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

Iran says passengers can sue US for endangering Mahan Air flight

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s judiciary tells passengers aboard an Iranian commercial airliner that the US said was intercepted by its warplanes that they can sue Washington for endangering their lives.

Two US fighter jets flew dangerously close to the Mahan Air plane over war-torn Syria on Thursday, according to Iranian authorities, forcing the pilot to take emergency action and causing injuries to some passengers.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) insisted in a statement that it was a “professional intercept… conducted in accordance with international standards.”

The incident was the latest between arch-foes Tehran and Washington since US President Donald Trump in 2018 walked out of a multilateral nuclear accord with Iran and imposed punishing sanctions.

“Air routes are considered corridors for civilian aircraft, therefore the very act of terrorist CENTCOM’s fighters entering this corridor means endangering international air transit,” Iran’s deputy judiciary head Ali Bagheri-Kani is quoted as saying by the body’s Mizan Online website.

“This was a clear violation of international laws and a clear threat to the right of life of citizens, so it can be followed up on in international bodies,” he adds.

Bagheri-Kani says all the passengers who were on board the flight from Tehran to Beirut could file for legal action against “the terrorist US army command and others involved” in Iranian courts “for moral and physical damage.”

Legal action could also be pursued through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Court of Justice, he says.


Brazil’s Bolsonaro says he tested negative for COVID-19, credits hydroxychloroquine for recovery

BRASILIA — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announces he has tested negative for the new coronavirus more than two weeks after being diagnosed on July 7, attributing his recovery to an unproven malaria drug.

“RT-PCR for Sars-Cov 2: negative. Good morning everyone,” the 65-year-old tweets, along with a photo of himself smiling and holding a packet of hydroxychloroquine, whose effectiveness against COVID-19 has not been demonstrated in clinical trials.

He doesn’t say when he took the latest test.

The president, who has routinely downplayed the virus he calls a “little flu” but which is currently ravaging his country, spent nearly 20 days self-isolating at his official residence in the capital Brasilia, the Alvorada Palace.

During that time he underwent at least three more virus tests, all positive.

Three polls released this week showed the leader dubbed a “Tropical Trump” would win re-election in 2020, despite his controversial handling of the virus crisis.

The pandemic has exploded in Brazil, the country with the most infections and deaths from COVID-19 anywhere in the world except the United States.

The Latin American powerhouse has registered nearly 2.3 million cases of the new coronavirus and more than 84,000 deaths, and the numbers have continued to rise rapidly.


Israel warns Hezbollah against retaliatory attack — report

Israel has reportedly sent a message to Hezbollah warning the Lebanese terror group against any retaliatory action in response to the killing of one of the organization’s fighters in an airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel earlier this week.

According to a report today by the Hezbollah-linked Al Mayadeen broadcaster, Israel told the group by way of the UN that it didn’t intend to kill Ali Kamel Mohsen Jawad in Monday’s strike outside Damascus.

Israel hasn’t acknowledged the strike, which a monitoring group said targeted a weapons depots and military posts used by Syrian regime forces and Iran-backed militiamen.

The Israeli military has boosted its defenses on the northern border following the strike, out of concern Hezbolalh could launch a retaliatory strike.

Joint List’s Abbas warns about Arab alliance’s future after some MKs vote to bar conversion therapy

A Joint List lawmaker warns the future of the Arab political alliance could be in doubt after its leader Ayman Odeh voted in support of a bill barring psychotherapists from performing gay conversion therapy, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

According to Kan, MK Mansour Abbas says the continued existence of the Joint List depends on the behavior of its lawmakers in the near future. He adds that many of the party’s supporters are angry over Odeh and others’ backing of the bill and are demanding the breakup of the Joint List.

Abbas heads the Ra’am faction, which is affiliated with the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.

Mansour Abbas of the Ra’am party holds a press conference after a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on April 16, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Hiking trails, nature sites in Judean Desert closed ahead of heat wave

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority announces the closure of hiking trails and other sites in the Judean Desert ahead of an intensive heat wave next week.

The authority says it may close other sites during the week and urges Israelis to avoid hiking in open areas exposed to the sun to prevent dehydration.

Hundreds of cops deploy to Caesarea ahead of expected protest outside PM’s home

Hundreds of police and security officers have been deployed to Caesarea ahead of an expected protest outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private residence in the northern coastal town, the Walla news site reports.

