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Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-20-2021

News Update

Security forces captured the 2 remaining terrorists out fo the 4 who escaped from the maximum security prison over 2 weeks ago. The terrorists were captured during a raid on a house in the Arab city of Jenin in the northern West Bank early yesterday morning.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke on the phone to the Swedish Foreign Minister today. It was the first time in 7 years that the foreign ministers of both countries have spoken. since Sweden became the first major European country to officially recognized a Palestinian state in 2014. Since then Israel has refused to allow FM Linde and her predecessor Margot Wallstrom to visit the country. FM Lapid tweeted that the phone call, “symbolizes the relaunching of relations at this level.”

The Health Ministry today reported 6,456 new corona cases on Thursday, with an infection rate of 5.17%. At least 714 patients are in severe condition (70% of whom are unvaccinated), of whom 194 are ventilated.  7,541 have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic. Health Ministry data pointed to an alarming surge in cases in Israel’s Arab sector, with 40% of all new cases detected among Israeli Arabs. Data also indicates that 43% of all recent infections were recorded among children aged eleven and younger — an age group that is not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine at this stage. Another 14% of diagnoses were detected among Israelis aged 12–18 and another 4% among those aged 60 and over.

Israel will continue offering the COVID booster to all age groups eligible to be vaccinated, despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to give the third jab only to those aged 65 and over, and those with a weakened immune system. The FDA said that there is currently insufficient data on the safety of the third dose, especially for teens. According to the Health Ministry, the decision to continue offering the booster to the wider population stems from the surge in cases of COVID-19, due to the Delta variant and the differing infection rates between Israel and the U.S. So far over 3 million Israelis have received the 3rd dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Almost 6 million have received the first 2 doses.

The government announced today that COVID-19 patients who have recovered from the disease within the last three months will be exempt from presenting a negative PCR test before entering Israel.

Israel’s national baseball team won a silver medal Sunday in the European Championships, losing 9-4 to the Netherlands in the final.

The holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles) begins tonight, last for 7 days and is followed by the holiday of Shmini Atzeret – Simchat Torah (which share one day in Israel and are 2 days everywhere else). During Sukkot Jews live (eat and sleep) in a hut-like structure called a Sukkah.

The Talmud states two reasons for the mitzvah of living in the Sukkah for seven days.

The first is to commemorate that our ancestors dwelled in Sukkahs in the wilderness. The second is to remember the “clouds of glory” that surrounded and protected the Jews in the desert. The Talmud seems to lean towards the second explanation. If this is the case, then why do we use a hut to represent the clouds? Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to live out in the open air, under the clouds? Wouldn’t that give us more of a feeling of complete dependence on the protection given us by God?

Although, in truth, living out “under the clouds” does starkly represent total dependence on God, real life isn’t as clear cut. We all try to build structures to provide us with security and protection. We live in these structures and feel safe and in control. We view these structures as permanent and without them we could not function. The reality, however, is that our structures are really just flimsy huts that create for us the illusion of permanence and security. They fall apart when we least expect them too.

The Sukkah that we live in for seven days reminds us that our own structures of security – our houses, careers, social status – are just temporary. They last for a week, a month, a year, several years, but are then taken down. The Sukkah reminds us that our real security and protection comes not from the walls that we build but from the graces of God.

May we all be blessed with the wisdom to differentiate between the security that is true and comes only from God and the false security of the hut that just looks real, but is only an illusion.

Taken from my book Deep Waters.

IsraelAM will be on vacation, along with the rest of Israel, until Wednesday, September 29. 

Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-17-2021

News Update

In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine published on Wednesday, Defense Minister Gantz said, “The current U.S. approach of putting the Iran nuclear program back in a box, I’d accept that.”  While he admitted that it was highly doubtful that a purely diplomatic initiative would succeed, he said that Israel was anxious to see what he called “a viable U.S.- led plan B,” that would include political, diplomatic, and economic pressure imposed on Tehran by the United States, Europe, Russia, and China, should the nuclear talks fail.

