Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-30-2021

News Update

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid officially inaugurated Israel’s first embassy to the UAE in Abu Dhabi. In his speech he thanked former PM Netanyahu and called him the architect of the peace agreements signed with several Arab countries last year. Lapid will also inaugurate the Israeli consulate in Dubai during his 2 day visit.

Under the Agreement on Economic and Trade Cooperation that Lapid and the UAE foreign minister signed, the Israeli and UAE governments commit to open up economic relations and a free flow of goods and services, as well as cooperation on trade fairs, exchange of experts and know how, exchanges of delegations, cooperation on standards and regulation, encouragement of cooperation by the private sector, encouragement of R&D, agritech, and more.

In his first phone call with PM Naftali Bennett, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed Egypt’s support for efforts to reach a fair and permanent solution between the Palestinians and Israelis and also said it was important to follow through on Egypt-backed efforts to rebuild Gaza.

Israel’s hospitals are worried about a potential fourth wave of COVID-19 in the country. For now, however, most cases are in children, who suffer mild symptoms. According to the Health Ministry, on Tuesday 50 people were hospitalized for COVID-related complications around Israel, with 22 of them said to be in serious condition and 16 on ventilators. There were 1,160 active virus cases as of Tuesday evening.

Israel’s Rafael defense contractor this week unveiled a powerful new naval missile system, called the Sea Breaker, that it says can knock out a full-sized warship from hundreds of kilometers away in one shot. The fifth-generation missile is principally geared for use against targets at sea or near the shore, but can also navigate over land. At this stage, the Sea Breaker is primarily being marketed to customers abroad.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-28-2021

News Update

President Reuven Rivlin will meet with US President Biden today in Washington. Rivlin is on his final trip abroad as Israel’s president and will leave office next week. He is expected to discuss the Iran deal as well as other issues with Biden. Rivlin will also meet with members of Congress.

The US launched air strikes against operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq yesterday. The targets belonged to Iranian backed militias.

After reaching a deal with the government, more than 50 families now living at the outpost town of Evyatar, near Tapuah Junction in Samaria, have agreed to voluntarily evacuate until the defense establishment can verify that the land in question is not privately owned. The deal was reached following negotiations between Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White), Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina), and settlement leaders, including Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gave his blessing to the deal.

In exchange for the voluntary evacuation, which avoided the need for the army to forcefully evict the residents, the government will maintain a presence at the site and has vowed not to demolish the homes and other structures erected at Evyatar. The town will initially be used to house IDF soldiers and then a yeshiva. Residents would be allowed to resettle their homes if the government finds that the land was not privately owned, in which case the town will be officially established. The Defense Ministry has committed to instruct the Civil Administration to complete its surveying of the land in question within the next six months.

The foreign ministry summoned Poland’s ambassador to Israel to express its “great disappointment” with a new Polish bill that would limit World War II property restitution claims. Poland then called in Israel’s charge d’affaires to explain its position.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor will head a state commission of inquiry into the tragedy at Mount Meron on Lag B’Omer that killed 45 people and injured more than 100 others. The commission will also include the former mayor of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, and Maj. Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Yanai.

A 10-person delegation of IDF Home Front Command reservists and Foreign Ministry officials landed in Florida on Sunday morning to assist in the search and rescue efforts at the collapsed 12-story condominium tower in Surfside. The delegation is led by Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, and includes experts in search-and-rescue operations as well as engineers experienced in handling large-scale building collapses. Mexico’s Jewish community also sent a seven-member search-and-rescue team.

The ministerial committee on the coronavirus decided today that it would not impose new measures in order to stop the spread of virus after the latest outbreak. Israel has, however, reimposed the indoor mask wearing mandate.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-25-2021

News Update

Israel has reinstated the indoor mask wearing requirement following several Covid outbreaks, primarily among unvaccinated teens. The outbreaks are thought to be connected to Israelis returning home from abroad who may have brought in the Indians Delta variant of the virus. The Health Ministry is urging Israelis returning from abroad to self-isolate.

Israel is expanding Gaza’s fishing zone and allowing the import of raw materials for essential industries. There has been relative calm on the Gaza border recently.

