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Exit polls show clear win for Netanyahu and allies; Lapid: We’ll wait for vote count

Far-right leaders Ben Gvir and Smotrich hail major gains, expect to partner Likud leader in new hawkish coalition; Balad leader forecasts party will clear threshold

  • Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters during a national election, in Ashkelon, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
    Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters during a national election, in Ashkelon, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters at the far-right party's campaign headquarters after the results of exit polls are announced, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters at the far-right party's campaign headquarters after the results of exit polls are announced, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister and the head of Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, speaks to his supporters after the publication of exit polls, at his party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, November 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    Prime Minister and the head of Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, speaks to his supporters after the publication of exit polls, at his party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, November 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his wife Sara cast their ballot at a polling station in Jerusalem in the country's fifth election in less than four years on November 1, 2022. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)
    Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his wife Sara cast their ballot at a polling station in Jerusalem in the country's fifth election in less than four years on November 1, 2022. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)
  • Likud party supporters celebrate at the party headquarters on election night, November 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    Likud party supporters celebrate at the party headquarters on election night, November 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister Yair Lapid casts his vote at a polling station in Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv in the country's fifth election in four years on November 1, 2022 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Prime Minister Yair Lapid casts his vote at a polling station in Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv in the country's fifth election in four years on November 1, 2022 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • A voter casts their ballot at a polling station in the northern Israeli village of Maghar on November 1, 2022 (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
    A voter casts their ballot at a polling station in the northern Israeli village of Maghar on November 1, 2022 (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
  • A woman votes in Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    A woman votes in Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • Balad party head MK Sami Abu Shahadeh arrives to cast his vote at a voting station for the Israeli general elections, November 1, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Balad party head MK Sami Abu Shahadeh arrives to cast his vote at a voting station for the Israeli general elections, November 1, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Labor party leader Merav Michaeli (C) greets voters in Tel Aviv on November 1, 2022 (Raanan Cohen/Labor Party)
    Labor party leader Merav Michaeli (C) greets voters in Tel Aviv on November 1, 2022 (Raanan Cohen/Labor Party)
  • A special polling station for Israelis with COVID for the election on November 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
    A special polling station for Israelis with COVID for the election on November 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

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

Gantz calls to wait ‘for the real results’ in post-election speech

National Unity party Benny Gantz hails the high turnout in today’s election, as exit polls forecast a win for the rival pro-Netanyahu bloc.

“The people of Israel proved the country is important to them,” he says in a speech at the party’s post-election event.

Gantz adds his party will wait “for the real results,” echoing other parties in the outgoing coalition.

“It’ll take hours, days, but in any case we will always put Israel before everything,” he says.

TV networks adjust predicted results as votes start to be counted

The main television networks adjust their post-election forecasts as votes begin to be counted, though the updates don’t change the overall picture.

Channel 12 is now predicting the Yisrael Beytenu and Hadash-Ta’al parties will win five seats, up from four a piece, while Labor falls to five and Meretz slips to four.

Channel 13 also has Yisrael Beytenu gaining a seat, while the Kan public broadcaster has Yesh Atid picking up another mandate.

The pollsters for both channels 12 and 13 say Meretz is in danger of falling below the minimum vote threshold.

All three networks continue to predict a narrow majority for the pro-Netanyahu bloc.

Palestinian Authority premier: Exit polls show ‘rising extremism’ in Israel

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh holds a briefing with foreign press at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 10, 2021. (Abbas Momani/AFP/File)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh holds a briefing with foreign press at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 10, 2021. (Abbas Momani/AFP/File)

Projected results from Israel’s election show “rising extremism” in the Jewish state, the Palestinian Authority prime minister says after the far-right Religious Zionism alliance appeared headed for major gains.

“The rise of extreme religious right-wing parties in the Israeli elections… is a result of growing extremism and racism in Israeli society,” PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh says after exit polls indicated Religious Zionism could double its tally in the Knesset from seven seats to 14.

Election committee begins tallying votes

The counting of votes has begun, with the Central Elections Committee reporting the results from the first tranche of ballots.

So far, 3,631 votes have been tallied — 0.1% of the total cast.

The committee stresses that “the results will look odd” over the coming hour, as not all the ballots are processed at once.

Bennett praises longtime partner Shaked as a ‘true fighter’ for staying in race

Then-prime minister Naftali Bennett, right, with Ayelet Shaked at the first government conference, at the Israeli parliament, on June 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Then-prime minister Naftali Bennett, right, with Ayelet Shaked at the first government conference, at the Israeli parliament, on June 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett praises his longtime political partner Ayelet Shaked as a “true fighter” for staying in the race despite polling poorly, as exit polls forecast her Jewish Home party failing to enter the Knesset.

“Good luck Ayelet!” he tweets.

Bennett never publicly stated who he was backing in the election, though Shaked insisted he was voting for her.

Ben Gvir seems to strike more conciliatory tone as supporters chant ‘death to terrorists’

Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters at the far-right party's campaign headquarters after the results of exit polls are announced, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters at the far-right party's campaign headquarters after the results of exit polls are announced, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir seeks to strike a somewhat conciliatory tone as he addresses hundreds of supporters chanting “death to terrorists,” in his first remarks after the release of encouraging exit polls for his far-right party.

“I want to say to those who did not vote for me: We’re all brothers,” Ben Gvir declares at his Otzma Yehudit subfaction’s headquarters in Jerusalem.

He maintains that the merger between Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism and his Otzma Yehudit managed to cater to a diverse array of voters: “We represent everyone: Secular and religious, Haredi and traditional, Sephardi and Ashkenazi.”

“They all want real change,” Ben Gvir says to cheers from the largely younger male crowd.

“Our (Jewish) heritage belongs not just to the religious but to the secular as well… and all have a right to learn about it in our schools,” he adds.

He then clarifies that he will fight to differentiate between Zionists and those who work “to undermine our existence here,” to which the crowd responds with further chants of “death to terrorists!”

“The time has come for our children to be able to walk safely in the streets,” Ben Gvir continues. “The time has come for us to return to being the masters of our own house.”

Elections committee reports voter turnout was 71.3%

The Central Elections Committee says voter turnout was 71.3 percent in today’s election, the highest since 2015.

‘Liberman, go home,’ Shas supporters chant in response to exit polls

Supporters of the ultra-Orthodox party Shas party celebrate the results of exit polls indicating that Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, who heads the right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu party, will be sent to the opposition.

“Liberman, go home,” party activists chant as Shas leader Aryeh Deri speaks at a post-election event.

“You don’t need to shout that, he’s on the way there,” Deri adds in response to calls for Liberman to be sent to the “garbage dump.”

Liberman had pledged to send Haredi politicians to the “garbage dump” last year.

Smotrich: Religious Zionism will continue to cooperate with Ben Gvir

Religious Zionism party leader Betzalel Smotrich addresses his party's supporters after Israel's November 1 elections (Kan TV screenshot)
Religious Zionism party leader Betzalel Smotrich addresses his party's supporters after Israel's November 1 elections (Kan TV screenshot)

Religious Zionism Bezalel Smotrich cheers the results of exit polls showing 14-15 seats for his far-right party, which would make it the third largest faction in the Knesset.

“Today, thanks be to God, Religious Zionism made history,” Smotrich says at the Religious Zionism post-election event. A party backed by “lovers of the Land of Israel, the Torah of Israel, is the third-biggest in Israel.”

While he stressed that the results were not yet final, Smotrich declares that “we managed to bring down the bad [outgoing] government, and with God’s help we’ll set up a Jewish, nationalist, Zionist government.”

He also says that Religious Zionism will continue to cooperate with MK Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit after running together on the same electoral slate, but doesn’t elaborate on what such cooperation will entail.

Turning to his proposed judicial reforms, which would drastically curb the authority of courts and potentially terminate opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing graft trial, Smotrich pledges to implement the plan, “God willing.”

