The Times of Israel is liveblogging Monday’s events as they unfold.
The Israeli military publishes fresh details on Tehran’s drone program, including new footage of it downing several Iranian aircraft.
Yesterday the Israel Defense Forces announced that its F-35 jets downed two Iranian drones ferrying firearms on March 15, 2021. The military believes the drones were heading to terror operatives in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, based on their flight path.
The IDF also publishes an image showing one of the aircraft was carrying several pistols, destined for terror groups.
In this handout image published by the Israel Defense Forces on March 7, 2022, the remains of an Iranian drone with a payload of firearms is seen on March 15, 2021. (IDF)
The military identifies those UAVs as Iranian “Shahed-197” models.
Military officials say Iran’s “UAV terror” is a new and global issue, charging Tehran with directly attacking both military and civilian targets in the Middle East.
The IDF believes Iran is attempting to arm its proxies in the region — in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen — with hundreds or even thousands of UAVs, in addition to military training.
While Israel has acknowledged it targets the bases of Iranian forces and allied terror groups in Syria, as well as arms shipments believed to be bound for Iran-backed groups in the region, The Times of Israel has learned several of those strikes specifically targeted sites related to Iran’s drone program.
Young children from a cancer hospice in Russia have been lined up to form the letter Z, in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The photo was the idea of the hospice manager, Vladimir Vavilov, who told Russia’s Kommersant: “People lined up in the shape of the letter Z. In our left hand we held leaflets with the flags of the [Ukrainian separatist republics] LNR, DNR, Russia and Tatarstan, and we clenched our right into a fist. Everything went well. A quadrocopter was involved in the filming, and journalists from the federal channel also arrived.”
The letter “Z,” often seen painted on Russian vehicles during the assault, has come to be seen as a pro-war symbol. Some have speculated it comes from the Russian expression “Za pobedy” — for victory.
Kids from a hospice in Kazan were forced (100% sure about this) to stand in a Z form in the snow to show solidarity with Putin’s ‘special operation’. https://t.co/lSVgRwvdlg
— The Eastern Border (@Eastern_Border) March 6, 2022
An Israeli cybersecurity company has examined the phones of three former ministry directors-general suspected of being the targets of a spyware attack and found they were hacked by a foreign state, according to a Sunday report.
ZecOps, which specializes in phone hacking, examined the devices of Shai Babad, the former director-general of the Finance Ministry; Keren Terner Eyal, also a former director-general of that ministry as well as of the Transportation Ministry; and Emi Palmor, a former director-general of the Justice Ministry, Channel 13 news reports.
The examination was launched after the three ministerial directors were named in a series of bombshell reports by the Calcalist newspaper in January as alleged targets of Israel Police spyware attacks.
According to the Channel 13 report, ZecOps confirmed that Babad, Terner Eyal and Palmor were never targeted by the police and were not hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. The private firm could not specify which foreign entity targeted them.
Shai Babad, then-director general of the Finance Minister, attends a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on December 11, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Russia would halt its invasion of Ukraine “in a moment” if Kyiv agrees to three conditions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, according to Reuters.
Peskov says Ukraine must cease all military action; ensure it remains a neutral country, including through changes to its constitution; and recognize Crimea as Russia and the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the former chief of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division, accuses Washington of a double standard in okaying severe punishment against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, while opposing sanctions against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.
“We see that not just the US government but US companies are falling over themselves to sanction and boycott anything that has an association with the Russian government,” she is quoted by The Guardian as saying.
“Contrast that with the exact opposite when it comes to sanctioning Israel for its violations of international law to the point where American states are passing laws to punish Americans unless they promise never to boycott Israel. It’s very clear that the grounds for resisting sanctions on Israel, or even compliance with international law, is purely political.”
British Labour MP Julie Elliott makes similar comments to parliament: “The Palestinians are looking to us to speak and act in the same terms. We sanctioned Russia over Crimea, and we are now likely to impose more sanctions, with which I wholeheartedly agree, yet Palestinians ask why we do nothing to end Israel’s occupation.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, pushes back. He says the Mideast conflict is “a dispute over territory by two peoples who both have historic claims and connections.
