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Netanyahu said to promise prayers will be safeguarded under any holiday lockdown

In talks with Haredi lawmakers, PM reportedly vows right to worship will be maintained in Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot under virus restrictions

Illustrative: Jewish men pray at a synagogue in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, Gush Etzion, May 20, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Illustrative: Jewish men pray at a synagogue in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, Gush Etzion, May 20, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

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

Attempted stabbing attack reported in settlement-city of Ariel

An attempted stabbing attack took place in the settlement-city of Ariel in the West Bank, the military says.

The Israel Defense Forces says it is looking into the incident.

One man killed, 2 others critically injured in ‘random’ stabbing in Birmingham

One man was killed and two people critically injured during a “random” stabbing attack in Britain’s second city of Birmingham, West Midlands Police say.

Chief Superintendent Steve Graham says a murder inquiry had been launched but there was “no suggestion at all that this was terror-related.

“It does appear to be a random attack,” he adds.

— AFP

UK says Russian state link likely in Navalny poisoning

Britain says Russia has “a very serious set of questions to answer” about the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, suggesting some form of state involvement in the high-profile case.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says it is “clear” the Kremlin critic was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, which was previously used in an attack against a Russian former double agent in Salisbury, southwest England, in 2018.

Germany, where Navalny is being treated after falling ill last month, has said there was “unequivocal evidence” of the use of the agent but Moscow has said there was no proof of poisoning.

“It’s very difficult, when it comes to the question of attribution, to think of a plausible explanation of being anyone other than some emanation of the Russian state, simply because Novichok is hard to get your hands on, hard to control,” Raab tells Sky News television.

— AFP

IDF: No casualties in stabbing attempt, attacker shot and captured

A suspect approached a group of soldiers outside the settlement of Ariel and attempted to stab them, then ran away, the Israel Defense Forces says.

No soldiers were wounded in the failed attack, the military says.

The suspect was shot in the leg and captured a short distance away from the attempted stabbing, the IDF says. A knife has been recovered from the scene.

A knife recovered at the scene of a

— Judah Ari Gross

9 Israeli organizations win EU funding for coronavirus projects

Nine Israeli organizations have been granted funding under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program for projects related to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Government Press Office says.

The funding amounts to €4.5 million (some NIS 18 million) and will support projects that include international collaborations in the fields of medical equipment production, medical technology, solutions to the social and economic effects of the pandemic and more.

Hong Kong police arrest 90 at protests over election delay

At least 90 people have been arrested at protests against the Hong Kong government’s decision to postpone elections for the legislature, police and a news report say.

The elections were to have taken place today but Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 31 postponed them for one year. Lam blamed an upsurge in coronavirus cases, but critics say her government worried the opposition would gain seats if voting went ahead on schedule.

People sitting on the ground are arrested by police officers at a downtown street in Hong Kong Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020 (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Anti-government protests have been held in Hong Kong almost every weekend since June 2019. They erupted over a proposed extradition law and spread to include demands for greater democracy and criticism of Beijing’s efforts to tighten control over the former British colony.

— AP

Court extends remand of 5 in police barricade theft ahead of anti-PM protest

The Jerusalem District Court extends the remand of five people arrested yesterday on suspicion of attempting to steal police barricades used at weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A total of 13 people were arrested in the case Saturday but were later released by the city’s Magistrate’s Court. The District Court later accepted a police appeal to re-apprehend five of them.

The remand of the five has been extended until tomorrow.

An attorney representing the detainees has said that the activists tried to move the barriers as they were endangering protesters, but did not intend to steal them.

Demonstrators have complained the barricades make them feel trapped and unable to social distance as required during the pandemic.

Haredi mayors say they won’t cooperate on lockdowns, warn public ‘will not forget’

Mayors of four ultra-Orthodox towns have sent a furious letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which they said they would halt all cooperation on the planned closures in their cities over the decision to enforce new measures.

In the letter, the mayors of Bnei Brak, Elad, Beitar Illit and Immanuel claim Netanyahu “never sought our opinions, to understand the difficulties and try to push realistic initiatives to flatten the sickness curve.

“You were not attentive to us and you did not bother to ask, understand and learn what characterizes a significant cut of the Israeli population.”

Police put up roadblocks in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Illit, on July 8, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

They said Netanyahu had “declared closure after closure on Haredi cities. They never brought true change… You’ve turned the Haredi public into Israelis’ public punching bag, without a moment’s though to the suffering of tens of thousands.”

