Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-14-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 3,182 new coronavirus cases on Sunday. There are currently 40,561 active cases of which 529 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 135 on ventilators. There have been 1,126 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cases in Gaza continue to rise, but there have been just a few pandemic related deaths reported.

On Sunday, PM Netanyahu announced that the government had approved a three-week lockdown to be imposed on the entire country beginning on Friday. The Jewish high holidays begin Friday night. Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, of the ultra-orthodox UTJ party, announced his resignation, claiming that the lockdown is an affront to the religious public.

Finance Minister Israel Katz said he will introduce an aid package to businesses impacted by the lockdown and to people who stand to lose their jobs as a result.

Bahrain has become the second Gulf state to normalize relations with Israel. The peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain, brokered by US President Trump, will be signed at a White House ceremony on Tuesday. PM Netanyahu arrived in Washington today. Oman, another Gulf state, praised the agreements and Morocco is expected to begin allowing direct flights from Israel. [Times are changing, primarily thanks to the efforts of President Trump and the Iranian threat.]

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israeli airstrikes targeted ammunition depots and vehicles used by pro-Iranian militias near the city of Albu Kamal in eastern Syria this morning, killing at least 10 militants.

Satellite photos reveal extensive damage to a missile production facility used by Hezbollah in Syria, after an airstrike attributed to Israel on Friday. Another production facility nearby was destroyed in May.

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-11-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 4,013 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a record high. There are currently 33,691 active cases of which 488 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 143 on ventilators. There have been 1,077 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The Ministerial Committee on the Coronavirus Pandemic has decided to impose a full two-week lockdown on the entire country starting next week.

In the first stage of the plan, movement will be restricted to within 500 meters from a person’s home. Stores will close except for food and pharmacy outlets and only people with essential jobs will be allowed to work outside the home. Schools will close as well as all tourism and leisure services, and restaurants will only be allowed to offer home deliveries. Prayer and other gatherings would be permitted under the restrictions imposed on red zones, with a limit of no more than 10 people congregating indoors and no more than 20 outside.

In the second stage, between October 2 -11 (the Sukkot holiday) travel between cities will be banned, schools will remain closed, stores, tourism and leisure services will remain closed, and private sector places of work will be limited to 30-50% of regular capacity.

In the third stage, Israel will return to the current traffic light plan, if the numbers of new infections have fallen significantly. Otherwise a lockdown could continue.

The lockdown plan must now be approved by a vote of the entire cabinet on Sunday.

The Israel Institute for Biological Research announced yesterday that it will begin human trials of its potential coronavirus vaccine next month. Human testing will be conducted at Sheba and Hadassah medical centers and will include approximately 100 volunteers.

Syrian state media reported that Israeli warplanes fired missiles at targets in the suburbs of Aleppo this morning. The report claimed that Syrian air defense systems shot down most of the missiles.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-9-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 3,496 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. There are currently 30,079 active cases of which 458 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 140 on ventilators. There have been 1,048 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Jerusalem leads the country with 3,686 active cases, followed by Bnei Brak with 1,651. There are 802 active cases in Tel Aviv. At least 40 locations across Israel, with high infection rates, were placed under night-time curfew on Tuesday. Most of the locations have predominantly Haredi (ultra-orthodox) or Arab populations. The curfew will be in effect between 7pm and 5am for a period of one week, but police are apparently not really enforcing the regulations. More comprehensive restrictions to stem the virus were blocked by Haredi ministers.

Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein and coronavirus czar Prof. Gamzu have both entered quarantine after coming into contact with a confirmed patient.

[While many are blaming PM Netanyahu for failing to properly manage the coronavirus crisis as the infection rates continue to rise, making Israel the country with the highest per capita infection rate, the true blame most likely rests with the general Israeli public which continues to, in large part, ignore social distancing and mask wearing regulations. There’s only so much a government can do to fight the virus, short of completely locking down the country for an indefinite period of time, which no one wants. The responsibility rests with the people — and they are apparently failing.]

Palestinian leaders have toned down their rhetoric against the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE. A draft resolution to be presented by the Palestinians at an Arab League meeting in Cairo today does not include a call to condemn or act against the UAE. PA President Abbas also issued instructions banning any offensive statements or actions towards any Arab leaders.

