The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández meets with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at his office in Jerusalem before attending the dedication of the Honduran Embassy in the capital.
“You will be recorded in the pages of history as having done a brave and correct deed for the State of Israel,” Bennett tells Hernández.”
In September 2020, Hernández and then-prime minister Netanyahu agreed to open reciprocal embassies in each other’s capitals by the end of the year, pending the pandemic.
The new embassy will be the fourth established in Jerusalem, after those of the United States, Guatemala and Kosovo.
Russia will be ready to fire to hit intruding warships, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warns in the wake of a Black Sea incident in which a British destroyer sailed near Crimea in an area that Russia claims as its territorial waters.
Ryabkov says that “the inviolability of the Russian borders is an absolute imperative,” adding that it will be protected “by all means, diplomatic, political and military if needed.”
Asked what Russia would do to prevent such intrusions in the future, Ryabkov tells reporters it will stand ready to fire on targets if warnings don’t work.
“We may appeal to reason and demand to respect international law,” Ryabkov says in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. “If it doesn’t help, we may drop bombs and not just in the path but right on target if colleagues don’t get it otherwise.”
Completing their investigation, police recommend charging Yaakov Edri, the mayor of the city of Or Akiva and a former government minister, with a series of corruption offenses, including bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Edri’s arrest in November was part of a broader police corruption probe into the Or Akiva municipality in which dozens of suspects have been detained for questioning. Edri and others are suspected of having promoted various tenders and permits in exchange for benefits.
“From the vast amount of evidence gathered, a picture emerges according to which Edri, during the last decade he has served in public positions, acted systematically, while exploiting his status and powers, in order to influence and benefit with stakeholders in exchange for bribes,” police say in a statement.
Edri denies the allegations.
Edri is a former MK for the Likud and Kadima parties, having served in the Knesset between 2003 and 2013. He was also health minister, immigration minister, and minister for the development of the periphery, the Negev and the Galilee.
A rogue elephant has killed at least 16 villagers in the past two months in central India after likely being expelled from his herd “for bad behavior,” a wildlife official says.
The mature male, believed to be 15 or 16 years old, has been on the rampage in the tribal Santhal Pargana region of Jharkhand state ever since he was separated from the herd of 22 elephants.
“It’s likely he was in heat and was expelled because of his bad behavior or sexual rivalry with other males,” Satish Chandra Rai, regional divisional forest officer, says. “We are studying his behavior and a team of 20 officials is constantly trying to track him because our first priority is to protect the animal.”
On Tuesday, the elephant lifted an elderly couple with his trunk and battered them to death when they had ventured out before dawn.
Rai says the elephant is only killing people who accidentally get in its way, get too close, or who try to provoke it and take pictures.
The United States and Germany are launching a new initiative to stem an alarming rise in antisemitism and Holocaust denial around the world.
The two governments announce the start of a US-Germany Holocaust Dialogue that seeks to reverse the trend that gained traction during the coronavirus pandemic amid a surge in political populism across Europe and the US. The dialogue creates a way to develop educational and messaging tools to teach youth and others about the crimes of Nazis and their collaborators.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and several Holocaust survivors were present for the launch at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin.
“Holocaust denial and other forms of antisemitism often go hand in hand with homophobia, xenophobia, racism, other hatred,” said Blinken, who is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor. “It’s also a rallying cry for those who seek to tear down our democracies, which we’ve seen in both our countries, (and) often a precursor to violence.”
Maas echoed Blinken’s comments, underscoring the importance of Germany — “the country of the perpetrators,” he said — taking in a leading role in the project.
Russia reports more than 20,000 new coronavirus infections and 568 deaths, a peak not seen since January, as the country battles a surging outbreak of the Delta variant worsened by a sluggish jab drive.
In total, officials reports 20,182 new cases across the country over the past 24 hours, including just over 8,500 infections in Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s outbreak.
The Russian capital also recorded 92 deaths — the highest in one day since the start of the pandemic, according to the state-run TASS news agency.
