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Thousands rally in Tel Aviv against government as budget battle looms

Likud, Religious Zionism MKs vow to bring down coalition, as activists hold signs reading ‘You don’t have a mandate to erase the Jewish state’

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Right-wing activists and Likud supporters protest against the  government led by PM Naftali Bennett in Tel Aviv, November 2, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Right-wing activists and Likud supporters protest against the government led by PM Naftali Bennett in Tel Aviv, November 2, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

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

Hackers release stolen medical data of 290,000 Israeli patients

The Iran-linked hacking group, Black Shadow, uploads what it says is the full database of personal information from Israel’s Machon Mor medical institute, with information on some 290,000 patients.

It is the second major leak today by the group. Earlier in the day, it released what it said was the full database of personal user information from the Atraf website, an LGBTQ dating service and nightlife index.

Cyber experts immediately warned against downloading the files the group releases.

The group uploaded the Atraf file to a channel on the Telegram messaging app after a ransom demand of $1 million in digital currency to prevent the leak was apparently not paid.

Black Shadow had initially hacked the CyberServe Israeli internet hosting company on Friday, taking down its servers and a number of sites, among them Atraf.

Police shoot at driver in West Bank amid suspected car-ramming attempt

Police officers shot at a Palestinian driver who allegedly tried to run them over with his vehicle in a suspected car-ramming attack on Route 60, near the settlement of Shim’a in the South Hebron Hills.

The driver and a passenger have been taken in for questioning, police say. One of the suspects sustained light injuries. The officers were not harmed, according to initial reports.

Thousands rally in Tel Aviv against government as budget battle looms

Thousands take part in a right-wing rally in Tel Aviv against the government, on November 2, 2021. (Screenshot)
Thousands take part in a right-wing rally in Tel Aviv against the government, on November 2, 2021. (Screenshot)

Thousands of right-wing activists protest in Tel Aviv against the government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as the November 14 deadline to pass a budget and shore up the coalition approaches.

The rally, organized by Likud at the Habima Square in Tel Aviv, includes appearances by MKs Tzahi Hanegbi, Miri Regev and Amir Ohana as well as Religious Zionism MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Holding signs that read “You don’t have a mandate to erase the Jewish state,” “A Jewish government for a Jewish state,” and “Bennett/Shaked betrayal is a crime,” the protesters call to topple the government and return Benjamin Netanyahu to power.

The government has until November 14 to pass a much-delayed 2021 budget. If it fails to do so, the coalition will automatically be dissolved and new elections will be triggered.

New York State bans swastikas and other hate symbols on public property

A children’s playground in Brooklyn Heights, New York was vandalized with a swastika in November 2016. (Screenshot from Twitter via JTA)
A children’s playground in Brooklyn Heights, New York was vandalized with a swastika in November 2016. (Screenshot from Twitter via JTA)

New York Governor Kathy Hochul signs legislation banning the selling or displaying of hate symbols on public property and taxpayer-funded equipment.

State Sen. Anna M. Kaplan and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, both of Long Island, introduced the legislation after an incident last year in which a Confederate flag was displayed on a fire truck in Long Island, and another in which a Confederate flag was hung from a fire department window.

The bill defines symbols of hate as including, but not limited to, symbols of white supremacy, neo-Nazi ideology or the Battle Flag of the Confederacy. Excluded are symbols that serve an “educational or historical purpose,” such as in a museum or book.

“Public property belongs to all of us, and this measure is critical to ensure that our public property isn’t being used to promote hatred,” says Kaplan in a press release. “You would think it was common sense that taxpayer-owned property couldn’t be used as a platform for hate, but shockingly there was no law on the books saying so — until now.”

Public property is defined as a school district, a fire district, volunteer fire company or police department and the taxpayer-funded equipment they use.

According to the NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, swastikas are among the most common hate symbols displayed in the United States today. The office has partnered with the Anti-Defamation League to provide resources on and histories of common hate symbols in the US.

