The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they unfolded.
Iran sentences four people to death for selling contaminated bootleg alcohol that killed 17 people and sent dozens more to hospital in June, the judiciary says.
The sale and consumption of alcohol has been banned in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, giving rise to a huge illicit trade in smuggled or bootleg alcohol, some of it adulterated with poisonous methanol.
In June, at least 17 people died and 191 were admitted to the hospital with symptoms of methanol poisoning after drinking adulterated alcohol.
— Eli Dror (@edrormba) June 22, 2023
Judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi says 11 defendants had been charged with the capital offense of corruption on earth over the distribution of toxic liquor in Alborz province, west of Tehran.
Of the 11, four were sentenced to death while the rest received prison sentences of one to five years, Setayeshi says, adding that the convicts can appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Saudi foreign minister tells the UN General Assembly that a solution must be expedited for the Palestinians for the sake of Middle East security.
“The stability of the region rests on a just and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian cause… and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Faisal bin Farhan says in his address.
The comment comes amid increased talk about a potential historic normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, with Riyadh said to demand Israeli concessions to Palestinians that nevertheless fall short of giving them an independent state.
Bin Farhan adds on the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that his country “rejects and condemns all the unilateral steps that constitute a blatant violation of international laws and which contribute to the collapse of regional and international peace efforts and are hindering the path of diplomatic solutions.”
However, he doesn’t directly mention Israel or the normalization efforts during his address.
Israel reportedly sent a diplomatic representative to the General Assembly hall even though the speech is on Shabbat.
Around 100,000 people are attending the main anti-overhaul rally this evening in Tel Aviv, the Crowd Solutions firm estimates according to Channel 13 news.
US President Joe Biden has gotten the updated COVID-19 vaccine and annual flu shot, the White House says.
The White House physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, says in a memo that Biden received both shots yesterday. O’Connor says Biden, 80, also was vaccinated several weeks ago against the respiratory illness known as RSV.
“As we enter the cold and flu season, the President encourages all Americans to follow his example and to check with their healthcare provider or pharmacist to assure that they are fully vaccinated,” O’Connor writes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month endorsed the new COVID-19 shot for everyone aged six months and older. The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic has faded, but there are still thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths in the United States each week.
Experts worry that immunity from previous vaccinations and infections is fading in many people, and a new shot would save many lives.
First lady Jill Biden tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month but experienced only mild symptoms.
As tens of thousands attend the main anti-overhaul rally at Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Square, protest leader Shikma Bressler dismisses talk of normalization as “spin” designed to divert attention from the coalition’s judicial legislation.
“We, Israeli citizens from across the political spectrum, are saying this evening and for 38 consecutive weeks — we won’t fall for any spin,” Bressler says. “We fully understand that just like the Abraham Accords [with other Arab countries] didn’t prevent the regime coup, also a deal with Saudi Arabia won’t stop those who want a messianic dictatorship.”
Retired IDF Maj. Gen. Amiram Levin makes a similar point at a rally in Haifa, deriding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s UN speech in which he emphasized the prospect of a Saudi deal and ignored the judicial overhaul controversy.
“We heard Netanyahu with an impassioned speech about peace,” he says. “Someone who is acting to destroy the court only wants to cement his power as a dictator and doesn’t really want peace.
“Even Netanyahu knows that if he reaches agreements with every Arab country in a way that doesn’t come at the expense of our democracy, it is not us in the protest movement who will thwart that,” he adds. “The obstacle is with him, with the extremists [Itamar] Ben Gvir and [Bezalel] Smotrich.”
Footage emerges of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacting to a protester in New York repeatedly calling “Shame!” toward him.
As he enters a local hospital, reportedly to visit an acquaintance, he makes dismissive belittling hand gestures toward her.
Exclusive: PM Netanyahu reacts to a protester shouting “shame” at him in the streets of NYC. We’ve never seen Netanyahu react to the protest that way in the past. It is clear how much the protests bother him. pic.twitter.com/maW9Qfxczj
— נריה קראוס Neria Kraus (@NeriaKraus) September 23, 2023
A relative of three Palestinians slain in a firebomb attack in their home in a West Bank village in 2015 says he expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to put an end to a “campaign of incitement” by far-right coalition members — and by the premier’s son — in support of the Jewish terrorist convicted of the murder.
Over a million shekels have been fundraised amid increasingly vocal advocacy by far-right coalition figures on behalf of Amiram Ben Uliel, who is serving three life sentences plus 20 years for the arson attack in Duma, in which Riham and Saad Dawabsha were killed along with their 18-month-old son, Ali Saad. Only the couple’s 5-year-old son, Ahmed, survived the terror attack, with extensive burns.
Ben Uliel was found guilty in 2020 of three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, arson, and conspiring to commit a racially motivated crime, as part of a “terrorist act.”
