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Meeting Lapid, Blinken says time running out for Iran to rejoin nuclear deal

Israel’s FM meets US secretary of state, UAE foreign minister in Washington, warns Jerusalem could use force to counter Tehran’s nuclear program

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on October 13, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on October 13, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

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

Islamic Jihad threatens ‘war’ if prisoners’ conditions not improved

With an Islamic Jihad hunger strike set to begin in Israeli jails, Islamic Jihad chief Ziad al-Nakhaleh says the terror group would be willing to go to war on behalf of its prisoners.

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad will not leave its members in Zionist prisons to be victims at the hands of the enemy. Accordingly, we will stand with them and support them with everything we have, even if this means we must go to war for their sake,” says al-Nakhaleh.

“No agreements or any other considerations will prevent us from that,” he says.

Hundreds of Islamic Jihad members in Israeli jails are beginning a hunger strike on Wednesday in protest of new prison conditions, the Palestinian Prisoners Club said earlier today.

UAE foreign minister says he plans to visit Israel

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan listens during a joint news conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the State Department in Washington, DC on October 13, 2021. (Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP)
United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan listens during a joint news conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the State Department in Washington, DC on October 13, 2021. (Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP)

The UAE’s Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan says he’ll visit Israel soon.

The Emirati foreign minister makes the announcement after meeting with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Foreign Minister Yair was kind enough to invite me to visit Israel and I’m going to visit soon to meet a friend and also a partner,” he says.

Israel’s COVID death toll nears 8,000

Shaare Zedek hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in a coronavirus ward on August 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shaare Zedek hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in a coronavirus ward on August 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The number of serious coronavirus cases drops to 408, according to Health Ministry figures.

Another 1,174 cases have been diagnosed since midnight.

The death toll since the start of the pandemic stands at 7,959.

After hospital hack, fears mount of additional cyberattacks

After the cyberattack on the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, the National Cyber directorate says it fears other hospitals will be targeted, according to Channel 13.

The directorate also issues a general cyber warning to Israeli businesses to be aware Israel is being targeted.

According to Channel 12, Israeli officials fear Iranian hackers could in the future target hospitals to disconnect patients from life support.

WHO unveils new pandemic pathogen sleuth squad

The World Health Organization unveils a proposed team of scientists tasked with looking at new pathogens and preventing future pandemics — plus reviving the stalled probe into COVID-19’s origins.

The group of 26 experts will be charged with producing a new global framework for studies into the origins of emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential. Their remit includes SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

Besides the COVID-19 crisis, a growing number of high-risk pathogens have appeared or reappeared in recent years, including MERS, bird flu viruses, Lassa, Marburg and Ebola.

The WHO announced earlier this year that it would set up a Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO).

“The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last,” says WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential, and requires a broad range of expertise.

“We are very pleased with the caliber of experts selected for SAGO from around the world, and look forward to working with them to make the world safer.”

Cyberattack on hospital still ongoing, hours later

A cyberattack on Israel’s Hillel Yaffe Medical Center is still ongoing, hours on.

In a letter to Israel’s hospitals, the Health Ministry urges them to print out patients’ medical files, amid fears the ransomware attack could target other hospitals.

According to Channel 13, Israeli officials don’t believe an enemy state is behind the hack.

Malley won’t stop in Israel during Middle East tour coordinating Iran policy

In this file photo taken on May 7, 2018 Rob Malley, former US negotiator during the Iran nuclear program negotiations and current CEO at the International Crisis Group in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
In this file photo taken on May 7, 2018 Rob Malley, former US negotiator during the Iran nuclear program negotiations and current CEO at the International Crisis Group in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

A senior State Department official tells The Times of Israel that while the Biden administration’s Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley’s upcoming trip to the Middle East will not include a stop in Israel, he is in regular contact with officials in Jerusalem.

Malley announced earlier today that he will be departing for Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in the coming days to coordinate policy with US allies vis-à-vis the Iran issue.

The decision not to stop in Israel is merely due to a limited timeframe and such a visit will take place soon, the senior official says.

Malley has yet to visit Israel since taking on the role of special envoy, but he has participated in meetings with visiting Israeli delegations in Washington both earlier this month and today when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sits down with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for a bilateral meeting.

Malley is one of the architects of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that offers Iran international sanctions relief in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. Israel opposed the agreement and lauded former president Donald Trump’s decision to vacate from it.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is now publicly urging the Biden administration not to return to the deal, though has taken a less aggressive stance against the JCPOA than was the case under former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

UAE top diplomat encouraged by increased contact between Israel, Palestinians

In Washington, after meeting Lapid, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates says the Palestinians are key to regional peace.

