The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s developments as they unfolded.
The Health Ministry reports that 9,739 new coronavirus cases were confirmed yesterday, ending a stretch in which daily infections topped 10,000 for four consecutive days.
Another 4,145 infections have been recorded since midnight, with active cases now at 90,750. There have been 1,112,744 verified coronavirus cases in Israel since the pandemic began.
The number of serious cases ticks up slightly to 677, after beginning to decline in recent days from a peak of 753 during the current wave.
The death toll stands at 7,153, with 16 fatalities yesterday.
The positive test rate yesterday was 6.91 percent.
According to the Health Ministry, 6,010,685 people have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 5,507,351 have received two shots. Another 2,573,020 have been administered a third dose.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says one Palestinian has been killed and 5 wounded, including one seriously, from IDF live fire during violent demonstrations on the border.
The man killed on the border is identified as 26-year-old Ahmed Mustafa Salah, according to Palestinian media reports.
Another 10 Palestinians have been hurt from tear gas, according to the Hamas officials.
“Parents for Climate” activists march in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Kiryat Tivon in northern Israel, to demand a better future for their children and subsequent generations.
תנועת "הורים למען האקלים" הפגינה היום בתל אביב, בקריאה לשים את משבר האקלים בראש סדר היום הציבורי
קרדיט: הורים למען האקלים pic.twitter.com/US2iFx43Nr
— Noa Fisher | נעה פישר (@FisherNoa) September 2, 2021
Palestinians are rioting along the Gaza border with Israel for the sixth night in the row.
The rioters are throwing explosives at Israeli security forces and burning tires, according to reports. The IDF is responding with riot control measures.
Palestinians hurl explosive devices toward the Gaza border during the sixth night in a row of violent demonstrations.
According to reports in Gaza a number of Palestinians have been hurt from IDF fire and tear gas. No comment yet from the Hamas-run health ministry. pic.twitter.com/vcKyNLn0zq
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) September 2, 2021
A stunned US East Coast wakes up to a rising death toll, surging rivers and destruction after the remnants of Hurricane Ida walloped the region with record-breaking rain, filling low-lying apartments with water and turning roads into car-swallowing canals.
In a region that had been warned about potentially deadly flash flooding but hadn’t braced for such a blow from the event, the storm killed at least 22 people from Maryland to New York on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Nine people died in New York City, police say, one of them in a car and eight in flooded basement apartments that often serve as relatively affordable homes for low-income people.
Officials say that at least eight died in New Jersey and three in Pennsylvania’s suburban Montgomery County, where one was killed by a falling tree, one drowned in a car and another in a home.
An on-duty state trooper in Connecticut was swept away in his cruiser and later taken to a hospital, state police and local authorities say.
A 31-year-old man has been killed in a collision with a truck near Mazkeret Batya in central Israel.
The man was on his way to his sister’s wedding, Channel 12 reports.
His father, 71, is seriously injured.
Anti-vaxxers have exploited a loophole in the healthcare system to get registered as vaccinated and become eligible for the “Green Pass” that grants them access to certain venues, Channel 13 reports.
The network says that people opposed to the COVID vaccines have been showing up at vaccination centers and registering for the shots. Although they walk away before getting the immunization, the HMOs record them as vaccinated, the station says.
It’s not immediately clear how widespread the phenomenon is.
The attorney general, state prosecutor, and Israel Police have received a serious criminal complaint regarding a “senior law enforcement official,” Channel 12 reports.
Police have been ordered to investigate, the report says. The network says that it cannot disclose the official’s identity or the nature of the allegations, but says that the alleged crimes — if confirmed — could carry a hefty prison term.
IDF chief Aviv Kohavi defends the military against ongoing criticism of its top brass over the death of a Border Police sniper who was shot dead by a Palestinian gunman at point-blank range last month during a riot along the Gaza border.
After the border guard, Barel Shmueli, was shot and fatally wounded during the riot, allegations emerged that the reason why the shooter was able to get so close to the border barrier was due to overly restrictive rules of engagement, which prevented troops from opening fire at the rioters as they approached the border.
Kohavi dismisses the allegations that the rules of engagement or a lack of equipment were to blame for Shmueli’s death.
