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Polish, Israeli governments condemn antisemitic book burning in Poland

Polish minister says far-right nationalists chanting ‘death to Jews’ should suffer legal consequences; Lapid calls event ‘shocking show of hatred’

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

Nationalist rally-goers burn a book representing a historic pact protecting the rights of Poland’s Jews in Kalisz, Poland, Nov. 11, 2021. (Screenshot from Karolina Pawliczak/Twitter)
Nationalist rally-goers burn a book representing a historic pact protecting the rights of Poland’s Jews in Kalisz, Poland, Nov. 11, 2021. (Screenshot from Karolina Pawliczak/Twitter)

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

Police report attack on vehicle in East Jerusalem

Police say people in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud threw stones, firebombs and fireworks at a vehicle.

There were several light injuries, and officers dispatched to the scene dispersed rioters, police say.

The far-right Honenu legal aid organization calls the incident a “lynching.” It says a family vehicle was attacked and its windows shattered.

Bennett speaks with relatives of 2 Israelis being held in Turkey

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks with the family of two Israelis being held in Turkey for taking pictures of its president’s palace.

“Officials at the highest level are engaged with this, and will continue to take action to quickly bring about a solution,” he says.

Suspect in 18-year-old woman’s murder named as Ronen Shomov, 25

The suspect in the death of an 18-year-old woman in Beersheba is named as Roni Shomov.

The 25-year-old’s arrest is brought to the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court, which extends his detention until Thursday on suspicion of murder and obstructing justice.

Police say Shomov has a criminal past and a “pattern of violent behavior.”

Shomov was released from jail around a month ago.

Polish, Israeli governments condemn antisemitic book burning in Poland

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Israeli and Polish government officials condemn an antisemitic incident involving Polish nationalists chanting “Death to Jews” on Poland’s Independence Day this week.

Participants at the gathering also burned a copy of a medieval document that offered Jews protection and rights in Polish lands. The public expression of hatred occurred in the central Polish city of Kalisz on Thursday amid holiday celebrations across Poland.

The leaders of the event also referred to LGBT people and “Zionists” as “enemies of Poland” who need to be expelled.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski says he hopes that “the people who organized the shameful and scandalous assembly in Kalisz on November 11 will suffer legal consequences.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid welcomes the “unequivocal condemnation” by Polish authorities and said Jewish people “expect the Polish government to act uncompromisingly against those who took part in this shocking display of hate.”

“The horrific antisemitic incident in Poland reminds every Jew in the world of the strength of hatred that exists in the world,” Lapid said.

Poland’s influential Catholic Church also strongly condemns the outpouring of hatred.

Bishop Rafał Markowski, chairman of the Committee for Dialogue with Judaism of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, says that “such attitudes have nothing to do with patriotism.”

“They undermine the dignity of our brethren and destroy social order and peace. They are in direct contradiction to the Gospel and the teaching of the Church,” Markowski says.

Poland’s Independence Day celebrations have in recent years been overshadowed by events led by far-right groups.

The largest on Thursday was in Warsaw. The mayor tried to ban it, saying the capital city was no place for “fascist slogans.” He had court backing for the ban, but Poland’s right-wing government gave the march the status of a state ceremony, the latest example of the ruling nationalists seeking to curry favor with extreme groups.

Poland was for centuries one of the most welcoming European lands for Jews, with kings offering them protection after they fled persecution in German lands.

Poland’s Jewish community grew to become the largest in Europe in the 20th century, with some 3.3 million Jews living in the country on the eve of World War II. Most were murdered by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. Today, the community is very small, numbering in the thousands.

7 arrested at J’lem protest over settler teen’s death in police chase last year

Seven are arrested in Jerusalem for disturbing public order at a protest over the death of a teen settler in a West Bank police chase last year.

Dozens of young right-wing protesters are rallying at the entrance to Jerusalem for the fourth time in the past week and a half.

The demonstrators attempt to block traffic from entering the center of the city at the capital’s Cords Bridge.

