Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-19-2021

News Update

Rabbi Eliyahu Mali, who heads the Shirat Moshe Hesder Yeshiva in the mixed Jewish and Arab area of Jaffa-Tel Aviv, and Moshe Schendowich, the yeshiva’s director, were attacked and beaten by Arabs yesterday. The attack occurred when they went to examine a nearby building in Jaffa that they were interested in purchasing for the yeshiva. Later, members of the local Jewish community gathered to protest the attack. Arabs staged a counter protest, which turned violent when they began throwing stones and fireworks at the Jewish protesters and police. Eight Arabs were arrested.

Arabs rioted near the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City last night. Five rioters were arrested. Mounted police were used to disperse the rioters.

The security cabinet met for the first time in 2 months, to discuss tensions with Iran and the attempt by the US to reinstate the Iran nuclear agreement. The US has reportedly expressed to Israel its displeasure with Israel’s recent attacks against Iran and what it called “boasting” by Israel regarding these incidents.

Israel and Greece signed their biggest ever defense procurement deal. The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training center for the Greek Air Force by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems over a 22-year period. The announcement came following a meeting in Cyprus on Friday between the UAE, Greek, Cypriot and Israeli foreign ministers, who agreed to deepen cooperation between their countries.

Bahrain’s flag carrier Gulf Air will be offering direct flights between Manama and Tel Aviv starting June 3. Gulf Air said that economy class tickets are expected to cost $299 per seat.

Israir Airlines, which flies local routes primarily to Eilat, will stop flying on Shabbat. The airline was recently purchased by an investment company owned by Rami Levy and Shalom Haim, both of whom are Sabbath observers.

Israel lifted its mask mandate for outdoor spaces and fully reopened its schools yesterday.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-16-2021

News Update

Last night, just after the completion of Independence Day celebrations, terrorists fired a rocket into Israel from Gaza. The rocket fell in an open area near the Gaza border. In response, the Israel Air Force attacked several Hamas targets in Gaza including an arms production facility, an arms-smuggling tunnel and a military post.

Arabs rioted near the Old City in Jerusalem last night for the 3rd consecutive night. A police officer was injured after being hit in the head with a rock and several vehicles were attacked and damaged. Video from the scene showed crowds running in the area and attacking police officers, with one video shared on social media showing a police officer being thrown to the ground. Police are gearing up for more unrest after the first Friday prayer session of Ramadan.

Israel’s outdoor mask mandate ends on Sunday. Masks will still be required in confined spaces.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-14-2021

News Update

Today is Yom Hazikaron, the day of remembrance for the 23,928 fallen soldiers and victims of terror. Since last year’s Memorial Day, 112 names have been added to the list of fallen including 69 former soldiers who died as a result of injuries sustained during their service. There are memorial services throughout the country.

Tonight, Israel will begin celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day, marking 73 years since the establishment of the state in 1948.

The Biden administration has told Congress that it is proceeding with more than $23 billion in weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates, including advanced F-35 aircraft, armed drones and other equipment. The sale was initiated by the Trump administration.

Sudan reportedly will send its first official delegation to Israel next week.

Five people were arrested Tuesday night as hundreds rioted near the Old City’s Damascus Gate in Jerusalem after returning from prayers on the first night of Ramadan.

A ship belonging to Israeli businessman Rami Ungar was attacked by a missile off the coast of the UAE. The ship sustained minor damage. This is the third time that an Israeli owned vessel has been attacked in the Gulf. Iran is suspected to be behind the attacks.

Israel will drop the requirement to wear masks outdoors starting next week. Masks will still be required indoors. There were 199 new coronavirus cases recorded yesterday, putting the contagion rate at 0.26%. There are currently 221 coronavirus patients hospitalized in critical condition, including 124 who are connected to ventilators. The total number of coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic is 6,312.

Israel will begin allowing organized tourist groups to enter the country from May 23. Tourists will have to have been vaccinated and be required to undergo testing.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-12-2021

News Update

Iran blamed Israel for a sudden power outage at its Natanz nuclear facility yesterday. According to American and Israeli intelligence officials, the power failure was caused by a deliberately planned explosion, which “completely destroyed the heavily protected internal power system that supplies the underground centrifuges that enrich uranium”. They added that it could take at least nine months or even longer to restore the production of uranium at the underground nuclear facility.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Defense Minister Gantz in Israel on Sunday. He said the Biden administration would continue to ensure Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the Middle East as part of a “strong commitment to Israel and the Israeli people”. Austin made no mention of Iran in his remarks to the press.

An Egged bus was heavily damaged late Saturday by stones and firebombs after it mistakenly entered the Arab neighborhood of Isawiya in east Jerusalem. There were no passengers on the bus at the time except for the driver and his family, who managed to escape and call police. During the search of the area that police conducted after the incident, three residents of the neighborhood, including two minors, were detained and taken for questioning.

Joint List MK Ofer Cassif filed an official complaint against police after he was beaten by officers during a protest in East Jerusalem over the weekend. Cassif is the only Jewish member of the Arab party. Footage from the incident showed police officers tackling and kicking Cassif, breaking his glasses and ripping his shirt.

