The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they occured.
Jordan’s Foreign Ministry has issued a condemnation of the Israeli military’s deadly counter-terror raid in the Palestinian city of Jenin earlier today.
The ministry’s statement blasts the “ongoing Israeli incursions into occupied Palestinian cities and the continuous attacks on them.”
It warns that such raids will lead to a “further deterioration and extend the cycle of violence.”
Jordan calls on Israel to cease its “unlawful and illegal campaign,” which undermines prospects for a two-state solution.
The Biden administration backs the deadly counter-terrorism raid carried out by the IDF earlier today in Jenin, saying Israel has a “legitimate right to defend its people.”
Asked for comment on the raid during a press briefing, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price notes the Israeli army’s claim that its troops were pursuing the perpetrator of “what can only be described as a horrific attack” in Huwara last week.
“Israel has the legitimate right to defend its people and its territory against all forms of aggression, including those from terrorist groups,” Price says.
“We have seen far too many vivid demonstrations of the terrorist threat that Israel faces in recent days.”
At the same time, Price says that the US “remain[s] deeply concerned by the sharp rise in violence in the West Bank and we continue to urge the parties to take immediate steps to prevent the further loss of life.”
He also expresses the administration’s “extreme concern” over the latest settler attack in Huwara that took place last night, a week after a deadly rampage in the Palestinian city. In last night’s incident, four Palestinians were hospitalized and several buildings and vehicles were vandalized. No arrests were made. Price called on Israel to hold those responsible for the violence against Palestinians accountable, just as it does when the roles are switched.
Moody’s warns judicial overhaul could weaken Israel’s institutional strength, would be ‘credit negative’
The Moody’s rating agency issues a warning that Israel’s planned judicial overhaul could weaken the country’s institutional strength.
The “proposed judicial overhaul could lead to weaker checks and balances with negative implications for the country’s institutions and governance strength,” the ratings agency says.
“If implemented in full, the proposed changes could materially weaken the strength of the judiciary and as such be credit negative,” Moody’s warns.
“The planned changes could also pose longer-term risks for Israel’s economic prospects, particularly capital inflows into the important high-tech sector.
Noting that the Israeli government has presented “a package of reforms that would represent substantive changes to the country’s judiciary system,” Moody’s adds: “The scale of the changes and the speed with which the government attempts to push them through parliament have led to widespread criticism from civil society groups, opposition politicians and the international community. Israel has seen continued large-scale protests since January 2023. It remains to be seen whether the proposed changes will be implemented in their current form or whether some sort of compromise will be reached.”
A Channel 12 report says government officials had been holding talks with Moody’s in recent days trying to convince them that the reforms will not have a negative impact.
Last week, Fitch Ratings affirmed Israel’s A+ credit rating with a stable outlook, citing the country’s “diversified, resilient” economy, but also warned that the government’s planned judicial changes could have a “negative impact” on the country’s credit profile.
Fitch cautioned that the judicial overhaul could weaken institutional checks, leading to “worse policy outcomes or sustained negative investor sentiment.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition has prioritized the controversial proposals to transform the justice system, which are being spearheaded by Justice Minister Yariv Levin. The proposed legal overhaul would grant the government total control over the appointment of judges, including High Court justices, and severely limit the High Court’s ability to strike down legislation — concentrating almost all governing authority in the hands of the political majority.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely make the short trip from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion Airport by helicopter on Thursday in a bid to avoid protesters who plan to block his route, Hebrew media reports.
Organizers of protests against the government’s planned drastic overhaul of the judiciary are gearing up for another major campaign to disrupt daily life on Thursday, including blocking roads around Ben Gurion Airport in an attempt to prevent Netanyahu from catching his flight for an official visit to Italy.
They dubbed the protest as “a day of resistance to the dictatorship, during which traffic in Israel will be disrupted: in the air, at sea, and on land.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to fly to Rome on Thursday for a meeting with Italian leaders and then spend the weekend in the city.
US President Joe Biden thanks Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said for his decision last month to open his country’s airspace to Israeli airliners.
The topic comes up during a phone call that the two leaders held earlier today, according to a readout from the White House.
“The two leaders reaffirmed the longstanding historical ties between our countries and peoples, and discussed mutual efforts to forge a more prosperous, peaceful and integrated Middle East region,” the White House says.
Oman opening its airspace enables Israeli airlines to take advantage of a military move by Saudi Arabia and cut several hours of flying time to the Far East.
Biden thanks Sultan Haitham for his involvement in the UN-mediated true in Yemen and welcomes Oman’s efforts to secure the release of American citizens wrongfully detained in Iran, the US readout adds.