The explosion of new cases since mid-June has been spurred by the highly infectious Delta variant first identified in India. It represents 90 percent of new infections in Moscow, the city’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said.
Hundreds of Palestinians protest in downtown Ramallah after a prominent critic of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas died in police custody.
Palestinian Authority security forces have reportedly sought to disperse the protest with tear gas.
“Leave, leave, leave, leave,” demonstrators chant on a main road in the city, just a few hundred meters away from Abbas’s office.
Protesters marching down another thoroughfare repeat one of the most famous chants of the 2011 Arab revolutions: “The people want the fall of the regime.”
Another smaller protest was held in Hebron but has since peacefully dispersed.
The High Court of rules in favor of a petition from a woman who was prevented receiving proceeds from an apartment she owned with her former husband due to her having cheated on him.
The decision overturns a ruling of the rabbinic Beit Din Hagadol, which had said she was not entitled to any money from the sale of the apartment which she had co-owned with her husband for 20 years before their divorce.
A wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapses in a town outside Miami, killing at least one person while trapping residents in rubble and twisted metal.
Scores of rescuers are working to pull survivors from the debris as a cloud of dust floats through the neighborhood.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett warns during a news conference that the building manager told him the tower had been quite full and the death toll was likely to rise.
“The building is literally pancaked,” Burkett says. “That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean to me that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive.”
Ten people were treated at the scene and two were brought to the hospital, one of whom died, Burkett says, adding that 15 families walked out of the building on their own.
Indian police arrest four students from the city of Cargill in the Kashmir region on suspicion of involvement in an explosion near the Israeli embassy in New Delhi on January 29, Ynet news reports.
Local police had reportedly released security footage showing the suspects placing a small explosive device outside the embassy.
The blast, which occurred on the 29th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, shattered the windows of three parked cars. There were no injuries.
Israel and India initially suspected that Iran was linked to the explosion.
Rescuers have pulled 35 people from the 12-story beachfront condo building that collapsed in Surfside, a town near Miami with a significant Jewish population, and are continuing to look for more, Raide Jadallah, assistant fire chief of operations for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, says at a news conference.
The rescue service says in a tweet that more than 80 units were “on scene with assistance from municipal fire departments.”
#MDFR is on scene of a partial building collapse near 88 Street & Collins Avenue. Over 80 MDFR units including #TRT are on scene with assistance from municipal fire departments. Updates will be provided on Twitter as they become available.
— Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (@MiamiDadeFire) June 24, 2021
Police are blocking nearby roads, and scores of fire and rescue vehicles, ambulances and police cars have swarmed the area.
The collapse left a number of homes in the still-standing part of the building exposed. Television footage showed bunk beds, tables and chairs still left inside. Air conditioner units were hanging from some parts of the building, where wires now dangled.
— with AP
Names circulate online of several Jewish victims said to have been injured in the collapse of a residential building in Surfside, a town near Miami with a significant Jewish population.
Messages ask for prayers for the injured and missing.
At least 2,500 of the town’s 6,000 residents are Orthodox Jews.
Barry Cohen, 63, says he and his wife were asleep in the building when he first heard what he thought was a crack of lightning. The couple went onto their balcony, then opened the door to the building’s hallway to find “a pile of rubble and dust and smoke billowing around.”
“I couldn’t walk out past my doorway,” says Cohen, the former vice mayor of Surfside. “A gaping hole of rubble.”
He and his wife eventually made it to the basement and found rising water there. They returned upstairs, screamed for help and were eventually brought to safety by firefighters using a cherry-picker.
— with AP
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says the state is “bracing for some bad news” following the collapse of a residential building in the heavily Jewish populated town of Surfside.
At least one person was killed in the collapse with another 35 people pulled from the rubble, according to rescue services, although many more are thought to be trapped.
JUST IN: Video I’ve obtained of the building collapse in Surfside, Florida. pic.twitter.com/BGbRC7iSI9
— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) June 24, 2021
“It’s a really, really tragic situation,” DeSantis tells reporters before heading to the disaster site.
