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Israel begins vaccinating children aged 5-11

Though immunization campaign doesn’t officially kick off until Tuesday, health providers are already rolling out the COVID shots for kids

Israeli boy Itamar, 5, receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Meuhedet Healthcare Services Organization in Tel Aviv, on November 22, 2021, as Israel begins its coronavirus vaccination campaign for 5 to 11-year-olds. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Israeli boy Itamar, 5, receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Meuhedet Healthcare Services Organization in Tel Aviv, on November 22, 2021, as Israel begins its coronavirus vaccination campaign for 5 to 11-year-olds. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The Times of Israel of Israel liveblogged Monday’s developments as they unfolded.

Chinese hypersonic test included pathbreaking 2nd missile launch: reports

China’s test of a globe-circling hypersonic weapon in July included the unprecedented launch of a separate missile from the ultra-high-speed vehicle, according to the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.

The test showed China’s development of its strategic, nuclear-capable weapons as more advanced than any had thought, surprising Pentagon officials, the two newspapers say.

Neither the United States nor Russia has demonstrated the same ability, which requires launching a missile from a parent vehicle traveling five times the speed of sound.

The Financial Times, which first reported the test over the weekend, says US military experts are trying to understand how China mastered the technology, which puts them in advance of rivals in the hypersonic arms race.

The Wall Street Journal confirms the report Monday.

The July 27 Chinese hypersonic test alone had already stunned Western officials.

Lapid says Hamas operations in Turkey must be shut down

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid urges countries around the world to follow Britain’s lead and outlaw the Hamas terror group in its entirety, including its political wing.

“The countries of the world must act like Britain and outlaw Hamas,” he says.

The statement comes after Israel’s security forces revealed that it busted a major Hamas cell, arresting 50 of its operatives. According to the Shin Bet security service, the Hamas cell was led from afar by Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of the terror group’s politburo, and Zacharia Najib, a member of the organization who was released from Israeli prison in the 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange and exiled to Turkey, where he allegedly continues to operate on behalf of Hamas.

“Hamas’ offices in Istanbul will be shut down. We must prevent these heinous acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens everywhere and under any conditions,” says Lapid.

Michael Cohen ends prison term after Trump-related crimes

Michael Cohen, who was former president Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer until his 2018 arrest, says that his three-year prison sentence — mostly spent in home confinement — is over, as he takes another swipe at his former boss, and vows to continue cooperating with law enforcement probes.

A smiling Cohen emerged from Manhattan federal court after signing documents and speaking with authorities about his upcoming three-year term of supervised release.

“I feel great today. It’s been long overdue,” Cohen says to a collection of camera crews alerted to his presence by a tweet he had sent Sunday.

Cohen was sentenced to prison in December 2018, after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges and lying to Congress, among other crimes. In all, he spent about 13 1/2 months behind prison walls and a year and a half in home confinement. His time was further reduced through good behavior.

The campaign finance charges came after he helped arrange payouts during the 2016 presidential race to keep the porn actor Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal from making public claims of extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.

Cohen implicated Trump at the time, in the campaign finance charges, as he did again on Monday, when he said that his release from home confinement “in no way negates the actions I took at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.”

He says he was “cognizant of my responsibilities” and “will not cease my commitment to law enforcement.”

“I will continue to provide information, testimony, documents, and my full cooperation on all ongoing investigations to ensure that others are held responsible for their dirty deeds and that no one is ever believed to be above the law,” Cohen says.

Police arrest East Jerusalem alleged firebomber

Police arrest a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem, who is suspected of throwing a firebomb at an Israeli officer last night, injuring him.

The 18-year-old suspect is arrested and his remand is later extended until Wednesday.

Mayor of Haredi city suspected of being present at 1990 murder

The mayor of an unnamed ultra-Orthodox city is suspected of being present during the murder of 41-year-old Avi Edri decades ago, in a homicide case that is said to be linked to the extremist Shuvu Bonim sect, according to Hebrew media reports.

The mayor, who is not identified, is thought to have played a role in the murder.

Edri was found beaten to death in Ramot Forest in the north of Jerusalem in 1990.

