The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
President Isaac Herzog takes part in the Hakhel religious ceremony, which takes place only once every seven years, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
The traditional biblical ceremony — named for the Hebrew word for “gathering” and marked by the king of Israel reading aloud from the Torah — was revived in the 20th century under then-chief rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, the current president’s grandfather.
“I am moved to open this important event, founded by my late grandfather Yitzhak Isaac HaLevi Herzog, which all chief rabbis of Israel have had the privilege of observing,” says Herzog. “From here I pray that the spirit of this occasion remains before our eyes at all times, as a nation and as a state. May we and the whole House of Israel — together — merit a good and blessed year, and happy holidays.”
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, and US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides also attended the ceremony.
At a press conference on the Lebanon maritime border deal, Defense Minister Benny Gantz stresses that Israel has not given up “one millimeter” when it comes to its security needs in the agreement.
“The agreement guarantees continued freedom of action in the area adjacent to the coast and wherever necessary,” says Gantz. “It establishes a new ‘security equation’ with regard to the sea and the strategic assets of the State of Israel, and has the potential to reduce Iran’s influence on Lebanon.”
Gantz emphasizes “that we have not given up one ‘millimeter’ that is critical to our security.”
The deal, he adds, is also important economically, and boosting Lebanon’s economy “will help strengthen stability in the entire region.”
The defense minister says the government approval of the deal so close to the upcoming election “is not optimal,” but is necessary because otherwise the “window of opportunity” may close.
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirms his opposition to the maritime border agreement with Lebanon, calling it a “historic surrender” that sends money to Hezbollah and enables Iranian involvement in the Qana gas field.
In a recorded address, Netanyahu says that Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz “gave Hezbollah our territorial waters, our sovereign territory, our gas, and in the end they succumbed to another Hezbollah demand to allow Iran to drill gas off the coast of Israel. They are bringing Iran close to our northern border.”
The deal, pushed by Lapid and lambasted by his political enemies, relinquishes Israeli claims to the disputed Qana gas field in exchange for recognition of its longstanding buoy-demarcated coastal maritime border with Lebanon as well as yet-to-be-determined royalties from Qana.
Qana’s extractable hydrocarbon resources have yet to be determined, but the field is potentially worth billions of dollars. Netanyahu claims this money will flow into the coffers of the Hezbollah terror group.
“Gantz and Lapid are giving a huge grant to Hezbollah,” he says. “This money goes from Lebanon straight into [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah’s hands.”
In addition to slamming the deal for its substance, Netanyahu criticizes its process, saying that Lapid’s caretaker government lacks the legitimacy to commit Israel to the deal.
“How do you even allow such an agreement to be signed by a transitional government a few days before the elections?” he says.
At a live primetime press conference on the Lebanon-Israel maritime border deal, Prime Minister Yair Lapid says that those who oppose the deal are spreading “false, poisonous” lies, which are “mostly said by people who haven’t seen the agreement and have no clue what is in it and what is not.”
Lapid says he will invite the heads of all the opposition parties for in-depth briefings on the agreement.
The premier thanks US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron for their help in reaching the “historic” agreement.
“It is a huge achievement for Israel’s economy and security,” he says. “The agreement provides an ideal response to our security needs,” Lapid adds. “It does not preserve our security, it improves our security.”
“This agreement staves off the possibility of a military clash with Hezbollah,” says Lapid. “Israel is not afraid of Hezbollah. The IDF is stronger than any terror organization, and if we went out to battle, we would deal them a heavy blow.”
“That being said,” Lapid adds, “if it is possible to prevent war, it is the job of a responsible government to do so.”
Lapid continues that the deal “preserves the security of communities in the north as well as the freedom of action of the IDF and the Israeli Navy’s control of the area closest to the shoreline, on what is known as the Buoy Line. “
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also blasts opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu for opposing the deal for political reasons.
EU countries agree to sanctions on Iran following its brutal crackdown on protests over Mahsa Amini’s death and foreign ministers are to adopt them next Monday, diplomats say.
Earlier today, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said “now is the time to sanction those responsible” in Iran “for the repression of women… This shocking violence cannot stay unanswered,” she said.
Four EU diplomats tell AFP that a political agreement was reached today on the sanctions and that the foreign ministers’ meeting to be held in Luxembourg next Monday was to officialize them.
There were no details on the impending sanctions, but the United States, Britain and Canada have already separately targeted security branches of the Iranian regime.
Police say Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a Border Police position at the Qalandia crossing near Jerusalem, without causing any injuries.
The troops stationed in the area returned fire and are searching for the suspects who fired from the nearby town.
