The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry publishes a statement condemning what it calls a violation of Israel’s agreement with the Waqf Islamic trust that manages Jerusalem’s contested Temple Mount site, according to Hebrew-language media.
The statement comes after some 800 Jews entered the compound to mark Tisha B’Av, the fast day commemorating the two temples believes to have stood at the site which today houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and after several Jews prayed and waved Israeli flags against the rules at the site.
The ministry statement alleged Jerusalem gave an approval for “hundreds of extremist Jews to break into Al-Aqsa under the protection of the Israel Police.”
It said Israel’s actions were “irresponsible provocations” and “hurt Muslims’ feelings around the world.” It warned of consequences and called on Israel to “honor the status quo” and “respect the mosque and worshipers’ feelings.”
The Shin Bet announces that a Hamas operative who fled the Gaza Strip to Israel brought with him valuable intelligence on the terror group for which he worked.
Izz al-Din Hussein, 24, sought to swim to the Jewish state from Gaza on June 28 amid family problems and concerns of “persecution and defamation by senior Hamas figures,” the Shin Bet says in a statement.
Upon crossing into Israeli waters, Hussein was promptly arrested by naval forces who transferred him to the Shin Bet for interrogation.
During his questioning, investigators learned that Hussein had enlisted in Hamas’s military wing in 2013 and began working in aerial defense in 2018, where he headed the shoulder-fired missile unit, the Shin Bet says.
He held an anti-aircraft missile in his house and was told to launch it at an Israeli military chopper if one nears his home, in order to kidnap or kill IDF soldiers, the statement adds.
Hussein has been charged with “grave security offenses” at the Beersheba District Court, the Shin Bet says.
— with Jacob Magid
A large wildfire breaks out in the Galilee, between the Arab town of Majd al-Krum and Kibbutz Tuval.
Seven firefighting teams are dispatched to the area alongside four firefighting planes.
The Israel Fire and Rescue Service says that at the moment there is no danger to the communities.
Channel 12 quotes a police source saying tonight’s anti-government protest near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem won’t be limited in time, unlike previous protests that were dispersed using water canons at 11 p.m. or at 1 a.m.
Protesters will be asked at 11 p.m. to stop the noise to avoid disturbing local residents.
The source estimates that thousands will come from Jerusalem and elsewhere, and the force will let them demonstrate while protecting protesters and making sure that “no foreign elements enter.”
“Whoever is identified as a suspicious element that might cause violence, will be dealt with immediately,” the source adds, urging protesters to “exercise tolerance and respect the law.”
NASA’s latest rover Perseverance launches for Mars, blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on schedule.
The first stage of rocket separation takes place a few minutes later, and the second stage Centaur rocket takes over, boosting it into orbit.
Perseverance is now preparing for a second burn that will put it on a trajectory toward Mars, a trip that will take around seven months and cover 300 million miles (480 million kilometers).
Police arrest another suspect in the alleged right-wing attack on anti-Netanyahu protesters on Tuesday in Tel Aviv, adding that more arrests are expected.
The development comes hours after the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court released two other suspects to house arrest until Sunday, with the judge saying she couldn’t determine which of the two groups started the fight.
The judge, Anat Yahav, said they were “two groups that provoked each other.”
The European Union prolongs sanctions against dozens of North Korean officials and agencies for a year over Pyongyang’s continued efforts to develop nuclear missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.
EU headquarters say in a statement that the asset freezes and travel bans involve 57 people and nine “entities,” which are typically companies, banks or other organizations, and will be reviewed again in a year.
It says that “lasting peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula must be achieved by peaceful means,” and underlines that “the diplomatic process must be continued as the only way towards realizing that goal.”
The EU has imposed sanctions on several countries, notably Iran and Venezuela, but the measures against North Korea, which were first introduced in 2006, are its toughest.
Apart from adopting a series of UN Security Council measures, the 27-nation bloc has separately imposed sanctions aimed at financial services, trade and transport linked to weapons development in the secretive Stalinist state.
The US economy collapsed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in the April to June period, contracting 32.9 percent in the second quarter, the government reports.
The decline, though slightly less bad than expected, is the worst on record dating back to 1947. The Commerce Department figures are an annual rate, so they’re not comparable to the quarterly contractions reported in other advanced economies.