“To compare this complexity to Russia’s brute use of force against the sovereign & peaceful nation of Ukraine is to intentionally misrepresent the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is deeply insensitive to the security and humanitarian crisis confronting Ukrainians today.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 2, 2017. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
US President Joe Biden is to hold a video teleconference later with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain to discuss “the latest developments regarding Russia and Ukraine,” the White House says.
The call with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will take place at 5:30 p.m. Israel time (1530 GMT).
It comes as frantic diplomatic efforts to halt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continue, and after another night of shelling raised more fears of civilian casualties.
Kyiv and Western leaders have been demanding Russian leader Vladimir Putin end his invasion and allow safe passage for civilians out of the country. The United Nations says more than 1.7 million people have already fled.
President Joe Biden listens during an event in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, says the European Union will discuss Ukraine’s request to join in the coming days.
On Twitter, Michel writes: “The EU’s solidarity, friendship and unprecedented assistance for #Ukraine are unwavering.
“We will discuss Ukraine’s membership application in coming days.”
The EU’s solidarity, friendship and unprecedented assistance for #Ukraine are unwavering.
We will discuss Ukraine’s membership application in coming days.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) March 7, 2022
French President Emmanuel Macron accuses his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of hypocrisy and cynicism after Moscow said it would open humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians from several Ukrainian cities, but only to Russia or Belarus.
“All this is not serious, it is moral and political cynicism, which I find intolerable,” Macron tells LCI television in an interview.
He adds that promises to protect civilians only so that they could flee toward Russia were “hypocritical.”
“I do not know many Ukrainians who want to go to Russia,” he adds, saying that full ceasefires to protect civilians were needed rather than corridors.
Moscow announced the proposed escape routes from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy after Putin and Macron spoke by telephone on Sunday, saying the move was taken after a “personal request” by Macron.
But the Elysee Palace said no such request was made and Macron accused Moscow of a “PR stunt” with its announcement.
Former finance minister Avraham Hirschson dies at 81, Hebrew-language media reports.
Hirschson served as a member of the Knesset for both the Likud and Kadima parties.
In 2009 he was convicted of a string of crimes including aggravated fraud, theft, breach of trust, money laundering, and forgery of corporate documents after embezzling millions from a union he used to run.
He sentenced to five and a half years behind bars along with a NIS 450,000 fine. A parole board granted him early release for good behavior in 2012 and he left jail in 2013.
WARSAW, Poland — Polish government officials say that Poland has not sent, and will not send, its fighter jets to Ukraine to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
A deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, says in an interview on Radio Zet: “We will not open our airports and Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine … Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine.”
But separately the government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, indicates a final decision had not been made. He says that a decision on whether to send fighter jets presents risks and is a “very delicate matter.”
The comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky begged the United States to help Kyiv get more warplanes to fight Russia’s invasion and retain control of its airspace.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that Washington was looking at a proposal under which Poland would supply Kyiv with Soviet-era fighters and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss.
Poland has been less than enthusiastic about the idea, at least publicly, largely because Russia has warned that supporting Ukraine’s air force would be seen in Moscow as participating in the conflict and could create a risk of retaliation.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, records 1,735,068 refugees on its dedicated website, just over 200,000 more than the previous count on Sunday.
UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, believes around half of them are youngsters.
Authorities and the UN expect the flow to intensify as the Russian army advances deeper into Ukraine, particularly as it approaches the capital, Kyiv.
More than 37 million people lived in Ukraine before last week’s invasion.
“The military offensive in Ukraine has caused destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and has forced people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance,” UNHCR says.
The agency projects that as the conflict unfolds, “an estimated four million people may flee Ukraine,” noting that many people were also displaced from their homes within the country.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu slams the government for its purported “silence” in the face of the Iran nuclear talks that are said to be nearing their conclusion in Vienna.
“In the Bennett-Gantz-Lapid government there is only weakness, weakness and more weakness,” claims Netanyahu in a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset.
In an implied criticism of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s involvement in potentially brokering Ukraine-Russia talks, Netanyahu says that the burgeoning Iran deal is “what the government must be dealing with now.”
Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz “are simply not ready to confront even our allies,” he says.