In a speech earlier this week, PA President Abbas welcomed new PM Bennett and urged him to try and reach solutions on long-lasting issues between Palestinians and Israelis.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will hold his first meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Rome on Sunday.

A new poll conducted in the US by the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that among Democrats, 51% say the U.S. is not supportive enough of the Palestinians. The sentiment jumps to 62% among Democrats who describe themselves as liberal. On the other hand, 49% of Republicans say the U.S. is not supportive enough of the Israelis, a number that rises to 61% among those who say they’re conservative.

A letter from 73 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, including a number in leadership positions, is urging President Joe Biden to reverse what they call the Trump administration’s “abandonment of longstanding, bipartisan United States policy” on Israeli-Palestinian relations. The letter asks Biden to “Make clear that the United States considers settlements to be inconsistent with international law by reissuing relevant State Department and U.S. customs guidance to that effect,” and for all “relevant official U.S. documents and communications” to “once again consistently refer to the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as occupied.” To read more, click here.

Honduras opened its embassy in Jerusalem yesterday. It is the fourth country to do so, following the US, Guatemala and Kosovo. To mark the occasion, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and PM Naftali Bennett signed several bilateral cooperation agreements in Jerusalem.

The Bank of Israel has adopted Ethereum blockchain technology for an internal pilot project to examine the digital shekel. To implement the project the Bank of Israel IT department team has issued a token based on the blockchain technology of Ethereum, which represents digital shekels, and has set up digital wallets into which team members of the venture can transfer “imaginary digital shekels” to each other within the Bank of Israel. Ethereum is the world’s second biggest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin.

The Polish parliament has advanced a bill that would limit the ability of claimants to seek restitution for property they owned during the Holocaust. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, an outspoken critic of Poland, condemned the bill, tweeting, “This is a direct and painful attack on the rights of Holocaust survivor and their descendants. This is not the first time that the Poles are trying to turn a blind eye to what was done in Poland during the Holocaust.” Poland is the only member of the EU to deny any restitution to Holocaust survivors and their heirs.

Tens of thousands of people participated in the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv today.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-23-2021

News Update

Violence erupted last night in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians, who threw stones, chairs and fireworks at each other.

The Health Ministry said Wednesday that there were more than 100 new daily cases of coronavirus confirmed for the second consecutive day after 110 new infections were detected on Tuesday. The surge of cases, primarily among students who are unvaccinated, is suspected to be connected to a breach in protocol at Ben Gurion airport that allowed thousands of Israelis coming back from trips to enter the country without undergoing a Covid test.

Israelis leaving the country are now required to sign a declaration stating that they would not enter nations designated as virus hotspots, including Russia, India, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Israelis who have been to one of these hotspots will also be required to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status or whether they have already recovered from the virus. Anyone breaching quarantine faces fines of up to NIS 5,000.

Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Hezi Levi said that the Israeli population was not fully protected since herd immunity had not been achieved, and that the increase in cases was cause for concern. He said, “We must prevent travel to destinations where the virus is rampant and revamp our quarantine policies.”

According to data released by the Shin Bet,  there were 592 attacks in the West Bank and another 178 in Jerusalem in the month of May, compared to a total of 104 in April (80 in the West Bank and 24 in Jerusalem). The May attacks included 401 fire bombings, 33 pipe bombs, 87 arson attacks, 47 small-arms fire, two grenade attacks, one vehicular attack and others. To read more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-21-2021

News Update

PM Bennett yesterday warned Hamas that Israel will not tolerate any more violence of any kind. He made his comments during a ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the 2014 Gaza war. Bennett also promised that he would do all he could to return the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oren Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in the 2014 campaign.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will visit the UAE next week, where he will inaugurate the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of Israel in Dubai. It will be his first visit abroad as foreign minister.

The cabinet has approved an official inquiry into the tragedy at Meron that killed 45 people. The 4 person committee will be headed by a judge.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-18-2021

News Update

Israeli fighter jets attacked Hamas military targets in Gaza last night in response to incendiary balloons which were launched into Israel throughout the day and caused at least eight fires near the border.

Israeli forces struck and destroyed a Syrian military outpost near the Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights yesterday. According to the IDF, local Hezbollah officials were seen over the past month in the outpost located near the Syrian border town of Quneitra.