“We’ll hope for the best in terms of additional recoveries, but we are bracing for some bad news just given the destruction that we’re seeing,” he says.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz extends operations of the military’s coronavirus task force by at least a month in light of recent outbreaks of the Delta variant of the virus, his office says.
Gantz makes his decision following a meeting with top Israel Defense Forces officers, including Deputy Chief of Staff Eyal Zamir and the head of the Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Uri Gordin, who is responsible for the task force.
Certain aspects of the task force were due to be handed over to civilian authorities in July, specifically its contact tracing efforts, and the unit itself was due to close down in August.
However, due to fears of a renewed outbreak in Israel, the defense minister instructs the military to keep the task force active into September, including epidemiological investigations and testing oversight, Gantz’s office says.
In light of these flare-ups, many of which can be traced to people coming into Israel from abroad, Gantz has already instructed the military to supplement the testing facilities at Ben Gurion International Airport.
The defense minister also tells the military to prepare to bring back dormant COVID-19 programs, such as “Anshei Chayil,” in which the IDF assists residents of cities with large-scale outbreaks.
“It’s too early to say if we’re at the onset of a wave, but from our experience with the coronavirus, we must prepare for even extreme scenarios,” he says.
Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash says that the indoor mask mandate obligating people to cover their mouths and noses inside will return next week in an effort to stem the rise in COVID-19 cases.
In a briefing with journalists, Ash says that 123 people have so far been diagnosed with the virus today, and that the outbreak has spread to Kfar Saba, Ramla, Herzliya and other cities.
Ash recommends avoiding flights abroad, especially for people who have not been vaccinated.
“I call on the public to consider whether traveling abroad is essential. It is highly advisable to avoid non-essential travel abroad,” he says, echoing a similar call from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“This is not the right time to fly with children who are not vaccinated,” Ash says.
Israel will partially reopen the Kerem Shalom Border Crossing to goods and expand the Gaza fishing zone tomorrow, after several days of quiet along the Gaza border, the military says.
Starting Friday, Israel will allow raw materials for critical industries into the Gaza Strip through Kerem Shalom. Until now, Israel has significantly limited the entrance of goods into the enclave following last month’s 11-day conflict, saying it would only expand the type of products allowed into Gaza if the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, releases two Israeli civilians held in captivity, along with the remains of two soldiers.
In addition, the IDF says it will extend the area in which Palestinian fishermen are permitted to operate from six nautical miles (11 kilometers) to nine (16.7 kilometers).
These changes come at the direction of Israel’s political leadership, the military says.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appears to hint at Israel’s role in a recent attack on an Iranian nuclear site, during a speech at a graduation ceremony for Israeli Air Force pilots.
“Our enemies know — not from statements, but from actions — that we are much more determined and much more clever, and that we do not hesitate to act when it is needed,” Bennett says in his speech.
His remarks come a day after the alleged drone attack on an Iranian centrifuge production facility outside Tehran.
In his speech, one of his first since taking over as premier earlier this month, Bennett refers to Israel’s strike on Iraq’s nuclear reactor nearly 40 years ago.
Bennett says Israel’s prime ministers have always had a “holy responsibility not to allow an existential threat to the State of Israel. Then it was Iraq, today Iran.”
The prime minister says Israel will preserve the right to defend itself, even as it seeks to cooperate with allies, in an apparent reference to Jerusalem’s ongoing efforts to convince the United States to refrain from rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
“We will continue to consult with our allies, to convince, to speak, to share information and understandings, out of deep mutual respect. But at the end of the day, the responsibility for our destiny will remain in our hands and in no other’s. We will act responsibly and carefully,” Bennett says.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterates that Israel will not allow large-scale reconstruction of the Gaza Strip unless the rulers of the enclave, the Hamas terror group, releases two Israeli civilians and the remains of two fallen Israeli soldiers whom it has held captive for more than six years.
“Operation Guardian of the Walls ended, but it hasn’t finished,” Gantz says, referring to Israel’s name for last month’s 11-day conflict in the Strip.
