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US said to protest to Bennett’s office against settlement construction plans

News site reports that charge d’affaires at American embassy phoned PM’s diplomatic adviser to say the Biden administration views Israel’s advancement of new settler homes severely

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks as he meets with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House, on Friday, August 27, 2021, in Washington, DC. (GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks as he meets with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House, on Friday, August 27, 2021, in Washington, DC. (GPO)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.

Greek PM tells Turkey to halt ‘aggressive posturing’

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis participates in a session at the annual Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on October 26, 2021. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP)
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis participates in a session at the annual Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on October 26, 2021. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Greece’s leader calls on Turkey to stop its “aggressive posturing” and engage in talks over their maritime dispute, during a visit to Saudi Arabia to strengthen ties with Gulf countries.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warns that Greece has “drawn our lines very, very clearly” after signing defense deals with the United States and France earlier this month.

Mitsotakis also held talks with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, and Bahrain’s crown prince before addressing the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.

“We are secure. I don’t think there is a geopolitical threat,” Mitsotakis tells the elite annual meeting dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” with Prince Mohammed in the audience.

“And I think at the end of the day Turkey will also realize that this aggressive posturing in the eastern Mediterranean is not going to lead anywhere.”

Tensions soared last year when Turkey sent a gas exploration ship and small navy flotilla to hunt for resources in waters which Greece considers its own under treaties.

In July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan endorsed a formal partition of Cyprus, which Ankara invaded in 1974 in response to a coup engineered by Greece’s then military junta.

Greece also blames Turkey for not taking sufficient action to curb smugglers who send out migrants in unsafe boats and dinghies from its shores.

British queen cancels attendance at climate conference ‘on medical advice’

In this file photo from October 7, 2021, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II takes part in the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, from the forecourt of Buckingham Palace in London. (Victoria Jones/Pool/AFP)
In this file photo from October 7, 2021, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II takes part in the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, from the forecourt of Buckingham Palace in London. (Victoria Jones/Pool/AFP)

LONDON — Britain’s 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth II will not attend the COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow, after “advice to rest” from doctors following an overnight hospital stay, her Buckingham Palace office says.

“Her Majesty has regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow” for a November 1 reception, the palace says in a statement, adding that she “will deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a recorded video message.”

The queen worked a busy schedule in early October, but cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland last week on medical advice.

On Thursday, she spent the night at the private Edward VII hospital in London for “preliminary investigations.”

The stay — her first since 2013 — and the palace’s delay in revealing it have raised fears over her health, given her age.

But the queen resumed official duties today, greeting new ambassadors to Britain in video audiences from Windsor Castle, west of London.

Elizabeth II has reigned since 1952 and will celebrate her platinum jubilee next year.

At almost daily public engagements, she has always appeared in good health — although she was seen using a walking stick for the first time at a major public event this month.

As FDA meets, Bennett set to discuss vaccines for kids with health officials

Prime Minister Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz attend a press conference at a Maccabi vaccine center in Holon, on June 29 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)
Prime Minister Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz attend a press conference at a Maccabi vaccine center in Holon, on June 29 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will meet tonight with Israeli health officials to discuss the possible approval of coronavirus vaccines for children aged 5 to 11, following a vote by US regulators that is expected to be in favor of okaying the shots for American kids.

If, as is widely expected, the independent experts convened by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vote in favor of approval, an emergency authorization could follow within weeks. This would make 28 million younger American children eligible for the shots in November.

Once the FDA approves the move, Israel is widely expected to follow suit following its own approval process. Health Ministry officials said earlier this week that shots for children under the age of 12 in Israel could begin in mid-November.

EU threatens to freeze financial support for Sudan after coup

Sudanese Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan speaks during a press conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum, on October 26, 2021. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)
Sudanese Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan speaks during a press conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum, on October 26, 2021. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)

BRUSSELS — The European Union threatens to suspend financial support for Sudan if the military doesn’t immediately return the civilian government to power.

“This attempt to undermine Sudan’s transition to democracy is unacceptable. If the situation is not reversed immediately, there will be serious consequences for the EU’s commitment, including its financial support,” EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell warns in a statement.

