News Digest — 3/3/20

Netanyahu: ‘They Eulogized Us – This Is The Biggest Win Of My Life’

Calling it “the biggest win of my life,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a noisy crowd of the faithful at Likud election headquarters in Tel Aviv in a speech that began after 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning (3rd).

“The victory is even sweeter because it was against all odds,” he said.

“They already eulogized us.  Our opponents said, ‘The Netanyahu era is over.’  But together we flipped the script. We turned lemons into lemonade,” the prime minister said.

 Cheers of “Bibi, King of Israel” filled the packed hall.

Exit polls showed the Likud with as many as 37 seats.  On Tuesday morning (3rd), with over 90% of the vote counted, the Likud held 36 seats to Blue and White’s 32.

The right-wing as a whole leads 59 seats to the center-left Arab bloc’s 54.  

However, soldiers’ votes have not yet been counted and will likely give the Right a boost, as soldiers traditionally lean rightwards.

Still in campaign-mode, Netanyahu said on Monday evening (2nd), “We plowed the country from north to south.  There is nothing like the citizens of Israel. They trust us because they know that we have brought about the best decade in Israeli history.”

He then vowed to form a “strong, national government.”

“Tomorrow, after we get some sleep, we will meet with right-wing leaders to form a strong, stable government, a good national government for Israel,” he said.

“This was a great victory for the right-wing camp, and first and foremost a victory for us,” he added referring to Likud party voters.

Netanyahu also struck a conciliatory note, reaching out to non-Likud voters.

“I want to say, I intend to be the prime minister of every citizen of Israel, every right-wing voter, left-wing voter, Jews and non-Jews, every sector and every gender,” said Netanyahu.

“We must avoid anymore elections.  It’s time to heal the rifts. It’s time for reconciliation.”



IDF Identifies, Eliminates Snipers On Golan Heights

IDF troops identified an attempted sniper attack in the northern Golan Heights area.  In response, IDF troops targeted the vehicle involved in the attempted attack, the Israeli Army reported on Monday afternoon (2nd).

A cell phone video of the attack showed an Israeli helicopter firing a missile across the border into a military buffer-zone near Quneitra, where it struck a vehicle. Pictures emerged of the burned-out car which the IDF said carried the snipers.  The number of injured or killed was not reported.

The car belonged to members of a militia loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Israel’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said of the sniper attack, “Even on Election Day our enemies try to harm us.  This day too, as on every day, we will cut off the hands of the enemy and not allow them to interfere in our daily lives.”

“We will continue to provide security to the citizens of the State of Israel,” he said.

Last Friday (2/28), Sana, the Syrian News Agency reported that Israel Air Force helicopters attacked military targets in the country.  Between one and three Syrian soldiers were killed, according to reports.

On February 23, the IDF attacked Islamic Jihad targets near Damascus in an unusual move, after around 30 rockets were fired at Israel by the terror group from the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said the Damascus suburb was used by Islamic Jihad to train terrorist members “both from the Strip and on the northern front.”



Shi’ite Azerbaijan’s Historic Speech At AIPAC – Benjamin Weinthal

On Sunday (1st), Samir Sharifov, the Azerbaijani finance minister, addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference.  The minister of the majority Shi’ite country told AIPAC: “Cooperation with Israel is not limited to oil supply, we are interested in widening cooperation in defense and transfer of technology.”

Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the United States, told The Jerusalem Post that there is “no reason to hide relations with Israel.  Our relationships are always transparent and positive and based on mutual interests.  They are never against anybody else.”

Azerbaijan borders Turkey, Russia and Iran.

Suleymanov said, “Radicalism begins with anti-Semitism. What is bad for the Jews will spread to others.  Azerbaijan is proud that we have never had any anti-Semitism in our country, nor in our history.”

The AIPAC policy conference currently taking place in Washington, ends on Tuesday (3rd) .



AIPAC: Serbia Announces Intention To Open ‘Official State Office’ in Jerusalem

Serbia will open an “official state office” in Jerusalem, Serbian President Alexandar Vucic told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Sunday (1st).  The country will also open a Chamber of Commerce office in the Israeli capital.

“That’s our way of showing respect to Jewish people as well,” he said, drawing a standing ovation from the audience with his short speech.

Vucic also spoke on the historic importance of Israeli-Serbian ties, noting that Serbia has long-supported the right of the Jewish people to have their own state, starting from the Balfour Declaration.

He mentioned Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to Serbia in 2018, which saw the two leaders open a street named after Theodor Herzl.

“We have always been together throughout history, and we support each other today,” he said, pointing at Serbia’s ratification of the Holocaust property restitution bill in 2016 – the first country in Europe to pass such a law.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Vucic in November 2018 in the Bulgarian city of Varna.



Sheba Hospital Ranked 9th Best In The World

Newsweek magazine has deemed the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer the world’s ninth-best hospital, one place ahead of last year’s ranking, and placing it alongside the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Toronto General Hospital, and more.

Located in the Tel Aviv area, Sheba is Israel’s largest medical facility, and also home to more than 25% of all Israeli clinical research.

In its performance rating, Newsweek cited the hospital’s collaborations with biotech and pharmaceutical companies worldwide to develop new drugs and treatments, in addition to its groundbreaking research in cancer, cardiology, brain diseases, genetics and more.

“The selection reflects another year of excellent and advanced medicine, breakthrough-research and world-leading innovation,” said Sheba Medical Center Director General Professor Yitshak Kreiss, a former IDF Surgeon General who has headed the hospital since 2016.

“I am happy and proud of each one of our 9,131 dedicated and professional employees who think outside of the box everyday.  The continued rise in the rankings puts us in line with the world’s leading hospitals. As in every situation, and especially today when we are leading the national effort to treat the Coronavirus, it is a privilege to provide the Israeli population with the best medicine in the world.”

Sheba Medical Center was tasked with establishing Israel’s first facility for the quarantine and treatment of individuals who test positive for the novel Coronavirus, and citizens who returned from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.  Those infected with the virus are being monitored and treated remotely with the aid of the most advanced technologies to avoid contact with medical staff and contain proliferation of the Coronavirus.