His death is believed to be linked to the cult run by jailed sex offender and fraudster Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who has been remanded in custody on suspicion he ordered the murder of a teenager in the 1980s.

Lebanon receives Beirut blast satellite images from Russia

Lebanon’s foreign minister says that Russia has delivered satellite images of the Port of Beirut on the day of last year’s devastating blast, which he says could help figure out what happened.

Abdallah Bouhabib is visiting Moscow. He speaks after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We thanked and highly appreciate receiving satellite images for the blast at Beirut Port on Aug. 4, 2020 and we will hand them over to the Lebanese judiciary, hoping that can help in revealing the truth of this tragedy that has hit Lebanon,” Bouhabib says during a press conference.

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos says it will provide the satellite images after a request from Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Lavrov says he hopes the images help in the investigation.

He says that the images show the port of Beirut before the blast and also the scene after the blast.

“Roscosmos experts said it should help specialists figure out what happened based on the character of destruction,” Lavrov says.

“Let’s hope that the Lebanese experts, probably with the help of foreign colleagues, will sort out this issue that has become a serious political irritant for Lebanon,” he says. “We would like to help resolve it as quickly as possible.”

Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate — a highly explosive material used in fertilizers — had been improperly stored in the Beirut port for years. On August 4, 2020, the fertilizer ignited, causing a massive blast that killed over 216 people and injured more than 6,000, while destroying parts of the city.

It was described as one of the worst non-nuclear explosions in the world. But more than a year later, it is still unknown what triggered the initial fire that caused the explosion, who was responsible for storing the material in the port, and why it stayed there for so long.

Biden to keep Powell as Fed chief as inflation surges

US President Joe Biden taps Jerome Powell to serve a second term as chair of the US Federal Reserve, allowing him to keep leading the response to the economic damage caused by Covid-19 while dealing with a wave of record inflation.

The nomination, expected to win confirmation by the Senate, ends weeks of speculation over whether Biden, a Democrat, would reappoint the Republican chair, or heed calls from the left wing of his party to replace him with a candidate like Fed Governor Lael Brainard.

Instead, Brainard will serve as vice chair of the world’s most influential central bank, Biden says, while Powell will remain in the driver’s seat, presiding over the rollback of its pandemic stimulus and the likely beginning of rate hikes next year.

“We can’t just return to where we were before the pandemic, we need to build our economy back better,” Biden says in a statement.

“I’m confident that Chair Powell and Dr Brainard’s focus on keeping inflation low, prices stable and delivering full employment will make our economy stronger than ever before.”

Powell has led the central bank’s response to the massive pandemic downturn, which saw it slash its lending rate to zero and roll out trillions of dollars in liquidity.

The bank has pulled back those measures as the economy has recovered, but inflation has also spiked, fueling a drop in Biden’s approval ratings.

However, Powell also led a change in policy at the Fed to keep interest rates lower for longer than normal to spur full employment, particularly for minorities and groups that are often disadvantaged.

The Fed chair and other central bank leaders argue the inflation wave will prove temporary and have said they do not foresee rate hikes at least until the middle of next year.

Pfizer says COVID shot 100% effective in adolescents after 4 months

Pfizer and BioNTech say their Covid-19 vaccine remained 100 percent effective in children 12 to 15 years old, four months after the second dose.

The companies says that the new data, which involved 2,228 trial participants, will help support their applications for full approval in the United States and worldwide.

No serious safety concerns were observed in individuals with at least six months of follow-up after the second dose.

“As the global health community works to increase the number of vaccinated people around the world, these additional data provide further confidence in our vaccine’s safety and effectiveness profile in adolescents,” says Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in a statement.

“This is especially important as we see rates of COVID-19 climbing in this age group in some regions, while vaccine uptake has slowed. We look forward to sharing these data with the FDA and other regulators.”

The vaccine was granted “emergency use authorization” for adolescents by the US in May and the companies plan to soon seek full approval. The vaccine is currently only fully approved in people aged 16 and older.

Among the 2,228 participants, there were 30 confirmed symptomatic Covid cases without evidence of prior infection, all in the placebo group.

This corresponds to a vaccine efficacy of 100 percent. Efficacy was consistently high across gender, race, obesity levels and comorbidity status.

The main safety concern among this age group is vaccine-linked myocarditis (heart inflammation) in males.