Earlier, a man was detained near Netanyahu’s home there before being released without conditions.

“The active entered a sterile area against Shin Bet instructions and refused to leave despite the police officer asking him a few times,” the Kan public broadcaster quotes police as saying.

Only residents of the neighborhood are allowed to enter the area, according to Kan.

Police are also on high alert near the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, where demonstrators calling on Netanyahu to resign due to his indictment on graft charges and handling of the coronavirus pandemic have been holding regular protests.

Protesters begin gathering ahead of demonstration outside PM’s residence

Protesters begin gathering outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem ahead of a demonstration this evening against Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Protests against Netanyahu are also being held on highway overpasses and bridges throughout the country.

Fleetwood Mac blues guitarist Peter Green dies at 73

LONDON — Peter Green, the dexterous blues guitarist who led the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac in a career shortened by psychedelic drugs and mental illness, has died. He was 73.

The law firm Swan Turton announces the death in a statement today. It says he died “peacefully in his sleep.″ A further statement will be provided in the coming days.

Green, to some listeners, was the best of the British blues guitarists of the 1960s. B.B. King once said Green “has the sweetest tone I ever heard. He was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”

Green also made a mark as a composer, with “Albatross,” and as a songwriter, with “Oh Well” and “Black Magic Woman.”

He crashed out of the band in 1971. Even so, Mick Fleetwood said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2017 that Green deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the band’s success.

“Peter was asked why did he call the band Fleetwood Mac. He said, ‘Well, you know I thought maybe I’d move on at some point and I wanted Mick and John (McVie) to have a band.’ End of story, explaining how generous he was,” said Fleetwood, who described Green as a standout in an era of great guitar work.

Indeed, Green was so fundamental to the band that in its early days it was called Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.

— AP

British rock and blues guitarist Peter Green, a founding member of Fleetwood Mac, in New York on April 7, 2001. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, FILE)

Police minister denies Netanyahu asked him to act against Jerusalem protests

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana denies Prime Minister Netanyahu wants him to take action against the ongoing protests outside the premier’s official residence in Jerusalem.

“The prime minister never talked to me about the protests and never made a request about the protests,” Ohana says in an interview with Channel 12.

Ohana, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, says residents of the Rehavia neighborhood where the residence is located have told him their lives have turned to “hell” and that protesters have been relieving themselves in the street.

He’s also asked about reports that he accused police of being too soft on the anti-Netanyahu protests relative to other demonstrations, particularly by minority groups.

“I expect the police to act equally against all groups,” he says.

He calls for restrictions to be placed on the size of protests and where they can be held.

Ohana, whose ministry oversees police, also says he doesn’t believe Netanyahu needs to be involved in the appointment of a new police commissioner, after the attorney general informed the premier he couldn’t take part in appointing senior law enforcement or legal officials due to his indictment on graft charges.

Hundreds protest against Netanyahu near his Caesarea home

A few hundred people are now protesting against Prime Minister Netanyahu near his private home in the coastal town of Caesarea.

Anti-Netanyahu protest organizers to reportedly file complaint against police for injuries

Organizers of the ongoing demonstrations against Prime Minister Netanyahu are vowing to file complaints with the police for injuries sustained by demonstrators in recent days at the hands of the police, including from water cannon fire, Channel 12 reports.

They are also planning to file civil suits for damages over those injuries.

Police sources tell the network they have no intention of using more forceful tactics against demonstrators, despite the reported pressure of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana.

Virus death rate in ‘second wave’ less than half that of initial outbreak

Though Israel has seen a much greater number of coronavirus infections in the “second wave” of the pandemic, the percentage of those killed by COVID-19 is markedly lower.

While the death rate was 2.1 percent during the intitial outbreak, it is now 0.8%, Ran Balicer, an epidemiologist and executive at Clalit Health Services, tells Channel 12 news.

Balicer says possible explanations for this are that authorities are now detecting a larger number of asymptomatic carriers and are doing a better job of protecting at-risk groups. Hospitals have also improved their ability to treat those sick with the virus.

1,021 new infections, 7 more COVID-19 deaths recorded over Shabbat

Health Ministry statistics released after nightfall show 1,021 new coronavirus cases were recorded since the start of Shabbat yesterday evening, with the number of infections since the start of the pandemic passing 60,000.