“The Palestinians are going to be the most important element of the success of peace in the region,” says UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan. “We cannot just talk about peace in the region without the neighbors, the Palestinians and the Israelis are not on talking terms.”

He says he’s excited that Israeli ministers have been meeting PA officials.

“We have to keep encouraging them, but also broadening the opportunities for them.”

Asaf Zamir is now Israel’s consul general in NY

Asaf Zamir speaks at a New York City event with The Jewish Federations of North America on September 27, 2021. (Shahar Azran)
Asaf Zamir speaks at a New York City event with The Jewish Federations of North America on September 27, 2021. (Shahar Azran)

Asaf Zamir has begun his tenure as Israel’s consul general in New York.

“I come with great expectations to work together and to face some of the huge challenges the State of Israel has encountered in the past,” Zamir says in a statement. “I expect to do it with everyone and serve everyone. It is a great honor to be in New York and experience life in the Big Apple, all while serving the State of Israel.”

Zamir, 41, enters the diplomatic arena after over a decade in politics. Most of that time was as the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv. In 2019, he entered national politics, joining Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party and going on to serve as tourism minister. He resigned from the government in protest of conduct by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That government fell shortly thereafter and was replaced by the current unity coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Lapid appointed Zamir to become the next consul general and he fills a post that has been held by acting consul Israel Nitzan for over a year. Prior to Nitzan, the post was held by former settler leader Dani Dayan, who is now the chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel.

Zamir spent several years living in Florida as a child, and speaks fluent English. He is married to actress Maya Wertheimer and she will join Zamir in New York along with their daughter Asia.

“There is no doubt that my goal is to keep Israel as a bipartisan matter and to work with both sides of the aisle,” Zamir says. “We will do that by not only working with local politicians, but by having meaningful conversations with the diverse populations in our region. I am coming from Tel Aviv-Yafo, one of the most diverse cities in Israel, and I was appointed to this position by the most diverse government in Israeli history. It’s only natural for me to work with diverse communities.”

Blinken says time running out for Iran to rejoin nuclear deal

At a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signals time is running out for Iran to rejoin the nuclear deal with world powers.

“We are getting closer to the point at which returning to the JCPOA will not recapture the benefits of the JCPOA,” says Blinken, citing Iranian enrichment, building more advanced centrifuges and gaining additional knowledge.

He reiterates the US preference for diplomacy, but stresses that “the runway is getting shorter.”

Referencing Lapid’s threat to use force, Blinken says without elaborating: “We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn’t change course.”

With AFP

In US, Lapid says Israel reserves right to act against Iran’s nuclear program

(From left to right): Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at a press conference in Washington, DC on October 13, 2021. (GPO)
(From left to right): Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at a press conference in Washington, DC on October 13, 2021. (GPO)

At the joint press conference in Washington after a trilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterates the Biden administration’s intention to build on the Trump administration’s achievements in expanding the Abraham Accords, and praises the deepening of the diplomatic agreements in recent weeks.

“We strongly support these steps,” says Blinken.

He announces two new working groups that all three countries will participate in, one on religious coexistence, and the other on water and energy.

At the press conference, Lapid speaks about the Iran nuclear program, and stresses that “Israel reserves the right to act at any given moment in any way.”

Lapid adds that “we have no intention of letting” Iran become a nuclear power.

“Other options are going to be on the table if diplomacy fails,” says Lapid, adding that everyone in Israel, the UAE and around the world understand what that means.

Says Lapid: “That is not only our right, it is also our responsibility. Iran has publicly stated it wants to wipe us out. We have no intention of letting that happen.”

Returning to a central theme of his vision for the region, Lapid lauds the “alliances of moderates focused on life, focused on hope, focused on looking forward.”

Lapid addresses the Palestinian issue as well, quoting John F. Kennedy’s quote that “all people are entitled to a decent way of life.”

“This includes of course the Palestinians,” he says. “Our goal is to work with the Palestinian Authority to ensure that every child has that opportunity.”

TV: Israel to drop requirement for antibodies test for travelers from abroad

Channel 12 reports that foreign travelers who recovered from COVID or were vaccinated abroad will not need to take an antibodies test to waive their quarantine requirement upon entering Israel, effective next month.

The reported change of policy is not immediately confirmed by the authorities.

Currently, those who recovered or were vaccinated less than six months ago can get the self-isolation requirement dropped if they take an antibodies test.

As Lapid visits Washington, Israel’s ambassador is in Chicago on other business

Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan outside the White House on August 27, 2021. (Screen capture/Courtesy)
Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan outside the White House on August 27, 2021. (Screen capture/Courtesy)

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s envoy to the US and the UN, is not part of Yair Lapid’s visit to Washington this week, and did not greet the foreign minister at the airport as is the protocol.

