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Two rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, one intercepted

Second rockets lands in open area, no injuries or damage reported; video shows apparent interception attempt over Ashkelon as border tensions rise

The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles seen in the sky in the early morning of August 21, 2020. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles seen in the sky in the early morning of August 21, 2020. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

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

Greek court imprisons far-right Golden Dawn party leadership

A Greek court decides to imprison the leadership of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn following their convictions for running the party like a criminal organization, but grants suspended sentences to five of the party’s 18 former lawmakers who were convicted of lesser charges.

The decision by a three-judge panel comes after days of summations by defense lawyers following the prosecutor’s recommendation that all former Golden Dawn lawmakers be allowed to remain free pending appeal. The appeals process could take several years.

The judges reject a request to suspend the sentences of party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and other former lawmakers who were convicted of leading a criminal organization. Michaloliakos and another five former lawmakers received 13-year prison sentences, while a sixth was sentenced to 10 years.

The 11 others, who were convicted of simple participation, received sentences of between five and seven years. The judges rule that five of those convicted of participation, including Michaloliakos’ wife, Eleni Zaroulia, could remain free during their appeals.

The decision ends a marathon, politically charged five-year trial involving 68 defendants, dozens of lawyers and encompassing four cases, including the 2013 fatal stabbing of left-wing Greek rap singer Pavlos Fyssas and physical attacks on Egyptian fishermen and left-wing activists.

The Golden Dawn lawmakers spent 18 months in jail when the trial first began, and were released due to the limit of pre-trial detention being reached.

A total of 57 party members and associates were convicted on October 7, mostly for involvement in violent attacks and participating in a criminal organization.

— AP

Saad Hariri named to form new Lebanese cabinet

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun names former premier Saad Hariri to form a new cabinet to lift the country out of crisis after most parliamentary blocs back his nomination.

Hariri, who has previously led three governments in Lebanon, stepped down almost a year ago under pressure from unprecedented protests against the political class.

Former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri speaks to the press as he leaves the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon at Leidschendam on August 18, 2020. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

— AFP

Settlers accused of placing spikes at Palestinian olive grove to disrupt harvest

Settlers placed spikes in an olive grove in the West Bank Palestinian town of Qaryut in an attempt to damage equipment before stealing most of the olives at the height of the harvest, the Yesh Din rights group claims.

“One of the farmers who was driving the tractor felt his tire explode. When he went down to check, he found many spikes scattered in the area. The farmers… discovered that unknown individuals had already stolen most of the olives from the trees,” Yesh Din says.

According to Yesh Din, 26 alleged settler attacks on Palestinians and their property have taken place since the beginning of the current harvest season. So far more than 400 trees have been cut down, and about 50 set on fire, the rights group reports.

— Aaron Boxerman

Report names Netanyahu, Trump aides who visited Sudan to reach deal on ties

Following reports that Israeli and Sudanese officials have reached a final agreement on forging ties that will be publicly announced soon, the Walla news site names Israeli and American officials who participated in yesterday’s visit to Khartoum.

The report cited officials with knowledge of the details as saying that among the officials were Prime Minister’s Office acting director-general Ronen Peretz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unnamed special envoy to the Arab world, nicknamed “Maoz.”

Also on the rare direct flight from Tel Aviv to Khartoum were the US National Security Council Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Miguel Correa, and Aryeh Lightstone, a senior adviser to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Police say 17,464 fines issued in past week over violations of virus rules

The Israel Police says that 17,464 fines have been issued over the past seven days for violating the various restrictions imposed to curb COVID-19 infections.

Police say 1,726 of the fines were handed out in the past 24 hours.

A total of 341,266 fines have been issued since the start of the pandemic.

Lebanon’s Hariri vows cabinet of experts committed to French plan

Lebanon’s new prime minister-designate Saad Hariri pledges to form a government of technocrats committed to a French initiative to draw Lebanon out of crisis.

He says he will “form a cabinet of non politically aligned experts with the mission of economic, financial and administrative reforms contained in the French initiative roadmap.”

“I will work on forming a government quickly because time is running out and this is the only and last chance facing our country.”

