Rescuers lose touch with worker trapped in garage collapse
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Rescuers lose touch with worker trapped in garage collapse

Israel to grant Palestinians 100,000 entry permits over holiday; French Jewry’s president appears to back burkini ban

Elie Leshem is deputy editor of The Times of Israel.

  • Israeli medics and emergency units work at a construction site where an underground car park collapsed on September 5, 2016 in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood of Tel Aviv (AFP Photo/Gil Cohen-Magen)
    Israeli medics and emergency units work at a construction site where an underground car park collapsed on September 5, 2016 in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood of Tel Aviv (AFP Photo/Gil Cohen-Magen)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem, September 15, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem, September 15, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
  • Israeli medics and emergency units carry a wounded person away on a stretcher from a construction site after an underground car park collapsed on September 5, 2016 in Tel Aviv (AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN)
    Israeli medics and emergency units carry a wounded person away on a stretcher from a construction site after an underground car park collapsed on September 5, 2016 in Tel Aviv (AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN)
  • Rescue workers rush a wounded man to the hospital after a crane collapsed at a construction site in Tel Aviv on Monday, September 5, 2016 (Roy Alima/Flash90)
    Rescue workers rush a wounded man to the hospital after a crane collapsed at a construction site in Tel Aviv on Monday, September 5, 2016 (Roy Alima/Flash90)
  • Representatives from the IDF Home Front Command's search and rescue unit speak with the head of the local fire department Eyal Caspi, right, at the site of a building collapse in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood of Tel Aviv on September 5, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    Representatives from the IDF Home Front Command's search and rescue unit speak with the head of the local fire department Eyal Caspi, right, at the site of a building collapse in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood of Tel Aviv on September 5, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
  • MK Ayman Odeh of the Joint Arab list visits a man wounded in a Tel Aviv building collapse, at the Ichilov Hospital on Monday, September 5, 2016 (Joint List)
    MK Ayman Odeh of the Joint Arab list visits a man wounded in a Tel Aviv building collapse, at the Ichilov Hospital on Monday, September 5, 2016 (Joint List)
  • Rescue workers stand beside a tractor that is believed to have caused the collapse of a parking structure in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood in northern Tel Aviv, killing two, on September 5, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    Rescue workers stand beside a tractor that is believed to have caused the collapse of a parking structure in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood in northern Tel Aviv, killing two, on September 5, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Times of Israel is liveblogged Monday’s developments as they unfolded.

2 confirmed killed in collapse

Two people have been confirmed killed in the collapse of the parking lot in Tel Aviv. About 20 were injured.

Ayman Odeh links building collapse to unsafe conditions

MK Ayman Odeh (Joint List), visiting Ichilov Hospital, says in a television interview that the injured from the building collapse in Tel Aviv came “from all parts of society,” including Jews and Arabs.

MK Ayman Odeh of the Joint Arab list visits a man wounded in a Tel Aviv building collapse, at the Ichilov Hospital on Monday, September 5, 2016 (Joint List)

MK Ayman Odeh of the Joint Arab list visits a man wounded in a Tel Aviv building collapse, at Ichilov Hospital, September 5, 2016 (Joint List)

Odeh highlights the plight of construction workers, many of them Palestinian, who often work in dangerous conditions, a subject that has not received widespread media attention.

“Thirty-two people have died since the beginning of the year,” he says of those workers. “This requires, immediately, a state investigative committee.

“We’ll fight for this demand,” he vows.

WATCH: Moment of Tel Aviv building collapse

CCTV footage of the moment of the collapse has emerged:

— Luke Tress

4 people still missing after collapse

Four people are still unaccounted for in the wake of the building collapse in Tel Aviv, officials say.

In addition to two people who have been confirmed killed, 20 people, in varying conditions, are being treated for injuries.

Fatalities in collapse said to be Palestinians

The two people killed in the parking lot collapse were Palestinian men, according to Palestinian reports.

Those reports add that many of the injured are also Palestinian, apparently workers at the site.

Meanwhile, footage emerges of Magen David Adom medics evacuating injured from the scene:

Police chief at scene of collapse

Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich arrives at the scene of the parking lot collapse in Tel Aviv.

He’s holding consultations with police and search and rescue officials there.

Parking garage was nearly completed when it collapsed

The parking garage, for which construction began in November 2014 and was to be completed at the beginning of next year, was slated to have four levels.

JTA

Knesset bill seeks to shutter unsafe construction sites

When the Knesset returns from its summer recess at the end of October, one of the bills set for approval will aim to tackle the issue of work accidents at construction sites.