The Rambam Medical Center in Haifa says a third officer from the police Yamam counterterror force has been brought for treatment after being wounded in the raid in the West Bank city of Jenin earlier.
According to the hospital, one officer is listed in moderate condition, while the other two are slightly hurt.
At least six Palestinians were killed in the raid.
The White House will host the first-ever Jewish women’s forum on Thursday featuring Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who will discuss his recent trips to Germany and Poland along with the Biden administration’s efforts to combat antisemitism.
The White House statement announcing the forum says Emhoff will be joined by Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger, Special Assistant to the President for Gender Policy Latifa Lyles and Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence, Special Assistant to the President Rosie Hidalgo and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt along with over 70 Jewish women leaders from various organizations around the country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with Justice Minister Yariv Levin three times in recent days in a bid to press him to compromise on the judicial overhaul that has sparked widespread opposition, Channel 12 reports.
Netanyahu met with Levin on Friday, Sunday, and yesterday, urging him to compromise as soon as possible, warning that the focus on the reforms was harming the government on the diplomatic, economic, and internal fronts, the report says, noting that Netanyahu, who is barred from being involved in the reform, did not suggest specific compromises.
The report says that Levin is resisting pressure to soften the legislation, vowing that he won’t give up on key components like government control over appointing justices. He is also refusing to halt the legislative process for talks.
The report says there is mounting pressure from other Likud MKs to compromise, noting the party’s fall in recent polls and widespread protests.
The Likud issues a statement calling the report on the meetings “incorrect.”
Meanwhile, Channel 12 also quotes sources close to Levin as saying that he favorably views a compromise proposal presented by former justice minister Daniel Friedmann, former National Security Council chief Giora Eiland and others.
The report says the proposal calls for an equal representation of judges and members of the ruling coalition on the judicial selection panel; if there is no agreement, one person is appointed from each side.
It also says laws can be struck down if 11 of 15 Supreme Court judges agree and Basic Laws can be changed only if 61 MKs vote for it in two successive Knessets, or if 70 MKs do in a current Knesset.
The proposal also reportedly says the so-called override proposals can only allow the Knesset to re-legislate laws struck down by the court if 65 MKs agree.
Police say they are on high alert in Jerusalem and its surrounding areas as the city celebrates Purim.
“Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai has ordered an increased vigilance and a visible presence in Jerusalem, in the area of the seam line and mixed areas,” a police statement says.
“It is important to note that the Israel Police are currently busy with a long series of missions to allow the general public to celebrate the Purim holiday safely all over the country,” the statement adds.
Purim is celebrated today in most of the world, but tonight and tomorrow in Jerusalem.
The statement comes after an IDF raid in the West Bank town of Jenin kills six Palestinians, including the suspected terrorist who shot dead two Israeli brothers in Huwara last week.
Former California governor and film star Arnold Schwarzenegger is speaking out against antisemitism, warning bigots that they “will die as miserably as they lived.”
In a video posted to YouTube, Schwarzenegger speaks out against hate, telling viewers “there has never been a successful movement based on hate.”
“Nazis? Losers. The Confederacy? Losers. The apartheid movement? Losers. I don’t want you to be a loser,” he says.
Schwarzenegger says that it is easy to understand how people get lured into believing antisemitic conspiracy theories.
“It’s easier to make excuses that the Jewish people conspired to hold you back than it is to admit that you just needed to work harder,” says the Austrian-born actor who rose to prominence as a bodybuilder.
“It’s easier to hate than it is to learn… Nobody who has chosen the easy path of hate has gotten to the end of the road and said, ‘What a life.’ No. They die as miserably as they lived.”
The Israel Defense Forces say a Lebanese man stole a magazine from a soldier’s gun during an altercation on the northern frontier.
According to the IDF, dozens of people gathered as troops conducted engineering operations along the border.
“During the gathering, a Lebanese who approached the force took a magazine from an IDF soldier’s weapon,” the military says.
The incident is under investigation.
The parents of two brothers killed in a terror attack last week say it is a relief to hear that the suspected gunman had been killed in a military raid.
Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19 were shot dead when a gunman opened fire on their vehicle as they drove through the West Bank town of Huwara last week.
The alleged killer Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, 49, was among 6 Palestinians killed in an army raid on Jenin today.
“A burden has been lifted from our hearts when we heard that the terrorist was killed and not arrested,” the parents say in a statement.
“We are thankful that today, on Purim, the mourning turns to joy, we have been comforted a little by the killing of the terrorist,” they say.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is the first government minister to condemn Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, who said yesterday IDF reservists protesting the government’s judicial overhaul can “go to hell.”
