The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s developments as they unfolded.
The bodies of seven Moroccan-Jewish victims of the COVID-19 pandemic were flown to Israel last week, after being interred in a Casablanca Jewish cemetery more than a year ago.
The transfer was arranged by ZAKA, an Israeli volunteer rescue and recovery organization which focuses on ensuring Jewish burial rites for victims of terror and natural disasters, as well as the Casablanca Chevra Kadisha, a local Jewish burial society.
Among the dead was Rabbi Sholom Eidelman, one of the first emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe who lived in Morocco for more than 60 years. A second funeral held 18 months after his death drew many of his students in Israel, including former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who was born and spent much of his childhood in Casablanca.
Eidelman and the others whose bodies were brought to Israel all died during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic when the virus ripped through the Moroccan Jewish community.
During the first month of the pandemic, Jews represented more than 10 percent of Morocco’s known COVID-19 deaths, despite making up less than 1% of the country. The virus was believed to have first spread through the community after a Purim party and Jewish wedding in March 2020.
In the community of approximately 2,000 Jews, the string of deaths was devastating and cast a pall on the normally festive holiday of Mimouna, which is celebrated by Moroccan Jews at the end of Passover.
At the time, Morocco had no official diplomatic relations with Israel, making coordination between the two countries over the burial of Moroccan Jews in Israel an impossibility.
Many Israelis vacationing in the North African country even found themselves stranded when Morocco closed its borders and Israeli planes were forbidden from entering to bring them home.
During the coronavirus cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett raises the possibility of requiring all students to take a rapid COVID test before returning to school after the Hanukkah holiday, according to Hebrew media reports.
But the head of public health services at the Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, says it may not be worth “the resources.”
“We didn’t discover many cases this way,” she says, after students were required to take the test before the start of the school year and after the fall holidays.
The US Justice Department will compensate the families of the victims on the 2018 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida who accused the FBI of ignoring reports on the threat from the shooter, attorneys say.
US media says the department has agreed to pay close to $130 million to settle the claims from 40 victims in the “historic” settlement over the deadliest high school shooting in US history.
Seventeen students and faculty were killed and another 17 injured when 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 assault rifle on February 14, 2018.
Expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, Cruz was known to be fixated by firearms — and had reportedly been identified as a potential threat to his classmates.
Cruz bought the weapon legally, despite having been in local records as having a history of mental health problems.
Victims’ families sued the FBI and the Justice Department, saying the FBI had specific tips that Cruz had exhibited increasingly violent conduct, collected guns and ammunition, and declared a desire to kill people and specifically to carry out a school shooting, according to a statement from Kristina Infante, lead counsel for the relatives.
One of those tips, the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier admitted, was of a message Cruz posted on YouTube, vowing: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
If the FBI had transmitted that information to its Miami field office, it would have been investigated, the plaintiffs argued.
“Although the financial details of the agreement are presently confidential, it is an historic settlement and the culmination of the Parkland families’ long and arduous efforts toward truth and accountability,” the statement says.
The shooting stunned the country and sparked new efforts, led by students from the school itself, for tougher gun controls — although the polarized US Congress has yet to enact meaningful gun reform.
In October, Cruz, now 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder.
He is awaiting sentencing and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty
Apple sues spyware maker NSO on Tuesday for targeting the users of its devices, saying the Israeli firm at the center of the Pegasus surveillance scandal needs to be held to account.
“To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices,” Apple says in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
Police have officially launched a criminal investigation into a lawmaker who was caught illegally voting twice in the Knesset in July, Channel 12 reports.
Investigators are reviewing the security camera footage and questioning other MKs regarding Yamina MK Abir Kara’s actions, the report says.
Kara has maintained the double vote was a mistake. Kara, the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said at the time that he accidentally voted from the computer of fellow Yamina MK Idit Silman.
“I voted from the wrong computer of my friend who sits next to me, out of instinct, and it was a mistake,” Kara tweeted. “The important thing is that I admitted immediately to the error. And by the way, the coalition had a majority on the bill anyway.”
Coronavirus czar Salman Zarka warns ministers the rise in COVID morbidity is, in part, attributable to the lax enforcement of the “Green Pass” system.
He says the lack of enforcement “sends the message that we are out of the wave [of infection] and that’s a mistake.”
