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IDF aid delegation to Morocco on hold as Israel awaits response to assistance offer

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Gallant speaks with Moroccan counterpart, touts ‘commitment to stand by our partners during difficult times’ after over 1,000 killed; Health Ministry also organizing delegation

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Saturday’s events as they happen.

IDF aid delegation to Morocco on hold as Israel waits for response to assistance offer

The Israeli military’s aid delegation to Morocco is currently on hold, as Moroccan officials have yet to respond to Israel’s offer.

Depending on the kingdom’s requests, Israel may not send the IDF Home Front Command search and rescue teams, but only aid supplies.

Sending condolences to Morocco, Herzog says Israel ‘ready to help as needed’

In a series of posts in Hebrew, French and English, President Isaac Herzog expresses condolences to Morocco after the deadly earthquake there.

“Our hearts are with the Moroccan people,” he writes on the social media platform X. “Israel is ready to help as needed.”

US, Turkey, France and Germany among those offering to assist Morocco after quake

US President Joe Biden is among world leaders expressing sadness at the devastation facing the North African kingdom of Morocco after a powerful earthquake shook Marrakesh and its environs and killed more than 1,000 people.

Biden says that US officials have been in contact with Morocco to offer help.

“We are working expeditiously to ensure American citizens in Morocco are safe, and stand ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people. The United States stands by Morocco and my friend King Mohammed VI at this difficult moment.”

Turkey, which lost tens of thousands of people in a massive earthquake earlier this year, is among those proposing assistance. France and Germany, with large populations of people with Moroccan origins, also offer to help.

Elsewhere, Qatar offers to “provide all necessary assistance to the affected areas to support their recovery from the effects of the earthquake,” according to a statement by Qatar News Agency. The Emirates News Agency reported that Dubai police rescue teams were dispatching aid. King Abdullah II of Jordan also extended an offer of help.

Pope Francis sends a telegram of condolences, expressing his “profound solidarity” with those affected by the catastrophe. Francis visited Morocco in 2019.

Group of academics, writers, artists urges Biden and UN chief not to meet Netanyahu

A group of over 3,500 academics, writers, artists, former diplomats and others call on US President Joe Biden and UN General-Secretary Antonio Guterres not to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the upcoming General Assembly meeting in New York.

“Inviting Mr. Netanyahu to speak at the United Nations General Assembly will grant symbolic power and political leverage to a cynical populist who strives to establish an autocratic regime when institutions of democracy are under attack worldwide,” the signatories assert in an open letter to Guterres. “Giving this supreme artist of doublespeak and fakery a respectable venue will allow Mr. Netanyahu to rehabilitate his damaged international status. This is precisely what he so desperately seeks, using the honorable institution of the UN as the stage of his verbal trickery.”

The letter goes on to accuse Netanyahu of “legitimizing racist, ultranationalist, religious fundamentalists and homophobic political parties that until now operated at the margins of Israel’s political discourse; and this solely for the purpose of his political survival.”

“From the outset of establishing his extreme right-wing government, Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition has worked tirelessly to undermine the gatekeepers of Israel’s democracy, weaken the Supreme Court, neutralize the media, and destroy the few checks and balances safeguarding the health of our nation,” it adds.

IsraAID to dispatch team to Marrakesh, says in touch with local Jewish community

Israeli emergency organization IsraAID says it’s joining the relief efforts in Morocco, and will dispatch a delegation with aid to Marrakesh and the surrounding area after an earthquake killed at least 1,000.

The group says its team is due to arrive in Marrakesh tomorrow and has been in contact with the local Jewish community.

Anti-overhaul protesters rally across Israel for 36th week

For the 36th week, anti-government protesters hold rallies at sites across the country, ahead of a High Court of Justice hearing Tuesday on the first piece of legislation passed in the judicial overhaul.

As with past weeks, the main protest will be held at Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, with singer Shalom Hanoch expected to perform.

Morocco’s African Cup qualifier postponed after deadly earthquake

AGADIR, Morocco — Morocco’s qualifying game for the African Cup of Nations is postponed today in the wake of the earthquake that struck the country, killing more than 1,000 people.

Morocco had been scheduled to play Liberia in Agadir on the country’s western coast, but the Moroccan soccer federation says the game has been postponed indefinitely after an agreement with the Confederation of African Football.

The earthquake that struck late last night also damaged buildings from villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakesh.

Agadir is roughly 170 kilometers (105 miles) southwest of the epicenter of yesterday’s tremor near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province.

The Gambian national team is in Marrakesh during the earthquake ahead of a decisive qualifying game against Congo tomorrow. Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet told BBC World Service that he initially thought an airplane had crashed into the team’s hotel.

“It seems it was only 30 seconds but it felt endless. It was really scary,” Saintfiet said. “The walls were really shaking and things were falling down from the ceiling and the walls. I never in my life saw a building moving like that. When it stopped, I started running and checking if my team members were also out of their rooms.”

No team members were reported injured.

Marrakesh was hosting the game because of stadium problems in Gambia. CAF did not immediately respond to an email about the status of Sunday’s match.

Biden gives Saudi Arabia’s MBS a hearty handshake after awkward fist bump

NEW DELHI — The Saudi crown prince once vilified by US President Joe Biden has been elevated from a fist bump to a hearty handshake.

Biden warmly greets Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, after they appeared together along with several other leaders at the Group of 20 summit today in New Delhi. The leaders had gathered to announce an ambitious plan to build a rail and shipping corridor linking India with the Middle East and Europe.

Biden smiles and shakes hands with the crown prince, who is often referred to by his initials MBS, as the announcement wrapped up. This year’s G20 host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, quickly drapes his own hand over their hands.

The cordial greeting was a sharp contrast to the last time Biden and the crown prince met, just over a year ago, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. During that encounter, Biden awkwardly greeted the crown prince with a fist bump, a moment roundly criticized by human rights activists, who were already upset at Biden’s decision to meet with the Saudi leader.

Bin Salman has been harshly criticized for his human rights violations. US intelligence officials determined that the prince approved the 2018 murder of the US-based writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was a tough critic of the kingdom’s ruling family,

Tel Sheva man is 172nd member of Arab community killed in homicide this year

A man shot dead in the southern Bedouin town of Tel Sheva is the 172nd member of Israel’s Arab community to be killed in a homicide since the start of the year, according to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence group.

The organization says 77 people were killed during the same span last year.

Gallant speaks with Moroccan counterpart as Israel readies to aid in quake response

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks with his Moroccan counterpart Abdellatif Loudiyi, as Israel readies to dispatch a search-and-rescue team to Morocco after a devastating earthquake in Morocco that killed over 1,000 people.

“A significant part of the Abraham Accords is our commitment to stand by our partners during difficult times. The State of Israel is prepared to assist the Kingdom of Morocco,” Gallant is quoted as saying in a statement from his office, referring to a series of US-backed normalization deals.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry says it will join the military and Defense Ministry in dispatching a delegation to Morocco that will include doctors and nurses, along with the provision of medical equipment.

The Health Ministry says it has been in touch with Israeli hospitals interested in assisting the delegation.