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Israel hits record COVID patients on ECMO machines

53 cases now reportedly connected to specialized apparatus that does the work of a person’s heart and lungs in order to allow them to recover from serious respiratory illness

An ECMO machine in the coronavirus ward at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on September 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An ECMO machine in the coronavirus ward at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on September 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.

‘This is terror’: Lapid slams settler stone-throwing attack on Palestinians

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid slams a stone-throwing attack by settler youths on Palestinians near Hebron as “terror,” saying that Israel must bring the perpetrators to justice.

“This violent incident is horrific and it is terror. This isn’t the Israeli way and it isn’t the Jewish way,” Lapid writes on Twitter in English, referring to yesterday’s attack.

Dozens of masked Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinians in the south Hebron hills on Tuesday afternoon, smashing cars and injuring at least 12 Palestinians, including a three-year-old boy, Palestinian and Israeli witnesses said.

Some Palestinians threw stones back at the settlers as well, causing clashes to break out between the two sides, witnesses said. Three Israelis were injured as well, according to Hebrew media reports.

“This is a violent and dangerous fringe and we have a responsibility to bring them to justice.”

Russia labels media outlet, 2 rights groups ‘foreign agents’

Russian authorities designate a popular independent media outlet and two rights groups “foreign agents,” a move that comes as part of a months-long crackdown on opposition supporters, independent media and human rights activists.

Russia’s justice ministry slaps the “foreign agent” label on Mediazona, a news site known for its extensive coverage of high-profile court cases; OVD-Info, a prominent legal aid group that focuses on political arrests; and Zona Prava, another human rights group.

The designation implies additional government scrutiny and carries strong pejorative connotations that may discredit the recipient.

Along with the three entities, 22 individuals — including Mediazona chief editor Sergei Smirnov and publisher Pyotr Verzilov, who is also a prominent member of the protest group Pussy Riot — have also been added to the ministry’s registry of “foreign agents.”

Quarantine exemption to only apply to those with 3rd vaccine shot from Sunday

Channel 12 news reports that starting Sunday Israelis who do not get their third booster shot will lose eligibility for the Green Pass. They will also lose exemption from quarantine in the case they come in contact with a verified coronavirus patient.

Even without the hundreds of thousands infected with COVID-19 in the past six months — who wouldn’t need the third vaccine dose — the number of people who will no longer have a so-called Green Pass is over a million.

The pass will be valid starting one week after receiving the last required dose, and for six months after. The document, held by those who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, enables access to many public places and events, including restaurants and museums.

A temporary Green Pass can be obtained through a negative virus test, which must be paid for unless the individual is not eligible for vaccination.

HMOs report jump in booster shots ahead of new Green Pass rules

Israel’s HMOs are reportedly seeing a spike in people getting their coronavirus booster shots, ahead of Sunday when new regulations will require the third shot in order to enter some public spaces.

According to Channel 12 news, the Meuhedet HMO, which has seen recent averages of 3,000 shots per day, rose to 8,000 today, while Leumit saw an increase of around 50%.

PM Bennett on fatal Galilee crash: ‘The heart breaks’

Upon landing in Israel following a visit to the US to speak at the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett comments on the fatal collision in the Galilee in which five people were killed and over 40 injured, including three seriously.

“The heart breaks to see the terrible scenes,” he says in a statement.

“I wish to send heartfelt condolences and a big hug to the families of those killed. The entire nation of Israel is praying for the recovery of the wounded,” he adds.

Far-right youths making Nazi salutes clash with left-wing protesters in Greece

Youths making Nazi salutes and hurling Molotov cocktails clash with left-wing protesters at a school in Greece, forcing riot police to weigh in with tear gas.

Two pupils were injured and treated in hospital after the clashes at a vocational high school in the northern city of Thessaloniki, local authorities say. Six people were arrested and 40 others detained, according to the police.

The attack on the left-wing protesters was backed by the youth wing of far-right political group Golden Dawn which in 2012 became the third-largest party in the Greek parliament amid fury over the 2009 financial crisis.

The group entered the school dressed in black, the youth’s faces concealed behind masks, hoods and helmets, hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks at a rival group gathered outside the school, police say.

Some of the youths gathered inside the school are seen on videos, making Nazi salutes.