Two arrested for threats against senior Health Ministry official

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services, is accompanied by a security guard as she walks out of a hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court, on October 31, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services, is accompanied by a security guard as she walks out of a hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court, on October 31, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Two men who hail from the north of the country have been detained and questioned over threats against Health Ministry official Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, police say.

Alroy-Preis, the Health Ministry’s head of public services and a top COVID adviser, has been the target of a series of threats in the past few months. This week, such threats prompted her husband to publicly chastise police for not taking action, and a day later, she was assigned a security guard.

Police say that the two men, a Tiberias resident, age 38, and a 40-year-old from Hatzor were detained “on suspicion of online threats” against Alroy-Preis. The two men have been released with restrictions, say police, and the investigation against them continues.

Romania, Bulgaria hit COVID pandemic death highs amid vaccination lag

A woman holds a banner during an anti-government and anti-restrictions protest organized by the far-right Alliance for the Unity of Romanians or AUR, in Bucharest, Romania, on October 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A woman holds a banner during an anti-government and anti-restrictions protest organized by the far-right Alliance for the Unity of Romanians or AUR, in Bucharest, Romania, on October 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Romania reports a record daily number of 591 COVID-19 deaths amid a persistently low vaccination rate and a wave of coronavirus infections that has overwhelmed the country’s ailing health care system.

Only 37 percent of adults in Romania, a European Union member with around 19 million people, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to an EU average of 75%. Within the 27-nation EU, only Bulgaria has a smaller share of its population vaccinated.

Romanian authorities say that 541 of the 591 people who had died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours were unvaccinated. More than 1,800 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care as of this evening.

The unfolding disaster has prompted authorities to impose tighter restrictions starting last week. Vaccination certificates are required for many day-to-day activities, such as going to the gym, the cinema or a shopping mall.

Bulgaria, where 25% of adults have been fully vaccinated, also reports its highest daily pandemic death toll today. Of the 310 who died over the past 24 hours, more than 90% were unvaccinated, say authorities. Bulgarian Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov calls the situation “a national disaster.”

Bennett discussed Iran in depth with world leaders in Glasgow, says official

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chat as they attend an evening reception to mark the opening day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland,  on Monday, November 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, Pool)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chat as they attend an evening reception to mark the opening day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday, November 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, Pool)

GLASGOW, Scotland — Iran’s nuclear program came up in almost every meeting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held with world leaders at the COP26 climate conference, a diplomatic source says during a briefing to Israeli journalists.

Bennett held long conversations on the topic with French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier today, according to the official.

Conversations around Iran largely revolved around two major issues — what world powers can do, and what Israel is doing independently, the source says.

“We are in a period where the Iranians still aren’t coming in” to nuclear talks, the senior official says. “There is a feeling in the world that something has to happen.”

World leaders are searching for a combination of carrots and sticks to urge Iran back to nuclear talks on returning to compliance with the 2015 JCPOA, according to the official, noting that Bennett favors sticks.

Ultra-Orthodox MK says Bennett ‘betrayed the State of Israel’

MK Moshe Gafni (left) alongside Yaakov Litzman in the Knesset, on July 26, 2021.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Moshe Gafni (left) alongside Yaakov Litzman in the Knesset, on July 26, 2021.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni says that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett betrayed the State of Israel.

In an interview with the Haredi news site Kikar HaShabbat, Gafni says that Bennett is “an opportunist who wants it to be written down that he was prime minister.”

Gafni, whose party has declared its loyalty to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, adds that Bennett “betrayed his voters and betrayed the State of Israel.”

Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid calls on Gafni to retract his words immediately.

“I call on Moshe Gafni to take back his comments immediately,” tweets Lapid. “Statements like that lead Israel to doom. We can disagree, but such talk will lead to dangerous violence.”

Legendary Arab singer, Sabah Fakhri, dies at 88

Sabah Fakhri, the famous Syrian singer, holds an award in Damascus, on June. 22, 2004. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)
Sabah Fakhri, the famous Syrian singer, holds an award in Damascus, on June. 22, 2004. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)

BEIRUT — One of the Arab world’s most famous singers, Sabah Fakhri, who has entertained generations with traditional songs and preserved extinct forms of Arabic music, has died at age 88, says Syria’s government.

