The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.

Health minister warns of possible new lockdown as infection rate jumps to 2.5%

Newly appointed Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warns of the possibility of having to institute a new lockdown, saying the rate of positive coronavirus tests was now five times higher than several days ago.

At a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Edelstein notes the sharp increase in infections over the past few days, adding that “either it all turns out to be okay, or we will be back under lockdown, and much faster than people think.”

Edelstein said that while a week ago the rate of positive results out of all COVID-19 tests was about 0.5 percent, that had jumped to 2.5% on Saturday.

Stressing that Israel has the capacity to test 15,000 people per day, he called on people to go get tested whenever they have symptoms: “If the public cooperates, we will know what the real numbers are among the population.”

— Michael Bachner

Opposition head blasts government for handing out half a billion shekels ‘for itself’

Opposition chairman Yair Lapid issues a statement blasting the government after ministers approved new budgets for the newly formed offices created by the Gantz-Netanyahu coalition deal.

“The government handed half a billion shekels to itself today. Not for the self-employed, not for the unemployed, not for small businesses, but for itself,” says Lapid.

“For redundant offices like the Water Resources Ministry, the nonexistent Community Empowerment Ministry and for deputy ministers that no one needs. Detached lawmakers, we’ve had enough of you.”

Egypt army says 19 Islamic militants killed in Sinai

Egypt’s military says it has killed 19 militants in targeted ground and air operations as part of its battle to quell a long-running Islamist insurgency in north Sinai.

Five soldiers were killed or wounded in the operations last week, according to the online video statement, which did not specify the number of military fatalities.

The video, replete with a dramatic score, said troops had killed three “extremely dangerous” militants as well as 16 others in precision airstrikes on their “terrorist hideouts.”

“Two officers, a non-commissioned officer and two soldiers were killed and wounded in the operations,” the statement says.

Troops had recovered troves of automatic rifles, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades in possession of the militants, the army adds.

Security forces have been battling a long-running Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt’s northeast that is spearheaded by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group.


Iran says virus cases surpass 150,000

Iran says its caseload of novel coronavirus infections passed the grim milestone of 150,000, as the country struggles to contain a recent upward trend.

The government has largely lifted the restrictions it imposed in order to halt a COVID-19 outbreak that first emerged in mid-February.

But the health ministry has warned of a potential virus resurgence with new cluster outbreaks in a number of provinces.

Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour says 2,516 new cases were confirmed across the country in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 151,466.

Infections have been on a rising trajectory in the Islamic Republic since hitting a near two-month low on May 2.

Jahanpour says the virus had claimed another 63 lives over the same period, raising the overall toll to 7,797.

So far the government has reimposed a lockdown only in Khuzestan province on Iran’s southwestern border with Iraq.

It remains “red,” the highest level on Iran’s color-coded risk scale.

Experts both at home and abroad have voiced skepticism about Iran’s official figures, saying the real toll could be much higher.


PM says too early to refer to latest uptick as ‘trend’; still, economy ‘must remain open’

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says about the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases: “We will evaluate our steps and if needed we will change our policy accordingly.”

Netanyahu stresses, however, that the economy “has to remain open.”

Gas prices set to rise 9% after historic low amid pandemic

Gas prices are set to rise by 9% tonight as the demand for oil slowly starts to increase once again after a historic low last month.

A liter of gasoline will be sold at gas stations at a maximum price of NIS 5.21 ($1.49) per liter (.26 of a gallon), according to The Market business daily. This is a .42 shekel increase from last month.

Government approves widespread budget cuts in order to establish new ministries

The cabinet has approved a widespread government-wide budget cut in a controversial decision that will allow for the establishment of six new ministries.

The approved government decision will see a 1.5% cut to the budgets of all government offices, specifically at the upper personnel level. The move will slash 300 posts from the various offices to free up some NIS 100 million.

