The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
The four escaped prisoners who were recaptured by Israeli security forces over the weekend will be allowed to meet with their attorneys after midnight tonight, reports the Kan public broadcaster.
Six Palestinian security prisoners escaped from the high-security Gilboa Prison last Monday, and four were recaptured over the weekend, while two remain at large as of Tuesday night.
Since their recapture, the Shin Bet prevented the four men from meeting with their attorneys, but the ban will be lifted at midnight, reports Kan.
American intelligence officials say al-Qaeda could begin to threaten the homeland from Afghanistan within one to two years, echoing warnings that were issued prior to the US withdrawal ending its 20-year war.
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency, gave that estimated timeframe on Tuesday while speaking at the Intelligence & National Security Summit.
David Cohen, deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said that the US already had detected “some of the indications of some potential movement of al-Qaeda to Afghanistan.”
Experts have long said that the Taliban still maintains ties to al-Qaeda, which took sanctuary in Afghanistan prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Counterterrorism experts estimated prior to the withdrawal that al-Qaeda had several hundred fighters in Afghanistan.
Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin names the military’s first female commander of an air defense battalion, Lt. Col. Revital Barzani, who will lead a David’s Sling battalion.
Barzani enlisted in the IDF in 2004, serving in a variety of air defense positions over the past 17 years, commanding a Hawk air defense battery, as well as an Iron Dome missile defense battery during the 2012 Gaza campaign Operation Pillar of Defense.
She currently serves as commander of an administrative unit in the Israeli Air Force’s 168th Squadron.
She will soon move to the air force’s 66th Battalion, which operates the medium-range David’s Sling missile defense system and monitors ballistic missile threats, the military says.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says that he sees no logic or reason for him to meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
“I don’t see any logic in meeting someone who is suing IDF soldiers at The Hague and accusing them of war crimes, and at the same time paying salaries to terrorists,” Bennett tells the Kan public broadcaster. “I don’t see the logic in meeting him.”
Bennett says that he maintains his long-standing position that there should not be a Palestinian state.
“I oppose a Palestinian state — I think it would be a terrible mistake,” he says. “I won’t do that.”
At the same time, Bennett says, he agrees with the approach of Defense Minister Benny Gantz in maintaining ties and connections with Palestinian officials in order to maintain calm and security coordination.
But, he adds, there is no current possibility of restarting peace talks with the Palestinians.
“We all understand that at the moment it’s not relevant,” he says.
Bennett granted interviews to all three major TV networks as well as multiple newspapers and news sites ahead of Yom Kippur.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet virtually on Friday with his counterparts from Israel and three Arab states on the anniversary of the normalization of ties, says the US State Department.
Blinken will meet the foreign ministers of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco to “commemorate the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords and discuss ways to further deepen ties and build a more prosperous region,” a US State Department spokesperson says.
Notably absent from Friday’s commemoration is Sudan, whose new civilian-backed government — desperate for US support — promised Trump to move forward with Israel, but has since been hesitant in the face of public opposition.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says that he knows many citizens are angry at him and his government but that he stands by his decisions.
“There are quite a few people among the public who were very disappointed by the fact that this government was created and how it was created,” Bennett tells the Walla news site, in one of many interviews he granted to Israeli news outlets ahead of Yom Kippur. “I hope and ask that they come with an open mind and judge me and the government by our actions.”
Bennett says that he could have passed up the opportunity to form an unlikely government that spans the political spectrum and instead gone to a fifth election, “and I know a lot of people are angry, and that’s okay, and I stand by my decision.”
Interviews with the prime minister are slated to air on Channels 11 (Kan), 12 (Keshet) and 13 (Reshet) on Tuesday evening.
Israel police question Schmulik Peleg, the grandfather of Eitan Biran, the sole survivor of a cable car crash in Italy in May, over allegations that he kidnapped Eitan and brought him to Israel.
Biran, 6, survived the crash that killed his parents, his younger brother and two great grandparents. His aunt, Aya Biran, who also lives in Italy, was granted custody of Eitan, but the child’s maternal grandparents protested the arrangement. Aya Biran has accused Peleg of kidnapping Eitan and bringing him to Israel without her knowledge.