Heads of Labor, Meretz to forgo election night speeches

The heads of the left-leaning Labor and Meretz parties will not speak at their factions’ respective post-election events tonight, citing “the uncertainty of the results.”

Both Meretz and Labor are part of the outgoing coalition, which exit polls forecast won 54-55 seats, versus 61-62 for the pro-Netanyahu bloc.

Shaked hails Jewish Home for staying in race despite poor results: ‘We fought like lions’

Jewish Home leader Ayelet Shaked hails her party for remaining in the race until today’s election, despite exit polls forecasting it to end up well below the minimum vote threshold.

“We fought like lions. We knew it was a very difficult battle, but we went with our truth, our ideology,” she says in a statement.

She also congratulates opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, whose right-religious bloc was forecast to win a narrow majority in the exit polls.

‘It’s a good start,’ Netanyahu says in first reaction to exit polls

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu hails the exit polls in his first reaction to predictions that his right-religious bloc won a narrow majority in the elections.

“It’s a good start, that’s all I can say right now,” Netanyahu says. “It depends on the real count.”

Elections committee: No basis for Likud’s claims of voter fraud

The Central Elections Committee says it has no evidence of irregularities at polling stations in Arab communities, as opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has claimed.

“Given that the counting [of votes] has just begun, there is definitely no basis for unfounded rumors about supposed ‘forgeries’ in one community or another,” the committee says.

Deri hails ‘incredible achievement’ for ultra-Orthodox Shas

Shas supporters celebrate after exit polls showed the ultra-Orthodox party winning seats, in Tel Aviv, November 1, 2022. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Shas supporters celebrate after exit polls showed the ultra-Orthodox party winning seats, in Tel Aviv, November 1, 2022. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The head of Shas, which is part of Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc, hails the “incredible achievement” for his ultra-Orthodox party after exit polls forecast it winning 10 seats.

Aryeh Deri pledges in a statement that Shas will look out for “the weakest sectors” of Israeli society and will “strengthen the Jewish identity of Israel and the fight against the cost of living.”

Likud begins to allege potential fraud in Arab communities, with Balad near threshold

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party begins to make claims of potential fraud as exit polls show the Arab nationalist Balad party just short of the minimum vote threshold.

“Likud warns of a wide-scale effort to violently forge the election results,” the party says in a statement, without offering evidence.

Netanyahu has made similar unsubstantiated claims of fraud in Arab communities during past elections.

Responding to Likud, the center-left Labor party calls for election observers to remain at polling stations until vote counting is completed.

‘Bibi is back!’: Likudniks ecstatic as exit polls predict majority for Netanyahu bloc

Likud activists celebrate after exit polls show a narrow majority for the right-religious bloc led by opposition chief Benjamin Netanyahu, November 1, 2022. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Likud activists celebrate after exit polls show a narrow majority for the right-religious bloc led by opposition chief Benjamin Netanyahu, November 1, 2022. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Activists from opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party begin to arrive for the official post-election event, shortly after major network exit polls predict a narrow victory for the right-religious bloc it leads.

Chanting “Bibi is back!” and “Bibi, King of Israel,” the activists huddle together in celebration.

“We’re victorious!” one young Likud supporter cries, hugging another.

Balad chief predicts party ‘will prove victorious’ as exit polls show it just under threshold

Taking the stage after exit polls showed Balad falling just short of the minimum vote threshold in several exit polls, party leader Sami Abou Shahadeh says he still has hope his party will enter the Knesset.

“Exit polls don’t take into account the last few hours because they close early and the rising turnout will prove Balad victorious,” he says.

He also charges that polls “have never been fair to Balad.”

Netanyahu phones leaders of his bloc after exit polls predict majority

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is phoning party leaders in his right-religious bloc after exit polls showed it securing a narrow majority in today’s Knesset elections, according to Hebrew media reports.

Otzma Yehudit HQ erupts in joy as exit polls show 14-15 seats for far-right faction

The Otzma Yehudit party's campaign headquarters after the results of exit polls are announced, November 1, 2022. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)
The Otzma Yehudit party's campaign headquarters after the results of exit polls are announced, November 1, 2022. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

The Otzma Yehudit party’s headquarters in Jerusalem erupts with excitement as exit polls on all three major networks indicate a strong showing for the far-right alliance along with a majority for the pro-Netanyahu bloc right-wing and religious parties.

Exit polls predict that Religious Zionism — which Otzma Yehudit is part of — winning 14-15 seats, roughly where the party had been polling in recent weeks.

Jewish party music begins blasting the moment the polls are shown on the projector screen of the Vert Hotel ballroom and over a hundred young men begin dancing and waving Israeli flags.

About a dozen of their female peers are clapping along gleefully toward the back of the ballroom.

“The nation has spoken,” Otzma Yehudit spokesman Yishai Fleischer tells The Times of Israel.

Yesh Atid minister responds to exit polls: Let’s wait for the real results

After television exit polls predict a narrow majority for opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc, a senior member of Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party urges patience until the votes are counted.

“I ask to wait for the real results,” Minister Meir Cohen tells Channel 12 news.

Kan public broadcaster exit poll shows 62 seats for Netanyahu’s bloc

The Kan broadcaster (Channel 11), in its exit poll, also projects that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to build a coalition majority with his Likud and allied parties.

It puts the Netanyahu-led right-wing / ultra-Orthodox bloc on 62 seats in the 120-member Knesset. The outgoing coalition, led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, is projected to win 54 seats.

The parties score as follows in the Kan poll, which will be adjusted over the coming hours as actual votes are counted: Likud, 30 seats; Yesh Atid, 22; Religious Zionism, 15; National Unity, 13; Shas, 10; United Torah Judaism, 7; Yisrael Beytenu, 5; Labor, 5; Ra’am, 5; Meretz, 4; and Hadash-Ta’al, 4.

Channel 13 news exit poll shows Netanyahu bloc with 62 seats

Channel 13’s exit poll projects that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to build a coalition majority with his Likud and allied parties.

It puts the Netanyahu-led right-wing / ultra-Orthodox bloc on 62 seats in the 120-member Knesset. The outgoing coalition, led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, is projected to win 54 seats.

The parties score as follows in the Channel 13 poll, which will be adjusted over the coming hours as actual votes are counted: Likud, 31 seats; Yesh Atid, 24; Religious Zionism, 14; National Unity, 12; Shas, 10; United Torah Judaism, 7; Labor, 5; Ra’am, 5; Meretz, 4; Yisrael Beytenu 4, and Hadash-Ta’al, 4.

Channel 12 news exit poll shows narrow majority for Netanyahu’s bloc

Channel 12’s exit poll projects that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to build a narrow coalition majority with his Likud and allied parties.

It puts the Netanyahu-led right-wing / ultra-Orthodox bloc — Likud, Religious Zionism, Shas and United Torah Judaism — on 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset. Parties in the outgoing coalition led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid — Yesh Atid, National Unity, Labor, Meretz, Yisrael Beytenu and Ra’am — projected to win 55 seats. (Hadash-Ta’al is not affiliated with either bloc.)

The parties score as follows in the Channel 12 poll, which will be adjusted over the coming hours as actual votes are counted: Likud, 30 seats; Yesh Atid, 24; Religious Zionism, 14; National Unity, 11; Shas, 10; United Torah Judaism, 7; Labor, 6; Meretz, 5; Ra’am, 5; Yisrael Beytenu 4, and Hadash-Ta’al, 4.

Prisons service says 79% of eligible inmates voted

An incarcerated man votes Israel's general elections at a prison, on November 1, 2022. (Israel Prison Service)
An incarcerated man votes Israel's general elections at a prison, on November 1, 2022. (Israel Prison Service)

The voting turnout among prisoners reached 79 percent, as the 55 polling stations at various prisons and jails across the country have closed, 2 hours before national voting stations do.

The Israel Prison Service says that among the 9,154 eligible prisoners, 7,302 have voted, while the rest declined to.