Senior health official says she opposes sanctioning parents who won’t vaccinate kids

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry, speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, on June 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry, speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, on June 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A top Health Ministry official says Israel could make a decision on vaccinating kids between the ages of 5 and 11 in the coming weeks, assuming an advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration signs off on the move.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the ministry’s head of public health services, notes that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for kids of that age are different than the regular doses, and Israel still needs to receive them.

She also tells Channel 12 news that she opposes sanctions for parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids.

“I really believe every parent needs to make the best decision for themself and their child,” she says.

Former Saudi spy says crown prince sent hit squad to kill him – report

In this November 22, 2020 photo, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a virtual G-20 summit held over video conferencing, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)
In this November 22, 2020 photo, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a virtual G-20 summit held over video conferencing, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)

WASHINGTON — A former top Saudi Arabian spy says the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman dispatched a feared team of mercenaries to kill him while in exile in Canada.

In an interview with US broadcaster CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” Saad Aljabri — formerly a top spy and interlocutor between the kingdom’s intelligence services and Western governments — alleges he was targeted after he fled the country following a 2017 power grab by the crown prince.

A friend at a Middle Eastern intelligence service, he says, warned that he could face a fate similar to that of Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who investigations have alleged was murdered by a Riyadh-linked death squad after visiting the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

“The warning I received, don’t be in a proximity of any Saudi mission in Canada. Don’t go to the consulate. Don’t go to the embassy… You are on the top of the list,” Aljabri tells “60 Minutes.”

He says the team arrived in Canada in October 2018 — only to be deported when they lied to customs officials and were found to be carrying suspicious items.

AFP is unable to independently verify Aljabri’s claims, and requests for comment to the Canadian foreign ministry went unanswered.

But Canadian officials tell “60 Minutes” they were “aware of incidents in which foreign actors have attempted to… threaten… those living in Canada,” describing the threats as “completely unacceptable.”

US said to protest to Bennett’s office against settlement construction plans

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks as he meets with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House, on Friday, August 27, 2021, in Washington, DC. (GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks as he meets with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House, on Friday, August 27, 2021, in Washington, DC. (GPO)

The Biden administration has protested to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office against Israeli plans to build new homes in West Bank settlements, the Walla news site reports.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the report says the US Embassy’s charge d’affaires, Michael Ratney, phoned Bennett’s diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir last week to say the administration views Israel’s advancement of new settlement units severely.

Ratney reportedly said the US was particularly concerned that many of the homes due to be approved are located outside the so-called settlement blocs.

“This was a difficult conversation,” one of the sources is quoted as saying.

Both the Prime Minister’s Office and US State Department refused to comment on what is discussed behind closed doors between the countries.

In first, US and Bahrain hold naval drone drills in Gulf

A US Navy Martin UAV drone flies over the Gulf waters as the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF) Abdulrahman Al Fadhel takes part in a joint naval exercise between the US 5th Fleet Command and Bahraini forces, October 26, 2021. (Mazen Mahdi/AFP)
A US Navy Martin UAV drone flies over the Gulf waters as the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF) Abdulrahman Al Fadhel takes part in a joint naval exercise between the US 5th Fleet Command and Bahraini forces, October 26, 2021. (Mazen Mahdi/AFP)

MANAMA, Bahrain — The US and Bahrain navies are conducting a joint exercise at sea, launching a series of drills integrating unmanned systems into regional maritime operations.

The US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, announced last month that it had launched a new task force in the Gulf to rapidly incorporate drones and artificial intelligence into operations, saying Task Force 59 would rely on regional and coalition partnerships.

The announcement by the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) came amid maritime tensions between Iran and its arch-enemy Israel, with which Bahrain normalized ties last year.

Since February, Iran and Israel have been accused of engaging in what analysts have called a “shadow war,” in which vessels linked to each nation have come under attack in waters around the Gulf in tit-for-tat exchanges.

In August, Iran rejected Western allegations that its drones were used in a deadly tanker attack off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

The Islamic Republic accused Israel of concocting the “scenario” in a bid to undermine it.

US Navy spokesman Tim Hawkins says today’s drill with Bahrain — dubbed “New Horizon” — is part of efforts to help enhance maritime domain awareness, strengthen deterrence, and foster partnerships.

It marks the first time the US Navy is integrating unmanned surface vessels with manned ships at sea in the Middle East, and the first time with a regional partner testing in Gulf water.

