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Israel Update 3.6.21





Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Wednesday night informed President  Rivlin that he is able to form a government in which he and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett will alternate as prime minister.  The coalition is supported by Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas whose Islamist party would be the first majority Arab party to be part of a ruling coalition in Israel’s history. However, it remains unclear whether the prospective “change government” will succeed. It is set to include 61 of the 120 MKs — the narrowest possible majority.  The coalition won’t be finalised until a Knesset vote which, depending on the Speaker, might be delayed for 12 days. Read more here




Isaac Herzog, former Labour party leader, was elected Wednesday as Israel’s eleventh president. He is the son of Israel’s sixth president, Chaim Herzog, and will succeed Reuven Rivlin on July 9.

Read more here




The IDF has recommended that  communities within 7 km of the Gaza border place thicker steel plates over the windows of bomb shelters.The move was based followed a further investigation into a piece of rocket shrapnel that pierced the metal window covering of a bomb shelter in Sderot, killing 5-year-old Ido Avigal  during the recent fighting. Read more here


In a show of solidarity, Indiana Governor Eric Holcombe visited Israel last week. He said ““When a friend’s in need, you answer the call…Letters and phone calls and emails can suffice in many situations, but being there in person speaks volumes.”Read more here

A group of Republican senators are in Israel this week, touring the damage caused by  Hamas  and Islamic jihad rockets and affirming US support Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Bill Hagerty, all serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.Read more here




Israeli airstrikes targeted underground tunnels used by Hamas on Al-Wahda Street in Gaza City on May 16. An Israeli military official said the attack only struck the street and not any nearby buildings, but in the resulting explosion, three apartment buildings collapsed and 48 people died.The official said that something located above the tunnels that the military didn’t know about “caused a different and much bigger explosion,”collapsing the buildings. The official said there was no warning to the buildings’ residents because Israel had carried out strikes on other similar tunnels without impacting the homes above them. Read more here



Hamas’ command, control, and war-fighting capabilities were based in its “Metro” underground tunnel network beneath Gaza, a senior IDF officer  explained. “As soon as we began attacking the Metro in a certain area, we saw immediately that Hamas was no longer able to fire long-range missiles from that area, and was no longer able to launch synchronized attacks from there on Israel. After each section of the Metro was attacked, we saw the difference immediately, and how this reduced the quantity, the ability, and the effectiveness of their operations.”
(Makor Rishon-Hebrew) Read more here (Hebrew)



The building (a Hamas command post) was seconds away from being attacked when an (Israeli) officer says a drone has spotted a group of people under a palm tree near the house who are at risk of getting hurt. The attack is stopped as an Israel Security Agency operative phones a  neighbour and warns him that a bomb is coming.
After several minutes the group moves away, but the drone operator sees three people still at the scene.A small rocket is then launched at the nearby road to make them truly understand they are in danger.When it explodes, the people under the palm tree start scattering. And then the Hamas command post is destroyed. Read more here





Palestinian factions declared Matthias Schmale, director of operations for UNRWA in the Gaza Strip, as well as his deputy, personae non gratae and said they will not be allowed to return. Schmale had said last week that the Israeli military strikes on the Gaza Strip appeared to be carried out with “sophistication” and “precision.”Read more here


Fathi Hammad, a Hamas Political Bureau member said on Sunday that  Gazan factories & workshops   have resumed producing thousands of missiles. Read more here





On June 1s, much of life returned to normal in Israel as most restrictions lapsed amid a continuing fall in case numbers. Inter alia, there are now no limits on gatherings, indoors or outdoors. The only major restriction remaining within Israel is a mandate requiring masks to be worn indoors, which is expected to be lifted soon. However, a number of restrictions remain regulating international travel and entry into Israel. As at Monday, 49 coronavirus patients remained in serious condition, with 36 of them on ventilators. Read more here


