The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
Christian Boltanski, one of France’s top contemporary artists whose multimedia works probed the meaning of mortality and memory, dies aged 76.
Boltanski, whose death in Paris’s Cochin hospital was first reported by Le Monde newspaper, often mixed banal daily objects with photographs, videos and sculpture, while at other times creating monumental installations.
The son of a converted Jewish doctor of Ukrainian origin and a Catholic French mother, Boltanski was born on September 6, 1944, as Europe reeled from the Nazi Holocaust.
During the World War II German occupation of France, Boltanski’s polio-ridden mother hid his father under the floorboards of their apartment and pretended that the couple had divorced.
Boltanski’s childhood was haunted by stories of family friends who had survived the Holocaust, a theme which would later greatly influence his work.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz says Israel must prepare itself for the possibility that Iran will obtain an atomic weapon.
“In face of Iranian armament with a nuclear weapon, we have no choice but to expand our force build-up, rely on our human capital and to adapt our plans,” Gantz says at the graduation ceremony for Israel’s National Defense College.
In recent months, the United States and Iran have been negotiating a mutual return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but these talks have so far failed to achieve a breakthrough, increasing the likelihood that Tehran will fully abandon the accord.
Israel has maintained that as it is not part of the nuclear deal, it is free to act as it sees fit to prevent Iran from obtaining an atomic bomb.
In his speech, Gantz calls for the government to allow the country’s security services to “maintain military superiority, which allows our existence and our efforts to obtain peace.”
This appears to refer to a report by the Kan broadcaster earlier in the night that the Israel Defense Forces is asking the government for a major budget increase.
An Iron Dome missile was fired at and nearly hit an Israeli fighter jet during May’s conflict between Israel and the Hamas terror group, the Israel Air Force acknowledges.
Channel 12 says an interceptor missile fired at a rocket from Gaza accidentally locked onto an F-15 plane flying over the Strip. The errant interceptor was detonated by Iron Dome operators moments before hitting the jet, it adds. The incident was so close that shrapnel from the interceptor hit the jet, reports say.
A Channel 13 report, by contrast, says the interceptor was fired deliberately at the F-15, having misidentified it as a rocket heading into Israel. It was “a miracle” that nobody was hurt, it adds.
Both TV reports say the IAF confirmed the incident took place, noted that it took place at the height of the conflict during heavy barrages of rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, and said lessons were being learned from the incident.
During Operation Guardian of the Walls — the IDF’s name for the 11 days of hostilities that began on May 10, after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem amid escalating Israeli-Palestinian tensions over the city — Hamas and other terror groups fired more than 4,300 rockets toward Israel while the Israel Defense Forces responded with roughly 1,500 airstrikes against targets in Gaza. The military also intercepted a number of drones launched toward Israel by the Gaza-ruling terror group.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Israel has dramatically improved its military capabilities in the 15 years since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which was marred by mismanagement and disfunction.
“Today we’re in a different place,” Bennett says at the graduation ceremony for Israel’s National Defense College.
Bennett warns that Lebanon is today “on the verge of — or even I’d say in the midst of — a collapse,” due to the influence of Iran in the country’s affairs.
“We have a joint enemy with the citizens of Lebanon: Iran and Hezbollah,” the premier says, adding that, unlike the Lebanese, Israel has the capabilities to counter them.
“We will not allow any country or terrorist organization to threaten the State of Israel, its security or its sovereignty,” Bennett says.
A former Arab Israeli city councilmember was shot and killed in his hometown of Qalanswa, police say.
According to the Arabic-language news site Arab48, Bakr Natour, 43, was killed in broad daylight in the central Arab Israeli city. Three of his brothers have been wounded in shootings over the past few months, the site reports.
Some 44 Arab Israelis have been killed in homicides since the beginning of 2021, according to the Abraham Initiatives, a shared society nonprofit.
According to updated COVID-19 figures published by the Health Ministry, the number of seriously ill patients has risen to 53.
A total of 756 new cases were diagnosed over Tuesday, with an additional 519 by this afternoon, according to the Health Ministry.