The new offices being created are Ze’ev Elkin’s Water Resources and Higher Education ministries, Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Ministry of Community Empowerment, David Amsalem’s Cyber Ministry, Tzipi Hotovely and Tzachi Hanegbi’s Settlements Ministry, and Benny Gantz’s Alternate Prime Minister’s Office.

IDF looking into claim that soldiers slashed tires of Palestinian car, tear-gassed home

The Israeli military says it is investigating claims by the left-wing B’Tselem human rights organization that soldiers slashed the tires of a Palestinian car and threw tear gas grenades into the courtyard of a home in the village of Kafr Qadum in the northern West Bank yesterday.

B’Tselem released footage of the incidents, which occurred around the time of a weekly demonstration in the village against the closure of one of the entrances to it to make room for the expansion of the nearby Kedumim settlement.

“The house at which the gas grenades were thrown belongs to Murad Shtewi, one of the leaders of the protests in the village, at a time when he was there with his wife and five children,” according to B’Tselem.

In the footage from the scenes, there does not appear to be any immediate violence in the area preceding the soldiers’ actions.

“We’re looking into it,” the army says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Teacher went to work at Jerusalem school knowing he had virus, leading to 100+ new cases

The surge in new coronavirus cases is largely centered on the Gymnasia Rehavia elementary school in Jerusalem, where a “super-spreader” teacher has caused the infections of over 100 people after coming to school despite knowing he was sick, Channel 12 reports.

The school has been shuttered temporarily, and all the students and staff at Gymnasia are in the process of being tested.


UN calls for action to avert Palestinian economic collapse, warns against annexation

A newly published paper from the United Nations warns that despite recent efforts to assist the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah is headed for economic collapse as the effects of the pandemic set in and “a hardened and more extremist politics on both sides will inevitably result.”

The paper issued by Middle East Envoy Nickolay Mladenov ahead of an upcoming meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) on June 2 notes that any move by Israel to annex parts of the West Bank or any PA withdrawal from bilateral agreements “would dramatically shift local dynamics and most likely trigger conflict and instability in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

“All sides must do their part in the coming weeks and months in order to preserve the prospect of a negotiated two-state resolution to the conflict, in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements,” Mladenov writes.

The paper notes the “relatively successful” virus prevention efforts in the Palestinian territories. However, it stress that considerable concerns remains regarding the ability of the Palestinian health sector to cope with a surge, especially in Gaza.

“The socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 on the Palestinian people is already immense. The Palestinian Authority needs increased financial and development assistance to address its public health needs, provide essential services, and respond to the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic. The Humanitarian Country Team has also identified significant funding needs for the emergency response, and the United Nations Country Team will soon announce its development system response plan. The paper urges the donor community to mobilize in response to this unprecedented emergency,” a summary reads.

Extreme storms in March caused ‘unprecedented’ Eilat coral reef damage – report

Unusually violent storms in the Gulf of Eilat in March have caused unprecedented damage to Eilat’s coral reefs, with losses reaching up to 75 percent in some places and rehabilitation likely to take many years, according to initial survey results released by the Environmental Protection Ministry.

To further complicate recovery, the survey also found algae growing on the reefs as the result of fertilizer and other organic materials entering the sea. Algae compete with juvenile corals for space on the reefs.

Divers from the Inter-University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat found a massive 75% reduction in coral cover at a depth of ten meters (33 feet) in the Coral Beach Reserve compared with last summer, and a 25% depletion at a depth of five meters (16 feet), compared with last spring. At the Institute’s reefs, south of Coral Beach, the damage was the worst since the Environmental Protection Ministry started funding the annual surveys in 2003. Precise data was not provided.

In 2003, waste from fish farming cages was still causing massive pollution and damage to the Red Sea corals. The cages were banned in 2008 after public pressure.

— Sue Surkes

Israel airport chief calls for immediate resumption of flights

The head of the Israeli Airports Authority reportedly asks the Health Ministry director general to allow the immediate resumption of flights.