It was not immediately clear what caused Fakhri’s passing.

Born Sabah Abu Qaws in the Syrian city of Aleppo in 1933, Fakhri got his stage name as an adolescent when he started performing. He soon rose to fame to become one of the Arab world’s legendary tenors and one of its exceptionally charismatic entertainers.

Fakhri was a world class Tarab singer, an Arabic form of music associated with emotional evocation that could last for hours. Onstage, Fakhri would engage the audience and sway to the music almost in a trance, turning the lyrics of his songs, often in classical Arabic, into refrains they can easily sing back with him.

He once performed for 10 hours straight in a 1968 concert in Caracas, Venezuela, without a single break, earning an entry in the Guinness World Records.

Ethiopia declares state of emergency as Tigray forces threaten capital

Ethiopian government soldiers ride in the back of trucks on a road near Agula, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, on Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Ethiopian government soldiers ride in the back of trucks on a road near Agula, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, on Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Ethiopia’s government declares a national state of emergency as rival Tigray forces threaten to move on the capital, as the country’s yearlong war escalates quickly.

The declaration by the Council of Ministers is the clearest sign of alarm yet from the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who a year ago this week allowed soldiers from a neighboring country to invade the Tigray region and pursue the Tigray forces alongside Ethiopian troops. Thousands of people have been killed since then.

The United States has warned the Tigray forces, who long dominated the national government before Abiy took office, against any attempt to “besiege” the capital, Addis Ababa, after seizing control in recent days of the strategic cities of Dessie and Kombolcha. That positions them to move down a major highway toward the capital.

The state of emergency takes effect immediately and will last for six months. The government can impose a curfew, disrupt transport services and travel, and detain indefinitely anyone suspected of having links with a terrorist group. Local administrations in some areas could be disbanded and a military leadership could be installed.

Such actions would be implemented by law. Ethiopian lawmakers are expected to convene within 48 hours.

Gantz says he will meet his US counterpart soon to discuss Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (right) walks alongside US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during an honor guard ceremony at Israel's military headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 11, 2021. (Ariel Hermoni)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (right) walks alongside US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during an honor guard ceremony at Israel's military headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 11, 2021. (Ariel Hermoni)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has spoken with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about Iran’s regional and nuclear ambitions, he says.

“I had an important discussion with my friend and partner Secretary of Defense Austin about US-Israel coordination vis-a-vis Iranian regional entrenchment and its nuclear aspirations. We agreed to meet soon to deepen our discussion on strategic issues and military cooperation,” Gantz says in a statement.

The conversation comes amid growing tensions with Iran and long-stalled talks between Tehran and Washington regarding a multi-lateral agreement to halt the Iranian nuclear program.

Joint List MK decries ‘cursed’ Balfour Declaration on anniversary

Joint List MK Osama Saadi attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on July 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Joint List MK Osama Saadi attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on July 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Joint List MK Osama Saadi calls the Balfour Declaration a “cursed” declaration in comments to the Knesset plenum.

“Today, November 2, 104 days ago, was the cursed Balfour Declaration, which announced the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine,” says Saadi. ”

Today marks 104 years since the Balfour Declaration, which was a public statement by then-UK Prime Minister Arthur Balfour promising British support for establishing a “national home for the Jewish people” in the British Mandate of Palestine.

In comments to Army Radio later about his speech, Saadi says that “we recognize the Holocaust, the greatest tragedy in the world, but the Jewish people has its own home and the Palestinian people do not.”

Iran says its fuel system is fully operational a week after cyber attack

A worker leans against a gasoline pump that has been turned off, at a gas station in Tehran, Iran, on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
A worker leans against a gasoline pump that has been turned off, at a gas station in Tehran, Iran, on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN — Iran’s fuel distribution system resumed full operations today, a week after it was paralyzed by a cyber attack, authorities say.

“The country’s 4,300 service stations are once again connected to the central fuel distribution system,” the spokesperson of the Iranian National Oil Product Distribution Company, Fatemeh Kahi, says in a statement. “From now on, all the service stations will be able to supply subsidized petrol using the digital cards,” Kahi adds.

