Health Ministry chief says Israel still waiting for kids’ doses of COVID vaccine – The Times of Israel

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.
The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
Dozens of protesters are gathered near the String Bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem in yet another rally against the death last year of settler teen Ahuvia Sandak.
The entrance to the city has reportedly been closed off, and police and Border Police officers are at the scene.
Sandak, 16, was killed in a car crash last year while fleeing from police, allegedly after throwing rocks at Palestinians. Over the past couple weeks, repeated protests over Sandak’s death have escalated into violence and arrests.
On Saturday night, four cops were wounded and 21 people were arrested at a protest in the same location. And last Thursday, at least 10 protesters were arrested after hurling rocks at police officers and smashing the window of a cop car.
Hundreds of Palestinians take part in a demonstration in the West Bank town of Dhahiriya in solidarity with five hunger-striking Palestinian security prisoners.
The five Palestinians, ranging in age from 28 to 45, have been on hunger strike for at least 32 days. A sixth prisoner ended his 113-day hunger strike earlier today after being told he will be released in three months.
The detainees are being held under Israel’s practice of administrative detention, which allows law enforcement to hold prisoners without charges for security reasons. Rights group contends that Israel abuses the controversial judicial tool.
Kayed Fasfous, 32, has been on hunger strike for at least 120 days and is hospitalized in Israel. His weight has dropped from 95 to 45 kilograms (210 to 100 pounds), according to a recent evaluation by Dr. Amit Tirosh, an Israeli physician, on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.
Fasfous’ detention has been suspended on health grounds, but Israel has refused his request to be transferred to a hospital in the West Bank, where he says he would halt his hunger strike.
“The only demand of Kayed is freedom,” says his brother, Khalid Fasfous. He says his brother told the family “he will be victorious if he is released or if he is martyred.”
An Israeli hiker is missing in Mexico after being caught up in a waterfall while traveling, says the Foreign Ministry.
Yanai Rimon, a 25-year-old from Sderot is reportedly the man that authorities are searching for since yesterday. Rimon’s friends were with him when he fell into the water in the area of Las Nubes, near the border with Guatemala, and they reported him missing.
According to the Foreign Ministry, intensive searches are underway for the man, but he has yet to be located. Israeli diplomatic officials are updating his family in Israel and aiding in the search.
Health Ministry director general Nachman Ash says that the first shipment of the special Pfizer COVID vaccine designed for children ages 5 to 11 have yet to arrive in Israel.
“It will arrive some time in the next few days or maybe up to two weeks,” Ash tells Channel 13 news.
Health Ministry experts voted last night to approve giving the vaccine to children under 12, but shots cannot begin to be rolled out before the shipments arrive. The specially-designed doses for children are about one-third of the dose given to adults.
Ash also says that there will not be pressure on parents to vaccinate younger children, and that tests for children under 12 to enter certain events will remain free — unlike for those over age 12 who are not vaccinated.
The European Medicines Agency recommends the authorization of two new medicines against the coronavirus for people at risk of severe disease.
In a statement, the EU drug regulator says it has concluded that the monoclonal antibody treatments — a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab, and the drug regdanvimab — have both been proven to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in patients vulnerable to serious COVID-19.
The EMA describes the safety profile of both medicines as “favorable,” and says that despite a small number of side effects, “the medicines’ benefits are greater than their risks.”
The EMA says both regdanvimab and the casirivimab and imdevimab combination should be offered to people over the age of 12 who don’t yet require oxygen support, but are at risk of worsening COVID-19. It said the combination drug can also be used preventatively. Both drugs must be administered intravenously.
Three senior officials in the Mossad have quit recently in reaction to the decisions of the spy agency’s new chief, reports Channel 13 news.
According to the TV report, three of the most senior officials in the Mossad — with the comparative rank of major-general in the military — have resigned their positions in the past few weeks.
Those said to have quit include the head of the tech branch, the head of operations and the head of the branch dealing with the anti-terror war. A fourth senior official is reportedly considering quitting as well.
Mossad chief David Barnea took over as chief of the Mossad from Yossi Cohen in June. The resignation of the officials is said to be directly linked to decisions made by Barnea to divide up responsibilities in the spy agency and split existing branches.
Former US president Donald Trump asks a federal appeals court to temporarily block the release of records to a House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection led by his supporters.
Trump’s lawyers request a temporary stay from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Barring a court order, the National Archives is expected to turn over Trump’s call logs, draft speeches and other documents related to the insurrection tomorrow. Trump’s lawyers ask the court to set a schedule for the case that would delay any decision until next week.