On Friday, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying that Kosovo and Israel had decided to “establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries.” The arrangement was apparently a part of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia brokered by the US administration. Now Serbia is reportedly refusing to move its embassy to Jerusalem if Israel recognizes Kosovo as an independent country. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent state. Kosovo would be the first Muslim country to have an embassy in Jerusalem.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-4-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 2,766 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. On Wednesday new cases exceeded 3,000. There are currently 25,277 active cases of which 416 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 123 on ventilators. There have been 991 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic. The coronavirus czar, Prof. Gamzu, said that there was a good chance that Israel would be locked down for the high holidays, later this month.

Cabinet Ministers decided yesterday to impose lockdowns on 30 localities with high infection rates, starting Monday. Under these new restrictions, residents will be prohibited from venturing more than 500 meters (1600 feet) away from home except for food, medicine, and other essential house maintenance needs. All “non-essential” businesses will be closed. Schools will be closed except for kindergartens and special education. Travel to, within, and from the cities, and even certain neighborhoods, will be restricted. Police will announce which cities will be locked down on Sunday.

According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Israel ranks first in the world in the number of new coronavirus infections per capita. It is then followed by Bahrain, Brazil, Kuwait and the United States.

The New York Times reported yesterday that PM Netanyahu “privately condoned” the American sale of advanced F-35 fighter jets to the UAE despite his public claims to the contrary. The paper quoted senior American officials as saying that Netanyahu chose not to oppose the deal as it progressed in a parallel track to talks on the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE. The US officials said that Netanyahu “stopped publicly complaining about the proposed arms sale after a meeting with [U.S.] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem last week that brought the Israeli prime minister back in line.”

According to unnamed Israeli officials, Bahrain will be the next Arab country to follow the UAE in normalizing relations with Israel.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-2-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 2,085 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. There are currently 20,960 active cases of which 416 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 109 on ventilators. There have been 957 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

An IDF soldier and a policeman were lightly wounded in a car-ramming attack at Tapuach Junction in the northern West Bank this morning. The terrorist approached from the direction of the Arab village of Huwara in southern Nablus and rammed his car into a police checkpoint. The terrorist then exited the vehicle and continued to advance towards the men with a knife drawn. The injured police officer shot and wounded the terrorist.

Eleven pro-Iranian militiamen were killed in an air strike south of Damascus on Monday night. Syrian media blamed Israel for the strike. Israel declined to comment.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed yesterday to set up a joint committee to cooperate on financial services, to promote investment between the two countries. UAE’s media office tweeted, “Abu Dhabi Investment Office and Invest in Israel set out plans for bilateral investment cooperation, during a landmark first meeting when both parties explored mutually beneficial areas of partnership with a strong focus on innovation and technology.” A top UAE official also said that the UAE had received assurances from both Israel and the US that Israel would not proceed with plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

A Jordanian man was apprehended on a beach in Eilat after he swam across the border. The man said that he wanted to seek a better economic future in Israel.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has officially allowed independent rabbinic organizations to provide kosher supervision to food establishments. The establishments may now display a certification describing what kosher standards they observe but they may not use the word “kosher” and they must clearly state that they are not supervised by the rabbinate.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-31-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,102 new coronavirus cases yesterday, based on a significant drop in testing. There are currently 20,334 active cases of which 453 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 123 on ventilators. There have been 922 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Cabinet ministers have approved a plan to divide the country into 250 zones where regulations would be imposed depending on the levels of infection in each zone.

An El Al flight from Tel Aviv landed in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, today carrying Israeli and American officials including senior White House aide Jared Kushner. The plane flew through Saudi Arabian airspace. Before boarding the flight Kushner said, “While this is a historic flight, we hope that it will start an even more historic journey in the Middle East and beyond. The future does not have to be predetermined by the past. This is a very hopeful time, and I believe that so much peace and prosperity is possible in this region and around the world.”

The Israeli, American and UAE delegations will discuss diplomacy, finance, aviation and entry visas, health, culture and tourism, space and science and investment, innovation and trade.

Meanwhile, shortly before the Israeli plane landed, at least three people were killed and several others injured in two separate explosions in the United Arab Emirate cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd. has been awarded a contract worth $79 million to supply the US army with components for the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-28-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 2,068 new coronavirus cases yesterday. There are currently 20,444 active cases of which 426 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 118 on ventilators. There have been 891 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic, of which 89 were in the last week.

Hamas its Covid lockdown in Gaza to 72 hours.