Israel’s Health Ministry reported Tuesday that there is a probable link between the second dose shot of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine and dozens of cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, in males under 30.The vast majority of those affected were men under 30, particularly those between the ages of 16 and 19. Most cases were mild, with patients released from the hospital after four days. Read more here


Prof. Eyal Leshem, the director of the Centre for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Centre, said “First of all, in order to really assess whether there is a link between the vaccine and the myocarditis cases, we need much more than what the ministry has communicated,” “Among other things, we need to know how much time passed between the inoculation and the event, we need a case control group… Evaluating a possible adverse effect of a vaccine is very challenging.” “Proper analysis of the information requires time, and it could also be that the effect is so rare that Israel will never have enough mass to provide proper data…In the US, where tens of millions of doses have been administered, they have not seen clear proof of this.” Read more here




Israel’s Bonus BioGroup has announced that preliminary findings from a clinical trial of the drug MesenCure for the treatment of corona patients in life-threatening respiratory distress were “very impressive.” Nine of the ten patients suffered from background diseases as well, yet each of them treated with MesenCure showed marked improvements.Prior to treatment, as much as 55% of a person’s lung area showed inflammation in chest x-rays. Within 5 days of beginning treatment, that figure dropped to 15%, while it was almost normal one month later.
The ten Covid-19 patients in the trial all suffered from acute respiratory distress, severe pneumonia, and dangerous immune response.
Read more here





A joint Israeli-Arab-Palestinian “tech-pitch” event was held in Jerusalem last week. The evening was a follow-up to a hackathon held five months ago for Arab and Jewish entrepreneurs in Jerusalem with the aim of promoting strategic collaborations between them. Read more here




Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram tossed, twisted and twirled her way into a gold medal and two silvers at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Italy Sunday. Read more here




David Brinn: This coalition has a chance to really change Israel for the better… Representing Right, Left, religious, secular, Jewish and Arab, the newborn government has the potential to repair the distrust and animosity, heal the fractures between the various communities and steer us toward a less bumpy and more stable path.

However, to achieve that goal, the parties making up the coalition need to temporarily pack up their ambitions and ideologies and store them outside the door.

As witnessed by the bickering and down-to-the-wire negotiations that marked the past week, that’s not going to be easy. And it may prove to be impossible. But if the members of the coalition remember who they are supposed to be working for and focus on the issues and the basic tenets that bind us as Israelis – the right to live with dignity, security and mutual respect – then there’s hope they will succeed. Read more here



Daniel Rowe: Despite everything you may have been reading or hearing these last few weeks…The conduct of the IDF vis-à-vis the protection of civilians on both sides has no equal or precedent. Indeed, Israel has set a new standard for the ethics of war. This may sound shocking, given the cacophony of accusations levelled against Israel on social media. The reality lies in a casualty count so low as to have no precedent in modern history.

In 11 days of fighting, Hamas fired 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities and towns. Israel pulverized Hamas, destroying 100 miles of tunnels, eliminating most of its significant military infrastructure, beating it into a ceasefire without conceding to its demands. But the high number of civilian deaths Hamas counted on did not happen.

Do not misunderstand. Every civilian death is a tragedy.

Gaza’s Health Ministry claims 243 civilians were killed, including 60 children. Israel can name 225 Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters who were killed. (Since the definition of “child” is anyone under 18, a 17-year-old Hamas fighter is legally registered as a child).

Many Gazans were killed not by Israel, but by the 600 Hamas rockets that fell short and landed inside the Gaza Strip, hitting homes and civilians.

Hamas scored 12 kills against Israel and dozens of more civilian deaths on its own side. But Israel scored thousands of Israeli lives saved, as well as thousands upon thousands of Gazan “human shields” whose lives were likewise saved. Read more here


Robert Satloff (critiquing a recent NYT front page): On May 30, the Times posted a story noting that one of the children featured in the photo display (of casualties) Khaled al-Qanou (17) was subsequently found to be a member of the radical Islamist terrorist group Mujahadeen Brigades. Read more here