Netanyahu: I Put Annexation on the Table – and it is Still on the Table
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pushes back against right-wing critics of the agreement with the United Arab Emirates by saying he will continue to push the idea of Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, emphasizing that the agreement means just a “temporary” delay.
It’s All in the Presentation: Israelis Tout Coming Normalization, Emiratis Highlight Deal against Annexation
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is beginning to receive pushback from fellow right-wingers who say sovereignty will still be extended to parts of the West Bank as planned.
Trump: UAE Agrees to Full Ties with Israel in Return for End to Annexation Plans
Israel to Stop Entry of Fuel into Gaza in Response to Incendiary Balloon Attacks
Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled enclave have in recent days launched dozens of balloons laden with incendiary and explosive materials across the border into Israel. Stopping the entry of fuel, which could shut down Gaza’s power plant, follows earlier measures aimed at ending the balloon attacks, including the closing of the main commercial border crossing, airstrikes on Hamas targets, and reduction of the area off the coast permitted for fishing.
Over Half of Beirut Health Facilities ‘Nonfunctional’: WHO
More than half of Beirut’s healthcare facilities are “nonfunctional” following last week’s deadly portside explosion, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. Following an assessment of 55 clinics and health centers in the Lebanese capital, “we know now that just over 50% are nonfunctional,” said WHO’s regional emergency director, Richard Brennan, at a virtual press conference in Cairo. Three major hospitals were non-functional and another three operating at well below normal capacity, he said.
Israel Thwarts Major Cyberattack on Defense Industry
Assad Interrupts Speech Due to ‘Low Blood Pressure’
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad halted a speech he was delivering to parliament on Wednesday due to what the state news agency SANA called “low blood pressure.” It added that he resumed speaking a few moments later, but gave no further details.
Turkish Drone Kills 2 Senior Iraqi Officers in Kurdistan: Iraqi Army
Iran Convicts 2 of Spying for Israel, Germany, UK: State TV
Lebanon PM to Announce Gov’t Resignation Monday: Minister
Lebanese Finance Minister Becomes Fourth Cabinet Member to Resign
Lebanese Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni has resigned, the Agence France Presse news agency reports, citing a ministry source. This makes Wazni the fourth member of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet to resign since yesterday in the wake of last week’s catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port.
Lebanese Justice Minister Resigns
Marie-Claude Najm resigned on Monday as Lebanon’s justice minister, becoming the third member of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet to step down following last week’s catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port. On Sunday, Environment Minister Damianus Kattar and Information Minister Manale Abdel Samad submitted resignations of their own.
Donors Pledge Disaster Aid to Be Delivered ‘Directly’ to Lebanese People
Trump Calls on Lebanon to Hold ‘Transparent Investigation’ of Blast
Lebanese Environment Minister Second to Resign
Damianus Kattar on Sunday became the second member of Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government to resign over last week’s massive explosion at the Beirut port. He follows Information Minister Manale Abdel Samad, who submitted her own resignation earlier in the day. ‘I want to apologize to the Lebanese people,” Samad said, ‘whose aspirations we were unable to fulfil due to the difficulty of the challenges facing us.’
Lebanese Information Minister Resigns
In first post-blast government resignation, Manale Abdel Samad says in statement: ‘I want to apologize to the Lebanese people, whose aspirations we were unable to fulfil due to the difficulty of the challenges facing us.’
Up to 300,000 Homeless after Blast Damages Half of Beirut, Senior Port Officials Placed under House Arrest
Macron Will Travel to Lebanon Thursday After Beirut Blasts: French Presidency
Large Explosion Rocks Beirut, Smoke Rises from Capital’s Port Area
Lebanese Foreign Minister Resigns
At Least 20 Dead in Raid on Afghan Prison Claimed by Islamic State: Officials
US Imposes Sanctions on Syrian Leader Assad’s Son
The United States has imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s son eldest son, Hafez, 18, as well as Syrian businessman Wassim al-Qattan, under the recently passed Caesar Act, extending efforts to block funds for the war-torn country’s regime. Hafez al-Assad, named for his grandfather, the late Syrian president, will not be allowed to travel or maintain assets in the US, the State Department said.
Jordan to Hold Parliamentary Elections November 10
Jordanians will go to the polls on November 10 to vote for a new parliament. The date was set within hours of a decree issued Wednesday morning by King Abdullah II calling for elections. Most power lies with Abdullah, but politicians from the opposition have complained about harsh measures instituted at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that they say restrict civil and political rights.
3rd Iraqi Protester in Week Dies After Being Shot with Tear Gas Canister
A protester died Tuesday morning after being shot in the head and chest with a tear gas canister in clashes with police overnight in Baghdad. He was the third protester in a week to die from injuries after being shot with tear gas canisters in the Iraqi capital. According to medical sources, more than a dozen others were wounded.
