Hostile clashes erupted in Jerusalem Thursday night, in some of the worst violence Israel's capital has seen in years. Tensions have been building for over a week, but reportedly boiled over on Thursday, when hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli police near Damascus Gate, over what they say have been unfair restrictions imposed during Ramadan. According to police, over 50 people were arrested for throwing rocks, launching fireworks, assaulting cops, and other related acts. About 100 Palestinians and 20 Israel Police officers were injured in the rioting, which carried into early Friday.
Israel and Syria exchanged missile attacks early Thursday, after Damascus launched an advanced missile that landed in the Negev Desert, not far from Israel’s Dimona Nuclear facility. In response, the IDF said it hit several missile batteries in Syria, including the one that fired the initial projectile. Later in the day, however, the IDF said that the Syrian missile was the result of a misfire and not a deliberate attack. The exchange of fire follows some of the most serious violence between Israel and Syria in years, and may point to Iranian involvement.
If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fails to form a government within the next few days, Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid will receive the mandate to do so, according to a report. A source close to President Reuven Rivlin reportedly said the handover could happen when Netanyahu's mandate expires on May 4, suggesting Rivlin is planning to reject a likely request for extension from the sitting prime minister. During the previous round of recommendations, Netanyahu had 52 backers, while Lapid only got 45, which is why the initial mandate went to Netanyahu. However, the March 23 elections have left the Israeli leader with no clear pathway to forming a coalition. Lapid will likely need to persuade Naftali Bennett and his Yamina party in order to reach a coalition—a move Netanyahu is reportedly seeking to disrupt.
For the first time in ten months, no new COVID-19 deaths were reported in Israel across a full, 24-hour day. In data released by Israel's Health Ministry on Friday, the death toll remained unchanged from Thursday, holding at 6,346. The last date there were no fatalities related to the coronavirus was June 29, 2020, when morbidity levels remained subdued following the initial wave of infections. The Jewish state made other news on Thursday when it passed the milestone of having five million people fully vaccinated. Israel’s vaccination program, which is based on the Pfizer-BioNtech two-shot vaccine, has resulted in the highest per capita inoculation rate in the world. This success allowed the government to lift the nationwide outdoor mask mandate on Sunday, as the country seeks to move toward post-COVID-19 normalcy.
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.
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."