Police with Israel’s Lahav 433 unit question Peleg about the incident and release him to house arrest.
President Isaac Herzog welcomes Israel’s Paralympic delegation to the president’s residence in Jerusalem for a reception to honor their achievements.
“You brought the whole people of Israel some extremely happy and moving moments,” he says. “We followed you and kept contact with you, almost every day. We kept stopping our working day for another moment of the pride and joy that you brought us.”
Herzog says that the athletes “blazed their own trail” to the Paralympic Games. Israel sent 33 athletes to compete in 11 sports, and returned with nine medals: eight in swimming from Ami Dadaon, Mark Malyar and Iyad Shalabi, and one in rowing from Moran Samuel.
“Having dealt with challenges from the day you were born, having blazed your own trail with perseverance, determination, and awesome willpower, you are all experts in the use of mental power,” says Herzog.
“The spirit that you bring with you to sports is something that should be studied and should inspire. You keep winning because you believe it is possible. Because you know that you mustn’t sit quietly and wait for victory to come; you must bring it, with all your might. With the help of willpower, choice, hard work, and perseverance.”
WASHINGTON — Former senior White House adviser Jared Kushner warns that if the Abraham Accords that he helped broker a year ago “are not nurtured, we run the risk that they could go backward.”
Kushner speaks at a ceremony in Washington marking the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords. The event is being hosted by the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, a center established earlier this year by Kushner with the goal of advancing the normalization agreements he helped broker between Israel and a series of Muslim and Arab countries.
Kushner describes the agreements as a “rare foreign policy effort that achieved bipartisan consensus,” which were the result of “intense diplomacy that involved more listening than lecturing.”
Former US president Donald Trump’s son-in-law notes the presence of Egypt’s Ambassador to the US Motaz Zahran and Sudan’s Ambassador to the US Nureldin Satti.
Sudan did not send a representative to a similar event hosted yesterday by the Israeli consulate in New York.
While delivering his opening remarks, Kushner is interrupted by CODEPINK director Ariel Gold who bursts into the ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown.
Shouting, “peace will not happen until Palestinians are free,” the woman is quickly ushered out of the room by security guards.
Afterward, Kushner says that such interruptions are unhelpful and says that “there’s so much available” for the Palestinian leadership if they only took advantage of it.
A month after his visit to Washington, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will travel to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly on September 27.
Bennett will speak about issues relating to national and regional security, his office says, which will most likely include a particular focus on the Iran nuclear issue and its support for armed proxy groups.
At the UNGA last year, speeches by world leaders — including then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — were largely conducted via video link due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is facing a second day of tough congressional questions about the Biden administration’s much-criticized withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Blinken seeks to ward off a new wave of bipartisan lawmaker anger over the operation that resulted in the complete takeover by the Taliban, and has left many American citizens, green card holders and at-risk Afghans stranded in the country.
The top two members of the committee, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez and Idaho Republican James Risch, both assail the withdrawal as a debacle in their opening remarks.
The withdrawal “was clearly and fatally flawed,” says committee chairman Menendez, who has been generally supportive of US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy but has taken issue with several of its aspects, including Afghanistan.
“The withdrawal was a dismal failure,” says Risch, the ranking GOP member of the panel, accusing the administration of “ineptitude.”
Blinken tries to deflect the criticism and maintains the administration had done the best it could under extremely trying and chaotic circumstances. He again blames the Trump administration for its February 2020 peace deal with the Taliban that he says tied Biden’s hands, as well as the quick and unexpected collapse of the Afghan government and security forces that led to the Taliban takeover on August 15.
“Even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict that government forces in Kabul would collapse while US forces remained,” he says. “They were focused on what would happen after the United States withdrew, from September onward.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz warns Palestinian terror groups not to conduct attacks ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday, during a visit to the West Bank to meet with IDF chief Aviv Kohavi and other top officers involved in the search for two Palestinian fugitives, who have been on the run since escaping prison last week.