There are no immediate reports of Palestinian injuries in the exchange of fire.
Gunfire is heard in footage published by Palestinian media outlets.
⭕️ شاهد | فيديو اخر من الاشتباك المسلح قرب حاجز قلنديا بالقدس pic.twitter.com/FBm7n4ZpBF
— مصدر الإخبارية (@msdrnews1) October 12, 2022
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has released its annually mandated national security strategy, with winning the competition over rival China and constraining Russia at the top of the agenda, while the Middle East is expectedly relegated toward the bottom.
Releasing the strategy delayed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House says the 2020s will be a “decisive decade for America and the world,” both for reducing conflict and confronting the key shared threat of climate change.
“We will prioritize maintaining an enduring competitive edge over the PRC while constraining a still profoundly dangerous Russia,” the strategy says, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
Israel is not mentioned by name in the strategy, which is broader in scope. It does state, however, that “a more integrated Middle East that empowers our allies and partners will advance regional peace and prosperity, while reducing the resource demands the region makes on the United States over the long term.”
This principle was stressed yesterday by Biden officials who touted the US-brokered maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon as part of the administration’s effort to create a more integrated region. The officials also highlighted the recent US-brokered Red Sea island transfer from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, which led Riyadh to allow Israeli flights to use its airspace as another example of the strategy producing results.
The US authorizes updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5, seeking to expand protection ahead of an expected winter wave.
Tweaked boosters rolled out for Americans 12 and older last month, doses modified to target today’s most common and contagious Omicron relative. While there wasn’t a big rush, federal health officials are urging that people seek the extra protection ahead of holiday gatherings.
Now the Food and Drug Administration has given a green light for elementary school-age kids to get the updated booster doses, too — one made by Pfizer for 5- to 11-year-olds, and a version from rival Moderna for those as young as 6.
There’s one more step before parents can bring their kids in for the new shot: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends how vaccines are used, must sign off.
A review of the maritime border agreement with Lebanon has been officially started at the Knesset, kicking off a two-week clock for MKs to discuss the deal.
Although lawmakers can evaluate and debate the deal, they will not vote on it. Instead, the agreement will return to the cabinet for final approval in two weeks.
The Israel Defense Forces comments on reports of a Palestinian killed in the West Bank earlier, saying the man was hurling stones at Israeli cars.
According to the IDF, several masked men hurled rocks at cars driving on the Route 60 highway near the al-Aroub refugee camp.
“The IDF responded by shooting at them,” the military says, adding that a “hit was identified.”
The development of the Qana gas field — and the proceeds Israel will receive from the TotalEnergies corporation — will occur in four stages, explains Energy Ministry Director-General Lior Schillat in a briefing.
The exploratory stage will last 2-4 years, during which initial geological surveys and test drillings will be carried out. In order for that stage to begin, Israel and Total must have completed a fundamental agreement about compensation for Israel.
The next step is the estimate stage, in which over 1-2 years further exploratory drilling takes place, and a final investment decision is made. The two sides will agree on the amount of natural gas in the field, how much Israel is to receive for the gas in its waters south of Line 23, and will sign a detailed agreement.
Israel will receive the first payment from Total before any drilling begins. Once the payment is made, the development phase begins, and continues for 4-7 years. Drilling in order to extract the gas is carried out, and pipes are laid down.
The final phase, which takes place over the next 25-50 years, is the extraction, during which Israel continues to receive payments according to an agreed upon timetable.
Though Beirut received almost all of the waters under dispute, it did not receive what it was really after in the maritime border deal, says National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata in a briefing with Israeli reporters.
“Lebanon did not receive 100% of what it wanted,” Hulata explains, “but Lebanon did get something.”
“What Lebanon really wanted, and they demanded it until the last minute, was 100% of Qana gas field. They tried to create a balance in which we get Karish and they get Qana,” Hulata says.
Instead, the text of the deal allows Israel to receive monetary compensation for a certain percentage of revenue from the Qana field.
The two sides knew that the real struggle was over the rights to gas in Qana, not the territorial waters, says Hulata.
Hulata adds that the Lebanese also failed to achieve what they wanted in terms of the border close to the shore, which was important to them because it could impact future negotiations over the land border.
A 17-year-old Israeli is lightly hurt after Palestinians allegedly hurled stones at him in Jerusalem’s Old City, medics say.
According to the Magen David Adom ambulance service, the teen was escorted from the Bab Hutta neighborhood to the Lion’s Gate area by police officers after being attacked.
He is taken to the Shaare Zedek hospital in the capital with injuries to his face, MDA says.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says an 18-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli gunfire amid clashes in the al-Aroub refugee camp in the West Bank.
