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Deaths from the coronavirus in Israel have risen to 239. There are 70 people on ventilators. Only 25 new cases were reported yesterday, of which 20 were in the Bedouin town of Hura in southern Israel.
Israel is set to conduct 100,000 serological tests for COVID-19 in an effort to determine the degree of infection in the population. Director General of the Health Ministry Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov said the testing will take place in the coming weeks. The results, he noted, would be significant to determine if Israelis are close to developing herd immunity or should be preparing for a resurgence of the virus. Serological tests work on blood samples, rather than nasal swabs. The tests can determine if someone is either currently carrying the disease, or has previously been exposed and developed antibodies against the virus.
The Health Ministry is calling for an additional 2,000 hospital beds, 3,500 new doctors, nurses and hospital staff and additional equipment and medication to prepare for an expected resurgence of the virus.
El Al is postponing the restart of passenger flights from May 16 to May 30. Until May 16, Israelis returning from abroad must undergo compulsory self-isolation for 14 days and no non-Israelis are allowed in the country at all. The policy will be reviewed on May 15.
A rocket was fired into Israel from Gaza late last night. The rocket fell in an open field causing no damage. The IDF responded with tank fire at 3 Hamas positions in Gaza.
Two German intelligence officials, a Swiss diplomat and an Egyptian general are the international mediators reportedly working to arrange a prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel. The trade would return 2 Israeli citizens along with the bodies of 2 soldiers. The number of Hamas terrorists who would need to be released is unknown. The negotiators are reportedly making progress.
An Israeli security official said that Iran has begun pulling troops out of Syria. Israel has significantly increased its attacks against Iranian troops and installations in Syria during the past few months. At least five attacks on Iranian targets in Syria have been reported in the past two weeks.
The Defense Ministry has approved plans to make the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron handicap accessible, without obtaining the agreement of the Hebron municipality, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The $1.4 million project includes an elevator, a path to reach the entrance from the parking area and a bridge connecting the elevator to the entrance. The Hebron municipality and the Waqf, which oversees Muslim holy sites in the Palestinian territories, objected to what it described as the expropriation of Palestinian land for the project.
US Ambassador David Friedman said in an interview that Washington is ready to recognize Israeli annexation of Jewish settlements, as long as the annexation is done within the framework of the Trump peace plan. According to the new coalition deal, the government can begin passing legislation to annex the Jordan Valley and West Bank settlements after July 1.