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As coalition talks hit impasse, Smotrich slams Likud, vows to ‘stand by demands’

Religious Zionism chief says he will continue to work to ‘ensure the establishment’ of right-wing government, criticizes those who seek to ‘turn us into enemies, incite against us’

Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Religious Zionism party head MK Bezalel Smotrich as party chiefs pose for a group photograph during the swearing-in ceremony of the 25th Knesset, November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)
Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Religious Zionism party head MK Bezalel Smotrich as party chiefs pose for a group photograph during the swearing-in ceremony of the 25th Knesset, November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

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

New York state to step up protection against hate crimes after antisemitic threat

New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks about investments in microchip manufacturing in upstate New York at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York, October 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)
New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks about investments in microchip manufacturing in upstate New York at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York, October 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

NEW YORK — New York Governor Kathy Hochul says police will increase surveillance and protection for hate crimes targets following threats against the Jewish community and a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado.

“I have directed the New York State Police to ramp up monitoring and increase support for communities that are potential targets of hate crimes,” Hochul says. “Here in New York, we will not tolerate violence or bigotry toward any community. We stand united against hate — today and every day.”

The state police’s counter-terror unit is conducting outreach to synagogues and other Jewish community groups in the state, as well as to LGBTQ groups.

Authorities are also monitoring social media for more threats, Hochul says.

Law enforcement on Saturday arrested two men in New York City and seized weapons including an illegal pistol after one of the suspects threatened Jews.

Jews are targeted in hate crimes in New York City far more than any other group, in both absolute and per capita terms.

Kanye returns to Twitter after account restricted following antisemitic tweets

Kanye West attends the Kenzo fall-winter 22/23 men's collection, in Paris, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP/Lewis Joly)
Kanye West attends the Kenzo fall-winter 22/23 men's collection, in Paris, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP/Lewis Joly)

Kanye West, the rapper also known as Ye, appears to return to Twitter amid a series of restrictions or suspensions after he posted a number of antisemitic tweets.

“Testing Testing Seeing if my Twitter is unblocked,” he writes to his 32 million followers, two weeks after his most recent posts. West has repeatedly doubled down on his comments and refused to apologize for threatening to go “death con 3 against Jewish people.”

Eccentric billionaire Elon Musk, who bought the social media platform last month, welcomed former president Donald Trump back to Twitter earlier today after he was banned close to two years ago.

US ‘must not tolerate hate,’ says Biden following Colorado LGBTQ nightclub shooting

US President Joe Biden takes questions from reporters, after he delivered remarks in the State Dining Room, at the White House on November 9, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum / Getty Images via AFP)
US President Joe Biden takes questions from reporters, after he delivered remarks in the State Dining Room, at the White House on November 9, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum / Getty Images via AFP)

Americans “cannot and must not tolerate hate,” President Joe Biden says, hours after at least five people were killed and 18 injured in a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado.

Biden, stating that the motive in the attack is not yet clear, nevertheless slams violence against the LGBTQ community, in particular transgender women of color, in recent years.

“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people,” he says in a statement from the White House.

BBC skips airing opening ceremony of World Cup, focuses instead on Qatar corruption

Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani waves to the crowd beside FIFA President Giovanni Infantino, left, prior the World Cup group A soccer match between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, November 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani waves to the crowd beside FIFA President Giovanni Infantino, left, prior the World Cup group A soccer match between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, November 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

The UK national broadcaster BBC does not air the flashy opening ceremony of the Qatar World Cup, broadcasting instead a story about the corruption and poor human rights record of the host nation.

The ceremony could be viewed on the BBC website, but the TV network instead airs an investigation into the corruption behind Qatar’s bid process, the exploitation of migrant workers who built the stadiums, and the lack of gay rights, women’s rights and freedom of speech in the conservative Muslim nation.