“The silence of Israel during these days — except for some pro forma statements — leads our friends in the US” to also silence their own opposition to the deal.
“If they don’t see, if they don’t hear Israel opposing it, why should they oppose it themselves,” Netanyahu adds, claiming that Israel’s “strong opposition to the last deal” in 2015 “helped the US exit the deal” in 2018.
The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia and Turkey will meet in southern Turkey on Thursday, Ankara announces.
“Following the initiative by our president and our intense diplomatic efforts, the foreign ministers of Russia (Sergei Lavrov) and Ukraine (Dmytro Kuleba) have decided to meet, with my participation on the sidelines,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says in a tweet.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tells Russia’s TASS news agency that an agreement for the three-way meeting was reached during a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “on the initiative of the Turkish leader.”
Ukraine’s envoy to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk thanks Israel for its attempts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine and says his government sees Jerusalem as a potential location for talks.
“We thank you for your government for its effort and hope it’ll help us [come to a resolution],” Korniychuk says, referring to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s trip to Moscow on Saturday and subsequent phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Our government sees Jerusalem as a possible location for negotiations with Russia,” he says.
Korniychuk says his nation is facing a “coming genocide” and compares Russia’s invasion to the surprise attack on Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Korniychuk publicly asks the Israeli government to end its refusal to send military aid, and to provide helmets and flak jackets to Ukrainian fighters.
“We have long talks about munition and equipment and self-defense with the Israeli government, including helmets and safety vests, and we did not reach an agreement,” Korniychuk says.
“I hope you can explain to me as a human being how this is a weapon,” the ambassador says, putting on a helmet.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched at least one missile into the busy waters of Red Sea over the weekend, the US Navy says, raising the risks of their fire striking one of the many commercial vessels using a waterway crucial to global shipping.
The Red Sea connects into the Suez Canal, which sends cargo and energy shipments from the wider Mideast onto Europe. Since seizing Yemen’s capital in September 2014, the Houthis have launched missiles, deployed bomb-laden drone boats and released mines into the Red Sea.
The missile fire took place Saturday in the Red Sea, the Navy says.
“Although maritime traffic was not impacted in this instance, these actions are destabilizing and present a danger to all vessels transiting a critical international waterway,” says Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet.
Spokesmen for the Iranian-backed Houthis did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Saudi Arabia, which has led a coalition battling the Houthis since March 2015 and has a coastline stretching some 1,760 kilometers (1,100 miles) along the Red Sea, also did not respond to requests for comment.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Ukrainian refugees should not be impeded by Israeli bureaucracy, emphasizing that the country will focus on absorbing new Jewish immigrants.
“The implications of the war are reaching everywhere, to us as well. We in the State of Israel have absorbed, as of now, hundreds of refugees, some of them Jews, most of them not,” he tells the Ministerial Aliyah and Integration Committee. “Naturally, the State of Israel will focus on Jewish refugees.”
“Our internal bureaucracy cannot create obstacles. We must know how to overturn worlds and cut through bureaucracy in order to carry out this historic mission,” Bennett says.
The premier’s comments come amid reports of refugees being made to wait for hours at Ben Gurion airport while paperwork is sorted.
In addition, non-Jewish refugees are being made to deposit NIS 10,000 ($3,050) as a condition of entry to Israel. The deposit is held as a guarantee that the Ukrainians will eventually leave Israel, as the country rarely grants refugee status to non-Jews, and instead allows them temporary entry as tourists. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has said she believes Israel will need to limit the number of non-Jewish refugees it accepts.
There are reports of heavy fighting to the north and west of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
“With extreme rage, the enemy destroys Bucha, Hostomel, Vorzel, Irpin. They deliberately kill civilians,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko tells CNN.
It is unclear if the fighting is impacting the Russian-declared evacuation corridor from the city, which has in any case been rejected by Ukrainian authorities because it leads to Belarus.
“We are doing everything in the capital to support the city, to create a reserve of food, medicines, essential goods. We distribute and provide aid to those who need it the most today. Humanitarian aid was also sent to Chernihiv,” Klitschko says.