But such cases are very rare, and the benefits of vaccination continue to strongly outweigh the risks, data has shown. Covid itself can cause myocarditis, both more often and a more severe form.

Israel begins vaccinating kids aged 5-11

Israel begins vaccinating children aged 5-11.

Though the official launch of the vaccine campaign for kids is Tuesday, health providers have already rolled out the shots for children.

Security source confirms arrest of wife of Old City terrorist

A security source confirms that the wife of the Old City terrorist has been detained for questioning upon her return from Jordan.

Media reports have not identified the woman.

 

Wife of Old City terrorist said arrested upon return from Jordan

The wife of the Old City terrorist has been arrested by Israeli security forces at the Allenby Crossing upon her return to the West Bank from Jordan, the family’s lawyer, Medhet Dabih, told Palestinian media.

She is being questioned by the Shin Bet security service, the reports say. The woman is claiming she was in Jordan to visit her mother, who is sick with cancer, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

Her husband, Hamas gunman Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, shot and killed Israeli Eli Kay, 26, and injured four others in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday.

The Shin Bet declines to comment.

PA’s Abbas to meet Putin in Russia on Tuesday

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow in Sochi, Russia, the Kremlin says.

“The two leaders will discuss issues pertaining to the further development of bilateral cooperation and the situation in the Middle East, taking into account Russia’s efforts toward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” Putin’s office says in a statement.

In remarks to Russian state media, Abbas says that the visit aims to “update [Putin] on the latest developments.”

Senior Russian officials have hosted a number of Palestinian delegations over the past month. One of the officials who made their way to Moscow was Abbas rival Mohammad Dahlan, who met with Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Bogdonav in early November.

Unemployment dips in October to 7%

The unemployment rate in Israel dropped to 7 percent in October, from 7.9% a month earlier, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

There are currently 301,000 Israelis out of work, the CBS says.

Before the pandemic, an estimated 150,000 Israelis, or 3.5%, were unemployed.

PM meets with Israeli couple freed from Turkish prison

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with Mordy and Natali Oknin, the Israeli couple who were freed from a Turkish prison last week, his office says.

The couple was arrested in Istanbul earlier this month after they photographed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s palace in Istanbul while on tour and sent the photo to their family. Media reports have said thousands of tourists — including Israelis — regularly take photos of the palace.

They were freed Thursday following intensive diplomatic efforts and returned to Israel.

Investigators probing if Wisconsin parade crash driver was fleeing crime

A joyous scene of marching bands and children dancing in Santa hats and waving pompoms turned deadly in an instant, as an SUV sped through barricades and into a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, killing at least five people and injuring more than 40 others.

Investigators are examining whether the SUV’s driver may have been fleeing from a crime when he crashed into the paradegoers, a law enforcement official briefed on the matter tells The Associated Press. The investigators were questioning the person in custody about that incident, which the official described as an altercation involving a knife.

The official, who cautions the investigation is still in the early stages and is continuing to develop, cannot discuss the investigation publicly and speaks to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Netanyahu accuses government of being soft on Hamas, Iran

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the government of being soft on Hamas, following a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem yesterday by a member of the terror group.

“Hamas must pay a heavy price for the heinous attack in the heart of Jerusalem,” says Netanyahu at the weekly Likud faction meeting. “But we don’t see a stronghanded [approach] against terrorism, just as we don’t see it in the fight against Iran.”

He also calls for the coalition Ra’am party to more forcefully condemn the terror attack, which killed 26-year-old Eli Kay and injured several others. Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas had condemned “violence on all sides” in response to the attack.

 

Israel, Jordan ink UAE-brokered deal on solar, water swap

Israel signs a declaration of intent with neighboring Jordan on building a major solar power plant in the kingdom that will be used to generate electricity for Israel, as well as power a desalination plant in Israel that will send water to Jordan.

The deal is signed in the United Arab Emirates by the two countries’ energy ministers.

Police charge settler over violent attack of Palestinians, activists

Israel Police announce that a 19-year-old Jewish Israeli from central Israel has been charged for attacking Palestinian olive harvesters near the settlement of Bat Ayin in the West Bank.

