The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
Pop superstar Bruno Mars brings his special brand of “Uptown Funk” to the air of Tel Aviv tonight for his first of two sold-out shows in Israel.
Taking the stage at a fashionably on-time 9:05pm, Mars kicks things off with his hit single “24K Magic” as golden fireworks soar over the park.
“Tel Aviv!!!!” Mars shouts as he greets the more than 50,000 fans. “Bruno has made it to Israel. We’ve heard stories about this place,” he adds, saying that he knows Israelis know how to “sweat and how to dance.”
“We’ve been waiting a long time to play for you,” he says before beginning a rendition of “Finesse.”
The Tel Aviv District Court rejects Rosh Yehudi’s appeal against Tel Aviv’s decision to revoke its permits to public Sukkot events in the city, after an arbitration hearing between the Orthodox group and municipality failed to yield a compromise.
Rosh Yehudi vows to file an appeal tomorrow with the Supreme Court.
“Just like the municipality, public order is also important to us and this is not a reason for cancelling hakafot,” the organization says in a statement, referring to a celebration held immediately following Simchat Torah to show solidarity with Diaspora Jews.
WASHINGTON — The United States has given Ukraine small arms ammunition that was seized while being transferred from Iranian forces to Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, the military says.
The move could presage the provision of more seized military gear to Ukraine at a time when Washington’s ability to continue arming Kyiv has been called into question due to opposition from hardline Republican lawmakers.
“The US government transferred approximately 1.1 million 7.62mm rounds to the Ukrainian armed forces” on Monday, the military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) says in a statement.
The ammunition was seized by US naval forces in December 2022 while it was “being transferred from the IRGC to the Houthis in Yemen,” CENTCOM said, referring to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Yemeni rebel forces they support.
“The government obtained ownership of these munitions on July 20, 2023, through the Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture claims” against the IRGC, it adds.
The Pentagon said yesterday that the United States can continue meeting Ukraine’s military needs for a “little bit longer” with assistance that has already been authorized, but that congressional action is required for aid to continue in the longer term.
The Biden administration joins the chorus of condemnations of Orthodox Jews, including children, who were filmed this week spitting toward Christian worshippers in the Old City of Jerusalem.
“We unequivocally condemn such despicable acts,” reads a statement attributed to a State Department spokesperson.
“Moreover, we would reiterate that the United States remains dedicated to the work of advancing equal measures of security, prosperity and freedom for all people – regardless of one’s faith,” the statement reads, expressing appreciation for the condemnations issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials.
Police launch an investigation into the death of a woman who was shot in the northern town of Arara, the latest homicide in Israel’s Arab community.
A statement from the force says the woman was found critically wounded in a car near Route 65.
Medical officials attempt to resuscitate the woman, but later declare her dead.
According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence advocacy group, the woman is the 195th violently killed in Israel since the start of the year, an all-time high. Eighty-two were killed during the same period in 2022.
Twenty Democratic senators pen a letter to US President Joe Biden in which they express their general support for his administration’s efforts to broker a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, while stressing their concern over Saudi security and nuclear demands and urging the White House to use the deal to advance a two-state solution.
“Historically, security guarantees through defense treaties have only been provided to the closest of US allies: democracies that share our interests and our values,” the senators write. “A high degree of proof would be required to show that a binding defense treaty with Saudi Arabia – an authoritarian regime that regularly undermines US interests in the region, has a deeply concerning human rights record, and has pursued an aggressive and reckless foreign policy agenda – aligns with US interests, especially if such a commitment requires the US to deploy substantial new permanent resources to the region.”
Commenting on the Saudi demand for US support for a civilian nuclear program, the senators say it should not be built on Saudi soil, warning such a move could lead to a regional nuclear arms race.
The senators also say a potential deal must include “meaningful, clearly defined and enforceable provisions to achieve your stated objective of preserving the option of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” such as a settlement freeze, razing of illegal outposts and the growth of Palestinian cities.
