The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.
The Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip is leaving the Palestinian enclave through the Erez border crossing with Israel, according to local reports.
Video on social media shows Mohammed al-Emadi’s convoy as it makes its way to Erez.
Al-Emadi arrived in Gaza earlier this week, bringing cash for the 2 million residents of the Strip and trying to broker a ceasefire.
His trip to Gaza comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and the Hamas-ruled territory, with Palestinians in Gaza flying waves of arson balloons across the border in recent weeks, sparking wildfires in southern Israel. There has also been occasional rocket fire. The Israel Defense Forces has responded to the violence with nightly retaliatory strikes on Hamas targets.
According to the Walla news site, Al-Emadi spoke today with Israeli security officials about Hamas offers to calm the tensions with Israel.
So far today, there have been 23 fires in southern Israel sparked by balloon-borne incendiary devices flown from Gaza, according to Hebrew media reports.
השיירה של השגריר הקטארי אל עאמדי מגיעה מעזה למחסום ארז בדקות האחרונות עם מסר מחמאס לישראל. בשאיפה שיצליח לעצור התדרדרות להסלמה. צילום תושב העוטף דדי פולד pic.twitter.com/jmrQdBxmhE
— Or Heller אור הלר (@OrHeller) August 29, 2020
El Al has asked Saudi Arabia to use its airspace when one if its planes on Monday makes the first ever commercial passenger flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates, following the countries’ agreement to normalize ties, according to the Ynet news site.
The request was relayed on El Al’s behalf by way of the National Security Council and other unspecified mediators, the report says.
The Saudis have yet to respond.
ISTANBUL — Turkey launches new military maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean that are expected to last two weeks, as tensions between Ankara and Athens mounted over maritime borders and gas drilling rights.
The dispute has reignited the long-running rivalry between Greece and Turkey, with the two neighbors staging rival naval drills.
In a message on NAVTEX, the international maritime navigational telex system, Turkey says it will carry out “shooting exercises” from today until September 11 in a zone off the southern Turkish town of Anamur, north of the island of Cyprus.
Ankara had already announced on Thursday that military exercises would take place on Tuesday and Wednesday in a zone further east.
In a sign of the volatility of the situation, Turkey’s defense ministry said yesterday that fighter jets had on Thursday intercepted six Greek aircraft which were approaching a zone where a Turkish research ship was deployed, forcing them to turn around.
It was the deployment of the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis into Greek waters on August 10 that caused the current spike in tensions.
The European Union yesterday warned Turkey it could face fresh sanctions — including tough economic measures — unless progress is made in reducing soaring tensions.
Turkey responded angrily to the warning.
Other irritants have marred ties between Ankara and Athens, including the question of migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece, Turkey’s conversion of some Byzantine churches and cathedrals into mosques and Greece’s intention to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles from the current six.
Police have closed a number of roads in Jerusalem around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence before another evening of protests against the premier.
This will be the 11th consecutive week that demonstrations over Netanyahu’s indictment on corruption charges and handling of the coronavirus pandemic will be held there.
Protests are also set to be held near Netanyahu’s home in the coastal town of Caesarea and at highway overpasses and junctions across Israel.
Ahead of the weekly anti-Netanyahu rally outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, police say there have been calls on social media for clashes with officers during the protest.
“The Israel Police is aware of various calls on social media by extremists to come and clash with police forces and turn the protest into a riot, and physically harm officers,” police say in a statement quoted by Channel 12 news. “We call on those participating in the protest to refrain from displays of violence and provocation.”
The Black Flag protest group dismisses the police statement and as “ridiculous” and accuses the Jerusalem police force of not withstanding pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Amir Ohana.
“We’re here to clarify that there are no extremist voices calling [for people] to harm officers or riot. There are voices calling for the removal of Netanyahu as prime minister. The Israel Police should start defending the protesters and not the corrupt,” the group says.
Some demonstrators have already began gathering at the Prime Minister’s Residence and smaller protests against Netanyahu are being held at highway overpasses and junctions across Israel.
Qatari envoy Mohammad al-Emadi has returned to the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-linked al-Resalah confirms, after a quick trip to the Erez border crossing.
His return to the Hamas-ruled enclave comes after he reportedly met with Israeli security officials to discuss the terror group’s offers to put a lid on the recent violence emanating from the Strip.
Anti-Netanyahu protesters say a man brandished a pistol as he drove by them during a demonstration in Herzliya, according to Hebrew media reports.
התמונות לשיפוטכם, בתיעוד המלא שהופץ יש גם מס רכב. בהמשך תביעה תלונה במשטרה ואעדכן מה יאמרו שם pic.twitter.com/dzIp1uzA4f
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) August 29, 2020
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi hails the UAE’s abolition of a law boycotting trade and financial agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as part of the deal between the countries to normalize diplomatic ties.
“An important step for real peace, which will yield economic and commercial achievements for both peoples,” Ashkenazi says in a statement quoted by Hebrew media.
He also praises the Foreign Ministry, “which for two decades worked secretly and laid the diplomatic infrastructure for ties whose fruits we are seeing today.”
The Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen broadcaster airs footage showing what appears to be a mannequin of an IDF soldier being moved by a robotic device along the border fence between Israel and Lebanon.
The video briefly shows the mannequin moving before it is engulfed by smoke from smoke grenades thrown from the Israeli side of the fence, as a pair of IDF tanks are stationed next to it.
Al-Mayadeen claims the mannequin was an Israeli ploy to have Hezbollah believe it was a real target.
Hezbollah has vowed to avenge the death of one of its fighters, killed in an airstrike outside Damascus on July 20 that was attributed to Israel, heightening tensions along the border.
On Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said Hezbollah snipers fired at Israeli troops operating near an Israeli community along the border, prompting Israeli airstrikes on a number of the terror group’s observation posts.
— قناة الميادين (@AlMayadeenNews) August 29, 2020
Another 36 cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected inside the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reports.
Gaza has 182 confirmed active infections. While 37 of the cases were contained upon arriving in the Strip at designated quarantine centers, the other 145 infections were discovered in residential areas during the past week.
Hamas health officials have warned that if the number of active infections rises above 2,000, the case load could overwhelm the coastal enclave’s fragile healthcare system, which has already been weakened by repeated war and 15 years of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. The blockade is meant to prevent arms from reaching Gaza and being used by the local terror groups, of which Hamas is the largest.
The Hamas interior ministry has extended a total lockdown for another 48 hours. The lockdown was announced on Monday night, when the first cases were discovered inside residential areas.
— Aaron Boxerman
Thousands of anti-Netanyahu protesters march down Jaffa Street in Jerusalem toward the city center, calling for the prime minister to resign over his indictment on graft charges.
The demonstrators began marching from the Chords Bridge at the entrance to the capital and are heading toward the Prime Minister’s Residence for the weekly rally there.
Police say they allowed the march to take place “even though it wasn’t coordinated as necessary.”
“In accordance with a situational assessment conducted Thursday the police prepared barricades along the route of the march to keep the protesters’s safe,” a police statement says, adding light rail service was halted as the march progressed along the train line on Jaffa Street.
New Health Ministry figures show 1,337 new coronavirus cases were recorded over Shabbat, raising the number of cases since the pandemic began to 113,337.
The ministry reports 12 more deaths, bringing the national toll to 906.
Of the 20,331 active cases, there are 438 people in serious condition, with 116 on ventilators. Another 191 are in moderate condition and the rest have mild or no symptoms.
The ministry says 23,263 tests were performed yesterday.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also praises the UAE’s decision to end its economic boycott of Israel after the countries agreed to normalize diplomatic ties.
“This is an import step in promoting peace and prosperity in the region,” he says in a statement.
A few dozen members of the Bratslav Hasidic sect protest on Strauss Street in Jerusalem after Ukraine announced it would shutter its borders to foreigners during November, preventing Israeli pilgrims from traveling to Uman for Rosh Hashanah.
The demonstrators are expected to march to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, where a large protest against the premier is taking place.
Braztlav Hasidim have fumed at Netanyahu following the Ukrainian decision, vowing to never back him again.
The burial site of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, the founder of the sect, is located in Uman.
חסידי ברסלב מפגינים הערב בירושלים נגד סגירת אוקראינה בפניהם. צפויים להמשיך לכיוון בלפור pic.twitter.com/W1AkjWL8UM
— עקיבא ווייס Akiva Weisz (@AkivaWeisz) August 29, 2020
In what appears to be the largest anti-Netanyahu demonstration in Jerusalem so far, thousands of demonstrators from a march through the city center have joined the main protest at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Demonstrators are crowded throughout Paris Square and on Keren Hayesod and Agron streets. Protesters are carrying signs reading “enough with division!” and “it’s not political, it’s just criminal.”
Although Jerusalem police had previously announced that they would enforce noise regulations starting at 9:30 p.m., they do not appear to be doing so.
— Aaron Boxerman
Israelis are holding small protests in 17 cities across the world in solidarity with the demonstrations in Israel against Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Kan public broadcaster reports.
Among the sites where Israelis are protesting are the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
הפגנות סולידריות עם המפגינים בבלפור ב-17 ערים בעולם: תיעוד ממדרגות מוזיאון המטרופוליטן בניו יורק
(צילום: עמית בר נתן) pic.twitter.com/IOqxaz83I1
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) August 29, 2020
Israel is expected to designate the United Arab Emirates as a “green” country, the Walla news site quotes senior officials involved in the matter as saying, meaning travelers coming from there won’t be required to quarantine upon arrival.
The first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates will depart Monday, following the agreement between the countries to normalize ties. A US delegation led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and an Israeli one led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat will be on the flight.
Prime Minister Netanyahu announces the formation of a ministerial team to look into allowing pilgrims to fly to Uman for the Rosh Hashanah holiday, amid anger among Bratslav Hasidim at the premier after Ukraine barred foreign nationals from entering the country during September.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says the team “will weigh the possibility of a draft [proposal] for traveling to Uman, under stringent restrictions of the authorities in Ukraine.”
The team will be headed by Likud Minister Ze’ev Elkin and include Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Science Minister Izhar Shay.