“We are trying to deliver it to Bucha and Hostomel. We are forming humanitarian cargoes for some other cities. The capital is preparing for defense. I ask all Kyiv residents to keep calm, to stay at home, or — in case of alarm — in shelters,” he says.
Ukraine rejects Moscow’s offer of evacuation corridors to Russia and Belarus, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says.
“This is not an acceptable option,” she says, after Russia proposed safe passage for civilians from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy.
The civilians “aren’t going to go to Belarus and then take a plane to Russia.”
The Russian army said earlier it was opening humanitarian corridors from the four Ukrainian cities.
Fighting was still ongoing Monday in the four — the capital Kyiv, the second-largest city Kharkhiv in the east, the southeastern port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, and Sumy, near the eastern border with Russia.
But the fact the corridors led into Russia or its ally Belarus raised questions over the safety of those who might use them.
Two recent attempts to allow thousands of civilians to leave the besieged city of Mariupol have ended in disaster, with civilians under fire and both sides accusing each other of violations.
KYIV — Russian forces have killed the mayor of Gostomel, a town near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that is home to a strategic airport, city authorities say.
“The head of Gostomel, Yuri Illich Prylypko, died while distributing bread to the hungry and medicine to the sick,” the city says on its Facebook page.
Prylypko was shot dead along with two others, it says, without specifying when.
“No one forced him to go under the occupiers’ bullets,” it says. “He died for his people, for Gostomel. He died a hero.”
Gostomel, northwest of Kyiv, is home to the strategic Antonov military airport, which was the site of fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the first days of the war.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that US commitment to the NATO defense pact is “sacrosanct” and American resolve on the matter should not be doubted.
Blinken assures Lithuania of NATO protection and American support as he begins a lightning visit to the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as Russia presses ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.
The former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all NATO members and Blinken is aiming to reassure them of their security in the event Russia chooses to expand its military operations.
“We are bolstering our shared defense so that we and our allies are prepared,” Blinken says, stressing that the US commitment to NATO’s mutual defense pact is “sacrosanct.”
“We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack,” he says. “No one should doubt our readiness, no one should doubt our resolve.”
Blinken will also meet with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid while in Latvia.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh calls Israel’s attempt to mediate between Russia and Ukraine “a mockery of international politics.”
“It’s a mockery of international politics that Israel, an occupying state, is attempting to be a mediator to end the crisis in Ukraine,” Shtayyeh tells cabinet ministers during their weekly meeting.
Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the two main Palestinian factions, have avoided taking any stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Many Palestinians identify with the Ukrainians and have sought to draw parallels between the invasion and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
“We hope that the war will come to end in a way that ensures international security and safety, and protects civilians, who are the victims of wars,” Shtayyeh says, avoiding accusing Russia of invading Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls for further sanctions against Russia in one of his regular televised addresses, saying the global community must not fund terror.
“If the situation gets worse then new actions need to be introduced to bring peace,” he says, according to a translation by Sky News.
Zelensky says the world must “refuse to give money to terrorists.”
“They have targeted Mykolaiv and Kharkiv and burned residential areas. It’s terror,” he says. “We must fight against inhumane evil.”
“We have a yellow and blue flag that has flown in space and in Antarctica. We have never killed peaceful people while flying this flag,” he says.
“Ukraine and terror are completely different notions. We will never have swastikas in Ukraine,” Zelensky says in an apparent reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s false claim that Ukraine needs “denazifying.”
BANGKOK — The death toll from COVID-19 eclipses 6 million — underscoring that the pandemic, now in its third year, is far from finished.
The milestone is the latest tragic reminder of the unrelenting nature of the pandemic even as people are shedding masks, travel is resuming and businesses are reopening around the globe.
The last million deaths were recorded over the last four months, according to the tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
That’s slightly slower than the previous million, but highlights that many countries are still struggling with the coronavirus.
LONDON — Europe and UK natural gas prices soar to record highs on supply fears, as the European Union and United States mull sanctions on Russian energy.
Europe gas reference Dutch TTF rockets more than 60 percent to 345 euros per megawatt hour and UK gas hits 800 pence per therm.
Brent North Sea crude oil surges close to $140 per barrel and a near 14-year high.
