News Digest — 9/30/20

Clowns In Hazmat Suits And A Bed For Mommy: Hospital Opens COVID Kids Facility

As patient numbers rise, some Israeli hospitals are struggling to give virus-positive children age-appropriate care.  At a new ward in one hospital, there will be playrooms, parents and entertainment, with clowns in hazmat suits.

Some Israeli hospitals are exceeding capacity for virus patients, leaving doctors wondering how to provide the special care that coronavirus-positive kids need.

“A lot of small hospitals are struggling to care for coronavirus kids, so part of the rationale behind the new facility is to help them,” said Itai Pessach, director of the children’s hospital at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, which is opening its new ward on Thursday, October 1.

He said that children with COVID-19 often find themselves in rooms that aren’t suited for their age group.  The challenge, he said, is to provide a pediatric experience, with bright decor and other elements that tend to their psychological as well as physical wellbeing.

“Children not only need a bed, but a place to play, do school work, and other things kids need,” Pessach said.  “They’ll get clowns, they’ll have teachers, and they will play with one another.  As all patients will be positive, they can interact without worries of infection spreading.”

One of the biggest challenges in setting up the new ward is that, while it will initially accommodate just 12 children, it will be home to at least the same number of parents.

“The parents will come in with the kids, we think this is very important,” said Pessach.  “We just don’t think any child should be hospitalized in isolation.”



“Here’s Beirut’s Next Explosion:” Netanyahu Blows Whistle On Secret Hezbollah ‘Arms Depot’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposed the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah for maintaining a “secret arms depot” in a residential neighborhood of Beirut, warning it could cause another tragic explosion in the Lebanese capital.

In an address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday (29th), Netanyahu displayed maps purportedly showing the missile depot’s location next to a gas station and residential housing.  He also showed what he said was a picture of the entrance to the depot.

“Here’s where the next explosion will take place, right here,” he said.

Addressing the Lebanese people, he said: “You’ve got to act now, you’ve got to protect this, because if this thing explodes, it’s another tragedy. … You should tell them, ‘Tear these depots down.’”

Last month, a warehouse filled with 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in Beirut’s port, killing nearly 200 people, wounding thousands and causing widespread destruction in the capital.  The ammonium nitrate had been stored there for several years.

No one has yet been held accountable for the blast, which appears to have been triggered by an accidental fire.



Palestinian Authority May Unite With Its Hamas Rival

Qatar, with the encouragement of Turkey, has proposed to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas that he establish a joint partnership with Hamas, Channel 12 reported on Tuesday (29th).  According to the proposal, Abbas’ Fatah party is to establish a joint list with Hamas for the 132-seat Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), to be followed immediately by a national-unity coalition.

According to Channel 12’s Arab-affairs expert, Ehud Ya’ari, the proposal was presented to Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub and former PLC speaker Rawhi Fattouh, who had been conducting negotiations with Hamas in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, the report noted, Abbas wants to amend Palestinian election law to enable Hamas candidates not to have to sign on to the principles of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence.  He also intends to call for Legislative Council elections, (but not for election of the Chairmanship of the PA) to be held sometime between the end of January and mid-February.

One outcome of the talks in Istanbul, according to the report, was that the PA agreed to take on the administration of the Gaza Strip, without Hamas having to forfeit its armed forces.

Since taking control of Gaza by a violent coup in 2007, Hamas has signed several agreements with Fatah, but none have been honored or implemented.

In an interview with Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen TV on September 7, Hamas deputy political chief Saleh al-Arouri said that due to recent events in the region, it had agreed to join forces with its longtime rival, Fatah, in order to control Israel.

Among these “recent events,” which he called “betrayals,” Arouri cited President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan and the normalization treaty then about to be signed between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

In light of the “dangers strangling the Palestinian cause,” said Arouri, the Palestinian people no longer had the option of accepting the split between Fatah and Hamas.