He is currently on a work trip to Chicago and Indianapolis that has been scheduled for some time, his spokeswoman told The Times of Israel.

Part of the trip is a meeting with Indiana governor Eric Holcombe. Erdan’s trip was planned in coordination with the Foreign Ministry, she stressed.

Egypt court upholds life sentences over plot to kill Sissi

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee palace, Monday, December 7, 2020 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee palace, Monday, December 7, 2020 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

An Egyptian military court upholds life sentences for 32 people accused of plotting to kill President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and a former Saudi crown prince, their lawyer says.

The court “decided to reject all appeals” and uphold the verdict for all but two defendants, whose sentences were reduced to 15 years, Khaled al-Masry writes on Facebook.

A life sentence in Egypt is capped at 25 years’ imprisonment.

The defendants were charged with setting up “terrorist cells” that committed crimes including planning to assassinate Sissi and Saudi Arabia’s former crown prince and interior minister, Mohammed bin Nayef.

Excerpts from a public prosecutor’s investigation in 2016 published in local media revealed the defendants were plotting to assassinate Sissi and the crown prince while they were on a pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Mecca in 2014.

It became locally known as the “Sissi assassination” case.

Texas Jewish death row inmate who argued judge was antisemitic wins new trial

A Jewish man who asked for a new trial on the grounds that the judge who sentenced him to death was antisemitic will be granted a new trial.

Randy Halprin, 44, was originally set to be executed on October 10, 2019 but won a stay from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after he alleged that the judge who presided over his 2003 murder trial was biased against Jews and referred to him using antisemitic slurs, including “f—in’ Jew” and “k-ke.”

The stay sent Halprin’s case back to Dallas County, where Judge Lela Lawrence Mays heard Halprin’s arguments in June and this week issued a decision granting Halprin a new trial.

“Judge Vickers Cunningham possessed antisemitic prejudice against Halprin which violated Halprin’s constitutional right to a trial in a fair tribunal equal protection, and free exercise of religion,” Mays writes in her decision.

Halprin was serving a 30-year sentence for harming a child when he and six other inmates attempted to escape from prison. A police officer was killed during the attempt, and each member of the group, which came to be known as the “Texas 7,” was sentenced to death. Halprin claimed in his trial that he never fired his gun.

The judge who presided over the original case, Vickers “Vic” Cunningham, has been accused of using several antisemitic and racist slurs and, according to the Dallas Morning News, set up a trust fund for his children on the condition that they marry white Christians of the opposite sex. Court documents quoted a childhood friend of Cunningham’s who said the judge “took special pride” in sentencing the Texas 7 to death “because they included Latinos and Jews.”

EU plan to fight antisemitism ‘not serious,’ Jewish community leaders say

Joel Mergui speaks at a European Jewish Association conference in Brussels, Belgium on Oct. 12, 2021. (Cnaan Liphshiz/JTA)
Joel Mergui speaks at a European Jewish Association conference in Brussels, Belgium on Oct. 12, 2021. (Cnaan Liphshiz/JTA)

Leaders of European Jewish communities criticize the absence of reference to religious freedoms in a European Union plan to fight antisemitism and strengthen Jewish life.

“They took the easy path and failed to do the right thing,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the chairman of the European Jewish Association, a Brussels-based lobby group, says at a conference Tuesday about the strategic plan that the European Commission published last week.

Titled “EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life (2021-2030),” the 46-page document published Oct. 6 reiterated several long-term goals and principles of various EU institutions regarding antisemitism, including the adoption of an EU definition of it by members states and educating young people against stereotypes.

But it mentions neither the bans put in place recently in multiple EU countries, including Belgium in 2019, of slaughter of animals without prior stunning — a prerequisite for producing kosher and halal meat — and attempts to outlaw the non-medical circumcision of boys.

Ritual slaughter is illegal in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Slovenia. The Dutch Senate in 2012 reversed a ban passed the previous year, citing freedom of worship. Poland also outlawed the practice in 2013 but has since scaled back the ban to include only meat for export.

“The European Commission failed to address this to avoid conflict with countries where bans and attempted bans exist,” Margolin says at his group’s Jewish Leaders Meeting. “We welcome the plan but it’s difficult to take seriously plans to foster Jewish life in Europe that do not address a major threat to that Jewish life.”

Joel Mergui, the president of the Consistoire, a major French-Jewish organization responsible for religious services, says during a discussion on the plan: “If you say you want Jewish continuity, the first thing you need to do is make sure we can continue to do ritual slaughter and milah,” he says, using the Hebrew-language word for circumcision.