Russia is a leading supplier of natural gas and is also one of the world’s biggest crude producers.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the White House and allies are in talks about banning energy imports from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Russia snubs a hearing at the United Nations’ top court into a legal bid by Kyiv to halt Moscow’s devastating invasion of Ukraine.
A row of seats reserved for Russian lawyers at the International Court of Justice are empty as the hearing opens.
The court’s president, American judge Joan E. Donoghue, says Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands informed judges that “his government did not intend to participate in the oral proceedings.” The hearing goes ahead without the Russian delegation.
The International Court of Justice is opening two days of hearings at its headquarters, the Peace Palace, into Ukraine’s request for its judges to order Russia to halt its invasion. Ukraine is scheduled to present its arguments Monday morning and Russia has the opportunity to respond on Tuesday.
Ukraine has asked the court to order Russia to “immediately suspend the military operations” launched Feb. 24 “that have as their stated purpose and objective the prevention and punishment of a claimed genocide” in the separatist eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
A decision is expected on the request within days, though that does not mean Russia would abide by any order the court might issue.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda tells US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Russia poses a long-term threat to Europe and that deterrence is no longer enough.
“Unfortunately, the worsening security situation in the Baltic region is of great concern for all of us and around the world,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda tells Blinken.
“Russia’s reckless aggression against Ukraine once again proves that it is a long-term threat to European security, the security of our alliance,” he says.
Nauseda says that a policy of deterrence was no longer enough and that “forward defense” was now needed.
He predicts that “Putin will not stop in Ukraine…. It is our collective duty as a nation to help all Ukrainians with all means available. By saying all, I mean, indeed all means, if we want to avoid the Third World War. The choice is in our hands.”
Blinken is on a lightning visit to the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as they watch Russia press ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.
Later in the day he will travel to Riga, Latvia, where he will meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, before visiting Tallinn, Estonia, on Tuesday.
There are initial reports of a leak of hazardous materials from a factory producing cleaning materials in Kibbutz Dalia in the north of the country.
Residents of Dalia as well as the nearby communities of Ein Hashofet and Ramat Hashofet are instructed to stay indoors and close the windows and doors.
Pictures from the scene show a yellow-orange cloud of fumes above the factory. Emergency services are on their way to the scene.
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) March 7, 2022
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says everything must be done to stop the tragedy of the war in Ukraine, in a reference to his efforts to mediate.
“As long as the candle is burning, we need to make every effort,” says Bennett in brief comments at the end of his speech at a conference, referring to an old tale in which a cobbler said he could keep fixing shoes as long as his candle kept burning.
In line with his policy of not mentioning Russia by name when speaking about the war, Bennett refers instead to the human cost of the conflict in his remarks at Channel 12’s Influencers Conference.
“There’s a terrible human tragedy, more terrible that we expected to see [in this period]. We need to do everything to stop it,” Bennett says.
Bennett, along with Housing and Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin who serves as his Russian translator, flew to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Bennett said that during the meeting he discussed the Ukraine war and Iran nuclear talks. He has spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky three times since then.
Ukraine slams as “completely immoral” that evacuation corridors under a Russian ceasefire lead to Belarus and Russia.
“This is a completely immoral story. People’s suffering is used to create the desired television picture,” a spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says in a statement, according to the Reuters news agency.
“These are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” the statement reads.
A Russian task force announced a ceasefire for civilians from Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy. It wasn’t immediately clear how long it would last.
TOKYO — The parent company of Japanese casualwear giant Uniqlo defends a decision to keep Russian stores open even as rivals Zara and H&M suspend operations in the country following its invasion of Ukraine.
Tadashi Yanai, president of Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing, says the conflict should not deprive people in Russia of clothing, a basic human need.
“There should never be war. Every country should oppose it. This time all of Europe clearly opposes the war and has shown its support for Ukraine. Any attempt to divide the world will, on the contrary, strengthen unity,” he says in a statement.
“Clothing is a necessity of life. The people of Russia have the same right to live as we do,” Yanai addd.
There are 49 Uniqlo stores in Russia.
A Fast Retailing spokesman says the company will “continue to monitor the situation” but there were “no plans as of now to suspend our operations.”