It will set out to attain that goal by enforcing an automatic closure at any site where a worker dies or is seriously injured, as well as by punishing with fines or prison terms owners who don’t correct safety issues.

The rate of worker deaths in Israel is among the highest in the West and double that of the European Union average, according to the findings of an Economy Ministry and National Insurance Institute report published in May.

Sponsored by MKs Eli Alalof (Kulanu), Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Union) and Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (Joint Arab List), the bill also stipulates that during any closure, construction workers would continue to be paid.

In July, the Knesset Labor Welfare and Health Committee approved the bill for a second and third reading in the Knesset plenum.

— Stuart Winer

5 missing in collapse, some reports say

According to Channel 2 and several other outlets, the number of people missing in the wake of the collapse is five. Other media sources say four.

The number of wounded has also been updated to 24.

Meanwhile, Channel 10 posts this dramatic picture of two construction workers being rescued from under collapsed blocks of concrete:

Netanyahu says he’s willing to meet Abbas in Moscow

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Middle East envoy, in Jerusalem.

According to an email from the Government Press Office, “the two discussed the possibility of coordinating a meeting” between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow, a proposal floated by Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on June 7, 2016. (AFP Photo/Pool/Maxim Shipenkov)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on June 7, 2016. (AFP Photo/Pool/Maxim Shipenkov)

“The prime minister presented Israel’s position that he is always ready to meet with President Abbas directly and without preconditions,” the email says. “He is therefore reviewing the Russian president’s proposal and the timing of a possible meeting.”

Abbas yesterday railed at foreign pressure on the PA, and Moscow was among a number of state actors whose undue “influence” he decried.

Seven missing in collapse, IDF says

Seven people are still missing after the garage collapse in Tel Aviv, Col. Golan Vach, a senior officer in the IDF’s Homefront Command, says.

Some 100 rescuers are in a race against time to reach the missing people.

WATCH: Rescue forces at the scene

— Luke Tress

Rescuers gird for long search for buried workers

Rescue officials tell Channel 2 that the construction workers buried at the scene of the collapse were four floors below ground level and that efforts to reach them could take days.

Palestinians slam Israel for laborer deaths

The Palestinian Authority labor minister says he holds Israeli authorities responsible for a spate of fatal incidents involving Palestinian construction workers in the country.

Mamoun Abu Shahla says his ministry is following developments on the garage collapse in Tel Aviv with “great interest and worry.”

Shahla accuses Israeli authorities of subjecting Palestinian laborers to “unsuitable” work conditions.

— Dov Lieber

Signs of life heard from 2 of the missing

Reports say that rescuers have just made contact and are communicating with two men buried under the rubble.

Engineering fault said to have caused collapse

A preliminary investigation has found that the collapse was likely due to an engineering fault rather than a safety failure, Channel 2 reports.

According to the report, government inspectors visited the site in Tel Aviv in June and did not notice anything amiss.

Still, the company running the site, Africa Israel Investments subsidiary Danya Cebus, has been linked in recent years to a string of safety violations at its construction sites, the report says.

Danya Cebus construction sites reportedly have also seen three accidents this year, including one in which a 17-year-old worker fell and was injured because he wasn’t wearing a harness.

The report says three investigations were opened against the company in recent years.

WATCH: Rescuers search for casualties underground

— Luke Tress

Company that operated construction site says it’s investigating

Africa Israel Investments, whose subsidiary Danya Cebus operated the construction site, says it is investigating the cause of the collapse.

“During construction work on the ‘Habarzel’ parking garage in Ramat Hahayal, by Danya Cebus, parts of the garage collapsed,” Africa Israel says in a statement. “The company is currently investigating the reasons for the collapse as well as its results and repercussions.

“At the moment, Danya Cebus and Africa Israel Investments are devoting all of their efforts to providing a quick response at the scene and are focusing on treating the casualties in this severe incident,” it says.

IDF says it’s monitoring workers buried under rubble

The IDF Home Front Command is working to locate and extract all of the seven workers trapped underneath the rubble of the parking garage, the army unit says.

Forces at the scene have determined the exact location of one worker using cellphone signals and “are now working on it,” it adds in a statement.

Meanwhile, the locations of six others “have been estimated and are being monitored,” the statement says.

The disaster site has been divided up into five sections, with the Home Front Command’s national search and rescue unit working on two of them and the Ram, Shachar and Tavor battalions each taking one.

A crane, along with a special sand-suctioning truck, has been brought in to clear away some 250 tons of rubble, but there is still “a lot of work being done by hand,” according to the statement.

The area is still considered hazardous. The portions of the parking garage that have not collapsed “are dangrous and unstable,” an engineering assessment said.

