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Assaults reported against protesters; 6,000 rally against Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Demonstrators say they are attacked in Hod Hasharon, Eilat, Ramat Gan; clashes break out between police and marchers in capital

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 31, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 31, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

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

Anti-corruption rallies kick off at bridges and intersections across Israel

Weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are beginning at bridges and traffic junctions around the country.

Thousands are expected to demonstrate on the roads, and thousands more at the main protest site in Jerusalem.

The protesters call for Netanyahu’s resignation due to his corruption trial, and lambaste his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic fallout. The largest protests take place on Saturday nights and the weekly demonstrations have been ongoing for the past 19 weeks.

Israelis protest against PM Benjamin Netanyahu near his official residence in Jerusalem, on October 24, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Earlier Saturday, police said they detained two demonstrators at a highway interchange between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for marching on the side of the road without coordinating with authorities.

Dozens of demonstrators had gathered on the road to call for an investigation into Netanyahu for the so-called “submarine affair,” which ensnared some of the premier’s associates, but not himself.

French priest wounded in shooting at church in Lyon

A Christian Orthodox priest is wounded in a shooting in the French city of Lyon.

Police say the attacker fled the scene and remains at large.

The priest, who has Greek nationality, was closing his church when he was shot in the stomach. He is being treated for life-threatening injuries.

A police source told the Associated Press that the attacker acted along and fired from a hunting rifle.

The French interior ministry tweets that “an incident is underway” in the southeastern city.

“Security and emergency personnel are at the scene,” the ministry says, warning people to “avoid the area” where the attack took place.

Security and emergency personnel at the scene of a shooting attack against an Orthodox priest in Lyon, France, October 31, 2020. (Philippe Desmazes/AFP)

France has been rocked in recent weeks by Islamist attacks and protests against President Emmanuel Macron.

On October 16, a French schoolteacher was beheaded outside Paris by a Muslim man who was enraged that the teacher showed his class cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on free speech.

On Thursday, a 21-year-old Tunisian killed two women and a man with a knife at a church in the southern French city of Nice. Macron called the slaughter an “Islamist terrorist attack.”

Protests by Muslims erupted worldwide this week after Macron defended the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad.

France entered a second nationwide coronavirus lockdown on Friday, but houses of worship are exempt.

France has been on high alert since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo marked the beginning of a wave of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 250 people.

Tensions have heightened since last month, when the trial opened for 14 suspected accomplices in that attack.

Netanyahu eulogizes Sean Connery: ‘An iconic actor and a wonderful friend’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogizes legendary Scottish actor Sean Connery after the end of Shabbat.

Netanyahu writes on Twitter that he and his wife, Sara, “are greatly saddened by the passing of Sean Connery, an iconic actor and a wonderful friend. We will always remember his unassuming charisma and the warmth of his smile. Like millions around the world, we will continue to delight in his unforgettable performances.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how the two knew each other.

Connery, the star of the original “James Bond” films, died at age 90, his family said Saturday. The Oscar-winner was considered one of the greatest movie stars of his generation.

Health Ministry says 812 new coronavirus cases so far this weekend

The Health Ministry says 812 Israelis were confirmed infected by the coronavirus so far this weekend.

On Friday, 674 people were diagnosed, the ministry says. Prime Minister Netanyahu set a target of 500 cases a day for opening street stores a week early, on November 8.

There are currently 10,684 active cases; 419 patients in serious condition, 182 of whom are on ventilators; and 110 in moderate condition.

Four people die of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the toll since the start of the pandemic to 2,523.

A masked man on the Tel Aviv beach boardwalk, October 29, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Government confirms further rollback of virus restrictions, starting Sunday

The Prime Minister’s Office and Health Ministry confirm further rollbacks of coronavirus restrictions as Israel gradually steps out its second nationwide lockdown.

The general outline of the new rules was announced early Friday morning, but without specific details.

Starting Sunday at 6 a.m., Israelis will be allowed to pray in groups of 10 indoors, and 20 outdoors. Violating the prayer rules will result in an NIS 500 fine for each person involved.

Other events, including weddings and parties, will also be limited to 10 indoors and 20 outdoors, with the total number of attendees capped at 20.

Sports for competitive athletes, children and youth will be allowed. Swimming and motorsports are okay for adults.

