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Herzog tells German president that Israel willing to help after deadly flooding

Israeli head of state tweets that he agrees with Frank-Walter Steinmeier that global warming ‘contributed to this calamity’

Rescuers check for victims in flooded cars on a road in Erftstadt, Germany, on July 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Rescuers check for victims in flooded cars on a road in Erftstadt, Germany, on July 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

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

Alleged gang leader killed in Jaffa identified as Izzat Hamed

The Arab Israeli man shot and killed this evening in Jaffa is identified as Izzat Hamed. He is the alleged head of a criminal gang in the area.

William Regnery, who funded right-wing extremism in US, dies at 80

BOCA GRANDE, Florida — William H. Regnery II, the heir to a family publishing fortune who was known for his quiet but influential support of extreme right-wing causes in the United States, has died at 80.

He died at his home in Boca Grande, Florida, on July 2. A person who today answered the phone at the Lemon Bay Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Englewood, Florida confirms they handled Regnery’s arrangements, but provided no additional information.

Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center, says in an email that Regnery’s material contributions helped to build networks of racist activists and a large body of pseudoscientific literature that Regnery hoped would legitimize his calls to build a white ethnostate.

“Though he usually operated in the background, Regnery was an extremely influential figure in the radical right,” Miller says.

In 2016, an Associated Press review of tax records found that the National Policy Institute, founded by Regnery, and three other groups at the forefront of the white nationalist movement had registered as charities and raised more than $7.8 million in tax-deductible donations over the previous decade.

Regnery spent much of his life using his family’s money to build the institutional infrastructure that would support the so-called alt-right — an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism, antisemitism and populism — and help to propel figures like Richard Spencer into the spotlight, Miller says.

“Regnery’s real legacy is not what he built, but the immense harm that he caused,” she says.

Spencer himself tweeted about Regnery on July 12, saying he “was fortunate to have known him and learned much from him.”

In a 2017 article, BuzzFeed News said Regnery felt his ideas were redeemed by the candidacy of now former president Donald Trump.

“I think Trump was a legitimatizer,” Regnery told the publication. White nationalism “went from being conversation you could hold in a bathroom, to the front parlor.”

Omri Casspi reportedly set to announce his retirement from pro basketball

Omri Casspi #18 of the Golden State Warriors shoots the ball against the Denver Nuggets on November 4, 2017 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. (Courtesy Golden State Warriors; Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Omri Casspi #18 of the Golden State Warriors shoots the ball against the Denver Nuggets on November 4, 2017 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. (Courtesy Golden State Warriors; Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Omri Casspi, the first Israeli player to break through in the NBA, will announce his retirement tomorrow from professional basketball, according to Israeli media reports.

Casspi, 33, has spent the last two seasons at Maccabi Tel Aviv — where he first starred before being selected in the 2009 NBA Draft — but has been plagued by injuries.

During his 10-year NBA career, Casspi played for the Sacremento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors.

Casspi was left off the Warriors’ roster for the 2018 postseason, during which the team won the NBA Finals, but later received a championship ring.

Alleged Jaffa crime boss shot to death in suspected mob hit

An Arab Israeli man, who reportedly heads a crime family, is killed in Jaffa this evening, with police reporting he was shot dead at close range.

Police say they have opened an investigation into the shooting, which Israeli media reports describe as a mob hit.

The man is not identified by name, but is said to head a criminal organization in Jaffa, which is part of the Tel Aviv municipality.

According to the Abraham Initiatives, the man is the 49th Arab Israeli to be killed so far this year in an incident involving violence or crime.


Iran nuclear negotiator: Vienna talks must wait for new president to take office

Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, arrives at the 'Grand Hotel Vienna' where closed-door nuclear talks are taking place in the Austrian capital, on June 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Florian Schroetter)
Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, arrives at the 'Grand Hotel Vienna' where closed-door nuclear talks are taking place in the Austrian capital, on June 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Florian Schroetter)

Iran’s deputy foreign minister says negotiations in Vienna over restoring the 2015 deal limiting the country’s nuclear program will not resume until hardline President-elect Ebrahim Raisi is sworn in next month.

