News From Israel

No. 123, April 30, 2020

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Inside Israel

Netanyahu and Gantz sign a unity government agreement. After three elections and 17 months of election campaigns and coalition negotiations, Netanyahu and Gantz have signed a deal for the establishment of a new government. As part of the deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will remain prime minister for another 18 months and then will be replaced in October 2021 by Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. Polls indicate that most Israelis support the new unity government.

Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Ceremony was aired online for the first time ever. In the shadow of the coronavirus epidemic, the host of the ceremony addressed an empty square and vocalists performed without an audience – but the speeches from the country’s leaders, the stories of survivors and the prayers for those murdered all went ahead regardless. Read and see the ceremony here.

Coronavirus

  • The total number of infected people in Israel reached15,555 and the total number of deaths stands at 204. However, the number of active cases (infected minus cured) reached its peak on April 15 and has been declining since then. The daily deaths have also been declining.
  • The cumulative number of tests conducted per 1M population reached 35,000 (in USA it is close to 16,000).
  • The Israeli economy began opening up on Sunday, April 19. Trade, services and manufacturing will be gradually returning to full capacity if they’re able to adhere to health regulations. Those over 65 and in other risk groups will remain in self-quarantine. A week later further lifting of coronavirus restrictions took place. That included reopening of all street shops, barbershops and beauty salons. Malls, restaurants and gyms remain closed. The new regulations are valid through May 3 and the measures to further ease restrictions will be evaluated based on the level of infection.
  • Israel orders 2.4 million serological tests for coronavirus antibodies, enough to test about 25% of the total Israel population. Serological tests of the population could help health officials determine what percentage of the populations may have been infected and help in deciding when and how much to reopen the economy.
  • As the situation with Covid-19 is improving in Israel, three Hebrew University professors are claiming that the lockdown measures implemented by the government over recent months were unnecessary and should be canceled immediately. Israel had more than enough hospital beds and ventilators to handle the crisis.

IMF forecasts Israeli economy won’t recover until 2022. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a report predicting that the Israeli economy will shrink 6.3% in 2020 and won’t recover fully until 2022.

Only 7% of Israeli Arabs define themselves as “Palestinian”. According to a recent survey, about a quarter of Israeli minorities (23%) define themselves primarily as “Israeli” and half (51%) self-identify as “Israeli-Arab.” The proportion of non-Jewish people who define themselves primarily as “Palestinian” now stands at around 7%, down from 18% this time last year.

Israel foils terror plot to bomb a stadium in Jerusalem. Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, stopped a bombing attempt at the Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem. The terrorists had planned a number of terror attacks in addition to the stadium bombing, including in Jerusalem and against IDF forces in Ramallah and the Binyamin region. Also, an Israeli Border Police guard was moderately injured in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in the West Bank.

International

Number of Jews worldwide nears 1925’s level, but still is far short of pre-WW II. According to the data, released ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, there were 14.7 million Jews at the end of 2018, just shy of the 14.8 million there were in 1925 but still significantly fewer than the 16.6 million that were on the eve of World War II in 1939. The 6.7 million Jews who live in Israel account for 45 percent of the world Jewry. The United States has the second-largest Jewish population in the world with 5.7 million, followed by France with about 450,000.

Palestinian libel: Israel exposes child prisoners to coronavirus. One PA (Palestinian Authority) libel claims that Israel is intentionally trying to infect Palestinian prisoners  – i.e., terrorists – with the coronavirus, and particularly refrains from protecting the younger prisoners, causing “a holocaust” in the prisons, as one op-ed in the official PA daily called it.

Israelis train Gaza medics. Dozens of doctors, nurses and medical personnel in Gaza have been trained by Israeli teams in techniques to treat patients infected with the coronavirus. Sessions took place at the Erez border crossing, at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon and by conference calls. Hamas even acknowledged it.

Culture and Lifestyle

WATCH: Wild boars are taking over Israeli cities due to Corona. With fewer people outside thanks to the coronavirus, wild animals, including ibex and wild boars, have been found wandering in Israeli towns.

Independence Day: 72+1 new reasons to love Israel. The same question every year: Can you really find 73 new reasons (one for each year of independence + 1) you love Israel? This year the country is facing the coronavirus. Here are 72+1 new reasons why the author of this article loves Israel, in no particular order.

With cemeteries shut on Memorial Day, Israelis forced to adopt new traditions. The Mount Herzl national cemetery is ordinarily full for Memorial Day, as throngs of family, friends and former comrades visit their loved ones’ graves. This year, it will be empty, its gates locked, with police officers standing guard outside and turning away anyone who attempts to enter, as a precautionary measure to prevent a further outbreak of the coronavirus.

Science and Technology

Robot to replace staff treating coronavirus designed by Israeli expertsA robot has been designed by Israeli engineering and health experts to replace some of the tasks of medical staff treating coronavirus patients, in order to help reduce their risk of infection. Dubbed COROBOT the platform will initially be used at Rambam Health Center in Haifa.

Powerful new Israeli disinfectant, made from tap water, kills coronavirus. Researchers from Bar-Ilan University have developed new methodologies to produce powerful, environmentally friendly disinfectants based on tap water, that can eliminate bacteria and kill viruses, including microbes from the coronavirus family. The technology works through an array of nanometer-sized particles with unique surface properties.

Hebrew University researchers develop COVID-19 diagnostic test that is 10x faster. Media outlets around the world have reported a shortage of COVID-19 testing materials. Now, Professors Nir Friedman and Naomi Habib at Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a faster and cheaper way to test COVID-19 using materials commonly found in diagnostic labs.

In Depth

100th anniversary of San Remo. On 25th Apr 1920, the San Remo Conference of the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers signed the treaty that established the international right of the Jewish people to a national home. It was enshrined in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate and the 1945 UN Charter. “Give Peace a Chance” is a 15 minute documentary about the long hidden document of the classified minutes from the San Remo Peace Conference of April 1920 which still defines the legal rights under international law of the Jews as well as the Arabs. 

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