Israel marked Sunday afternoon the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, bringing daily life to a complete halt days after the country entered its second nationwide full lockdown to curb the sharp rise in coronavirus infections.
Essential businesses shut down, roads emptied out and even radio and TV stations went silent as the faithful fasted for 25 hours and held intensive prayers on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Despite the spike in infections, synagogues remained open and services for the holiday were allowed inside synagogue buildings in groups of no more than 25, and with a radius of four square meters per person.
Here are some of Yom Kippur's main events in Israel and abroad.
Trump frequently paid no federal income taxes in years leading up to presidency, report says
President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, after years of reporting heavy losses from his business enterprises to offset hundreds of millions of dollars in income, the New York Times reported on Sunday, citing tax-return data.
In a report that Trump dismissed as "fake news," the Times said the Republican president also paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years through 2017, despite receiving $427.4 million through 2018 from his reality television program and other endorsement and licensing deals.
- The Obscure Origins of Yom Kippur
- ‘Coronavirus Lockdown Could Damage Israel’s Image as a Tech Superpower’
- Israel’s Yom Kippur 2020 – as Bad as 1973
Democrats were quick to seize on the report to paint Trump as a tax dodger and raise questions about his carefully groomed image as a savvy businessman.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter to ask Americans to raise their hands if they paid more in federal income tax than Trump.
Calling the report "total fake news" at a White House news conference, Trump again cited an ongoing audit as his reason for not releasing his returns.
In a statement to the Times, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said Trump had paid millions of dollars in personal taxes over the last decade, without weighing in on the specific finding of minimal income taxes.
Trump's consistent refusal to release his taxes has been a departure from standard practice for presidential candidates. He is currently in a legal battle with New York City prosecutors and congressional Democrats who are seeking to obtain his returns.
He also previously indicated he preferred to minimize his tax bill, saying in a 2016 presidential debate it made him "smart."
The Times reported that Trump was able to minimize his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his business empire. It said he claimed $47.4 million in losses in 2018, despite saying he had income of at least $434.9 million in a financial disclosure that year.
The Times emphasized the documents reveal only what Trump told the government about his businesses, and did not disclose his true wealth.
The Times said it had obtained tax-return data covering over two decades for Trump and companies within his business organization. It did not have information about his personal returns from 2018 or 2019.
The Times also reported that Trump was currently embroiled in a decade-long Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he claimed after declaring large losses. If the IRS rules against him in that audit, he could have to pay over $100 million, according to the newspaper. (Reuters)
Global COVID-19 death toll passes one million
The number of people worldwide who died from the coronavirus passed one million on Monday.
World Health Organization's top emergency expert Mike Ryan said that the number of fatalities might reach two million before a vaccine is developed. He added that without efficient preemptive measures, the number of coronavirus deaths might be even higher. (Haaretz)
Systems for COVID tracing in Haredi cities shut down on weekends amid budget deficit
Israel shut down the array operated in predominantly ultra-Orthodox communities on weekends and holiday to trace residents who tested positive for the coronavirus due to budget deficit.
ZAKA Rescue and Recovery, an Israeli disaster response group, operated the system mainly in Bnei Brak, Elad and Modi'in Ilit, aiming to quickly trace coronavirus carriers before they infect other people.
On Saturday, Zaka volunteers were required to notify more than a thousand people that their test results came back positive, but due to manpower shortage, only hundreds of carriers who are considered at-risk population were informed they hade caught the virus.
Operating the system on Saturdays and weekends costs tens of thousands of shekels. During Israel's first coronavirus wave, the Bnei Brak Municipality funded the array, but has recently decided to halt the funding, and the Health Ministry did not commit to allocate the money required to keep the system running. (Aaron Rabinowitz)
Jordan reopens trade gateway with Syria after month-long COVID closure
Jordan resumed its land border traffic with Syria, following a more than month-long closure, after applying new rules to prevent truck drivers spreading the novel coronavirus into the kingdom, officials and businessmen said. They said authorities imposed back-to-back handling of goods to ensure Syrian, Lebanese truck drivers and others entering the kingdom maintain a social distance from Jordanian customs officials.
Officials said in mid-August they had to close the crossing, the main gateway for goods from Lebanon and Syria to the Gulf, after dozens of infections among border officials linked to a spike in cases in neighboring Syria. (Reuters)
France's Macron says he will keep pushing initiative on Lebanon
French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not give up on an initiative to save Lebanon from collapse, but that he was "ashamed" of Lebanon's leaders and would increase pressure on them to change course.
Lebanon's prime minister-designate, Mustapha Adib, quit on Saturday after failing to line up a non-partisan cabinet, dealing a blow to the French plan aimed at rallying sectarian leaders to tackle the country's crisis.
Macron also said Lebanon's Hezbollah needed to clarify over the next few weeks whether it is a serious political force to help implement a roadmap for the country or a militia at the behest of Iran. (Reuters)
Jordan's monarch dissolves parliament in preparation for November election
Jordan's King Abdullah dissolved the parliament, officials said, which under constitutional rules means the government must resign within a week, paving the way for elections in November.
In July, Jordan's electoral commission set November 10 as the date for parliamentary elections after the monarch called for countrywide polls to be held at the end of the parliament's four-year term. (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia says G-20 gathering of world leaders to be virtual
Saudi Arabia, which is presiding over the Group of 20 countries this year, said Monday that the upcoming November gathering of world leaders will be held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Saudi Arabia said the virtual summit November 21-22 will be chaired by King Salman. The meeting will focus on focus on “protecting lives and restoring growth by addressing vulnerabilities uncovered during the pandemic and by laying down the foundations for a better future,” a Saudi statement said. (The Associated Press)