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Knesset approves Bennett-Lapid power-sharing deal after hours of debate

Most opposition MKs skip vote; amendment enabling premiership rotation finalized with 61 in favor, 2 opposed

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett seen during a plenary session at the assembly hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett seen during a plenary session at the assembly hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Tuesday’s developments as they unfold.

New Hope decries ‘unrestrained attacks’ on Shasha-Biton as she scraps with Health Ministry

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton at a handover ceremony at the Education Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton at a handover ceremony at the Education Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

New Hope hits out at critics of Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, the party’s No. 2, as she tussles with the Health Ministry over her push to shorten quarantine for students and have all schoolchildren return to the classroom.

“The unrestrained attacks on the education minister crossed the line of good taste. These cowardly attacks must be denounced,” sources in the party tell Hebrew media. “Experts in the whole of Israel… expressed support for the proposal for starting the school year that was presented by Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton’s proposal.”

The sources again insisted that the plan was agreed on by the Health Ministry, despite the latter’s denials and publicly stated opposition to parts of the plan.

Education Ministry: 4,711 students have COVID

The Education Ministry says 4,711 school students are infected with COVID-19.

Among them, 74 percent are elementary school students. Some 45,000 teachers and students are in quarantine.

Currently, there are 13,408 coronavirus cases overall in the country.

Likud to sever ties with coalition whip Silman

Idit Silman MK (Yamina), head of the Arrangements Committee, leads a Committee meeting at the Knesset, on June 28, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Idit Silman MK (Yamina), head of the Arrangements Committee, leads a Committee meeting at the Knesset, on June 28, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The opposition Likud party announces it will no longer cooperate with coalition whip Idit Silman.

The party claims the Yamina lawmaker was secretly recording lawmakers in the Knesset on behalf of Channel 12 news. The network has rejected the allegation.

US State Department elevator defaced with swastika

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens as he gives a joint press conference with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, following a meeting of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group, at the Fiera di Roma, in Rome, as part of Blinken's three-nation tour of Europe, on June 28, 2021. (ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens as he gives a joint press conference with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, following a meeting of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group, at the Fiera di Roma, in Rome, as part of Blinken's three-nation tour of Europe, on June 28, 2021. (ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)

A swastika is found carved into a State Department elevator, according to Axios.

The vandalism takes place near the office of the US special envoy to monitor and combat anti-semitism, according to the report.

In a letter to staff on the incident, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemns antisemitism as “abhorrent.”

“The hateful graffiti has been removed and this incident will be investigated,” he says.

Israel’s environment minister speaks to Kerry about climate crisis

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg speaks with US climate envoy John Kerry on the phone.

The two discuss “the shared struggle against the global crisis, Israel’s commitment, and US involvement in advancing regional cooperation on climate and renewable energy,” says Zandberg.

“I look forward to working together,” she adds.

Abbas fires official who criticized activist’s death in PA custody

Nizar Banat, a West Bank Palestinian and resident of Hebron, who was arrested by the Palestinian Authority security services for criticizing the resumption of ties with Israel. (Screenshot: Facebook)
Nizar Banat, a West Bank Palestinian and resident of Hebron, who was arrested by the Palestinian Authority security services for criticizing the resumption of ties with Israel. (Screenshot: Facebook)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas fires the director of the Palestinian national library after he criticized the government over the death of an activist in the custody of Palestinian security forces.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Ehab Bessaiso is removed from the post, as well as from the library’s board of directors.

The letter, dated June 27 and signed by Abbas, does not give a reason for the dismissal. But it comes three days after Bessaiso wrote a long Facebook post that criticized the death of Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority.

“Nothing justifies committing a crime,” wrote Bessaiso, a former Cabinet minister and government spokesman. “Killing a human being is a crime, no matter how blurry, ambiguous and emotional the picture seems.”

“Difference in opinion is not an epidemic, or an emergency, or a justification for bloodshed,” he added.

Banat died in custody shortly after he was arrested by Palestinian security forces. His family has said he was beaten as he was taken out of his home. It has accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to cover up the death.