Among prison staff, 1,298 of the 1,500 eligible officers and guards voted, or 86%, according to IPS.

Hadash-Ta’al leader makes final appeal to turn out Arab vote: Our voice is decisive

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh (Hadash) at a Knesset faction meeting on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh (Hadash) at a Knesset faction meeting on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The leader of the Hadash-Ta’al makes a final appeal to Arab voters before polls close in the next half hour.

“It’s unbelievable and unacceptable that those that vote for the oppressors have a higher turnout that the oppressed people. That’s the reality at the moment, but we can change that reality,” Ayman Odeh exclaims in an impassioned plea to supporters at Hadash-Ta’al headquarters in Shfar’am.

“Not in every election is our voice decisive; in this election it is!”

Odeh estimates that Hadash-Ta’al needs 160,000 total votes to reach the threshold. That’s 15-20,000 more votes than the party expected it would need, an increase attributable to high general turnout, according to a party insider.

Referring to far-right politicians Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, Odeh says, “Either those bastards will be celebrating the defeat of our people or we will turn the tables on them!”

Elections panel: 66.3% of Israeli voters cast ballots as of 8 p.m.

The Central Elections Committee says that as of 8 p.m., 66.3 percent — or 4,498,410 voters — of eligible voters have cast ballots, the highest since 1999.

Elections c’tee chair okays ballots that are dirty, have been scribbled on

Chair of the Central Elections Committee Yitzhak Amit, center, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on September 15, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Chair of the Central Elections Committee Yitzhak Amit, center, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on September 15, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Central Election Committee chairman rules that ballot slips that have small holes, are dirty, or have been drawn or scribbled on should be still counted, following various complaints about imperfect ballot papers.

The same applies to slips that have been printed off-center.

Justice Yitzhak Amit writes that the rule is to allow every voter’s ballot to be counted in the result unless it absolutely cannot be accepted as a ballot.

Head of first Druze-led party sees positive change toward Israel among Golan neighbors

Dawn Social Power founder Wajdi Taher at the grave of Sultan Ibrahim in Masade, on election day, November 1, 2022. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)
Dawn Social Power founder Wajdi Taher at the grave of Sultan Ibrahim in Masade, on election day, November 1, 2022. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)

The founder of Israel’s first Druze-led party says that of all Druze politicians, he has the best chance to enter the Knesset in this election.

“If the other parties respected you, they would’ve put you in the top ten,” Dawn Social Power chief Wajdi Taher tells The Times of Israel, referring to Druze politicians way down on party lists. “If Likud respected the Druze, they would’ve reserved the 28th spot for minorities, not the 44th spot.”

Sitting at a table next to the grave of Sultan Khalil Ibrahim, Taher says his party — known as Shachar in Hebrew — will not join a Benjamin Netanyahu-led government, but is open to serving in a coalition headed by Benny Gantz or Yair Lapid.

The 45-year-old resident of the Druze town of Masade in the Golan Heights was a schoolteacher, lifeguard, and social activist before entering politics as senior advisor to Gesher’s Orly Levy-Abekasis when she was community empowerment and advancement minister in the Likud-led government from 2020-21. He quit when she joined the Likud party.

Taher explains that his party, which focuses on social issues and economic justice, is made up of eight distinct groups, including students, pensioners, Bedouin, Druze, and teachers. There are four Jews and four Arabic-speaking minorities on the list.

He says he suffered socially among his Golan Druze neighbors for taking Israeli citizenship, finding himself barred from weddings and funerals. But their views about Israel are changing.

“Since the violence in Syria, Druze in the Golan [Heights] changed direction and said there is no more Syria and we don’t want to be there,” Taher explains. “I’m talking about the younger generation.”

There are still avidly pro-Syrian elders who make noise, he says, but they don’t have the power they once did.

“Their decisions are binding only for themselves. They can’t even decide whether they drink water out of a glass cup or a plastic cup at home. They can’t even decide for their wives, their sons, their daughters.”

Research center reports uptick in Arab voter turnout

The Hebrew University’s aChord center reports an uptick in voter turnout among Arab Israelis, with its prediction models saying 44 percent have voted as of 8 p.m.

At the current pace, 54% of Arab Israelis will have voted when polls close at 10 p.m., according to the model.

“This rate is lower than the 60% voting rate needed to ensure representation in the Knesset, but according to the predictions, it’s possible to reach this voting percentage during the coming hour and a half,” the research center says in a statement.

Balad chief predicts ‘historic victory’ if Arab voter turnout rises 5 percent

Balad leader Sami Abou Shahadeh attends a meeting of the Joint Arab List at the Knesset in Jerusalem, October 25, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Balad leader Sami Abou Shahadeh attends a meeting of the Joint Arab List at the Knesset in Jerusalem, October 25, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Balad chief Sami Abou Shahadeh addresses his followers on Facebook live with 1.5 hours left until the polls close.

“Go to the ballot boxes now! Don’t wait!” he says.

Abou Shahadeh predicts that with a 5% rise in Arab turnout, “we will achieve a historic victory for Balad, for our people with 12 seats.” That number refers to the four Knesset seats each of the three Arab-majority parties will receive if they pass the threshold.

TV: Confidence high in ultra-Orthodox parties; concerns mounting in Labor and Meretz

Less than two hours before the polling stations close, Channel 12 TV’s political reporters and analysts indicate there is quiet satisfaction among the leaders of the two ultra-Orthodox parties, allied with Benjamin Netanyahu, and concern in Labor and Meretz circles regarding the results of the election.

“There is growing concern” in both Meretz and Labor over being able to clear the 3.25% threshold, reporter Daphna Liel says — a worry that has deepened during the day because the overall high turnout means that more votes will be needed for parties to make it back into the Knesset. She says there is disappointment that Prime Minister Yair Lapid didn’t encourage supporters of his bloc to help Labor and Meretz with a tactical vote, and “for the first time, real anger in Labor” with its leader Merav Michaeli, for ostensible overconfidence in the run-up to polling day.

Yair Sherki, who covers the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, says he can’t remember “so calm” an election campaign — “with so much self-confidence regarding the results.”

Zelensky’s chief of staff: Congrats to Israelis on realizing their right to vote

Ukraine's presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak speaks at a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 12, 2020. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Ukraine's presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak speaks at a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 12, 2020. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweets his congratulations to Israelis “on realizing the right to freely choose their leaders.”

“Unfortunately,” the Jewish senior official continues, “residents of Iran, Russia, and citizens of Ukraine who live in the territories temporarily occupied by Russia are deprived of this right, shared by the civilized world.”

Arab turnout trailing far behind overall voting levels — research center

An Arab Israeli woman in the northern village of Maghar on November 1, 2022. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
An Arab Israeli woman in the northern village of Maghar on November 1, 2022. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Arab voting turnout stood at 30 percent as of 6 p.m., well below the 57.5% overall rate among Israelis, according to a research center.

“We would like to clarify that reliable data on the turnout of Arab citizens throughout election day has never before been published, so it is not possible to make a reliable comparison to this figure in the previous elections. Any comparative figure is unfounded,” says Hebrew University’s aChord center.

‘Everyone is voting’: Residents of village on Israel-Lebanon border cast ballots

Ghajar's central square on election day, November 1, 2022. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)
Ghajar's central square on election day, November 1, 2022. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)

Voting is brisk in the village of Ghajar, which straddles the Israeli-Lebanese border.

In the 2021 elections, over 48 percent of the 1,739 eligible voters exercised their right. Election officials at the school serving as the polling station say turnout seems even higher this year, weeks after Israel removed all restrictions on entry into the village and hordes of tourists began arriving.

The town, which lies on both sides of the border, had been a closed military zone since Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, with special permission required to enter or exit.

“Everyone is voting,” says Naif, a young resident walking among the new food trucks in the town center that were recently opened to cater to the weekend crowds. He hasn’t yet decided whom to vote for, however.