“We’re putting a couple of unmanned surface vessels called MANTAS T-12 in the water,” he tells AFP, as two ships from the Royal Bahrain Naval Force stood by.

“This will help us understand how we can use these vessels to enhance maritime domain awareness, which is critically important to maintaining regional stability and security.”

Bahrain overlooks the Strait of Hormuz — a passage less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) wide at its narrowest point, and where US and Iranian naval vessels have faced off in the past.

Red Cross condemns alleged settler attack on its workers

The International Committee of the Red Cross issues a statement condemning an alleged assault on three of the group’s workers by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

“ICRC staff were attacked with pepper spray by Israeli settlers during a joint field visit with Palestinian farmers and IDF officials in the area of Burin town south of Nablus. IDF officials present on the ground escorted ICRC staff to their military base, where they provided first aid,” the statement says.

“This is not the 1st time ICRC staff are aggressed while carrying out their work in the West Bank,” the Red Cross adds.

After coup, Sudan suspends all flights until October 30

Sudanese people protest against a military coup overthrowing the transition to civilian rule, on October 25, 2021, in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. (AFP)
Sudanese people protest against a military coup overthrowing the transition to civilian rule, on October 25, 2021, in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. (AFP)

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan has suspended all inbound and outbound flights until October 30, the country’s civil aviation authority says today, following unrest due to a military coup.

“All incoming and outgoing flights from Khartoum Airport have been suspended until October 30 due to the situation in the country,” says Civil Aviation Authority Director General Ibrahim Adlan.

Herzog sends letter to Jordan’s king to mark 27 years since peace treaty signed

President Isaac Herzog (left) speaks during a conference in Jerusalem, on August 1, 2021; Jordan's King Abdullah II (right) listens during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Amman, Jordan, on May 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90; AP/Alex Brandon, Pool)
President Isaac Herzog (left) speaks during a conference in Jerusalem, on August 1, 2021; Jordan's King Abdullah II (right) listens during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Amman, Jordan, on May 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90; AP/Alex Brandon, Pool)

President Isaac Herzog writes to Jordan’s King Abdullah II on the 27th anniversary of the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty.

“Twenty-seven years later,” Herzog writes, “the supreme strategic value of peace should be clear to all. Only by deepening and expanding our ties across all levels of government and civil society, and in all fields of cooperation, can we safeguard this indispensable asset of peace.”

Herzog says he looks forward to expanded ties in the fields of agriculture, water, trade, innovation and hi-tech.

FDA advisory panel reviews Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for kids ages 5-11

This October 2021 photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. (Pfizer via AP)
This October 2021 photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. (Pfizer via AP)

WASHINGTON — Kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may be getting closer as government advisers begin deliberating today whether there’s enough evidence that the shots are safe and effective for 5- to 11-year-olds.

A study of elementary schoolchildren found the Pfizer shots are nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection — even though the youngsters received just a third of the dose given to teens and adults.

In a preliminary analysis last week, Food and Drug Administration reviewers said that protection would “clearly outweigh” the risk of a very rare side effect in almost all scenarios of the pandemic. Now FDA’s advisers are combing through that data to see if they agree.

If the FDA authorizes the kid-size doses, there’s still another step: Next week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have to decide whether to recommend the shots and which youngsters should get them.

While children are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 than older people, 5- to 11-year-olds still have faced substantial illness — including over 8,300 hospitalizations, about a third requiring intensive care, and nearly 100 deaths, FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks tells the advisory panel.

Also, “infections have caused many school closures and disrupted the education and socialization of children,” he says.

“I want to acknowledge the fact that there are strong feelings” among the public for and against child vaccinations, Marks adds, noting that the discussion would be on scientific data “not about vaccine mandates, which are left to other entities outside of FDA.”

Full-strength shots made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech already are recommended for everyone 12 and older but pediatricians and many parents are clamoring for protection for younger children. The extra-contagious Delta variant has caused an alarming rise in pediatric infections — and families are frustrated with school quarantines and having to say no to sleepovers and other rites of childhood to keep the virus at bay.

States are getting ready to roll out shots for little arms — in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from adult vaccine — as soon as the government gives the OK. More than 25,000 pediatricians and other primary care providers have signed up so far to offer vaccination.

