The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
The ultra-Orthodox Shas party criticizes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his comments earlier today suggesting that Jewish pilgrims would be in danger if they traveled to Uman for Rosh Hashana.
“God always protected the Jewish people during persecution, this is the reason that the Jewish nation is the only one which has miraculously survived for thousands of years,” the party says in a statement.
“Of course, the condition for divine providence is adherence to faith and observance,” the party adds.
Earlier, Netanyahu warned worshipers from traveling to Uman in Ukraine for the holiday, saying that “God has not always protected us in Europe.”
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir claims that, contrary to media reports, he has the authority to further limit visits to security prisoners.
His decision, his office says, is based on existing law which governs the Prison’s Service. Ben Gvir says he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to consult with the attorney general to settle the dispute.
A variety of earlier reports, which appear to be based on coordinated leaks from the Prime Minister’s Office, claimed that Netanyahu had rejected Ben Gvir’s demands to further restrict visits to security prisoners to every two months.
Netanyahu was said to fear that such a move could lead to an escalation in violence ahead of the holiday period.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demands an investigation into a now-deleted post on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, showing the head of the military’s Central Command photoshopped to depict him dressed in Nazi uniform and with a mustache.
“Netanyahu demands an investigation into the tweet published against Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox,” the Prime Minister’s Office says in a statement. “Netanyahu condemns the incitement and gives full support to the IDF commanders,” the PMO adds.
אחד המאפיינים המרכזיים של חשבונות זרים הוא העתקת תוכן. אותו דבר קרה גם הפעם. אבל פרופילים זרים לא סתם מצייצים דברים. הם מתלבשים על שיח קיים. העובדה שחשבון זר הציג את יהודה פוקס כנאצי רק מלמדת שהם רואים בהשתלחות בו הזדמנות להעמיק את הקיטוב בישראל. pic.twitter.com/VH99Y8Cpst
— פייק ריפורטר | FakeReporter (@FakeReporter) September 10, 2023
The post was published by an account believed to be part of a foreign disinformation campaign, according to Fake Reporter, an Israeli organization that investigates online fake news.
“Yehuda Fox is a tyrant dictator who uses dictatorial measures to silence those who publish criticism against him,” the text of the post read, copying word for word from a post by a settler activist last week.
Settler activists have held Fox responsible for the recent wave of terror attacks, accusing him of not cracking down on Palestinians. The criticism has also been echoed by several right-wing politicians in the coalition.
Fake Reporter says one of the “main features” of foreign disinformation campaigns is copying content.
“The same thing happened this time. Foreign profiles don’t just tweet things, they latch on to the existing discourse. The fact that a foreign account presented Yehuda Fox as a Nazi only shows that they see attacks against him as an opportunity to deepen polarization in Israel,” the organization says.
Islamist factions in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp say they will abide by a ceasefire after three days of clashes killed at least five people and left hundreds of families displaced.
Fighting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and Islamist groups has rocked southern Lebanon’s Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp since Friday. Besides the five killed, 52 others were wounded, Dr. Riad Abu Al-Einen, who heads the Al-Hamshari Hospital in Sidon that has received the casualties, tells The Associated Press.
The interim chief of Lebanon’s General Security agency Elias al-Baysari says he will attend a meeting tomorrow between Palestinian factions and urge the factions to reach a resolution.
The clashing factions in the camp say in a statement published today by Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency that they plan to abide by a ceasefire.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid offers his first reaction to the purported judicial overhaul compromise deal revealed last week, dismissing the terms and calling for an 18-month legislative freeze.
“Already a month ago, I told the president’s staff as well as my friends in the opposition that, ‘I’m warning you, a few days before the High Court hearings and before Netanyahu flies to the US, suddenly a compromise will show up that will seem too good to be true,” Lapid says at a conference.
He says the outlined deal which circulated “was not aimed at reaching an agreement, but aimed at getting Netanyahu a meeting in the White House, and at creating difficulties for High Court judges while they discuss petitions” against the reasonableness law at a hearing this week.
Instead, Lapid says, “what we should do is what I suggested right after the vote on the reasonableness clause: following the High Court hearings we should have an 18-month freeze in judicial overhaul legislation.”
Such a freeze should be enshrined in law, says Lapid, saying he presented such legislation to President Isaac Herzog which would call for any change concerning the “democratic foundations of Israel’s governance” to be legislated only with a wide agreement between the coalition and opposition.
Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi renews his string of attacks against the Kan public broadcaster, accusing it of violating the law.
Karhi sends a letter to Kan’s management complaining about its “ongoing violation of the public broadcasting law,” he says.
The minister, who has spoken openly about his desire to shut down the station, accuses the network of being biased in its news coverage, and says he has a requirement “to ensure that the corporation fulfills its duty to broadcast fairly, equitably and balanced to the citizens of Israel.”
Karhi points to a report on the Makan Arabic network operated by Kan which referred to “occupied Palestine” as an example of the station’s legal violations. He also complains about certain Kan reporters sharing tweets highly critical of current government ministers, as well as alleged political content in reality TV programming.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pay a visit to Silicon Valley before his trip to New York to speak at the UN General Assembly later this month.
