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Israel Update 30.7.20

A reminder that domestic Israeli politics and internal protests remain outside the scope of this update. HRG




Israel’s Health Ministry figures on Thursday morning: The national death toll sadly rose to 497. There are 32,756 active cases of COVID-19, with 336 patients in serious condition, including 99 on ventilators. 752 are being treated in hospital, with the remainder either at home or in specially designated hotels. There were 1,960 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with healthcare providers conducting 25,046 tests throughout the day. Read more here


On Tuesday, Israel’s new coronavirus czar  Prof. Roni Gamzu  rolled out a strategic plan for combating the spread of the pandemic. The “Shield of Israel” Plan includes (inter alia) turning over responsibility for testing and contact tracing to the IDF, increasing testing and improving enforcement of regulations.  Read more here


A Hebrew University report published Thursday has found a recent stabilization in the number of seriously and moderately ill patients after the numbers began to spike in late June. They credited government imposed restrictions in recent weeks to limit crowding for helping to flatten the curve. The researchers warned that the number of new daily cases still remains high and that there remains a risk of another wide-scale outbreak as a result. Read more here


Internal Health Ministry data shows a significant slowdown in the number of seriously ill cases and fatalities in the latest wave of infections, when compared to the first wave in March-April. Read more here




A high-level team of Israeli researchers arrived in Delhi this week to determine the effectiveness of four cutting-edge coronavirus testing technologies. The potentially ground-breaking rapid testing kits are based on Israeli technology and Israeli-Indian scientific research. If the tests prove effective, people will be able to find out if they are COVID-19 positive just by spitting onto a specified surface, breathing into a device, or speaking into a mobile phone. Read more here




Researchers at Israel’s Bar Ilan University say that good levels of vitamin D help people to fight the coronavirus more quickly and effectively and reduce chances of hospitalization. However, others are cautioning  against broad conclusions, saying that other factors may be involved. Read more here




The Oneg HaKarmel company has developed a new face mask for medical staff with a filter that lasts for 60 hours, allowing healthcare professionals to work continuously without having to stop to replace its filters. The ViriMASK prevents viral particles from reaching the eyes, unlike the N95, which only provides protection for the nose and mouth. Read more here




At the very early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Israeli doctors reached out to Palestinian health-care workers, offering to share their expertise and provide assistance, and the Palestinians accepted the help. Every week, Israel sends medical equipment to Hamas-controlled Gaza. During July 12-18 alone, Israel transferred 163 tons of medical supplies there. It also facilitated the delivery of equipment from Turkey and the UAE to Gaza and the West Bank.Read more here




Israeli company Watergen and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies recently donated a much-needed water generator to Nasser Medical Centre in Khan Younis, Gaza’s second largest hospital. It can produce up to 5,000 liters of drinking water a day from the humidity in the air. The first machine was installed at the municipal building in Abasan al-Kabira, while the second was installed at the Rantisi Medical Centre in Gaza City two months ago. Read more here


An RPG head attached to a bundle of balloons launched from Gaza was found in southern Israel on Monday. Read more here




After munitions were fired from Syria toward Israel on Friday, Israeli attack helicopters struck several Syrian army observation posts and intelligence facilities near Quneitra in southern Syria. Read more here


The IDF thwarted a Hezbollah attack in the Mount Dov area on Monday afternoon, opening fire at a number of fighters from the terror group that entered Israeli territory. Read more here




British-Israeli rapper Antithesis, has released a song in response to the antisemitic Twitter tirade of British rapper Wiley. Antithesis is the stage name for Kingston-upon-Thames born Samuel Green. He wanted to give the Jewish community a sense that someone is supporting them from within the genre.             Read more here

Listen to YouTube audio here




Members of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s party and others held an inaugural meeting of the Venezuelan Parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus, and called to re-establish ties between Venezuela and Israel and for an embassy to be opened in Jerusalem. Both Guaido and Nicolas Maduro have claimed the presidency since January 2019. More than 50 countries including Israel, recognize Guaido as President.  Read more here




The Embassy of Israel in Kathmandu on Wednesday delivered 400 units of personal protective equipment, 1,000 KN95 masks, 10,000 surgical masks, 5,000 pairs of surgical gloves, and 500 liters of sanitizer to Nepal’s Ministry of Social Development.             Read more here




Israel-based Nextage Innovation, a maker of cannabis-based products, said Monday it has entered into an agreement in principle with Israel’s Tempo Beverages Ltd. to set up a joint firm to develop cannabis-based products for the foods and beverage industries.         Read more here


A Bedouin village, Umm Batin in the Negev, is testing a new solar-powered wastewater treatment system. Arava Institute’s portable, self-operating wastewater mini treatment plant doesn’t need to be connected to the national sewer system. The resulting treated water is not fit for drinking but can be used safely for agriculture. Read more here




Malali watermelon is known for its large crunchy seeds, which make a popular snack in Israel, and while 97% of the fruit is discarded in the field, a new study shows that the discarded produce could be used to produce renewable energy. Read more here




Zebra Medical Vision, a kibbutz-based startup that uses artificial intelligence technology to help read medical scans, has received US Food and Drug Administration clearance for use of its algorithm to read mammograms. This follows the European CE approval for its “HealthMammo” mammography solution, which supports radiologists in their search for breast tumours by prioritizing and identifying suspicious mammograms. Read more here




Prof. Ronni Gamzu, the “coronavirus czar”, on Wednesday evening visited synagogues to closely monitor the implementation of the guidelines. Read more here


Religious Jews marked Tisha B’Av Wednesday evening at the Western Wall under strict coronavirus restrictions, which limited attendance to 1,000 worshippers, in fenced off “capsules” of up to 20 people. The chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel had ruled that those with coronavirus should not fast. His ruling also advised people to wash their hands well and use hand sanitizer, actions which are usually prohibited on Tisha B’Av Read more here




An Israeli startup SeismicAi aims to transform earthquake early warning, with a new seismic algorithm and sensor network that can be put in place cheaply, anywhere in the world.Read more here




Ylwa Pettersson, Twitter’s head of policy for the Nordic countries and Israel, told the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs that the tweets in which Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei calls for Israel’s destruction do not violate the company’s rules against hate speech, and indicated that they are considered mere “foreign policy sabre-rattling.”Read more here




Matti Friedman: The news narrative in Israel was constructed with tricks of storytelling and framing: pretending the Palestinian national movement merely wants a state beside Israel; dismissing Israeli attempts to solve the conflict on reasonable terms; erasing the actions of Israel’s opponents so Israel’s own actions and fears seem irrational or duplicitous; and suggesting the Jewish instinct for self-preservation in the Middle East is “right wing” while the Islamist war against Jews or the Iranian drive for regional hegemony are somehow about “human rights.” In many ways Israel was patient zero of the “cancel culture.” Israel was transformed from a real country into something so dangerous and disruptive to the desired order that it had to be cancelled – an aspiration that is now aired in the press as if it were completely rational.  Read more here