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Israel Update 30.4.20



On Yom HaZikaron Israelis honour all the soldiers and civilians killed in battle or terror attacks. The country came to a standstill when a siren marked the start of the commemoration at 8 p.m. Monday and then again with a second siren at 11 a.m. Tuesday. All key events were held with either a small audience or none and broadcast online to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Military cemeteries were closed, since in previous years the day has drawn hundreds of thousands to pay respects to relatives or friends who lost their lives.In the days preceding Yom Hazikaron, immediate relatives of the fallen were able to visit the cemeteries. Read more here




Israel celebrated its 72nd year of independence without the traditional public revelry associated with the holiday. In a display of appreciation, official events were dedicated in honour of medical staff working to combat the virus and the Israeli Air Force aerobatics team gave a sky-high salute to those on the front lines. Four stunt planes followed a flight path over the country’s hospitals and medical centres. Photo essay here:  View here


A general curfew was in effect requiring people to remain within 100 metres of their homes, except for medicinal needs, from 5 pm April 28thuntil 8 pm April 29th. Read more here


The Israel Philharmonic play Brahms & Beethoven in a special Independence Day broadcast of last December’s concert. Listen here




At the time of writing (Thursday afternoon) Israel’s coronavirus death toll has sadly risen to 219, up from 208 on Tuesday. The number of active infections has fallen to 7,239 and the number of people on ventilators has also dropped from 90 to 85, the ministry said. The number of patients in serious condition has risen from 115 to 117. Read more here


Last Friday, further restrictions on businesses were lifted. Stores (except those inside shopping malls) will be allowed to operate if they adhere to guidelines regarding cleanliness, the wearing of protective gear and enforcing social distancing. Hairdressers and beauty salons can also resume operations if virus-related hygiene regulations   are adhered to. More details here: Read more here


Restrictions on physical exercise outdoors were partly lifted today, with the lifting of the restriction on exercising more than 500 metres from home. Read more here


The cabinet gave tentative approval to the reopening of some hotels and guest houses on Sunday. Read more here


Reportedly, airlines have been informed that an Israeli entry ban on foreign nationals will be extended until May 16. Read more here




In a matter of four days, the IDF’s specialized lab for identifying fallen soldiers through DNA testing, which is subordinate to the Military Rabbinate, was repurposed to test coronavirus samples. The lab operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, testing hundreds of samples daily, manned by soldiers in both the standing army and the reserves. Read more here




Israeli biotech Redhill  announced that another of its pipeline medicines RHB-107 (upamostat) is to be tested by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) against SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Six patients treated with the company’s Opananib (under compassionate use) have shown improvement.
Read more here.      Read more here


Israel’s Pluristem Therapeutics Inc has secured 50m euro EU financing to support its research and development in the EUwith a special focus on clinical development of PLX cells as a treatment for complications associated with COVID-19.  Read more here


Israel’s Sheba Medical Centre and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) will join forces to undertake applied scientific and clinical research to find treatments to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Sheba will provide the NIH Vaccine Research Centre with blood samples, plasma and the Covid-19 virus from infected patients in Israel plus information from clinical trials. Read more here




Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is testing a new robotic system that will use powerful Ultraviolet light technology to rapidly sterilize passenger aircraft. Read more here




A team of scientists and engineers in Israel have developed a carbon-based filter TorStran,that can capture and destroy a strain of animal coronaviruswhich is a close relative of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The engineers believe it can be useful as an extra protection tool in confined spaces such as hospitals, automotives, and waiting rooms. Read more here


Israel’s Aura Smart Air has launched a test of its air purification system at Israel’s Sheba Medical Centre. Aura Air is in the final approval stage for European Union funding. The EU is seeking solutions for closed-space infections, with a special emphasis on the coronavirus. Read more here


Scientists at Ben-Gurion University are developing a new type of air-filter that self-sterilizes and decontaminates. The nanotechnology is based on laser-induced graphene (LIG) water filters that eliminate viruses and bacteria in water. Potential applications include face masks and ventilation systems. Read more here




The financial daily Calcalist‘s C-Tech has listed the most promising Israeli MedTech companies in the front line against the virus pandemic.Read more here


Scientists from Israel’s Technion Institute have developed Liquid Foam Therapy (LIFT) which improves the distribution across the lungs of surfactant, the liquid that coats the surface of alveoli in the lungs. COVID-19 kills the cells that secrete surfactant, making it harder to breathe. Read more here




Researchers at Bar-Ilan University have developed a new way to make strong and environmentally friendly disinfectants to kill bacteria and viruses by using tap water. The method has not been submitted for peer review or yet published in a journal. The disinfectant materials were recently tested by researchers in the two virology labs and were “proven effective” in neutralizing microbes, fungus and corona-type viruses. Read more here