— AFP

Iran summons Swiss envoy to protest ‘childish’ US election meddling claim

Iran summons the Swiss envoy, which is in charge of representing the United States in the Islamic Republic, in protest of US allegations of meddling in the country’s November 3 elections.

In a series of tweets, the Iranian foreign ministry calls the accusations “childish,” “hackneyed,” “baseless,” “fabricated,” “amateurish” and “deceitful.”

The ministry says Tehran doesn’t care whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins the vote.

Over 50 recent virus cases said to originate in travelers returning from Turkey

At least 50 Israelis have recently been infected with the coronavirus after coming in contact with travelers who returned from Turkey, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The report says the known infections mostly occurred in northern Israel, particularly in the Haifa area.

It adds that the IDF’s Home Front Command recommends an increase in enforcement of quarantines for those returning from abroad.

Russia grants Edward Snowden permanent residency rights — lawyer

Russia grants US whistleblower Edward Snowden permanent residency rights after several years of asylum there, according to media reports citing his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena.

Edward Snowden, a former contract employee at the US National Security Agency. (AP/The Guardian/File)

Kucherena tells the TASS news agency that Snowden is not yet weighing the option of applying for full Russian citizenship, according to the Reuters news agency.

Snowden is a former US intelligence contractor who revealed in 2013 that the US government was spying on its citizens. He has since been living in exile in Russia and has said he would like to return to the United States — but only on the condition that he receive a fair trial.

US President Donald Trump said in August that he would “take a look” at pardoning Snowden.

Firebombs said hurled at Border Police post near Jerusalem

Three firebombs are hurled at a Border Police post in the Palestinian village of Abu Dis, on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem, Hebrew-language media reports.

There are no casualties and no damage resulting from the attack, according to the reports.

Cops have launched a search for the assailants, who have fled the scene.

Israel, Bahrain sign deal for regular passenger flights

Israel and Bahrain sign a formal deal for regular flights between the countries, Hebrew-language media reports, weeks after the Arab country agreed to normalize ties with the Jewish state.

According to the reported deal, the countries can each operate up to 14 weekly passenger flights between Ben Gurion Airport and Bahrain International Airport, in addition to unlimited flights between Manama and Eilat.

The deal also allows for five weekly cargo flights to each country.

Albania becomes first Muslim country to adopt IHRA anti-Semitism definition

The Albanian parliament formally adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, making Albania the first Muslim-majority country to do so and promise to fight anti-Jewish prejudice.

The IHRA definition, which casts some forms of criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, has been adopted by many Western countries, but so far not by Muslim countries.

Robert Singer, a veteran Jewish organizational leader and former Israeli government official, is quoted by the Makor Rishon newspaper as expressing hope that more Muslim nations will follow in Albania’s footsteps.

France teacher’s killer had contact with jihadist in Syria — source

The investigation into the murder in France of a teacher for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class has turned to Syria, where the killer had a jihadist contact, a source close to the case says.

Seven people have been charged with being complicit in a terrorist murder after 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov killed Samuel Paty on Friday last week, including two teenagers who helped him identify the teacher.

In their search for accomplices, anti-terror investigators have now established that Anzorov had contact with a Russian-speaking jihadist in Syria whose identity is not yet known, the source tells AFP.

Le Parisien newspaper reports that Anzorov’s suspected contact was located through an IP address traced back to Idlib, a jihadist holdout in northwestern Syria.

In an audio message in Russian immediately after the killing, translated by AFP, Anzorov said that he had “avenged the Prophet” whom the teacher had shown “in an insulting way.”

In the recording, which contains several references to the Koran as well as to the Islamic State terror group, he also said: “Brothers, pray that Allah accepts me as a martyr.”

— with AFP

GOP-led US Senate panel advances Barrett despite Democrats’ boycott

The US Senate Judiciary Committee votes to advance Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate as Republicans power past Democrats’ boycott of the session.

US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett listens during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 13, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP)

Democratic senators refused to show up in protest of the GOP’s rush to install US President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Never has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election.