Exchange of Fire Reported on Israel-Lebanon Border
The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Office reported Monday afternoon that an “incident” had occurred near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. According to initial reports, Hizbullah fired shots toward an Israeli army patrol in Israeli territory, and Israeli troops responded with gunfire, as well as tank and airplane fire.
Passengers ‘Injured’ After Israeli Fighter Jet Gets Close to Iranian Airliner Over Syria – Iran Media
The Iranian airliner was reportedly forced to land in Beirut.
Erdoğan: Turkey to Stay in Syria ‘Until the People Are Free’
Turkey will maintain its military presence in northern Syria “until the people are free,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday.
Israel Faces Full Weekend Lock-down beginning July 24; Non-essential Businesses to Close; Food, Pharmacy Essentials to be Available
UK Court: Schoolgirl Who Joined ISIS Can Return to Fight for Citizenship
A British Court of Appeals has ruled that east London schoolgirl Shamima Begum, who traveled to Syria to join Islamic State, must be allowed to return to the UK to challenge the revocation of her British citizenship.
Multiple Ships Catch Fire at Iranian Port
At least seven vessels are reported to have caught fire on Wednesday at the Iranian port of Bushehr, according to the Tasnim news agency.
Iran: We’ve Executed CIA Spy
Iran’s judiciary branch announced on Tuesday that Reza Asgari, an ex-Defense Ministry employee, was executed last week after having been found guilty of selling missile secrets to the CIA.
Houthis Announce Striking Deep into Saudi Arabia, Targeting Warplanes, Patriot Antimissile Systems
Pope Condemns ‘Hell’ of Migrant Detention Camps in Libya
Turkey Trial of Saudi Suspects in Khashoggi Murder Begins in Absentia
Palestinian Rivals Fatah, Hamas Vow to ‘Unite’ Against Israeli Annexations
France Pulls Out of NATO Med Operation Over Turkey Tensions
France is pulling out of a NATO Mediterranean maritime security operation until it gets a response to its concerns over the behavior of fellow member Turkey, a French defense official said Wednesday. “We have decided to temporarily withdraw our assets from the operation Sea Guardian” until France’s concerns are addressed, the official, who asked not to be named, told reporters. The decision follows an escalation in tensions with Turkey over the Libya conflict.
Putin Slams New US Sanctions Aimed at ‘Suffocating’ Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday denounced the United States for imposing new sanctions on Syria’s regime during the coronavirus pandemic. “Despite the call from the UN secretary-general for easing the pressure of sanctions under pandemic conditions, Washington like Brussels decided to prolong measures against Syria,” Putin said during a televised meeting with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts on Syria. “In addition, new sanctions presumably aimed at economically suffocating Syria have been adopted,” he said.
Iran Condemns Journalist to Death over 2017 Protests
An Iranian court on Tuesday sentenced Ruhollah Zam to death for allegedly having incited economic protests that engulfed the country in 2017. Zam ran a website that specialized in videos and other material deemed embarrassing to top officials.
Iran Issues Arrest Warrant for Trump, Asks Interpol to Help, Over Killing of Top General Soleimani
Israel’s Annexation Plans ‘Illegal’: UN Rights Chief
Israel’s aim to annex parts of the occupied West Bank was clearly “illegal,” the UN’s human rights chief said on Monday, warning that the consequences could be “disastrous.”
“Annexation is illegal. Period,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement, adding that “the shockwaves of annexation will last for decades, and will be extremely damaging to Israel, as well as to the Palestinians.”
Gunmen Attack Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi
9 Iran-backed Fighters Killed in 2nd Syria Raid in 24 hours: Monitor
Turkey: Court Sentences 121 to Life in Coup Trial
Pakistan Int’l Airlines Grounds Almost a Third of Its Pilots in Licence Probe: Official
Hamas Warns Israel: Annexation a ‘Declaration of War’
Turkey Playing ‘Dangerous Game’ in Libya: Macron
Jordanian FM Arrives in Ramallah for Meeting With Palestinian President
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi arrived in Ramallah a short while ago for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “part of efforts to confront the annexation decisions.” Al-Safadi also delivered a letter from King Abdullah to Abbas.
France Condemns ‘Aggressive’ Act by Turkish Ships in Med
France’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday denounced an “extremely aggressive” intervention by Turkish ships against a French navy vessel participating in a NATO mission in the Mediterranean Sea. The French sailors were trying to check a cargo ship a few weeks ago on suspicions of taking arms shipments to Libya – forbidden under a UN embargo – when a Turkish frigate carried out targeting maneuvers that suggested a missile strike was imminent, the ministry said. It condemned an “extremely aggressive act that is unacceptable by an ally against a NATO ship.”