“The soldiers and commanders are equipped with all of the tools and with open-fire rules that are clear. Claims to the contrary are baseless and are nothing but a total lie,” Kohavi says. “Any soldier that feels threatened and at risk, in war or peacetime, is allowed to, needs to and must take action and remove the threat.”
The IDF chief says that the military is still conducting its investigation into the incident.
“We are completing a thorough investigation that will leave no stone unturned. This is an investigation that is based solely on professional and ethical standards,” he says.
Egypt’s president holds talks in Cairo with the King of Jordan and the president of the Palestinian Authority aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process and strengthening a ceasefire that halted the Israel-Hamas war.
Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, King Abdullah II of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas discussed the elusive two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, according to a statement from el-Sissi’s office.
The three leaders say that the Palestinians have a right to an independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel staunchly opposes such a plan.
In the talks, the Egyptian and Jordanian leaders also renew their support of Abbas’ warning against the “dangerous repercussions” of the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the demolition of Palestinian houses and the confiscation of land properties, reads the statement.
On his part, el-Sissi stressed that the establishment of a Palestinian state requires the unification of all Palestinian factions, adds the statement.
After approving two key bills, the Knesset moves to debate the third piece of legislation that makes up the state budget.
All three pieces of legislation must pass for the state budget to be approved.
Earlier, the budget framework and Arrangements Bill cleared their respective first readings. The government must clear all the state budget laws in another two readings by November to remain intact.
An Israeli military court decides to release pregnant Palestinian security prisoner Anhar al-Deek to house arrest on around $12,500 bail, her lawyer tells The Times of Israel.
Al-Deek’s case had become prominent in Palestinian media, as she was set to give birth while detained. The last Palestinian prisoner to give birth while under arrest by Israeli authorities was Gaza resident Fatima al-Ziq in 2008.
Al-Deek was charged by Israeli military prosecutors for threatening to stab Israeli settlers at the West Bank outpost of Sde Ephraim. Her defense says that she suffers from a history of mental illness and was psychologically incapacitated during the incident.
According to the court’s ruling, al-Deek will be under 24-hour supervision while in her mother’s house. She will also have to show up at an Israeli police station once a week and undergo psychological treatment, among other conditions.
The Knesset approves the state budget’s Arrangements Bill in its first reading.
The Health Ministry records another 7,640 coronavirus cases since midnight, bringing the number of active infections to 88,139.
The number of serious cases drops to 673, continuing the downward trend. The death toll stands at 7,122.
According to the Health Ministry, nearly 6 million Israelis (5,999,621) have received the first shot of the vaccine, and 2.3 million have gotten the third booster shot.
The coalition has resolved disagreements over parts of the state budget Arrangements Bill, clearing the way for its approval in its first parliamentary reading tonight, Channel 12 reports.
The network says that a compromise has been reached over the dispute between the left-wing Meretz party and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina over a regulatory reform that is included in the Arrangements Bill.
Meretz, a coalition member, has expressed concern that the reform, meant to streamline bureaucracy, will benefit business and industry at the cost of public health and the environment.
The United States’s Central Command (CENTCOM) officially assumes responsibility for the military’s relationship with Israel, taking over from the European Command (EUCOM), some eight months after plans for the move were announced.
“The realignment, announced by the [US] Defense Department in January strengthens the strategic US-Israeli defense relationship and offers opportunities to deepen operational collaboration between the Israel Defense Forces and CENTCOM’s many partners in the region,” CENTCOM says in a statement.
For decades, the State of Israel has been kept in the area of responsibility of EUCOM in order to prevent possible tensions between CENTCOM and the Arab and Muslim nations under its purview, many of whom did not maintain formal ties with the Jewish state.
In recent years, CENTCOM’s allies have increasingly developed relations with Israel, some informally, so these issues have largely faded. As many of these countries also share an enemy with Israel — Iran — bringing it into CENTCOM is meant to allow for easier communication and coordination between them.
“CENTCOM will now work to implement the US Government commitment to a holistic approach to regional security and cooperation with our partners. The US Government’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security remains enduring and ironclad,” CENTCOM says.
Qatar’s top diplomat says that experts are racing to reopen Kabul’s airport but warns that it is not clear when flights would resume, with many still desperate to flee Afghanistan’s new Taliban leaders amid concerns over what their rule will hold.
