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Activists in Tel Aviv face off with police as protest march blocked off

Anti-government groups rally across country; hundreds in Tel Aviv gather at Habima Square, try to march down boulevard; little fighting reported

Israeli border guards block anti-government protesters during a demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, amidst the coronavirus lockdown, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, on October 6, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Israeli border guards block anti-government protesters during a demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, amidst the coronavirus lockdown, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, on October 6, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

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

Over 100 soldiers on IDF base reportedly test positive for virus

Over 100 cases of the coronavirus have been found on a single IDF base in the last day, Channel 13 news reports.

The outbreak is on a training base used by the Kfir infantry brigade, according to the report. It would appear to be the largest single outbreak on an army base yet.

Some 400 soldiers have been sent into quarantine, it says.

There is no immediate confirmation from the military.


Suspect in alleged protest car-ramming ordered held in custody

A suspect accused of mowing down protesters with his car in Tel Aviv last week has been ordered to remain in custody for at least another three days, a police spokesperson says.

The move to keep the suspect, named in media reports as Pini Luzon, in custody until Thursday is ordered by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.

The man is accused of running into protesters who blocked a road during a chaotic anti-government demonstration on Thursday.

Screen capture from video of a car, center, as it hits anti-government protesters during a rally in Tel Aviv, October 1, 2020. (Twitter)

Luzon, who says he tried to speed away as protesters attacked his car, was sent to house arrest on Sunday, but a court later overturned the decision after the police appealed.

Egypt orders release of journalist arrested for ‘promoting false news’

Egypt’s prosecutor-general has ordered the release of a journalist days after she was arrested in the country’s south, amid outcry from international press freedom advocates.

“The prosecutor-general has ordered the release of the defendant Basma Mostafa after she was questioned on the charges laid against her,” the prosecution said in a statement overnight Monday into Tuesday, adding that the investigation would continue.

Prosecutors had accused her of “using her personal social media account to publish and promote false news,” the statement says.

Mostafa, a freelance journalist, was brought before prosecutors on Sunday.

She was arrested the day before while attempting to report on the alleged police killing of a man in the wake of small-scale demonstrations last month near the southern city of Luxor, according to Al-Manassa news website, where she is a regular contributor.


Taskforce report warns of drawn out health effects for COVID suffers

A new report from the military-run coronavirus task force warns that many COVID-19 sufferers continue to experience symptoms of the disease for months, including those who already seemingly recovered from mild bouts with the virus.

“Symptoms can continue for several months after the disease passes, with no connection to the underlying medical condition or age of the patient. According to various estimates, up to a third of those who recover suffer from persistent symptoms.

The report recommends that policy-makers take this fact into account as it could mean that Israel will still face serious medical challenges even after the country is able to get infection rates under control.

“Beyond consequences that these complications and damage have for those who have recovered, given the wide scale of infection in Israel, these persisting complications may have significant consequences for public health, and even weigh heavily on the economy (even if the prevalence is low).”

According to Health Ministry figures, nearly 275,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Israel thus far, or approximately 3 percent of the population. Many more are thought to have contracted it without knowing.

Israeli, UAE foreign ministers seen at Berlin memorial

A picture released by the Israeli foreign ministry shows Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, UAE counterpart Abdulah Bin Zayed al Nahyan and top German diplomat Heiko Maas at the Berlin Holocaust memorial.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, second right, UAE Foreign Minister Abdulah Bin Zayed al Nahyan, left, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, second left, listening to a presentation at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial on October 6, 2020. (Courtesy/Foreign Ministry of Israel)

Walla news reporter Barak Ravid tweets that sources say the meeting was the initiative of the Emirati foreign minister.

The meeting is the highest level open summit between the countries aside from a signing ceremony in Washington, which did not actually include a meeting.

‘Never again’: At Holocaust memorial, UAE foreign minister pays respects to Jewish victims

The Israeli Foreign Ministry says that UAE Foreign Minister Abdulah bin Zayed was “surprised” to hear that Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi was the son of Holocaust survivors and asked to hear more about their stories during a visit together to the Berlin Holocaust memorial.

In a guestbook, bin Zayed writes a handwritten message expressing his respect for the “European Jewish victims of the Holocaust.”

“A whole group of humanity fell victim to those calling for extremism and hatred,” bin Zayed writes.