He also backs a booster dose for teenagers, who are not currently eligible for a third shot.
During the coronavirus cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tells ministers not to release any statements on the vaccination of children that could undermine the national campaign, which began today, Hebrew media reports say.
Experts speaking at the meeting also caution that it’s possible that the protection of the boosters is also waning, but say there currently isn’t enough data to back up this claim.
A study by a team of Hebrew University of Jerusalem experts warns that the new uptick in COVID cases is being driven by the unvaccinated, primarily children and teenagers.
It urges the government to approve a booster shot for teenagers and encourage the vaccination of children, a policy which was officially rolled out today.
The report is being presented to the government coronavirus cabinet.
The high-level coronavirus cabinet convenes as the number of COVID cases rises.
According to the Health Ministry, 711 people were diagnosed with the virus on Monday.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) says it may decide “within weeks” whether to approve Merck’s anti-Covid pill, Lagevrio, which could offer patients an easy at-home treatment for the disease.
“EMA will assess the benefits and risks of Lagevrio under a reduced timeline and could issue an opinion within weeks if the data submitted are sufficiently robust and complete,” the body says in a statement.
On Friday, the EMA had issued advice allowing individual EU countries to decide for themselves on using Lagevrio — also known as molnupiravir — in emergency situations, “in light of rising rates of infection and deaths” from COVID-19.
It is also weighing a similar authorization for a pill from Pfizer.
The two drugs from the US pharma giants represent a potentially groundbreaking step in the fight against coronavirus, as studies show they cut the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk patients.
The watchdog says it is able to move so quickly as it “has already reviewed a substantial portion of the data on the medicine during a rolling review,“ including from laboratory and animal studies, production data and “data on efficacy and safety.”
EMA’s human medicines committee also “assessed data from completed and ongoing clinical studies.”
Israel and Morocco will sign a number of defense deals in the coming days as part of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to Rabat, he says.
“We will strengthen our ties,” the defense minister says before getting on his El Al flight to Morocco.
Gantz notes his visit will be “a touch historic” as he will be the first Israeli defense minister to make a state visit to the country.
In Rabat, Gantz will hold a number of high-level meetings with the Moroccan defense minister, foreign minister, the chief of its armed forces and others. The defense minister is scheduled to sign a number of defense-related agreements.
The Iran judo federation’s appeal against a four-year ban from international events for refusing to let its athletes face opponents from Israel is heard on Tuesday.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) says the Iranian appeal against an International Judo Federation (IJF) ruling was held by video. A verdict is expected to take at least several weeks.
The IJF acted against Iran after former world champion Saeid Mollaei left the team, claiming he was ordered to lose matches at the 2019 world championships to avoid facing Israelis.
Mollaei fled to Germany, citing fears for his safety in Iran, and later got International Olympic Committee approval to compete for Mongolia. He won a silver medal in the 81-kilogram class at the Tokyo Olympics in July.
The IJF at first imposed an indefinite ban on the Iranian federation until its policy of discrimination was changed. That was overruled at the CAS, and the case was sent back to the governing body which settled on a four-year suspension in April.
The provisional ban, which could still be withdrawn if Iranian officials allow their athletes to compete freely, is set to run into September 2023.
A local politician in Italy apologizes for referring to a well-known Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre by her concentration camp tattoo number in a Facebook comment criticizing her support for COVID-19 public health measures.
Fabio Meroni, a member of the city council of Lissone, a suburb of Milan, who represents the far-right Northern League, wrote in a comment on an article about Segre’s public support for the government’s campaign for encouraging people to get vaccinated: “all that was missing [in the vaccine debate] was… 75190.”
He received a torrent of condemnations, and he apologizes in a new post.
“I want to apologize to Senator Liliana Segre, it was not my intention in any way to offend you and if one day I will have the honor of being able to speak to you, I will personally explain my thoughts,” he writes.
The Nazis tattooed the number on Segre’s arm when she 13 at the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland. Segre, an outspoken critic of the far right and an activist for preserving the memory of Holocaust victims, was in 2018 made senator for life — a distinction reserved for five notable presidential appointees among the Italian Senate’s 321 lawmakers.
Meroni’s supporters said he did not mean to insult Segre, but to point out that the persecution of Jews has parallels with some measures of the government’s policies to contain COVID-19, the Il Cittadino newspaper reported.
