Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-10-2020

News Update

The Health Ministry reported 1,464 new coronavirus in the last 24 hours. There are currently 16,561 active cases, of which 124 are in serious condition and 39 on ventilators. The total number of corona related deaths has risen to 350. A partial lockdown will come into effect today on several neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Lod, Ramla, Beit Shemesh, Kiryat Malachi.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned that if Israel reaches 2,000 confirmed coronavirus cases a day, the government might have to impose a general lockdown. The PM yesterday admitted that he allowed the reopening of the country too early. He also said that the government would be providing more financial assistance to unemployed workers.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-8-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,320 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. There are currently 14,104 active cases, of which 107 are in serious condition and 36 on ventilators. There have been 343 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

On Monday the cabinet voted to close gyms, night clubs, bars and event halls and to restrict restaurants and cafes to 20 diners inside the premises and another 30 in open air spaces. Synagogues will be limited to 20 people. Public buses will be limited to 20 passengers. All social gatherings are limited to 20 people. According to some estimates, about 50% of all bars and clubs could close permanently as a result of the restrictions.

The Health Ministry told the heads of Israeli hospitals to cut 30% to 50% of their non-COVID-19 care in outpatient clinics and redirect those resources to fighting the virus.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz went into quarantine today after it was discovered that he was exposed to an infected person on Sunday night. He is reportedly feeling well and continuing his duties.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-6-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 817 new coronavirus cases on Sunday. There are currently 11,856 active cases, of which 88 are in serious condition and 32 on ventilators. The number of Israelis currently in quarantine has gone up to 40,250 after the order allowing phone tracking of confirmed coronavirus carriers by the Shin Bet went into effect on Thursday.

The coronavirus cabinet is set to meet today and is expected to reimpose certain restrictions including the closing of gyms, bars, night clubs, cultural events, parks and synagogues. Restaurants and cafes, while remaining open, will be restricted to 20 diners inside the premises and another 30 in open air spaces. Buses will be restricted to 20 passengers.

The Defense Ministry announced that Israel launched a new spy satellite, the Ofek 16, early today. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the state of Israel.”

Last week a large fire broke out at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. Iranian officials revealed that the fire caused extensive damage and could slow the development of advanced centrifuges. They believe the fire was caused by a cyber attack. When asked whether Israel had anything to do with the fire, Defense Minister Gantz said, “Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us.”

IDF aircraft struck terror targets in northern Gaza yesterday in response to 3 rockets that were fired into Israel from Gaza. One of the rockets was intercepted by the Iron Dome and 2 landed in open fields.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-1-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry today reported 773 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. Israel has thus far conducted over one million virus tests. There are currently 7,838 active cases, of which 56 are in serious condition and 24 on ventilators.

The Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center warned that, “Without the proper precautions taken to slow down the virus’ morbidity, within two weeks the number of new daily patients could reach 1,000 a day, with serious conditions and deaths rising by dozens accordingly.”

Dr. Erez Onn, the head of the Hospital Division at the Health Ministry, said, “We are opening more and more dedicated wards for coronavirus patients. The wings are filling up, we’re seeing a rise in serious condition patients.”

The Health Ministry has decided to recommend cities and neighborhoods with high infections rates be placed under lockdown, including Dimona, Kiryat Gat, Ashdod, and Ramle. In total, the Health Ministry estimates that dozens of towns and neighborhoods could be placed under lockdown.

The deputy education minister, Meir Porush, said yesterday that many yeshiva students are avoiding getting tested if they have symptoms, based on directives issued by their rabbis, for fear that the government might impose closures on the Haredi enclaves.

PM Netanyahu met with White House envoy Avi Berkowitz and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman yesterday to discuss annexation. After the meeting the PM indicated that Israel would most likely miss the July 1st date he set for the annexation process to begin.

To read an op-ed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson regarding Israel’s proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank, click here.

The Shin Bet Security Agency announced on Tuesday it exposed an attempt by Hezbollah to recruit Israeli Arabs from the Galilee. Shin Bet officials said that two women from the town of Majd al-Krum were investigated at the beginning of June after meeting with a journalist from Lebanon who tried to recruit them to the terrorist group. The journalist, Beirut Hamud, is a former Israeli who also lived in the northern Arab community before relocating to Lebanon in 2013, where she resides with her husband, Bilal Bizari. Hamud reportedly met with the two Israelis in Turkey last December.

The IDF has decided to shorten mandatory military service for men from 32 to 30 months.

The U.S. State Department has put the ambassador to Israel’s official beachfront residence in Herzliya up for sale for $87 million.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-29-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry today reported 492 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. There are currently 6,556 active cases, of which 58 are in moderate condition, 46 in serious condition and 24 on ventilators. The rest are displaying mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said he had recommended reimposing restrictions on public gatherings and events, warning that Israel was at the “beginning of a second wave” of coronavirus infections. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri reportedly criticized what he said were the Health Ministry’s “excessive demands,” adding: “No further steps are needed. You have to learn to live with the coronavirus.” The special coronavirus cabinet made no decisions yesterday and will meet again today.