Banat’s death has prompted weeks of protests. Palestinian officials have said the matter is under investigation.

The Palestinian Authority is widely viewed as corrupt and authoritarian, with a recent poll showing that support for Abbas, who took power for what was supposed to be a four-year term in 2005, has plummeted.

Abbas has faced mounting pressure after calling off parliamentary elections when it appeared that his Fatah party would suffer a crushing defeat to Hamas.

Knesset approves Bennett-Lapid power-sharing agreements

The Knesset approves legislation anchoring Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s power-sharing government and rotation of the premiership, following 15 hours of debate.

The amendment to the Basic Law: The Government is approved in its second and third readings, with 61 lawmakers in favor and two opposed. Most opposition lawmakers did not attend the vote in protest.

Number of serious COVID cases climbs to 145

The number of serious COVID-19 cases continues its steady climb, hitting 145 on Tuesday evening, two days after surpassing the 100 mark.

Another 1,315 coronavirus cases have been diagnosed since midnight, bringing the number of active infections to 13,408.

After Ben & Jerry’s controversy, Unilever tells ADL chief: We don’t support BDS

View of the Ben & Jerry's ice cream on sale in a shop in Yavne, on July 20, 2021. (Flash90)
View of the Ben & Jerry's ice cream on sale in a shop in Yavne, on July 20, 2021. (Flash90)

Unilever has never supported the Israel boycott movement and has no plans on changing that position, company CEO Alan Jope writes to ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt in a letter about the Ben & Jerry’s ban on sales in Israeli communities in the West Bank.

Jope reiterates Unilever’s “strong and longstanding commitment to our business in Israel,” and says the company “looks forward to investing in our business in Israel long into the future.”

Jope also says that Ben & Jerry’s is committed to staying in Israel through “a different business arrangement.”

“We have welcomed this decision to stay in Israel emphatically,” he adds.

Jope also stresses that antisemitism has no place in any society.

Unilever is the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s. Its brands also include Dove, Hellman’s, Magnum, Lipton, Knorr, Axe and many more.

Ben & Jerry’s said last week that selling ice cream in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” apparently referring to West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem, was “inconsistent with our values.”

It said the decision would take effect at the end of 2022, when its contract with the current Israeli manufacturer and distributor expires. The future of Ben & Jerry’s products across Israel beginning in 2023 remains in question.

Ben & Jerry’s Israeli manufacturer opposes the decision and has vowed to continue to sell throughout all of Israel for the remainder of its contract.

Australian Jewish kayaker Jessica Fox wins bronze at Tokyo Olympics

Australia's Jessica Fox poses with her bronze medal on the podium following the women's Kayak final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre in Tokyo, on July 27, 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)
Australia's Jessica Fox poses with her bronze medal on the podium following the women's Kayak final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre in Tokyo, on July 27, 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Jessica Fox, considered by many to be the greatest paddler of all time, was heavily favored to win gold in the Tokyo Olympics women’s slalom K-1 competition.

Instead, the Jewish paddler takes home a bronze medal on Tuesday, as she did at the 2016 Rio Games.

Ahead of the final, Fox was the top qualifier with the fastest time in the semifinals. Yet as she paddled in her final race, “it didn’t go to plan,” Fox says. “I had to fight all the way down.”

Fox, 27, bursts into tears as her mom and coach, Myriam Jerusalmi, also an Olympic medalist in kayaking, comforts her after the race.

“It’s all the emotions,” Fox tells Australian media. “I’m disappointed that I made the mistakes I did that cost me the gold medal, but also relieved and happy to be on the podium. It’s our sport… I’d obviously come dreaming of that gold medal, so when I hugged Mum that’s when the floodgates opened.”

Fox had won silver in the same event at the 2012 London Olympics. This year, she’ll be able to compete in a different slalom competition, C-1, in part thanks to her activism — it was added as an event for women. She is favored to win gold there, too. The competition is set to begin on Wednesday.