Others are showing up to vote in a similar state of mind. Malik, a retired construction worker, walks up to the school while he is still trying to figure out who to support. “This one’s our friend, and this one’s our friend. In my opinion, everyone is good. We’ll judge them based on their actions.”

Nearby, Dovi and Yisroel, two young Chabad men, are manning the local polling station for those with COVID-19. No one has shown up, they say.

Muhammad, an accountant, didn’t want to say whom he voted for, but stresses that his entire family voted. “The village is split,” he explains. “They vote for whoever helps our society.”

Residents say that the recent maritime boundary agreement with Lebanon does not play into their decisions and isn’t at the front of their minds.

The villagers, many of whom hold Lebanese citizenship in addition to Israeli, largely support Likud and, unexpectedly, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. In 2021, both parties captured 30% of the vote, with Gideon Saar’s New Hope party coming in third with 16%. Arab parties and Meretz didn’t crack 3%.

“We feel part of the Israeli nation,” explains M., a teacher at the school.

Netanyahu supporters in Ghajar aren’t shy about voicing their opinion of the former prime minster.

“I like him, because prices were low when he was in power,” says Naif, an engineer in a plastics factory. “He made peace with Dubai, he made peace with other countries. He’s a good leader.”

Voter turnout at 57.7% as of 6 p.m., the highest since 1999

Israelis cast their ballots at a voting station in Jerusalem, on November 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israelis cast their ballots at a voting station in Jerusalem, on November 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Central Elections Committee reports that 57.7 of eligible voters have cast a ballot as of 6 p.m., the highest turnout rate at this hour since 1999.

Turnout among IDF troops at 65% as of 5 p.m.

An Israeli soldier casts an early vote at an army base near the Israeli Kibbutz Kerem Shalom near the border with Gaza Strip, October 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
An Israeli soldier casts an early vote at an army base near the Israeli Kibbutz Kerem Shalom near the border with Gaza Strip, October 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The voting turnout among Israeli soldiers has reached 65 percent as of 5 p.m., according to data from the Israel Defense Forces.

IDF soldiers are voting at 710 stations in military bases and posts across the country, from the northernmost at the Astra observation post atop Mount Hermon to the southernmost at the Taba post, near the border crossing with Egypt.

Around 22% of the stations, in more remote locations, were opened early, allowing for some soldiers to begin to vote as early as Sunday.

Lapid, Netanyahu both say race ‘very close’ in bid to bring out more voters

A composite image of Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid leading their respective Likud and Yesh Atid faction meetings at the Knesset, on November 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
A composite image of Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid leading their respective Likud and Yesh Atid faction meetings at the Knesset, on November 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Seeking to drive up support for their respective blocs before polls close in just over 3 hours, both Prime Minister Yair Lapid and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu assert the race is neck-and-neck.

“We received data from the entire country… Unsurprisingly it is indeed very, very, very close — by a hair,” Lapid says in a video statement from his Yesh Atid party’s campaign headquarters.

Netanyahu puts out a similar statement.

“We are in a tie with Lapid,” he declares. “The race is very close.”

Arab vote still seen lagging, stands at 23% at 4 p.m. — research center

Ahmad Tibi (C-R behind), head of the Arab Movement for Change (Ta'al) party, walks with his mother (C) after voting at a polling station in the predominantly-Arab city of Taybeh in central Israel during the national elections on November 1, 2022. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
Ahmad Tibi (C-R behind), head of the Arab Movement for Change (Ta'al) party, walks with his mother (C) after voting at a polling station in the predominantly-Arab city of Taybeh in central Israel during the national elections on November 1, 2022. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Arab voting stands at some 23% at 4 p.m., lagging far behind the overall vote, according to the Hebrew University’s aChord center.

Overall, 47.5% of eligible voters had voted by that time, according to the Central Elections Committee, the highest number since 1999. The CEC does not give a breakdown according to sectors.

According to aChord, its numbers are based on statistical modeling and reports from polling stations that were sampled.

Hospital: Guard seriously wounded in shooting last month sees condition improve

David Morel, who was wounded in a Jerusalem shooting attack in October 2022 seen in an undated picture (Courtesy)
David Morel, who was wounded in a Jerusalem shooting attack in October 2022 seen in an undated picture (Courtesy)

The condition of a civilian security guard seriously wounded in a shooting attack at a checkpoint near Jerusalem last month has improved, according to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center.

A hospital official says that David Morel, 30, who was shot during the attack near the Shuafat refugee camp on October 8, has “gradually regained consciousness.”

“He still has a long road of treatment ahead of him, but we are satisfied with the progress he has made so far,” says Dr. Guy Rosenthal, director of the hospital’s neurosurgical intensive care unit.

In the attack, an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Noa Lazar, 18, was killed. The gunmen fled and was killed days later attempting to commit another attack.

Trying to rally voters, Netanyahu posts pictures from 2019 elections

Trying to rally his voters, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu tweets pictures showing long lines at a voting station in liberal Tel Aviv and empty halls at one in the Likud bastion of Holon.

“Low voter turnout in Likud strongholds — go and vote to get rid of Lapid, Gantz and Abbas,” the says.

But reports say the pictures are from 2019, when he tweeted the same two images.

Turnout at 4 p.m. up to 47.5%, highest at that hour since 1999

Israelis cast their ballots in the  general elections, at a voting station in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israelis cast their ballots in the general elections, at a voting station in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Central Elections Committee director general Orly Ades announces that as of 4 p.m., 47.5% of eligible voters have voted.

So far some 3,224,350 Israelis have voted.

This compares to 42.3% of the public who had voted by this time in the last election.

It is the highest percentage since 1999, when 51.8% had voted by this stage.

Election authorities report several incidents of violence at polling stations

Illustrative -- A polling station in Kiryat Arba on November 1, 2022 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Illustrative -- A polling station in Kiryat Arba on November 1, 2022 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Central Elections Committee director general Orly Ades says there have been several incidents of violence at polling stations.

In Taibe, an Arab city in central Israel, there have been reports of furniture being thrown. The regional elections committee is dealing with the incident together with the police, she says.

In northern Israel, in the area of the Krayot suburbs of Haifa, one voter threatened an official. The incident was filmed and dealt with, Ades says.

Similarly, in Carmiel in northern Israel and in Rehovot in the center of the country, voters behaved violently towards election committee members and were dealt with by police.

There are also further incidents of voting irregularities.

In the northern city of Acre, a woman tried to vote with someone else’s identity document. This too was caught on film by a supervisor and the police intervened.

In one case of a voter complaining that his name had been crossed off when he arrived, it transpired that there were two voters called Itay Cohen, and when the first one voted, the name of the second one was crossed off by mistake. With the discovery of the error in the Jezreel Valley in the north of the country, both Itay Cohens have now voted, according to Ades.

She adds that despite requests earlier in the day for able-bodied people not to vote at special polling stations for those with mobility problems, the latter are still experiencing long queues. The Central Elections Committee is trying to open additional rooms in buildings where the problems are acute in order to ease the pressure.

‘I don’t think my vote counts’: Some Israelis choose the beach over voting

Israeli seen at Palmachim beach on November 1, 2022 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
Israeli seen at Palmachim beach on November 1, 2022 (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Even as the sun inches its way closer to the horizon, Palmachim beach remains packed with Israelis, some of who have no intention of using the election day holiday to vote at the polls.

“I never vote,” says Sivan, 37, from nearby Rishon Lezion. “I don’t think my vote counts,” she adds, squinting in the late afternoon sun.

While Sivan, who declined to share her last name, says she has only voted once and doesn’t have a preferred party, other voters are sitting this one out because they are actively frustrated with the political system.

“Everyone is the same shit” and “it’s rigged from the beginning,” says Mark Ruvinov, 23, from Ashkelon. “Once you know that, why vote?”

The former Likud voter is exactly the election day-boycotter that Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu has campaigned tirelessly to draw back to voting stations.

Speaking at the Ashkelon marina shortly after Netanyahu visited to drum up support there, Ruvinov says he’ll use the day instead to do some shopping and eat ice cream with his girlfriend.