Speaking after a meeting with the commanders of reserve units, Gallant does not mention Karhi by name but says that he intends to protect all the reservists, even those he has political differences with.
“Those who disparage IDF soldiers, from the left or the right, have no place in public service,” Gallant says. “I cherish, appreciate and support the reservists, regardless of their political position.”
Gallant also called on reservists to stop threatening to refuse to do their duty as part of the protests against the government.
“The word refusal [to serve] should remain out of the conversation. This refusal is undermining the most basic foundation of the state’s existence — our security, and we cannot allow that,” Gallant says.
“The threats of refusal are playing with fire, we need to leave the IDF above all debate — a protest against the government does not permit activities against the state,” he says.
Representatives of the reservists are quoted by Channel 12 as saying to Gallant and to IDF chief of staff Herzi Halevi, who also participates in the meeting: “Your silence is very hurtful for us. We are being insulted by contemptible people in the government. You, who are in charge, must give us backing, ensure calm, protect and defend us. Where will you be when we need you? Minister of defense, are you motivated solely by political considerations? This is simply despicable.”
Halevi tells those present: “Refusal is a red line. We won’t tolerate refusal or what amounts to refusal. It can weaken us, and what weakens us today can’t always be easily strengthened when it needs to be.”
Hundreds of people are protesting outside the home of Likud MK Yuli Edelstein in Herzliya as part of the demonstrations against the government’s judicial overhaul plan.
The protesters are blocking roads and calling on Edelstein to “wake up.”
Edelstein, a veteran Likud MK who has been largely sidelined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is one of the few party MKs to speak in support of halting the overhaul and negotiating with the opposition.
הכיכר הסמוכה לביתו של ח״כ יולי אדלשטיין. כ 300 איש מפגינים נגד ההפיכה וקוראים לאדלשטיין להתעורר. pic.twitter.com/22savIVF6z
— Tal Schneider טל שניידר تال شنايدر (@talschneider) March 7, 2023
Police say two officers of the elite Yamam counterterrorism unit have been lightly hurt during the raid in Jenin targeting the Huwara terrorist.
According to a police spokesman, the officers were injured by Palestinian fire.
They have been taken to a hospital in Israel for treatment.
Palestinians say six people were killed.
The military gives the all-clear after an infiltration alert sounds in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel.
It’s not immediately clear what caused the false alarm that came as residents were celebrating the Jewish festival of Purim.
A suspected infiltration alert is sounding in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel.
Residents are ordered by the military’s Home Front Command to remain in homes, and lock doors and windows until further notice.
There are no further details as to what set the alarm off.
— Aleph א (@no_itsmyturn) March 7, 2023
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry names the six people killed during the IDF raid in Jenin, including a man accused of killing two Israelis last week.
According to the ministry, the fatalities include Muhammad Wael Ghazawi, 26, Majd Muhammed Azmi Husseiniyeh, 26, Tariq Ziad Mustafa Natour, 27, Ziad Amin Zaraini, 29, Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, 49, and Mutasim Nasser Sabbagh, 22.
Israeli officials say Kharousha is the Palestinian terrorist who carried out the attack in Huwara last week that killed two Israeli brothers.
According to images shared by Palestinian media, Kharousha is apparently affiliated with the Hamas terror group.
The Palestinian Authority condemns an Israeli raid into the West Bank town of Jenin in which at least six Palestinians are killed.
A spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas says that “the Israeli government bears responsibility for this dangerous escalation, which threatens to explode the situation and destroy all efforts aimed at restoring stability.”
The spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, says Israel is determined to thwart all efforts to bring about peace in the region and calls on the US to pressure Jerusalem.
Hebrew media reports say that among the dead is the alleged terrorist that carried out the deadly shooting attack in Huwara last week.
The wife of Israeli airman Ron Arad, who has been missing since 1986, throws her support behind the fighter pilots who threatened to skip a day of reserve duty to protest the government’s overhaul of the judicial system.
In a Facebook post, Tami Arad writes, “Dear fighters of the 69th, I am proud of you for the symbolic decision.
“You took the lead, as you do in the operational activity that you do quietly. As someone who has personally experienced the risks you take, it is clear to me beyond any doubt that you cannot act any differently.”
Arad, an Israeli Air Force navigator, was captured after bailing out of his jet over Lebanon in 1986 and was last heard from in 1988. He was last known to be in the custody of Lebanese terror groups and is widely presumed to be dead.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says three people have been killed during the IDF raid in Jenin.
Several more people are being treated at hospitals in the city.
Hebrew media reports say four Palestinians were killed, including the alleged terrorist behind the deadly Huwara shooting attack last week.