— Judah Ari Gross

WATCH: Rescuers make contact with trapped workers

Magen David Adom has released footage of rescuers making contact with workers trapped under the rubble:

— Luke Tress

Death toll in Tel Aviv raised to 3 — report

Channel 10 is reporting that three people have been confirmed killed in the Tel Aviv garage collapse.

24 killed in Kabul bombings

Afghan officials say twin bombings near the Defense Ministry in the capital have killed 24.

Public Health Ministry spokesman Ismail Kawasi says another 91 people were wounded in the attack, which was claimed by the Taliban.

Deputy Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish says the second bombing was caused by a suicide attacker who struck the area of the first blast after security forces gathered there.

AP

UK, Iran announce first ambassadors in 5 years

Iran and Britain appoint new ambassadors to each other’s countries for the first time since a mob ransacked the British embassy in Tehran in 2011.

Hamid Baeidinejad, 53, is named as Tehran’s envoy to London, according to the ISNA state news agency.

Britain appoints Nicholas Hopton — the current charge d’affairs in Tehran — as its first ambassador to Iran since relations were severed following the storming of the embassy by students in five years ago.

“The upgrade in diplomatic relations gives us the opportunity to develop our discussions on a range of issues, including our consular cases about which I am deeply concerned,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says in a statement, referring to the ongoing detention of dual nationals in Iran.

“I hope this will mark the start of more productive cooperation between our countries, enabling us to discuss more directly issues such as human rights and Iran’s role in the region, as well as ongoing implementation of the nuclear deal and the expansion of the trading relationship between both our countries,” says Johnson.

Baeidinejad worked as an expert on disarmament and represented Iran in several roles at the United Nations, including as ambassador between 2008 and 2011.

AFP

IS claims string of deadly bombings across Syria

The Islamic State jihadist group claims responsibility for a spate of bomb attacks that left dozens dead in mostly government-controlled territory across Syria.

The statement from the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency says the jihadist group was behind a “string of simultaneous suicide attacks” in Damascus, coastal Tartus, central Homs, and Hasakeh in the northeast.

At least 48 people died in the attacks, Syrian state media report.

AFP

Hamas leader exits Gaza for hajj in Saudi Arabia

Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, departs the Strip via the Rafah crossing en route to Saudi Arabia to attend the hajj, according to Palestinian media.

Hamas’s radio station says Haniyeh is also expected to visit Qatar and Turkey.

Liberman to meet US, UK counterparts in London

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman will be heading to London tomorrow.

In a vague statement, a spokesman says Liberman will be meeting with US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to discuss “a series of matters” on the two countries’ shared agenda.

He will then sit down with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, with whom he will broach “security, strategic and bilateral matters,” the statement adds.

Iran shuts 800 shops for selling ‘unconventional’ coats

Iranian police said they had closed more than 800 clothes shops to stop them selling “unconventional” women’s coats, state media report.

A further 3,000 shops have been sent warnings, the IRNA news agency reports.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech on June 3, 2016 (AFP PHOTO / KHAMENEI.IR / HO)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech on June 3, 2016 (AFP PHOTO / KHAMENEI.IR / HO)

A new fashion for women’s coats — known as “manteaux” in Iran — with English phrases printed on the back had attracted the attention of the authorities, who passed new regulations in July.

The coats in question tend to have nonsensical phrases such as “Keep Calm I’m the Queen” written on them, but they also have short arms and no buttons in the front.

Under Iranian law, women must wear a manteau, or similar item, that loosely covers the whole body from the neck down to the knee.

AFP

Palestinian branch that lauded bus attacker ‘not member’ of world scouts

The world’s largest scouting organization says a Palestinian troop that held a training event honoring a man who killed Israelis in a terror attack in Jerusalem is not affiliated with the movement.

The troop, in East Jerusalem, was last week alleged to have held a training course dedicated to Bahaa Allyan, who along with another Palestinian shot and stabbed passengers on a Jerusalem bus last October, killing three. Alyan was killed by security forces.

Jerusalem terrorist Bahaa Allyan (Bahaa Allyan Facebook page)

Jerusalem terrorist Bahaa Allyan (Bahaa Allyan Facebook page)

But the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) says it carried out an investigation and that the troop is not a member.

“We are able to confirm that the group concerned is not a member of the Palestinian Scout Association or recognized by WOSM,” a statement to AFP says. “We are extremely disappointed that the good name of both organizations has been abused in this way.”

The statement adds that the scout movement “strongly condemns any acts of terrorism and all actions which seek to support them.”