Back at Palmachim beach, Arkadi, who also declined to share his last name, says not only did he vote, but he plans to work on his reluctant coworker to do the same.

“There’s still time,” he says to their mutual friend.

Hadash-Ta’al cries ‘gevalt,’ appeals to Jewish voters to save it

Joint Arab List MK Aida Touma-Sliman in the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 8, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Joint Arab List MK Aida Touma-Sliman in the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 8, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Hadash-Ta’al MK Aida Touma-Sliman appeals to Jewish voters to help save the party amid fears it won’t cross the election threshold.

Appearing to adopt the time-honored Israeli political “gevalt” strategy of crying impending doom, Touma-Sliman says that according to current voting percentages, her party won’t make it.

“Jewish partners,” she says in a Hebrew-language tweet. “According to the current rate of voting, Hadash-Ta’al is in real danger of not passing the threshold. For the first time in 74 years, there is a real chance that the clearest voice against the occupation and for Arab-Jewish partnership will disappear from the Knesset.”

“I implore you: don’t let the fascists win! Go vote for peace, equality and social justice,” she says.

 

 

61% of prisoners, 71% of guards have voted by 1.30 p.m.

An incarcerated man votes Israel's general elections at a prison, on November 1, 2022. (Israel Prison Service)
An incarcerated man votes Israel's general elections at a prison, on November 1, 2022. (Israel Prison Service)

The voting turnout among prisoners reaches 61% as of 1:30 p.m., according to Israel Prison Service data.

IPS says that among the 9,090 eligible prisoners, 5,580 have voted so far and another 1,510 have declined to vote.

Among prison staff, 1,075 of the 1,500 eligible officers and guards have voted, or 71%.

IPS says the 55 voting stations at the various prisons and jails will close at 8 p.m., two hours before national polls.

Research center: Arab vote stands at 17% at 2 p.m.

A woman votes in the town of Taibeh, Nov. 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
A woman votes in the town of Taibeh, Nov. 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Arab voting stands at some 17% at 2 p.m., lagging far behind the overall vote, according to the Hebrew University’s aChord center.

Overall, 38.9% of eligible voters had voted by that time, according to the Central Elections Committee, the highest number since 1999.

According to aChord, its numbers are based on statistical modeling and reports from polling stations that were sampled.

Ben Gvir helicopters off to Sharon area to counter Gantz boost

Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir takes a helicopter as he campaigns on election day, November 21, 2022 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)
Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir takes a helicopter as he campaigns on election day, November 21, 2022 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

BEERSHEBA — Claiming that Benny Gantz’s National Unity party has been enjoying a boost in the central Sharon region, Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir takes off to the central area via helicopter from a private airport near Beersheba.

A spokesman for the party acknowledges that Ben Gvir was already scheduled to head to the area, though the idea to travel by helicopter was new.

“It’s either a government with Gantz or a government with Ben Gvir,” the far-right lawmaker declares before taking off.

Ben Gvir has warned that Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu will once again agree to form a government with the more centrist Gantz if Religious Zionism doesn’t win enough seats.

Turnout at 2 p.m. up to 38.9%, highest at that hour since 1999

A man kisses his dog after he casted his ballot during Israeli elections in Tel Aviv, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A man kisses his dog after he casted his ballot during Israeli elections in Tel Aviv, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Central Elections Committee director general Orly Ades announces that as of 2 p.m., 38.9% of eligible voters have voted.

This compares to 34.6% of the public who had voted by this time in the last election.

It is the highest percentage since 1999, when 41.7 % had voted by this stage.

In mixed Arab-Jewish Lod, voters ponder far-right and radical left

Jews and Arabs shop at the open air market in the central city of Lod on November 1, 2022 (Jeremy Sharon/Times of Israel)
Jews and Arabs shop at the open air market in the central city of Lod on November 1, 2022 (Jeremy Sharon/Times of Israel)

Voters in the sprawling open-air market in Lod reflect the broadest possible range of political positions on election day, and express intentions to vote for far-right Religious Zionism, the radical anti-Zionist Balad faction, and numerous parties between those extremes.

“I voted for Religious Zionism because for me the most important thing is the Jewish identity of the country,” says Yishai Lavi.

“It should be clear that this is a Jewish country, people who are against the State of Israel should not be partners in the coalition… in general the state should openly be a Jewish state.”

Lavi opines that relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel are fine, gesturing towards the diverse nature of customers rubbing shoulders in the market and commenting, “We live together, but it should be clear this is a Jewish state.”

Ahmad Mansour says he has yet to vote and is not sure if he will vote at all. But if he does, he will choose between Balad and Mansour Abbas’s Ra’am party.

“Prices need to be brought down — the cost of living is too high, property is too expensive,” he says, but adds he does not have much faith that politicians will be effective in achieving this goal.

Mansour says he is not worried by the rise of the far-right Religious Zionist party and that he does not believe it will be able to implement its most extreme policies.

Meanwhile, David Harhouhli, a shoe vendor in the market, says he is voting for the ultra-Orthodox Shas party although he says that it doesn’t represent him.

“I vote for them only because I want there to be here a little bit of Torah, a bit of proper behavior. But I don’t believe in them, I don’t know who they are, but I want a religious party so that this country has something of a Jewish character,” says Harhouhli.

Voting among IDF soldiers reaches 44% by 1. p.m.

Israeli soldiers arrive with election equipment to facilitate early voting for military members in the Israeli general elections, at the Har Dov military base on Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights on October 31, 2022. (Photo by JALAA MAREY / AFP)
Israeli soldiers arrive with election equipment to facilitate early voting for military members in the Israeli general elections, at the Har Dov military base on Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights on October 31, 2022. (Photo by JALAA MAREY / AFP)

The voting turnout among Israeli soldiers has reached 44% as of 1 p.m., according to data from the Israel Defense Forces.

IDF soldiers are voting at 710 stations in military bases and posts across the country, from the northernmost at the Astra observation post atop Mount Hermon, to the southernmost at the Taba post, near the border crossing with Egypt.

Around 22 percent of the stations, in more remote locations, were opened early, allowing for some soldiers to begin to vote as early as Sunday.

The IDF says that some 29% of soldiers are voting for the first time. Israeli soldiers are drafted from age 18, which is also the minimum age to be eligible to vote.

Election day quiet among Golan Heights Druze

Buqata residents sit outside the polling station at the local high school on November 11, 2022 (Lazar Berman/Times of Irael)
Buqata residents sit outside the polling station at the local high school on November 11, 2022 (Lazar Berman/Times of Irael)

Election Day is quiet in Buqata, one of the four Druze towns in the Golan Heights. There are no campaign signs hanging at intersections, and many young residents are not sure which school contains the local polling stations.

Local restaurants serve Jewish Israelis taking advantage of the day off to tour the area.

In a high school on the western edge of the village, a mile from the Syrian border, the two polling stations are quiet. As of 2 p.m., only 74 of the over 700 eligible voters in Buqata have cast their ballots.

Only about 10% of the residents have taken Israeli citizenship, which gives them the right to vote in national elections. That is similar to the percentage in the neighboring Druze communities of Majdal Shams, Masade, and Ein Qiniyye, all of which were part of Syria until Israel conquered the Golan Heights in 1967.

Majdal Shams resident Niban tells The Times of Israel at the Buqata polling station that she had already voted, but declined to share for whom. She expects this round of elections to see even fewer Golan Druze voting than usual.

“There are people who do vote usually, but this year people don’t really want to get involved in politics,” she says. “There many things that they promise and don’t do. Now, around the time of elections, they promise things, then afterwards, nothing.”

Niban says that security is the most important political issue for her: “Living in this place here on the border, security is important for us.”

Majdal Shams has around 1,300 eligible voters, out of a population of over 12,000.
Her husband Samr, a travel agent and apple farmer, is overseeing the Buqata polling stations.

