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Russia continues to stall arrival of Israeli legal team amid Jewish Agency crisis

Prime Minister Yair Lapid said seeking to lower profile of conflict with Moscow after previous warning there will be consequences if Jewish Agency operations in Russia shut down

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 Monday’s events as they unfolded.

Government agrees to limit rise in bread prices, end price controls by April 2023

White sliced bread seen at the Angel Bakeries Factory in Jerusalem, August 16, 2010. (Abir Sultan/Flash90/File)
White sliced bread seen at the Angel Bakeries Factory in Jerusalem, August 16, 2010. (Abir Sultan/Flash90/File)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid reaches an agreement with Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai to limit planned price hikes for bread.

According to a statement from Lapid’s office, prices will now rise gradually.

Under the agreement, the price for white bread will rise by 5%, sliced white bread by 5.5%, and challah by 8%.

There will be a further price hike for sliced white bread and challah in December, up to a total of 30%.

They also decide that the government would end price controls on bread from April 2023.

Lapid calls on government ministries to provide greater financing to programs that help those dealing with food insecurity.

Gantz reiterates refusal to sit with Netanyahu, says he wants to be PM

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at the Aspen Security Conference on July 21, 2022. (Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at the Aspen Security Conference on July 21, 2022. (Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says his focus in the upcoming elections is first to prevent Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition from getting a majority in the Knesset, and then to create an alternative coalition.

“If Netanyahu does not get 61 seats, the game opens anew. Then everyone will do their calculations,” Gantz tells Channel 13, as part of a series of interviews he gave to a number of Israeli news outlets.

“Netanyahu must not return to power. He must not be the prime minister, and he can’t be a minister,” Gantz says.”

However, Gantz says he does ultimately hope to become prime minister following November’s election.

“It’s no secret that I want to be a candidate for the premiership. I want this country to go in the right direction,” he says.

“I believe that I will have the ability to build a wide government… one that does not rest on the extremes,” Gantz says.

He is unequivocal about his refusal to be in a government with Netanyahu again, even if Netanyahu does indeed get a majority. Gantz notes that a number of offers were floated over the past years in which he could have led a coalition with the Likud.

“I could have been prime minister and I’m not. I think I’m serious enough about this,” he says.

Russia said stalling on arrival of Israeli legal team

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)

Russia is not granting visas to allow an Israeli legal team to enter the country, Hebrew media reports.

The team, who were supposed to have departed from Tel Aviv yesterday, are part of the Israeli effort to convince Russia not to shut down the Jewish Agency.

“Russia is fighting a war of attrition against Israel,” Channel 12 quotes a senior official as saying.

The channel says Prime Minister Yair Lapid is trying to lower the profile of the dispute with Russia. Yesterday, he warned Moscow there would be consequences if they push ahead with the plan.

Gantz likely to make pick for new IDF chief of staff next week

Major Generals Eyal Zamir (right) and Herzi Halevi (left) are seen in official, undated photographs. (Israel Defense Forces)
Major Generals Eyal Zamir (right) and Herzi Halevi (left) are seen in official, undated photographs. (Israel Defense Forces)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is likely to make his pick for the new IDF chief of staff by next week, Channel 12 reports.

According to the report, Gantz is expected to meet with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot toward the end of the week to get their input.

He will then make his decision.

Gantz has narrowed the field down to Eyal Zamir, a former IDF deputy chief of staff currently serving as a research fellow at the Washington Institute think tank, and Herzi Halevi, the current deputy chief of staff.

Palestinian man detained with homemade gun, explosive device near Gush Etzion

A Palestinian man was detained near the Etzion Bloc of settlements after setting a fire with a Molotov cocktail, says the Jewish emergency service, “Rescuers Without Borders,” operating in the West Bank.

The service says an IDF force detained the man and found him to be carrying a homemade firearm and explosive device.

There is no immediate comment from the IDF.