They chant, “Jews, wake up. Jewish blood will not be abandoned.”

Dozens of police work to clear them from the street and allow the flow of traffic.

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir speaks in support of the protesters at the rally.

“There is no demand more just than to prosecute those who harm our loved ones,” he says.

Ahuvia Sandak, 16, was killed in a car crash while fleeing from police in the West Bank in December 2020, allegedly after throwing rocks at Palestinians.

Sandak’s defenders view his death as a police killing; they allege that the police car hit his vehicle from behind, causing it to run off the road. Repeated protests over Sandak’s death have escalated into violence and arrests.

Scorpion swarms kill 3, injure hundreds in Egyptian city

Scorpions inundate a city in southern Egypt, killing three people and injuring 453.

Heavy storms, including rain, hail and thunder, flooded the city and the nearby Nile River in recent days. The severe weather drove the venomous creatures out of their nests, into the city of Aswan, where they are seeking refuge from the weather in buildings.

An expert tells local media the heavy rains wash scorpions and snakes out of their resting places, causing them to seek shelter in homes, particularly on high ground.

Residents are told to stay home and avoid mountainous and wooded areas amid the severe weather.

Doctors in the area are redirected from a COVID vaccination campaign to treat stings.

A sting from Egypt’s fat-tail scorpion can kill a human in under an hour.

Illustrative: A black fat-tail scorpion. (CC-BY SA, Guy Haimovitch /Wikimedia Commons)

Pfizer reportedly pledges shipment of new antiviral COVID pill to Israel

Pfizer pledges a shipment of COVID-fighting medicine to Israel, Channel 12 reports.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz reach an agreement with the drug company for tens of thousands of doses for the newly developed antiviral pill.

The medicine is meant to treat high-risk individuals who are infected with the disease and ward off severe symptoms.

A report earlier this week said Israel had requested details on the drug, which the US drugmaker has touted as highly efficient in preventing hospitalization and death, as 90 other nations were already in active talks with the pharma firm.

The report came hours after Bennett said Israel was looking into purchasing the new pill.

10-year-old killed in toy vehicle accident in Kfar Qassem

A 10-year-old boy is killed when the toy vehicle he is riding on flips over in Kfar Qassem.

Medics responding to the scene find the boy on a sidewalk without a pulse and not breathing with a multi-systemic injury.

He is evacuated to Beleinson Hospital in Petah Tikva in critical condition but succumbs to his injuries shortly after.

Air raid sirens will be tested in the south tomorrow

The military says it will conduct a test of its air raid sirens tomorrow in the Eshkol region, next to Gaza.

The alarms will sound at 5:05 p.m. in the communities of Yesha Ami’oz and Mivtahim, and then 10 minutes later in Zru’a.

If there is an actual emergency, the sirens will sound twice.

Officials reportedly fear couple’s arrest in Turkey motivated by politics

Officials fear the arrest of two Israelis in Turkey for photographing its president’s palace was politically motivated, Walla news reports.

Israel has not received an explanation from Turkish officials for the arrest and detention of the couple, Mordy and Natali Oknin, and increasingly suspect the arrests were made for political gain.

The Foreign Ministry still hopes the standoff can be solved through Israel’s consulate, without political actors getting involved.

“But right now, it doesn’t look good,” a senior official says.

The Oknin’s Israeli lawyer reports ongoing efforts to free the couple after meetings in Istanbul, but no breakthroughs.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is leading the effort to secure the couple’s release and is in talks with Israel’s consular representative in Ankara. President Isaac Herzog is also involved and has spoken with the couple’s family.

Officials say the couple’s detention was remanded by 20 days by security officials, not police, suggesting political interference.

Israeli officials in Turkey have not been allowed to visit the couple.

The Ynet news site reports that the incident is not making waves in Turkey and local media, which may lessen pressure on the government there to exploit the arrest.

The report says visitors to the same tower where the couple photographed the palace continued to visit and take photos without a problem.

Missing Israeli hiker’s body found 3 days after falling into river in Mexico

The body of Israeli backpacker Yanai Rimon is found, three days after the 25-year-old was swept into a river in southern Mexico.

