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Lapid orders to prepare responses against Russia if it shutters Jewish Agency

Potential responses include recalling ambassador, more assistance to Ukraine, TV reports; delegation to Moscow to fly at a later date

Left, Prime Minister Yair Lapid heads a  cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2022. Right, Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, July 1, 2021. (Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP; Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Left, Prime Minister Yair Lapid heads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2022. Right, Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, July 1, 2021. (Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP; Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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

Palestinian suspected of planning to stab Israelis in West Bank is arrested

A Palestinian man suspected of planning to stab Israelis at the Tapuah Junction in the West Bank is arrested, the military says.

The Rescuers Without Border emergency service says no Israelis have been harmed in the suspected planned attack, and the assailant is also unharmed.

The suspect is detained by soldiers in the area, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Iran media: Israeli spy cell arrested yesterday tried to bomb ‘sensitive’ site in Isfahan

Nour News, a website linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, publishes new details of the arrest of an alleged Israeli spy network said to try to carry out attacks against “sensitive” sites yesterday.

The site says the network entered Iran months ago from Iraqi Kurdistan, under the guidance of the head of the Israeli Mossad spy agency.

The report says the spies identified one of the country’s “sensitive centers in Isfahan province,” and they planned to bomb it.

According to the report, the members of the network were arrested as “high-explosive materials were planted” at the site, only “a few hours” before the “final stage of their terrorist operation.”

Nour News says more details about the network and the arrests would be published soon.

New poll finds Likud-led bloc to gain 60 seats in election, 1 seat shy of majority

A new Kan survey predicts that the Likud-led right-religious bloc would garner 60 seats — on the cusp of a majority in the Knesset — if elections were held today.

But without 61 seats, Israel’s years-long political crisis, which has already generated five election cycles in less than four years, is poised to continue.

Following are the results of a survey:

Likud 35
Yesh Atid 22
Blue and White-New Hope 12
Religious Zionism 10
Shas 8
United Torah Judaism 7
Joint List 6
Labor 6
Yisrael Beytenu 5
Meretz 5 (if led by Zahava Galon)
Ra’am 4
Yamina below threshold, at 1.6%

Former MK, diplomat Tamar Eshel passes away on her 102nd birthday

Tamar Eshel, a former Israeli lawmaker and diplomat, passes away on her 102nd birthday.

Eshel was born in London in 1920, but grew up in Haifa, when her parents came to Mandatory Palestine shortly thereafter.

Once the Jewish state was established in 1948, she joined Israel’s Foreign Ministry, kicking off a successful diplomatic career that led her to work as part of the Israeli delegation at the United Nations.

In 1977, she was elected to the Knesset as part of the HaMa’arakh (The Alignment) faction. She served until the 1984 elections.

Lapid orders range of responses prepared for possible use against Russia if it shutters Jewish Agency

Prime Minister Yair Lapid has ordered the Foreign Ministry to prepare a range of reactions to weigh for possible use if Russia indeed shuts down the Jewish Agency, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

The decision came following a meeting Lapid held earlier today.

The potential responses include delaying handing back Alexander’s Courtyard to Russia, providing more assistance for Ukraine, and calling home the Israeli ambassador in Moscow for consultations, Channel 12 news and Channel 13 news report, citing sources involved in the meeting.

According to Channel 12, Israeli leaders aren’t certain as to why Russia has threatened to shut down the agency, with a crucial court hearing set for Thursday, but Moscow may be unhappy with the delays so far to transfer Alexander’s Courtyard and/or angered by Israeli comments, especially Lapid’s, decrying the invasion of Ukraine. Alternatively, it may be exacting a price for Israeli strikes in Syria, whose airspace is largely controlled by Russia.

Channel 13 says the Israeli delegation to Moscow to attempt to solve the matter will not fly today as planned, but at a later date to be determined. Channel 12 says Moscow has not yet given its agreement for the delegation to visit.

Police search for Umm al-Fahm man who went missing in Sea of Galilee over the weekend

Police say officers are continuing to search for Raid Mahmeed, 49, from Umm al-Fahm, after he went missing in the Sea of Galilee over the weekend.

According to police, Mahmeed fell off a motorboat near the town of Ein Gev.