Ex-Moscow chief rabbi slams Russia for trying to shut down Jewish Agency

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief of the Conference of European Rabbis, at a news conference in Berlin, Germany, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, file)
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief of the Conference of European Rabbis, at a news conference in Berlin, Germany, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, file)

Former Moscow chief rabbi rails against Russian authorities for working to shutter the Jewish Agency, claiming their efforts will have a boomerang effect and ultimately encourage more Jewish Russians to immigrate to Israel.

“What the Jewish Agency didn’t succeed in doing in terms of encouraging the Jewish community to immigrate, the Russian government has, with its policies over the past few months with the fighting in Ukraine,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt says in a statement.

In recent weeks, Russian authorities have taken a number of steps to halt the operations of the Jewish Agency, a quasi-governmental organization that facilitates and encourages Jewish immigration to Israel. One of the claims by Russian officials is that the Jewish Agency is instigating a “brain drain” of the country by specifically seeking out educated Russian Jews and encouraging them to emigrate.

“If Russia wants to stop the brain drain and stop the exodus of its best sons, there is a simple way to do this: Immediately stop the war,” Goldschmidt says.

Israel’s Manor Solomon signs for Premier League soccer team Fulham

Israel's Manor Solomon celebrates, after scoring his side second goal against Albania, during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Albania and Israel at Air Albania stadium in Tirana, Albania, on June 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)
Israel's Manor Solomon celebrates, after scoring his side second goal against Albania, during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Albania and Israel at Air Albania stadium in Tirana, Albania, on June 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)

Israeli soccer star Manor Solomon has signed with the English Premier League team Fulham, the club announces.

Solomon, 23, who played for Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk, was allowed to temporarily leave his club after the soccer league in Ukraine was suspended due to the Russian invasion.

Solomon, an Israel international striker, has signed with newly promoted Fulham, until the end of the 2022-23 season, after which he will return to Shakhtar.

The club announced the signing with a video entitled, “We’ve got our Man.”

“I’m really happy and delighted to be here at Fulham and I can’t wait to feel the special atmosphere at Craven Cottage,” Solomon says in a statement posted to the club Website.

“There are some great players here and I am determined to help Fulham achieve its goals for the year. I also want to send a big hug to my friends and supporters in Ukraine. You are in my thoughts.”

Solomon will be the only Israeli currently playing in the English Premier League.

Car with Nazi symbols found in China raises concern, prompts arrest

The Israeli consulate in Chengdu, China, raised an alarm about a white car with multiple Nazi symbols found in the Sichuan capital, prompting local officials to make an arrest.

Last week the Israeli Consul General’s office in Chengdu — one of four Israeli consulates in mainland China — posted a photo on WeChat of the car, which featured an eagle clutching a swastika and the words “Waffeen [sic] SS” spraypainted on its hood. The Waffen SS was an infamous Nazi military group.

“On Chengdu’s busiest street, a car with a spray-painted swastika was seen parading around the streets. Deeply shocked,” the post read.

“We believe the owner of the car placed this evil symbol in a prominent location because they do not understand this period of history or that [this symbol] is contaminated with the blood of many innocent lives. We also sincerely hope the car’s owner will see this message and promptly remove it.”

The next day, the post had been removed from social media without explanation. Later it was revealed that Chinese police found and arrested the owner of the car, who said that he was ignorant of the meaning behind the symbols.

The Israeli consulate took down its original social media posts, after a request from Chinese officials.

Doctor: Biden’s COVID symptoms ‘almost completely resolved’

In this photo provided by The White House, US President Joe Biden talks on the phone with his national security team from the Treaty Room in the residence of the White House in Washington, July 22, 2022 (Adam Schultz/The White House via AP)
In this photo provided by The White House, US President Joe Biden talks on the phone with his national security team from the Treaty Room in the residence of the White House in Washington, July 22, 2022 (Adam Schultz/The White House via AP)

US President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 symptoms have “almost completely resolved,” according to a new note from his doctor.