Jewish vaulter Lilia Akhaimova helps Russia to gymnastics gold medal in Tokyo

Liliia Akhaimova of Team ROC competes on uneven bars during Women's Qualification on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre, on July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images via JTA)
Liliia Akhaimova of Team ROC competes on uneven bars during Women's Qualification on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre, on July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images via JTA)

Lilia Akhaimova, a Russian Jewish gymnast competing in her first Olympics, had the lowest all-around score on her team during the qualifying round for the finals, in part because of a balance beam fall.

But in the finals itself, she shone on the vault, her specialty, earning the top score among the 24 competitors and helping to propel the Russian Olympic Committee, a.k.a. Team Russia, to the gold medal.

Russia’s gold was made possible by a stunning turn of events in the women’s team gymnastics competition — the withdrawal of US superstar Simone Biles due to unspecified medical issues. Russia scored 169.528, 3.432 points ahead of the Americans, winning the country’s first women gymnastics gold since the 1992 Olympics.

A Vladivostok native, Akhaimova is a two-time World Championships silver medalist and 2018 European champion with the Russian women’s team. She was an alternate at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

CDC expected to backpedal on some masking guidelines for vaccinated

The US’s top health agency is expected to backpedal on its masking guidelines and recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in parts of the US where the coronavirus is surging, according to a federal official.

The official speaks on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to release the data.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to make an announcement later Tuesday.

For much of the pandemic, the CDC advised Americans to wear masks outdoors if they were within 6 feet of one another.

Then in April, as vaccination rates rose sharply, the agency eased its guidelines on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying that fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to cover their faces unless they were in a big crowd of strangers.

In May, the CDC further eased its guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

The guidance still called for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it cleared the way for reopening workplaces and other venues.

Subsequent CDC guidance said fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks at summer camps or at schools.

For months, COVID cases, deaths and hospitalizations were falling steadily, but those trends began to change at the beginning of the summer, as a mutated and more transmissible version of the coronavirus, the delta variant, began to spread widely, especially in areas with lower vaccination rates.

In recent weeks, a growing number of cities and towns have restored indoor masking rules. St. Louis, Savannah, Georgia, and Provincetown, Massachusetts, are among the places that reimposed mask mandates this month.

Lebanon’s new PM begins bid to form much-delayed cabinet

Lebanon’s new prime minister-designate Najib Mikati holds consultations with political parties that he said “unanimously” agreed on the need to put together a government quickly to rescue the crisis-hit country.

But after nearly a year of extreme drift, an economic crisis described by the World Bank as one of the world’s worst since the 1850s, and continued squabbling among political players, he faces an uphill battle.

Mikati, a billionaire who has already twice served as prime minister, took on the task on Monday, days after fellow veteran politician Saad Hariri threw in the towel.

The last government resigned amid public outrage over a deadly explosion of hundreds of tons of poorly stored fertilizer at Beirut port last August.

The institutional vacuum is holding up a potential financial rescue plan for the country, which defaulted on its debt last year.

Saudis breaking COVID travel rules face 3-year exit ban

Saudi Arabia warns that citizens visiting destinations on its list of countries blacklisted due to COVID-19 will face three-year travel bans following their return.

Those found to have traveled to restricted countries would face “hefty penalties… as well as being prevented from traveling abroad for a period of three years,” the interior ministry says on Twitter.

“Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the spread of new variants, the ministry warns against traveling to countries on its (restricted) list, whether directly or indirectly via other countries.”

According to the kingdom’s state airline Saudia, citizens are barred from traveling to 16 countries, including the neighboring United Arab Emirates.

Biles says ‘mental health’ concerns led to Olympic final withdrawal

USA's Simone Biles gets ready to compete in the uneven bars event of the  artistic gymnastics women's qualification during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 25, 2021. (Loic VENANCE / AFP)
USA's Simone Biles gets ready to compete in the uneven bars event of the artistic gymnastics women's qualification during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 25, 2021. (Loic VENANCE / AFP)

Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles says “mental health” concerns had led to her withdrawing from the women’s team final at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and my wellbeing,” the American says after her team was beaten by the Russian quartet in her absence.

Alleged Jeffrey Epstein victim pens tell-all memoir

This March 28, 2017 photo provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)
This March 28, 2017 photo provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)

One of the alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell has a memoir coming out this fall. Sarah Ransome’s “Silenced No More: Surviving My Journey to Hell and Back” is scheduled for November 17.