Driving lessons are allowed, as long as they comply with rules that limit private vehicle capacity to three people.

Open-air heritage sites, historical sites, national parks and nature preserves will open.

Vacation rental homes, hairdressers, beauty parlors can resume business, with some restrictions.

The new rules will be in effect until November 14.

Controversially, street stores will remain closed. The shops can reopen on November 15, if infection rates drop slightly and remain low.

Rescuers race to find quake survivors in Turkey as death toll reaches 37

Rescuers race against the clock to save people trapped under rubble in Turkey and Greece as anguished mourners bury the first victims of a powerful earthquake that has so far claimed 37 lives.

The 7.0-magnitude temblor killed at least 35 people and injured nearly 900 in Turkey after striking on Friday afternoon near the west coast town of Seferihisar in Izmir province.

Also killing two teenagers on their way home from school in Greece, it caused a mini-tsunami on the Aegean island of Samos and a sea surge that turned streets into rushing rivers in one Turkish coastal town.

Turkish authorities have registered nearly 600 aftershocks, dozens of them stronger than 4.0 magnitude, complicating the search for those believed to still be breathing under mountains of concrete debris.

Volunteers and recue personnel search for survivors in a collapsed building in Izmir, Turkey, on October 31, 2020, after a powerful earthquake struck. (Yasin Akgul/AFP)

In Bayrakli, near the Turkish coastal resort city of Izmir that was heaviest hit, families and friends looked on in agony, exhaustion and hope as workers painstakingly lifted slabs of flattened apartment blocks.

Jubilation, relief and tears of joy greet every recovered survivor. Cries of pain accompany black bags holding bodies removed from the disaster zone.

“Let me see who it is!” one man shouts.

Hope grows that more survivors could be found following reports in Turkish media that a mother and her three children were rescued some 23 hours after disaster struck.

A 53-year-old and 62-year-old were also pulled out alive hours after the quake, media reports say.

The government’s disaster agency AFAD says 100 people have been rescued.

But the wait is agonizing and the recovery work excruciatingly slow, punctuated by long silences in which rescuers — often stretched out on their knees, with their heads poking into open cracks — listened for signs of life.

AFP

Hundreds of anti-Netanyahu protesters march toward his residence in Jerusalem

Anti-Netanyahu protesters march down Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, heading from Zion Square to the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Estimates put the number of Jerusalem protesters at between 1,000 and 2,000.

At the same time, around 1,000 demonstrators are gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. The protesters are also marking 25 years since the death of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin this week.

Rabin was shot dead by a Jewish extremist as he pursued peace with the Palestinians.

Another protest is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square.

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and mark the 25th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s death, in Jerusalem on October 31, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Additional rallies, some with hundreds of participants, are taking place at other areas around the country, mainly at bridges and intersections. Around 300 demonstrators gathered at Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea.

Police detained one man for throwing an egg at protesters in Eilat.

The protesters call for Netanyahu’s resignation due to his corruption trial, and lambaste his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout. The largest protests take place on Saturday nights, and the weekly demonstrations have been ongoing for the past 19 weeks.

Volunteer set to receive 1st Israeli vaccine candidate: ‘A historic opportunity’

The first volunteer due for injection with Israel’s coronavirus vaccine says he is feeling optimistic, and described his participation in the trial as “a historic opportunity.”

Clinical trials for the Brilife vaccine, developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research, start Sunday at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan and at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

“I think everything will be ok, I’m even sure of it,” says Segev Harel, a 26-year-old undergraduate student from Kibbutz Sde Nehemia in northern Israel, introducing himself as the first Israeli due to receive a shot in a video released by Sheba Medical Center.

Segev Harel, set to receive the first shot of Israel’s vaccine candidate. (Sheba Medical Center)

Speaking in a video shot by a friend, he says he is healthy and feels confident about the test.

“A lot of people have been harmed by coronavirus, health-wise, psychologically and economically. And if the small contribution I can make is to participate in this trial and give hope that we’re on the way to end the plague, I’ll have played my part,” he says.

-Nathan Jeffay

Netanyahu claims tax exemption for all expenses in his private home — report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that all expenses at his private home in Caesarea are related to fulfilling his duties in office, and should therefore be exempt from taxes, Channel 13 reports.