France denies that French President Emmanuel Macron requested Russia open the civilian evacuation corridors from the Ukrainian cities of Khiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy into Russia and Belarus.
“The president of the Republic has neither requested nor obtained corridors to Russia after his conversation with Vladimir Putin,” the Elysee presidential palace tells BFMTV, according to the BBC.
“The president of the Republic insistently asks to let the civilian populations leave and to allow the transport of aid,” the palace says. “It’s another way for Putin to push his narrative and say that it is the Ukrainians who are the aggressors and they are the ones who offer asylum to everyone.”
Evacuation routes published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, citing the Defense Ministry, show that civilians will be able to leave the Ukrainian cities and head to Russia and Belarus.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked repeats her assertion that Israel may move to limit the number of Ukrainian refugees allowed into the country.
“There is no country that can open its gates to anyone who wants without any restrictions, certainly not a country as small as Israel,” Shaked tells the Kan public broadcaster.
Shaked says that so far some 2,800 Ukrainian refugees have entered Israel, with 10 percent of them eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return.
“The State of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Certainly as a Western state, we will receive refugees. But in the coming days we will have to formulate an orderly policy,” she says.
Prosecutors say they won’t appeal the early release granted to prominent actor Moshe Ivgy, jailed over the indecent assault and sexual harassment of four women.
Ivgy is expected to be released next week.
The actor is serving an 11-month prison sentence at the Hermon Prison in northern Israel.
The parole board said last week that although Ivgy’s crimes were “ugly,” the chances that he would pose a danger to the public or reoffend had diminished since he was jailed. Prosecutors have said in the past that Ivgy’s multiple assaults demonstrate a pattern of behavior.
Ukrainian military officials claims to have retaken the city of Chuguiv in eastern Ukraine.
The claim has not been independently verified.
“The occupiers suffered heavy losses in personnel and equipment,” says the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in a Facebook post.
Chuguiv was among the first places to report damage after Russia launched its invasion on February 24.
TOKYO — The price of oil jumps more than $12 a barrel and shares are sharply lower as the conflict in Ukraine deepens amid mounting calls for harsher sanctions against Russia.
Brent crude oil surges more than 10%, while benchmark US crude is up $10 at more than $125 a barrel.
Stock futures in the US and Europe also drop.
The price of gold, which is viewed as an investor safe haven in times of crisis, jumps $26 an ounce to $1,992.90.
The Twitter account of the Ukrainian parliament posts a video of what it says is a burning residential building in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.
Миколаїв. Російські терористи обстрілювали житловий будинок. pic.twitter.com/WI6RE6cHuq
— Верховна Рада України (@verkhovna_rada) March 7, 2022
The clip could not be independently verified.
The footage is released after reports of a heavy overnight bombardment of the city.
The Guardian reports that Mykolaiv’s mayor, Oleksandr Senkevych, says the buildings were targeted by Russian troops.
“There are many shells in the city that did not explode…do not approach, do not lift, and do not try to move them yourself,” Senkevych warns.
A top Iranian official says his country is seeking “creative ways” to restore its nuclear deal with world powers after Russia’s foreign minister linked sanctions on Moscow over its war on Ukraine to the ongoing negotiations.
The tweet by Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council, offers the first high-level acknowledgment of the demands of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“Vienna participants act & react based on interests and it’s understandable,” Shamkhani writes. “Our interactions … are also solely driven by our people’s interests. Thus, we’re assessing new elements that bear on the negotiations and will accordingly seek creative ways to expedite a solution.”
Russia announces that it will allow the evacuation of civilians from the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy.
According to the Interfax news agency, the evacuation corridors will be opened at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron.
The corridors will open at 10 a.m. local time. The report does not say how long they will remain open for.
Previous attempts to evacuate cities have failed amid accusations by Ukraine of ongoing shelling by Russian troops despite the agreements.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is now in its 12th day, and has caused 1.5 million people to flee the country with millions more thought to be displaced within the country’s borders.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government plans to rush through legislation that will allow it to impose economic sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
New Zealand’s existing laws don’t allow it to impose meaningful sanctions except as part of a broader United Nations effort. That has left New Zealand hamstrung since Russia has UN Security Council veto power.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the new legislation will allow New Zealand to target people, companies and assets associated with the invasion, including Russian oligarchs. New Zealand also could freeze assets and stop superyachts or planes from arriving.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta says the bill “will send a very clear signal that New Zealand will not be a safe haven for those wishing to move their investments here.”