“In general, most people here tend toward the right,” he says, adding that there are also Meretz voters, partly because of candidate Ali Salalha, from the Druze village of Beit Jann in the Galilee.

Majid, 55, a security guard from Buqata, has not gotten citizenship, and as such does not vote. “At my age, I don’t see that it’s important to me.”

Still, he says that he wants to see Benjamin Netanyahu emerge victorious. “In coronavirus, in other places, he proved himself,” he says, adding that most of his Druze friends agree.

Police to be stationed at polling booths in Druze town after voting irregularities

Central Elections Committee director general Orly Ades on November 1, 2022. (Screenshot)
Central Elections Committee director general Orly Ades on November 1, 2022. (Screenshot)

Central Elections Committee director general Orly Ades says that police are being stationed at polling booths in the northern Druze town of Yarka after reports of irregularities.

Ades says officers will be placed at the entrance to each room where voting is taking place. So far 18 officers have been posted at the town’s 20 voting stations.

In addition, poll workers in the town who are members of political parties will be replaced by unaffiliated members of the CEC.

The moves come after reports that a large number of empty envelopes were taken earlier in the day.

Despite this, voting is continuing as normal in Yarka, Ades says.

Netanyahu visits Ashkelon in bid to boost Likud vote

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters during a national election, in Ashkelon, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters during a national election, in Ashkelon, Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

ASHKELON — Earning his reputation as an indefatigable campaigner, Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Ashkelon to encourage turnout in the Likud-stronghold city.

“We were really, really excited,” resident Yossi Shlomai, 51, says, at seeing Netanyahu and fellow Likud candidates MK Avi Dichter and Boaz Bismuth surprise voters at the packed Ashkelon marina.

“Today is like Independence Day, our prime minister came to visit,” Shlomai says, adding that he plans to vote for Likud later that day after his family and friends wrap up their election day outing.

Sharing the sentiment and ice cream with Shlomai, Talmei Yaffe resident Maya Flato, 50, says that she’s voting for Likud because she wants a leadership change after nearly a year and a half with Netanyahu in the opposition.

“What will be different is that someone with experience” will be in the prime minister’s seat, as opposed to current caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who has only been on the job since July.

Along with Shlomai and Flato, Netivot resident Adir Asher, 30, also supports Likud, but has yet to cast his ballot.

“No, it didn’t change a thing,” Asher says of Netanyahu’s visit, adding that he plans to vote this evening regardless.

Man arrested for attempted kidnapping of woman in Tiberias; terror motive suspected

Illustrative: Police officers at the entrance to a neighborhood in Tiberias on June 24, 2020. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Police officers at the entrance to a neighborhood in Tiberias on June 24, 2020. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

A man is arrested by police on suspicion of attempting to kidnap a young woman in the northern city of Tiberias, police say, adding that the motive is suspected to be terror.

Police say the woman in her twenties reported that a man tried to force her into his vehicle on David Remez Street.

A short time later, police arrested a 51-year-old man from the nearby town of Yafia.

Police say they suspect nationalistic motives, and that the case has been handed over to the Shin Bet security agency.

Hadash-Ta’al says Arab turnout at 12% at 12 p.m.

Ahmad Tibi, head of the Arab Movement for Change (Ta'al) party, casts his ballot as he votes at a polling station in the predominantly-Arab city of Taybeh in central Israel during the national elections on November 1, 2022. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
Ahmad Tibi, head of the Arab Movement for Change (Ta'al) party, casts his ballot as he votes at a polling station in the predominantly-Arab city of Taybeh in central Israel during the national elections on November 1, 2022. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

The Hadash-Ta’al party says that by 12 p.m. the turnout in the Arab community was only 12%.

The overall turnout released by the Central Elections Committee was 28.4% of eligible voters at 12 p.m., the highest number for that hour since 1999.

The committee does not give a breakdown for Arab communities.

Meretz MK says man held for defiling tefillin likely ‘an impersonator’

MK Michal Rozin attends a Constitution, Law, and Justice, Committee meeting in the Knesset, July 25, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Michal Rozin attends a Constitution, Law, and Justice, Committee meeting in the Knesset, July 25, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Meretz party MK says a man arrested for rubbing tefillin on his crotch at a voting booth while wearing a Meretz shirt was likely an impersonator.

“To be clear, without a doubt, I completely condemn this deplorable behavior,” writes MK Michal Rozin. “We are investigating the incident.”

“In the meantime none of our Meretz field activists recognize this man, which raises suspicions he could be an impersonator,” she says.

“At the end of the probe, we will file a complaint against him.”

Police earlier said they arrested a Netanya resident on suspicion of “harming religious sentiment by making improper use of tefillin.”

Video shows the man, 61, in a Meretz shirt taking the traditional prayer phylacteries from a kiosk in the city and rubbing them on his crotch, outside his clothing, despite the protests of the volunteers working at the site.

Hadash-Ta’al claims early Arab turnout only 5%

A woman votes in the town of Taibeh, Nov. 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
A woman votes in the town of Taibeh, Nov. 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Hadash-Ta’al party claims that by 10 a.m. the turnout in the Arab community was only 5%.

The overall turnout released by the Central Elections Committee was 15.9% of eligible voters at 10 a.m., the highest number for that hour in 40 years.

The committee does not give a breakdown for Arab communities.

“Hadash-Ta’al is launching a campaign for each of its supporters to recruit at least one additional voter,” the party says.

Election committee chief: Several voting irregularities being probed

President Isaac Herzog (L) visits the Central Election Committee in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022 (Haim Tzach/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog (L) visits the Central Election Committee in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

Central Elections Committee director general Orly Ades says several irregular events are being probed during voting.

In ultra-Orthodox Beitar Illit, near Jerusalem, a polling station secretary reportedly told residents to vote for a particular party. He was immediately reported by another official and has been replaced, she says.

In the Druze village of Yarka in northern Israel, where irregularities have been reported in previous elections, police are investigating two incidents of alleged theft of empty envelopes.

It was reported that several people came into the polling station and took quantities of envelopes, Ades says, adding that the entire committee serving the station in Yarka might be replaced.

Another five incidents are being investigated, she goes on, involving people at polling stations in different locations reporting that their names had already been crossed off the list of eligible voters when they arrived.

This could mean someone else voted in their name, Ades said, but could also be due to an official crossing out the wrong name on the voter list.

Turnout at 12 p.m. up to 28.4%, highest at that hour since 1999

A Woman votes in Bnei Brak on November 1, 2022 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
A Woman votes in Bnei Brak on November 1, 2022 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Central Elections Committee director general Orly Ades announces that as of 12 p.m., 28.4% of eligible voters have voted.

This compares to 25.4% of the public who had voted by this time in the last election.

It is the highest percentage since 1999, when 28.9% had voted by this stage.

Ades also says that there are reports of overcrowding at special polling booths for the disabled. These booths allow the disabled to vote anywhere in the country, not near their residence as is generally the case.

Ades warns that those who falsely sign declarations that they are disabled will be prosecuted.

Man in Meretz shirt held for hurting religious feelings, rubbing tefillin on his genitals

Police say they have arrested a Netanya resident on suspicion of “harming religious sentiment by making improper use of tefillin.”

Video shows the man, 61, in a Meretz shirt taking the traditional prayer phylacteries from a kiosk in the city and rubbing them on his genitals, outside his clothing, despite the protests of the volunteers working at the site

Tefillin, two black leather boxes containing parchments with passages from the Torah, are traditionally worn by Jewish men during morning prayers.

Religious activists often set up booths encouraging Jewish men to put on tefillin.

The incident occurred outside a school where voting was taking place.

Crowds hail ‘king’ Ben Gvir as he tours Sderot market, but not all impressed

Itamar Ben Gvir poses for selfies with people as he campaigns in Sderot on election day on November 1, 2022 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)
Itamar Ben Gvir poses for selfies with people as he campaigns in Sderot on election day on November 1, 2022 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

“Guys, Ben Gvir is coming!” shouts a man selling produce at the open market in the town of Sderot as word gets out about the impending arrival of the Religious Zionism lawmaker who is campaigning throughout the south on Election Day.

