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Israel Update 23.12.21




Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamic Ra’am party that is part of the Israeli government coalition, said Tuesday that Israel’s status as a Jewish state could not be changed, advising the Arab community to follow his pragmatic approach rather than trying to challenge the country’s identity. “Israel was born as a Jewish state. And that was the decision of the Jewish people, to establish a Jewish state. The question is not ‘what is the identity of the state?’ That’s how the state was born, and so it will remain,” he told a conference in Tel Aviv. “We should not “give ourselves illusions. This is the reality. The question is not about the state’s identity – but what the status of Arab citizens will be in it.” Read more here



Palestinians from across the political spectrum have strongly condemned MK Mansour Abbas for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. The P.A. President who has repeatedly stated his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, on Wednesday expressed outrage over the statements of the Arab MK. Read more here






Last week’s figures where available in brackets for comparison.



Israel reported Thursday morning 1,400 (741) new cases of coronavirus over the last 24 hours, marking the highest number of daily cases in more than 2 months.

The R number stood at 1.34, indicating the spread of the outbreak is accelerating.

Israeli hospitals were treating 124 COVID-19 patients, 83 (80) of them in serious condition. Of these, 70 were unvaccinated — accounting for 84% of all severe cases, 5 patients were vaccinated with 2 doses and 8 others had received a booster shot. The unvaccinated also accounted for more than 93% of severe cases among people under 60. Read more here



On Tuesday, 170 (89) new cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus were confirmed in the past day, doubling the number of infections. There have been 341 verified Omicron cases in Israel to date. Read more here



Some foreign family members of Israeli citizens or permanent residents will be able to receive permission to enter Israel for life-cycle events even if they come from a “red” country under a travel ban. 10 more countries, including the US and Canada, were put on the “red” list of countries. Read more here






All 18 COVID-19 patients hospitalized with moderate or severe symptoms who were administered the drug Amor-18 developed by Israeli biotech company Amorphical in a phase II clinical trial recovered and were discharged in a few days. A larger trial is already being conducted at several Israeli medical centres and the drug is also to be tested in other countries. Read more here



An ancient Greek drug derived from the saffron plant could improve the treatment of people with severe COVID-19 and reduce the COVID mortality rate by as much as 50%, according to a report by an Israeli researcher from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical School. Read more here






Israel is set to begin offering a fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot for over 60s, some at-risk groups and medical personnel, in line with a recommendation Tuesday from a panel of health experts. Read more here



A panel member said that with time the immunity offered by the third (booster) dose is waning… “after three or four months the protection is going down at a rate that does not really suggest that it will stop – and I’m talking about the protection against Delta, without even addressing Omicron”

New cases among people jabbed with a third dose have been significantly increasing recently. Of the 1,306 people who tested positive for COVID on Monday, 31% (405) had received a booster. A week earlier, it was 21% (156) of 744 cases.  If it wasn’t for the threat represented by Omicron, the situation would have probably not have required such a fast decision about the fourth shot. Read more here






It’s time to “rethink” the notion that COVID is above all a respiratory illness, as new research suggests it’s actually an “immune-and-respiratory” condition, according to Israeli scientists at Ben Gurion University. This may help explain the unusual nature of COVID-19, and might even pave the way for over-the-counter antioxidants to help treat the disease. Read more here






Israel scientists at the Hebrew University have developed a test that can tell people how well they’ll respond to their COVID vaccination even before antibodies are formed in their body.  The technology has applications far beyond checking vaccine responses, and will actually work as a “liquid biopsy,” enabling doctors to detect some cancers and providing detailed information on various aspects of the immune system’s functioning. Read more here







The Embassy of Israel this week sent food packs, sacks of rice, hygiene kits, solar energy systems, and water purifiers to the victims of Typhoon Odette in Bohol and Cebu. Read more here






Yehuda Dimentman, 25, was killed and two other people were wounded when Palestinian attackers opened fire at an Israeli car near Homesh in the West Bank on Thursday. Dimentman, a student at the yeshiva in Homesh, leaves behind a wife and a 9-month-old son. Read more here



Israeli security forces arrested two Palestinians affiliated with Islamic Jihad who carried out the shooting attack. Two others suspected of aiding them were also arrested and the weapons used in the attack were found. Read more here




An Israeli man, 38, was stabbed in the face by a Palestinian woman, 65, on Saturday near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Israeli troops subdued the woman without opening fire. Read more here



Police on Sunday arrested a Palestinian suspected of attempting to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem near the Old City’s Damascus Gate, as an Israeli bus driver was injured in a West Bank rock-throwing incident amid escalating tensions. Read more here



An assailant who attempted a car-ramming  attack on IDF soldiers on Tuesday night, was killed when his car went up in flames following a crash. Read more here



A Palestinian terrorist who had opened fire at IDF troops on Wednesday night from a passing car was killed when they returned fire. Read more here