French Court Hands 4-year Term to Uncle of Syria’s Assad for Graft
A Paris court on Wednesday convicted the uncle of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to four years in prison after convicting him of money laundering and misappropriation of Syrian government funds. Rifaat al-Assad, 82, did not appear in court, having been hospitalized in December after doctors diagnosed internal bleeding. The court also ordered the confiscation of Assad’s vast real estate assets in France, worth some €90 million ($100 million).
Taliban Raid on Afghan Security Post Kills 12
Taliban fighters killed at least 12 Afghan security personnel Wednesday in a predawn raid on a northern checkpoint, officials said, the latest violence claimed by the insurgents. Five security force members were injured and four were captured by the militants in the attack in Jawezjan province, said Maroof Azar, spokesman to the governor. He said five Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting, which ended after Afghan security reinforcements arrived at the scene. The Defense Ministry confirmed the attack and said six of its soldiers were among the dead. The Taliban spokesman for the group’s fighting forces, Zabihullah Mujahib, claimed the attack but gave a higher toll.
UN Nuclear Watchdog Resolution ‘Counterproductive’: Iran
Reacting to a resolution expected to be tabled by European states at this week’s Board of Governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna, Kazem Gharibabadi, said: “Introduction of this resolution aiming to call on Iran to cooperate with the agency … is disappointing and absolutely counterproductive.”
French Court Jails 6 for Pakistani, Saudi Arms Sale Kickbacks
Talks on Regional Issues between Turkey, Russia Postponed at Last Minute
Talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and their Turkish counterparts, which were set to be held in Turkey on Sunday, were called off at the last minute. No reason was provided, and there was no mention as to when they will take place.
In Op-ed Published in Israeli Media, UAE Diplomat Warns West Bank Annexations Could Destroy Normalization with Arab World
Nearly 50 Dead in Migrant Shipwreck Off Tunisia
Nearly 50 people, mostly women, died when a boat carrying migrants bound for Italy sank off the coast of Tunisia, the Defense Ministry said Thursday. It was initially reported that 35 were dead when Tunisian authorities were alerted by fishermen near the port city of Sfax on Tuesday. Since then, another 13 bodies have been recovered, raising the death toll to 48.
Syrian President Bashar Assad Fires Prime Minister Imad Khamis
Palestinian PM Submits ‘Counter-proposal’ to Trump Plan that Includes ‘Demilitarized State’
Iran Releases US Navy Veteran Michael White
The freeing of White, who had been detained in Iran for two years, comes in the wake of the American deportation of Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari. Nevertheless, the governments of both countries deny that the releases of the two men are linked.
Turkey Announces Reopening of Borders with Iraq, Iran for Trade
Iran Says 230 Killed in November Protests: State Media
Iran Says Sirous Asgar, Scientist Jailed in US, to Return in Days
Iran to US: ‘Stop Violence Against Your People, Let Them Breathe’
Emirates Airline Sacks 180 Pilots, More Layoffs Likely
The Dubai-based airline, the largest carrier in the Middle East, said Sunday it had decided to cut “a few” jobs over the coronavirus crisis. It will reportedly announce further layoffs on Monday.
Afghan Troops Killed in First ‘Taliban Attack’ Since Ceasefire End: Officials
Seven Afghan soldiers were killed Thursday in an attack that officials blamed on the Taliban – the first deadly assault since a three-day ceasefire ended. The militants attacked a checkpoint in Parwan, north of the capital, said Waheeda Shahkar, spokeswoman to the provincial governor. “The Taliban have also suffered casualties,” Shahkar added. District police chief Hussain Shah said Taliban fighters set fire to the checkpoint, killing five security force personnel. Two more were shot dead.
Israeli Private Plane Lands in Khartoum
An Israeli private plane landed in Khartoum airport on Tuesday, two days after a telephone conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the president of the Sudanese Council of Ministers, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. During the opening of the Israeli cabinet session on Sunday, Netanyahu said that he had called Burhan to congratulate him on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, according to a tweet by Netanyahu.
Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity Reopens
Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, reopened on Tuesday more than two months after closing in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Israeli Officials: Palestinian Authority Has Ended Security Coordination
Israel Must ‘Abandon Threats of Annexation’ in West Bank: UN Envoy
US Hits Top Iranian Officials, Including Interior Minister, With Sanctions for Rights Abuses
Afghan Taliban Leader Says Committed to Deal With US
The leader of the Taliban said Wednesday that militants were committed to a landmark deal with the US despite being accused of carrying out thousands of attacks in Afghanistan since it was signed.
“The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement signed with America and urges the other side to honor its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity to go waste,” Haibatullah Akhundzada said in a rare statement.