They added that “the entire Haredi public will not forget the wrong being done to it. We will not forget who is the man who time and again signed onto turning us into disease vectors and enemies of the people.”

Hamas chief in Lebanon: Gaza able ‘to bomb Tel Aviv and beyond’

While visiting Lebanon, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh tours Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp.

During a speech there the terrorist chief says Gaza has rockets able “to bomb Tel Aviv and beyond Tel Aviv,” according to Arab media reports.

“We tell the enemy that we will not forget, and we will not forgive historical injustice, and we will not forget our right to return, regardless of the sacrifices.”

He also says “the train of [Arab] normalization does not represent the peoples of the region,” in reference to the United Arab Emirate’s decision to formalize ties with Israel, amid suggestions more Arab countries are considering doing the same.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh greets supporters during a visit to the Ain al-Hilweh camp, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon on September 6, 2020. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)

Belarus police detain dozens of protesters against country’s leader

Belarus police detain dozens of protesters as thousands take to the streets of Minsk for a fourth weekend of massive rallies against strongman Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed re-election.

The Viasna rights group releases the names of 37 protesters it says have been detained in the Belarusian capital.

— AFP

Reports: PM looking at canceling lockdowns on cities after Haredi anger

Amid harsh Haredi criticism of the planned lockdowns of several Israeli towns due to high virus infections rates — among them several big ultra-Orthodox towns — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering canceling the closures and replacing them with tighter restrictions, according to Hebrew media reports.

Netanyahu is reportedly in talks with the heads of the Haredi parties to try to agree on alternatives to the lockdowns.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, June 30, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Palestinian teen caught with knife near Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs

Border Police officers arrest a Palestinian teenager after he was found in possession of a knife en route to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron, police say.

Border guards noticed the teenager acting suspiciously while passing through a checkpoint near the pilgrimage site and detained him for further investigation. During a pat-down the teenager “threw a knife on the floor that had been hidden on his person,” police say.

“The officers wrestled him to the ground and arrested him,” police say, identifying the suspect as a 16-year-old from Hebron.

Police say he is being interrogated to determine his motives for carrying the knife.

— Judah Ari Gross

Netanyahu delays ministers’ discussion on city lockdowns amid Haredi pressure

Prime Minister Netanyahu has delayed a ministerial meeting to approve closures on cities with high infection rates, as he is reported to be discussing alternatives to the lockdowns with ultra-Orthodox leaders.

Haredi cities are expected to be among those most affected by the lockdowns.

The ministerial meeting is expected to take place at some point later today.

Iran says it’s identified those responsible for Natanz blast

A spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization says the parties responsible for the July blast at the Natanz nuclear site have been identified. He does not provide further details.

The blast, which foreign media reports have attributed to Israel and is said by some experts to have significantly set back Iran’s nuclear program, damaged an advanced centrifuge development and assembly plant.

Behrouz Kamalvandi says “the incident at Natanz nuclear enrichment facility was an act of sabotage and the investigations are still underway.”

This photo released July 2, 2020, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, shows a building after it was damaged by a fire, at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

Brexit negotiator says UK unafraid to walk away without deal

Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator talks tough ahead of a crucial round of post-Brexit trade talks, saying the UK is “not afraid to walk away” if the European Union does not give ground on key issues.

David Frost tells the Mail on Sunday newspaper that Britain wants “to get back the powers to control our borders and that is the most important thing.”

Frost and EU negotiator Michel Barnier are due to meet in London on Tuesday for the eighth round of negotiations since Britain left the now 27-nation bloc on January 31.

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, right, and the British Prime Minister’s Europe adviser David Frost arrive for Brexit trade talks between the EU and the UK, in Brussels, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. (Yves Herman, Pool Photo via AP)

That political departure will be followed by an economic break when an 11-month transition period ends on December 31 and Britain leaves the EU’s single market and customs union. The two sides are trying to strike a new deal on trade, security and a host of other issues, but talks are deadlocked.

The key sticking points are European boats’ access to UK fishing waters and state aid to industries. The EU is determined to ensure a “level playing field” for competition so British firms can’t undercut the bloc’s environmental or workplace standards or pump public money into UK industries.

— AP

Israeli soccer star asks for 500k likes to join Turkish team — and gets more

With Israeli soccer star Eran Zahavi said in talks to sign up with Turkey’s Fenerbahçe SK club, another account responded to a recent Instagram post by the player with the simple invitation: “Come to Fenerbahçe.”