Israel caught the terrorists responsible for a shooting attack last Thursday with remarkable speed, due in part to new technology. In addition to human intelligence, a network of cameras and other scanning devices has been set up throughout the West Bank, along with state-of-the-art facial recognition software. Read more here



Israeli troops operating in the Hebron region have in recent days reportedly arrested more than 100 Hamas members who were planning to carry out terror attacks.  Reportedly, the Hebron cells, like another cell, were being directed by a Hamas operative based in Turkey, who was released in the Gilad Shalit deal. Read more here






Israel’s Elbit Systems’ UK subsidiary has delivered the first tranche of its XACT night vision goggles to the British Army. The lightweight micro binocular XACT goggles have been supplied in a helmet-mounted configuration, with improved capabilities that have been well-received by the Army.Read more here






“No foreign minister or ambassador can call Jerusalem anything but the capital of Israel,” Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said Thursday, predicting the country will open a new embassy branch in Jerusalem in the coming months. Read more here






An Israeli therapeutics company Pharma Two B has announced that its Phase III trial of a drug P2B001 to treat early Parkinson’s disease has successfully met its primary and key secondary endpoints and can now prepare for regulatory approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. Read more here



Tel Aviv-based startup X-trodes has developed a less invasive and more comfortable system for medical-grade electrophysiological measurement. X-trodes’ solution can be used in a sleep lab or, ideally, at home. X-trodes CEO said “There are over 100 medical uses for electrophysiology…We decided to focus on two for our first product – sleep and remote rehabilitation for muscle injuries.” Read more here



At-home monitoring of babies born with complex heart malformations has been shown to reduce mortality from 15% to less than 5%. A new partnership between med-tech startup   Datos Health and The Heart Institute at Sheba Medical Centre’s Safra Children’s Hospital now offers remote home monitoring of paediatric cardiac patients in medically underserved communities: Israel’s ultra-Orthodox sector, the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank, Gaza, Iraq, Kurdistan and Cyprus. Read more here



CB Insights has named eight Israeli-based health-tech startups in its ranking of the Top Digital Health Companies of 202, a list of 150 of the top private companies using digital technology to transform healthcare. The companies and their products are described in this article. Read more here






Jerusalem-based autonomous driving systems company Mobileye announced Thursday that it was rolling out a pilot scheme for autonomous, on-demand rides in Paris in collaboration with a French public transport company. Read more here







Israel’s Ambassador to Singapore, described how Israeli companies are helping feed Southeast Asia.
Israel is supplying technology for agricultural activities involving grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as providing training to implement the new technology. Israel also sends students and industry personnel directly to Israel for training. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs runs three training centres, with students from Vietnam, Indonesia, and Timor, among others.Read more here






Israel’s Christian community grew by 1.4% in 2020 and numbers 182,000 people, with 84% saying they were satisfied with life in the country, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reported Tuesday. As well as showing growth, the CBS statistics indicate that the community is growing and prospering, with particularly high tertiary education rates compared to the rest of the population. Read more here



Earlier this month, Israel’s largest green organization helped to bring Christmas to Christians in the Holy Land with the annual sale of freshly cut  Christmas trees in heavily Christian areas. Read more here



Nazareth’s Liturgical Festival was completely sold out. The festival, run by Nazareth’s Polyphony Conservatory and held annually during the Christmas season, allows the conservatory to open its doors and reach out to the wider community, helping break down perceptions and bring together the Jewish and Arab communities to hear classical works performed in the city known as Jesus’s childhood hometown. Read more here






Israeli swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko (18) on Friday won Israel’s first-ever gold in the World Swimming Championships, in the 50-metre breaststroke. She won a second gold medal on Sunday in the 100-metre individual medley.  Read more here

Read more here





Jake Wallis Simons: On Dec. 19, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Hosam Naoum, Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, penned an article in the Sunday Times entitled: “Let us pray for the Christians being driven from the Holy Land.” About half way down, the clergymen did briefly say that “in Israel, the overall number of Christians has risen” and acknowledged that “Christians in Israel enjoy democratic and religious freedoms that are a beacon in the region.”
Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, responded: “If the overall Palestinian population has greatly increased, but the Palestinian Christian population has significantly declined, then clearly there are more complex reasons than those raised in the article.”
Overall, Christians in Israel are flourishing. In Israel, Christian schools operate freely and with the full support of the state. More Christian Arabs leave school with grades that will get them into university than any other group in the country (71.2%). More Christian women attend higher education than from any other background, excelling particularly in medicine, engineering, architecture and law.
Compare this to the routine anti-Christian carnage across the region, which the Foreign Office has described as “coming close to genocide.” In Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt, anti-Christian oppression is carried out by Islamist terrorists; in Iran, Algeria and Qatar, it is the state that carries out systematic persecution. Surely such persecution deserves at least a mention by the Archbishops. Yet this Christmas, the Archbishop of Canterbury is ignoring all this to draw our attention to the Jewish state alone. Read more here