Ransome has said that she was 22 and an aspiring student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan when she met Epstein in 2006 and soon found herself entrapped in his world on a private island in the Caribbean. She has alleged that Maxwell recruited her as a masseuse for Epstein, only to have them take her passport and demand she have sex with the wealthy hedge fund manager.

She has alleged Epstein raped her repeatedly.

“Though my own story is centered on sexual abuse, all trauma lives in the body. It changes the shape of one’s soul,” Ransome says in a statement released by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. “By sharing my testimony — by using my book as a platform to start an evocative conversation, among all readers, and particularly among women — I hope to see both minds and laws changed.

“More than anything, I want to encourage a culture in which women, even if they haven’t led the perfect lives, even if they’re not proud of every one of their choices, still feel the right to stand in their truth. That, in these years, is what I’m still learning to do.”

Ransome settled a lawsuit with Epstein and Maxwell in 2018. Maxwell, jailed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since last July, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges. Epstein killed himself in his cell at a federal Manhattan lockup in August 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial.

Hundreds evacuated from path of northern wildfire

Emergency services have evacuated hundreds of bathers on beaches along the northern Sea of Galilee as a wildfire approaches the area, according to Hebrew media reports.

 

Israeli think tank warns of increased possibility of flare-up in north

In a report presented to President Isaac Herzog, the Institute for National Security Studies think tank warns that Iran’s nuclear program is “the most serious threat that Israel faces.”

It also says Iran is capitalizing on instability in Lebanon and Syria to “deepen its involvement and build a ‘war machine’ which is increasingly based on [acquiring] precise attack capabilities [to strike] deep into the Israeli heartland.”

“Despite the mutual deterrence between Israel and Hezbollah, there is increased potential” for an escalation in hostilities in the north, it warns.

Hearing on US Capitol insurrection opens as police detail violence, injuries

Insurrectionist supporters of then US president Donald Trump breach the Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Insurrectionist supporters of then US president Donald Trump breach the Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

A committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection opens its first hearing with a focus on the law enforcement officers who were attacked and beaten as the rioters broke into the building — an effort to put a human face on the violence of the day.

The police officers who are scheduled to testify endured some of the worst of the brutality. They were punched, trampled, crushed and sprayed with chemical irritants. They were called racial slurs and threatened with their own weapons as the mob of then-president Donald Trump’s supporters overwhelmed them, broke through windows and doors and interrupted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win.

“We’re going to tell this story from the beginning,” says Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who sits on the new House panel that is investigating the attack. “The moral center of gravity is these officers who put their lives on the line for us.”

Testifying will be Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Metropolitan Police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.

Iranian judoka who defected dedicates his silver medal to Israel

Gold medalist Japan's Takanori Nagase (white) and silver medalist Mongolia's Saeid Mollaei react after the judo men's -81kg gold medal bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
Gold medalist Japan's Takanori Nagase (white) and silver medalist Mongolia's Saeid Mollaei react after the judo men's -81kg gold medal bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)

Saeid Mollaei, a former Iranian judoka now representing Mongolia, dedicates his silver medal in the final of the men’s 81-kilogram division to Israel.

“This medal is also dedicated to Israel and I hope the Israelis appreciate this achievement,” he says, according to Israel’s Kan broadcaster.

It was the first Olympic medal for Mollaei, two years after he left his native Iran after revealing that his national team coaches had ordered him to lose in the semifinals of the 2019 world championships in Tokyo to avoid facing Israel’s Sagi Muki in the final. Mollaei subsequently moved to Germany and then acquired Mongolian citizenship.

After US star Biles drops out, Russians win women’s gymnastics gold

The Russian Olympic Committee has won the gold medal in women’s gymnastics after US star Simone Biles exited with a medical issue.

The Russian gymnasts post a team score of 169.528, ahead of the US in second place at 166.096. The gold is the first for the Russians since the Unified Team triumphed in Barcelona in 1992 and came a day after the men’s team edged Japan for the top spot in the men’s final.