The attack, which took place in mid-November, saw dozens of Israelis attack Palestinians and left-wing Israeli activists with clubs and stones, according to witnesses. Several were injured, including an Israeli woman who was hospitalized after being struck on the head with clubs.

According to police, the teenager assaulted at least two people on the scene, including the Israeli woman. The identity of the second victim was not immediately clear.

“While masked and holding a wood branch, the defendant split from the main group, approached the victim and hit her on the legs and head with the branch. The defendant proceeded to another person and also hit him in the face,” a spokesperson for Israel Police’s West Bank division says.

While a police spokesperson said at the time that at least 20 Israelis were involved in the assault, only a few arrests were made and one indictment was issued. Rights groups say Israeli authorities seldom crack down on Jewish nationalist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank; arrests are rare, and the vast majority of cases are closed without charges.

Bahrain says it arrested Iran-linked terrorists, seized weapons

Bahrain’s interior ministry announces it had arrested a gang of armed “terrorists” it said were linked to groups in Iran.

“Terrorists (were) arrested for plotting terrorist operations against security and civil peace,” the interior ministry says on Twitter.

“Weapons and explosives from Iran were seized” from group members who “are linked with terrorist groups in Iran,” the brief statement says.

Sunni-ruled Bahrain accuses Shiite Iran of provoking unrest in the Gulf kingdom, an allegation Tehran denies.

The ministry gives no further details, including on how many people were arrested or their nationalities.

Bahrain has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Opposition movements have been outlawed and hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned — with many stripped of their nationality.

Human rights groups have frequently said cases against activists in Bahrain — men and women, religious and secular — fail to meet the basic standards of fair trials.

Bahrain’s authorities have repeatedly rejected the accusations.

Iran publishes photos of closed hearing into 2020 plane shootdown

Iranian state media publishes photographs of the trial investigating the shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger jet in 2020 by the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, trying to tamp down criticism of the largely closed-door proceeding.

The Mizan news agency, an arm of the country’s judiciary, shows pictures of the inside of the military courtroom, with at least one man and a woman holding up pictures identified as victims of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight No. PS752. Missile strikes killed all 176 people on board the January 3, 2020 flight.

But online, people reacted angrily to an image of a judge sitting in front of a large sign that euphemistically read: “The court reviewing the incident of flight PS752 Ukraine.” They call on the court to clearly state that the plane had been shot down by the Guard.

The state-run IRNA news agency says the trial that began Sunday will see 10 suspects tried. Iranian media have not identified those charged and some photos published by Mizan had individuals’ faces blurred out.

Mourners gather at the Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre in Toronto, Ontario on January 12, 2020 to mourn Sahar Haghjoo and her 9 year old daughter Elsa Jadidi who were among the victims of Ukrainian Airlines flight 752 which was shot down over Iran this past week. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)

An association of the victims’ families also criticized the hearing, saying in a Facebook post that they “don’t recognize the court.” They also alleged that none of the defendants were present at Sunday’s hearing.

Following three days of denial in January 2020 in the face of mounting evidence, Iran finally acknowledged that the Guard mistakenly downed the Ukrainian jetliner with two surface-to-air missiles. In preliminary reports on the disaster last year, Iranian authorities blamed an air defense operator who they said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile.

The shootdown happened the same day Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on US troops in Iraq in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. While Guard officials publicly apologized for the incident, the hesitancy of Iran to elaborate on what happened in the incident shows the power the force wields.

Israel busts major Hamas cell in West Bank, arrests 50 members

Israeli security forces arrested dozens of members of a Hamas cell that was in advanced stages of planning major terror attacks on Israeli targets in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the Shin Bet security service says.

The Israeli effort to uncover the cell has been ongoing for several months, first coming to light with a round of initial arrest raids in September, including one in which two Israeli soldiers were seriously injured and several Palestinian suspects were killed in gunfights.

According to the Shin Bet, over 50 Hamas operatives were arrested across the West Bank for suspected involvement in the cell and large quantities of weaponry was seized, including the materials needed to make four explosive belts for a suicide attack.

“You thwarted a large infrastructure, some of which you know was ready to go with explosive belts or more, also grenades and other explosives,” IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi tells the military commanders whose units took part in the raids.

