News Digest — 5/11/20

2 Earthquakes Shake Israel’s North Within An Hour

Two earthquakes shook northern Israel in the space of one hour, the Geophysical Institute of Israel reported on Monday (11th).

The epicenter of the quakes was said to be in the Mediterranean Sea, West of Lebanon.

The first earthquake, which occurred at 5:38 a.m., measured 3.2 in magnitude and its epicenter was some 8.6 miles north of Beit She’an in the north.

The second one took place around 6:53 a.m. and measured 2.3 in magnitude.  Its exact epicenter was some 33 miles north of Nahariya, the northernmost coastal city in Israel.

Over a month ago, a 4.3 magnitude earthquake struck the southernmost city of Eilat.  It’s epicenter was about 52 miles south of the city, in the Gulf of Eilat along the Syrian-African rift system known as the Great Rift Valley.

According to seismic experts, Israel experiences a massive quake approximately every 100 years, and the last major one was on July 11, 1927, a devastating event that caused innumerable damage and killed hundreds across the Jordan Valley, meaning that a major earthquake is expected to hit the country in the near future.



Israeli Kindergartens Reopen After Two Months

Several hundred thousand children returned to kindergartens and daycare centers Sunday (10th) as Israel’s education system took slow and methodical steps to reopen after nearly two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They joined students in grades 1-3 and 11-12 who returned to school last week according to social distancing and health guidelines, reducing class size, and forcing teachers to rotate which students come to class on different days.

Education Minister Rafi Peretz welcomed them back, but cautioned parents that the pandemic was still ongoing.

“With the return of children in the framework of a staged return to routine, it is important to pay attention – the coronavirus is not gone,” Peretz tweeted, calling for children to not mix in with any other groups of kids after school.

“Adhering to the instructions is very necessary at this point and should be followed for the sake of the children and the public at large,” said Peretz.

Kindergartens reopened as the number of new virus infections continued to drop, and officials expressed optimism that the entire school system will be running by the end of the month, with universities and colleges set to reopen on June 14 providing the infection numbers remain low.

“We are gradually moving step by step,” Education Ministry Director-General Shmuel Abuav told Channel 13 news.  “If there is no glitch, we will move on to grades four through 10, and then look at the situation for the summer vacation,” he said.

Kindergarten class sizes are limited to 18 children in two groups of nine to reduce the chance of infection, and most children will be able to go only three days a week so that everybody gets a chance to attend.

The restrictions mean up to a quarter of a million children will have to be at home for part of the week, creating a headache for working parents.

Because of the conditions, the Ministry of Education said attendance is voluntary.  Schools have been holding online classes for the past month in order to keep students learning. 

Israel shuttered the education system back in mid-March and followed that with stricter measures that crippled its previously robust economy.

Over a million Israelis have lost their jobs in the crisis and are hoping that getting all of Israel’s roughly 2.3 million students back in school will hasten their own return to work.

Meanwhile on Monday morning (11th) fifteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported overnight, bringing the total cumulative tally to 16,493.  The Health Ministry reported one death overnight, bringing the total of deaths from the coronavirus to 254.



Coronavirus Brings Arabs And Israelis Together, Poll Finds

The coronavirus pandemic has done something that almost every political initiative has failed to do – bring Arabs and Israelis closer together.

A majority of Israel’s public says the coronavirus crisis has positively affected relations between Jews and Arabs, an April survey by the Israel Democracy Institute shows.

Of those surveyed, 56% of Jewish-Israelis and 64% of Arab-Israelis believed that relations have improved between Jews and Arabs in Israel during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Arab-Israeli doctors and nurses were honored in a recent video, viewed over two million times, titled, “Partners in Fate, Partners in the Government.”

“Now they are called heroes,” the video promoting coexistence begins, showing masked doctors and nurses who are working “double shifts and risking their lives.”

When the masks are taken off it is revealed that they are Arab-Israelis.  The video ends by saying, “Tens of thousands of Arab-Israelis are partners in fighting the war against corona and they are an inseparable part of Israel.”

Recently Yediot Aharonot published a four-page photo essay of Arab and Jewish medical personnel working together to fight the pandemic.  One photograph shows an Arab doctor bringing a Torah scroll into a coronavirus isolation ward, while another shows a Jewish doctor wrapped in his prayer shawl standing next to another Arab medic kneeling on a prayer rug.



Why Does The World Health Organization Target Israel – Mitchell Bard

The World Health Organization (WHO)  has been spreading lies and hatred about Israel for years and has operated like a propaganda agency for the enemies of Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East.  A year ago, WHO member countries voted 96-11 – with the U.S. in opposition – for an annual resolution blaming Israel for “health conditions in “the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”  Out of 21 items on the WHO agenda, the only one focused on a specific country applied to Israel.  This targeting of Israel has been going on since at least 2000.

As UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer has noted, “Anyone who has ever walked into an Israeli hospital or clinic knows that Israel is providing world-class health care to thousands of Palestinian Arabs.  During five years of the Syrian civil war until 2018, the Israeli Defense Forces brought more than 4,900 Syrians – including 1,300 children – to Israeli hospitals for medical assistance.  Even Palestinian leaders send their family members to Israeli hospitals.  Moreover Israel is doing a great deal to help the Palestinians contain the coronavirus outbreak.” 



At Least 1,300 French Jews Have Died Of COVID-19

At least 1,300 members of France’s Jewish community have died of COVID-19.

The French chevra kadisha (Jewish burial service) reported the figure this week after declining to disclose any numbers since the outbreak of the pandemic in France in March, the Makor Rishon Hebrew daily reported Friday (8th).

Hundreds of the dead have been flown to Israel for burial, according to the report, and some estimates speak of 2,000 Jewish fatalities.

Among the French Jews who contracted the virus and recovered was Joel Mergui, the president of the Consistoire group that provides religious services for Orthodox Jews.

The numbers show that the French Jewish community has been the worst hit in Europe by far.  The United Kingdom has recorded 372 Jewish deaths.  France has about 500,000 Jews, double the number of the UK community.

In France and the United Kingdom, the number of COVID-19 fatalities rely on the number of Jewish burials held, it does not include those who were Jewish but did not have a Jewish burial.

According to the 1,300 tally, Jews make up about 5% of the 25,897 COVID-19 fatalities recorded in France.  That statistic means that French Jews’ share of the death toll is six times larger than their share of the population.

(; makor


Iranian Destroyer Accidentally Sinks IRGC Warship

One Iranian warship accidentally struck another with a missile during an exercise, killing and wounding dozens of, Iranian sailors, Iran State TV said on Monday (11th).

The incident took place during training in the Gulf of Oman, a sensitive waterway that connects to the Strait of Hormuz through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes.  Iran regularly conducts exercises in the area.

According to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network, the Iranian destroyer accidentally fired a C-802 Noor missile at a sister warship during military exercises, causing “dozens of casualties.”

“The incident took place in the perimeter of Iran’s southern Jask port on the Gulf of Oman during Iranian Navy drills on Sunday afternoon (11th), in which 19 sailors were killed and 15 others were injured,” State TV said, quoting the navy.  

The friendly fire incident happened some 790 miles southeast of Tehran, reports said.

Iran’s media rarely reports on mishaps during its exercises, signaling the severity of the accident.  This news comes amid months of heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and imposed crushing sanctions on the country.