The Russia Sanctions Bill is scheduled to be heard by lawmakers on Wednesday and could pass as quickly as the same day. Ardern says she’s hoping it will be supported by lawmakers across all parties although a unanimous vote wasn’t guaranteed.
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House is exploring legislation to further isolate Russia from the global economy, including banning the import of its oil and energy products into the US.
Amid rising gasoline prices in the US, the Biden administration has yet to call for an oil import ban on Russia.
In a letter to Democrats, Pelosi says the legislation under consideration would also repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and begin the process of denying Russia access to the World Trade Organization.
Pelosi says the House would also empower the Biden administration to raise tariffs on Russian imports.
Congress intends to approve the Biden administration’s request for $10 billion in humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine, Pelosi said, as part of omnibus government funding legislation this week.
The Syrian army claims two civilians were killed by an Israeli attack near Damascus early this morning.
Syria says the strike at around 5 a.m. hit several targets south of the capital and also caused property damage.
The Syrian military says its air defenses shot down most of the incoming missiles. Syria regularly makes such claims, which are widely dismissed as empty boasts.
Russian artillery launches a heavy bombardment of the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.
The shelling hits the city’s outskirts, lighting up the night sky, The New York Times reports.
Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops out of the city yesterday and recaptured its airport.
The strategic city has an important port on the Black Sea.
Russian forces appear to have launched a heavy artillery barrage against Mykolaiv, a day after Ukrainian troops pushed them from the city and recaptured the airport. From my vantage, I could see flashes from the attack lighting up the night sky along a large swath of the city. pic.twitter.com/cm4E0cNtN3
— Michael Schwirtz (@mschwirtz) March 7, 2022
Syria accuses Israel of carrying out airstrikes near the capital Damascus.
Syrian state media outlet SANA says the attack happened south of Damascus and originated in northern Israel.
The report says Syrian air defenses responded to “Israeli aggression” and that explosions were heard in the city.
There are no reports of casualties or damage.
Israel does not comment on strikes in Syria, but has said it has carried out hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country.
Late last month, Syrian state media said three Syrian soldiers were killed in an Israeli airstrike near Damascus.
Last month Israel also allegedly fired surface-to-surface missiles at an observation post and “finance building” near the border town of Quneitra on the Syrian Golan Heights.
Russia is allied with Syria’s regime and allows Israel to carry out operations against targets in the country. The coordination has been a major factor in Israel’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Israel has refrained from antagonizing Russia by condemning Moscow for the invasion.
Russia is recruiting Syrian fighters experienced in urban combat as it ramps up its assault on Ukraine, according to US officials quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
Moscow, which launched an invasion into its Eastern European neighbor on February 24, has in recent days recruited fighters from Syria hoping they can help take Kyiv, four US officials tell the US daily.
Russia entered the Syrian civil war in 2015 on the side of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The country has been mired in a conflict marked by urban combat for more than a decade.
One official tells the Journal that some fighters are already in Russia readying to join the fight in Ukraine, though it was not immediately clear how many combatants have been recruited, and the sources would not provide further detail.
Foreign fighters have already entered the Ukrainian conflict on both sides.
Chechnya strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov — a former rebel-turned-Kremlin-ally — has shared videos of Chechen fighters joining the attack on Ukraine and said some had been killed in the fighting.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has claimed around 20,000 foreign volunteers have volunteered to join Ukraine’s forces.
Russian forces carry out a missile strike targeting infrastructure in the village of Tuzla, near Odessa, the Kyiv Independent reports.
There are no immediate reports of casualties.
Air raid sirens sound in Kyiv.
The UK Ministry of Defense says Russian forces made “minimal ground advances over the weekend” in an intelligence update.
“It is highly unlikely that Russia has successfully achieved its planned objectives to date,” it says.