US envoy: Iran may not return to nuclear deal, we’re working on Plan B

In this file photo taken on May 7, 2018 Rob Malley, former US negotiator during the Iran nuclear program negotiations and current CEO at the International Crisis Group in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
In this file photo taken on May 7, 2018 Rob Malley, former US negotiator during the Iran nuclear program negotiations and current CEO at the International Crisis Group in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The US negotiator on Iran says it is possible that Tehran will never return to a 2015 nuclear accord, and that Washington is working with regional allies on a Plan B.

Rob Malley, who led indirect talks with Iran earlier this year, says that President Joe Biden’s administration still feels it is best to return to the deal that was trashed by former president Donald Trump.

“We feel like coming back would still be the best outcome but we’re realistic,” Malley says at an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“We know that there’s at least a good possibility that Iran is going to choose a different path and we need to coordinate with Israel and with our other partners in the region,” Malley says.

The foreign ministers of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which established relations last year, are meeting jointly with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Malley says he would also head within days to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Lapid meets with Blinken, UAE foreign minister in Washington

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on October 13, 2021 (Shlomi Amsalem GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on October 13, 2021 (Shlomi Amsalem GPO)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid begins his trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed in Washington.

The three will have a joint press conference after their private meeting.

William Shatner, 90, TV’s Captain Kirk, blasts off for space

William Shatner arrives at the NBC Universal Summer Press Day at The Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif, April, 2015. Shatner first swaggered onto the bridge of the starship Enterprise in 1966. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
William Shatner arrives at the NBC Universal Summer Press Day at The Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif, April, 2015. Shatner first swaggered onto the bridge of the starship Enterprise in 1966. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, has blasted off toward space in a convergence of science fiction and science reality.

He sets out for the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.

The “Star Trek” hero becomes the oldest person to ride a rocket.

The fully automatic spacecraft is set to reach an altitude of 66 miles over the West Texas desert. The up-and-down flight is set to last about 10 minutes, with Shatner and his three fellow passengers parachuting back to Earth in the capsule.


 

Arab MK: Smotrich threatening a ‘second Nakba’

Arab Joint List MK Aida Touma-Suleiman (Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Arab Joint List MK Aida Touma-Suleiman (Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Joint List lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman hits back at Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich, after he says Arab Israelis are living in Israel because “Ben Gurion didn’t finish the job.”

“We absorb this fascist filth every day in the Knesset,” she says in a statement. “But do not think of us. Think of how every Arab citizen feels when such a statement is said casually in parliament. How does a young man or woman feel when the right threatens a second Nakba?”

Iran says anti-missile defenses tested to protect ‘sensitive’ sites

The Iranian military says it has successfully tested anti-missile defenses for “sensitive” sites during war games in central Iran, after Israeli and US warnings over its nuclear program.

“The country’s air defenses are perfectly prepared to protect sensitive and vital installations through a multi-layered defense system,” says General Amir-Qader Rahimzadeh, commander of Hazrat Khatam al-Anbiya air base in Semnan, quoted by Fars news agency.

The exercises, begun on Tuesday, combined the army’s Majid defense system with the Dezful system of the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps to destroy incoming cruise missiles.

Iran’s central region is home to the Natanz enrichment plant and other nuclear sites.

The war games there came ahead of a visit to Iran on Thursday by a European Union envoy coordinating talks on reviving a troubled nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers including the United States.

“A solid and multi-layered defense against cruise missile attacks was one of the objectives of the joint air defense exercises that were carried out successfully,” Rahimzadeh says.

State news agency IRNA says radars and electronic surveillance systems were also deployed in the operations.

Smotrich to Arab MKs: You’re here because Ben Gurion didn’t finish the job

Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich  speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich calls Arab lawmakers “enemies,” in an angry outburst in the Knesset plenum during a debate over the opposition’s bill on immigration.

“I’m not talking to you — anti-Zionists, terror supporters, enemies. You’re here by accident because Ben Gurion didn’t finish the job,” he says in comments directed at Arab MKs.

The bill fails to muster support in the preliminary vote.

 

Iran postpones execution of man arrested aged 17 — rights groups

Iran has postponed the internationally criticized planned execution of a man arrested for murder when he was 17, but he remains at imminent risk of being hanged, Amnesty International and other rights groups say.

Arman Abdolali, now 25, was given the verdict after a trial that rights groups described as unfair. His scheduled execution had renewed international criticism of Iran’s use of capital punishment.

Abdolali had been moved to solitary confinement in the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, in preparation for his execution on Wednesday, and held a final meeting with his parents on Tuesday.

But the execution did not go ahead, although there are fears it may take place on Saturday, say Amnesty and the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR).