A cyber attack on October 26 brought all fuel distribution stations in the country to a halt, resulting in traffic jams and long lines at gas stations. The attack prompted sharp responses from top Iranian officials, who blamed outside actors.

On Sunday, leading Iranian general Gholamreza Jalali accused the United States and Israel of being behind the attack.

Jerusalem inaugurates new support center for new immigrants

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion (third from right) and other officials at the inauguration of a new immigrant service center in the city on November 2, 2021. (Jerusalem Municipality)
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion (third from right) and other officials at the inauguration of a new immigrant service center in the city on November 2, 2021. (Jerusalem Municipality)

The Jerusalem Municipality inaugurates a new support center for new immigrants living in the capital.

The new center in downtown Jerusalem will employ staff who speak Hebrew, French, Russian, Spanish and English in order to reach a wide array of new immigrants. The center will offer guidance, counseling, employment help, information and assistance in accessing new immigrant rights, as well as aid in navigating the health system, says the municipality.

The center will work to reach immigrants “in the early stages of their absorption and provide them with an initial personal experience in their mother tongue and in a familiar culture, in order to make what is strange and alien seem accessible and pleasant.”

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion says Jerusalem has the highest rate of new immigrants in the country, who chose the capital “for a wide variety of reasons.”

Bahrain urges its citizens to leave Lebanon as crisis grows

Lebanese men hold banner displaying the flags of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, during a protest in support of the kingdom against comments made by a Lebanese minister over the war in Yemen, in front of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 30, 2021. (AP Photo/ Bilal Hussein)
Lebanese men hold banner displaying the flags of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, during a protest in support of the kingdom against comments made by a Lebanese minister over the war in Yemen, in front of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 30, 2021. (AP Photo/ Bilal Hussein)

The island kingdom of Bahrain urges all its citizens in Lebanon to leave immediately as a diplomatic crisis escalates between Gulf Arab states and cash-strapped Lebanon.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry orders all Bahrainis to leave Lebanon “due to the tense situation there, which requires caution,” days after the United Arab Emirates did the same. The ministry also warns its citizens not to travel to Lebanon “permanently… in order to prevent exposure to any risks.”

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Kuwait have all withdrawn their ambassadors from Beirut over televised remarks critical of the war in Yemen made by Lebanon’s game show host-turned-information minister.

The comments by the minister, George Kordahi, ricocheted around the internet over the past week, infuriating the Gulf Arab region and triggering a series of punitive steps that further isolate Lebanon and threaten to split its new coalition government, now tasked with halting the country’s economic tailspin.

The four wealthy sheikhdoms expelled Lebanon’s ambassadors from their countries. Saudi Arabia also banned all Lebanese imports, a major blow to the tiny country in desperate need of foreign currency.

CIA head meets Russian security council chief in Moscow

CIA Director William Burns speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 15, 2021. (Al Drago/Pool via AP)
CIA Director William Burns speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 15, 2021. (Al Drago/Pool via AP)

MOSCOW — US Central Intelligence Agency director William Burns meets the head of Russia’s powerful Security Council for talks in Moscow, says the council’s press service.

Burns and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev discussed “Russian-American relations,” it says in a terse statement. Burns’ visit to Moscow was not previously announced and the Security Council released no further details.

There was no immediate comment from the US Embassy in Moscow or officials in Washington.

The meeting comes with Russia’s ties with the West at their lowest levels in years, strained by a wide range of disagreements. US President Joe Biden and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met for their first summit in June and agreed to keep communications channels open.

Bill Gates to Bennett: Israeli innovation can help tackle climate change

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on the sidelines of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, on November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on the sidelines of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, on November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

GLASGOW — Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on the sidelines of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.

The pair agree to establish a working group between the State of Israel and the Gates Foundation in the area of climate change innovation.

“Israel is known as the startup nation, and I think that it’s time we pivot and channel our national energy — which is the energy of the people, the brainpower — to fighting climate change,” Bennett tells Gates during their meeting. “We’re going to take this as a national mission.”