Barr: Phone Evidence Links Islamists to Saudi Attacker at Florida Air Base
The FBI says a cell phone belonging to a Saudi airman who killed three US military personnel at a naval airbase in Pensacola, Florida, last December shows ties to al-Qaida. This was announced on Monday by Attorney General William Barr.
Israeli Man Accused of Firebombing Palestinian Family in West Bank Found Guilty on 3 Counts of Murder
Emirates Considers Cutting 30,000 Jobs, Retiring Airline’s A380s Faster
Afghan President, Rival Sign Power-sharing Deal: Spokesman
Chinese Ambassador to Israel Found Dead in Herzliya Home
Israel Postpones Gov’t Swearing-in Ceremony until Sunday
This swearing-in ceremony for Israel’s incoming national unity government, which was scheduled to take place Thursday night, has been delayed until Sunday due to discontent within Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party over various ministerial appointments.
Taliban Say They’re Behind Deadly Afghan Truck Bombing
At least five people were killed when a booby-trapped truck blew up on Thursday near a courthouse in Gardez, in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility. Meanwhile, the death toll in two Tuesday attacks – on a maternity hospital in Kabul and a funeral in an eastern province, and which the Islamist group disavowed – has now reached 56.
Pompeo: Iran Trying to ‘Foment Terror’ During Pandemic
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a trip to Israel, told reporters that “even during this pandemic, the Iranians are using the ayatollah regime’s resources to foment terror across the world, even when the people of Iran are struggling so mightily.”
Report: Suicide Attack on Afghan Funeral Kills Dozens
Dozens of people are believed to have been killed or wounded in a suicide blast on Tuesday at a funeral in eastern Afghanistan, a spokesman for the local government said. The attacker detonated his explosives in the middle of the ceremony, said Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province. “Initial information shows about 40 people killed and wounded in the attack,” he added. The attack targeted the funeral ceremony for a local police commander, according to Khogyani.
Gunmen Attack Hospital in Afghan Capital: Gov’t
Israeli Soldier Killed by Rock Thrown in West Bank: Army
Israeli PM Netanyahu Appoints Gilad Erdan as Ambassador to US, UN
Veteran Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan (Likud) has been appointed as Israel’s next ambassador to both the United Nations and the United States. Erdan currently holds the public security, strategic affairs, and information portfolios in the Israeli cabinet.
Saudi Arabia Asks Aramco for Million-Barrel per Day Cut in Oil Output
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry has asked oil giant Aramco to make an additional voluntary output cut of one million barrels per day starting from June to support prices.
New Israeli Gov’t to Be Sworn in on Thursday at 1 PM Israel Time
Kabul Sees String of Roadside Bombs
Four roadside explosive devices went off in less than 90 minutes on Monday in a northern neighborhood of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. Four civilians, including a child, were wounded, according to the police.
Northwest Syria Clashes Kill 22 in Highest Toll Since Truce: Monitor
Israel’s President Tasks Netanyahu with Forming Next Government
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday gave a mandate to caretaker Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a government. The move followed a failed attempt at coalition building by Netanyahu’s rival, the centrist Benny Gantz, who, according to an agreement reached last week, will now share prime ministerial duties on a basis of rotation. Gantz explained his willingness to sit in a government with Netanyahu – which he promised voters he would never do owing to the prime minister’s upcoming trial for alleged corruption – by citing the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Israel’s top court turned down several petitions calling on it to block Netanyahu from leading a government, even on a rotational basis.
International Tourism to Plunge Up to 80% Due to Virus: UN
Israel’s Top Court Dismisses Anti-Netanyahu Petitions, New Gov’t Due May 13
The Israeli High Court of Justice late on Wednesday ruled against petitioners seeking to block Binyamin Netanyahu from leading the next government due to his upcoming corruption trial. It also turned down requests to invalidate the political agreements that led to a proposed governing coalition. Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, quickly issued a joint statement with his rival-cum-partner, the centrist Benny Gantz, saying the government, which will see them alternate as prime minister, is to be sworn in on May 13.
Backing by Washington for Israeli Annexations Conditional on Peace Talks Push
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tells The Jerusalem Post that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will have to agree to negotiate with the Palestinians over statehood in the remaining areas of the West Bank if the US is to back any Israeli annexations. Previously, the conditions called for by a US peace plan were somewhat unclear on this aspect, other than saying that Washington favored Palestinian statehood in about 70% of the territory.
Syrian Death Toll Rises to 14 from Airstrikes Attributed to Israel
Israel is being blamed for two airstrikes in Syria that were carried out overnight between Monday and Tuesday. One of those attacks, in the eastern Deir Ezzor region, is said to have killed 14 people, all Iranian troops or members of Iran-backed militias. The other airstrike was reportedly directed against targets in northwestern Syria. Israel has remained mum on the matter, although its defense minister has openly hinted that such attacks would be his policy.