UN chief says detained Sudanese PM ‘must be released immediately’

Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council, September 23, 2021, during the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, Pool)
Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council, September 23, 2021, during the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, Pool)

UNITED NATIONS — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls for the immediate release of Sudan’s prime minister, who was detained in a military coup.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok “must be released immediately,” Guterres says as the UN Security Council holds an emergency meeting on the putsch in Sudan.

Yesterday, soldiers detained Hamdok, his ministers and civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council, who have been heading a transition to full civilian rule following the 2019 overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

France calls for ‘clarifications’ after Israel’s terror listing of rights groups

Palestinian employees at the offices of Addameer in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after IDF forces raided 3 Palestinian NGOs, on December 11, 2012. (Issam Rimawi/FLASH90)
Palestinian employees at the offices of Addameer in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after IDF forces raided 3 Palestinian NGOs, on December 11, 2012. (Issam Rimawi/FLASH90)

France is voicing its “concern” over Israel’s blacklisting of six Palestinian rights organizations for their alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian terror group.

“France reiterates its devotion to the vital role that civil society plays in democratic life,” a spokesperson for France’s foreign ministry says. “We request clarifications from the Israeli authorities.”

Deposed Sudanese government urges immediate release of detained PM, others

In this file photo from October 18, 2021, Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok chairs an emergency cabinet session in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)
In this file photo from October 18, 2021, Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok chairs an emergency cabinet session in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)

KHARTOUM, Sudan — The government of Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok calls for his immediate release, after the country’s army chief said the civilian leader was staying with him after a coup.

The call for Hamdok’s release comes in a statement from the information ministry which appeals for “liberation of everyone” arrested yesterday with Hamdok. This includes his wife, several of his ministers, and civilian members of the council that was in charge of the country’s transition to full civilian rule.

Police open investigation into alleged settler attack on Red Cross workers

Police confirm receiving a complaint from three Red Cross workers who allegedly were assaulted by Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank.

Police say an investigation has been opened and that “naturally it is not possible to elaborate beyond that.”

A third of Jewish college students experienced antisemitism last year — survey

Illustrative: Two young women wear Israeli flags around their waists as a Jewish band plays at a pro- Israel gathering on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey campus, October 10, 2003. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)
Illustrative: Two young women wear Israeli flags around their waists as a Jewish band plays at a pro- Israel gathering on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey campus, October 10, 2003. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)

A third of Jewish college students say they have personally experienced antisemitism in the last year, according to a new survey conducted jointly by Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League.

The two groups recently announced a partnership aimed at combating antisemitism on college campuses; the survey represents one of the first fruits of the relationship.

The results add data and texture to the picture of Jewish life on campus that has been built in recent years in large part on anecdotes and firestorms. They suggest that the majority of Jewish students at American colleges feel safe and supported on campus — but that a significant minority have experienced antisemitism or obscured their Jewish identity out of fear of antisemitism.

The survey offers a “strong validation of the reality that Jewish students are facing, which is a significant and unacceptable level of antisemitism and other anti-Jewish bias,” Hillel International CEO Adam Lehman tells the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Fifteen percent of students who responded to the survey say they have “felt the need to hide” their Jewish identity and six percent say they have felt unwelcome in a campus organization because they are Jewish.

Often, the survey finds, students report being or feeling excluded because of their actual or perceived support for Israel. Conducted online in July and August, the survey captured sentiment shortly after the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in May contributed to a spike in pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses and beyond.

The survey includes 756 self-identified Jewish college students on 220 campuses and has a margin of error of 4%. It drew from a national sample of college students, meaning that students surveyed were not all engaged with Hillel or other aspects of Jewish life on their campuses. Those that did engage with activities were more likely to say they have experienced antisemitism, the survey finds, but they are also more likely to report feeling safe on campus as Jews.

UN rights chief calls Israeli blacklisting of 6 Palestinian groups unjustified

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, attends a meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 17, 2020. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, attends a meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 17, 2020. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA — Israel’s designation of six leading Palestinian civil society groups as outlawed terrorist organization is an unjustified attack, the UN human rights chief says today.

The Jewish state said its move last week was due to their alleged financing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

It accused the six of working covertly with the leftist terrorist group group, which pioneered plane hijackings in the 1970s to highlight the Palestinian cause and is blacklisted by several Western governments.