The “execution is now postponed to Saturday, 16 October. He remains at risk of imminent execution in Iran. He was just 17 when arrested,” Amnesty says on Twitter.

IHR, which monitors the use of the death penalty in Iran, says Abdolali is still being held in solitary confinement, and quotes sources as saying the execution would take place on Saturday.

Amnesty says Abdolali was sentenced to death in December 2015 after being convicted of murder following his girlfriend’s disappearance the year before, but in “a grossly unfair trial” by a court that “relied on torture-tainted ‘confessions.‘”

IHR says Abdolali confessed to the murder at the time of his arrest, but the body was never found and he later withdrew his confessions.

Rights groups say international conventions signed by Iran prohibit it from executing anyone for a crime committed while aged under 18.

Iran executes more people each year than any nation except China. IHR says at least 64 juvenile offenders have been executed in Iran over the past 10 years, with at least four executed in 2020.

Infant dies after being left in hot car for hours

An infant dies in central Israel after being left in a car for hours.

The 1-year-old girl was forgotten in the vehicle for several hours in a town in the Sharon region, where temperatures topped 30°C (86°F). She was found in serious condition and quickly hospitalized. Doctors at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba were forced to pronounce her death.

Police are investigating.

While Lapid in Washington, panel said to expropriate land in East Jerusalem

View of caravans in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood of Jerusalem, on July 5, 2016. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)
View of caravans in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood of Jerusalem, on July 5, 2016. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

A Jerusalem planning committee green-lights the expropriation of 200 dunams of land in Givat Hamatos, according to Hebrew media reports.

The properties are designated for public structures and other construction in the East Jerusalem neighborhood, which Israel sees as part of its capital though it’s over the Green Line.

The reported move comes as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is in Washington for high-level meetings.

IDF soldier fires in air during brawl in store

An Israel Defense Forces soldier fired into the air during a brawl between him and another person at a store in southern Israel, police say.

Police say officers are at the scene in Mitzpe Ramon investigating the incident.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage caused as a result of the shooting.

Foreign Ministry confirms meeting between Israeli officials, Sudan minister

After reports surfaced of Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll meeting with Sudanese Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari in the UAE, the Foreign Ministry releases details of the meeting.

The two officials agreed on future cooperation on training for high-tech careers, according to the ministry.

Roll also emphasized the importance of Sudan and Israel signing an agreement that establishes formal diplomatic ties between the countries. Israel and Sudan signed an agreement in October 2020 in which they agreed to normalize ties in the future.

Regional Affairs Minister Issawi Frej, who also met with Abdulbari, says the Sudanese minister told him that cooperation on education and culture is more prized by Sudan than economic agreements between the countries.


250 Islamic Jihad prisoners in Israel launch hunger strike

A prison guard is seen in a watchtower at Gilboa prison, in northern Israel, September 6, 2021. (Flash90)
A prison guard is seen in a watchtower at Gilboa prison, in northern Israel, September 6, 2021. (Flash90)

Around 250 Islamic Jihad prisoners will begin a hunger strike today in protest of new Israeli policies toward Palestinian detainees, the Palestinian Prisoners Club announces.

Since six Palestinian security prisoners fled Gilboa jail in northern Israel in early September, the Israeli prison administration has taken a number of measures in an attempt to reduce the chances of another escape. The policies have included breaking apart clusters of Islamic Jihad prisoners, moving some to other jails and solitary confinement; family visits have also been postponed.

“There is only one demand: return the situation to the way it was before [the escape],” Prisoners Club director Qaddura Fares tells The Times of Israel in a phone call.

An Israeli Prison Services spokesperson says the jails have yet to see a formal hunger strike begin, however. Normally, the prisoners themselves would send a letter to the prison administration announcing their intention to commence such a strike.

The dramatic flight of the Palestinian fugitives captivated Palestinians, although Israeli forces caught all six and returned them to prison two weeks later. They were subsequently charged with escaping prison, which carries a maximum additional sentence of seven years under Israeli law.

Sudan minister said to meet with Israeli ministers in Abu Dhabi

Sudanese Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari meets with Israeli ministers in Abu Dhabi, in the first public high-level meetings since January, the Walla news site reports.

According to the report, Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll and Regional Affairs Minister Issawi Frej discussed cooperation in technological training, education and culture with Abdulbari.

Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize ties last year as part of the US-led Abraham Accords. However, the development of relations has moved slower than with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, all of which Israel also normalized ties with last year.