According to a report by Channel 12 news, Yaakov Ganot has told Moshe Bar Siman-Tov that a framework should be drawn up to allow travel between Israel and countries designated as “green countires,” i.e., with a low rate of coronavirus infection.

The letter states that work has been carried out at the airports to allow travel while “reducing the risk of migrating the disease and a new outbreak of the virus.”

In addition to the labeling of countries as acceptable for flights, according to Health Ministry parameters, the letter also states that an additional “blue standard” was developed to categorize the safety of airlines and foreign airports.

The letter notes that Israel’s geographical location as well as its neighboring countries mean that air travel was of the utmost importance for the tourism industry.

“Failure to make a decision makes it clear — the elimination of the airline and tourism industry for the summer season, and potentially irreversible damage,” Ganot says.

Israel has largely brought the virus under control in the country and lifted most lockdown restrictions. However, most foreigners are still barred from coming in and Israelis, or permanent residents, must quarantine for 14 days after returning.

Epidemiological research conducted in Israel has shown that a majority of cases in the country resulted from incoming travel from the United States.

Singer Dua Lipa shares post criticizing IDF treatment of Palestinian children

British singer Dua Lipa shares a post on her Instagram story that criticizes the IDF’s treatment of Palestinian children.

Written by the account “Vinarfuso,” the post includes several photos of Israeli security forces detaining Palestinian minors as well as a pair of headlines from The Times of Israel and Haaretz newspapers highlighting the phenomenon.

“While everybody’s in the mood to talk about human rights, this is what happens EVERYDAY in Palestine, paid for by our tax payer dollars. The big bad tough guys of the #IDF thoroughly enjoy beating and shooting children,” Vinarfuso writes.

View this post on Instagram

While everybody’s in the mood to talk about human rights, this is what happens EVERYDAY in Palestine, paid for by our tax payer dollars. The big bad tough guys of the #IDF thoroughly enjoy beating and shooting children. They even have shirts that depict a pregnant Palestinian woman with a sniper scope on her stomach that reads “1 shot two kills.” But don’t worry, they’re all terrorist so it’s all good. We totally understand. When people say #freepalestine, it doesn’t mean that scary Muslims will run into Tel Aviv and ruin the fun dance parties on the beach. Rather, it’s a simple request for sovereignty and freedom. What Palestinians are asking for somebody else’s army to no longer be their government. A government which they hold no right to vote, a government which suffocates them socially, economically, and of course physically. Yet, the only “justification” as to why they don’t deserve freedom is because “Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel.” Which is utterly HYSTERICAL bc the United States (fake Christians in the mid west) and Israel (fake Jewish ppl in the Israeli government) created Hamas SIMPLY for all of you geniuses to believe that hamas is the reasons for the decades worth of occupation, oppression, ethnic cleansing, and MURDER. Nonetheless, THESE ARE CHILDREN. But again, don’t worry, the behavior is justified. To my dear Jewish friends and family, I love you all. This has NOTHING to do with you or religion, and all to do with justice and freedom. It has all to do with the exact reason we celebrate the Fourth of July. A day that America gained it’s independence from British occupation. For years, the Palestinians have recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace/security and only ask for their independence. If wanting equality and justice is “anti-Semitic”, then we all have way bigger problems. FYI, if this post bothered you don’t worry- I’ve been working on a documentary for the last year that will bother you even more. I love you all.

A post shared by vinarfuso (@vinarfuso) on

17 schools and daycares shuttered amid resurgence of virus cases

A total of 17 schools and daycare centers have been shuttered across the country after COVID-19 carriers were identified in them, Channel 12 reports.

Footage appears to show NYPD van plowing through protesters in NYC

Footage, which has gone viral on social media appears to show an NYPD cruiser plowing into a large group of protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd and police brutality against black Americans.

Wizz Air announces new route to and from Milan starting in July

Wizz Air says it will launch a new Tel Aviv-Milan route starting in July, Channel 12 reports.