After the allegation last week, family members of the victims called for the Palestinian scout movement to be thrown out of the WOSM.

The Palestinian Scout Association has more than 33,000 registered members, according to the World Scout Bureau’s 2014 census.

AFP

Today’s accident wasn’t first at Tel Aviv garage — report

In May two construction workers were injured when a concrete beam collapsed in the parking garage that caved in today in Tel Aviv, Haaretz reports.

The Economy Ministry, which at the time was charged with overseeing construction sites, did not send inspectors to the site after that incident, the report says, and work there continued unhindered.

Abbas said to agree to meeting with Netanyahu in Moscow

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agrees to hold direct talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Moscow, according to the Russian Interfax news agency.

Earlier today, Netanyahu expressed willingness to meet with Abbas under Russian auspices.

The last time the two men met for direct talks was in 2010.

PA source denies Abbas willing to meet Netanyahu

A senior Palestinian Authority source denies a Russian report saying Abbas has agreed to meet Netanyahu for direct talks in Moscow.

The PA has yet to receive an Israeli response to its preconditions for holding such a summit, the source says. He adds that Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Middle East envoy, will arrive in Ramallah tomorrow to convey Netanyahu’s response to those demands.

The source emphasizes that the entire Palestinian leadership is united in the demand that Israel commit to a settlement freeze and a prisoner release before such a meeting can take place.

In addition, the source says he is “puzzled” by the fact that news of Abbas’s ostensible willingness to meet Netanyahu first appeared in Russian, rather than PA, media.

— Avi Issacharoff

Bahrain activist charged after letter in NY Times

A Bahraini watchdog says the country’s leading activist, Nabeel Rajab, has been charged with publishing “false news and statements and malicious rumors that undermine the prestige of the kingdom,” a day after his letter appeared in The New York Times.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy reports the charges.

Rajab’s “Letter from a Bahraini Jail,” published on Sunday, accuses Bahrain of subjecting “its people to imprisonment, torture and even death for daring to desire democracy.”

Rajab has been detained since mid-June over his criticism of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and the condition of detainees at Bahrain’s Jaw prison.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reports the charges but says “the accused” denied any relation with what was published under his name during interrogation.

— AP

Netanyahu set to visit Netherlands tomorrow

Prime Minister Netanyahu will depart Tuesday for a diplomatic visit in the Netherlands.

In the Hague, he will meet with his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, and “discuss with him the deepening of bilateral relations between Israel and the Netherlands and regional issues,” the Government Press Office says in an email.

Netanyahu will also meet for the first time with King Willem-Alexander, as well as with Senate President Ankie Broekers-Knol and House of Representatives Speaker Khadija Arib.

“The prime minister will also meet with members of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and discuss with them Israel-Netherlands relations and present Israel’s policy in the regional context and vis-à-vis Europe,” the GPO says.

UK Jews call on Labour to expel Livingstone

The umbrella organization of British Jews calls on the Labour Party to expel from its ranks the controversial former London mayor and MP Ken Livingstone “immediately,” after Livingstone doubled down on his claim that Adolf Hitler supported the Zionist movement.

“Hitler’s persecution of the Jews started early in the 1930s,” Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl says in a statement. “He expressed his loathing for Zionism in the 1920s. But yet in 2016 Ken Livingstone seems to want to rewrite history to make it seem like Zionism was responsible for the Holocaust, which is as false as it is grotesquely offensive. Every day that Labour does not expel him is a stain on the party.”

Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone outside Millbank in Westminster, London, April 28, 2016. (Anthony Devlin/PA via AP)

Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone outside Millbank in Westminster, London, April 28, 2016. (Anthony Devlin/PA via AP)

The statement comes hours after Livingstone told a popular morning show that “during the 1930s, Hitler collaborated with the Zionists and supported them because he believed that a solution to his problem — the Jews — was that they should all move to Palestine.

“Then in the 1940s, that changed and he decided on genocide,” he added, reiterating comments he made in April that drew widespread criticism.

PA source: Netanyahu meeting would have to ‘advance peace’

A source in PA president’s office reiterates to The Times of Israel that Abbas has not agreed to a meeting with Netanyahu in Moscow, despite reports to that effect in Russian media.

He says he doesn’t not know why Russian sources reported Abbas had agreed to such a meeting, implying Abbas had waived the Palestinians’ longstanding preconditions. (The PA leader has repeatedly insisted on the completion of a prisoner release agreed upon during negotiations in 2014, as well as a complete settlement freeze.)

We don’t want “a meeting just for the sake of a meeting, but something to advance the peace process,” the source says.