The Tax Authority had requested information on which expenses in the home were for Netanyahu fulfilling his role as prime minister, to which Netanyahu staffer Asher Hayun replied that it was all of them.

The government informed the Supreme Court three years ago that all taxes on expenses in Netanyahu’s private home related to his job would be paid for by the state, the report said. This includes, apparently, fixing window blinds, the report says.

The Prime Minister’s Office denied the report, and said all expenses were approved by the premier’s accountant and legal adviser.

Boris Johnson announces new four-week virus lockdown in UK

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces a new month-long lockdown for England after being warned that a resurgent coronavirus outbreak will overwhelm hospitals in weeks without tough action.

Johnson says in a televised news conference that the new measures will begin Thursday and last until December 2.

He says without them, “we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day.”

“Now is the time to take action because there’s no alternative,” he says. “The virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers.”

A pedestrian wearing a face mask walks past a Christmas light display at a department store in central London on October 29, 2020. (Justin Tallis/AFP)

Bars and restaurants can only offer takeout under the new rules, non-essential shops must close and people will only be able to leave home for a short list of reasons, including exercise.

Unlike during the UK’s first lockdown earlier this year, schools, universities, construction sites and manufacturing businesses will stay open.

Johnson had hoped a set of regional restrictions would be enough to contain the virus, but government scientific advisers predict that on the outbreak’s current trajectory, demand for hospital beds will soon exceed capacity.

France went into a second nationwide lockdown on Friday.

Last month, Israel became the first country to enter a second national lockdown.

-Agencies

Anti-Netanyahu protester pepper-sprayed by passerby in Ramat Gan

An anti-Netanyahu protester in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan says he was doused with pepper spray by a man on a scooter.

The protester received medical attention at the scene and police opened an investigation.

Separately, around 400 protesters march from Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square northward on Ibn Gbriol street. Another 100 set out from the city’s Habima Square.

Estimates put the number of demonstrators in Jerusalem’s Paris Square, near the Prime Minister’s Residence, at several thousand.

Police call on the Jerusalem protesters to stop making noise.

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 31, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Suspect arrested in shooting of priest in France’s Lyon

A suspect is arrested after an attacker with a sawed-off shotgun shot a Greek Orthodox priest in the chest before fleeing in the French city of Lyon, a prosecutor said.

“A person who could correspond to the description given by the initial witnesses has been placed in police custody,” Lyon’s public prosecutor Nicolas Jacquet says in a statement, adding that the suspect was not carrying a weapon when he was arrested.

Other reports say the priest was shot in the abdomen with a hunting rifle.

The attack comes as France reels from two other killings by Islamic extremists and protests against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

On Thursday, a Tunisian killed three people at a church in the southern city of Nice, and earlier this month, an extremist beheaded a schoolteacher for showing his class cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as part of a class discussion on free speech.

Earlier Saturday, before the attack, President Emmanuel Macron sought to calm flaring tensions with Muslims around the world, telling an Arab-world TV channel he understood that caricatures of Muhammad could be shocking, while lashing out at “lies” that say the French state was behind them.

Police officers search for clues after a priest was shot in the city of Lyon, central France, October 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Leading Likud, Blue and White ministers threaten government collapse

Coalition infighting breaks out between Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn of Blue and White and Finance Minister Israel Katz of Likud during separate Channel 12 interviews.

The two ruling parties have been at odds virtually since the government was established in May, including increased sparring in the past week, leading many to believe the coalition is on the verge of collapse.

Nissenkorn attacks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct, saying, “The government is not functioning. We cannot sustain a situation like this. All options are open.”

“He doesn’t understand the magnitude of the coronavirus crisis and the economic crisis,” Nissenkorn says of Netanyahu. “If this continues we’ll examine other options. The first option in my opinion is a unity government, but if it doesn’t function, and that is what is happening now, we cannot remain in it.”

Katz accuses Blue and White of holding up the budget, a bone of contention between the parties, for political reasons.

“If their militant hardline keeps going, we’re going to elections,” Katz says.

Assaults reported against protesters; 6,000 rally against Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Several assaults are reported against anti-Netanyahu protesters in different parts of the country as some 6,000 rally against the premier near his official residence in Jerusalem.