Police say 4 vehicles involved in Galilee crash, one driver deviated from lane

Police say that a preliminary investigation of the fatal crash in northern Galilee has revealed that four vehicles — a bus and three cars, including a taxi — were involved in the fatal collision.

At least five people were killed and dozens were injured in the crash on Route 89 in the Upper Galilee, near the town of Hurfeish, earlier this afternoon.

Police in a statement say that one of the drivers apparently deviated from his lane and caused the collision.

An investigation is ongoing.

Israel hits record COVID patients on ECMO machines

Israel currently has 53 patients on ECMO machines used for treating some critical coronavirus cases, Channel 12 news reports, a record since the start of the pandemic.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines do the work of a person’s heart and lungs in order to allow them to recover from serious respiratory illness.

Unlike ventilators that just assist with breathing, they provide cardiac and respiratory assistance by oxygenating a patient’s blood outside of the body and are used for only the most critically ill.

Hospital chiefs warned earlier this week that they are facing a shortage of ECMO machines and that the Israeli healthcare system could be “on the way to total failure” if more funds are not allocated immediately.

PM Bennett lands back in Israel following UNGA address

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett touches down at Ben Gurion Airport following a visit to the US to address the United Nations General Assembly.

The speech was Bennett’s first to the global forum and came on his second trip to the US since becoming premier.

While the speech was on Tuesday, the prime minister stayed in New York until nightfall Wednesday in order to observe the festival of Shemini Atzeret.

US, Qatar launch joint sanctions on Hezbollah moneymen

The United States says it is imposing sanctions on Hezbollah financiers in coordination with Qatar, a US ally that has kept cordial relations with Iran.

The Treasury Department announces that it is taking action against seven people including Qatari nationals Ali al-Banai and Ali Lari, who it says have secretly sent tens of millions of dollars to the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that Hezbollah uses “global networks of financiers and front companies to support its malign activity” and praised the cooperation of Qatar.

“This represents one of the most significant joint actions we have taken with a Gulf Cooperation Council partner to date and underscores our extensive bilateral cooperation on countering terrorism finance,” Blinken says in a statement.

Nearby Bahrain also took action by freezing the bank accounts of al-Banai’s nephew on the island and will prosecute three people, the Treasury Department adds.

White House said to have rejected PA request for meeting between Abbas, Biden

The White House rejected a request from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week, Axios and Walla report.

Citing US and Palestinian sources, the reports say the White House told the Palestinians that Biden wouldn’t be holding any bilateral meetings in New York and that his schedule wouldn’t allow for a meeting in Washington.

The rejection contributed to Abbas’s decision not to travel to New York and to send a videotaped speech instead, the reports add, noting that Biden ended up holding three bilateral meetings at the UNGA.

Bus in fatal crash was carrying Bnei Akiva campers

The Bnei Akiva youth movement confirms that the bus involved in the fatal car accident on Road 89 in the northern Galilee was taking campers back home from a Sukkot trip.

The injured participants were evacuated to Ziv Hospital in Safed and the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, the group says.

Gantz thanks Pelosi for bill boosting Iron Dome funding

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks with Nancy Pelosi to thank her “for her role in promoting and passing the Iron Dome interceptors funding bill in the House of Representatives last week,” he says on Twitter.

The US House of Representatives last week approved $1 billion in funds for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in a 420-9 vote.

“I also thanked Speaker Pelosi for her ongoing commitment to Israel’s security over the years. I stressed that bipartisan support, particularly for our air defense mechanisms, is vital. These systems enable us to defend our citizens while never ceasing the pursuit for peace,” Gantz adds.

Death toll in Galilee crash rises to five

Five people have now been confirmed dead in the fatal crash between a car, truck and public bus on Route 89 in the Galilee.

Four confirmed dead in Galilee car crash

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says that four people injured in a crash on Route 89 have been declared dead after they are removed from a car they were trapped in.

The four are a 35-year-old woman, a 15-year-old boy, a 12-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, MDA says.

Three more people are in serious condition, and about 30 others are lightly injured.

IDF forces helping evacuation of wounded in Galilee car crash

IDF medical forces and Air Force helicopters are assisting in the rescue, evacuation and treatment of those wounded and trapped in a road accident between a bus and several vehicles on Route 89, near Hurfish, the army says in a statement.

Truck also said involved in mass-casualty collision between bus and car

Channel 12 news reports that a truck was also caught in the crash in the Galilee in which a bus and car were initially reported to have collided.