— Dov Lieber

One man killed in Tel Aviv identified as Ukrainian worker

Police identify one of the people killed in the building collapse as a 28-year-old worker from Ukraine.

The second has yet to be identified.

Judah Ari Gross

Erdogan pitches Syria no-fly zone to US, Russia

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he proposed, to the US and Russia, the setting up of a no-fly zone in northern Syria, after Ankara-backed fighters pushed the Islamic State group from the border area.

“We are working for this region to be declared no-fly zone,” Erdogan says at the G20 meeting in China, referring to the land extending from Jarabulus to Azaz in northern Syria seized from IS jihadists.

“This is my proposal to Mr Putin and Mr Obama. This can be done with coalition forces,” he adds in televised comments.

AFP

French Jewry’s president appears to back burkini ban

Ending a long and conspicuous silence on the burkini ban in France, the president of the umbrella group of French Jews appears to support the ban, saying he favors limiting “political-religious” symbols.

In an interview published Monday on the Actualite Juive Jewish news website, Francis Kalifat of CRIF for the first time directly addresses the ban last month by 30 French municipalities on the full-body swimsuit favored by Muslim women seeking modesty.

Kalifat says lawmakers should “consider differentiating religious symbols from political-religious symbols.” Radical and sectarian Islam and its fanatics, he says, “are looking for ways today to destabilize the French republic with the aim of vanquishing the societal model we inhabit today.”

CRIF President Francis Kalifat poses in Paris, France, on May 29, 2016. (AFP/Francois Guillot)

CRIF President Francis Kalifat poses in Paris, France, on May 29, 2016. (AFP/Francois Guillot)

He also says, “This polemic will, of course, also affect the Jewish community.”

Religious Orthodox women also adhere to clothing deemed modest, though few wear burkinis to the beach in France.

Kalifat has resisted calls to speak against the divisive ban, which a court on August 26 ruled was illegal, in solidarity with French Muslims.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has defended the ban, saying the wearing of burkinis on French beaches was “part of a political project … to perpetuate female servitude.” Critics of the ban have argued it infringes on the very liberties its supporters say it is designed to protect.

The burkini controversy reawakened the debate on the wearing of religious symbols in public in France, where a law banning face-covering clothing such as the burka was passed in 2010. Critics of such legislation say it opens the door to religious persecution, including of Jewish men who wear kippot and women who cover their hair.

Women on beach with one, left, wearing a burkini, a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women. (AFP/FETHI BELAID)

Women on beach with one, left, wearing a burkini, a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women. (AFP/FETHI BELAID)

JTA

Israel to grant Palestinians 100,000 entry permits over holiday

Israel will grant 100,000 permits for Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to visit the Jewish state during the Eid il-Adha holiday, slated for about September 12.

According to a statement on the official Facebook page of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Israel will also grant permission for all men 45-years-old and up and all women over 30 to visit Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for prayers over the holiday.

For Gazans, permits to visit the Jerusalem holy site will only be provided to those over 60.

Additionally, Israeli authorities will take measures to allow Palestinians to travel abroad via Ben Gurion Airport, and crossings into Israel will be open for longer hours during the holiday.

Israeli authorities usually take some measures over Muslim holidays to accommodate Palestinians who wish to visit Israel, and especially Jerusalem.

Dov Lieber

Rescuers lose contact with worker trapped in collapse

Dudi Mizrahi, commander of the IDF Home Front Command’s search and rescue unit, says rescuers have lost contact with one of the workers trapped under the rubble in Tel Aviv.

“We’ve not had any connection for the past two or two and a half hours,” he tells Channel 2.

Mizrahi adds that “the chances of finding anyone alive in the next hour or two is small… (but) we will keep working for days.”

Prominent Israeli rabbi She’ar Yashuv Cohen dies

Rabbi Eliyahu Yosef She’ar Yashuv Cohen, the former chief rabbi of Haifa and a renowned authority on Jewish law, has died at the age of 88, reports say.

Rabbi She'ar Yashuv Cohen, former chief rabbi of Haifa, in Jerusalem, on August 18, 2010 (Kobi Gideon / FLASH90)

Rabbi She’ar Yashuv Cohen, former chief rabbi of Haifa, in Jerusalem, on August 18, 2010 (Kobi Gideon / FLASH90)

Italy leads Israel 2-1 at half-time in World Cup qualifier

It’s half-time in Israel’s opening World Cup qualifier against Italy, and the Israelis are losing 2-1.

Graziano Pelle scored the first, 14 minutes into the game, which is being played in Haifa. Antonio Candreva notched the second from the penalty spot.

But Israel hit back through Tal Ben-Haim to keep the tie very much alive.

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