Archives For Israel

No sooner had a three-week lockdown commenced in Israel on Friday than government officials began talking about tightening restrictions, fearing that the current ones will not be effective enough to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in Israel.

Israel’s hospitals raised the “red flag” last week, alerting authorities that the rapidly rising rate of infections could collapse the healthcare system. In fact, on Wednesday a record number of 6,900 new virus cases was reported in one day. Doctors predict that soon the Israeli healthcare system would be unable to provide optimal treatment to patients with COVID-19 in serious condition.

“The question is not the number of beds, but who is taking care of the patients,” Prof. Gil Fire told Ynet. “There is only a limited number of trained doctors who know how to treat serious patients. The workload is unusual, especially in light of the workload at other hospitals that refer to us [patients]. Our emergency room is very busy, patients are lying in the corridors, and in the last week, we have seen an increase in admissions to the general emergency department.”

A second national shutdown began on Friday afternoon with the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, and shuttered restaurants, mall, gyms and schools for at least three weeks while limiting the number of people in workplaces and houses of worship and restricting resident to a 1-kilometer perimeter from their homes.  

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The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is calling for its followers in content creation to boycott an Arab.

The new target of the anti-Israel movement is Nuseir Yassin, a 28-year-old from an Arab-Israeli town in the Galilee. Known as Nas Daily, the young man rose to fame with daily videos from his travel around the world. He amassed more than 17 million subscribers on Facebook. And I have been a fan of his for a while.

“The Palestinian National Committee for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) calls – [in] the widest coalition in Palestinian society in the homeland and diaspora – [for] content makers and influencers in the Arab region to boycott the upcoming ‘Nas Daily’ program, which aims to implicate them in normalizing relations with Israel and cover up its crimes,” BDS said in a statement in Arabic on its website. “While the National Boycott Committee salutes the content makers who refused to engage in this normalization project, it calls on all participants to withdraw immediately and refrain from [justifying the] cover up the crimes of the occupation, in commitment to their national and moral responsibility first, and based on their responsibility as influencers and content makers secondly.”

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Israel started August with the goal of getting new coronavirus infections down from 2000 to under 500 by the end of the month. Unfortunately, we have gone the opposite direction, hitting over 5,000 on Tuesday. With a record spike in coronavirus cases in the past week, Israel is heading into the Rosh Hashanah holiday under the shadow of a national lockdown and an acute sense of confusion over what that specifically entails.

The lockdown is set to begin on Friday at 2 p.m. and will effectively shutter stores, restaurants, schools and gyms (among many other institutions) for at least three weeks. But it remains unclear how it will end – and even whether it will be effective. 

In fact, the head of the doctors union, Hagai Levine, said the lockdown is the “stupidest and most hazardous solution” to the crisis.

“We should not shut down the country because of infected cases per day,” he told The Times of Israel. “This is more a media pandemic. The media is making such a fuss regarding the numbers. The scale we are at in hospitals is really relatively low.”

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The biggest news in Israel this week was the signing of a historic peace agreement between Israel and two Gulf states — the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — at a distinguished ceremony at the White House on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump hosted the event at the White House promising, “there are more nations to follow.”

“We are very far down the road with about five. Frankly we could’ve had them here today…. at least five or six countries are coming through very quickly,” Trump predicted repeatedly in interviews throughout the day.

“You’re going to have peace in the Middle East without being stupid and shooting everybody, and killing everybody, and having blood all over the sand,” he said in a Fox News interview.

Trump even predicted that the Palestinians would eventually “come along” as well. 

Trump led Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE’s Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed (ABZ) and Abdullatif Al-Zayani, the foreign minister of Bahrain, onto a balcony overlooking the South Lawn of the White House. These two countries became the third and fourth Arab states to agree to full diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

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In a major blow to the Palestinians, the Arab League voted not to condemn the United Arab Emirates for a normalization deal with Israel, announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on Aug. 13.

The resolution was proposed by the Palestinian Authority. Debate lasted three hours and “some Arab countries refused to include [a] statement condemning [the UAE] for abandoning Arab decisions,” Palestinian Authority Representative to the Arab League Muhannad al-Aklouk told Ma’an News.

The controversial draft was dropped.

Secretary-general of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, stressed the Palestinian solution that all Arab countries seek “is to end the [Israeli] occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

But, he added, it is the “indisputable right of each country to have sovereignty in conducting its foreign policy in the way it sees fit.”

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