Congress has sought the records to better understand the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, in which rioters ransacked the building and forced into hiding lawmakers who were certifying Trump’s election loss to President Joe Biden.
President Isaac Herzog hosts Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Druze and Baháʼí leaders in Israel for a call for mass COVID-19 vaccinations.
Joining Herzog at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem are Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef; Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau; Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III; Latin Patriarch Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa; President of the Shari’a Court of Appeals Sheikh Abed Elhakim Samara; Druze Community Leader Sheikh Mouafaq Tarrif; Head of the Greek Catholic Church, Haifa and the Galilee Archbishop Dr. Yosef Mata; Head of the Muslim Department in the Interior Ministry Sheikh Ziad Abu Moch; Inspector of Imams in the Interior Ministry Sheikh Jamal Al Obra; and Secretary-General of the Baháʼí Movement in Israel, Dr. David Rutstein.
Representing Israel’s government are Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and COVID czar Prof. Salman Zarka.
“The sanctity of life is a supreme value for religions and the saving of the life of any human being — all created in the image of God — is the greatest religious obligation of all,” the leaders declared.
“Together with prayers to the Almighty, we call on everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” the statement reads.
“The licensed vaccines that have been approved by the most important professional regulatory bodies in the world are highly effective and safe, proven by the notable number of over 3 billion vaccinated people worldwide, and have led to a drastic reduction of COVID-19 infections. In addition, we call on everyone to continue abiding by all the preventive measures demanded by science and medicine, in each place according to the situation.”
“Interfaith cooperation is hugely powerful,” says Herzog. “I think that the fact that this fantastic call is coming out of the Holy Land truly sets an example and serves as a model.”
“COVID does not respect borders,” says Horowitz. “Neither between states, nor communities, nor classes, nor religions. The success of the fight against COVID depends directly on religious leaders standing hand-in-hand, and all along we have seen responsible leadership that sees pikuach nefesh, saving lives, and the value of human life as a leading ideal. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, leaders from all the religions and denominations in Israel, for your central role in the national and world struggle against COVID.”
Former prime minister and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu focuses on the Abraham Accords as a defeat for Palestinian rejectionism in his speech to the virtual Christian Media Summit, calling it the “first time Israel made peace for peace.”
Netanyahu calls this a “novel concept” and “the way of the future.”
“We removed the Palestinian veto,” he says. “Palestinians don’t want peace with Israel. The Palestinians don’t want a state next to Israel. They want a state instead of Israel.”
Netanyahu adds that Arab countries were also pushed toward Israel because of the specter of a nuclear Iran, which “wants to dominate and conquer all these Arab lands and turn everyone against these forces of moderation and the future.”
“This is the sign of the future,” he concludes.
An Israeli couple detained in Turkey is appealing to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for assistance in getting out of the country, reports Channel 12 news.
The pair were arrested this week after taking a photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s home during a birthday trip to the country.
The woman filmed Erdogan’s home, likely not knowing it was illegal, and sent the photo in a family WhatsApp group with the caption: “Such a nice house.” Their family members only realized what happened when they did not return home as scheduled.
The couple is reportedly slated to appear before a court in Turkey tomorrow.
“It was an innocent act done in good faith, as a tourist act, and not as a ‘criminal’ act that justifies such an abusive act of detention,” writes the couple’s lawyer in a letter to Lapid.
The joint American-Israeli-Emirati-Bahraini naval exercise being held in the Red Sea serves as a direct response to the Iranian navy’s presence and aggression in the waters of the Middle East, a senior Israeli naval official says.
“This presence is something that we need to push back as much as possible from the State of Israel, from the Red Sea, from the areas that harm our freedom to sail… in order to do that, we need to make our partnerships tighter,” the senior officer tells reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Since February, Iran and Israel have been accused of engaging in what analysts have called a naval “shadow war,” in which vessels linked to each nation have come under attack in waters around the Gulf in tit-for-tat exchanges.
Earlier today, the US Central Command’s 5th Fleet announced that it had launched an exercise in the Red Sea with the navies of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, focusing on “visit, board, search and seizure tactics.”
The exercise, one of the first Israel has held with the 5th Fleet, comes just over a year after Israel normalized ties with the UAE and Bahrain under the Abraham Accords and a few months after Israel moved into the area of responsibility of the US military’s Middle East-focused Central Command.
Though Israel has conducted exercises alongside the UAE in the past, the drill represents the first-ever public military cooperation between Israel and Bahrain.
“This is the first time — at sea — that we’re swapping know-how with Bahrain, with the Emirates about professional, operational techniques,” he says.