Supporters of Ben Uliel have objected to the verdict primarily because his confession was obtained using what the Shin Bet calls “special measures” — decried as torture by him and by rights groups. He is believed to be one of the first Israeli Jews subject to such an interrogation by the Shin Bet, though the same tactics are widely believed to have been long used against Palestinians.
The family’s grandfather Hussein Dawabsha, the father of Riham, tells the Israel Hayom daily that “anyone who supports the murderer Amiram Ben Uliel is a partner to the crime and is encouraging terror against Palestinians.”
He adds that “members of Knesset and the people on the right who support him morally, financially or otherwise and who want his punishment and prison conditions to be eased — are themselves Amiram Ben Uliel.
“We must stop this to prevent the next murder,” Hussein Dawabsha says.
Lambasting Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har-Melech, who earlier this week called Ben Uliel a “holy righteous man,” he says: “What she’s doing and saying is incitement to terror. I hope the authorities in Israel take steps against her and prosecute her.”
Meanwhile, two members of the coalition’s ruling Likud party voice criticism of the campaign.
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana tells Channel 12 in an interview that the Duma murder was “hideous” and adds: “No doubt has arisen for me regarding the identity of the murderer.”
Culture Minister Miki Zohar tweets: “The person who murdered an innocent family… should remain in prison until his last day.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is exerting heavy pressure on members of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission not to oppose uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia as part of a potential deal that would see the two nations normalize relations, Channel 12 news reports.
US support for a Saudi civilian nuclear program is a key demand by Riyadh for the agreement, though officials in both Israel and the US have expressed concern over the prospect of enrichment on Saudi soil.
The network’s Nir Dvori says nuclear experts in Israel are stressing the need for very close American oversight over the process if it is agreed, and that there must be assurances from the US as to what the consequences would be if the Saudis later deviate from the agreements.
Netanyahu’s office reacts by saying the report is “untrue.”
Mutiple reports note that both Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden firmly oppose enrichment of uranium by the Saudis on their own soil, and that what is being discussed is a US-run enrichment facility in Saudi Arabia that will see Riyadh supply the raw materials and receive the finished product, without access to the enrichment technology.
The military says it has hit a post in the Gaza Strip belonging to the Hamas terror group, near the place where dozens have been rioting along the border with Israel.
In the latest violent rally near the barrier in what has become a daily occurrence, rioters have burned tires and at least in one case hurled a makeshift bomb toward Israeli forces. Footage showed balloons carrying incendiary devices being flown toward the border.
The IDF says in its statement that the gunfire toward Israeli troops near the border originated from the Hamas post that was hit.
Military sources say troops have responded to the clashes with riot dispersal measures and live fire in some instances, adding that none of the incendiary balloons have crossed into Israeli territory.
Protesters against the government’s judicial overhaul have begun to gather for rallies across Israel in the 38th week of demonstrations.
צומת הגומא (קרדיט: נמרוד בר און), צומת כברי (אמיר ירחי), גשר בית השיטה (ניר דפנא), גשר אליקים (דני שטרנפלד), גשר נעורים (שגיא אלוני), רחובות (נבט כהנא), גדרה וצומת עידן שבערבה
*מחאת הדגלים השחורים*
*מצילים את הדמוקרטיה*
— ???? החזית הצפונית (@DemocratFront) September 23, 2023
Ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday, organizers say today’s rallies will be held under the banner of “No forgiveness for dictatorship.”
Among the speakers at the Tel Aviv rally will be former police chief Shlomo Aharonishki.
Azerbaijan promises the United Nations that it will ensure equal treatment for ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, which Baku swiftly retook after decades of separatist control.
“I wish to reiterate that Azerbaijan is determined to reintegrate ethnic Armenian residents of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan as equal citizens,” Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov says in a speech to the UN General Assembly.
Pope Francis challenges French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders to open their ports to people fleeing hardship and poverty, insisting that the continent isn’t facing a migration “emergency” but rather a long-term reality that governments must deal with humanely.
For a second straight day in the French port city of Marseille, Francis takes aim at European countries that have used “alarmist propaganda” to justify closing their doors to migrants, and tries to shame them into responding with charity instead. He calls for migrants to have legal pathways to citizenship, and for the Mediterranean Sea that so many cross to reach Europe to be a beacon of hope, not a graveyard of desperation.
The Mediterranean, Francis tells Macron and a gathering of regional bishops, “cries out for justice, with its shores that on the one hand exude affluence, consumerism and waste, while on the other there is poverty and instability.”
The pope’s visit to the city in southern France, which drew an estimated 150,000 well-wishers today, comes as Italy’s far right-led government has reacted to a new wave of arriving migrants by threatening to organize a naval blockade of Tunisia and to step up repatriations. The French government, for its part, has beefed up patrols on its southern border to stop migrants in Italy from crossing over.
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