His family thanked his friends, Mexico’s Jewish community and local rescue services for assisting in the search. He was found not far from Mexico’s border with Guatemala.

Rimon was on a post-army trip with friends after completing service in a special forces unit.

The Foreign Ministry said Thursday that rescue services — both locals and private Israeli teams — searched for Rimon after he was pulled into a waterfall on Wednesday afternoon near Siltepec, in the Chiapas highlands close to the Guatemala border.

Rimon’s friends told Hebrew-language media he fell from a height of five meters (16 feet) into the coursing river and was subsequently sucked into the waterfall.

Israeli backpacker Yanai Rimon (Courtesy)

Yesh Atid party to hold elections for chairman for 1st time

The Yesh Atid party is expected to set up a committee to elect the party leader for the first time since the faction was established in 2012.

The party will publish new bylaws tomorrow that will announce the plan.

Some 1,000 party members will convene to elect a chairman in January, according to Hebrew media reports.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is expected to win the election and is automatically a candidate. Lapid has led Yesh Atid since he founded the party and is set to become prime minister in 2023.

Other candidates can enter the running until December 21.

The party’s electoral slate in future votes will not be up for election, however.

Saudi Arabia launches first women’s soccer league

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — The Saudi football federation says it is launching the first edition of a women’s league later this month.

Women’s sport was long frowned upon in conservative Saudi Arabia.

But the November 22 launch is part of a program set up by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation in 2017 to support women’s football.

According to the federation, the new women’s league will be playing in two phases within the regional league.

Sixteen teams will take part in the first phase with games played in three cities — the capital Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

Six teams from each region will play in the matches, with the exception of Dammam where only four teams will play.

Those who qualify will be able to play in a knockout competition at the Kingdom Final Championship due to be held early next year in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Federation chairman Yasser Almisehal says the creation of a women’s league was “an important moment” for the federation.

Investigators believe 2 massive wildfires sparked by arson

Authorities believe two massive wildfires were sparked by arson according to the results of an initial investigation.

The suspicious fires broke out near Gita in northern Israel and Zeitan in central Israel, near Ben Gurion International Airport. Some residents of both communities were evacuated during the day, and six homes in Gita were damaged by flames.

Israel saw a rash of wildfires nationwide on Saturday amid hot, dry and dusty conditions.

Fire and Rescue Services say over 200 fires were ignited in open areas of Israel on Saturday, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of families. The largest fires are under control and no longer pose a danger.

“In some of the areas, evidence of arson was found,” it says in a statement.

Authorities call on the public to adhere to orders banning fires in outdoor areas.

Firefighting planes carried out around 100 sorties and disbursed some 34,500 liters of material to extinguish the blazes on Saturday.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire near Yarka, November 13, 2021. (Fire and Rescue Services)

Israelis traveling to Turkey despite couple’s arrest: ‘We won’t go out much’

Some Israelis tell Channel 12 they are flying to Turkey for a visit despite the Turkish government’s arrest of two Israelis for taking photos of its president’s palace.

A handful of travelers took off from Israel on Saturday for Istanbul.

“We won’t go out much, and won’t take pictures,” one says.

“We actually didn’t expect something like this,” he says. “Before we bought the tickets there wasn’t anything going on. We’ll take pictures less and enjoy more food.”

Another couple says, “This is our first trip. From what we understand, they picked up two Israelis. We’re a little scared because how do we know that we’re not allowed to approach all kinds of places?”

“We will need to be careful.”

Husband of UK woman detained in Iran ends 21-day hunger strike

LONDON (AP) — The husband of a British-Iranian woman who has been detained for more than five years in Iran says he is ending his hunger strike outside Britain’s Foreign Office after 21 days.

Richard Ratcliffe has been sleeping in a tent outside the Foreign Office’s main entrance in an effort to pressure the British government to secure the release of his wife and other detained British-Iranian nationals. He began his demonstration last month after his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, lost her latest appeal in Iran.