The Republicans, who hold the majority, vote in favor of Barrett, a conservative judge. Senators plan to convene a rare weekend session for procedural actions ahead of a final confirmation vote expected Monday.

“Barrett deserves to be on the Supreme Court and she will be confirmed,” says Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee chairman. Democrats, he says, “made a choice not to participate.”

Instead, Democrats arranged for posters to be placed at their spots of constituents they said had been helped by the Affordable Care Act.

The 48-year-old federal judge’s ascent to the high court would lock a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for the foreseeable future.

— AP

In surprise decision, Bank of Israel leaves interest rate at 0.1%

The Bank of Israel’s Monetary Committee makes a surprise decision to leave the interest rate unchanged at 0.1%, after it was widely expected to lower it to 0% due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the BOI also decides to increase its purchase of government bonds to NIS 35 billion ($10.4 billion).

35-year-old Jewish deli in Denver closes down amid virus crisis

A 35-year-old family-owned Jewish deli in Denver has closed, seven months after the pandemic began pummeling restaurants in the US and elsewhere.

Zaidy’s Deli, located in Cherry Creek, a neighborhood that is home to many of Denver’s Jewish institutions, announced its decision in a Facebook post last night.

“We’ve hosted many life-cycle events, your son’s Bris, your daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, and we’ve celebrated love by catering your weddings. We’ve remembered and mourned those you’ve lost and provided sustenance for your Shiva. And we’ve loved every moment,” wrote Gerald and Jason Rudolfsky, the father-and-son team behind Zaidy’s.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we’ve made the decision to stop compromising the integrity and quality of our renowned Jewish comfort food in order to stay open, no matter how much we wish we could,” they added, before thanking Denver’s Jewish community and others who had shown support for the beleaguered deli.

The Facebook post draws more than 100 comments from locals describing their favorite Zaidy’s meals and memories, including one who says Zaidy’s offered “by far the best Jewish deli food in town.” Denver, with about 90,000 Jews in the metro area, boasts several delis, including two that are kosher.

Among the many US restaurants to fold during the pandemic have been several kosher restaurants in New York City and Seattle’s only certified kosher dining option, a vegan Chinese restaurant called Bamboo Garden.

— JTA

Ultra-Orthodox extremists shout at virus czar Gamzu, calling him ‘evil’

A crowd of extremist ultra-Orthodox residents of Modiin Illit is seen in newly published footage shouting at Ronni Gamzu, the leader of the government fight against the coronavirus, blaming him for the closure of synagogue and other religious institutions.

“You evil person, don’t close synagogues, don’t close yeshivas,” one of them shouts, as Gamzu is seen entering a vehicle and leaving the scene. The scene was apparently filmed this morning.

“Stop cooperating with the Zionist enemy,” says one of them, boasting a few seconds later that “the cops ran away.”

Some ultra-Orthodox sects have accused the government and Gamzu of unfairly targeting their community with measures to curb coronavirus infections, even though the Haredi community has had consistently higher morbidity rates than other Israeli populations.

They have clashed, often violently, with police and other officials who came to enforce the restrictions.

US judge dismisses one charge against former cop in Floyd’s death

A Minnesota judge has dismissed a third-degree murder charge filed against the former Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee against George Floyd’s neck, but the more serious second-degree murder charge remains.

After Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill’s ruling, Derek Chauvin now faces two counts going forward: second-degree murder and manslaughter. Cahill also denies defense requests to dismiss the aiding and abetting counts against three other former officers, Thomas Lane, J. Jueng and Tou Thao.

This photo provided by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office shows former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was arrested May 29, 2020, in the death of George Floyd. (Courtesy of Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Floyd, a US Black man who was in handcuffs, died May 25 after Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for some 10 minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and became motionless.

All four officers were fired.

Prosecutors have argued there is probable cause for the officers to go to trial on all of the charges, saying Chauvin intentionally assaulted Floyd, which is an element of the second-degree murder charge, and that the other officers assisted.

Defense attorneys have argued that there is not enough probable cause to charge the former officers. Chauvin’s attorney has said his client had no intent to assault or kill Floyd, while attorneys for the other officers argued that their clients did not intend or conspire to help Chauvin.

