The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Transportation Minister Miri Regev holds a ceremony to open a new interchange near Ashkelon, admitting that she is knowingly breaking social distancing rules passed by her government hours earlier.
A video of the ceremony published by Channel 13 shows a tent with at least 25 chairs set up at distance from each other, with a spread of food and drinks for participants.
ברגעים אלה ממש, טקס חנוכת מחלף אשקלון צפון בהשתתפות שרת התחבורה ועשרות מוזמנים, יש סושי, פירות וכריכים, זמר, הגברה וכו׳- הכל עלה לפי גורמים כ200,000 ש״ח. לפי גורמים משפטיים- ההגבלה על התקהלות עד 20 איש כבר בתוקף. pic.twitter.com/QP8F7CTB6R
— Lior Kenan – ליאור קינן (@LiorKenan) July 7, 2020
“We’re not exactly keeping to Health Ministry restrictions. We need to be more compact. It’s true we are in an open area, but there need to be fewer and fewer people. Next time I’ll be sure that it happens,” she says, unmasked.
She adds that because people are not listening to guidelines, “at the end of the day, we will have to make a decision to go back to a lockdown.”
Under current rules in place since Sunday, gatherings of more than 20 people are forbidden.
Channel 13 reports that the shindig, which included live music, cost some NIS 200,000.
The Dubai Financial Market, the sheikhdom’s stock exchange, has reopened its trading floor after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move by Dubai comes as the city-state in the United Arab Emirates has also begun welcoming tourists again.
The market closed in mid-March over the pandemic, but online trading continued throughout the closure.
Market official Jamal al-Khadhar says that social distancing will be maintained at the exchange, and that barriers have been installed as well.
Two people have been shot to death on a street in the town of Zemer, which abuts the West Bank northeast of Netanya.
The pair are identified as a man, 62, and his son, 27. Both are pronounced dead at the scene, according to rescue services.
Police have detained a relative and are investigating if the shooting is related to a clan dispute, the Ynet news site reports.
Iran has announced its highest single-day spike in deaths from the coronavirus, with 200 new fatalities.
The spokesperson for the country’s health ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, says that the latest death toll is an increase of 40 from the previous day, when 160 were reported to have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
She blames the spike on citizens who do not abide by restrictive measures but gather in large numbers for weddings and other ceremonies, without observing distancing regulations.
Iran on Sunday instituted mandatory mask-wearing as fears mount over newly surging deaths even as its public increasingly shrugs off the danger of the virus.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says 298 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in the West Bank over the past 24 hours.
Of these, 278 of were in the Hebron governorate, which has been the center of the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in the West Bank.
Only 20 were detected elsewhere in the West Bank.
Another eight cases were identified in East Jerusalem, which the PA counts in its official statistics.
— Aaron Boxerman
The foreign ministers of several Arab states and the head of the Cairo-based Arab League have released a joint statement speaking out against Israeli plans to annex part of the West Bank and urging the international community to take action, after holding a virtual meeting on the matter.
“We reject the annexation of any piece of occupied Palestinian territory, and warn of the dangers of annexation as a violation of international law,” the statement reads.
It warns that annexation will “ignite the conflict and nourish extremism.”
يعقد @AymanHsafadi الآن اجتماعاً مع وزراء خارجية كل من #الإمارات #السعودية #مصر #المغرب #تونس #عُمان #الكويت #فلسطين والأمين العام لجامعة الدول العربية بدعوة من الأردن لبحث المستجدات المرتبطة بالقضية الفلسطينية. pic.twitter.com/9h06IvDlCo
— وزارة الخارجية الأردنية (@ForeignMinistry) July 7, 2020
The foreign ministers, who hail from Oman, Jordan, Kuwait, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the UAE, call for a return to negotiations toward a two-state solution and affirm their commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, which calls for normalization with Israel in exchange for a retreat from lands occupied in 1967 and the creation of a Palestinian state.
“We are committed to the Arab position expressed in the Arab Peace Initiative that the two-state solution, according to both the API and International Law, is the only solution to the conflict and the creation of a comprehensive peace and to embark on the creation of normal relations between the Arab States and Israel,” the statement reads.
“We will continue working with our brothers and friends in the international community to translate the vast majority of the international community’s rejection of annexation into movement to prevent it, and to relaunch true peace efforts which will lead to a just and comprehensive peace,” it says.
