Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-27-2020

News Update

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Restaurants, bars, swimming pools, amusement parks, museums and other entertainment venues are set to reopen today, with social distancing regulations. Synagogues can now allow up to 70 worshippers.

Israel’s school year will be extended into the summer. Children in grades one through four will have classes until July 13 and students enrolled in summer schools will study at least until August 6. Meanwhile, there have been several cases of entire classes, and their families and teachers, being sent into quarantine after being exposed to children or teachers who tested positive for coronavirus.

IDF forces arrested seven terror suspects in overnight raids in Ramallah and Tulkarem. Despite the Palestinian Authority’s assertions that it was no longer abiding by its agreements with Israel, no clashes were reported between Palestinian security forces and Israeli troops, indicating that some degree of coordination between the two was ongoing.

According to a report by Galei Tzahal today citing unnamed sources in the Israeli government, the Trump administration has called for the boundaries set by Israel’s expected annexation of the Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley to become Israel’s eastern border, with Israel agreeing to give up its demands to apply sovereignty over the remaining parts of Judea and Samaria.

Israel is expected to apply sovereignty over approximately 30% of Judea and Samaria, including the Jordan Valley, Dead Sea coast, and all Israeli towns beyond the pre-1967 Green Line. The US will, in keeping with the Trump peace plan, recognize Israeli sovereignty in these areas, while requiring Israel not to expand towns or establish new communities outside of the areas delineated for sovereignty for a period of four years, leaving the door open to final status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli officials cited by the Galei Tzahal report said the new conditions for US recognition of Israeli sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria would require Israel to drop its claims to the remainder of Judea and Samaria.

An Israeli court ruled that Malka Leifer, the principal of an ultra-Orthodox school in Melbourne Australia accused of sexually abusing students, was faking a mental illness to avoid prosecution and was fit to stand trial and be extradited. The extradition hearing was set for July 20th. Australia requested Leifer’s extradition in 2014 on 74 charges of child sex abuse. The police have recommended charges of fraud and breach of trust be brought against former Health Minister Yaakov Litzman for suspicions that he pressured ministry employees to skew Leifer’s psychiatric evaluations in her favor. Litzman denies any wrongdoing.

Iranian President Rouhani has approved legislation banning the use of any Israeli products in Iran. According to the new law, any cooperation with Israel, including use of its products, will be considered an “act against god.” [Does the ban include medicine and vaccines? Hmm]

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-25-2020

News Update

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As new coronavirus cases drop to almost zero in Israel, the government today voted to limit the Shin Bet’s involvement in locating and tracking coronavirus carriers using cell phones, except for in extreme cases where there is no other way to do so. Government watchdog groups had challenged the Shin Bet tracking in court, arguing the use of mass surveillance to track Israel’s population is a gross violation of civil and privacy rights.

Yesterday the government approved a plan to inject an additional NIS14 billion ($4 billion) into the economy, bringing the state’s bailout package to a total of NIS100 billion ($28 billion).

According to a recent survey released by the Israel Democracy Institute, 55% of Israelis believe that there will be a second wave of coronavirus and 39% believe that the reopening of the economy has been rushed.

The Palestinian Authority will reopen mosques, churches and businesses tomorrow, which coincides with the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

IDF troops fired at two Palestinians who attempted to stab the soldiers with sickles during the army’s operational activity in the West Bank today. The attackers were hit, but managed to flee. No soldiers were hurt.

El Al will begin operating cargo flights from Tel Aviv to Turkey for the first time since 2010, when Turkey halted flights after Israel stopped and boarded a boat trying to break the blockade of Gaza and killed 9 Palestinians who attacked Israeli soldiers. The cargo flights will carry medical equipment from Turkey to New York. Meanwhile, in a to message American muslims, Turkey’s president Erdogan vowed to protect Palestinians against any attempt by Israel to annex parts of the West Bank.

Despite the Covid-19 crisis, Swedish furniture giant IKEA opened its sixth store in Israel today at Moshav Eshtaol near Beit Shemesh. The store covers 25,000 square meters and has 380 employees. IKEA’s five existing stores in Israel are in Netanya, Rishon Lezion, Kiryat Ata (near Haifa), Beersheva and a kitchen store in Tel Aviv Port.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-22-2020

News Update

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Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has announced that groups of up to 50 people will be allowed to congregate indoors, with masks and proper social distancing. Workplaces will be allowed to reduce the space between workers to 4 meters (instead of 6).

The IDF’s Northern Command has reported an increase in the number of people trying to illegally cross the border from southern Lebanon to Israel over the past two months. While most incidents are related to drug trafficking, smuggling or illegal immigration, the IDF treats each incident as a potential terrorist attack, which involves deploying large forces and attack helicopters.

The Palestinian Authority has declined a shipment of 14 tons of medical supplies sent by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which arrived at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport earlier this week. PA officials claim that the UAE did not coordinate the shipment with them, and that, “Palestinians refuse to be a bridge [for Arab countries] seeking to have normalized ties with Israel.”