— AP

Estonia sanctions Hezbollah, imposes entry ban on its affiliates

Estonia imposes sanctions on Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group and bars any member or affiliate of the movement “whose activity supports terrorism” from entering the country.

The entry ban includes both Hezbollah’s military wing and its political wing.

“Hezbollah poses a considerable threat to international — and thereby Estonian — security,” says Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu.

Reinsalu notes that with the decision, it is joining the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Lithuania and others “who have concluded that Hezbollah uses terrorist means and constitutes a threat to the security of many states.”

World Bank: Palestinian economy expected to contract 8% by year’s end

The World Bank reports that the Palestinian economy is expected to contract by as much as 8% by the end of the year, in a slight improvement over previous estimates.

The Palestinian economy faces three main crises, according to the report: a second wave of coronavirus, a severe economic slowdown, and the protracted political crisis between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, which began over Israel’s previous pledge to annex parts of the West Bank.

While the annexation plans have since been suspended, the PA has not yet agreed to resume collecting tax revenues from Israel — a large portion of its budget — which it refused to accept as an act of protest.

The World Bank had previously estimated in June that the Palestinian economy could contract by 11% by the end of 2020.

Debt as a percentage of the Palestinian gross domestic product (GDP) could grow by as much as 20%, the international financial institution estimates.

— Aaron Boxerman

France extends COVID-19 curfew to cover 46 million people

France extends the anti-COVID curfew in place in nine cities to large parts of the country, taking to 46 million the number of people forced to stay indoors at night.

The new measures will take effect from midnight on Saturday, Prime Minister Jean Castex says, adding: “The coming months will be hard.”

— AFP

Palestinian hunger-striker entering ‘critical phase’: ICRC

A Palestinian man on hunger strike for more than 85 days since his arrest by Israel is entering a medically “critical phase,” the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

Maher al-Akhras, 49, was arrested near Nablus and placed in administrative detention, a policy that Israel uses to hold suspected terrorists without charge.

Maher al-Akhras, a 49-year-old security prisoner, while on a hunger strike in Kaplan hospital in Rehovot on October 8, 2020 (Aaron Boxerman/Times of Israel)

The married father of six launched his strike to protest the policy. He had been arrested several times previously by Israel.

“More than 85 days into the hunger strike, we are concerned about potentially irreversible health consequences,” says Yves Giebens, the head of the ICRC’s health department in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

“From a medical perspective, he is entering a critical phase,” Giebens adds in a statement.

The ICRC says it has been “closely monitoring” the situation, including a visit with Akhras today.

“The ICRC encourages the patient, his representatives and the competent authorities involved to find a solution that will avoid any loss of life,” the statement says.

— with AFP

Report: Sudanese PM ready to normalize Israel ties pending parliament okay

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is willing to normalize relations with Israel, the Reuters news agency reports, citing two sources in Khartoum’s government.

However, the report says Hamdok first needs a yet-to-be-formed transitional parliament to okay the step, the report says.

Health Ministry reports 27 COVID-19 deaths as active cases drop

The Health Ministry releases update coronavirus figures, showing the number of active cases continued to sharply drop today as the country nears control of the second virus wave after weeks of lockdown.

While active cases were at 19,344 this morning, that has dropped now to 17,869.

The death toll has risen by 27 since this morning. It is now 2,319.

There have been 577 COVID-19 cases confirmed since midnight, with a positive test rate of 2.7%, the same as yesterday.

The total number of cases since the start of the pandemic has reached 308,166. There are 580 patients in serious condition, including 227 on ventilators. Another 161 are in moderate condition and the rest have mild or no symptoms.

Gantz tells Esper normalization deals enable Israel to better counter Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says Israel is better situated to confront Iran in the Middle East in light of its normalized ties with two Arab countries, and expresses hopes to formalize relations with others.

“Now that we are entering an era of positive normalization processes in the Middle East, which actually can face an aggressive Iran across the region, this ability of continued cooperation is so very important,” Gantz says during a visit to Washington.