The senators who signed the letter were Chris Murphy, Chris Van Hollen, Dick Durbin, Peter Welch, Brian Schatz, Tom Carper, Tammy Duckworth, Patty Murray, Tammy Baldwin, Bernie Sanders, John Fetterman, Elizabeth Warren, Jon Ossoff, Jeanne Shaheen, Martin Heinrich, Tim Kaine, Jeff Merkley, Raphael Warnock, Ed Markey and Ben Ray Lujan.
A lawmaker in the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party claims that he and his constituents “have no rights” in Israel.
“We are in a country in which we have no rights at all. All we have is paying taxes, property taxes and debts for society,” MK Yisrael Eichler says at a UTJ event.
Eichler also appears to swipe at Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf, who heads UTJ.
“They are not building for the Haredi public,” Eichler charges.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia announces it plans to bid to host the 2034 World Cup, the latest step in a campaign to turn the kingdom into a global sports powerhouse.
The bid “intends to deliver a world-class tournament and will draw inspiration from Saudi Arabia’s ongoing social and economic transformation and the country’s deep-rooted passion for football,” says a statement from the Saudi Arabian soccer federation.
The US is planning to send Iranian weapons and ammunition it has seized to Ukraine to help patch up shortages of Western-supplied armaments, CNN reports.
Citing unnamed US officials, the report says an announcement of the move could come as soon as this week, but adds the Biden administration has been mulling for months how to send the weapons because of a UN requirement that seized arms must be destroyed.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s foreign minister warns that Kurdish militants behind a suicide bombing in the Turkish capital face robust retaliation against their group’s positions in Syria and Iraq.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack outside the Interior Ministry in Ankara in which one attacker blew himself up and another would-be bomber was killed in a shootout with police. Two police were wounded in the attack.
Turkish warplanes already have conducted two airstrikes against suspected Kurdish militant sites in northern Iraq following the attack, which came as parliament prepared to reopen after a long summer recess. Meanwhile, dozens of people with suspected links to the Kurdish militants have been detained in a series of raids across Turkey.
Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan says today during a news conference that Turkish intelligence officials have established that the two assailants arrived from Syria where they had been trained. He says Turkey will now target facilities in Syria and Iraq belonging to the PKK or its affiliated Kurdish militia group, People’s Defense Units, or YPG.
“From now on, all infrastructure, superstructure and energy facilities belonging to the PKK or the YPG in Iraq and Syria are legitimate targets of our security forces, armed forces and intelligence elements,” Fidan says.
“I advise third parties to stay away from the PKK and YPG and their facilities. Our armed forces’ response to this terrorist attack will be extremely clear and they will regret committing such an act,” Fidan says.
Some 50,000 lesser spotted eagles — half the world’s population — are due to fly over Israel today and tomorrow, according to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.
The organization’s bird experts say that a recent spell of cool weather created a traffic jam along the bird migration highway just north of Israel, which is now easing.
Dr. Yoav Perelman, director of the SPNI’s Ornithology Center, explains that birds of prey like the lesser spotted eagle pause their journeys during cloudy and unstable weather.
“As the skies clear, the migration resumes. Convoys of thousands of eagles are entering Israel from Lebanon and crossing our skies in a southwesterly direction,” Perelman says.
The flight paths are concentrated over the Tel Aviv metropolitan area in central Israel, Perelman adds, before the birds continue southwards over the coastal plain to the Negev Desert and onto the Sinai Desert in Egypt.
The lesser spotted eagle has a wingspan of just under two meters (6.5 feet). It feeds on small mammals that it spots in open areas. It lives in old forests in eastern and central Europe, spending the winters in the forests of Africa south of the Sahara and down to South Africa.
It is intensively and illegally hunted in the countries neighboring Israel, especially in Lebanon, with many birds entering Israel with gunshot wounds.
