130 schools, kindergartens are closed due to COVID-19 infections — ministry
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Netanyahu to sit down with Gantz, Ashkenazi for 1st discussion of annexation

As reports indicate growing tensions over move being coordinated with Trump administration, PM and Blue and White leaders to try and reach agreement

Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum on May 17, 2020. (Knesset)
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum on May 17, 2020. (Knesset)

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

Finance Ministry announces outline for aiding national airline El Al

The Finance Ministry publishes its outline for aiding national airline El Al, which is nearing collapse and has been demanding significant funding to stay afloat after being gutted by the coronavirus pandemic that has brought international travel to a near-standstill.

According to the plan, the loan the company will take — with a state guarantee on most of the sum — will total NIS 250 million ($72 million). Additionally, El Al will issue stock totaling NIS 150 million ($43 million) and the state will promise to purchase those that aren’t purchased by others.

El Al notifies the Tel Aviv stock exchange of the Finance Ministry’s offer, which still requires approval by the company, the government and the Knesset’s Finance Committee.

Global death toll from COVID-19 passes 400,000 — Johns Hopkins

The worldwide death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 400,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that health experts say is still an undercount because many who died were not tested for the virus.

The milestone is reached a day after the Brazilian government stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections. Critics have called the move an extraordinary attempt to hide the true toll of the disease rampaging through Latin America’s largest nation.

Brazil’s last official numbers recorded over 34,000 virus-related deaths, the third-highest toll in the world behind the US and Britain.

Worldwide, at least 6.9 million people have been infected by the virus, according to Johns Hopkins. The US has seen nearly 110,000 confirmed virus-related deaths and Europe has recorded over 175,000 since the virus emerged in China late last year.

— AP

Israeli jailed in Thailand to land in Israel tomorrow to serve rest of sentence

Nati Hadad, an Israeli man who was sentenced in 2018 to four years in prison in Thailand for operating an illegal medical clinic, as well as firearms offenses, will land tomorrow morning at Ben Gurion Airport to serve the remainder of his sentence in Israel, Hebrew-language media reports.

Hadad has been reported to be in ill health and to have attempted suicide, and President Reuven Rivlin last year sent the Thai king a letter asking him to hand Hadad a royal pardon due to his “critical medical and mental state.”

Rivlin said in March that the king had decided, following lengthy diplomatic efforts, to allow Hadad to return to Israel.

Nati Hadad. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Controversial coronavirus law to be discussed by cabinet tomorrow — Netanyahu

A controversial coronavirus law giving police expanded authority to enforce social distancing rules and track confirmed carriers will be discussed tomorrow at a cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office says in a statement.

The statement says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz have agreed that the legislation will then be discussed by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

Resurgence of coronavirus infections forces delay in train service’s renewal

Train services in Israel will not resume as planned tomorrow morning, amid a sustained rise in coronavirus cases, officials announce.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says discussions will be held on the matter at a Monday meeting of the so-called coronavirus cabinet, which will consider the steps needed to deal with the increase in cases, including the issue of public transportation.

The meeting had been expected to be held today.

View of the train and tracks during a test drive of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high-speed train in central Israel on January 16, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Transportation Ministry confirms that Israel Railways will not resume passenger services as expected, and instead continue preparations to restart at a later date.

“In light of the rise in coronavirus cases, Israel Railways will not resume the passenger train system tomorrow,” the ministry says in a statement. “The Transportation Ministry is preparing for its later resumption, subject to the Prime Minister’s decision and in accordance with the case data.”

Israel’s rail network shut down in March as part of the government’s efforts to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Last week it was announced that it would resume on June 8, after a number of previous postponements.

Netanyahu calls for tough Iran sanctions over nuclear deal violations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urges world powers to reimpose tough sanctions against Iran, vowing to curb Tehran’s regional “aggression” hours after another deadly strike on pro-Iranian fighters in Syria attributed by foreign reports to the Jewish state.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency has determined that Iran refused to give the agency’s inspectors access to secret sites where Iran conducted secret nuclear military activity,” Netanyahu tells the cabinet.

