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

Iran warns Israel will face ‘sorrow and penitence’ for striking forces in Syria

A senior Iranian security official is threatening Israel with harsh “reactions” if the Jewish state “continues to attack” Iranian and government forces in Syria.

The semi-official Fars news agency quotes Ali Shamkhani, of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying that in case of further airstrikes, Israel “will face reactions that would cause sorrow and penitence.”

Earlier in September, Israel attacked the airport in the Syrian capital, Damascus, with missiles that are believed to have targeted arms depots there of the Iranian forces and or the Lebanese terror Hezbollah group — both allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops in the civil war.

Iran has maintained that its forces in Syria are in advisory role to the Syrian army in its war on Islamic State jihadists and armed opposition groups.

— Agencies

Teenage Tel Aviv hit-and-run victim dies

The 17-year-old boy who was seriously injured in a Tel Aviv hit-and-run succumbed to his wounds at the Ichilov Medical Center Thursday.

Ari Nesher and a friend were riding on their electric bikes on the city’s northern Rokach Boulevard on Sunday night when they were hit by Israeli Premier League soccer player Itzhak Asefa.

Asefa was arrested hours later and police said that the driver’s blood alcohol content was found to have been five times the legal amount.

Nesher was the son of acclaimed Israeli director Avi Nesher.

Delek-Noble announces $500m deal to allow Israeli gas exports to Egypt

Noble Energy and its Israeli partner Delek, along with Egyptian East Gas Company, announces that it has bought 39 percent of a disused pipeline connecting the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon with the north Sinai, a deal that will enable the export of Israel’s natural gas to Egypt.

The consortium paid $518 million for the interest in the East Mediterranean Gas Company pipeline.

An aerial view of the Israeli ‘Tamar’ gas processing rig 24 kilometers off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon. Noble Energy and Delek are the main partners in the oil field, October 11, 2013. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

The mainly undersea pipeline will be used to transport natural gas from the Tamar and Leviathan reservoirs to Egypt from as early as 2019, allowing a 10-year $15 billion deal signed in February with Egypt’s Dolphinus to move forward, Delek says in a statement.

It will be the first time Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, imports gas from its neighbor.

— with AP

Abbas spokesman hits back at Netanyahu: We won’t ever accept Israeli troops

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, says the Palestinians will not accept the presence of Israeli soldiers in a future Palestinian state.

His comments came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli reporters on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly that under any peace accord with the Palestinians, Israel would retain security control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

“We will not accept the presence of an occupation soldier on our Palestinian land,” Abu Rudeinah says in a statement published on the official PA news site Wafa. “We will only accept an independent and sovereign Palestinian state along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

— Adam Rasgon

Iran’s Rouhani says US headed into isolation after UN meeting

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the UN Security Council meeting chaired by US President Donald Trump yesterday shows America is increasingly isolated among the international community.

Rouhani spoke after returning to Tehran from New York, where he addressed the UN General Assembly.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit on September 24, 2018, one day before the start of General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York. (AFP Photo/Don Emmert)

He says Trump achieved the opposite of what he’d hoped for and that the Security Council meeting backed Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Trump pulled America out of the accord in May and is re-imposing sanctions on Iran.

Rouhani says “nobody backed the United States, putting America into a unique historical and political isolation.”

On Wednesday, Rouhani told reporters at the UN that the US withdrawal from the deal was “a mistake” and that he believes America will “sooner or later” support the deal.

— AP

New high-speed Jerusalem train stuck in tunnel for 25 minutes

The new electric, high-speed train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv suffers its first delays with passengers reporting being stuck in a tunnel for 25 minutes  shortly after leaving the capital’s Yitzhak Navon Station.

Israel railways confirmed the delay, and the cancellation of the next train.

A partial view of the train platform at the new high-speed train station between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, at the Yitzhak Navon Railway Station in Jerusalem on September 20, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

The route — which currently only goes as far as Ben Gurion Airport — began regular operations Tuesday. The journey to the airport (usually) takes 21 minutes and runs every half hour.