According to the Shin Bet, the Hamas cell was led by Saleh al-Arouri, a senior leader in the terror group in the West Bank, and — from afar — by Zacharia Najib, a member of the organization who was released from Israeli prison in the 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange and exiled to Turkey, where he allegedly continues to operate on behalf of Hamas today.

The Shin Bet says al-Arouri invested hundreds of thousands of shekels into the cell’s activities and offered a prize of $1 million if the cell successfully carried out a kidnapping.

“This was a major preventative effort that thwarted dangerous terrorist infrastructure, which was planning serious attacks. The goal of the terrorist activities, which were undertaken by Hamas operatives abroad and in Gaza with operatives in the territory of the West Bank, was to destabilize the region, while exacting a heavy price from local residents,” a senior Shin Bet officer says, referring to the toll on Palestinians in the West Bank.

Herzog discusses climate, regional threats with Prince Charles

President Isaac Herzog meets Prince Charles during his visit to the UK, his office says, with talks centered on climate change, regional threats, and Holocaust education.

“He [Herzog] noted that Israel has committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and has much to contribute to global efforts through its advancement of innovative green technologies,” a statement from the presidency says.

“President Herzog stressed the great importance that Israel attaches to relations with the United Kingdom and stressed his personal affinity to Britain through his family background, as the son of a Belfast-born British Army major who participated in the Normandy landings and liberation of Bergen-Belsen, and as the descendent of rabbis who served all across Britain.

“The President thanked HRH The Prince of Wales for his important work to promote Holocaust education and his participation in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, in January 2020. The President and The Prince of Wales also discussed regional issues and threats.”

Herzog also announces a scholarship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated to Prince Charles’ grandmother, Princess Alice, who is buried in Jerusalem. She has been recognized by Yad Vashem for saving Jews during the Holocaust.

“The Hebrew University scholarship for students at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Henrietta Szold School of Nursing pays tribute to Princess Alice’s compassion, deep spirituality, and immense perseverance to help those in need,” the statement says.

 

Police say they found alleged murderer of real estate businessman

The Israel Police says it solved the murder of a prominent real estate businessman who was shot dead outside a synagogue last month in the central city of Rehovot.

A declaration for a coming indictment will be filed later in the day against a 64-year-old resident of the city of Rishon Lezion relating to the killing of Eldad Peri, police say in a statement.

The suspect has been identified in Hebrew media as Daniel Keidar. He had reportedly invested in one of Eldad Peri’s projects that went bust.

Peri was shot dead on October 15 as he got out of his car near a synagogue he frequented.

Commission of inquiry submits interim report on Meron disaster

The state commission of inquiry into the Mount Meron disaster submits its interim report to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the deadly crush in April that killed 45 people.

Bennett, in a statement, says the government will study the report closely to ensure such an incident never happens again. The tragedy, Israel’s worst peacetime disaster, “cannot be repeated,” says Bennett.

“Negligence, failed management, unprofessional appointments cost lives,” he says.

“We will study the report and work to hold the event [the Lag B’Omer festival Meron] safely this year,” adds the prime minister.

The report is also submitted to the Religious Affairs Ministry and Public Security Ministry.

The panel lays out a list of recommendations for the holy site, including appointing a minister to oversee preparations for Lag B’Omer at Meron; capping the crowd at 20,000; improving the infrastructure at the site; expanding the site to reduce crowding; and redistributing the crowds to different areas.

Brother of terror victim: He will be at peace

Eli Kay’s brother, Kasriel Kay, says he won’t eulogize his brother, per his Chabad Hasidic tradition. Instead, he urges the crowd of mourners to change their lives for the better in his memory.

“There’s no reason to be sad for him… He will be at peace,” his brother Kasriel says at the funeral.

“Eli would have [chosen] no other way [to die], either this or in the middle of the war,” he says.

“My great-grandfather Eliyahu is waiting for him [in heaven], King David is waiting for him, and they’ll take care of him,” he says, invoking his brother’s namesakes.

“Eli would have wanted every single person to give… to the best of their ability, in whatever way works for them” whatever they can for Israel, he says.