Guestbook entries at the Berlin Holocaust memorial from Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and UAE Foreign Minister Abdulah Bin Zayed al Nahyan, on October 6, 2020. (MFA)

His visit to the memorial “underscored the importance of human values such as coexistence, tolerance and accepting the other…as well as respect for all creeds and faiths. These are the values upon which my country was founded,” bin Zayed writes.

“I salute the souls of those who fell victim to the Holocaust, ” bin Zayed writes, before quoting from a Jewish prayer translated into Arabic: “May their souls be bound up in the bond of eternal life.”

“Never again,” he concludes, in both English and in Arabic.

Ashkenazi writes in Hebrew that his presence at the site alongside the German and UAE top diplomats “symbolizes the start of a new era, an area of peace between nations.”

“Our joint signature in this memorial book is a cry and a promise in one: to remember and not forget, to be strong and to ensure never again.”

He closes with a Jewish prayer for peace.

Germany, allies tell Russia to come clean on Navalny poisoning

Germany and its allies at a meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog are urging Russia to fully investigate and explain how opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.

Navalny, a corruption investigator who is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic, was flown to Germany two days after falling ill on August 20 during a domestic flight in Russia. German officials have said labs found traces of a chemical agent from the Novichok family in the Russian politician’s system.

“It is up to Russia — where the chemical attack occurred — to shed light on the incident, and to provide an explanation on how a chemical nerve agent came to be used in a reckless act against a Russian citizen on Russian soil,” German Ambassador Gudrun Lingner says in a statement to the Executive Council meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “Up to now, the Russian Federation has not provided any credible explanation.”

The closed-doors meeting, with attendance limited due to coronavirus restrictions, starts today. Written statements by many of the national delegations taking part are posted online.

— AP

Video shows police brawling with ultra-Orthodox in Beit Shemesh; 3 held

A video shows fresh fighting between police and ultra-Orthodox men and children in the city of Beit Shemesh.

In the video, police apparently on the scene to enforce virus lockdown rules scuffle with people massed on the street around a cruiser.

At one point an officer is seen being hit in the face with what appears to be a can. Another officer is seen raising his fist as if to strike a man, as the scene develops into a melee.

At several points, police are seen shoving and dragging people, including a teen boy.

Another video from the city shows masses of people dancing and marching toward police, who retreat backwards.

Police say in a statement that three people were arrested for disturbing the peace. The statement says a police cruiser suffered damage from stones and other objects hurled at it.

WTO: Pandemic blow to trade not as bad as thought, but rebound may lag

The World Trade Organization is predicting a 9.2% drop in merchandise trade this year, saying the hit from the pandemic doesn’t appear to be bad as first thought — though the recovery may be slower than anticipated and could worsen if case counts rise again.

Economists from the Geneva-based trade body revise their earlier prediction of a 12.9 percent plunge in merchandise trade this year. That forecast was presented in April, when COVID-19 case counts were soaring in major economic engines like the Europe Union and the United States.

People walk on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem on October 6, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The revision follows improved trade performances in June and July, notably thanks to rising demand for health care goods and electronic equipment.

But likewise, WTO forecasters now predict a 7.2% rise in trade next year, far more “pessimistic” than the April forecast for a 21.3% bounce back. The forecasts exclude trade in services, and focus only on merchandise.

The WTO cautions that any recovery over the medium term will depend on the strength of investment and employment.

— AP

Children attack car carrying soldier in Beit Shemesh

A video from Beit Shemesh shows small ultra-Orthodox children attacking a car carrying a soldier.

In the video, young kids are seeing hurling stones at the car, smashing windows, as adults look on and appear to encourage them.

Gamzu ‘disappointed’ in rule-breaking minister, says virus numbers dropping

Coronavirus czar Roni Gamliel says at a press conference that Israel is seeing a drop in the infection rate, but says he can’t be sure the trend will continue.

‘There is still no surefire slump nationwide,” he says.

He adds that it’s too early to begin planning the rollback of lockdown measures.

“In the next few days we’ll make decisions, after we see the infection picture. At the beginning of next week I’ll have a better idea,” he says.

He also aims criticism at minister Gila Gamliel for appearing to break lockdown rules, saying he “feels disappointed,” and warning that the violations are contributing to a lack of public trust in authorities.