“The search efforts for the missing man in the Sea of ​​Galilee are concentrated at sea, in the air, and on land, and include a maritime police ship, a jet ski, volunteers from the Israel Police’s diving unit, a police helicopter, horse-mounted officers and policemen conducting scans of the coastal strip,” police say.

Palestinian convicted of murder for 2018 car-ramming attack that killed 2 IDF soldiers

The Israeli military has convicted a Palestinian man of murder for ramming his car into a group of IDF soldiers in 2018, killing two.

Ala Qabha, was convicted of two counts of “intentionally causing death” — the equivalent of murder under military law — and two counts of attempting to intentionally cause death.

Qabha rammed his car into the group of soldiers on March 16, 2018, outside a military post in the northern West Bank, near the Mevo Dotan settlement, killing Sgt. Netanel Kahalani, and Capt. Ziv Daos and seriously injuring two others. The army later designated the car-ramming a terror attack.

The following day, the Shin Bet security agency said Qabha had confessed to carrying out the attack. It said Qabha had initially claimed the incident was an accident, but later changed his story and said it was deliberate and that he intended to murder soldiers.

March 16, 2018 car-ramming suspect Ala Qabha (Courtesy)

The IDF says Qabha passed the group of soldiers, spontaneously decided he wanted to attack them, and turned back to run them over at a speed of around 70 kilometers per hour.

An initial sentencing hearing will take place on September 11, the IDF says.

Kahalani’s and Daos’s families have been updated on the developments in the case.

Boy, 11, undergoing CPR en route to hospital after near-drowning in Tel Aviv

The Magen David Adom ambulance services says medics are taking an unconscious 11-year-old boy to Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv after he was pulled from the sea near Charles Clore Beach after a near-drowning.

Medics are performing resuscitation operations on the boy en route to the hospital, MDA says.

5 Haredim indicted for breaking into Jerusalem light rail construction site

Five ultra-Orthodox extremists are indicted for trespassing and rioting at a Jerusalem Light Rail construction site, after conducting an illegal sit-in during protests earlier in July against a new planned route for the train.

Elazar Glick, 25; Yitzhak Ze’ev Koifman, 33; Avraham Zvi Lederman, 25; Shimon Shapira, 22 and Bezalel Lederman, 20, residents of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, are indicted for “crimes of rioting, trespassing to commit a crime, obstructing a police officer while performing his duty, violating a legal order and prohibited assembly.”

“Prosecutors have asked the court to order the arrest of the accused until the end of legal proceedings against them,” the Justice Ministry says in a statement.

In two separate incidents, prosecutors say the men broke into the light rail construction site on Bar Ilan Street in Jerusalem, sat inside holes dug up as part of the construction work, and refused to move. After a short while, the protesters were removed and arrested after refusing calls by the police to leave on their own.

Extreme-right MK Ben Gvir claims ‘it has been years’ since he chanted ‘Death to Arabs’

Far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir tells Channel 12 news “it has been years” since he chanted “Death to Arabs.”

Ben Gvir was asked to respond to a video from Friday at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, when he silenced a man who called out “Death to Arabs.”

“I’m no longer 16, 20 or 25… I was wrong when I generalized that all the Arabs should be expelled,” he tells the network.

Channel 12 plays a video of him marching in Hadera in March, following a deadly terror attack, surrounded by supporters shouting “Death to Arabs,” whom he does not tell to stop.

In response, Ben Gvir says: “Am I to understand that I’m supposed to be the national silencer [of such chants] at every moment?”

While he has changed, Ben Gvir says, Ra’am’s Mansour Abbas has not. “A year ago, Mansour Abbas embraced terrorists… to whom do you think [he is still] transferring money?” he says.

Addressing himself to Israel’s left, Ben Gvir says he doesn’t think they are “traitors.”

“There are some; I’d put Ofer Cassif on a flight along with Ayman Odeh. But the left, generally, are my brothers. I am battling on their behalf too,” he says.

Channel 12 also plays an interview from February 2021, in which then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Ben Gvir won’t be a minister in his government.

Ben Gvir says that if asked about this today, Netanyahu “would give a different answer.”

He says he “admires and appreciates” Netanyahu, “and we’ve gotten to know each other in the past year.”