During his trip to the US capital, Gantz met with his American counterpart Mark Esper to discuss, among other things, proposed sales of F-35 fighter jets and other weaponry to the United Arab Emirates and the potential impact this could have on Israel’s military advantage in the region, known formally as its qualitative military edge (QME), which the US is legally obligated to maintain.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz at the Knesset, May 17, 2020. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

Following his meeting with Esper, the two signed a document reaffirming Washington’s commitment to ensuring Israel’s QME, which appeared to be more of a symbolic gesture than one with practical ramifications, as this responsibility is already enshrined in US law.

“Indeed, over the last few weeks, you and I led, together with other people, very good and very important discussions that reassure the bipartisan commitment to Israel’s QME. I want to thank you and your people, and the American Administration, for supporting it,” Gantz says.

“It was important for me once again to reaffirm the special relationship between our two countries, the commitment we have made to Israel’s security based on our shared values, our shared history; and I want to thank you for your personal efforts in the past few weeks,” Esper says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Israel’s only female F-35 fighter pilot named deputy squadron commander

The Israeli Air Force’s only female F-35 fighter pilot is named the new deputy commander of the 116th Squadron, which flies the fifth-generation stealth aircraft.

The pilot, 26, who can only be identified by her rank and first Hebrew initial — Cpt. “Shin” — initially served in the 116th Squadron after completing her training in December 2016.

She then moved to the Air Force’s 107th Squadron, which became operational last August, the military says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Data on 186 million US voters traded on hacker forums: Researchers

A database with information on virtually the entire US voting population has been circulated on hacker forums, opening up the potential for disinformation and scams that could impact the November 3 election, security researchers say.

A report released yesterday by the security firm Trustwave said its researchers “discovered massive databases with detailed information about US voters and consumers offered for sale on several hacker forums.”

The databases “include a shocking level of detail about citizens including their political affiliation,” and the sellers claim to have 186 million records, which would mean nearly all US voters, the security researchers say in a blog post.

“The information found in the voter database can be used to conduct effective social engineering scams and spread disinformation to potentially impact the elections, particularly in swing states,” says the post from Trustwave analysts Ziv Mador and Nikita Kazymirskyi.

The analysts say at least some of the data comes from public records, but that other information appears to have come from data leaks or breaches.

The researchers say they also discovered other databases on the entire US consumer population and on residents of Britain, Canada, Ireland and South Africa.

Cybercriminals appear to be working “to monetize the upcoming elections” in the United States, the researchers add, by selling databases that include addresses, age, gender and political affiliation of American voters, and phone numbers in some cases.

The news comes a day after US authorities said Russia and Iran had obtained voter information and taken actions to influence public opinion, including with “spoofed” emails designed to intimidate voters and create unrest.

— AFP

Netanyahu to propose bigger fines for schools that reopen in violation of rules

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will next week propose increased fines for education institutions operating in violation of measures imposed to contain the coronavirus, after some ultra-Orthodox schools and yeshivas reopened in defiance of the regulations.

In a video posted on social media, Netanyahu thanks Israelis for adhering to the rules and showing solidarity to cut infection rates, but adds that “not everyone is cooperating.”

“That is why next week at the cabinet, I will introduce more steps against those who violate the directives, including heavy fines for education institutions that open without an approval,” he says.

“This isn’t directed against anyone, it is meant against something: against the virus and against the disease. I expect cooperation from everyone, without exception.”

Trump posts unedited ’60 Minutes’ interview before it airs

US President Donald Trump posts his full, unedited interview with “60 Minutes” on Facebook before the show’s scheduled Sunday broadcast.

https://www.facebook.com/DonaldTrump/posts/10165668067695725

The footage shows Trump growing increasingly prickly as CBS anchor Lesley Stahl presses him on a host of topics, including his response to the coronavirus pandemic, his slipping support among suburban women, the lack of masks at his rallies, and the “Obamacare” replacement plan he has long promised but failed to unveil.

“Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS,” Trump writes as he tweets the Facebook link. And he again preemptively criticizes the moderator of tonight’s final presidential debate.

The interview began on a tense footing as Stahl asked the president as the camera started rolling, “Are you ready for some tough questions?” and only grew more testy.

