News Digest — 6/11/20

Israel Imposes New Coronavirus Regulations As Numbers Spike

Israelis have taken the easing of corona restrictions a little too far.  That’s the conclusion of Israel’s government after a new spike in coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday (10th), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered mandatory mask-wearing and prohibited gatherings of over 50 people, calling on the police to enforce health regulations.  The police have come under criticism recently for failing to ensure that citizens adhere to guidelines.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned Israelis on Tuesday (9th) that in order to avoid another nationwide lockdown they need to stop treating coronavirus regulations as “recommendations.”

“We are heading rapidly toward more than 200 patients a day,” Edelstein said during a visit to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

“We were at a lull.  The disregard for regulations caused this spike.  There is no magic involved: If you treat the instructions as recommendations, the coronavirus won’t leave us.  It’s that simple,” he said.

The government doesn’t want to reimpose a lockdown, but it has three conditions in which it will do so.  First, if 250 people are in serious condition.  Second, if there are more than 100 cases a day outside of virus hot spots.  Third, if the rate of new infections starts to double in under 10 days.

On Monday (8th), the plan to reopen movie and cultural centers was put on hold.  That move halted the final lifting of all coronavirus restrictions.

On Tuesday (9th), 148 more people were diagnosed with coronavirus, raising the number of active cases to 2,722.  On Thursday (11th), an additional death raised the death toll in Israel to 300, according to the Health Ministry.

A new “hot spot” has been Tel Aviv where 129 patients, primarily aged between 20-49, contracted the virus during the past week.



Islamic Jihad Puts On Show Of Force In West Bank

The Islamic Jihad terror organization is increasing its visibility in the West Bank, so far unimpeded by the Palestinian Authority. 

The PA has long-been in conflict with both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad despite reconciliation efforts including a 2017 agreement to end hostilities, signed with the mediation of Egypt.

The change in Islamic Jihad’s behavior coincides with the PA’s financial woes, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, and its suspension of security cooperation with Israel due to Jerusalem’s announced intention to annex parts of the West Bank.

The recent death of a former Islamic Jihad leader, Ramadan Shalah last week, was the opportunity for members of the organization to make public statements and demonstrate a presence in the strongholds in Bethlehem and Jenin.

Palestinain Authority sources told Ynet that in one mourner’s tent erected in Bethlehem to honor the late leader, armed Islamic Jihad militants fired shots into the air in a ceremonial act to commemorate the dead leader and then quickly left the scene though no security forces appeared to be in pursuit.

On Wednesday (10th), at the same mourner’s tent, a public memorial ceremony included Islamic Jihad flags and speeches by terror group members, a scene that would have been unimaginable weeks earlier with both Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority blocking an attempt at a public show of force by the group.

On Monday (8th), Islamic Jihad activists led a large car convoy through the village of Ni’ma near Ramallah waving flags and calling out slogans hailing the organization, using loudspeakers while swearing their allegiance to the group’s current leader Ziad Nahala.

A source blamed the lack of security cooperation with Israel for the PA security forces’ failure to react to the Jihad’s demonstration, claiming if Israeli forces could have been called in, these public events would have been stopped.



Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev: Pre 1967 Lines Brought Israel Neither Peace Nor Security – Lee Harpin

→ Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev responded on June 8 to a letter by prominent members of the British Jewish community expressing concern at the prospect of extending Israeli law to parts of the West Bank.  Regev said: “The policy of consecutive Israeli governments has in fact always been that Israeli law must be extended to parts of the West Bank as part of any final status reality.”

→ “The pre-1967 lines brought Israel neither peace nor security, and it was for this reason that, in the immediate aftermath of the Six-Day War, the Labor governments of Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir rejected returning to those frontiers.  Eshkol extended Israeli law into formerly Jordanian-controlled territory, and under Meir’s government, the Allon Plan was developed, which recognized the particular strategic significance of the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights.  Menachem Begin applied Israeli sovereignty to the latter some three decades ago.”