Although he still has some nasal congestion and hoarseness, his vital signs remain “absolutely normal,” writes Dr. Kevin O’Connor.

Biden has been taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug that helps reduce the chance of severe illness from COVID-19, and he plans to continue isolating in the White House residence.

“He continues to be very specifically conscientious to protect any of the Executive Residence, White House, Secret Service and other staff whose duties require any (albeit socially distanced) proximity to him,” O’Connor writes.

This afternoon, Biden is scheduled to deliver virtual remarks to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives conference in Orlando, Florida. He’s also expected to participate in a virtual meeting with business executives and labor leaders to discuss the Chips Act, a proposal to bolster domestic manufacturing.

Biden has held no public events since Friday, when he held another virtual meeting with economic advisers.

Teachers’ Union rejects Treasury proposal to end strikes

Yaffa Ben-David, head of the Teacher's Union, at a protest of Israeli teachers demanding better pay and working conditions in Tel Aviv on May 30, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Yaffa Ben-David, head of the Teacher's Union, at a protest of Israeli teachers demanding better pay and working conditions in Tel Aviv on May 30, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Teacher’s Union is rejecting a Finance Ministry proposal aimed at ending strikes.

The union says the proposal tabled today “is even worse than the current situation.”

The union says gaps between the sides remain great and call on Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman to intervene.

Elections Committee rejects Likud petition against Lapid

Prime Minister Yair Lapid heads a  cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2022 (Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid heads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on July 17, 2022 (Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP)

The Central Elections Committee rejects a Likud party petition that alleged Prime Minister Yair Lapid used his official platform to engage in election-related politics.

In particular, Likud sought to force the Prime Minister’s Office’s social media networks to take down a speech the newly minted Prime Minister Lapid delivered on July 2, which referenced politics and included the phrase “only together we’ll win.”

While rejecting the petition, Justice Yitzhak Amit — a Supreme Court judge who chairs the committee — urged parties to avoid using government organs for politics in anticipation of the November 1 election.

Canada police report multiple shootings near Vancouver; suspect in custody

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police report multiple shootings in the Metro Vancouver city of Langley and say one suspect is in custody.

Police say most of the shootings were in the downtown core of Langley and there is one report of a shooting in the neighboring Langley Township.

Mounties issue a cellphone alert to area residents at about 6:30 a.m. Monday, telling them to avoid the area.

Police closed off a large section of 200th Street, a main route through the center of the city.

Police later issue a cellphone alert saying a suspect was in custody. However, the alert said police were still trying to confirm if the man is the only suspect involved.

Russia detains opposition figure Gozman over dual Israeli citizenship

Leonid Gozman poses for a photo with other members of the new Kremlin-friendly Right Cause party, during the party's founding congress in Moscow, Nov. 16, 2008. (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
Leonid Gozman poses for a photo with other members of the new Kremlin-friendly Right Cause party, during the party's founding congress in Moscow, Nov. 16, 2008. (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Russian authorities detain a liberal politician who recently returned to Moscow from abroad, the latest move in a relentless crackdown on dissent amid Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

Leonid Gozman was detained after the Russian Interior Ministry issued a warrant for his arrest while investigating a criminal case against him.

Gozman has been accused of breaching the law that requires Russian citizens to notify authorities about a foreign citizenship or a residency permit. If found guilty, Gozman could be sentenced to a fine or community work.

Gozman notified the authorities about his Israeli citizenship but they claimed that he failed to do so within the required time.

Gozman, a vocal critic of the Kremlin’s campaign in Ukraine, left Russia when it started but returned in June in what he described as a “moral” choice.

The Russian Justice Ministry has listed him as a “foreign agent,” a description that carries a strong pejorative meaning and implies additional government scrutiny.

Gozman’s lawyer, Mikhail Biryukov, says the politician was detained on the Moscow subway and taken to a police station.