22-year-old man threatened to kill Dutch prime minister — court documents

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gives a press conference about COVID-19 measures in The Netherlands, in The Hague, on January 12, 2021. (Bart Maat / ANP / AFP)
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gives a press conference about COVID-19 measures in The Netherlands, in The Hague, on January 12, 2021. (Bart Maat / ANP / AFP)

Dutch police arrested a 22-year-old man in July on suspicion of threatening to kill caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte, according to court documents, the latest in a string of threats against politicians in the Netherlands.

Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant first reported that the court documents allege the suspect, identified as Yavus O., used a channel on the Telegram messaging app to post incitements to violence. Dutch law enforcement officials shut down the channel this week.

Authorities have charged the arrested man with incitement to a terrorist crime, gathering intelligence for a terrorist crime and threatening a terrorist crime, according to a copy of the charging document seen by The Associated Press.

Prosecutors plan to ask at a court hearing next week to have his detention extended while investigations continue.

Dutch media reported last month that Rutte, who is known for cycling around The Hague to get to meetings and visits with the Dutch king, had received extra security amid concerns of a possible attack by members of the criminal underworld.

Rutte, who continues to walk through the city, has declined to comment on any security measures.

On Tuesday, a 42-year-old man was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment for making online threats against Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge.

Anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders has lived for years with around-the-clock protection due to death threats.

After improvements, condition worsens for army vet who self-immolated

Screen capture from video of IDF disabled veteran Itzik Saidyan talking about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. (Channel 12 News)
Screen capture from video of IDF disabled veteran Itzik Saidyan talking about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. (Channel 12 News)

The condition of a former soldier with PTSD who has been hospitalized since April after self-immolating in an act of protest has slightly worsened, two and a half weeks after he regained consciousness.

According to Hebrew-language reports, the hospital has decided that Itzik Saidyan should not receive visitors for the next two weeks.

He is currently undergoing tests while doctors try to determine what has caused the deterioration.

The worsening in Saidyan’s condition came after a period of improvements, with his family and others reporting that he had begun communicating.

However despite the improvements, he remained in serious condition with concerns of potential infection from his wounds.

Hezbollah accuses US of meddling in Lebanon’s port probe

In this August 5, 2020 file photo, a drone picture shows the destruction after an explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. (AP/Hussein Malla)
In this August 5, 2020 file photo, a drone picture shows the destruction after an explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. (AP/Hussein Malla)

Hezbollah accuses the US of interfering in Lebanon’s investigation into last year’s massive explosion at the Beirut port, with the aim of implicating the terror group and its allies.

Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadallah’s response to criticism from a State Department spokesperson comes amid a developing crisis engulfing the domestic probe. The investigation was temporarily suspended Tuesday amid legal challenges from defendants against lead investigator Judge Tarek Bitar.

The US official’s comments are a “new violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty” that expose “the extent of interference aimed at controlling and steering the investigation,” Fadallah says.

Hezbollah’s comments are the first to directly accuse Washington of interfering and dictating how the port probe should go. They signal an escalation of a campaign against the 46-year-old judge that rights groups say is aimed at discrediting the investigation.

Bitar is the second judge to lead the probe into what caused thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the Port of Beirut for years to explode. He has come under heavy criticism from politicians in Lebanon for what they say is a politicized and biased line of investigation. The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, asked that Bitar be replaced.

Families of the victims have rallied behind Bitar, decrying attempts to derail and politicize the investigation.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price late Tuesday criticized Nasrallah’s comments and said Washington supports Lebanon’s judicial independence.

“Judges must be free from threats and intimidation, including (Hezbollah’s),” Price said. “We’ve long been clear that Hezbollah’s terrorism and illicit activities threaten Lebanon’s security, stability and sovereignty.”

Price accused Hezbollah of being “more concerned with its own interests and those of its patron, Iran, than in the best interests of the Lebanese people.”

Medical cannabis reforms clear initial Knesset vote, with Ra’am’s support

Freshly harvested cannabis (iStock)
Freshly harvested cannabis (iStock)

Proposed reforms regulating medical marijuana have earned preliminary support in the Knesset, after receiving the backing of the Islamist Ra’am party.

The vote passes 54-42. It still requires three more votes to become law.

Israel has taken steps in recent years to make medical cannabis available and is poised to become a major exporter of the crop, though local medical cannabis users have complained of near-impossible access to the few dispensaries licensed to distribute it.

Ra’am in July refused to back similar legislation that would have also decriminalized recreational marijuana.

Sweden hosts global forum to fight antisemitism

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks via video link during the Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism - Remember ReAct, in Malmo, Sweden, on October 13, 2021. (Jonas EKSTROMER / TT News Agency / AFP)
Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks via video link during the Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism - Remember ReAct, in Malmo, Sweden, on October 13, 2021. (Jonas EKSTROMER / TT News Agency / AFP)

Delegates from dozens of countries, religious groups and big tech gather in Sweden for a conference to battle antisemitism, which is on the rise in the Scandinavian country that harbored Jews during the war.