Michelle Bachelet says the decision is an attack on human rights defenders, on freedoms of association, opinion and expression and on the right to public participation.

She calls for the move to be immediately revoked.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says anti-terrorism legislation should not be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian aid activities.

“The organizations… face far-reaching consequences as a result of this arbitrary decision, as do the people who fund them and work with them,” says Bachelet.

“The crucial work they perform for thousands of Palestinians risks being halted or severely restricted,” she adds.

She says the decision will have “a chilling effect” on human rights defenders.

“Claiming rights before a UN or other international body is not an act of terrorism, advocating for the rights of women in the occupied Palestinian territory is not terrorism, and providing legal aid to detained Palestinians is not terrorism,” Bachelet says.

She adds that no evidence has been presented to support the allegations against the six groups, nor has any public process been conducted to establish the accusations.

Netanyahu trial shifts to alleged illicit benefits for telecom firm

Avi Berger, the former director-general of the Communications Ministry, appears at the Jerusalem District Court to testify in one of the corruption cases against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, October 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Avi Berger, the former director-general of the Communications Ministry, appears at the Jerusalem District Court to testify in one of the corruption cases against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, October 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The criminal trial of Benjamin Netanyahu pivots today from the alleged illicit favors the former prime minister received to the benefits that prosecutors say he bestowed on the the Bezeq telecommunications company in return.

Taking the stand after six months of testimony from executives and editors at the Walla news site, former Communications Ministry director-general Avi Berger becomes the first witness in Case 4000 to allege in court that Netanyahu had abused his position as prime minister.

In the case, one of three in which the ex-premier faces charges, Netanyahu is accused of illicitly and lucratively benefiting the business interests of Bezeq telecom’s controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for positive coverage on the Bezeq-owned Walla news website. He is accused of abusing his powers when he served as both prime minister and communications minister from 2014 to 2017.

Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in the case, while Elovitch and his wife have been charged with bribery. All three defendants deny wrongdoing.

The allegations of misconduct go back to when Netanyahu replaced Gilad Erdan as communications minister in November 2014, in what critics saw as a power grab to give him increased control over the media and telecom industries. He subsequently fired Berger — then the ministry’s director-general — over the phone, in May 2015, and appointed longtime associate Shlomo Filber in his stead.

The move, as well as Netanyahu’s insistence that the 2015 coalition agreements include a provision giving him “sole control” over media matters, was aimed at creating less confrontational stance vis-à-vis Bezeq, which Berger had sought to limit, the Case 4000 indictment against Netanyahu claims.

Part of Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway reopens after truck got stuck under overpass

Police at the scene where a truck transporting a bulldozer struck an overpass on Route 1, at the Ben Gurion interchange, on October 26, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Police at the scene where a truck transporting a bulldozer struck an overpass on Route 1, at the Ben Gurion interchange, on October 26, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Part of Route 1 — the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv — has reopened to traffic after a truck hauling a bulldozer struck an overpass and got stuck.

The crash halted traffic for several hours on the Tel Aviv-bound side of the highway.

Top Sudanese general: Detained PM is being held at my home for his safety

Sudan's top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, speaks during a press conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum on October 26, 2021. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)
Sudan's top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, speaks during a press conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum on October 26, 2021. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)

CAIRO — Sudan’s ruling general suggests that some members of the government he dissolved in a coup could face trial but says that the deposed prime minister is being held for his own safety and will likely be released soon.

A day after the military seized power in a move widely denounced by the international community, pro-democracy protesters take to the streets again, blocking roads in the capital with makeshift barricades and burning tires.

The takeover came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and civilian leaders over the course and the pace of Sudan’s transition to democracy. It threatened to derail that process, which has progressed in fits and starts since the overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.

The United Nations Security Council is to discuss the situation in a closed-door meeting later in the day.

In his second public appearance since seizing power, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan says today that the military was forced to step in to resolve a growing political crisis.

“The whole country was deadlocked due to political rivalries,” he tells a televised news conference. “The experience during the past two years has proven that the participation of political forces in the transitional period is flawed and stirs up strife.”