Finance ministry makes teachers offer in bid to end strikes

Teachers protest outside the home of Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Monday, June 28, 2022. (Courtesy Israel Teachers Union)
Teachers protest outside the home of Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Monday, June 28, 2022. (Courtesy Israel Teachers Union)

The Finance Ministry is offering teachers a new salary package in a bid to end strikes across the education system.

Under the proposal, new teachers will earn NIS 9,000 ($2,600) per month, a 30% increase on their current wage. There will also be a wage increase for teachers of all experience levels.

Among the proposals are funding for extra positions and grants for teachers who remain in the profession for several years.

Palestinian lawyers hold rare protest against Abbas’s ‘rule by decree’

Palestinian lawyers hold a rare street protest against what they describe as the Palestinian Authority's 'rule by decree,' condemning PA president Mahmoud Abbas for governing without a parliament in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 25, 2022. (Flash90)
Palestinian lawyers hold a rare street protest against what they describe as the Palestinian Authority's 'rule by decree,' condemning PA president Mahmoud Abbas for governing without a parliament in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 25, 2022. (Flash90)

Hundreds of Palestinian lawyers hold a rare street protest against what they describe as the Palestinian Authority’s “rule by decree,” condemning PA president Mahmoud Abbas for governing without a parliament.

The Palestinian Legislative Council — created under the Oslo Peace Accords with Israel — has been inactive since 2007, meaning Abbas has led without a functioning parliament for nearly all of his tenure as president.

But a new leadership at the Palestinian Bar Association has sought to pressure the PA.

The association’s president, Suheil Ashour, tells AFP at the protest that his body would stand firm against legislation delivered by presidential decree that curbs Palestinian “rights and freedoms.”

Noah Baumbach’s ‘White Noise’ to open Venice Film Festival

Noah Baumbach arrives at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020.  (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
Noah Baumbach arrives at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Director Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel “White Noise” has been selected to open the Venice International Film Festival in August, says festival director Alberto Barbera.

Baumbach wrote and directed the film, which looks at the contemporary American family through the lens of a professor, Jack Gladney, and his fourth wife, Babette. Greta Gerwig, who has a child with Baumbach, stars alongside Adam Driver, Don Cheadle, Raffey Cassidy and Jodie Turner-Smith.

“It is a great honor to open the 79th Venice Film Festival with ‘White Noise,’” Barbera says. “Baumbach has made an original, ambitious and compelling piece of art which plays with measure on multiple registers: dramatic, ironic, satirical. The result is a film that examines our obsessions, doubts, and fears as captured in the 1980s, yet with very clear references to contemporary reality.”

The Netflix-produced film will be among those competing for the Golden Lion award, selected by a jury led by Julianne Moore, and a likely player in the awards season to come. It’ll screen for festival goers at the Sala Grande at the Palazzo del Cinema on Aug. 31 on the Lido.

Likud disavows activist who suggested ‘executing’ state prosecutors

Right-wing activists and Likud supporters protest against the Israeli government in Tel Aviv, December 7, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Right-wing activists and Likud supporters protest against the Israeli government in Tel Aviv, December 7, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The  Likud party disavows an activist who suggested that members of the public prosecutor’s office should be “executed.”

Michal Ben Shushan made the remarks in a chat of Likud activists yesterday.

Following publication of the remarks, the Likud party says Ben Shushan has not been a party member since 1998.

“Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu completely condemns these inciting remarks against the members of state prosecutor’s office,” the Likud statement says, adding that Netanyahu called on police to open an investigation.

Netanyahu, who is on trial in three corruption cases, has frequently railed against the prosecutor’s office, alleging they were trying to oust him from power.

Lapid presents law boosting services for Israelis with disabilities

Prime Minister Yair Lapid (R) attends a conference to present the new Social Services Law for People with Disabilities on July 25, 2022  (Haim Zach /GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid (R) attends a conference to present the new Social Services Law for People with Disabilities on July 25, 2022 (Haim Zach /GPO)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid headlines a conference to present the new Social Services Law for People with Disabilities to professionals working in the field.