The UN nuclear watchdog said Friday that Iran had accumulated enriched uranium at nearly eight times the limit under a landmark 2015 deal, and has for months blocked inspections at sites where nuclear activity may have taken place.

Netanyahu accuses Iran of “systematically violating its commitments by hiding sites, enriching fissile material and in other ways.”

“In light of these discoveries, the international community must join the US and reimpose crippling sanctions on Iran,” he says.

Iran has been progressively rolling back on its commitments under the 2015 agreement in response to US President Donald Trump’s unilateral 2018 withdrawal from the accord and re-imposition of sanctions.

— with AFP

New York City curfew lifts early following peaceful protests

New York City is lifting its curfew spurred by protests against police brutality in the US ahead of schedule, Mayor Bill de Blasio announces.

The 8 p.m. citywide curfew, New York’s first in decades, had been set to remain in effect through at least today, with the city planning to lift it at the same time it enters the first phase of reopening after more than two months of shutdowns because of the coronavirus.

“Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city,” de Blasio tweets in his announcement of the curfew’s end “effective immediately.” “Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart.”

— AP

Netanyahu warns of public’s ‘slackening’ in adhering to virus rules

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues a stern warning against what he calls a “serious slackening in keeping rules” aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, saying that Israel is still at grave risk from the pandemic and imploring the public to do more to contain the country’s resurgent outbreak.

“As I keep saying: the virus is here. It is neither my imagination nor anyone else’s. Countries that have underestimated the danger of the epidemic and have adopted very lenient, very liberal policies have realized that there is no choice but to take steps and restrictions that we have taken at the outset, after they have seen thousands of dead,” he says at a cabinet meeting, noting that the virus has claimed some 400,000 lives globally and is seeing a resurgence in some Middle Eastern countries where it was thought to be under control.

“Anyone who says that there was no danger in the first place or that there is now no danger, is misleading the public and encouraging behavior that endangers public health and the lives of many,” the prime minister seethes. “Part of the clear increase that we have seen in the last eight days in the rate of infection in Israel is due, as was expected, to the easing of restrictions we have made in order to open our economy. But some also stems significantly from a serious slackening in keeping the rules on masks, social distancing and hygiene.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Israel to make high-spec masks against virus resurgence

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says a factory to make millions of high-spec masks has been opened as Israel prepares for a possible second wave of coronavirus cases.

As the country has gradually opened up in recent weeks, new outbreaks have occurred and the government has warned Israelis not to become complacent.

“We are preparing for a second wave of the virus,” says Gantz, announcing the country’s first production line of N95 masks, which offer a higher level of protection and are more sturdy than the simple medical masks worn by many Israelis.

Gantz says the local production “removes our dependence on foreign factors and contributes to the Israeli economy during a difficult period.”

The new masks are being made in Sderot, a southern town near the Gaza Strip, using machines imported from China by the defense ministry.


Amira Oron confirmed as new ambassador to Egypt

The government approved the appointment of Amira Oron as ambassador to Egypt, the first full-time envoy to the Arab country in more than 18 months, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi’s office says.

Oron was selected for the ambassadorship by the Foreign Ministry in October 2018, but a vote on her appointment was delayed as Netanyahu instead considered appointing Likud lawmaker Ayoub Kara to the post.

Amira Oron (Screenshot via Channel 10)

Diplomatic staff made public appeals to the government to install Oron, who previously served in the Egyptian capital and headed the Foreign Ministry’s Egypt division, rather than Kara, who has been responsible for a series of diplomatic embarrassments. Kara eventually withdrew his candidacy.

Oron will take over for David Govrin, who took up the post in 2016, and will be the first female envoy to Egypt.

In 2017, Govrin and his staff returned to Israel for eight months due to unspecified security threats. Upon their return to Egypt, they resumed work from the envoy’s suburban Cairo home.

Additionally, Bat Eden Kite has been confirmed as the next ambassador to Turkmenistan, the statement says.

“I welcome the appointment of both ambassadors,” Ashkenazi says. “They are experienced, professional and esteemed diplomats, and I am convinced they will advance the bilateral relations between the State of Israel and the countries in which they serve to new heights.”