Nasrallah Condemns German Ban of Hezbollah
The head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement on Monday condemned Germany’s ban of his group as bowing to US pressure and insisted it was not active in the country.
The ban, announced last Thursday, was a “political decision that reflects Germany’s submission to America’s will and to pleasing Israel,” Hassan Nasrallah said.
“When we say we are not active in Germany, we are being 100% honest,” he said in a televised speech.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion to The Media Line: Mahane Yehuda Market, Closed by Coronavirus Restrictions, to Reopen Friday
Berlin Outlaws Hizbullah
Germany’s Interior Ministry has banned all activity undertaken by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hizbullah on German soil. Previously, only activity that could be traced to the Iran-backed group’s armed wing had been banned, a policy that parallels the current European Union stance. Now, even activity linked to its political wing is considered illegal.
Truck Bomb Kills More than 20 in Northern Syria
The explosive device was apparently inside an oil tanker, which exploded in the city of Afrin.
West Bank Teen Stabs Woman in Israel
Israeli police say a 19-year-old male from the West Bank stabbed a 62-year-old woman in the city of Kfar Saba on Tuesday, the country’s Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and terror victims. The woman was described as being in serious condition. The assailant was shot and, according to medical sources, lightly wounded by a passer-by. He is now in custody and receiving medical treatment.
SANA: 3 Civilians Killed, 4 Wounded in Overnight Israeli Airstrike Near Damascus
US Envoy Calls for Afghan ‘Humanitarian Ceasefire’ to Fight Virus
Israel: Netanyahu, Gantz Sign Unity Gov’t Deal
After nearly 18 months of political gridlock, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has inked a deal to form a goverment with his former rival, Benny Gantz. Barring any judicial intervention, Netanyahu, who is under indictment, is expected to continue serving in his capacity for the next 18 months before stepping aside for Gantz.
Saudi Arabia to Raise Oil Exports to Record 10.6M Barrels Per Day from May: Official
Israeli PM Netanyahu to Enter Quarantine
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and close staff members will enter a self-imposed quarantine after aide Rivka Paluch, the prime minister’s adviser on ultra-Orthodox affairs, tested positive for the coronavirus overnight Monday. The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying that Netanyahu will be isolated until an “epidemiological investigation is completed” and will then take appropriate measures based on test results.
British PM Johnson Tests Positive for Coronavirus
No. 10 Downing Street reports that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus, and is experiencing mild symptoms.
Report: Unity Gov’t Deal Takes Shape in Israel, Blue & White to Split
Israel media sources report that a deal to form a national unity government is coming together. According to the reports, Binyanim Netanyahu would continue to serve as prime minister for the coming 18 months, after which Blue and White leader Benny Gantz would head the government. Until the unity deal is finalized, Gantz would serve as Knesset speaker. He is expected to take the foreign affairs portfolio in the new government, with fellow Blue and White MK Gabi Ashkenazi serving as defense minister. Yair Lapid, Blue and White co-chairman and head of the Yesh Atid party, would serve as opposition leader in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
Two Rockets Hit Baghdad’s Green Zone: Iraq Military
Speaker of Israel’s Parliament Resigns Rather than Obey Ruling by Top Court
Yuli Edelstein, speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, tendered his resignation on Wednesday morning rather than submit to a Supreme Court ruling that he allow a legislative vote aimed at replacing him. His unwillingness to allow the vote has been part of a greater issue of political deadlock and efforts by the country’s centrist Blue and White list to unseat his Likud party from power.
Japanese PM, IOC President Agree to Postpone Olympics Until No Later Than Summer 2021
Iran’s Coronavirus Death Toll Close to 2,000
Iran is reporting 122 additional deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 1,934. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization says 85% of all new cases are in Europe and the United States.
Emirates to Suspend ‘Most’ Flights by March 25
The Dubai-based airline walked back an announcement made earlier on Sunday that it would stop all passenger operations, saying it had bowed to “requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travelers” and would maintain some routes “as long as borders remain open and there is demand.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Orders 2-Week West Bank Lockdown
Iranian Health Ministry: 129 New COVID-19 Deaths, Raising National Toll to 1,685
Israel Registers First COVID-19 Death, 25% Overnight Jump in Cases
An 88-year-old male resident of senior-citizen housing in Jerusalem became Israel’s first coronavirus fatality overnight between Friday and Saturday. An 89-year-old woman from the same housing facility is in critical condition, as are four other people in the country. As of Saturday, Israeli health authorities were reporting 883 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the official name given the respiratory illness by the World Health Organization, a 25% overnight jump being attributed at least in part to an increase in testing.
