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Health Ministry reports more than 700 new COVID cases over the weekend

Number of active infections passes 4,000, with 5 communities classified as having most severe level of morbidity; another fatality confirmed as serious cases tick up slightly

People, some wearing face masks, walk in Jerusalem on July 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
People, some wearing face masks, walk in Jerusalem on July 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

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

Midnight deadline for Netanyahu to depart PM’s residence nears

A moving truck is seen outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on July 6, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
A moving truck is seen outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on July 6, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The midnight deadline that ex-premier Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to leave the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem by is approaching.

There have been conflicting reports on whether Netanyahu and his family spent Shabbat at the residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street, where they have lived for the past 12 years.

According to the Ynet news site, another moving truck is due to arrive in the morning to take out more of the family’s possessions.

Netanyahu had reached the agreement to move out by tonight with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whose family will stay at home in Ra’anana while he is expected to sleep in the official residence for meetings.

Smotrich bashes government over ‘failure’ of expiring vaccine stockpile

Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich  speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Far-right Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich criticizes the new government and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett over the upcoming expiration of Israel’s stock of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines at the end of the month.

Today was the last day for children ages 12-15 to get their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, so they can get their second shot three weeks later before they expire. Anyone 16 and up will still be able to get the Moderna vaccine, which has not yet been approved for kids between 12-15.

“A serious failure of the new government and he who he leads it, adding to the failure at Ben Gurion Airport which is continuing to allow the entry of the Delta variant into Israel,” Smotrich tweets, noting today’s deadline came as Israel faces a resurgence in cases.

According to a Channel 12 report this evening, Israel is in advanced talks with Pfizer to move up the next scheduled shipment from September to August to allow for the vaccination of adolescents to continue.

If Israel is able to get additional Pfizer doses next month, more children will be able to get vaccinated before the start of the school year in September.

Jordan’s King Abdullah urges two-state solution in call with Herzog

Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a speech at the European Parliament on January 15, 2020 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Frederick Florin/AFP)
Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a speech at the European Parliament on January 15, 2020 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Frederick Florin/AFP)

A statement carried by Jordan’s official Petra news agency says King Abdullah II calls for increased efforts to reach a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, during his phone call this evening with President Isaac Herzog.

The statement also says Herzog phoned Abdullah and not the other way around, as an earlier statement from the president’s office said.

Health Ministry reports more than 700 new COVID cases over the weekend

A medical worker test Israelis for COVID-19 virus at a drive-thru testing facility in the Golan Heights, on July 7, 2021. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
A medical worker test Israelis for COVID-19 virus at a drive-thru testing facility in the Golan Heights, on July 7, 2021. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry reports 531 new coronavirus cases yesterday, with the number of active infections climbing to 4,064 amid a continued resurgence in morbidity.

There have been another 200 cases since midnight, with the number of infections since the pandemic began rising to 845,767.

The death toll stood at 6,435, up one from yesterday, while serious cases ticked up slightly to 43.

The positive test rate was 0.7 percent, identical to recent days.

According to the ministry, there are now five Israeli communities designated as “red” — the most severe level under its “traffic light” ranking system. The localities were listed as Kfar Yona, Shaarei Tikva, Ma’ale Adumim, Zufim and Yehud.

Following a push to increase vaccination rates among children, ministry figures show 5,726,066 people have received at least one COVID shot and 5,190,546 have gotten two doses.

Shaked: Chikli cracked under pressure in voting against family unification law

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked arrives at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked arrives at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked hits out at Yamina MK Amichai Chikli — a rebel member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s right-wing party — for casting the deciding vote this week against extending the Palestinian unification law.

“He promised to vote in favor of it, that he won’t surprise me,” Shaked, the No. 2 in Yamina, writes on Facebook. “I believed him. But he chose to believe the lies of Likud and the National Union concerning the imaginary numbers about the understandings.”

According to Shaked, Shikli told her he would either vote to back an extension of the law — which prevents Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens from automatically receiving citizenship or residency — or abstain.

“If he had informed me 10 minutes before the vote that he broke [under pressure], we would have obtained a third MK from Ra’am,” she asserts, in reference to the Islamist party, of which two MKs voted in favor of the extension and two MKs abstained.