Leaked internal memos show discomfort with Facebook decision not to remove Trump posts

Several internal memos sent to employees at Facebook reveal a considerable level of discomfort with the social media giant’s decision not to block a number of posts published by US President Donald Trump as Twitter had done, The Verge news site reports.

“I have to say I am finding the contortions we have to go through incredibly hard to stomach,” one employee wrote regarding Trump’s posts on the protests against George Floyd’s killing. “All this points to a very high risk of a violent escalation and civil unrest in November and if we fail the test case here, history will not judge us kindly.”

Last week, Twitter labeled two of Trump’s tweets against mail-in voting as “potentially misleading” for suggesting the it would lead to a rigged election. Twitter later blocked another Trump tweet that included the sentence “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” under the argument that it “glorified violence.”

“We reviewed the claim and determined that it doesn’t break our rules against voter interference because it doesn’t mislead people about how they can register to vote or the different ways they can vote,” wrote Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management. “If it had, we should have removed the post from our platform altogether because our voter interference policy applies to everyone, including politicians.”

157 migrants tested at Tel Aviv site, dozens more told to return tomorrow

One-hundred and fifty-seven migrants were tested for the coronavirus at a pop-up site in south Tel Aviv amid reports of an outbreak within the asylum seeker community there, Haaretz reports, adding that dozens more who arrived were told to return tomorrow as there weren’t enough kits to accommodate them.


Netanyahu dismisses reports of Alternate Prime Minister’s Residence

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses reports that the government would approve the establishment of an official residence for the alternate prime minister.

“All those who are mislead [the public] and say that we are setting up a residence for the alternate prime minister are wrong,” Netanyahu told ministers during today’s cabinet meeting in comments that were leaked to various news outlets. “It did not come up” during the coalition negotiations, the premier adds.

Hundreds protest outside US embassy in London against police killing of George Floyd

Hundreds of people have gathered outside the US embassy in London to protest against the police killing of George Floyd.

Katz slaps down Peretz in cabinet meeting spat over aid package

Finance Minister Israel Katz aggressively dismissed Economy Minister Amir Peretz after the latter objected to the former office’s coronavirus aid package to businesses that was approved by ministers during today’s cabinet meeting.

“There is no alternative finance minister. I decide what the policy is,” Katz snapped at Peretz in remarks that appear to have been purposefully leaked to Channel 12.

Peretz had argued that the benefit packages should only be available to businesses that were significantly affected by the coronavirus, as opposed to all of them, but Katz disagreed.

Ombudsman to review government’s response to pandemic

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman’s office announces that it will be launching a wide-ranging review of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Englman’s office has spent the past two months gathering information regarding the government’s response and meeting with relevant officials in preparation for the review.

In a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office notifying it of the impending audit, Englman says the review will examine inter-ministerial cooperation throughout the pandemic.

Englman has been accused of defanging his office and ridding his audits of substantial criticism of Netanyahu’s government.

Former Yeshiva University president Norman Lamm dies at 92

Prominent Modern Orthodox rabbi and former president of Yeshiva University Norman Lamm has passed away at the age of 92.


134 students and staff at Gymnasia school in Jerusalem identified as virus carriers

The number of cases among students and staff at the Gymnasia elementary school in Jerusalem has climbed to 134, with the entire school ordered into quarantine.


As they lecture public on wearing masks, ministers filmed without them on

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein scolded the public for not abiding by coronavirus guidelines, ministers throughout the cabinet meeting table were seen without their masks on.

NYC officials looking for peaceful way forward

NEW YORK — New York City officials are looking for a peaceful way forward after three days of protests against police brutality that left police cars burned and led to the arrest of hundreds of people.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says he wasn’t considering a curfew after largely peaceful protests around the city Saturday gave way to scattered clashes between police and protesters later in the evening.

Demonstrators smashed shop windows, threw objects at officers, torched and battered police vehicles and blocked roads.

