News Digest — 3/11/20

Netanyahu Touts ‘Resilience Of Israeli Economy’ Amid Virus Threats

Shortly before Israel’s Health Ministry announced three new coronavirus cases on Wednesday (11th), bringing the total number in Israel to 61, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held economic discussions at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem related to the crisis.

Netanyahu met with the finance minister, the economy and industry minister, and the governor of the Bank of Israel, among others, in order “to ensure the resilience of the economy,” said a statement from the prime minister’s office.

“The Israeli economy is in an excellent situation,” said Netanyahu.

“We are entering the corona crisis and our situation is better than most countries around the world,” he stated.  “We have taken steps, such as establishing a NIS 4 billion fund to help businesses that have been hurt by the coronavirus.  At this time we are working to add additional money.”

Netanyahu also addressed runs on basic goods at stores in various nations around the world.

“Regarding supplies, most supplies in the State of Israel come by sea – products, raw materials, all these things, including food.  Almost all food comes by sea so there is no reason to storm the supermarkets. There is more than enough food and there will be more than enough food,” said the prime minister.

“Regarding supplies by air, we are taking all steps and measures at our disposal to ensure that here too will be an orderly supply to Israel,” he concluded.



Texas-Based Company Claims To Have Developed Coronavirus Vaccine

Texas-based genetic engineering firm Greffex claims to have developed a vaccine for the coronavirus.  The company will soon begin testing it on animals to meet licensing requirements.

Greffex CEO John Price told Fox News the company was “confident in the quality of the vaccine, “but the next steps depend on what the government wants to do in terms of testing.”

Greffex has a track record in vaccination development, having previously formulated a vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

“The disease that we’re working with right now, COVID-19. Has a tremendous number of similarities with MERS.  So what we were able to do was take the knowledge we already had to create the vaccine,” he said.

“However it won’t be available to the human population for some months at least, as the prototype vaccine will first need to be tested on animals.”

“The earliest, we think, would be the end of the year, and the latest would be eighteen months.  But we think we could – depending on the approval process of the government – get something in 2020,” Price said.

“The vaccine could potentially be available earlier in the year, as there are ways to fast track the process,” Price said, but he added: “Again, that’s a policy decision for the government, including classification of the virus according to threat.”

“If it is truly a pandemic, then you can pretty much do whatever you want,” he said.  “The process is roughly four weeks for the first animal test, and then you go to human trials.  That’s the part that will be determined by the government.”



Stoning Attack, Jewish Boy, 14, Hospitalized In Serious Condition With Fractured Skull

A Jewish boy, 14, is in serious condition in an Israeli hospital after being struck in the head by a block thrown by an Arab near the village of Hawara in Samaria.

He was evacuated to Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petah Tikva by Magen David Adom where he is being kept in a medically induced coma and under mechanical ventilation.

Medical staff reports that his skull is fractured with internal bleeding.

According to website 0404, reports say the boy, along with others, had stopped at an intersection, or square, to dance and celebrate to Purim music, Tuesday (10th), when a car with Arabs stopped and started cursing them.  The Arabs began attacking them as more Arabs joined in.

A lone soldier, on leave, defended the Jews, until they could get away in a vehicle, the report said.

However, as the car began to pull away, an Arab threw a block at close range through the window where the boy was sitting, fracturing his skull.

Samaria Regional Council Chairman, Yossi Dagan said, “This is a very serious incident.  An anti-Semitic attempt to murder – a terror attack in every sense. I spoke with the wounded boy’s father.  I urge the military and police to capture the terrorists and bring them to justice.”



Israeli Police Subdue Terrorist After Stabbing Attempt Near Damascus Gate

An Arab terrorist was arrested on Tuesday (10th) after he attempted to stab Israeli Border Police officers near the Old City in Jerusalem, Israeli Police said in a statement.

According to reports, he approached the Shalom police station near the Damascus Gate and pulled out a knife at the checkpoint entrance. The police managed to get the knife from the terrorist’s hands before he had a chance to harm anyone.

Police did not disclose the name of the terrorist who is believed to live in an eastern Jerusalem Arab neighborhood.

The Damascus Gate was closed pending an investigation.

Arab stabbing attacks are not rare occurrences in the Jewish State.

In late February, a Palestinian woman from eastern Jerusalem yelled “Allahu Akbar” and tried unsuccessfully to stab a passerby at the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem.  She was restrained by a civilian until police arrived to arrest her.

Also in February, a 19-year-old terrorist was stopped at one of the entrances to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron for a routine security inspection, during which he grabbed a knife and stabbed the inspection officer.  The officer’s protective vest saved his life, and the terrorist was wrestled to the ground. 



Hamas Slams Secret Saudi Trials Of Its Operatives In The Kingdom

On Monday, (9th) Hamas criticized the “secretive criminal trials” in Saudi Arabia of dozens of members and supporters of the Palestinian terrorist group.

The group which rules the Gaza Strip, said Saudi authorities detained dozens of the best and the most elite of the Palestinian people residing in Saudi Arabia.”

A popular account on Twitter focusing on the arrests and trials of dissidents, reported that the Saudi government is conducting the trials before the Specialized Criminal Court, a secretive tribunal established to try terrorism cases.

The arrests intensified in 2019 and there has been no official comment from the Saudi government on either the arrests or the trials.

In recent years, ties between Hamas – an offshoot of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood – and Saudi Arabia have not been friendly.  The Palestinian group relies more on Saudi’s regional rival, Iran, for funds, weapons and expertise.

Hamas says the detainees, which include some Jordanians, were held for “supporting the Palestinian cause.”

Earlier, a Hamas official explained that this means raising funds and soliciting donations.

In January, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Tehran to attend the funeral of Maj. Gen Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq.  The move could explain the expedition of the trials of Hamas’ supporters in Saudi Arabia.



How And Why Iran Has Lost Its Position As Head Of The Shiite World – Hanin Ghaddar 

→ In Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and inside Iran itself, the people have realized that the enemy is within.  It’s their own governments that have allowed the Iranian regime to take over the state and its institutions.  The Shia Crescent, which Iran has been investing in for decades, is finally turning against the Iranian regime and its proxies.

→ Iran is facing its most complicated adversary in years – Shia protesters.  For Iran, the enemy is also within, and it’s one that cannot be contained without a drastic upheaval in Iran’s own strategies and political alliances across the region.

→ Iran’s worst nightmare started when the Iraqis – mostly in Shia towns and cities – started to chant “Iran, out out, Iraq free, free.”  In Iraq, Iran’s attempts to turn the protests into anti-U.S. protests didn’t work. The three main Shiite cities in Lebanon witnessed widespread protests, despite Hezbollah’s constant intimidation and threats to protesters.

→ It is going to be very difficult for Iran and its proxies to come back from this.  The Shia in these countries no longer believe that the Iranian ideology is the solution or that its strategy to defeat Israel and the U.S. will elevate them from poverty and hunger.

→ Hezbollah had been relying on Soleimani as a military commander.  The group is currently spread too thin to play a much larger role in Iraq or the rest of the Shia Crescent.  A proper replacement for Soleimani doesn’t really exist, and Iran will have a real struggle to fill that void.