Israel celebrates Independence Day; Counters rocket attack: Israel Update

April 16, 2021

Mossad was reportedly behind the Sunday attack on Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, which caused extensive damage to the country's main uranium enrichment plant. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a security cabinet meeting to discuss matters related to Iran, amid increased tensions with Tehran. Despite initially referring to the attack as "an accident," Iranian officials have now labeled the incident an act of "nuclear terrorism." On Wednesday, an adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel stole the country’s nuclear archive, in what appears to be the first public admission of the 2018 Mossad operation by an Iranian official. Additionally, a spokesman for the Iranian military claimed that this week Israel and the US were also responsible for causing an explosion on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ vessel, Saviz, in the Red Sea. Meanwhile, senior Iranian officials declared that their country’s scientists have successfully enriched uranium to 60 percent purity, which is close to weapons grade levels.


The Israeli military struck targets in the Gaza Strip early Friday, hours after terrorists in the coastal enclave fired a rocket into southern Israel on Israel's Independence Day. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) claimed that the targets of its counterattack included a munitions manufacturing site, a tunnel for smuggling weapons, and a military post. At least six strikes were carried out by the IDF, according to Palestinian media. The attack was the first to successfully enter into Israel since late March, when a rocket launched from Gaza fell in an open area near Beersheba, as Prime Minister Netanyahu was visiting a restaurant in the city.


Celebrations for Israel's 73rd Independence Day continued Thursday, with events, performances, and parties happening across the country. Wednesday night's opening ceremony in Jerusalem marked a momentous return to live events, following a year of strict pandemic regulations. The celebrations included the annual Independence Day flyover conducted by the Israel Air Force, a festive flotilla that sailed down the Mediterranean coastline between Herzliya and Tel Aviv, and the traditional Yom Haatzmaut ceremony for outstanding Israeli soldiers, which was hosted by President Reuven Rivlin from his residence in Jerusalem.


Israel will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated tourists in May. The country plans to begin welcoming vaccinated group tours, before eventually allowing for the return of individual, vaccinated tourists—which could happen as soon as July. All visitors will be required to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test before boarding a flight to Israel. Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, they will undergo an antibody test to confirm their vaccination status. Over time, officials will try to establish a vaccine passport, the goal of which will be eliminating the antibody test requirement.


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 COVID-19 pandemic. This page is consistently updated to help you stay informed about efforts to support our community during this time. Click here for detailed information about COVID-19 vaccinations.


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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