Bennett says that Israel is cooperating with many of its neighbors on climate-related issues, particular in the field of water scarcity.

Gates tells the Israeli premier that “my big belief is that we can solve climate change if we accelerate innovation.”

Speaking about innovation, Gates says: “That’s really what Israel is known for, but not so much in the climate space.” The key, he says, will be “understanding where are the brilliant people in Israel who are thinking about these new techniques.”

“We were thinking: How do we connect up and find more people who are doing mitigation type innovation, more people doing adaptation?” Gates asks. “Given the talent that you have and what we’ve seen in the digital space, how do we unleash more of that? So I’d love to take that R&D innovation push and figure out where Israel can partner with us.”

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar adds: “Israel can be a very strong power in the climate change fight, and I think a joint venture is really great news for that.”

Gates notes that both he and Bennett — who made millions in hi-tech before entering politics — realized that “innovation was the key” in their first careers. “Love that comparison,” jokes Bennett, to laughter.

German woman charged with membership in foreign terror groups

Illustrative: Police officers secure the High Regional Court in Celle, Germany, on September 26, 2017, for the trial of suspected representative of the Islamic State group. (Holger Hollemann/dpa via AP)
Illustrative: Police officers secure the High Regional Court in Celle, Germany, on September 26, 2017, for the trial of suspected representative of the Islamic State group. (Holger Hollemann/dpa via AP)

BERLIN — Federal prosecutors charge a German woman with membership in two foreign terrorist groups, violating weapons law and committing her son as a fighter to a foreign terrorist group.

German federal prosecutors say that Stefanie A., whose last name is withheld in line with privacy rules, left Germany in 2016 with her son, who was 13 at the time, in order to live with her husband in Syrian territory that was then under the control of the Islamic State group.

She first joined the terrorist organization Jund al-Aqsa and later Islamic State, or IS. She is accused of willingly making her son available to the Jund al-Aqsa and to the IS as a fighter.

Shortly after her arrival in Raqqa in Syria in 2017, the defendant joined the IS, initially living with her husband in Raqqa and managing his household. The couple, who were financially provided for by the IS, made their son available to the group. He completed military training and was called up for combat operations. At 15, he was killed in a bomb attack in March 2018, the prosecutor’s statement said.

A. herself was equipped with an explosive belt and carried a rifle during her membership in IS. She and her husband remained loyal to the Islamic State until the end of the group’s reign, and surrendered to Kurdish troops in February 2019. She was arrested upon her arrival in Germany in March.

Bennett meets NATO secretary-general on sidelines of COP26

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

GLASGOW — Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on the sidelines of the COP26 climate change in Glasgow.

This is their first meeting since Bennett became premier, and Stoltenberg’s first meeting with an Israeli prime minister since he took office in 2014.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met in Brussels in July with Stoltenberg. At the time, Lapid expressed his desire to deepen ties with NATO and declared Israel’s readiness to support the alliance on matters of intelligence, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, climate change, maritime security, missile defense, and civilian emergency management. He also invited Stoltenberg to visit Israel.

US says it sees promise in Sudan protest ‘restraint’

Sudanese anti-coup protesters attend a gathering in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on October 30, 2021, to express their support for the country's democratic transition which a military takeover and deadly crackdown derailed. (AFP)
Sudanese anti-coup protesters attend a gathering in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on October 30, 2021, to express their support for the country's democratic transition which a military takeover and deadly crackdown derailed. (AFP)

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A US envoy applauds what he sees as restraint during Sudan’s demonstrations against its recent military coup, seeing a hopeful sign for a peaceful return to civilian-backed rule.

The United States has voiced alarm and warned Sudan’s military not to use force ahead of mass protests called for Saturday over the October 25 ouster of the civilian leadership.

Jeffrey Feltman, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, says that the death toll of three was “far too many,” but adds: “We also commend those members of security forces who exercised restraint and upheld their obligations to respect human rights.”

Feltman says demonstrators also showed restraint by mostly avoiding sensitive military sites.