Great Britain wins bronze.

Study: Vaccines 80% effective in preventing serious COVID

A medic prepares a Covid-19 vaccine injection, at a vaccination center  in Jerusalem, July 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
A medic prepares a Covid-19 vaccine injection, at a vaccination center in Jerusalem, July 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem suggests the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing serious illness has dropped to 80 percent.

It also indicates the shots are 90% effective in preventing deaths from COVID-19.

The researchers warn the number of serious cases — currently at 138 — could rise to 200-400 by mid-August if no steps are taken to rein in infections.

EU ‘appalled’ by killing of 2 Gazans by Hamas security forces

The European Union says it is “appalled” by the deaths of two Gaza residents during or immediately following altercations with Hamas security forces, as human rights groups call for independent investigations of both deaths.

Hassan Abu Zayed, a 23-year-old resident of Gaza City, was driving on Sunday night when he was shot and killed by Hamas security forces, allegedly as he sped through a checkpoint.

According to the Hamas Interior Ministry, security forces spotted a car speeding toward them as they manned the checkpoint in Gaza City’s eastern al-Tuffah neighborhood. The driver ignored calls to stop, says Interior Ministry spokesperson Iyad Bozm.

“Two shots were fired at the vehicle, which did not stop and sought to flee. It later became clear that one of the passengers had been injured. He was taken to a hospital where he passed away from his wounds,” al-Bozm says.

Imad Tawil, a 27-year-old resident of Deir al-Balah, was allegedly beaten by Hamas police early on Sunday during a raid by officers in the city’s al-Nuseirat Refugee Camp. A half hour later, Tawil began to complain of chest pains before collapsing. Although he was rushed to a nearby hospital, he later died, according to the Independent Commission on Human Rights.

The European Union, along with Palestinian human rights groups, are calling for independent investigations of both incidents.

“A full, independent & transparent investigation should be conducted immediately so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice,” the EU’s envoy to the Palestinians tweets.

Israel to start vaccinating immunocompromised children from age 5

Israeli youth receive COVID-19 vaccine shots at a vaccination center in Petah Tikva, July 19, 2021. (Flash90)
Israeli youth receive COVID-19 vaccine shots at a vaccination center in Petah Tikva, July 19, 2021. (Flash90)

The Health Ministry authorizes the vaccination of immunocompromised children, aged five to 11.

The ministry informs the country’s health providers they may begin the immunizations for this high-risk group.

Joint List’s Touma-Sliman to chair Knesset panel on gender equality

MK Aida Touma-Sliman leads a Status of Women and Gender Equality Committee meeting at the Knesset on November 21, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Aida Touma-Sliman leads a Status of Women and Gender Equality Committee meeting at the Knesset on November 21, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman is elected chair of the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality.

“The value that guides me and will guide the committee is equality,” she tweets. “Sometimes I will challenge you, sometimes I will annoy some of you, but I promise it will always be interesting and the committee will always be a home for all the… organizations on the ground that want to advance gender equality.”

2 wildfires break out in north

A large wildfire breaks out in the Galilee, prompting electric lines to be cut and power shortages in Kiryat Shemona, according to Hebrew media reports.

Firefighters are working to contain the blaze, which is currently not threatening residential areas. Parts of Route 90 are closed to traffic.

A second wildfire is also spreading north of the Sea of Galilee, reports say.

Iran hits new COVID infection record for 2nd straight day

Iran records over 34,900 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, setting the nation’s single-day record for cases as vaccinations lag, public complacency deepens and the country’s outbreak spirals further out of control.

The previous record of 31,814 infections had been set only a day earlier, providing a sense of how quickly Iran’s latest surge, fueled by the contagious delta variant, is mounting. Health authorities recorded 357 COVID-19 fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 89,479 — the highest in the Middle East.

The alarming spread of the variant prompted new anti-virus restrictions last week. The government ordered the closure of state offices, public places and non-essential businesses in the capital of Tehran. But as with previous government measures, the lockdown looked very little like a lockdown at all. Tehran’s malls and markets were busy as usual and workers crowded offices and metro stations.