Likud MK Regev says Netanyahu’s criminal trial should be stopped ahead of election

Likud MK Miri Regev says she supports freezing the trial of her party’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is charged with fraud, breach of trust, and bribery, amid Israel’s election season.

“I think this whole case is designed to prevent Netanyahu from becoming prime minister,” Regev tells the Walla news site.

“If it were up to me, the trial should be stopped,” she adds.

Evacuation alert after volcano erupts in southern Japan

TOKYO  — Dozens of people are urged to evacuate their homes after a fiery volcanic eruption in southern Japan, as the national weather agency issued its top-level alert for the mountain.

Television footage showed lava and dark plumes of ash exploding from Sakurajima in Kagoshima, which erupted just after 8 p.m. local.

The volcano frequently spits out smoke and ash, and is a major tourist attraction.

The blast propelled large cinders about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the crater, the Japan Meteorological Agency says in a statement.

The agency raised its alert for Sakurajima to level five, the top level, which urges evacuations. Before the eruption, it was at level three, which bans entry to the mountain.

“Residential areas of Arimura town and Furusato town within three kilometers of the summit crater… of Sakurajima should be on high alert,” the JMA says.

According to Kagoshima City, there are 77 residents in the two towns.

There were no immediate reports of damage, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Education Ministry says 5,600 teaching staff roles unfilled ahead of school year

Some 5,600 teaching staff positions are unfilled ahead of the coming school year, the Education Ministry says.

According to data published by the ministry, the majority of the shortage is in Tel Aviv and central Israel, where schools are lacking nearly 3,500 teachers.

Elementary schools are facing a shortfall of 424 English teachers and 250 science teachers, the ministry says.

Special education schools and kindergartens are facing a shortage of 1,103 staff, according to ministry data.

Reports: Over 500 high-tech employees fired today

Since this morning, more than 500 employees at two high-tech companies have been laid off, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

The Kan public broadcaster says Asurion has shuttered its Israeli development center, amid restructuring, resulting in 120 employees being fired.

The second company, Aid Genomics, announces a substantial reduction in its activity in Israel by moving its R&D center abroad, resulting in some 400 workers being laid off, Kan reports.

Biden feeling ‘much, much better’ after COVID diagnosis

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden is feeling “much, much better” after testing positive for the coronavirus, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator says, confirming that the 79-year-old leader was infected with a highly contagious variant spreading throughout the country.

“It is the BA.5 variant… but thank goodness our vaccines and therapeutics work well against it, which is why I think the president’s doing well,” Dr. Ashish Jha tells CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“I checked in with his team late last night. He was feeling well. He had a good day yesterday. He’s got… an upper respiratory infection and he’s doing just fine. We haven’t gotten any updates this morning, but throughout the night he was feeling much, much better.’’

That variant is an offshoot of the Omicron strain that emerged late last year. It is believed responsible for the vast majority of coronavirus cases in the country. Biden tested positive for the virus on Thursday morning. He has been isolating in the White House residence since then.

Drone attack on Syria church gathering kills one, state media says

DAMASCUS — A civilian is killed and 12 injured by a drone attack on a church as it was being inaugurated in central Syria, the official SANA news agency reports.

“One civilian was killed and 12 injured in a drone attack by terrorist organizations on a crowded gathering in Al-Suqaylabiyah city in the Hama countryside,” the news agency says.

It says the attack came during a ceremony to inaugurate the Ayia Sofia church.

SANA initially said that two people died in an attack by a rocket before correcting its earlier report.

https://twitter.com/SanaAjel/status/1551147484793151488?s=20&t=rb63GzsRwdKQlhpLLd-Yjg

Police wrap up investigation into Yamina MK Abir Kara’s Knesset double vote

Police say they have finished investigating Yamina MK Abir Kara after he had been caught casting an illegal double vote in the Knesset last year.

The Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit says in the coming days the case notes will be transferred to the State Attorney’s Office for review and a decision.

The incident occurred last July during a plenum vote on a bill limiting unemployment benefits.

Kara has maintained that the double vote was an innocent mistake. Kara, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said at the time that he had accidentally voted from the computer of fellow Yamina MK Idit Silman.

PA’s Abbas meets Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jordanian King Abdullah II in the capital Amman, the Wafa news agency reports.