Rivlin says so-called gay conversion therapy must be ‘taken off’ the agenda

President Reuven Rivlin comes out against so-called gay conversion therapy in comments made at the beginning of Pride Month, as he receives the first “Municipal LGBTQ Index” produced by the Aguda, The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin casts his ballot at a voting station in Jerusalem during the Knesset elections on March 2, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The index lists responses and services in 30 municipal authorities in Israel in 2019 for the LGBTQ community. As expected, gay-friendly Tel Aviv comes first in LGBTQ relations in a number of categories including infrastructure, welfare and culture. In second place is Rishon Lezion and in third place is Givatayim.

“Humanity as a whole must understand, and Israelis must understand, not to say that this [sexual] orientation or that one is a disease,” says the president. “We cannot, in a society like ours, talk about conversion therapy for LGBTQ people. We cannot allow it. There is no disease here, and so there is no need for treatment.”

“Enough talking about conversion therapy. There is no need for someone who is absolutely healthy to receive treatment,” he adds. “I want to stress that any sort of conversion therapy must be taken off the social agenda in Israel.”

Fire breaks out 400 meters from West Bank settlement of Yitzhar

A wildfire breaks out near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, some 400 meters from the settlement’s houses, the Israel Fire and Rescue Service says.

Firefighters are in the area, but haven’t yet gained control of the blaze.

Authorities in Yitzhar allege the fire was started deliberately by Palestinians.

Poll finds more Israelis oppose West Bank annexation than support it

More Israelis oppose annexation of West Bank land than support it, and only 3.5% list it among their top priorities, according to a survey commissioned and published by the left-wing Geneva Initiative group.

The opinion poll shows that 41.7% of the public oppose annexation while 32.2% support it, the group says in a statement.

Some 48% believe such a move — planned next month by the government in coordination with the Trump administration — would harm chances to achieve peace with the Palestinians, while just 13.8% think it will help the prospects for peace.

Just 3.5% mentioned annexation when asked about their top two priorities for the country. The economy was mentioned by 42.4%, public health by 24.6% and security by 17.4%.

Even among backers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, only half support annexation, the survey finds. The vast majority of supporters of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party oppose it.

The poll was conducted in early June among 621 respondents representing Israel’s adult population. The margin of error is 3.9%

Footage shows cop punching protester in the face during rally against annexation

A policeman was filmed punching a protester in the face during yesterday’s demonstration in Tel Aviv against West Bank annexation, according to footage published on social media.

The protester was taken to Ichilov hospital with a minor concussion and required six stitches in his face, Haaretz reports.

“Some civilians cursed the cops, things flared up and then suddenly the whole wall of policemen hit us, started pushing and I got that blow to the head,” the daily quotes the protester, identified only as 22-year-old Gal, as saying.

“For 30 minutes I was with a minor concussion and my memory wasn’t fully functioning.”

The report cites a senior police source saying the cop displayed “extreme and unnecessary” behavior despite some protesters getting violent, and that the incident will be investigated.

Report finds that April was worst month for Israeli businesses in a decade

April 2020 was the worst month for Israeli businesses in the past decade, according to a periodical report released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has hit the manufacturing sector especially hard, since it depends on exports which have been severely harmed. That is the only sector that continued to deteriorate in May, with the rest showing modest improvement, the report says.

The report has been published by the CBS since 2011 and April was the worst month since it began publishing it.

Egypt okays Gaza funeral for terror leader, but preparations underway in Syria too

Egypt has agreed to allow for the funeral of Ramadan Shalah, the former longtime leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, to be held tomorrow in the Gaza Strip.

Shalah, who led PIJ from 1995 until 2018, died last night aged 62 after a long illness. He had been in a coma for more than three years after heart surgery, according to the terror group.

The terror group has reportedly confirmed he will be buried in Gaza. However, reports also say preparations are underway in Syria for Shalah’s funeral. It isn’t immediately clear where he will be buried.

Russia’s chief rabbi hospitalized with suspected COVID-19 — reports

Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, has been hospitalized in Moscow after displaying COVID-19 symptoms, according to various reports.