Meroni also wrote that he used Segre’s number because Facebook would have censored his remark if he named her.
A jury begins its third day of deliberations in the trial of white nationalists accused in a lawsuit of promoting and then carrying out racially motivated violence during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
The jury deliberated for more than 15 hours on Friday and Monday. At one point Monday, jurors indicated they may be having trouble reaching a unanimous verdict on several allegations brought in the lawsuit by nine people physically hurt or emotionally traumatized by the violence. Jurors are being asked to decide if white nationalists are responsible for the violence and if the defendants are liable for damages.
The jury sent a note to Judge Norman Moon around midday Monday asking: “If we cannot come to a unanimous decision on the first three claims, do we still decide on Claims 4, 5 and 6?”
Moon told lawyers for the plaintiffs and the defendants that he would tell the jury to continue to try to come to a unanimous verdict. He said he thought it was too early to employ the Allen charge, a formal instruction given to deadlocked jurors to encourage them to continue deliberating until reaching a verdict.
Hundreds of white nationalists descended on Charlottesville on August 11-12, 2017, ostensibly to protest the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
During a march on the University of Virginia grounds, white nationalists surrounded counterprotesters, shouted, “Jews will not replace us!” and threw burning tiki torches at them. The next day, an avowed admirer of Adolf Hitler intentionally drove his car into a crowd, killing one woman and injuring 19.
James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, is serving life in prison for murder and hate crimes for the car attack. He is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
During the trial for the lawsuit, the defendants attempted to distance themselves from Fields. Several testified that they resorted to violence only after they or their associates were attacked.
The lawsuit is being funded by Integrity First for America, a nonprofit civil rights organization.
A taxi driver from East Jerusalem has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old female passenger, according to Hebrew media reports.
The driver is remanded in custody until Thursday.
Yemen’s seven-year-old war will have claimed 377,000 lives by the end of the year, through both direct and indirect impacts, a UN agency estimates in a report.
Nearly 60 percent of deaths will have been caused by indirect impacts such as lack of safe water, hunger and disease, it says, suggesting that fighting will have directly killed over 150,000 people.
Most of those killed by the war’s indirect effects were “young children who are especially vulnerable to under- and malnutrition,” says the UN Development Programme report.
“In 2021, a Yemeni child under the age of five dies every nine minutes because of the conflict,” it finds.
US President Joe Biden orders 50 million barrels of oil released from America’s strategic reserve to help bring down energy costs, in coordination with other major energy consuming nations, including China, India and the United Kingdom.
The move is aimed at global energy markets, but also at US voters who are coping with higher inflation and rising prices ahead of Thanksgiving and winter holiday travel. Gasoline prices are at about $3.40 a gallon, more than 50% higher than a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.
Administration officials said that reports of a possible release and consultations with other countries ahead of the announcement had caused oil prices to drop nearly 10% in anticipation of the news. The government will begin to move barrels into the market in mid to late December.
But the actions are unlikely to immediately bring down gas prices significantly as families begin traveling for the holidays. Administration officials noted that gasoline usually responds at a lag to changes in oil prices, and they suggested this is one of several steps in ultimately bringing down costs.
There was no discernable impact on the price for a benchmark barrel of US crude right after the announcement. Prices have been up and down all month, and were up less than 1% so far in this holiday shortened week.
Pope Francis sends his condolences to the victims of the Christmas parade crash in Milwaukee that killed five people and says he is praying for “spiritual strength which triumphs over violence and overcomes evil with good.”
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sends the telegram of condolences on behalf of Francis to the archbishop of Milwaukee, Monsignor Jerome Listecki.
Francis asks that those affected by the “tragic incident” know he is spiritually close to them, and calls on “the Lord to bestow upon everyone the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence and overcomes evil with good.”
Police say Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, was behind the wheel of the SUV that sped through the parade route in Waukesha on Sunday, killing five and injuring 48 others. Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Brooks was leaving the scene of a domestic dispute that had taken place just minutes earlier.
One of the pending legal cases against Brooks at the time was that he had deliberately hit a woman with his car in early November after a fight.
Lebanon’s severe economic crisis has left some children hungry and without good medical care, and forced others to drop out of school to help their families, the United Nations says.
The UN children’s agency report comes as the Lebanese pound trades at 23,500 to the dollar — close to lows briefly reached in the summer — further eroding the purchasing power of families in the small nation. Nearly three-quarters of Lebanon’s 6 million residents, including a million Syrian refugees, now live in poverty, according to the UN.