The number of active cases rose to 5,220, and the death toll since the start of the pandemic stood at 6,441.
Of the 62,202 tests performed Tuesday, 1.38% came back positive.
The State Prosecutor’s Office tells the Nazareth District Court that it has decided to reopen the trial of Roman Zadorov, sentenced to life in prison for murdering a 13-year-old girl despite his repeated assertions he had been wrongly convicted.
Zadorov, a Ukrainian-Israeli handyman, has spent more than a decade in prison for the brutal 2006 murder of Tair Rada.
The decision of State Prosecutor Amit Aisman comes after the Supreme Court said in May that there was sufficient reasonable doubt to exonerate Zadorov and a retrial should be held.
Rada was found dead in a bathroom stall in her Katzrin school in the Golan Heights, with slashes to her neck, stab wounds across her body and severe blows to her head. Shortly after the murder, Zadorov, who was employed at the school at the time as a maintenance worker, was arrested and charged with the killing.
Isaac Herzog makes his first diplomatic appearance as president, at the Bastille Day celebrations at the French ambassador’s residence in Jaffa.
Herzog stresses “the long-lasting friendship between the Israeli and French nations,” and says he looks forward to meeting with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Israel or in France.
“Had Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Acre in 1799, we may have had a Jewish state way before 1948,” the president said to laughs.
“Vive la France! Vive Israel!” he concludes.
An official who was present at the meeting of the coronavirus cabinet last night warns that if the public is not careful, Israel will enter a lockdown on Rosh Hashanah, Channel 12 news reports.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said earlier today that Israel can overcome the current resurgence of the coronavirus Delta variant without introducing more lockdowns, but warned closures could eventually be reimposed as a last resort if Israelis don’t heed the health rules.
The coalition withdraws a bill to decriminalize recreational marijuana after Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas asks its author, MK Sharan Haskel, to hold the vote for two weeks in order to allow his faction to study the implications of the law on the Arab sector.
Haskel’s bill would permit Israeli adults to possess up to 50 grams of marijuana and to grow up to 15 plants for personal use. Anyone possessing marijuana in excess of that amount could face a NIS 2,000 (over $600) fine. Marijuana consumption in public would continue to be barred, with violators subject to a fine of NIS 500.
The bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, giving it government backing. But Ra’am, which has broken with the coalition and played spoiler in previous legislative efforts, has said it opposes marijuana consumption on religious grounds.
The coalition holds a razor-thin majority in the Knesset, with limited ability to advance legislation without Ra’am’s support.
Likud MK Nir Barkat submits a proposal that would prevent the United States from reopening its consulate in Jerusalem that had historically served as the de facto representative to the Palestinians.
“We are talking about the unification of Jerusalem,” Barkat tells Channel 12 news. “Before we know it, there will be all sorts of European consulates in Jerusalem, and it will turn into the consular capital for the Palestinians,” he added.
In 2019, the Trump administration merged the 175-year-old Jerusalem consulate into the US embassy in the city, which had been transferred from Tel Aviv a year earlier. Much of the staff at the historic mission on Agron Street in downtown West Jerusalem continued their same jobs, though under a newly named Palestinian Affairs Unit formed under the larger umbrella of US relations to Israel.
Preparing to take off from Israel to Tokyo this evening, Israel Olympic Committee director-general Gili Lustig says he is hoping for the Israeli delegation to the games to come back with up to three medals.
“We are very excited and looking forward to it. The games have been postponed for a year and we are in a difficult situation with the coronavirus, but yes, we are excited,” Lustig tells the Sport One channel from Ben Gurion Airport.
“Our expectation is between two and three medals and ten finals,” he says of the 89-athlete delegation which includes several medal contenders.
Israel has won just nine Olympic medals in history, and only one gold — in sailing at the 2004 Athens Games.
Ex-US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, confirms that former US president Donald Trump was annoyed at Benjamin Netanyahu for congratulating Joe Biden on winning the 2020 US election.