Lazar, who is in good condition, is waiting for the results of his coronavirus test and is expected to be released to his home on Tuesday.

Rabbi Berel Lazar at his office in Moscow, February 5, 2018. (Ariel Schnabel)

Trump orders National Guard’s withdrawal from Washington

US President Donald Trump orders the withdrawal of National Guard troops from the streets of Washington, after days of protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

“I have just given an order for our National Guard to start the process of withdrawing from Washington, DC, now that everything is under perfect control,” he tweets.

“They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed. Far fewer protesters showed up last night than anticipated!”


Residents, staff at immigrant complex to get tested for COVID-19 after carrier identified

A coronavirus carrier has been diagnosed at a residential complex for new immigrants on Herzl Street in Petah Tikva that is run by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, Hebrew-language media reports.

After consultations with the Health Ministry, all residents and staff will get tested as well.

Committee quickly rejects 1,600 objections to so-called Norwegian Law

The Knesset’s Constitution Law and Justice Committee dismisses 1,600 objections filed against a bill allowing ministers to give up their positions as Knesset members in order to enable a different member of their party slate to take their spot in parliament.

The bill, which passed its first reading last week, is being prepared for second and third readings, after which it will become law. It was agreed by the Likud and Blue and White parties as part of their coalition agreement.

Opposition lawmakers have strongly condemned the bill, saying the unity government needs it because it has allowed the creation of so many cabinet positions under the coalition deal that it does not have enough manpower left to sit in parliament as lawmakers.

The right-wing Yamina opposition party originally filed some 6,000 objections, but withdrew about 5,500 of them today.

Of the remaining 2,000 objections, 1,600 were rejected and the committee will meet again later this week to discuss the rest.

More than 300,000 Israelis have gone back to work as country reopens

The Employment Service says in a statement that more than 300,000 Israelis have gone back to work after temporarily losing their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis.

However, more than 110,000 new people have registered as unemployed since the government started to roll back restrictions, the statement says.

In total, the lockdown forced by the COVID-19 outbreak caused more than a million Israelis to lose their jobs and the unemployment rate to climb from 4 percent to 26%.

Police say DNA technology helped solve murder case after 14 years

Israel Police say they have solved a 14-year-old murder case using new DNA sampling technology.

Oleg Dula, 54, from Ashdod, is the suspect in the 2006 murder of 67-year-old Clara Rabin in her apartment in the coastal city.

The suspect is denying the accusation. His remand has been extended and police say they intend to file charges against him.

Russia’s chief rabbi Berel Lazar has COVID-19 — office

The office of Russia’s chief rabbi Berel Lazar confirms he has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Rabbi Lazar has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. He is under medical supervision. His health is out of danger,” the office says.

Israeli jailed in Thailand leaves prison to serve rest of sentence in Israel

The Foreign Ministry confirms that Nati Hadad, an Israeli man who was sentenced in 2018 to four years in prison in Thailand for operating an illegal medical clinic, as well as firearms offenses, has left prison and is on his way to Israel to serve the remainder of his sentence.

A photo shows Hadad at the Bangkok airport.

Floyd’s body arrives in Houston ahead of Tuesday funeral

Houston’s police chief says the body of George Floyd has arrived in Texas for a final memorial service and funeral.

Police Chief Art Acevedo tweets that Floyd’s family  also arrived safely. A six-hour viewing for Floyd is planned for today in Houston, followed by funeral services and burial Tuesday in the suburb of Pearland.

Floyd, a black US man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer handcuffed him and pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd begged for air and eventually stopped moving. His death has inspired protests around the world and served as a rallying cry against institutional racism.

Previous memorials were held for Floyd in Minneapolis and Raeford, North Carolina, which is near where he was born.

— AP

Islamic Jihad ex-chief buried in Syria despite Egyptian okay for Gaza funeral

Ramadan Shalah, the former leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, is hastily buried at Al Yarmouk Camp in Damacus, reports say, an hour after the organization said Egypt agreed for the funeral to take place in Gaza.

The abrupt change sparks speculation that Egypt backtracked at the last minute at Israel’s demand.