It brings together more than 400 people, including the head of the European Council Charles Michel and representatives from 40 countries, the United Nations, Jewish organizations and social media giants TikTok, Google and Facebook.

The meeting is being held under high security in the southern city of Malmo, where a strong police presence is seen.

“Remembering is not enough. As the last survivors of the Shoah (Holocaust) leave us, antisemitism lives on,” Michel tells the International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism.

“That is why we must do more than just remember. We must act. We must react now.”

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who is leaving office next month, has made the fight against antisemitism one of his last big battles.

He has vowed better protection for Sweden’s 15,000-20,000 Jews.

Reports of anti-Semitic crimes in the Scandinavian country rose by more than 50 percent from 2016 to 2018 from 182 to 278, according to the latest statistics available from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.

They account for six percent of reported hate crimes, it adds.

Experts attribute the rise in reported anti-Jewish crimes in large part to the growth of social media, and say the perpetrators are varied and found among both immigrants and “ethnic Swedes.”

Child killer freed from prison over declining health

Zvi Gur (c), who is serving a life sentence for the murder of Oron Yarden, in the Supreme Court on July 6, 2009. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Zvi Gur (c), who is serving a life sentence for the murder of Oron Yarden, in the Supreme Court on July 6, 2009. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Israel Prisons Service parole board grants a request for early release from a man who has served 41 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of a young boy.

The board frees Zvi Gur, who was sent to prison in 1980 for kidnapping and murdering 8-year-old Oron Yarden, due to his health condition.

The decision is effective immediately.

Neo-Nazi’s burial in Jewish gravesite causes stir in Germany

The burial of a Holocaust denier in the gravesite of a Jewish music professor has caused an uproar in Germany.

The top German government official tasked with combating antisemitism, Commissioner for Jewish Life Felix Klein, criticizes the action, joining expressions of disbelief from some of the country’s leading Jews.

“This is obviously a very unfortunate mistake that happened here,” Klein tells German news agency dpa.

Several German news outlets have reported that known Holocaust denier Henry Hafenmayer was buried Friday at the Stahnsdorf cemetery just outside of Berlin. His ashes were interred in the plot where Max Friedlaender, a German-Jewish musicologist who lived from 1852 to 1934, was buried.

Several far-right extremists attended Hafenmayer’s funeral, according to groups that track neo-Nazi activism in Germany. The head of Germany’s leading Jewish group expresses shock that the Lutheran Church, which runs the cemetery, had allowed the burial.

“The burial of a neo-Nazi and denier of the Shoah on the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender is unbearable,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, tweets.

Friedlaender’s gravesite was cleared for new burials in 1980, as is customary in Germany. However, his tombstone remains on the plot because it is under historic preservation.

The Lutheran Church has apologized and promised to investigate how Hafenmayer’s remains ended up in the same plot as Friedlaender’s. The church said that people can sponsor the maintenance of historic gravesites at the Stahnsdorf cemetery and in exchange get buried on those sites when they die.

The city of Berlin’s antisemitism commissioner says he thinks neo-Nazis intentionally chose a Jewish grave for Hafenmayer.

“Obviously, the right-wing extremists deliberately chose a Jewish grave to disturb the peace of the dead by burying a Holocaust denier,” Samuel Salzborn tweets.

Salzborn has filed a criminal complaint on suspicion of disturbing the peace of the dead, disparagement of the memory of the deceased and incitement of the people, dpa reports.

Lapid said seeking to delay Jewish Agency chief vote after Stern drops out

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (R) with MK Elazar Stern at a press conference in Tel Aviv, on January 18, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (R) with MK Elazar Stern at a press conference in Tel Aviv, on January 18, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is seeking to delay the appointment of a new Jewish Agency chairman, after his candidate withdrew from the race amid a controversy, according to Hebrew media reports.

Lapid asks the nominating committee for more time to pick a new candidate. The decision is currently set to be made on October 24.

The request comes after Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern of Yesh Atid announced that he was withdrawing his bid to head the Jewish Agency following and outcry over comments he made earlier this week suggesting he had ignored sexual harassment complaints during his time as head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, and claims made by a number of women saying that Stern had warned them not to repeat rape and sexual harassment claims that they brought to him against officers.

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni is considering joining the race to head the Jewish Agency, as several members of the agency’s nominating committee are considering selecting a woman to head the organization for the first time in its history, The Times of Israel has learned.

Teenager in West Bank mauled by wild boar, suffers moderate injuries

A teenager in the West Bank settlement of Itamar is airlifted to a hospital after being attacked by a wild boar.

