Edelstein: We’ve stopped rise of virus
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Hundreds gather to protest police conduct, security minister in Tel Aviv

Demonstrators chant ‘who will protect us from police; attorney general tells police commissioner not to let ‘foreign considerations’ muddy decision-making

A protester carrying an Israeli flag near the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana on July 28, 2020 in Tel Aviv. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
A protester carrying an Israeli flag near the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana on July 28, 2020 in Tel Aviv. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

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

Netanyahu warns Hezbollah, Iran in visit to north

Visiting an IDF command post near the northern border, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns Hezbollah and its Iranian patron against testing Israel, the day after an apparent skirmish on the Blue Line.

“All that is happening now is the result of an attempt to establish a military foothold in our area by Iran and its satellites in Lebanon,” Netanyahu says.

He accuses Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah of serving Iranian interests on backs of the Lebanese state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a security consultation in northern Israel on July 28, 2020. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“I don’t suggest anyone test the IDF or Israel. We are determined to defend ourselves,” he adds.

Netanyahu indicates Israel will continue its bombing campaign in Syria meant to thwart Iran and says the country is “prepared for an scenario.”

The apparent Hezbollah attack on Monday, in which a group of terrorists infiltrated into Israel, according to the IDF, was seen as revenge for a bombing near Damascus last week in which a member of Hezbollah was killed.

Germany arrests woman accused of taking kids to join IS

German authorities have arrested a woman accused of traveling to Syria with her four young children to join the Islamic State group, as well as her brother-in-law, who is accused of helping her.

The federal prosecutor’s office identifies the pair only as Fadia S. and Rabih O., in line with German privacy rules. It said both are dual citizens of Germany and Lebanon, and they were arrested in Essen and Hildesheim respectively.

Fadia S. is accused of offenses including membership in IS and gross violation of her parental duties. Rabih O. is accused of supporting IS and violating German export laws.

— AP

Lebanese president says border clash a ‘threat to stability’

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has condemned a cross-border skirmish between Israel and Hezbollah forces, calling it a “threat to stability,” according to Lebanon’s official National News Agency mouthpiece.

He notes that the incident came just as the UN is set to renew the mandate of UNIFIL peacekeepers on the border.

Aoun is backed by Hezbollah’s political bloc.

French Jewish activist Gisele Halimi dies at 93

French feminist and former MP Gisele Halimi has died, a day after her 93rd birthday, her family says.

Halimi, born in Tunisia to a Jewish family, made a name for herself as a fighter for women’s rights, especially abortion rights. She served in the French parliament from 1981 to 1984.

In this file photo taken on March 17, 1978 French lawyer Gisele Halimi gives a press conference in Toulouse. (JEAN-CLAUDE DELMAS / AFP)

A lawyer by training, she defended Algerian and Palestinian terrorists, including Marwan Barghouti, head of the al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade.

She died peacefully, in Paris, one of her three sons tells AFP.

 

PA records 481 new coronavirus cases as epicenter shifts to Jerusalem

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry records 481 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, despite over two weeks of an attempted partial lockdown by the PA.

The PA reports 222 new cases among Palestinians in Jerusalem governorate, which has seen a sharp spike in cases over the past week. The governorate covers an area beyond the city’s municipal boundaries.

Cases among Palestinians in Israeli-controlled East Jerusalem reportedly now outnumber those in West Jerusalem, even though Palestinians only make up around 38% of the Israeli capital’s population, according to a local health expert.

Despite a promising decline in confirmed cases earlier this week, Hebron governorate remains the a major center of the West Bank’s coronavirus outbreak, with 180 new cases reported Tuesday.

The PA Health Ministry says there are currently 7,824 active cases among Palestinians and that 6,033 of those infected have since recovered. There have been 81 deaths among Palestinians since the beginning of the pandemic, the PA reports.

— Aaron Boxerman

Netanyahu says hospitals can handle coronavirus patients, for now

Visiting Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushes back against reports that hospitals are filling with coronavirus patients.

“For now they can handle the serious cases,” he says, pointing to an empty bed behind him.

But he also warns that due to manpower issues, the health system could be overwhelmed in the future.

A suspected coronavirus patient being brought to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on July 27, 2020. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

According to Health Ministry data, Soroka is doing pretty well, at 60 percent capacity in its coronavirus ward, with 91 staff members in quarantine.

Four major hospitals are currently over 100 percent capacity, including Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem, which is at 182% capacity and has over 100 staff members in quarantine.