Mudar Yunes, who heads the local council in the northern Arab Israeli town of Arara and chairs the association of Arab local councils has been asking for help from bodies normally regarded in his town with suspicion: the Israeli police and the army. A “war room” in the northern Arab town of Shfaram hosts daily discussions between the Committee of Arab Mayors and Ayman Sayyaf, head of the Interior Ministry’s Coronavirus Directorate for the Arab population. Following a meeting of Netanyahu and municipal leaders from large Arab towns, the ministry announced on Thursday that Israel would distribute an emergency aid package of NIS 55 million (about $15.6 million), including NIS 30 million in food coupons to 73 Arab local authorities Read more here




The IDF has delivered an advanced PCR medical device used for the detection of Coronavirus (COVID-19) for use at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, doubling the current rate of Corona tests in Gaza. Read more here


Sewing factories in the Gaza Strip are back to working at full capacity producing masks, gloves and protective gowns, some of which are bound for Israel. An owner of a garment company, said he has produced more than 1 million masks in the past three weeks, “all for the Israeli market.” Read more here



Israeli startup Flytrex, which specializes in food and consumer goods deliveries via drones, has launched a delivery service to “shelter-in-place” shoppers in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The service is operated in partnership with the City of Grand Forks. Read more here





A 62 year old woman was stabbed and seriously wounded in Kfar Saba on Tuesday. The attacker was shot & lightly wounded before being arrested.Read more here


A Palestinian man was wounded Tuesday near Hebron when an explosive device went off in his hand. Reportedly, he had been trying to throw a pipe bomb at Israeli motorists when it exploded. Read more here




Iran’s most successful satellite launch took place last week. Iran has demonstrated that it is quickly closing its technological gaps. For Israel, the launch sends a clear message that despite U.S. objections, Iran is making headway in its plans to upgrade its long-range missiles, making them capable of delivering nuclear warheads.Read more here




Israeli researchers at CyberArk have worked with Microsoft to fix an account takeover vulnerability in Microsoft Teams based on the use of malicious GIFs. They had found that by leveraging a subdomain takeover vulnerability in Microsoft Teams, attackers could have used a malicious GIF to scrape user’s data and ultimately take over an organization’s entire roster of Teams accounts. The security flaw was serious as it could spread automatically. Read more here




Date plantation growers in the Jordan Valley and Arava have turned to using drones for aerial pollination to overcome labour shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Read more here




Israeli researchers at CyberArk have worked with Microsoft to fix an account takeover vulnerability in Microsoft Teams based on the use of malicious GIFs. They had found that by leveraging a subdomain takeover vulnerability in Microsoft Teams, attackers could have used a malicious GIF to scrape user’s data and ultimately take over an organization’s entire roster of Teams accounts. The security flaw was serious as it could spread automatically. Read more here




In less than four weeks, after launching a series of massive worldwide operations, the Defence Ministry’s Directorate of Production and Procurement (DOPP), which usually deals with the acquisition and maintenance of military equipment, has transformed the readiness of the Israeli health-care system for dealing with the pandemic. DOPP head Avi Dadon said the unit dealt with setting up hotel recovery centres for Covid-19 patients in good condition, and quickly getting medical equipment to hospitals etc. This included personal protection equipment (PPE), ventilators, and testing swabs and reagents. The DOPP faced the reality of tenders cancelled at the last minute with orders for millions of N95 masks sold to others. “My lesson was that we have to rely on ourselves and produce here,” said Dadon. The DOPP reached an agreement with Sion Medical in Sderot to begin mass production of PPE in Israel as part of a wider strategic shift to medical self-sufficiency. It will be producing a million N95 masks per month by the end of May.He also estimates that Israel will soon be making 500 ventilators per week and “we have to start thinking about where the excess production will go.” Read more here


The Mossad’s main role is managing a national control centre. The decision-makers are dozens of doctors, experts and officials from the ministries of health, finance and defence…As for procuring equipment, Israel has signed contracts to import 14,000 ventilators, tons of oxygen, and tens of millions of masks, gloves, goggles and gowns for health workers. The purchases were from commercial suppliers in China and Europe. Read more here




Presidents, prime ministers and other senior officials celebrated the centenary of the San Remo Conference as a milestone of Zionist history that paved the way to the establishment of a Jewish state. Read more here




Prof. Efraim Karsh:The San Remo conference in April 1920 appointed Britain as mandatory for Palestine with the specific task of “putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the British Government [the Balfour Declaration], and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” This mandate was then ratified on July 24, 1922, by the Council of the League of Nations – the UN’s predecessor…It is a historical tragedy that 100 years after this momentous event, the Palestinian leadership and its international champions remain entrenched in the rejection not only of the millenarian Jewish attachment to Palestine but of the very existence of a Jewish People (and by implication its right to statehood). Rather than keep trying to turn the clock backward, it is time for this leadership to shed its century-long recalcitrance and opt for peace and reconciliation with their Israeli neighbours. Read more here


James Cleverly MP: Marking the 70th anniversary of UK–Israeli diplomatic relations.    Read more here