Abbas briefed Abdullah on “the latest political developments in Palestine and the challenges facing our people as a result of the continuing Israeli crimes,” according to Wafa.

“The two leaders discussed bilateral relations and common issues between the two brotherly countries, as well as the latest political developments in the region,” the agency says.

The pair also discuss US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the region, which included stops in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Wafa says Abdullah “stressed the firm position of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan towards the Palestinian cause and the kingdom’s unswerving support for the Palestinian people in obtaining their just and legitimate rights.”

Flash floods kill at least 10 in war-torn Yemen

SANAA — Torrential rain lashes war-torn Yemen’s capital and its environs, causing flooding and a building collapse that together killed 10 people, including four children, authorities say.

The four children were killed in the building collapse while another six people died when their car was swept away by floods in a district near Sanaa, according to officials.

Heavy rains cause devastating flooding in Yemen each year and the latest torrents have been building up over the past week.

Traffic in the city, controlled by Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi-backed government, has come to a near standstill.

A three-story building in Sanaa’s historic district collapsed killing four children inside, a doctor at the city’s Republican Hospital tell AFP.

Floods swept away a car on a road in Dhamar governorate south of Sanaa killing the driver and five passengers, Nashwan al-Samawi, head of emergency operations in the governorate, tells the Saba news agency.

Conflict since 2014 between the Iran-backed Houthi and government forces has left hundreds of thousands dead in fighting or through illness and malnutrition. There has been a truce since April.

IDF launches joint F-35 fighter jet drill with Italian Air Force

The Israeli Air Force launches a joint fighter jet drill, dubbed “Lightning Shield,” with the Italian Air Force today, the military says.

Several Israeli F-35I “Adir” jets from the Nevatim Airbase will fly side by side with four Italian F-35 jets, the Israel Defense Forces says.

“The exercise is a significant milestone in further establishing cooperation between the armies, while strengthening the unique relationship between the countries,” the IDF says.

“The exercise will contribute to improving the operational competence of the F-35I Adir array and expanding its capabilities to possible operational scenarios,” it adds.

Lapid found ‘perfectly fit and healthy’ in medical examination

Prime Minister Yair Lapid undergoes medical examinations “in accordance with the health treatment policy for premiers,” his office says.

The “comprehensive tests” are conducted by his personal doctor, Gadi Segal, the Prime Minister’s Office says.

He is found to be “perfectly fit and healthy,” the PMO adds.

Jordan’s king protests ‘regular attacks’ by Iran-tied militias on border

AMMAN — In an interview published earlier today, King Abdullah II protests attacks on Jordan’s borders by “militias linked to Iran,” following deadly clashes with drug smugglers on the frontier with Syria.

Jordan faces “regular attacks on its borders by militias linked to Iran,” he tells the Al-Rai newspaper.

Abdullah calls for “a change of behavior by Iran” and said that Jordan “does not want tensions in the region.”

“Jordan, like the rest of the Arab countries, seeks good relations with Iran, with mutual respect, good neighborliness, respect for the sovereignty of other states, and non-interference in their affairs,” the king says.

Abdullah said that Jordan, like other Arab nations, was being targeted by smugglers of drugs and arms that he said were in transit to Europe.

“Jordan is coordinating with its brothers (Arab countries) to confront this and protect its borders,” he says.

The Jordanian army conducts regular anti-smuggling operations on the border with Syria, where Iran-backed fighters support the Damascus regime in a civil war that erupted in 2011.

Russia insists strike on Odesa port only hit military targets

KYIV — Russian defense ministry officials insist that an airstrike on the port of Odesa — less than a day after Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement on resuming grain shipments from there — had hit only military targets.

“In the seaport in the city of Odesa, on the territory of a shipyard, sea-based high-precision long-range missiles destroyed a docked Ukrainian warship and a warehouse with Harpoon anti-ship missiles supplied by the US to the Kyiv regime,” ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says at a daily briefing.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly televised address Saturday evening that the attack on Odesa “destroyed the very possibility” of dialogue with Russia.

The Ukrainian military said yesterday that Moscow had attacked Odesa’s sea port with four cruise missiles, two of which had been shot down by Ukrainian air defense.

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