A forthcoming book on the Trump presidency by Michael Wolff claims that he saw the congratulations from Netanyahu, at the time Israel’s prime minister, as the “ultimate betrayal.”
Friedman is asked about the incident during an interview with Zev Brenner on the Talkline Network, a Jewish media outlet.
“I think he would have preferred that the prime minister [Netanyahu] hold his powder a little bit longer,” he says.
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro is admitted to hospital to investigate the cause of persistent hiccups, a government spokesperson says.
The 66-year-old leader had been complaining publically since last week that he had been suffering from hiccups following surgery on a dental implant on July 3.
Bolsonaro was taken to a military hospital in the capital Brasilia “to undergo tests and to investigate the cause of the hiccups,” says the statement from the presidential palace.
“He is in good spirits and feels well,” says the presidency, adding that Bolsonaro would remain under observation for the next 24-48 hours, although “not necessarily in hospital.”
Speaking to a local radio station last week, Bolsonaro had said: “This happened to me before, maybe due to the medicine I’m taking, I have hiccups 24 hours a day.”
Iran denounces as “baseless and absurd” a US Justice Department charge that four Iranian intelligence agents planned to kidnap a reporter of Iranian origin in the US.
“This new assertion by the United States, whose enmity with Iran is no secret, is baseless and absurd,” foreign ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh says, referring to charges brought against four Iranian nationals for an alleged plot to abduct Masih Alinejad.
“This is not the first time the United States has engaged in creating such Hollywood scenarios,” the ISNA news agency quotes Khatibzadeh as saying.
A new study conducted in Israel finds that antibody levels change according to age and biological sex, with men and women developing more or less of the virus-busting proteins at different stages of their lives, Tel Aviv University says in a statement.
The joint TAU and Shamir Medical Center (Asaf Harofe) research was published last week in the online journal Medrxiv and has not yet been peer-reviewed.
Between November 8, 2020, and March 5, 2021, researchers analyzed 26,170 blood samples collected from those infected with COVID-19, those who were vaccinated against the coronavirus, and unvaccinated people suspected of having contracted COVID-19 but who were asymptomatic.
Likud responds to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s claim that the previous government was guilty of “serious neglect” in its management of the coronavirus crisis, which he said caused today’s spread of the Delta variant.
“Bennett convened a press conference to announce that he has no decisions or guidelines while the coronavirus returns to Israel under his watch,” the Likud says in a statement.
“No false excuse from Bennett will explain how he let the coronavirus return to Israel after he received from Netanyahu a country in the best condition in the world,” the statement adds.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says that Israel can overcome the current outbreak of the coronavirus Delta variant without introducing more lockdowns.
“The Delta variant is covering the globe,” he says at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
“We can beat the Delta variant without lockdowns if we are all diligent and determined,” he asserts, asking the public to ensure they wear masks indoors, get vaccinated and keep their distance from others in public.
Bennett warns, however, that if these rules are not heeded, further lockdowns could be introduced.
A rise in cases due to the Delta variant “in a few weeks will translate to many more sick people and many more deaths,” he says.
“The easiest thing, like they repeatedly did over the past year and a half, is to shut everything down. We may indeed end up there but we are going to try a different path this time. And it depends on all of us,” Bennett says.
He describes the actions of the previous government as “serious neglect.”
“Our aim is to protect the public while preventing disruptions of regular life as much as possible. More transparency and fewer lockdowns.”
In a future war with Hezbollah, the Israel Defense Forces believes, Hezbollah could fire 1,000 to 3,000 rockets and missiles every day for at least the first week of fighting, far more than the few hundred that were fired each day during May’s 11-day battle between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and indeed a larger onslaught than the country has ever faced.
However, the IDF does not anticipate such a conflict to break out imminently, believing the domestic crises currently unfolding within Lebanon make the prospects of war less likely. Still, they are more broadly a source of concern for the military, adding yet more chaos and uncertainty to an already fraught situation just across the border.
