The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.
LONDON — Britain, France and Germany strongly condemn a US decision to end sanctions waivers for companies from nations that remain in a nuclear accord with Iran.
The waivers were part of the landmark agreement signed with Tehran in 2015 that sought to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions in return for lifting crippling economic sanctions.
They allowed European, Chinese and Russian companies to work on the conversion of a heavy water reactor in Arak, a major industrial city in western Iran.
“We deeply regret the US decision to end the three waivers covering key JCPOA nuclear projects in Iran,” reads a joint statement from the three European powers.
“These projects, endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, serve the non-proliferation interests of all and provide the international community with assurances of the exclusively peaceful and safe nature of Iranian nuclear activities.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision to end the waivers earlier this week.
The nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed by the US, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia as well as Iran.
However, the US pulled out in 2018 and the latest decision on waivers, following further sanctions, raises the prospect that the agreement could collapse.
Russia has also attacked the decision by Pompeo, with Moscow claiming US foreign policy was becoming “more dangerous and unpredictable.”
In Tehran, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemned the US decision as a “flagrant violation of Resolution 2231 and the Charter of the United Nations.”
He says Iran was ready to “take legal action and act appropriately” if the move harms its nuclear rights, without elaborating.
Government ministers approve shutting down schools where there have been coronavirus outbreak rather than ordering a sweeping closure of many educational institutions amid an uptick in new COVID-19 infections, Hebrew media reports say.
Classes at schools not put under closure are expected to continue as usual.
Israel has seen a jump in new virus cases over the past few days after the morbidity rate dropped steadily in recent weeks, and yesterday recorded over 100 infections in a 24-hour period — the first since since May 2.
Amid the decline in new cases, the government has rolled back many of the measures put in place to contain the virus, lifting restrictions on movement, most schools and economic activity.
At a press conference yesterday, top Health Ministry officials said the rise in new cases was mostly at schools.
According to the Ynet news site, ministers also agreed event halls will still be allowed to reopen on June 14 as planned.
NEW DELHI — India announces a major relaxation of the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown from early June, except for so-called containment zones with high numbers of infections.
A home ministry order says that places of religious worship, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls “will be allowed” to operate from June 8, while educational establishments will be opened “after consultations” with Indian state authorities.
The announcement comes even after the world’s second-most populous country announced another record daily rise in infections, taking the total to more than 85,000 cases with almost 5,000 deaths.
Investigators are probing whether one of the border policemen involved in the shooting of an East Jerusalem man with autism continued to fire even after his commander ordered him to stop, Hebrew media reports say.
Iyad Halak, 32, was shot dead earlier today in Jerusalem’s Old City, with police saying he appeared to be holding a gun. Halak was unarmed and had apparently not understood the officers’ orders to stop as he passed near the Lion’s Gate.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, the officer’s commander said during questioning that he ordered him to stop firing, while the policeman denies he was told to hold fire.
The commander is released under conditions, while the officer is sent to house arrest.
Lawyers for the policemen are quoted saying by the Walla news site that their clients received “clear instruction” from commanders that Halak was a terrorist, prompting them to chase after him.
Palestinian factions are condemning the police shooting of Iyad Halak, an East Jerusalem man with autism who Israeli border cops said they believed was carrying a gun.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party denounces the shooting as a “war crime.”
It says it holds Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fully responsible for the “execution of a young disabled man.”
The Palestinian leadership demands that whoever shot the man be brought before the International Criminal Court.
“Today, Israeli Occupation Forces in East Jerusalem assassinated Iyad Khayri, 32 a disabled Palestinian,” Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, writes on Twitter.
The shooting is a “crime that will be met with impunity unless the world stops treating Israel as a state above the law,” he says.
Erekat adds the hashtags #PalestineWillBeFree and #ICantBreath — a reference to the killing of African-American George Floyd, who died after pleading for air as a white policeman knelt on neck, which has sparked riots in the United States.
Meanwhile, Hamas, the Islamist terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, says the shooting of Halak will “fuel our people’s revolution which will not stop until the occupier leaves all Palestinian territory.”
It warns of a new Palestinian intifada, or violent uprising.
— with AFP
The number of people at Jerusalem’s Gymnasia Rehavia high school to test positive for the coronavirus rises to 121, the Kan public broadcaster reports.
According to Channel 12 news, 137 of the recent virus cases are at schools.
MINNEAPOLIS — The governor of Minnesota says he plans to fully mobilize the state’s National Guard and promises a massive show of force to help quell civil unrest following days of protests over the police killing of George Floyd.
Governor Tim Walz says he also spoke with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley about getting federal assistance to help stop the violence.
Walz blames much of the destruction in Minneapolis last night on well-organized, out-of-state instigators whose goal was to “destabilize civil society.”
Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington vows a stronger police presence and a change in tactics “because this is intolerable and we are coming to stop it.”
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — Despite more storms in the forecast, two NASA astronauts have begun making their way to the launch pad for another attempt at a history-making ride into orbit aboard a rocket ship built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.
Forecasters put the odds of acceptable conditions at 50-50 for the 3:22 p.m. local time liftoff of the Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket in what would be the first launch of astronauts into orbit by a private company. It would also be NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade.
Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken puld on their sleek, black-and-white spacesuits with help from technicians wearing masks, gloves and black hoods that makes them look like ninjas.
Before setting out for the launch pad in a gull-wing Tesla SUV — another Musk product — Behnken pantomimes a hug of his 6-year-old son, Theo, and says: “Are you going to listen to Mommy and make her life easy?” Hurley blew kisses to his 10-year-old son and wife.
The Health Ministry confirms that only schools where coronavirus cases were detected will be closed.
The ministry also says that due to the “significant rise” in new infections in recent days, it is launching a PR campaign to encourage Israelis to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.
“The Health Ministry is worried about the increase in the number of sick people and rate of infection, alongside trends of indifference and complacency that are expressed in contempt and a lack of adherence to the rules,” a statement from the ministry says.
Likud MK Nir Barkat takes a swipe at Defense Minister Benny Gantz, saying the Blue and White chief is not cut out to be prime minister.
Under the coalition deal between Likud and Blue and White, Gantz is supposed to take over as premier from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2021.
“During the election campaign, I claimed — as did my friends in Likud — that [Gantz] doesn’t have the skills or experience. I haven’t changed my opinion,” Barkat tells Channel 13 news.
The comments echo early those made by Likud Minister Miri Regev earlier in the week, who in an interview called Gantz “half-baked.”
That comment prompted Gantz to walk out during a meeting with Netanyahu.
Health Ministry statistics show 25 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, a sharp drop from yesterday’s increase of over 100 new infections.
It is unclear if the drop in new cases is linked to a fall-off in testing, with the ministry saying only 671 were performed today and 1,825 yesterday.
The ministry says 36 people are in serious condition, 34 of whom are on ventilators.
Another 42 Israelis out of the 1,917 currently infected with the virus are in moderate condition, with the rest having only mild symptoms.
No new fatalities are reported, with the death toll remaining at 284.
WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump claims that many Secret Service agents were “just waiting for action” and ready to unleash “the most vicious dogs, and the most ominous weapons, I have ever seen” if protesters angered by his response to George Floyd’s death had crossed the White House’s security fence.
In a series of tweets hours after hundreds of demonstrators had massed outside the White House and scraped with officers in riot gear, Trump belittles them, doubts their allegiance to Floyd’s memory, says they were only out “to cause trouble” and were “professionally managed.” He offers no evidence to back his assertions, and the president even seems to invite supporters to make their presence felt: “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”
Trump says he had “watched every move” from inside the executive mansion and “couldn’t have felt more safe” as the Secret Service let the protesters carry on, “but whenever someone … got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on then, hard — didn’t know what hit them.” The president also directs social media criticism at the mayors of Washington and Minneapolis.
Floyd is the black man who was being held in handcuffs when he died Monday in Minneapolis after a police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air. Protests have erupted in US cities in the days since.
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Haifa are facing off in the first professional soccer game in Israel since early March, when games were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The match at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium is being played in front of an empty crowd, with parts of the stadium being heavily disinfected beforehand.
Two more games are set to be played later this evening.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is set to give a televised statement shortly following a recent uptick in new coronavirus cases.
Prime Minister Netanyahu warns of “a steep increase” in new coronavirus cases in recent days, but says it’s too early to say whether this is a trend.
He complains, however, of a “loosening” of Israelis’ adherence to social-distance rules meant to prevent the virus from spreading. He specifies that he’s seen Israelis sunbathing and dancing too close together and without masks — “celebrating that the coronavirus is over… Unfortunately that’s not the case.”
He says yesterday saw the highest single day of new cases registered around the world and says COVID-19 is “rampant around the world” and “it’s here in Israel.”
“As long as no vaccine is found for the virus, it will return and spread if we aren’t meticulous about the rules,” Netanyahu says.
He continues: “If we don’t do this, there will be no choice but to return to limitations on the economy and public sphere.”
Netanyahu says the coming days will be a “test” to see whether restrictions meant to contain the coronavirus need to be reimposed and if the number of new infections is in fact a rising trend.
For now, the school system is generally staying open, and he hopes it will be able to continue do so.
Living in the coronavirus era is akin to a long journey close to the abyss. Israel had distanced itself from that abyss in recent weeks, but has now moved closer again because of “contempt” for the restrictions.