As of Tuesday morning, there were 760 hospitalized coronavirus patients, including 321 in serious condition of whom 97 are on ventilators.

Iran shows video of troops attacking fake US carrier in drill

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard fired a missile from a helicopter targeting a replica US aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, state television reports.

Footage shows Iranian commandos fast-rope down from a helicopter onto the replica. Other footage shows fast boats encircling the mock-up, kicking up white waves in their wake.

Iranian troops also fired anti-aircraft batteries at a drone target in the exercise from a location that state television described as being near the port city of Bandar Abbas. Troops also fired missiles launched from trucks on land and fast boats at sea, as well as shoulder-fired missiles.

The Guard will use “long-range ballistic missiles with the ability to hit far-reaching aggressor floating targets” during the drill, says Abbas Nilforoushan, the Guard’s deputy commander for operations, according to Guard website sepahnews.com. That suggests the drill could see a repeat of what happened in 2015, when the Guard mock-sunk a replica.

It wasn’t immediately clear if all the footage was from Tuesday, as one overhead surveillance image that appeared to be shot by a drone bore Monday’s date.

— AP

Turkey says it is shelving gas drilling dispute with Greece

Turkey will suspend research for oil and gas exploration in disputed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean that abruptly raised military tensions with neighboring Greece, a top Turkish official says.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his aides to “be constructive and put this on hold for some time,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tells Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk.

NATO allies Greece and Turkey are at odds over drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey has accused Greece of trying to exclude it from the benefits of potential oil and gas finds in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, arguing that sea boundaries for commercial exploitation should be divided between the Greek and Turkish mainlands and not include the Greek islands on an equal basis. Athens counters that Turkey’s position is a violation of international law.

The drilling vessel Fatih, which was deployed by Turkey to search for gas and oil in waters considered part of the Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, seen on June 24, 2019. (AFP)

“Everyone should continue working on their own continental shelves and conduct joint work in contested areas,” Kalin says. He also says that bilateral issues with Greece should be solved through dialogue rather than through threats on Turkey’s bid for European Union membership.

Greece and Israel are cooperating with Cyprus on a pipeline to transport gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe that is opposed by Turkey.

— With AP

Ax man tries to attack Ukraine synagogue, runs away after fight with guard

Police in Ukraine are looking for an ax-wielding man who burst into a synagogue in the city of Mariupol.

A security guard managed to fight off the attacker and sustained injuries to his head and a broken arm, official Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reports.

Security footage shows the two of them fighting.

Нападение на синагогу в Мариуполе

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Еврейские новости JewishNews.com.UA‎‏ ב- יום שלישי, 28 ביולי 2020

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Cohen, the chief rabbi of the Donetsk region city, and a number of women were inside the synagogue at the time.

Cohen tells Jewishnews.com.ua that he managed to escape out of a back entrance and snapped a picture of the attacker as he fled.

Joel Lion, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, says he spoke to the rabbi and expresses hope that authorities will quickly nab the attacker.

The man also threw sand, trash and bags of feces at the synagogue, according to reports.

 

Knesset panel rains on police water cannon parade

A Knesset committee is holding a meeting to discuss police use of water cannons, after several instances in which police have been accused of indiscriminate use of them against protesters outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Internal Affairs Committee head Miki Haimovich expresses anger at the police for not sending a representative involved in the use of the water hoses, which spray a high-intensity blast of water at protesters, knocking them over.

While use of the cannons against ultra-Orthodox and others have been common for years, they have only gained attention in recent days thanks to intense media coverage of protests calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.

Police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators during a protest against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his residence in Jerusalem, early Friday, July 24, 2020. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

“The pictures from the protest are not simple. The right to protest is important, even if its inconvenient for neighborhood residents or the regime,” Haimovich says according to Ynet. “We need to fix the injustices done in protests in the past and they cannot be a guide for how to act in the present.”

One protester who says he was hit in the face by a water burst says it caused him to lose consciousness. “I think they want to scare us from returning and protesting,” he says.

IDF sends more firepower up north, worried over fresh Hezbollah attack

The Israel Defense Forces says it is sending additional “advanced” firepower to the northern border out of concerns of Hezbollah attack, along with powerful intelligence collection equipment.

The decision is made in light of a “situational assessment,” which appears to indicate that Hezbollah may try to carry out an assault along the frontier. The move comes a day after the IDF says it thwarted an attempted attack along the border by the Lebanese terror group.