Of the 33,160 active cases, there are 312 people in serious condition, 94 of whom are on ventilators. Another 158 are in moderate condition and the rest have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

Seven further fatalities are recorded, bringing the death toll to 455.

According to the ministry, there have been 60,496 virus cases recorded in Israel and 26,882 have recovered from COVID-19.

It also says 23,154 tests were performed yesterday and 4,208 so far today. Testing levels typically drop significantly over the weekend.

IDF chief meets with commanders in north amid Hezbollah tensions

Amid tensions with the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, the military says IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi traveled to northern Israel today to meet with Northern Command head Amir Baran and other senior officers.

“The chief of staff heard an intelligence survey, held a situational assessment and directed operations of the forces with various means,” an IDF statement says, without further elaborating.

Gantz warns that Lebanon, Syria ‘will bear direct responsibility’ for any attack on Israel

Defense Minister Benny Gantz holds a situational assessment with IDF brass on the military’s preparations on the northern border amid concerns of a Hezbollah reprisal after one of its fighters was killed in an airstrike outside Damascus that was attributed to Israel.

“Gantz instructed the army to continue its heightened preparedness in the [military] sector and to use the required measures, and stressed the State of Israel won’t tolerate any harm to its sovereignty. The IDF and the entire security system will act against any threat to Israeli citizens,” a statement from his office says.

The statement adds: “Defense Minister Gantz also stressed that Lebanon and Syria will bear direct responsibility for any action taken from [their] territory.”

Among those taking part in the meeting are IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, Military Intelligence commander Tamir Hayman and Operations chief Aharon Haliva.

Over 5,000 now protesting outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence

Attendance at a protest against Prime Minister Netanyahu outside his official residence has grown to over 5,000 people, according to Hebrew media estimates.

Besides groups calling for Netanyahu’s resignation due to his indictment on corruption charges, self-employed Israelis who have been hurt economically by the coronavirus pandemic are also taking part in the demonstration.

“We came here to say in a clear voice that this isn’t a political protest. This is a real and authentic economic protest of the entire Israeli nation. This isn’t right or left. There are people there who’ve lost their livelihoods,” protest organizer Yossi Tzarfati tells the Kan public broadcaster.

Hundreds of people are also protesting at Tel Aviv’s Charles Clore Park.

‘The people at the top are dealing with crazy things’ and not the pandemic, protester says

Protesters from all over the country fill Paris Square outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem this evening to call for his resignation.

“They stole from the poor to give to the rich, what a corrupt government!” protesters chant, as the crowd’s noise rises to a deafening roar.

Gidi Carmon, 23, came from Modiin to attend the anti-Netanyahu protests for the first time. A student at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, he lost a part-time job at the beginning of the pandemic which he used to make ends meet.

“The people at the top are dealing with crazy things instead of the economy and with people’s health, like tax breaks for Netanyahu. It’s time for him to resign,” Carmon, who identifies himself as center-left, tells The Times of Israel.

“Take annexation — it’s not even about right or wrong, it’s about timing. How did they spend so much time on that in the middle of this crisis?” Carmon asks rhetorically, referring to Israel’s declared intent to annex parts of the West Bank.

Joint List MKs Ayman Odeh and Ofer Cassif join the demonstration in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence.

“Corona is less dangerous than the tyranny of Bibi-ism,” Cassif says in a statement.

— Aaron Boxerman

Crowd at anti-Netanyahu protest in Jerusalem continues to swell

Protesters continue streaming in to join the thousands already demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Demonstrators are carrying signs saying “let my people go” and “enough with the detached government!” Others wave Israeli flags, beat drums and blow horns.

“We have a prime minister who’s interested in advancing his personal affairs and can’t lead the country,” says Amy Katz, a Jerusalem resident.

“If Bibi doesn’t go, one day we won’t be a democracy,” she adds.

— Aaron Boxerman

Fatah official killed by Palestinian security forces trying to break up fight

A Fatah official was killed this evening by Palestinian security forces in the northern West Bank as they attempted to break up a fight between families in Balatat al-Balad, a suburb of Nablus, according to PA officials.

Emad al-Din Dweikat, the Fatah secretary-general for Balatat al-Balad, has been identified by Nablus governor Ibrahim Ramadan as the victim.