He says the government will update the criteria for the “purple badge” certificate businesses need to open, but doesn’t elaborate.
He also says he instructed the public security minister to tighten enforcement of social-distancing guidelines in public and that he asked the justice minister to allow city inspectors to take part in enforcement.
He says COVID-19 is “not influenced” at all by climate. It hits in hot and cold climates alike, he says, citing Sweden with 4,300 fatalities and Belgium with almost 10,000.
Israel’s 284 fatalities are a factor of the “efficient, rapid measures” taken to contain the virus.
But Israelis must keep following the rules — social-distancing of two meters, wearing a mask in public areas, and washing hands and maintaining hygiene.
“We’re all responsible for each other,” he says. “If we don’t keep the rules,” he concludes, the virus “will strike again.”
WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump is urging Minnesota officials to get tougher with protesters who are destroying property and looting.
Trump speaks at the White House after protests turned to rioting in some cities around the country. He says by getting tougher, political leaders in Minnesota would be honoring the memory of George Floyd.
Trump says the US military is “ready, willing and able” to assist. He says “we can have troops on the ground very quickly if they ever want our military.”
Trump specifically calls out the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey. He says the mayor “is probably a very good person, but he’s a radical, left mayor.” He then describes how he watched as a police station in the city was overrun.
He says, “for that police station to be abandoned and taken over, I’ve never seen anything so horrible and stupid in my life.”
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana responds for the first time to the police shooting of an unarmed autistic man in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Police said they believed Iyad Halak, a 32-year-old resident of East Jerusalem, had a gun.
“I share in the pain of the Halak family and express sorrow over the death of Iyad, a young man with special needs,” Ohana, whose ministry oversees police, writes on Twitter.
He says the shooting is being probed in accordance with the law and that police will act “to prevent similar incidents” from occurring.
Ohana also calls for people to hold off on making judgments about the officers until the probe is over.
His comments came as around 150 protesters, some pounding drums, gathered in Jerusalem to demonstrate against police violence. “A violent policeman must stay inside,” they chant in Hebrew. At a smaller protest in Tel Aviv, one poster reads “Palestinian lives matter.”
— with AP
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — A rocket ship designed and built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has lifted off with two Americans on a history-making flight to the International Space Station.
The spacecraft takes from the same launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, that was used during the Apollo missions to the moon a half-century ago.
The flight ushers in a new era in commercial space travel and marks the first time NASA has launched astronauts from US soil in nearly a decade.
“Let’s light this candle,” commander Doug Hurley said just before liftoff.
Ever since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian rockets launched from Kazakhstan to take US astronauts took and from the space station.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says it’s ready to provide military help to authorities scrambling to contain unrest in Minneapolis, where George Floyd’s death has sparked widespread protests, but Governor Tim Walz has not requested federal troops.
Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, says several military units have been placed on higher alert “as a prudent planning measure” in case Walz asks for help. Hoffman doesn’t identify the units, but other officials say they are mainly military police. Hoffman says these are units normally on 48-hour recall to support state authorities in the event of crises like natural disasters. They are now on four-hour alert, Hoffman says.
Defense officials say there is no intent by the Pentagon to deploy any federal forces to Minnesota unless Walz asks for help. If he does make such a request, federal units such as military police could provide logistical and other kinds of support to the Minnesota National Guard or state law enforcement, but would not get directly involved in law enforcement under current plans, the officials say. They aren’t authorized to discuss the planning publicly and speak on condition of anonymity.
Hoffman says Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had spoken to Walz twice in the past 24 hours and told him the Pentagon was prepared to help if needed.
Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, says the Pentagon’s decision to place some military units on a higher state of alert for potential deployment was “a prudent move” that gave Walz more options.
TALLAHASSEE, Florida — A pickup truck drove through an intersection where protesters were demonstrating Saturday in Tallahassee, Florida, causing people to run screaming out of the way as the vehicle stopped and started and at one point had a person on its hood, according to witnesses and video posted on social media.
Tallahassee Mayor John E. Dailey tweets later that the driver was taken into custody after hitting the crowd at a low rate of speed. He says no one was seriously injured.
Video shows the truck stopped at a traffic light, and protesters walking around and near it while appearing to speak to the driver. The truck then suddenly accelerates.
Lucas von Hollen, an instructor at Florida State University, says he saw the incident as protesters were chanting and marching as in a standard demonstration, but then he heard a distinct scream of fear. He looked out a window from a second-floor work building and saw the burgundy pickup. He describes it slowing down as it had driven up toward the protesters, who didn’t move.
“Then the truck revved its engines … a couple people got out of the way, but some people didn’t, and it just drove straight through the crowd.”
He says people followed the car to prevent the driver from getting away.