In a letter to the coronavirus cabinet, former Health Minister Litzman recommended closing all schools, which he said are the main source of infections. He wrote, “It’s clear to everyone that young children cannot be expected to wear masks and adhere to the proper and necessary rules of hygiene. Therefore, there is no option other than to remain at home until things calm down.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz told US officials today that Israel would most likely push back plans to annex areas of the West Bank on July 1st, while it focuses on getting the coronavirus pandemic under control. Gantz told US envoy Avi Berkowitz, “July 1 is not a sacred date,” and that, “dealing with the coronavirus and its socioeconomic and health consequences is the more pressing issue that needs to be tended to right now.”

US officials reportedly have said that they would not approve annexation of the Jordan Valley, which is something that PM Netanyahu has promised to do. It seems that the annexation of 30% of the West Bank, based on the Trump peace plan, is now off the table.

An annual report by the US State Department has ranked Israel as one of the top countries in the battle against human trafficking.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-26-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry has reported 441 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. Partial lockdowns and new restrictions have been placed on neighborhoods in Ashdod and Bat Yam because of a spike in infections in those areas. Restrictions imposed earlier this week on neighborhoods in Jaffa and Rahat will be lifted with increased enforcement of health regulations in the area.

The coronavirus cabinet will meet on Sunday at the request of Defense Minister Benny Gantz and will discuss imposing more lock-downs on areas that experience a rise in COVID-19 cases. Military Intelligence issued a report recommending the government reconsider its decision to lift public restrictions imposed due to the spread of coronavirus. The IDF warned that Israel is entering a second wave of the pandemic, and that it will be no less severe than the first.

PM Netanyahu announced yesterday that Israel and the UAE would cooperate in the fight against the coronavirus. He said that an official announcement by the health ministers of both countries would be coming soon.

According to Syrian media sources, 10 pro-Iranian militants were killed in airstrikes by unidentified aircraft in central Syria last night. One of those killed in the strikes was an Iraqi leader named Abu Al-Hassan. Afghani militants were also among those killed in the strikes. Earlier this week airstrikes hit several Iranian related targets throughout Syria.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-24-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 436 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. There have been 1,013 new cases since the beginning of the week, almost as many as in the entire month of May. Out of the 5,460 patients currently infected, 45 are in serious condition and 28 are on ventilators. The cabinet today will discuss the reintroduction of a controversial method of tracking patients using Shin Bet technology.

A partial lockdown of the city of Elad and several neighborhoods in Tiberias went into effect today due to the steep rise of coronavirus cases in those areas. The lockdowns will last a week.

Yesterday, a 27 year old Palestinian man tried to ram his vehicle into Border Police officers at a checkpoint near the village of Abu Dis. Troops shot and killed the attacker. A female officer was lightly wounded in the attack.

International donors pledged over $130 million this week to UNRWA, the United Nations agency created to help Palestinian refugees. The organization’s head said that the amount was encouraging, but not enough to keep operations running through the end of the year.

The U.S., once UNRWA’s largest donor, pulled support in 2018 triggering a financial crisis and forcing other donors to plug an approximately $211 million hole in the agency’s $1.2 billion budget. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was imperative that the international community “continue in the effort to make UNRWA funding sustainable, predictable and sufficient.”

Senior White House officials began discussions this week on whether to give Israel the “green light” to proceed with annexation of parts of the West Bank. The White House meeting included Jared Kushner, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and the U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Among the main options reportedly under U.S. consideration is a step-by-step process in which Israel would initially declare sovereignty over several settlements close to Jerusalem instead of the 30% of the West Bank envisaged in PM Netanyahu’s original plan.

Two bills to legalize cannabis use passed their preliminary readings in the Knesset on Wednesday ahead of the three votes required for them to become law. A bill to decriminalize consumption passed 61-11, and a bill regulating how cannabis may be bought and sold was approved 53-12. If the bills become law, selling and purchasing marijuana in authorized shops for personal use will be legal for those above 21, but growing marijuana at home will still be illegal.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-22-2020

News Update

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A special cabinet meeting was held today to discuss the recent upswing in coronavirus cases, as the country continues to lift restrictions and open up. The PM again warned Israelis to follow health ministry regulations regarding social distancing and mask wearing and pledged increased enforcement and digital tracking. He also said that he would consider reinstating regulations against large gatherings if the situation continued to worsen.

The cities with the most cases discovered in the last three days are Jerusalem (29), Bnei Brak (27), Bat Yam (23), Tel Aviv (23), Petah Tikva (17), Ashdod (15), Haifa (14), Elad (13), Rahat (8), Tiberius (8) and Beersheba (8).