New York City police say 345 people were arrested, 33 officers were injured and 27 police vehicles were damaged.

Cleanup was under way Sunday morning in New York City, which is still under a lockdown enacted two months ago when it became the US epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the Brooklyn block where two police cruisers lurched into a crowd of demonstrators Saturday, knocking several to the ground, the only sign of the previous night’s disturbance was a small pile of glass shards in the street.

— AP

Volunteers in Chicago and Philadelphia cleaning up streets after protests against police violence

Volunteers are cleaning up broken glass and debris in downtown Chicago after a night of tense protests nationwide over George Floyd’s death.

Demonstrations that started out peacefully Saturday gave way to violence and destruction around the city, prompting Mayor Lori Lightfoot to order a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew indefinitely and city officials to raise bridges to limit access to Chicago’s business core.

At least four people were shot amid the chaos, including one fatally. Chicago police say there were “multiple” arrests, but could not immediately offer more specific details.

Businesses in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh also began to clean up after peaceful protests over George Floyd’s death turned into a night of destruction in the two cities and others throughout the country.

In Philadelphia, business owners, workers and volunteers were sweeping up broken glass and boarding up smashed windows in blocks near Philadelphia’s City Hall even as people could still be seen emerging from broken-into stores carrying bags.

Crews were also cleaning up anti-police and other graffiti scrawled on the walls of Philadelphia’s City Hall.

Both cities implemented citywide curfews that were to be in effect Sunday night as well. Gov. Tom Wolf signed a disaster emergency declaration authorizing the adjutant general of the state National Guard and the Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner to activate personnel to help cities.

In Philadelphia, police say 100 people had been arrested as of early this morning, including 43 for burglary and one for assault on a police officer. Police say 13 officers were injured, including a bike officer whose leg was broken when he was run over by suspect fleeing in a vehicle with stolen items from a business.

In Pittsburgh, the public safety department said 43 adults and one juvenile were arrested during the Saturday mayhem. Four police officers were injured but all had been discharged from local hospitals.

— AP

Police reportedly probing allegations of false testimony submitted on Sara Netanyahu’s behalf

Police have opened an investigation into alleged false testimony that was submitted on Sara Netanyahu’s behalf in the probe involving allegations of mistreatment of workers by the prime minister’s wife at the official residence, Channel 12 reports.

According to the report, police are probing whether Netanyahu associates pressured a pair of employees to provide false testimony to counter the allegations made by former employee Shira Raban against the prime minister’s wife.

The state notified Raban’s attorney that it wants to look into the new allegations before proceeding in her case.

Late last year, Mrs. Netanyahu testified in court in a civil suit in which she is the defendant. Netanyahu called former prime minister’s residence employee Shira Raban, who is suing her for abusive work conditions, a liar, and accused her of trying to extort the country.

Minnesota officials say aggressive approach toward protests helped

Officials in Minnesota say a more aggressive approach helped prevent another night of dangerous and damaging violence in Minneapolis from protests over the death of George Floyd.

The state poured thousands more National Guard soldiers into a response that came after repeated days of arson, property damage and looting on the city’s south side.

Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington says law enforcement tried to move quickly to break up groups of protesters who ignored an 8 p.m. curfew that was in place for the first time.

Gov. Tim Walz called restoring order the first step toward addressing the systemic problems that contributed to the death of Floyd, who died after a police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Walz said the curfew will remain in place for at least one more day.

— AP

Health Minister: We’ve identified 53 new coronavirus cases

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein in a press conference announces that his office has identified 53 new cases of the coronavirus today.

“It’s not a secret” that the number of cases in Jerusalem’s Gymnasia high school (134) “is something that worries us,” Edelstein says.

“We cannot do anything without cooperation from the entire public.”

He called the Jerusalem case a “symptom” of a broader problem.

Health Minister says testing will be expanded to those who don’t have symptoms

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein says that his office will be expanding the criteria that determine which citizens are allowed to get tested for the coronavirus.