Gantz claimed that Israel has a plan C that would involve military action. “If push comes to shove, we’ll get there,” he said, adding that although Israel does not equal the power of the United States, “we have our capabilities.”

PM Bennett said that his meeting with Egyptian President el-Sisi earlier this week, “laid the foundations for deeper ties down the road.” The PM said he and el-Sisi discussed “a number of issues concerning state, security and economic affairs, as well as ways to further deepen relations and boost the interests of both nations.”

Earlier this week the PM ruled out meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to promote a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said, “My perception is different than that of the defense minister [Gantz], although we work in harmony. I oppose a Palestinian state and I think it would be a grave mistake to import the failed Gaza model of Hamas which shoots rockets at us, and turn the entire West Bank to that.”

The Jerusalem District Court ruled on Monday that Hamas must pay NIS 38 million ($11.8 million) to the families of three teenagers kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank in June 2014. The families of the victims originally sought NIS 520 million ($162 million) in compensation, citing tremendous damage done to them during the two and a half week-long searches after their loved ones.

The families won the case by default in the absence of defense from the Hamas defendants, noting that the amount of punitive damages is based on a past Supreme Court ruling that significantly reduced the amounts of damages in terrorist claims. Representatives of the slain teenagers’ families expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling and claimed it will not deter future terrorists from carrying out similar acts.

The families of the victims said they will appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court in a bid to stop the flow of funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) to Hamas. The lawsuit indicated that Israel could deduct the compensation from garnished tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the PA.

Haim Garon, a witness for the prosecution in former PM Netanyahu’s fraud and corruption trial was killed in a plane crash in Greece, along with his wife. The cause for the crash of the plane, a Cessna 182 that operates from a small airfield in Haifa, is still unknown, but most likely stemmed from technical difficulties before landing. The four-passenger aircraft is considered very safe and reliable and is mainly used for training flights and leisure flights among other civilian uses.

The Health Ministry today reported 10,997 new corona cases on Thursday, with an infection rate of 6%. At least 654 patients are in severe condition, of whom 186 are ventilated.  7,456 have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

A new Israeli study published in “The New England Journal of Medicine” yesterday found that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine booster shot enhances the body’s ability to fight off coronavirus by ten times. To read more, click here.

The European Union (EU) and Israel have reached a reciprocal agreement to recognize each other’s Covid vaccination certificates. Joining the EU’s digital Covid certificate program will ease travel between Israel and the EU and could renew incoming tourism. To read more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-13-2021

News Update

IDF troops shot and injured a terrorist who tried to stab soldiers at the Gush Etzion Junction today. The terrorist, identified as 27-year-old Muhammad Bilu from the West Bank village of Beit Fajjar, was taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in moderate-severe condition. No other casualties were reported in the attack.

Israeli warplanes struck Hamas targets in Gaza today in response to 3 separate rocket launches from Gaza last night and this morning. At least two of the launches were intercepted by its Iron Dome rocket defense system. No casualties were reported on either side.

Four of the six prisoners who escaped from the Gilboa Prison last week were recaptured on Friday and Saturday. The remaining 2 are still at large and are suspected of having crossed into PA territory. The government has set up a commission of inquiry to investigate how the prisoners could have escaped and what needs to be fixed in the prisons system to prevent future escapes.

MK Meir Porush, a member of the Haredi UTJ party, was attacked outside of his home in Jerusalem today by a man, also dressed in Haredi clothing, who attempted to cut off his beard. Porush was able to fend off his attacker.

The Health Ministry today reported 7,686 new corona cases on Sunday, with an infection rate of 5.24%. At least 691 patients are in severe condition, of whom 187 are ventilated.  7,384 have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

EgyptAir, the national airline of Egypt, will begin direct flights between Cairo and Tel Aviv early next month. Currently, the only flights between Israel and Cairo are operated by Air Sinai, a subsidiary of EgyptAir, which operates the flights in unmarked planes without the Egyptian flag. The Air Sinai flights between Tel Aviv and Cairo have operated continuously since the 1980s in order to fulfill the terms of the 1979 peace deal between Israel and Egypt. Israel, today, lifted travel restrictions on citizens visiting the Sinai Peninsula.

