address to the nation, July 2, 2022 (Channel 12 screenshot)

In a first televised statement as prime minister, Yair Lapid thanks his predecessor Naftali Bennett for the “orderly transition of power.”

“I want to start by thanking the 13th Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Naftali Bennett. For your decency, for your friendship and for leading the government this past year to economic and security achievements not seen here for years,” he says, adding “a special thank you for allowing the citizens of Israel to see this week an orderly transition between people who keep agreements and believe in one another.”

This is a jab at opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who broke a power rotation agreement with Benny Gantz in 2020.

Lapid sets out what he says should be Israelis’ shared goal: “a Jewish, democratic, liberal, strong, advanced, and prosperous Israel.”

“We believe that Israel must be a liberal democracy in which every citizen has the right to change the government and set the course of their life. Nobody can be denied their fundamental rights: respect, liberty, freedom of employment, and the right to personal security,” he says.

“We believe that Israel is a Jewish state,” he adds. “Its character is Jewish. Its identity is Jewish. Its relations with its non-Jewish citizens are also Jewish. The book of Leviticus says, ‘But the stranger who dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself.'”

In a starkly different stance from that of Netanyahu, Lapid now says: “We believe that so long as Israel’s security needs are met, Israel is a country that seeks peace. Israel stretches out its hand to all the peoples of the Middle East, including the Palestinians, and says: the time has come for you to recognize that we’ll never move from here, let’s learn to live together.”

He adds: “We believe there is a great blessing in the Abraham Accords, a great blessing in the security and economic momentum created at the Negev Summit with the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and Morocco and that there will be a great blessing in the agreements yet to come.”

He pays tribute to “our greatest friend and ally, the United States,” and vows to “harness the international community in the struggle against “antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel.”

Lapid says Israel’s gravest threat is Iran, and promises: “We’ll do whatever we must to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability, or entrenching itself on our borders.”

He adds: “I say to everyone seeking our demise, from Gaza to Tehran, from the shores of Lebanon to Syria: don’t test us. Israel knows how to use its strength against every threat, against every enemy.”

Then, he turns to domestic politics: “The great Israeli question is actually why in a period in which we have wide national agreement on all the important topics, the levels of hate and anxiety within Israeli society are so high? Why is polarization more threatening than ever?

“The answer is — politics. In Israel, extremism doesn’t come from the streets to politics. It’s the opposite. It flows like lava from politics to the streets. The political sphere has become more and more extreme, violent and vicious, and it’s dragging Israeli society along with it. This we must stop. This is our challenge.”

Veteran Israeli journalist Moshe Nussbaum says he has ALS

Israeli journalist Moshe Nussbaum attends a ceremony at the Israel Police headquarters in Jerusalem on September 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli journalist Moshe Nussbaum attends a ceremony at the Israel Police headquarters in Jerusalem on September 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Veteran Israeli journalist Moshe Nussbaum announces that he has the degenerative disease ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“I am in the early stages of the disease,” Nussbaum says. “It’s not pleasant, my family and I are aware of the consequences and are prepared accordingly.”

“Some of you asked what happened to me and why I speak slowly. No, there is no need to hurry to say goodbye, comfort or eulogize me. I am still alive and kicking — maybe a little slower,” says the Channel 12 news reporter.

“Right now, I intend to continue working. But naturally, I’m slowing down,” he says.

He adds that he will continue to cover police affairs, but will appear less on camera.

Gantz after IDF downs Hezbollah drones: ‘Israel will defend its infrastructure from any threat’

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a ceremony in memory of Israeli soldiers who were killed during the First Lebanon War, at the National Hall of Remembrance at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on June 14, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a ceremony in memory of Israeli soldiers who were killed during the First Lebanon War, at the National Hall of Remembrance at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on June 14, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is set to hold an assessment with top security officials after Hezbollah drones were shot down en route to the Karish gas field in Israel’s territorial waters.

“The State of Israel is prepared to defend its infrastructure in the face of any threat,” Gantz says in a statement.

“The Hezbollah terrorist organization undermines the Lebanese state’s ability to reach an agreement on the maritime border that is essential to Lebanon’s economy and citizens,” he says.