Apparently prepared for the visit, the excited greengrocer pulls out a speaker and microphone from underneath his nectarines and starts playing the campaign jingle for Itamar Ben Gvir’s party.

Several minutes later, the far-right lawmaker’s convoy arrives and is mobbed by several dozen excited shoppers who hug, kiss and take selfies with him.

Ben Gvir is passed the microphone and shouts, “We’re here to tell our enemies who’s master of the house!”

Asked whether he senses a difference between this election and the previous one when Religious Zionism won seven seats, Ben Gvir responds:  “You feel the level of support this time.”

“I don’t know how it’ll end, but you really feel it,” he adds.

“With 17 seats,” shouts a man selling grapes, to which Ben Gvir responds, “God willing.”

Back on the microphone as he marched through the market, Ben Gvir declares, “It’s time to return security to the Negev.”

Itamar Ben Gvir campaigns in Sderot on election day on November , 2022 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

But not everyone embraced him.

“What about Sderot,” mutters a seller, among those who did not leave their posts to surround Ben Gvir.

The man, who identified only as Eli, says he’s voting Likud. “What does that man have to do with me?”

Likud won 40% of votes in Sderot, a poor town near the Gaza border, in the last election, almost four times more than any other party.

Undeterred, Ben Gvir began holding court behind one of the fruit stands, shouting, “Guys! Tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon and pineapple. A full-on right-wing government!”

“Take a picture of me with our king,” says one shopper, passing his phone to a neighbor so he could snap a photo with the lawmaker aiming to be the next public security minister.

Bennett votes, reiterates call for broad national unity government

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett, who bowed out of politics shortly after handing over the reins of power to Yair Lapid in July, calls for the formation of a national unity government after casting his vote.

“We will put slogans and hatred behind us, we will get to work mending rifts and reconnecting, with God’s help, into a large and broad government — a unity government,” he says in a statement.

“We are all one camp, we are all the nation of Israel,” he adds. His call is unlikely to be heeded with Benjamin Netanyahu promising a narrow right-wing government, and Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz ruling out sitting with Netanyahu.

Bennett notes that he is “watching from the sidelines” after more than a decade in politics.

Bennett has yet to throw his weight behind a candidate and has not revealed for whom he is voting.

Bennett’s Yamina party collapsed after a tumultuous year in the coalition and his hiatus from politics. His former political partner Ayelet Shaked’s Jewish Home party has consistently polled far below the 3.25% vote threshold to enter Knesset.

Jewish Home seeks closure of Kiryat Arba voting station over missing voting slips

Illustrative -- A polling station in Kiryat Arba on November 1, 2022 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Illustrative -- A polling station in Kiryat Arba on November 1, 2022 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Ayelet Shaked’s Jewish Home party asks the Central Elections Committee to close a voting station in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba.

The party says voting slips with its “bet” symbol have been removed from the booths.

“We call on the public to safeguard the integrity of the election,” the party says.

Jewish Home is not forecast to pass the electoral threshold.

China locks visitors in Shanghai Disneyland for testing amid COVID outbreak

Visitors to Shanghai Disneyland were temporarily blocked from leaving as part of virus testing that extended to more than 400,000 people, the city government announces.

The park closed yesterday for testing of staff and visitors, Walt Disney Co. and the government say in separate statements. The city health bureau says guests all tested negative and were allowed to leave by 8:30 p.m.

No details of a possible outbreak were released, but 1.3 million residents of the downtown Yangpu district were ordered Friday to stay at home for virus testing.

Labor’s Michaeli: We are fighting violence against women

Labor party leader Merav Michaeli (C) greets voters in Tel Aviv on November 1, 2022 (Raanan Cohen/Labor Party)
Labor party leader Merav Michaeli (C) greets voters in Tel Aviv on November 1, 2022 (Raanan Cohen/Labor Party)

Shortly after voting in Tel Aviv, Labor chief Merav Michaeli reacts to reports that a woman was murdered by her husband in Herzliya.

“This is what we’re fighting against every day and hour, our personal security everywhere, even at home. We won’t let up until this violence ends,” she says.

Earlier this morning, Michaeli called for voters to go to the polls, saying that the election “is in our hands.”

Although Labor has polled at around five seats, above the 3.25% threshold to enter Knesset, analysts have put it on a potential chopping block, especially if its base turns to bloc leader Yesh Atid or fails to come out today.

“Take yourselves, your family, your friends, put up a post, make phone calls, make sure that no one succumbs to despair, God forbid, because it’s in our hands, we can win,” she says.

First numbers show 15.9% vote by 10 a.m., highest early turnout since 1981

Ultra-Orthodox Jews watch their Rabbi Israel Hager votes during Israel elections in Bnei Brak, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. Israel is holding its fifth election in less than four years. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews watch their Rabbi Israel Hager votes during Israel elections in Bnei Brak, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. Israel is holding its fifth election in less than four years. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Central Elections Committee director general Orly Ades announces that as of 10 a.m., some 1,760,076 people or 15.9% of eligible voters have voted.

This compares to 14.8% of the public who had voted by this time in the last election.

The 10 a.m. turnout is the highest percentage seen since 1981.

President Isaac Herzog, who is touring CEC headquarters in Jerusalem with his wife Michal, praises the professionalism of the election workers and says they were impressed to see the “varied, sophisticated, monitored, and responsible” operation.

He says the high figures announced at 10 a.m. reflect the public’s trust in a system that is democratic, worthy, fair and respectful.

“Go out to vote and influence, because every vote has influence,” he says.

Netanyahu votes: I hope the day will end in a smile

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his wife Sara cast their ballot at a polling station in Jerusalem in the country's fifth election in less than four years on November 1, 2022. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his wife Sara cast their ballot at a polling station in Jerusalem in the country's fifth election in less than four years on November 1, 2022. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu casts his vote in Jerusalem, accompanied by his wife Sara.

Netanyahu urges everyone to go out and vote, calling it a “great privilege.”

Netanyahu says that early voting trends show higher turnout in Yesh Atid and “left-wing areas,” and calls on Likud supporters to come vote for the party.

“I’m a little bit worried,” he says. “But with the help of everyone who hears us, I hope the day will end in a smile.”

Balad leader: The problem is not Netanyahu or Lapid, it’s racism

Balad leader Sami Abu Shehadeh (R) casts his vote in Jaffa on November 1, 2022 (Jack Mukand/Times of Israel)
Balad leader Sami Abu Shehadeh (R) casts his vote in Jaffa on November 1, 2022 (Jack Mukand/Times of Israel)

Balad leader Sami Abu Shehadeh casts his vote in Jaffa, urging the public to vote for the  Arab nationalist party to combat racism in Israel.

“The problem in Israel is not Netanyahu or Lapid, the problem is racism. That must be combated and that’s why people vote Balad,” says Abu Shehadeh.

Abu Shahadeh came to vote with his family, in the mixed Jewish-Arab city, where “people get along,” a poll worker says.

As he addresses the press Abu Shehadeh turns to his wife, Ihsan Fary Abu Shehadeh, to ask her “Whom did you vote for?”

She pats him on the chest and said “Sami, only for Sami.”

Gantz, positioning himself as PM: Vote for the capable party, not the largest

Defense Minister Benny Gantz outside a polling station in Rosh Ha'ayin, November 1, 2022 (Elad Malka/National Unity)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz outside a polling station in Rosh Ha'ayin, November 1, 2022 (Elad Malka/National Unity)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz calls on voters to cast their ballots for the party they see as the most capable, rather than the largest.

“I call on all citizens of the State of Israel to exercise their right [to vote] with respect, while giving respect to others,” says the National Unity leader, voting near his home in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin.

“We do not want more incitement or more division. We want more unity, more security, more reconciliation between people,” he says.