It is currently unclear how the accident, which took place on Route 89, happened.

Four people still trapped in car that collided with bus

Magen David Adom ambulance service updates the numbers of those injured in a collision between a car and a public bus in the Upper Galilee, saying there are four people unconscious and trapped inside the car, five more in moderate and serious condition and about 30 others lightly injured.

As a result of the accident, Route 89 near Hurfeish has been closed to traffic in both directions. Police officers are directing traffic in the area to alternative roads.

Dozens injured in collision between bus and car in Galilee

Dozens of people are reported injured in a serious crash between a car and a public bus on Route 89 in the Northern Galilee.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says 42 people are being treated, with seven in serious or critical condition.

Putin hails ‘compromises’ with Turkey in Erdogan talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin hails Moscow and Ankara’s ability to find “compromises” as he hosts Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks.

In recent years, the two powers have clashed in particular in Syria, where Moscow and Ankara support opposing camps in the civil war. They also found themselves on different sides in last year’s conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Negotiations are sometimes difficult — but with a final positive result,” Putin says at his residence in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

He adds that the two countries “have learned to find compromises favorable to both parties.”

Erdogan, who regularly meets with his Russian counterpart, says he believes there are great benefits in “Turkey and Russia keeping stronger relations each passing day.”

In Syria, the two countries last year sponsored a ceasefire deal in the northwestern Idlib region, home to the last major jihadist and rebel stronghold in northwest Syria.

“The steps we have taken with Russia related to Syria are of utmost importance,” Erdogan tells Putin. “The peace there depends on Turkey-Russia relations.”

Egypt’s Sissi and US national security adviser talk Gaza reconstruction

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan meets both the Egyptian foreign minister and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo, with tensions between Israel and Hamas high on the agenda.

Sullivan, a top adviser to US President Joe Biden, arrived in Cairo this morning after meetings in both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates yesterday.

He and Sissi discussed reconstruction efforts for the Gaza Strip, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency.

After returning to the United States, Sullivan is slated to host Israeli National Security Advisor Dr. Eyal Hulata in Washington on October 5.

Norway charges professor with violating sanctions on Iran

A German-Iranian professor at a Norwegian technical university is charged with violating sanctions on Iran by inviting four guest researchers from the Islamic Republic and giving them access to a laboratory.

A Norwegian prosecutor said the visiting researchers had access to knowledge that could be useful to Iran’s nuclear program.

Norwegian broadcaster NRK reports that during the period from February 2018 to 2019 the professor, who was not identified, invited four Iranian researchers to NTNU university in Trondheim, the Scandinavian country’s third largest city. The duration of the guests’ stay varied.

“The serious thing here is that people from Iran had access to knowledge, and this is knowledge that could be useful to Iran’s nuclear program. We do not say that it is, but it is the potential danger here that is serious,” prosecutor Frederik Ranke tells NRK.

Ranke says the professor was charged with violating the Iran sanctions, export control regulations and Norway’s data breach legislation. If found guilty, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Kamala Harris fails to push back against Israel ‘ethnic genocide’ claim

US Vice President Kamala Harris is facing criticism for not pushing back against a university student who accused Israel of “ethnic genocide” during an event she was hosting earlier today.

Harris gave a talk about voting rights to a class at George Mason University in Virginia and then took questions from the students, one of whom said “a lot of taxpayer money is allocated for funding the military, whether it’s in backing Saudi Arabia or in Palestine.”

The student, who identified herself as “part Yemeni, part Iranian,” went on to note what she described as “astronomical numbers” at pro-Palestinian protests over the summer, following Israel’s May war with Hamas.

“But then just a few days ago there were funds allocated to continue backing Israel, which hurts my heart because it’s an ethnic genocide and a displacement of people — the same that happened in America — and I’m sure you’re aware of this,” she says.

The US House of Representatives last week approved $1 billion in funds for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in a 420-9 vote.

YouTube cracks down on anti-vax videos

YouTube says it will remove videos that falsely claim approved vaccines are dangerous.

The video-sharing giant has already banned posts that spread false myths around coronavirus treatments, including ones that share inaccurate claims about COVID-19 vaccines shown to be safe.

But the Google-owned site says its concerns about the spread of medical conspiracy theories goes beyond the pandemic.