“You saw evidence, I think, of the Sudanese understanding that they need to get themselves out of this crisis by the conduct of the demonstrations,” Feltman tells reporters. It “demonstrated an understanding by the Sudanese people themselves that they have to be careful and find a way back to the civilian-military partnership that this transition requires.”

He renews a call for General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to restore the civilian government, saying that Washington’s suspension of $700 million in aid shows that the military can not rule alone.

“I think that the military will recognize that they need the type of international support that was being given to the transitional authorities,” Feltman says.

Bennett thanks UK’s Johnson for intervening in wheelchair fiasco

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) is introduced to Israel's Energy Minister Karine Elharrar (L) as he meets with Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) on the sidelines of the COP26 Climate Conference at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland on November 2, 2021. (Alberto Pezzali / POOL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) is introduced to Israel's Energy Minister Karine Elharrar (L) as he meets with Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) on the sidelines of the COP26 Climate Conference at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland on November 2, 2021. (Alberto Pezzali / POOL / AFP)

GLASGOW — Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanks British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his “quick intervention” after yesterday’s fiasco, when Energy Minister Karine Elharrar could not access the COP26 conference because of her wheelchair.

“I think it’s a learning opportunity for all of us on the importance of disability for all,” Bennett says.

After apologizing to Elharrar at the outset of the meeting, Johnson says he is eager to learn from Israel’s COVID vaccine rollout.

“It’s been wonderful to hear the benefit of Israel’s experience,” says Johnson. “You had an astonishing vaccine rollout… I think there was one moment when we almost overtook you, but you basically showed the whole world a pretty clean pair of heels. And what’s been so powerful is the Israeli booster campaign.”

“I think that our country just totally understands what you have done, and we need everybody in our country to learn from the Israeli booster campaign and get their jab,” Johnson continues. “Our booster campaign is running now, and we need it to go with Israeli speed. I want some of that spirit in the UK as well.”

“We’re so darn proud of Minister Elharrar,” Bennett tells Johnson. “She’s just amazing.”

Israel’s leader adds: “You’re a huge friend to Israel. That’s no secret, and what we’ll be discussing is how we bring our relationship to the next level.”

US military helicopter arrives in Eilat for two-week joint drill

A US Central Command helicopter carrier anchors in the Eilat Port ahead of a two-week special forces exercise with Israel on November 1, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
A US Central Command helicopter carrier anchors in the Eilat Port ahead of a two-week special forces exercise with Israel on November 1, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

A United States military helicopter carrier anchored in the Eilat Port yesterday for a two-week joint American-Israeli special forces exercise, the Israel Defense Forces says.

The drill is one of the first joint exercises between the IDF and the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) since the American outfit included Israel in its area of responsibility earlier this year. (Until then, Israel had been part of the US European Command.)

“The troops will take part in a multi-branch exercise for two weeks, in which they will train with counter-terrorism forces, commando forces and expose-attack forces, simulating warfare techniques in open areas and urban environments,” the IDF says.

Hackers claim to have leaked details of LGBTQ dating site members

Participants fly an Israeli and pride flag at demonstration in Tel Aviv on July 22, 2018, to protest a new surrogacy law that does not include gay couples. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)
Participants fly an Israeli and pride flag at demonstration in Tel Aviv on July 22, 2018, to protest a new surrogacy law that does not include gay couples. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Hackers associated with the Black Shadow group say they have released the full user data of Israeli users of the Atraf gay dating site after their demand for $1 million went unanswered.

On its Telegram group, Black Shadow releases a file it says contains the full database of users from the site, including those who revealed their HIV status.

The hackers, believed to be linked to Iran, demanded on Sunday a ransom payment of $1 million in digital currency to stop the leak. The Black Shadow hacking group said in a statement that it was “looking for money” and would not leak further information if the ransom was paid within 48 hours.

The group said the database of the Atraf website, a geo-located dating service and nightlife index whose app and website are popular in the Israeli LGBT community, contained information on some one million people.

