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.