Ratcliffe, who was joined by the couple’s 7-year-old daughter Gabriella and several supporters as he announced the end of his hunger strike, thanks the many well-wishers who stopped to talk to him but said the failure of Prime Minister Boris Johnson to drop by was “telling.” He adds that his wife has requested a phone call from Johnson.

While no breakthrough happened in the last three weeks, Ratcliffe says his hunger strike had shone a “greater spotlight” on his wife’s case and added pressure on the governments in London and Tehran.

“I think we’ve stopped the backward movement,” he says.

An undated file photo provided by the family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national detained in Iran. (Family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe via AP, File)

Ratcliffe says he had started to get pains in his feet overnight, and a discussion with a doctor persuaded him to end the hunger strike. He says he planned to go to a hospital to get checked and hopes to be able to eat something after that.

“I didn’t want to go out in an ambulance,” he says. “I want to walk out with my head held high.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe served five years in prison after being taken into custody at Tehran’s airport in April 2016 and convicted of plotting the overthrow of Iran’s government, a charge that she, her supporters and rights groups deny.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was employed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, and was arrested as she was returning home to Britain after visiting family. Rights groups accuse Iran of holding dual-nationals as bargaining chips for money or influence in negotiations with the West, something Tehran denies.

Health Ministry reports 147 COVID patients in serious condition

The Health Ministry says 449 new COVID-19 infections were diagnosed on Friday.

There are currently 147 patients in serious condition and 69 on ventilators.

Most patients in serious condition are over 60 and unvaccinated.

Since the start of the pandemic, 5.7 million Israelis have received two vaccine doses, and over 4 million have gotten a third booster shot.

The death toll stands at 8,140.

Lapid condemns antisemitic book burning in Poland: ‘Shocking show of hatred’

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemns an antisemitic event in Poland and demands action from local officials.

“The horrific antisemitic event in Poland reminds every Jew in the world of the powerful hatred and danger in the world if it is not quickly cut short, without compromise.”

“The unequivocal condemnation of officials in Poland is important and essential. I welcome and expect the Polish government to take a firm stand against the people that took part in this shocking show of hatred.”

At the Thursday event in the city of Kalisz, Polish nationalists shouted “death to Jews” as they burned a book representing a historic pact protecting the rights of Poland’s Jews.

President speaks with family of Israelis detained in Turkey

President Isaac Herzog speaks with the family of two relatives detained in Turkey for photographing its leader’s palace.

Herzog says he is “convinced of their innocence,” reiterating that the pair have no connections to any government security agencies.

“We’re taking action to return them home quickly,” he says, adding that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is helping lead the effort.

Mordy and Natli Oknin were detained on Thursday for photographing the palace of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They and their family insist they did not know it was illegal to do so.

Relatives say police let 18-year-old return to boyfriend, despite warnings, before her death

The family of a suspected murder victim blames the police, saying law enforcement “could have prevented it.”

The 18-year-old woman was found dead in her apartment in Beersheba overnight. Officers called to the scene arrested the woman’s 25-year-old partner, who was recently freed from a jail sentence for violence toward his partner.

A close family member tells the Maariv news site, “The police could have prevented this murder. They ignored the previous instances of violence. He has an open file at the Beersheba police station just from the last few months and there were other instances of violence in Netanya.”

“Every sensible person should have understood that this guy was dangerous to this young woman.”

The door to a Beersheba apartment where an 18-year-old woman was found dead, November 13, 2021 (Screen grab/Ynet)

The suspect was released from jail around a month ago, Channel 12 reports.

The girl’s family and friends tried to stop the relationship, and the mother locked the girl in her apartment to keep her from the boyfriend on Thursday, a family member says.

“The girl called the police because her mother wouldn’t let her go to him. The officer said she is 18, and let her leave. She went to her death. The mother didn’t want to let her go to her boyfriend because he’s violent, she was afraid. The girl didn’t listen to her.”

The family member says the girl’s mother had filed complaints against the boyfriend, and that the couple were together for six months.

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