World Cup hosts Qatar lose 2-0 to Ecuador in opening match of tournament

Ecuador players celebrate after they won the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A football match against Qatar at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on November 20, 2022. (MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)
Ecuador players celebrate after they won the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A football match against Qatar at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on November 20, 2022. (MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)

Host nation Qatar becomes the first World Cup host in history to lose its opening game of the tournament, crashing to a 2-0 defeat to Ecuador as the football showpiece kicks off.

Two first-half goals from veteran striker Enner Valencia sealed a deserved Group A victory for Ecuador as Qatar’s first-ever World Cup finals match ends in disappointment.

Qatari fans began filing out of the Al Bayt Stadium long before the final whistle after a dominant display from the Ecuadorans.

After antisemitism controversy, Kyrie Irving rejoins Nets, offers ‘deep regrets’

Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving speaks before the team's NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 19, 2022, in New York.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving speaks before the team's NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 19, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Kyrie Irving returns to the Brooklyn Nets and apologizes to anyone who felt threatened or hurt when he posted a link to a documentary with antisemitic material.

Irving was suspended by the team on Nov. 3, hours after he refused to say he had no antisemitic beliefs when meeting with reporters at the Nets’ practice facility.

Back at the building for the team’s morning shootaround, Irving says he should have handled that interview differently.

“I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism or anything that is going against the human race,” Irving says. “I feel like we all should have an opportunity to speak for ourselves when things are assumed about us and I feel it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take accountability for my actions, because there was a way I should have handled all this and as I look back and reflect when I had the opportunity to offer my deep regrets to anyone that felt threatened or felt hurt by what I posted, that wasn’t my intent at all.”

Irving missed eight games during the suspension, which the Nets said would be for a minimum of five games.

“I meant no harm to any person, to any group of people and yeah, this is a big moment for me because I’m able to learn throughout this process that the power of my voice is very strong, the influence that I have within my community is very strong, and I want to be responsible for that,” Irving says. “In order to do that, you have to admit when you’re wrong and in instances where you hurt people and it impacts them.”

As coalition talks hit a snag, Smotrich says his party will ‘stand by our demands’

Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Religious Zionism party head MK Bezalel Smotrich as party chiefs pose for a group photograph during the swearing-in ceremony of the 25th Knesset, November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)
Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Religious Zionism party head MK Bezalel Smotrich as party chiefs pose for a group photograph during the swearing-in ceremony of the 25th Knesset, November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich says his party will stand by its demands as coalition negotiations with prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu appear to have hit a snag.

“It cannot be that every time we don’t stand to attention to the Likud demands there are those who will turn us into enemies, incite against us and demean us,” Smotrich tweets, sharing a post from a Likud supporter comparing the MK to Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar.

Smotrich has been demanding he be given the post of defense minister — which Netanyahu opposes — or finance minister — which Shas chief Aryeh Deri refuses to back down from — leading to a reported deadlock in talks.

Smotrich says his party is “a full partner of the national camp and of the Likud. We will stand by our demands in order to ensure the establishment of a stable, good government as soon as possible, that will do good and lead real right-wing policies.”

Deadly Gaza blaze was caused by party trick gone wrong, claims official

Palestinians carry the bodies of people who died when fire broke out in an apartment, in the Jabalia camp in the northern Gaza strip, on November 18, 2022. (Said Khatib/AFP)
Palestinians carry the bodies of people who died when fire broke out in an apartment, in the Jabalia camp in the northern Gaza strip, on November 18, 2022. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Investigators say last week’s massive apartment fire in the Gaza Strip was ignited accidentally by a man using gasoline in a party trick, but do not explain how they reached that conclusion.

The blaze killed 22 members of the same family and there were no survivors who could have described the events.

The fire erupted Thursday in the third-floor apartment of the Abu Raya family home in the crowded Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza. Officials initially said 21 people were killed.

Gaza attorney general Mohammed al-Nahal says the death toll reached 22, without elaborating.

He tells reporters that Nader Abu Raya invited his parents, siblings and their children to celebrate the return of his older brother from a trip abroad. With all the guests together at the family home, Nader began preparing in the living room what was suggested to be a party trick involving gasoline, al-Nahal says.