“Public figures should not be looking for breaks or loopholes and should stay as straight as possible,” he says.

Israel, Emirates, Germany holding three-way diplomatic talks in Berlin

After touring the Berlin Holocaust memorial, the foreign ministers of Israel, the UAE and Germany are holding diplomatic talks at Villa Borsig in the Tegel area of Berlin, a German official says.

The official says that “bilateral and trilateral consultations” are being held between the countries, without expanding.

New York shutters schools in high infection zones, many of them Orthodox

Hundreds of public and private schools in New York City neighborhoods seeing flare-ups of COVID-19 infections are not opening this morning.

The affected areas are largely Orthodox Jewish strongholds, and some community members have complained of being singled out for enforcement.

Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the closing of schools in nine Brooklyn and Queens ZIP codes on Monday. He also said that he hadn’t made a decision yet on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to close nonessential businesses in the neighborhoods.

Students wearing masks walk to school in the Kensington neighborhood, September 29, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP/Mark Lennihan)

“These clusters have to be attacked,” Cuomo said of the areas where coronavirus infection rates are higher than in the rest of the city.

The nine ZIP codes where schools were closed have accounted for more than 20% of all new infections in the city over the past four weeks, though they represent just 7% of the population.

Shin Bet chief reportedly hosted family for holiday

Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman is being accused of hosting family members over the Sukkot holiday at his home, which is forbidden according to government rules.

According to Kan, Argaman hosted his daughter, his daughter-in-law, her husband and their kids on Saturday. None of them live with him.

The Shin Bet refuses to respond to the report.

Protest group leader heard making racist remark to Black cop

A video on social media shows Black Flag protest group leader Amir Haskel making a racially charged remark to an Ethiopian policewoman while arguing with officers in Jerusalem.

“I brought your parents here,” the former general says to the young woman, as police move him away. “Aren’t you ashamed?”

The group says activists are gathering at over 1,000 points around the country to protest against the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Police are gearing up as well after clashing with protesters in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

Protesters are not allowed to travel more than a kilometer from home, and so activists have changed tactics to many small protests rather than one large one.

Chemical weapons watchdog says Putin opponent was poisoned

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman says a global chemical weapons watchdog group has confirmed Germany and other countries’ findings that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a Soviet-era nerve agent.

Steffen Seibert says in a statement Tuesday that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, had carried out its own analysis of samples taken from Navalny, and its members “agree with the results already from special laboratories in Germany, Sweden and France.”

“This once again confirms unequivocally that Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group,” Seibert says.

Seibert says Germany received the OPCW’s report on Monday and was still examining it. Officials were still trying to determine how much of the information could be released to the public without causing a security risk by allowing knowledge of the substance to “fall into the wrong hands.”

— AP

Police who planted weapons to spice up reality show won’t be charged

The Justice Ministry unit for investigating police announces that it is closing the investigation into allegations that officers planted a rifle in the house of a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem as part of the filming of a reality TV show, saying no wrongdoing was committed.

In one episode of the reality cop show “Jerusalem District”, police claimed to have discovered an M-16 in the basement of Samer Sleiman, a Palestinian resident of Issawiya, in East Jerusalem. A report by the Haaretz daily later alleged that police had planted the weapon in the house before pretending to “uncover” it during the search.

Samer Sleiman, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, arrives at the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department in Jerusalem on August 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

In a statement, the Police Internal Investigations Department did not deny that police faked the discovery of weapons. But according to PIID chief Keren Bar Menachem, the police had no criminal intent in their actions, nor did they attempt to falsify formal charges against the East Jerusalem resident.

The matter will be transferred to “the relevant authorities” within the police, who could discipline the officers internally.

— Aaron Boxerman

German FM: Israeli-UAE deal shows that Mideast peace is possible

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tells a joint press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan that their willingness to meet in Berlin and tour the Holocaust memorial together “shows how serious you are in your efforts for good bilateral relations.”

He calls the ties between the countries “a historic step.”

“This shows that peaceful coexistence in the Middle East is possible,” he says.


UAE: There is new hope for Palestinians

UAE foreign minister Abdullah Bin Zayed says the Emirates, Israel and Germany are all striving for more stability in the region.

“There is new hope for Palestinians and Israelis so they can work for a two-state solution and a better region,” he says.