Israel Imposes New, Stricter Coronavirus Guidelines
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says all people aside from essential personnel are being asked to remain at home for at least the next seven days, except for those who require food or pharmaceuticals. He said it would be short of a curfew but that authorities would clamp down on those ignoring the directives.
Eurovision Song Contest 2020 Canceled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic: European Broadcasting Union
Jordan Announces National Lockdown Amid Coronavirus Pandemic: State Media
Iraqi President Names ex-Najaf Governor Adnan Zurfi as PM-designate
Iran Temporarily Frees 85,000 Prisoners Amid Virus Outbreak
An Iranian judiciary spokesman says the country has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Rockets Hit Iraq Base Hosting Foreign Troops: Military
Israel Sends Workers Home in Hopes of Reducing Spread of Coronavirus
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announces that 70-80% of employees in both the public and private sectors will either work from home or go on unpaid leave until at least mid-April, with only essential services remaining at full strength. As of Monday night, with coronavirus testing moving into higher gear, the number of confirmed cases in the country stood at 298, with no deaths.
Iran Reports 129 New COVID-19 Deaths, Country Total Now 853
Israel’s Gantz Tasked with Forming Gov’t, Calls for ‘Unity’
Bahrain Records First Coronavirus Death in Gulf: Ministry
Jordan’s King Abdullah Tests Negative for Coronavirus
The Hashemite Kingdom has seven confirmed cases, the latest six being announced on Sunday as involving two Jordanian citizens and four French tourists.
Moroccan Foreign Ministry: All Int’l Passenger Flights Suspended Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
WHO Confirms More Than 150,000 COVID-19 Cases Globally
Iran Reports 113 New Coronavirus Deaths, Raising Total to 724
Israel’s Joint List Meets President, Recommends Gantz for PM
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met with the Arab-majority Joint List this morning, to hear its recommendation for prime minister. The entire list recommended Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz, paving the way for a possible center-left government.
Israel Delays Start of Netanyahu Corruption Trial till Late May
The Jerusalem court that will try Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of public trust in three separate corruption cases announced on Sunday that it was delaying the start of the trial from Tuesday until May 24. It cited new government restrictions on public assemblies due to the spread of coronavirus.
US Hits Iran-backed Iraqi Militia Believed Responsible for Fatal Rocket Attack
US air strikes overnight between Thursday and Friday targeted Kataib Hizbullah, one of several Shi’ite militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, according to a Pentagon statement.
World Health Organization Declares Coronavirus Outbreak a Global Pandemic
Health Ministry: Qatar’s Coronavirus Cases Jump by 238 in One Day
El Al to Place 80% of Entire Workforce on Unpaid Leave: Report
Jordan Bars Entry from Israel, West Bank, Iraq, Egypt Due to Coronavirus
Israel: Arrivals from Abroad Must Go Straight to 14-day Quarantine
Starting Thursday night, non-Israelis will be allowed to enter only if they can prove they have a place to quarantine themselves, according to the Health Ministry. The new policy goes into effect for returning citizens immediately, with a review in another two weeks.
2 US Soldiers Killed in Iraq Clashes with IS: Coalition
Two American soldiers fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq were killed during an operation alongside Iraqi forces, the coalition against the jihadists said Monday.
“Two US service members were killed by enemy forces … during a mission to eliminate an ISIS terrorist stronghold in a mountainous area of northcentral Iraq, March 8,” the coalition said in a statement.
Saudi Aramco Stock Price Tumbles 10% at Opening of Trade
State Media: Sudanese Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok Survives Assassination Attempt in Khartoum
Saudis Close Off Shi’ite Region over Coronavirus Outbreak
Saudi Arabia has placed the eastern, mostly Shi’ite province of Qatif on lockdown following the confirmation of four more cases of coronavirus. The kingdom had remained mostly untouched by the epidemic, but now has a total of 11 confirmed cases, all in Qatif, and all among people who had either traveled to Iran or come in close contact with those who did. Iran is considered the Middle East’s epicenter for coronavirus, with close to 200 confirmed deaths as of Sunday.
Bahrain Rules Out Spectators for March 22 Grand Prix
The Gulf state is citing coronavirus as the reason the second round of this year’s Formula 1 circuit will only be televised. “As an F1 host nation, balancing the welfare of supporters and racegoers is a tremendous responsibility,” it said in a Sunday morning statement. “Given the continued spread of COVID-19 globally, convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travelers and local fans to interact in close proximity, would not be the right thing to do at the present time.”
Erdogan, Putin Announce Cease-fire for Syria’s Idlib Province
Decision made during meeting in Moscow. Truce to go into effect at midnight local time.