The plunge in GDP was driven largely by the drop in consumer spending, the largest component, which fell 34.6 percent annualized, according to the first estimate for the second quarter.
Sderot resident Felix Eliyev, 22, has been indicted at the Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court for allegedly attacking and stabbing an anti-Netanyahu protester last Saturday during a rally at Sha’ar Hanegev Junction.
Police ask the court to approve Eliyev’s arrest until the completion of legal proceedings against him.
US President Donald Trump suggests delaying the 2020 election, in which he is currently lagging badly in the polls, citing the coronavirus and what he says would be “fraudulent” voting.
“Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Trump asks in a tweet.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,” the tweet says.
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
The Israel Defense Forces publishes footage from moments before the arrest last month of a Hamas member who fled from Gaza to Israel via swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, hours after the Shin Bet said he has been charged.
The footage shows Izz al-Din Hussein, 24, swimming in the sea.
The IDF says in a statement that he was spotted by the navy, with forces arresting him and handing him over to the Shin Bet.
— Itamar Cohen (@ItamarC36002781) July 30, 2020
Israeli research may bring about an improved method for identifying coronavirus outbreaks: by analyzing sewer samples for traces of the virus.
The project, by wastewater management tech firm Kando along with researchers from institutions including Ben-Gurion University and the Technion in Haifa, is similar to work being done in other countries, the Reuters news agency reports.
The researchers discovered a previously unknown outbreak in a neighborhood in the coastal city of Ashkelon using that method, the report says.
They initially picked Ashkelon because they believed relatively little remnant of the virus would be found in the wastewater.
The method is seen as a quicker way of discovering COVID-19 outbreaks than individual testing.
Kando says it is in talks with several other municipalities — in Israel and abroad — about setting up its system.
Ofer Golan, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s family, denounces as “stupid” the notion that the premier and his team are behind a fake Facebook profile that threatened Netanyahu.
Facebook said earlier today that the profile, Dana Ron, was fake and was removed from the platform, a day after Netanyahu posted a comment it published calling for the premier to get “a bullet to the head.”
“I’ve heard about the stupid idea that the prime minister and his team are behind the fake profile,” Golan tweets.
“I want to clarify that the prime minister expects the police cyber unit to locate the post’s author immediately and bring them to justice. They have all the resources to reach them in a short time.”
The European Union and a number of individual member states reiterate their opposition to Israeli plans to advance construction plans in the Jerusalem area beyond the Green Line.
The EU and France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden express their “grave concerns regarding the advancement of settlement construction in Givat Hamatos and potentially in E1 area,” in a so-called demarche filed with the Foreign Ministry.
It’s their second demarche — diplomatic jargon for protest letter — in this regard since May.
“Settlements are illegal under International Humanitarian Law. Any further settlement construction in this strategically sensitive area will have a devastating impact on a contiguous Palestinian State, as well as severely undermining the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution in line with internationally agreed parameters,” the demarche states.
The Foreign Ministry confirms having received a second demarche, but declines to further comment on the matter.
— Raphael Ahren
US President Donald Trump has for the first time floated a “delay” to the November 3 presidential election, making unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting will result in fraud, but he can’t do that — and he had previous issued a strongly worded denunciation of his Democratic rival Joe Biden for saying Trump would try to push off the vote.
The dates of US presidential elections — the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year — are enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change. The Constitution makes no provisions for a delay to the January 20, 2021 presidential inauguration.
On April 24, Biden said: “Mark my words, I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held.”
The Trump campaign at the time commented to ABC: “Those are the incoherent, conspiracy theory ramblings of a lost candidate who is out of touch with reality.“
Trump campaign responds in a statement to @ABC News
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) April 24, 2020
— with AP
Police arrest another suspect over the attack on anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Tel Aviv resident is the second person arrested today in the suspected right-wing attack, and the fifth overall.
Police say more arrests are expected.
The Israel Police cyber unit in the Lahav 433 special crimes umbrella unit has opened an investigation aimed at discovering who is behind a fake Facebook profile that posted death threats to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The profile, under the name Dana Ron, was closed earlier today by Facebook after it concluded it is fake.
The account posted that Netanyahu should get “a bullet to the head,” with a screenshot of the comment featured in a post by the premier yesterday.
