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Israel Update 18.2.21



Israel’s cabinet ministers on Monday approved the reopening of stores, gyms, hotels, and other venues from Sunday, in a major easing of sweeping lockdown measures. Street-front shops, malls, markets, museums, and libraries will be open to all. But only those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 will be able to use gyms, enter sporting and culture events, hotels, and swimming pools.   Read more here




(Last week’s figures in brackets for comparison)


4,076 (5,540) new cases of the coronavirus were registered in Israel on Wednesday, continuing a steady decline. Patients in serious condition dropped to 928 (1027) on Thursday of whom of those seriously ill, 351 are in critical condition, and 296 are intubated. Read more here


75% of new Covid-19 cases in Israel are under the age of 39, Israel’s Coronavirus Information Centre said Sunday. 38% are age 19 or younger, while 37% are 20-39. Read more here


Sheba Medical Centre has started to provide its pregnant virus-positive patients with patient operated Israeli-developed devices to monitor the foetal heart rate and to perform ultrasounds, and claims to be the first hospital in the world enabling patients to perform both checks without a doctor or nurse present in a bid to avoid unnecessary contact.   Read more here




A new study released Sunday by Israel’s Clalit Health Services showed 94% fewer symptomatic coronavirus cases and 92% fewer cases of serious illness among those who were vaccinated. Read more here


Maccabi an Israeli healthcare provider that has vaccinated half a million people with both doses of the Pfizer vaccine says that only 544 people — or 0.1% — have been subsequently diagnosed with the coronavirus, there have been four severe cases, and no-one has died. Read more here


A person who is vaccinated has only a one in 1,000 chance of contracting Covid-19, according to new data released by Maccabi on Wednesday. Reportedly only 5.5% of new coronavirus cases in Israel were over age 60 and more than 80% of people over 60 have been vaccinated. 78% of new cases are under age 40. Read more here


An Israeli study that found a robust immune response from recovered COVID-19 patients who were vaccinated provides “some of the first real-life evidence” that immunity lasts even if antibody levels appear to drop. Read more here


Prof. Michael Edelstein,an Israel-based epidemiologist, has been helping English health officials to detect COVID-19 outbreaks some 17 days in advance using an algorithm he helped to build. The tech has also been tested, and proved effective, in Italy, Australia and South Africa. Read more here




Two thirds of eligible Israelis have received at least one vaccine dose and over 4 million first shots have been administered. Read more here


Some innovative incentives have been offered. In Bnei Brak last week cholent, bread rolls and drinks were served at inoculation centres while Pizza, hummus, knafeh, and coffee were on offer at pop-up vaccination centres in Tel Aviv. Read more here Read more here


A senior health official said last Friday that 40% of those aged 16-39 had received their first dose. Read more here


Magen David Adom took a mobile vaccination unit to a forest in the south of Israel on Saturday, where thousands were visiting to see the spring flowers. Read more here


Israel’s Health Ministry allows inoculation of children with specific risk factors and, so far, there have been no side effects have been seen. Read more here




Russian-brokered prisoner exchange talks between Israel and Syria have seen “significant” progress.  Israel is seeking the release of an Israeli woman who recently crossed the border and was arrested. Agreement had reportedly been held up by the refusal of two residents of the Golan Heights who are in Israeli prison — the reciprocal side of the swap — to be deported to Damascus. Read more here




There were heavy snowfalls in Jerusalem and the north of the country. Photos & videos.

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Israel and Cyprus announced a tourism agreement Sunday to allow citizens who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus to travel between the countries without the need to quarantine. Read more here




Thousands of Muslim worshippers, many not wearing face masks, packed into the Temple Mount holy site for Friday prayers in violation of public health guidelines, which capped outdoor gatherings at 20 people.Read more here




Qatar’s envoy to Gaza has announced that an agreement has been reached to deliver natural gas from Israel to the Gaza power station.
Read more here




Hamas in Gaza has replenished its arsenal since the 2014 war with Israel and now has 7,000 rockets, 300 anti-tank and 100 anti-aircraft missiles, a senior Israeli military commander has said.It also has acquired dozens of unmanned aerial vehicles and has an army of 30,000, including 400 naval commandos who have received sophisticated training and equipment.In addition, Islamic Jihad has 6,000 rockets, dozens of drones and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, and 400 naval forces. Read more here





Israel’s President Rivlin urged the IDF to protect the Mount Ebal archaeological complex where damage to the shrine, believed by many to be Joshua’s altar, was caused by Palestinian workers constructing a road. Read more here




A former world judo champion who fled Iran in 2019 in a dispute over competing against Israelis, has arrived in Israel to compete in a Judo Grand Slam competition being held this week in Tel Aviv. Saeid Mollaei’s change of nationality to Mongolia from refugee status was approved last year by the International Olympic Committee. Read more here




Tel Aviv-based Operatti is developing a smart public transportation app that will send the right sized vehicles to pick up travellers on set routes on demand, thus avoiding late, empty buses.   Read more here




Israeli startup Flying SpArk, makes alternative proteins from the processed larvae of  fruit flies.  One of the company’s products is the NOTtuna product, which looks like chunks of tuna fish in a can. For every 1,000 ton of protein powder created by the firm, Flying SpArk claims that the world saves 110 million square meters of freshwater, 50,000 hectares of land and 55,000 ton of GHG emissions. Read more here




Muhammad Aref Massad, a former terrorist who is now a candidate in the upcoming PA presidential elections, recently wrote about the PA’s misuse of international aid: “I was recruited to the terror organizations when I was 13, and I fought boldly against the Israeli side, but to my sorrow I discovered that the Palestinian leaders do not want freedom and do not want peace because they profit from the war and destruction in which we are engulfed.””The greater the number of fatalities among our people, the more attention they get from the free and good people in the world, and the world gives them large quantities of aid each time the pictures of destruction in our land are published worldwide.”
“If you really want the killing, the destruction, and the siege of the Palestinian people to stop, if you really want the injustice and the poverty of the Palestinian people to come to an end, please terminate your support for the Palestinian Authority, which is run by a corrupt and unelected dictator.” Read more here



Richard Kemp:T he effects of the ICC’s decision will be profound. Unless halted, investigations into spurious allegations of war crimes will go on for years, perhaps decades, creating a global bonanza for all who hate Israel…But the most detrimental effect of the ICC’s decision will be felt by Palestinian Arab people who, for decades, have been abused as political pawns by their leaders and who would be the greatest beneficiaries of any peace agreement with Israel. The ICC’s ruling makes such a deal even more remote today.  Read more here