 

At funeral of Eli Kay, minister vows government will fight terrorism

Speaking at Eli Kay’s funeral, Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai vows the government will do everything to bring his killers to justice and relentlessly fight terrorism.

“Eli’s story is the story of Israel at its best,” says Shai of the South African immigrant and former paratrooper, calling him “the best of the best.”

“Israel thanks you today,” says Shai, adding that “Israel promises to fight terror every day, every hour.”

“We promise to grow… to flourish, so that this place will always be a home for the people of Israel.”

Funeral for Eli Kay begins with thousands in attendance

The funeral for Eli Kay begins, as the crowd of mourners swells to thousands.

A friend from his military service eulogizes him as a “lover of mankind.”

The funeral is attended by Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, Culture Minister Chili Tropper, and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau.

Iran says it hopes IAEA chief’s visit will be ‘constructive’

Iran says it hopes a visit by the chief of the UN’s atomic watchdog will be “constructive,” just days ahead of the resumption of talks seeking to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is to arrive in Tehran later Monday.

He is expected to meet Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Atomic Energy Organization chief Mohammad Eslami, who is also one of Iran’s vice presidents.

“We hope that Rafael Grossi’s visit will be as constructive as the previous ones,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tells reporters.

“We have always advised the IAEA to stay on the path of technical cooperation, and to not let certain countries pursue their political orientations on behalf of the IAEA,” he adds.

On Friday, the IAEA said Tehran had again increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, many times in excess of the limit laid down in the 2015 agreement.

Grossi’s visit comes as Iran readies for talks with world powers in Vienna on November 29 on saving Tehran’s 2015 deal with major powers, that promised it sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

“We will leave for Vienna with a full team and a serious will to lift the sanctions,” Khatibzadeh says. “The other parties should also try to come to Vienna to reach a practical and comprehensive agreement.”

Grossi was last in Tehran on September 12, where he clinched a deal on access to monitoring equipment at Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Hundreds of mourners gather for funeral of Eli Kay

Hundreds of mourners are gathering for the Jerusalem funeral of Eli Kay, 26, who was killed in Sunday’s shooting attack in the Old City.

Netanyahu excused from rest of ex-aide’s testimony, leaves courtroom

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks for permission to be excused from the remainder of the testimony of Nir Hefetz, his former aide-turned-state’s witness, in his criminal trial.

The judges grant the request, and Netanyahu leaves the courtroom after his fourth appearance during his trial, in which he faces charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Democracy backsliding across the world amid pandemic, report says

Democracy is deteriorating across the world, with countries notably taking undemocratic and unnecessary actions to contain the coronavirus pandemic, an intergovernmental body says in its new report Monday.

“Many democratic governments are backsliding,” the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, or International IDEA, says.

The 34-nation organization adds that as of August 2021, 64% of countries have taken an action to curb the pandemic that it considers “disproportionate, unnecessary or illegal.”

The Swedish-based body adds that the situation is also getting worse in countries that are not democratic. Autocratic regimes have become “even more brazen in their repression,” free speech has been restricted and the rule of law has been weakened, it says.

In its flagship report on the state of democracy, International IDEA says the number of backsliding democracies has doubled in the past decade, and mentioned in particular the United States, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.

“This is the time for democracies to be bold, to innovate and revitalize themselves,” International IDEA Secretary-General Kevin Casas-Zamora says in a statement.

The report says that “the two years since our last report have not been good for democracy,” and the achievement reached when democracy became the predominant form of governance “now hangs in the balance like never before.”

“Overall, the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction in 2020 outnumbered those going in a democratic direction,” the report says, adding that in the past two years, the world has lost at least four democracies, “either through flawed elections or military coups.”

Jerusalem terror victim set to be buried

The fatality in Sunday’s deadly shooting terror attack, 26-year-old Eli Kay, will be laid to rest at Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul cemetery at 1:30 p.m.

Kay, an immigrant from South Africa who was employed at the Western Wall as a tour guide, was shot dead by a Hamas gunman in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Rabbi wounded in Jerusalem shooting discharged from hospital

A rabbi wounded in a deadly shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday has been discharged from the hospital.

Rabbi Zeev Katzenelnbogen, a 46-year-old father of eight, was moderately wounded in the attack that killed Eli Kay and injured three others.

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