→ “Yitzhak Rabin, who…as prime minister signed the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, firmly believed that any sustainable peace would have to be built on robust security arrangements.  In his final speech before the Knesset…Rabin outlined his vision of a final status peace, which he said would demand Israeli control over the Jordan Valley ‘in the broadest meaning of that statement.’”

→ “Israel’s friends in the international community have long-understood secure borders to be a cornerstone of any durable peace.”  Regev said the US peace plan builds on the “core principles” of Israel’s security being protected by “control over the Jordan Valley.”

→ It was “regrettable but unsurprising that this plan was immediately rejected outright by the Palestinian leadership, who dogmatically cling to one-sided UN and EU ‘peace plans’ that consistently ignore Israel’s vital concerns.”

→ Rejecting suggestions that Israel’s “international standing” will be undermined, Regev said, “In moving forward, Israel’s new unity government will remain cognizant of our steadily improving relations across the Arab and Muslim world, and our critically important partnership with Jordan.”

→ “We will continue to engage with Washington about how best to seize the historic opportunities inherent in the American initiative, which offers the hope of a more peaceful and secure future.  It is high time for the Palestinians to come to the table and constructively do the same.”



Israeli Tech Helps Guatemala Cope Following Tropical Storm Amanda

Israeli technology has been on the forefront of helping Guatemalans recover from tropical storm Amanda, which struck the Central American country in late May.  The GEN-M, an atmospheric fresh water generator that makes water out of air, has been helping residents of Guatemala cope amid widespread flooding and destruction in the region, according to a press release from the Israel-based manufacturers, Watergen.

The GEN-M was recently presented at a special ceremony last week that featured Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, and will be used by the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala both now and in future crises.  Generating up to 800 liters of water per day, the light-weight GEN-M is transportable and easily installed.  Each unit contains an internal water treatment system which with the exception of electricity, does not need additional infrastructure to operate.

The advent of GEN-M will allow Guatemala City to increase its water production to meet the current demand of 6.5 cubic meters per second, with the capital city only producing 4 cubic meters per second between 2018 and 2019, well below demand.

Following the decision to use GEN-M, Guatemala’s Presidential Commissioner for Foreign Investment and Tourism, Isaac Farchi commended the relationship between Israel and Guatemala, saying that “after a successful working visit to the State of Israel with President-elect Alejandro Giammattei, we are all witnesses today to the fruits of the brotherhood between Guatemala and Israel.

“We are very grateful to Watergen, which donated this machine during these difficult times facing Guatemala.  It is a clear sign that Israeli technology provides the most vital of needs, and helps the Jewish state’s many friends.  Thanks to Watergen, we hope soon to keep building on the good relationship that our president’s visit to Israel has generated,” Farchi added.

Guatemala’s Minister of Economy, Antonio Malouf also praised Watergen, saying that “With this donation, by Watergen, we will make use of innovative solutions to the major challenges we are dealing with.  Furthermore, this technology contributes to the growth of a more dynamic and resilient economy.  It truly impacts the quality of life for all Guatemalans.”



Swastikas Drawn On Street In Front Of New Orleans Jewish Cemetery

Swastikas and a crossed-out Star of David were painted on the street in front of a New Orleans Jewish cemetery last week.

“The Nazi imagery is painful, it brings up memories, it brings a sense of fear among our people,” Rabbi David Gerber of the Gates of Prayer Synagogue told the local WDSU news channel.

The Anti-Defamation League said it did not believe the incident was tied to any extremist group or ideology.

Residents living near the Gates of Prayer Cemetery discovered the offensive images on Friday (5th).  One resident said he was thankful the cemetery wasn’t damaged.  He said Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans are buried there.

City workers on Monday afternoon (8th) cleaned the symbols from the street, covering them with pink paint.  

The New Orleans Police Department reported that it has recently been increasing patrols around synagogues and Jewish institutions in the area.