Liberman Says He Will Back Law Barring Netanyahu From Heading New Israeli Gov’t
US, Israel Cancel Military Exercise Over Coronavirus: US Command
Probe of Alleged War Crimes by US, Others in Afghanistan Must Go Ahead: ICC Appeal Judges
Iran’s Health Minister Says Authorities Will Begin Manning Checkpoints to Limit Travel Between Major Cities Due to Virus
Russian Airstrikes Kill 15 Civilians in Northwest Syria: Monitor
Israel Orders Quarantine for Arrivals from Several European Nations
Israel on Wednesday ordered a quarantine on people arriving from France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland over coronavirus fears, after imposing similar measures on Italy and several Asian states.
“We are at the peak of a global epidemic,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in his announcement of the latest travel bans, adding that Israel found itself “in a better situation than other countries” because of the previously imposed restrictions.
Saudi News Agency: Saudi Authorities Suspend Umrah for Citizens, Residents to Limit Spread of Coronavirus
Egypt Executes Local ISIS Commander Ashmawi
Egyptian army sources say the country has carried out the death sentence announced on Monday for Hisham el-Ashmawi, an ex-military officer who commanded Sinai-based Islamists belonging to Islamic State. Ashmawi was one of 37 people a Cairo court sentenced to death for membership in ISIS. There was no immediate word about the fate of the others.
Taliban Reportedly Kill Some 20 Afghan Soldiers, Police Overnight
The violence came after US President Donald Trump said he had a “good conversation” by phone on Tuesday with Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy Taliban chief who signed an agreement with the US on Saturday to move toward intra-Afghan peace talks in return for a withdrawal from the country by US-led foreign troops. The agreement was signed after a seven-day trial period aiming for a “reduction” in violent incidents. “The relationship is very good that I have with the mullah,” the president told reporters after the phone call.
Erdogan to Meet Putin in Russia on Thursday for Syria Talks, According to Turkish Presidency
Israeli Polls Open for Third Election in Less than Year
Turkey Launches Ground Operation against Syrian Regime, Says Does Not Want Clash with Russia
Israel Barring Entry to Foreign Nationals Arriving from Italy
The move comes as the Health Ministry announces that an Israeli who recently returned from Italy is confirmed to have coronavirus. Until now, there was only one infected citizen in the country, a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who was returned home on a special flight from Japan. The ministry is informing Israelis returning from Italy that they must self-quarantine for 14 days. It has also taken what is said to be an unprecedented move by advising citizens against leaving the country – for any foreign destination – unless the travel is absolutely vital.
Saudi Arabia Suspends Umrah Entries over Coronavirus
Riyadh names no specific countries whose pilgrims will be barred other than saying they will be those most affected by the outbreak. So far, the kingdom is reporting no cases of coronavirus.
Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Diagnosed With Coronavirus
Iran’s deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, has been infected with the new coronavirus, a ministry official said on Tuesday, amid a major outbreak in the Islamic Republic.
Egypt’s Mubarak Dead at 91
Ex-president of Egypt Hosni Mubarak has died. He was in poor health after being forced to resign in 2011 and being tried for the killing of protesters and alleged corruption. His convictions were eventually overturned.
Continuing Rocket Fire, Retaliatory Strikes Ramp Up Tensions along Gaza Border
Israeli jets, attack helicopters and tanks hit targets belonging to Islamic Jihad on Monday after the group launched additional salvoes of projectiles from the Palestinian enclave. The rocket fire began the previous afternoon in response to the death of an Islamic Jihad member who, according to Israel, planted an explosive device against the border fence. In light of the latest attacks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is warning that Israel has a few ‘surprises’ up its sleeve.
Trump to Sign Peace Deal With Taliban
Iran Reporting Two More Coronavirus Deaths among 13 New Cases
Iranian health officials say two more people have died as a result of the coronavirus, bringing to four the total death toll in the Islamic Republic. An additional 14 people have been diagnosed in Iran since the first cases were reported on Wednesday. The latest deaths were announced as Iranians went to the polls on Friday to elect a new parliament. Some citizens have been showing up at polling places in facemasks.
Afghan Official Says Truce Period to Begin at Midnight
An unnamed government official in Afghanistan has said a week-long truce that is part of a plan for talks aimed at achieving peace and a withdrawal of foreign forces will begin at midnight local time on Friday night. The agreement, reached by the Taliban and the US, was revealed on February 14 in Munich by a senior official in the Trump Administration, who spoke of a seven-day “reduction in violence” as a test prior to negotiations and a pullout of American soldiers. See more.
Iran Reporting 2 Suspected Cases of Coronavirus
Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency is quoting a Health Ministry official as saying there are two suspected cases of coronavirus in the country. Both are in the Qoms region, with no nationality noted for the patients. If confirmed, this would make Iran the third Middle Eastern country to report instances of coronavirus, after the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Netanyahu Trial Set to Open March 17 in Jerusalem
Jerusalem’s District Court announced on Tuesday that the trial of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in three separate cases of alleged corruption will open four weeks from today. The charges include three counts of fraud, three counts of breach of trust and one count of bribery.