“Israel will continue to protect its assets, and considers itself obligated and entitled to act and respond in the face of any attempt to harm it,” Gantz says.

The Israel Defenses Forces says it successfully intercepted three drones flown by the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, heading for the Karish gas field in Israel’s territorial waters.

Israel says the drilling platform is in part of its UN-recognized exclusive economic zone, but Beirut insists it is in a disputed area.

Lebanon and Israel — which have no diplomatic relations and consider each other enemy states — have been holding indirect talks brokered by the US for close to two years to resolve a maritime border dispute.

IDF says it shot down 3 Hezbollah drones en route to Karish gas field

Energean working in the Karish oil field, offshore Israel, in 2020. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Energean working in the Karish oil field, offshore Israel, in 2020. (Screen capture/YouTube)

The Israel Defenses Forces announces that it successfully intercepted three drones flown by the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, heading for the Karish gas field in Israel’s territorial waters.

One of the aircraft was downed by an F16 fighter jet, and the other two by Barak missiles launched from the Saar 5 Class Corvette INS Eilat, the military says.

The IDF says the UAVs were “identified at an early stage and monitored throughout their flight by air control units” and “intercepted at the most appropriate operational point.”

A preliminary investigation shows that the drones did not pose a real threat at any point during their flight, the military says.

Israel says the drilling platform is in part of its UN-recognized exclusive economic zone, but Beirut insists it is in a disputed area.

Lebanon and Israel — which have no diplomatic relations and consider each other enemy states — have been holding indirect talks brokered by the US for close to two years to resolve a maritime border dispute.

Palestinian Authority expected to hand over bullet that killed Al Jazeera reporter — reports

A mural of slain of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, in Gaza City, May 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A mural of slain of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, in Gaza City, May 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Israeli officials say they believe the Palestinian Authority will hand over the bullet removed from the body of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, to be examined by Israel.

In a briefing to Hebrew-language media, an unnamed Israeli official says the bullet may be transferred to Israel, via an American official, within the next day.

The Walla news site says the bullet may be given to US Security Coordinator Mike Fenzel, and an immediate ballistic analysis will take place, with results expected on Sunday.

The Palestinian-American journalist, who was wearing a vest marked “Press” and a helmet, was killed during clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen while she was covering an Israeli army operation in Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank on May 11.

Israel initially blamed Palestinian gunmen for the shooting, but later acknowledged that Abu Akleh could also have been killed by Israeli soldiers.

Israeli military officials have said that they have identified a gun that could have fired the shot that killed Abu Akleh, but that confirmation would require ballistic analysis to match the gun to the bullet.

Ramallah has so far refused to either turn over the bullet to Israel or to conduct a joint investigation.

While the IDF says it can’t conclusively say who shot Abu Akleh until it gets the bullet, it has reiterated that its investigations up till now have found she was not targeted deliberately.

The veteran Al Jazeera journalist was a familiar face to millions of viewers across the Arab world. An American citizen who held an Israeli-issued East Jerusalem identity card, Abu Akleh was widely regarded as a trailblazing correspondent, both for women and for Palestinians. Her death shocked Palestinians and sparked an international outcry.

Lapid to make televised speech on Saturday evening

Yair Lapid seen in the Knesset on June 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Yair Lapid seen in the Knesset on June 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid is expected to address the nation in a televised speech at 8:45 p.m.

The primetime address, timed for the end of the Sabbath, will be the first public speech by Lapid since he became prime minister at the stroke of midnight between Thursday and Friday, taking office as the 14th premier in Israel’s history.

Lapid’s term leading the country could be a fairly short one, as he takes over a caretaker government ahead of national elections on November 1.

On his first day in office Friday, Lapid met with Ronen Bar, the head of the Shin Bet security agency, at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Shortly afterward, the new prime minister held a meeting to discuss “the captives and MIAs” — a reference to the two Israeli men and the remains of two IDF soldiers being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

He is expected to hold additional meetings on the security situation in the coming days, as well as on the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Lapid will also move into a Jerusalem apartment near the official Prime Minister’s Residence.

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