In May the government approved a bill allocating NIS 2 billion ($595 million) to help integrate people with disabilities into society.

“Every person with a disability is different. All disabilities are different. However, they also have something in common: The need for help, the tiredness of the parents, the fact that we are all fed up with the runaround between authorities, the fact that nobody fully understands our rights and that we end up doing everything ourselves,” says Lapid who has frequently discussed his own experiences with his daughter, Yael, who has autism.

Sharansky praises Lapid’s tough line on Russia: Saving Israel from global shame

Israeli human rights activist and chair of the Babyn Yar Memorial Center, Natan Sharansky, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Israeli human rights activist and chair of the Babyn Yar Memorial Center, Natan Sharansky, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Natan Sharansky praises Prime Minister Yair Lapid for taking a tough line on Russian threats to close the Jewish Agency and for shifting Israel’s position on Ukraine.

“He brought Israel out of global shame,” Sharansky tells the Ynet news site, speaking about Lapid.

“Israel’s concerns about telling the truth about the Russian invasion reminds me of the status of ‘court Jews,’ who had to say ‘yes’ to a ruler. Israel is not a court state, and certainly not of Russia,” Sharansky says.

Sharansky is a former prisoner of Zion, human rights activist, Israeli government minister and Jewish Agency chief.

Russian Jews fearful they will not be able to leave if Jewish Agency is shut

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)

Russian Jews fear they will not be able to leave the country if Moscow goes ahead with threats to shut down the Jewish Agency.

Russian Jews tell Channel 12 that they fear a return to the days of the Soviet Union when Jews faced great difficulty in leaving the country and immigrating to Israel.

Yesterday Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned Russia that closing the Jewish Agency there would negatively affect ties between the two countries.

He has reportedly tasked the Foreign Ministry with drawing up specific courses of action that Israel could take should Russia go through with its stated plans to shut down the organization’s operations, including recalling the Israeli ambassador to Moscow, more bellicose public statements against Russia, and stepping up Israeli support for Ukraine.

Ex-Israel Hayom editor Boaz Bismuth to run in Likud primaries

Then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israel Hayom editor Boaz Bismuth speak at the Israel Hayom forum in Jerusalem on June 27, 2019. (Gideon Markovitz)
Then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israel Hayom editor Boaz Bismuth speak at the Israel Hayom forum in Jerusalem on June 27, 2019. (Gideon Markovitz)

Former Israel Hayom editor Boaz Bismuth is to run for a spot on the Likud slate in party primaries, Hebrew media reports.

In recent months Bismuth has been working as a commentator on Channel 12 news, where he is one of the most ardent defenders of Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bismuth served as a politically appointed ambassador to Mauritania between 2004 and 2008.

 

Memorial trees vandalized for second time at Buchenwald Nazi camp

Illustrative: From left: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau plant a tree in memory of the death marches to the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald near Weimar, Germany, September 10, 2021. (Jens Schlueter/Pool Photo via AP)
Illustrative: From left: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau plant a tree in memory of the death marches to the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald near Weimar, Germany, September 10, 2021. (Jens Schlueter/Pool Photo via AP)

Vandals damaged trees planted in honor of the victims of the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald for a second time in the last week.

Seven trees planted near the camp memorial in the German state of Thuringia were felled or badly damaged last week while another two were destroyed over the weekend, according to the charity that planted them.

The trees were part of the project “1,000 beeches” by the Lebenshilfewerk organization, which has since 1999 planted saplings along the “death march” route from the former camp.