“Hezbollah is preventing stability in Lebanon and endangers the lives of Lebanese citizens as it hides behind them,” Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, the head of the IDF’s Northern Command, tells reporters, marking 15 years since start of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
In the time since then, the Iran-backed Hezbollah has turned from a terror group into a full-blown terrorist army, with an arsenal of 130,000 to 150,000 projectiles of various varieties and ranges, from mortar shells to simple rockets with ranges of 200 kilometers (120 miles) to cruise missiles, shore-to-sea missiles, armed unmanned aerial vehicles and a small number of precision guided-missiles, the latter being of the utmost concern to the IDF.
“Our message to Hezbollah is this: In the next campaign, you will encounter a military that is better trained, more lethal and more determined than ever before,” Baram says.
A proposal to compensate families of victims of the April 30 disaster at Mount Meron — which left 45 people dead and over 150 injured — fails to pass a preliminary Knesset vote.
The bill, brought by opposition MK Yaakov Asher (United Torah Judaism), is shut down by the coalition 59-55, as the government says it had not yet formulated a position on the matter.
It proposed to establish a framework to provide assistance to the victims of the Meron disaster, which would be carried out according to a plan prepared by the Finance Ministry, through the establishment of a committee that would formulate criteria for the assistance, including the number of victims in the family and sources of income.
But Minister in the Finance Ministry Hamed Amar says the current wording of the law would lead to excessive costs, and therefore his office will examine the budgetary implications at a later date.
A 22-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker is convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to life imprisonment for a knife attack that injured seven people in a southern Swedish town earlier this year.
Tamin Sultani was shot by police and arrested after an 18-minute rampage on March 3. Investigators, who dismissed terrorism as a motive, charged him with seven cases of attempted murder.
The Eksjo District Court says Sultani will be deported after serving his time. He has said he wanted to go back to Afghanistan.
The life sentence, which doesn’t have a fixed time, is the most severe punishment in Sweden.
Sultani attacked seven men with a 22-centimeter (8.7-inch) blade in the small town of Vetlanda, about 190 kilometers (118 miles) southeast of Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city.
Three of the victims survived life-threatening injuries, two were seriously injured, two others were moderately injured and one individual was slightly hurt. Police initially said the attacker used an ax but it later turned out that Sultani was armed with a knife.
MK Vladimir Beliak from Yesh Atid tests positive for coronavirus, in a potential fresh blow to the coalition as it struggles to pass legislation with a razor-thin Knesset majority.
After Beliak was confirmed to have COVID-19, Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash sought to prevent him from taking part in plenum votes at the Knesset.
“It’s unreasonable to prevent a Knesset member from voting in the plenum, even if he is confirmed to have the coronavirus,” Beliak tweets in response. “I will never violate the guidelines, but I expect the Health Ministry to offer a reasonable solution that will allow me to exercise my democratic right.”
The World Health Organization reports that there were nearly 3 million coronavirus cases globally last week, a 10% increase that was accompanied by a 3% rise in deaths, reversing a nine-week trend of declining COVID-19 incidence.
In its weekly report, the UN health agency says the highest numbers of new cases were from Brazil, India, Indonesia and the United Kingdom. WHO says the easier-to-spread Delta variant has now been identified in 111 countries since first being detected in India and it expects the variant to become globally dominant in coming the months.
WHO says more transmissible versions of COVID-19 could emerge and “coupled with the relaxation and inappropriate use of public health and social measures and increased social mobility and mixing,” numerous countries would see higher cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
The organization acknowledged many countries are now facing “considerable pressure” to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions but warned that “improper planning or assessment of the risk of transmission during any gathering or travel provides opportunity for the virus to spread.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will pay a farewell visit to Israel next month, after responding to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s invitation, Channel 12 news reports.
This will be Merkel’s first visit to Israel since 2018, and she is expected to meet with President Isaac Herzog as well as Bennett.
Merkel, who steps down as chancellor in September after nearly 16 years in the job, congratulated Bennett the night he was sworn in as prime minister.