Watch: Palestinian Authority broadcasts kids’ song saying Israel will ‘disappear’

The Palestinian Authority last month broadcast a song saying the end of Israel is “inevitable” and hailing terror convicts as “heroes” in a children’s show on its official television station, according to a statement by the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) monitoring group.

Using the tune of the famous Italian anti-fascist protest song “Bye Beautiful” (Bella Ciao), host Walaa Al-Battat says Israel is a temporary occupation that will “disappear,” displaying footage from the 1948 War of Independence, PMW says.

“This is one of many hate and violence promoting music videos being broadcast daily on official PA TV stations now as the PA is actively promoting violence in anticipation of Israel’s presumed future annexation — i.e., application of Israeli law — to the Jordan Valley and Jewish cities and towns in Judea and Samaria/ West Bank,” it says.

Government deficit surged by 1,800% in a year — Finance Ministry

The Finance Ministry says the Israeli government’s national deficit has multiplied by 18 in the last year following the coronavirus pandemic and the year-long political crisis.

In a statement, the ministry says the deficit stood at a billion shekels ($288 million) in May 2019, and surged to NIS 17.9 billion ($5.16 billion) in May 2020.

Palestinian official: PA will collapse if Israel annexes ‘one meter’ of West Bank

A senior Palestinian official has said the Palestinian Authority will collapse if parts of the West Bank are annexed and Israel will find itself in charge of all Israelis and all Palestinians.

“If you annex one meter of the West Bank, you will find yourselves responsible for everything between the [Jordan] river and the [Mediterranean] sea,” Saeb Erekat tells Channel 12.

“If the annexation is implemented, the Palestinian Authority won’t survive. Netanyahu wants the PA to be destroyed and Hamas to stay in the Gaza Strip,” he charges.

Health Ministry confirms 111 cases in last 24 hours, 3 new deaths

The Health Ministry announces 111 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, with the new tally at 17,863.

The death toll rises by three, and is now 298.

There are 2,474 active COVID-19 cases in the country. The ministry says 27 of them are in serious condition, including 23 on ventilators. Thirty-nine more are in moderate condition, and the rest are displaying mild or no symptoms.

After more than 16,000 coronavirus tests were conducted on Friday, the number went down to 11,441 on Saturday.

Israel has identified Palestinian killer of IDF soldier, security services say

The Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces confirm that Israel several weeks ago arrested a suspect in the May 12 killing of IDF soldier Amit Ben Ygal in the West Bank village of Yabed, and have been interrogating him ever since.

The IDF says in a statement that the assailant was arrested “immediately after the incident.”

The Shin Bet says the suspect, Nazmi Abu Bakr, a resident of Yabed, is 49-year-old and resides in the building from which the rock was thrown.

He had been one of several suspects of throwing the rock, but in recent days confessed.

Ben Ygal’s family has been notified, the statements say.

Netanyahu, Gantz hail capture of ‘despicable’ killer of IDF soldier

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praises security forces for catching and identifying the “despicable murderer” of IDF soldier Amit Ben Ygal.

“I gave an order to demolish the home of this killer,” Netanyahu says in a statement. “Whoever tries to harm us — we reach them, sooner or later.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz similarly welcomes the capture of the “despicable terrorist.”

He expresses hope that the news will “console Amit’s parents, whom I met a week ago, at least a bit.”

Netanyahu to meet Gantz, Ashkenazi tonight on annexation, budget — reports

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi tonight to discuss the issue of West Bank annexation, Channel 13 and the Kan public broadcaster report.

The meeting will also touch on the issue of the state budget for 2020.

130 schools, kindergartens are closed due to COVID-19 infections — ministry

The Education Ministry says 130 schools and kindergartens have been closed in the past 10 days, since a wave of COVID-19 infections began, centered in education institutions.

The figure is higher than yesterday by 24.

Additionally, 17,605 students and staff members are in quarantine, 1,282 more than yesterday.

So far, 352 students and staff members nationwide have diagnosed with the virus in the current wave, including 22 over the past 24 hours.