UK to host 2023 Eurovision instead of Ukraine

Members of the band 'Kalush Orchestra' celebrate onstage with Ukraine's flags after winning on behalf of Ukraine the Eurovision Song contest 2022 on May 14, 2022 at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin. (Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)
Members of the band 'Kalush Orchestra' celebrate onstage with Ukraine's flags after winning on behalf of Ukraine the Eurovision Song contest 2022 on May 14, 2022 at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin. (Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

Britain says it has reluctantly agreed to take Ukraine’s place as host of next year’s Eurovision song contest after organizers said there was no prospect of the event going ahead in the war-torn country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman says it was his “strong wish” for Ukraine, this year’s winner, to host the 2023 edition and found it “deeply regrettable” that was no longer possible, with the BBC stepping in to host.

Police investigating claim terror inmate sexually assaulted Israeli prison guard

Illustrative: A police officer keeps watch from an observation tower at the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)
Illustrative: A police officer keeps watch from an observation tower at the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

Police say that they are investigating a claim that a Palestinian terror inmate carried out a serious sexual assault on a female guard at the Gilboa Prison.

Police lift a gag order on the case, but still bar publication of details that could identify either the victim or the assailant.

The investigation comes after state prosecutors ordered police to reopen an investigation into claims that a prison officer “pimped” female guards at Gilboa Prison to Palestinian terror inmates several years ago to keep the prisoners happy.

Earlier this month, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev approved firing the officer, Rani Basha.

Female soldiers first alleged in 2018 that they were forced into close contact with prisoners as sexual bargaining chips, leading to them being harassed and assaulted, but the case was closed due to a lack of evidence.

Firefighters battling large blaze near Beit Shemesh

Firefighters are battling a large blaze near the central city of Beit Shemesh.

The fire erupted in a forest near the quarry of Moshav Zanoah, just south of the city.

Eight firefighting teams are on the scene and being assisted by four firefighting planes, the fire service says.

Two groups of tourists are evacuated from the area.

The blaze is not currently threatening homes.

Russia says Odesa strikes should not hamper grain export deal

In this photo provided by the Odesa City Hall Press Office, firefighters put out a fire in a port after a Russian missiles attack in Odesa, Ukraine, Saturday, June 5, 2022. (Odesa City Hall Press Office via AP)
In this photo provided by the Odesa City Hall Press Office, firefighters put out a fire in a port after a Russian missiles attack in Odesa, Ukraine, Saturday, June 5, 2022. (Odesa City Hall Press Office via AP)

The Kremlin says that Russian strikes on Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa “should not affect” a UN-brokered deal between Moscow and Kyiv to unblock grain exports.

“This cannot and should not affect the start of shipment,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells  reporters, two days after Moscow hit the port.

He said Moscow’s strikes targeted “exclusively” military infrastructure and were “not connected with the agreement on the export of grain.”

The weekend strikes on Odesa came less than a day after Moscow and Kyiv signed a landmark deal to release grain exports from Ukraine’s ports.

Western countries denounced the move, with the US saying it cast “serious doubt” on Russia’s commitment to the deal.

Lavrov says Russian aim is to overthrow Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands at the podium during a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands at the podium during a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

Russia appears to reverse itself after the country’s top diplomat says Moscow’s overarching goal is to topple the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The remark from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov comes amid Ukraine’s efforts to resume grain exports from its Black Sea ports, something that would help ease global food shortages, under a new deal tested by a Russian strike on Odesa over the weekend.

Speaking to envoys at an Arab League summit in Cairo late yesterday, Lavrov says Moscow is determined to help Ukrainians “liberate themselves from the burden of this absolutely unacceptable regime.”

Lavrov accuses Kyiv and “its Western allies” of spouting propaganda intended to ensure that Ukraine “becomes the eternal enemy of Russia.”

“Russian and Ukrainian people would continue to live together, we will certainly help Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical,” he says.

Lavrov’s remarks contrasted sharply with the Kremlin’s line early in the war, when Russian officials repeatedly emphasized that they weren’t seeking to overthrow Zelensky’s government.

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