“We will investigate the incident immediately in accordance with the instructions of the president and the prime minister,” Ramadan says, calling for Nablus residents to maintain order in the aftermath of the shooting.

— Aaron Boxerman

Netanyahu lashes out at leading news channel for covering protests against him

Prime Minister Netanyahu lashes out at Israel’s leading news broadcaster for covering growing demonstrations against him, accusing it of working “to fuel” the protests against him.

“Channel 12 has turned into an unashamed propaganda arm of the anarchist left to topple the right-wing government and its leader,” he says in a statement, apparently referring to the “national emergency unity government” he formed with the centrist Blue and White party.

“Every evening they open their propaganda broadcasts with ‘dramatic’ live reports about inflated numbers of protesters and portray this as if there are tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands,” he continues, without giving evidence.

“[Channel] 12 news is making a Herculean effort to fuel the political protests that are organized and funded by left-wing organizations. Fake news on steroids.”

He claims almost all of the network’s programming “has been mobilized for unrestrained Bolshevik propaganda against the prime minister” and accuses the channel of ignoring what he has said are growing threats against him and his family.

Anti-Netanyahu protest spills over into nearby streets as crowd continues to grow

Protesters have filled all of Paris Square and Ben Maimon Boulevard, as more continue to arrive at the demonstration outside Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence. The crowd, spilling over into the surrounding streets, is far more tightly packed and taking up far more space than at any previous protest.

Several clusters of demonstrators are rallying together. Members of the HaShomer HaTzair youth movement, wearing their distinctive blue shirts with red laces, hold signs and chant against the Prime Minister. Many protesters are wearing the “no way” and “crime minister” t-shirts that have become associated with the so-called Black Flag movement against the Prime Minister.

Close to Ramban Street, some young activists from the far-left Hadash party wave the red flags associated with the Communist youth movement Maki. On nearby Agron Street, Roli and Shoshi, two Jerusalem residents, hold signs saying “united against the detached government.”

“We felt an obligation to be here and show that this is not a protest by anarchists or by the fringe. This protest is by the majority of the people,” Roli says.

“I’m not right-wing, but I wish the Likud would bring back the fair and good people they used to have, and that they would tell Bibi — no further,” he adds.

— Aaron Boxerman

Anti-Netanyahu protester lightly injured after being stabbed in south

Several protesters report being attacked at demonstrations against Prime Minister Netanyahu.

At the Sha’ar Hanegev interchange in southern Israel, a demonstrator was stabbed by a group of men who attacked the protesters, according to Hebrew media reports.

The man who was stabbed was lightly wounded, according to the Ynet news site.

A man who was protesting at the Aluf Sade junction in Ramat Gan with his son and several others filed a complaint with police saying a driver slowed down his car and sprayed pepper spray at them, the Haaretz daily reports.

Tel Aviv protest against government’s economic policies ends

The protest at Tel Aviv’s Charles Clore Park against the government’s policies to address the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic has ended.

There are so far no reports of clashes between demonstrators leaving the park and police.

Crowd at protest in Jerusalem against Netanyahu grows to 6,000

There are now some 6,000 people demonstrating against Prime Minister Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem, according to Hebrew media estimates.

Thousands still protesting in Jerusalem as 11 p.m. deadline set by police passes

Some protesters against Prime Minister Netanyahu have left but thousands remain in Jerusalem’s Paris Square, cheering as the clock strikes 11 p.m. Police have said the protest is supposed to end by that deadline, but as at previous rallies, the demonstrators show little inclination to leave by the stipulated time.

As one protester is dragged by police to a bus for detainees, protesters follow behind them, chanting “for shame! For shame! He did nothing!”

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says police units are mobilized in the area. He declines to comment when asked how people have been detained and on what grounds.

— Aaron Boxerman

Police search for suspects in attack on anti-Netanyahu protesters in south

Police are searching for suspects in a suspected attack on a group of anti-Netanyahu protesters in southern Israel.

“The Israel Police received a report that a few people arrived at the Sha’ar Hanegev junction, noticed a number of protesters, began yelling toward them and injured one of them, who according to a report was lightly wounded. Police forces arrived at the scene, took evidence and began operations to locate and arrest the suspect,” a police statement says.