The 17-year-old is hospitalized in Jerusalem with moderate injuries.

Azerbaijan, Iran agree to mend ties ‘through dialogue’

This undated picture released by the official website of the Iranian Army on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, shows ground forces troops attending a maneuver near Iranian border with Azerbaijan (Iranian Army via AP)
This undated picture released by the official website of the Iranian Army on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, shows ground forces troops attending a maneuver near Iranian border with Azerbaijan (Iranian Army via AP)

Azerbaijan says it has agreed with Iran to resolve a diplomatic crisis through dialogue weeks after ties soured over allegations Israel’s military was active in Azerbaijan.

Iran last month protested against what it said was the presence of its sworn enemy Israel in Azerbaijan and vowed to take any necessary action.

It staged military exercises near its border with Azerbaijan, sparking criticism from officials in Baku, which has denied Iranian claims.

Azerbaijan says its Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov had spoken by phone with Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and the pair had agreed to resolve differences through dialogue.

“The sides noted that recent rhetoric has harmed bilateral relations and that any differences should be settled through dialogue,” Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry says in a statement.

Israel is a major arms supplier to Azerbaijan, which late last year won a six-week war with neighbor Armenia for control over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Bennett says Shin Bet must always be a step ahead of Israel’s enemies

Speaking at the ceremony marking the entry of a new Shin Bet chief into office, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says the security service must remain one step ahead of Israel’s enemies.

“We are facing a huge terrorism machine that does not rest for a moment. Wherever they are — we must be there, one step ahead of them,” says Bennett.

Ignoring the problem and allowing terror groups to gain a foothold “is not an option,” says Bennett. “Allowing the enemy to get stronger and the terror groups to turn into terror states with an army and tens of thousands of rockets — is not an option. We know our enemies and learned that when dealing with terror groups, the path to quiet and stability is first of all control in the field, excellent intelligence, thwarting [attacks], and deterrence.”

Bennett says the security agency’s aims for “results that do not leave any room for interpretation, that strip our enemies of the desire to try [and harm us].”

New Shin Bet chief: Agency may help fight rising crime in Arab community

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar (L), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) and outgoing director Nadav Argaman (R) on October 13, 2021 (Haim Zach/GPO)
Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar (L), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) and outgoing director Nadav Argaman (R) on October 13, 2021 (Haim Zach/GPO)

The new head of the Shin Bet security service, Ronen Bar, officially enters office, replacing Nadav Argaman.

Speaking during a ceremony marking the changing of the guard, Bar says the domestic agency could deepen its involvement in fighting crime in the Arab Israeli community.

“Much has been said recently about rising crime in general, and in the Arab community in particular. The service will not stand idly by. After we study the issue, we will present the right balance between our contribution to bolster the police and increasing the involvement of the agency. This is obviously a national mission,” says Bar.

He says the service under his leadership will fight to strike the balance between human rights and the right to security.

The Shin Bet will continue to fight the main threat in the region, says Bar, namely Iran.

“The central threat to peace in the region, the Shiite axis led by Iran, a machine of terrorism, espionage and influence, will continue to be at the heart of the intelligence community’s work and service, including the Shin Bet. By virtue of our position and responsibility, the service will work to thwart this threat wherever it is identified – in Israel, abroad, and in the cyber arena.”

Bennett (C) and outgoing director Nadav Argaman (R) on October 13, 2021 (Haim Zach/GPO)" loading="lazy" title="Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar (L), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) and outgoing director Nadav Argaman (R) on October 13, 2021 (Haim Zach/GPO)" />
Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar (L), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) and outgoing director Nadav Argaman (R) on October 13, 2021 (Haim Zach/GPO)

The new head of the Shin Bet security service, Ronen Bar, officially enters office, replacing Nadav Argaman.

Speaking during a ceremony marking the changing of the guard, Bar says the domestic agency could deepen its involvement in fighting crime in the Arab Israeli community.

“Much has been said recently about rising crime in general, and in the Arab community in particular. The service will not stand idly by. After we study the issue, we will present the right balance between our contribution to bolster the police and increasing the involvement of the agency. This is obviously a national mission,” says Bar.

He says the service under his leadership will fight to strike the balance between human rights and the right to security.

The Shin Bet will continue to fight the main threat in the region, says Bar, namely Iran.

“The central threat to peace in the region, the Shiite axis led by Iran, a machine of terrorism, espionage and influence, will continue to be at the heart of the intelligence community’s work and service, including the Shin Bet. By virtue of our position and responsibility, the service will work to thwart this threat wherever it is identified – in Israel, abroad, and in the cyber arena.”

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