Sirens to go off nationwide in IDF drill on Wednesday

School children hurry to shelters as sirens sound throughout Israel as part of a of an IDF Home Front Command drill on June 2, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
School children hurry to shelters as sirens sound throughout Israel as part of a of an IDF Home Front Command drill on June 2, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Air raid sirens will sound in cities and towns across the country tomorrow as part of a national home front preparedness exercise being conducted by the Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry.

The first round of alerts, in towns and villages, will be heard from 10:05 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., and the second round from 6:05 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in larger cities. In addition to sirens, messages will be sent out through the IDF Home Front Command application and alerts will be heard on the radio, television stations and on some websites. In the case of an actual emergency, the air raid sirens will sound twice.

There is no need to enter bomb shelters during the exercise, but the Home Front Command recommends learning about what to do if you hear an air raid siren.

In light of improved intelligence or more accurate detection systems, some cities and towns have been given updated warning times — how long residents of those areas have to enter a bomb shelter before impact — or have been split into multiple warning zones, meaning people in the eastern part of the city may not have to enter a bomb shelter, while those in the west do. The exercise will mostly take place in these municipalities, the IDF Home Front Command says.

Hard-hit Russia sets another daily record for COVID deaths

A medical worker wearing a special suit to protect against COVID-19 treats a patient at an ICU in Infectious Hospital No. 23 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, on Oct. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Roman Yarovitcyn)
A medical worker wearing a special suit to protect against COVID-19 treats a patient at an ICU in Infectious Hospital No. 23 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, on Oct. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Roman Yarovitcyn)

MOSCOW (AP) — Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit another daily record, four days since a nationwide order for many Russians to stay off work took effect.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force reports 39,008 new confirmed cases and 1,178 COVID-19 deaths. The task force has reported record daily infections or deaths almost every day for the last month.

To reduce the spread of the coronavirus, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a nationwide non-working period for Oct. 30-Nov. 7. Putin has said that governments in regions where the situation is most dire could add more non-working days, if needed. The Novgorod region became the first one to do so Monday, extending the period by another week.

Russia’s weekslong surge in infections and deaths comes amid low vaccination rates, lax public attitudes toward taking precautions and the government’s reluctance to toughen restrictions.

Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah families reject proposed Supreme Court deal

Palestinians and left wing activists protest against the expulsion of Palestinian families from homes in a property dispute in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. April 16, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Palestinians and left wing activists protest against the expulsion of Palestinian families from homes in a property dispute in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. April 16, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah reject a Supreme Court deal that would see them stay on as protected tenants, staving off the threat of eviction.

The compromise “prepares the way for our right to the land to be taken away,” the families say in a statement.

The Jewish group Nahalat Shimon seeks to evict the Palestinian residents, who live in homes built on land owned by Jews before 1948. Nahalat Shimon avowedly seeks to expand the Jewish enclave in Sheikh Jarrah as much as possible and “Judaize” the neighborhood.

The compromise would likely have seen the Palestinians avoid eviction for at least 15 years.

The planned evictions in Sheikh Jarrah were a key flashpoint in the escalation to the 11-day May conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In recent weeks, the Palestinian families have struggled to reach a consensus on the Supreme Court’s deal, with some opposed and others more willing to accept. At the same time, they faced pressure to reject the offer.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called the families a few days ago and asked them to refuse, according to the terror leader’s office.

British PM Johnson apologizes to wheelchair-using Israeli minister who was denied access to summit

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) is introduced to Israel's Energy Minister Karine Elharrar (L) as he meets with Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) on the sidelines of the COP26 Climate Conference at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland on November 2, 2021. (Alberto Pezzali / POOL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) is introduced to Israel's Energy Minister Karine Elharrar (L) as he meets with Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) on the sidelines of the COP26 Climate Conference at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland on November 2, 2021. (Alberto Pezzali / POOL / AFP)

GLASGOW — In a meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, British PM Boris Johnson apologizes to Elharrar for her being unable to enter the COP26 climate conference yesterday because of limited wheelchair access.

The British prime minister elbow-bumps Elharrar, and says he is pleased to see her. “I gather there was some confusion with the arrangements yesterday,” he says, adding: “I am very, very sorry about that.”