“The cause of the blaze was Nader using gasoline in a celebratory show with fire during the party,” the Hamas-appointed attorney general says in a statement. “He lost control and the flame reached the gasoline container nearby and the fire erupted.”

US Reform chief: Ben Gvir as police minister ‘is like David Duke as attorney general’

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, stands in his office in New York in May 2022. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, stands in his office in New York in May 2022. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, says that handing Otzma Yehudit MK Itamar Ben Gvir the job of public security minister is like naming an infamous KKK leader — a notorious white supremacist group — as attorney general.

“Appointing Ben Gvir as public security minister is like appointing David Duke, one of the heads of the KKK, as attorney general,” Jacobs tells Ynet.

“Most American Jews find it unimaginable that someone like Itamar Ben Gvir or Bezalel Smotrich would be the face and voice of modern Israel,” he adds. “Honestly, it’s a scary thought.”

3 said wounded in Syrian rocket strike on Turkish border gate

Illustrative: A man holding a Turkish flag stands at the Oncupinar border crossing with Syria, Jan. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Illustrative: A man holding a Turkish flag stands at the Oncupinar border crossing with Syria, Jan. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

A rocket fired from Syria left three people wounded on the Turkish border, the official Anadolu news agency reports.

One Turkish soldier and two special forces police officers were injured after the rocket fell on the Oncupinar border gate area near the Syrian border, says the agency.

Brandeis U student killed, dozens injured after bus carrying hockey team crashes

A college student died and more than two dozen other passengers and the driver were injured when a bus returning from a hockey game struck a tree in suburban Boston, authorities say.

The preliminary investigation suggests the bus was returning to Brandeis University from a hockey game at Northeastern University in Boston at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday when it crashed in Waltham not far from campus, according to a statement from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Waltham police Chief Kevin O’Connell.

One student died at the scene. The remaining 26 passengers and the bus driver “sustained injuries of varying degrees” and were taken to area hospitals, the statement says.

Brandeis says 17 of the injured have been released from the hospital and the remainder have been admitted.

“Given the number of injured people and the different hospitals to which they were transported, it is taking time to determine the status of everyone involved, including which passengers are Brandeis students,” the statement says.

Six Israelis arrested during Hebron clashes reportedly already released

Israeli security forces deploy riot dispersal means amid altercations between Israelis and Palestinians, on their way to visit the tomb of Othniel in the West Bank city of Hebron, on November 19, 2022. (HAZEM BADER / AFP)
Israeli security forces deploy riot dispersal means amid altercations between Israelis and Palestinians, on their way to visit the tomb of Othniel in the West Bank city of Hebron, on November 19, 2022. (HAZEM BADER / AFP)

Six Israeli suspects arrested amid yesterday’s violence in Hebron have been released, Channel 12 news reports.

The violent clashes, which left a soldier and two Palestinians hurt, came as thousands of Jewish Israelis spent the weekend in the city for an annual pilgrimage.

Giora Eiland, a retired general and former national security adviser, compares the attacks on Palestinians and troops to Kristallnacht.

“Dozens initiated attacks on Palestinian shops, causing damage, and rioted without any provocation, also hurting Palestinians,” Eiland tells Channel 12. “These are terrible scenes that can return us to November 10, 1938, to Kristallnacht, except that of course that we were on the other side,” he adds.

Eiland notes that Prime Minister Yair Lapid and IDF chief Aviv Kohavi slammed the attack on soldiers, but failed to condemn the unprovoked attacks on Palestinians

Thousands of Chabad emissaries gather for annual group photo in Brooklyn

Thousands of Chabad rabbis pose outside Chabad World Headquarters in Brooklyn on November 20, 2022. (Shmulie Grossbaum / Chabad.org)
Thousands of Chabad rabbis pose outside Chabad World Headquarters in Brooklyn on November 20, 2022. (Shmulie Grossbaum / Chabad.org)

Thousands of Chabad rabbis stationed in more than 100 different countries meet for their annual conference in Brooklyn, New York.