“We’re in a transition period as a democratic transfer of power is underway in our capital,” Abbas Araghchi says on Twitter. “Vienna talks must thus obviously await our new administration.”

Araghchi, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, also says the Vienna talks shouldn’t be linked to a prisoner exchange with the United States and United Kingdom.

“US & UK need to understand this and stop linking a humanitarian exchange—ready to be implemented—with the JCPOA,” he says. “TEN PRISONERS on all sides may be released TOMORROW if US & UK fulfill their part of deal.”

Greek island reimposes COVID curfew amid spike in cases

ATHENS, Greece — The island of Mykonos has become the first location in Greece to have reimposed a curfew due to a spike in coronavirus cases.

Greek authorities say that one in 10 individuals tested on the island in recent days tested positive.

The 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. curfew took effect today, and authorities have also imposed a round-the-clock ban on music in bars, cafes and restaurants starting 6 p.m. today. Fines for violations range up to 200,000 euros ($236,000).

The ban on music and the curfew will end on Monday, July 26, unless the government decides to extend it.

Police on the island, a high-end tourist destination, say that violations of social distancing norms had gotten out of hand recently.

Authorities say the single hotel assigned to people quarantining has overflowed and visitors who have tested positive have been camping on beaches.

Greece continued to report a relatively high number of new infections, with 2,562 cases reported in the 24-hour period ending at 3 p.m. today. There were also seven deaths.

Health minister urges further COVID restrictions to stem rise in cases

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz speaks during a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 14, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz speaks during a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 14, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz calls for additional coronavirus restrictions to be approved by the government in an effort to stem rising infection numbers.

“We see a rise in the number of infected people and in the number of serious patients. One can say ‘it’s nothing,’ but what are waiting for? That there be thousands of infected people a day? Hundreds of serious patients?” he tells Channel 13 news.

Herzog tells German president that Israel is willing to help after deadly flooding

Rescuers check for victims in flooded cars on a road in Erftstadt, Germany, on July 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Rescuers check for victims in flooded cars on a road in Erftstadt, Germany, on July 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

President Isaac Herzog says he sent a letter to his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressing condolences for Germans killed in the lethal flood that has hit Western Europe, and informing Germany’s president that Israel was prepared to help.


Israeli director Nadav Lapid wins Cannes Jury Prize for ‘Ha’Berech’

Israeli director Nadav Lapid give a speech after he was awarded with the Jury Prize for the film "Ha'Berech" during the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on July 17, 2021. (Christophe Simon/AFP)
Israeli director Nadav Lapid give a speech after he was awarded with the Jury Prize for the film "Ha'Berech" during the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on July 17, 2021. (Christophe Simon/AFP)

Israeli director Nadav Lapid is awarded the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes film festival for his movie “Ha’Berech.”


1,118 COVID infections recorded Friday in nearly 4-month high; serious cases up to 58

Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on July 12, 2021. (Flash90)
Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on July 12, 2021. (Flash90)

The Health Ministry publishes updated coronavirus figures showing that 1,118 new cases were recorded yesterday, the highest daily tally in nearly four months.

Active cases stand at 6,563, with another 387 infections since midnight. There have been 850,941 confirmed cases in Israel since the pandemic began.

The number of serious cases rises slightly to 58, while the death toll stands at 6,446.

According to the ministry, the positive test rate yesterday was 1.58%.

Of the country’s population of some 9.3 million people, over 5.7 million have gotten at least one coronavirus shot and more than 5.2 million have received two doses.

Ra’am chief says he’d be happy for Joint List to join coalition, but remains skeptical

Ra'am chief Mansour Abbas at the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ra'am chief Mansour Abbas at the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ra’am chief Mansour Abbas says he’d be happy if the majority Arab Joint List also joined the coalition, but that he doesn’t believe they can currently be trusted.

“I’m not against them, but for now it’s impossible to rely on their word. Sometimes they do tricks and agreements with Likud and the ultra-Orthodox,” he tells Channel 12 news.

He adds: “Ultimately the budget will pass with the votes of coalition members and only of coalition members.”

The latter comment follows a report that said Joint List officials have indicated they could help the government pass a budget, in light of the coalition’s razor-thin majority in the Knesset.