In the wake of their rapid takeover, the Taliban have sought to calm those fears, including pledging to let women and girls attend school and allow people to travel freely. But many are skeptical, and Britain’s foreign minister stressed the importance of engaging with the new rulers to test their promises.
Kabul’s airport, a major way out of the country, is now in Taliban hands but is closed, and Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani warns that there’s still “no clear indication” of when it will reopen.
A team of Qatari and Turkish technicians flew to Kabul on Wednesday to help restart operations at the facility, which the UN says is crucial to providing the country with humanitarian assistance. It remains to be seen, however, whether any commercial airlines will be willing to offer service.
“We remain hopeful we will be able to operate it as soon as possible,” Al Thani tells reporters in Doha. “We are still in the evaluation process… We are working very hard and engaging with the Taliban to identify what are the gaps and the risks for having the airport back up and running.”
Addressing the Knesset plenum from behind a glass-enclosed balcony, where he is quarantined after returning from abroad, Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu criticizes the proposed state budget.
“The budget you presented today is bad. It includes… tax hikes, in total opposition to your promises. You are hurting farmers, the weaker populations, the periphery, the middle class,” says Netanyahu.
The debates and first reading votes of the budget are expected to last through the night. The government must approve the budget in two more votes by November or elections are automatically called.
Yeshiva World News names one of the fatalities from the flooding as Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Weissmandel, 69, of Mount Kisco, New York.
Weissmandel contacted his family members after he was caught in the floods while driving home, the report says. Rescue teams found him lifeless in his car. The report says it remains unclear whether he died from the floods or a heart attack.
TRAGEDY: HaRav Shmuel Dovid Weissmandel ZT”L Niftar During Floods While Driving To Mount Kiscohttps://t.co/P6B1hHd3kP
— Yeshiva World News (@YWN) September 2, 2021
The remnants of Hurricane Ida killed at least 14 people in flooding in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as basement apartments suddenly filled with water, rivers and creeks swelled to record levels and roadways turned into car-swallowing canals.
Eight people died when they became trapped in flooded basements, New York City police say. Five people were found dead in an apartment complex in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the city’s mayor and spokesperson tells local media. Outside Philadelphia, officials reported “multiple fatalities,” saying no additional details were immediately available.
The ferocious storm also spawned tornadoes, including one that ripped apart homes and toppled silos in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, south of Philadelphia.
The first Bahraini ambassador to Israel, Khaled Yousif al-Jalahma, presents his credentials to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
“I congratulated the ambassador on his arrival and the expected opening of the Bahraini Embassy in Israel and we discussed the strengthening of ties between the countries and nations,” tweets Lapid.
נפגשתי היום עם השגריר הראשון של בחריין בישראל, חאלד יוסוף אל ג'לאהמה, שהגיש לי את העתק כתב האמנה שלו כשגריר בישראל.
ברכתי את השגריר על הגעתו ועל הפתיחה הצפויה של שגרירות בחריין בישראל ודנו בחיזוק הקשרים בין המדינות ובין העמים. pic.twitter.com/HVpqFTiFpd
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid???? (@yairlapid) September 2, 2021
Coronavirus czar Salman Zarka urges unvaccinated Jewish Israelis to get a rapid COVID test before joining large family meals over the upcoming holiday period.
He also calls for synagogue services over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to be held outdoors.
The Health Ministry “recommends that the public opt for prayers outdoors rather than in synagogues,” he says in a briefing to reporters.
Diplomat Eitan Na’eh is nominated to be Israel’s first ambassador to Bahrain.
Na’eh was the Jewish state’s first diplomat to take up office in the United Arab Emirates following its normalization deal with Israel, serving as chargé d’affairs of the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Na’eh served as envoy to Turkey from 2016 to 2018, until he was expelled by Ankara in protest of the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in violent clashes with Israeli forces on the border with the Gaza Strip.
The remnants of Hurricane Ida caused “multiple fatalities” in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia, according to county spokesperson Kelly Cofrancisco, in addition to at least nine other fatalities in New York and New Jersey.
No additional details are immediately available about the deaths in Pennsylvania and county officials plan to hold a briefing later.
Major flooding along the Schuylkill River swamped highways, submerged cars and disrupted commuter rail service in the Philadelphia area. In a tweet, city officials predict “historic flooding” on Thursday as river levels continue to rise.