Report: Syrian Military Seizes Full Control of City of Idlib
US, Taliban Agree to ‘Reduction in Violence’ as Condition for Talks
A senior American official who asked not to be named briefed reporters in Munich on Friday about an unspecified seven-day trial period that, if successful, could lead to inter-Afghan peace negotiations and a US troop pullout. The briefing came after a meeting in the German city between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Monitor: Syrian Gov’t Helicopter Downed in Northwest Syria, Killing 2 Pilots
Monitor: 7 Officers (4 Iranians, 3 Syrians) Killed Overnight by Israeli Missiles at Locations near Damascus International Airport
US Forces Clash with Regime Loyalists in Northeastern Syria
Reports say villagers near the town of Qamishli attempted to stop a four-vehicle US patrol on Wednesday, and that the patrol withdrew under air cover. State media are reporting that one civilian was killed in the incident.
Turkey’s Erdogan Threatens to Attack Government Forces ‘Everywhere’ in Syria
Wednesday’s comment follows a spike in tensions over a deadly shelling and retaliatory strikes in the Syrian North, where troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are on the offensive against rebels, and Ankara maintains observation posts as part of a deal with Moscow, Assad’s main backer.
Sudan’s Rulers to Hand Over Ex-president Omar al-Bashir to International Criminal Court
The former president faces charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over the conflict that broke out in the country’s Darfur region in 2003.
Erdogan Vows Syria Will Pay ‘Heavy Price’ for Attacking Turkish Troops
The warning came Tuesday, a day after five soldiers were killed in Syrian shelling that was quickly met by Turkish strikes against scores of positions held by pro-Assad units. Erdogan was speaking during a televised ceremony.
Syrian Forces Recapture Strategic Road in Idlib Province
Highway connecting Damascus and Aleppo in Northwest was partially controlled by some of the last rebels holding out against the government of President Bashar al-Assad in an almost nine-year civil war.
Palestinians Deny They’ve Withdrawn Security Council Resolution against Trump Peace Plan
Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says draft is still being circulated, consultations are still going on and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is still set to address the council on Tuesday morning.
Turkey ‘Neutralizes’ at Least 100 Syrian Troops
Defense Ministry in Ankara says 115 targets bombed in Idlib Province, 101 ‘destroyed.’ Operation comes in response to deaths of five Turkish soldiers announced earlier in day.
Turkish Defense Ministry: 5 Turkish soldiers killed by Syrian government troops in Idlib
Lapid: Blue and White against unilateral steps envisioned in Trump peace plan
Islamic Movement leader in Israel sentenced to 28 months for incitement to terrorism
Raed Salah, the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel was sentenced in an Israeli court Sunday morning to 28 months in prison. Salah was convicted two months ago of incitement to terrorism. He is expected to serve 17 months; the additional 11 months is a suspended sentence.
Friedman: Unilateral Israeli Action Would Risk Loss of American Support for Annexation
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman warns Israel against any unilateral action that would endanger the Trump Administration’s peace plan.
Syrian regime forces storm key rebel-held town, Maarat al-Numan: war monitor
Naama Issachar pardoned, Netanyahu to fly to Moscow to bring her back to Israel
Israel’s Netanyahu withdraws immunity request in corruption cases
The request was expected to be denied by lawmakers anyway. Yet the move could indicate the prime minister believes a US peace plan, to be revealed later today, might be sufficient to boost his waning popularity in the weeks leading up to the March 2 election, enabling him to remain in office and fight his legal woes from a position of strength.
Israel allows its citizens to travel to Saudi Arabia
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has signed an order allowing holders of Israeli passports to visit Saudi Arabia. Entry into the kingdom still requires permission from Saudi Arabia and there is no word on any policy changes from Riyadh.
Mideast deal to be unveiled; Netanyahu, Gantz to Washington next week
Ahead of the Israeli elections scheduled for March 2, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his main rival, Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz, will head to Washington on January 28, where US President Donald Trump will reportedly reveal the details of his long-awaited Mideast peace plan, dubbed the “deal of the century.”
The Office of the Press Secretary in the White House released a statement saying that “President Donald J. Trump will welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to the White House on January 28, 2020. Lt. Gen. (res.) MK Benjamin Gantz, Blue and White chairman, has also accepted the president’s invitation to come to Washington. The United States and Israel are strong partners, and the prime minister’s visit is an opportunity to discuss our shared regional and national security interests.”
Multiple rockets fired into Israel
IDF confirms: Four rockets were fired at Gaza-border communities in Israel. Two were intercepted by Iron Dome and the other two landed in open areas. There were no reports of injuries.