Dozens of students from a Ra’anana high school have tested positive for the coronavirus after holding prom parties, according to Hebrew media reports.
At least 34 students at the Metro High School contracted the virus, according to a local activist. The infections occurred after they attended private end-of-school parties meant to replace school functions, Army Radio reports.
A student at the city’s Ostrovsky High School has also tested positive, according to reports, and hundreds of students are being sent into quarantine.
The city has asked the Health Ministry to test all the students who were at the parties, but the ministry refused on the grounds that the events were non-school activities, Channel 12 reports. The city is now appealing to HMOs to carry out the tests, according to the report.
“Because of these youths’ irresponsibility and these events held against guidelines, we now have carriers endangering the whole area. Where are these kids parents?” the channel quotes a health fund source complaining.
According to Health Ministry figures, Ra’anana has seen 84 new infections in the past week.
MOSCOW (AP) — An adviser to the director of Russia’s state space corporation has been detained on treason charges, the nation’s top security agency says.
Ivan Safronov, a former journalist who served as an adviser to Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin, was detained in Moscow by agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency.
The FSB says that Safronov is accused of relaying sensitive data to a spy agency of an unspecified NATO member. It says in a statement that the information he provided referred to “military-technical cooperation, defense and security of the Russian Federation.”
Safronov could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Last year, the FSB reportedly opened an inquiry following Safronov’s article that claimed that Russia had signed a contract with Egypt for the delivery of sophisticated Su-35 fighter jets. Kommersant later removed the report from its website, and no charges were filed.
Safronov’s father also worked for Kommersant after retiring from the armed forces and covered military issues. In 2007, he died after falling from a window of his apartment building in Moscow. Investigators concluded that he killed himself, but some Russian media questioned the official version, pointing at his intention to publish a sensitive report about secret arms deliveries to Iran and Syria.
Six guards at a jail in Jerusalem have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Hebrew media reports.
Sixty inmates have been moved to the Maasiyahu prison in Ramle, to allow for authorities to disinfect the jail, including spraying down cells.
The Ynet news site reports that “sources” close to Siegal Sadetzki, who has resigned her post as director of public health in the Health Ministry, did so because of outside pressures putting too much weight on health decisions at the ministry.
“Today there are a lot of hands in the process,” a source says. “Suddenly everyone is an epidemiologist. When we go into Gaza, you can’t in the middle of the battle involve a million people in the process. It doesn’t work.”
A source specifically mentions the decision to allow events of up to 250 people as the final straw for her, though its unclear why she waited until Tuesday, after the government voted to shut down event halls and limit gatherings to 20 people, to announce her resignation.
The source says she had opposed allowing any gatherings even as Israel rolled back restrictions, but ran into opposition within the ministry.
“It’s impossible to ignore what happened healthwise, and she saw the cost of allowing gatherings of 250 people,” a source says.
A sharp spike in serious virus cases recorded last week was the result of a change in the way hospitals classify patients and not an actual rash of people severely ill with the coronavirus, Channel 13 news reports.
The number of serious cases jumped from around 46 on June 30 to close to 90 on July 4. There are currently 89 people listed in serious condition, according to Health Ministry figures released Tuesday morning.
According to the report, the change in how patients are classified brought the hospitals in line with WHO recommendations, but was not explained to the public, leaving the impression that many more people were seriously ill. The change means that anyone with oxygen saturation at 94 percent or lower is listed in serious condition, even if they seem fine.
While Israel has seen the number of new daily cases hit around 1,000, the number of serious cases has remained only a tiny fraction, a gap which officials have struggled to explain, and which some have pointed to as an argument against reimposing restrictive measures that will damage the economy.
The number of people on ventilators has also risen slowly, from 23 on June 30 to 35 today, which some say is due to a shift away from using the machines as anything but a last-ditch intervention.
Eighteen deaths have been recorded since June 30.
The Hamas terror group will send a medical team to help the Palestinian Authority confront the coronavirus wave currently raging in the West Bank, the Gaza-based Hamas Health Ministry announces.
“A qualified and multidisciplinary medical team will be sent as part of aid to the West Bank in order to confront the threat of coronavirus, and as confirmation that despite the different challenges we face, we must stand together in unity to confront them,” Hamas deputy Health Minister Yusuf Abu al-Rush says.