“We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general,” the Google-owned website says in a statement. “We’re now at a point where it’s more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines.”

The expanded policy will apply to “currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the WHO (World Health Organization).”

It will see false claims about routine immunizations for diseases like measles and hepatitis B removed from YouTube. Content that “falsely says that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility, or that substances in vaccines can track those who receive them” will also be taken down.

YouTube says it had removed more than 130,000 videos since last year for violating its COVID-19 vaccine policies.

‘A miracle’: Father of injured soldier says bullet hit grenade which failed to explode

One of the bullets that struck a counter-terrorism officer during a predawn raid earlier this week hit a grenade he was carrying but did not cause the device to detonate, his father says.

“There was a miracle. There was a fragmentation grenade on his vest. One of the bullets hit the grenade and split it in two. Miraculously, it didn’t explode,” says the father of the officer, who can only be identified by his rank and first Hebrew initial of his name, Cpt. “Dalet.”

Dalet’s father, Yossi, says his son’s condition had slightly improved as of Wednesday morning, and that he had responded to the question of where he was by nodding his head.

Dalet was one of two soldiers seriously injured in the early hours of Sunday morning. His father said his son was hit by nine bullets during an exchange of gunfire in the town of Burqin outside Jenin in the northern West Bank.

Report lists 670 European firms with links to Israel settlements

More than 670 European financial institutions have ties with companies that are involved in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to a report released by the Don’t Buy Into Occupation group.

The report calls on the companies “to end all investments and financial flows” into the settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

The findings detail financial dealings worth $255 billion (218 billion euros) between 2018 and May 2021 directly or indirectly linked to the settlements — including loans or share and bond purchases — involving major European firms like BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank.

Many large Israeli companies are active in those communities, including leading banks like Leumi and Hapoalim, telecom and internet providers and supermarket chains, among others.

The report, however, is not an account of financial dealings directly occurring in Israeli settlements. For example, many of the European companies named have been implicated because they hold shares in non-Israeli firms, like machinery giant Caterpillar, whose products have been used in settlements.

London honors Princess Diana with blue plaque at former home

London finally honors the late Princess Diana Wednesday with a blue plaque at the place she called home in the two years before she married Prince Charles.

For Diana, 60 Coleherne Court, an apartment near London’s fashionable King’s Road, was the start of a new adventure.

Settling in the capital on reaching her 18th birthday, Diana shared the apartment on 60 Coleherne Court with a number of friends from 1979 to 1981. It was there that she first started to court Charles.

According to Andrew Morton’s 1992 best-selling book “Diana, In Her Own Words,” Diana described her years at the property as “the happiest time” of her life.

Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997, is the highest profile former member of the monarchy to be bestowed the honor. She was nominated by the London Assembly in 2019 after the body ran a campaign asking Londoners to suggest women worthy of a blue plaque.

Lapid to visit Bahrain on Thursday

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announces that he will visit Bahrain tomorrow, in the first such visit by an Israeli minister to the Gulf country following a diplomatic agreement reached last year.

At the invitation of Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Lapid will travel to Manama where the two will inaugurate the Israeli embassy and sign a series of bilateral agreements, the Israeli Foreign Ministry says in a statement.

Israel and Bahrain normalized relations last year as part of the Abraham Accords, which have led to the opening of embassies, the launch of direct flights and a raft of agreements to boost economic ties.

Lapid on disagreements with health officials: We have one enemy — coronavirus

Amid a debate over the role of health officials in guiding government policy, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, meeting with his Yesh Atid party’s ministers, says he will “not allow a situation in which the government and officials are vying for credit.”

“The professionals in health, economics and education will submit recommendations and the government will decide. This is the hierarchy and there is no other,” Lapid says in statements put out by Yesh Atid.

“We have not yet defeated the virus. We all have one enemy – the coronavirus,” he adds.

During a briefing with Israeli journalists while in New York this week, Prime Minster Naftali Bennett took a swipe at officials advising the government on its coronavirus approach, amid reported disagreements over whether to impose further restrictions.

The premier made several comments criticizing officials, saying, among other things, that “they don’t see the full picture” and that they had “stuttered” when he demanded explanations for their call to further limit public gatherings.

During his speech at the UN, Bennett said that “while doctors are an important input, they cannot be the ones running the national initiative. The only person that has a good vantage point of all considerations is the national leader of any given country.”