Until now, almost all testing approvals have been granted to those with symptoms of the virus. At this time, Edelstein says that even those who are not experiencing symptoms, but who were in contact with a carrier from the same school or assisted living complex can and should get tested.

The health minister adds that his office will not be changing the strict two-week quarantine requirement for those who have been in contact with a carrier or have returned from abroad.

“We will not be doing a broad survey test of the entire public,” he notes, saying that the solution regarding testing lies somewhere in between the claims of those who argue that everyone must be tested and those who say that only those with symptoms should be tested.

PA security officer charged with killing Israeli man visiting West Bank holy site in 2011

A Palestinian security officer is charged with killing an Israeli man and injuring three others in 2011, when he and two other officers opened fire at the visitors’ car, after the Israelis toured a Jewish pilgrimage site in the West Bank without proper approval.

In April 2011, Ben-Yosef Livnat and five other people visited the Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, without having coordinated the event with the Israel Defense Forces in advance. As the group of Israelis was leaving the holy site, the suspect — Saleh Hammad — and a number of other Palestinian security officers fired their guns into the air.

“When the car left the area, the commander of the patrol, [Hammad], and another patrolman fired many bullets at the car,” the IDF says.

Livnat was shot dead and three other people in the car were injured.

Hammad is charged in an IDF court with the crime of intentionally causing death — the military’s equivalent to murder — as part of a group, as well as attempted intentionally causing death as part of a group, and obstruction of justice. Despite the charge, Hammad is not believed to have fired the bullet that killed Livnat, according to the indictment against him.

The commander of the patrol and the other patrolman have already been found guilty and sentenced to prison terms.

Hammad was imprisoned by the PA following the incident in 2011. He was arrested by the IDF on May 9, 2020, after his release from PA custody.

— Judah Ari Gross

Floyd family lawyer says more serious charges should be filed

George Floyd’s family attorney, Ben Crump, says he thinks more serious murder charges should be filed against the white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck even as he begged for air.

Crump says he believes there is enough evidence to show the officer’s actions were premeditated.

Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged last week with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, which are filed in cases of unintentional death. Chauvin was also accused of ignoring another officer, who expressed concerns about Floyd, a black man, as he lay handcuffed on the ground.

Crump tells CBS: “We don’t understand how that is not first-degree murder.”

According to the complaint, Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, including nearly three minutes after he stopped moving and talking.

An autopsy said the combined effects of being restrained, potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system, and his underlying health issues, including heart disease, likely contributed to his death.

— AP

Health official says ministry has started administering antibodies test

The Health Ministry’s Professor Sigal Sadetsky, head of public health services, says the ministry began administering its first batch of antibodies tests today — on foreign workers. Speaking to reporters, she says the country’s HMOs are set to begin carrying out antibody tests around the country, adding that residents of Bnei Brak — the country’s hardest-hit city — will soon be given the tests to measure how many have been infected by the virus.

The criteria for who will be eligible for the tests is not immediately clear.

Gantz names one-time aide as his new military secretary

Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s one-time aide, Col. Yaki Dolef, is named his military secretary, the Israel Defense Forces says.

Dolef, who currently commands the Northern Gaza Brigade, served for two years as Gantz’s aide when the defense minister was IDF chief of staff, and is considered a close confidant.

Dolef will be promoted to the rank of brigadier general and will succeed Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter, who currently serves as military secretary to the defense minister. Winter has been tapped to take over as commander of the 98th Paratroopers Division.

The IDF says a date for the transition will be chosen shortly.

— Judah Ari Gross

Health Ministry announces 59 new cases, but inconsistencies in its figures abound

The Health Ministry announces 59 new coronavirus cases since last night, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic to 17,071.

The number of active cases climbed by 77 from 1,917 to 1,994.