Zahavi responded, probably jokingly: “If your comment achieve[s] 500k :)”

The internet has stepped up, with the comment garnering over 720,000 likes as of this counting.

That’s not likely to be the deciding factor on whether Zahavi joins the Turks, but it probably won’t hurt the negotiations.

Coronavirus lab workers to end strike after Treasury agrees on pay raise, union says

Technicians at publicly funded coronavirus testing labs have agreed to end their strike after a week following talks with the Finance Ministry.

Around 2,000 laboratory workers at some 400 labs started an open-ended strike last Sunday morning amid a pay dispute with the Treasury.

The lab workers union says the sides have come to understandings, and that the deal will be finalized soon, and workers will get a pay raise.

Coronavirus testing continued amid the labor action, but only those who tested positive were being reported so that epidemiological surveys could be carried out.

Lab technicians have said they are paid a fraction of what workers doing the same job at private clinics get, creating an unfair disparity that also makes it hard to attract or keep workers, leading to them being overworked.

Iran airs televised confession of wrestler after Trump tweet

Iran has broadcast the televised confession of a wrestler facing the death penalty after a tweet from US President Donald Trump criticizing the case, a segment that resembled hundreds of other suspected coerced confessions aired over the last decade in the Islamic Republic.

The case of 27-year-old Navid Afkari has drawn the attention of a social media campaign that portrays him and his brothers as victims targeted over participating in protests against Iran’s Shiite theocracy in 2018. The television segment and authorities accuse Afkari of stabbing a water supply company employee in the southern city of Shiraz amid the unrest.

Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari (screenshot)

“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him,” Trump wrote Friday. “Thank you!”

Iran responded to Trump’s tweet with a nearly 11-minute state TV package on Afkari. It included the weeping parents of the slain water company employee, Hassan Torkaman. The package also showed footage of Afkari on the back of a motorbike, saying he had stabbed Torkaman in the back, without explaining why he allegedly carried out the assault.

The footage resembled what one report has described as the at-least 355 coerced confessions aired by Iranian state television over the last decade.

— AP

Report: Litzman, Deri tell PM no point in local lockdowns if national one coming

During their meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu earlier, Shas chief Aryeh Deri and United Torah Judaism head Yaakov Litzman are said to have told the prime minister it is illogical to place cities with high infection rates under lockdown starting tomorrow — as the government has planned — if a national lockdown is inevitable anyway, Walla news reports.

Ministers are expected to discuss a national lockdown on Thursday as virus numbers continue to rise.

According to Ynet, Litzman and Deri told the premier they would not be able to explain new local closures to their public amid a loss of public trust in the government.

Netanyahu is said to have told the ministers he will review alternatives and update them.

Major outbreak reported in nursing homes, with cases found in 28 locations

Channel 12 reports on a major coronavirus outbreak over the weekend in nursing homes, home to one of COVID-19’s most at-risk populations.

The report says virus cases were found in 19 nursing homes across the country, with new cases in another nine where outbreaks had already been diagnosed.

In one Haifa location some 80 cases were discovered, the report says.

The head of a government program to protect the elderly from the virus tells the network the past week “has been unlike anything we’ve seen before.”

Deri said demanding national lockdown for Rosh Hashanah, instead of local ones

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, has demanded a national lockdown be enacted ahead of the Rosh Hashanah holiday instead of local closures planned to begin tomorrow in cities with high infection rates — among them several largely Haredi towns, Haaretz reports.

Deri asserted in a meeting with the prime minister that health officials agree local closures will be unhelpful, the report says.

Report: Senior health official says Gamzu could quit if politics trump health

A senior health official tells Ynet political considerations must not trump health needs, as the prime minister reportedly looks at walking back plans for locking down several cities with high infection rates.

“There must not be a surrender to political considerations, which will lead to Gamzu resigning,” the unnamed official says.

Netanyahu is under intense pressure from ultra-Orthodox leaders to cancel the planned local lockdowns, which will affect several Haredi towns.

A medical team works at the coronavirus ward of Shamir Medical Center, in Be’er Ya’akov, August 20, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

PM set to suggest curfews in 40 cities instead of lockdowns

Multiple media reports are indicating the prime minister will suggest nightly curfews on some 40 cities with high infection numbers, instead of the previously planned full lockdowns of a smaller number of towns.

Such curfews would be in effect every day between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m., according to reports in Ynet, Walla, Israel Hayom and other outlets.

Non-essential businesses will be closed during the curfew. Schools will be closed at all times.