In the coming months the line will be extended, first to Tel Aviv’s stations and eventually to Herzliya. Up to four trains will run each hour, in both directions, (depending on time of day), traveling at up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour.

Jewish soldier killed in Korean War identified, buried in Indianapolis

A Jewish-American soldier who fought in the Korean War is buried in Indianapolis, 67 years after he died.

Army Cpl. Morris Meshulam, 19, was captured by the Chinese army during the Korean War and died from severe malnutrition in January 1951. His remains were recovered later that year but were unidentified until earlier this year.

His family had been asked about 12 years ago to provided DNA samples to help identify his remains. Each year the remains of between 30 and 50 soldiers killed in war are identified through advanced DNA techniques.

Meshulam dropped out of school at the age of 18 in order to join the army, according to the Jewish War Veterans. He served in Battery D of the 82nd Anti-Aircraft Battalion in the 2nd Infantry Regiment.

He was buried at Etz Chaim Cemetery in his hometown of Indianapolis on Sunday, alongside his twin sister.

His last surviving sibling, Rose Goldstein, received his medals and flag at Sunday’s burial.


UNGA session featuring Netanyahu, Abbas gets underway

The third session of the United Nations General Assembly opens in New York with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas scheduled to deliver speeches later in the day.

Abbas is listed as the ninth speaker, and is expected to speak at around 12 p.m. (7 p.m. Israel time) while Netanyahu, listed as 13th, will likely speak an hour later during Israeli TV’s prime time.

Their speeches come a day after Donald Trump suggested for the first time as US president that he “liked” a two-state solution as the most effective way to resolve their conflict.

Lebanon detains ‘IS-linked Palestinian’ over poison plots

Lebanon’s security forces say they have detained a Palestinian refugee allegedly linked to the Islamic State group over two poisoning plots, one of Lebanese army water and another of food in a foreign country.

The refugee, born in 1991, admitted to links with an IS member in Syria “who tasked him with making explosives and concocting poison,” the General Security force said in a statement.

He prepared to “concoct a quantity of deadly poison along with someone living in a foreign country” for two planned poisonings.

The first was to “poison one of the water tanks from which the Lebanese army’s trucks fill up on water every day to take it to the army barracks.” The second was to “carry out a mass poisoning in a foreign country” through “poisoning food during a public holiday,” the statement said, without specifying the location.

The Palestinian has been referred to the relevant judicial authority, the security forces said, and the authorities are looking for other people involved.


French imam investigated for incitement over anti-Semitic sermon

Prosecutors in France launch an investigation for incitement against a senior Muslim cleric from Toulouse who recited anti-Semitic religious passages and predicted Israel’s destruction.

The Toulouse Prosecutor’s Office opened the probe against Mohamed Tatai, the imam of the newly inaugurated Grand Mosque of Toulouse and the leader of an interfaith dialogue group, the Sud Ouest daily reported.

In a sermon delivered on December 15, 2017, Tatai recited a Muslim text, called a Hadith, stating that on Judgment Day, the Muslims will kill the Jews.

Imam Mohamed Tatai gives a sermon at the Grand Mosque in Toulouse, France, on December 15, 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Toulouse Prosecutor Dominique Alzeari wrote in a document connected to the investigation that “after verifying the facts connected to the dissemination of the sermon,” including with a certified translation of it from Arabic, his office opened an investigation for alleged “public verbal provocation to hatred or violence because of [the victim’s] origins, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.”


High drama as Kavanaugh, Ford hearing gets underway

The Senate Judiciary Committee begins its historic hearing in which Brett Kavanaugh hopes to salvage his Supreme Court nomination by fending off allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that he’d molested her when both were in high school.

Kavanaugh and Ford are the only witnesses invited to testify before the panel of 11 Republicans — all men — and 10 Democrats. But the conservative jurist is facing allegations of sexual misconduct from other women as well, forcing Republican leaders to struggle to keep support for him from eroding.