Another suspect has been arrested in connection to an attack on anti-Netanyahu protesters Tuesday in Tel Aviv.
He is the third person to be arrested today in the suspected right-wing attack.
Police are gearing up for the planned protest this evening outside Prime Minister Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem and reinforcing security officers in the capital to prevent any violence.
Police are also readying for demonstrations outside the Tel Aviv home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a Likud party ally of Netanyahu’s who was recorded pressing police to quash the ongoing protests outside the Prime Minister’s Residence.
A number of protesters were attacked by suspected right-wing assailants following a protest Tuesday outside Ohana’s home.
According to Channel 13 news, the police’s main concern is that clashes will break out in Jerusalem between anti-Netanyahu demonstrators and members of La Familia, a group of far-right fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club.
La Familia has called on its supporters to gather this evening at the First Station, an entertainment venue roughly a kilometer from the Prime Minister’s Residence. “Watch out, leftist rags, the rules of the game have now changed,” it wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week.
Prime Minister Netanyahu launches a fresh broadside at Channel 12 news, after lashing out at the network last weekend over its coverage of ongoing protests against him.
In a statement posted to his social media accounts, Netanyahu claims the network is “whitewashing the incitement to murder against the prime minister by the far-left” and is trying to pin responsibility on him for a suspected far-right attack this week on protesters demonstrating against him in Tel Aviv.
“The lie was exposed today when it turned out this was a brawl between soccer supporters,” Netanyahu says.
He is apparently referencing a judge’s comments during a remand hearing for two suspects that the suspected attack was the result of “two groups that provoked each other.”
Netanyahu also comments on the revelation that a Facebook comment he shared calling for his murder was posted by a fake account. Police are investigating who was behind the post.
“Today they added another libel, as if the prime minister was behind the post calling for the prime minister’s murder,” he says. “This lie, too, will become clear quickly.
“Whoever whitewashes the incitement against the prime minister and his family is an accomplice to the incitement,” Netanyahu adds.
A few dozen anti-Netanyahu protesters are demonstrating near the Tel Aviv home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a Likud party ally of the prime minister who has pressed police to crack down on ongoing protesters in Jerusalem against the premier.
Police have placed barricades near Ohana’s home and closed off nearby roads, according to the Kan public broadcaster, after a number of protesters were attacked in a suspected far-right assault on Tuesday following a similar demonstration.
A spokesman for the Netanyahu family releases a photo of Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister’s wife, with the family’s dog after rumors circulate about her health.
אחרי השמועות: שרה נתניהו פרסמה תמונה עדכנית במעון רה"מ pic.twitter.com/tLAszjjVCY
— חדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) July 30, 2020
Health Ministry statistics show 1,869 new coronavirus cases have been recorded over the past 24 hours, bringing the number of infections since the start of the pandemic to 69,903.
The ministry reports two more deaths since the morning, raising the death toll to 499.
The number of active cases drops sharply to 25,628, after the ministry changed its criteria for who is considered sick.
Among the infected, there are 328 people in serious condition, with 102 on ventilators. Another 148 people are in moderate condition and the rest have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.
The ministry says 26,217 tests were performed yesterday.
Ministers are expected to nix mandatory closures of stores on weekends aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, Channel 12 news reports.
A few hundred anti-Netanyahu protesters are demonstrating outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem as part of ongoing protests against the premier.
Police have closed off a number of surrounding streets and a large number of officers are on hand, following previous scenes of violence at the protests and because of a suspected right-wing attack on anti-Netanyahu demonstrators earlier this week in Tel Aviv.
WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives his clearest indication yet that the United States will seek to force UN sanctions on Iran if an arms embargo lapses.
Russia and China, two of the Permanent Five nations that enjoy veto power on the Security Council, want the UN embargo on selling conventional weapons to Iran to end on October 18 as laid out under a 2015 resolution.
Pompeo tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States will introduce a resolution to extend the embargo “in the near future” which “we hope will be met with approval from other members of the P5.”
“In the event it’s not, we’re going to take the action necessary to ensure that this arms embargo does not expire,” he says.
The US has previously said it has the authority to “snap back” UN economic sanctions that were lifted as part of a nuclear deal with Iran.
“We have the capacity to execute snapback and we’re going to use it in a way that protects and defends America,” Pompeo tells the committee.