According to his office, the prime minister will depart Israel next Sunday evening, and land in San Francisco, California, on Monday.
After spending the day on the West Coast, he will fly to New York, arriving there on Tuesday.
Netanyahu is expected to address the UNGA on Thursday or Friday, and remain in New York over Shabbat, leaving just after it ends in order to land back in Israel before Yom Kippur begins on Sunday evening.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announces that he has tapped Rabbi Leo Dee — whose wife and two daughters were killed in a terror attack earlier this year — as a special envoy for social initiatives within the ministry.
“I thank Rabbi Dee for agreeing to volunteer for the benefit of the State of Israel,” writes Cohen on X. “I am sure that with the help of his big heart, special personality and his ability to reach everyone, he will be able to help a lot in the activities of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, in front of the Jewish communities in the world, as well as influential figures in government and the media.”
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will arrive in Israel tomorrow for a three-day visit, during which he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.
He will also deliver a speech at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy (ICT) at Reichman University in Herzliya on Tuesday morning. Cleverly will likely be unable to avoid commenting on Israel’s judicial overhaul fight, as his address will come the same day as the full 15-justice panel of the High Court is slated to hear the petitions against the first major piece of legislation passed.
He will also be in Ramallah on Wednesday to meet with senior Palestinian Authority officials. It is unclear whether he will be able to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas, as the leader is expected in Cuba on Friday.
A Foreign Ministry delegation of nine staffers is currently in Saudi Arabia as observers to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Riyadh, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.
Israel had tried to get visas for Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Education Minister Yoav Kisch to attend, Channel 13 reported, but backed off under US pressure when the Saudis were hesitant to welcome them.
Israel officially left the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2019, over alleged anti-Israel bias. Sites in the country remain listed on the World Heritage List, however, and Israel still sends representatives to the World Heritage Committee, which is in charge of designating those sites.
Speaking at an annual conference of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy (ICT) at Reichman University in Herzliya, Mossad director David Barnea says Israel is concerned about Russia selling advanced weaponry to Iran.
Barnea says Iran had intended to provide Russia with short and long-range missiles in addition to the UAVs that it sold it for its invasion of Ukraine. This was foiled, he says.
“They have intentions to sell other weapons that will also be foiled. Our fear is that the Russians will transfer advanced weapons to the Iranians in return, which will certainly endanger our peace and maybe even our existence here,” he adds.
Barnea also says that the spy agency and its allies in the international intelligence community foiled 27 attacks against Jews and Israelis abroad over the past year.
“The squads that were captured, the weapons that were seized together with them, all had clear targets,” he says, noting that the attempts occurred “all over the world, in Europe, Africa, the Far East, and South America.”
“All this under the direction and guidance of Iran. We are working even at this moment to follow Iranian squads to prevent them from killing Jews and Israelis around the world,” Barnea says.
“The time has come to exact a price from Iran in a different way. Harming Israelis and Jews in any way, by proxy or Iranian weapons smuggled into Israel, will lead to activity against the Iranians, from the ground operators to the highest ranks, and I mean that. These prices will be exacted in the depths of Iran, even in the heart of Tehran,” Barnea warns.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stresses that traveling to Uman in Ukraine over Rosh Hashanah is dangerous, even as the government approves aid for such pilgrims.
“Israeli citizens who are traveling to Ukraine must take personal responsibility for their travels,” Netanyahu says at the cabinet meeting. “God has not always protected us, not on European land and not on Ukrainian land.”
Netanyahu says that in Israel when missiles are fired, Israelis head for shelter, “but there there are no shelters,” he says, noting that in his recent conversation with President Volodymr Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader stressed that the city of Uman cannot protect a large influx of tourists.
The government nevertheless approves NIS 4 million in aid to those who are making the trip, as many do each year.
UTJ Jerusalem and Heritage Minister Meir Porush says that his ministry is so far the only one to fund this endeavor, noting that while he is aware of the travel warning, “Israel takes responsibility for its citizens… those who choose to travel anyway will receive service on behalf of the state.”
Tel Aviv Police are holding a drill to test the readiness of the new Tel Aviv light rail for a terror attack.
Police say that a large police presence will be noted in the area, and residents should not be alarmed.
Spain sends 56 rescuers and four search dogs to Morocco following the powerful earthquake that killed over 2,000 people, after receiving a formal request for help from Rabat.
An A400 military plane takes off from a base in the northeastern city of Zaragoza with the team bound for Marrakesh to “help in the search and rescue of survivors of the devastating earthquake suffered in our neighboring country,” the defense ministry says in a statement.
Spain is preparing to send a second plane with a rescue team run by the regional government of Madrid, Defense Minister Margarita Robles adds during an interview with Spanish public television.
“We will send whatever is needed because everyone knows that these first hours are key, especially if there are people buried under rubble,” she adds.
Morocco has yet to approve any humanitarian aid offers from Israel, the US or France, among other countries.