“Security forces are spread out and prepared to defend the citizens of Israel against any threat,” Gantz says. “If terror organizations try to raise their heads, we will take care to knock them down. This is true for the West Bank and for the Gaza Strip,” he adds.
Recent days have seen an uptick in violence from the Gaza Strip, with five rockets being fired from the enclave over the course of the past week, as well as a stabbing attack in Jerusalem that left two men moderately wounded and a thwarted stabbing in the central West Bank.
The defense minister says that while the military is working to find the fugitives and to protect Israeli civilians, it does not intend to unduly impose on the West Bank’s Palestinian population.
“Israel has no intention of harming the daily routines of Palestinians and we are ready to bring economic and humanitarian concessions and to strengthen the coordination with the Palestinian Authority,” he says.
Moroccan authorities dismantle a cell of Islamic State group-affiliated militants and arrest three suspects accused of plotting an assassination, say security services.
The suspects, detained in the southern city of Errachidia, had planned “crimes of a terrorist nature against individuals” and selected a public servant for “imminent assassination,” according to the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), which oversees counter-terrorism operations.
Security forces searched the suspects’ homes and a shop, where they found military clothing, jihadist literature and information, says BCIJ.
The head of the cell was “active in recruiting from the among followers of traditional religious trends,” says the statement carried by the MAP state news agency. “He used his shop as a place of worship after he was banned from praying at the mosque, and as a safe place to instill extremist thought among his followers,” it says.
More than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed yesterday, for the second day in a row, new Health Ministry statistics show.
On Monday, 10,774 people tested positive for the coronavirus, with a positivity rate of 6.09% of all those tested. There are currently 82,028 active COVID cases, with 1,117 hospitalized, 673 in serious condition and 194 of those on ventilators.
More than 2.9 million Israelis have already received a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine, but Health Ministry Nachman Ash said earlier today that he had hoped to already see a downward trend in new cases.
Authorities in Greece open an investigation into the crash of a private plane from Israel that killed a prosecution witness in the corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Haim Geron, a former senior Communications Ministry official, and his wife, Esther, were killed in the crash late Monday off the island of Samos. The Israeli Foreign Ministry identified the victims, both 69, adding that consular officials and the ministry were working with the family to return the bodies.
Greece’s Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Board is investigating the causes of the crash, officials say.
“Shortly before landing, communication with the control tower on Samos was lost and the Civil Aviation Authority informed the search and rescue center about the loss of communication,” the authority says in a statement.
The bodies of the two Israeli occupants were recovered by the coast guard several hours later with the help of divers.
A Bedouin Israeli millionaire who briefly ran for Knesset with former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon has been ordered released to house arrest with an electronic tracking bracelet.
Yaqoub Abu al-Qia’an, a former politician and construction magnate who is a resident of the Bedouin town of Hura in the southern Negev region, was indicted in July at the Southern District Court in Beersheba on charges of contact with a foreign agent and passing information to an enemy.
Almost 1,400 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons will embark on a hunger strike in protest of their detention conditions following a jailbreak last week, says the Palestinian Authority.
Tensions have been running high since six inmates staged a dramatic escape from a high-security jail in northern Israel on September 6, via a tunnel dug under a sink. Four of them have since been recaptured.
Hundreds of their fellow inmates were transferred to other jails and personal items confiscated in searches carried out by guards, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club. Angry prisoners started fires in several jails.
“The situation is very bad in the prisons, that’s why they’re going on hunger strike,” Qadri Abu Bakr, head of the Palestinian Authority’s commission for prisoners, tells AFP. He says 1,380 prisoners — of more than 4,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails — will begin the hunger strike on Friday, to be joined by other inmates next week.
The Taliban thanks the world for pledging hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid to Afghanistan, and urges the United States to show “heart.”
“The Islamic Emirate will try its best to deliver this aid to the needy people in a completely transparent manner,” says Amir Khan Muttaqi, the regime’s acting foreign minister, adding, “America is a big country, they need to have a big heart.”