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid yesterday and discussed “the need to improve Israeli-Palestinian relations in practical ways” and other regional security issues, including Iran.

Ynet photographer Eli Mandelbaum was attacked by Palestinians who threw Molotov cocktails at his car outside the  settlement of Beitar Illit, where he resides. Mandelbaum managed to escape unhurt.

Police have arrested Yusuf Albaz, the leading imam of the central city of Lod, on suspicion of incitement to violence, terrorism and threats, based on social media posts he published yesterday calling for violence against police.

Defense Minister Gantz wants the government to launch an official investigation into the disaster that occurred in Meron on Lag B’omer, where 45 people were killed. He said, “It is a moral debt to the families, and no less, an important step meant to prevent such tragic events in the future.” His proposal will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

PM Bennett announced that Israel would give the Palestinian Authority over 1 million Pfizer vaccine doses. Under the terms of the deal, Israel will transfer to the Palestinian Authority between 1 million and 1.4 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination doses, which will soon expire, in exchange for a consignment of Pfizer vaccination doses due to be delivered to the Palestinian Authority in September-October 2021.

Former PM Netanyahu is apparently not too eager to leave the official PM residence in Jerusalem. Sources say it will take him several more weeks to move out. He has a villa in Caesarea. In the meantime, PM Bennett continues to reside with his family in his home in Raanana.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-16-2021

News Update

A Palestinian woman tried to run over and stab soldiers working along the separation barrier near the town of Hizma, north of Jerusalem today. She was shot and killed. One soldier was very lightly.

Israeli fighter jets attacked Hamas targets in Gaza overnight in response to dozens of incendiary balloon attacks into Israel yesterday, which cause 26 fires.

Thousands participated in the March of Flags, which passed the Damascus Gate and went through the Jaffa Gate down to the Western Wall. Police and security forces broke up the marchers into groups of 50, which they then escorted from the Jaffa gate through the Arab market, to prevent the marchers from potentially attacking or damaging Arab property. A mass prayer gathering was held at the Western Wall at the end of the march. Police arrested 17 Arabs for throwing rocks and clashing with police at several points along the parade route.

A scientific poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 53% of Palestinians believe Hamas is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people,” while only 14% prefer Abbas’ secular Fatah party.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco sent a congratulatory letter to PM Naftali Bennett on his inauguration saying, “On the occasion of your inauguration as Prime Minister of Israel, I express my sincere congratulations and best wishes for your success in your mission. I take this opportunity to emphasize that Morocco has adhered to its role and efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East that will ensure security and stability for all the peoples living in the region.”

Judges in the corruption trial of former PM Netanyahu have denied his request to postpone the trial until after the Jewish High Holidays in September.

Former deputy secretary of state Thomas Nides has been appointed as the US ambassador to Israel. Nides worked as part of the team that led to the approval of a $38 million, 10-year loan guarantee package for Israel, under the Obama administration. He also fought against limiting support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and for UNESCO. His latest position was managing director and vice chairman of Morgan Stanley investment bank.

A 4.2 magnitude earthquake was felt in southern Israel last night. No injuries or damage were reported. The IDF’s Homefront Command said the epicenter was 68 kilometers northeast of Eilat.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-14-2021

News Update

The new Israeli government was sworn in yesterday after it won a confidence vote of 60 to 59 in the Knesset. Naftali Bennett has replaced Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister.

Netanyahu did not go down without a fight. Just hours before the Knesset vote, Police and building inspectors arrived at the Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj in the Negev, which is home to Ra’am MK Said al-Harumi, to demolish several homes in violation of building codes, including some belonging to his relatives. According to sources close to al-Harumi, Netanyahu and departing Interior Minister Aryeh Deri promised to stop the demolition process in exchange for his refusal to vote with the new coalition. But al-Harumi did vote for the coalition.

In his speech following the vote of confidence for the new government, Netanyahu called the election results a fraud and lie, in that Bennett stole the votes of hundreds of thousands of right-wing voters who would never have agreed to join a unity government with the center and left. He claimed that those voters actually wanted him to remain as prime minister. He also called the new government weak and unable to deal with the issues facing Israel, and he promised to come back to power very soon.  For now, Netanyahu takes his place as leader of the opposition.