The Israel National Cyber Directorate accused Iran of launching a massive cyber attack that hacked hundreds of Israeli websites. Most of the sites are hosted by the Upress company, which is working to fix the security flaw that allowed the hack.

119 new immigrants arrived from Ethiopia yesterday. Also this week, 111 immigrants arrived from the Ukraine and 41 from Russia.

Today is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), which commemorates the 53 anniversary of the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem. In Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Jordan took control of eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City. The Jordanians expelled all Jews from the ancient Jewish quarter and destroyed all of the synagogues there. For the next 18 years the Jordanians prohibited Jews from worshipping at the Western Wall.

During the 1967 Six Day War, after Israel had for the most part already defeated the armies of Egypt and Syria, the government warned Jordan’s King Hussein not to enter the war. But Jordan ignored the warning and attacked the Israeli part of Jerusalem. The IDF counterattacked and drove Jordanian forces out of eastern Jerusalem and the entire West Bank.

After nearly 2,000 years of exile, and just over 2 decades after the Holocaust, a Jewish army took back control of the entire city of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel and of the entire Jewish nation. Since then, the holy places of Christianity and Islam are open to all who wish to visit and worship in them. And Jews from all over the world can once again return to visit, pray and live in our holy city.

Let us pay tribute to those who sacrificed, and continue to sacrifice, to make Jerusalem free, safe and the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish nation.

To watch a video of the reconquering of the Old City, click here.

Happy Jerusalem Day!

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-20-2020

News Update

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The government has approved the reopening of restaurants, bars, and night clubs on May 27th. The establishments will have to follow strict social distancing and sanitary guidelines. Several bars and restaurants in Tel Aviv opened last night, despite the regulations against reopening, and police warned them to close or be fined. Police also dispersed hundreds of people who gathered to socialize in Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv.

According to a new study by Tel Aviv University, 70% of coronavirus patients in Israel were infected by a strain that originated in the United States. The rest of the infections in Israel were imported from Belgium (8%), France (6%), England (5%), Spain (3%) followed by Italy, the Philippines, and Russia. There were hardly any infections imported from China, South Korea, or Singapore. The study also showed that individuals who disobeyed Health Ministry guidelines and attended events such as large parties or other social gatherings contributed to mass infections.

State prosecutors are demanding that PM Netanyahu be present at the opening session of his fraud and bribery trial on May 24th, claiming that it is vital for a defendant to hear the criminal charges against him in person. The PM has petitioned the court to allow him not to attend.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced last night that the PA will no longer be bound by agreements it has signed with Israel and the United States, including those related to security cooperation. The announcement is believed to be in response to Israel’s plans to declare sovereignty over the Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley after July 1st.

A Jordanian man who was trying to smuggle weapons into Israel was shot in the leg by security forces as he tried to breach the Israeli-Jordanian border south of the Kinneret.

A record-breaking heatwave (sharav) is being felt throughout Israel this week. The extreme heat and dry air is causing brush fires throughout the country. Two men have died as a result of the heat wave.

A United Arab Emirates (UAE) Etihad Airways plane bringing aid to the Palestinians landed at Ben Gurion airport yesterday, making it the first time Etihad Airways has landed in Israel.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-18-2020

News Update

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There have been no new deaths or coronavirus cases in Israel since yesterday. The death toll stands at 272.

Airstrikes hit Iranian-backed militia in Syria, near the Iraqi border, on Saturday, killing 7 militiamen. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israel’s new government was finally approved, by a 73-46 vote in the Knesset. The 36th Israeli government will be the largest in the country’s history, with 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers. Netanyahu will remain Prime Minister until October of 2021, when Benny Gantz is scheduled to take over the position. Gantz is currently the new Defense Minister. Netanyahu said, “The new government’s first challenge is jobs, jobs, jobs.”

The Lod District Court today found Amiram Ben-Uliel guilty of three counts of murder in a 2015 firebomb attack that killed a Palestinian baby and both his parents. The Shin Bet said that Ben-Uliel had confessed to planning and carrying out the attack in retaliation for the killing of an Israeli by Palestinians a month earlier. Ben-Uliel’s lawyers said they were not surprised by the verdict and that their client’s confession was allegedly made under torture. The sentencing hearing was set for June 9.

Israeli merchants are taking advantage of online opportunities to sell during the current pandemic. The number of Israeli sellers on eBay rose by 40% in April compared with March, and sales rose by 46 percent. Most of the products, ranging from hygiene goods to leisure items, were new. In addition to domestic sales within Israel, the top four overseas countries for Israel eBay sales are the US, UK, Canada and Germany.

German airline Lufthansa will resume flights to Tel Aviv in mid-June. The carrier announced that it will operate six flights each week to Tel Aviv from Frankfurt and Munich.

Jerusalem, Israel’s largest city, continued to grow even larger in both population and industry in the past year. To read more about this click here.