Gantz in Bnei Brak: We will not conduct ourselves chaotically

Defense Minister Benny Gantz tours the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, one of the places hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and which is slated for possible closure starting tomorrow, according to the original government plan.

Speaking as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reported to walk back his decision to lock down Bnei Brak and other cities due to high infection rates, following pressure from Haredi politicians, Gantz says: “We will not conduct ourselves chaotically, but in an orderly fashion.”

He apologizes for decisions once again being made at the last minute.

Paramedics treated nearly 1,900 people during heatwave, emergency service says

The Magen David Adom emergency medical service says 1,871 people required medical attention over the past week amid a record-setting heatwave that swept the country.

The service says this included 579 people who fainted, and 104 who suffered dehydration.

Illustrative: A Magen David Adom ambulance seen outside the Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on December 13, 2018. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90/File)

954 new virus cases diagnosed so far today, 3 new deaths reported

The Health Ministry has released its latest coronavirus statistics.

The ministry says 954 new cases were diagnosed today, taking the total case count to 130,157, of which 26,683 are active cases.

Three people have died since midnight ,taking the death toll to 1,012. Of those sick, 447 are in serious condition (127 of them on ventilators), 164 are in moderate condition, and the rest have mild or no symptoms.

Opposition chief on nixing of closure: Paralyzed, dangerous gov’t should go home

Opposition leader Yair Lapid pans the government for apparently being unable to stand by its previous decision to enact closures in cities with high virus numbers.

“The government isn’t only detached anymore, it’s dangerous,” he tweets. “Teams of specialists, doctors, economists, public policy experts and local authority officials sit down and build a plan of action, balancing health and the economy, and then the politicians state playing politics and its all turned over in an instant.”

Opposition chief Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party, listens to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, Jerusalem, August 12, 2020 (Screen grab/ Knesset TV)

Lapid adds: “If you’re so afraid of each other it leads to paralysis and twisted decisions, go home.

“We can weather tough decisions, we’re not idiots, we know there’s a price to fighting coronavirus, but we’re not prepared to pay the price of pathetic political dealings leading this government.”

In message to Haredi public, Netanyahu says decisions will be made responsibly

The prime minster issues a video message intended for the ultra-Orthodox public, defending the need for action in Haredi towns, even as the government considers canceling planned lockdowns in so-called “red” cities with high infection rates.

“At the moment there are dozens of ‘red’ cities in Israel,” Netanyahu said. “A red city is not designated that way because of harassment or arbitrary decisions. It’s designated according to scientific results. The number of sick, the rate of sickness. Right now, it’s focused mostly in Arab towns and towns of the Haredi community.”

He says the ultra-Orthodox public “is very dear to me. You know how much I care about Torah studies and prayers. These things are as important to me as they are to you.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on August 25, 2020. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

But “we need to take steps that prevent morbidity…We will do what is necessary. We’ll do it responsibly.”

Netanyahu said to promise right to prayer will be safeguarded under any lockdown

According to multiple media reports, Netanyahu promised ultra-Orthodox leaders that if a national lockdown is enacted during the High Holidays, the right to prayer will be safeguarded, and services will be allowed under certain restrictions.

Ultra-Orthodox leaders have warned that they will not agree to a national lockdown that will prevent them from worshiping during the holiday period, which begins next weekend.

Tens of thousands march in Minsk to demand Belarus leader resigns

Tens of thousands of demonstrators march to the outskirts of the presidential residence in the capital of Belarus, calling for the country’s authoritarian leader to resign as protests against President Alexander Lukashenko enter their fifth week.

Protests also took place in major cities throughout Belarus, says Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova. Crowd sizes for those protests are not immediately reported, but Ales Bialiatski, head of the Viasna human rights organization, says the demonstration in Minsk attracted more than 100,000 people.

Belarusian opposition supporters gather near the Independence Palace, the residence of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Belarus, September 6, 2020. (AP Photo/TUT.by)

The protests, unprecedented in Belarus for their size and duration, began after the August 9 presidential vote that election officials said gave Lukashenko a sixth term in office with 80 percent support. Protesters say the results were rigged, and some have explained to Associated Press journalists exactly how the fraud took place in their districts.

— AP

Ministers approve local curfews instead of lockdowns after Haredi pressure

The Ministerial Committee for the Designation of Restricted Areas has approved setting nighttime curfews on towns with high infection numbers, canceling at the last minute a previous decision to enact full lockdowns on several such towns.

According to reports, the curfews, expected to start tomorrow evening, are expected to affect some 40 localities, a majority of them ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities.

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