Meeting with UAE counterpart, Ashkenazi urges Palestinians to negotiating table

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi thanks his Emirati counterpart for meeting with him and touring the Holocaust memorial in Germany with him.

He says the visit was the first time in history that a representative of an Arab state was present at such a memorial.

“Everyone understands why we need to be strong to avoid war and create peace,” he says.

He says the meeting “represents a new era.”

He describes the meeting as “good,” and says tourism and trade were discussed, expressing hope for more talks, including on security.

He says the UAE deal has paved the way for more relations between Israel and other Gulf countries, but says those countries need to be “courageous,” to move ahead toward peace.

He calls for the Palestinians to come back to the table, saying that direct negotiations are the only way to move forward.

He ends his speech by wishing for peace in Arabic.

MK slams protest leader for racist remark

Likud MK Gadi Yevarkan, who is of Ethiopian descent, slams Amir Haskel for making what he describes as a racist remark toward an Ethiopian police officer.

“Amir Haskel has become a racist and condescends toward police officers of Ethiopian descent. This is not how an IDF officer speaks,” he tells the Israel National News website.

“Haskel and his buddies are sure that Israel is theirs. They are lords of the land and everyone else are visitors at best, and slaves at worst. If they are not in control, there goes the country, Netanyahu is just an excuse,” he charges.

Haskel was filmed telling an Ethiopian officer that he brought her parents to the country and she should be ashamed.

Zaka head says some Haredi behavior ‘shameful,’ but community not homogenous

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the ultra-Orthodox head of the Zaka search and rescue group, tells Channel 12 news that he is ashamed by the behavior of some in his community when it comes to coronavirus health guidelines, but notes that not all Haredim are the same.

“It’s shameful as a community and as a people,” he says. “I understand the anger of secular people… people saying: You are infecting us, 20 percent infecting 80%. And you’re stealing the ventilators.”

ZAKA head, Rabbi Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, on February 4, 2010. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

He says there is “huge confusion” about what’s going on among the Haredim.

According to Meshi-Zahav, the mainstream Hasidic sects are keeping all the rules. He claims that some of the issues come from some Hasidic sects like Vizhnitz and Belz who have decided to try to get herd immunity rather than “disturb the world of Torah,” on the advice of their rabbis. Some “want to get infected,” he says.

He advises that Israeli authorities can get through to these communities by speaking to rabbinical leaders and not by using force.

Haredi Jews attend the funeral of the Pittsburgher Rebbe Mordechai Leifer in the Israeli city of Ashdod on October 5, 2020. (Flash90)

Most of the most egregious behavior, he says, comes from the hard-line anti-Zionist groups such as the Eda Haredit and Toldot Aharon, which are deliberately flouting the rules and trying to sow division.

“They want pictures” of cops hitting kids, to show their communities and pump up hatred of secular Israelis.

“They want to deepen the gulf between the ultra-Orthodox and Israeli-ness,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Virus positivity rate slides to lowest in weeks, preliminary figures show

Preliminary Health Ministry figures show that the rate of coronavirus tests coming back positive is continuing to slide, going down to 10.3% so far on Tuesday, the lowest number seen since mid-September.

It’s unclear if the rate will stay as low, as it typically rises once final numbers for a day are available. Monday saw a positivity rate of 11.4%.

The ministry says there have been 3,007 new cases so far Tuesday, on just under 30,000 tests. Over the last 24 hours, there have been fewer than 5,000 new cases confirmed.

In other nearly good news, the number of patients in serious cases has slid to 872.

On the other hand, 13 new deaths have been recorded since this morning, bringing the toll to 1,784. The figures indicate 35 deaths over the last 24 hours.

The number of active cases is 63,809, the lowest figure recorded since September 25, though that may be a product of lowered testing over the past several days.

Trump reports he is symptom free, doctor says

US President Donald Trump says that he is showing ‘no symptoms’ of COVID-19, according to his doctor.

“He had a restful first night at home, and today he reports no symptoms. Vital signs & physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level at 95-97%,” Dr. Sean Conley says in a statement. “Overall he continues to do extremely well.”

The statement appears to indicate that Trump, who has downplayed the effects of the virus, is self-reporting on his symptoms.

Ultra-Orthodox still seeing 23% positive virus test rate — report

Despite promising signs of the overall population’s infection rate beginning to drop, Channel 12 news reports that the rate in the ultra-Orthodox community remains a sky-high 23 percent.