Actress and singer Miri Aloni, 71, has been hospitalized with a serious infection in her foot.
According to Hebrew media reports, Aloni underwent an emergency amputation below her right knee and her condition is now stable. Earlier, doctors said her life was in danger.
More than 30 California children are stuck in Afghanistan after they traveled to the country to see their relatives weeks before the Taliban seized power and were unable to get out before US forces left, according to school districts where the kids are enrolled.
Officials with three school districts — one in the San Diego area and two in Sacramento — say they have been in contact with the families who fear they have been forgotten by the US government. The officials say that some of the children were born in the United States and are US citizens.
Nearly all of the children returned to Afghanistan with one or both parents in the spring or early summer to visit relatives. The families traveled on their own to the country and were not part of any organized trips.
Many of the families arrived in the US years ago after obtaining special immigrant visas granted to Afghans who had worked for the US government or US military over the past two decades.
Some of the families told school district officials that they had made attempts to get on planes at the airport in Kabul but were unable get through Taliban checkpoints or through the throngs of Afghans surrounding the airport over the past two weeks. The US ended its evacuation efforts and withdrew its forces on Monday.
Religious Zionism leader Betzalel Smotrich accuses the government of covertly engaging in peace efforts with the Palestinians.
“Secretly, behind Israelis’ backs, a dangerous diplomatic process was started immediately after the government was formed, which will bring us back to the Oslo days,” says Smotrich in the Knesset, referring to the 1993 accords.
His speech follows recent gestures by the Israeli government to the Palestinians, including the easing of restrictions in Gaza, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s meeting this week with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Iran’s state TV says 16 people were killed and 12 injured in the country’s west when a mini-bus plunged off a road into a valley. The report says the accident happened in Kurdish province of the Kordestan region on Thursday around noon.
According to the report, 12 injured people were taken to hospital in Sanandaj city. The country’s emergency organization deployed a rescue helicopter and an ambulance bus, as well as six ambulances to the scene.
Authorities do not report the cause of the accident, saying only that it was under investigation.
With some 17,000 deaths annually, Iran has one of the world’s worst traffic safety records, blamed on disregard of traffic laws, unsafe vehicles and inadequate emergency services.
After giving initial approval to the state budget framework, lawmakers are expected to debate the Arrangements Bill — the detailed legislation allocating the resources — throughout the night.
Coalition negotiations are still taking place up until the last moment, with the parties resolving several disagreements but a key dispute remaining between the left-wing Meretz party and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina over a regulatory reform that is included in the Arrangements Bill.
Meretz has expressed concern that the reform, meant to streamline bureaucracy, will benefit business and industry at the cost of public health and the environment.
The Knesset approves the framework of the state budget in its first reading.
The bill earmarking funds clears the plenum, which must also vote on the Arrangements Bill to determine how allocation will be implemented. Fifty-nine lawmakers back the framework, and 53 opposed it.
Failure to pass the pair of budget bills in three readings in the Knesset plenum by a November 4 deadline would automatically dissolve parliament and trigger elections.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu will vote on the first reading of the budget from behind a glass partition on the Knesset plenum balcony.
That’s because Netanyahu recently returned from vacationing in Hawaii, and under the current health rules must self-isolate for a week (the travel rules are set to change Friday, when those vaccinated with the booster, such as Netanyahu, are exempt from quarantine.)
נתניהו ביציע המבודדים עם החזרה מארצות הברית כשרק יואב גלנט לצידו (רחוק) לארח לו חברה.
צילום: דוברות הכנסת. pic.twitter.com/c9nd4yHXwY
— Yanir Cozin – יניר קוזין (@yanircozin) September 2, 2021
Agriculture Minister Oded Forer pledges on Army Radio that no new chicken coops with cages will be built in the country.
New cage-free coops, although still crowded, have been urged by animal rights groups as they allow hens to indulge in some natural activities such as standing on and pecking in the ground and spreading their wings.
Forer announces that a reform of the egg industry will be taken out of the Economic Arrangements Bill that accompanies the State Budget and formulated separately.
But some issues need to be dealt with immediately, such as animal welfare, he adds.
“I met with many animal organizations, with Animals Now and others, and I promised them, and we’re also going to implement it, that no new cage coops will be built in Israel.”