The committee is to hear first from Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor who accuses him of attempting to rape her when they were teens.

Kavanaugh accuser ‘terrified’ but feels ‘civic duty’ to testify

Bret Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford says she is “terrified” but feels a “civic duty” to testify before Senators to detail her alleged sexual assault at the hands of the Supreme Court nominee.

The full hearing is being broadcast by C-SPAN.

Trump meets with UN diplomats with Senate Kavanaugh hearing ongoing

With the high-stakes hearing for his Supreme Court nominee underway, President Donald Trump is meeting with diplomats at the United Nations.

Trump was scheduled to meet with staff as he concludes his trip to New York for the UN General Assembly.

Trump plans to return to Washington later Thursday morning. He has said he will be watching the hearing and has said he could be convinced to change his mind on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, though he has continued to strongly defend him.

Kavanaugh faces accusations of sexual misconduct, which he has strongly denied. He and his chief accuser will both appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

— AP

Pompeo at UN: North Korea sanctions must be ‘vigorously’ enforced

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns that sanctions against North Korea must be “vigorously” enforced, during a Security Council meeting attended by the foreign ministers of Russia and China.

“Enforcement of UN Security Council sanctions must continue vigorously and without fail until we realize final, fully verified demilitarization,” Pompeo says.

Abbas arrives at UN ‘Group of 77’ developing nations bloc to be elected president

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrives at a meeting of the Group of 77, the largest bloc of developing nations at the United Nations, where he will be elected president for the coming year.

Palestine, which is not a member state of the UN but has observer state status, was chosen to head the so-called Group of 77 — a consortium now consisting of 134 nations that often speaks in one voice at the UN General Assembly — starting January 1, 2019.

Egyptian President el-Sisi is addressing the meeting, which is also attended by UN Secretary-General Guterres, ahead of Abbas, who will also address the ministerial session.

— Raphael Ahren

Abbas meets with Guterres, affairs ‘necessity’ of implementing resolutions against Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and affirms to him “the necessity” of implementing UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the official PA news site Wafa.

Abbas is slated to deliver a speech to the annual gathering of the UN General Assembly in the next hour.

— Adam Rasgon

German Chancellor Angela Merkel to receive honorary doctorate from Haifa U

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa.

The university says it is awarding the honorary degree in recognition of her leadership grounded in principles of equality, freedom, and human rights; for serving as a model to women around the world; [and] in appreciation of her warm friendship and robust ties between The Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel.”

The degree will be conferred October 4 at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where Merkel will meet with a diverse group of graduate students from the university, including from Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel received the Presidential Medal, Israel’s highest honor, from then President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, Feb. 25, 2014. (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images/ via JTA)

Merkel has worked to strengthen ties between Germany and Israel. She has been invited to Israel several times and, in 2008, convened a special meeting of the German government in Israel in honor of Israel’s 60th Independence Day.

“Throughout her life, Dr. Merkel has demonstrated exemplary standards of excellence, wisdom and humanity,” Haifa University President Ron Robin says in a statement.”


Israeli security considerations trump Palestinian statehood, US ambassador says

Israeli security considerations would come before Palestinian statehood, the US ambassador to Israel says a day after US President Donald Trump said he favored a two-state solution.

David Friedman for the first time also publicly referred to “a two-state solution,” referring to Israel and a future Palestinian state, during an interview with the Israeli public broadcaster Kan. He said that he has difficulty with the term because it means “so many different things to so many different people.”

A two-minute excerpt of the interview was broadcast on social media and on the Kan website. The full interview is scheduled to be aired Thursday evening.

Friedman emphasizes that “Where Palestinian autonomy and Israeli security intersect, we err on the side of Israeli security,”

“It is a very different view than I think has been expressed in the past,” he says, adding that Trump has been “the most pro-Israel president in the history of the United States.”