“Here the goal is to extend the range of the Israeli Navy’s operations — for the good of the State of Israel and the IDF — to extend our ability to detect [threats], to extend our sailing range, to prevent naval terror, and also to retaliate, when we must, when it’s needed, against what the Iranians are doing,” the officer says.
According to the senior naval official, this exercise is one of many that Israel and the 5th Fleet plan to conduct.
“This exercise is part of a work plan, and you will see more of them in the coming year. They won’t just be bilateral with the Americans. Since the 5th Fleet works with countries that are part of the Abraham Accords, in this exercise, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are taking part,” he says.
Israeli F-15 fighter jets again escorted American B-1B bombers through the region for the second time in a month, the Israeli military says, in a tacit threat to Iran.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, the Israeli fighter jets accompanied two B-1B heavy bombers and a KC-10 refueling jet through Israeli airspace today as they made their way west from the Persian Gulf.
“The joint flight demonstrates our continued cooperation, which is crucial to the security of Israel and the Middle East,” the IDF says.
Late last month, Israeli F-15s escorted a B-1B bomber as it made its way to the Gulf.
The escort mission comes as Israeli and American officials have increasingly threatened to act against Tehran’s nuclear program, as Iran has stalled its indirect negotiations with the United States in Vienna regarding a mutual return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the 5th annual Christian Media Summit, and focuses on the threat Israel faces from Iran.
“Here in Israel were are also fighting a very visible enemy, radical militant Islam,” says Bennett, adding that the terrorism originating from Tehran threatens the entire region.
The prime minister notes that “Israel protects the rights of Christians as we protect the rights of all religions.”
“Today more than ever, Christians stand united with Israel, today more than ever, Israel stands united with Christians.”
Turning to the 2020 Abraham Accords, Bennett says that there is a “new dawn of Israel’s standing in the region… Just like doors of Abraham’s tents were open, the doors of Israel remain open to a better future.”
“We are here. We are strong. And we are not going anywhere,” he concludes. “Thank you for your support.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanks the Christian journalists at the summit for fighting antisemitism.
“Thank you for telling our story,” he says. “Thank you for listening to our story. Thank you for being part of our story.”
Ra’am chairman MK Mansour Abbas says that it is important that the status quo on the Temple Mount remains in place — without allowing Jewish prayer.
“At the moment, there is a status quo where Muslims pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque and Jews pray at the Western Wall,” Abbas tells a podcast hosted by the Kan public broadcaster. “You want to take us to another conflict of religious war? It’s important to maintain this agreement in order to protect lives.”
Last month, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev insisted that the status quo remains in place, after months of media reports showing Jewish worshipers openly praying at the site while police turned a blind eye.
Sudan’s de facto ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan names a new transitional council to steer the country after his coup in October, state television reports.
Burhan, who led the ruling Sovereign Council — formed in 2019 after the toppling of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir — will keep his position as head of the council.
Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, leader of the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, remains his deputy.
Palestinian security prisoner Miqdad al-Qawasmeh ends his 113-day hunger strike in protest of his detention by Israel without charges after learning that he will be released in February, Palestinian officials say.
Qawasmeh’s health had rapidly deteriorated following his prolonged hunger strike, his lawyers say. The detainee was being held under Israel’s practice of administrative detention, which allows law enforcement to hold prisoners without charges for security reasons. Rights group contends that Israel abuses the controversial judicial tool.
The Shin Bet security service says that Qawasmeh was being held for Hamas activity. His father, Omar Qawasmeh, is a well-known commander in the Hamas terror group’s West Bank division.
According to Joint List MK Osama Saadi, who pushed for Qawasmeh’s release, the detainee is now set to leave Israeli custody in February.
Several other Palestinians are currently engaged in extended hunger strikes in Israeli prisons, including Fatah member Kayed Fasfous, who has also been fasting for nearly six months, according to Palestinian media.
Austria’s chancellor steps up threats of lockdown measures for unvaccinated people, as new coronavirus cases in the Alpine country are soaring.
During a visit to Bregenz in western Austria, Schallenberg says that a lockdown for the unvaccinated is “probably unavoidable,” and that the unvaccinated face an “uncomfortable” winter and Christmas, reports the Austria Press Agency.
“I don’t see why two-thirds should lose their freedom because one-third is dithering,” Schallenberg says. “For me, it is clear that there should be no lockdown for the vaccinated out of solidarity for the unvaccinated.”