???????? Palestine || The ministry of Health:: Three Palestinians were killed and 7 others were injured during the brutal military raid of Jenin refugee camp. 7.3.23
وزارة الصحة: استشهاد ٣ مواطنين و اصابة ٧ اخرين خلال اقتحام مخيم جنين. pic.twitter.com/oh5YLLsJ3X
— Eye on Palestine (@EyeonPalestine) March 7, 2023
The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will hold back-to-back hearings next week to prepare the first part of the government’s radical judicial overhaul for its final Knesset readings, in a sign that the coalition is charging full-steam ahead with its controversial legal agenda.
Committee chairman MK Simcha Rothman has scheduled hearings every day next week except Thursday to prepare the legislation, which would give the government full control over judicial appointments and ban the High Court of Justice from reviewing Basic Laws.
Votes to approve the legislation in committee for its second and third readings could be scheduled whenever Rothman decides, and then be brought for those final readings to pass the bill into law within in a matter of days.
These moves come as President Isaac Herzog is in the final stages of forming a compromise proposal for judicial reform after consultations with academics and civil society organizations on both sides of the ideological spectrum.
Palestinian media reports say Israeli troops have detained three wanted Palestinians in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
The reports say brothers Khaled, Abd, and Qassem Kharousha were arrested by Israeli forces.
The Kan public broadcaster, without citing a source, says the wanted men are the children of the alleged Palestinian terrorist who carried out the attack in Huwara last week.
Heavily-armed Israeli occupation soldiers storm the city of Nablus. pic.twitter.com/2A1vevfQX0
— Wafa News Agency – English (@WAFANewsEnglish) March 7, 2023
The arrests in Nablus come as IDF forces were operating in nearby Jenin amid reports they had killed the Huwara shooter.
Palestinian gunmen reportedly manage to down a small Israeli military drone during the raid in Jenin.
A video published by Palestinian media outlets shows the drone falling from the sky, and another clip shows Palestinians picking it up.
لحظة اسقاط كتيبة جنين طائرة مسيّرة تتبع لجيش الإحتلال pic.twitter.com/Y88bwugM9y
— يونس الزعتري #عين_على_العدو (@YounesZaatari) March 7, 2023
There is no immediate comment from the IDF on the incident.
Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin writes to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a proposal to end the current political crisis in Israel.
In the letter, first reported by the Walla news site, Diskin warns Netanyahu that the country stands on the edge of “destruction” and urges him to immediately halt the legislation of a judicial overhaul.
He also suggests that in order to get the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties out of government, Netanyahu form a national unity government between his Likud party and the centrist Yesh Atid and National Unity.
Diskin then suggests that Netanyahu resign in exchange for the closing of the three corruption cases against him.
Diskin says the steps are necessary to avert a catastrophe for Israel.
“These are risks that may tear apart Israeli society and the state in a way that will be difficult to reunify, crush the IDF, severely damage the economy and lead to an unprecedented crisis of confidence that will not allow the government systems to function,” he writes.
Diskin stresses that the letter is personal and does not represent the opposition groups.
Hebrew-language media reports, without citing sources, say four Palestinians have been killed during the IDF raid in Jenin, including the alleged terrorist who carried out a deadly shooting attack in the West Bank town of Huwara last week.
The IDF had said troops are operating in the area, but does not immediately confirm the reports.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says one person has been killed during the raid. The ministry identifies the man as 26-year-old Muhammed Wael Ghazzawi.
It also says several people are wounded.
Last week, two Israeli brothers Hallel Yaniv, 21 and Yagel Yaniv, 19, were shot dead when a Palestinian gunman opened fire from close range at an Israeli-owned car on the Route 60 highway, then fled the scene, apparently on foot.
The IDF says its forces are operating in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.
A terse statement from the military says it will provide updates later on the rare daytime raid.
A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said its members opened fire and hurled explosives at the Israeli force.
Palestinian media reports said troops launched a missile at a building where wanted Palestinians were apparently holed up, in a tactic known as a “pressure cooker,” to flush the suspects out.
تغطية صحفية: "جانب من اقتحام قوات الاحتلال الخاصة مخيم جنين". pic.twitter.com/ZAcM8o33oi
— فلسطين بوست (@plespost) March 7, 2023
Jenin is widely seen as a hotbed of terrorist activity and has been the focus of many of the raids.
A group of reservist members of an Israeli Air Force fighter jet squadron have reversed their decision to not show up to one of their planned training sessions in protest of the government’s plan to radically restrict the power of the country’s judiciary, and will now attend.