 

US gymnast Simone Biles out of finals after suffering injury

US's Simone Biles competes in the vault event of the artistic gymnastics women's team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Martin BUREAU / AFP)
US's Simone Biles competes in the vault event of the artistic gymnastics women's team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Martin BUREAU / AFP)

Reigning Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles is out of the team finals after apparently suffering an injury during a vault.

The 24-year-old US star, considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time, huddled with a trainer after landing her vault. She then exited the competition floor with the team doctor.

Biles returned several minutes later with her right leg wrapped. She took off her bar grips, hugged teammates Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles before putting on a jacket and sweatpants.

The Americans will be forced to finish the rest of the competition without her, severely hampering their bid to claim a third straight Olympic title.

Biles arrived in Tokyo as the unquestioned star of the Games but struggled, at least by her high standards, during qualifying.

Knesset panel okays fines for non-travelers entering airport

Travelers stand in line to get coronavirus checks upon  arriving at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, July 1, 2021. (Nati Shohat/ Flash90)
Travelers stand in line to get coronavirus checks upon arriving at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, July 1, 2021. (Nati Shohat/ Flash90)

The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee approves new government regulations that will prevent non-travelers from entering Ben-Gurion Airport, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Army Radio.

Under the new rules, only those leaving the country may enter the terminals, starting four hours before the flight and upon presenting their ticket at the door.

Minors who are traveling alone and people with disabilities are permitted to have someone accompany them in the airport.

Those who violate the rules are subject to a NIS 500 fine.

During the discussion over the rules, a Health Ministry representative says the government has no intention of closing the airport or restricting flights at this time, according to the radio report.

1 dead in Cairo building collapse

An apartment building in the Egyptian capital of Cairo collapses, killing a man, officials say.

Rescue workers who pulled out the man’s body are frantically trying to retrieve his wife from under the four-story building in the city’s Waraq neighborhood.

The rescuers had managed to speak with her through the rubble and she was still alive, the officials sat, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

Authorities opened an investigation, the state-run MENA news agency reports.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collapse but such incidents are common in Egypt, where shoddy construction is widespread in shantytowns, poor city neighborhoods and rural areas.

Last month, at least five women died when an apartment building collapsed in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Another building in Cairo collapsed in March, leaving at least 25 dead.

Explosion at German chemical complex declared extreme threat

Smoke rises from a landfill and waste incineration area at the Chempark industrial park run by operator Currenta following an explosion in Leverkusen's Buerrig district, western Germany, on July 27, 2021.(Roberto Pfeil / AFP)
Smoke rises from a landfill and waste incineration area at the Chempark industrial park run by operator Currenta following an explosion in Leverkusen's Buerrig district, western Germany, on July 27, 2021.(Roberto Pfeil / AFP)

An explosion at an industrial park for chemical companies shakes the German city of Leverkusen, sending a large black cloud rising into the air. At least 16 people are injured and five remain missing.

Germany’s Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance classifies the explosion as “an extreme threat” and asks residents to stay inside, turn off ventilation systems and keep windows and doors closed, German news agency dpa reports.

The city of Leverkusen says in a statement that the explosion at the Chempark site, about 20 kilometers (13 miles) north of Cologne on the Rhine river, occurred in storage tanks for solvents. It says four people are severely injured and 12 less seriously. Five people are missing.

Currenta, the company operating the chemical park, says the explosion happened at 9:40 a.m. at the storage tanks of their waste management center and then developed into a fire.

“Sirens were operated to warn residents and warning alerts were sent,” Currenta says in the statement.

Police in nearby Cologne said a large number of officers, firefighters, helicopters and ambulances from across the region had been deployed to the scene. They asked all residents to stay inside and warned people from outside of Leverkusen to avoid the region.

They also shut down several nearby major highways.

Daily Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger reported that the smoke cloud was moving in a northwestern direction toward the towns of Burscheid and Leichlingen.

Leverkusen is home to Bayer, one of Germany’s biggest chemical companies. It has about 163,000 residents and borders Cologne, which is Germany’s fourth biggest city and has around 1 million inhabitants. Many residents work at Bayer, which is one of the biggest employers in the region.