Regulations to this effect are to be advanced “immediately,” he says.
Iran’s state TV is reporting that the country’s Interior Ministry has approved a new hardline mayor for the capital, Tehran, after a city council election.
Alireza Zakani, 55 heads a parliamentary research center, and he was one of the seven approved 2021 presidential candidates. He withdrew from the race to support the eventual winner, fellow hardliner Ebrahim Raisi.
Zakani previously served as a lawmaker. He was also the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s volunteer unit at Tehran University in 1999.
Zakani replaces Pirouz Hanachi, an architecture professor at the Fine Arts Faculty of Tehran University. He had also previously served as the deputy mayor for urban development.
Some three dozen Afghan women hold a demonstration in front of the governor’s office in western Herat province, urging the new government to uphold advances in women’s rights following the Taliban takeover.
Friba Kabrzani, an organizer of the rally, says that women should have political participation in the new government, including the Cabinet and Loya Jirga, or elders’ council.
Afghan women have made many sacrifices over the past 20 years to achieve what they have, she says, adding: “We want the world to hear us and we want our rights to be saved.”
Kabrzani says that some local families did not allow other women to join the march, although they wanted to, out of fear for their safety, after the ultraconservative Taliban religious militia took control of the country in mid-August.
Another participant, Maryam Ebram, says that although the Taliban were giving beautiful speeches on television, there have been abuses of power in the public space.
“We have witnessed them beating women again,” she says, adding that her group planned to continue to protest and demand their rights.
“We will not sit quiet as Taliban wants us to,” Ebram says.
Famed Israel Defense Forces veteran Brig. Gen. (res.) Avigdor Kahalani is discharged from the hospital, where he had been treated for a serious Group A streptococcal infection.
Kahalani, 77, a former commander of the IDF’s 7th Armored Brigade, fought in several wars, was injured in battle during the Six Day War in 1967 and received the Medal of Valor — the highest Israeli military decoration — for his role in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi before a planned trilateral summit with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Abbas and Sissi discuss “the latest political developments, as well as the internal Palestinian situation, and the developments across occupied Palestinian lands,” according to a statement carried by the official PA WAFA news agency.
A spokesperson for Sissi says the Egyptian leader stressed his support for the Palestinian Authority, especially its role in Gaza, as well as strengthening the ceasefire between “the Palestinian and Israeli sides.”
“[Sissi] stressed the importance of joining efforts in order to support the Palestinian position towards a political settlement and push for the resumption of negotiations,” the spokesperson says.
Abbas has met with Abdullah and Sissi separately over the past year and a half, but a trilateral meeting has not taken place since 2017, when the three met on the sidelines of the Arab League’s annual summit.
Sissi has also invited Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Cairo in the coming weeks for a rare Israeli state visit to the Egyptian capital, according to Bennett’s office.
A woman has been arrested in Haifa after threatening to blow up a bank.
Police are questioning the 31-year-old woman, who claimed to be wearing a suicide vest. The incident came as she attempted to rob a bank.
Police say the woman may be an employee at the bank. Sappers are at the scene to establish whether she is carrying explosives.
At least eight deaths are reported in New York City and New Jersey as relentless rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida sent the New York City area into a state of emergency early Thursday and the storm carried into New England with threats of more tornadoes.
Police in New York City report seven deaths, including a 50-year-old man, a 48-year-old woman and a 2-year-old boy who were found unconscious and unresponsive late Wednesday inside a home. They were pronounced dead at the scene, police say. One death is reported in New Jersey.
New York’s FDR Drive, a major artery on the east side of Manhattan, and the Bronx River Parkway were under water by late Wednesday evening. Subway stations and tracks became so flooded that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspended all service. Videos posted online showed subway riders standing on seats in cars filled with water.
Other videos showed vehicles submerged up to their windows on major roadways in and around the city and garbage bobbing down the streets.
Israeli swimmers at the Tokyo Paralympics win two more gold medals, bringing the Jewish state’s total cache from the tournament to nine.
Iyad Shalabi wins gold, his second in this year’s games, in the 50m backstroke.
Ami Dadaon picks up gold in the 50m freestyle and breaks a Paralympics record. This is his second gold medal and third medal this year.
Israel has thus far won six gold medals, two silvers and a bronze in the Tokyo Paralympics.
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