MASHAV, the Foreign Ministry’s international aid arm, has prepared a number of alternatives for humanitarian aid shipments to Morocco depending on the specific needs of the kingdom, ministry spokesman Yossi Zilberman tells The Times of Israel.
The aid could include food, medicines, medical equipment, tents, water purifiers, and more, but the specifics depend on Rabat’s needs. From the minute Israel gets the requests, it will only take a few hours before a plane is ready to depart, says Zilberman.
In addition to the humanitarian aid, Israel is ready to provide search and rescue teams through the IDF, but that will only be relevant for a few more days.
The Foreign Ministry previously sent five diplomats to Rabat to beef up the staff helping Israelis leave Morocco. The consular office has not had any cases of Israelis who lost their documents, and the efforts to help Israelis head home has been smooth, says Zilberman.
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman warns that Israel has failed in its efforts to prepare for a major earthquake.
“It seems that despite the warning signs, the State of Israel has failed in its preparation for an earthquake,” says Englman in a statement, promising to release a more detailed report following the upcoming holidays.
“Instead of waiting for a commission of inquiry after a tragedy has occurred, the prime minister and the relevant minister must correct the deficiencies immediately,” he adds.
His comments come in the wake of a massive earthquake in Morocco yesterday that killed at least 2,000 people.
Israeli experts have long been warning that the region is overdue for a major tremor, and that the country is woefully unprepared.
With about six weeks until the municipal elections, a significant mayoral challenger has entered the race in Jerusalem.
Yosi Havilio, a current deputy mayor, is running with the backing of the Yesh Atid, Meretz and Labor national parties against current Mayor Moshe Lion, who is a member of Likud.
“Jerusalem is on a path to economic and social destruction, and Lion’s extreme and fanatical base does not allow him to change,” Havilio says in a statement. “The time has come to liberate Jerusalem, and return it to moderate and honorable hands.”
Havilio ran for mayor in 2018 on an independent ticket, but dropped out before the vote and endorsed Hitorerut candidate Ofer Berkowitz, who ultimately lost to Lion in a narrow runoff vote. Havilio’s slate won just one seat in 2018.
Arab lawyer Waleed Abu Tayeh is also in the running, although since most East Jerusalemites boycott the vote, he is considered highly unlikely to win or even gain traction.
The municipal elections are slated for October 30.
The family of a Swedish EU diplomat held captive in Iran for more than 500 days calls for his immediate release, as he marks his birthday in a Tehran prison.
“Today on Johan’s 33rd birthday, he should be with us celebrating… He should be released immediately and allowed to travel home,” the family of Johan Floderus writes in a statement, releasing a picture of him taken during the only video call with his family he has been granted.
Floderus was arrested on April 17, 2022, at Tehran’s airport as he was returning home from a trip with friends. The Swede, who had been working in Brussels for the EU delegation to Afghanistan as a program officer since September 2021, is being held at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
Floderus “has become yet another victim of Iran’s alarming pattern of taking foreign nationals hostage for political purposes,” his family says. “His needs for adequate food rations, outside walks, medical checkups and much more are not respected,” they say, adding that he has spent “over 300 days in solitary confinement.”
The cabinet approves NIS 20 million to incentivize African migrants and asylum seekers to leave Israel, a week after violent riots broke out between politically opposed camps of Eritreans living in Israel.
The government’s plan also includes about NIS 10 million in other initiatives to help Israeli communities who claim their quality of life has been adversely affected by migrants and asylum seekers.
In addition, an inter-ministerial team, headed by ministry directors general, will be set up to “prevent infiltrators from harming citizens’ quality of life” and further “remove infiltrators” from Israeli neighborhoods.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid says he cannot believe that members of the current government are even discussing the option of not complying with a High Court ruling.
“I welcome Gila Gamliel, Moshe Arbel and Yoav Gallant for their standing firmly on the side of the rule of law,” Lapid tweets, referencing three ministers who have vocally said they would follow any High Court ruling.
“It is unbelievable that there is even a discussion whether or not the government will comply or not with a High Court ruling,” Lapid adds.
The High Court is slated on Tuesday to hold a hearing on the petitions against the government’s reasonableness law, which restricts the court’s own ability to review governmental decisions. The ruling could set up a potential constitutional crisis if there is a clash over the ultimate authority of the courts versus the ruling government.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir accuses Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara of attempting to personally intimidate him.
Baharav-Miara has yet to decide where to proceed with a case against Ben Gvir over an incident in late 2021 — when he was a member of Knesset — in which he waved his weapon around during an argument with Arab security guards in a parking lot in Tel Aviv.
In a letter to the High Court responding to Baharav-Miara’s request to delay her filing a position, Ben Gvir dismisses her “weak arguments” about a heavy workload and need for additional advisory time as an excuse to drag things out.
Such excuses, his attorney writes, “are nothing but a way for [Baharav-Miara] to hold [Ben Gvir] by the throat and to terrorize him for his entire term as minister.”
Many members of the current government, including Ben Gvir, have lobbed harsh attacks against Baharav-Miara in recent months, accusing her of serving the opposition and not doing her job, and several have called for her to be fired.
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