Fifteen thousand new housing units will be added to the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel. To read more, click here.

Need a Seat for the High Holidays?

More than 1150 synagogues across the U.S. and around the world are opening their doors to Jewish college students and young adults for this year’s Jewish High Holy Days at no cost, thanks to Synagogue Connect.

Founded by Rabbis Ronald Brown and Charles Klein in 2017, Synagogue Connect helps Jews between 18 and 26 of age find and arrange to attend Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services – For Free! Participating synagogues comprise all affiliations – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Humanistic, Chabad, Renewal, and Independent – and are of all sizes, from mega-synagogues to intimate congregations.

To access the Synagogue Connect database, go to www.synagogueconnect.org.

 

Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-10-2021

News Update

Hundreds of Palestinians have been rioting throughout the West Bank since the escape of 6 terrorists from the Gilboa maximum security prison in Northern Israel (near Jenin) on Monday. All 6 were serving life sentences for deadly terror attacks against Israelis. The prisoners, who managed to dig a tunnel out of the prison, are still at large. Security forces are conducting a massive manhunt to capture them.

The IDF ordered to cancel all leaves for soldiers stationed in the West Bank after Hamas called for a “day of rage” following Friday prayer. Over 1,000 troops were diverted to reinforce the IDF presence across the West Bank and may be bolstered by further forces in coming days for fear of escalating tensions and because of the assumption that at at least some of the six fugitives have managed to cross into the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority has reportedly agreed to assist Israel in the hunt for the escaped terrorists, ostensibly to avoid further escalation of violence in the West Bank.

The Health Ministry today reported 7,769 new corona cases on Thursday, with an infection rate of 6%. At least 672 patients are in severe condition, of whom 173 are ventilated.  7,319 have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic. 900,000 Israelis have not received even one dose of the vaccine.

Over 30,000 Jews, mostly Israelis, went to Uman, Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah to pray near the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, an 18th century Chassidic luminary who promised blessings to those who would pray at his tomb on Rosh Hashanah. Unfortunately, that resulted in an an abnormally high coronavirus infection rate among those worshippers. Police suspect that hundreds of those worshippers returning home to Israel obtained forged negative corona test results.

At least 117 returning to Israel from Ukraine have been found to be carrying forged documents after having tested positive for the virus back in Ukraine. They were taken by ambulance to quarantine at home and authorities are expected to launch criminal proceedings against them for knowingly spreading a communicable disease.

TimeOut magazine has, for the second year in a row, ranked Tel Aviv as the most fun city in the world as well as the eighth best city in the world and the second best city in the food and drink category, behind Shanghai. San Francisco was voted the world’s best city followed by Amsterdam, Manchester, Copenhagen, New York, Montreal and Prague. Rounding out the top ten after Tel Aviv were Porto and Tokyo.

We are now in the midst of the 10 Days of Repentance, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, during which God gives us another chance to repent, before the Book of Life is sealed on the Day of Atonement. LEt’s take advantage of this opportunity to make amends and improve and elevate ourselves.

To read the amazing story of a Polish priest who returned to his Jewish heritage, click here.

Need a Seat for the High Holidays?

More than 1150 synagogues across the U.S. and around the world are opening their doors to Jewish college students and young adults for this year’s Jewish High Holy Days at no cost, thanks to Synagogue Connect.

Founded by Rabbis Ronald Brown and Charles Klein in 2017, Synagogue Connect helps Jews between 18 and 26 of age find and arrange to attend Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services – For Free! Participating synagogues comprise all affiliations – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Humanistic, Chabad, Renewal, and Independent – and are of all sizes, from mega-synagogues to intimate congregations.