Hundreds of Israel’s rushed to the airport to fly to the Ukraine ahead of a Friday, Covid related, ban by the Ukrainian government. Each year tens of thousands of Israelis and other Jews flock to the Ukrainian town of Uman for Rosh Hashanah to pray at the grave of Rebbe Nachman, an 18th century Hassidic master who promised blessings for all who pray at his grave on the Jewish New Year. Many would-be pilgrims say that they will find other ways to get to Uman.  [This could end badly]

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein issued new regulations on Wednesday aimed at lowering the price of medical cannabis by an estimated 50% while making it easier for doctors to prescribe the plant to patients. Recreational use remains illegal, but last month the Ministerial Committee for Legislation passed two decriminalization bills, potentially opening the path for full legalization of cannabis.

El Al will fly the first ever commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi (UAE) next week. The flight will carry an Israeli delegation that conduct normalization talks between Israel and the UAE.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-26-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,943 new coronavirus cases yesterday. There are currently 20,581 active cases of which 430 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 118 on ventilators. There have been 867 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Hamas declared a 48 hour lockdown in Gaza, after one man died of Covid and several others tested positive for the virus.

A 35-year-old man was stabbed and seriously wounded at the Segula junction in Petah Tikva today. Police arrested the suspected assailant and are investigating the circumstances of the incident.

IDF attack helicopters and aircraft struck observation posts belonging to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon last night after shots were fired at Israeli troops patrolling the border area. Early Wednesday, the military ordered residents living in communities near the border with Lebanon to shelter in place and blocked roads following what it described as a “security incident” in the area.

Israeli officials estimate that Hezbollah possesses 130,000 rockets and missiles capable of striking virtually anywhere in Israel, and has gained valuable battlefield experience fighting alongside Iranian troops in Syria.

PM Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to continue military coordination in Syria to allow for Israeli airstrikes there. Israel and Russia will also cooperate in research and production of a coronavirus vaccine.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-24-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 962 new coronavirus cases yesterday. There are currently 21,914 active cases of which 411 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 116 on ventilators. There have been 839 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Minister of Immigrant Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White) has tested positive for Covid and will be quarantined. The Knesset is investigating to determine who else the minister came into contact with. Tamano-Shata, 39, is Israel’s first Ethiopian-born minister.

The Knesset Finance Committee today approved the bill to postpone the deadline for a budget to be presented, after Likud and Blue & White reached agreements to avoid elections. The bill will now be sent to the Knesset for a vote later today. If it doesn’t pass, the Knesset will be dissolved and new elections will be called for.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem today. Pompeo will also meet with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. After Israel, Pompeo is scheduled to visit Sudan, the UAE and Bahrain, with additional stops in the Gulf possible.

Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani told his party yesterday that he rejected any normalization of relations with Israel. Jared Kushner is expected to visit Morocco in the coming days. Kushner will also visit Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

IDF aircraft and tanks attacked Hamas military positions and underground infrastructure in southern Gaza late Sunday in response to the launching of incendiary devices across the border, which caused 28 fires.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-21-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,267 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. There are currently 23,913 active cases of which 389 people are hospitalized in serious condition. There have been 789 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Coronavirus chief Prof. Gamzu has recommended a series of added restrictions, including partial lockdowns, but coronavirus cabinet ministers, particularly those from the religious parties, have rejected them.

Twelve rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza last night, and the IDF responded by attacking Hamas military targets in Gaza including underground facilities, a rocket-building site, and a cement facility used to provide materials to build tunnels. One person was reportedly killed. Of the 12 rockets launched into Israel, 9 were intercepted by Iron Dome and the rest fell in open areas.

According to a report by Israel Hayom today, Hamas is demanding Israel expand the fishing area allotted to Gaza fishing boats, and to allow an expansion of the payments allowed into Gaza from Qatar from $30 million to $40 million per month. The IDF is preparing for an escalation of the violence.

IDF troops opened fire on a “terror squad” of Palestinians who were preparing to attack Israeli cars in the West Bank. One terrorist was killed and 2 wounded. The shooting occurred at a spot where similar attacks against Israeli vehicles have been carried out in the past.

PM Netanyahu held a video call with the leaders of the Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Yes, there is a Jewish community in the UAE, which was formed 10 years ago in Dubai and numbers anywhere between a few hundred to 1,500 people. There are 2 Orthodox congregations and 1 egalitarian. The community has been operating unofficially, but has recently been obtaining official approval.

On the call, the PM said, “This peace is good for the State Israel, good for our people and good for all peoples of the region. I hope to visit you this year, soon. If we can overcome the coronavirus pandemic I’ll be able to shake your hands too.”