In his effort to form a 61 seat majority coalition, PM Netanyahu has reportedly accepted that the Religious Zionism party will never sit together with the Arab Ra’am party, which is what he was trying to make happen. He now has turned his attention on trying to convince Gideon Sa’ar and his New Hope party to join the government, despite Sa’ar’s vow never to sit in a government with Netanyahu as PM.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-9-2021

News Update

At 10am yesterday, Israel observed two-minutes of silence as sirens wailed across the country in remembrance of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. There were ceremonies and memorials throughout the day. There are currently 174,500 Holocaust survivors in Israel.

Syria’s state news agency reported that Israel carried out a missile attack near Damascus yesterday, wounding 4 soldiers.

Israel said that it does not recognize the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and will not cooperate with its investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians. Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC and therefore, by definition, not a party to the court.

The U.S. said on Wednesday that it will provide $235 million to the Palestinians and restart funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which assists 5.7 million registered Palestinian refugees. Israel’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan tweeted, “Israel strongly opposes renewing funding for @UNRWA, an anti-Semitic agency that incites against Israel and uses a twisted definition of who is a “refugee.” Rather than solving the conflict, UNRWA perpetuates it. Any return to funding it must be contingent on essential reforms.”

Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-7-2021

News Update

President Reuven Rivlin has given PM Netanyahu the mandate to form the next government. Rivlin said, “I know the position held by many, that the president should not give the role to a candidate that is facing criminal charges, but according to the law and the decision of the courts, a prime minister can continue in his role even when he is facing charges.”

Netanyahu’s opponents have begun efforts to block him from the premiership, with Yisrael Beitenu filling legislation proposals on term limits for prime ministers and barring an indicted member of the Knesset from serving as prime minister.

The PM now has 28 days to form a coalition of at least 61 seats. He so far has 52, including Likud (30), Shas (9), UTJ (7) and Religious Zionism (6).

Just to refresh your memory, the final election results were:

Likud – 30
Yesh Atid – 17
Shas – 9
Blue & White – 8
Yamina – 7
Yisrael Beitenu – 7
United Torah Judaism (UTJ) – 7
Labor – 7
Meretz – 6
New Hope – 6
Joint Arab List – 6
Religious Zionism – 6
Ra’am – 4

The 24th Knesset was sworn in yesterday, while the PM’s corruption trial continues.

IDF troops conducting a raid in the village of Bir Nabala early Tuesday shot and killed a Palestinian who tried to ram them with his car. His wife, who was in the car with him, was also wounded.

A covert Iranian military intelligence ship in the Red Sea was hit and damaged by mines stuck to it. The New York Times reported Wednesday that Israel informed the United States it had struck the Iranian vessel. Israeli officials declined to comment on the attack.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will visit Israel next week for meetings with PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. He will be the first cabinet level member of the Biden administration to visit Israel.

Sudan’s Cabinet voted on Tuesday to repeal a 1958 law that forbade diplomatic and business relations with Israel.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised upwards Israel’s growth forecast for 2021 from 4.1% in its January forecast, to 5%. The IMF sees inflation rising to 0.7% in Israel in 2021, about half that of most OECD countries, and predicts that unemployment will fall in Israel to just 5% by the end of the year, and to 4.6% in 2022.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-5-2021

News Update

President Reuven Rivlin began meeting with representatives of political parties today to hear their recommendations on who should be chosen to form the next government. The meeting will be held over the next 3 days. Thus far, Likud and Shas have recommended Netanyahu, Yesh Atid and Blue and White have recommended Yair Lapid, and Yamina has recommended its leader Naftali Bennett, with only 7 seats.

Just to refresh your memory, the final election results were:

Likud – 30
Yesh Atid – 17
Shas – 9
Blue & White – 8
Yamina – 7
Yisrael Beitenu – 7
United Torah Judaism (UTJ) – 7
Labor – 7
Meretz – 6
New Hope – 6
Joint Arab List – 6
Religious Zionism – 6
Ra’am – 4

PM Netanyahu has the support of Likud, Shas, UTJ and Religious Zionism for a total of 52 seats. Yair Lapid has the support of Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Yisrael Beitenu, Labor and Meretz, for a total of 45 seats. Two of the three parties in the Joint List – Hadash and Balad – have rejected Lapid, but Ta’al, which has two MKs, has not decided yet.

According to reports, Naftali Bennett has been in discussions with Yair Lapid regarding a power sharing agreement in which both men would take turns as Prime Minister. Without Bennet, there doesn’t seem to be a way for Netanyahu to get a majority to form a government. But it’s also unclear how Lapid and Bennet would get enough seats to form a government either.

Another election looks like it could be the only option.

Meanwhile, PM Netanyahu appeared in court today as the evidentiary stage of his corruption trial got underway.

Pfizer has halted a shipment of 700,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines to Israel after the government failed to approve transfer of payment for the last 2.5 million vaccines it supplied to the country. The delay in payment is apparently due to a conflict between PM Netanyahu and Alternate PM Benny Gantz.

The last, and only, living in Afghanistan is finally moving to Israel. Zabulon Simantov, 61, said he will leave after this year’s High Holidays season in the fall. His wife, a Jew from Tajikistan, and their two daughters have lived in Israel since 1998. But Simantov has stayed in his native Afghanistan to tend to its lone synagogue, in Kabul. His departure will end 2,000 years of Jewish settlement in the country.