According to the report, which does not mention a source for the information, the rest of the country is seeing an 8% positivity rate, which is still high, but lower than the nationwide rate.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, testing a new rapid test (and coming up negative) says “There are initial signs of cautious optimism that we are halting the pandemic, but it’s too early to say so. All the experts, bar none, say to wait at least a week. That’s what we are doing.”

Poll finds Yamina nipping at Likud’s heels

A political poll by Channel 12 news shows a close race between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and Naftali Bennett’s righter-wing Yamina party.

According to the poll, if elections were held today, Likud would get 26 seats to Yamina’s 23. Likud has slipped in polls from as high as 41 seats as a protest movement against Netanyahu has gained steam and as the country has floundered in efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, which had been hovering around 20 seats with Yamina, would snag 18 seats, the channel finds.

The survey has the Joint List steady at 15 seats, and Blue and White tied with Shas for 9 seats. Yisrael Beytenu (8), UTJ (7) and Meretz (5), round out the list of parties that would enter the Knesset.

The survey also finds the vast majority of respondents, 76%, think Netanyahu should fire Minister Gila Gamliel, after being told that Gamliel broke virus rules and traveled to her in-laws’ home.

The channel does not mention when or how the survey was taken, how many people were surveyed or anything else about its methodology. Israeli TV polls are notoriously slipshod and opaque, but often provide a general picture of trends.

Hundreds pack Tel Aviv square for anti-government protest

Several hundred people are gathered at Habima Square in Tel Aviv for a regular anti-government protest.

A Times of Israel reporter at the scene estimates some 700 people are gathered in the square, with many more streaming in. Social distancing among protesters in inconsistent.

Protesters in Tel Aviv on October 6, 2020. (Aaron Boxerman/Times of Israel)

Police are mostly staying away, avoiding confrontations seen during past protests.

More protests are being held around the country, in line with government restrictions against traveling more than a kilometer.

Egyptian TV airs Israeli FM’s speech on war anniversary

A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi sends a note to reporters pointing out that Egyptian television channel Extra News aired his brief remarks in Germany alongside his Emirati counterpart in full.

The spokesperson calls the broadcast “most extraordinary,” and points out that it occurred on October 6, the anniversary of the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The broadcast also included the comments from UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan.


Protesters in Tel Aviv begin to march

Several hundred demonstrators in Tel Aviv at Tuesday night’s protest calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ouster have begun marching down Rothschild Boulevard. In the past, police have often refused to allow marches without prior approval, which they say are illegal.

Omer Keren, 28, decided to come to the protests tonight for the first time.

“I feel like we’ve become indifferent, apathetic. I’ve felt this way for years. I wouldn’t do anything except for vote,” Keren says.

Protesters marching in Tel Aviv on October 6, 2020. (Aaron Boxerman/Times of Israel)

“When you see the behavior of a Prime Minister who’s been indicted, and the people in his court — like Miki Zohar and Osnat Mark — it’s just not healthy for us as a country,” he says.

Keren says that the fact that the coronavirus restrictions on demonstrations had brought the protests to Tel Aviv also play a role in his decision to show up.

— Aaron Boxerman

Stumping for Biden, Mayim Bialik says Democrats can be pro-Israel too

Headlining a Zoom event for Jewish Joe Biden supporters, actress Mayim Bialik adamantly rejects the notion that the Republican party is the only pro-Israel party.

She says being told that pro-Israel Jews cannot vote Democrat “makes me as a liberal Zionist extremely uncomfortable.” she says. “It’s a fallacy set up by people who are not Democrats to try and make us choose. Israel is my place because I’m a Democrat.”

Explaining her identity as a liberal Zionist, Bialik says it allows her to not have to choose whether or not “to support Palestinian rights.”

She admits to having had “difficult conversations” about whether to visit relatives who live “deep in the shtachim,” using the Hebrew word for “territories” to describe the West Bank.

During the Zoom session, the actress also laments the “tremendous amount of fear” she says many in her camp face when deciding whether to speak out about the Jewish state.

— Jacob Magid

Police block protesters in Tel Aviv, but ruction kept in check

Police are blocking the way of protesters attempting to march down Rothschild Boulevard. The atmosphere is charged, but so far calm, with no fighting seen between police and activists.

Hundreds are waving pink or black flags while chanting slogans against the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Police blocking protesters attempting to march in Tel Aviv on October 6, 2020. (Aaron Boxerman/Times of Israel)

One protester holds up a sign reading “but you want to go to Tiberias,” referring to Minister Gila Gamliel, who traveled there for Yom Kippur against the rules and managed to catch the coronavirus.

Jewish tennis star nearing French Open semifinal spot

Tennis players Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman are heading to a fifth set in their French Open quarterfinal after more than 4 1/2 hours on court already.

US Open champion Thiem is trying to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros for the fifth year in a row.

He was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2018 and 2019.

The 12th-seeded Schwartzman, who is Jewish, is hoping to get to his first Grand Slam semifinal. He came into this match with an 0-3 record in major quarterfinals.

Schwartzman won the first set in a tiebreaker, and was close to taking the second and third, too, but Thiem grabbed each of those. Thiem was two points away from winning the match at 6-5 in the fourth set, and again in the ensuing tiebreaker, but Schwartzman eventually evened the match at Court Philippe Chatrier and sent it to a fifth.

The winner will next play 12-time champion Nadal or 19-year-old Jannik Sinner, whose quarterfinal was scheduled to begin later Tuesday.

— AP

Police attempting to keep calm, distance at Tel Aviv rally

Some small scale scuffles are being reported at a protest in Tel Aviv as police hem in protesters who attempted to march down Rothschild Boulevard, though calm is being maintained for the most part, if not social distancing.

Even though such large gatherings are technically forbidden under coronavirus restrictions, police are mostly calling for protesters to remain 2 meters apart and at a distance from the officers on the scene.

No arrests have been reported.

— Aaron Boxerman

Schwartzman reaches Grand Slam semifinal for first time

After almost five hours of play, Diego Schwartzman has beaten Dominic Thiem in five sets to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal ever.

Diego Schwartzman, left, is congratulated by Novak Djokovic after their thrilling five-set French Open match in Paris won by Djokovic, June 2, 2017. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images via JTA)

The Argentinean Jewish player will play 12-time champion Rafael Nadal or 19-year-old Jannik Sinner, whose quarterfinal is scheduled to begin later Tuesday.

Last month, he became one of the few players to beat Nadal, winning against him on clay in Rome, after falling in nine previous tries.

On Monday, the New York Times called Schwartzman “a Tennis David in a Sport of Goliaths” and “the most dangerous man in Paris right now besides Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.”

Israeli diplomat appointed to senior UN post

The Israeli UN mission’s legal adviser has been appointed vice chairwoman of a key UN committee, her office announces.

Sarah Weiss Maudi will represent the Western Europe and Others Group (WEOG) of countries on the Sixth Committee — the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly.

She will be the first Israeli woman to serve in this position.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan welcomes Weiss Maudi’s appointment, calling it “an important achievement that also has a direct connection to the peace agreements we have signed and shows the potential for Israel to influence the organization.”

— Jacob Magid

Police to protesters: We are not against you, stay healthy

Calm appears to be holding in Tel Aviv despite some earlier tensions.

In a change from the typical police announcement that the gathering is illegal, an officer announces through a megaphone: “We’re not against you, but you are all putting your health in danger.”

— Aaron Boxerman

Facebook pulls Trump post downplaying virus

Facebook has removed a post by US President Donald Trump for downplaying COVID-19 danger by saying the seasonal flu is more deadly, in a rare step against the American leader by the leading social network.

A day after checking out of a hospital where he received first-class treatment for COVID-19, Trump used Twitter and Facebook to post messages inaccurately contending that people have more to fear from the flu.

“We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19, and have now removed this post,” Facebook says in reply to an AFP inquiry.

Twitter adds a notice to the tweeted version of the Trump post, saying the message was left up due to public interest but that it violated rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.


National security adviser nixes mass weddings, Simhat Torah festivities

National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat says weddings and other mass events with thousands of people are banned so long as the pandemic rages, according to Ynet.

He tells mayors in a conference call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “during the time of the coronavirus, there will not be weddings or other happy events with thousands eating together.”

He says the upcoming Simhat Torah holiday on Friday night-Saturday must be observed without the traditional hakafot, which feature dancing and mass congregations.

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