There is no immediate comment from PA officials or Israeli authorities, who would likely need to be involved in coordinating such a move.
The Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank is currently locked down in the midst of confronting a second wave of coronavirus infections whose size far outweighs the first.
The Gaza Strip, on the other hand, has seemingly successfully kept the virus at bay, registering only a few cases.
In the West Bank, 4,575 coronavirus infections have been confirmed, the majority in the last two weeks. In the Gaza Strip, 72 have been confirmed, most of them dating back months.
In another development, authorities in Gaza say that street markets in the Strip will reopen on Saturday.
— Aaron Boxerman
Facebook is pledging to take further steps to remove toxic and hateful content from the leading social network ahead of a meeting between top executives and organizers of a mushrooming ad boycott.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were to speak with leaders of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, organized by the NAACP, Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League.
Sandberg says the Silicon Valley giant will be announcing policy updates as a result of discussions with civil rights activists and its own audit of civil rights practices, set to be published Wednesday.
“We are making changes — not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do,” Sandberg writes on the social media site.
“We have worked for years to try to minimize the presence of hate on our platform. That’s why we agreed to undertake the civil rights audit two years ago.”
More than 900 advertisers have paused their campaigns on Facebook as part of the boycott, meant to pressure the social media giant into doing more to remove hatespeech from its platform.
Zuckerberg has for years insisted that he does not think the platform should decide on censoring political speech, drawing protests.
Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai al-Kaila recommends that the West Bank coronavirus lockdown, set to end on Wednesday, be extended for another 14 days.
The lockdown commenced on Friday amid record-high increases in the number of daily cases confirmed by the PA.
In the West Bank, 4,575 coronavirus infections have been confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic in March, more than 80 percent of them in the past two weeks.
— Aaron Boxerman
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation denies “false allegations by counter-revolutionary elements in the media of an explosion” at a nuclear plant in Ardakan, around 450 kilometres southeast of Tehran.
“Nothing happened” at the yellow-cake production plant, it says in a statement.
The rumors are aimed at creating “despair” and supporting the campaign of “maximum pressure of the Great Satan (the United States)” against Iran, the atomic energy agency says.
The US drone strike that killed Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani was “unlawful,” the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings says in a new report.
Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, concludes it was an “arbitrary killing” that violated the UN charter.
She says the strike violated the UN Charter, with “insufficient evidence provided of an ongoing or imminent attack.”
“No evidence has been provided that General Soleimani specifically was planning an imminent attack against US interests, particularly in Iraq, for which immediate action was necessary and would have been justified,” Callamard writes.
“Soleimani was in charge of Iran’s military strategy, and actions, in Syria and Iraq. But absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the US was unlawful.”
Soleimani was “the world’s top terrorist” and “should have been terminated long ago,” US President Donald Trump said at the time.
The independent rights expert does not speak for the United Nations, but reports her findings to it.
Her report on targeted killings through armed drones — around half of which deals with the Soleimani case — is to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva on Thursday.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein have agreed to up cooperation on the coronavirus crisis between their ministries, during a visit to Home Front command headquarters.
“There is a need for real cooperation,” says Edelstein, according to Ynet news.
Gantz had mounted a public push for his ministry to take over more operational aspects of dealing with the pandemic, amid widespread criticism of the health Ministry’s handling of the crisis.
The push has angered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reportedly stormed out of a meeting of the coronavirus cabinet last week after Gantz made his wishes public. The premier accused him of trying to play politics.
The army has already announced that it will assign soldiers to aid an overburdened quarantine hotline run by the Health Ministry, and has begun to reopen hotels to house people in isolation.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Bolsonaro has been widely dismissive of the virus, even as it has wreaked havoc on his country, claiming over 65,000 lives, the second highest toll in the world.
He says he was tested for the virus after having had a fever the day before. His condition is not immediately known.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he feels fine after testing positive for the coroanvirus.
“I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations,” Bolsonaro says.
On Monday, Bolsonaro told supporters in Brasilia that he underwent an X-ray of his lungs that showed they were clean, and that he would be tested for the coronavirus. On Tuesday, he told CNN Brasil that his fever had subsided.
Bolsonaro has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and that it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it.
Over the weekend, the Brazilian leader celebrated the US Independence Day with the nation’s ambassador to Brazil, then shared pictures on social media showing him with his arm around the ambassador alongside several ministers and aides. None wore masks, despite being in close quarters.