The gathering is taking place for the first time since the COVID pandemic started, and is being attended by approximately 6,500 people, including Chabad emissaries and other guests.

Opening ceremony for 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A football match between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on November 20, 2022. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP)
Dancers perform during the opening ceremony ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A football match between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on November 20, 2022. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP)

The opening ceremony for the much-anticipated and controversial World Cup is just beginning in Qatar.

The ceremony at the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium will be followed by the first match of the tournament between the host country and Ecuador.

In Israel, the World Cup games are being aired on the Kan 11 public broadcaster.

Shots fired at Tel Aviv storefront; no injuries reported

Illustrative: Police in Tel Aviv, on May 1, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Illustrative: Police in Tel Aviv, on May 1, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Shots were fired at a storefront on Etzel Street in Tel Aviv, but no injuries were reported, according to the Israel Police.

Police say that the door of the business sustained damage, and that police officers are on the scene investigating the incident.

Amid protests at home, Iran boxing chief says he won’t go back after Spain tournament

Iranian students protest against the Islamic regime at Amir Kabir University in Tehran, October 29, 2022. (Twitter screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Iranian students protest against the Islamic regime at Amir Kabir University in Tehran, October 29, 2022. (Twitter screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The head of Iran’s boxing federation says he will not return home from a tournament in Spain, amid a nationwide wave of protests triggered by Mahsa Amini’s death.

“I have decided not to return to Iran so that I can be the voice of those whose voices aren’t heard by the authorities,” Hossein Soori says in a video shared on social media. He notes “in particular the residents of Sistan-Baluchistan,” a province on Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan, where he said “dozens of innocent people have been killed.”

“I could no longer serve my dear country, in a system that so easily sheds the blood of human beings,” says Soori, who has been head of the boxing federation since 2017.

Roads closed after sinkhole discovered on busy Tel Aviv thoroughfare

Police secure the area around a sinkhole on Ibn Gabirol Street in Tel Aviv on November 20, 2022. (Israel Police)
Police secure the area around a sinkhole on Ibn Gabirol Street in Tel Aviv on November 20, 2022. (Israel Police)

A sinkhole was discovered at a busy intersection in Tel Aviv, leading to road closures and expected traffic.

Police were alerted to the sinkhole on the corner of Ibn Gabirol and Zeitlin streets in the city, right next to Rabin Square. Police say that engineers are at the site and that two lanes have been closed off. They call on drivers to seek out alternate routes.

Several sinkholes have been discovered in Israel in recent months, including one that shut a major highway exit ramp for two weeks.

At least 31 killed in Turkish strikes in north Syria, claims war monitor

Illustrative: Turkish military convoy drives through the village of Urum al-Jawz, in Idlib province, Syria, Oct. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed, File)
Illustrative: Turkish military convoy drives through the village of Urum al-Jawz, in Idlib province, Syria, Oct. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed, File)

Turkish airstrikes overnight killed at least 31 people in northern Syria, primarily in positions held by Syrian Kurdish forces, a Britain-based war monitoring group says.

Nearly 25 strikes hit Raqa, Hassakeh and Aleppo provinces, killing 18 members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, 12 members of Syria’s military and one journalist, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group with sometimes questionable veracity.

At Bahrain confab, Israeli official says outgoing government improved Palestinians’ lives

National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata speaks at Bahrain’s annual Manama Dialogue conference on November 20, 2022. (Screenshot)
National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata speaks at Bahrain’s annual Manama Dialogue conference on November 20, 2022. (Screenshot)

The outgoing government has “done a lot to improve the wellbeing” of Palestinians, National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata tells delegates at Bahrain’s annual Manama Dialogue conference.

“More workers into Israel, both from the West Bank and from Gaza,” Hulata continues, in response to multiple questions pressing him on Jerusalem’s policies toward the Palestinians. “We’ve addressed freedom of travel, checkpoints, border crossing and this is despite the fact that there were no conditions for a political process or progress.”

One of the Emirati delegates, think tank chief Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, expresses concern over the impact that Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition partners – what she calls the “Jewish Salafists” – will have on the Abraham Accords.

