News From Israel

“News from Israel” presents a compilation of news stories from major Israeli and other publications. To see the source and to read the full story behind a headline, click the hyperlink in the corresponding news item.

No. 122, April 14, 2020

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Inside Israel
Deal is still elusive as Likud, Blue and White resume coalition talksCoalition negotiations between the Likud and Blue and White parties reportedly resumed after start of Passover, but there were still no signs a deal to form a new government was nearing after talks between the sides blew up earlier last week.

Poll: 42 seats for Likud, 18 for Blue and White. A new poll showed that if elections were held today, the Likud, led by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, would receive 42 Knesset seats, and Blue and White, led by MK Benny Gantz, would receive 18 Knesset seats. In total, the right-religious block would receive 64 Knesset seats, while the center-left-Arab bloc would receive 56.

Coronavirus

  • As of Sunday, April 12, the number of coronavirus infections in Israel stood at 11,103. The death toll reached 103. However, the daily number of new cases showed a declining trend. Out of all cases which had an outcome, 93% recovered, and 7% died. The average age of deceased was about 80 years old, 64% were men. The vast majority had underlying medical conditions. 
  • Mossad obtained 10 million more protective masks for Israel, a few dozen ventilators, tens of thousands of test kits and some 25,000 N95 surgical masks.
  • Massive airlift of medical supplies from China, including ventilators, masks, protective suits for medical teams and other items, has started. As the first plane touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport, it was revealed that much of the cargo had been donated by former tourists and academic exchange alumni who have fond memories of Israel.
  • The government announced tightening of restrictions, including
    • Ban on meetings of more than two people who are not in the same immediate family and limiting the number of people attending funerals to 20.
    • Full, military-enforced closure of the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak. According to various indications, about 38% of the residents of Bnei Brak are ill.
    • Complete lockdown for the first night of Passover. Moreover, all travel between cities for the 3 days around the start of Passover was banned.
    • All Israelis are required to wear protective masks when leaving their home.
  • Israeli unemployment exceeded one million, close to 25% of the workforce. A record-breaking NIS 90 billion package was approved by the government to assist small businesses and the unemployed.

Israelis’ thoughts on the current situation. 76% of Israelis are concerned that they or a family member will contract the coronavirus – up from 34% in February. Nevertheless, a majority (60%) chose to report that their mood at present is very good or moderately good. On a scale of 1 to 10, the average grade currently given by the Israeli public as a whole for solidarity in Israeli society stands at 6.67. Approval of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands at 60%.

Badly-hit Israeli town succeeds in beating coronavirus. As Israel remains under lockdown and the coronavirus continues to spread, one small community appears to have done the impossible and stopped the spread of the virus. The town’s Local Council head explained that the town succeeded in arresting the virus by adopting draconian, but necessary, isolation measures.

Tech industry leaders criticize Israel’s “chaotic” handling of Covid-19 medical equipment procurement. Several tech leaders who have contributed their time and networks to help the fight against coronavirus, mostly in the import of protective equipment and testing kits, now claim that the Health Ministry has failed to adjust to crisis mode. According to one of the technical leaders, “The entire system is paralyzed due to bureaucracy, lack of central management by someone familiar with modern practices and the prevailing fear of an investigation committee that is sure to be appointed to look into the failures”.

International
After years of breeding anti-Israel hatred, Egypt’s education system is overhauled under Sisi. After Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, its education system continued to put forth a narrative that denied the legitimacy of the Jewish state.  When President Sisi came to power, he decided to change that equation, realizing that Egypt and Israel shared a common enemy – the threat of terror, and acknowledging that breeding hatred would not solve the Palestinian problem.

Culture and Lifestyle
Happy Passover! The Israel Philharmonic sends special greeting. The Israeli Philharmonic prepared a special presentation for the Passover holiday in light of the ongoing crisis. Watch here.

As corona crisis grows, Israelis find a way to help out. These challenging times offer many opportunities for kind deeds. Whether making sure hard-working doctors get a hot meal, reaching out to people stuck in quarantine, volunteering to test blood samples or performing living-room concerts – Israelis are coming to one another’s aid.

Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox use of internet is up 40%. The numbers represent an unprecedented change in the way the Internet is used by this audience, whether to learn, study or shop online in what the Israeli telecommunication company Bezeq calls fastest adoption of internet process ever seen.
 
Science and Technology
Israel greenlights coronavirus blocking sticker testing. The sticker, developed at Israeli research university Technion, is coated with disinfectants and is meant to effectively neutralize viruses as they touch the mask. A pilot began at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya in northern Israel, to examine the sticker’s effectiveness and see if it reduces the incidence of infection among medical teams.

Israeli COVID-19 treatment shows 100% survival rate – preliminary data. Six critically ill coronavirus patients in Israel who are considered high-risk for mortality have been treated with Pluristem’s placenta-based cell-therapy product and survived, according to preliminary data provided by the Haifa-based company.

Weapons against coronavirus. Israel’s defense companies join the race to develop new medical technologies to combat Covid-19. Within a few days, various advanced technological solutions will be introduced into government hospitals that in various ways will assist in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

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