To access the Synagogue Connect database, go to www.synagogueconnect.org.

 

Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-3-2021

News Update

Israeli warplanes reportedly attacked Iranian related targets near Damascus last night. Syrian state media reported that Syrian anti-missile defenses shot done most of the missiles. One Syrian anti-aircraft missile reportedly exploded off the coast of Israel. Remains of the missile were found near Tel Aviv.

Israel opened a new Chinese built and operated port in Haifa, which will enable larger cargo ships to dock in the country. Israel is selling its state-owned ports and building new private docks in an effort bring down costs and cut above-average wait times for vessels to unload. About 99% of all goods move in and out of Israel over sea and an upgrade is needed to maintain economic growth.

Israeli airlines are facing new waves of mass layoffs and potential collapse as the global aviation market continues to be damaged by the Covid epidemic. To read more, click here.

The Knesset approved the 2021–2022 state budget in a preliminary vote – 59 to 54. Votes for final approval will be held in November. The vote is considered to be a major victory for the new government with its fragile coalition.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has announced the resumption of production of F-16 wings for Lockheed Martin, using the assembly line established in the 1980s. The company said that it has recently reopened the production line following increased worldwide demand for the F-16 Block 70/72. IAI will produce F-16 wings that will be shipped to the US F-16 final assembly line in Greenville, South Carolina. To read more, click here.

The Health Ministry today reported 11,365 new corona cases on Thursday, with an infection rate of 8.4%. At least 667 patients are in severe condition, of whom 143 are ventilated.  7,122 have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic. Over 2 million Israelis have already gotten their 3rd vaccine dose.

According to a report by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority published earlier this week, almost 2 million people visited nature reserves and national parks across the country this past summer. Most of the visitors were Israeli, as opposed to tourists. The most popular sites were Gan HaShlosha National Park, which was visited by 131,000 people and Tal Grove National Park with 100,000 visitors. In third place was Tel Ashkelon National Park with 95,000 visitors, followed by Nahal Snir with 87,000, Yarkon National Park with 82,000 and Tel Dan Reserve with 81,000.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year of 5782, will begin on Monday night and end on Wednesday night. Our next newsletter issue will be published next Friday. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life, and be blessed with health, happiness, success and peace.

Need a Seat for the High Holidays?

More than 1150 synagogues across the U.S. and around the world are opening their doors to Jewish college students and young adults for this year’s Jewish High Holy Days at no cost, thanks to Synagogue Connect.

Founded by Rabbis Ronald Brown and Charles Klein in 2017, Synagogue Connect helps Jews between 18 and 26 of age find and arrange to attend Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services – For Free! Participating synagogues comprise all affiliations – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Humanistic, Chabad, Renewal, and Independent – and are of all sizes, from mega-synagogues to intimate congregations.

To access the Synagogue Connect database, go to www.synagogueconnect.org.

 

Israel news summary

Israel News for 9-1-2021

News Update

PM Bennett has appointed the deputy director of the Shin Bet (internal security agency) to take over the leadership of the agency. Only known as “R”, until he is officially approved by the government, is55 and the father of 3. He served in the country’s top commando unit — Sayeret Matkal (like the Delta Force) before joining the Shin Bet.

Bahrain’s first ambassador to Israel, Khaled Yousef al-Jalahmah, landed in Israel on Tuesday. Al-Jalahmah previously served as director of operations at Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry and before that was deputy chief of mission at Bahrain’s embassy to the United States from 2009 to 2013.

Israel has reopened the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Gaza and has begun allowing imports of construction materials and other goods. The government also approved expanding Gaza’s fishing zone and increasing the number of Gaza merchants allowed to enter Israel.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz agreed on Monday to give the Palestinian Authority (PA) a NIS 500-million ($155-million) loan to help bolster the PA economy and prevent Hamas from gaining more influence in the West Bank. Israel will begin repaying itself the loan from the $186 million in tax revenues it has withheld from the PA since the beginning of the summer, because of the PA’s continued payments to terrorists and their families.