Palestinian media identifies the young man as Osama Mahmoud Adawi.
تغطية صحفية: " ارتقاء الشاب اسامة محمود عدوي من مخيم العروب بالخليل متأثرا بإصابته البالغة برصـ ـاص الإحـ ـتلال خلال المواجهات المندلعة في المنطقة". pic.twitter.com/D2kvFlLOMT
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) October 12, 2022
There is no immediate comment from the Israeli military on either the clashes or Adawi’s death.
Moscow believes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will “officially” offer to mediate negotiations with Ukraine at an upcoming meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Kazakhstan, a Kremlin aide says.
“The Turks are offering their mediation. If any talks take place, then most likely they will be on their territory: in Istanbul or Ankara,” Kremlin foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov tells reporters, adding that “Erdogan will probably propose something officially.”
MK Simcha Rothman asks Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy to cancel this evening’s opening of the Knesset plenum, which would delay the Knesset’s evaluation of Israel’s maritime border agreement with Lebanon.
Rothman claims that convening the plenum tonight with only a day’s notice is “illegal,” writing to Levy that he cannot convene the Knesset during recess without House Committee approval. The Religious Zionism lawmaker also writes that the ongoing Sukkot holiday should be a factor delaying the plenum’s opening.
The Knesset meanwhile plans to delay opening the plenum by just 30 minutes to 6:30 p.m. this evening, says a Knesset spokesman. Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy last night announced his intention to convene this special session for the express purpose of tabling the deal with Lebanon, which would enable lawmakers to review its details.
While the government plans to give MKs two weeks to evaluate the agreement, the Knesset will not vote on it. Instead, the deal will return to the cabinet for final approval.
The agreement must be tabled by tomorrow in order to have a chance to complete the process and be signed before Israel goes to elections and Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s term ends – both slated for November 1.
Israel’s full cabinet expresses its support for the maritime gas deal with Lebanon in a vote.
An overwhelming majority of ministers vote to support the deal, but there is some opposition, including from Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.
The ministers vote to place the agreement before the Knesset this evening, as suggested by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, although the Knesset will not vote on the deal.
The agreement will be returned to the cabinet after 14 days for final approval.
The meeting on the agreement ran well over its scheduled time, a possible sign of discord within the cabinet.
Labor MK Gilad Kariv files a police complaint against Likud activist Rinat Asor for making explicit threats against Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli.
In a recording published by the journalist Ben Caspit on Twitter, Asur was quoted as saying: “If it had been up to me, Minister Michaeli would have been executed.”
“This explicit incitement by a Likud activist against Minister Michaeli testifies with the weight of a thousand witnesses how those surrounding opposition leader [Benjamin] Netanyahu are tainted with blind hatred and a culture of political violence,” says Kariv, chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.
“We see a clear connection between the criminal conduct of some Likud operatives and the cartoon published by Netanyahu himself in which a gun is pointed at the back of Prime Minister [Yair] Lapid, against the background of the controversy surrounding the agreement on the maritime border with Lebanon,” Kariv adds.
The Shin Bet security agency says forces arrested four Palestinians in recent weeks who planned to commit shooting attacks under orders of a Hamas member in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Shin Bet, the group was in contact with Belal Basharat, a Hamas terrorist who was released from an Israeli prison in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner swap and deported to Gaza.
The Shin Bet names the two “main” suspects as Anas Maraeva, 25, from Ras Atiya, and Aslam Tubasi, 26, from Tamun. Tubasi is Basharat’s brother-in-law, according to the agency.
Belal instructed the pair to purchase weapons and obtain information in order to carry out shooting attacks against both civilians and Israeli soldiers, the Shin Bet charges.
A weapon in their possession, along with cash sent to them from Hamas in Gaza was seized, the Shin Bet says.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says “enemies” are involved in street violence that erupted last month over the death of Mahsa Amini.
Khamenei has already accused the United States, Israel, and their “agents” of fomenting the unrest sparked by Amini’s death after her arrest for allegedly failing to adhere to the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
“Today, everyone confirms the involvement of the enemies in these street riots,” Khamenei says in a televised meeting with the Expediency Council, an advisory body. “The actions of the enemy, such as propaganda, trying to influence minds, creating excitement, encouraging and even teaching the manufacture of incendiary materials, are now completely clear,” he adds, without identifying the enemy.
The full cabinet meeting to approve the maritime border deal between Israel and Lebanon is running overtime, The Times of Israel has learned.
The development may be a sign that there is more resistance to the agreement — or at least questions about it — than anticipated.
Palestinian media outlets claim an infant has died after suffocating from tear gas during clashes in Kafr Aqab in East Jerusalem.