Of those cases, 33 are in serious condition with 30 requiring mechanical ventilation (down from 36 and 34 respectively, since yesterday). Forty-four carriers are in moderate condition, while the rest are only experiencing minor symptoms.

161 patients recovered from the virus in the past day, according to Health Ministry figures, which appeared to have a number of discrepancies. The ministry says that the death count stands at 285, which is one more than yesterday’s figure, but at the same time, it says that there was not a rise in deaths.

In a continuation of the decline in testing, the ministry says 1,012 tests have been carried out today, and 2,874 were carried out yesterday.

Ex-Health Ministry director: There won’t be a 2nd wave, but we’ll have to live with virus

Former Health Ministry director Gabi Barabash appears to criticize the government’s approach to reopening schools across the country, which has led to an outbreak at over a dozen institutions. “No other country opened schools the way we did, with 30 kids in classrooms,” he tells Channel 12.

“I don’t think we’ll experience a second wave. This isn’t 1918,” Barabash clarifies. “We are going to have to live with this virus. It’s not going away.”

“Apart from the outbreak in Jerusalem, it’s bubbling all over the country. A case here. A case there. It’s very worrying. I don’t think we’re going to have to go back to lockdowns. Proper social-distancing is apparently enough — if we stick to it,” he continues.

Gantz office reportedly threatens reporter with libel suit if he publishes story

Haaretz reporter Yaniv Kubovich says that Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office threatened to sue him for libel if he published a story on the new minister.

The reporter says that he submitted a request for comment and the libel threat was the response he received.

Kubovich says he plans to publish the story in the coming days.


PA Jerusalem governor arrested for 8th time in 2 years — reports

Palestinian Authority Jerusalem governor Adnan Ghaith has been arrested for what is at least the eighth time in two years, Palestinian media reports.

Ghaith was allegedly arrested, along with several other Fatah activists, while participating in a memorial ceremony for Faysal al-Husseini in the Bab a-Zahra neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

Al-Husseini, scion of an aristocratic Palestinian family of Jerusalem, was a key figure in the early years of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. He passed away 19 years ago today.

Ghaith and the other Fatah activists were conducting the memorial ceremony at Orient House when they were allegedly arrested. Orient House housed the headquarters of the PLO from 1983 until the Second Intifada.

The Israeli police have yet to respond to a request from The Times of Israel for comment.

— Aaron Boxerman

Chicago mayor restricts vehicle, transit access

Chicago Mayor Lori Lighfoot says access to the city’s downtown is restricted to residents and essential workers, and the National Guard will have a presence in the city as officials seek to stem violence arising from demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd.

Lightfoot again praises peaceful protesters, saying she stands “shoulder-to-shoulder” with those condemning Floyd’s death, after Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck during an arrest earlier this week.

But she says that in order to protect the city, the state has agreed to dispatch “a contingent of the National Guard” to take up a “limited presence.”

She says bus and train service to the downtown Loop is temporarily suspended. Drawbridges that span several stretches of the Chicago River in and out of the area are raised to limit vehicle access.

And Lightfoot says that a citywide 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will remain in effect indefinitely. Officials say that there were 240 arrests Friday night and early Saturday, and that six people were shot, one fatally, in the Loop, during a four-hour span Friday evening.

— AP

National Guard patrolling streets, as LA cleans up from previous night’s protests

Armed National Guard soldiers are patrolling the streets of Los Angeles, as the city begins cleaning up after a night of violence that saw demonstrators clash repeatedly with officers, torch police vehicles, and pillage businesses.

Fire crews are responding to dozens of blazes, and scores of businesses were damaged. One of the hardest-hit areas was around the Grove, a popular high-end outdoor mall west of downtown, where hundreds of protesters swarmed the neighborhood, showering police with rocks and other objects and vandalizing shops. One officer suffered a fractured skull, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said.

Windows were shattered at nearly every shop along a stretch of Melrose Avenue. At Tony K’s Shoe Store, owner Alan Kokozian says his entire product stock was either stolen or damaged.