According to Channel 12 news, the IDF believes an attack is likely to come before Thursday, and military officials have noticed that Hezbollah is also remaining on high alert along the border.

— with Judah Ari Gross

Gantz warns enemies of ‘unlimited capabilities’ amid high tensions

Defense Minister Benny Gantz threatens the enemy countries surrounding Israel that the Jewish state’s military has a far reach and “unlimited capabilities” that it is prepared to use.

Gantz makes his comments during a visit to a squadron of F-35 fighter jets on the Nevatim air base in southern Israel.

“I am finishing a visit to an F-35 squadron, which is the most advanced [aircraft] that the Israeli Air Force has and is one of the best in the world. We have an ability to act at an unprecedented range and level of operational preparedness,” Gantz says.

“I suggest to all the countries in the region, near and far — Iran, Lebanon, Syria or anyone else who may be involved in terrorism — that they remember that Israel has unlimited capabilities and knows how to use them,” he says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Lebanese man says Israeli shell that hit home could have caused massacre

A Lebanese man whose Kafr Shuba home was hit by an Israeli dummy shell on Monday tells Lebanon’s al-Manar TV that nobody was hurt, but it could have been much worse.

“There could have been a massacre here,” he says. “We were upstairs, there were two more people downstairs in the room that was hit.”

“Had it exploded there would have been a lot of damage,” he tells the Hezbollah-affiliated station. “Thank God nobody was hurt. It will be dealt with.”

Reported plan would let some cities decide on own coronavirus management

The government plans on giving some local authorities autonomy to manage coronavirus rules how they see fit, Channel 12 news reports.

According to the channel, coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu presented the plan to Haim Bibas, the Modiin mayor who also heads a national coalition of local leaders.

Under the plan, cities marked as “green,” meaning they do not have outbreaks and are not in danger of one, would be given the go-ahead to allow restaurants, theaters and other business and venues to open, or to shut them if they see fit.

Cities marked as “yellow,” which are in danger of a major outbreak, would get more money to help them deal with the issue, while “red” cities where there are outbreaks would be managed at the national level.

It’s unclear what would happen to “orange” cities, which sit between red and yellow, and which Bibas’s Modiin is currently classified as.

 

Palestinian man held after pulling knife on coworkers near Sderot

Israel police say they have arrested a Hebron-area Palestinian man, 50, on suspicion of planning to carry out a terror attack.

According to reports the man, who worked at an event hall near Sderot, was arrested after pulling a knife on another worker and then fleeing.

According to a Ynet reporter, he had made comments online recently about harming Jews.

Twitter removes Trump video with COVID-19 ‘misinformation’

Twitter says it has withdrawn a video retweeted by US President Donald Trump in which doctors made allegedly false claims about the coronavirus pandemic, after Facebook took similar action.

“Tweets with the video are in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy. We are taking action in line with our policy,” a Twitter spokesperson says, declining to give details on how many people had watched the video.

The video was also removed by Facebook on Monday evening, says a company spokesperson, explaining that the footage shared “false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19.”

The video, which shows a group of doctors claiming masks and lockdowns were not required to halt the disease, had been watched by 14 million people on Facebook before it was removed, according to The Washington Post.

The doctors also backed the use of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that has not been proved effective against COVID-19.

Shortly after it was removed from Facebook, Trump tweeted several clips of the video to his 84 million followers.

— AFP

Bar Association picks lawyer for Judicial Appointments panel

Lawyer Mohamad Naamnah has been named as the Bar Association pick to the Judicial Appointments Committee, which is tasked with nominating judges, including to the all-important Supreme Court.

Naamnah, the head of the Bar Association’s northern branch, wins the post with 26 out of 43 votes.

Bar Association head Avi Himi says in a statement he is sure Naamnah will help “strengthen public trust in the judicial system.”

Renegade head of coronavirus committee Shasha-Biton removed from post

Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton has been removed from her post as head of the Knesset Coronavirus Committee, ending two tumultuous months as the panel chair.

In a terse letter, coalition whip Miki Zohar says the move is punishment for her “behavior, and [for] not being present for necessary votes.”

Shasha-Biton had butt heads with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for overturning a number of government decisions to restrict businesses during the pandemic, and he had reportedly threatened to have her removed.

There is no immediate response from Shasha-Biton.

