Purim Sameach to my readers!
Israel’s PM Bennett has reportedly played a central role in advancing negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, and has been the “primary international mediator” during the talks, the Financial Times reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. Bennett held several phone calls with both Putin and Zelensky,and was the first foreign leader to meet Putin since he launched his invasion. Israeli officials have been careful not to exaggerate Bennett’s role in negotiations describing him as a channel of communication, passing messages from the sides in what they have described as a frank and realistic manner. Read more here
A top adviser to Ukrainian President Zelensky, Andriy Yermak, lauded Israel on Monday for its mediation efforts between Kyiv and Moscow He also hailed Israel’s decision to allow in more Ukrainian refugees who aren’t eligible for citizenship. Read more here
The Israeli government voted on Monday to approve plans to construct a field hospital in western Ukraine, something that Kyiv had specifically asked Israel to establish as part of its humanitarian mission, named Kochav Meir (Shining Star), named after former Israeli prime minister and Ukrainian native Golda Meir. The first group of Israeli doctors had already landed in Ukraine. The hospital will contain an emergency ward, a delivery ward and several departments for the treatment of refugees fleeing the warzones. Read more here
16 tons of equipment for the field hospital was moved to Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday morning. Read more here
A delegation of Israeli doctors and medical staff landed in Moldova last week to provide immediate treatment to Ukrainian refugees. The delegation of some 40 medical professionals and volunteers was organized by Lema’anam an Israeli NGO. Read more here
Israeli emergency NGO United Hatzalah chartered a plane and sent 40 paramedics, EMTs, doctors, psychologists, and therapists, to join its volunteers already treating local Ukrainians. The plane also delivered tons of medical supplies, donated food, plus other aid, and brought back 150 refugees to Israel. (TY Michael) Read more here
Passengers on an El Al flight on Monday from Tel Aviv to Bucharest (Romania) carried humanitarian aid boxes for delivery to Ukrainian refugees following pre-flight email requests from the airline. Read more here
Israel’s cabinet approved a series of measures on Monday to assist new immigrants reaching Israel from Ukraine and the surrounding countries, allocating additional funds and resources toward housing and providing basic services to the newcomers. As of Monday, nearly 2,500 immigrants from Ukraine had arrived in Israel since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24. Thousands more have already begun the immigration process. Read more here
The Israeli government approved a plan on Tuesday to rapidly absorb the wave of Ukrainians immigrants. Israel’s interior minister estimated last week that as many as 100,000 Ukrainians will immigrate under the Law of Return, which provides citizenship to Jews and their relatives. An element of the plan involves establishing an emergency headquarters in Europe to coordinate between various organizations helping transport refugees out of the warzone.Read more here
Thirteen wounded Ukrainian refugees were evacuated to Israel for treatment on Wednesday morning. One of them is a Jewish woman who was seriously wounded when her home suffered a direct missile hit. There are also several Holocaust survivors among the group with serious pre-existing medical issues whose condition deteriorated after their regular medical care came to an abrupt end in the wake of the Russian invasion. Read more here
Three women who were wounded in the Ukrainian war zone were treated Wednesday morning at a Jerusalem hospital, after being airlifted to safety by Hatzolah Air. Read more here
The University of Haifa has launched the Scholars Refuge Fund, a special emergency fund supporting stipends and scholarships and announced that it will welcome approximately 100 Ukrainians and others from the former Soviet Union to join the University’s community. (Other Israeli universities have initiated similar schemes) Read more here
Nearly 100 IDF soldiers, some of whom speak Ukrainian and Russian, have been allocated to assist with the thousands of refugees arriving in Israel. Read more here
Israel’s President Herzog, accompanied by his wife and officials visited new immigrants from Ukraine at a Jerusalem Hotel on Thursday. Read more here
Israel’s Foreign Minister Lapid said Monday that Israel is working to ensure that the country’s financial institutions do not make possible the circumvention of crippling sanctions imposed on Russia. At a joint press conference in Bratislava with his Slovakian counterpart, Lapid condemned Russia’s military offensive. Read more here
Figures from 3 weeks ago, 24 Feb, where available in brackets for comparison.
On Thursday the R factor, stood at 0.92 (0.66) and is expected to exceed 1 before the end of the month. 6,738 (11,799) new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Wednesday.
There are currently 332 (637) people hospitalized in serious condition, with 149 (233) on ventilators. Since the start of the pandemic, 10,405 (10,076) people have succumbed to the virus, 15 (178) in the past week and 161 since the beginning of the month.