The new government is composed of parties spanning the political spectrum, from far-right to far-left, and the first Arab party to ever sit in a government.

Naftali Bennett will serve as PM for the the first 2 years. Bennett is the head of the right wing Yamina party, which is pro settlement expansion and against a Palestinian state. He most recently served as Defense Minister under Netanyahu. Bennett was born in 1972 in Haifa, to parents who immigrated to Israel from the US in 1967. As a child he spent several years in the US with his parents and went to elementary school in NJ for a couple of years. He returned to Israel at age 10. Bennett served as a commander of elite commando units in the IDF. He was a successful high-tech entrepreneur and sold 2 companies before entering politics. Bennett is the first orthodox Jew to serve as Prime Minister. US President Biden called to congratulate Bennett last night.

Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party — which is the second largest party in Knesset, will serve as foreign minister for the first 2 years and then take over as PM. Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White, will remain Defense Minister. Gideon Sa’ar, head of the right wing New Hope party, will be Justice Minister. Avigdor Lieberman, head of right wing Yisrael Beteynu, will be Finance Minister. To read more about these and the other new ministers, click here.

The first test of the new government will come on Tuesday, when the nationalist March of the Flags is scheduled to take place in the Old City of Jerusalem. Hamas is threatening more rocket fire and additional Arab violence in Israel could be triggered  by the march.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-11-2021

News Update

U.S. officials conveyed to Defense Minister Benny Gantz that they expected Israel to avoid moves that could further escalate tensions, and especially what they call “far-right provocations.” The warning related to the “March of Flags”, which is scheduled to take place in the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday. The march has been postponed from its usual date, on Jerusalem Day, because of fear of igniting Arab violence. Last night Jewish and Arab protestors faced off near the Damascus Gate. Five people were arrested for disturbing the peace.

Israel has reportedly asked Egypt to halt the entry of cement and other construction materials into Gaza, to prevent Hamas from using them to create weapons. Israel also reportedly told Egypt that it has no opposition to Egyptian engineering teams entering Gaza helping to clear debris left by IDF airstrikes, but did not want them to repair the subterranean tunnels used by Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions.

During an undercover IDF raid into Palestinian Authority controlled Jenin on Thursday to arrest terror suspects, Palestinian police officers fired on the Israeli forces, even after the force identified itself as IDF. The IDF force fired back, killing the 2 Palestinian policemen. One Islamic Jihad terrorist was also killed and another suspect apprehended.

Last night the IDF arrested a terrorist trying to cross into Israel from Gaza. He was carrying an improvised explosive device, grenade and two knives.

The new government is expected to be approved and sworn in on Sunday.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-9-2021

News Update

The Knesset will vote Sunday, June 13, to approve the new government. If the new government is approved, which is expected — since it has a majority of votes, then it will be sworn in that same day. Naftali Bennett will replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister, after Netanyahu served 12 years in the office. Bennet will serve as PM for 2 years, and then Yair Lapid will take over for the next 2 years. The new coalition includes Yesh Atid and Yamina, along with centrist Blue & White, Meretz and Labor from the left, New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu on the right and for the first time in Israel’s history an Arab party – the Islamist Ra’am.

Israel reportedly attacked targets near Damascus last night. At least 8 soldiers were killed in the strikes.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan, met with the head of the Associated Press news agency, Gary Pruitt, at its New York headquarters yesterday and explained that the media building Israel destroyed in Gaza during the recent fighting, which housed the AP bureau in Gaza, was being used by Hamas to jam the Iron Dome defense system. The airstrike also destroyed the office of Al Jazeera. He praised the role of the Associated Press and said he did not imagine its employees were aware of the alleged use of the building by Hamas. Erdan said that Israel is willing to assist the Associated Press in rebuilding its office in Gaza.

The cabinet voted yesterday to allow the controversial flag march to take place in Jerusalem’s Old City next Tuesday, June 15, with a route to be decided between the rally’s organizers and police. The decision came following a compromise between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Families of Israeli terror victims are suing for 1 billion shekels compensation from Qatari banks that they say have funded terrorist activity by Hamas, according to a collective lawsuit filed on behalf of 120 plaintiffs at the Jerusalem District Court today.