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel is slated to arrive in Israel next month for a farewell visit before departing office — after canceling a visit scheduled for August.
Merkel is expected to arrive in Israel on October 11, two weeks after the federal elections in Germany are expected to name her successor. She was originally slated to visit Israel in late August but canceled amid the upheaval surrounding the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Kabul airport attack.
The Health Ministry says that a “Green Pass” — showing proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test for COVID-19 — will no longer be required at outdoor pools.
The Green Pass will continue to be mandated for indoor pools, as well as indoor dining, museums, shows, cultural activities, hotels and most indoor attractions.
In the Health Ministry announcement today, they also noted that a negative rapid test from tomorrow, which is the eve of Yom Kippur, will remain valid through midnight on Yom Kippur.
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee votes to approve the electronic tracking of all citizens in mandatory quarantine for COVID-19 — and not just those who have returned from abroad.
The new measure will take effect tonight and midnight and be in effect until at least October 12, when it may be extended. All those in quarantine who own a smartphone will be requested to enable GPS tracking as well as photos and videos through an application. Those who decline or do not own a smartphone will be subject to increased enforcement of quarantine from police and border officials.
The two men wounded yesterday in the stabbing terrorist attack outside the Jerusalem Central Bus Station have been released from the Shaare Zedek hospital, report Hebrew media outlets.
The two victims, who are ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students in their 20s, were moderately injured by stab wounds to their upper bodies. The attack was carried out by Basil Shawamra, a 17-year-old Palestinian from the Hebron area.
Ida Nudel, a former refusenik and an activist for Soviet Jewry, has died in Israel at age 90.
Nudel arrived in Israel in 1987 after a 16-year battle against Soviet authorities to allow her to move to the Jewish state — including four years imprisoned in Siberia — which she won with the intervention of many international figures. After settling in Israel, Nudel established the “Mother to Mother” nonprofit, which sought to provide afterschool activities for the children of Russian immigrants.
LONDON (AP) — An expert advisory panel recommends that the UK government offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to everyone over age 50 to protect against waning protection this winter.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization’s recommendation came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to announce the government’s new plan for combating the pandemic. The World Health Organization has asked wealthy nations to delay booster shots until every country has vaccinated at least 40% of their populations.
The JCVI says booster shots are needed to ensure vulnerable people are protected against COVID-19, because studies have shown that the immunity conferred by vaccines weakens over time. The panel recommends that people over 50 get a booster shot six months after they received their second dose of vaccine.
Israel began rolling out booster shots to those over 60 on August 1, and has since made them available to the entire population.
An underground cave cut off from the world for five million years and inhabited by strange and unique creatures that have adapted to sulfurous waters and complete darkness will not be included in a plan to absorb seasonal floodwaters from the Ayalon River basin in central Israel, the National Infrastructure Committee decides.
The committee is looking for a place to which surface runoff water can be directed in the winter. This is in connection with plans for an additional rail line in the area that would require narrowing a section of the Ayalon River.
The decision, which spares the cave from being designated as a runoff water collection point, follows a long campaign to save the Ayalon Cave.
Security officials suspect that many prisoners in the Gilboa Prison may have known of the escape last week of six Palestinian security prisoners ahead of time, according to Hebrew media reports.
In addition, according to the reports, a prison guard who was responsible for maintaining the prison’s sewer system knew of recent blockages in the system due to sand, but did not report the blockages to the prison authorities.
The six fugitives — two of whom are still at large — escaped by digging through the concrete and metal rebar flooring in their bathroom and removing a slab that led to a series of gaps in the prison’s structure. They used these to leave the compound underground and then tunneled their way up to a road on the south side of the facility.
Khaled Al Jalahma, the first-ever Bahrain ambassador to Israel, presents his credentials to President Isaac Herzog at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem — a day ahead of the first anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords.
“What a wonderful coincidence to have this event mark the first anniversary of the #Abraham_Accords,” Jalahma tweeted in both English and Hebrew on his way to the event. “I’m so proud that we took this brave step last year to work hand-in-hand towards peace, security and stability in the world.”
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