White House Coordinator for the Middle And North Africa Brett McGurk tells the conference that the US is focused on deterring “imminent threats” in the region.

“The United States is now actively building and enabling an integrated air and maritime defense architecture in this region,” says McGurk. “Something long talked about is now being done, through innovative partnerships and new technologies,” he adds without elaborating.

Answering a question about Israel’s policy on the Russia-Ukraine war, Hulata says that Israel is “collaborating with the Ukrainians on many issues and [I] will leave it at that.”

The three-day Manama security conference convenes each year to discuss the pressing security challenges of the Middle East, with hundreds of participating senior government officials and academics from dozens of countries.

Countering Moscow’s claim, Ukraine says Russia shelled Zaporizhzhia power plant

A Russian serviceman guards in an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. (AP Photo, File)
A Russian serviceman guards in an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. (AP Photo, File)

Ukrainian nuclear energy agency Energoatom says Russia shelled the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, shortly after Moscow accused Kyiv of hitting the site of the power station.

“This morning on November 20, 2022, as a result of numerous Russian shelling, at least 12 hits were recorded on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” Energoatom says, accusing Russians of “once again… putting the whole world at risk.”

Likud’s Gallant slated to head Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Education Minister Yoav Gallant speaks at the Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem, prior to Israel's 73 Independence Day, on April 11, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Education Minister Yoav Gallant speaks at the Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem, prior to Israel's 73 Independence Day, on April 11, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee — temporary until committee appointments are finalized — will convene tomorrow to vote to approve Likud MK Yoav Gallant as its new head.

Gallant, a former head of the IDF’s Southern Command, was recommended by the Arrangements Committee, which is responsible for forming the 25th Knesset’s parliamentary panels.

The Likud MK is also considered a top contender for the position of defense minister, in which case the committee would find a new chief.

 

Russia accuses Ukraine of shelling Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is seen from around 20 kilometers away in an area in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is seen from around 20 kilometers away in an area in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The Russian army accuses Kyiv of shelling the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that it controls in southern Ukraine.

Kyiv “does not stop its provocations aiming at creating the threat of a man-made catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” it says in a statement. Despite shelling on November 19 and 20, radiation levels “remain normal,” it adds.

IDF chief Kohavi arrives in DC for meetings with US officials

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a conference in Ganei Tikva, August 18, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a conference in Ganei Tikva, August 18, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Israeli military chief Aviv Kohavi lands in the United States ahead of a five-day trip during which he will meet with American officials regarding the Iranian threat.

This is Kohavi’s final official trip as chief of staff, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Kohavi’s tenure is set to end on January 17.

Kohavi is slated to meet with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, CIA Director William Burns, US military chief Mark Milley, and US Central Command chief Michael Erik Kurilla, among other senior defense officials.

He will also meet with Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog, according to the IDF.

“During the visit, they will discuss issues related to the security challenges in the region, primarily the Iranian threat, and issues related to strengthening cooperation between the armies,” the IDF says in a statement.

Kohavi is joined by his wife, Yael Kohavi, as well as Hidai Zilberman, defense attaché to Washington; Effie Defrin, the military’s international cooperation commander; a senior unnamed intelligence officer, and an officer from the IDF spokesperson’s unit.

After joint run, Religious Zionism party splits into three factions

MK Itamar Ben Gvir and MK Bezalel Smotrich of Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit register their party for the upcoming elections at the Knesset, September 14, 2022. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir and MK Bezalel Smotrich of Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit register their party for the upcoming elections at the Knesset, September 14, 2022. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

The Knesset’s far-right faction splits into three individual parties, dividing the electoral alliance into its constituent parts.

While the unified party held 14 seats, now Religious Zionism holds 7, Otzma Yehudit 6, and the tiny Noam faction one seat, after the Knesset’s Arrangements Committee approved requests from Otzma Yehudit and Noam to split off from the larger party.

Party chief Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir vowed to negotiate their entry into the future government as a unit, but so far have been conducting separate coalition talks with prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

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