“Over the past 24 hours, a high level of Russian air and artillery strikes have continued to hit military and civilian sites in Ukrainian cities. Recent strikes have targeted Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Chernihiv, and been particularly heavy in Mariupol,” it says.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 06 March 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/eiocXaCcoT
— Ministry of Defence ???????? (@DefenceHQ) March 6, 2022
Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak sparks outrage by placing a “Z,” a pro-war symbol for Russia’s invasion, on his shirt at a competition in Doha, Qatar.
Kuliak stands on the podium with the symbol on his chest next to Ukrainian gymnast Illia Kovtun, who won the competition. Kuliak places third and Kazakhstan’s Milad Karimi takes the silver medal.
The International Gymnastics Federations says “it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Kuliak following his shocking behavior.”
Starting on Monday, Russia and Belarus will be banned from international gymnastics competitions. Russian athletes are banned from most international forums.
The “Z” symbol represents the Russian phrase for victory and has been painted on Russian vehicles and equipment in Ukraine and featured in Russian pro-war propaganda.
Russian gymnast wears a pro-war “Z” symbol on his chest at a competition in Doha, March 6, 2022. (Twitter screenshot)
Ukraine halts exports of some food products amid growing shortages of staples.
The Ukrainian governments says it suspended exports of “meat, rye, oats, buckwheat, sugar, millet and salt,” according to CNN.
Some exports, including wheat, corn, poultry, eggs and oil will only be allowed with permission from the Economy Ministry.
Grocery stores are increasingly running out of supplies as transportation becomes more difficult. Russia has increasingly attacked residential areas and civilian infrastructure in recent days.
Ukraine is a major world exporter of grains and other products, which some countries depend on.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patels says the UK and Western allies have called to suspend Russia from the Interpol international law enforcement organization.
Patel says she made the request to Interpol with counterparts from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The diplomats call for the “immediate suspension of Russia’s access to its systems.”
“Russia’s actions are a direct threat to the safety of individuals and to international law enforcement cooperation,” she says.
Interpol says it connects 195 member countries.
Russian diplomats expelled by the US leave New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for Moscow in a Russian government plane.
“This plane will return to their homeland Russian diplomats, whom the US Government has declared persona non grata,” says Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, according to CNN.
The US Mission to the UN late last month called the 12 diplomats “intelligence operatives” that were exploiting their positions for espionage.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House is exploring legislation to further isolate Russia from the global economy, including banning the import of its oil and energy products into the US.
Amid rising gasoline prices in the US, the Biden administration has yet to call for an oil import ban on Russia.
In a letter to Democrats released Sunday night, Pelosi says the legislation under consideration would also repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and begin the process of denying Russia access to the World Trade Organization.
Pelosi says the House would also empower the Biden administration to raise tariffs on Russian imports.
Congress intends to approve the Biden administration’s request for $10 billion in humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine, Pelosi said, as part of omnibus government funding legislation this week.
The price Brent North Sea crude oil, the European benchmark, soars to a near 14-year high of $140 due to the Ukraine war, heading toward the all-time high of $147.50.
The price per barrel of Brent oil has increased 33% since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that Washington is in “active discussions” with European nations about banning Russian oil imports, although he stopped short of announcing an outright boycott.
Even if oil is technically still exempt from sanctions, Russian oil exporters are struggling to find buyers. Shell is one of the only companies still buying Russian oil, although it says it will donate the profits to Ukrainian causes.
The price of gold rises to more than $2,000 in Asian trade as investors flee to the safe-haven commodity. The price is of gold is at its highest level since September 2020.
As stock markets open after the weekend in Asia, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Japan tumbles over three percent.
The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong dives over four percent.
Futures for the US benchmark S&P are down over 1.5%.
Two of the world’s “Big Four” international accounting firms pull out of Russia.
KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers both say they will end their relationships with their Russia-based member firms. KPMG said it is also pulling out of Belarus.
KPMG International says in a statement it will be “incredibly difficult” to have its Russia and Belarus firms leave the network. KPMG has more than 4,500 employees in the two countries.
PricewaterhouseCoopers says it has 3,700 employees at its PwC Russia firm and is working on an “orderly transition” for the business.
The two other Big Four companies – Deloitte and Ernst & Young – didn’t immediately return Associated Press requests for comment.