A top police official said that the police would increase enforcement. He said, “We will be at commercial centers, football fields, beaches. Enforcement will also be conducted on the streets, wherever we need to be. If we have to board buses, we will board buses. We will set up checkpoints, enforce in taxis, on weekends in night clubs – all locations that have crowds. Any public place where we will have to be at – we’ll get there.” Meanwhile, the Israeli railway system reopened today and cinemas are set to reopen on July 9th.

According to the defense ministry, Israel exported $7.2 billion of military exports in 2019, maintaining Israel’s position among the world’s top 10 largest military exporters.

The Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee held a discussion on domestic violence, the rise of cases during the coronavirus outbreak, and the government’s implementation of a plan to curb the abuse.

Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai announced yesterday that the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality will recognize same-sex and interfaith marriages and other couples who are not eligible to be officially married by the state’s rabbinate, which is the sole authority capable of marrying Jewish couples. Marriages in other religious communities are authorized by the religious authorities of those communities. There is no secular marriage in Israel.

Official recognition by the municipality will make the respective couples eligible for municipal benefits, including housing tax discounts, and easier enrollment of their children into public daycares and schools.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-19-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry today confirmed 349 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. This is the first time since April that over 300 cases in one day have been reported. There are currently 4,372 active coronavirus patients across the country, among them 40 patients in serious condition, 44 in moderate condition, and 28 patients requiring artificial respiratory assistance. The majority of active cases are said to display only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Corona related deaths currently stand at 304.

The mayor of Rahat, the largest Bedouin city in Israel, said yesterday that many residents are ashamed of being infected with coronavirus and as a result avoid getting tested. The government on Wednesday decided to designate three Arab communities, including Rahat, as “restricted coronavirus areas,” which will be subject to several restrictions regarding travel and gathering. Several neighborhoods in Jaffa have also been placed on partial lockdown. Bnei Brak and Bat Yam have also seen a small spike in new cases, raising fears of a renewed lockdown. The Palestinian Authority has also reported a recent spike in cases.

To view a map of coronavirus cases in Israel, click here.

PM Netanyahu once again warned that if the Israeli public continues to disregard health orders, the government would have to take “firm measures” to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Doctors at Israel’s largest hospitals are now administering steroids to coronavirus patients in serious condition, based on the results of a recent British study that demonstrates the effectiveness of steroids in fighting the virus.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi made a surprise visit to Ramallah to discuss the possibility of Israeli action to annex parts of the West Bank with PA President Abbas. Under the Israeli government’s coalition deal between Likud and Blue and White, an annexation plan can be put to a government vote in July. The PM has reportedly presented several annexation plans, but non have yet to be approved. It is also unclear whether the US administration would support any of the plans.

Israel’s Southern District Planning and Building Committee has approved an urban plan for Mitzpe Ramon, the Negev town overlooking the world’s largest erosion canyon. The plan calls for the construction of 3,000 new homes and hotels and tourist attractions, which will increase the city’s population from its current 5,200 to 17,000 by 2030.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-17-2020

News Update

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The Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center today reported 299 new corona cases over the past 24 hours. The cabinet is set to convene in the afternoon to discuss further reopening of the economy, including cinemas, theaters and other cultural centers.

To get a very good medical overview of the coronavirus epidemic, including answers to many often asked questions, please read this Times of Israel interview with Prof. Yehuda Carmeli, the head of Israel’s National Institute for Antibiotic Resistance and Infection Control. Click here

Israel and Greece are discussing plans to open air travel between the two countries on August 1, without requiring passengers to quarantine after flights. The Greek prime minister brought a cabinet delegation to Jerusalem yesterday to discuss several issues including resuming tourism with Israel and a natural gas pipeline.

According to a Palestinian Authority official, IDF forces entered Ramallah last night in search of terror suspects. Troops searched 3 homes and arrested one suspect in a refugee camp outside the city. Palestinian youths reportedly threw rocks at the troops, who responded with tear gas. This is the first IDF incursion into Palestinian Authority territory since the PA cut security cooperation with Israel last month. The IDF confirmed an arrest was made in the refugee camp, but a spokeswoman said that the army “did not enter Ramallah overnight”.

Regarding the proposed Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank planned for July, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in parliament yesterday: “I believe that what is proposed by Israel would amount to a breach of international law. We have strongly objected. We believe profoundly in a two-state solution and we will continue to make that case.”

In a video conference with U.S. members of congress, Jordan’s King Abdullah warned that “any unilateral Israeli measure to annex lands in the West Bank is unacceptable and undermines the prospects of achieving peace and stability in the region.” He believes that peace will only come with an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. It is unclear as to what measures, if any, Jordan will take if Israel goes ahead with annexation.