Hamas Reveals Weapons Smuggling From Iran – Adnan Abu Amer

The program “What is Hidden is Greater,” broadcast by Qatar’s Al Jazeera on September 13, presented footage showing Hamas members collecting Iranian Fajr missiles and Kornet anti-tank missiles which it received by land and sea.  The program was hosted by Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau.  A Hamas official told Al-Monitor, “Hamas may be responding to these agreements [between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain] by showing off its military.”

An arms dealer in Gaza revealed to Al-Monitor that “the military factions in Gaza, headed by Hamas, possess distinct types of Iranian R-160 and Fajr-5 missiles with a range of 62 miles.  They also have drones and anti-tank missiles and shoulder-launched rockets produced by Russia.  They also plan to acquire Chinese C-704 missiles, anti-ship missiles with a range of 21 miles and radar systems for guided missiles.”

The writer heads the Political Science and Media Department of Umma University Open Education in Gaza.



UK: Swastika Painted On Car On Yom Kippur

A swastika was spray-painted on the hood of a car in southwestern England Monday (28th), during the Yom Kippur holiday.  The incident occurred in Kingswood, a small town outside of Bristol in South Gloucestershire.

Nick Bayne, a Jewish man who lives next to where the graffiti was found, said he was “absolutely shocked” to see the swastika, the Bristol Post reported.

“It’s awful, it’s a gut punch.  Me and my wife, who is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, feel anxious about this – it was right next door to where we live.”

“We used to feel it was quite a safe neighborhood. It has put us on edge.  It’s a sign that people are starting to feel empowered enough to do something like this.  It’s absolutely shocking – a giant symbol of hate.”

Local police have opened an investigation into the incident.

Yaakov Hagoel, Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), called for a “harsh punishment” for the vandal responsible.

“The incitement and incidents of anti-Semitism against Jews don’t stop on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur.  Anti-Semitic criminals know exactly when to hit their targets.”

“I thank the local police for taking this matter seriously, but that isn’t enough.  We need a heavy hand and deterrence through a harsh punishment, which won’t allow those responsible, with the freedom to target Jews anywhere they want around the world,” Hagoel added.



University Of Illinois Student Government Passes Pro-BLM Resolution With Call To Divest From Israel

The University of Illinois student government included a call for divestment from companies that do business with Israel as part of a resolution in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The university’s Office of Student Affairs condemned the nonbinding resolution, which passed last week in a 21-11 vote with seven abstentions.

“It is unfortunate that a resolution before the group tonight was designed to force students who oppose efforts to divest from Israel to also vote against the Black Lives matter movement,” the Office of Student Affairs said in a statement signed by Chancellor Robert Jones and five vice chancellors.

“This resolution includes some points on which we agree, but a foundational value of this institution is inclusion, and this resolution includes language we cannot and will not support, the statement continued.

In February, the student government passed a resolution by a vote of 20-9 with seven abstentions that called on the university to divest from “companies that profit from human-rights violations in Palestine and other communities globally,” naming three companies in particular: Raytheon, Elbit Systems Ltd. and Northrop Grumman.  But a week later, the body’s president vetoed the resolution, saying its passage “made students feel unsafe and has fostered a climate of hate on this campus.”

The February vote was the fifth attempt in as many years to pass a BDS resolution against Israel.

“After five fails attempts in as many years to pass BDS, student activists enshrouded calls for divestment within a resolution opposing anti-Black violence,” Illini Hillel at Cohen Center for Jewish Life said Thursday (24th) in a statement on Facebook.  “This was an attempt to paint Israel and Jews as the obstacle to racial equality, amidst the holiest time in the Jewish calendar.  The Jewish students refused to submit to this anti-Semitic litmus test.  Instead they issued a joint statement of principles declaring their steadfast commitment to Zionism and racial justice.  During the ISG meeting, Senators made clear that they are driven by their Jewish values which call for social, racial and environmental justice.”

Jewish students at the university read the statement into the record during the student government meeting.