In a separate interview with the network, Joint List chief Ayman Odeh says the alliance opposes a budget “that harms the weak. We will only vote according to our values.”

Ra’am ran as part of the Joint List in past elections, but broke from it over Abbas’s willingness to work with then-premier Benjamin Netanyahu before the March 23 vote.

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh speaks to reporters outside his home in Haifa on March 3, 2020. (Flash90)

 

Israel encouraged spy tech firms to work with Saudis after Khashoggi killing – NYT

Israel has continued to allow cyber-surveillance companies to secretly work with Saudi Arabia, despite the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The New York Times reports.

Citing government officials and other sources familiar with the matter, the newspaper says controversial private intelligence firm NSO Group cut ties with Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s 2018 killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

However, the Israeli government encouraged it and two other firms to keep working with the Saudis. A fourth firm wasn also reportedly given a license to work with Saudi Arabia.

According to the report, one of the firms given permission by the Defense Ministry to work with Saudi Arabia is named Candiru. On Thursday, Microsoft said it issued a software update to block spy tools developed by the firm that were allegedly used to snoop on over 100 people worldwide, including dissidents, activists and journalists.

The other two firms named in the report that have licenses to work with Saudi Arabia are Verint and Quadream, the latter of which was said to have begun working with Riyadh following the Khashoggi killing.

The Defense Ministry tells the Times in response that it will revoke the license of any company whose wares are used to violate human rights, while declining to discuss specific licenses it has issued.

Top Health Ministry officials said to seek expansion of ‘Green Pass’

Illustrative image: A woman shows her green pass as she arrives to watch a theater at the Khan theater in Jerusalem on February 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative image: A woman shows her green pass as she arrives to watch a theater at the Khan theater in Jerusalem on February 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Channel 12 news quotes unnamed senior Health Ministry officials as calling to expand use of the “Green Pass” at performances, restaurants, hotels and gyms, in light of the continued rise in new coronavirus cases.

The pass limits entry at various establishments to those who are vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.

The network also says Greece, Thailand and the Netherlands are expected to be added to a list of countries from which all arriving travelers must quarantine, even if they are vaccinated or recovered.

Additionally, the network says that, starting on Wednesday, police will begin enforcing the new “Revelry Pass” for weddings, parties and other celebratory indoor gatherings.

Owners of event halls where the rules are violated will be subjected to NIS 5,000 ($1,520) fines.

Education minister denies seeking ouster of senior health official

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton arrives at the President's Residence in Jerusalem for a group photo with members of the new government, on June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton arrives at the President's Residence in Jerusalem for a group photo with members of the new government, on June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, who has been a vocal critic of government coronavirus restrictions, denies she sought the ouster of Sharon Alroy-Preis, the Health Ministry’s public health services chief.

In an interview with Channel 12 news, Shasha-Biton says that what she wants is a change of direction, something she says other ministers are also on board with.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry, speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem on June 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Health Ministry chief: Another lockdown unlikely but ‘anything can happen’

Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash speaks at the Health Ministry n Jerusalem on July 13, 2021. (Flash90)
Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash speaks at the Health Ministry n Jerusalem on July 13, 2021. (Flash90)

New Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash says he doesn’t believe there will ultimately be another coronavirus lockdown, but that he can’t rule out the possibility.

“Anything can happen, but we don’t want to reach a lockdown situation,” he tells Channel 12 news.

He calls for increased mask-wearing in indoor spaces, after the mandate was reimposed last month.

Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram picks up 5th gold medal at Tel Aviv tourney

Linoy Ashram of Israel performs with the clubs during the 36th European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Illustrative: Linoy Ashram of Israel performs with the clubs during the 36th European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram takes first place in four more categories at the Rhythmic Gymnastics Grand Prix in Tel Aviv, bringing the number of gold medals she has won at the tournament to five.

The Israeli team also picked up two gold medals at the tournament, which comes shortly before the start of the Olympics in Tokyo.