Thousands of Israelis and supporters of the Jewish state take part in the annual Jerusalem March to mark the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
The marchers, many of them pro-Israel Evangelical Christians, hail from numerous countries, with many decked out in their national colors and waving their nations’ flags along with Israeli flags and banners.
Speaking at the UN Universal Postal Union conference in Riyadh, Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi addresses the forum in English, saying, “When nations converge on mutual goals, the outcomes can be monumentally transformative.”
“We appreciate the tireless efforts of the leaders of Saudi Arabia and our Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for nurturing the blossoming ties between our nations,” he continues.
He also thanks the government and people of Saudi Arabia for their hospitality, saying that “our common respect for God and tradition can serve as a bedrock of harmony between our peoples.”
Finishing in Tunisian Arabic, which he calls his mother tongue, Karhi says, “May God bless you all and may God give you health, and may your lives be lives of joy and happiness. And we thank God for all the blessings showered upon us.”
The military says a non-commissioned officer will be punished after he was filmed in uniform attacking a fan of a rival soccer team.
In video of the incident, the soldier can be seen striking a supporter of Hapoel Tel Aviv outside of Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium following a game Monday against Beitar Jerusalem, which the former won 3-0. The NCO then continued to accost the Hapoel fans as a voice can be heard yelling “no punches.”
“The IDF views this with great severity and condemns violence of any type. After his identity was learned, an investigation on the matter was carried out and it was decided the non-commissioned officer will be dealt with at the command level,” says a statement from the Israel Defense Forces.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, the soldier serves in the Paratroopers 101st Battalion and previously received a condemnation from the brigade commander. He reportedly shared content on social media related to La Familia, a group of far-right fans known for violent and racist conduct.
בצה"ל מכירים את התיעוד הזה מליל אמש מטדי שבו נראה חייל במדים תוקף אוהד הפועל. ולמרות שחלפו כבר כמה שעות, זהות החייל עדיין לא ידועה, וטרם הוחלט לפתוח בחקירת מצ"ח. מדובר צה"ל נמסר: "זהות החייל לא ידועה לצה"ל. אם תיוודע, המקרה יטופל. צה"ל מגנה ומוקיע כל שימוש באלימות על ידי משרתיו" pic.twitter.com/3u4bSbw1VQ
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) October 3, 2023
The Israeli military has closed off the Route 60 highway in the West Bank town of Huwara for Palestinian motorists, following several incidents of stone-throwing toward Israelis earlier today.
In a message sent to residents of settlements in the Nablus area, local authorities say “Huwara is closed for Arab travel and open only for Jews.”
Palestinian media outlets say troops are preventing Palestinians from traveling through the town. The road was reopened a few hours later.
Earlier today, Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli motorists driving on Route 60 through Huwara, lightly injuring a 3-year-old girl in one case, according to the Rescuers Without Borders emergency service.
Huwara has long been a flashpoint in the West Bank, due to a main thoroughfare running through the town that is used regularly by Israelis to travel to and from settlements. There are plans to build a bypass road for settlers to avoid having to travel through the town, but work on this has dragged on for years.
The Yesh Din rights group slams the closure of the highway in Huwara for Palestinians, saying in a statement that “roads for Jews only, and the closure of residents’ access to the town is a complete institutionalization of apartheid by the Israeli army and government.”
The IDF says in a statement that it closed the highway to allow security forces to position themselves in Huwara “for the sake of maintaining the security of the residents and preventing friction” between Israelis and Palestinians.
It adds that after around three hours of closure, Route 60 was reopened for Palestinians.
تغطية صحفية: "جيش الاحتلال يغلق شارع حوارة جنوب نابلس بشكل كامل لتأمين اقتحام المستوطنين". pic.twitter.com/uBdF0BPZ9i
— فلسطين بوست (@PalpostN) October 4, 2023
Unidentified individuals throw red paint on the façade of a synagogue in Armenia, in an apparent payback for Israel’s weapon sales to Azerbaijan.