Kokozian says he was hit in the head with a flying bottle, as he pleaded with looters to save his establishment Saturday evening.

“This was not a political protest. This was basically a bunch of thieves getting together taking advantage of a situation,” Kokozian says as he surveyed the hole in his roof caused by fire.

Security camera footage showed a swarm of people shattering the front window of DTLA Smoke Shop in downtown Los Angeles early Saturday. Within a minute, they had emptied the store’s shelves and fled.

“I’m so angry. I’m so angry. You know, it’s my life, I put everything into it,” owner Natali Mishali tells KCAL-TV. “I’m for speaking for human rights. I believe in that. I’m very passionate about that. This is just an excuse to steal.”

— AP

Portland mayor announces extension of city-wide curfew

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announces that his city’s curfew would continue and starts again at 8 p.m.

For a second night, people in Portland roamed city streets.

Officers say some threw projectiles at them. According to a statement, fireworks and “aerial mortars” were thrown at the Multnomah County Courthouse, late Saturday.

In a tweet this morning, Wheeler, Portland’s mayor, wrote: “Agitators are not led by a conviction to change systemic racism. They are opportunists, using the cover of legitimate protests to sow fear in our communities. Don’t let them.”

— AP

Health Ministry yet to update passengers on Air India flight where carriers identified — report

A family returned on an Air India flight from New Delhi last week and tested positive for coronavirus several days later, Channel 13 reports.

But while the flight crew has been notified, none of the other passengers on the flight has been alerted by the Health Ministry, Channel 13 reports.

Number of cases at single Jerusalem high school climbs to 160

The number of confirmed cases at the Gymnasia high school in Jerusalem has climbed to 160 — a spike of roughly 40 in the past day, Hebrew media reports.

Marking ‘return to normalcy,’ more than 49K Palestinian workers cross into Israel

More than 63,000 people, among them 49,000 Palestinian workers, crossed through checkpoints from the West Bank to Israel proper today, marking a return to the status quo for the first time since the coronavirus crisis began in mid-March, announces the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in a video on their Facebook page.

This was the first time that checkpoints allowed the daily flow of Palestinian workers into and out of Israel since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, COGAT says.

Palestinian workers have largely been banned from entering Israel since the beginning of the crisis, although crossings opened temporarily to allow workers in some essential sectors to enter the country in early May. The workers were then obligated to remain in Israel for at least three weeks.

With loosening of restrictions in both Israel and the West Bank, workers are now permitted to enter and leave Israel on a daily basis, without being subject to a quarantine in Israel, COGAT announced on Thursday.

‘He’s disabled! He’s disabled,’ teacher of special needs man says she shouted, before cops gunned him down

The teacher of the Iyad Halak tells Chanel 13 that she shouted, “He’s disabled! He’s disabled!” at police officers in East Jerusalem before they proceeded to gun down the unarmed man with special needs.

Police bar parents of gunned down man with autism from running funeral procession through Temple Mount

Police have barred the parents of Iyad Halak, an unarmed man with autism who was gunned down by police in East Jerusalem, from running his funeral procession through the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound, lawyers for the Halaks tell the Walla news site.

Halak will be buried this evening at the Salah a-Din street cemetery in East Jerusalem.

George Floyd’s brother says Trump didn’t give him chance to talk in condolence call

George Floyd’s brother tells MSNBC that US President Donald Trump did not give him a chance to talk during a condolence phone call.

“He didn’t give me an opportunity to even speak,” Floyd says. “It was hard. I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept, like, pushing me off, like ‘I don’t want to hear what you’re talking about.'”

UN Middle East envoy condemns police killing of East Jerusalem man with special needs

AIPAC announces cancellation of 2021 policy conference

AIPAC announces that it has decided to cancel next year’s annual springtime policy conference due to the coronavirus.

At least five attendees at this past year’s confab tested positive for COVID-19.

read more: