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US hits top Iran officials with fresh sanctions over Mahsa Amini death

Treasury targets Iran’s interior and communications ministers and several law enforcement leaders for repressing protests and shutting down internet; solidarity rally in Jerusalem

A photo depicting Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by Iran's notorious "morality police," seen during a protest by Israeli women in solidarity with Iranian women in central Jerusalem, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)
A photo depicting Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by Iran's notorious "morality police," seen during a protest by Israeli women in solidarity with Iranian women in central Jerusalem, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.

Israeli anesthesiologists warn of impending epidural shortage

Israeli anesthesiologists are warning of an impending shortage of epidural kits, used to provide pain relief during childbirth.

The doctors appeal to the Health Ministry to find a solution, warning that the kits could run out by next month, Channel 12 reports.

The shortage in Israel is part of a global shortage due to supply problems faced by the US company Portex, which makes a key component in a vast majority of the kits.

Chagall painting stolen by Nazis to be auctioned in New York

A painting by Marc Chagall, which was among 15 works stolen by Nazis and eventually returned by France to the heirs of the affected families, will go on sale next month in New York, the Phillips auction house says.

The 1911 oil on canvas, “The Father,” set for auction on November 15, was purchased in 1928 by a Polish-Jewish violin maker, David Cender, who lost his possessions when he was forced to move to the Lodz ghetto.

“The Father” by Marc Chagall (Museum of Jewish Art and History)

Deported to Auschwitz, where his wife and daughter were killed, the violin maker survived and moved to France in 1958, where he died in 1966 without regaining possession of the painting — now estimated to be worth $6 million to $8 million.

In the meantime, the work had reappeared in exhibitions and it turned out that it was Marc Chagall himself who had bought it, probably between 1947 and 1953 — without knowing its provenance, according to Phillips and the French culture ministry.

After the Russian-born artist died in France in 1985, “The Father” entered the national collections in 1988, and was then assigned to the Pompidou Center and deposited in the Museum of Jewish Art and History in Paris.

The French parliament unanimously adopted a law at the beginning of the year to return 15 works of Jewish families looted by the Nazis. The then culture minister, Roselyne Bachelot, had called it a historic “first step” — noting that other looted works of art and books were still kept in public collections.

Cender’s heirs decided to sell the painting, a common scenario “when a work is restituted so long after it has been stolen,” because “you’ve got multiple heirs and the work itself cannot be split,” says Phillips deputy chairman Jeremiah Evarts.

US tourist smashes two Roman busts at Vatican after refused audience with Pope

Rome police arrest a US tourist who smashed two Roman sculptures at the Vatican, apparently after being denied an audience with the Pope.

The incident occurred yesterday and pictures posted to social media show the two shattered sculptures on the floor.

Vatican police handed over the 65-year-old man to Rome police. A police spokesman says he appeared “psychologically distressed,” adding that he was charged with aggravated property damage and released.

Vatican officials are trying to restore the two busts.

Swastikas deface Jewish newspapers in New York on Yom Kippur

Swastikas are found on newspaper boxes distributing Jewish publications in New York City.

The antisemitic graffiti turned up last night, at the end of Yom Kippur, in a Jewish area of Queens.

A photo posted by local politician Daniel Rosenthal shows swastikas on boxes for the Jewish newspapers The Queens Jewish Link, The Bukharian Jewish Link and The 5 Towns Jewish Times.

“We must be able to feel safe in our neighborhoods. We must do more. The continued rise of antisemitism is unsustainable and unacceptable,” Rosenthal says.

US hits Iran with more sanctions over Mahsa Amini death

An activist wears a message on her protective face mask "Stop Killing Us" during a protest against the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.(AP/Hassan Ammar)
An activist wears a message on her protective face mask "Stop Killing Us" during a protest against the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.(AP/Hassan Ammar)

The US imposes more sanctions on Iranian government officials in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, as protests have embroiled dozens of Iranian cities for weeks and evolved into the most widespread challenge to Iran’s leadership in years.

US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designates seven high-ranking leaders for financial penalties due to the shutdown of Iran’s internet access, repression of speech and violence inflicted on protesters and civilians. Iran’s interior and communications ministers and several law enforcement leaders were targeted for sanctions.

Amini was detained in September by the morality police, who said she didn’t properly cover her hair with the mandatory Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab. She collapsed at a police station and died three days later.

Her death set off protests in dozens of cities across the country and the government has responded with a fierce crackdown. Authorities have detained at least 35 reporters and photographers since the demonstrations began Sept. 17, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

UN Human Rights Council passes its first-ever Israeli-proposed resolution

The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva passes its first-ever Israeli-proposed resolution.

The proposal focuses on combatting cyberbullying and calls for efforts to stop online harassment against children and people with disabilities.

The UNHRC has been notoriously biased against Israel in the past.

Security cabinet meeting to discuss Lebanon maritime border deal

Prime Minister Yair Lapid flies over the Karish gas field on July 19, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid flies over the Karish gas field on July 19, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The high-level security cabinet is meeting to discuss the proposed maritime border deal with Lebanon.

An Israeli official earlier said that Israel was rejecting several amendments proposed by Lebanon to the US-brokered agreement.

The Ynet news site quotes participants in the meeting as saying that the regional terms proposed by the US were “excellent.”

Michaeli plan to inaugurate Haifa station on Shabbat draws ire

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, September 18, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, September 18, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli draws the ire of right-wing and religious lawmakers after reports that she plans to open the new Haifa Metronit station on Shabbat.

Likud lawmaker Shlomi Karhi tweets that Michaeli, the Labor party leader, is “buying yourself a front-row seat with the eternal enemies of Israel.”

“Your clothes are black and your soul is black. Go,” he tweets.

Michaeli responds by pointing out that he does not complain when Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu drives around in his “taxpayer-funded official vehicle” on Shabbat.

“But when I inaugurate a Metronit (bus) station that will help rescue Israeli citizens from the siege they face on Shabbat, he loses his mind,” she says.

Public transportation on the Jewish day of rest is one of the most politically controversial issues in Israel.

US says Israel-Lebanon talks at a ‘critical stage,’ hopeful deal can be reached

US Senior Adviser for Energy Security Amos Hochstein in a meeting with Lebanon's caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad (not pictured) in Beirut on July 31, 2022. (Anwar Amro/AFP)
US Senior Adviser for Energy Security Amos Hochstein in a meeting with Lebanon's caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad (not pictured) in Beirut on July 31, 2022. (Anwar Amro/AFP)

The White House says talks between Israel and Lebanon on a maritime border deal have reached a “critical stage” and US envoy Amos Hochstein remains in close contact with both sides.

The deal appeared to falter today when Israel said it would not accept Lebanese changes to the agreement and put the IDF on alert.

“Special Presidential Coordinator Amos Hochstein continues his robust engagement to bring the maritime boundary discussions to a close. We remain in close communication with the Israelis and Lebanese,” says a White House National Security Council spokesperson.

“We are at a critical stage in the negotiations and the gaps have narrowed. We remain committed to reaching a resolution and believe a lasting compromise is possible,” the spokesperson says.

Silman to run on Likud list as Meretz withdraws appeal to court

MK Idit Silman chairs a Knesset Health Committee on on June 7, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
MK Idit Silman chairs a Knesset Health Committee on on June 7, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Meretz party is withdrawing its appeal to the High Court against the Central Elections Committee decision not to disqualify Idit Silman from running in the upcoming election.

Silman had been a Yamina MK and whip of the coalition that included Meretz before she jumped ship in May, helping to bring down the government. Over the summer she officially switched to Likud, and is running on the party’s slate.

The High Court urges the left-wing party to end its appeal against Silman, indicating it would rule against them if they did not.

The move clears the way for Silman to run on the Likud list in the upcoming election.

Ukraine forces recapture 400 square kilometers in southern Kherson region

Ukrainian forces have retaken 400 square kilometers (155 square miles) of territory in the southern Kherson region so far this month, as they continue to push Russian troops back in the south and east, Ukraine’s southern military command says.

Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for the Ukrainian military’s Operational Command South, says in a briefing that the situation along the southern front was rapidly changing and remained complicated.

Ukraine has recaptured 29 settlements in the oblast since Oct. 1, Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian army’s General Staff, told a separate briefing.

Russian activist Kara-Murza charged with treason for speaking out against war

File: Vladimir Kara-Murza, Russian opposition activist, arrives to lay flowers near the place where Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down, in Moscow, Russia, on February 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
File: Vladimir Kara-Murza, Russian opposition activist, arrives to lay flowers near the place where Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down, in Moscow, Russia, on February 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza — jailed in April for denouncing the Kremlin’s Ukraine offensive — has been charged with high treason, his lawyer tells Russian news agencies.

“Our client has been charged after speaking out critically against the Russian authorities three times, at public events in Lisbon, Helsinki and Washington. These speeches did not pose any threat (to the country), it was public, open criticism,” Kara-Murza’s lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, tells the TASS news agency.

Netanyahu: Religious Zionists have a home in Likud

From left to right: Otzma Yehudit leader MK Itamar Ben Gvir, opposition leader and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and Religious Zionism head MK Bezalel Smotrich. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
From left to right: Otzma Yehudit leader MK Itamar Ben Gvir, opposition leader and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and Religious Zionism head MK Bezalel Smotrich. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu tells Channel 12 news that “Religious Zionists” have a home in his party.

“Religious Zionists have a home today in Likud. Likud is their home. The idea of a sectoral party … if somebody wants to do that [so be it], but there’s no need for it,” Netanyahu says.

The former prime minister appears to now be trying to draw support away from the far-right Religious Zionism party, an alliance he helped cobble together between Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir.

Recent polls have indicated the alliance could become the third-largest party in Israel after the November elections.

Israelis rally in Jerusalem in solidarity with Iranian women

Israelis rally in Independence Park in Jerusalem on October 6, 2022, in solidarity with Iranian women (Amy Spiro/Times of Israel)
Israelis rally in Independence Park in Jerusalem on October 6, 2022, in solidarity with Iranian women (Amy Spiro/Times of Israel)

About 100 Israelis gather in Independence Park in downtown Jerusalem to rally in solidarity with Iranian women who have been leading anti-government protests for weeks.

“We’re not against the people of Iran, we’re against the regime of Iran — which kills women and denies them freedom,” says Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, one of the rally organizers.

“We are dreaming of the day when Iran can join its neighbors in the Abraham Accords and make peace with Israel.”

Holding signs in Hebrew, English and Farsi, the protesters include many Israelis of Persian descent. The crowd chants “Women. Life. Freedom.”

Israeli woman who had to be rescued from Nablus was buying clothes

A photo circulating on social media of an Israeli woman and her three children who entered the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank on October 4, 2022, hours before Yom Kippur. They were detained and escorted out of the city by Palestinian security forces. (Photo via Twitter, @bani_basel; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A photo circulating on social media of an Israeli woman and her three children who entered the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank on October 4, 2022, hours before Yom Kippur. They were detained and escorted out of the city by Palestinian security forces. (Photo via Twitter, @bani_basel; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An Israeli woman and her daughters who drove into the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank just hours before the start of Yom Kippur had gone to buy clothes with her Palestinian fiancé, Channel 12 reports.

The woman was detained by Palestinian security forces and handed over to Israeli authorities unharmed. The IDF forces who went to get her came under fire.

The report says the woman took her daughters deep into the casbah of Nablus, a hotbed of terror activity.

Israel bars its citizens from entering Palestinian-controlled areas.

PA security forces filmed trying to eject IDF soldiers from Hebron

Palestinian policemen confront IDF soldiers in Hebron (Screencapture/Channel 12)
Palestinian policemen confront IDF soldiers in Hebron (Screencapture/Channel 12)

Channel 12 news publishes a video of Palestinian security forces confronting IDF troops in the divided West Bank city of Hebron.

The film shows the Palestinians pointing their guns and gesturing wildly at the soldiers, shouting at them to get out of there.

The IDF soldiers do not react.

The report says the incident is a sign of increased tensions between the Israelis and PA forces in the West Bank.

Gantz orders IDF on alert in north as Lebanese maritime border deal falters

An IDF mobile howitzer stands at the ready near the Lebanese border in an undated photo (Israel Defense Forces)
An IDF mobile howitzer stands at the ready near the Lebanese border in an undated photo (Israel Defense Forces)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz orders the IDF on alert in the north amid an apparent setback in the effort to reach a maritime border deal with Lebanon.

Gantz holds a situational assessment with the IDF chief of staff and other security officials after Israel says it will not accept Lebanese amendments to a US-brokered deal.

“The Defense Minister directed the IDF to prepare for a scenario of escalation in the north, both offensively and defensively, given the developments in the negotiations on the maritime border,” a statement from Gantz’s office says.

High Court hearing appeal from renegade MK Chikli who is barred from next election

Amichai Chikli arrives to the District Court in Jerusalem, for his appeal against the declaration of Chikli as "rebel"- a procedure legislated to block MK's from defecting in return for political appointments, July 10, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Amichai Chikli arrives to the District Court in Jerusalem, for his appeal against the declaration of Chikli as "rebel"- a procedure legislated to block MK's from defecting in return for political appointments, July 10, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The High Court is hearing a petition from renegade lawmaker Amichai Chikli who is asking to overturn an election vetting panel’s decision to disqualify him from running in upcoming Knesset elections.

Chikli, who entered the Knesset last year with Yamina but is now seeking to run with the Likud party, was disqualified last week after the left-wing Meretz party filed a petition claiming that he violated election bylaws designed to keep MKs voted in by one party from jumping ship to another party mid-term.

Chikli, who had been slotted by Benjamin Netanyahu in 14th place on Likud’s electoral slate, entered the Knesset last year with Yamina, but refused to vote in favor of the coalition, and was later ejected from the faction.

The court is expected to present its ruling on Sunday.

Turkey names new ambassador to Israel after countries restore diplomatic ties

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, left, meets Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York, September 20, 2022. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid, left, meets Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York, September 20, 2022. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Turkey names Sakir Ozkan Torunlar as ambassador to Israel after the two countries recently announced the restoration of diplomatic ties.

Torunlar is a veteran diplomat who previously served as Turkey’s consul general in Jerusalem and was also ambassador to India.

Israel last month named Irit Lillian, a senior diplomat who played a key role in Israel-Turkey reconciliation, to serve as the next ambassador to Turkey.

Lillian has been Israel’s charge d’affaires in Ankara since February 2021, during which time both sides have moved slowly to restore full diplomatic relations.

There have not been ambassadors since 2018 when Turkey recalled its ambassador and asked Israel’s to leave, in protest of Israel’s response to rioting on the Gaza border in which dozens of Palestinians were killed.

Lebanon says maritime deal with Israel at ‘make or break’ stage

Lebanese president Michel Aoun, right, meets with US Envoy for Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein, at the presidential palace, in Beirut, Lebanon, September 9, 2022. (Dalati Nohra, Lebanon's official government photographer, via AP)
Lebanese president Michel Aoun, right, meets with US Envoy for Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein, at the presidential palace, in Beirut, Lebanon, September 9, 2022. (Dalati Nohra, Lebanon's official government photographer, via AP)

A senior Lebanese negotiator tells the Reuters news agency that the proposed maritime border deal with Israel is at a “make or break stage.”

The comments come after a senior Israeli official says Jerusalem has rejected Lebanon’s requested modifications to the US-brokered deal.

Top Lebanese negotiator Elias Bou Saab tells Reuters that he would only respond to official statements and not to media reports on Israel’s stance.

He says the deal “is 90% done but the remaining 10% could make it or break it,” adding that he is in constant contact with US mediator Amos Hochstein.

IDF: No connection between army raid and death of 7-year-old Palestinian boy

7-year-old Rayan Suleiman in an undated photo. (Courtesy)
7-year-old Rayan Suleiman in an undated photo. (Courtesy)

The IDF says it has concluded an investigation into the incidents surrounding the death of a 7-year-old Palestinian boy during an army raid and found that there was no connection to the actions of the Israeli soldiers.

Rayan Suleiman died in disputed circumstances on September 29, after Israeli soldiers showed up at his home in the West Bank village of Tuqu’, south of Bethlehem. Relatives say troops who had been chasing stone throwers threatened his family, scaring the otherwise healthy child and causing his death.

The investigation finds that an officer questioned Suleiman’s father in the presence of two of his children at the door of their home, describing it as a “brief conversation conducted in a respectful manner, without any contact and certainly without the use of verbal or physical violence.”

“During the departure of the troops from the village, a vehicle passed by them with the father of the family in it with a child on his lap, and the vehicle continued its journey without delay. After some time, the commander of the force saw an ambulance that entered the village and left it without any disturbance,” the IDF says.

The statement notes that “during the entire time that the force was in the village, no force or weapons of any kind were used at all (no live fire or riot dispersal means.)”

It also says there was no evidence that the boy fell or was hurt as a result of the force’s actions.

“According to the conclusions of the investigation, any connection between the unfortunate death of the boy Rayan Suleiman and the actions of the force is ruled out,” the statement says. “The soldiers acted as expected of them while adhering to IDF values.”

 

High Court hearing appeal against disqualification of Balad from elections

Supreme Court Chief Justice Ester Hayut (C) and fellow justices arrive for a hearing on the election committee decision to disqualify Balad from running in the upcoming Knesset election, October 6, 2022. (Jonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Supreme Court Chief Justice Ester Hayut (C) and fellow justices arrive for a hearing on the election committee decision to disqualify Balad from running in the upcoming Knesset election, October 6, 2022. (Jonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The High Court of Justice is hearing an appeal from the Arab nationalist party Balad to overturn an election vetting panel’s decision to disqualify it from the upcoming Knesset election.

The High Court appeal was filed with the assistance of the Adalah human rights organization, after the Central Elections Committee voted Thursday to bar the party from running, accepting a petition claiming the party’s platform negated the existence of the State of Israel.

Balad and several of its lawmakers have been disqualified by past elections panels, and have so far won every appeal to the Supreme Court to be reinstated.

Arson suspected as Jordan Valley farm set ablaze on eve of Yom Kippur

The Dor farm in the Jordan Valley that was set on fire ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday in October 2022 (Courtesy)
The Dor farm in the Jordan Valley that was set on fire ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday in October 2022 (Courtesy)

Police suspect that arsonists set fire to a farm in the Jordan Valley on Yom Kippur Eve, burning it to the ground and causing millions of shekels’ worth of damage.

The fire hit the Dor farm on Moshav Mehola on Tuesday.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked visits the farm today, blaming the incident on  “Palestinian terrorists.”

“A lifetime of work, generations of farmers who worked the land and grew alongside the produce, has been wiped out,” says farm owner Nevo Dor.

The Hashomer Hachadash organization, which organizes volunteers to protect Israeli agriculture from similar attacks, says there are a spate of attacks annually around the High Holidays and calls on the government to take stronger action.

“This is a national disaster,”  says organization chief Yoel Zilberman.  “This is a real war for the country.”

Poll indicates it’s better for Netanyahu if Shaked stays in race

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on October 2, 2022. (Amit Shabi/Flash90/Pool)
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on October 2, 2022. (Amit Shabi/Flash90/Pool)

A poll published today by the Knesset Channel indicates that it is better for Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu if Ayelet Shaked stays in the race.

The poll gives indicates that Shaked’s support is strengthening from 1.8% of the vote to 2.5%, but still not enough to cross the electoral threshold.

With Shaked in the race, Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc wins 60 seats, just one short of a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

But if she is to drop out of the race the bloc would only win 59 seats, with Shaked’s support apparently going to the Benny Gantz-Gideon Sa’ar National Unity alliance, which gains a seat from 11 to 12.

Shaked inherited the leadership of the Yamina party from former prime minister Naftali Bennett and is now running at the top of the Jewish Home party’s slate, but polls consistently indicate she will not enter the Knesset.

Most analysts have viewed her staying in the race as detrimental to Netanyahu by wasting votes for the right.

France says Iranian ‘confession’ video ‘shameful, revolting and unacceptable’

Screen capture from video of French citizen Cecile Kohler who is being held in Iran on suspicion of spying. (Twitter, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of French citizen Cecile Kohler who is being held in Iran on suspicion of spying. (Twitter, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A video broadcast by Iranian state television showing “confessions” by two French nationals to fomenting unrest is “shameful, revolting and unacceptable,” the foreign ministry in Paris says.

“Cecile Kohler and Jacques Paris have been arbitrarily detained in Iran since May 2022, and as such are state hostages… the staging of their supposed confessions is shameful, revolting, unacceptable and contrary to international law,” the ministry says in a statement.

Iran said to charge ex-soccer star for ‘leading’ protests

File: Iran's Ali Karimi in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
File: Iran's Ali Karimi in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Iran has charged former soccer star Ali Karimi in absentia for his support for protests over Mahsa Amini’s death in morality police custody, Iranian media reports.

A wave of unrest has rocked Iran since the 22-year-old Kurdish woman’s death was announced on September 16 after her arrest in Tehran for allegedly failing to observe the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.

The Iranian judiciary accuses the former Bayern Munich midfielder of being “a prominent leader the recent riots,” Mehr news agency says.

Karimi, who reportedly moved to the United Arab Emirates a few months ago, was accused of “spreading the voice of the enemy and encouraging” the protest movement, Mehr adds.

The 43-year-old former player and coach has repeatedly used Instagram, where he has more than 13 million followers, to support the protests and condemn Amini’s death, saying “nothing can wash away this disgrace.”

French writer Annie Ernaux wins Nobel Prize in literature

French writer Annie Ernaux attends the screening of the film "Les Annees Super 8 (The Super 8 Years)" on the sidelines of the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 23, 2022. (Photo by Julie Sebadelha/AFP)
French writer Annie Ernaux attends the screening of the film "Les Annees Super 8 (The Super 8 Years)" on the sidelines of the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 23, 2022. (Photo by Julie Sebadelha/AFP)

This year’s Nobel Prize in literature is awarded to French author Annie Ernaux.

Ernaux, 82, is cited for “the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory,” the Nobel committee says.

Mats Malm, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, announces the winner in Stockholm, Sweden.

Ben Gvir says ‘deeply concerned’ by criticism from US Senator Menendez

Far right MK Itamar Ben Gvir addresses students at the Blich High School in Ramat Gan, September 6, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Far right MK Itamar Ben Gvir addresses students at the Blich High School in Ramat Gan, September 6, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir issues a statement responding to reports that Robert Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, recently warned opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu that including extreme-right lawmakers in a potential future government would harm US-Israel relations.

“I am deeply concerned by reports that Senator Menendez has aimed incorrect and mistaken criticisms at the millions of Israelis who will soon vote in favor of a center-right government and me personally,” Ben Gvir says in an English language statement.

According to a recent Axios report, Menendez made the comments during a visit to Israel last month. Citing two unnamed American sources familiar with the meeting, the report said Menendez raised his concerns over Netanyahu’s cooperation with far-right parties, specifically mentioning Otzma Yehudit and its leader Ben Gvir.

Ben Gvir is No. 2 on the Religious Zionism, slate, which is projected to win between 12 and 14 seats in the November 1 election, positioning himself to receive a senior cabinet posting if  Netanyahu manages to form the kind of hard-right, religious coalition on which he has been campaigning.

“Everyone knows that the senator is a true friend of Israel and a champion of the US-Israel relationship, and more importantly, he is a man of integrity. Therefore, my sense is that he would not have made the statements reported had he been correctly informed of the positions I hold, as well as those I do not hold,” Ben Gvir says.

“The enemies of a strong Israel besmirch me; calling me and my party racist. But the truth is that we are anti-racist — we are fighting against the racist antisemitism fomenting within the boundaries of our homeland. We believe that Israel needs to uproot terror organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, just as the United States defeated al-Qaeda,” Ben Gvir says.

“Like millions of Americans, we believe that peace comes through strength and that Israel’s policies should be based upon the firm enforcement of our right to sovereignty and self-defense,” he says, adding that he would work to ease soldiers’ rules of engagement and reform the justice system.

Zelensky says Putin’s control over Russia would not survive a nuclear strike

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine,  Sept. 8, 2022. (Genya Savilov, Pool Photo via AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sept. 8, 2022. (Genya Savilov, Pool Photo via AP)

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky says it is “hard to say” whether the risk of nuclear war had increased with his military’s territorial gains, but he remains confident his Russian counterpart would not survive such an escalation in hostilities.

Zelensky was addressing the Lowy Institute international think tank in Sydney via video link after Ukraine’s military retook ground illegally annexed by Russia last week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that he won’t hesitate to use nuclear weapons to ward off Ukraine’s attempt to reclaim control of Moscow-occupied areas.

Asked if the risk of Russia using nuclear weapons had risen, Zelensky says through an interpreter: “It’s hard to say.”

He questions whether Putin has enough control over the Russian campaign to direct a tactical nuclear strike. The Russians found it “hard to control everything that is happening in their country, just as they’re not controlling everything they have on the battlefield,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky says Putin understood that the “world will never forgive” a Russian nuclear strike.

“He understands that after the use of nuclear weapons he would be unable any more to preserve, so to speak, his life, and I’m confident of that,” Zelensky said.

Netanyahu: Only pressure from me stopped Lapid surrendering to Lebanon

Leader of the opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media in Tel Aviv on October 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Leader of the opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media in Tel Aviv on October 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu claims credit for Israel rejecting Lebanon’s requested modifications to a proposed maritime border deal.

“Only intense pressure from myself and my friends has caused him to back away from this surrender agreement, for now,” Netanyahu tweets.

His comments come after a senior Israeli official says Israel won’t accept the changes, calling them significant.

The statement cast doubt on the viability of a deal that, only days ago, Israeli officials were speaking of as a foregone conclusion.

Netanyahu has been an outspoken critic of the US-brokered deal, calling it a surrender to the Hezbollah terror group.

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