Smotrich’s faction launches campaign slamming Netanyahu’s annexation plan

The National Union faction of the Yamina party, led by Bezalel Smotrich, launches a campaign blasting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank as a “laundered” cover-up for the creation of a Palestinian state.

A video posted by the right-wing opposition faction likens the plan to previous steps that included the use of “laundered” terms, used in the aftermath of the signing of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, and the launching of rockets from Gaza.

Netanyahu tells researchers ‘no more important’ task than finding COVID-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Ziona, where researchers are trying to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

“For years, we have been prepared to defend the State of Israel against existential or very major threats,” he says. “Now there are two possibilities, either we find a vaccine, or we do not find a vaccine – at least not in the coming years. If you find a vaccine you will have brought to the people of Israel, who have shown great resilience, an amazing thing, but you will have brought this for humanity as well. I think that there is no more important mission than that which you are involved in at the moment.

“In the absence of a vaccine, we will need to find other solutions to enable routine life that allows for a reasonable economy. A reasonable economy is one that grows by at least two percent. Otherwise, we will be in continual regression,” Netanyahu adds.

“I would focus on the major efforts to find a vaccine, but at the same time I would also promote other things that enable us to move forward on testing, rapid testing and identifying antibody carriers to reach a situation in which we can allow the population of Israel, apparently the entire population, to function in the absence of a vaccine.”

(L-R) Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Ziona on June 7, 2020. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Germany will only slap us on wrist over annexation — Israeli diplomat

Germany will not respond harshly to Israel’s planned unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank, a diplomatic official in Jerusalem claims.

While annexation would likely cause a certain degree of damage to bilateral ties, Berlin has made plain that it does plan to enact sanctions against the Jewish state or recognize a Palestinian state, the official says.

“Germany will not go off the deep end,” he adds, speaking to Israeli reporters on conditions of anonymity. “The Germans are not in favor of sanctions, and will not recognize a Palestinian state. They are pragmatic. Their main goal is to guarantee [regional] stability. They don’t want to cause a major upset. Rather, they are going to look for ways to encourage us and the Palestinians to return to talks.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is due in Israel on Wednesday for a meeting with his counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi. Berlin is staunchly opposed to annexation and has made its view unmistakably clear.

— Raphael Ahren

UK’s Johnson denounces protest ‘thuggery’ as statues vandalized

LONDON — UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says anti-racism demonstrations have been “subverted by thuggery” after protesters tore down a statue of a slave trader in the city of Bristol and scrawled graffiti on a statue of Winston Churchill in London.

London’s Metropolitan police say a dozen people were arrested and eight officers injured after demonstrators clashed Sunday with police in central London.

Johnson says while people have a right to peacefully protest, they have no right to attack the police. He says “these demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery — and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve.’’

The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is seen defaced, with the words (Churchill) ‘was a racist’ written on it’s base in Parliament Square, London on June 7, 2020 (ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)

Crime, Policing and Justice Minister Kit Malthouse calls for those responsible for toppling the bronze memorial to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol to be prosecuted.

But Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees told the BBC that while he doesn’t condone criminal damage, he felt no “sense of loss” for the statue.

US anti-Semitism czar says only Israeli leaders can stop annexation

Elan Carr, the US special envoy on anti-Semitism, addresses a conference organized by the European Jewish Association in Paris on February 24, 2020 (courtesy)

Elan Carr, the US State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, tells a Jerusalem conference that only Israelis can put the brakes on plans to annex parts of the West Bank, indicating that the Trump administration will not stand in its way.

“One thing could push it off and this is a decision by Israeli leaders. This is a decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his partner Gantz,” he says.


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Live updates (closed)

130 schools, kindergartens are closed due to COVID-19 infections — ministry

The Education Ministry says 130 schools and kindergartens have been closed in the past 10 days, since a wave of COVID-19 infections began, centered in education institutions.

The figure is higher than yesterday by 24.

Additionally, 17,605 students and staff members are in quarantine, 1,282 more than yesterday.

So far, 352 students and staff members nationwide have diagnosed with the virus in the current wave, including 22 over the past 24 hours.