“The Hamas terror group in Gaza needs to understand: We are determined. If Hamas wants reconstruction and economic development, the time has come that it takes concrete steps to maintain the calm, to halt the rearmament and to return the boys home,” he says.
“We are also prepared to change the situation for the better for Gaza residents, but we won’t accept any form of terror, or the captivity of our boys in clear violation of international law,” the defense minister adds.
A video has surfaced that shows Curtis Sliwa, the Republican candidate for mayor of New York City, describing Orthodox Jews as a drag on the tax system.
“We’re not talking about poor, impoverished, disabled people who need help. We’re talking about able-bodied men who study Torah and Talmud all day and we subsidize them,” Sliwa says in the video, filmed in 2018. “And then all they do is make babies like there’s no tomorrow and who’s subsidizing that? We are.
“So are we the shmucks and putzes? Yes.”
Sliwa’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The video, which shows the founder of the Guardian Angels speaking at a meeting for the Reform Party, was posted originally to a Facebook page called United Hudson Valley on October 25, 2018.
Sliwa, 67, won the Republican primary on Tuesday against Fernando Matteo, although with New York’s overwhelmingly Democratic electorate, he is unlikely to win in November.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, discussing Iran’s nuclear program, threatens to conduct a military strike against it if necessary.
“Today in Iran — as it was 40 years ago [in Iraq] — a murderous and dangerous enemy, which is building arms of terror [to use against] the State of Israel, seeks to acquire a nuclear weapon to threaten Israel and the stability of the entire region,” Gantz says, referring to an Iraqi nuclear reactor, which Israel destroyed in a 1981 airstrike.
“We are in contact with our American allies in order to ensure the security of Israel. If needed, we will act as we have always acted. We will remove and prevent any threat, with stratagems, with initiative and — of course — with professional and diplomatic responsibility,” he says.
The defense minister makes his remarks a day after an alleged drone attack on an Iranian nuclear site outside Tehran.
An appeals court suspends Rudy Giuliani from practicing law in New York because he made false statements attempting to get courts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the presidential race.
An attorney disciplinary committee says in its motion to suspend Giuliani’s license that there was “uncontroverted evidence” that Giuliani made false statements to the courts, the public and lawmakers, as he pushed theories that the election was stolen through fraud.
“This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden,” the committee writes. “The hallmark of our democracy is predicated on free and fair elections. False statements intended to foment a loss of confidence in our elections and resulting loss of confidence in government generally damage the proper functioning of a free society.”
The ruling will prevent Giuliani from representing clients as a lawyer.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman says it is not clear how many people were inside the residential building in Surfside when it collapsed since it was occupied by a mix of full-time and seasonal residents and renters.
“It’s hard to get a count on it,” Heyman tells CNN. “It is 51 people who were supposedly residing there at the time [and] have not either called out or had people call in to reach them.”
“But you don’t know between vacations or anything else. So we’re still waiting. And unfortunately, the hope is still there, but it’s waning,” she says.
Around 55 apartments were affected by the collapse, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah, who told a news conference that emergency services arrived at the scene at around 1:30 am, evacuating 35 people from the building.
Hebrew media reports say there are around 20 Jews, some with Israeli citizenship, among those missing in the collapse of a building in the heavily Jewish town of Surfside, located near Miami.
The consul general of Israel in Miami, Maor Elbaz, tells the Kan public broadcaster, ”Apparently, these are American residents. Some of their families are waiting for bad news.”
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton reportedly slams Health Ministry officials for their response to the latest coronavirus outbreak.
“There are officials in the health ministry who are purposfully stirring hysteria, in order to push vaccines for children,” she is reported by Channel 12 news as having told close confidents.
“According to all the experts, we are in a different place” than during previous outbreaks, she was quoted as saying, arguing that there is no need to close schools yet.
A senior State Department official denies a report that the US is seeking to delay the next round of nuclear talks in Vienna in order to consult with the new Israeli government.
