Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-10-2021

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 3,055 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, putting the infection rate at 3.3%. There are currently 653 people hospitalized in serious condition, with 215 of those on ventilators. There have been 5,936 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

According to a new election poll conducted by Channel 13, if elections were held today, Likud would win 29 Knesset seats and Yesh Atid 20 seats. Naftali Bennett’s Yamina would win 11 and Gideon Saar’s New Hope 9. Arab Joint List would get 8, Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beytenu 7, United Torah Judaism 7, Shas 6, Labor 6, Religious Zionism 5, Meretz 4, Blue and White 4, Ra’am (Arab) 4. Do the math and you’ll come up with no clear path to the 61 seats required to form a government. Sound familiar? Elections are scheduled for March 23.

PM Netanyahu confirmed, for the first time, that searches for the remains of executed Israeli spy Eli Cohen are underway in Syria. The Russians are reportedly conducting the searches. Cohen was an Egyptian-born Israeli spy best known for his espionage work in the 1960s in Syria, where he became the chief adviser to the Syrian defense minister. His work was instrumental in helping Israel win the Six Day War. He was eventually exposed and captured by Syrian Intelligence in 1965, and sentenced to death and hung in Damascus’ main square.

PM Netanyahu will, for the first time, visit the United Arab Emirates tomorrow, where he will meet with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Audio for 3-10-2021

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-22-2021

News Update

The Health Ministry reported 3,038 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, putting the infection rate at 6.3%. 75% of the cases were in people under 40. There are currently 838 people hospitalized in serious condition. There have been 5,585 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The IDF sunk a suspicious boat off the Gaza coast, which it said posed a threat to navy ships in the area.

Palestinian sources revealed today that the Likud party has held talks with officials in Ramallah over potentially supporting PM Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections. According to sources, the talks with Palestinian Authority officials were initiated in an effort to encourage Israeli-Arabs to vote for Likud or abstain from voting for the predominantly Arab Joint List party. Likud was represented by Druze politician Fateen Mulla, who currently serves as the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. Likud denied the report, but Mulla confirmed the talks, but downplayed their importance.

Israel and Egypt agreed to lay underwater pipeline as part of a bigger pipeline project to convey natural gas from Israel to Europe via Greece and Italy.

Tons of tar have piled up on Israel’s beaches stretching along the entire coastline, from Gaza to Lebanon, as a result of an oil spill from a passing ship. Thousands of volunteers and IDF soldiers are racing to clean up the mess, which has already caused extensive ecological damage.

Israeli website building company Wix.com has become Israel’s most valuable company.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-19-2021

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,876 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, putting the infection rate at 6.8%. There are currently 907 people hospitalized in serious condition with 297 on ventilators. There have been 5,501 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Over 4.25 million Israelis have already received the first dose of the vaccine, and over 2.85 million the second dose. Data released by Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer showed that coronavirus infections were reduced by 75%, and an 85% reduction in symptomatic infections, after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

On Wednesday a 25 year old Israeli woman crossed into Syria from the Golan and was arrested by Syrian authorities in a Druze village near the border. The woman, a former resident of the ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement of Modi’in Illit, had previously attempted to cross into Gaza, but had been stopped by the army.

Today, the woman was returned to Israel on a flight from Moscow, where she was sent as part of a prisoner swap brokered by Russia. In exchange for her return, Israel transferred to Syria two Syrian shepherds who were arrested after crossing the border, and pardoned Israeli Druze prisoner Nihal al-Mkat. The shepherds were suspected of being Hezbollah operatives. Israel also provided further compensation, the details of which are prohibited from publication.

US President Biden called PM Netanyahu on Wednesday for the first time. According to a statement from the PM Office, “The conversation was very friendly and warm and lasted about an hour. The two leaders noted the long-standing personal connection between them and said they would work together to further strengthen the strong alliance between Israel and the United States. President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed further advancing peace agreements, the Iranian threat and the region’s challenges and agreed to continue talks between them. The president also congratulated the prime minister on his leadership in the fight against coronavirus, and the two exchanged views on how to deal with the pandemic.”

Israel’s Ministry of Defense officially announced the start of development of the Arrow 4 missile defense system, which will replace the Arrow 2 as part of Israel’s multi-layer ballistic missile shield.

Audio for 2-19-2021

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-17-2021

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 4,389 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, putting the infection rate at 6.4%. There are currently 964 people hospitalized in serious condition. 40% of new serious coronavirus patients in the country are below the age of 60. There have been 5,441 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Over 4 million Israelis have already received the first dose of the vaccine, and over 2.7 million the second dose.