The US Embassy said on Twitter on Monday that Ambassador Todd Chapman is not showing any COVID-19 symptoms, but would be tested.
The US Marine Corps says it is investigating reports of an active shooter at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California.
The Corps says in a tweet that military police responded to reports of gunshots at approximately 6:30 a.m. and cordoned off the area.
“We cannot confirm a suspect in custody at this time,” the tweet says.
The vast Twentynine Palms base is located in the desert 125 miles (201 kilometers) east of Los Angeles.
The World Health Organization on Tuesday acknowledged that there was “emerging evidence” on airborne transmission of the new coronavirus, after an international group of scientists said it could spread far beyond two metres.
“We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field… therefore we believe that we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications,” the WHO’s Prof. Benedetta Allegranzi tells a virtual press briefing.
Palestinian media reports say that four members of the Palestinian security forces are currently being held by Israeli forces at Hawara checkpoint near Nablus in the West Bank.
Palestinian media claim that the four plainclothes officers were detained due to operating in areas where Palestinian security forces are not permitted to go.
Asked for comment by The Times of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces denies that any such event occurred.
Pictures of the four standing on the side of the road are shared on social media.
על רקע חוסר התיאום: ארבעה שוטרים פלסטינים נעצרו לבדיקה באזור חווארה ליד שכם. כוח צה"ל הבחין ברכב בעל לוחית הרישוי הפלסטינית ועצר אותו. לאחר הבידוק הם שוחררו.
לכאורה לא סיפור אבל התיאום מנע אירועים כאלה שבעיקר לא נעימים לצד הפלסטיני pic.twitter.com/MtLM1n5sGt
— Nurit Yohanan (@nurityohanan) July 7, 2020
The PA announced last month that it was ending security coordination with Israel in response to West Bank annexation plans, leading to fears of run-ins of this type.
— Aaron Boxerman
The Health Ministry announces that four more people have died of the novel coronavirus, bringing the day’s death toll to five.
A total of 342 people with COVID-19 have died since the start of the pandemic.
The number of cases is up to 31,886, a jump of 1,137 infections over the number reported at 7 p.m. on Monday, in what appears to be the largest 24-hour tally yet.
There are 13,352 active cases, of which 86 people are in serious condition and 34 are on ventilators.
The Palestinian Authority will extend its coronavirus lockdown an additional five days, Palestinian Authority government spokesperson Ibrahim Milhim announces at a press conference in Ramallah.
The Palestinian Health Ministry had requested a 14-day lockdown.
— Aaron Boxerman
The Health Ministry denies that the number of serious cases of COVID-19 has gone up due to a change in the way patients are classified, as alleged in a media report.
“At this point there is no change in the way hospitals report conditions. This is an uptick in seriously ill patients who need critical care,” the ministry says in a statement.
It says discussions are ongoing over possible changes to the way patients are listed.
There are currently 86 coronavirus patients listed in serious condition, including 34 on ventilators.
Channel 12 news broadcast footage of a tense zoom meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and over a dozen angry business owners fuming over the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic and government shutdowns.
The business owners are demanding more help from the government to weather the crisis, or less draconian rules, with restaurants, gyms, event halls and other spaces shut down or forced to run vastly below capacity.
“There is a feeling that this crisis is not being managed,” says one person. Another complains “we won’t survive.”
“We need the money now, before the 10th, because people are collapsing,” one woman yells at the prime minister. “I have 150 workers. We don’t know what to do.”
Netanyahu, who spends much of the meeting listening calmly to the angry reproofs from his interlocutors, answers that he is trying to help them and proceeds to shunt blame onto Tax Authority head Eran Yaakov for failing to make sure they get rescue money quickly.
“Eran, these people are not lying, okay,” he says to Yaakov, who is also on the call. “Cut them checks now. Or not checks, money transfers.”
At that point, another business owner cuts in over the prime minister, yelling that he is not listening to them.
According to the channel, less than half of the money promised by the government to keep people and business afloat has yet to be disbursed.
The Health Ministry is reportedly mulling placing a closure on the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Ilit.
The settlement of some 56,000 people has seen 157 new cases of the coronavirus in the past seven days, more than anywhere else apart from the larger cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, Ashdod and Petah Tikva.