The Israeli navy held a joint drill with the US Navy’s 5th Fleet in the Red Sea. It was the first time this drill was held. The forces practiced search and rescue scenarios and defensive maneuvers.

IDF troops fired at a suspected terrorist who they spotted lighting a fire near the 443 highway. The suspect fled the scene but was apprehended and subsequently dies of his wounds.

The Israel Police has formed a new undercover unit called “Sinai” to combat crime in Arab communities. It will include 45 undercover officers, who will target hotspots and organized crime in Arab communities throughout the country. To read more, click here.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told reporters that he thought that the opening of the US consulate in East Jerusalem was a “bad idea”. He said it “will send the wrong message, not only to the region, not only to the Palestinians, but also to other countries, and we don’t want this to happen.” He added, “And besides, we have an interesting yet delicate structure of our government and we think this might destabilize this government and I don’t think the American administration wants this to happen.”

Almost 2.5 million Israeli children attended their first day of school today. Students were required to present a not from their parents confirming that they had taken a rapid home test and tested negative for Covid before coming to school. Students are also required to wear mask. A quarter of a million students remained in quarantine and did not attend school.

The Be’er Sheva District Labor Court ruled on Monday that the Education Ministry must bar teachers who refuse to wear a mask in class from teaching in-person. To read more, click here.

The Health Ministry today reported 10,947 new corona cases on Tuesday, with an infection rate of 7.65. At least 719 patients are in severe condition, of whom 156 are ventilated. Over 7,000 have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic. Over 2 million Israelis have already gotten their 3rd vaccine dose. 

 

Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-30-2021

News Update

PM Bennett left Washington for Israel yesterday, after meeting with President Biden on Friday. The PM said, “Biden and I have stroke up a direct and personal bond built on trust. We have achieved all the goals we have set out for ourselves and beyond.” He said that they had agreed on a joint strategic work plan to impede Iran’s attempts to obtain nuclear arms.

For the past 2 nights, dozens of Palestinians staged violent protests along the Israeli-Gaza border fence. On Saturday night, in response to the violence, Israeli warplanes carried out a series of attacks against Hamas targets in Gaza.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah yesterday. Gantz told Abbas that Israel would take measures to strengthen the Palestinian economy. The two discussed various security and economic related matters. However, a source close to PM Bennett said today that “there is no diplomatic process with the Palestinians, nor will there be one.”

The Health Ministry today reported 6,576 new corona cases on Sunday, with an infection rate of 7.81. At least 752 patients are in severe condition, of whom 156 are ventilated. The official death toll now stands at 6,958. On Sunday, Israel approved the third coronavirus vaccine booster shot for anyone who has been fully vaccinated for at least five months.

 

Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-27-2021

News Update

PM Bennett’s meeting with President Biden was postponed until later today, due to the terror attack in Kabul. The PM expressed his condolence to President Biden over the phone. On Wednesday the PM met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Both reiterated the US commitment to Israel’s security.

Israel announced on Wednesday that it will allow more imports into Gaza, including new cars, commercial goods and equipment for civilian projects. It will also issue more permits for Gazan merchants to enter Israel. The move comes after a protest on Wednesday along the Israel-Gaza border, in which hundreds of Palestinians called for an easing of Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Hamas operatives kept protestors away from the Israeli security fence, preventing violent outbreaks.

The Health Ministry today reported 8,078 new corona cases on Thursday, with an infection rate of 6.7. At least 689 patients are in severe condition, of whom 149 are ventilated. The official death toll now stands at 6,943.

The IDF will be vacating 3 bases by the end of this year, near Haifa, Petah Tikva and Rishon Letziyon. To read more, click here. 

Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-25-2021

News Update

IDF warplanes struck Hamas targets in Gaza, including a weapons production facility and a rocket launch site, on Tuesday in response to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza on Monday that causes nine fires. One teen was reportedly killed in the strikes. Hamas has reportedly promised to stop the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza, following talks with Egyptian mediators.