Following the incident yesterday outside the Mordechay Navi Jewish Religious Center in the capital Yerevan, a text circulating in pro-Armenian social media pages says the incident is retaliation for Israel’s position as well as dozens of rabbis’ recent criticism of rhetoric by Armenian officials who equated the Holocaust to Azerbaijan’s actions against Armenian troops and civilians.
“The Jews are the enemies of the Armenian nation, complicit in Turkish crimes and the regime of Aliyev, stained with the blood of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh,” reads the text, referring to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
Artsakh is the name of the breakaway pro-Armenian state in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Azerbaijan captured last month in a military campaign.
“The Jewish state provides weapons to Aliyev’s criminal regime, and Jews from America and Europe actively support him. Turkey, Aliyev’s regime, and the Jews are the sworn enemies of the Armenian state and people,” the text also reads.
It also references a letter cosigned by dozens of rabbis, many of them from Chabad, who criticized Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for equating Azerbaijani actions with those of the Nazis during the Holocaust. His remarks belittle the “terrible suffering experienced by the victims of the horrific Holocaust and the Jewish people at large,” the rabbis wrote.
“If Jewish rabbis in the United States and Europe continue to support Aliyev’s regime, we will continue to burn their synagogues in other countries. Every rabbi will be a target for us. No Israeli Jew will feel safe in these countries,” the text circulating in pro-Armenian channels reads.
The Mordechay Navi Jewish Religious Center is the only synagogue in Yerevan, where several hundred Jews live.
Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai slams acts of religious bigotry in Jerusalem, amid rising harassment of Christian pilgrims and priests in the city.
“Any incident of hate on religious grounds is a stain that spoils the special holiday atmosphere throughout Israel and Jerusalem in particular,” Shabtai says in a statement released by police.
“Jerusalem is a symbol of all religions and will remain so,” the police chief adds, while vowing to ensure “the personal security of religious people at prayer and tourists of all religions.”
The statement does not mention discrimination toward Christians, following a pair of incidents this week in which religious Jews in Jerusalem’s Old City were filmed spitting at Christian worshippers. Police arrested five people earlier today over the latest incident.
Jordan’s foreign ministry sends a letter of protest to the Israeli embassy in Amman, denouncing “continuing violations and attacks” against Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem by “extremists, settlers and Knesset members.”
The ministry says Israel is imposing restrictions on Muslim worshipers wishing to access Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and also third holiest in Islam owing to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The letter also rebukes the desecration by Jewish extremists of Islamic cemeteries, referring to an incident at a Muslim graveyard adjacent to the Temple Mount last week, and “escalating attacks” against Christians.
Sufyan al-Qudah, the Ministry’s spokesperson, urges Israel — which he calls the “occupying power” — to comply with its legal obligations.
MANCHESTER, England — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urges Western allies to continue arming Ukraine to repel Russia’s invasion, at a time when military aid from some countries appears to be in doubt.
“I say this to our allies: If we give President [Volodymyr] Zelensky the tools, the Ukrainians will finish the job,” Sunak tells the Conservative party conference in northern England.
BANGKOK — The teenage boy who allegedly shot two people dead and wounded five others inside a major shopping mall in the center of Thailand’s capital used a blank-firing handgun that had been modified to fire real bullets, police say today.
Police decline to provide more personal details about the boy, citing privacy laws and legal procedures covering children aged 15 years or younger accused of committing a crime.
But Police. Col Noppadon Tiammetha, head of Bangkok’s Pathumwan precinct station, tells The Associated Press that the suspect has five charges lodged against him: premeditated murder, attempted murder, possession of a firearm without a permit, carrying a firearm in a public place without a permit, and shooting in public without a permit.
Assistant National Police Chief Samran Nualma says at a news conference that the suspect “used a blank gun, a plastic gun, and adapted it to use real bullets.” He added that the authorities were looking into regulating such items.