MK Yifat Shasha-Biton at a Knesset coronavirus committee meeting on July 19, 2020. (screen capture: Knesset livestream)

MKs punished for skipping conversion therapy vote

Coalition whip Miki Zohar has also punished other Likud MKs, apparently for missing a vote on outlawing so-called conversion therapy for homosexuals.

Among those told they will not be allowed to present bills for a month are Shlomo Karhi, Keren Barak, Sharren Haskel, Avi Dichter and Uzi Dayan.

Michal Shir, who had openly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will not be allowed to present bills until the end of the Knesset session.

A number of ministers are also punished by having to do duty as the government representative present during boring plenum sessions.

The gaggle of Likud lawmakers had skipped out on the vote for the opposition measure, allowing it to pass with the support of Blue and White MKs, though it will likely die in committee or future votes.

Walla news reports that Karhi is fuming at Zohar, saying that he had received an okay to miss out on the vote as part of a pre-approved offsetting deal with the opposition.

Israeli actress nominated for Emmy for ‘Unorthodox’

Israeli actress Shira Haas has been nominated for an Emmy for her role as an actress in the Netflix series “Unorthodox.”

The series, about an ultra-Orthodox woman escaping the confines of her tight-knit religious community, is also up for an Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series.

Shira Haas in Netflix’s ‘Unorthodox’ (Anika Molnar/Netflix)

HBO’s “Watchmen” leads nominations with 26, followed by Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” about a Jewish comedienne, with 20 nominations.

Defense minister orders up fresh task force to tackle pandemic

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has ordered the military to form a “coronavirus command” to track and improve the national response to the pandemic.

This would be the country’s third task force overseeing the fight against the disease.

“This special command will work to shorten test times, improve laboratories’ processes, [and] operate a large network of epidemiological surveyors; it will ensure rapid quarantining of patients and will assess and analyze the spread of the disease in order to establish policies,” the Defense Ministry says in a statement.

Earlier this week, the ministry was tasked by the government’s coronavirus point-person, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, with performing epidemiological surveys for the country, tracking the spread of the disease by retracing the movement of confirmed carriers.

“We have to make every effort to cut off the chain of infection, to bring down the rate of disease and in that way to prevent a full national lockdown. The IDF knows how to defeat security foes and it will know how to defeat the coronavirus,” Gantz says.

The army’s coronavirus command will be formed under the IDF Home Front Command, which has led the military’s response to the pandemic.

— Judah Ari Gross

In first, over 2,200 new coronavirus cases reported in 24 hours

The Health Ministry announces that there have been 2,210 new cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed in the last day, in what appears to be the highest 24-hour tally of fresh infections.

Six new deaths are reported, bringing the death toll to 486. There have been 12 deaths since Monday evening.

The number of patients in serious condition remains at 321, with 97 of them on ventilators.

Netanyahu, Gantz urge backing for new coronavirus plan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a televised statement in which he calls on his whole government and the whole country to back a plan being rolled out now by new coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu.

“The plan can win, but we need to work together,” he says.

Speaking after him, Defense Minister Benny Gantz tells Gamzu that the whole military apparatus is at his disposal.

Edelstein: We’ve stopped rise of virus

Despite Israel appearing to hit new highs in the number of new daily infections, health Minister Yuli Edelstein says Israel is in the track to defeating the pandemic.

“We have stopped the rise in infections, now we are fighting to lower it,” he says.

Gamzu: No more illogical virus restrictions

Government coronavirus point-man Prof. Ronni Gamzu gives a televised address in which he says that hospitals are on the cusp of crisis and may be overwhelmed. Gamzu says he has worked quickly to put together a plan.

He presents a chart showing Israel’s R-naught, how many people each carrier infects, slowly moving downward toward 1. Below that number, Israel will start to see the virus recede.

He says he is forging a “new contract, between the people and the government.”

The government needs to be more transparent, he says, referring to giving reasons for restrictions on economic activity meant to stop the virus’s spread.

“We won’t allow any more restrictions without logic. I will not allow harm to economy without a logical reason, I am responsible” he says.

Coronavirus czar: Israel needs to do better with masks, distancing

Gamzu praises the army and says it is the best body to deal with the virus and contact tracing efforts — “[it has] the technology, the tools, the ability.”

He pushes the wearing of masks, rolling out charts that he claims showing how effective they can be. The chart shows that some 70 percent of Israelis are using masks, which he says is good “but not enough.”

He notes that Israel has a long way to go with social distancing and people are being infected because of gatherings.