The IDF deployed additional troops to the Gaza border, ahead of planned demonstrations on the Gaza side. An Israeli Border Policeman was shot in the head during a violent demonstration over the weekend.

IDF troops came under attack in Nablus, during an arrest raid yesterday. Palestinians fired shots and dropped large boulders from rooftops. Soldiers fired at the attackers, including one teen who was about to drop a boulder on the head of the unit commander. The teen was killed.

PM Bennett is in Washington to meet with President Biden. Ahead of the meeting, Bennett told the NYTimes that Israel must form a regional coalition against Iran in cooperation with the US. He said he will present Biden with a plan to contain Iran on all fronts, including imposing new economic sanctions, mobilizing international pressure and continuing Israel’s clandestine campaign against Iran’s nuclear arms program.

The United Nations human rights office expressed concern over the arrests of peaceful demonstrators by Palestinian Authority security forces. The UN body said it was “deeply concerned at continuing pressure on those seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in Palestine.” A statement from the European Union representative in Jerusalem also condemned the weekend arrests, which it said had come “against the backdrop of reports of an increase in apparently politically motivated arrests by the Palestinian Authority over the past few months.”

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the premier leaders of the Haredi community, said, “Teachers and educators who have not been vaccinated must not come to teach. Vaccines are a godsend and must be taken to prevent Bitul Torah [wasting time that could be spent on religious studies] and illness. “Every person should try to watch themselves in every way so as not to infect or get infected…and to adhere to the health regulations.”

The Health Ministry today reported 9,891 new corona cases on Tuesday, with an infection rate of 6.69, the highest rate since the start of the current wave of infections. At least 692 patients are in severe condition, of whom 129 are ventilated. The official death toll now stands at 6,880.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed a deal worth €200 million to supply new radars to the German Navy.

Israel is the world’s most expensive country in which to buy a Tesla S electric vehicle. The basic version of the Tesla S, which costs a customer in the US $91,000 (as of today following the most recent price increase), costs a customer in Israel about $166,000 including all taxes. To find out why the price difference, click here.

Arab Israeli swimmer Iyad Shalabi won a gold medal today at the 2020 Paralympics Games in Tokyo. Culture and Sports Minister Yehiel Moshe “Hili” Tropper was among the first to congratulate him.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-23-2021

News Update

Border Police Staff Sergent Barel Hadaria Shmueli, 21, was wounded on Saturday when he was shot in the head with a pistol from point-blank range through a gap in the Gaza border wall during violent demonstrations on the Gaza side. He was evacuated to hospital, where is his currently in critical condition. In response, the IDF attacked several Hamas targets in Gaza, including arms depots and manufacturing facilities. PM Bennett said yesterday that Israel “will settle the score with those who harm our troops and citizens.” Egypt today closed the Rafah border crossing on its border with Gaza. It will remain closed until further notice.

PM Bennett and a small delegation will visit Washington later this week to meet with President Biden. The PM said, “We will present a plan that we have spent months constructing to block Iran’s nuclear ambitions and their belligerence in the region.”

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked warned that her Yamina party will quit the government if coalition co-leader Yair Lapid works toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. Shaked was responding to an interview the foreign minister gave to public broadcaster Kan last week in which he stated that “a two-state solution could be advanced when the government rotates in two years’ time.”

Palestinian Authority police yesterday said they arrested 24 people protesting the government’s response to the death of Nizar Banat, a prominent political activist and outspoken critic of PA President Abbas, while in the custody of Palestinian security forces.

The Health Ministry today reported 6,469 new corona cases on Sunday, with an infection rate of 6.3, the highest rate since the start of the current wave of infections. At least 670 patients are in severe condition, of whom 108 are ventilated. The official death toll now stands at 6,830. The government announced that the school year will begin as planned, on September 1.