Israel’s Left-Wing parties — Gesher, Labor and Meretz — have agree to merge and run under one list in the upcoming election in March. The new faction’s list will be headed by Peretz, with the head of the Gesher party, Orly Levy-Abekasis acting as number two. Meretz leader Horowitz is set to be third on the party list. The parties feared not being able to pass the minimum threshold if they ran individually.
Moshe Kahalon, Finance Minister and former head of the party Kulanu (which merged with Likud), will be retiring from politics. He will probably remain in his post as finance minister until a new government is formed, unless Netanyahu decides to fire him and appoint a new candidate. Kahlon’s departure will most likely require Likud to find another candidate with a socially-oriented platform that would fill the vacated place on the party list.
According to the Bureau of Insurance Agents, damage to private property caused by the recent flooding in Israel is estimated to be around NIS 1.5 billion ($432 million). Although the estimates of the damage caused to public property is unclear, it is believed to be in the hundreds of millions, bringing the total cost to over NIS 2 billion ($577 million). The damage included 8 F-16 Air Force fighter jets, which were flooded at their base in Hazor, in the south. They are all expected to be operational within a few days, at a cost of tens of millions of shekels. The Air Force admits that the planes should have been moved to avoid the flooding damage.
Police raided a Jerusalem residential complex where they found dozens of women and children living in slave-like conditions as part of an ultra-orthodox cult lead by a rabbi in his 60s. The rabbi was arrested along with 8 other women suspected of assisting him. The investigation into the alleged cult was first opened several years ago but was recently renewed after several women who escaped from it came forward with the allegations to the authorities.