Of the slew of senior government officials detained in yesterday’s coup, some tried to incite a rebellion within the armed forces, Burhan alleges, and they will face trial. Others who are found “innocent” will be freed, he says.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is being held at Burhan’s own home, the general says, and he’s in good health. He adds that the politician will be released “today or tomorrow.”

Earlier reports were that Hamdok and others in his transitional government were being held at a military camp outside Khartoum.

Iran acknowledges cyberattack targeting gas stations across country

A worker leans against a gasoline pump that has been turned off, at a gas station in Tehran, Iran, October 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
A worker leans against a gasoline pump that has been turned off, at a gas station in Tehran, Iran, October 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian state television says a cyberattack has targeted gas stations across the Islamic Republic.

The announcement read on air comes after long lines formed at stations in Tehran and elsewhere today.

State TV quotes an official with Iran’s National Security Council confirming the attack.

Oil Ministry officials are holding an “emergency meeting” to solve the technical problem.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the outage. However, electronic billboards in one major city also appeared to have been targeted in the hack.

Settlers allegedly mace Red Cross workers surveying damaged Palestinian olive groves

Illustrative: A volunteer harvests olives during a Palestinian Authority campaign to help farmers targeting Palestinian lands that are adjacent to Israeli settlements and outposts, during the olive harvest season, in the West Bank village of Beita, east of Nablus, October 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Illustrative: A volunteer harvests olives during a Palestinian Authority campaign to help farmers targeting Palestinian lands that are adjacent to Israeli settlements and outposts, during the olive harvest season, in the West Bank village of Beita, east of Nablus, October 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Three Red Cross workers were allegedly assaulted earlier today by a number of Israeli settlers who pepper-sprayed them as they surveyed damage done to Palestinian olive groves, the military says.

Israel Defense Forces troops provided first aid to the Red Cross personnel, a military spokesperson says.

The IDF spokesperson says they cannot comment further on the incident, as it is a police matter.

According to the Kan broadcaster, the Red Cross workers filed an official complaint with the Israel Police. The police did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the incident.

The alleged attack occurred in olive groves between the Palestinian village of Burin and the Yitzhar settlement, which is widely considered to be a hotbed of Jewish extremist activity.

Recent weeks have seen an uptick in violence by Israeli extremists in the West Bank against Palestinians, human rights workers and Israeli security forces.

3 Sudanese ambassadors in Europe defect after military coup

Sudanese demonstrators lift national flags and burn tires on a street in the capital Khartoum, on October 26, 2021, as they protest a military coup that overthrew the transition to civilian rule.(AFP)
Sudanese demonstrators lift national flags and burn tires on a street in the capital Khartoum, on October 26, 2021, as they protest a military coup that overthrew the transition to civilian rule.(AFP)

CAIRO — Three Sudanese ambassadors in Europe announce their defections today, condemning the military coup in their country and declaring their embassies as belonging to the “Sudanese people,” the information ministry says.

“We completely align ourselves with the heroic opposition (to the coup) followed by the entire world,” the envoys to France, Belgium and Switzerland say, declaring their missions as “embassies of the Sudanese people and their revolution.”

Parks authority confirms poisoning of goat, vultures found in Judean Desert

The Nature and Parks Authority says it has confirmed that a goat and nine vultures found yesterday in the Judean Desert were poisoned.

The authority says it is continuing to investigate to find who was responsible and notes the type of vultures poisoned are an endangered breed.

Tehran suffering worst drought in 50 years, says water official

TEHRAN, Iran — The Iranian capital is suffering its worst drought in half a century, a water resources official says, citing a 97 percent drop in monthly rainfall compared with last year.

Tehran has had 0.4 millimeters of rain since September 23, compared with 14.3 millimeters over the same period in 2020, says Mohammad Shahriari, deputy director of the company that supplies the region.

“Groundwater and surface water are at a critical state and there has not been a similar drought for the past 50 years,” he is quoted as saying by Iran’s ISNA news agency.

The five dams supplying water to the capital are at less than a third of their capacity, holding just 477 million cubic meters (under 17 billion cubic feet) of water instead of two billion cubic meters.

In September last year, the reserves held 729 million cubic meters of water.

Water consumption in the agricultural sector has gone up by 14 percent compared with last year, and by eight percent for industry.

Hydroelectricity generation has dropped by 40 percent in the past six months, according to Shahriari.

