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Israel Update 15.4.21



A one-minute siren at 8 p.m. on Tuesday marked the beginning of Israel’s Remembrance Day to honour the 23,928 fallen soldiers and civilian victims of wars and terrorism.  A second two-minute siren sounded at 11 am Wednesday morning. Israel’s Independence Day, which immediately follows Remembrance Day, began on Wednesday evening. Read more here


A torchlighting ceremony traditionally marks the transition between Israel’s Remembrance Day and Independence Day.  This year the youngest torchbearer wasOfri Butbul, an 18-year-old Israeli who saved the life of an elderly man she had got to know as a volunteer with a nonprofit organization, and the oldest was Yaish Giat, a 102-year-old Yemenite Torah scholar, owner of  a spice shop.Read more here


Monuments in the United States and around the world lit up in blue and white Wednesday night in honour of Israel’s 73rd Independence Day. Read more here




Prince Philip made an historic visit to Israel in 1994. The trip was a personal one, made to honour his mother, Princess Alice of Greece, who is buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.  A photo accompanying this report shows the Prince joking with British WWII veterans during a ceremony at the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Ramle, Israel, on Oct. 30, 1994. View here


Full text of Prince Philip’s speech at Yad Vashem is contained in this article:Read here




(last Thursday’s figures in brackets for comparison)


137 (274) new cases of coronavirus were reported in Israel on Sunday. The number of patients in serious condition was 253 (290). The death toll was 6,299 (6,270).53% of the population have had two vaccinations. Read more here


From Sunday, Israelis will no longer need to wear masks outside. Read more here


Last week, saw a further easing of restrictions in Israel. The new measures, which remain in place until April 22nd, (inter alia) raised the number of people allowed to gather outdoors from 50 to 100.  The current limit of 20 people indoors remained. Cultural venues are allowed to host up to 750 people under the Green Pass programme and large open-air stadiums can increase attendance from 5,000 to 10,000. Read more here


Vaccinated tourists travelling in organised groups only will be allowed to enter Israel starting on May 23 subject to PCR tests before boarding and on arrival plus a serological test. Currently, Israel does not recognize any foreign vaccination or recovery certificate. Read more here




The South African variant of the coronavirus is notably more adept at “breaking through” the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than other variants are, Israeli scientists have found, in a first-of-its-kind real-world study. A researcher added that the results call for continued vigilance against the coronavirus, including social distancing and wearing masks in indoor spaces, to prevent infection. Another researcher emphasized that the South African variant remains uncommon within the vaccinated population in Israel, and stressed that the study does not precisely indicate the level of protection against the variant, because its prevalence in Israel is very low – about 1% of all cases. Read more here


An Israeli lab has “cured” mice suffering from an immune reaction like that found in serious coronavirus patients, using molecules from probiotic yoghurt. The lab triggered a cytokine storm — the immune reaction that causes the extreme inflammations suffered by many serious COVID-19 patients — in dozens of mice. Read more here




A coronavirusvaccination centre located in Tel Aviv closed Monday after vaccinating some 20,000 foreign nationals, including refugees and asylum seekers, some of whom had unclear legal statuses. Following the closure, the municipality of Tel Aviv has continued its vaccination campaign via mobile vaccination units. Read more here




Ramadan, the holiest month of the year in the Muslim calendar, began on Tuesday evening. Traditionally more people attend prayers at mosque and families gather for the daily holiday meals when the fast is broken. Israeli health authorities have been working with Muslim leaders to encourage communities to follow the regulations, updating them on existing guidelines, and supporting them in circulating the information among  Israeli-Arab society. The ministry prepared also an explanatory guidebook for Ramadan. Read more here



Hundreds of Muslim worshipers rioted Tuesday night near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City after returning from prayers on the first night of Ramadan. The crowd hurled rocks, glass bottles and firecrackers at officers and buses, injuring a police officer, two bus drivers and three passengers.Read more here