Replica weapons are popular among military buffs in Thailand and can be freely purchased. Police in several nations have raised concerns about how such guns can be converted to use live ammunition, though experts differ over how difficult the process is. Licensing of real guns is restricted in Thailand and limited to people 20 years or older. The penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm is up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 20,000 baht ($538).
Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuppakitkosol, also at the news conference, speaks of the need to rebuild confidence.
“We will discuss with the National Police putting safety measures in malls and communities to prevent such incidents,” she says.
Israeli tourist Eyal Sheffer, 53, says he isn’t concerned.
“Basically we are coming from Israel. For us, it’s something that is very usual so it’s not so threatening. It was yesterday evening and today we came,” he said. “We feel safe here. We trust the local police that will handle everything, and it’s quiet here.”
MOSCOW — An exiled Russian reporter who protested against Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine live on state TV is handed over eight years jail in absentia today for spreading “fakes” about Moscow’s army.
Marina Ovsyannikova, 45, held up a protest placard during an evening news program in March 2022, but was sentenced for a separate protest she made outside the Kremlin four months later.
“The court sentenced Ovsyannikova to eight years and six months’ imprisonment, to be served in a general regime penal colony,” the Moscow prosecutor’s office says.
It also says she will be barred from running social media accounts for four years.
Ovsyannikova is not present for the sentencing as she fled the country last year after escaping house arrest with her then-11-year-old daughter.
In a statement posted yesterday before the sentencing, she called the charges against her “absurd and politically motivated.”
“They decided to flog me for not being afraid and for calling things by their names,” she said.
“Of course, I do not admit my guilt. And I do not deny any of my words. I made a very hard, but the only right moral choice in my life, and I have already paid a high enough price for it,” she said.
Her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov tells AFP it was “meaningless” to take part in the trial but that she will still appeal her sentence.
“There is zero chance of succeeding. As far as we know, there are no acquittals in Russia, especially when the case touches on politics,” he says.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s top diplomat plays down a spat with Saudi Arabia that prompted the cancellation of an Asian Champions League soccer match, insisting relations with its longtime rival are improving.
The row, over a statue of assassinated Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani in the stadium in Iran’s third city Isfahan, was the first incident to mar a surprise rapprochement between the rival Middle East powers brokered by China in March.
Saudi club Al Ittihad had refused to take to the pitch for their away game against Iran’s Sepahan FC in protest at the statue of Soleimani, who oversaw Iran’s military operations across the Middle East until his death in a targeted US drone strike in 2020.
The Asian Football Confederation later confirmed that the fixture had been canceled “due to unanticipated and unforeseen circumstances.”
“The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia and I were in direct contact with each other” after the incident on Monday, Iran’s top diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tells reporters today.
“Relations between Tehran and Riyadh are moving in the right direction and we should not allow sports to become a political lever in the hands of either side,” he says.
Amir-Abdollahian urges the AFC “to think about this incident on a technical basis” and said he had reached agreement with the Saudi side for the game to be rescheduled.
An arbitration hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court between the municipality and an Orthodox Jewish organization whose permits to hold events in the city over Sukkot was revoked ends without any compromise between the sides.
The court session comes after Tel Aviv canceled Rosh Yehuhdi’s permits to stage public events during Sukkot after the organization attempted to hold a public Yom Kippur prayer service in the heart of Tel Aviv with an improvised gender divider, sparking bitter confrontations between organizers and attendees and protesters, and unprecedented scenes of anger and accusations on the Jewish Day of Atonement earlier this week.
Today’s meeting was held behind closed doors, with the Ynet news site reporting that shouting could be heard outside the room.
Israel Zeira, the head of Rosh Yehudi, accuses the municipality of having no intention to compromise while asserting he will respect the court’s decision.
“This is an injustice that cries out to heaven,” Zeira tells reporters.
The municipality reiterates it pulled Rosh Yehudi’s permits for violating its policy against gender segregation and says the group can join other public Sukkot events in the city.
Last week, the same court rejected an appeal by Rosh Yehudi against the municipality’s decision.
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