According to Ynet, the ministry informed Mayor Meir Rubinstein that closure of the settlement was under discussion. However, Rubinstein protested that such a move would be untenable without a plan in place to evacuate and house virus carriers.
It will “only intensify infection rates of the city and turn it into an incubator. The decision shows the terrible failure in dealing with the second wave,” he said.
The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization says the coronavirus is continuing to gain pace globally. Noting the marked increase in the number of confirmed cases being reported in the past five or six weeks, he warns that a spike in deaths could be soon to follow.
“In April and May, we were dealing with 100,000 cases a day,” says Dr. Michael Ryan during a Tuesday press briefing. “Today we’re dealing with 200,000 a day.”
Ryan says that the number of COVID-19 deaths appear to be stable for the moment, but he cautions that there is often a lag time between when confirmed cases increase and when deaths are reported due to the time it takes for the coronavirus to run its course in patients.
Ryan also dismisses the idea that the significant jump in cases was due to more widespread testing and said, “This epidemic is accelerating.”
He says he hopes the collective knowledge gained about effectively treating COVID-19 patients helps keep the death rate relatively low, but that can’t be guaranteed.
“We’ve only really experienced this rapid increase in cases over the last five to six weeks,” Ryan said. “So I don’t think it should be a surprise if the deaths start to rise again.”
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has apologized after receiving backlash for sharing anti-Semitic posts on social media over the weekend.
“My post was definitely not intended for anybody of any race to feel any type of way, especially the Jewish community,” Jackson says in a video he posted on Instagram. “I post things on my story all the time, and just probably never should have posted anything Hitler did, because Hitler was a bad person, and I know that.”
The team also issues a statement: “We have spoken with DeSean Jackson about his social media posts. Regardless of his intentions, the messages he shared were offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling. They have no place in our society, and are not condoned or supported in any way by the organization. We are disappointed and we reiterated to DeSean the importance of not only apologizing but also using his platform to take action to promote unity, equality, and respect. We are continuing to evaluate the circumstances and are committed to continuing to have productive and meaningful conversations with DeSean, as well as all of our players and staff, in order to educate, learn, and grow.”
The NFL says that “DeSean’s comments were highly inappropriate, offensive and divisive and stand in stark contrast to the NFL’s values of respect, equality and inclusion. We have been in contact with the team, which is addressing the matter with DeSean.”
A book by US President Donald Trump’s niece offers a devastating portrayal of him and credits a “perfect storm of catastrophes” for exposing the president at his worst.
Mary L. Trump, a psychologist, writes that the coronavirus pandemic, the possibility of an economic depression and deepening social divides have brought out the “worst effects” of Donald Trump’s pathologies, which were less evident when the country had a stable economy and the lack of serious crises.
“His ability to control unfavorable situations by lying, spinning, and obfuscating has diminished to the point of impotence in the midst of the tragedies we are currently facing,” she says.
“His egregious and arguably intentional mishandling of the current catastrophe has led to a level of pushback and scrutiny that he’s never experienced before, increasing his belligerence and need for petty revenge as he withholds vital funding, personal protective equipment, and ventilators that your tax dollars have paid for from states whose governors don’t kiss his ass sufficiently,” she charges.
Mary Trump is the daughter of Fred Trump Jr., the president’s elder brother, who died in 1981. She says the future president went to movies on the night her father died, and alleges he paid someone to take the SAT exam for him to get into college.
The president’s brother Robert tried to bar publication, but early copies of the book, slated for publication next week, became available today. It is titled: “Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man.”
Police say a man has drowned to death at a beach off of Tel Aviv.
Authorities are still working to identify him.
Police note in a statement that swimming in the ocean without a lifeguard present is prohibited.
The Prime Minister’s Residence will be getting a new team of cleaners, each with their own security detail, who will keep a close eye to make sure they are only collecting one kind of dirt and aren’t planning on dusting anyone, Channel 12 news reports.
According to the channel, the residence recently cut ties with a cleaning company due to legal cases involving two workers at the residence being investigated for possible perjury to protect Sara Netanyahu, who is being sued by another former worker over mistreatment.
Rather than pick up after themselves, the Netanyahus have had the Prime Minister’s Office hire replacements, though the dirt piling up means there is no time to wait for them to undergo a security vetting. Instead, each of them will be closely tailed by a guard.
According to the channel, the extra security will cost taxpayers some NIS 10,000 ($2,900) per day.