Yamina MK Amichai Chikli at the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 7, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Family of soldier killed in Gaza war seeks help retrieving stolen hard drive

Staff Sgt. Bnaya Rubel, 20 years old, was killed in action during Operation Edge. (Photo credit: IDF)
Staff Sgt. Bnaya Rubel, 20 years old, was killed in action during Operation Edge. (Photo credit: IDF)

A hard drive that contained files on an Israeli soldier killed in the 2014 Gaza war was stolen during a break in at the family’s home in Rishon Lezion, his sister-in-law says.

In a Facebook post, she asks for anyone with information on the hard drive to get in touch with her, so the family can get it back. She says the disk contains all the family’s memories of Staff Sgt. Bnaya Rubel, 20.

“Its monetary value is little compared to its incredibly precious emotional value,” Maayan Rubel writes.

אנו זקוקים לעזרתכם!הלילה פרצו לביתנו ברחוב הסיפון, ראשון לציון.בין הדברים שנלקחו, כונן קשיח שבו כל הזכרונות מבניה ז"ל…

Posted by Maayan Korem Rubel on Friday, July 9, 2021

Ethiopian PM Abiy’s party declared election winner in landslide

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a final campaign rally at a stadium in the town of Jimma in the southwestern Oromia Region of Ethiopia, on June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a final campaign rally at a stadium in the town of Jimma in the southwestern Oromia Region of Ethiopia, on June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s ruling party has won an overwhelming majority in a landmark parliamentary poll, the electoral board says, ensuring a new five-year term for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

His Prosperity Party won 421 seats, out of a total of 436, in the elections held on June 21, according to results read out by National Election Board of Ethiopia deputy head Wubshet Ayele at a gathering in Addis Ababa.

Herzog speaks by phone with Jordan’s king, touts ‘strategic ties’ between countries

New President Isaac Herzog speaks at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on July 7, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)
New President Isaac Herzog speaks at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on July 7, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)

President Isaac Herzog spoke by phone this evening with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, his office says, following a number of other recent high-level contacts between the countries following the swearing-in of Israel’s new government last month.

Herzog’s office says in a statement that the Jordanian monarch phoned to congratulate Herzog on becoming president this week.

“The president thanked King Abdullah, who expressed satisfaction with the recent return of diplomatic ties between the two countries to their proper track. The president stressed the importance of the strategic ties between the countries for advancing peace and regional development, and that he intends to continue to assist in strengthening the relations between the countries,” the statement says.

It adds that the two agreed to remain in contact “to work together to advance cooperation between the states, for the benefit of their nations and the entire region.”

Security cabinet to be shown new plan for Qatari funds in Gaza – report

Palestinians receive their financial aid as part of assistance given by Qatar, at a post office in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 6, 2020. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinians receive their financial aid as part of assistance given by Qatar, at a post office in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 6, 2020. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Ministers in the high-level security cabinet are expected to be presented tomorrow with a new Israeli proposal for allowing Qatari funds into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Channel 12 news reports.

The plan, aimed at enabling aid to reach Gaza without enriching the Hamas terror organization, reportedly calls for Qatar to send $30 million to the Strip each month, $10 million of which will be transferred via the United Nations and go toward fuel purchases.

The network says another $10 million in assistance for families will be sent to the postal bank in Gaza after affirming that they have no ties to Hamas, and the final $10 million will be put toward a cash-for-work program.

The proposal was put together in coordination with Egypt, according to the network. Cairo has been brokering long-term truce talks between Israel and Hamas following the 11-days of fighting in May between the Israeli military and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.

Israel expected to delay plans to reopen for individual tourism until September – report

Travelers at Ben Gurion International Airport, on June 30, 2021, heading for COVID-19 tests. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Travelers at Ben Gurion International Airport, on June 30, 2021, heading for COVID-19 tests. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Israeli plans to begin allowing individual vaccinated tourists into the country again is expected to be further delayed, amid concerns over the entry of coronavirus variants into the country, according to Channel 13 news.

The postponement would see the resumption of tourism pushed back from August to September.

Israeli HMO says it vaccinated 3,800 youths this weekend

An Israeli youth receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Tel Aviv on July 6, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)
An Israeli youth receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Tel Aviv on July 6, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

Maccabi Health Services reports that it administered coronavirus vaccines to some 3,800 youths this weekend.

The HMO says that over 50% of minors it insures have been vaccinated, according to the Ynet news site.