The statement says the decision to appoint Elkin as head of the committee was made in coordination with Edelstein and coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu, who has come out strongly against the pilgrimage, warning that returning travelers could spread COVID-19.
Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox allies have fumed at Gamzu over his opposition to the flights, with Health Minister Yaakov Litzman calling for him to resign. The Bratzlav Hasidic sect, whose founder Rabbi Nachman’s burial site is in Uman, have vowed to never back Netanyahu again.
A group of Hasidic Jews demanding to be allowed to travel to the Ukrainian city of Uman for Rosh Hashanah join the anti-Netanyahu protest outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Some of them chant “Netanyahu, resign.”
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) August 29, 2020
Police report two arrests at the protest against Prime Minister Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem.
Police say one person was arrested for disturbing public order and the other for allegedly throwing a bottle at cops, according to the Kan public broadcaster.
Hasidic Jews protesting Ukraine’s ban on the pilgrimage to Uman are now demonstrating in Jerusalem at the intersection of Jaffa and King George streets, blocking the light rail tracks.
Video shows police officers trying to clear the group from the train tracks.
ובינתיים לאחר שחסידי ברסלב יצאו מכיכר פריז לכיון כיכר השבת, עימותים ועצורים שם. בסרטון אפשר לראות דחיפות ומעצר. לפי הבנתי כבר 4 נעצרו שם
קרדיט צילום: מחאות החרדים הקיצונים pic.twitter.com/Jn2012XkaZ
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) August 29, 2020
Several opposition lawmakers criticize Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to appoint a ministerial team to look into allowing Israelis to fly to Uman for Rosh Hashanah.
Ukraine has banned foreign nationals from entering the country in September, preventing pilgrims from reaching Uman, and coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu has called for flights there to be halted, angering Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox political allies.
“Netanyau again proves that more than he cares about Israeli citizens and working to defeat the coronavirus, he cares about the ultra-Orthodox parties and acts only out of coalition interests,” MK Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu party, writes on Twitter.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, another critic of the ultra-Orthodox partners, also slams the move.
“There’s no team for a team of ministers for the issue of traveling to Uman… only a normal government is needed that will make a decision according to the recommendations of professional officials and face the consequences,” tweets Lapid, who heads the Yesh Atid party.
He adds: “This isn’t political, [you] bunch of cowards, it’s health.”
After exhibiting unusually restrained behavior during this evening’s anti-Netanyahu rally outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, police announce they want to open the streets to traffic and ask protesters to get off the road and onto the sidewalk.
Protesters remain in the street and chant “you will not be police chief” to Jerusalem police commander Doron Yedid, who is widely seen as vying for the position of commissioner.
Thousands of protesters still remain in Paris Square
— Anat Peled
IDF soldiers arrested a suspect this evening who crossed into Israel from Lebanon, the military says.
The suspect was nabbed immediately after entering Israel and was returned to Lebanon after being questioned, according to the IDF.
No information is given on the person’s identity.
The incident comes amid heightened tensions on the border between Israel and the Hezbollah terror group. There have also been several recent cases of migrants trying to enter Israel through Lebanon.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet at 12:30 p.m. with US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and national security adviser Robert O’Brien at his official residence in Jerusalem, his office says.
Police appear to want to avoid forcibly clearing anti-Netanyahu protesters from the street outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, warning those who remain on the road will be fined.
Police have opened up Agron Street to traffic, but hundreds of protesters remain seated on the street next to Paris Square.
Officers are now moving into the seated group of protesters.
— Anat Peled
Police are now removing anti-Netanyahu protesters in Jerusalem from the street by carrying them or escorting them out. ‘
The police appear to be more restrained than usual while clearing up the protest.
— Anat Peled
Police have finished dispersing the demonstration in Jerusalem, largely without violence, it appears.
At a press briefing at the end of the protest, police officials tell reporters that overall protesters had listened to police instructions throughout the march and demonstration and that at 11:00 p.m. they stopped making noise in abidance with court rulings, so police did not have to use force.
A police official says “a small number” of protesters were detained, though he does not have an exact number.
Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at his official residence in Jerusalem after meeting with US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
Netanyahu says “it’s a special pleasure” to host the delegation before it travels together with Israeli officials tomorrow on the first ever commercial passenger flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates
“It will pave the way for other countries to normalize their ties with Israel. I think for too long the Palestinians have had a veto on peace. Not only between Israel and the Palestinians but between Israel and the Arab world,” he says, referring to the US-brokered deal for Israel and the UAE to normalize ties.
He adds: “If we have to wait for the Palestinians, we’ll have to wait forever. No longer.”
Palestinian leaders have sharply criticized the UAE for agreeing to normalize relations with Israel.
Praising Trump’s peace proposal, Netanyahu says no Jews or Palestinians will have to leave their homes, Israel will be able to annex areas of the West Bank and will retain security control west of the Jordan Valley.
He says the Palestinians “will be hard pressed to remain outside the community of peace.”
Turning to Iran, Netanyahu hails the Trump administration for opposing Tehran’s “war machine” and pulling out of the nuclear deal limiting the Iranian nuclear program.
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