Johnson then turns to the fight against COVID-19, saying that the UK must learn from Israel’s campaign to provide booster vaccinations, especially the speed with which Israel was able to get the third shot to its population.

Related: Elharrar, in wheelchair, joins Bennett at COP26 after Monday’s entry debacle

Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company indicted over 2014 oil spill

Plants covered in oil at the area where for three weeks there was a large oil leak in the Arava area of Southern Israel, on December 24, 2014. (Roy Talbi/Environmental Protection Ministry)
Plants covered in oil at the area where for three weeks there was a large oil leak in the Arava area of Southern Israel, on December 24, 2014. (Roy Talbi/Environmental Protection Ministry)

The state-owned Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) is indicted on charges linked to a massive 2014 oil spill that was one of the worst ecological disasters in Israeli history.

According to the indictment, the company and several of its senior executives should be held responsible for “failures and neglect” that led to the massive spill.

The Environmental Protection Ministry says that some 5 million liters of crude oil were spilled in late 2014 when a pipeline belonging to EAPC ruptured, causing significant environmental damage to the Arava desert and Evrona Nature Reserve and leading to approximately NIS 100 million in damage.

Blast near Kabul hospital kills 3, wounds 16, say medics

Taliban fighters patrol a market in Kabul's Old City, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Taliban fighters patrol a market in Kabul's Old City, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

KABUL, Afghanistan — An explosion goes off at the entrance of a military hospital in Kabul, killing three people and wounding at least 16, say health officials.

The blast was set off at the entrance to the Sardar Mohammad Dawood Khan military hospital, the spokesman of the Taliban-run Interior Ministry, Saeed Khosty, writes in a tweet. He adds that special forces were at the scene.

City residents report two explosions in the area, of the hospital in Kabul’s 10th district, along with the sound of gunfire.

Sayed Abdullah Ahmadi, the director of the nearby Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, says his facility received three bodies and seven people who were injured in the blast. Another nine injured were taken to the Afghanistan Emergency Hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. In recent weeks, the Islamic State group has carried out a series of bombing and shooting attacks. IS is a rival of the Taliban, and has stepped up attacks since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in a swift military campaign in August.

Iran FM tests positive for COVID at key moment for nuclear talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is seen before meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on October 6, 2021. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool/AFP)
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is seen before meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on October 6, 2021. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool/AFP)

Iran’s foreign minister has tested positive for COVID-19, local media reports, at a key moment in diplomatic efforts to revive a nuclear agreement with major powers.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian “tested positive today for coronavirus,” the Tasnim news agency reports.

The 57-year-old career diplomat, who was named foreign minister in August by ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi, was a close confidant of military strategist General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated in a US drone strike early last year.

“His general health is satisfactory and he is continuing his daily duties from quarantine,” ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tells the official IRNA news agency.

Khatibzadeh had said just Monday that talks with the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal would resume “in the next two or three weeks,” although he added that ministers would not take part.

The talks have been on hold since before Raisi’s election in June.

In Glasgow meeting, Modi invites PM Bennett to visit India

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) speaks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach / GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) speaks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach / GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Modi invites his Israeli counterpart to visit India and continue to grow the close ties between the two nations.

“Our goal is to continue the wonderful path that you placed with my predecessor, and bring it to a whole new level, so we can ensure that our two nations work together on innovation, technology, space, security, agriculture, food technologies, and of course climate-related technologies,” Bennett tells Modi. “I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your people greetings for the Diwali holiday, and I want to thank you again for the friendship.”

Bennett meets Bahrain crown prince on sidelines of Glasgow climate conference

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with Bahrain Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa at the Glasgow COP26 conference on November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) meets with Bahrain Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa at the Glasgow COP26 conference on November 2, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with the Bahraini prime minister, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

The encounter between the two leaders marks the highest-level public meeting between Israeli and Bahraini officials since the two nations normalized ties last year. The Prime Minister’s Office does not release details of the conversation between the two men.

Bennett, who is attending the conference with a significant Israeli delegation, met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier today and is set to meet with multiple foreign leaders this afternoon, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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