The reports do not provide further details, and police have not yet commented on the matter.
Clashes resume in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, as a manhunt for a Palestinian gunman who killed an Israeli soldier enters its fourth day.
Police have been searching Shuafat for Udai Tamimi, a Palestinian man suspected of shooting and killing Sgt. Noa Lazar at a checkpoint near the camp on Saturday night.
Footage shows officers launching tear gas and sound grenades at a crowd that was reportedly demonstrating against the heavy police presence in the area.
Clashes in recent days have led to some injuries among Palestinians and officers.
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) October 12, 2022
Prime Minister Yair Lapid says he will invite opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to a security briefing on the Lebanon maritime border deal, his office says.
It is not clear if Netanyahu — who has spoken vociferously against the deal — will accept the invitation. While Netanyahu rejected such face-to-face briefings while Naftali Bennett was prime minister, he met twice with Lapid in August.
The security cabinet voted earlier today to advance the agreement with Lebanon to a full cabinet vote. Many opposition figures have called for a full Knesset vote on the issue due to the current government’s interim nature, and criticized the deal as a poor one for Israel.
Palestinian shops and businesses in East Jerusalem shut down to protest Israeli police raids in the area that have prompted fierce clashes between police and Palestinian protesters.
Israeli police have been hunting for a suspect in the Shuafat refugee camp who is wanted for carried out a deadly shooting attack at a checkpoint on Sunday that killed a soldier.
Police have been combing Shuafat for the suspect, setting up checkpoints and deploying groups of armed officers to question residents. The heavy police presence has sparked intense clashes with local youth. The checkpoints have choked off entry and exit points out of the area, disturbing daily life for residents.
The general strike was called to protest the crackdown. Schools and shops close across East Jerusalem, including in the Old City, whose colorful stores catering to tourists and locals alike are usually abuzz with activity.
Israeli security forces foil an attempt to smuggle 10 handguns from Jordan into the West Bank overnight, officials say.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, troops monitoring surveillance cameras spotted a suspicious vehicle with two men in it near the border with Jordan in northern Israel yesterday.
Following a chase by police near the city of Beit Shean, the car was stopped by officers at a checkpoint in the Jordan Valley, heading toward the West Bank.
The pair, an 18-year-old Palestinian from Nablus and a 28-year-old Bedouin man from southern Israel, were detained along with the weapons in their possession.
Police say the two suspects are to be brought before a court today to extend their arrest.
Russian strikes kill seven people and wound another eight at a market in the east Ukraine city of Avdiivka near the frontline, says a regional governor.
“At least seven dead and eight wounded as a result of the shelling this morning on Avdiivka. The Russians struck the central market, where many people were at that time,” the Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko writes on the Telegram social media platform.
Iran is suffering a “major disruption” in internet service amid calls for renewed protests weeks after the death of a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the country’s morality police, an advocacy group says.
NetBlocks, an advocacy group, says that Iran’s internet traffic had dropped to some 25 percent compared to the peak, even during a working day in which students were in class across the country.
The demonstrations over the death of Mahsa Amini have become one of the greatest challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the country’s 2009 Green Movement protests. Demonstrators have included oil workers, high school students and women marching without their mandatory headscarf, or hijab.
Calls for protests beginning at noon today saw a massive deployment of riot police and plainclothes officers throughout Tehran, witnesses say. They also describe disruptions affecting their mobile internet services.
“The incident is likely to further limit the free flow of information amid protests,” NetBlocks says.
Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett decides to vote in favor of advancing the Lebanon maritime border deal after a period of indecision.
The former prime minister says that it is proper to approve the deal as soon as possible, despite the current government’s status as an interim government.
Bennett says that the current deal should not garner either “celebrations of victory, nor cries of despair as if it is a catastrophe.” He says the deal is “not a historic diplomatic victory, but it is also not a terrible surrender agreement.”
“Not everything that is good for Lebanon is bad for Israel,” he adds. “There are times when it is possible to reach a positive outcome for both parties.”
All members of the security cabinet vote to advance the deal to a full cabinet vote with the exception of Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who abstains. Shaked vows that if the deal is not brought to a full Knesset vote, she will vote against it.
Ido Baruch, the 21-year-old IDF soldier killed in a shooting attack in the West Bank yesterday, is laid to rest at a funeral in the Gedera military cemetery.
Hundreds of mourners accompany Baruch’s final journey. The soldier is remembered by loved ones as a “magical child full of love, values and generosity.”
Baruch was the second IDF soldier to be killed in a shooting attack this week, after 18-year-old Noa Lazar was killed Saturday.
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