On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed two historic and groundbreaking normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the third and fourth ever between Israel and Arab states. Bahrain agreed to establish formal relations with Israel in advance of Tuesday’s historic signing in Washington. On Friday, Netanyahu said that more agreements with Arab states would follow the Bahrain signing. Reports indicate that—in the wake of the Abraham Accords—there are five countries Israel is in talks with regarding normalizing ties: Oman, Sudan, Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania. Our JCRC released a statement applauding the Accords, alike many other Jewish organizations around the country. For additional analysis of the Abraham Accords, please see the following perspectives: CSIS, the Atlantic Council.
The citizens of Israel will enter the New Year in lockdown, following the government's approval of a closure that will last at least 14 days. The Knesset approved this initial, two-week lockdown—though it is widely believed this will be extended. Israel is the first advanced country in the world to initiate a second lockdown period since the start of the pandemic. 2:00 p.m. on Friday is when the nationwide lockdown begins. On Thursday morning, the Health Ministry reported 4,560 new cases from the prior day. Some 573 people were in serious condition, including 149 who were intubated. The overall death toll spiked to 1,169.
13 people were injured after two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in Ashkelon and Ashdod, in southern Israel on Tuesday. Rocket sirens sounded at roughly the same moment Prime Minister Netanyahu signed normalization deals with the UAE and Bahrain. Palestinian factions have expressed outrage toward these deals. On Tuesday, multiple demonstrations were held in the West Bank to signal a so-called "day of rage." Tuesday evening, two Palestinians were arrested by the IDF after they illegally entered the Jewish state. This most recent act follows weeks of tension, during which rockets and explosive balloons regularly landed in southern Israel.
The safety, health, and well-being of all community members is a priority for the Jewish Federation. Like many of you, we are closely monitoring the evolution of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This page has been developed to help our community stay informed and provide the resources needed to maintain a sense of connection. As more resources are curated, this page will be continually updated.
Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC
P.S. If you or a friend would like to get our own, up-to-the-minute Israel Update, you can sign up here; when asked for "interests" click "weekly Israel Update."