“Unless we act now, every child’s future in Lebanon is at stake,” saysUNICEF’s representative in Lebanon, Yukie Mokuo.
Lebanon’s two-year economic meltdown is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement and has been described by the World Bank as among the worst the world has witnessed since the 1850s. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs since October 2019 while the pound has lost more than 90% of its value.
The situation has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic and a massive explosion at Beirut’s port in August last year that killed 216 people, including six children, and injured more than 6,000, including about 1,000 children.
“Lebanon is very sadly in free fall and it’s quickly hitting rock bottom,” Mokuo says at a news conference. “This is a crisis of children that threatens to leave almost every child in the country very vulnerable and very much in need.”
New figures released by UNICEF show a dramatic deterioration in living conditions over six months, with more than half of families having at least one child who skipped a meal in September. That compares to about 37% in April.
The agency adds that more than 30% of surveyed families reported cuts in education expenses, compared with 26% in April.
Almost 34% of children who required primary health care did not receive it, up from 28% in April, UNICEF says.
The report is based on child-focused assessments conducted by UNICEF in April and again in October among the same families.
A left-wing activist causes an outcry in the Knesset after suggesting he should be given permission to carry firearms in the West Bank to fend off violent settlers.
“Give us the permission to use weapons, we’ll do the job for the Palestinians,” says Haim Shadmi.
He is interrupted by Meretz’s Issawi Frej, a minister, who tells him “that’s inappropriate, you got carried away.”
President Isaac Herzog meets British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London.
According to his office, Herzog presses Johnson to be tough on Iran to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Herzog says Israel is “looking forward for our allies in the P5+1 to be as tough as possible because we do not believe that they are operating in a bona fide manner, and only if all options are on the table may things move in the right direction.”
The president also thanks Johnson for outlawing Hamas’ political wing, in addition to its military branch.
In response, Johnson says: “I want to echo quite strongly those points and first of all on Hamas, I think it is the right decision, it was a difficult and controversial decision but I think the right thing, and by the way a decision that I think was almost immediately vindicated by the appalling incident that we saw in Israel. Terrible, terrible thing.” He is referring to a deadly shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday by a Hamas member.
“And your point about Iran is also well-made, and we see a situation in which the world doesn’t have much time,” adds Johnson.
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman predicts Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon within five years, even if a new nuclear agreement with world powers is reached.
“The most conservative estimate is that with an agreement, Iran will have nuclear [capability] within five years,” says Liberman. “Looking at the amount of enriched uranium it currently has… it’s enough for one nuclear bomb at least.”
He suggests Israel will be forced to act alone to thwart Iran from reaching this threshold.
“We must make a decision alone. The most conservative estimate is that it will take five years, at most, until Iran has nuclear capability,” he repeats.
Liberman makes the comments at a counter-terrorism conference in Herzliya.
The Turkish currency weakens by nearly 10% against the US dollar, a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted there would be no turning back from his unconventional policy of cutting interest rates despite high inflation.
The lira plunged to a record low of 12.51 against the dollar — down 9.9% from Monday’s close. The currency was trading at 14.08 against the euro. The lira has lost some 40% of its value since the start of the year.
Erdogan, who had declared himself an “enemy” of high borrowing costs, portrayed his economic policies as “an economic war of independence” during a late-night televised address to the nation. He made clear that his government would not step back from its policy of lowering borrowing rates to boost growth.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it fears COVID deaths in Europe would rise from the current 1.5 million to 2.2 million by March 2022 if the current trend continues.
It says it expected “high or extreme stress in intensive care units (ICUs) in 49 out of 53 countries between now and March 1, 2022,” adding that “cumulative reported deaths are projected to reach over 2.2 million by spring next year.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett takes his 9-year-old son to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as Israel rolls out the immunization campaign for children aged 5-11.
A bus carrying people home to North Macedonia from a tourist trip to Istanbul crashed and caught fire in western Bulgaria, killing at least 45 people, authorities say.
Seven people are taken to hospitals for treatment. The accident happened around 2 a.m.
North Macedonia’s chief prosecutor, Lubomir Jovevski, who visited the scene of the accident, says that 12 children were confirmed among the dead.