Friedman says the Trump administration’s peace plan is already ready and that the United States would never propose something that deprived Israel of the right to maintain security control.


Abbas to UN: Jerusalem is not for sale

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas opens his address to the United Nations General Assembly by declaring that “Jerusalem is not for sale.”

“And,” he continues, “the Palestinian people’s rights are not up for bargaining.”

Abbas: Palestinians will remain “believers of peace”

Abbas tells the United Nations General Assembly that the Palestinians “will remain believers of peace.”

“We will maintain our state and remain believers of peace because God is with us and our people have sacrificed a lot, and God is always against those who plight us with injustice,” he says.

Abbas slams Nation State Law, says it will turn Israel into a ‘racist state’

Abbas, addressing the UN, slams the Nation-State Law passed by the Knesset earlier this year, claiming it breaches international law and will eventually bring about a single “racist state, an apartheid state.”

He says it “legalizes discrimination against Arab citizens,” who make up 20 percent of Israel’s population.

“We reject this law and condemn it in the strongest terms and ask the international community to reject it and condemn it and an illegal law,” he says.

Abbas slams Trump’s ‘assault on international law’

Abbas slams Trump for his policies toward the Palestinians, calling them an “assault on international law.”

“We welcomed Trump when he was elected and praised his announcement of peace plan, but were shocked by his actions concerning the process,” Abbas says.

But, he continues, “He decided to close the PA mission in Washington, then recognized Jerusalem as the capital, moved the embassy to Jerusalem, and even boasts that he took issues of Jerusalem and refugees off the table.”

“He even intensified his assault on international law by cutting humanitarian aid to refugees and funds to Palestinian Authority,” he continues.

Abbas accuses US of undermining two-state solution

Abbas says that US policies toward the Palestinians have undermined the two-sate solution.

He calls on Trump to rescind his decisions in order “to salvage the prospects of peace and prosperity for future generations.”

He rejects the White House claim that it severed ties with the Palestinian Authority because the Palestinians refused to enter negotiations.

“I reiterate that we are not against negotiations and have never rejected negotiations on any day, and that we continue to extend our hands for peace. We only believe in peace. Peace is the only path. We don’t believe in terrorism and violence,” he says.

Abbas claims the Palestinians ‘never use violence’

“We are resisting the Israeli occupation by legitimate means decided by international resolutions. Only peaceful means. We never use violence,” Abbas tells the UN General Assembly.

“By contrast, settlers use arms against our people. We will continue to reject violence and use of weapons.” he says.

Abbas accuses UN of ‘allowing Israel to act with impunity’

After slamming the Trump administration, Abbas says that the UN is also to blame for giving Israel a free pass.

“Not a single UN resolution has been respected by Israel out of hundreds passed over the years. Tell us please, how we can implement such resolutions? This is your responsibility,” he charges.

“Until when will Israel be allowed act with impunity, supported by whoever it likes?”

Abbas claims Israeli Supreme Court plans to divide Temple Mount

Abbas, referring to the Temple Mount, says that Israel’s Supreme Court “plans to pass a decision dividing Al Aqsa by time and space.”

“Every day that court passes decisions as if we don’t exist.” he says.

It is not immediately clear what decision he is referring to.

Abbas: US is too biased to act as a mediator

Abbas says that the US is “too biased towards Israel” in order to act as a fair mediator between the Palestinians and Israel.

Still, he does not rule out a US role as a member of the Middle East peace Quartet.

Abbas praises ‘our hero martyrs and prisoners of war’

Concluding his comments to the UN General Assembly, Abbas rejects criticism of the Palestinian Authority for paying monthly stipends to terrorists, saying that Israel applies a double standard to Palestinians and Israelis.

“Why is the man who killed Rabin praised when our martyrs are rejected,” he asks, referring to Yigal Amir, who was vehemently castigated by the vast majority of Israelis from the entire political spectrum.

