News Digest — 12/9/20

Netanyahu Volunteers To Take First Corona Vaccine As First Doses Arrived In Israel

In a historic moment, the first batch of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning (9th) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke at a short ceremony at the airport, said he would volunteer to be the first vaccinated.

A DHL flight from Brussels that carried over 100,000 doses of the recently created vaccine landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport just after 9 a.m.

“What is important to me is that Israelis get vaccinated.  I believe in vaccines…I intend to be the first in Israel to be vaccinated,” Netanyahu said.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein took the opportunity to thank medical teams who have been working to fight the spread of the virus and said that they would soon receive the vaccine.  He said he would supervise the distribution of it.  “With God’s help we will see an end to the virus crisis – we see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, but urged the public to keep following regulations even as the vaccine becomes available.

Recently, the virus numbers have been increasing.  The Health Ministry reported 1,719 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday (8th), bringing the total number of active patients in the country to 14,905, out of 69,778 tests administered.  Some 310 patients are in serious condition, 113 of whom are intubated.  So far, 2,932 people have died of the virus in Israel.

Netanyahu said it should not be taken for granted that a country as small as Israel would receive such a large quantity of the vaccine.

Another cargo plane carrying half a million doses of the vaccine is scheduled to arrive in Israel in the next few days, and a million more will arrive next week.

Health Ministry director-general Chevy Levy informed the country’s health funds on Tuesday (8th) that they should prepare for the vaccinations to begin on December 20, The Jerusalem Post confirmed.

A senior health fund official said that the hospitals and the funds will start vaccinating in small numbers at first, but are expected to begin larger-scale community vaccination right after Christmas, when another large shipment of Pfizer vaccines is supposed to arrive in Israel.

The medical staff at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center has signed up to be the first to be inoculated.

Sourasky director general Ronni Gamzu wrote on Twitter, “The vaccine is safe for every person on an individual level and for us as a country on a national level.  I am proud to receive this treatment first as part of the global technological advancement.  I am convinced that leading by personal example will help gain public trust so all citizens take the vaccine for their health.”



Israel’s U.S. Ambassador Worried About Iran, Not F-35 Sales

Israel is more concerned with the threat of a nuclear Iran than F-35 fighter jet sales to the United Arab Emirates, said Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer Monday (7th), on an American TV news show.

“We believe that the UAE is an ally in confronting Iran, and we do not believe that this arms package will violate the U.S. commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge,” said Dermer, adding that he was “very comfortable” with the UAE obtaining the jets.

In September, reports emerged that the UAE-Israel normalization deal included a clause which gave the U.S. permission to sell advanced F-35 fighter jets, apparently reducing the Jewish State’s qualitative military edge in the region.

“What keeps me up at night is actually not the proposed F-35 sale to the Emirates,” said Dermer, “but that somebody would return to the nuclear deal with Iran.”

Dermer said that if another U.S. administration takes over, he hopes that it realizes this is 2020 and not 2015.

“We hope that any administration would speak to its allies in the region – speak to Israel – speak to the Arab states, because we are on the front lines, and we are in danger from an aggressive Iran.”

Dermer’s remarks come on the heels of a recent statement by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, calling for the U.S. to consult with Gulf nations before ever re-entering another deal with Iran.

“I think we’ve seen as the results of the after-effects of the JCPOA that not involving the regional countries, results in a build up of mistrust and neglect of the issues of real concern and of a real effect on regional security,” the Saudi minister said.



Israeli Flag And Banner ‘Thank You Mossad’ Hung On Bridge In Tehran

A video and pictures of an Israeli flag and a banner reading “Thank you Mossad” went viral on social media Tuesday (8th) after they were hung on a bridge over a busy thoroughfare in the Iranian capital of Tehran.

The flag and banner were spotted Monday evening (7th) on what appeared to be a pedestrian bridge over a six-lane major road in Tehran’s Pars neighborhood, where scores of cars stopped in busy traffic would have noticed the flag and English language banner below it.

Video clips and pictures of the flag and banner were widely circulated on social media following reports that unknown individuals had hung the flag and banner across a bridge over a boulevard, partially covering a billboard.

“A finger in the eye,” tweeted Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, who authored a book on the history of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency that Iranian leaders blame for the assassination two weeks ago of their top nuclear scientist.

“Someone in Iran is trying to take advantage of the momentum of the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh… in the heart of Tehran,” Bergman said.

The Israeli flag is banned in Iran except for its use in government organized anti-Israel demonstrations where the flag is burned or trampled on while crowds loyal to the Islamic Republic chant “Death to Israel.”

Although Israel has not commented officially on the assassination, it is widely believed to have had a hand in the killing.  Iranian officials claim it was carried out by a satellite-controlled machine gun using advanced artificial intelligence that shot several bullets into Fakhrizadeh.

The bridge incident is not the first time the Israeli flag has been used by Iranians in an act of defiance against the totalitarian government.

In January a video circulated online showing defiant Iranian university students walking around, but not stepping on, giant Israeli and American flags that were painted on the ground.     



Iran’s President Vows To Continue Supporting Syria

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday (8th) his country will continue to support Syria, urging Damascus to confront Israel in the “occupied” Golan Heights.

Rouhani’s website said the remarks came during a meeting with visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue its support to the Syrian government and people as our strategic ally and we will stand by Syria until its final victory.”

Rouhani said confronting “Zionist occupiers and terrorism” is the joint goal of both nations.

“Until the liberation of all occupied lands, including the Golan, confronting Zionist occupiers should continue,” said Rouhani.

It was Mekdad’s first visit to Iran as foreign minister after he assumed his post in November.  He arrived in Tehran on Monday (7th).

Iran has been a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad since the beginning of Syria’s civil war in 2011, lending his government in Damascus vital military and economic support.

Iran does not recognize Israel and supports terrorist groups like the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.



Farmers Desecrate Jewish Cemetery In Ukraine

A Jewish cemetery in Ukraine was desecrated by farmers when they took part of the burial land and added it to their adjacent fields, a local television station reported.  

The desecration took place in the town of Hulyaipole,  situated about 300 miles southeast of Kiev, according to a TCN report Tuesday (8th).  The report said the desecrated land was taken from the cemetery of Hulyaipole, where no Jews live today.

Although desecrating burial sites is a criminal offense in Ukraine, authorities ignored complaints about the farmers and refrained from intervening, according to reports.

The digging and plowing by the farmers brought to the surface multiple bone fragments, which some locals saved out of respect for the dead for a future burial, the report said.

Although this happened two years ago, it was just made known to the public, in a report on Tuesday (8th).