Death toll in Europe flooding passes 160

Residents clear mud and unusable furniture from houses in the city center of Bad Neuenahr, western Germany, on July 17, 2021. (Thomas Frey/dpa via AP)
Residents clear mud and unusable furniture from houses in the city center of Bad Neuenahr, western Germany, on July 17, 2021. (Thomas Frey/dpa via AP)

BERLIN — Rescue workers labor to clear up damage laid bare by receding water, as the death toll from disastrous flooding in Western Europe rises above 160 and thoughts turn to the lengthy job of rebuilding communities devastated in minutes.

The death toll in western Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate state, home to the badly-hit Ahrweiler county, rises to 98. Another 43 people are confirmed dead in neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Belgium’s national crisis center puts the country’s confirmed death toll at 24, and said it expects the number to rise.

Days of heavy rain turned normally minor rivers and streets into raging torrents this week and caused the disastrous flooding that swept away cars, destroyed homes and trapped residents.

Iraqi hospital administrators abandon posts after deadly fire at COVID facility

NASIRIYAH, Iraq — Several hospital administrators in a southern Iraqi province have abandoned their posts, local authorities say, after arrest warrants were issued for senior staff following a deadly hospital fire in the city of Nasiriyah.

Saad al-Majid, health director of the southern governorate of Dhi Qar, tells AFP that management teams of five hospitals had quit as “they’re unwilling to assume responsibility” over any possible repeat of the tragedy.

At least 60 people were killed in the blaze late Monday at a temporary facility for COVID-19 patients at Nasiriyah’s Al-Hussein Hospital in Dhi Qar fuelled by oxygen canisters exploding.

It was the second such tragedy in Iraq in three months.

Merkel to visit flood-ravaged German town on Sunday

An excavator digs a hole next to a car that lies upside down after the floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany, on July 17, 2021. (Christof Stache/AFP)
An excavator digs a hole next to a car that lies upside down after the floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany, on July 17, 2021. (Christof Stache/AFP)

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit flood-ravaged western Germany tomorrow, where the worst rainfall in living memory has caused huge destruction and left more than 130 people dead, regional officials says.

Merkel will travel to the hard-hit town of Schuld in the Rhineland-Palatinate state, a spokeswoman for the regional interior ministry tells AFP, confirming earlier media reports.

The visit is set to take place in the afternoon, the spokeswoman says.

Merkel has called the flooding a national “tragedy,” and promised support from the federal government to help the affected areas rebuild and recover.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier toured the town of Erftstadt in the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia today, to survey the damage from a massive landslide caused by the extreme weather.

The main candidates in the race to succeed Merkel at September’s general election have all travelled to the stricken areas in recent days.

Merkel’s visit has been delayed because she only returned yesterday from a high-profile trip to Washington, her last official visit as chancellor.

Speaking alongside US President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday, Merkel said her “heart goes out to all of those who in this catastrophe lost their loved ones.”

Over 1,000 COVID cases recorded Friday in nearly 4-month high – expert

People, some wearing face masks, walk in Jerusalem on July 12, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
People, some wearing face masks, walk in Jerusalem on July 12, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Over 1,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded yesterday for the first time in nearly 4 months, according to a health expert advising the ministerial body tasked with leading the government’s pandemic response.

There is no immediate confirmation of the figure tweeted by Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The last time over 1,000 new daily cases were recorded was on March 19.

Segal stresses that the number of new serious cases per day remains far lower than in past outbreaks, following the country’s mass vaccination rollout.


Yesterday, Segal tweeted that the lower number of infected Israelis becoming critically ill after being infected with COVID-19 indicates that vaccines are providing effective protection against the more contagious Delta variant.

h-high-expert/">Over 1,000 COVID cases recorded Friday in nearly 4-month high – expert
People, some wearing face masks, walk in Jerusalem on July 12, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
People, some wearing face masks, walk in Jerusalem on July 12, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Over 1,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded yesterday for the first time in nearly 4 months, according to a health expert advising the ministerial body tasked with leading the government’s pandemic response.

There is no immediate confirmation of the figure tweeted by Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The last time over 1,000 new daily cases were recorded was on March 19.

Segal stresses that the number of new serious cases per day remains far lower than in past outbreaks, following the country’s mass vaccination rollout.

Yesterday, Segal tweeted that the lower number of infected Israelis becoming critically ill after being infected with COVID-19 indicates that vaccines are providing effective protection against the more contagious Delta variant.

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