Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-16-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 2,862 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest number since prior to the October lockdown. The positivity rate has risen to 3.5%. There are currently 19,887 active cases of which 381 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 138 on ventilators. There have been 3,022 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic. Ministers are discussing whether to impose further lockdowns.

Jared Kushner will lead a U.S. delegation to Israel and Morocco next week for discussions on the normalization deal the two countries reached last week. Kushner, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and Adam Boehler, chief executive officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, will arrive in Israel on Monday.

In recent tests, the Iron Dome missile defense system has, for the first time, successfully intercepted cruise missiles and other precision missiles. The tests were important in proving Israel’s multi-layer missile defense system (Arrow, David’s Sling and Iron Dome) and communications between the various systems in order to best manage and jointly coordinate missile threats and enhance interception opportunities during conflict. Representatives of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency also participated in the tests.

Winter storms are battering Israel this week, causing major flooding in some areas. On the bright side, the Kinneret has risen 3 centimeters.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-14-2020

News Update

The Health Ministry reported 1,707 new coronavirus cases on Sunday. There are currently 17,373 active cases of which 353 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 122 on ventilators. There have been 3,003 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Likud MK David Bitan has been placed on a ventilator, two days after he was admitted to hospital suffering from COVID-19. Bitan contracted the virus a week ago, after attending a reception for hundreds of Ethiopian immigrants along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and other officials.

The Health Ministry expects around 240 Israelis to return from visits to the UAE with positive COVID-19 diagnoses during the month of December. Over 25,000 Israelis are expected to visit the UAE this month.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University say they can prove that the coronavirus can be killed quickly and cheaply using ultraviolet light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs). To read more click here.

Sources in Jerusalem have said that Oman will be the next Arab nation to normalize relations with Israel. The sources added Saudi Arabia might also normalize diplomatic relations with Israel before outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump leaves office next month. They also said that talks were being held with Niger, Mali, Djibouti, Mauritania, and the Comoro Islands in Africa as well as with Indonesia, Pakistan, Brunei, Bangladesh, and the Maldives in Asia.

A day after Morocco announced it was set to sign a deal with Israel, the Trump administration notified Congress that it was moving ahead with a $1 billion weapons sale to Morocco.

Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd. signed a $27 million deal to help the Romanian air force upgrade its aircraft and systems.

Today is the fourth day of Hanukkah. The holiday began last Thursday night and lasts for eight days, commemorating the miraculous burning of one day’s supply of oil for eight days in the menorah in the Holy Temple rededicated by the Maccabees and the Jewish nation. The holiday also commemorates the victory of the Jewish people over the Hellenists, who tried to eradicate the Jewish religion. It was the first time a nation rose up in arms in the defense of religious freedom.

The lights of Hanukkah remind us to cherish our faith and freedom, and resist those that try to deprive us of them. May we all continue to enjoy the freedom represented by our Hanukkah lights and share the light with the entire world.

What do you get when you mix Hamilton, Hanukkah and a bunch of singing yeshivah boys? A pretty awesome music video. To watch click here.

To hear a Hassidic Hanukkah medley, mostly in Yiddish, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-11-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,866 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. There are currently 16,298 active cases of which 323 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 109 on ventilators. There have been 2,969 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Israel and Morocco agreed yesterday to normalize relations, in a deal brokered by the Trump administration. As part of the agreement the US agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara. Morocco will establish full diplomatic relations and resume official contacts with Israel, grant overflights and also direct flights to and from Israel for all Israelis. After the announcement, Jared Kushner said that normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia is inevitable. President-elect Biden has indicated that he will continue the pursuit of what Trump calls “the Abraham Accords” between Israel and Arab and Muslim nations.

Norwegian lawmakers voted to cut their country’s financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) of around $3.4 million over anti-Semitic content and incitement to violence in its educational materials.

PA President Abbas reiterated the PA’s law prohibiting Palestinians from selling land to Israelis. The punishment is life imprisonment or forced labor. He promised to come after violators with full force.

Hundreds of demonstrators protested, some for and some against, the purchase of 50% of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team by a member of the UAE royal family. The team has never had an Arab player and is notorious for its large group of openly anti-Arab fans.

Audio for 12-11-2020

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-9-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,719 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday. There are currently 14,905 active cases of which 310 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 113 on ventilators. There have been 2,932 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The first batch of several thousand doses of Pfizer’s new coronavirus vaccine arrived in Israel this morning. PM Netanyahu was there to greet the plane and said that he would be the first to take the vaccine. Another, much larger, shipment will be arriving tomorrow, and more next week. Israelis choosing to get vaccinated will reportedly receive benefits from the government, such as an exemption from the requirement to isolate upon returning from abroad or being exposed to a confirmed coronavirus carrier.