Schallenberg says authorities would consider a vaccine mandate for some professional groups. He added that the country’s vaccination rate is “shamefully low.” About 65% of the population is fully inoculated.
Disability activists block a major intersection in Tel Aviv in protest over what they say are insufficient funds from the state.
The protesters cause the cessation of traffic at the Azrieli Junction, one of the city’s busiest areas, at the height of rush hour.
“Finance Minister [Avigdor] Liberman refuses to meet with us,” protest leader Eyal Cohen tells the Kan public broadcaster. “We have recordings and video where he has promised to raise the allowance to meet the minimum wage — and he’s a liar.”
The Israeli family of 6-year-old Eitan Biran asks an appeals court to halt the planned return of the boy — who survived a cable car crash in Italy — to his relatives there.
There is no immediate ruling in the latest chapter of the bitter custody battle between relatives in Italy and Israel. This week, an Italian judge issued an international arrest warrant for the boy’s grandfather, who whisked Eitan to Israel on a private jet in September.
Eitan’s parents and younger sibling were among 14 killed in May when a cable car slammed into a mountainside in northern Italy. His maternal grandparents in Israel and his paternal relatives in Italy are both seeking custody.
Last month, an Israeli court ordered the boy to be returned to his relatives in Italy, saying that was “the place of his normal residence.” It also ordered his grandfather, Shmuel Peleg, who had brought him to Israel against the wishes of his family members in Italy, to pay around $20,000 in expenses and attorney fees.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Peleg’s lawyer, Ronen Dalyahu, says the court promised a decision “in the coming days.”
A variety of Israeli governmental bodies are taking part in a national “war game drill” to prepare for future COVID variants.
“We are holding a war game drill for a strain of a new variant that does not yet exist but which we are preparing for,” says Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “Just like the Delta strain broke out violently, other, even more deadly and more infectious, strains could come, which could bypass the vaccine.”
The drill, run out of a situation room in Jerusalem, is a simulation that deals with coordinating various high-level officials and bodies to prepare for a new COVID strain, nicknamed the “Omega” strain for the purposes of the drill. The gathered officials will deal with a wide range of scenarios and work to coordinate and make decisions related to the restriction of movement, quarantine, education, air travel and more.
“While it is possible to wait and see what will be and to hope for the best,” says Bennett, “the right thing to do is to prepare for any scenario, and make sure that all government ministries are ready, that hospitals know how to deal with extreme scenarios and that the scientists are carefully monitoring every variant that appears in the world while it is still small.”
Robert Malley, the White House’s special envoy on Iran, will head up a team visiting the Middle East beginning today, says the State Department.
Malley will visit the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on November 11-20, “to hold consultations with partners and attend a series of regional engagements.”
The seventh round of talks between Iran and world powers on its nuclear program are slated to begin in Vienna at the end of the month.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issues a call to the parents of 5- to 11-year-olds to take their children to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“There is no reason to leave our children unprotected,” says Bennett. “There is no reason that your child should get infected and infect others when his whole life is ahead of him.”
Bennett notes that COVID is still around and cases are rising in Europe: “The most threatening thing is not the current situation — it’s what we don’t know yet.”
The designated chief executive of NSO Group, the Israeli firm infamous for phone hacking, is resigning less than two weeks after being nominated, says a source close to the company.
Isaac Benbenisti was tapped last week to succeed founder and CEO Shalev Hulio, who was to have become global president and vice chairman of the board.
The management shak-eup at NSO comes after the United States on November 3 blacklisted the company for enabling “foreign governments to conduct transnational repression.”
The source close to NSO who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity says that “because of the crisis with the US… Shalev decided that he still will sit on the chair of the CEO.” As a result, the source says, Benbenisti left the company.
Five suspects will be indicted for the August shooting of a young woman in front of her daughter near Bat Yam, say police.
In August, Adi Peretz, 36, was shot in the head while driving in her car near Bat Yam with her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat. She lost control of the car and crashed it, though her daughter was unharmed.
Authorities probing the case believe that Peretz was accidentally hit in the head by a bullet shot as part of a gangland dispute.
Israeli security forces thwart a gun-running attempt along the Israeli-Jordanian border, seizing some 15 weapons and making one arrest in the process, the military says.
Overnight, Israeli soldiers operating surveillance cameras along the border spotted suspects “who tried to smuggle weapons from Jordanian territory into Israeli territory,” the Israel Defense Forces says.
IDF soldiers, Israel Police officers and border guards were sent to the scene and took one of the suspects into custody, along with 15 guns, the military says.
The IDF says the troops seized eight shotguns, three Kalashnikov assault rifles, two pistols and an M-16 carbine.