The 2015 resolution had blessed a denuclearization deal with Iran negotiated by former president Barack Obama from which President Donald Trump pulled out in 2018.
Trump has since repeatedly denounced the accord and imposed unilateral US sanctions on Iran, but Pompeo argues that the United States remains a “participant” in the accord — with the right to snap back UN sanctions for violations — as it was listed in the 2015 resolution.
Even US allies are skeptical about the legal argument and warn that such a move could damage the Security Council as an institution.
France and Britain, the other nations in the P5, support extending the arms embargo but say the greater priority is maintaining a diplomatic solution to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett’s wife has walked back her claim that far-right activist Itamar Ben Gvir is a former agent of the Shin Bet security service.
Ben Gvir, who ran unsuccessfully for the Knesset several times and frequently represents far-right suspects in criminal cases, had sued Gilat Bennett over the claim.
Besides apologizing to Ben Gvir, Bennett also agrees to donate money to support Israeli soldiers serving in the West Bank city of Hebron, according to a document submitted to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.
Around 1,000 people are now protesting against Prime Minister Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem, according to Hebrew media estimates.
In Tel Aviv, a small protest held near the home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a Likud party ally of Netanyahu’s, has ended.
At least one member of La Familia, a group of far-right soccer hooligans who support Beitar Jerusalem, has arrived at the First Station entertainment area.
The group has called on its members to gather there this evening as a demonstration against Prime Minister Netanyahu is held about a kilometer way outside the premier’s official residence.
“Soon everyone will arrive here. We don’t intend to tell the media what we’re planning to do,” the La Familia member tells Channel 12 news.
Police reportedly fear that clashes could break out between La Familia and the anti-Netanyahu protesters. In a post on its Facebook page earlier this week, La Familia warned: “Lookout leftist rags, the rules of the game have now changed.”
אחד מחברי ארגון "לה פמיליה" אמר במתחם התחנה שבירושלים "כולם יגיעו לכאן.לא נספר לתקשורת מה אנחנו מתכננים לעשות" pic.twitter.com/YUGntacMDF
— branu tegene (@BranuTegene) July 30, 2020
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine says it will seek to maximize compensation for relatives of people killed when a Ukrainian passenger plane was shot down by Iran earlier this year.
Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was hit by two missiles and crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran’s main airport on January 8 amid heightened US-Iran tensions.
Iran’s civil aviation authority said the misalignment of an air defense unit’s radar system was the key “human error” that led to the accidental downing of the plane.
Ukraine will “make every effort to maximize compensation” over the incident, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says after talks with an Iranian delegation began in Kiev on Thursday.
“The process will not be easy,” he adds in the video statement.
Ukraine “will achieve justice, no matter how much time and effort it costs,” the foreign minister says.
Kuleba says he believes the compensation “will slightly ease the pain and grief of the relatives” of all 176 people killed on board of the jet.
The High Court of Justice rejects petition from residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood where the Prime Minister’s Residence is located asking the justices to order an anti-Netanyahu demonstration being held there to end at 11 p.m.
Justice David Mintz writes in his ruling that “there’s no justification to grant an injunction” ordering the protest to end at that time.
Some 1,000 people are currently taking part in the protest, significantly less than there have been at the same time in recent demonstrations.
The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which has been closed since the start of the coronavirus crisis, has received a $4 million grant from supporters in the United States to reopen.
Museum director Ido Bruno announces what he calls the “extraordinary” donation, saying he would allow the museum to open “soon” and without cuts to employees’ salaries.
“I want to thank the American Friends of the Israel Museum for their uncompromising support of the Israel Museum,” Bruno says in a statement, according to The Jerusalem Post. “This is a step that expresses confidence in Israeli culture and art, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”
While other museums have reopened in Israel in recent weeks, the Israel Museum has remained closed due to the inability to pay its staff. Only about 10 percent of the museum’s 400 staff members have been working throughout the coronavirus crisis, handling essential work such as maintenance and conservation of the museum collection despite its closure.
Much of the museum’s budget comes from ticket sales, mostly to tourists from abroad, who have not been coming to Israel since the country closed its borders to non-citizens at the start of the pandemic. The museum says it welcomes about 1 million visitors each year.
Several dozen far-right supporters of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club have gathered at the First Station entertainment in the city, about one kilometer from where a protest against Prime Minister Netanyahu is being held.