“We’re always happy to consult with the Israelis, and are working with the new government to find mutually convenient opportunities to do so, but it is false that we are trying to postpone the next round of talks for this or any other reason. We’ll be happy to go back to Vienna when the Iranians finish their internal consultations,” the senior official tells The Times of Israel.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has taken the same stance as its predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu against US plans to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal.
However, a source familiar with the matter tells ToI that Jerusalem has reversed a policy instituted by the previous government, which barred Israeli officials from even discussing the details of a renewed deal between the US and Iran.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi addressed the issue during meetings with senior US officials this week in Washington, the source adds.
The Health Ministry says 169 new coronavirus cases have been diagnosed since midnight, bringing the number of active infections in Israel to 789.
The daily caseload has topped 100 for the past four days, marking a significant increase after a recent lull in new cases.
The ministry says there are now 27 people in serious condition, 17 of whom are on respirators.
A senior State Department official says the US is looking forward to ‘positive discussions’ with the new Israeli government on the Iran nuclear file.
In a briefing with reporters, the official says that Washington recognizes that the new government, like the last one, has a difference of opinion regarding US plans to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal.
However, the official insists that the sides respect one another and share the same goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The official also speculated that the Iranian nuclear file would be raised during Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Rome on Sunday.
The Prime Minister’s Office announces that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has appointed political strategist Shalom Shlomo as the new government’s cabinet secretary.
Shlomo, 44, has previously served in various positions in the public service and private sector, including as a strategist for Bennett
His appointment is expected to be approved by the government as this Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke earlier with Israel’s consul general in Miami, Maor Elbaz, who updated him on the state of operations on the ground following the collapse of a residential building in the town of Surfside, which is home to some 2,500 Jews.
Lapid also spoke with the head of the Jewish community in Miami, Jacob Solomon, the Foreign Ministry says in a statement.
Some 20 members of the local Jewish community, some with dual US-Israeli citizenship, are reported to be among those missing after the collapse.
“Foreign Ministry staff in Miami and Israel are doing everything they can to help those on the ground, the wounded and the families. It is a difficult and complex event and it will take time to deal with it. We are at their disposal for any assistance they may need,” Lapid says, according to the statement.
More than 200 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in northeast Syria’s densely-populated Al-Hol camp for the displaced and families of defeated jihadists, a government official says.
The vaccination drive, using AstraZeneca jabs under the Covax program for low-income parts of the world, covers government-held areas and territory run by a Kurdish local administration.
Syrian health ministry teams had inoculated 205 people up until Wednesday in Al-Hol camp of Hasakeh province, the ministry’s provincial chief Issa al-Khalaf tells AFP.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who was prime minister when the agreement with Honduras was reached last year, welcomes the opening of its embassy in Jerusalem and emphasizes his role in the event.
“I agreed to the opening of embassies with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández a year ago and today we are seeing the fruits,” Netanyahu writes on Facebook.
“I hope that the efforts I began, to transfer embassies to Jerusalem, will not end, and other countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years.”
Netanyahu was not at Thursday’s ceremony, but did meet with Hernández later in the day, the opposition leader’s office says.
The US State Department says it is “deeply disturbed” by the death of Nizar Banat, a prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority, who died in what his family alleges was a violent arrest by PA security forces earlier today.
“We urge the Palestinian Authority to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation, and to ensure full accountability in this case. We have serious concerns about Palestinian Authority restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression by Palestinians and harassment of civil society activists and organizations,” State Department spokesman Ned Price says in a statement.
The statement also offers condolences to Banat’s family.
Police in Miami-Dade County say 99 people are still unaccounted for, after the partial collapse of a high-rise residential building in the Florida town of Surfside, which has a large Jewish population.
Police add that 53 people have been accounted for.
Aryeh Deri, the head of the Shas opposition party, says he is “anxiously following the heavy tragedy in Miami” after a building in a heavily Jewish Florida town collapsed, with one person killed and 99 unaccounted for, including some 20 Jews.
“Along with the entire nation of Israel, I am praying for the recovery of the wounded, and for the missing to be quickly located, safe and sound,” Deri says in a statement, adding his well-wishes for the Jewish community.
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