“Germany and Israel are connected by a unique friendship that we want to strengthen further. With this in mind, I look forward to working closely with you,” Merkel said in a message addressed to Bennett and shared by her spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer on Twitter.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will travel to the United States in mid-August for a meeting with US President Joe Biden, Channel 12 news reports.
Bennett is considering holding the trip on a weekend, in an effort to avoid any danger of missing crucial Knesset votes back at home while he’s unable to attend, a diplomatic source with knowledge of the matter tells The Times of Israel.
The trip would be the first meeting between Bennett and Biden and the premier’s first public international trip since taking office last month.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz has decided to appoint Salman Zarka, director-general of Ziv Medical Center in Safed, as the new coronavirus czar.
Zarka will replace Nachman Ash, who has been appointed director-general of the Health Ministry.
Holding a master’s degree in epidemiology and public health, Zarka has headed the Ziv Medical Center for the past seven years and is an associate professor at Bar Ilan University and senior lecturer at Hebrew University.
Police open an investigation after a memorial to victims of the deadly crush at Mount Meron was vandalized.
Video of the incident shows several ultra-Orthodox men at the holy site in northern Israel walking up to posters bearing photos of the 45 people trampled to death during Lag B’Omer festivities on April 30.
The suspects can then been seen tearing down the posters and trampling on them.
A group representing the victims’ families filed a police complaint over the vandalism and police say they are working to track down the suspects.
The Health Ministry has canceled Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s quarantine after an aide of his suspected to have contracted the coronavirus received two negative test results.
Lapid entered quarantine yesterday after a rapid test for the aide came back positive
The aide was on a flight with Lapid and his team as they returned from a visit to Brussels where he met with his European Union counterparts.
Former President George W. Bush criticizes the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan in an interview with a German broadcaster, saying he fears that Afghan women and girls will “suffer unspeakable harm.”
Asked in an interview with German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle whether the withdrawal is a mistake, Bush replies: “You know, I think it is, yeah, because I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad.”
The war in Afghanistan began under Bush after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Washington gave Taliban leader Mullah Omar an ultimatum: hand over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and dismantle militant training camps or prepare to be attacked. Omar refused, and a US-led coalition launched an invasion in October.
The withdrawal of US and NATO troops set in motion earlier this year by current US President Joe Biden is now nearing completion. Taliban fighters have been surging through district after district, taking control of large swaths of the country.
Pope Francis leaves the Rome hospital where he had undergone an operation on his colon on July 4.
The 84-year old was whisked away from the Gemelli University Hospital in a car with tinted windows and was later spotted returning to his home within the Vatican’s walls.
He stopped off on the way at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore for a quick prayer to “express his gratitude for the success of his surgery,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni says.
The pope also prayed at the central Rome church for “all the sick, especially all those he had met during his stay in hospital,” Bruni adds,.
Francis had been admitted to hospital after suffering from a type of diverticulitis, an inflammation of pockets that develop in the lining of the intestine.
The families of three Israelis arrested last week in Nigeria over alleged contact with anti-government separatists released a statement charging that local political elements have “twisted” the gifting of a Torah scroll to a local community to claim it constitutes support for separatist political ambitions.
Rudy Rochman, a pro-Israel activist with almost 95,000 followers on Instagram, filmmaker Andrew Noam Leibman and French-Israeli journalist Edouard David Benaym were arrested last week while shooting a documentary in a separatist region of southeast Nigeria.
According to media reports, Nigerian authorities arrested and interrogated the trio on suspicion that they had come into contact with Biafran separatists.
The finance and economy ministries announce that the implementation of Treasury chief Avigdor Liberman’s plan to end daycare subsidies for ultra-Orthodox families in which the father is a full-time yeshiva student will be delayed by several months.
The policy, which is expected to end the subsidies for around 18,000 households and has been roundly denounced by Haredi opposition lawmakers, will now take effect on November 1 rather than at the start of the new school year in September, according to a joint statement from Liberman and Economy Minister Orna Barbivai.
“The finance and economy ministers decided to grant two more months for the education system, employment market and families themselves to prepare for the decision to change the criteria for those eligible for daycare subsidies,” the statement says.
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