Around 1,000 demonstrators march out of the capital’s Paris Square. Police try to block their way, but the protesters go through a cemetery to evade the officers, with some scuffles breaking out between the two sides.

Protesters in Hod Hasharon in central Israel say they are attacked, with at least one requiring medical treatment.

One demonstrator tells the Kan public broadcaster that a passing car pulled over next to the protesters, two men exited the vehicle, and then shoved protesters.

The demonstrators hit one of the men with a megaphone, injuring him, before the two men returned to the vehicle and drove off.

Police arrest two suspects for involvement in the incident.

Police in Eilat detain a man suspected of hurling eggs at demonstrators in the southern city.

An anti-Netanyahu protester in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan says he was doused with pepper spray by a man on a scooter.

The protester received medical attention at the scene and police opened an investigation.

Several hundred protesters begin marching through central Tel Aviv.

Video from Jerusalem shows police shoving with protesters and detaining at least one on a city street.

Macron lashes Erdogan; discusses terror with Tunisian leader after Nice attack

French President Emmanuel Macron accuses Turkey of taking a “bellicose” stance towards its NATO allies, saying tensions could ease if Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan shows respect and does not tell lies.

“Turkey has a bellicose attitude towards its NATO allies,” he tells Al-Jazeera, condemning Turkey’s behavior in Syria, Libya and the Mediterranean.

He says that France’s wish was that things “calm down” but for this to happen, it is essential that the “Turkish president respects France, respects the European Union, respects its values, does not tell lies and does not utter insults.”

“I note that Turkey has imperial inclinations in the region and I think that these imperial inclinations are not a good thing for the stability of the region, that’s it,” Macron says.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures at a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, on September 21, 2020. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)

There have been weeks of tensions between France and Turkey, which reached a peak last weekend when Erdogan questioned the mental health of Macron.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says Turkey made “the deliberate choice to instrumentalize” the beheading of a French teacher who showed his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, accusing Ankara of launching “a hateful and slanderous campaign against us.”

However, the minister says Turkey’s condemnation of a knife attack at a church in Nice this week was “different, clear, unambiguous, but that does not preclude clarifications from Ankara.”

Separately, Tunisian President Kais Saied speaks with Macron about migration and “terrorism,” following the deadly knife attack in Nice allegedly perpetrated by a Tunisian.

Saied and Macron discuss by phone repeated “terrorist acts” against France as well as the “question of illegal immigration and the solutions to be found together,” a statement from the Tunisian presidency reads.

Illegal sea crossings to Europe from Tunisia have been on the rise, largely driven by economic woes after a 2011 popular revolution that many hoped would bring more significant change.

Tunisian citizen Brahim Issaoui, 21, is suspected of brutally killing three people in Thursday’s attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice in southern France.

Most protesters in Jerusalem disperse; police say 6 arrested

Anti-Netanyahu protesters in Jerusalem begin to disperse at 11 p.m. from Paris Square, the main site for protests against the premier.

Streets around the area are reopened to traffic.

Some of the demonstrators march from King George Street in the direction of the capital’s Zion Square.

Police say the march went forward illegally and that officers arrested six suspects throughout the night for “attacks on civilians, police officers and behavior that may have disturbed the peace and public order.”

It wasn’t clear if the suspects mentioned were protesters, assailants or both. Earlier reports said police arrested two suspects for an attack against demonstrators in Hod Hasharon, and one for throwing eggs and demonstrators in Eilat.

One protester says he was attacked in Jerusalem toward the end of the night’s events.

Earlier reports said demonstrators were assaulted in Hod Hasharon, Ramat Gan and Eilat. A reporter for Army Radio says marchers in Tel Aviv had eggs thrown at them.

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 31, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
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Health Ministry says 812 new coronavirus cases so far this weekend

The Health Ministry says 812 Israelis were confirmed infected by the coronavirus so far this weekend.

On Friday, 674 people were diagnosed, the ministry says. Prime Minister Netanyahu set a target of 500 cases a day for opening street stores a week early, on November 8.

There are currently 10,684 active cases; 419 patients in serious condition, 182 of whom are on ventilators; and 110 in moderate condition.

Four people die of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the toll since the start of the pandemic to 2,523.

A masked man on the Tel Aviv beach boardwalk, October 29, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)