In a statement, the pilots say that they are “answering the call of our commanders and we will report tomorrow at the unit to hold a conversation of fighters.”
Earlier this week 37 out of the 40 reservists in the IAF’s 69th Squadron said they were boycotting the exercises. The squadron — known as the Hammers — operates the F-15I fighter jets out of the Hatzerim Airbase in southern Israel.
“We have complete faith in our commanders and will continue to serve the Jewish and democratic State of Israel as long as necessary,” the pilots say.
Their original announcement was echoed by hundreds of other reservists, but also saw calls from opposition leaders who support the cause to continue to show up, warning of harm to Israel’s security.
The Vatican and Greece are finalizing a deal for the return of three sculpture fragments from the Parthenon that have been in the collection of the Vatican Museums for two centuries, the latest case of a Western museum bowing to demands for restitution.
The Vatican has termed the return an ecumenical “donation” to the Orthodox Christian archbishop of Athens and all Greece, not necessarily a state-to-state transfer. But it nevertheless puts pressure on the British Museum to conclude a deal with Greece over the fate of its much bigger collection of Parthenon sculptures.
The fragments are expected to arrive in Athens later this month, with a March 24 ceremony planned to receive them.
The British Museum has refused decades of appeals from Greece to return its much larger collection of Parthenon sculptures, which have been a centerpiece of the museum since 1816.
Syria and Iran condemn an alleged Israeli airstrike on the Aleppo airport, saying it cut off aid to earthquake victims.
Syria’s foreign ministry decries a “double crime,” saying the strike targeted “a civilian airport… and one of the key channels for the arrival of humanitarian aid” for quake victims.
Damascus ally Iran condemned the strike, calling it a “crime against humanity.”
“While the Syrian earthquake victims in Aleppo are experiencing difficult conditions, the Zionist regime (Israel) is attacking Aleppo airport,” foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani says in a statement.
Israel has reportedly attacked Aleppo airport several times in recent years, with a strike last September putting it out of service for a few days.
While Israel does not comment on specific strikes it has said that it hits targets bases of Iran-allied terror groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and efforts to ship advanced weapons to the terror groups.
There has been speculation that Iran was sending weapons amid its aid shipments to Syria.
AFP contributed to this report
Seven Nobel Prize winners send a letter calling on the government to freeze its planned legislation to curb the National Library of Israel’s independence by allowing the government to determine the makeup of the library’s board.
The letter, addressed to President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Yoav Kisch, warns that “harm to the National Library hurts us all.”
“Political interference in such an important national, historical, and cultural institution turns it into a ball on the political playing field,” says the letter signed by six Israeli winners Daniel Kahneman, Avram Hershko, Arieh Warshel, Ada Yonath, Michael Levitt, and Aaron Ciechanover. The letter is also signed by Jewish American prize winner Roger Kornberg.
Reports on the bill have noted that right-wing politicians have been targeting the library for the past year since the appointment of former state attorney Shai Nitzan as library rector.
Nitzan was heavily involved in preparing the corruption charges against Netanyahu and has been portrayed by the prime minister’s associates, without proof, as a left-wing activist bent on removing the premier from office through illegitimate means.
The Supreme Court rules the Interior Ministry is obligated to register as married couples who wed in online civil ceremonies through the US state of Utah, providing for the first time a legal civil marriage option for Israelis without leaving the country.
The court rules that the Population and Immigration Authority had no legal right in 2020 to refuse to register such marriages since its only task is to register valid legal marriage documents and not to delve into complex legal questions.
Israeli couples first began to use Utah’s online civil marriage services in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when they could not travel abroad for civil ceremonies, which are not available in Israel.
Then-interior minister Aryeh Deri ordered the Population and Immigration Authority to suspend the registration of such marriages, an order upheld by Deri’s successor Ayelet Shaked, but several couples petitioned the courts against the decision.
Some 1,200 couples have married in Utah’s online civil marriages since 2020.
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman welcomes the ruling, saying it was “good that the Supreme Court stood up to the religious coercion of Deri and his friends who are trying to lead us into a state of religious law.”
Shas MK Moshe Arbel of Shas decries the decision, however, saying it demonstrates the need to push through the government’s radical judicial overhaul agenda.
“The Supreme Court’s recognition on Purim of civil marriages performed over the Zoom app is a sad joke at the expense of all of Israel’s religious and traditional citizens, and expresses more than anything the desire to advance the values of a state of all its citizens and erase the Jewish identity of the state,” says Arbel.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
I'm proud of our coverage of this government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, including the political and social discontent that underpins the proposed changes and the intense public backlash against the shakeup.
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