He says the whole health system is behind him, and everyone says his plan, which so far is missing any specifics, is the way to defeat the virus.

“help us, we will do this, together, we will lasso the virus.”

Shasha-Biton lashes out at Netanyahu after firing

Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton responds to her firing, saying that the decision is an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “prevent serious deliberations, discourse, listening to the public, other voices being heard.”

“I acted according to my conscious,” she says. “I’m also happy that I opened the committee to the public with transparency, seriousness, [and] full attentiveness; and I pledge to also continue to do so in the future in whatever position I’m in.”

Some (vague) highlights of the new coronavirus plan

A flyer put out by the Health Ministry lays out Prof. Ronni Gamzu’s coronavirus plan, with several points, some of them quite vague. Among the highlights:

  • Moving responsibility for contact tracing and isolation to the IDF
  • More masks, distancing and hygiene. “A minimum of restriction, maximum impact.”
  • More testing.
  • Unified forecasts and publication of data on R-naught.
  • A barometer for communities and hospitals.
  • A “traffic light” for local authorities, together with the Home Front Command, presumably meaning a colored tracking system to judge whether they are outbreak centers.
  • More oversight.
  • A panel of experts.

Hundreds gather to protest outside Ohana’s home

Several hundred people are gathered outside the Tel Aviv high-rise where Public Security Minister Amir Ohana lives.

Protesters are standing behind a barricade chanting slogans against Ohana and the government, while blowing vuvuzellas.

Organizers tell Channel 12 news they expect many more protesters to show up as the night goes on.

Protesters have turned their attention to Ohana after he was reported to have pushed for police to crackdown on demonstrations in Jerusalem outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence.

Israel cycling team pulls riders from race after brush with coronavirus

Israel’s cycling team has removed two riders from its squad after they came in contact with a third rider from the squad who tested positive for the coronavirus.

The move has left the Israel SN team with only five riders for the Tour of Burgos in Spain, as competitive cycling resumes after some five months.

Omer Goldstein tested positive for the virus ahead of the race and the team put Itamar Einhorn and Alex Dowsett on ice for the ride.

Goldstein has not shown any symptoms of COVID-19.

Einhorn and Dowsett later tested negative, but it was too late to enter them, meaning they have to miss the competition.

“Although I am pained to see the riders miss the race, we had to avoid any risk and take this extreme precautionary measure as the tests results were not available in time,” team director Oscar Guerrero says in a statement posted to Facebook. “It’s very unfortunate. I really feel for the riders.”

ISN IS RACING IN BURGOS – WITH ONLY 5 RIDERS – BUT WITH FULL COMMITMENT AND DRIVE! The full story: Team ISN has…

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Israel Start-Up Nation / Israel Cycling Academy‎‏ ב- יום שלישי, 28 ביולי 2020

Protesters outside Ohana’s home chant against police

Protesters outside Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s home are chanting “Police, who do you protect?,” “Shame,” “Who will protect us from the police?” and other slogans against the cops.

A neighbor of Ohana’s tells ToI that the protest is larger than others that have been held outside his home, in a Tel Aviv high-rise, though smaller than other anti-government protests recently.

Attorney general tells police chief not to cave to political pressure

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has sent a letter to acting police commissioner Moti Cohen telling him to only make decisions based on professional considerations, seemingly censuring his handling of anti-government protests.

“Decision-making in regards to dealing with protests has been granted to the police under your leadership, only with your professional judgement and without [unrelated] considerations,” he writes, according to Ynet.

The comment comes days after Cohen was heard on a recording responding to pressure from Public Security Minister Amir Ohana to crack down on anti-government protests, by saying that he had stepped up fining protesters for mask violations.

Protesters leave Ohana, move toward Ayalon highway

Demonstrators who had been outside Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s home have begun moving toward the Ayalon freeway and busy Hashalom interchange, near the Azrieli towers.

Some are blocking roads as they move, and police are reportedly trying to direct traffic elsewhere.

Suspicious people spotted near northern border — IDF

A number of suspects are spotted near the Israeli-Lebanese border in the western Galilee, amid concerns of an imminent Hezbollah attack, the IDF says.

“The incident is being monitored by IDF troops,” the military says.

— Judah Ari Gross

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Edelstein: We’ve stopped rise of virus

Despite Israel appearing to hit new highs in the number of new daily infections, health Minister Yuli Edelstein says Israel is in the track to defeating the pandemic.

“We have stopped the rise in infections, now we are fighting to lower it,” he says.