According to a new research report, the number of Israeli households below the poverty line has grown by nearly 50% during the coronavirus pandemic, which equals 268,000 people. To read more about this click here.

Senior Likud member Gideon Saar has decided to resign from the party and the Knesset in order to launch a new political party called “New Hope” to challenge PM Netanyahu. Initial polls show that Saar could win as many as 10 seats, which would likely give him the power to prevent Netanyahu from forming a new government. Saar will likely pull support from Likud and Yamina. New elections will most likely be held in March 2021.

Audio for 12-9-2020

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-7-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,230 new coronavirus cases on Sunday. The contagion rate has risen to over 3% for the past 3 days. There are currently 13,054 active cases of which 331 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 112 on ventilators. There have been 2,917 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Six Border Police officers and four Palestinians were wounded today, when riots broke out as members of a Border Police counter-terrorism unit carried out an arrest operation in the Qalandia refugee camp near Jerusalem. The Border Police were attempting to arrest three members of a car theft ring operating from the camp. Camp residents threw cement blocks and washing machines at the troops, who responded with live fire. IDF troops extracted the Border Police unit and detained 2 of the 3 suspects.

Israel is in the process of a major infrastructure project to build new highways and improve existing ones to make it easier for residents of Jewish settlements in the West Bank to commute to the center of the country and to solidify Israeli control over the area. To read more about this click here.

Audio for 12-7-2020

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-4-2020

News Update

The Health Ministry reported 1,434 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. There are currently 11,761 active cases of which 287 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 101 on ventilators. There have been 2,891 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic. The coronavirus cabinet will meet on Sunday.

Israel is due to receive two shipments of two million doses each, which are expected to arrive either by the end of December or the start of January. The first shipment will be provided by Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with German company BioNTech and received funding from Berlin. Germany said in October that it would share with Israel any coronavirus vaccination created in Europe. The first batch of doses will be enough to vaccinate 2 million people. The first people to be vaccinated will be healthcare professionals, the elderly and those considered high-risk.

The National Security Council warned Israelis not to travel to the UAE, Bahrain, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Africa because of Iranian threats following the recent assassination of its top nuclear scientist.

Bahrain said that it would treat Israeli products made in the West Bank as being “Made in Israel”. The US recently made the same decision, but the EU still distinguishes between products made within the Green Line, which it considers Israel, and those made in the West Bank.

Turkey is reportedly engaged in secret talks with Israel to repair relations between the two countries.

Israel received its most advanced warship on Wednesday. The German made Saar-6 corvette will be fitted with both electronic countermeasures for cruise missiles, which have a flat trajectory, and a maritime version of the Iron Dome system for shooting down high-angle rockets. Israel is scheduled to receive 3 more of the ships next year, which will bring the total of Israeli missile boats to 15.

On Wednesday the Knesset voted 61 to 54 to advance the bill to disband the government. If negotiations between Netanyahu and Gantz do not produce an agreement, the bill will pass through all its readings in the Knesset and dissolve the present government, leading to new elections. If the 2 year budget is not passed by December 23, the government will automatically be dissolved, without a Knesset vote. The latest polls suggest that right wing parties, including Likud, Yamina and the religious parties would win a clear majority in new elections.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-2-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,227 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday. There are currently 10,513 active cases of which 266 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 94 on ventilators. There have been 2,865 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic. The head of Hamas in Gaza reportedly has Covid [thought you’d want to know that].

A senior Health Ministry official said that Israel is currently seeing the beginning of a third coronavirus wave due to a continued rise in infection.

A recent study by Tel Aviv University shows that around a third of all Israelis are experiencing severe levels of anxiety, up from 10% pre-pandemic.

Blue & White Chairman and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said his party will vote today in favor of a bill to disperse the Knesset and hold another election. He said that he will not support the no-confidence vote if PM Netanyahu agrees to pass the two-year budget, which he has so far refused to do.

If the long-term budget is passed, Netanyahu would be forced to commit to the PM rotation agreement next year and yield power to Gantz. But if the government collapses, Netanyahu would remain as prime minister throughout the three-month election campaign and until a new coalition is formed.

Netanyahu would also benefit by further delaying the budget talks, which would give him more time for the coronavirus vaccine to arrive and the economy to begin recovering next year — and a boost in a new election.

A 40 member delegation from Bahrain arrived in Israel yesterday for two days of talks on boosting economic cooperation and tourism.

Israel has transferred over $1 billion in funds to the Palestinian Authority. The transfer of tax and customs funds had been halted after the PA halted all cooperation with Israel in May, in response to Israeli plans to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. Those plans were put on hold after Israel signed peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.