“I pay tribute to our hero martyrs and prisoners of war,” he says.

Liberman says Abbas wanted to create conflict with UN speech

“Abbas’s speech was a ‘no no bear’ speech,” Liberman tweets referring to a children’s book about a reluctant bear.

“It was an inventory of all the insults and disappointments from the day he was born. Instead of answering the outstretched hand of the Israel and US agreement, all that interests Abbas is to get even, and to deteriorate the region into conflict,” the defense minister says.

“We will stand determined against any attempt to harm the lives of our citizens and will exact a price from the other side.”

Bennett says murderer-praising Palestinians will never achieve statehood

Jewish Home leader and senior cabinet minister Naftali Bennett hits back at Abbas’s UN speech in which he praised terrorists and “martyrs.”

“Mahmoud Abbas’ speech reminds us all of one basic fact,” Bennett tweets, “A people that sanctify murderers, and a leader who finances terrorists, will never achieve a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel.”

“We are here to prevent this from happening.” he adds.

Netanyahu says he is revealing to UN another secret Iranian atomic warehouse

Screen capture from video of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showing a diagram of what he said was a previously unknown Iranian nuclear site, during his address to the 73rd UN General Assembly, September 27, 2018. (United Nations)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens his speech to the UN General Assembly by slamming the International Atomic Energy Agency for failing to investigate findings that he presented earlier this year of Iran’s nuclear program.

In response, “Today I am disclosing for the first time that Iran has another secret facility in Tehran,” he says, showing photos of a site in the Iranian capital he describes as an “atomic warehouse.”

Netanyahu to IAEA: Do the right thing, go and inspect Tehran’s atomic warehouse

Netanyahu says he has a direct message for the IAEA chairman Yukiya Amano.

“Do the right thing,” he says, “Go and inspect, go and investigate.”

“The reason Iran did not destroy its atomic facility and warehouse is because it is not finished with them,” Netanyahu tells the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu says Israel will act against Iran ‘wherever and whenever’

We will act against you in Syria, we will act against you in Iran, we will act against you wherever and whenever,” Netanyahu warns Iran is his UN General Assembly speech.

“We will act against you to defend our state and our people.”

Netanyahu slams European ‘appeasement’ toward Iran

Netanyahu says that European countries have been engaging in a policy of “appeasement” toward Iran by fulfilling obligations they made under the Iranian nuclear deal.

“I use the word appeasement carefully,” he says, “but there is no other way to see it.”

“The same week Iran was caught red-handed for trying to murder European citizens, European leaders were laying out the red carpet for President Rouhani, pledging to give them more money,” Netanyahu mocks.

“Have these European leaders learnt nothing from history? Will they ever wake up?”

Lapid says Netanyahu to blame for Trump two-state solution flip-flop

Yesh Atid chairman says that US President Donald Trump’s surprise statement that he backs the two state solution is a result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unclear policy toward the Palestinians.

“President Trump’s jump between the two-state solution and the one-state solution is not the result of American ambiguity, but of the fact that no one – including our best friend in the White House – understands what the Netanyahu government wants. Strengthen the Palestinian Authority or topple it? Unite the West Bank and Gaza or separate them? Annex or separate from Nablus and Ramallah?” Lapid says in a statement.

“The Americans do not understand what the Israelis know,” he continues. “What Netanyahu wants is for time to pass. Another month and another month, another year and another year. For him, the only criterion for success is that there will be no change.”

Netanyahu threatens Hezbollah: We know what you are doing, we won’t let you get away with it

Netanyahu accuses Hezbollah of “deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields.”

Holding up aerial photos of Hezbollah weapons stores in the Lebanese capital, Netanyahu says: “Israel know what you are doing, Israel knows where you are doing it, and Israel will not let you get away with it.”

Netanyahu to Europe: Join the US in new sanctions on Iran

“Iran deal supporters were wrong about what would happen if sanctions were reinstated,” Netanyahu says. “Let’s see what happened to Iran’s economy now that President Trump is forcing companies to do business with [either] Iran or the US.”