The chemical park is located very close to the banks of the Rhine river.

Currenta has three facilities in the region. More than 70 companies are based at the locations in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen.

Environmental Ministry plan envisions all city buses going electric by 2035

A bus driver sits in a bus and wears a face mask for fear of the coronavirus in downtown Jerusalem, March 16, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A bus driver sits in a bus and wears a face mask for fear of the coronavirus in downtown Jerusalem, March 16, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Environmental Protection Ministry releases for public comment a draft amendment to regulations that will compel urban public transportation operators to ensure that 50 percent of their buses run on electricity by 2026 and 100% by 2035.

Comments are welcome until August 8.

The ministry, working closely with counterparts at the energy and transportation ministries, is investing NIS 87 million ($26.7 million) to help the operators pay for the new buses, more than 100 of which are already on the roads today, with hundreds more planned for the coming year.

According to a statement, replacing diesel-run buses with electric ones will save around NIS 100 million ($30.7 million) per year in damage to public health and the environment, cutting pollution and noise and emitting 60% to 80% less carbon, which helps to heat the planet.

Judoka Mollaei, who left Iran over demand he forfeit Israel matches, wins silver

Gold medalist Japan's Takanori Nagase (white) and silver medalist Mongolia's Saeid Mollaei react after the judo men's -81kg gold medal bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
Gold medalist Japan's Takanori Nagase (white) and silver medalist Mongolia's Saeid Mollaei react after the judo men's -81kg gold medal bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)

Saeid Mollaei —  who is representing Mongolia after leaving the Iranian team during the World Championship in 2019 — wins a silver medal in the final of the men’s judo 81-kilogram division.

Mollaei won his first Olympic medal two years after leaving his native Iran upon revealing that his national team coaches had ordered him to lose in the semifinals of the 2019 world championships in Tokyo to avoid facing Israel’s Sagi Muki in the final. Mollaei subsequently moved to Germany and then acquired Mongolian citizenship. Mongolia has three judo medals in Tokyo.

Mollaei has since visited Israel and befriended Muki.

Israel’s Muki, who had been considered a top contender for a medal at the Tokyo Games, earlier today lost to Shamil Borchashvili and was knocked out in the round of 16 after a fight lasting more than eight minutes.

Sagi Muki of Israel, top, competes against Matthias Casse of Belgium during a men’s -81 kilogram final of the World Judo Championships in Tokyo, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Mollaei lost to Takanori Nagase, who won Japan’s fifth gold medal in judo at the Tokyo Olympics. Belgium’s Matthias Casse and Austria’s Shamil Borchasvili claimed bronze medals. Austria hadn’t won a judo medal since 2008.

EU: 57% of adult are fully vaccinated; 70% have received at least one shot

The European Union’s chief executive says the 27-nation bloc has achieved its goal of providing at least one coronavirus vaccine shot to 70% of all adults, but she’s urging people to protect themselves against the fast-spreading Delta variant.

The EU, home to around 450 million people, was widely criticized for the slow pace of its vaccine rollout earlier this year. But its executive branch, the European Commission, says that 57% of adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday that “these figures put Europe among the world leaders” when it comes to vaccination rates.

Von der Leyen said “the catch-up process has been very successful,” but she warned against complacency given the well-established presence in Europe of the Delta variant.

She said: “The Delta variant is very dangerous. I therefore call on everyone – who has the opportunity – to be vaccinated. For their own health and to protect others.”

Bennett says government ‘very close’ to approving COVID booster

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen (L) and Labor and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (R) visit a retirement home in Jerusalem, July 27, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen (L) and Labor and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (R) visit a retirement home in Jerusalem, July 27, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

During a visit to a retirement home in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett signals Israel could soon approve a third COVID booster shot.

“We’re on top of it, we’re very close. The less we talk about it, the greater chance it’ll happen. It’s on me,” says Bennett.

The prime minister did not specify which populations would receive the booster, but recent Hebrew media reports have indicated the high-level government discussions on approving the third shot have focused on administering it to the elderly.

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