News Digest — 4/1/20

Israel Opens Hearts And Pockets For 4-Year-Old Orphans

Israeli deaths from the coronavirus jumped to 21 dead on Wednesday morning (1st), but number 18 hit a particular chord in the country as Tamar Peretz-Levi was the youngest victim so far at age 49 – a widow and mother of 4-year-old twins.

Peretz-Levi died in the early hours of Tuesday morning (3/31) after being hospitalized for less than a week.  Her story touched many hearts, as this is the second major tragedy in her children’s young lives. Their father died of a heart attack seven months after their birth.

The mayor of her hometown Lod, Yair Revivo, told the press that “Tamar was a heroic woman” who had fought for many years to create a family and bring the twins into this world.

Revivo and other town residents immediately opened a crowdfunding campaign on the youngsters behalf, with a target of $500,000.  In less than 24-hours, over $421,050 had already been donated.

One of the fundraising organizers, Yossi Davidov, was in shock as he told Ynet that he didn’t think such a sum could be raised with so many Israelis out of work due to the pandemic.  “We’re almost at our targeted amount. Is there anything like this nation?” he said.

The money will go to a foundation dedicated solely to the Peretz-Levi children who will be raised by Tamar’s family.  A niece, Mor Smadja Mutzafi, told Channel 12 that her aunt has eight surviving siblings, and she doesn’t know which one will officially get custody, “but they’re in the best hands possible – we will envelop them in love,” she said.

Telling the children the awful news of their mother’s death was a heartbreaking moment, she said tearfully.

“Two of their uncles told them….They explained that from now on, mommy would accompany them from heaven, and will be there for them all the time, and that unfortunately she won’t be coming back.  They cried their hearts out until they fell asleep.”

(; world israel  


Israeli Jets Strike Syrian Positions, Says Damascus

Syrian State TV said Israeli jets fired missiles while flying in Lebanese territory Tuesday night (3/31).  The outlet said the warplanes targeted a Syrian position without saying where exactly. It added that some of the missiles were shot down.

Residents of the Lebanese capital Beirut heard the sound of warplanes in the air shortly before the airstrikes were reported.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Last month, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a car in southern Syria, killing one person.  Opposition activists said at the time that the man targeted was an anti-Israel operative.

In recent years, Israel has repeatedly carried out airstrikes in Syria against targets belonging to Iran and its regional terror proxies.

One airstrike in February killed two members of the radical Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran.



Health Ministry Asks All Israelis To Wear Masks – America May Follow Suit

Israel’s Health Ministry advised all Israelis Tuesday (3/31) to wear protective masks when leaving their homes as a tool in fighting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Ynet reported.

Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov cited the conclusion of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the virus is transmitted “through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks,”  

“Several countries, including us, decided to recommend that the public wear protective masks when leaving the house,” Bar Siman Tov said, adding the ministry would soon release guidelines on what masks to use and how to use them.

Bar Siman Tov said there was no need to rush out and buy masks.  “You can improvise at home. You can cover your face with a piece of cloth, for example.  We will guide you.”

In the United States, officials at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta are “considering altering the official guidance to encourage people to take measures to cover their faces amid the corona pandemic,” the Washington Post reported.

Because medical-grade masks are running out, and the first priority is for health care workers, the new recommendation being considered is similar to what Bar Siman Tov recommended, homemade cloth coverings that officials said would help “flatten the curve” of corona infections, the Post reported.   



IDF Chief Of Staff Enters Quarantine

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi entered quarantine on Tuesday (3/31) after attending a meeting with a commander later diagnosed with coronavirus.

Ten days ago on March 22, Kochavi attended a meeting with the commanders of the liaison unit to local authorities of the Home Front Command.  One of the commanders in reserve service was diagnosed this week.

In accordance with the Ministry of Health guidelines, Kochavi will enter quarantine in his office.  At this time, the Chief of the General Staff is not suffering any symptoms, and is feeling well. He was tested on Tuesday afternoon for the COVID-19 virus and was declared negative.  Following Quarantine, he will resume his regular schedule.

Kochavi entered quarantine a day after  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did so after one of his advisers, Rivka Paluch tested positive for the disease.

According to health Ministry guidelines, a person exposed to the virus is supposed to go into quarantine for two weeks.

However, it is not clear if the prime minister or chief of staff, given their senior positions, will be asked to stay isolated for that long a period.



Tel Aviv City Hall Lights Up In Solidarity With America

In a sign of solidarity with the American people who are battling the coronavirus pandemic, Tel Aviv lit up its city hall building Tuesday (3/31) with the American flag.

“Tonight city hall is lit with the #US flag in solidarity with the American people and the residents of our partner cities: @ Chicago, @LACity, @nycgov, @MiamiDadeCounty, @PhiladelphiaGov, @COSAGOV,” read the city’s official Twitter account.

Mayor Ron Huldai tweeted, “We hold you close to our hearts.”

The gesture was noted by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman who tweeted back his appreciation for the gesture.

“Touched to see Tel Aviv City Hall with the American flag tonight, a show of solidarity with the United States during this time of mutual crisis,” Friedman said.  “Our two countries have long cherished a special relationship and share a resilient spirit. We will get through this together.”

The Tel Aviv message came as the death toll in America from the coronavirus soared past 3,500 Tuesday with the crisis deepest in New York.



Islamic Waqf Takes Advantage Of Temple Mount Closure To Conduct Digs

Photos uploaded Tuesday (3/31) to the official Facebook page of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf showed them conducting unauthorized digs on the Temple Mount.

“Despite the closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Haram esh Sharif due to coronavirus, the staff, workers and guards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque are continuing their hard work,” wrote the Jordanian-backed Waqf, which administers the Temple Mount.

The Arab Desk of the Zionist watchdog im Tirtzu, which first reported the unauthorized digs, accused the Waqf of taking advantage of the closure to perform illegal digs that are aimed at “destroying Jewish artifacts and history.”

Due to the highly sensitive nature of the Temple Mount, all digging must be approved by both the Waqf and the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Despite this, the Waqf has a long history of conducting illegal digs, most notably in 1999 when they disposed of over 9,000 tons of dirt mixed with invaluable archaeological artifacts that are now being salvaged by The Temple Mount Sifting Project.

Students for the Temple Mount, a student-based organization promoting religious equality and freedom on the Temple Mount also blasted the digging.

“The fact that the Waqf had the gall to publicly publish pictures of this illegal digging just emphasizes Israel’s lack of sovereignty on the Temple Mount,” said the organization.  

Tom Nisani, head of im Tirtzu’s Arab Desk noted, “What is even more disturbing are the things that the Waqf doesn’t make public.”

“The time has come for Israel to once and for all assert its sovereignty over the Temple Mount.  It’s absurd that the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – is the only place in the Western world where Jews can’t pray.”

Nisani added: “The longer the Temple Mount stays closed, the greater the chances are that the Waqf will destroy more Jewish history.”