The Prime Minister and Health Minister have decided to retain the mask mandate for indoor spaces. Read more here
A new variant of COVID-19 has been detected in two passengers who recently returned to Israel from abroad. PCR tests conducted on the passengers upon arrival picked up a variant that seems to be a combination of the Omicron variant and its offshoot BA.2. Read more here
A fourth dose of the COVID vaccine doesn’t do much to defend young and healthy people against catching the virus, but it does give “moderate” protection from developing symptomatic illness, new Israeli peer-reviewed research indicates. However, the research was conducted on health workers under retirement age, and therefore doesn’t give a picture of the fourth dose’s effectiveness for the elderly, which its main target in Israel and in some other countries, including the UK. Read more here
Three new MadaKids kindergartens, designed to promote scientific knowledge in Israeli children, were launched in Beit She’an by global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin in partnership with the Education Ministry. Since the project began in 2015, Lockheed Martin has established seven MadaKids science kindergartens in Beersheba, Kiryat Malachi and Jerusalem. Read more here
Multinational food and beverage manufacturer PepsiCo has partnered with Israeli irrigation tech company N-Drip to help farmers around the world adopt technology that will improve their farms’ water efficiency. Read more here
Swedish automaker Volvo is using technology from Israeli company UVeye, a tech startup that develops automated inspection systems for vehicles, to provide US retailers with its artificial intelligence-powered, camera-based platform for vehicle inspections. Read more here
Jerusalem-based autonomous driving systems company Mobileye, an Intel subsidiary, is partnering with two mobility firms to develop and deploy self-driving, fully electric shuttles in the United States in 2024. Read more here
For the second year in a row, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, has reported an increase in the number of sea turtle hatching sites along Israel’s coast.
It’s Purim and a “satirical” page appeared in Thursday’s Jerusalem Post.
Here’s a selection:
Lahav Harkov: The pernicious message, echoing through social and traditional media, that Israel is neutral or silent in this war…is simply false. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said this week, “We condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has no justification, and we call on Russia to stop the shooting and the attacks and solve the problems around the negotiating table.” Israel voted in favour of the resolution against Russia in the UN General Assembly.
Lapid also said, “We are not sitting on the fence; we are clearly on the side of the West….We are doing a lot, more than most countries.” When asked about his alleged fence-sitting, Prime Minister Bennett said”what is described in the media is wrong,” because “the different players want us in a place in which we can hold dialogue with everyone.”
Israel has the Russian Army sitting on its border in Syria, where Russia has been the dominant force since 2015. Before Israel strikes at Iranian bases and weapons convoys in Syria, it contacts the Russian military through the “deconfliction mechanism” so that it can get its soldiers out of the way.
Considering Israel’s small size and its location, far from the war zone, it’s doing a lot to help. Israel sent over 100 tons of humanitarian aid, mostly for refugees crossing Ukraine’s western borders, including medical equipment and medicines, dressings for wounds, and hospital supplies. It also included water-purifying kits, 3,000 tents, 15,000 blankets, 3,000 sleeping bags, and 2,700 down coats. The cabinet has approved funding for a field hospital in Ukraine. In addition, Ukrainians who do not qualify to immigrate will be allowed to seek refuge temporarily if they have friends or family in Israel.
The calls for Israel to give Ukraine the Iron Dome missile-defence system show a lack of understanding. It defends against much cruder missiles than the ones Russia is using. Plus, Israel doesn’t have enough to cover its own small territory, transporting Iron Dome batteries from one location to another in wartime, so how can it cover a country that is 27 times larger? Read more here
David May: Israel has helped its Arab citizens and other Arabs to whom it owes nothing to find safety during the conflict in Ukraine. To assist in evacuating Arabic-speaking Israelis, Israel dispatched its deputy consul in Turkey, Yara Shibli, a Bedouin, to the Ukrainian border. Arab-Israeli media personality Eman Kassem Slimani praised Israel for rescuing hundreds of its Arab citizens from Ukraine, including many Bedouin. Israeli medics assisted a Gazan and an Iranian. Israel also facilitated the evacuation of east Jerusalem students fleeing Ukraine, most of whom are Israeli residents but not citizens. A Syrian sent Israel a thank you note for helping him. An Israeli official invited a Lebanese citizen to board an Israeli bus headed for the border. Israel also helped individuals from Morocco escape. Read more here
A first hand account by an American doctor currently volunteering in Moldova of his experiences working with United Hatzolah’s medical personnel teams from Israel. Read more here