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Israel Update 13-23 April 2020

P.M. Netanyahu and Blue & White party leader Benny Gantz signed an agreement Monday on the formation of a unity government, with Gantz scheduled to take over as P.M. in 18 months’ time. Read more here



Traditional ceremonies in honour of 6 million Jews murdered during the Nazi genocide were replaced by events adhering to health guidelines. Israelis stood in silence while a two-minute siren was heard across the country at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Read more here


Israel is home to 189,500 Holocaust survivors.
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Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches on Yom Hashoa. This year they were Haim Arbiv, Zohar Arnon, Yehuda Beilis, Aviva Blum-Wachs, Avraham Carmi and Leah Reuveni. Their stories may be read here: Read more here


MK Mansour Abbas, head of the religious United Arab List party, (part of the Joint List) eulogized the victims of the Holocaust in a speech to the Knesset. Read more here



At the time of writing (Thursday afternoon) Israel’s coronavirus death toll has sadly risen to 191, up from 187 on Wednesday. 136 are in serious condition (down from 148 on Wednesday), and 107 are on ventilator support (down from 111). There are 455 receiving treatment in hospitals (down from 483). 2,384 people are in specially designated hotels (up from 2,210). 5,334 Israelis have recovered. Read more here


The cabinet on April 19 approved new guidelines amid the rollback of some restrictions on economic activity. Inter alia, some businesses were allowed to reopen. Israelis are required to wear masks when out in public and can be fined NIS 200 (£45) if caught not wearing one. People are allowed to go 500 metres beyond their own home for sports or prayer. More details here: Read more here


Professor Fahed Hakim, medical director of Nazareth Hospital, the largest medical facility in the Arab sector, praised Israel’s Health Ministry and the IDF on Friday for their assistance in combating the pandemic. He also expressed hope that the leaders of the Arab sector would use the crisis to display leadership and solidarity and work more towards integrating Arab citizens into Israeli society. Read more here


Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Centre offers the next of kin of dying coronavirus patients the rare opportunity to say goodbye in person, providing head-to-toe protective wear and allowing them about 15 minutes to say goodbye. It then assists them in removing the mask, cap, robe, gloves and boots with the utmost caution to prevent infection
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The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted a patent to Dr. Jonathan Gershoni of Tel Aviv University for an innovative vaccine design for the corona family of viruses. Using his technique, the potential vaccine targets the virus’s Receptor Binding Motif (RBM), a critical structure that enables the virus to bind to and infect a target cell.Read more here


Israel’s MigVax is working to adapt a vaccine developed over the past four years against infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) – a coronavirus strain causing bronchial disease in poultry – for human use. The company will commence a safety and efficacy assessment in rodents in May prior to initiating human trials during the summer. Read more here




A 45-year-old patient suffering from the virus woke up Monday after nearly a month in a coma. After spending 29 days sedated and on a ventilator, the patient started breathing on his own and regained consciousness.      Read more here




Israeli factories have already manufactured a million woven high-density cotton reusable face masks, which fit adults, children & over beards. Read more here


Using his 3D-printer, Yehonatan Dor-On, 31, is printing protective visors. He is part of a project involving hundreds of volunteers who own 3D printers and are now printing medical masks. Read more here




The coronavirus outbreak has generated an abundance of initiatives and collaborations in Israel’s tech ecosystem. Information about these efforts, and other initiatives around the world, can now be found on a dedicated website – CoronaTech Israel – https://www.coronatech.org.il which has been launched by Start-Up Nation Central and HealthIL. Read more here


Vayyar Imaging is working with the Defence Ministry and the Naval Medical Institute to adapt the company’s “intelligent sensors” for remote detection and monitoring of vital signs indicating symptoms of COVID-19. Another Israeli monitoring technology being rolled out is a solution developed by Tel Aviv start-up Binah.ai, which has announced that Montreal medical centres would implement its smartphone camera-based system to monitor inpatients’ vital signs. Read more here


An Israeli startup Hospitech Respiration is helping protect coronavirus intubated patients from further complications that often appear when a person is on a ventilator for a prolonged time. Their devices were being used in China before the coronavirus outbreak. Read more here


Israeli company Simbionix, has launched a special project to train medical staff worldwide for free in performing and analyzing lung ultrasounds. Lung-ultrasound has proven to be one of the keys in the effective diagnosis of people infected with the virus. Read more here


Israel’s Sensible Medical has developed a radar-based system that continuously monitors a patient’s lung fluid levels to prevent deterioration. It has already in operation in four Italian hospitals and a US hospital has bought some. Read more here




Israel has started analyzing wastewater for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, to estimate the number of infections at a population level. If successful, the method could also be used as an early-warning tool to alert the country to a second wave of infection. Wastewater monitoring has been used in Israel for decades to assess the success of its vaccination campaign against poliovirus. Read more here




Antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients have been given to 33 Israelis battling the virus. Between 30% and 40% of patients who received the antibodies have shown improvement. However, the numbers are small and there is no control group, so there is no scientific way of knowing whether the antibodies are responsible for improvements. Read more here