According to reports, the injured protester was stabbed in the neck with a sharp object.

Police also launch an investigation into the spraying of tear gas from a moving car at anti-Netanyahu protesters at an interchange in Ramat Gan.

Nearly an hour after deadline, thousands still protesting outside Netanyahu’s residence

Thousands of protesters continue to demonstrate in Paris Square against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, nearly an hour after the deadline for the protest to end passed.

While the number of protesters has dwindled since the beginning of the protest, which saw record crowds in front of the nearby Prime Minister’s Residence, the demonstration still stretches across the whole intersection.

Reut, 41, says she was particularly disturbed by the emergency coronavirus laws which the Knesset passed this week.

“For me, that was a huge red line which said to me that we couldn’t continue this way,” she says. “Bibi [Netanyahu] is utilizing the panic in the country to pass undemocratic laws.”

Jerusalem Police Chief Doron Yadid makes an appearance at the protest, overlooking the demonstrators from behind a police barricade.

Police repeatedly enter the demonstration to drag protesters out before releasing them without charges.

— Aaron Boxerman

Hundreds remain at Balfour as many trickle away, no police order to disperse

Numbers of protesters outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem have dwindled to a few hundred, with no police calls to disperse or sightings of water cannons close to the square.

Some protesters are continuing to chant and blow horns near Paris Square, as many others trickle out of the square.

In the past, police have forcible dispersed protesters after midnight, leading to clashes. Officers have been panned for what critics call heavy-handed tactics, including the seemingly indiscriminate use of water cannons.

Police say man with pepper spray found after suspected attack near protest

Police say a man, 27, is suspected of involvement in an attack near the site of the Jerusalem protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A flare, pepper spray and “material suspected of being a dangerous drug” was found on the suspect’s person, according to a police statement.

Police do not offer any information about the attack, but reports indicate that the victim was a protester. They do not say if the suspect was arrested.

Earlier in the evening, a group of protesters were pepper sprayed by an unidentified assailant in the south of the country.

On Thursday, protesters in Jerusalem reported being attacked by members of the La Familia gang of Beitar Jerusalem soccer club supporters.

Police confirm that five people have been detained for “disturbing public order” thus far at the Jerusalem protest, with hundreds remaining on the scene.

Police order protesters to leave, move in on remaining demonstrators

Police have ordered protesters outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem to disperse.

Dozens of officers have entered a main protest encampment outside the compound, splitting the group of remaining demonstrators. At least two people are seen being detained.

Protesters chant “no to violence” at the cops, amid fears of fresh clashes between officers and activists.

— Aaron Boxerman

Police pull protesters away from PM’s residence

Police are continuing to drag anti-Netanyahu activists out of the protest camp in Jerusalem.

While some pushing and shoving are seen, there are no signs of some of the violence that marked previous efforts to disperse protests.

Protesters chant against police violence. “Shame, shame,” some call out.

Asked when they will leave, one protester tells Kan radio “We are staying.”

Police use water cannons in bid to clear out protesters

Police have begun using water cannons to clear Paris Square in Jerusalem, after dragging out a number of protesters who laid in the road and refused to leave.

Video tweeted by Army Radio shows short bursts of water aimed at a group of people on a sidewalk in the square.

Police use of the water hoses has come under increased scrutiny after video Friday showed high-intensity water spray hitting a protester in the face, and reports of seemingly indiscriminate use of the riot control method against others.

Protesters appear to fend off attack by water cannons

After several rallies in which police managed to wreak havoc among protesters by using water cannons on them and sending them scurrying away, it appears protesters may have found a way to fend off the high intensity bursts of water.

A video shared on Twitter shows a group of protesters crouching behind homemade shields, some of which read “shield of democracy.” The shields appears to successfully repel the streams of water.

Eventually, the water cannon truck appears to pull back and protesters move away as individual officers move in on the group. Others move back into the square, a normally busy traffic junctions linking several major thoroughfares in central Jerusalem.

Most protesters have left or been removed from the square, though a small group remains.

Jerusalem protest reportedly cleared out

Police have successfully cleared the protest outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

Police remain in the area and are reportedly removing some remaining protesters from neighboring Independence Park.

There is no official police statement on the number of arrests or detentions, but some reports indicate at least two dozen people detained.

There have been no reports of major fighting between protesters and police.

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