An Israeli-owned ship, the Hyperion Ray, a vehicle carrier, was attacked by a missile near Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported on Tuesday. Read more here


Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has reportedly been testing nuclear-capable missiles for several months in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal. In January, Iranian forces tested missiles including the Sejjil and Qader, which are capable of carrying a 650 kg. (1,400 pounds) warhead and have a range of 2,000 km. (1,200 miles).Read more here


Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Monday blamed Israel for a sabotage attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged the centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium there. Read more here


Iran is smuggling weapons to Hamas terrorists in Gaza by land and sea. Read more here




Israel told the I.C.C. on Friday that it has no jurisdiction to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and Gaza. “Israel vehemently rejects the claim that it is committing war crimes and stresses its unequivocal stance that the ICC has no jurisdiction to open a probe against it. This stance has been made clear to the ICC through other countries and world-renowned experts,” Read more here


British P.M. Johnson wrote to Conservative Friends of Israel:”We oppose the ICC’s investigation into war crimes in Palestine. We do not accept that the ICC has jurisdiction in this instance, given that Israel is not a party to the Statute of Rome and Palestine is not a sovereign state.”
“This investigation gives the impression of being a partial and prejudicial attack on a friend and ally of the UK’s.” Read more here




Leading Israeli kidney donation nonprofit Matnat Chaim, which facilitates voluntary kidney donations in Israel,marked 1,000 transplants this week. Their assistant director said:“We believe Israel has the fourth highest rate of live kidney donations in the world and the highest [per-capita] rate of altruistic (altruistic living unrelated donor transplantation) kidney donations,” Read more here




NASA has named two asteroids after  an Israeli-Arab woman, Aseel Nama, a BA student in biomedical engineering at the Technion, who found them during a month-long asteroid hunt programme.  Read more here




JPost Editorial: “…the state’s age does not do Israel true justice. Saying Israel is 73 is like saying that Egypt is only 99-years-old because it only gained independence in 1922 from the UK, or that Greece is only 199-years-old because the First Hellenic Republic was only founded in 1822. The Jewish people’s presence here goes back more than 3,000 years. Israelis got a reminder of that last month when archaeologists announced the discovery of a fragment of the book of Zechariah dating back almost two millennia…

The State of Israel is only 73-years-old, a tiny dot on that vast timeline of Jewish history. And that perspective is as humbling as it is inspiring. Humbling because what is 73 years in the span of Jewish history? A blink of an eye. Yet inspiring because so much has already been accomplished in this blink of an eye, giving a taste of so much still to be realized here in the years to come. Read more here


David Rosenberg: The decision by many Arab Israeli political leaders to abandon their old stance as parties of protest in favour of pragmatism has deep roots in the changes underway in Arab society.The Bank of Israel estimates that 22.6% of Arab Israelis had middle class incomes in 2016-2018, up from 15.9% in 2007-2009. Another 6% belong to the upper-middle class.In the last 12 years, the share of Arab students enrolled at Israeli colleges and universities has nearly doubled to 17.2%. Arab Israeli representation in the tech workforce has also doubled.Arab Israelis have better opportunities than they could expect in nearly any Arab country. Read more here


Ron Ben-Yishai:As Iran tries to obtain nuclear capability, Israel attempts to stall it for as long as possible. The damage to the Natanz facility has certainly delayed the use of the new centrifuges unveiled just days ago – and older centrifuges used for enriching uranium were also impacted. Coincidently, Saturday was National Nuclear Technology Day in Iran, and President Rouhani announced three new types of centrifuges being developed at Natanz that were able to enrich uranium 10-50 times faster. Rouhani’s statement shows Iran aims to be able to reach the nuclear threshold within months. It is striving to quickly have the technological capabilities and knowledge to produce nuclear weapons before reaching any agreement with the U.S.  Israel fears the Iranians will achieve this goal, following in the footsteps of North Korea. Read more here