The cause of the crash was not immediately confirmed, but it appeared that the bus hit a highway guard rail, crashed and caught fire.
The bus was one of four traveling together. Officials say an investigation will be launched.
Albert Einstein’s handwritten notes for the theory of relativity are being auctioned in Paris, expected to fetch millions of euros.
“This is without a doubt the most valuable Einstein manuscript ever to come to auction,” says Christie’s, which is hosting the sale on behalf of the Aguttes auction house.
The manuscript contains preparatory work for the physicist’s signature achievement, the theory of general relativity, which he published in 1915.
Christie’s expects it to reach between two and three million euros ($2.3 million to 3.4 million).
The 54-page document was handwritten in 1913 and 1914 in Zurich, Switzerland, by Einstein and his colleague and confidant, Swiss engineer Michele Besso.
Christie’s said it was thanks to Besso that the manuscript was preserved for posterity.
This was “almost like a miracle” since the German-born genius himself would have been unlikely to hold on to what he considered to be a simple working document, Christie’s says.
Today, the paper offers “a fascinating plunge into the mind of the 20th century’s greatest scientist,” it says.
It discusses his theory of general relativity, building on his theory of special relativity from 1905 that was encapsulated in the famous equation E=mc2.
Einstein died in 1955 aged 76, lauded as one of the greatest theoretical physicists of all time.
His theories of relativity revolutionized his field by introducing new ways of looking at the movement of objects in space and time.
In 1913, Besso and Einstein “attacked one of the problems that had been troubling the scientific community for decades: the anomaly of the planet Mercury’s orbit,” Christie’s says.
This initial manuscript contains “a certain number of unnoticed errors,” it adds.
Once Einstein spotted them, he let the paper drop, and it was taken away by Besso.
“Scientific documents by Einstein in this period, and before 1919 generally, are extremely rare,” Christie’s adds.
“Being one of only two working manuscripts documenting the genesis of the theory of general relativity that we know about, it is an extraordinary witness to Einstein’s work.”
Einstein also made major contributions to quantum mechanics theory and won the Nobel physics prize in 1921.
He also became a pop culture icon thanks to his dry witticisms, and trademark unruly hair, moustache and bushy eyebrows.
A sinkhole opens on a road near the Tel Aviv promenade, causing no injury.
Police close off the entire Herbert Samuel Street to deal with the sinkhole.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) November 23, 2021
Justice Minister Gideon Sa;ar delays the convening of a panel that will select the next High Court of Justice judges, after the members of the committee fail to reach agreements on the candidates, according to Hebrew media reports.
A new date for the meeting has yet to be announced.
During his official visit to London, President Isaac Herzog meets with leaders of Britain’s Jews, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Union of Jewish Students, and UJIA.
“Michal and I have put the issue of the relations between the State of Israel and world Jewry as a top item on our priority list, and we intend to invest a lot of time and effort to make sure that all Jews, wherever they are, whatever their denomination, whatever they believe in or don’t believe in, feel at home in the State of Israel,” Herzog says, according to a statement from his office, referring to his wife.
“We want to tell the British Jewish community that you are going to be a central pillar in this activity because you are an exemplary community.”
Nir Hefetz, a former aide and confidant to then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, testifies for the second day as a state’s witness in the trial against his ex-boss.
Hefetz was testifying in Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is alleged to have worked to illicitly and lucratively benefit the business interests of Bezeq’s controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for positive coverage on Walla, a news site owned by Elovitch. Netanyahu is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the case. He denies any wrongdoing.
In his testimony, Hefetz indicates Sara Netanyahu, the former prime minister’s wife, made threats relating to the government regulation of Bezeq after being angered by news articles featured on Walla.
At one point, says Hefetz, Sara Netanyahu told then-Communications Ministry director general Shlomo Filber to “turn off the regulation tap” for Bezeq and threatened to sever ties with the Elovitches.
“It’s important that I emphasize that this was Sara and not Benjamin Netanyahu. I was never asked by Benjamin Netanyahu to send a message to Mr. Elovitch or anyone in his circle regarding regulation,” continues Hefetz.
Hefetz turned state witness after being arrested and questioned over a two-week period, and has provided prosecutors with key information as an interlocutor between Netanyahu and Bezeq’s Elovitch.
Hefetz made thousands of recordings of conversations during his years working with the Netanyahus.
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