The suspect and the guns were handed over to Israel Police for further investigation, the IDF says, noting that the suspect is Palestinian.
A new report from the United Nations urges immediate action “to address the continuing economic and fiscal crisis” among the Palestinians.
The report, issued by the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, says the financial situation in the Palestinian territories is “dire,” citing economic stagnation and persistently high unemployment.
It calls on Israel, the PA and the international community to work together in the coming months to address the situation.
The report also blames Israel for “contributing to the crisis” by withholding a portion of the tax revenues it collects in order to offset the amounts the PA pays to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists.
“It is increasingly difficult for the PA to cover its minimum expenditures, let alone make critical investments in the economy and the Palestinian people,” says United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland.
Iran’s drones have become “splinters in the eyes” of its enemies, says the aerospace commander of the country’s Revolutionary Guards.
“Our enemies say we should negotiate on missiles… and our drones have become splinters in their eyes,” says Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh. “If they insist on limiting the capabilities of our missiles and drones, it shows our strength,” he is quoted as saying on the Guards’ Sepahnews website.
“We don’t need to mention our strength because the enemy talks enough about Iran’s missiles and defensive capabilities,” he adds.
Hajizadeh says Israeli “threats” against Iran, especially against its nuclear facilities, were statements meant for “internal consumption.”
“The Israelis can launch [an attack on Iran] but we will decide the outcome,” he says.
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approves a government plan to allow tourist groups to enter Israel even if they have received only two vaccine doses more than six months ago.
Under the plan, groups must receive approval to enter, must all be vaccinated with a WHO-approved shot, must only come from “green” and “yellow” countries, be fewer than 40 people, travel within a “capsule” and be tested every 72 hours during their first week in Israel.
Individual tourists are currently only allowed to enter Israel if they have received a third booster dose or if their first two vaccine doses were less than six months ago.
Police arrest a suspect related to a fire set at a synagogue in Austin, Texas, late last month.
Franklin Barrett Sechriest, 18, was arrested yesterday by arson investigators with the Austin Fire Department, according to police. Investigators identified Sechriest using surveillance footage that showed the license plate on the car he allegedly used to get to the synagogue.
The fire, which was set on Halloween night, caused an estimated $25,000 of damage to the building, according to the Austin Fire Department. According to a donation page on the synagogue’s website, the fire destroyed the synagogue’s carved wooden doors, damaged the building’s stained glass windows and caused smoke damage throughout the sanctuary.
Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg says the country must halt any future investments in fossil fuels, including the development of new gas and oilfields.
In a letter to Energy Minister Karine Elharar, Zandberg writes that following Israel’s pledge to commit to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050, the state must end its dependence on fossil fuels and set out a plan “to gradually but quickly divest from them.”
“The immediate step required is a complete cessation of investments in new fossil fuels,” writes Zandberg, “including those that incentivize and enable the development of oil and gas fields.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F) is “on life support,” with climate talks in Glasgow so far not reaching any of the UN’s three goals, but he adds that “until the last moment, hope should be maintained.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, Guterres says the UN climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, “are in a crucial moment” and need to accomplish more than securing a weak deal that participating nations agree to support.
“The worst thing would be to reach an agreement at all costs by a minimum common denominator that would not respond to the huge challenges we face,” Guterres says.
That’s because the overarching goal of limiting warming since pre-industrial times to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F) by the end of the century “is still on reach but on life support,” Guterres says. The world has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving less than a degree before the threshold is hit.
“It is the moment to reach agreement by increasing ambition in all areas: mitigation, adaptation and finance in a balanced way,” Guterres says.
The navies of Israel, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain launched a joint exercise in the Red Sea this week, the American military says, in an apparent threat to their shared adversary, Iran.
The exercise comes just over a year after Israel normalized ties with the UAE and Bahrain, a move seen as having been driven in large part by the countries’ shared concerns about Iran and its regional ambitions. Though Israel has conducted exercises alongside the UAE in the past, the drill represents the first ever public military cooperation between Israel and Bahrain.
According to the US military’s Central Command, the five-day exercise will take place at sea and include “visit, board, search and seizure tactics.” The drill will be led by the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which operates throughout the Middle East.
“It is exciting to see US forces training with regional partners to enhance our collective maritime security capabilities,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of the 5th Fleet, says in a statement.
Since February, Iran and Israel have been accused of engaging in what analysts have called a naval “shadow war,” in which vessels linked to each nation have come under attack in waters around the Gulf in tit-for-tat exchanges.
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