News Digest — 2/27/20

In Unprecedented Move, Israelis Advised To Avoid All Travel Over Virus Fears

In a dramatic statement Wednesday (26th), Israel’s Health Ministry urged Israelis to seriously consider refraining from traveling abroad, as the country looked to isolate itself from the novel coronavirus outbreak rapidly spreading across the globe.

“If you don’t genuinely have to fly – don’t do so,” the ministry said in a travel warning.

In making the announcement, Israel became the first country to urge its citizens to refrain from international travel entirely because of the outbreak, which started in China in December and has since infected over 80,000 worldwide.

The move comes after a series of additional countries announced they had identified cases of the virus on their soil over the past two days, including Brazil’s announcement of the first confirmed case in Latin America and uncontained outbreaks in Germany, Italy and other European countries.

Tuesday (25th) marked the first day since the start of the outbreak that more new cases were recorded abroad than in China which has been the epicenter of the epidemic.

The statement also expanded a previous travel warning for northern Italy to the entirety of the country and ordered all Israelis returning from Italy to a 14-day home quarantine.

Israel has already banned the entry of any foreigners who have been to China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

“The current assessment is that there is a high probability that the pathogen has spread to additional areas in Europe and in many other places around the world,” the travel warning said.

The Wednesday statement advised the cancellation or delay of all international conferences and gatherings in Israel in the coming months, and to refrain from traveling to such events abroad, where the threat of contagion from multiple countries is higher.

So far, there have only been two confirmed cases in the country – both of whom were on a cruise ship where hundreds were infected and were already in quarantine when diagnosed.



Naftali Bennett Signs Order To Seize Funds Transferred From Iran To Hamas

Israel’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennett signed an order Thursday (27th) to seize some $4 million in funds transferred from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  The funds, the ministry said in a statement, are “intended to develop terror infrastructure belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including the production of weapons as well as payments to the organization’s operatives.”

The order signed by Bennett targets the Elmhadon Gaza money exchange company owned by Zuhir Shmalach and his family.  Shmalach took the place of Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudri, who was killed in a targeted strike by the Israeli military in May.  Khudri, who the IDF said was in charge of large-scale money transfers from Iran to terror groups in the Strip, was close to Hamas leader Yayha Sinwar.  It was the first targeted strike since 2014.

The order against Shmalach will prevent him and his family from working internationally by limiting their movement to some countries and will also limit the company’s ability to conduct financial activities with international financial bodies.

“The Iranian octopus feeds terrorism all around us.  Our counter-terrorism activity is not only on the battlefield but also against their wallet.  We are in an extensive economic campaign against terror activities around the world and we will pursue anyone who harms us, in order to make killing Israelis an unprofitable business,” Bennett said.

The move is being added to a series of economic actions led by Bennett against Palestinian terrorism.

In December he authorized the seizure of hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of funds paid to eight jailed Israeli-Arab terrorists and their families by the PA.  He also signed an executive order placing targeted economic restrictions on members of terror organizations in Israel and around the world. The order placed sanctions on Mohammad Jamil, a Hamas activist who was deported by Israel to Lebanon in 1992 and who has lived in Britain in recent years.

The intelligence material that led to the signing of the most recent seizure order was drafted by the IDF’s Intelligence Division in collaboration with the National Headquarters on Terrorist Economic Councter-Terrorism in the Ministry of Defense.



Waze Navigation App Recognizes Jordan Valley As Part Of Sovereign Israel

The Waze Navigation application has removed the “Area C” warning tag to the Jordan Valley, implicitly recognizing it as part of sovereign Israel, reported Israel Hayom Wednesday (26th).

David Elhayani, Jordan Valley regional council head, wrote to Waze Israel’s managing director, Guy Berkowitz, to thank him for the gesture.

“There’s been positive chatter among the residents of the Jordan Valley about how the biggest navigation application in the world has recognized the Jordan Valley as an inseparable part of the State of Israel.  The pop-up that informs drivers they are driving in Area C has been removed, and by doing so, you’ve given the Jordan Valley residents a warm and loving hug,” he wrote.

“This is a small step for Waze and a giant step for the Jordan Valley residents and the State of Israel,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised before the last round of elections in September that if he forms the next government, he will immediately annex the region, which was liberated in the 1967 Six-Day War.

So according to Waze, the Jordan Valley is now Israeli land.  This makes the 10,000 Jewish residents who live in the region very happy.



Survey: Every Fifth European Believes A Jewish Cabal Runs The World

Twenty percent of European participants in a survey conducted by the European Jewish Association believe that a secret Jewish cabal runs the world according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).

The survey, presented Monday (24th) at a conference of the European Jewish Association in Paris against anti-Semitism, was conducted in December and January among Europeans from 16 countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland.

A fifth of the 16,000 respondents also agreed with the statement that “Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own needs.”

The survey reported a quarter of respondents thought that Israel’s policies make them understand why some people hate Jews, and a quarter disagreed with the statement “Israel is engaged in legitimate self-defense against its enemies.”

More than a third agreed with the statement,”During World War II, people from our nation suffered as much as Jews.”

A representative sample of 1,000 adults in each of the countries polled, was presented with 45 questions or statements in face-to-face interviews about Jews and Israel, according to the Action and Protection League.  The survey has a margin of error at 0.8%.

Holocaust revisionism and classic anti-Semitic stereotypes were more common in eastern Europe, whereas anti-Israel sentiments, including anti-Semitic ones, were more common in the west, according to Rabbi Slomo Koves, chairman of the Action and Protection League.  The Budapest-based group is affiliated with the Hungarian Jewish community’s main watchdog on anti-Semitism.



Brooklyn College Athletes Kneel During Israel’s National Anthem – Adam Kredo

At a men’s volleyball competition last weekend, several players from Brooklyn College knelt during the singing of Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, before a match against Jewish students of Yeshiva University.  It has become common in recent years for athletes to engage in anti-Israel political protests during sports competitions.

Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University said, “It is unfortunate that some members of the opposing team disrespected Israel’s national anthem.  We are proud to be the only university who sings both the American and Israel national anthems before every athletic competition and major event. Nothing makes me prouder to be an American than living in a country where our religious freedom, our Zionism and our commitment to our people will never be impeded and will always be prized.”