Video shared by reporters on Twitter shows the La Familia members chanting “death to leftists” and attacking journalists. They also chase after a car that is reportedly carrying Arab passengers.
Eight of the hooligans are arrested as police arrive at the scene. Officers are seen trying to prevent them from marching to the protest at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
עוד פעם תקיפה, עוד פעם קובי כהן שלנו סרג'יו המפיק הותקפנו הפעם לה פמיליה. המבט מאוד מאיים. הלה פמיליה אשכרה חיפשו ערבים לתקוף. תיעוד ו pic.twitter.com/73ds8PRaNY
— Yossi Eli יוסי אלי (@Yossi_eli) July 30, 2020
An expected decision by the government to lift an order requiring stores and malls to close over the weekend as part of measures to contain the coronavirus has been pushed off until next week following opposition from some ministers, Channel 12 news reports.
According to the network, the ministers who opposed allowing stores to remain open during the weekend were Science Minister Izhar Shay of Blue and White, who proposed that businesses be closed over Shabbat, and ultra-Orthodox ministers angry that restrictions on synagogues and group prayer wouldn’t also be eased.
BAGHDAD — Two rockets targeted Baghdad airport, where US soldiers are posted, Iraq’s army says, adding there are no casualties.
It is the 39th attack targeting US interests since October last year in Iraq, a country where the US and its sworn enemy Iran vie for influence.
The two rockets did not cause any damage, the Iraqi army adds in a statement.
As with previous attacks, the rocket fire goes unclaimed.
The US has routinely blamed pro-Iran factions for targeting its interests in Iraq in recent months.
Iran’s most prominent general, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport in January, bringing Tehran and Washington to the brink of direct confrontation.
Police have declared a protest by far-right soccer hooligans illegal and order them to disperse from the area of the First Station in Jerusalem.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s 84-year-old ruler King Salman left the hospital today, authorities says, after a 10-day stay where he underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder.
“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, leaving the hospital after God blessed him with health and wellness,” state media says in a caption accompanying photos of the monarch walking out of the building.
The foreign ministry also tweets a video of the king leaving the hospital, walking with the aid of a cane and accompanied by a retinue including his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The royal court said a week ago that he underwent laparoscopic surgery to remove his gall bladder at King Faisal hospital in Riyadh.
It is rare for Saudi Arabia to report on the health of the aging monarch, who has ruled the top oil exporter and the Arab world’s biggest economy since 2015.
However, the king’s hospitalization prompted Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi to postpone his scheduled visit to Saudi Arabia.
A video released by state media shortly after the announcement showed the monarch chairing a virtual cabinet meeting from the hospital, in an apparent effort to dispel rumors about his health.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia dismissed reports and mounting speculation that the king was planning to abdicate in favor of Prince Mohammed, who is seen as the de facto ruler.
— Foreign Ministry ???????? (@KSAmofaEN) July 30, 2020
Police seem to have successfully dispersed demonstrators from the far-right La Familia soccer hooligan group from the First Station area in Jerusalem.
La Familia members allegedly threw stones at a car with Palestinian passengers and blocked roads around the First Station before police ordered them to disperse.
“I didn’t see any stones thrown, and if there were, I’m pained by that,” said Amnon Ben-Ami, who organizes the La Familia rallies.
Ben-Ami said that more protests were being planned in the coming days.
— Aaron Boxerman
Many of the demonstrators protesting against Prime Minister Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem have dispersed.
Most of those remaining have filled into Paris Square and are no longer on the street.
There haven’t been any arrests or reports of violence.
אזור כיכר פריז מתחיל להתרוקן. עד כה לא היו אירועים חריגים או מעצרים. pic.twitter.com/BnrLTmDV6Q
— Suleiman Maswadeh סולימאן מסוודה (@SuleimanMas1) July 30, 2020
Roads around the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem have reopened after most protesters demonstrating there this evening against Prime Minister Netanyahu left.
The Nature and Parks Authority says that some 70,000 Israelis visited the national parks over the weekend along with 6,800 people who spent the night at authorized camping grounds.
Popular sites included Tel Aphek National Park in central Israel, which attracted some 2,500 hikers, and Caesarea National Park, the Golan Heights Banias and Ein Gedi, which each attracted 2,000 visitors.