Israel and Jordan signed an aviation agreement to allow international flights to cross their airspace en route to various destinations. The agreement has been years in negotiations, but it was hastened after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed a normalization deal with Israel on September 15 and Saudi Arabia announced it was opening its airspace for Israeli flights. The aviation agreement is set to shorten the length of flights between Gulf states, Asia, Europe, and North America, and is expected to cut emissions and save costs. The deal will take effect on Friday. The Israeli-Jordanian agreement came after the UAE and Bahrain also allowed Israeli planes to cross their airspace in September.
Health Ministry coronavirus data released Friday showed Israel at its lowest positivity test rate in a month, with 8 percent of tests the previous day coming back with positive COVID-19 diagnoses. Positivity rates had hovered at around 12-13 percent for much of recent weeks, at one point reaching a high of 15 percent. The positivity rate is seen as a key metric for measuring the spread of the virus, given uneven day-to-day total testing numbers. Thursday saw 3,692 new cases diagnosed, with 48,804 tests carried out. The country’s total case count stood at 286,393, of which 59,347 were active. Officials have said the recent numbers are cause for cautious optimism but maintain that the current lockdown will remain in place until at least mid-October out of fears the trend may reverse.
The Israeli government has extended an emergency provision that bars public gatherings, including widespread protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for an additional week. Government ministers approved the measure by a telephone vote, the prime minister’s office said in a statement late Wednesday. The decision to extend the nationwide lockdown did not slow down the so-called “Black Flag” movement in protesting the prime minister. Thousands of demonstrations took place across the country in accordance with the restrictions that bar citizens from protesting over a kilometer away from their homes. Since the restriction was approved last month, tens of thousands of Israelis have staged protests on street corners and public squares near their homes against Netanyahu and against the government’s perceived mishandling of the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.
Fires broke out in multiple areas across Israel on Friday. Large blazes near six communities led to thousands of residents being evacuated, and a section of the major Route 6 highway was closed. Around 25 fire teams, including volunteers, were called to the area of Kfar HaOranim, located near Modi'in Illit, to contain wildfires that engulfed a number of houses. Air support also arrived, and rescue services requested that residents evacuate. A request was made for more fire teams and air support. The fire department's statement read: "There is no control over the fire.”
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 has been developed to help our community stay informed and provide resources to help maintain a sense of connection. 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."