Italy has approved Opaganib from Israel’s Redhill Biopharma to treat some 160 severe COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory problems at three hospitals in northern Italy. Phase2 tests on 131 US patients were positive and two critically ill Israeli patients are improving. Read more here




Sheba Medical Centre has received first 100 retrofitted respirators from the IDF. Nearly 150 IDF engineers worked in tandem with Sheba’s doctors and scientists that can serve more than one patient at a time and be linked up to a central system so that doctors can monitor patients’ lung pressure and other vital signs.               Read more here


BATM Advanced Communications, an Israeli manufacturer specializing in medical laboratory systems and networking solutions, has received a $31 million order from an unnamed European government to produce and deliver 1,000 ventilators for the second half of 2020. Read more here



The Orthodox religious city of Bnei Brak is Israel’s biggest centre of Covid-19 contagion. With the help of two brigades of active-duty soldiers, the crisis is coming under control with the rate of new infections cut.               Read more here




Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are developing a home kit to enable people to be quickly and inexpensively tested. Reportedly that the kit only needs two test tubes and a container with hot water. The team is claiming a 99% accuracy rate and says that the test yields results in less than an hour.
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A team of Israeli researchers is using AI to develop an algorithm-based test that can speed COVID-19 testing eightfold and help locate asymptomatic carriers, funded by a grant from the Ben-Gurion University Covid-19 Effort. Read more here
See the robot dealing with COVID-19 samples here View here


Israel has launched a network of “contactless” roadside Covid-19 testing booths which provide an entirely sealed, sterile environment for the medic, and can be quickly disinfected between patients. Read more here




300 businesses and nonprofit groups around the world are gearing up to produce breathing support machines using an Israeli DIY design they downloaded from the internet. Its inventors think their blueprint for a ventilator that can be produced for as little as $500 could avert a collapse of health care systems in Africa, where the coronavirus is expected to strike hard soon. Read more here




The holy month of Ramadan begins tonight. Most Arab Israeli mayors have expressed support for more severe restrictions on the Arab public. The Muslim clergy have made it clear that the mosques will remain closed and all prayer services are to be held at home with only a limited number of family members.
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Israel’s Foreign Ministry helped Eastern Orthodox Christians to celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony on Saturday and to transport the flame to several destinations abroad. Read more here




Israel has loaned money to the PA to help avert a Covid-19 economic and humanitarian crisis. In addition, thousands of Covid-19 test kits and protective equipment were transferred to the West Bank (and Gaza) according to Israel’s the Finance Ministry. Read more here


The PA must stop spreading falsehoods against Israel during the COVID-19 crisis or face repercussions, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories,Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun has warned. He referred to “misleading and slanderous remarks against the IDF, the security establishment, the State of Israel and the Israeli public including accusations such as “the [Israeli] soldiers are trying to spread viruses on car windshields” …and false claims that “we are responsible for the spread of the epidemic and are even interfering with Palestinian efforts to halt it,” adding “Such shameful remarks, baseless and indefensible, completely contradict the plain fact that Israel has prepared and engaged itself to give all possible assistance in the regional effort to halt the spread of the epidemic…” Read more here




The coronavirus crisis is stirring anti-Semitism around the world, fuelled by centuries-old lies that Jews are spreading infection. “Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in accusations that Jews, as individuals and as a collective, are behind the spread of the virus or are directly profiting from it,” according to the president of the European Jewish Congress. Read more here




A Border Police officer was moderately injured in a combined car-ramming and stabbing attack at a checkpoint east of Jerusalem on Wednesday. Read more here




Three Palestinian men who planned to bomb Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, were arrested last month Realising that such an attack would be too difficult due to the arena’s tight security, they instead Ins planned bombing attacks on IDF troops and recently attempted a number of attacks. Read more here


The IDF on Tuesday arrested three armed suspects who crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip. After being questioning, the men were returned to Gaza. Read more here


The IDF foiled a terror attack near Bethlehem on Monday. Read more here




Iran’s Defence Ministry unveiled a mass of new drones which they claim can fly more than 1,000 km, meaning that they could reach Israel. Read more here


Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps say they successfully launched the country’s first “military satellite” into an orbit around earth. Read more here




Sander Gerber: The Palestinians have received more development and humanitarian assistance over the last 30 years than any other group of people in history. Yet they completely lack the organization and infrastructure needed to combat this pandemic. The PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza have both squandered billions of dollars of aid that was meant to build a public health system, spending the money instead on corruption, incitement, and terrorism…critical shortages are not the result of any action or inaction taken by Israel. Medical supplies pass through Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt every day. The West Bank has virtually no restrictions on medical imports from Israel or Jordan. The real story is a shortage of leadership. In the West Bank, the PA steals foreign aid money for its own enrichment and is widely considered among the most corrupt governing entities in the world. In Gaza, Hamas uses it to build rockets and terror tunnels. The result is the same. Both groups fund hatred of Israel and steal the people’s money, rather than make investments in healthcare and welfare. The Palestinian people pay the price. Read more here