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Israel Update 15.10.20



Lebanon and Israel, still technically at war, begin unprecedented talks sponsored by the UN and Washington on Wednesday to settle a maritime border dispute and clear the way for hydrocarbon exploration. Read more here


Lebanon’s representatives would not speak directly to the Israeli delegation in the meeting.  Read more here




In a first, a passenger plane from the UAE flew over Israel on its way from Milan to Abu Dhabi. In an audio clip (embedded at the link below) an Israeli air traffic controller says to the pilot: “Captain, we are thrilled and honoured to welcome you to overfly Israel. This is a historic moment we have all been waiting for. We hope it will inspire the whole region and mark the beginning of a new era, inshallah”  Read more here



(Last Thursday’s figures in brackets for comparison)

The Health Ministry on Thursday said that 2,004 new coronavirus cases were confirmed on Wednesday (4117) but the amount of patients on ventilators was still on the rise with a record breaking 253 in the past 24 hours.(236)  The number of seriously ill has dropped over the past few days to 734 (847)  and the death toll is 2,099  (1,824)  since the start of the pandemic. There are currently 43,939 active cases (61,049). Coronavirus czar Professor Ronni Gamzu said that though it appears Israel has reached its targeted reduction in cases, those figures must be monitored for at least one week before restrictions can be lifted. Read more here


There were 500 deaths from coronavirus in Israel between 21 March & 30 July, the 1,000 figure was reached on September 5, then 5 weeks later on October 12, the figure had more than doubled reaching 2,016. Read more here


The IDF opened two coronavirus wards in Haifa’s Rambam Medical Centre on Sunday, marking the first time that the army is to provide medical care to Israeli civilians in the country’s 72-year history. Read more here




A widespread network of volunteers in ultra-Orthodox areas has reportedly been secretly treating thousands of coronavirus patients in their homes for months without the authorities’ knowledge. Reportedly two leaders of Hassidic sects have been receiving medical treatment for coronavirus at home. Read more here  and here


By Monday, 8 municipalities accounted for some 40% of all confirmed cases, and 6 of them, including the top 4, are home to large Haredi populations, which have been hit especially hard by the virus. Read more here


Some 52% of COVID-19 patients over the age of 65 in Israel are ultra-Orthodox, new figures released by the Health Ministry show, and a large number were infected during prayer services over the High Holy Days. Read more here


An ultra-Orthodox health pioneer, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, has expressed intense frustration at coronavirus disobedience. He is astounded that nothing he can say or do can convince the slice of the Haredi community that is insistently noncooperative in the battle against the coronavirus to change its ways. Read more here




A 30-second  coronavirus detection test being developed by India and Israel should be ready soon. It is hoped that the testing kit will enable the world to begin opening the skies, since the technology simply requires a person to blow into a tube and the results become available in less than a minute. It is also very cheap to carry out, as the results are delivered locally without the logistics and cost of sending the sample to a lab. Read more here




A team of researchers from Tel Aviv University say they have developed an antibody cocktail against COVID-19 that could provide natural immunity for up to several months. Read more here and here


Israel’s Redhill Biopharma Ltd. has signed a manufacturing deal with two companies in Europe and Canada to expand production of its coronavirus treatment candidate, Opaganib, an experimental cancer drug currently being tested in patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 pneumonia in two mid-stage trials. Read more here




Ministers agreed Wednesday to reopen Ben Gurion Airport for travel abroad from midnight Thursday. Read more here

(An unofficial source has posted that the UK is about to be added to the list of “red” countries which means that arrivals into Israel from the UK will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Not yet confirmed.)




On Monday, the “Enduring Lightning 3” exercise took place between Israeli and U.S. F-35 fighter jets in Southern Israel. The opportunity to once again train alongside the IAF provides an immeasurable experience for the U.S. F-35s, said Lt.-Col. Stephen Redmond, commander of the 421st EFS squadron that operates the F-35A Lightning II.  “Our young officers…build relationships with Israeli fighter pilots that they will keep for the duration of their careers.”   Read more here

Read more here




Israeli UAV producer Gadfin is the first company to receive an Israeli Civil Aviation Authority permit for urban airspace deliveries. It will initially offer hospitals, laboratories and a range of organizations the ability to send and receive supplies via drone, skipping over congested roads and reducing risk to sensitive, refrigerated packages.Gadfin’s “Spirit One” drone can take packages weighing up to 15 kg. across 250 km.  Read more here




After the UN General Assembly elected several countries widely criticized for their human rights records to the UN Human Rights Council  (UNHCR) – including China, Russia, Cuba and Pakistan, Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said Tuesday, “Today’s UNHCR elections prove once again that this council has nothing to do with protecting human rights and everything to do with violating them.” Read more here




The Israeli LR Group last week closed a deal with the Chinese city of Yangzhou to improve its readiness for large-scale emergency situations, such as earthquakes. It includes the creation of a unified city command centre, building a medical simulation centre, training medical teams in both countries and selling IT products. Read more here




Israeli biopharmaceutical startup ImmunoBrain Checkpoint (IBC) is hoping that an immune system-boosting antibody it has engineered will help lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The firm is planning to start clinical trials next year. Read more here




The Israeli actress has made the headlines recently. She’s on the front cover of November’s “Vanity Fair” and in this video, teaches some Hebrew slang: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX01L8wmhBk


Comment by Dani Ishai Behan on her  “Cleopatra” film project, which has attracted criticism on some social media: Read more here




Sunday 18 October at 16.00 UK time, 18.00 Israel Time, 11.00 (am) EST,  17.00 most of  Europe.  Brought to you LIVE from the Shearim Hall in Netanya. Featuring pieces by Offenbach, Bizet, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Verdi and many more….

Meeting ID: 778 261 6400




Khaled Abu Toameh: Several Gulf Arabs have launched unprecedented attacks on the Palestinian leadership, accusing them of “trafficking” in the Palestinian cause; depriving their people of international aid; financial corruption; and acting against the interests of their own people. The Palestinian people are accused of being “ungrateful” toward Arab countries that made many sacrifices on their behalf and gave them hundreds of millions of dollars and jobs. Popular hashtags trending on social media declare that “the Palestinian cause is not my cause.” Gulf Arabs have also been voicing support for Israel by posting pictures of Israeli flags and video clips of Arabs praising the peace agreements with Israel and greeting Israelis on Jewish holidays. Read more here


How Kfar Qasim, a major Arab-Israeli city, which at one time had at one time Israel’s second highest infection rate with 170 infections per 10,000 residents flattened the curve. “Looking back, we saw that several large weddings had made us not just a red city, but an exceptionally red city,” said the city manager. According to the mayor “We had days where we watched 50% of tests in the city come back positive,” Now, the rate of tests coming back positive has fallen to 5%. Read more here