“In my opinion, these elections are not about the big party, they are about the party that is most capable against incitement, against division, and in favor of unity,” he says.

Most polls, while unreliable, give Gantz’s National Unity party 10-11 seats.

The defense minister is widely considered a third potential prime ministerial candidate, after current Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Woman, 68, stabbed to death in Herzliya; husband arrested

Illustrative: A police car and ambulance in Petah Tikva, August 4, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
Illustrative: A police car and ambulance in Petah Tikva, August 4, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

A 68-year-old woman is stabbed to death in her home in Herzliya, police say.

Her 70-year-old husband, who was also in the apartment on  Hakeren street, was arrested.

Medics say the woman was already dead when they arrived at the scene.

Police say they are investigating the motive for the apparent murder.

Ben Gvir at southern polling station: ‘I just want to be police minister,’ not PM

Young supporters of Otzma Yehudit's Itamar Ben Gvir in Kiryat Malachi on November 1, 2022 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)
Young supporters of Otzma Yehudit's Itamar Ben Gvir in Kiryat Malachi on November 1, 2022 (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

KIRYAT MALACHI — Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir arrives at a polling station in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi to chants of “Hey ho look who’s come, the next prime prime minister [of Israel-dom]” from several dozen ultra-Orthodox elementary school boys.

The far-right lawmaker quickly corrects them, saying that he only wants to be public security minister, as he announced earlier this week.

While Kiryat Malachi has long been a Likud stronghold, the excitement for Ben Gvir along with the near-exclusive presence of his party’s activists indicates that the political winds in the town might be changing.

A lone Shas supporter pleads with voters entering the polling station to no avail as one after the other tells him that they’re “voting Ben Gvir.”

“Make it rain tet!” declares Religious Zionism’s No. 7 candidate Almog Cohen, referring to the party’s Hebrew letter on ballot slips. Heeding the call, a young supporter starts shuffling mock ballots into the air to cheers from his peers.

Asked whether their parents also support Religious Zionism, the young boys excitedly answer in the affirmative. “They’re done with Shas!” proclaims one ultra-Orthodox teen. “The time has come for Ben Gvir!”

Meretz’s Galon: Voters must choose between democracy and extremism

Meretz chief Zehava Galon casts her ballot in Petah Tikva, November 1, 2022 (Meretz)
Meretz chief Zehava Galon casts her ballot in Petah Tikva, November 1, 2022 (Meretz)

Casting her ballot in Petah Tikvah, Meretz chief Zehava Galon says that today’s election will determine whether liberal or extreme ideology will win out.

“These are the first elections in the country’s history [making a choice] between democracy and Kahanism,” she says.

Galon has been an outspoken critic of far-right Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben Gvir, a follower of the extremist late rabbi Meir Kahane.

According to Galon, Meretz is in an “emergency situation,” and may not cross the 3.25 percent vote threshold to enter Knesset, an outcome that would boost the right-wing bloc led by Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu and including Ben Gvir.

Herzog: ‘Without a shadow of a doubt, every vote has an impact’

President Isaac Herzog casts his vote at a voting station in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
President Isaac Herzog casts his vote at a voting station in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog calls on Israeli citizens to cast their ballots, saying that every vote has an impact and noting that many people around the world do not have the right.

“It is an enormous privilege to participate in the process of free, clean and equal elections. Billions of people around the world do not enjoy this privilege,” the president says.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, all votes have an impact. Anyone who thinks his or her vote does not matter is wrong,” Herzog says.

IDF says 4 wanted Palestinians detained, weapons seized in overnight raids

Weapons and equipment seized by troops in the West Bank, early November 1, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Weapons and equipment seized by troops in the West Bank, early November 1, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces says troops detained four wanted Palestinians and seized several weapons during overnight arrest raids across the West Bank.

The four have been delivered to the Shin Bet security agency for further questioning.

The IDF says two M16 rifles and other military equipment were seized in several central West Bank villages, and in the Qalandiya refugee camp on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

The arrests come amid an ongoing IDF anti-terror offensive in the West Bank following a series of Palestinian attacks earlier this year.

The IDF adds that during overnight operations Palestinians hurled stones at troops near the central West Bank village of ‘Arura.

“Forces responded with riot dispersal means,” the military says.

No soldiers are hurt in the incidents.

Liberman says he is ‘very optimistic’ as he casts ballot

Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Liberman and his wife cast their votes at a voting station in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, November 1, 2022 (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Liberman and his wife cast their votes at a voting station in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, November 1, 2022 (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman votes at the polling station close to his home in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim.

“I call on all Israeli citizens to go out and vote. I am very optimistic and think we will do well,” Liberman says.

Most polls, while notoriously unreliable, predict the finance minister’s right-wing secularist party will garner five-six seats.

Extremists spray foul-smelling liquid at Beit Shemesh polling station in attempt to discourage voters

Extremists spray a foul-smelling liquid at a polling station in the central city of Beit Shemesh in an apparent attempt to discourage voters.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the polling station has moved to a nearby location.

Ben Gvir: Ballot for Religious Zionism is a vote for ‘full-on right-wing government’

MK Itamar Ben Gvir casts his vote at a voting station in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, November 1, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir casts his vote at a voting station in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, November 1, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

KIRYAT ARBA, West Bank — Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir arrives in the southern West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba to cast his ballot in an election where his far-right party is expected to make significant gains.

The polling station in the town’s girls’ elementary school was nearly empty in the last round of elections about a year and a half ago when Ben Gvir arrived, but that was when he was still considered a fringe candidate, only squeaking into the Knesset after three failed tries thanks to a merger brokered by Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.

This time, over a dozen reporters and cameramen are waiting for Ben Gvir, and several security guards are surrounding him.

“With one ballot slip, you get [Likud chairman Benjamin] Netanyahu as prime minister along with a full-on right-wing government,” he declares after casting his ballot.

The photographers stand behind the polling station committee snapping the typical Election Day picture, while just outside the room hangs a large sign that declares, “Photography in the polling station is against the law.”

As he walks back to his car mobbed by media, Ben Gvir jokes to this reporter, “You were the only one here last time.”

Lapid: ‘Go and vote for the future of our children’

Prime Minister Yair Lapid casts his vote at a polling station in Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv in the country's fifth election in four years on November 1, 2022 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid casts his vote at a polling station in Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv in the country's fifth election in four years on November 1, 2022 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid votes at the polling station near his Tel Aviv home after walking there with his wife, Lihi.

“Go and vote today for the future of our children and the future of our country. Vote well and good luck to us all,” the premier says, evoking the name of his party Yesh Atid (“There is a future”).

Lapid started the day with a visit to the grave of his father, Tommy, a noted journalist, playwright and cabinet minister.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid visits the grave of his father, Tommy, November 1, 2022 (Elad Gutman/Yesh Atid)

Tommy Lapid was born in Serbia but the family was captured by the Nazis and later sent to the Budapest Ghetto. Tommy’s father was killed in a concentration camp, while Tommy and his mother were saved by Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who famously rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazis.

Israelis begin casting ballots for 25th Knesset

A voter casts his ballot at a polling station in Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv on November 1, 2022 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
A voter casts his ballot at a polling station in Israel's coastal city of Tel Aviv on November 1, 2022 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Over 12,000 polls are open across the country to allow 6,788,804 eligible Israeli voters to cast their ballots for the 25th Knesset.

Most doors open at 7 a.m. and will close at 10 p.m., though they allow voters who enter before the cut-off to cast their ballots. Some rural centers and specialty polls open an hour later, at 8 a.m.

Israeli citizens age 18 and up on election day may vote.

Immigrants who complete their citizenship registration at least 60 days before today are also eligible to vote, including about 45,000 new Israelis who arrived by the end of August this year.

Israel does not allow absentee voting. Only the about 4,500 Israelis posted abroad as diplomats, representatives of other government ministries, the military and police and their families were able to vote beyond the borders of the state. They completed this process on October 20.

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