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Netanyahu accuses Iran of attacking Israeli-owned ship in Gulf


Israeli PM says explosions on board MV Helios Ray cargo ship were work of Tehran and that ‘we are hitting it in the entire region’

Israel’s prime minister has accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last week, a mysterious explosion that further raised security concerns in the region.

Without offering any evidence, Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli public broadcaster Kan the incident “it was indeed an act by Iran, that is clear”.

Related: Hawks in Iran and Israel agree: Biden’s bid to salvage nuclear deal must not succeed

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Israeli spyware firm NSO Group faces renewed US scrutiny


Department of Justice said to have asked WhatsApp for details of alleged targeting of clients in 2019

NSO Group appears to be facing renewed scrutiny by the US Department of Justice months after leading technology companies said the spyware maker was “powerful and dangerous” and should be held liable to the country’s anti-hacking laws.

DoJ lawyers recently approached the messaging app WhatsApp with technical questions about the alleged targeting of 1,400 of its users by NSO Group’s government clients in 2019, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

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Green pass: how are Covid vaccine passports working for Israel?


As hotels and gyms reopen in Israel, governments elsewhere are considering a similar certificate scheme – raising ethical concerns

As the UK and other governments consider whether to give Covid-vaccinated people certificates that allow entry to bars, hotels, and swimming pools, one country, Israel, has already deployed its “green pass”.

The state of 9 million, which has administered jabs to half its population, released an app a week ago that shows whether people have been fully inoculated against the coronavirus or if they have presumed immunity after contracting the disease.

Related: NHS Covid app could be used to prove status and access venues in England

Related: Israel allows 2,000 Covid vaccine doses into Gaza after hold-up

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Pfizer Covid vaccine 94% effective in peer-reviewed, real-world mass study


Author of first study of Israel’s vaccination programme to be peer-reviewed hails ‘surprising’ results

The first major real-world study of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to be independently reviewed has shown that the jab is as good as the trials promised, in a potentially landmark moment for countries desperate to end lockdowns and reopen economies.

A study of 1.2 million people in Israel, which has vaccinated most of its population with the Pfizer vaccine over the last two months, found that two doses cut symptomatic cases by 94% across all age groups and severe illness by 92%. The data was peer-reviewed and published in the highly regarded New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Related: Israel: use of Covid vaccines in prisoner swap deal sparks row

Related: Covid-19 variants and what they mean for vaccines

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Amos Oz accused of ‘sadistic abuse’ by daughter in new memoir


Galia Oz claims late author – hailed as Israel’s greatest – beat and humiliated her in childhood, but siblings say they remember him differently

The daughter of the late Israeli author Amos Oz has alleged that her father subjected her to “a routine of sadistic abuse” in a new memoir, claims that have been challenged by his family.

Galia Oz, a children’s author, published her autobiography, Something Disguised as Love, in Hebrew on Sunday. “In my childhood, my father beat me, swore and humiliated me,” she writes, in a translation published by the newspaper Haaretz. “The violence was creative: He dragged me from inside the house and threw me outside. He called me trash. Not a passing loss of control and not a slap in the face here or there, but a routine of sadistic abuse. My crime was me myself, so the punishment had no end. He had a need to make sure I would break.”

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Israeli checkpoint killing of Palestinian was an execution, report claims


London-based group says video evidence casts doubt on claims Ahmad Erekat was conducting an attack

Israeli forces executed a 26-year-old Palestinian at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank last year, a report has alleged, challenging Israeli police claims that the man was a “terrorist” conducting an attack.

Forensic Architecture, a British research body based at Goldsmiths, University of London, said it had conducted an analysis into the death of Ahmad Erekat, who was shot seconds after his car crashed into a booth and lightly wounded an Israeli border guard.

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‘It’ll take decades to clean’: oil spill ravages east Mediterranean


Israel is reeling from a disastrous tar slick, while oily sand has been found in southern Lebanon

At first sight there are few obvious signs of the oil spill on the Mediterranean beach. Wooden parasols stand solitary in the sand, while a few runners make their way along the waterline, enjoying the winter sun.

“The beach looks OK, but it’s all underneath,” says a volunteer, sitting at a water station on the boardwalk. “It’ll take decades to clean.”

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Oil spill from passing ship blackens Israel’s Mediterranean shoreline


Volunteers gather to remove clumps of tar in cleanup effort that could take months or years, officials say

Israeli authorities are trying to find the ship responsible for an oil spill that drenched much of its Mediterranean shoreline with tar, an environmental blow that will take months or years to clean up, officials said.

Thousands of volunteers gathered on Sunday to remove clumps of sticky black refuse from the pale beaches. Israel’s military said it was deploying thousands of soldiers to help with the effort. Authorities warned members of the public to keep their distance until further notice.

Related: Solomon Islands: ship crew accused of dumping 1,000 tonnes of oil in sea

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Israel: use of Covid vaccines in prisoner swap deal sparks row


Secret deal reportedly involved Israel paying Russia $1.2m to send Sputnik jabs to Syria

Israel’s agreement to secretly provide coronavirus vaccines for the Syrian regime to sweeten a prisoner swap deal has raised questions about whether limited global vaccine supplies could see doses become a new form of diplomatic currency.

The clandestine deal made last week, and confirmed by an Israeli source who asked for anonymity, reportedly involved Israel paying Russia $1.2m (£850,000) to send Sputnik V jabs to Syria.

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Hawks in Iran and Israel agree: Biden’s bid to salvage nuclear...


With elections looming in both states, and hardliners out to ensure the collapse of the 2015 deal, time is running short for the US president to save it

For sworn enemies, Iran and Israel have much in common. Both are regional powers, projecting their interests beyond their borders. Both are beholden, in different ways, to shifting US policy. Both have secretive nuclear programmes. And both are heading towards national elections – in Israel next month, in Iran in June – that could decide whether cold-hearted enmity turns into hot-blooded war.

The stand-off over Iran’s alleged attempts, which are always denied, to acquire atomic bomb-making capacity has gone on for so long that its dangers are often underestimated. Yet the coming days are crucial. Iran has set 21 February as a deadline for an easing of unilateral US sanctions. If it is ignored, Tehran is threatening to ban snap UN inspections of its nuclear facilities and further ramp up proscribed atomic activities.

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