Key witness in Netanyahu trial says defense arguments in fact strengthen graft allegations

The trial against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu renews at the Jerusalem District Court, with Netanyahu’s attorney trying to show that changes in coverage by the Walla news website to suit the premier’s needs weren’t unique and were also done to please other politicians.

Boaz Ben Tzur, the former premier’s attorney, challenges former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua, the first witness in the trial, presenting a large volume of correspondence he had around 2012 with the staff of Likud MKs Ofir Akunis and Yuval Steinitz and then-Labor MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, allegedly showing he was also trying to curry favor with them.

But Yeshua attempts to convince the court that the new evidence in fact strengthens the prosecutors’ case rather than undermining it.

He acknowledges that he had at times acted in an improper manner, but argues that the improved coverage was granted to Akunis, Steinitz and Ben-Eliezer at the orders of Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch due to their closeness to Netanyahu: Akunis and Steinitz are members of his party who were involved in communications issues, and the since-deceased Ben-Eliezer had been backed by Netanyahu in the 2014 election for president.

Bedouin woman found dead in home, husband detained for questioning

A woman is found dead in her home in a Bedouin community in the southern region of the country.

The woman’s husband is detained for questioning and police opened an investigation into the incident near the town of Ar’ara BaNegev, police say.

There are conflicting reports in Hebrew media as to who found the woman and then alerted emergency services, with some reports saying it was her husband and others saying it was his son.

Her body showed signs of physical violence, according to reports.

The Magen David Adom service said it was notified of an unconscious woman who was brought to meet an ambulance at the Ksaifa Junction in the Negev region.

Boeing Israel taps former Israel Air Force chief as next head

Former Israeli Air Force chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Ido Nehushtan is chosen to take over as president of the Boeing defense contractor’s Israel office, the company announces.

Nehushtan will replace Maj. Gen. (res.) David Ivri, who has served in the role for the past 18 years. Ivri, 87, is stepping down from the position in order to retire, according to Boeing.

Nehushtan served as head of the Israeli Air Force from 2008 to 2012 and has since served as an adviser to a number of Israeli defense contractors, including the Israeli Aerospace Industries.

“Maj. Gen. (res.) Ido Nehushtan will lead Boeing Israel to deepen the activities and the involvement of the firm in Israel and to find new engines of additional growth. He will lead the conglomerate’s strategy of expanding its business with the local market and will coordinate Boeing’s activities in Israel,” the company says in a statement.

Morocco, EU vow to continue partnership after Western Sahara ruling

Morocco and the European Union say they will continue their trade partnership, after the EU’s top court canceled two deals relating to products from the disputed Western Sahara.

“We will take the necessary measure to ensure a legal framework that guarantees the continuation and stability of trade relations between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco,” the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita say in a joint statement.

Morocco and Algeria have repeatedly sparred over Western Sahara, which Morocco considers an integral part of its territory while Algeria backs the pro-independence Polisario movement.

The administration of former US president Donald Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara as part of a deal for the country to normalize ties with Israel late last year.

— with AFP

Tunisia president names Najla Bouden as country’s first female PM

Tunisia’s president names Najla Bouden as the country’s first-ever female prime minister and tasks her with forming a government, two months after he grabbed power.

“The President of the Republic Kais Saied charged Najla Bouden with forming a government as quickly as possible,” says a statement from his office published on Facebook.

Ukraine marks 80th anniversary of Babi Yar massacre

Ukraine is marking the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, one of the most infamous mass slaughters of World War II.

Babi Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, is where nearly 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The killing was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lays flowers at the monument for the victims of the massacre.

“Babi Yar. Two short words that sounds like two short gun shots, but carry long and horrid memories for several generations. Because they know and remember that not two gun shots sounded in Babi Yar, but hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands times more,” Zelenskyy says.

All Ukrainian schools on Wednesday held a lesson dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the tragedy.

“The Nazis in Babi Yar, according to various estimates, executed between 100,000 and 200,000 people. Aside from Jews, those were Ukrainians and Roma, prisoners of war and patients of a psychiatric hospital. … Someone will hear these two scary words and these scary numbers for the first time,” Zelensky says.

Ukraine has started the construction of a Babi Yar memorial complex and a museum at the site of the mass executions and plans to unveil it in 2025-2026.

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