The government is drafting legislation that would mandate that employers require employees to present either proof of vaccination, a negative covid test or proof of having recovered from the virus, in order to come to work. Although no specific profession was named in the draft, officials say the bill targets teachers, police officers and medical teams or people who must come into contact with many people in the course of their work. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said the legislation is a violation of privacy rights and “could be seen as illegal discrimination on the basis of disability or opinion and could constitute harm to the individual’s right to employment.”

A shipment of 1,000 Russian “Sputnik V” vaccines will be arriving in Gaza. Two weeks ago, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah received about 100,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine as a gift from Russian authorities, 2,000 of which were donated specifically to the Hamas-ruled enclave.

Cabinet ministers were summoned Tuesday evening to an urgent meeting amid intensive talks between top Israeli and Russian officials on a humanitarian issue pertaining to Syria.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday that President Biden’s first call with a Middle East leader will be with PM Netanyahu, and that it will be soon.

A ministerial committee approved a NIS 15 billion arms purchase from the US, including a new F-35 squadron, four new refueling planes, a large quantity of munitions and components for the Arrow missile system and the Iron Dome defense system.

A major snowstorm hit northern Israel yesterday, dropping several inches of snow in the Golan and parts of the Galilee. Jerusalem is expecting snow later today.

Audio for 2-17-2021

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-12-2021

News Update

The Health Ministry reported 4,922 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, putting the infection rate at 6.7%. There are currently 985 people hospitalized in serious condition. There have been 5,286 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Over 3.7 million Israelis have already received the first dose of the vaccine, and over 2.4 million the second dose.

Iraqi media outlets blamed Israel for a daylight attack on a convoy carrying advanced weapons from Iran to Syria. The attack occurred near the Syrian border with Iraq. Other than damage to equipment, there were no reports of casualties. Iraqi militias backed by Iran have been using the corridor between Iraq and Syria to deliver weapons.

A senior Israeli military commander said that, according to Israeli military estimates, Hamas has around 7,000 rockets and 300 anti-tank and 100 anti-aircraft missiles. It also has acquired dozens of unmanned aerial vehicles and has an army of some 30,000 militants, including 400 naval commandos who have received sophisticated training and equipment to carry out seaborne operations.

The White House yesterday said that President Biden plans to speak with PM Netanyahu soon. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news briefing, “The president looks forward to speaking with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He’s obviously somebody that he has a long-standing relationship with. Obviously there’s an important relationship that the United States has with Israel on the security front and as a key partner in the region.” He added, “He’ll be talking with him soon – I don’t have a specific date or time for you on that call yet.”

Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-10-2021

News Update

To listen to an audio version click here. (for supporters)

The Health Ministry reported 6,062 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, putting the infection rate at 7.8%. There are currently 1,020 people hospitalized in serious condition and 317 on ventilators. There have been 5,223 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Over 3.6 million Israelis have already received the first dose of the vaccine, and over 2.2 million the second dose.

PM Netanyahu reiterated that the Golan would forever remain part of Israel. His remarks came after US Secretary of State Blinken said on Monday that he saw control of the Golan as being “of real importance to Israel’s security” but added, “Legal questions are something else and over time, if the situation were to change in Syria, that’s something we look at, but we are nowhere near that.” President Biden’s advisers have said that he would not withdraw U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

An IDF intelligence report published Tuesday said that Hezbollah is looking to initiate a “limited offensive” against Israel for the first time since the Second Lebanon War in 2006.  The report says the group has a trained a “shock” unit, which it will utilize for a limited offensive lasting two to three days, without being dragged into an all-out war. To read more, click here.

Egypt yesterday opened its border with Gaza, at Rafah, indefinitely. Rafah is Gaza’s only passage to the outside world.

Likud today signed a surplus vote-sharing agreement with the far-right Religious Zionism party led by Betzalel Smotrich. Vote-sharing agreements, which are widely used in Israeli elections, allow parties to ensure that extra votes they win that don’t add up to a Knesset seat do not go to waste. Assuming that Religious Zionism passes the 3.25% vote threshold to enter the Knesset, any additional votes they get that do not add up to an additional seat will be transferred to Likud.

In the agreement, Religious Zionism vowed to not support anyone but Netanyahu as prime minister for the entire term of the 24th Knesset, while Likud promised to have representatives of Religious Zionism in any government formed by Netanyahu.

Israeli company Aleph Farms, in a joint statement with the Technion Institute of Technology, announced that it has made the world’s first laboratory cultivated rib-eye steak, with all the flavor and texture of regular meat. The company uses a unique three-dimensional bioprinting technique. The bioprinting technology uses “natural building blocks of meat” developed from real cow cells, which are then encouraged to grow, differentiate, and interact to obtain the texture and qualities of a real steak. The process involves no genetic engineering. Aleph expects it will take two to three years before the technology has advanced to a point where the meat will be available commercially. To read more, click here.

Audio for 2-10-2021

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