The number of COVID-19 cases in Israel continues to soar. The country saw over 1,200 new diagnoses on Wednesday, the highest single day tally since the start of the outbreak. As of Friday morning, Israel has 16,651 active cases and 350 deaths from the virus. Israel’s top public health official, Siegal Sadetzki, quit on Tuesday to protest the government’s handling of the pandemic, claiming that the “broad and swift reopening of the economy” negated the country’s early achievements in countering the spread of the virus. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that Israel had reopened its economy too quickly after the first wave of the virus. According to one Israeli official, government researchers have traced the bulk of new infections to a single category of activity: public gatherings, most notably weddings. In response, the government has implemented new restrictions that have shut down wedding halls, bars, clubs, and gyms.
Israel announced Monday that it had successfully launched a new spy satellite into space. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the launch of the Ofek 16 satellite, telling his cabinet, "[the launch] increases our ability to act against Israel’s enemies, near and far alike." Some officials hinted that Israel may have been behind a massive fire at an Iranian nuclear site last week, but Netanyahu made no reference to the incident. Israel, which accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the fire, though in a speech on Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi noted that it was Israel’s long-term strategy to prevent Iran from gaining the ability to build a nuclear weapon. Ashkenazi made no mention of the Natanz incident, but said that Israel takes “actions that are better left unsaid.”
On Monday, the US House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs approved a bill that will contribute funds to Israel security, as well as provide aid to the Palestinians. The bill directs $3.3 billion to Israel, and $225 million toward helping address "the needs of the Palestinian people, which may include support for UNRWA,” the committee said through a statement. Chairperson Nita Lowey also announced the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act of 2020, which will invest in economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. If approved by the full committee, the bill will head to the Senate, where some prominent Democrats have proposed an amendment that would prevent any aid from being used for the annexation of/application of sovereignty to territories in the West Bank.
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
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