Iran’s economy was booming. Now it’s collapsing, he says. “If that’s little economic impact, imagine what will happen with the next batch of US sanctions in November.”

Netanyahu adds: “Israel is deeply grateful to President Trump for his bold decision to withdraw from the disastrous deal with Iran.”

Netanyahu says he hopes Israel will make peace with Arab nations, ‘including the Palestinians’

“I have an important confession to make,” Netanyahu says amid slamming the Iranian nuclear deal.

“This may surprise you but I have to admit that the Iran deal has had one positive consequence. By empowering Iran, it brought Israel and many Arab states closer together than ever before, in an intimacy and friendship that I have not seen in my lifetime, and that would have been unthinkable a few years ago,” he says.

“Israel deeply values these new friendships, and I hope the day will soon arrive when Israel will extend a formal peace, beyond Egypt and Jordan, to other Arab nations, including the Palestinians.”

Netanyahu defends criticism of Nation State Law

Netanyahu thanks Trump for supporting Israel at the UN, saying that criticism of Israel in the international body, including that of the recently passed Nation State Law, is anti-Semitic.

“I want to use this opportunity to express Israel’s appreciation for President Trump and Ambassador Haley for the support they provide to Israel at the United Nations,” he says to applause.

“Israel airlifted Ethiopian Jews to freedom and a new life in Israel, in the Jewish state. Yet here at the UN, Israel is absurdly accused of racism. Israel’s Arab citizens have exactly the same rights as all other Israeli citizens. but here Israel is shamefully accused of apartheid,” he says.

“It’s the same old anti-Semitism with a brand new face. That’s all it is.”

Turning to the Nation State Law, Netanyahu says: “Once it was the Jewish people who were slandered and held to a different standard. Today it is the Jewish state which is slandered and held to a different standard.”Israel is called racist for making Hebrew its national language?”

“This is downright preposterous,” he charges. “There are more than 50 countries that have crosses or crescents on their flags. And dozens of countries that define themselves as the nation-state of their peoples. None of these countries are libeled for celebrating their national identity.”

Netanyahu slams Abbas for supporting terror payments

Netanyahu takes aim at PA President Abbas for praising terrorists during his speech to the UN General Assembly earlier, in which Abbas referred to Palestinian “martyrs.”

“They more they slay, the more you pay. and you condemn Israel’s morality? You call Israel racist? This is not the way to peace,” Netanyahu says.

“This body should not be applauding the head of a regime that pays terrorists. The UN should condemn such a despicable policy.”

IDF releases photos of alleged Hezbollah missile sites near Beirut airport

The Israeli military on Thursday released satellite images of three sites in Beirut that it says are being used by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group to hide underground precision missile production facilities.

The sites, located within close proximity of Beirut’s international airport, were first revealed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

The factories, which are meant to convert regular missiles into more accurate precision ones, are not believed to be up and running. The Israel Defense Forces says they are currently being constructed with Iranian assistance.

They army says it is “another example of Iranian entrenchment in the region and the negative influence of Iran.”

The target of the Israeli airstrike last week, in which a Russian spy plane was inadvertently shot down by Syrian air defenses, was machinery used in the production of precision missiles, which was en route to Hezbollah, The Times of Israel learns.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, Hezbollah began working on these surface-to-surface missile facilities last year.

One of the sites is located under a soccer field used by a Hezbollah-sponsored team; another is just north of the Rafic Hariri International Airport; and the third is underneath the Beirut port and less than 500 meters from the airport’s tarmac.

These three are not the only facilities that the IDF believes are being used by Hezbollah for the manufacturing and storage of precision missiles.

“Israel is monitoring these sites with a variety of capabilities and tools, has significant knowledge of the precision project and is working to fight it with a variety of operational responses, techniques and tools,” the army says.

— Judah Ari Gross

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