Tehran is home to around nine million people.

In July, deadly protests broke out in the drought-hit southwestern province of Khuzestan after people took to the streets to vent their anger over water shortages.

Daily COVID deaths in Russia hit new high; most Russians ordered to stay home for a week

Employees of the Federal State Center for Special Risk Rescue Operations of Russia Emergency Situations prepare to disinfect Savyolovsky railway station in Moscow, Russia, October 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Employees of the Federal State Center for Special Risk Rescue Operations of Russia Emergency Situations prepare to disinfect Savyolovsky railway station in Moscow, Russia, October 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW — The daily number of COVID-19 deaths in Russia hits another high today amid a surge in infections that has forced the Kremlin to order most Russians to stay off work starting this week.

The national coronavirus task force reports 1,106 deaths in 24 hours, the most since the start of the pandemic. The number brings the country’s pandemic death toll to 232,775, Europe’s biggest by far.

Russia registered 36,446 new daily coronavirus cases, slightly fewer compared to the past few days.

In a move intended to stem the spread of the virus, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a nonworking period between October 30 and November 7, when the country will observe an extended holiday.

During that time, most state organizations and private businesses are to suspend operations, and most stores will close along with kindergartens, schools, gyms and most entertainment venues. Restaurants and cafes will only be open for takeout or delivery orders. Food stores, pharmacies and businesses operating key infrastructure can stay open.

Access to museums, theaters, concert halls and other venues will be limited to people holding digital codes on their smartphones to prove they have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, a practice that will remain in place after November 7.

Putin has told local officials to order unvaccinated people older than 60 to stay home and to close nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

Authorities also have moved to strengthen the enforcement of mask mandates on public transportation and in indoor venues, which have been loosely observed.

Netanyahu’s official car involved in crash; ex-PM wasn’t in vehicle, driver lightly hurt

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s official car was involved in a crash in Jerusalem.

The driver was lightly injured and taken to a local hospital, according to Hebrew media reports.

The former prime minister was not in the car at the time.

A photo from the crash showed significant damage to front left side of the car.

 

Gas stations across Iran suffer outage in possible cyberattack

Video reportedly shot in the Iranian city of Ishfan shows a billboard with message reading "Khamenei, where is our gasoline?" amid a possible cyberattack affecting gas stations across Iran, October 26, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Video reportedly shot in the Iranian city of Ishfan shows a billboard with message reading "Khamenei, where is our gasoline?" amid a possible cyberattack affecting gas stations across Iran, October 26, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Gas stations across Iran suffer through a widespread outage of a government system governing fuel subsidies, stopping sales in an incident that one semiofficial news agency refers to as a cyberattack.

An Iranian state television account online shares images of long lines of cars waiting to fill up in Tehran. An Associated Press journalist also sees lines of cars at a Tehran gas station, with the pumps off and the station closed.

State TV doesn’t explain what the issue is, but says Oil Ministry officials are holding an “emergency meeting” to solve the technical problem.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency, which calls the incident a cyberattack, says it saw those trying to buy fuel with a government-issued card through the machines instead receive a message reading “cyberattack 64411.” Most Iranians rely on those subsidies to fuel their vehicles, particularly amid the country’s economic problems.

While ISNA doesn’t acknowledge the number’s significance, that number is associated to a hotline run through the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that handles questions about Islamic law. ISNA later removed its reports.

Farsi-language satellite channels abroad publish videos apparently shot by drivers in Isfahan, a major Iranian city, showing electronic billboards there reading: “Khamenei! Where is our gas?” Another says: “Free gas in Jamaran gas station,” a reference to the home of the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

No group immediately claims responsibility for the outage. However, the use of the number “64411” mirrors an attack in July targeting Iran’s railroad system that also saw the number displayed. Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point later attributed the train attack to a group of hackers that called themselves Indra, after the Hindu god of war.

Indra previously targeted firms in Syria, where President Bashar Assad has held onto power through Iran’s intervention in his country’s grinding war.

Iran has faced a series of cyberattacks, including one that leaked video of abuses its notorious Evin prison in August.

The country disconnected much of its government infrastructure from the internet after the Stuxnet computer virus — widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation — disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in the country’s nuclear sites in the late 2000s.

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