At the end of the nearly 40 minutes, Trump complained: “Are you ready for tough questions. That’s no way to talk. That’s no way to talk.”

“You’re so negative,” he later commented.

Trump eventually cut the interview short and declined to appear with Vice President Mike Pence.

CBS News calls the White House’s decision “unprecedented,” but says the interview will air Sunday as planned.

“The White House’s unprecedented decision to disregard their agreement with CBS News and release their footage will not deter 60 MINUTES from providing its full, fair and contextual reporting which presidents have participated in for decades,” the network says in a statement.

— AP

Anti-Netanyahu, pro-Netanyahu rallies held; centrist MK called ‘traitor’

Weekly protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government begin in many spots across the country, although participation thus far appears to be weak compared to recent weeks.

Hundreds of anti-Netanyahu protesters gather for a rally in Haifa, with heavy police forces present.

The main rally in Tel Aviv highlights the financial woes of business owners who have been hit hard by lockdown measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

In Holon, supporters of the prime minister demonstrate and clash with rival protesters from the anti-government Black Flag movement.

Some of the right-wing protesters are members of the extremist La Familia group. They heckle opposition MK Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid-Telem), an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, and say he is “not Jewish.”

“You garbage, you traitor, hater of Israel,” they tell the centrist lawmaker who attempted to speak to them.

The Black Flag movement says La Familia’s actions should “shock every citizen,” calling the group “Netanyahu’s military wing.”

“We are a moment before the next political murder, with the encouragement of the wild incitement by Benjamin Netanyahu’s crime family,” it says.

NYU to remove Sackler name following Purdue Pharma deal

New York University’s Langone Medical Center will strip the Sackler name from its biomedical institute following the US Justice Department’s announcement that Purdue Pharma, the company founded by the Sackler family, will plead guilty to federal criminal charges over the company’s role in the opioid epidemic, NYU officials announce.

“In view of yesterday’s US Department of Justice announcement of the settlement of federal criminal charges with Purdue Pharma and the civil settlement with members of the Sackler family related to the marketing of Purdue’s opioid products, NYU Langone Health will be removing the Sackler name from its Graduate Biomedical Institute, as well as other named programs,” the officials say in a written statement.

The deal announced yesterday does not release any of the Sackler family members who own Purdue Pharma from criminal liability, and a criminal investigation is ongoing. Family members have said they acted “ethically and lawfully.”

The move to remove the Sackler name from the NYU facility follows decisions by other academic and cultural institutions to distance themselves from the Sacklers, longtime philanthropists who have been blamed in thousands of lawsuits for fueling the opioid crisis by playing down the risks of the powerful painkiller OxyContin.

France’s Louvre Museum removed the Sackler name from a gallery last year, and Tufts University stripped the name from a building.

— AP

Palestinian lawyers sue Britain for 1917 Balfour Declaration in Nablus court

Palestinian lawyers file a complaint to sue the British government for the 1917 declaration setting out London’s support for a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.

The lawyers file a complaint in the West Bank town of Nablus that claims “the suffering of the Palestinians” stemmed from this document.

The Balfour Declaration, signed by the then-British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour, is seen as a precursor to Israel’s creation in 1948.

“The British mandate is at the root of the suffering of the Palestinian people and has paved the way for the violation of their rights and the plunder of their land,” Munib al-Masri, head of the Federation of Independent and Democratic Trade Unions, tells a news conference in Ramallah.

As well as the trade unions group, the complaint is filed on behalf of the International Commission to Support Palestinian People’s Rights and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.

The Balfour Declaration was published on November 2, 1917, a year before the end of World War I.

Lord Arthur Balfour and the Balfour Declaration (Wikimedia commons)

In one sentence it announced the British government’s backing for the establishment within Palestine, then a region of the Ottoman Empire, of “a national home for the Jewish people.”

It was a shock to the Arab world, which had not been consulted and had received vague promises of independence of its own in the post-war break up of the defeated Ottoman Empire.

The Palestinians have continuously condemned the declaration, which they refer to as the “Balfour promise,” claiming Britain was giving away land it did not own.