Health Ministry said set to recommend kids begin school year in ‘capsules’

Illustrative: Students wearing face masks return to school in Yad Mordechai, on March 7, 2021. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Students wearing face masks return to school in Yad Mordechai, on March 7, 2021. (Flash90)

The Health Ministry is expected to recommend children start the next school year by studying in socially-distanced “capsules,” Israeli television reports say, amid concerns the coronavirus could spread among unvaccinated students.

Hosting Abbas, Erdogan says Turkey won’t be silent about Israeli ‘atrocities’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, in Istanbul, on December 12, 2017. (Kayhan Ozer/Pool Photo via AP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, in Istanbul, on December 12, 2017. (Kayhan Ozer/Pool Photo via AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounces Israel as he hosts Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for talks in Istanbul.

“Peace and stability in the region will not be possible as long as the Israeli occupation continues, Erdogan stressed, saying Turkey did not and will not remain silent about Israel’s atrocities in Palestine,” a report on the meeting by the official Anadolu news agency says.

IDF spox: How much aid for Lebanon could’ve been bought instead of smuggled guns?

After Israeli forces thwarted an attempt to smuggle dozens of guns in the country from Lebanon, the IDF Arabic spokesperson highlights the monetary value of the weapons confiscated in the bust, as Israel’s northern neighbor faces a major financial crisis.

“The estimated value of the guns smuggled from Lebanon and seized by us is around 1,248,000,000 Lebanese pounds,”  tweets Avichay Adraee.

“How much milk for children, how many diapers, how many liters of fuel, and how much medicine could be bought for the Lebanese citizens with this money?”

Mired in energy crisis, Lebanon power plant to restart after lack of fuel forced it offline

A picture taken on July 10, 2021 shows the Deir Ammar power station, in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. (Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP)
A picture taken on July 10, 2021 shows the Deir Ammar power station, in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. (Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP)

BEIRUT — A major power station in Lebanon is set to resume operations tomorrow, two days after it ground to a halt due to a lack of fuel, during a period where the country has faced constant power cuts and economic turmoil.

Zahrani, one of the country’s four main power plants, located in south Lebanon, went offline yesterday because the state electricity company was unable to access fuel shipments stuck offshore, due to pending payments.

Electricity of Lebanon (EDL) says today that foreign correspondent banks have completed payment procedures and preparations are underway to unload the cargo.

“Zahrani power plant will be back in service starting tomorrow morning after the entire cargo aboard the tanker is unloaded into its tanks,” EDL says in a statement.

The state electricity company, however, doesn’t mention the Deir Ammar power station, which also went offline yesterday because it ran out of fuel.

Together, Deir Ammar and Zahrani provide about 40% of the country’s electricity.

Lebanon is mired in what the World Bank has called one of the worst economic crises since the 1850s, and the cash-strapped state is struggling to buy enough fuel to keep the lights on.

Power cuts in recent months have lasted up to 22 hours a day in some areas, while even private generator owners have been forced to ration output as fuel prices rise, resulting in periods of complete blackout.

This has disrupted work at businesses, government offices and hospitals.

The government’s COVID-19 vaccine committee yesterday said that it cancelled a mass vaccination drive planned for the weekend because of power outages in most centers.

Security officials: Smuggled guns from Lebanon were meant to be used for terror in Israel

Dozens of guns seized during a smuggling operation from Lebanon, on July 10, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
Dozens of guns seized during a smuggling operation from Lebanon, on July 10, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli security officials believe that dozens of weapons, seized overnight as they were smuggled into the country from Lebanon, were meant to be used for terror activity inside Israel, according to Channel 12 news.

The network also quotes the officials saying they can’t remember such a widespread smuggling attempt, in terms of the number of weapons involved and their quality.

The military and police earlier said they were looking into whether the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah was involved in the smuggling attempt, which included 43 weapons and ammunition seized worth NIS 2.7 million (approximately $820,000).

Troops nab Gazans attempting to enter Israel with knives

Illustrative: Israeli army jeeps patrol on the border with the Gaza Strip on October 17, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli army jeeps patrol on the border with the Gaza Strip on October 17, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Three Palestinian suspects are arrested by IDF troops as they attempt to cross into Israel from southern Gaza, according to the military.

The Israel Defense Forces says the suspects were carrying knives and are being questioned at the scene.

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