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Israel Update 4.6.20



Israel has taken steps in recent weeks to roll back its virus restrictions, reopening schools, synagogues, malls, restaurants and other spaces. However, since last Thursday, there has been a significant rise in the number of new infections, mainly centred on educational institutions. Health officials attributed the rise to public complacency and failure to heed social distancing rules. Read more here


14 more schools were shut down Thursday morning. 65 educational institutions have had to close due to virus infections. 8,288 students and teachers are in isolation. Among them, 270* are sick. Read more here

* recently updated to 285 students and teachers


Israeli health officials announced Wednesday that the rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases had slowed after 47 people were found to have contracted the virus. As at Wednesday, the number of fatalities was 291. There were 2,103 active cases. 108 of them hospitalised. Of these, 27 were in serious condition, with 25  on ventilators. It was decided that schools should remain open unless COVID-19 cases among students or faculty were detected. However on Tuesday, Health Ministry DG Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov argued that schools should close, and distance learning should resume.  Read more here


Interior Minister Aryeh Deri instructed the transfer of NIS 160 million to impoverished municipalities in Israel. About 78% will be given to Arab and Druze communities. This budgetary assistance is provided due to the rise in unemployment rates among their citizens, as well as a drop in income from various taxes, both resulting from the virus crisis..Read more here


All Knesset (Israeli Parliament) debates have been postponed after Joint List MK Sami Abu Shehadeh tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday night. The MK recently attended several mass events without adhering to public health orders, including the wearing of a mask. Read more here


In a televised address on Saturday night, PM Netanyahu emphasised that the virus is not affected by the climate (specifically hot & humid weather) and criticised Israelis crowding together on beaches. Read more here


Newly appointed Health Minister Edelstein warned Sunday of a possible new lockdown, saying the rate of positive results out of all daily coronavirus tests was now five times higher than several days ago. Read more here


A number of nightclubs, bars, and eateries in Tel Aviv and Haifa were fined over the weekend for not adhering to rules set out by the government for reopening their businesses. Read more here



Former senior IDF officer, Brig. Gen. (Res.) Daniel Gold,  the driving force behind the Iron Dome missile defence system, is working to facilitate 100,000 coronavirus tests a day across Israel by utilizing new express kits. The aim is to get results in 30 seconds or one minute.  Read more here




A Karmiel, Israel-based industrial automation firm, RD Pack, has taken disinfecting technology developed by researchers at Bar-Ilan University and created a sanitation and disinfection tunnel that sprays visitors at mass events with the liquid. The tunnel, composed of an aluminum and polycarbonate frame, is now being piloted at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. Hypochlorous acid, unlike other commercial disinfectants like bleach, is not harmful to human skin or food.  Read more here




Over the past two months, Mishel Zrian has crisscrossed the Atlantic and the United States dozens of times, sleeping in empty airports and unable to return home to see his family in Israel, all in a race against time to deliver life-saving transplants for Israel’s Ezer Mizion bone marrow donor registry. Timing is critical. At the start of the transplant process, the patient’s own bone marrow is removed; if the transplant is not provided within 72 hours, the patient could die. Read more here




Men’s professional soccer resumed Saturday night with three Premier League games, held in largely empty stadiums and under strict hygiene guidelines.Read more here




The Democratic Republic of the Congo has established the country’s first “drive-thru” coronavirus testing facilities, after seeking the advice of Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency service, which operates such facilities.MDA created dedicated software to manage the Congo’s drive-thru facilitiesand  prepared a training programme. Read more here


Israel donated a large shipment of medical supplies to the Philippines on Tuesday that included medical gloves, surgical masks, medical gowns, N95 filtered face masks, face shields and non-contact thermometers.               Read more here




Senior P.A. officials reportedly met with IDF officers last week to discuss security arrangements, despite the P.A.’s recent public announcement that it had cut off all ties with Israel. Reportedly, the meetings took place at the initiative of the PA out of concern that a flare-up of violence on the ground could harm its ability to govern. Read more here




Five Jordanians are on trial in Jordan for plotting suicide attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank.        Read more here




Strict border restrictions have largely kept Covid-19 at bay in Gaza. In addition, Gaza’s garment industry, which has been mostly dormant for more than a decade, has been rejuvenated by the crisis, churning out protective equipment like face masks and surgical gowns for Israel, the country most Gazans regard as the enemy. Factory owner Hassan Shehada said “Both sides will re-think. We want to eat and they want safety and security. I am hopeful things will get better.” Read more here




A Western intelligence official said that Iran tried to increase chlorine levels in the water flowing to residential areas during April’s cyber attack against Israel’s water systems. Hundreds of people would have been at risk of getting sick and that the attack was close to being successful. Additionally there was a chance that the attack  would have triggered a fail-safe, shutting down the pumps and leaving thousands without water during the recent heatwave. Read more here




Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Centre has received inquiries about Covid-19 treatment from countries such as Bahrain and Indonesia, which do not have diplomatic ties with Israel, as well as majority-Muslim countries such as Jordan, Egypt and Azerbaijan.Read more here




Using innovative 3D printing technology, scientists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have been creating prosthetic hands for amputee children.   The finished prosthetic is able to hold lightweight objects and provide the children a better sense of balance.The most immediate benefit is psychological, as the children no longer feel that their amputation makes them unusual and instead have a “cool bionic hand” with which to impress their friends. Read more here




Israeli startup Sightbit is using artificial intelligence (AI) tech to alert lifeguards when swimmers are in danger.  Special cameras are used to film the beach’s swim areas and algorithms analyse the footage in real-time to flag incidences. Alerts are displayed on a monitor and alarms sound when swimmers are in danger.” Read more here


A new service launched by e-commerce giant Alibaba, Alibaba.com Freight, will help American companies secure sea and air shipping for their orders. The service uses technology developed by Israeli startup Freightos, which has created an online market place for international freight that enables users to compare prices and manage their shipments in real time. Read more here