With the Balfour Declaration, London was seeking Jewish support for its war efforts, and the Zionist push for a homeland for Jews was an emerging political force.

The British Mandate for Palestine was later set up in the wake of World War I, and ran until Israel’s declaration of statehood in 1948.

— AFP

Hundreds of Israelis and Sudanese battle it out — on the chess board

In a sign of impending normalization between Israel and Sudan, hundreds of chess enthusiasts from both countries participated today in an online event claimed by its Israeli organizers to be “festive and historic.”

More than 350 people, including children, took part in the first-of-its-kind chess meet hosted on the Lichess website, according to a statement by Israeli chess club “Shachmat Lakol” (“Chess for All”) which organized the event.

The statement says it was organized in collaboration with unnamed officials in Sudan. It isn’t clear how many Sudanese players actually took part.

Record 40,000 new virus cases recorded in France over 24 hours

France registers a record 41,622 new coronavirus infections in 24 hours as the health situation continues to deteriorate, with authorities extending a curfew to two-thirds of the population.

The country’s public health agency also reports 165 new deaths linked to COVID-19.

— AFP

US Jewish museum to honor magicians Houdini, David Copperfield

The Philadelphia-based National Museum of American Jewish History will honor two men who entertained the world with their magic.

The museum announces it will induct illusionists Harry Houdini and David Copperfield into its hall of fame on December 12. The museum says the award recognizes the achievements and contributions of American Jews “who share and exemplify the ideals of the stories explored in the museum.”

Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Hungary in 1874 and came to America when he was 4 years old. The son of a rabbi, he toured the US and the world as a magician until his death in 1926 at age 52.

Magician Harry Houdini performs a rope escape, left, and a card trick in these undated photos. (AP Photo)

Copperfield, 64, was born David Kotkin in New Jersey. He has earned 21 Emmy Awards, and will accept the honor from his International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts in Las Vegas.

David Copperfield attends the 14th Annual CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Gala in New York, November 6, 2017. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

“From immigrant Harry Houdini to first-generation American David Copperfield, this event clearly demonstrates what’s possible when individuals are simply given the chance to be great,” says museum trustee Sharon Tobin Kestenbaum.

Previous recipients of the museum’s award include the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and director Steven Spielberg.

— AP

Hundreds of anti-Netanyahu protesters rally, march through Tel Aviv

Hundreds of anti-Netanyahu protesters start walking through Tel Aviv’s streets after holding rallies in the city’s Habima Square and Rabin Square.

Waving the traditional black flags alongside pink ones, the protesters chant in support of democracy, which they accuse the government of eroding under the guise of fighting the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Channel 13 publishes alleged plans by far-right counter-protesters to physically harm participants in the anti-government demonstrations.

“We will f*** them and show them who’s in control here,” says one message.

“We are coming to run over them in full force, we have a friend with a car, he doesn’t care, we will run over cats and leftists,” says another. “We will terrorize them and commit a pogrom, they’re done.”

Rocket alarms sound in south

Incoming rocket sirens sound in the city of Ashkelon and nearby communities, sending residents rushing to bomb shelters.

The military says it is looking into what triggered the alarms.

The sirens come days after the military uncovered what it says is an attack tunnel from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.

Video shows rocket interception attempt over Ashkelon

Unconfirmed footage on social media appears to show Iron Dome anti-rocket missiles being fired over the city of Ashkelon.

The explosions are often the result of successful interceptions, though not always.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says it has not received any reports of injuries in connection to the rocket sirens that sounded in the city of Ashkelon and nearby towns north of the Gaza Strip.

IDF confirms two rockets shot at Israel

Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, one of which was intercepted, the military says.

The second projectile appears to have landed in an open field as no injuries or damage were reported.

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Lebanon’s Hariri vows cabinet of experts committed to French plan

Lebanon’s new prime minister-designate Saad Hariri pledges to form a government of technocrats committed to a French initiative to draw Lebanon out of crisis.

He says he will “form a cabinet of non politically aligned experts with the mission of economic, financial and administrative reforms contained in the French initiative roadmap.”

“I will work on forming a government quickly because time is running out and this is the only and last chance facing our country.”

— AFP